Here’s a simple lens I find useful for looking at what’s going on in society and in Self. It presents an image of what balance looks like and what imbalance looks like. The consideration of the image presents a context for showing where imbalance is and what helps bring the system back into balance.
What helps bring the system back into balance brings us back into balance.
The picture represents the love between the masculine and the feminine. Of course these are the yang and the yin from Chinese philosophy but I prefer to think of them as masculine and feminine because they are more easily felt into and seen as relevant to the modern sensibility.
When I look at the picture I see right away that the masculine and the feminine are out of balance in our time and very much needing to move toward balance.
I created this version of the image from two flowers in my living room, just what I have at hand. The geranium is the masculine and the African violet, not flowering at the moment but glorious when it is, is the feminine. By extension let these two represent the two poles that make the manifest world everywhere. They’re the positive and negative magnetic poles, the light and dark, the above and below, the without and the within, the dry and the moist, the proud and the shamed. Each pole only makes sense because of the other, only exists because of the other. The masculine and the feminine, too, only make sense in terms of the other.
The masculine and the feminine are biological facts – male and female – as well as elemental principles. This is important because if we confuse the two we can get statements such as the feminist slogan, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” This is biologically true, at least at certain times, but the feminine principle will always need the masculine to be fully itself, as the masculine needs the feminine. The masculine and feminine principles are parts of the same greater whole and so parts of each other.
This isn’t a philosophical essay though but a practical one. I maintain that the awareness of the mutuality of the masculine and feminine principles is a necessary basis for effective action. It’s a map for understanding.
To read it and understand this, let’s separate the two poles and look at them individually. We’ll bring them together in a moment. When I say, “look at them” I’m bringing in a third party, the looker and his or her consciousness. This is important because there is no perception without a particular consciousness perceiving it. And women and men, being themselves different, will perceive each pole differently. So we’ll look at each pole from the perspective of both women and men. And each pole has a light and a shadow side so we’ll look at each of these. So we quickly get eight perspectives, the light and the shadow side of each of the masculine and the feminine as seen by the masculine and the feminine.
Look at the masculine from the masculine side. He experiences the light side of the masculine as upright, strong, honourable, in service. In short, potent. He experiences the dark side of the masculine as weak, dishonourable, shameful, useless.
The feminine experiences the light side of the masculine as light-filled, rapturous, exciting, inspiring. She experiences the dark side as aggressive, hurtful, domineering and frightening, or something like that.
Archetypally the masculine experiences the positive side of the feminine as beauty, eminently worthy of devotion, sacrifice and service. The shadow side he experiences as devouring, insatiable, undermining, enraged. She on the other hand experiences herself as deserving, cherishable, caring, worthy of being fulfilled. On the shadow side she may feel unhappy, unsupported, unloved, frustrated or vindictive. All the “un” words point to the emptiness, unable to receive.
When I stand back and look at the representatives for the masculine and the feminine, with the geranium and the African violet in the picture, what stands out for me is the beauty of the two together and generative possibility of the polarity. Also it seems clear to me, that women and men deeply love each other forever and alway, irrespective of whatever entanglements are going on. The relation to each other (either physically or archetypally) is what gives meaning to our lives. The polarity between the two is the dynamic curent makes love flow in ever increasing waves. It’s the great engine that underlies change, the underlying harmony in the world.
It’s also clear that the flow of love between these two poles is seriously disrupted in our world. This disruption is an underlying foundational pattern that doesn’t just show up between women and men but everywhere the yin and the yang, the masculine and feminine principles are involved.
Which is everywhere.
If you like you can contemplate the image of the two together and see how they are showing up in your life. You can see how you fit into this story. You can easily see where you are contributing to the balance, where you’re contributing to the unbalance and what you need to do to move toward more balance.
Positive change happens when men or women act to support mutuality between the masculine and feminine principles and work to support it. We don’t know if it will be enough at this stage, but it’s the right thing to do, action in accord with what is. We’re not separate from the system but part of it so what we do do will matter and have an effect. Anything less is abdication of responsibility and agency.
The outcome will depend on “the will of heaven,” the source that created whole system and the beautiful polarity in the first place.