Friday, June 02, 2006

Masculine and Feminine Elements of the Path

[image source]

This is from "Enlightenment in Female Form," by Gehlek Rinpoche, in the summer issue of Buddhadharma.
The union of masculine and feminine energies is key to our ultimate spiritual freedom. Without the male or female aspect, there is no enlightenment: there is no union of wisdom and method; there is no union of clear light and illusion body; there is no union of mind and body.
The article is about Tara worship, which is most often limited to the Tibetan forms of Buddhist practice. The author is trying to bring forth an understanding of the feminine element as essential to the path, but some of the language used suggests that the feminine, though necessary, is still lesser. Even so, it's a good article with some good practice ideas.

Later in the article, after suggesting ways in which Tara practice is crucial to the path, he states:
It is important to incorporate the feminine principle into our practice, because we cannot achieve the ultimate attainment of enlightenment without perfecting both the male and female aspects. The ultimate development of the feminine within the individual is called the clear light, which might be described as the direct perception of emptiness. The ultimate development of the masculine is the illusion body. The combination of the two is what we call union. As I said, this is the union of enlightened mind and enlightened body.
I am new to this element of tantra, but it seems that the enlightened body is equated with masculine and enlightened mind with feminine. Is this true?

If so, it's exactly opposite of the Western view of body as feminine and mind as musculine. I find that intriguing. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

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