--Photograph by Eugenio Pastor
Some years ago I had just given a talk on television in Canada when one of the announcers came up to me and said "You know, if one can believe that this universe is in charge of an intelligent and beneficent God, don't you think he would naturally have provided us with an infallible guide to behavior and to the truth about the universe?" And of course I knew he meant the Bible. I said "No, I think nothing of the kind. Because I think a loving God would not do something to His children that would rot their brains."
Because if we had an infallible guide we would never think for ourselves, and therefore our minds would become atrophied. It is as if my grandfather left me a million dollars: I'm glad he didn't." And we have therefore to begin any discussion of the meaning of the life and teaching of Jesus with a look at this thorny question of "authority." And especially the authority of Holy Scripture. Because in this country in particular [the USA] there are an enormous number of people who seem to believe that the Bible descended from Heaven with an angel in the year sixteen-hundred and eleven, which was when the so-called King James – or more correctly Authorized – version of the Bible was translated into English.
I had a crazy uncle who believed that every word of the Bible was literally true including the marginal notes. And so whatever date it said in the marginal notes, that the world was created in 4004, B.C., and he believed it as the Word of God. Until one day he was reading - I think - a passage in the book of Proverbs and found a naughty word in the Bible. And from that time on he was through with it. You know, how Protestant can you get?
Now, the question of "authority" needs to be understood, because I am not going to claim any authority in what I say to you, except the authority – such as it is – of history. And that's a pretty uncertain authority. But from my point of view the four Gospels are I think to be regarded on the whole as historical documents. I'll even grant the miracles. Because, speaking as one heavily influenced by Buddhism, we're not very impressed with miracles! The traditions of Asia – Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist and so forth – are full of miraculous stories. And we take them in our stride. We don't think that they're any sign of anything in particular except psychic power. And we in the West have by scientific technology accomplished things of a very startling nature. We could blow up the whole planet, and Tibetan magicians have never promised to do anything like that.
And I'm really a little scared of the growing interest in psychic power because that's what I call "psycho-technics." And we've made such a mess of things with ordinary technics that Heaven only knows what we might do if we got hold of psycho-technics and started raising people from the dead, and prolonging life insufferably, and doing everything we wished.
The whole answer to the story of miracles is simply imagine that you're God and that you can have anything you want. Well you'd have it for quite a long time. And then after awhile you'd say "This is getting pretty dull because I know in advance everything that's going to happen." And so you would wish for a surprise. And you would find yourself this evening in this church as a Human being.
So, I mean, that is the miracle thing. I think miracles are probably possible. That doesn't bother me. And as a matter of fact when you read the writings of the early fathers of the church – the great theologians like Saint Clement, Gregory of Nissa, Saint John of Damascus, even Thomas Aquinas – they're not interested in the historicity of the Bible. They take that sort of for granted but forget it. They're interested in its deeper meaning. And therefore they always interpret all the tales like Jonah and the whale. They don't bother even to doubt whether Jonah was or wasn't swallowed by a whale or other big fish. But they see in the story of Jonah and the whale as a prefiguration of the resurrection of Christ. And even when it comes to the Resurrection of Christ they're not worrying about the chemistry or the physics of a risen body. What they're interested in is that the idea of the resurrection of the body has something to say about the meaning of the physical body in the eyes of God. That the physical body – in other words – is not something worthless and unspiritual, but something which is an object of the Divine Love.
And so therefore I'm not going to be concerned with whether or not miraculous events happened. It seems to me entirely beside the point. So I regard the Four Gospels as on the whole as good a historical document as anything else we have from that period, including the Gospel of Saint John. And that's important. It used to be fashionable to regard the Gospel of Saint John as late. In other words, at the turn of the century the higher critics of The New Testament assigned the Gospel of Saint John to about 125 A.D.. And the reason was just simple. Those higher critics at that time just assumed that the simple teachings of Jesus could not possibly have included any such complicated mystical theology. And therefore they said, "Well, it must be later."
Now, as a matter of fact, in the text of the Gospel of Saint John the local color, his knowledge of the topography of Jerusalem, and his knowledge of the Jewish calendar is more accurate than that of the other three writers, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And it seems to me perfectly simple to assume that John recorded the inner teaching which He gave to His disciples and that Matthew, Mark, and Luke record the more exoteric teaching which He gave to people-at-large.
Now, what about them, the authority of these scriptures? We could take this problem in two steps. A lot of people don't know how we got the Bible at all. We Westerners got the Bible thanks to the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church and members of the church wrote the books of the New Testament. And they took over the books of the Old Testament which even by the time of Christ had not been finally decided upon by the Jews. The Jews did not close the canon of the Old Testament until the year 100 A.D. – or thereabouts – at the Synod of Jamnia. And then they finally decided which were the canonical books of the Hebrew Scriptures and embodied them in the Masoretic Text, the earliest copy of which dates from the tenth century – early in the tenth century A.D.. The books to be included in the New Testament were not finally decided upon until the year three hundred and eighty-two – A.D. again – at the Synod of Rome under Pope Damasus. So it was the church – the Catholic Church – that promulgated the Bible and said "we are giving you these scriptures on our authority and the authority of the informal tradition that has existed among us from the beginning, inspired by the Holy Spirit."
