January 19, 2007 at 11:08 pm #20571
Since Taoism has been overlooked by most Western scholars even of religion (until recentlyy), this author is unaware of the Feminine roots of Taoism as China’s indigenous religion. But even Taoism has fallen under the weight of cultural paternalism that grew in China over the millenia.
I recall a few year ago being at a gathering of 800 Complete Perfection monks at White cloud Temple to celebrate the promotion of the new abbott and the renovation of the temple. It was painfully obvious how few women were present and how inferior the few present were to the men.
So the male-female divide shows up in all areas of life, and remains the central issue in any relevant spiritual practice,, in my opinion.
ORIGINAL EGALITARIAN ORDER OF MOST RELIGIONS ‘HIJACKED’ BY MEN
By Karen Armstrong
January 19, 2007
Karen Armstrong¹s books about different religions, including her highly
acclaimed ³A History of God,² have made her one of the most prominent
authors on religious history. The London-based ³On Faith² panelist also is
the author of three television documentaries and took part in Bill Moyers¹
television series ³Genesis.²
Not one of the world religions has, in practice, been good to women and this
is one of their major flaws.
They did not set out to be hostile to women, but they developed in
patriarchal societies, where masculine skills, such as warfare, had become
more highly prized in the newly developed cities than they had been in the
villages and rural areas, where women contributed more to the economy.
Thus Confucius, a genial man, seems quite indifferent to women. The same is
true of Socrates. Nevertheless, some of these faiths did initially attempt
to give women a role. In the early Upanishads, women take part in the
abstruse mystical discussions. This is simply taken for granted and there is
no need to comment.
In Buddhism, women were allowed, eventually, to become mendicant nuns.
Nevertheless, there is a story that the Buddha originally opposed this. But
when it was pointed out to him that women were able to attain enlightenment
and be proficient yogis, he relented, but commented sadly that they would
fall upon the Buddhist order like mildew on a field of rice. Some scholars
believe that this was a later story, projected back onto the Buddha by
monks, whose lustful thoughts interrupted their meditations and blamed their
failure to attain Nirvana on women. In fact, Buddhism gave women an
opportunity to have a role other than the domestic that was absolutely
unprecedented at that time, even though the nuns were seen as subordinate to
Both Christianity and Islam were initially very positive towards women. In
the gospels, women are the first to receive news of the resurrection of
Jesus; St. Paul insists that in Christ there was neither male nor female. He
greets women as co-apostles and fellow workers, on the same level as the
men. But in later books of the New Testament, notably the epistles of Titus
and Timothy, which were not written by Paul, women have lost this equality
and are told that they are subject to their husbands. What has happened is
that the originally egalitarian gospel has been hijacked by the men and
dragged back to the old patriarchy.
The same happened in Islam. The 7th century Koran gave women rights of
inheritance and divorce that women in the West would not get until the 19th
century. There is nothing in the Koran to suggest that all women should be
veiled and secluded from society. Only the Prophet’s wives were to be
covered, and this was a security measure. Muhammad’s postion in Medina was
very insecure and his enemies were harrassing his wives. But the other
Muslim women were not veiled and took a full and lively part in the life of
the city. The Koran makes it clear that men and women have equal rights and
But later, the position of women deteriorated. The early Fathers of the
Church were sometimes viciously misogynist. In early Christianity, women
were blamed for the sin of Eve and, as the cult of celibacy grew, were
castigated for being sexual temptresses. Tertullian called women the devil’s
gateway: they were responsible for Jesus’ death. St. Augustine said that all
women, even wives and mothers, must be avoided, because they were all
associated with Eve, who was responsible for the Fall of humanity into sin.
Most religious lawcodes were devised in the premodern period, when all women
in all societies were regarded as second-class citizens. The emancipation of
women has been one of the hallmarks of modernity, so that in
‘fundamentalist’ movements, which rebel against modernity, the traditional
inferior status of women is stressed as part of this countercultural revolt.
And people are always reluctant to lose power.
Things are beginning to improve. Buddhist nuns are demanding that the men
recognize their status in the Sangha, the Buddhist order. Women are becoming
priests in many of the Protestant denominations, and except in Orthodox
circles, Jewish women are becoming rabbis. Muslim feminists are developing
an Islamic feminism, which looks back to the Koran and the Prophet, pointing
out that the emancipation of women was a project dear to Muhammad’s heart.
In the Roman Catholic Church, there is no chance as yet of women being
ordained as priests.
But there is still much work to be done. Historically, when a community
feels threatened, the bodies of women come to represent the beleaguered
society, and this applies to some Muslim communities, which feel threatened
by he West, and to those religious groups that feel threatened by the
secular world.January 20, 2007 at 6:07 am #20572
I was going to comment earlier on how the outer “conflict” between men and women is reflected in the separation between the heart and kidney shen. If balance and harmony is the inner goal, what can we learn from the inner practice to apply to outer relations? This also brings in the process of balancing the “collective” female and male, and the individual selves as well.January 20, 2007 at 10:02 am #20574
Coincidentally we had similar conversations last night and this morning as we like to unravel the dynamics between man and woman.
As society is based on male rules of blood, honor and trust which is dividing the world in black and white, good and bad. Women live in the grey zone, as Pietro said women reason backward.
We operate very differently, and as women are born into a black and white world we always will fail, there is no way that we will be able to live by those standards.
As men get disappointed, they raise anger towards women.
If you look at any big movie today it is all about honor and trust…. and war, because that is the world we know since a very long time and people want those values to survive in this fast changing world. They give safetey and structure…
In fact it holds values like in Fascism and I know because as an teenager I was into that and that is how I met my partner. The ‘brotherhood’ was based on this blood and honor. How men hunger for those values because it helps them to control and give structure to the world. And it felt safe, we knew the rules, we knew the leader, we knew our obligations. If you lived by the rules you were saved from the bad outside world, because the brotherhood was there for you and would give their life. (sounds familiar)
We girls loved to be part of that, we were nearly as equal as the guys, I became very high ranked, was the leaders favorite because I was strong and fearless, the leader of my team. While I was too young in age for some things I was permitted by the leader to participate because of my outstanding behaviour and strength.
I lived by the rules, married by the rules, married the most dominant male, and lived it for 15 years as a outstanding couple in blood, honor and trust. We were bonded by a common believe that this was a honorable way of living. The knight and the lady… and as in every movie the plot must be dramatic… so the fair lady started to awaken, practicing the Tao as her new path, and started to question every rule in her life, every concept, every underlying emotion…
and betrayed the rules…
(sounds familiar as well)
to be continued…January 20, 2007 at 4:46 pm #20576
That’s a very elegant post, Wendy.
I would like to interject something that I notice from time to time which never seems to get clearly addressed.
Your statement: “Women live in the grey zone, as Pietro said women reason backward.”
I see what you mean but there are men who do this too (I am one), as well as women who don’t. The deeper truth here is “The feminine lives in the grey zone and reasons backwards,” meaning that it sees “familially” and thinks in a non-linear, spiraling kind of way.
In the last few thousand years few men have been aware of the possibility of embodying their feminine energy along with their masculine in a balanced way. That is changing as the energies on earth change and come back to balance. Androgyny, holistic or unity consciousness, and harmony all go together, and that is where we are heading. Now we have further opportunity to detach from the fixed ideas about women and men.
“and as in every movie the plot must be dramatic… so the fair lady started to awaken, practicing the Tao as her new path, and started to question every rule in her life, every concept, every underlying emotion…and betrayed the rules…”
Here you embody the unpredictability of the water element and flow dangerously to a new resolve, a new situation, alchemizing the old one. But you don’t do it without then being able to make the whole process conscious and talk about it with us – a masculine characteristic. So you’re not just being a troublemaking woman- you’re a being exercising the right and power to grow and be fulfilled by using all of yourself.
I have often thought that men’s anger towards women came from the deep frustration of not being able to access oneness with her within. (And this is the center of the Daoist spiritual work – resolving the tension between the fire and water.) This frustration produced a kind of “separation craziness” which eventually manifested as war mentality (and spawning the misunderstanding that the planet Mars represents war instead of the desire/power to act.)
I think we’re getting somewhere! And this year is going to show something for it.
Good stuff, AlexanderJanuary 21, 2007 at 7:51 am #20578
Wendy, I am so happy you are on this forum. My partner, a woman, insists she just doesn’t see polarity in the world but comes from a wholeness without differentiation. This boils my male mind of construct and pleases me to no end for structure does lead back to if it doesn’t lead from fascist thinking of rigidity.
It doesn’t mean I can act from her sense of reality, nor should I, but I feel she takes me into hidden assumptions and blows them away. After the hurt anger and name calling..hehe…I love the new fresh chi I am faced with. SO much is about respect in relationship.
Your posts tend to do this for me and I am grateful. BarryJanuary 21, 2007 at 10:58 am #20580
Last night after writing the above posting, as soon I hit my pillow I started to dream, I could feel a treathening appearance in the room and a nazi looking man started to strangle my body with my blankets,not my throat but my body, especially my solar plexus area. He pushed so hard that my body couldn’t breath anymore, so I started to scream. My partner woke me up, saying I was having a bad dream as I was screaming out loud.
I plonged back in my dream and deliberate reached for a blue open sky, I wanted my body to be free again.
Since the Bush administration started their blood, honor and trust campaign I felt an anger rising which made me decide not to enter the US any longer. My partner said it was obvious the US was a symbol to me, as a surpressing dominant male force.
Since the latest kan and li retreat in England I was working with this and was able to let go my tension towards the ‘US’.
I think it is pretty obvious were my ‘anger’ was coming from, and what the US gov. is symbolizing, not only for me, but as well for the whole process of change.
As well I understand clear the mechanism what mr. Bush and co is pushing, how he is completely convinced his blood, honor and trust is the only right thing to do. From his point of view he is ‘saving’ his clan (country) from the evil outside world.
He is completely ‘honest’ about his attempt to save the US from the bad guys.January 21, 2007 at 5:40 pm #20582January 21, 2007 at 5:50 pm #20584
The plot looks as it will going to be very surprising… I will keep you informed as it is still unwinding…very fascinating, I am amazed what it is doing in both of us.January 22, 2007 at 8:42 pm #20586
By Sam Harris
January 19, 2007
³On Faith² panelist Sam Harris is the author of the best-selling books
Letter to a Christian Nation (2006) and The End of Faith (2005), which won
the 2005 PEN Award for Nonfiction and has been translated into many foreign
Kajal Khidr was accused of adultery by her husband’s family and held hostage
by six family members in Iraqi Kurdistan. Kajal Khidr was tortured and
mutilated; family members cut off part of her nose and told her she would be
killed after the birth of her child. After fleeing to Syria, two of her
abusers were arrested. However, they were both released within twenty-four
hours because authorities determined they had acted to safeguard the honor
of the family. No charges were ever brought against them. (Amnesty
In northern Uganda, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) abducts children,
forcing girls into “marriage” and institutionalized rape… The men then
have total sexual control over their “wives” and “domestic helpers,”
subjecting them to rape and various other forms of violence. (Amnesty
Mary Ann Kingston was pulled out of school at 13 and told to prepare for
marriage. At 16, she was forced to marry her 33-year-old uncle. The order
teaches that incest is a preferred practice to preserve a pure family
bloodline originating from Jesus Christ. When Mary Ann ran away, her father
took her to a remote ranch near the Utah-Idaho line and beat her with his
leather belt. She counted 28 lashes before passing out. [The number of
people in polygamous families in Utah is estimated at as many as 50,000.]
(J. Nichols. ³Wives suing to bring end to abuse under polygamy.² The Arizona
Republic. October 15, 2003.)
For millennia the world¹s great prophets and theologians have applied their
collective genius to the riddle of womanhood. The result has been polygamy,
sati, honor killing, punitive rape, genital mutilation, forced marriages, a
cultic obsession with virginity, compulsory veiling, the persecution of
unwed mothers, and other forms of physical and psychological abuse so
kaleidoscopic in variety as to scarcely admit of concise description. Some
of this sexist evil probably predates religion and can be ascribed to our
biology, but there is no question that religion promulgates and renders
sacrosanct attitudes toward women that would be unseemly in a brachiating
While man was made in the image of God, the prevailing view under Judaism,
Christianity, and Islam is that woman was made in the image of man. Her
humanity, therefore, is derivative, contingent, ersatz (Gen: 2-21-22 Koran
4:1; 39.6; 7.189). Of all the animals, woman was the last to be made but the
first to sin (Gen 3:12). The Old Testament puts the monetary value of a
woman¹s life at one-half to two-thirds that of a man¹s (Leviticus 27). The
Koran elaborates: it requires the testimony of two women to offset that of
one man (2:282) and every girl deserves exactly one-half her brother¹s share
of inheritance (4:11). God suggests in his tenth commandment that the woman
next door is your neighbor¹s material possession which, along with his
house, slaves and oxen, must not be coveted (Exodus 20:17); Deuteronomy
The God of Abraham has made it perfectly clear that a woman is expected to
live in subjugation to her father until the moment she is pressed into
connubial service to her husband. As St. Paul put it: “Wives, be subject to
your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as
Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. As
the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything
to their husbands.” (Ephesians 5:22-24). The Koran delivers the same
message, and recommends that disobedient wives be whipped (4:34). The
suppression of women under Islam achieved hideous precision through the
writings of Al-Ghazali (1058-1111), perhaps the most influential Muslim
She should stay home and get on with her spinning, she should not go out
often, she must not be well-informed, nor must she be communicative with her
neighbors and only visit them when absolutely necessary; she should take
care of her husband and respect him in his presence and his absence and seek
to satisfy him in everything she must not leave the house without his
permission and if given his permission she must leave surreptitiously. She
should put on old clothes and take deserted streets and alleys, avoid
markets, and make sure that a stranger does not hear her voice or recognize
her; she must not speak to a friend of her husband even in need Her sole
worry should be her virtue, her home as well as her prayers and her fast. If
a friend of her husband calls when the latter is absent she must not open
the door nor reply to him in order to safeguard her and her husband¹s honor.
She should accept what her husband gives her as sufficient sexual needs at
any moment She should be clean and ready to satisfy her husband¹s sexual
needs at any moment. (Cited in Ibn Warraq¹s, Why I Am Not Muslim, p. 300).
Recall the blissful lives of Afghan women under the Taliban, or reflect upon
how many Muslim girls throughout the world are still obliged to wear the
veil, and you will understand that this type of thinking has consequences.
The net effect of religion (especially in the Abrahamic tradition) has been
to demonize female sexuality and portray women as morally and intellectually
inferior to men. Every woman holds the dignity of men for ransom, and is
liable to tarnish it with a glance, or destroy it outright through sexual
indiscretion. From this perspective, rape is a crime that one man commits
against the honor of another; the woman is merely Shame¹s vehicle, and often
culpably acquiescent — being all blandishments and guile and winking
treachery. According to God, if the victim of a rape neglects to scream
loudly enough, she should be stoned to death as an accessory to her own
defilement (Deuteronomy 22:24). Every man¹s daughter is a potential whore
liable to grow drunk on the blood of good men — a Delilah, a Jezebel, a
Salome. Every girl, therefore, must be mastered and locked away before she
can succumb to the evil that is her all-too-natural enthusiasm. According to
God, women have been placed on earth to service men, to bear their children,
to the keep their homes in order, andJanuary 23, 2007 at 3:59 pm #20588January 23, 2007 at 4:03 pm #20590
According to Tantra, Reality is pure consciousness (chit), which is considered to be identical with both being (sat) and bliss (ananda). In Tantra, this being-consciousness-bliss or Satchidananda is called Shiva-Shakti, a hyphenated word conveying the inseparable nature of Shiva, the Absolute, and Shakti, the power of creation. In Tantra, any conception of the Divine which does not include Shakti, or the power to become, is considered to be incomplete.
Evolution and involution
According to Tantra, being-consciousness-bliss or Satchidananda has the power of both self-evolution and self-involution. Reality evolves into a multiplicity of creatures and things, yet at the same time always remains pure consciousness, being, and blissJanuary 23, 2007 at 5:41 pm #20592
Don’t forget to mention that religion is telling those girls/women that if you don’t wear a veil you are permitted to be seen as a whore. The veil is a protection against such emotional agression. If you want to be accepted by the men, you obey the rules, so you start wearing a veil.
In most cases it is not a matter of opposing against your free minded parents (if being lucky to born in such a family) it is a matter of survival in a hostile atmosphere. If you obey you are okay….if not, you are death meat!
You must be logged in to reply to this topic.