--“Antonia” by B.K. Lusk
"Why It Is Wise to Worship a Woman"
— Arjuna Ardagh
A few days ago, after a particularly exquisite evening with my wife Chameli, I put this post up on Facebook before going to bed:
"I have had many, many great teachers in my life. A super abundance. No one and nothing comes close to the woman who is now asleep in the bedroom. My marriage has become the guru, the salvation, the muse, the crack through which the divine shines through."
When I woke up the next morning, there were the usual offerings of people who liked the post as well as comments. One man had the vulnerability and courage to post this on facebook:
"Thank you Arjuna for this sharing, I feel like [I'm] in front of a choice which is between feeling envious of what you have and I don't, or instead to decide that 'I want that too,' and, as you show, it is possible..."
I was touched.
Over the next days, I got several more messages like this from men: vulnerable men, honest men, rare and courageous men. They came in as private messages on Facebook or through our website, and they all said basically the same thing:
"I read your Facebook post. I want what you have. Show me how to get it."
So, friends, here it is. The short guide on how to worship a woman, and why it's the wisest thing that a man can do. First of all, lets pop a few very understandable doubts that you might have. I'm familiar with all of them.
1. "I'm wounded and damaged in my relationships to the feminine."
So am I, dear brother, so am I. My parents divorced in a messy way when I was four. I grew up alone with my mother. She did her very best to provide for me, but she was unhappy and insecure. By the time I started to have relationships with women myself in my early teens, I discovered that I had a mountain of resentments, fears, and separation in my relation to the feminine. The conscious practice of worship can become a part of healing the wounds.
2. "Arjuna, you're lucky. You've got an incredible partner. I'm together with a woman who's not like Chameli."
I really don't have the ultimate answer to that doubt or question. It certainly could seem to be the case that I've been lucky in finding a great woman, but here's how it happened for me. I've had a lot of less lucky connections in my life. I've experienced my share of the manipulative side of the feminine: the victim, the rageful, the vengeful. And I have seen the ugly side of the masculine psyche in myself. A few weeks prior to meeting Chameli, my wife, something deep and profound shifted in me, which I believe can shift for anyone in the same way.
3. "I don't have a partner at all, and I sometimes doubt if I'll ever meet anybody."
Being with a partner where worship is not flowing, or not being with a partner at all, are basically two aspects of the same situation: you've had an intuition or a glimpse of the possibilities of a deeper love, and you want more of it. The solutions are the same.
“I feel my heart is closed down. I live in my head a lot, and I wouldn't even know what worship was if it broke into my house at 2 o'clock in the morning and held me at gunpoint."
That's where the whole thing starts for all of us, when we realize that we don't yet know how to love. And that's that the big question that you have to consider: "Is that okay with me?" Never mind how much money you make, or how many friends you have on Facebook, no matter how nice a house you live in, or no matter how big a car you drive, no matter how impressive your partner's bust size, or how much you meditate and become spiritual... have you loved for real, in a total and undefended way? If not, and here's where you have to be honest with yourself, is that OK with you? Is it OK to die one day without the heart's gift having been fully given?
Eight or nine years ago, I came to that question in myself, exactly that, and I discovered that the answer was, if I was was raw and vulnerable and uncomplicated, that it was actually not OK. If I died one day without having fully loved, it would not have truly been a life well lived.
Many many, years ago, I went to Bali for a vacation, on my own. I met up with some other young travelers there and we hired a Jeep to take us on a tour of the island. We drove up right to the highest point of the island, where Tourists don't usually go. Our guide took us to one of the most sacred temples. It was surrounded by a big brick wall with an ornate entrance. After removing our shoes and wrapping scarves around our heads, we stepped together through this entrance. Inside, there was a short courtyard and then another brick wall with another entrance. After more preparations of lighting incense and giving offerings, we stepped through the second entrance. We were allowed to go through the opening in one more wall, but that was it. All together there were ten walls around the deity in the middle. Hindus could go beyond the fourth wall.
Devotees of that particular deity could go beyond the fifth wall, and so it went on. The only people allowed to approach the deity directly were those who had given their lives completely and totally to its worship. Everyone else could come a little closer, a little closer, to the innermost beauty, but not all the way to the center.
I'm not a big believer of the worship of statues, but there's a beautiful symbolism to what I saw there, because a woman's heart is just like that. At the essence of every woman's heart is the divine feminine. It contains everything that has ever been beautiful, or lovely, or inspiring, in any woman, anywhere, at any time. The very essence of every woman's heart is the peak of wisdom, the peak of inspiration, the peak of sexual desirability, the peak of soothing, healing love.
The peak of everything. But it's protected, for good reason, by a series of concentric walls. To move inwardly from one wall to the next requires that you intensify your capacity to devotion, and as you do so, you are rewarded with Grace. This is not something you can negotiate verbally with a woman. She doesn't even know consciously how to open those gates herself. They are opened magically and invisibly by the keys of worship.
If you stand on the outside of the outermost wall, all you have available to you, like many other unfortunate men, is pornography. For $1.99 a minute, you can see her breasts, maybe her vagina, and you can stimulate yourself in a sad longing for deeper love.
Step through another gate, and she will show you her outer gift-wrapping. She'll look at you with a certain twinkle in her eye. She'll answer your questions coyly. She'll give you just the faintest hint that there is more available.
Step through another gate with your commitment, with your attention, with the small seedlings of devotion, and she'll open her heart to you more. She'll share with you her insecurities, the way that she's been hurt, her deepest longings. Some men will back away at this point. They realize that the price they must pay to go deeper is more than they are willing to give. They start to feel a responsibility. But for those few who step though another gate, they come to discover her loyalty, her willingness to stick with you no matter what, her willingness to raise your children, stick up for you in conversation, and, if you are lucky, even pick up your dirty socks now and then. And so it goes on. You've got the gist by now.
Somewhere around the second wall from the center, she casts the veils of her personality aside, and shows you that she is both a human being and also a portal into something much greater than that. She shows you a wrath that is not hers, but all women's. She shows you a patience that is also universal. She shows you her wisdom. At this point you start to experience the archetypes of women, who have been portrayed as goddesses and mythological figures in every tradition.
Then, at the very center, in the innermost temple itself, all the layers of your devotion are flooded with reward all at once. You discover the very essence of the feminine, and in a strange way that is not exactly romantic, but profoundly sacred all the same, you realize that you could have got here with any woman if you had just been willing to pass through all the layers of initiation. Any woman is every woman, and every woman is any woman at the same time. When you love a woman completely, at the very essence of her being, this is the one divine feminine flame. It is what has made every woman in history beautiful. It's the flame behind the Mona Lisa, and Dante's Beatrice, and yes, also Penelope Cruz and Heidi Klum. You discover the magic ingredient which has lead every man to fall in love with a woman.
When you learn how to pay attention to the essence of the feminine in this way, you fall to the floor in full body prostration, tears soaking your cheeks and clothes, and you wonder how you could have ever taken Her, in all of Her forms, for granted even for a second.
So just a couple small questions remain. First, do you get what I'm talking about? Does it jive for you? Does it make sense? And second, if yes, how are you going to get from where you are now to being able to the full capacity of your heart to love for real? I'd be glad to share more about this if we get to know each other better, but here's how you get started.
First, do what I did, and create an altar in your room dedicated to Divine Feminine. Put only symbols of the feminine on it. I have a painting called "Beatrix" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. I have a statue of Quan Kin. Populate your altar with anything that reminds you of the feminine, and spend a few minutes of the day in worship. Yes, worship. Adoration. Devotion. Offer up rose petals. Offer poems. Offer everything, and beg Her to reveal Her innermost essence to you. This will work miracles whether you're single and waiting to meet the right woman or whether you're already in relationship and long to meet your woman in a deeper way.
The second way to get started: make a practice, a discipline, of telling your woman, or any woman, ten times a day something which you adore about her. "I love the smell of your shampoo." "I love the way you laugh." "The color of your eyes is so beautiful." Of course, you need to keep it appropriate. You can go as far out on a limb as you like if you're in relationship with a woman, but with anyone else remember the gates. Keep you communication appropriate to the gate number that you find yourself at. Appreciation the curve of a woman's breast, for example, if she happens to be the cashier at the supermarket, would equate more to harassment than worship.
THE TRANSLUCENT VIEW: Arjuna Ardagh’s Website
I come to you today as a man committed to becoming more conscious in every way. I feel deep love, great respect and a growing sense of worship for the gifts of the feminine. I also feel deep sorrow about the destructive actions of the unconscious masculine in the past and present. I want to apologize to you and make amends for those actions, in order to bring forth a new era of co-creation with you.
As I become more conscious, I grow more aware of the play of masculine and feminine energies: within me, within you and in all of life. I know that we all have access to the full spectrum of these energies. I also have a growing awakening to the dimension beyond all dualities, free and open as the sky.
I commit to owning and stewarding a masculinity that honors and celebrates us as equals. I know that in order to truly honor you as a multi-dimensional woman, I must stand fully present in myself, and own the gifts I have to share with you. We can create great miracles together by nurturing each other in a conscious way, by treating each other with reverence and respect, and by worshiping the divinity expressed in both masculine and feminine energy.
As men, our relationship to the feminine has often been unconscious. I feel sorrow that women and feminine energy have been for so long subjugated and oppressed. Throughout history, men have raped and abused you, burned you at the stake, bought and sold your bodies for sexual pleasure, barred you from religious and political office, relegated you to subservient chores, forced you to hide your faces and even cut off your organs of sexual pleasure.
I may not have done these things myself, but I am aware of the forces in the unconscious masculine psyche that feel threatened by and then seek to dominate the feminine. Many of the men who have oppressed or abused you are no longer alive. Among the living, many men may be unable to apologize because they remain shackled in a prison of anger, fear and shame. On behalf of my gender, I apologize to you for our unconscious actions when we were angry, scared and in the grip of destructive forces in our psyche. I choose no longer to contribute to those forces, nor to be run by them in my own life. I offer you this apology in hopes that we can make a fresh start in a spirit of co-creation.
I acknowledge that the religions of the past several thousand years have been mainly founded by and propagated by men. We have often acted as if we have the last word on God and the spiritual life, when all we have really known is the masculine expression of those things. As a result, we have suppressed more heartfelt, connective and inclusive spiritualities. I commit now to also honoring the spirituality of the divine feminine.
I honor your deep connection to the earth. As men, our relationship to our planet and its resources has often been motivated by competition, acquisition and domination. We mistakenly believed that expansion would protect us from encroachment, and in the process we violated the sanctity of the Earth and disturbed its natural rhythms. I commit to listening to the intuitive sense you have of how to heal our planet and make it thrive.
I honor your intuition and your profound capacity for feeling. As men, we have often devalued feeling and intuition in favor of a view dominated by data and logic. This way of being seemed necessary to move humanity beyond superstition and animalism, but in the process we lost much of the heart of life. I commit to respecting the arts of feeling, intuition and wisdom of the feminine heart, so that together we can integrate them into a balanced view of life, that honors and includes all wisdoms.
I honor the beauty and integrity of your body. When we nurture each other through our bodies with awareness and devotion, there are no boundaries to the love that we can generate. I feel sorrow that men have used your beauty as a form of commerce in prostitution and pornography. In the grip of lust we have often lacked the skills to ask gracefully for intimacy or to take ‘No’ for an answer. I take a stand against any form of enforced or soulless commercialization of woman’s beauty, and I respect that your body belongs to you.
I honor your capacity for peaceful resolution of conflicts, your ability to apologize effectively and forgive with grace. We men have waged endless wars over our disagreements. In the act of defending our lands and protecting our families, we became addicted to the fight itself. By contrast, it is rare to find an invasion or war instigated by a woman. I apologize for dragging you into these wars, and for the rape, murder, broken hearts and damaged families that resulted from them. We welcome your wisdom in creating a world that can get along without resorting to destruction.
I honor your capacity to listen to your body and its needs for food, rest and playtime. I celebrate your ability to pay attention to what is here, right now. As men, our preoccupation with goals and results often has burnt us out and made us unavailable for relationship. I know we have drawn you into this imbalance as well, so often frustrating your longing to connect. The time for a process-centred way of being is now upon us. I welcome your wisdom to maintain balance in our bodies, and in our ways of meeting.
I honor your sense of compassionate justice. In our justice system, men have dominated as judges and police, build prisons and revered the principle of punishment. I welcome you to work with us in bringing the return of the heart to our system of justice.
I also know that global economics have been dominated by the unconscious masculine, often living in a sense of lack and greed. As a result, many people have been left impoverished and disempowered. With your natural sense of nurturing and abundance, I know we can work together to create a truly caring global economics.
In apologizing to you for the hurts we men have caused you, I acknowledge that I and many of my brothers have also felt hurt by our mothers, our sisters, our partners and ex-partners. As a conscious man I am willing to feel those hurts fully within myself and release them. I forgive you for any ways you may have acted unconsciously, as I forgive myself and my gender for our own waking sleep.
From this day, moving forward, I vow to treat your heart as the sacred temple it is, and I commit to honoring the feminine in you and me and in my relationship to all life. I know that by leaving the past behind and joining hands in the present, we can create a synergy of our strengths. Together, there is nothing we cannot do. Together, we can make miracles.