Years ago I was giving a tour of Ananda Village when a woman on the tour asked me if Ananda had formed a “Women’s Liberation Group” here.
“Oh yes!” I replied. “We meet once a week!”
She was pleased and went on to ask: “And what are the topics of discussion at your meetings?”
The answer was surprising to her: “We don’t discuss anything. It’s a group of women who like to pray, chant, and meditate together; in this way we try to find our final liberation or union with our Divine Mother.” (I figured I’d better throw something feminine into this conversation).
Later her question made me think seriously about what it really does mean to be a woman in a spiritual sense? Obviously this woman had another kind of “women’s liberation” in mind, when she asked her questions. But male or female, we are all souls, striving for freedom, for liberation from the bondage of human birth and death, from attachments, and from all suffering. Our goal is oneness with our Creator, the Great Spirit which is beyond duality, male and female, or opposites of any type. This is the end of all human and spiritual evolution.
A basic urge in everyone, male or female, is based on an innate sense of incompleteness. Our lives are often directed by our striving to find that completeness or try to fulfill what we perceive as our needs! We often misplace these needs by thinking that we will become whole or complete through relationships, career, power, money, marriage, family, and so on.
Finding satisfaction through anything of this world may feel fabulous, for a time; but sooner or later, its temporary satisfaction gives way to yet another unsatisfied need. “Human desires, ever-fed, are never satisfied.” The key to happiness is found within you, not outside of you! Thus, the final liberation we are truly seeking has nothing to do with our sex, because our essential nature is the soul, beyond all duality. Perfect happiness lies in striving to liberate ourselves from attachments to all ideas about ourselves. It comes in finding out who and what we really are!
However, to balance all these thoughts, if you have chosen to take on a female body in this lifetime, this fact has various spiritual implications which cannot and should not be ignored. It is important to use one’s feminine strengths in a positive, beneficial way—in a way which will hasten one’s spiritual evolution!
Here are a few of these strengths:
1) OPENNESS — In our culture today, women are much more likely to be spiritual seekers. We are not quite as protective of old ways. We like to embrace the flow of change all around us and seek new ways of growth. Openness is the first and most important attitude anyone must have to be a seeker of truth. Without the attitudes of flexibility and willingness to embrace change, very little spiritual progress is possible. However, the opposite side of the coin is the possibility of becoming too open or mentally scattered and unable to focus our energy when needed.
2) SENSITIVITY TO ENVIRONMENT, INSPIRING OTHERS — Women are generally very sensitive to beauty or the lack of it and very sensitive to vibrations of people and places. Women are often the main forces for the inspiration and upliftment of society, preservers of beauty, music, and the arts. They feel drawn to enjoy and protect nature and our planet. It has been said that the healing of Mother Earth, if it comes, will probably be spearheaded by women. Over-sensitivity can be a real drawback for a woman, too. Learning about appropriate boundaries and shielding may be necessary. Let us use our feminine sensitivity to enhance our receptive, listening nature and turn it towards listening for Divine Mother’s voice, in the inner silence of our souls.
3) SERVICEFULNESS — This quality seems to come naturally to most women. It is a compassionate desire to nourish and protect, to give, love, and serve, easily putting one’s self last, putting one’s own needs on indefinite hold. The dangerous side of this quality is “doormat” consciousness, an attitude all too easy for many women to take. We must be strong and centered in our serviceful attitudes, and learn how to keep the balance of self-nourishment when needed, or else the “well will run dry!”
4) FEELINGS, EMOTIONS — Women often go by “heart” rather than the intellect; there is both great strength in this and also some pitfalls. Balance is always a desirable goal. Emotions can cut two ways: offered to God first, they become purified in the form of devotion and divine unconditional love for all. Constantly projected elsewhere (outside ourselves), emotions may easily slip into destructive anger and fear or emotional illnesses of many types—this is most often caused by thwarted desires and destructive emotions or wishing things to be different than they are, and not having sufficient energy to change them.
5) THE ABILITY TO LOVE DEEPLY — Feeling deep, passionate love is a blessing, but passion or mother love can all too easily become “smother” love, unless we know how to use and transmute it to its highest and best expressions; human love must be kept in balance with reason and purified in the Spirit. You are Divine Mother’s beloved daughter. Tune in to that love first and then offer it to those closest to you and to the world around you. Be a channel for God’s healing love into this world—it needs it very much!
6) BODILY FUNCTIONS, HORMONES — The moon rhythms offer us times of great spiritual growth and depth; menstruation is a natural time to be more inward, to meditate more deeply. Catch these times whenever you can. Pregnancy, motherhood, menopause, all the phases of a woman’s life have deep spiritual implications. No human love can match that of a mother’s love for her child. But again, that sword cuts both ways. Love is all the sweeter when it is transmuted into divine love.
7) SISTERHOOD — Most women find that their relationships to other women are an incredibly nourishing and helpful aspect of their lives. Men rarely seem to find the depth of friendship with other men that seem to come to women so easily. We just seem to be naturally supportive of each other. The strength of a group of women who set out to do something together can be awesome! Spiritual friendships among women are a blessing almost beyond expression. A group of women who regularly pray, chant, and meditate together can uplift the environment around them with great clarity and efficiency.
8) HAVING FUN — Playfulness and just plain having fun are wonderful goals in themselves; it goes with the thought that it’s not so much what you do but how you do it. Women often create businesses to have fun. Sure money is a factor, but why not have fun making it? The happy laughter of women having fun together has a power often envied and rarely fully understood by the opposite sex, who sometimes seem prefer to be very SERIOUS, especially in business or financial matters. Lighten up and help others to do the same, male or female. The goal and destiny of all life is JOY! You will find that divine joy is all around you if you first seek it at its source, in the silence of your own soul.
9) POWERS OF ENDURANCE — A woman may lack the physical strength of a man, but she can often keep going or overcome pain and suffering in a manner which would destroy a man quickly; it’s that amazing ability to keep on putting out energy no matter how you feel. Apply the strength and power of feminine endurance to your spiritual path. Never give up! Never say “I have failed!” Just say: “I have not yet succeeded!” and keep on going. A woman can find that perfect balance of being both a spiritual warrior and a nourishing, loving mother, simultaneously.
10) A CREATIVE SPIRIT — Creativity is a basic factor in a woman’s life. After all, she has the power within her to create life! But creativity of the highest type is not biological; neither is it necessarily artistic. It is more like the ability to be resourceful, to make something from nothing, to find solutions in the face of great challenges, to stay cheerful and creative when the chips are down. Even so, it is probably true that every woman needs an artistic creative outlet of some sort. Be creative in finding that creative outlet in yourself and don’t think that this is a frivolous need. It is an essential feminine principle! God is our creator—creativity is our nature.
11) INTUITIVENESS — Perhaps the greatest of all feminine strengths! Intuition might be defined as a knowledge or certainty which comes to us through our sixth sense, beyond the usual five sensory inputs. We just know! Developing intuition is best done through regular, daily meditation. First, practice your meditation techniques, and then sit in the silence, in an open or receptive state. It is then that our intuitive powers are developed best. This doesn’t mean that guidance comes immediately, within a meditation session. It can, and often does, come later. But inner guidance does come, more and more perfectly and strongly with every meditation.
A final suggestion: don’t get too hung up about being a woman. It is just the type of “house” you are living in right now. Among women there are so many different types and temperaments, that it is difficult to make any really general statements about what a woman should do or not do, be or not be. Fall in love with the Divine, in whatever form that takes for you—and let the great power of your own spirituality lead you to your highest potential in this lifetime—as a woman, surely, but primarily as a Soul, a beloved child of God.