Understanding the Masculine and the Feminine

What is the Masculine? What is the Feminine? These questions have reverberated through the pathways of my mind for the past several years. And as the authentic curiosity of this ancient question has carved its own way through the layers of my mind, some lights have been lit.

Sometimes others ask me this question, knowing that I have some expertise on the subject, and sometimes I take the initative myself. My experience is that some people turn out more interested in wrestling egos and becoming more entrenched in personal stories of pain; this is after all a controversial topic that reaches us at the root level of identity โˆ’ sexual and personal. Most, however, are curious. Yet, getting the message across, even to the willing, can be hard.

The challenge of communicating the obvious

A main frustration, as I've come to learn about these forces of nature, these primary expressions of consciousness, is the radical difficulty in conveying them as being far more fundamental, way more primordial than simple personal opinion. "Interesting way of looking at it" is not the kind if response I would expect or desire from someone who has just been exposed to one of the greatest mysteries and deepest truths, yet simplest everyday realities of the Universe.

Masculine and Feminine - as polar opposite forces not just in humans, but in all creation - are, just as the sun is. It is perhaps a speculative thing to claim in this scientific era, when all the forces of the universe should be measurable with unconscious machines, and still, only the most shut down human being can deny it. Even if abstractions of the mind can make us shake our heads and say "nonsense", we all accept the truth of them at much deeper levels hundreds of times every day. They shape our ideas of sexiness in either gender, our style of communication, our relation to the world. Most of all, however, they represent an inner experience that can be felt within seconds of applying the methodologies of accessing them.

It is true, ideas about the Masculine and the Feminine are speculative seen from the perspective of dead machines. The reason for this is that the two polarities, and the experience of them, are based in the non-material world, in the world of consciousness and energy. We find them shine through in our emotions, our fears and desires, the archetypes that speak through us, the thoughts we think, and the dreams that take us into vast realms of our collective unconscious.

The science of the mind โ€“ consciousness โ€“ and largely also of subtle energy fields is the domain primarily of Eastern spirituality and philosophy, although awareness is increasing also in Western science, as seen in the Mind and Life institute, Quantum Physics etc. Deeply rooted in several of the mentioned Eastern traditions, and also in their contemporary application by people such as David Deida, is the understanding that the Feminine flows, radiates, and embraces, whereas the Masculine penetrates and is anchored, totally still, in its transcendence of that which moves. Another way of putting it is saying that the Masculine is the emptiness of (ego) death while the Feminine is the fullness of life (death and life, Shiva and Shakti in Hinduism). Yet another: the Feminine is the river and the Masculine its banks. A river without banks is a destructive force of chaos. A bank without a river is no bank at all, just a lonely heap of dust in an infinite expanse of nothing.

Masculine and Feminine as geometry

eye-pyramid

The primordial Masculine, as found on the US dollar bill. Triangular, pointing up above, to the all-knowing Eye. This symbol is also linked with myriad conspiracy theories and warnings of a new world order, which - regardless of their authenticity - speak to the importance of integrating feminine ethics and care into the psyche of men. Masculine ascension alone, with no heart, creates Darth Vader.

Let's look at some practical examples, let's look at geometry. If we are to look at the Masculine and Feminine through the lens of geometry, we can see the Masculine as a triangle1 (or more simply, a line) and the Feminine as a circle. The Masculine seen as the triangle is straight-edged and angular. Its two bases connect it to the Earth - offers it stability - and facilitates its primary motion of ascension and penetration. When we trace the shape, we see that we must make swift and drastic turns at a moment's notice. Once the Masculine gets going, the triangle shows us, it's totally linear in its direction, until it is forced to change direction due to unplanned for circumstances (and then, when done from a place of masculine purity, it is a purposeful and courageous turn, not a reactive and cowardly turn). The triangle, just like the line, pierces open space; it shoots up high, above the clouds, and observes the world from a certain level of distance. It is able to "zoom out" of the details, and view everything from a bird's eye view; or really, the eye of God.

