By Suma Varughese
“The world is undergoing a distinct genesis. With women coming into their own, sublime feminine values of selflessness, surrender, empathy, peace, love and harmony will mend a world dangerously out of whack”
Strength and honor are her clothing ;
And she shall rejoice in time to come,
She openeth her mouth with wisdom
And in her tongue is the law of kindness.
She looketh well to the ways of her household,
And eateth not the bread of idleness.
Her children shall arise up and call her blessed
Her husband also, and he praiseth her.
Woman is the Creator of the universe.
She is the very body of the universe;
Woman is the support of the three worlds
She is the very essence of our body.
There is no other happiness as that which woman can procure.
There is no other way than that which woman can open to us.
When you have been a man long enough, when you have suffered enough through your own foolishness, when you have inflicted enough pain through the calamities of your own creation… then you may become a woman.
According to Carl Jung there are four major images of the anima: Eve, Helen, Mary and Sophia.
Eve – symbolises physical attraction, sex, motherhood; the image of an ordinary attractive female.
Helen – represents a more cultivated woman, with whom one shares spiritual companionship along with romantic sex.
Virgin Mary – is a bit too lofty an ideal; she lacks the more natural side of the anima.
Sophia – represents wisdom, which is closer to life and not too virtuous. It is present when a man knows how to love and relate to a woman, and protect himself from her devouring side.
The Anima in You
Carl Jung had coined the terms ‘animus’ and ‘anima’ for the male and feminine principles respectively. The animus stood for the intellectual, rational self and the anima for the mystical intuitive self. For true balance, men and women must get in touch with and integrate the characteristics of the oppo site sex within their psyche. While women seem to have progressed in this task, men are still lagging. Here is a way to help men get in touch with their feminine self.
Explore Your Anima
In his book The Way of the Dream, Fraser Boa says: ‘‘It has been said that in our society the woman most in need of liberation is the woman within every man.’’ The inclusion of his female aspect effects a change in the male personality, producing a new, better, empowered self. The new self continues to grow—presumably in the direction of greater spirituality and service to others.
He also learns to distinguish the positive, profound parts of the anima (spirituality, love, beauty and so on) from the trivial (like promiscuity, vanity). The anima also helps man to understand women, and reciprocating, the woman is able to grasp the nature of maleness via her animus.
One of the easiest ways to get a glimpse of your true anima is to think of favorite female characters in stories, movies and TV shows. Go beyond the ones who simply turn you on sexually and make a list of qualities you admire in the character. These qualities generally reflect either the condition or the needs of your soul presently. To further strengthen these qualities in yourself, meditate on the character’s behavior and how you feel towards her.
• Close your eyes.
• Take three deep breaths.
• Raise your consciousness upwards, out of your body and go to your favorite place of perfect beauty and peace. Take a few moments to get comfortable with your surroundings.
• Now ask your Highest Self to join you.
• Ask your Highest Self to show you the female aspect of himself: your True Inner Female.
• What does she look like?
• What message does she have for you? Do you have one for her?
• What are her spiritual qualities?
• Now ask your Higher Self and your True Inner Female to help you look at your ‘personality level’ or Programmed Anima. Keep this anima at a safe distance so you can explore her without fear.
• What does she look like?
• What message does she have for you? Do you have one for her?
• What spiritual qualities does she embody, if any?
• Ask your female and male Highest Selves if there’s any advice they have concerning your Programmed Anima.
• Does she have a name?
• If she seems frightening, can they show you a less intimidating (maybe a ridiculous) side of her?
• Ask them questions you may have about her.
• When you are done, thank your Highest Selves, come back into the room, back into your body, and open your eyes.
• Write down what you feel is important about this exercise.
• Share anything about your True or Programmed Anima with a group.