So you receive historically the Bible on the church's say-so. And the Catholic Church insists, therefore, that the church collectively, speaking under the presumed guidance of the Holy Spirit, has the authority to interpret the Bible. And you can take that or leave it. Because obviously the authority of the Bible is not first of all based on the Bible itself. I can write a bible and state within that book that it is indeed the Word of God which I have received. And you're at liberty to believe me or not. Hindus believe that the Vedas are divinely revealed and inspired with just as much fervor as any Christian or any Jew. Muslims believe that the Koran is divinely inspired. And some Buddhists believe that their Sutras are of divine – or rather Buddhic – origin. The Japanese believe that the ancient texts of Shinto are likewise of divine origin. And who is to be judge?
If we are going to argue about this – as to which version of the Truth is the correct one – we will always end up in an argument in which the judge and the advocate are the same person. And you wouldn't want that if you were brought into a court of law, would you? Because if I say that, "Well, thinking it all over I find that Jesus Christ is the greatest being who ever came onto this Earth," by what standards do I judge? Why obviously, I judge by the sort of moral standards that have been given to me as somebody brought up in a Christian culture. There is nobody impartial who can decide between all the religions because more or less everybody has been in one way or another influenced by one of them.
So if the church says the Bible is true it finally comes down to you. Are you going to believe the church or aren't you? If nobody believes the church it will be perfectly plain, won't it, that the church has no authority. Because the people is always the source of authority. That's why de Tocqueville said that the people gets what government it deserves. And so you may say "Well, God Himself is the authority!" Well, how are we to show that? That's your opinion. Well you say "Well, you wait and see. The Day of Judgment is coming, and then you'll find out who is the authority!" Yes, but at the moment there is no evidence for the Day of Judgment, and it remains until there is evidence simply your opinion that the Day of Judgment is coming. And there is nothing else to go on except the opinion of other people who hold the same view and whose opinions you bought.
So really, I won't deny anybody's right to hold these opinions. You may indeed believe that the Bible is literally true and that it was actually dictated by God to Moses and the Prophets and the Apostles. That may be your opinion and you are at liberty to hold it. I don't agree with you.
I do believe, on the other hand, that there is a sense in which the Bible is divinely inspired. But I mean by "inspiration" something utterly different from dictation, receiving a dictated message from an omniscient authority. I think inspiration comes very seldom in words. In fact almost all the words written down by automatic writing from psychic input that I've ever read strike me as a bit thin. When a psychic tries to write of deep mysteries instead of telling you what your sickness is or who your grandmother was, he begins to get superficial. And psychically communicated philosophy is never as interesting as philosophy carefully thought out.
But divine inspiration isn't that kind of communication. Divine inspiration is, for example, to feel – for reasons that you can't really understand – that you love people. Divine inspiration is a wisdom which it's very difficult to put into words. Like mystical experience. That's divine inspiration. And a person who writes out of that experience could be said to be divinely inspired. Or it might come through dreams. Through archetypal messages from the collective unconscious, through which the Holy Spirit could be said to work. But since inspiration always comes through a Human vehicle it is liable to be distorted by that vehicle. In other words, I'm talking to you through a sound system. And it's the only one now available. Now if there's something wrong with this sound system whatever truths I might utter to you will be distorted. My voice will be distorted. And you might mistake the meaning of what I said.
---Ancient Church, Derry, Northern Ireland
Albert Einstein was asked toward the end of his life if he had any regrets. He answered: "I wish I had read more of the mystics earlier in my life." This is a significant confession, coming as it does from one of the greatest geniuses of the 20th century, a man who moved beyond the modern science of Newton and ushered in a postmodern science and consciousness.
In the West, the modern age (meaning the 16th to mid-20th centuries) was not only ignorant of, but actually hostile to, mysticism. As Theodore Roszak has put it, "The Enlightenment held mysticism up for ridicule as the worst offense against science and reason." Still today, both education and religion are often hostile to mysticism. Fundamentalism by definition is anti-mystical or distorts mysticism, and much of liberal theology and religion is so academic and left-brained that it numbs and ignores the right brain, which is our mystical brain. Seminaries teach few practices to access our mysticism. This is why many find religion so boring -- it lacks the adventure and inner exploration that our souls yearn for. As St. John of the Cross said, "Launch out into the deep."
This launching into the depths -- into the deep ocean of the unconscious and of the Great Self, which is connected to all things and to the Creator -- often gets stymied by Western religious dogma, guilt trips and institutional churchiness. The mystic gets starved. Patriarchal culture by itself is unable to tap into the deep feminine aspects of Divine Wisdom and Compassion and the heart. But the mystics, male and female, do not present a one-sided reality, as Patriarchy does. The yin/yang, female/male dialectic is alive and well in the mystical tradition. God as Mother is honored along with God as Father. Through this, mystics seek wisdom, not mere knowledge.
The West remains so out of touch with its own mystical tradition that many Westerners seeking mysticism still feel they have to go East to find it. While this can work for many brave and generous individuals, it cannot work for the entire culture. Carl Jung warned us that "we westerners cannot be pirates thieving wisdom from foreign shores that it has taken them centuries to develop as if our own culture was an error outlived."
Is Western culture an "error outlived"? Or is there wisdom deep within our roots that can be accessed anew and that can give us strength and understanding at this critical time when so much is falling apart the world over, when climate change and destruction of the earth accelerates and so many species are disappearing, while our banking systems and economic belief systems, our forms of education and forms of worship, are failing?
