The Dance of Yin & Yang: Cultivating Feminine Flow and Masculine Presence" by Marilynne Chophel Cultivating Feminine Flow and Masculine Presence
The ancient paths of meditation and yoga are about wholeness, awakening, and embracing all that life has to offer. Every situation, whether pleasant or unpleasant, is an opportunity to become more aware of who we are, what we respond to, and how we experience life. Everything we experience can be seen as an opportunity to open and expand our consciousness, and to integrate the seemingly opposing aspects of our self. We can embrace opposites, seeing them not as contradictions but as the dynamic polarities of our aliveness, our whole selves. We can recognize that every person, whether man or woman, has both masculine (Yang) and feminine (Yin) qualities. These qualities arise from the lifeforce energy that manifests uniquely in each of us.
Yang, your masculine essence, is the active expression of your self – from which you manifest presence, strength, direction, and purpose. Yang energy is the quality you call upon to take initiative, establish leadership, and achieve goals. Yang energy also creates structure and a safe container for Yin to open and express its aliveness.
Yin, your feminine essence, is the receptive, open, and flowing expression of your self - that dreams and surrenders to the magic and wonder of life and love. When you call upon your inner Yin, you become more alive, expansive, and permeable to everything around you. Yin energy is devotional love, playful joy, and spontaneous creativity. Yin sees beauty everywhere and appreciates the details in everything. Yin energy also follows or yields – especially to Yang's active energy.
We can explore what happens when our Yin and Yang energies are in a harmonious dance, or out of balance. "Balanced and integrated, these energies guide us through life as a dynamic whole. We move forward with clear vision, yet we are willing to trust and flow with whatever life brings us. As we become more whole, our need to look outside of ourselves for love falls away. We experience the sweetness of union of our inner man and inner woman. From this place, we can create more harmonious relationships and more joy in our lives," according to Margot Anand.
We invite you to play with your inner feminine and masculine, by yourself and with a friend. First, take a personal assessment of where in your life you are more Yin or Yang, including at work, at home, in intimacy, and in relationship to others. Can you quantify how developed Yin and Yang are in the different aspects of your life?
With a friend, practice embodying and expressing Yin and Yang energies. Taking turns, decide who first will be Yang as the leader, and who will be Yin as the follower. During this experience, Yang leads Yin in creatively inspired movement, or in a number of other activities, and Yin simply follows, surrendering to whatever initiative or direction Yang offers. After a while, switch roles. In this playful game, Yang becomes inventive, challenging, generous, and risk-taking. Yin becomes open, receptive, and responsive. This practice builds trust and intimacy between partners, as well as spontaneity and sincerity, love, and playfulness. It challenges your inhibitions about asking for what you want, and cultivates the art of fully giving and receiving. The changes and reversals in roles will enrich your experience of the masculine and feminine qualities present within yourself and in others.
By Marilynne Chophel
The concept of the Sacred Feminine begins with the obvious but neglected truth that everything on Earth is born of the Feminine. The Feminine Principle of life is characterized by qualities that have been identified culturally as the domain of women, but in truth are an aspect of wholeness, in humanity and in life.
These qualities of the Feminine Principle are typically described as interconnection, unconditional love, nurturing, heart, inclusion, cooperation, receptivity, being, allowing, relatedness, intuition, oneness, and compassion. These qualities of wholeness have been at risk, being undervalued and nearly lost, under centuries of culture characterized by the unbalanced masculine love of power.
The qualities of the Feminine Principle have increasingly been recognized as urgently needed to address the imbalances and global crises threatening our survival on the planet at this time in history. But this cannot be done by women alone. Men must also revalue, reclaim and integrate the Feminine qualities of wholeness within themselves. Many men of heart have already done so.
Why call the Feminine “sacred?” Many are choosing to call the Feminine Principle “sacred”– i.e., the “Sacred Feminine”– to indicate the multiple life-affirming dimensions of the Feminine and its inherent essence of seeing all life as sacred, as interconnected and as unique expressions of one vast wholeness. The essence of the sacred feminine is about birthing and nurturing life. If we are to survive on the planet, this essence must be given fuller respect expression, and integration.
Daughters of the Patriarch and the daughters of evolution.
A patriarch is a man who exercises autocratic authority as a pater familias over an extended family. This is a Greek word, a composition of πατήρ (pater) meaning “father” and ρχων (archon) meaning “leader”, “chief”, “ruler”, “king”, etc.
Feminism comprises a number of social, cultural and political movements, theories and moral philosophies concerned with gender inequalities and equal rights for women. How do we define ourselves as women? I think the Sarah Palin phenomenon has really brought this into question!!
Men and women cannot be simply defined by their assigned gender apparatus. We know for example, that men and women DO think and act differently. Viva le difference!!