The Feminine is the circle. It flows like the river. It radiates like a flower most sublime. It moves in smooth, liquid ways. It finds its way into the smallest of holes, and will tear down the greatest obstacle on its way to the sea. The circle has no inherent logic in it. The energy it represents is not going anywhere, it spins around in circles (which is where the Masculine comes in). The Feminine circle embraces. It is the wheel of life. Like the human embryo, it is a vessel that gives rise to the future.

We can see signs of the same geometry in the bodies of men and women. The man's body is more angular and straight-edged. The torso, in its most idealised form is an inverted triangle (broad shoulders, narrow waist). A man who is round (in the sense of fat) tends to lose part of his masculine energy. The woman, on the other hand, is a shapely and delightful being. Her hips flow like the river in sexy, tantalizing ways. Her breasts are planets and her buttocks the shapely hills and valleys of nature. Only She could get God to stand up from his chair, to engage with the world of form, as seen in the story of Mary, as a channel for the Goddess, in the New Testament. Yet, sexual identity has been sent a bit of a curveball lately, and we can see in the contemporary trend of impoverished supermodels how women lose their femininity when they lose their curves and radiance. They start looking like teenage boys instead of women, much to the excitement of the gay old men who make them appear so.

The geometry of the Feminine is easily found in nature, from the planets and stars that flow through the open void in circular paths of orbit, to microorganisms in the body. Masculine geometry, however, is rarely found in nature, aside from those forms that point to the sky. Primarily, the Masculine in sits up above, on the Divine Chair in the Sky, observing the Feminine with perfect curiosity. Then it goes in, and starts using its talent for structure and order to create maps and diagrams, proportions and schematics, faciliating the flow of natural chaos through its own inherent talent for order. The Masculine, then, is easily at home in the realm of cool rationality and analysis, and is masterful at identifying patterns. We can extrapolate and condense: The Feminine is the domain of Chaos, whereas the Masculine is the domain of Order. (seen as pathological extremes in politics as Anarchy vs Fascism). One cannot exist without the other.

Finally, the literal example of our genitalia must surely be mentioned. The flaccid penis hangs down to the Earth (the main seat of the Feminine), and as the man fills with sexual energy, the penis rises and points to the Sky, to the primary seat of masculine energy; the Feminine facilitates the Masculine's return home (and vice versa). The vagina, on the other hand, responds to sexual energy by becoming moist and open. It is, through the power of menstruation and childbirth, connected to the Earth. Sex between man and woman represents the ultimate energetic merger of the Universe, between the angular and the round, the penetrative and the embracing. It is a cosmic principle, described eloquently by the Daoists of China as Yin and Yang.

Masculine and Feminine in our daily lives

woman-beach-flow-medium

Feminine sexiness is directly related with flow and radiance

Let's reduce the level of abstraction a little and return to the world of clothes we just dipped our toe in while discussing fashion above. There seems to be general agreement about, in the main part of the population, that dresses look feminine, and suits look masculine. This is "just how it is". We have all come to accept this, regardless of whether we accept the larger concepts hitherto presented. Why do dresses look feminine? Answer - they flow. A woman turns, and her dress envelops her in lush colours and exciting displays of motion. A man turns, however, and his neatly ironed suit barely brushes against the space that surrounds it. His motion is kept at a functional minimum, carving, as he is, through space on his way to fulfill a mission somewhere.

What about hair? A woman with long hair turns and a cascade of motion, little stories of years and seasons come and gone, flutter through the air. A man turns and his short hair hardly moves. And why would it? It would just get in the way of what is to be done.

This concept goes down to a level of minute detail. If a man grows his hair or puts on a scarf, regardless of fashions or trends, he instantly becomes more feminine.* Because now, he is wearing flow. Now, let it be clear that this is not a bad thing. For the man who wants to be masculine, a strategically chosen element of feminine energy in his clothing, relatively small and controlled, may go a long way to emphasize his manliness even further. We often see this principle take form as colourful, patterned ties (masculine in its linear form, feminine in its colours) or handkerchiefs.

