Opening Our Eyes: Honouring the Sacred Feminine, Confronting Patriarchy (#1)

 

“Opening Our Eyes: Honouring the Sacred Feminine, Confronting Patriarchy” is a bi-monthly gathering, open to all, focuses on the experience of men in relation to patterns of patriarchy in our culture and in our lives.  Select this link for an overview of this series.  

The following are notes, by Acharya McLellan, from the first gathering.


Introduction

Objectives:

  • Connect with the healing energy of practice, particularly group practice of White Tara.
  • To convene a community that is interested in exploring the challenging work of personal and social transformation in a gentle and healing way.
  • In particular–male experience and to explore the possibilities of transforming masculinity in our culture. This work is relevant to all genders.


Sacred Feminine:

According to the Dharma, the most basic and primordial principal is the feminine principal, which is referred to as the mother of all the buddhas.

“As far as basic reality is concerned, there is nothing but space, unconditional space, space that is not defined or labelled as product or producer. That is the mother of all the buddhas.”- Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Feminine principle is not sociological, or about identity, gender, or politics.

“The mother of all the buddhas is in some sense an incorrect term, in fact. When we talk about the mother of all the buddhas, we are talking in terms of its function: somebody produced a child, therefore she should be called “mother.” That is still a conditional definition. If we look back, we cannot even call it mother. We cannot even define this particular relative norm as a masculine or feminine principle—we can only talk in terms of the basic atmosphere. The only way or reason we can refer to it as feminine principle is that it has the sense of accommodation and the potentiality of giving birth. Prajnaparamita, transcendental knowledge, is an expression of that feminine principle, called “mother.” Mother is one of its attributes. Maybe that attribute is just a cliché; maybe it is purely a concept. But beyond that, there is nothing actually nameable, nothing workable.”
– Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Because it is not nameable or workable, the feminine principle and Prajnaparamita—the intelligence that recognizes the feminine principle- is represented in a variety of ways:

Buddhist iconography: a red triangle, or as the GES, or as Tara, Vajrayogini, Ekajati, Manane, etc.

Archetypes of feminine energy in other cultures: White Buffalo Calf Woman, Mother Mary, Parvati, Kuan Yin, Athena, etc.

Our aim is to honour this sacred principle, and to honour women. Those two things are both different and connected.


Patriarchy:

“Patriarchy is a political-social system that insists that males are inherently dominating, superior to everything and everyone deemed weak, especially females, and endowed with the right to dominate and rule over the weak and to maintain that dominance through various forms of psychological terrorism and violence.”
– bell hooks

Patriarchy is a cultural system that is harmful to everyone. Perpetuated by ignorance.


White Tara:

Has eyes to see that which we haven’t been willing to witness. Compassion in all directions. Graceful, gentle and compassionate form of enlightened wisdom. Embracing our learning in an environment of trust, care and relaxed vulnerability.


Circles

After practice there were two circles: one for men and male identified people (about 7 people), and one for women and all other gender identities (about 20 people).

Circle principles:

  • Listen with Attention.
  • Speak with Intention.
  • Care for the well being of the whole.


Both circles explored the question: what was your inspiration for coming tonight?


Next gathering Sept 27:

Exploring gender with Carmella Farahbakhsh.

Their bio: “Carmella is a queer, mixed race Iranian, non binary weirdo. They enjoy their work at the South House Sexual and Gender Resource Centre as well as at Venus Envy. Carmella also collaborates and organizes with local initiatives with an aim to create wider QTBIPOC community and support systems within Halifax.”

Carmella will lead a conversation, and exploration into re-learning, and re-writing dominant narratives of the gender binary, and the relationship between queerness, transness, racism, and sexual justice.

More information on this program series available here.


Recommended reading:

Understanding Patriarchy by bell hooks

Free at https://imaginenoborders.org/pdf/zines/UnderstandingPatriarchy.pdf

 

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