By Suma Varughese April 2011 Sages, saints and savants are unanimous in their contention that the new age of love, peace, harmony and brotherhood can only be birthed by women. Here’s why A few days back I watched an old film on TV: Yentl. Barbra Streisand essayed the role of an ardent Jewish religious scholar in the early 19th century in Europe. Only she belonged to the wrong sex. Leafing longingly through the pages of a book, she asked a peddler of secondhand books how much it would cost, to be roughly informed that any woman who wanted to study the Torah (the primary Jewish religious text) was a demon! Closer home, I had once signed up for yoga with a man near my house. All went well until one day he divulged that women cannot hope to be enlightened in their present gender. They would have to take rebirth as men to do so. That was the end of my yoga class. It is bad enough that women were debarred from participation in so many aspects of temporal matters, until they took steps to set that right, but that they should be declared ineligible and unfit for salvation or enlightenment is a telling testimony of the male ego’s compulsive need for superiority. Indeed, the history of the world can well be attributed to this powerful drive to be on top, the winner, the conqueror. Innumerable wars have been fought to satisfy this need, and societies have been constructed on the basis of haves and have-nots. In the West, aristocracy ruled, followed by intellectuals, tradesmen and the poor. In India, the priestly community called the shots followed by the aristocracy, trade and servitors. Inequity, injustice, exploitation and destruction have been the inevitable outcomes. Can the world be re-envisioned? Is there a different way to be? Can we move from the win-lose equation to a win-win one? Can we progress from positions of superiority and inferiority to one of equality? Must destruction and conquest follow our footsteps or can unity and harmony do so? The questions attain an urgency in the present times. Our world is dying. Natural catastrophes are peaking, with an increase in earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, fires and so on. Even as I write, Japan is convulsed in a national crisis brought on by an earthquake, tsunamiand a nuclear disaster. Environmental degradation has reached such a pitch that illnesses are rampaging, and thousands of species are dying. The cost of living is making bare survival difficult for millions. The climate is shifting treacherously, causing farming failures and escalating food prices. The rampaging capitalistic system is swallowing land, people and environment in their greed to make more and more. Stress levels are rising as recession hits and jobs disappear. Everything seems to be at odds with everything else. Never has life seemed so difficult, so bleak. And yet, we are not without hope. It is useful to remember that breakdowns lead to breakthroughs and that it is never darker than before the dawn. The very extremes we are enduring are leading to a solution. A solution that can only come about through a paradigm shift. Eckhart Tolle‘The qualities of surrender,non-judgement, an openness thatallows life to be instead ofresisting it are are closelyrelated to the female principle Paradigm Shift We are talking, of course, of a rise in consciousness. And this paradigm shift, more and more sages, thinkers and seekers feel, will be birthed by women. It is ironical, is it not, that the despised and even today, downtrodden gender, holds the keys to our collective rise in consciousness. How so? Eckhart Tolle, the well-known spiritual teacher and author of The Power of Now, offers clarity: “The energy frequency of the mind appears to be essentially male. The mind resists, fights for control, uses, manipulates, attacks, tries to grasp and possess. To go beyond the mind and reconnect with the deeper reality of Being, very different qualities are needed: surrender, nonjudgement, an openness that allows life to be instead of resisting it, the capacity to hold all things in the loving embrace of your knowing. All these qualities are much more closely related to the female principle.” A New Age stands on the threshold but to get there we must be willing to transcend the mind that has caused us so much suffering and embrace the qualities of spirit, or Being, as Tolle puts it. In other words, the world is badly in need of woman’s consciousness. Because our lives have been powerfully dominated by the male principle and all our systems and ways of operating bear its imprint, women are needed to come into the world and rebalance it What exactly does this consciousness consist of? To elaborate, men and women form two opposites of a spectrum. One part stands for life and the other for death. Neither is better than the other. Death is an imperative part of the cycle of life, a release from old, outdated and decayed systems into new life. Because women stand for life, the qualities they stand for are lifeaffirming. For instance, women are naturally inclined towards conciliation rather than competition, towards peace rather than war, towards allowing processes to unfold rather than enforce them, towards nurturing rather than controlling, towards humility rather than aggression, towards egolessness rather than ego, towards inclusiveness, rather than exclusiveness, towards heart rather than head. Towards the New Age Out in the world Women’s immediate task is to come forward and play their part in the world – to have a presence in all areas of life and through the dissemination of their precious life-giving properties influence and change the very systems themselves. How equipped are women to do so? Women seem to be on target. Their rise in the last few decades has been nothing short of phenomenal. Thanks in great measure to the pioneering role played by the Suffragette Movement in the mid-18th century and the Women’s Liberation Movement of the ’60s and ‘70s, enlightened legislation paved the path for women to venture into education and the workforce. Today, there are few areas of work that women have not forged into, including the armed forces. In the field of education, year after year, women have been scoring better in the SSc and HSc results. What women’s impact has been in the area of work, few studies will tell us. But we need to remember and make allowance for the fact that the early entrants into the workforce had to sacrifice their womanly qualities in an attempt to win the respect and approbation of men. We have been so heavily indoctrinated by a belief in male superiority that women themselves have only a faint idea of their own merits. It is only since the ‘90s or so that women are becoming sufficiently comfortable in their own skin to consider the possibility of succeeding in the work field on their own strengths. Still, the most important achievement through entering the work force has been economic independence. Could this perhaps be the most important power that men held? As long as women were dependent on men for their upkeep, they were forced to submit to their authority. As they entered the job market in larger and larger numbers, they have simultaneously challenged the male stronghold both at work and at home. This has caused tremendous upheavals on the domestic front. Divorces have soared and conflict in households are endemic. Long-faced traditionalists mutter about the horrors of allowing women a free rein, and while all will agree that the shake-out is regrettable, it is clearly necessary. A system based on inequity and oppression requires the victim’s consent to keep it stable. It is bound to topple over once the victim shakes herself free. What we are seeing is a process that will bring together the male-female energies in a more equitable and harmonious way that guarantees optimum freedom to both the sexes. Who will argue that there could be no better environment to bring up the young? In the outside world too, the woman’s influence can be felt, if not overtly then subtly. There are no figures to bandy but anecdotal evidence must suffice. A woman’s touch Whichever office a woman enters into, especially smaller, more intimate spaces, inevitably become more familial, home-like. There will concern over someone falling ill, there will be the sharing of snacks and home-cooked meals. In all likelihood, there will be shared meals. Personally, wherever I have gone, I have initiated the practice of celebrating birthdays and other special events through pot-luck lunches. Delicious, home-cooked meals that introduce us to the other’s cuisine is the happy outcome. Brahmaprakash Gaur, a Mumbai-based income tax official, recalls the training period he underwent in Nagpur in 1976. At night, he and his friends would be famished after a vigorous game of table tennis. He says, “We always tip-toed to the hostel room of one Sarojini Lal, who was the only married lady probationer with us, and knock. She wouldn’t ask any questions. She knew what the knock was about and would invariably push out a tin of biscuits or snacks through the door and go back to sleep. We never thought of buying back anything for her. But she never complained or made a fuss about the knocks at unearthly hours.” My ex-colleague Megha Bajaj, worked at an inter national school headed by Life Positive contributor Harvinder Kaur. Says Megha, “Harvinder added meditation in the morning assemblies to make the kids and teachers begin the day in a more meaningful way. And she addressed all issues by speaking, which is a very womanly thing to do. She would call for meetings, talk, discuss and solve our issues.” Swapna Raghu Sadanand, a Delhi-based lawyer, says that an organisation she worked with headed by a young woman, has from the inception focused on addressing the personal is
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