Tuesday, August 23, 2011
THE POWER OF THE FEMININE
Recently I read that in a conference in Vancouver the Dalai Lama made this statement:
“The world will be saved by Western woman.”
That is a very powerful statement; and I began to think deeply about what he might have meant by this. I assume that he is talking about how much Western woman has changed Western culture by her determination to find freedom and equality, to have the right to vote, to get equal pay, to be considered an equal citizen. This has certainly been a long and difficult road from the ancient roots of our culture in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and Rome to modern day America. It has taken years of anger and aggressive action through the feminist movements and years of debate and determination on many levels to get where we Western women are today.
Having just finished “Prophet’s Prey,” a book on Warren Jeffs and his followers I was reminded of the ultimate in repression of women right here in our own free society today. We are all too familiar with the treatment of women in the Middle East and their inferior status in all three major Western religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In addition, the opposite of this has been brought to my attention through articles and conferences offered by two organizations whose email lists I have recently joined, both focused on Spiritual growth: Integral Life and Braveheart Women. These organizations have each launched campaigns emphasizing the Power of the Feminine that I have found very helpful in understanding myself as well as my culture.
The book on Jeffs and these modern day growth organizations present opposite ends of the experience of the Western woman. They represent where she has come from and where she is going. The contrast certainly gives a good idea of why the Dalai Lama may have made the above statement. Western woman is coming into her power through the understanding of the Power of the Feminine.
What I want to share with you, however, is not expressed through pitting
Feminine against Masculine. We now know that whether female or male each of us carry both feminine and masculine within us (anima and animus) and that well balanced and psychologically healthy humans are those most in touch with those aspects of both within themselves. The powerful and compassionate woman, while feminine, is also in touch with her masculine aspects, while the most powerful and compassionate man is also in touch with his feminine aspects.
The Feminine has for too long been considered inferior, weak, too emotional to be intelligent, good for producing and raising children and best for the pleasure and comfort of the Masculine. Western Culture has a long history, all the way back to its Mesopotamian and Greek roots of suppression of the Feminine.
In the Humanities Cluster that I teach for Lindenwood University I give my students a list of the difference between Western and Eastern thought:
* Unity of all things
* Religion and Philosophy more entwined
* Less concerned with the existence or non existence of God or gods
* Intuitive based
* People are an intrinsic and inseparable part of the Universe
* Quiet, receptive, humble
* Direct experience of the Universe, accepting and cooperating with things as they are
* From Within
* Right brain
* Analytical and logical
* Dualistic (heaven and hell, good and evil
* Contemplation and prayer
* Individualism and separateness
* Religion and Philosophy more separate
* External (God is out there)
* Law based
* Monotheistic/personal God or atheistic
* People are superior and in charge of the Universe
* Aggressive forceful action oriented
* Emphasizes dramatic change
* Goal oriented
* Left Brain
As you can see, Eastern thinking is much more Feminine and Western much more Masculine. In our Western culture we are taught that to succeed we must be logical, practical (non emotional), competitive, aggressive goal setters. We prize ourselves on being “rugged individualists.” Our focus is on being the best that we can be: the most powerful, the most wealthy, the most successful, the most intelligent, the one with the most “stuff.” Certainly this has worked on that “external” level that is also the Masculine focus.
Yet, what we are realizing is that it does not give us contentment and inner peace. It is not quite so successful on an “inner” level. The things we most yearn for as women such as, intimacy, connection, belonging, creativity, self-expression, aliveness, meaning, purpose, contribution and a brighter future for generations to come can't be created with an exclusively masculine system of power based on control, analysis and logical, linear thinking, nor can they be executed with a strategic plan.
The impulse that I feel is not one of "dominance" nor "winning," but an impulse to realize my destiny--the greatest possibility of myself as a human, the highest potential of my relationships and the expressions and contribution of my gifts in service to the flourishing of life.
Because, in actuality we have no idea what this might look like - we can't create the fulfillment of our Destiny with a step-by-step strategic plan- as the task of navigating our way to our Destiny is the task of journeying towards an unknown and undefined destination.
Though I have had my fair share of “success” from the Western perspective, I have come to realize that the Masculine approach is not “adequate” for me personally. For years I have had to compete on this level: who gets the best PR, who sells the most art and for the highest prices, who is in the most galleries, wins the most awards? This way of thinking causes me (and I am learning almost all women) to want to withdraw into a sort of hermit like solitude.
It has only been recently that I have understood why. Most men are perfectly happy with the competitive, aggressive approach. Women, in general, are not. I will not say all, because I have also learned that men who are most in touch with their feminine aspects are less comfortable with competition and aggression, and women most in touch with their masculine side are often OK with competition and aggression. But understanding what is Feminine Power can be an incredible boost for a woman.
What are the keys to Feminine Power? They are:
* Connect with your inner “knowing” - your intuition is your inner guide;
connecting requires solitude and stillness, time out from busyness.
* Ask - you do have the answers within, it is where Spirit speaks to you.
What will truly bring truth, compassion, abundance, love and peace
into your life…. and to the world.
* Listen - let go of that mind chatter, meditate, contemplate, and
pay attention to what you hear
* Act on what your intuition tells you - stop second guessing!
* Create - feminine power is creative power. Once you “know” what you
need to create, create through your intention, your choices, your
* Collaborate rather than compete - you can’t become yourself by yourself, relationships are key for best activating feminine power.
We need to recognize that we are relational beings and actually need each other’s partnership to access the power that we need to thrive.
* Activate the power of the collective field -
1. Get connected to the biggest vision you have for your life.
2. Ask yourself, "who would I be in the realization of that
3. Share your vision with those close to you and ask them to
begin to relate to you as though you were already living the
realization of your vision.
4. Begin to relate to those people closest to you in ways that
are consistent with your future self.
5. If you're really feeling daring, ask them to hold you to be
accountable to show up in your relationship with them in ways that
are consistent with this future self!
* Seek Balance - when we are too right brained (feminine) we may find it difficult to be analytical and practical, we may be too emotional to do business or to stay calm in a crisis, to be disciplined enough to stay on course; when too left brained (masculine) we may lack
compassion and empathy, be too self-focused or self-centered to see the
* Look to the larger view - how can you help to change the world,
to make it a better place?
The key is to learn to work together, female and male, Eastern and Western, and know that what hurts another also hurts me, what aids another also aids me. In the words of Michael Jackson:
“We are the world, we are the children, we are the ones who make a brighter day so lets start giving……let us realize that a change will only come when we stand together as one.”