I believe that there is great wisdom in our species and in Western spiritual traditions, but that this needs a new birth and a fresh beginning. As a Westerner I must begin where I stand within my own culture and its traditions. This is where the Christian Mystics come in. We in the West must take these insights into our hearts on a regular basis, allow them to play in the heart, and then take them into our work and citizenship and family and community. This is how all healthy and deep awakenings happen; they begin with the heart and flow out from there.
The crises we find ourselves in as a species require that as a species we shake up all our institutions -- including our religious ones -- and reinvent them. Change is necessary for our survival, and we often turn to the mystics at critical times like this. Jung said: "Only the mystics bring what is creative to religion itself." Jesus was a mystic shaking up his religion and the Roman empire; Buddha was a mystic who shook up the prevailing Hinduism of his day; Gandhi was a mystic shaking up Hinduism and challenging the British empire; and Martin Luther King Jr. shook up his tradition and America's segregationist society. The mystics walk their talk and talk (often in memorable poetic phraseology) their walk.
For instance, this being the season of Earth Day, we might listen to the 12th century Abbess Hildegard of Bingen who was an amazing musician, painter, healer, writer (she wrote 10 books), scientist and poet. She posits an erotic relationship between the Divine and nature when she says: "As the Creator loves his creation, so creation loves the creator. Creation, of course, was fashioned to be adorned, to be showered, to be gifted with the love of the creator. The entire world has been embraced by this kiss."
Fr. Bede Griffiths was an English Benedictine monk who spent 50 years in India living and building up an ashram that was Christian and, in many respects, Hindu. He wrote a number of books on the coming together of Eastern and Western mysticism. He writes:
"Perhaps this is the deepest impression left by life in India, the sense of the sacred as something pervading the whole order of nature. Every hill and tree and river is holy, and the simplest human acts of eating and drinking, still more of birth and marriage, have all retained their sacred character. ... It is there that the West need to learn form the East the sense of the 'holy,' of a transcendent mystery which is immanent in everything and which gives an ultimate meaning to life..."
Thomas Berry was an American priest in the Passionist Order who called himself a "geologian." A student of world religions and of contemporary science, he was a great ecological prophet as is clear in his books, The Dream of the Earth and The Great Work, where he warns of the work we must do to reinvent our educational, economic, political and religious systems if we are to be a sustainable species on this endangered planet. He writes:
"The human venture depends absolutely on this quality of awe and reverence and joy in the Earth and all that lives and grows upon the Earth. ... In the end the universe can only be explained in terms of celebration. It is all an exuberant expression of existence itself ... A way is opening for each person to receive the total spiritual heritage of the human community as well as the total spiritual heritage of the universe. Within this context the religious antagonisms of the past can be overcome, the particular traditions can be vitalized, and the feeling of presence to a sacred universe can appear once more to dynamize and sustain human affairs."
Deep down, each one of us is a mystic. When we tap into that energy we become alive again and we give birth. From the creativity that we release is born the prophetic vision and work that we all aspire to realize as our gift to the world. We want to serve in whatever capacity we can. Getting in touch with the mystic inside is the beginning of our deep service.
Matthew Fox is the author of 28 books including 'Original Blessing,' 'The Reinvention of Work,' 'The Hidden Spirituality of Men', and most recently 'Christian Mystics,' of which this post is an excerpt. Visit Matthew Fox online.
"The First Agreement: Be Impeccable With Your Word" (excerpt from THE FOUR AGREEMENTS) by Miguel Ruiz
THE FIRST AGREEMENT: BE IMPECCABLE WITH YOUR WORD
The first agreement is the most important one and also the most difficult one to honor: Be Impeccable with your word. It sounds very simple, but it is very, very powerful.
Why your word? Your word is the power that you have to create. Your word is the gift that comes directly from God.
Through your word you manifest your intent, regardless of what language you speak. What you dream, what you feel, and what you really are will all be manifested through the word.
The word is a force; it is the power you have to communicate, to think, and thereby to create the events in your life. The word is the most powerful tool you have, but like a sword with two edges, your word can create the most beautiful dream, or your word can destroy everything around you. One edge of the sword is the misuse of the word, which creates a living hell. The other edge is the impeccability of the word, which will only create beauty, love, and heaven on earth.
The human mind is like a fertile ground where seeds are continually being planted. The seeds are opinions, ideas, and concepts. The word is pure magic; we plant a seed, a thought, and it grows. Every human is a magician, and we thoughtlessly cast spells on each other all the time with our opinions. Someone gives an opinion and says, "Look, that child is ugly." The child listens, believes she is ugly and grows up with this idea. It doesn't matter how beautiful she is; as long as she has that agreement, she will believe that she is ugly. That is the spell she is under.
These types of spells are difficult to break. Whenever we hear an opinion and believe it, we make an agreement, and it becomes part of our belief system. The only thing that can break a spell is to make a new agreement based on truth. The truth is the most important part of being impeccable with our word. Only the truth has the power to break the spell and set us free.
Now let us see what the word impeccability means ‘’ without sin.’’ Religions talk about sin and sinners, but let’s understand what it really means to sin. A sin is anything you do which goes against yourself. When you judge or blame or reject yourself. Self rejection is one of the biggest sins you can commit. Being impeccable is exactly the opposite. You take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge, blame, or reject yourself.
Being impeccable with your word means using your energy in the direction of truth and love for yourself. If I see you in the street and I call you stupid, it appears that I’m using the word against you. But really I’m using my word against myself, because you’re going to hate me, and your hating me is not good for me. Therefore, if I get angry and with my word send that emotional poison to you, I’m using the word against myself.