—Dr Dayal Mirchandani and Sanmeet Kaur
This is woman`s hour,“ said Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science, in 1885. Today, more would be inclined to agree with her. The rise of woman and her growing success and influence is one of the outstanding successes of the 20th century. Women today have entered every walk of public life. They are in the offices, the trenches, in Parliaments, in schools and colleges, law courts, hospitals and construction sites. Their voices can be heard through art, music, paintings, books, plays, magazines and newspapers. Their concerns can be felt through the pleas for peace, the rising influence of the Green movement, and the struggle for justice for disenfranchised minorities.
It`s still a man`s world, but for the first time in recorded history, women are visible in sufficient numbers and with enough influence to challenge that dictum. So what does this mean for the world? If women are going to have a say in how the world will be run, what kind of a world will we see?
How about Ram Rajya, Sat Yug, New Age, Heaven on Earth? It is a truism in spiritual circles that women will birth the New Age. The era of peace, harmony, divinity and love will depend largely on the ability of women to achieve enlightenment, create awareness of a spiritual way of being, help change attitudes, and create new systems of functioning whose governing principles are the unity and interconnection of life.
Explains Eckhart Tolle, a well-known spiritual teacher, in his book Power of Now: “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.“
He adds: “The number of women who are now approaching the fully conscious state already exceeds that of men and will be growing even faster in the years to come… Women are gaining the function that is their birthright and, therefore, comes to them more naturally than it does to men: to be a bridge between the manifested world and the unmanifested, between physicality and spirit.“
Says Dada Vaswani, head of the Sadhu Vaswani Mission: “The woman`s soul (which many men also have) will lead us upward on. Woman has faith and a sense of service.“
Adds the venerated philosopher S. Radhakrishnan, in his book, Religion and Society: “Women as mothers are more directly sensible of the iniquity and injustice of the present order, and can bring about a deep and far-reaching change of spirit, and work it into the new style of life. Then will the New Man be born.“
If the Old Age has been shaped and created by masculine sensibility, the New Age will be feminine in character and approach.
Our present civilization, by which I mean the modern technological way of life, is a triumph of the mind. It was created through the deliberate exclusion of spirit, and by the outward conquests of nature. Today, we have a civilization full of dazzling technological marvels, but the environment is degraded beyond belief, nations are at war, the purpose of life is material pleasure and man is isolated from the deepest and best part of himself. At its base, our civilization is riddled with conflicts and contradictions, and problems multiply in their severity.
Says Tolle: “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 and so on. This is why the traditional God is a patriarchal, controlling authority figure…“
The spiritual traditions of all cultureshave always stood squarely against such a rampantly materialistic way of life and emphasized the primacy of spirit. Christ pointedly told his followers: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt… but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven…“
Hinduism and Buddhismsteadfastly maintain that the purpose of life is to realize one`s inner divinity by dropping the ego.
Oddly enough, the more one plumbs the life of spirit, the more one is conscious of its essentially feminine nature. For instance, Lao Tzu writes in Tao Te Ching: “Nothing in the world is more yielding and gentle than water. Yet it has no equal for conquering the resistant and tough. The flexible can overcome the unbending, the soft can overcome the hard.“
And again: “Yield and prevail. Bend and be strengthened. Empty and be filled…“
All women and most men would agree that this is a pretty good description of a woman`s way.
Writer and scholar Dr Amodini Bhagve says: “Consensus, sacrifice, egolessness, and making room for the seemingly outlandish are feminine qualities.“
Jaya Row, a Vedanta teacher, muses: “Women are softer, kinder, yet strong. In the Indian tradition, they are akin to Shakti, the female principle.“
Electronic engineer Bharati Nirmal corroborates: “A woman is sensitive, dedicated and devoted. She can`t see anything suffer, whether it is a person or even an organization.“
Most of us intuit that there is something uncanny about women. It`s hard to put a handle to it, because it is wrapped in paradoxes and society is too steeped in masculine values to easily understand it. And yet, for most of humanity, the mother has been by far the most powerful influence. And we know that that soft, gentle, loving presence is sheer tungsten steel inside. When crises befall her, she may grieve, but she will not break.
