The topic for today is the feminine path to God-realization, to Self-realization. It is known that women tend to be more relationship oriented, emotionally oriented, in general, than men. There are biological differences between men and women that exist within the first three koshas. That includes the physical body, the way that the physical body interfaces with the mind. In the annamaya kosha, the kamamaya kosha, and even in the manomaya kosha you will find differences between men and women. Due to the differences in the physiological structure and the glandular development, there are differences in the psychology of men and women.
Naturally, there is a bell curve and some women will be very masculine and some men very feminine. So one cannot say when one generalizes that it is true for all people because there are differences among people. But in general, one can say that women tend to be better equipped with interpersonal relationship and emotional development and emotional intelligence and men, with logic, reasoning, and mental function. This is because the entire biology of women centers around the ability to give birth to children and thus to bring children into this world and nurture them. So women tend to express themselves by nurturing children and creating a circle of relationships which foster the development of the child. Men, on the other hand, though they are the fathers of children, they are not directly related, involved in having the children and they are not necessarily involved in the raising of the children. So the strengths for a man are involved in his ability to protect and defend the women and children, to hunt, to bring food, to protect against enemies in the environment and to bring strength and power to this protection so that the female may develop the close bonding with the children and bring the child into the world, teach the child how to relate to others and how to live in the world.
Thus, it can be seen that under duress, men will resort to the fight or flight but women will resort to communication and the reliance upon others. So these biological differences are there between men and women. Though women can excel in many intellectual topics, they tend, in general, to have less interest in mathematical topics than in topics that relate to history, language and the interpersonal social relationships, psychology, sociology, anthropology. These tend to draw women’s interest and even medicine and healing draw women’s interest more than mathematics, computers, engineering. These tend to draw the interests of men. Naturally, there are exceptions and it does not mean that men do not have capacities in these other fields nor that women do not have capacities in mathematics and engineering. But the tendency in the general public is that there will be interest in one or the other according to gender lines.
Some people may think that this is the conditioning of society but I would suggest that it is more than the conditioning of society. It is in the fundamental biology of men and women and in the genetic coding which fundamentally comes down to how survival comes about for the mother and child and the development of the species. There are many nuances of biological differences between men and women -- endurance, the relationship to pain -- there are many biological differences, not to mention the cycle of women with the menstruation is a much more prominent cycle than the cycle of men though men also have cycles. So the emotions of the women may be more cyclical, due to this cyclical nature of their hormonal structures, the mentality of men less variable, less emotional because of the nature of the evenness of their cycles and the less extreme measures of the cycles.
Due to these biological differences, when men and women apply themselves to the spiritual path, there are distinct variations in their strengths and capacities. In patriarchy, women were often said by spiritual leaders of different religions to be able to support men in their spiritual journey, but unable to attain the highest goal of God union. This is completely erroneous and a false belief but it dominated centuries of religious thought and created great oppression in the spiritual realm for many women.
The differences between men and women are, as I have said, in the physical body, in the way the physical body interfaces with the mind, and in the mind itself. They are not in the intuition body. They are not in the capacities of the higher, the more subtle layers of the mind. In those subtle layers where truth is known, there is no difference between men and women. They are one and the same. There is no gender to the soul, only to the body. And a particular being may take many lives in a female form and many lives in a male form. The soul has no gender but the body has gender and because the body has gender, it does affect the approach to spirituality for those embodied.
The strengths of men being in abstraction, discipline and intellect, many of the pursuits of the yogic path to form disciplined meditative practices, to move the energies upward through the spinal column to the sahasrara chakra have been focused upon the male form in the last thousands of years. They have appealed mostly to men, to the biology of men. The female has the equal capacity to realize the divine Self within. But the strengths of women to apply to their spiritual journey are different. The strength of women lies in their emotion, in their capacity to feel, to respond emotionally and to maneuver emotional challenges.
Once the heart of a woman is truly moved, she will surmount all obstacles to attain her goal but what will move the heart of a woman? Abstract ideas and concepts mean little to most women. Women having the role of practical care of children tend to find meaning in relationships, meaning in the love between people. When they feel loved and loving, they are at their best. Naturally, men want to have love also and they want to feel love also but the approach is a little different. That is why many men like to be with women because in the marriage, the woman often ignites their emotional heart and they feel a strong attachment and commitment to the women in their lives who open their capacity to love. But that capacity of relatedness is the specialty of women in the biological sense. Due to this capacity to love, to nurture, to care for, women often find themselves involved in the care of other people or in their emotional engagement in relationships to others, be they the men in their lives or their friends and family and for many women, the abstractions of esoteric religious practices become irrelevant to their lives.
What is relevant is the relationships they have. The women who have truly found the path of mysticism, who have opened themselves wholeheartedly to knowing the Divine have in the main done this by discovering their personal relationship to the God-Self. For most women, an abstract concept of a high and holy God, an infinite consciousness that is abstract and unrelated to their emotional being holds no interest. Most women want to feel they have an emotional connection, a heart connection to that divine Self. And so for many women, the true path of spirituality opens to them when they discover that that infinite Divinity is their true beloved. When, due to the revealing of the Self within in the play of consciousness, that Divinity takes on a congenial form and becomes the beloved of their heart, then the passion of a woman will drive everything else out of the mind. The passion to know the Beloved becomes an insane drive. A woman in love is a passion and a force to be reckoned with. She will forsake everything for that relationship.
Men also have this hidden capacity within them. And you will find men in the histories you will read who have fallen so in love with the divine Beloved that they dress themselves as women to present themselves before their Lord because they feel that passionate love of the divine Beloved. So this capacity is there for men also, somewhat rare men; it is rare in women also that true passion for God is ignited but when due to the grace of that divine being, that passion becomes ignited, then a woman’s heart soars. Her ability to engage in a relationship becomes her strength. Her ability to surrender becomes her greatest gift.
In the classical thought of India, this relationship of lover and Beloved is most beautifully expressed in the dance between Lord Krishna and his beloved, Radha. Radha had such a great love for Krishna she could not bear to be apart from him. He filled her mind night and day and everything she did, everything she said was for Krishna. Her mind was consumed with love for him and thoughts of his beauty, his loveliness, his love. She could not keep her mind off of him. And Lord Krishna, so in love with Radha danced with her in the dance of love, the play of love, taking multiple forms, delighting her with his presence in so many different ways. And this dance of love between the lover and the Beloved, exemplified in the relationship of Radha to Krishna is the dance of love between the jiva and the Paramatman, the infinite Lord of all.
So this dance, called the rasa lila – rasa means essential essence – often the essence of music, essence of art, essence of dance – the true taste – that is the dance of the Beloved, the source of your being, truly dancing with you and the lila is the play, the play of consciousness, the delightful play of lover and Beloved, the orchestration of the dance of love between the individual and their Lord. In that play of love, the Lord of all comes in close communion with the individual Self, the individual soul and the person feels they are in the presence of that which is beyond words, beyond comprehension. They are in the presence of a force of love so profound that only tears can stream from the eyes and the lover can only say the name of the Beloved. The heart overcome, the mind is stunned and cannot think a single thought except the true light of the infinite One, the infinite love which surrounds and suspends all thought, all ideas, all beliefs. The mind gives way to love divine. And so in this great dance, in this rasa, lover and Beloved become one.
This is a very direct path to God-realization because it circumvents beliefs in the mind, ideas in the mind. It opens the heart to direct experience through emotional longing. How many women have cried themselves to sleep at night longing for men who did not treat them properly, left them, went away? It is seen that when such women awaken from the dream of duality, they realize all the men they have longed for are only expressions of the one eternal Self, the divine Lord of their life. And they begin to realize that the longing of their heart is to return home to that hallowed ground where they are close to their true Beloved. When by grace of that infinite Entity, the vision of that beloved comes to them, then the heart turns away from the forms of attachment in the world and moves to that infinite One and they enter into the dance of love with the divine Beloved.
This path is open to both men and women but it is the feminine heart within a man that will awaken to the touch of the Beloved. And it is the feminine heart of a woman that opens to the dance of love and takes the hand of the Beloved and dances in the ethereal planes the dance of infinite love where the heart expands and dissolves all mental activity, beliefs and boundaries and the presence of the Beloved becomes fully known. In this dance, lover and Beloved become one. The jiva surrenders all and everything to the infinite One.
And what of the Goddess? When a woman finds this love, when she becomes one with this love, then the Goddess becomes embodied for She is the expression of the divine Beloved. There is no masculine and no feminine in the soul but in the minds of living beings there is still this remnant of masculine and feminine. And the play of these two intertwining in the heart becomes the play of love between the individual soul and the cosmic One. There is no duality in that cosmic love. There is only the one eternal being. The play of masculine and feminine is within the realm of duality but when this play is truly activated with the one Beloved, then the rasa, the dance of love, the rasa lila gets activated and lover and Beloved joining together dissolve all duality. And what exists is the one eternal being, expressed in the inexpressible unmanifest essence and in all creation. The Goddess is the embodiment of the God, of the one divine eternal Self, embodied in form as the Goddess and as the multiple gods -- Krishna, Shiva, Brahma, all the gods, the divine prophets, Mohammed, Jesus, all the ones who have given the great word. Are they all not embodiments? Are not Lakshmi, Kali, Mother Mary, Saraswati all expressed embodiments of this unitary Self? And when the individual finds the home, the shelter of the Divine, then that unitary Self becomes lost in love.
For a woman wanting to know the divine Self from the perspective of a feminine body, finding the form, opening the heart, “Oh, Lord, please come to me. You are my most Beloved, come to me. Sit upon my doorstep. Look me in the eye. Take me in your arms.” So calling out to Lord, she finds the one Beloved when he wishes to come, make himself visible, play his flute of love until there is no distinction remaining.
When Krishna came to Radha and revealed his presence to her, his true nature, she became lost in love for him. But that love was a gift of grace. One can prepare oneself for that Beloved through meditative practices, through the practices of bhakti yoga but the beloved presence is the grace of that One revealing himself or herself to the devotee, to the individual soul longing to be united again in wholeness, in love divine.
So this presence of masculine and feminine is a play rooted in the divisions from the biological body but symbolizing the play of individual and cosmic – your most beloved ishta deva may be Lord Jesus, may be the Mother Mary, may be the Buddha, may be Lord Krishna, may be Lord Shiva, may be the Divine Mother. It matters not.
By the grace of the Supreme, that one will come to you in the most congenial form if you open your heart and you call, “Lord, beloved one, come to me! Come to me! I long for you. I want you,” and you call with your heart -- not with your head but with your heart. That way, that one can hear you better. And it is the feminine heart within men and women that calls to the beloved in this way. “I want to know you. I want to love you. I want to surrender everything to you and to enjoy the union of lover and Beloved.”
So, in this way the feminine heart opens to the divine Beloved. The yin and yang symbols make one whole, do they not? Purusha and Prakrti become one whole. Masculine and feminine together make a whole. So the duality of this universe becomes a unitary existence when the feminine heart is opened to the God presence within all of us and the individuality surrendered to the divine Beloved.
This is the secret path of feminine mysticism hidden in the ancient ways of the mystical schools for women. This is the way when women choose to put God first in their lives, when women choose to know the Divine. It is to wring their hearts in love and surrender to the Infinite and when men choose this path, they open their feminine hearts to that divine Beloved. It is a rare woman who would find the overall passion of body, mind and heart for the intellectual and abstract path or for the abstract God, the abstract divinity, the cosmic consciousness without any attribution. She will know that cosmic consciousness but it is through the path of attribution and love that truth reveals itself and the singular unitary unconditioned being, the eternal Self of all, is known. Love is a very strong force.
The yearning within the hearts of every living being from the smallest creature to themost developed drives life through the evolutionary cycle towards the cosmic nucleus. That longing is the call of the Beloved to one and all, “Come home to me. Come home to me.” The calling is felt in the restlessness within you. Everything that you achieve in the world, everything that you accomplish, that you acquire is never quite enough. As soon as you take another breath after you make your acquisition, you find within yourself again this restlessness, this longing: There is something more; there is something more. That longing is a longing for the supreme home of your homes, that Self of yourself, that nucleus, that core of your core, that essence of your essence, that most Beloved of your existence. So do not wait. Do not linger. Do not deny the love within you, the passion of your heart, the longing of your soul. Sit at the door of your Beloved and call, “Oh, my Lord! You are my one and only. My heart has longed for you for an eternity. From you I have come and to you I long to return. Please open your door. Take me in your arms and bring me home to you again.”