The Love Affair of the Primordial Masculine and Feminine Principles of Enlightenment
The feminine and masculine aspect in all of us awakens quite differently. Celebrating the difference, not in a dualistic dividing way, but knowing and honoring both benefits us along our path to knowing we are ultimately One, and not even that. This article refers to masculine and feminine as primordial energies on a gestalt continuum. For example, masculine qualities as outward and directive, and feminine qualities as inward and receptive. We all have these qualities to varying degrees. Archetypes of the primordial masculine and feminine are depicted in ancient cosmologies, such the Taoist’s Yin and Yang principles and Shaivism’s Shakti and Shiva. In the Taoist cosmology, Wuji (or Wu chi) is the Ultimate Unmanifest (Supreme Mystery, The Unknowable). Yin and Yang represent separation of the Wuji into opposites/duality (feminine and masculine), but together, Yin and Yang create what is called tai chi- the great harmony. Within Shaivism, Shiva, the masculine aspect, represent Absolute Reality/Consciousness and Shakti, the feminine aspect, represents the dynamic force of the Universe. Shiva holds space and direction for Shakti shape-shifting energetic flow to move. Their union, Ardhanarishvara, depicted as half Shiva and half Shakti, represents the synthesis of both, deepest tantra, and dissolution of separation at the heart of our true nature.
“ As energy, the Universe is referred to as Shakti; and the Father, that which is an identity in the formless, is referred to as Shiva. The path of enlightenment is the path of bringing together the two parts of this identity until form is no different than formless. ”
— Ram Dass
Enlightenment does not happen to a man, a woman, or any other gender. Our true essence is neither male, female, binary, etc., or even a “being” for that matter. Our true essence is limitless and undefinable. Enlightenment is not something attained by special people or achieved as an object outside of us to gain. We are fundamentally enlightened, and don't become enlightened. Enlightenment is the natural full realization of our fundamental nature that is always present. Our ultimate nature is direct, intimate, always here and now. Enlightenment arises naturally from the dropping of an illusory identity. Enlightenment is not some distant remote place, but the intimate unconditioned peace and love that you are right now. Please don’t put pressure on yourself if this is not your experience. The collective ego/veiling structure is entrenched and we are all in this awakening process together. This is where an adept teachers (like Rupert Spira and Byron Katie) and certain meditations become helpful. This is not about achieving something for a non-existent illusory self, but compassionately answering the call back home to who we truly are.
Enlightenment in the traditional sense, which is masculine oriented, such as Advaita Vedanta, is the potent realization of ones true nature beyond the body and mind as now presence- infinite eternal Consciousness. The ego dissolves as pure Knowing. All there can ever be of experience is the knowing of it. The path to this realization is rooted in practices such as meditation, self inquiry, and stillness. The "I" is not the body/mind, but is known as I Consciousness, I knowing, or I Awareness. Some of the powerful qualities that naturally arise from this awakening are equanimity, integrity, vastness, emptiness, and peace which are inherent in our true nature.
In the feminine paths, the Self awakens as the ecstatic dance of the cosmos in spontaneous creation. It’s a path that is dynamic, sensual, juicy, and vibrant. It is not a journey but a blossoming open. One awakens not through stillness but through what is ever changing. To realize oneself as ever changing, there is nothing to latch onto and the ego drops into an ocean of motion. The feminine path, is more tantric, in that one awakens by entering the experience of the body and senses so thoroughly, going beyond, touching the Beloved as oneself. The self awakens as the energy of the Infinity of Creation through embodiment, devotion, love’s fullness, ecstasy, sexuality, creativity, the cosmos, connection to the earth, intimacy in relationships, and that which is ever changing. Feminine enlightenment is also emotion filled. However, instead of being contracted, identified, or attached by drama and the mental stories, feelings are an empathic oceanic tide, opening as love. The feminine path is not a logical or linear way to awakening. Her way is untamable with infinite petals. Her expression can dissolve one into the core of our primordial origin. With the dissolving of what we are not, we arise in spontaneous creation- unique, bright, wild, and free.
