For the past decade, I’ve utilised both Vedic and Western cosmology in my work as a spiritual practitioner. A few months ago, I was initiated into the philosophy of ancient Chinese cosmology and have found it highly complementary and compatible to both the Western and Vedic cosmologies that I’m familiar with.
In Ancient Chinese philosophy, yin and yang is a concept of dualism that seeks to describe how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world. In Chinese motifs, the phoenix and dragon are often depicted together to represent the harmony that can result when contradictory forces come together to complement each other.
Welcome to another Fireside Chat at Mith. I have with me Vasundhra Gupta, a spiritual educator, author, and consciousness coach. She reaches the world through My Spiritual Shenanigans, a sacred space dedicated to raising the consciousness of the collective. We have a conversation about the feminine and masculine principles.
Dipa: The first idea that comes to my mind when I think of femininity and masculinity is the ancient Chinese concept of Yin and Yang. Could you tell us about your own ideas regarding the feminine-masculine principle?
Vasundhra: There are many names and ideas to reflect the masculine and feminine energy. Yin and Yang is definitely one of them!
In Hindu mythology, this is conceptualized through the divine entity that is half-man, half-woman called Ardhnarishwar. The entity was split into a man, Shiva and woman, Parvati. They descended Earth and through each one of us, they come together again, to find the ultimate Inner Union. When that happens, one who has become fully balanced in both energies is said to transcend the cycles of birth and death.
Other noteworthy perspectives to this concept include the Kabbalah, Wicca and Buddhism.
But how do we understand this idea in a more left-brain accepted, logical way? By realizing that each individual has some degree of masculinity and femininity within them.
It is not about gender, rather about a deeper essence of how we show up in any given situation. For instance, a biological man can be more feminine around his children, tapping into his emotions and showering his affection. In the same way, a biological woman can naturally be more masculine at work, where she shows up with great boldness and leadership.
So, in any moment, you have the choice to respond from your masculine or feminine energies, and that can change the course of what happens.
By default, many of us have a preferred energy type that we operate from in daily life. And our objective to reach inner union is by becoming free-flowing enough to know when to surrender and tap into our emotions (feminine), and when to step up our driven and action-centred masculine.
Dipa: Femininity and masculinity are often described as both polarities as well as energies that need to be balanced. How can we reconcile these two contradictory ideas?
Vasundhra: While the two energies are polar in their essence, they are not independent of each other. One follows, the other leads. They work in a continuum.
So for instance, if you start a business and launch a product for your clientele, your doership represents your masculinity. And then, when you let go of the control, and open your arms to receive new clients and queries, you are stepping into the feminine.
Masculinity is about knowing that you have the power to create and give, and then, to do that. Femininity is about knowing that you have the power to receive, and then, to do that just as gracefully.
Dipa: Feminine energy is viewed as passive and receptive; while masculine energy is seen as assertive and active. Is this always the case? What are some of your own experiences?
Vasundhra: These are just some traits of the two energy types. I’ve gone into much more detail about the different characteristics, and opportunities to heal your energies, in this article here. But let’s also look at this from a different lens.
When the masculine energy is healthy, it can show up in each one of us as our willingness to take action.
So as an example, in simple day-to-day things, you might be the one to initiate a phone call and set up plans with your friends, peers, etc.
However, when the masculine energy is imbalanced and wounded, it might look domineering or even forceful. So, in contrast to the first example, let’s say that you were expecting someone to call you. It’s a bit past the time they had committed to call, so you decide to call them instead.
But because they don’t pick up the first time, you are feeling triggered and your wounds at the masculine level begin to fire up. So you become impatient, angry and keep calling them every few minutes! When they do talk, you are aggressive and as if using your voice to demonstrate your power.
In this sense, masculine energy has two faces. The healed parts of our masculinity are what allow us to be assertive and active. The wounds flare up our ego, make us aggressive and can bring a lot of power play into the picture.
A similar example can be shared for the feminine energy. So a healthy feminine energy helps us express our needs gracefully to other people. However, if we ever find ourselves being needy and clingy, it can represent a wounded feminine that comes from a place of “I won’t get something if I don’t ask for it”.
Dipa: Nature—and the earth—is always described as a ‘mother’. The sky, on the other hand, has traditionally been viewed as the realm of the ‘father’. What are your thoughts on this perspective?
Vasundhra: Symbolism helps us understand concepts better. However, just like we don’t have a singular essence, neither do these elements.
Nature is feminine when it receives the seed that the wind brought to it, but it is masculine when the seed grows into a plant, giving away its flowers and seeds.
And the sky is feminine when it represents surrender, allowing us to send whatever smokes and fumes we’d like up there. But it becomes masculine when it fights back, creating corrective turbulence in our life through storms and acid rains.
All of this creation is a dualistic experience, where we get to be and do, give and take, hear and speak, and so forth. It is very flavorful and enrichening to our palette, if only we can slow down and look at it as such.
By understanding our own duality and of that around us, we realize our potential to be on any side of the spectrum, neither of which is better than the other, nor permanent. Simply in a continuum, in a graceful ebb and flow.
And through that, we reach our ultimate goal of inner union.