The psychological and emotional differences are at a deeper level than the physical. We are all or most of us, born as either the son or daughter of the patriarch.
What does that mean? It means we have either taken on the roles assigned to us by eons of male domination OR we have through self introspection chosen to identify ourselves with values outside of those handed down though cultural and religious doctrine.
Both son’s and daughters of the dominator model have been restricted in their emotional and social responses to life. Following rigid traditions, rules AND roles men will be men…..and women have their place. Even as our culture has progressed we find daughters of the patriarch still play within the lines of what is expected of a woman and or, we see really powerful women, strong bright women like Sarah Palin following the male model for success. First rule: play like one of the boys.
Then there are the evolved men and women, who play outside the lines that were drawn for them. They are not confined to developing only one side or the other of their brains, personalities and emotions.
But have explored and begun to honor the fullness of their beings. What does that look like? They are not locked in to roles….like “my better half” which implies we are only living from half of ourselves.
Instead they have explored and embraced a sense of wholeness. For men it is the freedom to explore and express their sensitivities and feelings. Often teased or beaten out of them growing up in a man’s world, or being sent off to war where the sensitive is replaced by insensitivity causing them to close down anything at the feeling level.
A recent study showed in corporations that men ARE embracing feminine responses in their management styles quite successfully. While at the same time women continue to be seen as weak when they come from their innate modes of operating.
Women who break from the mole they were expected to live value their emotions and do not hold them as a sign of weakness. They trust their intuition and by embracing their inner masculine bring these qualities into action. Oprah demonstrates this integration in which her deepest feminine qualities are powered by her masculine thrust and manifestation.
There are extremes on both sides: Those who live only by rules from outside of themselves and those who have thrown out all tradition putting themselves first in everything. Somewhere in moderation we can respectfully connect and grow in our wholeness while maintaining the best of both.
In doing so, we can come together in partnership and can contribute so much more to building a world of peace.
From Thom Hartmann’s book The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight
“We have now traced the history of women from Paradise to the nineteenth century and have heard nothing through the long roll of the ages but the clink of their fetters.” – Lady Jane Wilde l821 to l896
A friend who’s a psychiatrist with training in neutrochemistry once joked to me, “The most dangerous drug in the world is testosterone.” History suggests he is right.
Exhaustive analysis of “pre-historic” cultures, such as done by Riane Eisler and others, indicates that in virtually all Older Cultures the women were of equal status with the men, and in a few they were even in charge. One theory for why this was is that women uniquely bring life into the world, and it may not have been until humans moved from hunting//gathering to herding/agriculture that they began to understand genetics. The women ran the show because they controlled life itself, producing life from their bodies.
When everybody figured out that the men had a role to play in the process, however, during the early herding times, some of the men pulled off a power grab, converting the gods that were worshipped from female to male, and asserting control over the fertility of women the same way they controlled the fertility of a field or a flock of sheep. The men took over.
At the same time, testosterone-driven behaviors came to dominate the beginnings of our Younger Culture: aggression, competition, domination, warfare.
When European missionaries taught Australia Aborigine hunter/gatherers how to play “football” back in the early 1900’s , the Aboriginal children played until both sides had equal scores; that was when the game was over, in their mind, and it boggled the British missionaries who taught them the game. The missionaries worked for over a year to convince the children that there should be winners and losers. The children lived in a matrilineal society that valued cooperation; the Englishmen came from a patriarchal
society, which valued domination.
The Iroquois had figured this out a thousand years or more ago; only women in the tribe could vote on most issues. As a result, decisions regarding relations with other tribes were more often made in the context of “what will work for our children?” rather than “who wins/” or considerations of pride, power or conquest.
Similarly, we find that populations are exploding in virtually every nation of the world where women are dominated, treated like cattle or goods, or exploited and controlled. The men in such countries are making the decisions, and one of the male values is “have many sons to build the biggest army” [and, of course, another common one is “have sex whenever you want, with whomever you want”].
On the other hand, in those nations where women have relatively equal position and power with men, there are lower birth rates, often even to the point of zero population growth, as has been achieved in many of the countries of Northern Europe. In virtually every country of the world we can see this equation demonstrated: male domination equals population explosion; relative male-female equality equals sustainable populations.
In this regard, you could say that the women’s rights movement is truly a HUMAN rights movement.
So another solution to this mess we find ourselves in is to give power back to women in all realms, including the social, familial, religious, military and business worlds.”
ABOUT MARILYN NYBORG
Richard Wilhelm’s translation of the I Ching and the Secret of the Golden Flower was one of the major influences in this cultural shift; both of these works had an introduction by Carl Jung.