Writes S. Radhakrishnan: “India in every generation has produced millions of women who have never found fame, but whose daily existence has helped civilize the race, and whose warmth of heart, self-sacrificing zeal, unassuming loyalty and strength in suffering, when subjected to trials of extreme severity, are among the glories of this ancient race.“
When a friend`s father fell ill for a prolonged period of time, the stress gave him blood pressure, but his mother, on whom the principal task of care taking fell, was no worse for the experience.
I can still remember my own mother, walking into the hospital the day after my father`s brain operation, smiling dauntlessly at my sister and myself, whom the experience had reduced to nervous wrecks.
The mother is the emotional centre of the house, the one who maintains order, love and care and creates harmony. She spins out the energy that keeps the rest of us going. When you hurt, it is to her you turn. You may respect Dad, admire him greatly, but it`s mother you love. And mother loves you back. Unconditionally.
Women are resilient and enduring. It is a well-known fact that a woman can sustain the loss of her husband, even after a lifetime of close togetherness, much more than a man can. In many cases, the man is unable to cope with the loss of a partner and either slides into depression or follows his wife to the grave. A friend`s father was devastated when her mother died. Although the loving family tried their best to take care of him and keep him happy, he died four months later.
In her book New Passages, Gail Sheehy observes that most women flower after menopause and become successful and happy, while men seem to lose their sense of purpose after they retire from their jobs. In other words, women have the ability to renew themselves despite the enormity of their suffering, which seems to indicate that they are in touch with the forces of life.
Andre Van Lysebeth, one of the leading exponents of Tantra in France and author of Tantra: The Cult of the Feminine, writes: “Woman`s mystery is not restricted to her sex: it pervades her entire being, including (and perhaps most of all) her psyche, her mind.“ Lysebeth continues, “Women are intuitive because they are in tune with their senses and attuned to cosmic rhythms. They know the secrets of life and health, of plants, of flowers… A woman understands the human soul`s wellspring, for in her unconscious mind and through it, she is directly linked to the major currents of the mind which bear us and carry us forward.”
It is a woman`s intuition that most closely links her to the spiritual domain. Says J. Guenther Yuganaddha in his book The Tantric View of Life: “A woman`s consciousness is different. By a woman many things are already seen, while the man still pokes about in the dark. A woman is aware of the attendant circumstances and of the possibilities connected with them, which as a rule, a man is unable to see… Because of this transcendental character, it is aptly called wisdom.“
In her marvellous book, Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes recounts the tale of Vasalissa, a little girl whose dying mother gives her a doll who would help her in times of trouble. This doll, says Clarissa, is intuition, and it is every woman`s job to rediscover it and strengthen it. For it is intuition that attunes a woman to the cycles of life, and it is intuition that reveals reality (not always a welcome knowledge). She says: “This skull-light is not forgiving. In its light, the old are elderly; the beautiful, lush; the silly, foolish.“ The facts, facts. But this is the price a woman pays for knowing, and it is a small price to pay, for through it, says Clarissa, “…we become like the cyclical world. We have the ability to infuse energy and strengthen life, and to stand out of the way of what dies“.
The bottomline is this: In the duality between life and death women stand for life and man for death.
