An article written by Amoda Maa, This article was first published in a special edition of ONE The Magazine (Spring 2015) which explores the feminine expression of nondual teachings. This edition also features articles by Gangaji, Miranda Macpherson, Isira Sananda, and Kirtana. published in ONE The Magazine, Spring 2015
Something that has never happened before is happening today: we can actually participate in the awakening process. Historically, enlightenment has been regarded as an extraordinary experience, usually reserved for the male aspirant. Today, however, the good news is that although awakening itself is the same as it was thousands of years ago, it’s more directly available to each one of us in the midst of ordinary life.
These days, more than ever before, an intensification of energies is available that compels us to consciously collaborate in waking up out of the dream of separation.
It’s a new frequency that demands our yes, because nothing less will do if we are to successfully survive and thrive, both as individuals and as a species. This yes has nothing to do with willfulness; it’s not a big shout of “I can do it.” On the contrary, it’s a profoundly silent yes that chooses to meet life from the luminous wholeness of an inner dimension of consciousness. And yet it is infinitely more powerful than any action taken from a divided mental perspective. Perhaps it’s gradually dawning on us that the dissolution of egoic identification and the ensuing discovery of our underlying true nature might well be the answer to our global problems.
And yet, something more than the orthodox model of enlightenment is required today. Traditional spiritual teachings all emphasize the cultivation of an inner state of stillness that awakens us to the truth of our being-nature; and this, they say, is achieved by turning away from worldly activity. Whilst the recognition of our essential nature as this being-ness is the foundation of awakening, what was relevant thousands of years ago is not so relevant today. An exponential increase of pace and pressure in today’s world brings a new perspective to enlightenment that asks us to reframe our understanding of what it means to be an awakened human being. What’s important now is that awakening is no longer about abandoning physical reality in order to live a spiritual life; rather, it’s about the fulfillment of our divine destiny by living the truth of our inner radiance whilst in earthly bodies.
If awakening is to serve a real purpose in our lives, it needs to find new forms of expression through our everyday interactions. And if this awakening is to serve a purpose in the bigger picture of birthing a new humanity, it needs to engage us fully with the evolutionary impulse of existence.
Enlightenment is no longer a secret reserved for mystics, nor a luxury indulged in by privileged Westerners seeking to become “more spiritual.” If we are to take a quantum leap into a new future, it is a necessity. If enlightenment is to be of any use, it needs to come down from the mountaintop and get its hands dirty in the marketplace of human affairs.
Awakening, in fact, is just the beginning. The embodiment of this awakening is the real journey. The adventure begins not in the rarefied atmosphere of transcendence but in the midst of the chaos of life. And living the truth of awakening has perhaps never been more of an imperative than in today’s rapidly changing world.
What’s emerging today is a whole new relationship to life that gives birth to an authentic human being. It’s a refreshingly contemporary viewpoint that acknowledges the imperative to anchor ourselves within the ground of being whilst celebrating the emergence of that which we are becoming. Another way of saying it is that it’s an embracement of both the absolute truth of stillness and the relative truth of the movement of life. The evolutionary impulse that drives the ever-unfolding nature of existence is calling us to awaken to the pristine perfection of our inner light and then to fully embody and express this light amidst the imperfection and darkness of the world.
Most of us live complex, multi-faceted lives with jobs, careers, financial responsibilities, relationships, and families. Many of us are also attempting to pursue our dreams, to live our highest potential, and to make a contribution to the world. At the same time, we’re increasingly aware that over half the planet’s population lives in abject poverty and horrifying circumstances. Somehow, all of this needs to be included in our awakening.
Is the World an Illusion?
Many spiritual seekers – and even spiritual teachers – believe that the world is an illusion and that what happens (to you or me or the Jews or the Iraqis or the polar bears or the honey bees) doesn’t actually matter. This attempt to transcend the world and its messiness often leads to an “existential numbness” that is mistaken for spiritual liberation. Whilst awakening brings an undeniable awareness of enduring emptiness as the ground of reality, there’s also a strong tendency to get stuck here. Identification with eternal stillness (we could also call this the unmoving witness) is very tempting. For where there is no movement, there cannot be any suffering, and this is very appealing to the ego, which wants to avoid meeting pain. What’s really going on here is a denial of the full engagement with life, an avoidance of intimately meeting the depth and breadth of feeling that can arise in response to the vicissitudes of our human experience.
