Religion and Spirituality: Politics, Spirituality, and the Feminine

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Riane Eisler
Riane Eisler
United States

Politics, Spirituality, and the Feminine

Since our subject is Politics, Spirituality, and the Feminine, I will start with politics. I was born in Vienna, but my parents and I had to flee from the Nazis. We were fortunate to get to Cuba on one of the last ships of Jewish refugees permitted to land there. I was seven at the time, and growing up in Havana I became conscious of politics. Not only of the European politics that had almost killed me, but of Cuban politics. Because, at that time in Cuba, politics were very violent. Different student factions gunned each other down on the streets, and people were killed by the government. That convinced me that violence is not the way to achieve social justice.

In those early years of my life, I also began to develop my own view of spirituality. Every night I prayed to God for our relatives left behind in Europe. After World War II ended, I saw the newsreels of the Nazi concentration camps, and found out that most of those left behind—my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins—had been brutally killed. That was when God died for me. But there was always in my life spirituality in the sense of putting love into action. So spirituality for me is not so much otherworldly, but about what we do right here on Earth.

This takes me to the feminine, because the love and caring that for me lies at the core of real spirituality has stereotypically been thought of as “soft” or “feminine." So it's been given a great deal of lip service, but—along with women and "effeminate” men—barred from social governance.

Masum Momaya, Curator
Masum Momaya, Curator
United States

Word Associations

Riane, do you think there are any downsides with categorizing certain qualities as masculine and others as feminine? I know this is not the same as attributing qualities directly to men and women but the gendered associations seem to obscure that both masculine and feminine qualities exist in individuals and societies.

Immigrants

My parents escaped Communist China and moved to Hong Kong (a British colony at that time). My sisters & I were born there. We came to U.S.A in 1984 because they wanted us to have a better education. We also came because the U.S. is a democratic government & China was to take over Hong Kong in 1997. I think immigrants value democracy more because most of them have been oppressed or persecuted by their own government. I think immigrants are the backbone of America.

http://holistichealthclub.blogspot.com

Herstory

Instead of History, schools should also have "Herstory".

http://holistichealthclub.blogspot.com

Lalita Raman
Lalita Raman
Hong Kong

Women, Her Role, Her Acceptance and Her Contribution

Hello Riane, there is an interesting combination of views and opinions here about Women, her acceptance, qualities and most important the development and changes we are seeing in the role of a women in today's society be it in Politics, day to day life, or in the Corporate World.

While there have been changes to the positive in the role of a woman over the years, I tend to agree with you that typically when a woman asserts her rights.. she is considered aggressive. Yes there are still some parts of the world we live in where woman are subjects of violence and still hidden and probably swallowed by the victimized woman.

However, I do think we woman also have to recognize each other's limitations and accept one another without jealousy and envy. Also, it is important that we empathize and help those in need

While yes some qualities can be considered more feminine and vice-versa, I am not sure if it is necessarily right to categorize qualities as masculine and some others as feminine as pointed out by Masum Momaya.

Is it not necessary to have a better understanding of Women by both Women and Men and probably that would make each of our society's a better place to live.

Please let me know about your projects. I would love to learn and get involved.

Thankyou

Riane Eisler
Riane Eisler
United States

Riane Eisler

I want to welcome all of you who have joined our conversation since I last responded with your important insights and memoirs. I want to respond particularly to the matter of the "masculine" and "feminine" and make it clear that I only use those categories as adjectives for what is considered appropriate for women and men in dominator tradition. So I qualify their use by the term stereotypically masculine or feminine. In other words, I fully agree, as you wrote, that both what we think of today as "masculine" and "feminine" traits can exist in both women and men. We need to leave these rigid gender stereotypes behind. At the same time, and I have written about this extensively, the problem is that we have been socialized not only to accept these stereotypes, but also to devalue the stereotypically feminine, such as caring, nonviolence, and caregiving in our social policies. This, as I show in my latest book, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics, has very negative consequences for all of us: women, men, and children. Indeed, ending the subordination of women (and with this, the devaluation of what has been considered "feminine" whether it resides in women or men is essential for a more caring, peaceful, and equitable future for our world.
I send you all my warmest good wishes - we are partners in a major cultural transformation for which empowering women is critical.

Susmita Barua
Susmita Barua
United States

Hi Raine I am yet to read any of your books except excerpts here and there. Growing up as a minority Buddhist in Calcutta, India I also witnessed some political upheavals when I was about ten. I also witnessed the senseless violence of student led communist movement of Naxalites and the plight of homeless refugess (from present Bangladesh) in Indo-Pakistan War in 1970-71. And the sea of poverty in and homelessness of srteet kids in my home city and the social subjugation of women.

India is home of lofty spiritual traditions and spiritual and feminine values are cherised in homes and communities. Yet the status of women and relation between hindu-muslims seem to have declined with the advent of British and Western consumerism despite overall progress in literacy and jobs held by women.

My upbringing as Buddhist helped me appreciate universal sacred life affirming spirituality and humanistic values without the need for dogma or theology.

The feminine and masculine got polarized with body-sex based identification and the survival and power struggle that goes with keeping narrowly focused body-based and social role based ego identity. In the mature human psyche feminine and masculine energies are very complementary and they feed and play with each other in every man or woman's heart.

Men and women on a conscious spiritual path is realizing that the historical dominator paradigm of patriarchy has been harmful to the psyche of both men and women. So healing (restoring natural harmony of yin-yang) of both masculine and feminine within each human heart is necessary to return to the sacred heart. The goal of personal-spiritual growth is to awaken, realize and express this non-dual whole heart-mind (called bodhichitta, christ-consciousness, mystical heart of kabbalah, Sufi, tantra, hermetics and shamans) of inner peace, knowing and happinness. Coming to harmony in the tension between the limited physical and unbounded spiritual (earth and heaven) is the inner journey of each human soul, community, culture and society.

http://womandivine.blogspot.com

Margaret Wolff
Margaret Wolff
United States

Looking at this from the Inside Out

Having talked with Riane and 13 other women about this extensively for my book, IN SWEET COMPANY:CONVERSATIONS WITH EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN ABOUT LIVING A SPIRITUAL LIFE, my sense is that the outer events that shape our lives can have a profound influence in the present and in the future on way we perceive and relate to God. Once we begin to develop a conception of God that is intimate and personal -- one that is rooted in partnership values rather than "shoulds" or dogma or retribution -- we begin to develop an understanding of the events in our lives -- even the most horrific -- that can serve us, that can even motivate us to change the world around us. This is my experience of Riane, that the tragedies she experienced as a young girl fueled her work, helped her to change the world for the better, and make her the compassionate and gentle person she is today. While I do not support or condone in any way the difficult experiences that shaped her -- experiences that continue to shape many women today -- I am grateful for what she became as a result of them and the gifts she has given us all.

Tags: spirituality , feminine , political refugee , Europe , Cuba , partnership , أوروبا


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