I’ve been drawn to feminine energy for as long as I can remember. For the longest time this meant being attracted to women: their looks, touch, and company. At times it felt as if I was looking to reconnect with my mother who died shortly after I turned three. All along, I knew that there was something deeper at work, something I now see as an archetypal re-union of mysterious dimensions.
Ten years ago, nearing the end of basic training at a Zen monastery, I asked a senior monk about women teachers. Till then, my authority figures in the secular and teachers in the spiritual realm had been men. The monastery itself had a distinct masculine air about it (although women trained there as well). Unexplained rules, impersonal instructions, long hours of work and meditation, being shouted at, obscure replies to simple questions, emphasis on detachment and submission, sleep deprivation, primitive living quarters, formal meals eaten in a hurry, the absence of physical touch and expressions of human kindness … in short, an authority-driven, shut-up-and-do-what-you’re-told atmosphere that went against everything I valued as a teacher and all that I longed for as a creature. To me, they were the epitome of macho energy and, as thus defined, lacked the wholeness I hungered for.
And yet, and yet … something had begun to ferment within, something which I was unable to articulate. Yet when asked where I planned to go “from here,” I inquired about woman teachers. To my surprise, this initial Zen training, with its bizarre rituals, obscure language, and seeming lack of heart, propelled me onto a spiritual path. Two years later, while living at a Zen monastery headed by a woman and a man, one of them asked that I read a book by a modern-day Sufi mystic.
The spiritual journey … has a masculine and feminine nature. The masculine aspect of the path is to seek a goal, to seek union with God or Absolute Truth. The masculine dynamic gives us the focus and perseverance we need to make this journey, to travel beyond this outer world of illusion to the inner reality that lies within the heart. For the masculine, Truth, or God, is not here in the world around us, but in the beyond.
However, for the feminine [God] is always present. The feminine embraces the deepest secret of creation in which the Creator and His world are eternally united in love. The feminine knows that God is because she carries the mystery of life within her; she can give birth to life. The feminine knows that life cannot exist without this sacred substance, without this essence. (p.82)
… Within the heart everything is one: the masculine and feminine are united in love. The wayfarer needs to live both aspects, to turn away from the world of illusion and yet also embrace the wholeness of life. (p.88)