The refusal of suffering, whether it be the world’s or our own, results in a kind of coldness, a non-acceptance of the vulnerability of being truly alive as a human being. On a behavioral level, this reveals itself in a number of ways. For some, there’s an avoidance of relationship and its capacity to break us apart, to strip us of our defenses and to touch us in the tenderest of places. For others, there’s an abdication of self-care and self-responsibility that can lead to excessive risk-taking or even harmful lifestyle choices – after all, if the body is not real, why not push it to its limits, and why should you care about the strength of your heart, the longevity of your kidneys, the alkalinity of your blood, or whether you’re overweight? And for others yet, there’s a lack of concern for sentient life – after all, if the world and everything in it is an illusion, why should you care whether you eat cows/pigs/horses/dogs/frogs, or whether the rivers are polluted or the soil is depleted?
But there’s no real freedom in an “I’m enlightened, so nothing can touch me” attitude. Escape from the prison of identification with physical and psychological form is replaced by the less obvious bondage of “spiritual detachment.” This so-called detachment is actually a new kind of attachment in which the story of “I am beautiful/ugly/successful/a failure/happy/sad/Christian/Buddhist” is replaced by the story of “I am nothing.” It’s a retreat into the perfection of an inner world in which the horror of the outer world has no place. It’s a rejection of any internal state that doesn’t match our mental picture of a spiritual life. There’s no real peace in this, but a subtle and pernicious war that perpetuates both inner and outer conflict.
Fixating on emptiness creates a division. And where there is division, however subtle, there cannot be full awakening. It’s a spiritually rigid viewpoint that denies being wholeheartedly touched by life. It’s an avoidance of the blood, sweat, and tears that is an inevitable part of the human experience. It’s almost as if there is a fear that being human will get in the way of the ultimate transcendent state. Unfortunately, this stance leads to another veil, that of spiritual arrogance and a kind of superiority and righteousness. Far from being spiritual, what’s really being revealed here is an absence of the compassion that is a natural extension of true awakening. It’s a compassion that arises not out of moral obligation, but out of the fragrance of an awakened heart. Compassion is awakeness meeting itself in the heart of everything. It’s about embracing both the dark and the light and finding the freedom that is here within it all.
To reject our direct experience of life is not only a continuation of the conflict inherent in the story of suffering (which we then attempt to heal through our spiritual endeavors), it’s also a kind of madness. The discovery of true freedom requires us to surrender our concepts of non-duality or spirituality or enlightenment and to meet life with innocent eyes.
This innocent seeing is an open inquiry into what’s here right now in our immediate and direct experience. It requires us to stop investing our personal story – whether this be a story of victimhood or a story of transcendence – in the story of the world. This stopping is not a denial of suffering: it’s not an insulation from the heartbreak of witnessing horrific acts of violence, injustice and cruelty, nor is it a repression of anger, fear, despair and grief. But it is an end to the ownership of thoughts and emotions that perpetuate the story of suffering. It’s an end to the story of separation. The naked experience of pain or horror or terror as it is, without trying to fix, control, get rid of, or justify, puts an end to the suffering of “poor me” and stops the war of us and them, right and wrong, good and bad.
It is clearly not the world itself that is an illusion. As long as we are here to experience the world, it exists. It is the story we impose upon the world that is not real, whether this story tells us that the invisible world of spirit is an illusion or whether it tells us that the visible world of matter is an illusion. Reality requires us to see things from a whole new perspective that embraces the crazy paradox of life.
Embracing both the Waves and the Ocean
When the initial bud of awakening has flowered into the full bloom of awakeness, relative and absolute reality are recognized as one: they are seen to be as inseparable as the waves are from the ocean. Here, the witness and that which is being witnessed - both the subject and the object - collapse into each other. Here, you are both the emptiness of being and the fullness of the world and there is no division, no contradiction: there is just the beautiful paradox of non-dual awareness. A whole new dimension of spiritual maturity opens up to us at this level of awareness. Here, nothing is excluded, everything – dark and light, form and formless, mundane and transcendent – is seen to be an expression of oneness, and so nothing is avoided, denied, or feared. Even fear itself is deeply embraced.
