One of the most important aspects of my awakening has been balancing the masculine and feminine inside me; it feels like one of the most fundamentally important messages that needs to be shared with the world right now.
Every aspect of reality has a masculine and feminine aspect to it. There is a way where you can see this as dualistic, like two threads that are weaving together to make a cloth, or you can see it as non-dualistic, like the dark and light side of the moon.
Before we start, I just want to clear up a couple of common misconceptions. We all have the masculine and feminine within each of us. The masculine has more power in our world and this is reflected in pretty much every individual and culture around the world. There is a time and a place to bring awareness to how this impacts differently on men and women, but in this space that is not what I’m talking about. I’m presenting a concept for a way in which the world would be a better place for everyone if we can all balance these things as individuals and collectives.
The imbalance between the masculine and feminine is reflected in how we experience our inner worlds, how we behave and in our society as a whole. We need to recognise the ways in which we contribute to this dynamic so that we can build a fairer, more balanced, more whole society that will be better for everyone.
Masculine and Feminine in Spiritual Practice
Wisdom and spaciousness arise from love and understanding. Both of these have a masculine component and a feminine component.
A simple way of understanding the masculine and feminine energies is that the masculine is about giving and the feminine is about receiving.
When we talk about understanding, the masculine element is giving meaning to something and the feminine component is receiving the meaning of something.
When we talk about love, the masculine element is to actively love something and the feminine component is to receive the love.
In our society, we value the masculine elements more; we perceive the world as something we go out and do something to in order to create value. But receiving the world and the people in it, is equally as powerful and valuable.
In order for the world to be a safer more joyful place, we need to to balance these within us as individuals and as a society.
A typically masculine version of understanding would be writing a book explaining a concept of the world. A typically feminine version of understanding would be listening deeply to what someone has to say and understanding the meaning behind it.
The imbalance in our society manifests in us believing that we understand other’s experiences from the outside better than they can understand it from the inside. It is the idea that science is more true than our felt experience of the world.
We can learn and grow equally as well from listening to what resonates with us as we do from learning about concepts.
We already know a shit load of clever stuff, so we probably don’t need many more books; we need to be able to open to receiving life on an emotional level too so that we can get a sense of what all this crazy stuff means to us, what resonates with us and how we experience the world.
The feminine element doesn’t always have to actually be listening. It can be listening to our own felt senses and expressing this to each other by sharing openly about what it feels like to be us. This can feel really vulnerable if we’re not used to it but you can trust that if it resonates with you, it probably resonates with other people, and it will help them to understand their experience better.
The feminine element is the ability to hold a space for someone to be and discover themselves in. We can do this for ourselves, we can do this for each other and we can go on a shared adventure in getting to know our internal worlds better together. It’s beautiful.
A typically masculine version of love would be to give someone something or do something for them that we hope will make them happy. A typically feminine version of love would be to appreciate someone for all their wonderful traits.
The imbalance in our society manifests in us believing that giving is a more honourable thing to do and receiving is a passive trait that takes no skill and provides no value. It is also the idea that if we want to feel better we need to do something about it, we are to blame for our negative feelings.
This has some really dark manifestations in our society, including blaming rape victims, dismissing mental health problems and bullying ‘weak’ people.
If you give people a safe space to share the ways in which they have been oppressed, hurt and degraded by others, the examples will flood out of them. People hold onto these feelings because they cannot express them in the moment. Being emotionally open and sharing the ways in which we are hurt by others is seen as a weakness to be exploited or a tool that we are using to manipulate people, not as a valuable piece of information to be honoured.
This perception is absurdly integrated into our society; we are numb to how little attention we pay to our feelings and have become used to just ‘sucking it up’ when we are in situations that make us feel like shit. We basically have to do this for every modern job.
In order to embrace the feminine, we need to allow people to share the emotional impact that their environment and other people’s actions have on them. We need to learn to be grown ups and be able to listen to people when they are hurting, including ourselves, without reacting and appointing blame.
When people can share how they feel about something, it presents a much more honest picture of the true reality and we are able to create solutions that genuinely meet people’s needs. If we all pretend we are ok all the time, we will just keep creating environments that make us feel like shit.
It can also be a beautifully powerful and positive experience. Receiving the love of ourselves and others is an active role that takes skill to learn to do well. Compassion helps us transform some difficult emotions and feel less alone with others. We are only able to feel happy, if we can find and listen to the happiness inside of us and help other people recognise it in themselves too.
Balancing the masculine and feminine of love and understanding within us is vital for awakening.
The more you can feel things and let the meaning of things resonate through you, the more you will be able to experience and appreciate the beauty and insight that life and practice can create.
Part of awakening is letting go of fixed ideas and concepts of the world and learning to give ourselves to the moment-to-moment experience that is arising. The reality is that experience is always in the process of being given and received and the more we can integrate the full expression of both the masculine and feminine within us, the more present we will be able to be with experience in each moment.
Life, experience and awakening are not something that can be ‘got’ or that we can ‘have’ in any fixed way.
Part of the reality that everything is always in the process of being given and received is that when that is in balance and both of these are open and appreciated, the process feels a lot more alive and clear.