How can it be otherwise, when a woman`s greatest distinction is her ability to create life? Says Osho: “…the woman is capable of producing life; man is not. In that way, he is inferior, and that inferiority has played a great role in the domination of women by men.“ “The inferiority complex works in this way: it pretends to be superior-to deceive oneself and to deceive the whole world. So man down the ages has been destroying the woman`s genius, talents, capacities, so that he can prove himself superior-to himself and to the world.“
Many women echo Osho feelingly. Says Bharati Nirmal: “The fact that the male cannot create a new life has gone deep into his psyche and prompted him to do many things in the outer world to cover up the original deficiency.“
And if further proof is needed for the validation of the superiority of the female sex, Lysebeth provides it: “Biologically and scientifically, the dominant sex is not male but female.“ According to research conducted in 1950 in Kansas University by Charles Phoenix, Robert Goy and William Young, the basic organic and cerebral structure of mammals was first female and then male. He says: “During its early developmental stages the foetal brain has a `blueprint` as well as latent neurological circuits, that will determine its future behavior as either female or male. But if left to develop on its own, that is, in the absence of any specific hormonal input, the foetus always develops into the female form!“
Although we have been vaguely conscious of woman`s luminosity, it took the increasing spiritualization of society for a woman to know herself as what she is. Today, with the spiritual outlook going mainstream, and the average man and woman practicing meditation, they are becoming aware of the sublime value of egolessness, of surrender, of receiving rather than commandeering, of allowing processes to unfold rather than forcing them, of selflessness and sacrifice, of peace and harmony.
Credit ignorance where it belongs, the patriarchal society. Says Tripta Batra, senior editor with Women`s Feature Service in Delhi: “The world in which we live today is dominated by male thinking, the values we are socialized into as children are male values and so is the way society is structured. Violence springs from such a society and women are largely the victims.“
Whatever the reasons for the patriarchal society, there is no doubt that women have paid a high price for it. Treated as second-class citizens, as chattels and sex objects, their way of seeing and being discredited, is it any wonder that woman has been left with deep psychological wounds? Self-doubt, diffidence, poor self-esteem, crippling fears, neurosis-all these are part of her mindscape, and come in the way of her radiance.
Today`s woman, feel many, is a poor shadow of her authentic self, her magical, mysterious Goddess self. Andre Van Lysebeth says: “Today, our women are like zombies, like attractive caricatures of true women. In matriarchal cultures, women can reach true fulfillment, and so can men, for the latter can evolve and grow only if they are living in contact with true women: By stifling women, men have stifled themselves.“
If woman is to assume her role as the guide and life-giver in the future society, there is work for her to do.
Writes Clarissa Pinkola Estes: “A good deal of literature on the subject of women`s power states that men are afraid of women`s power. I always want to exclaim, `Mother of God! So many women themselves are afraid of woman`s power.` For the old feminine attributes and forces are vast, and they are formidable…her elemental self: the enigmatic and intense power of the Life/death/Life Mother.“ She continues, “Yes, we are saying that… we must be able to stand it. To be strong does not mean to sprout muscles and flex. It means meeting one`s own luminosity without fleeing, actively living with the wild nature in one`s own way. It means to be able to learn, to be able to stand by what we know. It means to stand and live.“
Her entire book is an exhortation for women to reclaim what she calls their `wolf` nature, their wild, intuitive, joyful selves, by leaving the protection of parental mores, seeking and finding your own, and in the process becoming your true self. Every fairy tale warns you against going into the woods, but you must go into the woods, she argues, or you will never live.
“Women must do more head tossing, more brimming, have more sniffing intuition, more creative life, more `get-down-dirty`, more solitude, more women`s company, more natural life, more fire, more spirit…“ she cries.
But another task, equally important, is to develop the masculine qualities of assertiveness, confidence, dynamism, etc. And it is here that the woman`s liberation movement has had a part to play.
Controversial and even counterproductive though some of its measures have been, it has helped women enter the work force and prove their capability. It has given them greater confidence in their intelligence, their capability and efficiency. The old label of being emotional flibbertigibbets and wimps unfit for serious work has been resoundingly challenged and answered. Says Shakun Goyal, a pranic healer who set up a business in beauty products: “A woman has shakti. If she chooses to have a career outside the house, she manages to handle both efficiently. Not many men can do this.“
Bharati Nirmal corroborates: “Because a woman needs to prove herself, she is very meticulous in her approach, and is sincere and devoted to her work. Men take it easy.“
They did this, yes, by trying to be like men. But this was a process that they had to pass through, in order to gain the balance they were looking for. Already, there is a greater softness and less stridency in the feminist movement as women are discovering their unique strengths.