The uncompromising embracement of both the waves of phenomenal expression and the ocean of inner stillness brings us into deep intimacy with the creative force of life. This deep intimacy doesn’t mean you get lost in the story of the world, but it does mean you’re willing to wholeheartedly meet the world without a story. This is the new evolutionary human being: someone who is utterly anchored within the light of awakened nature yet passionately committed to the bittersweet juiciness of earthly existence. Someone who says, “Yes, the truth is I am not my body; but my direct experience shows me that my body is here and that consciousness moves through it every time I walk or run or jump.” Someone who says, “Yes, the truth is there is no self; but how come I answer when you call my name?” Someone who says, “Yes, the truth is I do not exist and neither do you; but isn’t it true that it makes a difference to the quality of life whether I see and hear you with open-heartedness rather than with judgment? And isn’t this what we call relationship?”
Rooted in the stillness of our being-nature, what is so unspiritual about opening to the movement of our life’s journey? Authentic awakening is not static; it’s a fresh moment-to-moment awareness of that which is unfolding within our direct experience. And what’s unfolding for so many of us within contemporary culture is an increasing complexity, interconnectivity, and creativity at an exponential rate. Today we have the opportunity to become so much more than previous generations had ever dreamt of: for most of us, there are more resources, more technologies, more information, and more wisdom available to us. What is so unspiritual about opening to embrace this evolutionary movement of our becoming-ness?
The Feminine Face of Awakening
As more ordinary people turn their attention to spiritual inquiry as a way to find peace and freedom amidst an increasingly insane world, topics traditionally excluded from the spiritual dimension are coming into the foreground. There’s a new conversation that includes an awakened relationship to the body and physical well-being, as well as to the emotions and psychological well-being. Dialogues such as the importance of opening to feelings, the role of emotions in the process of awakening, the meeting place of psychotherapy and spiritual inquiry, the relationship between healing and awakening, and whether physical well-being plays a role in authentic awakening, are all emerging as part of the feminine face of awakening.
Historically, spiritual awakening has been a male arena. The inhibition of the feminine, in both spiritual and secular life, has left us with a masculine model of enlightenment in which the guru (metaphorically and often literally) sits on a pedestal without getting his hands dirty in the world of human affairs. Most of us have this model imprinted in our psyches to some degree or another, whether it be handed down by western religion or by eastern philosophy – Christian, Islamic, Hindu, and Buddhist spiritual teachings are dominated by male deities, prophets, and enlightened masters. Other than a few lesser-known female saints, women have traditionally been confined to their role within the family and community as child-bearer, cook, cleaner, and general homemaker. In some cultures, women have been – and still are – regarded as the property of men. Up until quite recently, very few women have attained enlightenment, and even fewer have taken up the role of spiritual teacher or spiritual leader.
Perhaps because of the enormity of this historical suppression of the feminine – due in part to political, religious, social, and economic forces with a vested interest in the disempowerment of women and due in part to the unconscious fear of the innate wisdom of female consciousness – there is now emerging a new frequency to redress the imbalance. As the feminine face of awakening reveals itself, many of these archaic ideologies and hierarchical structures are disintegrating, and many more ordinary women are awakening and making themselves available for the role of spiritual leadership.
This feminine leadership, however, has a different flavor to the masculine version. It has nothing to do with sitting on the guru seat, nor with adhering to spiritual doctrine. Neither does it deny the messiness of being human. Feminine leadership is from the unconditional heart. It carries an innate purity that cuts through dogma. Today’s female spiritual teachers aren’t interested in an intellectual debate that upholds an enlightened perspective, and neither do they adhere to any prescribed way of speaking of awakening (as is often the case in certain spiritual circles where there is an unspoken “code of conduct” even in the language being used). Instead, these new female spiritual teachers express a more fluid and juicy language that reflects the embodiment of awakening as a living human reality.
Of course, it’s not just women who are inviting the embodiment of awakening, but also male teachers in whom awakening has matured in heart and body as well as in mind. The modern-day spiritual teacher (whether female or male) is called to embody the totality of being human – to play the role of both hermit and lover, hero and carer, sage and fool, master and student – whilst recognizing the divine light at the core of it all.