From The School of Wisdom:
Richard Wilhelm is the Marco Polo of the inner world of China. He, more than any other, is responsible for opening up to the West the vast spiritual heritage of China and thus all of Asia. He translated the great philosophical works from Chinese into German, where they have in turn been translated into the other major languages of the world, including English. To this day, among the dozens of translations of the I Ching now available, his 1923 translation stands head and shoulders above the rest. He introduced the I Ching, and Chinese philosophy, to the School of Wisdom when it first opened in 1920. These ideas have been a integral part of its program ever since. Richard Wilhelm, and the ancient Chinese Sages he came to know so well, are key Ancestors of the School of Wisdom.
Another student of the School of Wisdom, Carl Jung, wrote an interesting sketch of the inner world of Richard Wilhelm, as part of his Jung’s autobiography.
More than just a linguist and scholar, Wilhelm was a spiritual seeker who penetrated to the very depths of Chinese spirituality without losing his European frame of reference. Living in China for over twenty years he saw first hand the great cultural and spiritual differences between East and West. At the time, the Europeans were conquering colonial powers in China and had little or no respect of Chinese culture. The Chinese in turn considered the Europeans to be barbarians and closed their spiritual traditions to Westerners. Richard Wilhelm was one of the first to realize the value of Chinese thinking, to bridge the great divide between the two cultures. This division was internalized in his own soul after he moved to China in 1899 and began to penetrate its spiritual secrets. As he integrated Chinese thinking and world views into his own life, the gap between Western and Oriental culture split his very being in two. The new Chinese part of himself did not take over, he did not lose his European identity. He was able to translate the Chinese ideas back into the European gestalt. But the effort required was tremendous and he struggled his whole adult life to try to merge the two divergent spiritual traditions in his soul.
This struggle manifested itself physically in 1910 when Wilhelm contracted amoebic dysentery from Chinese food and lay seriously ill for months. The next year he met Lao Nai-hsuan, the Chinese sage who helped him through the internal conflict and Wilhelm recovered. With Lao’s help he bridged the gap and found inner tranquility, at least for a time. But many years later upon his final return to Germany in 1924, the tranquility lapsed, and the fight between the European and Chinese sides of Wilhelm renewed. After only four years in Europe, at age fifty five, Wilhelm suffered a relapse of his amoebic dysentery. The long-dormant microscopic organism that had invaded his system and triggered his illness in China in 1910 led to his premature death in 1930. Carl Jung saw in his relapse and early death an inability to integrate the two sides of himself. Although not completely successful in this personal struggle to merge the two cultures in his psyche, his writings, especially his translations of the I Ching: the Book of Changes and the Secret of the Golden Flower, certainly create a strong bridge for people in the West to approach and understand the unique spiritual and cultural insights of the East.
Richard Wilhelm was born far from China, in Germany, in 1873. As a student in a prestigious school, Tubinger Slift, he had broad cultural interests with a special love for the works of the great German poet, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. He was by nature a deeply spiritual person and his studies naturally turned to theology. In 1895 at the age of 22 he was ordained as a protestant minister and served briefly as a parish minister. Young Richard was idealistic and yearned for broader horizons and adventure. At age 26 he joined the Allgemein Protestantischer Missionsverein and agreed to serve as a missionary in China in the German colonial city of Tsingtao.
Shortly after Wilhelm arrived in China in 1899 the Boxer Rebellion erupted. A large faction of radical Chinese began a violent revolution against European colonialism. All Westerners were targeted for attack, especially missionaries. Although the Boxer Rebellion was eventually crushed, the Europeans were sensitized to the need for better communication with their Chinese subjects. Against this background, Richard Wilhelm began studying the Chinese language as soon as he arrived in China. He quickly discovered that he had a natural gift for the language. Chinese, and the other languages of the East which are derived from it such as Japanese and Korean, are completely different from the languages of the West. They are based on thousands of characters or ideograms, rather than letters. Translation from Eastern languages into Western languages is extremely difficult. The few who can do it are highly prized, especially in missionary work. Recognizing the exceptional aptitude for translation, the missionary group allowed Richard Wilhelm to spend his time studying the language. In 1905, the year his son Helmut was born, he began to translate his first Chinese book into German. His study and translation of Chinese religious life continued until the day he died.
As Wilhelm learned the language he became intrigued with the Chinese religious texts he was studying. Wilhelm quickly developed a passion for Chinese culture, particularly their religious texts. In Tsingtao and in Peking where he studied at the University, he encountered many of the cultural leaders of China at the time. Described by his wife as a warm and gregarious person, Wilhelm was able to befriend many Chinese and learn their way of life. This association with the Chinese language and culture began to transform him into a new person. He began to see the world through the perspective of the Chinese. He was very impressed by the deep spirituality which he found. He came to China intending to convert the heathens to Christianity. But almost without realizing it, the missionary had himself become converted. Many years later Wilhelm would boast to Carl Jung that during his entire twenty-year stay in China he never baptized a single Chinese. He discovered instead that his true mission was to create a translation bridge between Western and Eastern spirituality.
