Why We All Need The Feminine and The Masculine
Women do not come from Venus, or Men from Mars. That common, alienated perspective makes us feel like aliens to each other! No wonder our most loving relationships are often overwhelmed with strife. Intimate relationships encompass our sexual gender as men and women, but also at play are the larger archetypes of feminine and masculine. The complex interaction of these four isn’t easily grasped. For example, women might prefer men as their intimate partners, and vice versa. Why—because of the obviousness of our biological genders, intended to join in procreation. However, sometimes women most recognize the dynamic of feminine-masculine energies in partnership with other women, and men with other men. Why—because in their relationships, feminine and masculine characteristics speak most convincingly independent of gender.
This is where Taoist and Tantric principles, like yin-yang polarity, clarify how to relate harmoniously. Yin-yang polarities like dark-light, yielding-firm, and compassionate-courageous arise in great subtlety. They don’t simply cross-correlate. Both women and men enjoy both feminine and masculine qualities. When women limit expression of their positive masculine qualities, and men their feminine, imbalance is created. We often highly limit our love for each other and joy in life. The point is that the universe functions holistically as complementary patterns, like those we find in nature. Nature operates rhythmically, with movement, variation, and regularity.
How does this bear on human relationships? When we feel an essential complementarity with a partner, we will pull (yoke) together in some form of integration and common purpose. But the key to pulling together is to each take responsibility for our own integration—in other words, being intimate with ourselves. The alternative is to not really know ourselves and want someone else to do the job in some kind of relative enmeshment. When we are first committed to personal integration, we will then be able to also support a partner in that work, and together feel like we are evolving toward universal truths.
The Tantric Path and the Taoist Way refer to the way reality as a whole operates. Also to nature’s universal order and organic patterning, as well as the process of life and how to live it well. Living in harmony with the Way means being guided by its principles. These include wholeness, the integration of polarities in complementarity, as well as effortless action and natural power, as opposed to controlling behavior. Our commitment to integration will translate into intimate, intensified, and resonating human relationships.
Gender harmony is the consummate possibility of togetherness for couples, but its capabilities transcend them as individuals. Integration helps to heal divisions within, between, and beyond themselves. It models how to re-envision all seemingly discordant opposites as supportive complements. This is not simply another idealization of unity as erasing all differences and diversity. Harmony is a dynamic way to keep a balanced integration of polarities—for example, the love and strife found in all relationships.
No woman or man is separate, or “un-whole”—as if waiting for someone else to complete themselves, which is a popular misconception. The universe is fundamentally relational and organic in that every level forms an integral element of a “deep ecology”—for example, a whole leaf, whole tree, whole forest, whole planet, whole universe. Or a whole person, whole relationship, whole tribe, whole purpose to humanity. In resolving their notions of internal divisions and separateness as individuals, what embraces and envelopes a couple is wholeness, renewing itself in the play of their togetherness and belonging.
Taoism and Tantra harness the intensity of partnerships to help us appreciate the fundamental inter-relatedness of all life. Gender relationships that emphasize integration tend to evoke the full scope of our cultural, physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual dimensions. Here, conventional notions of romantic love and sensual satisfaction take a back seat to greater enrichment. We evolve into a deep appreciation and profound enjoyment of live lived holistically. That is what truly makes for a fulfilling yogic relationship heightened by universal value, respect, and love.
In fact, the emphasis in gender harmony is neither for nor against eroticism, but rather on the experience of complementarity itself, as it affects us as individuals. Rather than being constrained to a narrow focus on sensuality, we become enthralled with the larger scope of perception, which increases in breath, depth, subtlety, and clarity—operating through sensation, emotion, imagination, and in-depth awareness. Increasingly, the totality of us as individuals is brought out. We become more actualized, individuated, and true to ourselves—which simply describe how we feel when we are aware of wholeness imprinting us. It always is, but we aren’t always aware of it.
That holistic presence-awareness releases us from our “thing-related” concerns, and opens us up to an appreciation of the whole of Being in its self-consistency across differences. Our separateness and struggle resolve, as does our exile from wholeness. What will you do for another, and what will they do for you? By extending our personal feelings of bonding and belonging to embrace universal themes, we invite the whole to re-create itself through each other. Out of profound love and encouragement, we nurture each other’s evolution and travel “home” together.
Submitted by Urgyan Zangpo. Valley Spirit Cooperative and Wellness Center in Washington Depot will host a workshop on Gender Harmony on July 29th & 30th. It will be facilitated by two of Valley Spirit’s staff members, Alex Boianghu and Urgyan Zangpo, Lama, who are also partners in MindBodySpirit: Psychotherapy and Healing Arts, in Ridgefield CT. Valley Spirit Cooperative and Wellness Center. 6 Green Hill Road, Washington Depot, CT. Details at: www.valleyspiritcoop.com. or call 860-619-2788. For more information, visit: www.valleyspiritcoop.com.