Most sages are revolted by the women`s lib and understandably so, since a woman appears to be throwing away the precious gold of her own innate nature for the dross of an imitation self.
Says Osho: “Real liberation will make the woman authentically a woman, not an imitation of man. Right now that`s what is happening. If men smoke cigarettes, the woman has to smoke cigarettes. If they wear pants, the woman has to wear pants… She is just becoming a second-rate man.“ He adds: “This is a loss-because the only hope for humanity is the softness of women, not the hardness of men… men should become more like women, rather than women becoming more like men.“
But things are changing. Says fashion writer Meher Castelino: “When women first entered the job market in the 1980s, their clothes were very masculine, with broad shoulders and the classic male V shape.“ Meher adds, “In the `90s after being integrated in the work force their clothes became feminine, and in the present decade, we are seeing a feminization of men`s clothes. In Germany, fashion trends for men include skirts. The look today is androgynous. There is no longer a `His` and `Hers` wardrobe, there is an `Ours` wardrobe.“
And if a woman wishes to travel further along the path of enlightenment, she will need to handle her emotionality-her greatest strength, but unless wisely channelised, her weakness, for it may trap her within the realm of feelings.
Says Jaya Row: “Their major challenge is to learn to discipline and control their emotions, to succeed in any field of spirituality.“
Bharati Nirmal elaborates: “Woman is very emotional and sensitive. This same emotionality, if given a downward direction, can get converted into touchiness or negative emotions like jealousy, envy, hatred, etc. which are typically labeled feminine emotions. They drain away vitality; but when an upward thrust is given to the same energy, it converts itself into sensitivity, which brings about understanding, empathy, love.“
In the meantime, what about the man? Now that his evil designs on the fair maiden have been exposed, has he slunk out of sight like a stage villain? Should we let him be, or does he have a second act? If so, what is his avatar?
Says Lysebeth: “As for man, if he is to be worthy of the real woman, he must first accept the idea, then restructure his life around feminine values. Our patriarchal system has created a technological civilization devoid of soul, ideal or true love. It is based on false values and leads to cataclysms, to wars… To emerge from this, man must be willing to rediscover his own hidden, repressed femininity.“
He rues the “pain and barrenness in men who are not allowed to feel, who are conditioned to function only in a military mode, who must ignore the messages that come from their bodies (pain, discomfort, fear) so that they can appear aggressive at all times“.
His solution: “Man must go through her in order to be. Woman-all women-is the true initiator of man, his way towards Being.“
What does this mysterious sentence mean? It means to allow a woman to show and lead the way, to see things from the feminine perspective, and to allow her wisdom to influence him. Above all, it means to get in touch with his own feelings, develop his intuitive powers, overcome his need to control and dominate and yes, rein in that notorious `male` ego! (see box below)
Clarissa suggests that women must help men to help themselves. She says: “If women want men to know them, really know them, they have to teach them some of the deep knowing.“ She suggests that if a man wants to know what a woman wants, he should ask her: “What do you want?“ and then, “What does your deeper self desire?“
She adds: “So the wildish task of the man is to find her true name (identity), and not to misuse that knowledge to seize power over her, but rather to apprehend and comprehend the numinous substance from which she is made, to let it wash over him, amaze him, shock him, even spook him. And to stay with it. And to sing out her names over her. It will make her eyes shine. It will make his eyes shine.“
That getting in touch with their feminine side is the next step for men if they wish to move into enlightenment is indisputable. The one common factor that unites all male gurus and sages is their marked feminine quality. They display a sensitivity and abhorrence of violence, a love and nurturance of all that lives-truly womanly traits.
Gandhi once said of flowers: “How deeply it pains me that people should pluck masses of delicate blossoms to fling in my face or hang around my neck! We should feel a more living bond between ourselves and the rest of animate creation.“
J. Krishnamurti, the great philosopher, even began to look like a woman as the advancing years chiseled and honed his face into a feminine delicateness.
