(From a concept paper given at the Sufi-Yogi Dialogue, under the auspices of GPIW, Rishikesh, India, January 2010)
It is often said that this is the time of the return of the feminine. What do we mean by the feminine? And why are the mystical traditions, such as Sufism and Yoga, particularly powerful vehicles for the return of the feminine, especially when the connection between the two – mysticism and the feminine – is consciously recognized and embraced?
What do we mean when we talk about the rise of the feminine? It is time to move beyond all that creates separation, competition and domination, and it is time to embrace all that creates interconnection, flow, Oneness, the melting of boundaries. The mystical path is in its essence feminine, melting into the Beloved, melting the boundaries of inner and outer, self and other, self and the world.
The feminine is about interconnection, integration and Oneness. It opens up the communication lines between different levels of our being, unifying spirit, energy and matter. The masculine traditions have tended to polarize spirit and matter, leading to the denigration and destruction of life and of nature we see all around us today. The feminine needs to re-emerge to heal this life-threatening split. The Divine Feminine is spirituality in the service of life, not its rejection or denial.
The feminine is inclusive. This means both deeply interior, and recognizing the direct interconnection between inner and outer. The deepest inward-turning paths have, paradoxically, the greatest potential to transform our world outwardly. Through inner work we access collective subtle energy fields which underlie manifestation on the outer plane, and can influence the course of its evolution. We do this through inner energy work, meditation, prayer, focused intention and silence. In feminine language we talk about co-creation, accessing that level of core unity at which we naturally align with the Divine will or order, the matrix of intelligence that guides the universe in its evolution.
Both mysticism and the feminine move freely between the realms of the invisible and the visible. We live on a spectrum of frequency levels, and it is the smooth flow and intercommunication between these levels, multi-level intelligence or fluency, that allows us to both access the full potential of our own being and to transform the outer planes from the inner. This is sacred activism, or practical mysticism. Embracing life, not denying it, yet within a much greater context that goes beyond life and death, an activism all the more potent in that it brings to bear the transcendent on the immanent. So, far from fatalistic, life-denying, the inner orientation of mysticism, wedded to the feminine, is dynamic, expansive, and powerfully transformative.
In the patriarchal religions, the traditional dichotomy between the feminine and the masculine is to associate the feminine with matter and the masculine with spirit, the feminine with immanence and the masculine with transcendence. Yet the true nature of the feminine, the Divine Feminine – particularly that aspect coming in at this time of evolution – is not immanence as opposed to transcendence, but interconnection and unity: the interconnection and unity of the immanent and the transcendent. It is the higher feminine that turns the spiral of evolution towards a higher synthesis of opposites, unifying spirit and matter through her transformative energy, unifying the transcendent and the immanent, and in the process making transparent the Oneness of all creation in the Divine.
The outer forms of religion are hierarchical, masculine, but the inner heart of spirituality is feminine – one must give away all agendas of self-importance, status and personal ambition –and simply become a vessel for the Divine.
The feminine is about the melting of boundaries, of domination hierarchies, of fixed positions. As such, it is the ideal mediator between traditions, that which allows openness and flow between what may appear to be opposed positions, connecting and unifying, drawing upon commonality rather than defending or fortifying boundaries. The feminine can be said to represent the peace-maker, that which comes in between warring factions, the interspiritual unity at the heart of the diverse religions, where the competition and conflicts between them on the surface melt into a deep commonality, complementarity and union.
In fact, to pursue the feminine is to return to the Source, from which all is born and to which all returns, and from which we are never parted. It is time for us to come back to this, after a long dream of separation, and the natural affinity between the mystical paths and the feminine, perhaps more than any other alliance, has an enormous potential to bring us home.