If I love myself, I will express that love in my interactions with you, and then I am being impeccable with the word, because that action will produce a like reaction. If I will love you, then you will love me. If I insult you, you will insult me. If I’m selfish with you, you will be selfish with me. If I use the word to put a spell on you, you are going to put a spell on me.
You can measure the impeccability of your word by your level of self love. How much you love yourself and how you feel about yourself is directly proportionate to the quality and integrity of your word. When you speak with integrity, and say exactly what you mean, you are impeccable with your word; you feel good; you feel happy and at peace.
Being impeccable with your word also means to restrain from spreading gossip. Gossip can be compared to a computer virus. A virus is a piece of computer language written with a harmful intent. This code is inserted into the program of your computer without your awareness. After this code has been introduced, your computer doesn’t work right anymore. In the same way, one little piece of misinformation can break down communication between people; causing every person it touches to become infected and contagious to others.
If you make an agreement with yourself to be impeccable with your word, just with that intention, the truth will manifest through you and clean all the emotional poison within you. When you follow this agreement, you begin to see all the changes that can happen in your life - first in the way you deal with yourself, and later in the way you deal with other people, especially those you love the most.
Impeccability of the word can lead you to personal freedom, to huge success and abundance; it can take away all fear and transform it into joy and love. You can attain the kingdom of heaven from this one agreement:
Be impeccable with your word.
Purchase THE FOUR AGREEMENTS
The Tao that is spoken of is not the Eternal nature of the Tao.
In its eternal aspect, the Tao cannot be spoken of. Eternal means transcendent to time and space and, therefore, beyond the reach of the physical senses and the intellections of the mind. The Eternal Tao cannot be seen, tasted, or touched. It cannot be spoken of or reasoned about. It is a transcendent mystery. If we try to speak of it, we get jumbled up in words, and it comes out sounding like a paradox. We could say that the Eternal Tao exists, quite apart from existence, that It lives beyond life and death, or that It is and yet, both is and is not. Yet statements such as this communicate nothing unless one has experience of the transcendent, and if one has the experience, what point is there in talking about it?
Many are familiar with the saying attributed to Lao Tzu that "those who know do not speak, and those who speak do not know." Nevertheless Lao Tzu himself is purported to have written the five thousand characters we call the Tao Te Ching. We have as well, preserved in writing, the saying attributed to the Buddha, Jesus Christ, the Hebrew Prophets, Zarathustra Shiva, and Krishna, among others. Presumably, at least some of these "knew.” Or are we to think that all of these "teachers" were charlatans and all their"students" fools?
The fundamental difficulty lies, not with the veracity of the scriptures or the realization of the teachers', but with the limitations of language communicate or express Eternal Reality. As Lao Tzu put it, "The name that can be named is not the true name." Name, words, and language are on symbols of the Reality they seek to represent. This is an obvious point; know that the word dog is a not the living, breathing animal. Yet in practice, and especially in dealing with more abstract concepts, we forget the difference between the word and the reality it stands for. Why then do \ bother with the scriptures and the teachers? In Picasso's statement, "Art a lie that leads to truth," we find a clue. The scriptures, like all great art, are not to be thought of as "truth" but as "lies that lead to truth." So long as we cling to the literal meaning, the letter of what is being said, the Eternal Tao eludes us.
Yet if we can listen with an empty mind and open heart, we may hear the Word (Spirit, Tao) from which the words have originated. The words are gateways to the Mystery. Yet whether or not they swing open for us depend on how we approach them. Chuang Tzu described spiritual teachings and the words used to convey them as fishing baskets. "Fishing baskets are em ployed to catch fish; but when the fish are got, the men forget the baskets. .. Words are employed to convey ideas; but when the ideas are grasped, mei forget the words."4 The point is not to collect baskets but to catch fish.
The Eternal Tao by any other name is still the unutterable Eternal. Taoists have no particular claim on the Transcendent Reality that all spiritual traditions have pointed to. Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu were not members of any formal religion or philosophical school. Indeed, the chief articulator; of Taoist philosophy would not have thought of themselves as "Taoists.' They were simply enlightened individuals around whom students gathered and whose sayings were in some way preserved.5 It was only much later that they were classified as belonging to the "Tao Chia," or Taoist school of philosophy.
While there are elements unique to Chinese culture and history within the teachings of Lao Tzu and Chuang Tzu, these texts are better understood as representations of what has been termed "the perennial philosophy" than as the scriptures of a particular religion or culture. In many of the world's great spiritual traditions, we find alongside the popular religion an esoteric or mystic teaching, reserved for a rather more dedicated few. (For example, within Taoism, the "Tao Chiao," or what might be termed "popular Taoist religion and magic" developed alongside the esoteric Tao Chia, or Contemplative School of Taoist philosophy.)
The striking parallels and correspondences within the world's esoteric teachings—across cultures and historical eras—has led some scholars to view these teachings as local representations of a single universal, or perennial, philosophy. Like a single melody fashioned into numerous musical arrangements, the perennial philosophy takes on different inflections in different cultural contexts and historical periods, but is always recognizable as the same tune. As Thomas Aquinas put it, "All that is true, by whomsoever it has been said, has its origin in the Spirit." We could, for example, quite easily confuse the description of the Eternal, given by Jesus in the Gnostic text, The Secret Book of John, with Lao Tzu discoursing on the Tao:
I simply believe that some part of the human Self. . . is not subject to the laws of time and space.