In 1911 at age 38 Wilhelm met Lao Nai-hsuan, the Chinese sage and scholar who profoundly influence his life. After Lao helped Wilhelm recover from amoebic dysentery, Wilhelm founded the Confucius Society in Tsing Tao, and Lao Nai-hsuan became its head. Their relationship grew close. Lao lived from 1843 to 1921. Wilhelm described him as an eminent scholar of the old school, one of the last of his kind, and referred to him as his honored teacher. He was one of the few classic scholars then open to change. He realized that China’s isolation from the rest of the world had to end. Lao was a true Chinese sage, related to the family of Confucius, and trained in Confucian government and traditions. He was also adept at Chinese yoga and psychological methods from the Taoist traditions. His special expertise and passion was the I Ching, and this love quickly spread to Wilhelm. Lao came to trust the extraordinary missionary, and took Wilhelm as his pupil. For the first time the deep spiritual traditions and insights of China were shared with a European.
In 1913 Lao and Wilhelm began the monumental task of translating the I Ching from Chinese to German. The task continued for ten years. At the same time Wilhelm was translating the book into German, Lao was creating a new Chinese edition of the book entitled the Book of Changes According To The Ch’eng School. Lao directly assisted Wilhelm in understanding all aspects of the text. In Wilhelm’s words,
Lao first opened my mind to the wonders of the Book of Changes. Under his experienced guidance I wandered entranced through this strange yet familiar world. The translation of the text was made after detailed discussion. Then the German version was retranslated into Chinese and it was only after the meaning of the text had been fully brought out that we considered our version to be truly a translation.
In 1921, just as the last pages of the printer’s proofs of the finished translation were coming back, Lao Nai-hsuan died, his life’s work complete. Wilhelm continued to edit the work and to add his own comments over the next few years until he concluded the I Ching: Book of Changes, in 1923. The next year he was forced to return to Germany where he assumed a position as a Professor of Chinese Studies at the University of Frankfurt. In 1925 he founded the China Institute and served as its director until his death.
From 1924, until his death in 1930, the focus of his work shifted from translation to lecturing and teaching. He tried to promote the great culture and spiritual insights of China. To do so effectively he had to personally serve as a kind of bridge of the great cultural divide between China and Europe. At first he encountered opposition and hostility to his efforts on many fronts. Europe was nationalistic and chauvinistic. The academic community distrusted him because of his missionary background, and the religious community distrusted him because of his transcendence of Christianity. But a few listened, including Count Keyserling, who was also opposed to the nationalists, academics and orthodox religions. Wilhelm participated in Keyserling’s book on marriage, writing the chapter on Chinese marriage and its spiritual significance. Wilhelm also participated in the School of Wisdom in Darmstadt. Due to his influence on Count Keyserling, and his son, Arnold Keyserling, Chinese philosophy, particularly the I Ching, became a central part of the School of Wisdom curriculum.
At the School of Wisdom Richard Wilhelm met Carl Jung, who became his good friend. Jung also realized the great significance of Wilhelm’s work, particularly the I Ching. Jung helped Wilhelm gain respectability in the German academic community, and wrote lengthy introductions to Wilhelm’s two most important translations, I Ching: Book of Changes and The Secret of the Golden Flower. These two books had a profound influence on Carl Jung.
With the help of Keyserling and Jung, Wilhelm’s work in Germany eventually met with some success. Wilhelm’s books were published, and he met and influenced other important cultural leaders, such as the writer Herman Hesse and the musician Joseph Hauer. But according to Jung, Wilhelm was not able to make a smooth psychological transition back to European life. Wilhelm began to cut himself off from his spiritual roots in China. In Jung’s words, Wilhelm “seemed to feel the pressure of the European spirit”. When Jung first met Wilhelm he seemed completely Chinese to Jung, in outward manner as well as way of writing and speaking. But a few years later this changed. Now Wilhelm’s lectures on China began to sound more like Christian sermons to Jung. The two sides of himself, the Chinese and the German, began to split apart, with the Chinese side going into the unconscious. As the Christian views and forms of thought moved into the foreground, his resistance to the Chinese bacteria living in his body weakened. Wilhelm relapsed into the amoebic dysentery he originally contracted in 1910. Carl Jung tried to treat him, but in the end the inner psychological conflict between east and West proved too strong, and Richard Wilhelm died at age 57. His grave is shown below. His great spiritual legacy, I Ching: Book of Changes and The Secret of the Golden Flower, and other books, will live forever. (Note: a search of the Internet will reveal full text versions of some of his books, including the I Ching, most of which are of questionable copyright status, and thus not reproduced here.)