By Life Positive March 2008 ‘We marry ourselves or there is no marriage. That is the only love affair that’s real.’ – Byron Katie By Aalif and Aditi Surti It is rare to come across instances where marriage truly becomes a spiritual companionship. It is a meeting of kindred spirits walking together. In addition, if it is a modern, urbane couple juggling multiple commitments and balancing the material and the spiritual, we are in for a treat indeed! Mumbai-based Aditi and Aalif Surti form one such inspiring young couple. Aalif was born into a spiritually inclined family. His father – a radical writer, painter and cartoonist – introduced him to Vipassana meditation at the age of 14. He started early on the professional front as well. He became a newspaper cartoonist in Mumbai at 16, and a film journalist by 18. Soon after, he moved to Pune and joined his brother’s ad agency there. He became a disciple of Swami Chaitanya Bharti (disciple of Osho), who sent him back to Mumbai a few years later to fulfil his ‘karmic debts’. He dabbled in film journalism for a while before joining Shah Rukh Khan as a creative head for his website. He has been working with Star TV since 2001 and has plans to move into full-time movie making soon. Aditi comes from a multicultural and close-knit family. Her mother is a professional yoga teacher. Her father retired from his work in the airline industry. Aditi worked in business development and marketing with companies like KLM, Royal Dutch Airlines, Tata AIG, Star TV and The Times of India. She gave up working in the corporate world late 2006 and began working as a freelancer with an old friend. When asked about the meaning of ‘spirituality’ in their lives, Aalif says, “I have been into spirituality since childhood, thanks to my family. Nevertheless, the definition of spirituality is becoming increasingly ordinary and imperceptible as time passes. When I was younger, I took myself seriously and wore my spirituality as a badge. Today, it is hard for me to separate the spiritual from the non-spiritual in my life. I’m gradually getting out of my need to ‘hide behind spirituality’ and am walking into the amazing spirit of life all around.” “Spirituality to me is the world that exists within me. I discovered this facet of my life when I met Aalif. He inspired me without really teaching me about spirituality. He was also instrumental in introducing me to his brother Gyandev (now a spiritual therapist) and his then guru Swami Chaitanya Bharti. I was immediately taken up by both of them and today Gyandev is my guide in my search for the truth about myself,” says Aditi. Aditi and Aalif feel that their relationship would not have been what it is today had it not been for the techniques, teachings and tools they have come across in their spiritual quest. Rather than depending on the other person to make oneself happy, they believe in cleaning out their negative thoughts and deriving happiness from within. The secret, according to them, is to love oneself first, and then the love for the other automatically flows through. They have learnt a lot about love from Aditi’s dog, Pepper, who they call a ‘Zen master’! “His unconditional love, absolute integrity, and self-acceptance are something we are inspired by.” Commenting on the question of maintaining a balance between hectic work schedules and a happy family life, they insist that there is no particular effort or stress on maintaining a balance. “In fact we get more stressed with the thought that there should be a balance maintained,” says Aditi. Being an intuitive couple, they base most of their decisions on how they ‘feel’ at the moment. This way they find themselves responding peacefully to each situation as it arises, instead of being stressed about what should be happening instead. Every time they encounter negative thoughts or feelings in daily living, they use the various techniques culled from their spiritual practice to discover the truth of the moment they may be missing. These techniques include Byron Katie’s The Work, The Release Technique by Lester Levinson, EFT and Affirmations by Carole Look and The Teachings of Abraham by Esther and Jerry Hicks. They also read and draw inspiration from teachings of Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Kryon and Eckhart Tolle. Along with these, they do regular meditations and pranayama to slow down the hectic pace at which they live. “When it comes to high stress areas, we both give each other space and support the other till the stressful period tides over. I have learnt that giving him space and being intuitive about his needs is important. I do not crowd him with my needs and demands, if any, during that time. We remain married to our techniques and tools to dispel the stress and remain as calm and loving as possible,” explains Aditi. “My brother Gyandev remains our biggest supporter, guide, mentor and someone who is focused on our growth. Instead of teaching, he moves and inspires us by leading the way to truth and peace. We both cherish and love him dearly. He’s been a growing inspiration for me since childhood,” recounts Aalif. Remembering the time they first met, Aditi says, “We met while I was doing a short stint at Star TV in 2004. I interacted with him a lot at work and what attracted me to him was that he was a unique human being. He is a man of contrasts. Immersed in the world of movies and film-making, yet the most deeply spiritual person I know. Each time we met, I felt a sense of joy and peace. I felt understood and at home.” “A sense of comfort was there from the start. I noticed that I found her most ‘attractive’ when she was in her old faded home clothes and spectacles. There was a sense of déjà vu in the times I spent with her, and I could see myself being there 20 years later – that was the sense more than an intense attraction. Her intelligence and ability to discuss abstract concepts continues to be an important part of our relationship for me,” recounts Aalif. Sharing their insight on the recipe for a successful relationship, Aalif says, “We think every couple needs to find their own formula for spirituality, and there’s always place for it if you want it to be. Gyandev always tells us that if you are in a relationship purely for pleasure, you will always be disappointed. If you are in a relationship for growth, you will always be happy – whether the relationship works out or not. We consider the latter to be the base of our relationship. We have grown tremendously as human beings because of what we learn when we are with each other. We often describe our relationship as based on ‘Being Love’. There’s no excitement that we are looking for, it is more of growth, love and peace.”Faraaz Tanveer
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