It is the invisible Spirit. One should not think of it as a god or like a god.
It is greater than a god, because there is nothing over it and no lord
above it. It is unutterable, since nothing could comprehend it to utter it.
It is unnameable, since there was nothing before it to give it a name.
The Eternal Tao cannot properly be equated with the Western notion of God as interpreted by orthodox Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. Still, there are many parallels with the notion of God as understood in the Western esoteric tradition. There are Greek philosophers, Christian and Jewish mystics, and Islamic Sufis, who speak of God in ways not unlike those Lao Tzu might use to refer to the Tao. Yet the Eternal Tao most closely parallels the Hindu notion of "Brahman." Like the Tao, Brahman is recognized as transcendent and immanent, that is, as both prior to, or beyond, the realm of time and space, and manifest in it. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Brahman is described as "beginningless, supreme: beyond what is and is not."7 Chuang Tzu described the Tao as "the changing changeless and changeless change."
Lawerence Boldt - “EmpowerYou.com
“Part 2 - Aching for Wholeness: Men and the Feminine Consciousness” (Excerpt from THE MEN WE NEVER KNEW) by Daphne Rose Kingma
---Painting “Swan Boat” by Lauren Woods
CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK:
“Aching for Wholeness: Men and the Feminine Consciousness”
(Excerpt from The Men We Never Knew)
by Daphne Rose Kingma
The Age of Androgyny
"Sometimes I not only think but know in my bones that in our hearts there's really no difference between men and
If our male-female relationships are to survive and transform, and indeed they must, then somehow men must come to feel safe with this unspeakable process. Men must do this—not only for the women who want them to, but for themselves—and for the future of relationship itself.
We all yearn for union. Instinctively, we all seek reconciliation. When men begin the work of incorporating the feminine dimension, it will move us all in the direction of androgyny—the emotional state in which a person has fully incorporated all his or her masculine and feminine aspects and, in which, therefore, none are projected onto the opposite sex. The changes women have made have already catapulted us into the trajectory of a transformational process from which there is no return. Whether we like it or not, the transposition of attributes once deemed solely the property of either sex is already well underway, the move toward androgyny is already shaping the future of both male and female psychosexual identities.
Through their incorporation of the feminine, men must now balance the maleness that women have already begun to balance in themselves. In doing so, they will not only join women at the androgynous frontier, but will advance us all toward the spiritually provocative landscapes of the future. With the initiation of the feminine consciousness in men, both men and women can be powerful, logical, aggressive, and direct, as well as intuitive, nurturing, empathetic, and sensitive.
These territories are beyond the merely psychological. They point to the spiritual cosmos and represent not only what we can newly expect our relationships to be—union, communion, healing, and transformation—but embody the highest truth, that in its essence and ours there is no division or separation, no opposite or antithesis, no male or female. We are all one.
Panic in Androgynyville
"Men dominate, provide, protect, and accomplish. We are so far behind women that we have to dig even deeper to be open."
-Owner of video store, 38
Still, all this melting of boundaries is immensely scary, for it is through maintaining distinctions, and particularly gender distinctions, that we preserve a sense of order. In general we prefer rules to chance, sameness to change. We feel safer living in the illusion that things will continue as they are, than we do entertaining the possibility that our boundaries will be jiggled, expanded, or violated to a degree that will ask us to change more than we feel we can.
For, although in a subtle sense, the androgynous has already begun to be incorporated into our culture—unisex fashion, women with chopped-off hair and men with hair to their waistlines were early clues; women in every kind of job at every level and men at home pushing babies in strollers are no longer weird exceptions. Nevertheless, at the level of our collective unconscious, we still carry an exorbitant fear about androgyny. The excessive reactions to the whole cafeteria of sex role blurrings—coed dorms, shaved heads for women, the abolition of clubs for men only, women in the workplace, the marketplace, and the state legislature, and, above all, to male and female homosexuality—all reveal our fears, our deep internal need to keep things psychosexually "in place."
So even though androgyny is already galloping toward us, we are all still afraid of its arrival. In spite of the fact that both men and women would immediately gain greater access to themselves and one another in the further dissolving of gender boundaries, and that we would open a gateway to the spiritual level, on a psychological level we still fear it.
What both men and women need to bear in mind as they undertake these changes, however, is that androgyny does not imply that women will become men and men, women. Rather, it invites both sexes to draw as many cards as they like from a deck that spans the entire psychosexual and psychospiritual spectrum. When people are at ease with the full range of their emotions, embarrassed by neither the masculine nor the feminine in themselves, they approach life with a much greater sense of excitement, fulfillment, and possibility; they are more able to have an ecstatic experience of themselves and of others.
Nowhere is there a greater payoff for this than in intimate relationships. For it is precisely to the extent that we relax gender boundaries, that men will be able to approach women through their sensitivity and meet women in the place of real emotional exchange. In the ways we've missed men the most, we'll finally have the experience we've always desired, the relationships we've always longed for and men have i dreamed of.
For, to the degree that men become comfortable their own femininity, they will also develop the capacity for empathy, the feeling-with-others that until now has been the special privilege of women. This will enable men to identify with women in their suffering rather than simply trying to women's problems. In knowing what women suffer, frustrates them, what brings them happiness and satisfy both men and women will feel less alone. Finally men w able to give women something women can wholeheartedly receive.
