Tao: The Watercourse Way
by Alan Watts
At the very roots of Chinese thinking and feeling there lies the principle of polarity, which is not to be confused with the ideas of opposition or conflict. In the metaphors of other cultures, light is at war with darkness, life with death, good with evil, and the positive with the negative, and thus an idealism to cultivate the former and be rid of the latter flourishes throughout much of the world. To the traditional way of Chinese thinking, this is as incomprehensible as an electric current without both positive and negative poles, for polarity is the principle that + and —, north and south, are different aspects of one and the same system, and that the disappearance of either one of them would be the disappearance of the system.
People who have been brought up in the aura of Christian and Hebrew aspirations find this frustrating, because it seems to deny any possibility of progress, an ideal which flows from their linear (as distinct from cyclic) view of time and history. Indeed, the whole enterprise of Western technology is “to make the world a better place”—to have pleasure without pain, wealth without poverty, and health without sickness. But, as is now becoming obvious, our violent efforts to achieve this ideal with such weapons as DDT, penicillin, nuclear energy, automotive transportation, computers, industrial farming, damming, and compelling everyone, by law, to be superficially “good and healthy” are creating more problems than they solve. We have been interfering with a complex system of relationships which we do not understand, and the more we study its details, the more it eludes us by revealing still more details to study. As we try to comprehend and control the world it runs away from us. Instead of chafing at this situation, a Taoist would ask what it means. What is that which always retreats when pursued? Answer: yourself. Idealists (in the moral sense of the word) regard the universe as different and separate from themselves—that is, as a system of external objects which needs to be subjugated. Taoists view the universe as the same as, or inseparable from, themselves— so that Lao-tzu could say, “Without leaving my house, I know the whole universe.” This implies that the art of life is more like navigation than warfare, for what is important is to understand the winds, the tides, the currents, the seasons, and the principles of growth and decay, so that one’s actions may use them and not fight them. In this sense, the Taoist attitude is not opposed to technology per se. Indeed, the Chuang-tzu writings are full of references to crafts and skills perfected by this very principle of “going with the grain.” The point is therefore that technology is destructive only in the hands of people who do not realize that they are one and the same process as the universe. Our overspecialization in conscious attention and linear thinking has led to neglect, or ignore-ance, of the basic principles and rhythms of this process, of which the foremost is polarity.
“Broken Man" by RedRedRose
A few evenings ago, in a moment of intimate conversation with my dear Basherte, she explained to me the process (at least from her perspective) of how “loving a man” is born inside a woman's heart. It was a moment of epiphany! Not because she was unveiling revolutionary details, but it was how she logically and sequentially phrased the steps, perfectly connecting them like unearthed pieces of ancient Chinese pottery — meticulously placed side by side to reveal a mystery called “Yin heart.” I was touched and astounded! She was imparting to me how a woman desires to be loved. It was like I didn’t want to miss a beat; I wanted to extract and absorb every morsel that fell from her sacred lips! It all made me love her that much more!
This discussion that follows isn't about her vision (I will leave that for a future writing), nor is it a “scientific analysis” of men’s cultural and emotional deficits. The real intent of this work is to look at why a majority of men haven’t a clue how to comprehend, let alone love, a woman’s heart. What I hope to stir is a deeper awareness of the “whys.” Why men have become so disconnected from women — leaving themselves essentially emotionally bankrupt. Why are we (men) so clueless of what my basherte describes as the “wondrous process of wooing a woman?” And finally, why are we so secretly fearful of not embracing the “call of Yin” (which in truth we sense, but know so little about)?
To understand these “whys,” I will lay out some of the more delusionary perspectives men operate from, and as a consequence, how men’s belief systems and actions negatively impact all aspects of life on this planet. First, I’d like to borrow a comment from an Amazon reader regarding archeologist Marija Gimbutas’ classic, The Civilization of the Goddess: The World of Old Europe. The commentator shares some interesting insights on the value of probable past matriarchal societies of ancient Europe:
"a compilation of cultural clues shows cultures which challenge all previous notions of how civilizations evolved. The basic equality in size of houses and graves, the emphasis on feminine images in art, the lack of defensive walls or caches of weapons, suggest civilizations focused on the arts of nurturing families, plants and animals. Perhaps the survival of the fittest here meant the flourishing of those best able to care for each other."
Here we see the potentially beneficial effect of societies where Yin (the feminine) was free to flourish and Be. And my belief is without these thriving societies we end up with what we have today; Yin and Yang imbalanced; Yang over-emphasized; unbridled competition, greed, hunger/famine, dominance of male over female, sexual exploitation, violence, war and genocide!
From an early age boys are taught that girls by nature are the weaker of the sexes, ignorantly confusing physical strength with intellectual fortitude, evidenced by the lack of certain “physical abilities” associated with boys/mens sports. That so called “gender frailty” is reinforced when girls begin to imitate and initiate the “nurturing and care-giving behaviors” demonstrated first by their mothers and secondarily by women in their Yin communities who surround them during their formative years. Girls inner-makeup deepens and they are blessed by observing and then modeling their female elders demonstration of ever greater levels of gentleness, care-giving, kindness, listening, compassion and intuitiveness. Boys, on the other hand, learn greater levels of aggression and “one-upmanship.” This may be why, at early developmental stages, boys begin to openly tease and scorn girls and use “gender slamming” as a form of universal put-down [e.g. ‘you act/throw/whine/cry like a girl’]. The fear factor is born.
Boys also learn, at a young age to quickly “dry their tears.” In the masculine culture tears are equated with “the weaker sex” (girls) and therefore used as a judgment on other boys as a sign of “weakness, lack of bravery and character impairment." Any boy seen crying beyond the age of seven or eight is castigated as a “pussy” [here female genitalia is pejoratively symbolized]. In need of help, by adulthood most men need some sort of intense “cry therapy” just to feel human again! In fact, any real sensitivity of the heart, a natural part of being human, men will diligently repress into a form of psychological malignancy! Lost in a sea of worry, desensitized and sometimes acting inhuman the male mind desperately clings to one key thought, “Life is a game of protecting myself from any form of emotional vulnerability; it's me against the world. I must and will protect myself at all costs!” And so a mantra is born.
As the years pass and with a scarcity of wise male mentors to guide these young men to deeper consciousnss, they enter what may be the most hard-hitting, confusing and painful time period of their lives, their high school years. Without wise direction — emotional immaturity, gender bias, a need to fit in, insensitivity towards others, irrationalism; and a lethal sex drive - render young men little more than emotional train-wrecks! All of this may sound a bit Orwellian or like a grim omen from an Old Testament, but it is what it is. Tragically, this “possessed mind-set” will last for decades. The sheer intensity of it easily parallels a scene from the third Star Trek movie, “In Search of Spock.” Mr. Spock’s dead body is resurrected (reborn) by the power of the Genesis Project. He’s discovered (now as a boy) on the Genesis planet by members of the Starship Enterprise. Spock is observed evolving from childhood to adulthood in a matter of minutes. As teenagers, the Vulcans enter into an intense transitional period called pon farr. It is at this point in time where soon to be adult Vulcans undergo a neurochemical imbalance that takes on a form of madness. A Vulcan could die within eight days if their pon farr isn't satiated. Science fiction and reality can speak a singular truth.
In the real human species, beset by lifelong fears and insecurities, teenage boys and adult men find temporary escape from their internal woes by creating one inadmissible scapegoat: WOMEN. Paradoxically, what men identify in women as “inferior,” is in reality Yin strength. This dichotomy between the sexes causes women to increasingly harden themselves towards men’s shallowness and sometimes moronic behaviors. Taken to the extreme, woman may eventually choose to tune-out completely and spend the rest of their days without male companionship (a whole topic onto itself).
Men on the other hand, reacting against women, indulge in a contemptible blame game! Such defective reasoning clearly demonstrates a great Yin/Yang imbalance inside the male (Yang) mind: men connected with their heads (no pun intended), but not their hearts. These misguided males enter a form of mental hypnotism, where comprehension and the gift of Yin (the feminine) is for the most part nonexistant. What he fails to grasp is her ability to see beyond the mundane; to out-think him and to out-last her emotionally stifled counterpart.
If a man’s own biases allow him to abide in a state of delusional superiority (excluding Yin as a necessary life factor), he actually cuts off his own right foot — leading to a gangrenous (inner) death. Yang cannot function without Yin, and vice versa. So by not seeing the continuity and co-operation of the Yin/Yang principle (male to female, female to male), fear allows him to descend into a discordant understanding of life, the universe and adherence with Yin (the feminine). In doing so he deprives himself of any possible connection that would fuse him to reality! What may be the most astounding aspect of this psychological drama is that in spite of his “irrational mind-set” and “rejection of his own potential authenticity,” he still intuitively (subconsciously) knows what’s right! Put another way, out of fear of personal exposure (the truth) and the need to “fix himself” (contrition) he chooses to suppress the very life-force he quietly knows he needs and direly longs for.
So what must we men do? One, is listen. Listen from within —not with our heads, but with our hearts; take time to “be attentive” to women. Allow the opportunity to “get to know them, the whole of them,” not just their “cup size,” or their attitudes towards “avant-garde sexual behavior.” Really get to know them; their pain, their joys, their disappointments and their sorrows. Here you will see their truest transcendent beauty. Watch and study how they comfort and love others, always giving of themselves. Observe them and savor every action they take. Study what is good and honorable about them. Lastly, laugh with them, and cry with them (if you can). In doing all these things you will begin, maybe for the first time in your life, to breathe freely. Your inhalation will no longer be purely physiological — but profoundly, inwardly deep - down to your core-essence. Your head will be lighter and your heart more vivacious. Life will begin to unveil remarkable color— astounding color beyond even what the human eye can detect. As time passes you will feel less “Yang” and more “Yin.” Balance of heart and thought will bring greater harmony to your Being, and there will be a slow, melting away of fear. MUCH LESS FEAR! As a result of your awakened state and energized presence, you will no longer feel disconnected from beauty, life, purpose, love, and most importantly, a women’s heart. A true sense of Being will arise within and guide you, even through the darkest times. Your journey as a man will come into the fullness of light and the resonance of Being... mark my words!