In communication, the flow of words and gestures is feminine. The ability to observe (listen) and decisively pierce the circle (direct the Feminine), and to turn the corner of the triangle (reach the goal), is masculine. When a man is the source of a constant stream of more or less well thought-out tidbits of communication, he animates feminine energy. Yet again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but it pays to bring attention to it if we have chosen that we desire to grow our masculine. The masculine communicator listens, looks deeply and relaxedly into your eyes, and then brings himself down from the chair of God, only to direct the minutae of the communication before he steps back to witness yet again. He does this while still remaining perfectly in touch with the human experience through his open heart.

Thoughts and emotions

thinker

Rodin's Thinker. Thinking is a necessary part of the masculine's problem-solving. Yet, thoughts are feminine in nature and may overcome us by their torrential downpour if we are not careful to regularly charge our masculine energy in the spring of Emptiness.

Now, let's look at thoughts. Remember, anything that flows is the Feminine. So, when thoughts barrel through our heads, or swirl like a summer breeze through the neural pathways of our brains, again we are under the influence of feminine energy. Masculine forms of spiritual practice, such as Zen meditation, have always been about stepping out of the flow of thought to observe everything from the outside. It is about developing the Witness, just another way of speaking about the primordial Masculine sitting on the chair high in the mythical Sky. So the man who is constantly being led by the nose by his own thoughts is animating feminine energy.

Really, it doesn't matter how hard the macho guy bashes his chest or how loud he screams; when thoughts are blowing like a hurricane through his mind, feminine energy has overpowered him, and his feeble attempts to overcome it through pathetic displays of manliness only further entrenches him in his well-defended immaturity. A man can still be a passionate thinker, but the more active his mind is, the deeper his need to dip his toe into primordial consciousness, the everpresent stillness behind and beyond. Otherwise, his mind - the Feminine - overpowers him, and his ability to do anything directed with his life diminishes.

Finally, emotions have traditionally in our culture been seen as displays of feminine energy. And by virtue of their flow, they are. Women are much more at ease with their emotional life than men are, much due to our cultural programming. But just like with all other forms of feminine energy, emotions are part and parcel of the feminine totality a man must embrace on his way to full masculine maturity.

This process is at stage 2 of David Deida's model of evolution. It's where men connect with their emotional bodies. The insight that comes out of the men's work carried out by a brave brotherhood of pioneers around the world, is that a man who is to reach his full masculine maturity will never progress far down that road until he opens up his emotions. Yes, they are feminine energy, but just as women must integrate masculine energy before they can flower in full in their natural feminine essence, so must men integrate feminine energy before we, in turn, can safely find our way to our own seat of the Witness. And once we find it, we probably won't use it much, as modern life requires us to get down and dirty with the chaotic forces of the world. But we know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that when we need it - our chair, our Throne, is always available, as it sits there in the vast, open void awaiting the return of our consciousness to its natural source before the beginning of time. Yet, when we get really good, our energy may remain seated in that chair, even as we ourselves leave it. That, we must assume, requires a lifetime of dedicated practice.

Conclusion

Masculine and Feminine are real forces that govern our lives. And which ones we personally identify with and animate is not dependent on gender so much as it is dependent on our unique sexual essence and what quality of consciousness we channel in every moment. For the woman who needs more masculine energy in her life, she needs to direct her energy to achieve a goal, to find that Throne in the Sky, and the man who needs more feminine energy in his life must open up his wounds, cry his grief, dance his joy, sing his yearning. But for most of us reading this, we must do exactly the opposite. As men, we must anchor ourselves in the everpresent feeling of Emptiness, sit in the chair of the Witness, and from there observe our life's direction, flexibly turning around in an instant if our observation of circumstances requires us to. Our final challenge, then, is to press ever forward into the vast open mystery of Existence, giving our love from an open warrior heart in service of all.

* There is a wild man archetype that is at the very root of masculinity whose long hair is a symbol of his wildness more than his femininity. But that wildness also reflects his deep connection to nature. This aspect of the wildness is rarely embodied by the heavy metal musicians, bikers etc. who emulate the wild man.

References

  1. In the book King, Warrior, Magician, Lover, Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette present the theory that the triangle is a symbol for the Masculine.

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