In some larger, more mystical sense, for men to take on the full range of emotions will also have the effect of mitigating the polarization between the sexes. For, when a man can se feminine in himself, no matter how it expresses itself—whether in creativity, in the verbal expression of his emotions, ii compassion for his wife, in his tenderness with his children in his awareness of his fear of death—he can far more re honor these sensitivities in a woman.
Conversely, the woman who has embraced the masculine in herself can be far more appreciative when she encounters in a man the hallmark male attributes of aggression, logic, emotional detachment, and power. Instead of denigrating these, as women so often unconsciously do, we can then and beautifully honor the gifts of the masculine.
Androgyny, this blending of sex roles, is an exquisite kind of mirroring. For when we can see ourselves in each other, we no longer judge; we begin to love. This is the beginning the healing we all need.
In the development of the feminine consciousness men lies the blueprint for the end of the battle between sexes. For, so long as we view one another as opposites, representatives of totally antithetical camps, we will all keep facing each other off across the emotional barbed wire barriers that keep us prisoners in a brutal sexist cold war.
Women's enormous discontent will be assuaged only when men have integrated enough of the feminine that women can resonate with it. Then and only then will women feel encouraged to appreciate men in their incontrovertible masculinity, and to further enrich both the masculine and feminine aspects in themselves.
(Excerpt from The Men We Never Knew)
by Daphne Rose Kingma
Ms. Kingma’s Website:
Part 1 - “Aching for Wholeness: Men and the Feminine Consciousness” (Excerpt from THE MEN WE NEVER KNEW) by Daphne Rose Kingma
---Painting “Swan Boat” by Lauren Woods
"Basically men are useless in relationships unless they've developed their female side."
-Computer executive, 36
If Freud's unforgettable question of the 1890s was "What do women want?" then the antiphonal question for the 1990s is "What do men need?" I believe the perennial attempt to answer Freud's question stems from the unconscious hope that if only, or if ever, men could figure out what women need and could satisfy them, then finally they could discover their own needs too. In a sense, men have been living in emotional poverty, for, as we have seen, until very recently their emotional needs, both collective and individual, have been virtually unidentified, unacknowledged, and unaddressed.
What do men need? Men need to be emotionally healed. Men need to be released from their roles as women's enemies and saviors. Men need to gain access to the sensitivity women claim they want them to exhibit; men need to be freed from their own limiting definitions of what it is to be a man. Men need to have an internal, as well as an external life, to be able to feel as well as to do, to express as well as suppress, to contemplate as well as perform. In short, men need to have an emotional life, to be able to communicate—with words, with tears, with tender gestures—with women and with one another about the various rich and difficult inner contents of their lives.
As we have seen, however, rather than being given or guided into an emotional life, men have been trapped in the role of being provider-protectors, heroes, and automatons, and they literally do not have access to the emotional materials and techniques with which to create the emotional experience they need. As things stand now, they are delivering all they can from their limited repertoire, and the fact that they're willing to give women everything except the emotional encounter is itself a proof of what they don't possess.
It's not for lack of good will that they continue to disappoint women; they simply can't deliver what they still don't know they have, the invisible component to which men have always held title but have never gained possession.
This mysterious vacancy in a man's psyche is what we may call the feminine consciousness. By feminine consciousness I refer to those qualities of personality, whether they reside in men or women, that are in essence receptive, intuitive, caritative, and visionary. By receptive I mean able to take in, to be acted upon; by intuitive, able to sense by extra-ordinary and specifically nonverbal means; by caritative, feeling, nurturing,
responsive to that which is in need or pain; and by visionary, partaking of the capacity to see the unseen, imagine the impossible, connect with the universal, the mysterious, the . divine. The feminine consciousness is the consciousness of union, of peace, of sensitivity. It is the consciousness that has as its essence the seeking of similarity, rather than difference. In all of us, it is the force that binds, not divides, that is willing to undergo transformation, rather than defend the status quo. In the past, these luminous qualities have been seen as \ primarily pertaining to or residing in women, hence we call them feminine. Indeed, in general it is true that women have been the carriers of the feminine consciousness in the world. We all look to women to nourish our bodies and spirits, to console us in the dark hours, to nurture our children, to express our collective anguish at the wailing wall, to apprehend the truth beyond language that intuition embodies.
The Whole of Personality
"From now on, I'm going to make the important decisions in my life according to my feelings, my intuition, my logic, and my best self-interest."
-Divorcing entrepreneur, 42
It is precisely this feminine dimension men need to incorporate now. To know their woundedness, to be able to grieve, long for, and want; to desire, to tend, to console—these aspects of feminine consciousness which have always before been seen to be the exclusive province of women must now become the familiar stomping grounds of men.
If we think of the totality of a person's consciousness, we may say that, as in some alchemical formula, it is composed of a certain number of parts which we call masculine and others which we call feminine. Each of us is a blend of the masculine and feminine aspects, with men, of course, tending to contain more of the masculine and women more of the feminine.
The degree to which a man embodies what we call the masculine consciousness, for example, is the degree to which he embodies the male aspects of ego, male pride, identification through work, the suppression and displacement of his feelings, an analytical mind, and reliance on his physical strength. To the extent a man is in possession of his feminine aspects, he is able to cry, to express his emotions verbally, to rely on his intuition.
