The Masculine and Feminine ‘Principles’

Human beings have always spoken in terms of the ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ principles. I don’t often use this terminology, but a couple of you have asked me to say a few words.

Masculine and feminine are not two separate principles or two opposing energies, but two indivisible aspects of the same consciousness that you are before you identify as a man or woman with a body and mind and so on. They are two indivisible aspects of the one tree of life. And whether we identify as being a man or a woman or otherwise, as consciousness itself we are all masculine and feminine at the same time – both and neither, beyond the illusory divisions that words seem to create. We can use the words ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ simply as poetic metaphors for the wholeness that we are, which is beyond words. Don’t take the words too literally, my friends. Life is not really split in this way.

How does a tree survive and flourish in life’s storm? The tree’s masculine (and some may say feminine) strength is its unyielding, firm, solid strength, like its trunk, unwilling to give way, standing its absolute ground, untouched by anything. “Storm, you cannot touch me! I am invincible!” it cries. The tree’s feminine (and some may say masculine) strength is in its yielding, soft, gentle way, like its branches, effortlessly giving way, intelligently bending in line with the movement of life, so that they never get broken. “Storm, come to me! Do not be afraid!” is its loving invocation. A tree needs both kinds of strength to be fully itself. Without firmness it topples over, and without gentleness it shatters all over the place. Without both masculine and feminine strength at once it fears the storm, topples and rots. When we forget the wholeness that we are, and we identify as a separate ‘person’, we identify to a lesser or greater extent with either aspect of strength to the detriment of the other – we become too hard and unyielding, even violent, and our hearts seize up, or we become too gentle and passive, and we are used up and trampled upon. Masculine and feminine need each other.

Indestructibility and gentleness are two aspects of the same life power, they are the yin and the yang of who you really are, whether you identify physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, as a man or a woman or otherwise. Prior to your dream of yourself as a person with a fixed gender, as life itself you are pure indestructibility and untouchability. And yet you are fully open to experience, radically vulnerable and receptive to whatever arises, and your tenderness is your healing. You are the perfect union of that which was never divided in the first place. Perfectly masculine, perfectly feminine, whatever sex you identify with.

As men and women, we celebrate the differences of our mysterious bodies, we love our diversity, but we always remember deeply our inseparability. We see that on the deepest level, there is no war of the sexes, and never was, and rooted in this recognition, our action in the world and the way we treat each other becomes much, much kinder and more compassionate in the deepest sense of the word.

That’s how I would use the words ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’, if I were to use them at all.