The Happiness Guru: Marrying Masculine and Feminine
Part II: Marginalizing the feminine.
by Jon Scheffres
My wife and I have an ongoing conversation about the "mutable" and complicated nature of women. From time to time during our marriage, she has had to remind me that I am married not to one woman but several. "Women have cycles," she emphasizes. Practically, this translates into the following truth for the average husband: About every 10 days or so you are dealing with a slightly (sometimes dramatically) different person. Her emotional, physical, and sexual needs morph and change as the moon travels its complex orbit through the sky. This is one of the signature qualities of the feminine: She is changeable, at times unpredictable, full of moods and nonrational tendencies.
In my last article I discussed the basic qualities of the masculine and feminine polarities of consciousness, the two principal modalities of perception and action around which reality seems to be organized. I ended Part I by noting that it is difficult to talk about the feminine because "over the last two to three thousand years she has been relegated to a secondary, subservient position."
The case can be made that marginalizing the feminine parallels human attempts to control nature (the province of the feminine) and the societal oppression of girls, women, gays, and lesbians (those apt to be sensitive to the call of the feminine). Once upon a time, humans felt more at home with the vicissitudes of the feminine. Because our ancestors lived in a more direct relationship to their natural environment, they regarded the feminine energies of the world as primary, finding ways to work with those energies not only to secure the fundamentals for survival but also to evolve codes of conduct and the sacred rites of community. But let's face it: Nature is relentless. You make one mistake or misjudge her, and she can be very unforgiving (a fact agonizingly brought home in Sean Penn's movie "Into the Wild.")
In a way it is easy to understand why humanity as a whole has mixed feelings about the feminine- and it probably boils down to the fact that we are the one species on earth that seems able to reflect on our own death.
The fear of death is one of the most powerful motivating factors in the human psyche. Current studies in psychology suggest that introducing thoughts of death into a person's mind can almost immediately alter his or her political views and even voting behaviors. Nature is an enormous theater where the struggle between life and death plays itself out constantly, where beauty and horror often live in distressing proximity, and the human response to her has probably always featured an ambivalent mixture of wonder and terror. Temporarily overturning the order of things, human beings have learned to exercise dominion over nature and create a false image of invulnerability for ourselves. In so doing, we avoid confronting the abject fact of our own death. The consequence of this avoidance has been profound for the earth and, ironically, seems to have made us more fearful and filled us with discontent.
As humans have gained more mastery over the environment our attitude towards nature (and the feminine) has changed from cooperation and reverence to domination and control. Eventually this has led to outright contempt, and I would argue this attitude is nowhere more evident than in the United States, for we continuously plunder the earth not for survival but for profit pure and simple. During his recent trip to Utah, Robert Kennedy, Jr. gave one disturbing example after another of how Americans continue to rape and pillage what he believes to be the very foundation of our values as a democracy: the land, the water, and the air. As a case in point he described the denuding of forests in West Virginia and the dynamiting of mountain tops into rivers and streams so that energy companies can continue to mine coal. Arguing that America's democratic ideology was founded on its relationship to the earth, Kennedy finds a direct correlation between the weakening of our democracy and the increasing tendency to treat the land, the water, and the air as commodities to be exploited for corporate gain.
In short, the takeover of our economy and our politics by corporations (organized primarily around the masculine principles of competition and profit) creates huge class disparities that severely restrict freedom and opportunity for the vast majority of the citizenry. This is the opposite of how our democracy is supposed to work.
Author David Abram makes a similar point from a spiritual perspective in his book "The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World" (Random House). His thesis is that our mode of language has separated us from the natural world and that this has allowed us to pollute the planet and sever our connection to the greater "more-than-human" reality that sustained our ancestors. In other words, the more we assert ourselves over nature and the great feminine powers of our world, the more we impoverish ourselves, psychologically and spiritually.
It's no wonder that Americans, who over the last century have used technology, information, and war to become the most affluent and powerful nation in history, also suffer in record numbers from addiction, obesity, and mental illness.
Jon Scheffres (Guruprasad Singh), MA, LPC is a psychotherapist, lecturer, and a KRI-certified kundalini yoga teacher. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.