In spite of what has changed, at the emotional level we are all still acting out the same old sex roles. Most men are still locked in the position of expressing only their masculine attributes and are still so unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the feminine that they're trying to hide or deny it, while men who are blessed (or cursed) with possessing it already are struggling to find a culturally acceptable outlet for it without being punished for possessing it.
As an engineer said, "In my profession the lack of recognition for my sensitivity has felt like a lifelong condemnation for being 'the wrong kind of man.'" Another, a products designer, said, "I only know how to be vulnerable. Everything affects me. There are times I wish there were some other way I could be. It would make my life a whole lot easier." Yet another man told the horror story of being accused of molesting a young boy because, at his father's funeral when the boy had burst into tears, this man had kneeled down and taken him into his arms to comfort him.
The sad truth is that whether men already possess the feminine to some degree—and have to deal with it as an aberration—or don't acknowledge it at all, they still aren't able o move comfortably with it in their lives. Men are still living the horrible fallout of having disowned the internal feminine and women are still angry at them because they have.
Some men are beginning to become aware of this. But awareness—simple diagnosis—is a breathtakingly long distance from transformation, healing, and change. To know what has wounded you, even to name the wound, is still not to have been healed, still not to be, though scarred, reborn.
So what can men do about their pain? The problem of course is that men's pain is an emotional phenomenon. It occurs in precisely the venue in which men are unable to help themselves. Emotional pain, and emotions—the psychological antidote with which to heal it—are off limits for men. If only they could cry—but men can't cry. If only they could collapse—but men can't collapse. Instead they're stuck with their grief.
The process of emotional healing for men requires that a man be given the vision with which to apprehend his own wounds: to identify them, mourn them, shed tears over them and, in the end, be cleansed of them. This process of identifying, grieving, and being cleansed is, if you will, an essentially feminine process. It is feminine because it is receptive in essence. The person being healed must be in possession of the pain that needs to be alchemized. He must receive it to the point where he can feel it, and having taken it in, then and only then can he begin to grieve and release it. Only when he has mourned will his eyes be washed so that he can see his own suffering, so that he can become compassionate not only with himself, but also with women.
Approach of Change
"/ want to become more spiritually and emotionally connected. I would welcome knowing that part in me. It's a good part, and I want it to come out."
-Band manager, 45
A number of men and women on the forefront of oping consciousness have watched as men have been ling on tip-toe, tap-tapping outside the gates of their own unexplored feminine dimension. Men are talking more, taking : time for themselves and with one another. But nowhere : emerging feminine more readily apparent than in men's willingness to take a more active role in the rearing of children, n women's encouragement of them to do so.
This trend of male participation in childrearing is just piece of evidence that intuitively we're all beginning to agree it's time for men to gain access to the feminine. In spite »t openly acknowledging this, we are shyly creating opportunities for it to occur and in the protected emotional environment of a man's relationship with his children, we do allow a to get in touch with the softer, more vulnerable aspects of elf. Through nurturing his children—holding, rocking, and ing them—a man can begin to gain access to his feminine without shame, contempt, or embarrassment.
In spite of, or perhaps specifically because of such changes, it's difficult to comprehend the degree to which men till terrified of the feminine in themselves. Most men can't face how afraid they are of their own feminine aspects, and men who are aware of their fear and trying to overcome i having a difficult time. As a friend acknowledged to me, int to be sensitive, warm, and loving, but I have to admit 11 see men hugging each other, I'm really put off."
The truth is that, although some men are exploring their sensitivity through therapy or men's groups, most men are still stranded in the outback of male consciousness and have miles to go before they meet women on the common ground of the conscious feminine. What this means is that although they may be venturing a peek at their emotions, men still haven't gotten acquainted or comfortable enough with them to use them as the medium of their connection with women.
Why Men Are Stuck
"Somehow I know that my capacity to feel will change when I get the words to describe my feelings. But I don't know how to do that."
-Graduate student, 30
Men haven't raced downtown to buy admission tickets to the conscious feminine because dismantling and reassembling male consciousness is a terrifying proposition. Embracing the feminine is a process that will require the profoundest revision of male sensibilities and self definitions. For a man to take on the feminine dimension doesn't mean simply putting on—as he would a three-piece suit, a carpenter's belt, a hard hat or gun— a different outfit called "the feminine." It means, rather, that he will have to see that in the very deepest reaches of himself, he -is not only capable of acting and performing, as men have always done, but that he is also capable of feeling while acting, and of feeling instead of performing.
Men will have to discover that they have a purely receptive feminine, feeling function, as well as an aggressive masculine performing function—and that the feminine function will not disrupt the organic functioning of their masculinity. They will also need to claim this as their true and integrated male possession, for there is also the very complex problem of orchestrating a whole new repertoire of behaviors and feelings.
Therefore taking on the feminine means a man will have to be able to feel instead of act—if feeling is the appropriate response to a given situation—but that he will have to learn when to move from acting to feeling (or vice versa), and when to do both at once. This in itself is an elaborate level of emotional discernment not readily familiar to men. To integrate the feminine means profoundly understanding that being in the feeling state could actually enhance the way they hold up the world.
Contemplating embracing the feminine also brings men face to face with some of their worst fears, because to be emotional is, above all, to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable is to be open, to be able to be wounded. It is the capacity to undergo, to be affected by an emotion or experience, and, once having been affected, to be transformed by it. Thus, to be vulnerable is to be able to be deeply changed.