Birthing a New Humanity
From a non-dual perspective, it’s probably more convenient to completely avoid any dialogue that refers to the role of the feminine in awakening. But it seems that awakeness itself is pushing the frontiers of a cutting-edge conversation that includes the earth-centered wisdom of the sacred feminine. The feminine is more attuned to the subtle physical energies that permeate life. It is also drawn to a practical spirituality that embraces the often-messy human experiences of intimate relationships, the body and it’s well-being, the sustainment of a healthy ecology, how money is used, community, communication, and creative expression. And it is precisely these aspects of life that are crying out to be included within an enlightened perspective.
Although it is a feminine frequency, it really has nothing to do with gender but with something much more universal. Uncloaked by visible form, it is a frequency that is impersonal in the sense that it cares not whether it comes through a female or a male body; and yet it is deeply personal because it loves all life forms as an expression of itself. What is pointed to here is that the sacred feminine has the capacity to give birth to something new, the innate impulse to co-create, to collaborate, and to nurture. Whilst this is more easily expressed in women due to their biological function to give birth to a new life form, it’s a frequency that is latent in each of us. Today, it’s available to both women and men. It’s no longer a biological birthing but a psychological birthing that is happening on both a personal and a planetary level. We are giving birth to a new consciousness that wholeheartedly embraces the transient but undeniable reality of the human experience within the infinite ocean of awakeness. It’s a love affair between earth and heaven that has the potential to give birth to a radically new world in which we are metaphorically both the “mother” and the “child.”
As the mother, we’re called to embody an inner steadfastness in the face of the unknown, an unflappable groundedness in the midst of chaos, an unconditional acceptance of the movement of life that includes birth, death, and everything in between, and an unshakable faith in the sacredness of life in all its expressions.
As the child, we’re called to embody a soft-bellied innocence, a fresh-eyed perspective rooted in present-moment awareness, a vibrant embrace of the unfolding nature of present-moment experience, and an unstoppable vision of humanity’s infinite potential.
Whether you are a mother, a father, young or old, male or female, the archetypes of “mother” and “child” (we could also call these the qualities of being and becoming) are alive in you in right now, in this very moment. There’s a momentum pulling us towards an emerging future, and this future holds the potential for a collective awakening that catapults us into the next evolutionary stage as a species. For the first time in the known story of the cosmos, consciousness is becoming conscious of itself. But consciousness can only become conscious of itself through the vehicle of a living form that has the capacity for self-awareness. Human beings are the only life-form, so far, with this capacity. Consider then the possibility that a new consciousness and a new humanity is birthing itself through you as you. Consider that something radically and irrevocably new is being birthed from within you in this very moment.
If this is so, could it be that you are the single most important factor in this birthing process? Could it be that you are the vehicle through which existence itself is attempting to re-create itself on the next highest level ... and that your awakening absolutely matters?
Are You Willing to Say “YES”?
The invitation of the new feminine frequency is for you to collaborate in the birth of something new, for you to take a step towards your divine destiny by being willing to unwaveringly embrace the evolutionary process that wants your awakening to happen ... because it is also the awakening of humanity.
Awakening calls us to the edge of who we think we are and challenges all our habitual responses to life. It’s easier to turn away from this edge and stay in the comfort zone of our own limitation. But the possibility today is for you to stop running away and instead to turn around and face this edge with an unadulterated yes. Out of this yes, a new you will be born; a you that lives an authentically awakened life in which your actions are aligned to your true divine nature. And out of this new you will be born a new world.
But whilst there’s a possibility of the birth of a new world, there’s also the possibility of total planetary annihilation. Perhaps the quantum leap into a higher order necessitates the end of life as we know it. Perhaps humanity has to be totally obliterated before something new is born, like a phoenix from the ashes. There is no way to absolutely know. Although the new feminine frequency invites you to collaborate with the evolution of consciousness, it’s not about clinging to the hope of salvation. It’s about being willing to open to the deepest truth of who you are, to live a radically awakened life … even if it means the end of you and the end of the world.
Birth is messy, and there is no guarantee of the outcome: but once the contractions have started, there is no going back. Despite the unknown-ness, despite unforeseen challenges, and despite the potential horrors, are you willing to wholeheartedly embrace the possibility that this is the most exciting time to be alive, and that awakening is the sole purpose of your life?
Are you willing to say YES?