[Second of three essays on the theme of Goddess Yoga]
Of the many obstacles in the journey of self-realization one of the most challenging is confusing the body you are riding around in as you. This challenge is often magnified for those travelling in a female body. This is partly due to the cultural pressures and biological influence that accompany identifying with the female body. These influences begin at an early age in at least three ways: 1) undue emphasis on bodily image; 2) fixation on the missing body of the future mate; 3) identification with the body that will (or could) come out of your own body.
So how do you do you? Without being you? [the body]
The solution is to come to feel the body around you as an instrument for divine intentions. Feeling like the temporary proprietor of an instrument for divine use empowers you at the soul level and brings with it a host of potential revelations. The more times throughout the day you can experience the phenomenon of sitting in a divinely inspired carrier, the more you will weaken the dark bonds of false ego that confuse you with your body.
This is the practice I talk about in the Boot Camp for the Soul, call engaged detachment. Also known as being in the world but not of the world.
In the Bhagavad Gita we find the Sanskrit instruction (ch. 5, text 11)
kayena manasa buddhya
kevalair indriyair api
yoginah karma kurvanti
sangam tyaktva atma-suddhaye
Here Krishna is instructing Arjuna:
With the body, the mind, the intelligence,
Free of materialistic intention, including even the senses
The yogis perform any and all actions
While giving up their association/identification [with the body/mind] to clarify and free the soul
Take time today to notice what it feels like to see, to taste, to smell, to touch and to hear. Deepening with each moment of ‘other-than-body-awareness’ the felt sense of being separate from your body and senses.
This is a wonderful step in unwinding the influence of the senses that in the past have imprisoned you but in the future will set you free.
[One of three essays on the theme of Goddess Yoga]
The gender of the soul is a mysterious and transcendental subject. It is cloaked in the paradoxical and the inconceivable.
The gender of the body is a fleeting and transient experience, neither real nor illusion, but temporary fact. Gender, in the realm of matter, flips back and forth over lifetimes, driven by karma and desire. This back and forth blurs the lines and the content between male and female so that over time we all have much of both.
Nonetheless, from life to life we generally find ourselves in one or another. Yet regardless of gender, we (the soul), continually find ourselves in an earthen vessel that is both temple and prison. This creates the ironic goal of having to both worship the temple and break free of the prison.
To further our sense of the paradoxical nature of being, consider that while we are in these clay coverings we are considered prakriti or mother nature (the feminine aspect)and the soul is considered purusua or consciousness (the male aspect). Yet in the realm of the soul the soul is called prakriti (or feminine) and the source of consciousness is call purusua. This gives a tiny hint as to the paradoxical nature of the soul’s gender.
Goddess Yoga, is meant to ask the question, “Are there differences in spiritual practice (sadhana) for you (the soul) when you are momentarily trapped in the female form versus the male form?”
The answer is yes and no; there are some differences and some similarities. The exposition of these essays will be the exploration of the differences.
The spiritual journey is different for the spirit-soul residing in a female body versus a male body. For example the female covered soul is generally much more in touch with the concept of body or form. This includes body in its various permutations: her own body, her lover or mate’s body, and her child’s body. This attunement is part of why the path of aestheticism has always been arduous and in some ways inappropriate for the feminine garb.
While the male body has the likelihood of being slightly less attached to the body they are not necessarily better off. In fact, it is this tendency towards bodily nonchalance that necessitates the austerity and submissiveness of the male-bodied path.
So while it is important that the male shaped aspirant grovel and serve the guru menially, that is not necessarily what is best for sister-spirit-soul.
So what is best for the female shaped ones?
The simplest answer is to use all the bodily proclivities to create connection to spirit.
+ Respect and beautify the body, not as you, but as a mystical clay temple of the supreme soul living within.
+ See and treat the lover/mate as representative of the divine.
+ Raise children as ambassadors of pure consciousness.
In addition, the mind should be disciplined in the dialectics of spirit… to learn to resist polar views of black or white and instead to entertain the paradox of synthesis…
+ surrender the need for certainty in exchange for pursuit of clarity
+ stop seeking control and instead celebrate beauty in nature and spirit
+ do not be moved by illustration which is only ABOUT something, but champion art which IS something
+ do not over value knowledge, instead learn to worship mystery
+ and above all do not mistake matter for spirit
In future essays I will explore and bring together easter science and western philosophy, with the hope of expanding our understanding of hatha, pranayama, mantra, and some of the esoteric meanings of the ancient Sanskrit text. The goal of this is series is to learn about the nature of the spiritual journey for souls who are in a female body. I look forward to your feedback.