For a woman, the ultimate,experience of this vulnerability is the transformation of her body during pregnancy. In it, a woman takes in a man, undergoes the rearrangement of her physical structure, and with the birth of her child, completely revises the physical and psychological function of her life.
Since the defining characteristics of male consciousness are the embodiment of power, action, and control, for a man, vulnerability—this potential total rearrangement—in any form is frightening. To be male is to be the agent, not the object, of change. Men want to act upon, to assert, aggress, and enforce. Whereas the essence of the feminine is to be affected by, it is the masculine essence to try to remain unaffected.
Taking on the seemingly infinite capacity of the feminine to undergo change is terrifying to men. Yet in even the simplest of emotional encounters, women are asking essentially that men develop vulnerability, which represents the antithesis of everything men have always been told to be as men. This consciousness is a totally new undertaking for men, one which, it seems to them, will compromise their entire male identity, and they're scared to death of it.
For men, opening to feeling necessitates not only developing the ability to have a new experience, it also requires giving up a level of protection that has been a great source of comfort to them. In a nutshell, in being emotionally vulnerable, men will have to give up being invulnerable, and in so doing, to develop a whole new male archetype. While from women's perspective, invulnerability is a defensive second-rate emotional stance, for men it represents the protected sanctuary from which, precisely, they have been able to function—and function on women's behalf. Occupying this place they have also been spared the anguishing sorrows, emotional convolutions, and importunate outpourings women have always been prey to.
In this regard it should be mentioned that women have never particularly wanted to see that there are advantages to being unfeeling—but there are. Being able to proceed in heartbreaking circumstances without being yanked off course by the distracting pull of emotions—going into the burning house to save the child without getting hysterical in advance, wielding the knife on the operating table without having your hands immobilized by the fear of failure, being able to work twelve hours a day for your wife and children without getting bogged down in self-pity—all this is of great advantage to the man who must do so, and to those who benefit from his so-called insensitivity. A man instinctively knows that what women receive through his being cut off from his feelings is of great value.
Evolution of any kind takes sacrifice. Thus it is that even in unconsciously contemplating becoming vulnerable, a man intuits that he will lose something of importance, something precious, something he values in himself; and he fears that it won't be replaced by something of equal value.
This fear is made even more palpable by his instinctual recognition that in having an emotional life, he will not only come into the presence of his positive feelings, but also of his terror, rage, and sorrow. He fears he will do the impossible thing—be vulnerable, go out of control—and that once having done it, he will encounter not only his joy, but also a shocking immensity of monstrous, negative feelings. As one man said, "It's bad enough to be vulnerable, without having to feel all this sadness too. If I have to get into the feeling state, at least I should get to have a good feeling."
The unconscious recognition of what being vulnerable would mean is so threatening to men as to make the emotional undertaking almost the last thing any man would want to do. In fact, most men would rather do almost anything else than get in touch with their feelings. They would far rather double or triple their efforts at what they're already doing: working, providing, protecting, paying (the Everything-But Syndrome again); disappoint the women in their lives by boldly insisting they don't have a need to communicate; fool themselves into thinking they're already in touch with their sensitivity; despise, deny, and disown their emotional vulnerability; or insist they don't need to change. At the level of the collective male unconscious, it is so unbelievably threatening for men to contemplate this change that even though there have been invitations galore from women, most men are still hiding out and waffling.
Although it is extremely difficult for men to submit to the state of vulnerability in order to learn, if they are going to take on their emotional lives, they must. What they need to remember, however, is that vulnerability, as modeled by women, is also power, for when the woman is most changed, as when her body is transformed in pregnancy, she also becomes most powerful.
Accepting the feminine in themselves also means that men must acknowledge that in some sense they have always been incomplete. Facing this incompleteness is one of the more difficult things a man can do. For as we have seen, men believe that they must be everything for everyone, and their attendant greatest fear is that they won't be enough. Allowing themselves to see that in some sense they aren't enough is the mo; frightening thing they could contemplate. Seeing themselves a having a lack—in this case, the lack of the ability for emotion; experience—is a nightmare discovery for most men, and another reason that, no matter how much they may unconscious] desire it, they resist incorporating the feminine. In short, me hate to see that something is missing in them.
Yet the paradox is always the location of the miracle; the moment of terror is the moment of possibility. The courage required to embrace the feminine proves a man's masculinity for only a very strong man has the strength to be so ver vulnerable. In disclosing his fear of being weak, a man become beautifully strong; in being open and receptive, he become authentically protected. The man who can say he's afraid can begin, instantly, to receive the solace he needs; no longer must he bear his fear alone. The man who can weep can have his tear wiped away. The man who can open to his fragility can finally embrace his true power.
In short, the man who integrates his feminine self becomes more wholly masculine because he is all that he is. He is no longer a shadow of himself, half there, living an as-if life o emotional suppression and passive-aggressive defensiveness He is finally born whole. As one young man, embarking on hi healing journey in psychotherapy, put it so beautifully, "I’m scared to death to be here, but I'm here because I don't want to live my whole life as somebody else." Intuitively he knew that there was so much more to him than he had already experienced or would ever discover if he continued to follow the path of being a man that had been so narrowly laid out for him. This is the same young man who said, when he completed his healing journey, "I feel stronger than I ever imagined possible, but in a completely different way. Now I know how I feel-for me that is being a man."
(Excerpt from The Men We Never Knew)
by Daphne Rose Kingma
Ms. Kingma’s Website: