Is Feminism Contra-Spiritual?

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In Dakini’s Warm Breath Judith Simmer-Brown boldly asserts, “Women’s and men’s liberation movements have remained primarily in a political or oppositional mode that has insidiously promoted the disempowerment of both men and women. While various forms of feminism have attempted to address this, their methods have often promoted a merely political vision incapable of healing the whole wound.” (ibid, pg. 6) I concur with her assessment. She also highlights a psychophysical component, in particular concerning Carl Jung’s use of symbols and archetypes.

Jung’s anima is the image of the female in the individual male unconscious, shaped by individual men’s unconscious experiences of women early in life. These images are further nurtured by the much deeper archetypal collective unconscious. The anima represents the intuitive, nurturing, erotic, emotional aspects of psychic life often neglected in male development.
For men, this contrasexual image is the gateway to the unconscious, in which real women, or dream or symbolic images of women, lead him to the depths. Jung referred to the anima as “the image or archetype or deposit of all the experiences of man with woman,” placing the subjectivity
of the experience firmly within the purview of the man. She is the key to wholeness, through whom he is able to access the hidden parts of himself. (ibid, pg. 13)

While there are certain spiritual benefits, asserts Brown in viewing the Ḍākiṇī under the lens of the anima construct…such as “appearing in dreams, meditations and visions”, if she is recognized as an archetype that empowers and transforms the yogin, then her anima-nature is truly a key to greater Self-awareness, divine-awakening, and transcendence from all that is superficial and mundane. However, Jung’s primary construct of the anima creates a “fantasy of opposites” which is characterized and hinges upon exclusive-use of masculine and feminine traits. (ibid, pg. 14) All of this is complete anathema to the Ḍākiṇī Tradition. Jung insists that his archetypical analysis is an inconvertible one and in so doing, boxes the nature of the “Total Ḍākiṇī” into a corner of “object and subject” dualism. Brown states that this “dooms Jung to solipsism, a closed world in which the perceived is nothing other than an expression of the self that perceives it.” (ibid, pg. 16) Whereas the Ḍākiṇī encompasses the following:

The dakini is a symbol that expresses in feminine form the fundamental ground of reality, which is the utter lack of inherent existence of every phenomenon, whether relative or absolute. Applied to Jungian notions, Buddhism discovers that the self has no inherent reality, nor does the psyche, the projections, the unconscious, or the archetypes. All phenomena arise as dreams within the vast and luminous space of emptiness. The dakini is, above all, a nonessential message of this realization. Her nature is beyond limitation of any kind, including gender. For this reason, the dakini is a symbol in the sense described above, capable of inspiring a transformation beyond gender issues, social roles, and conventional thinking of any kind. (ibid, pg. 16)

All of this pivots on the “not one/not two” Buddhist realization, one that completely transcends any categorical imperative. Jung’s “Contrasexual-symmetry”, under whatever variations—especially in light of contemporary notions of straight, LGBT, or otherwise—is a non-factor in the “Supra-Sexual” noosphere of the Unborn. All of the excessively mundane sexual-preoccupations and obsessions are an explicit hindrance to authentic growth in-the-spirit and are a direct-association with the dissolution and destruction of this Dharma-ending Age. When properly utilized, the Ḍākiṇī-Factor can help a mind-adept to supersede ALL issues of gender that obstruct genuine spiritual and unitive experience with the Unborn Mind That is genderless and boundless, albeit in apparent feminine-form but not one that is feminized with any non-spiritual agendas. This brings to mind rather superficial feminist agendas like Matthew Fox and his purported “Creation-Centered Spirituality,” while although offering a smidgen of Meister Eckhart quickly retrogrades into the all-too-familiar alliances with feminist-paganess teachers like Starhawk, whose ecofeminism takes this creation-centered rigmarole to extremes.

Of course, patriarchy as well is a huge obstruction that blocks the path to a genderless transcendence of Tantric Transfiguration:

Ironically, the importance that feminism (or patriarchy, for that matter) places on gender identity may prove an obstacle to experiencing the full power of symbols in the formation of spiritual subjectivity. For example, if practitioners with feminist inclinations insist on the practice of only female deities, a whole dimension of tantric ritual is missed. When we identify too fully with our gender, it may be impossible to discover the transformative effect of symbols. As a woman, can I fully identify with the confusion of the isolated yogin who supplicates the dakini for help, or with the travails of a beleaguered male disciple confronting the demands of the male tantric guru? If I cannot, I have shut myself off from much of the symbolic power of tantric Buddhism. (ibid, pg. 29)

The same can be said for the beleaguered nun or laywoman who has, for centuries, been subjected to and dominated by the evils of patriarchy. In this sense as well, patriarchy is contra-spiritual. Thus, the Ḍākiṇī-Factor can help the yogin/yogini overcome unjust structures and lopsided philosophies of any form.

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