“Feminine spirituality is much more about the emanation of love in this moment, feeling into this moment, feeling the texture of this moment through the skin, through the body, and then letting your life become an emanation of love.”
— Arjuna Ardagh
To experience the benefits and differences of the feminine and masculine paths, one can attend a non-dual retreat (e.g. Rupert Spira) and contrast that with attending an embodiment retreat (e.g. Michaela Boehm’s The Wild Women Way or Gabriel Roth’s The Five Rhythms). In the non-dual retreat, one is relaxing into true being through meditation or in sessions of inquiry (question and answers with the teacher). Although something much deeper is transpiring, the embodied experience is sitting in one form or another in stillness and inquiry. On the other hand, in an embodiment retreat, one is immersed into movement, emotive, and devotional expression. Both the non-dual and the embodied retreat have the potential of awakening us to our true nature- intimate, infinite, loving, and eternal.
Exploring both the non-dual and embodied approach deepens and opens us to a richer array of our being, as well as help circumvent any spiritual by-passing. For example, when there is trauma in the body, one may be attracted to a non-dual path of going beyond the mind/body to escape the a deeper rooted pain felt within the body. This can lead to a disconnect and further suffering. Somatic trauma specialist like Dr. Peter Levine, show that trauma is best healed and released through embodiment. On the other hand, if one immerses themselves into the rich and sensual realm of the embodied feminine path, without the ability of self inquiry and capacity to be in stillness, it could lead to avoidance of painful ego and belief structures through constant cathartic emotionality and colorful distraction.
In summary, enlightenment for the masculine aspect within us all, is experienced as a deep unwavering peace, resting within and as infinite Consciousness. Consciousness is the underlying source we all share. Enlightenment for the feminine principle within us is experienced as aliveness- in our bodies connected to love and infinitum (humans, flora and fauna, the earth, all planets, stars, galaxies... all experienced creation) expressed uniquely- radiant, wild, and multitudinous. The Hindu Shiva/Shakti are an example of Shiva, the masculine aspect as the still center, and Shakti, life force dancing around him in her many manifestation. When combined, these two principles are like a torus field, where we fold into ourselves, resting in the peace of our pure essence and eternal stillness, and simultaneously (in no space or time) move up and outward ever changing, shining ever more brightly as a one of a kind expression of Infinity.
Luminous and Void
In between the masculine and feminine principles of enlightenment, converging, is our nature that is not known through consciousness (masculine) or expression (feminine), but through the love that is between these two enlightened principles. It is the core of the One Heart. The unconditioned and unknowable eternal now and luminous potential. This is the realm of the secret dakini, the primordial void, the great Womb, or Brahman (reabsorbs and emanates everything from itself.) A color analogy I like to use is this: the color white (which is all colors combined) to represent Awareness (masculine) by which all experience is illuminated (sees all colors at once); a rainbow of colors (which is white through a prism) to represent the diversity of creation and expression (feminine); and black to represent the absence of all color as the voidness of our primordial core. Both the masculine and feminine principles of enlightenment through their ecstasy dissolve into the void. What arises is pure potential. True reality is luminosity of being at the heart of the One Infinite we all are. Life cracks open luminescent, shocking, tender, beautiful, and inextricably intimate. Unconditioned, unknown, vivid life in each eternal now!
About the Author
Kalista is co-founder of She is Love. Her service is to Sacred Feminine creative embodied awakening. “DAKINA” is the creative avatar name through which she expresses multi-dimentional embodiments and transmissions. Her art is connected to the primordial aspects of the Sacred She, such as the Dakini, Shakti, and Gaia Sophia. Kalista also guides women into the depths of their unique embodiments and true nature. Her background includes a B.A. in Psychology, graduate studies in Expressive Arts Therapy at the European Graduate School and Expressive Arts Therapy Institute, and is trained in the Non-Linear Movement Method® (created by one of her mentor’s Michaela Boehm). She also received the wisdom transmission of the Five Dakinis by Lama Tsultrim at the Tara Mandala. She utilizes these experiences to deepen her artwork and mentorship with women. Her artwork and services can be found at: dakina.com (please contact Kalista for password)