And when Ramakrishna Paramahansa, while traveling with a wealthy disciple, happened upon a village ravaged with famine, he fell on the ground and wept until his disciple promised to feed everyone. Such was his sensitivity to suffering that when a bullock was beaten in front of him, the lashes appeared on his back!
When society as a whole recovers from its overly masculine slant and becomes a balanced blend of both energies, the stage is set for the New Age.
And while it may be too early to say, there are already signs of a greater feminization of society, a greater balance.
In the corporate world, the motive may still be profit but the method is more gentle, more feminine. Team spirit is emphasized where once they advocated cut-throat competition. Leadership is seen to be about nurturance and empowerment rather than command and control. As more women enter the job market, flexi-time is becoming an option, crèches are cropping up at work places, and the work atmosphere is becoming humanized. Psychiatrist Dayal Mirchandani says: “For women relationships take priority over work.“ When a woman enters the office, birthdays get remembered, lunches get shared, and sick colleagues visited.
Says Seema Kamdar, a journalist working for The Times of India: “Women are storming the media!“ The result, she feels, is a greater sensitivity, particularly when reporting on gender issues. She recalls an incident when a male trainee reported a rape attempt, and his female colleagues pointed out that he seemed to have given credence only to the man`s allegation that the woman was willing to sleep with him, while cursorily mentioning the victim`s version that he molested her while she was asleep. “The offending sentence was straightened out and the result was better reporting,“ she concludes.
Dr Bagve points to the Green movement and the holistic health movement as signs of female influence. Indeed, the whole reawakening of interest in spirituality itself can be seen as a triumph for the woman`s spirit. She also points to the more feminine approach to conflict resolution adopted by the Dalai Lama, for instance, who has refused to take the armed aggression route to winning back his country`s freedom.
Then there is the rising graph of women saints. Once considered to be beyond the scope of mukti, women saints today are everywhere. There is Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, for instance, of the Siddha Yoga movement, and the redoubtable Mata Amriatnandamayi who showers love upon her disciples with a motherly hug and whispered endearments. Mata Nirmala Devi is another remarkable woman saint who specialises in mass awakening of the Kundalini, itself considered to be feminine in spirit. Medha Patkar and Maneka Gandhi are in their own way speaking up for the voiceless and the disenfranchised.
And if one wishes to peek at the feminine-infused future, one need look no further than at the Brahma Kumaris, a worldwide spiritual organization run by women with 4,500 centers in 66 countries and 400,000 lay members.
The heads of the organization are nine dadis, elderly ladies who have been there since its inception. Absolute darlings, with their steel tiffin carriers filled with delicious sweets, which they disarmingly offer around, and their gentle loving wisdom, they have the same pull as the wise matriarchs of yore. They are supported by 5,000 sisters, the Brahma Kumaris, who undertake the administrative and managerial duties and the spiritual tutelage. The brothers, or Brahma Kumars, play a supporting role, shouldering tasks like driving, gardening, cooking.
That this concept of woman on top works is strikingly evident on a visit to their Vishva Vidyalaya Academy for a Better World in Mount Abu, Rajashtan. The level of service, love, and efficiency exuded by these young women-and men-is admirable and an indicator that women can run the show when given the chance. The Kumaris themselves are a remarkable breed. Hailing from lower and middle classes, they are a perfect blend of modesty, grace and poise, as well as confidence and capability. Free of fear or inhibition, they are capable of taking on any role, be it breaking into an impromptu song or garba (dance of Gujarat), cooking up a storm, compering a function, working out the logistics of a seminar or festival, or teaching spiritual concepts. Dressed in white saris, with their calm, joyful demeanors, they embody the ideal Indian woman, gentle as a dove, firm as a rock.
That their rule is without tyranny is proved by the happy involvement of the men. Says B.K. Gokak: “From the beginning I placed great value on a mother`s love, and here was a family atmosphere. I could see the pure fraternal love between men and women here. So I decided to help the sisters.“
If this is the future, then we say, lead on.
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