Ancient Tibet was a shamanic culture before Buddhism became its dominant culture. The powers of nature were worshipped. Its entire cultural history has been the meeting, confusion and integration of these two great cultural expressions. In the early days there were bands of wild women who had no regard for the culture and formality of the male Buddhist idealists. There was an ancient stand off. Orthodoxy considered the women to be uncouth, deranged and dangerous with their suspicious practices and strange shamanic powers. Just as witches of Europe they were deaminized by society. But something happened in history. The great yogi Padmasambhava who helped bring Buddhism from India to Tibet grew fond of the wild feminine and a relationship of mutuality developed. It was a relationship of cooperation, of mutual benefit to both. It was not one controlling the other but autonomous beings in support of each other. It was not like Padmasambhava was healing them from a superior doctrinal point of view. Rather both found the advantage in each equally, the powers of reality in each other’s company. To this day the image of a couple in wild sexual embrace is spiritual iconography of Tibet that has profound meaning and purpose. It is surprising that such images are widely seen and have cultural importance and much respect. It is known as Yab-Yum, which represents the primordial union of wisdom and compassion. The male figure is usually linked to karuṇā, compassion, and upaya, skillful means, while the female partner relates to prajñā, insight. It is naïve to imagine that this is some kind of symbolism and not about the actual practice of sexual intimacy of mutuality in which these truths are found. And that an actual yoga of strength receiving, inhalation exhalation is required to find and embody one’s male female qualities, to go beyond the social sexual dysfunctions society has otherwise put in us.
It is weirdly strange that society and religious mind still attempts to control or harness the feminine. There is fear and suspicion of the wild power that is inherent in the feminine, in the natural state. Rather than understanding the obviousness that God or reality is found in life’s natural form, the union and cooperation of both male and female power. Even in so called Tantra or Yoga teachings this misogyny is present.
My friend, birthing expert Crescence Krueger recently wrote on this subject from her own experience. “What’s become clear, as I’ve read through most of Robert Svoboda’s Aghora series on Tantra is that his teacher sees the role of the masculine as a “controller” of the feminine. He says Shiva must control Shakti and he brings this into relations between men and women. He is simply wrong. Shakti cannot be controlled, so the only thing the masculine can do is to surrender to the feminine. Then Yoga happens! Turning it around is the cause, of a deep misogyny that distorts understanding of who we are, causing so much suffering in this world.
You can become “intimate” with the feminine in the way much of current Tantra promotes, but that doesn’t in itself allow yoga to take place either. Svoboda’s teacher said, “You must catch Shakti by the hair and drag Her to you.” He’s describing spiritual rape. Penetration of the feminine is not Tantra, even when it is with the mind. What is Tantra then? It is interpenetration and mutual receptivity. The Goddess is autonomous; she is already the fusion of masculine and feminine, consciousness and its movement; as we are. When two autonomous individuals come into the vulnerability that allows them to receive each other, love explodes. This is yoga. And this is the only constructive form of relationship in yoga. Our pedagogical structures and institutions create obstacles to the heart, in their effort to correct or control things. We need each other in mutual exchange. The enlightened teacher U.G. Kishnamurti was adamant that the mind must immerse itself in the body, not control it (as much spiritual doctrine insists) and I am just trying to find my own way to express that verbally here: Shakti IS consciousness so she doesn’t need the limited consciousness that the mind encompasses. Its penetration of her is irrelevant. She needs nothing. What the mind needs however is to integrate into the vast intelligence of the body, Shakti, the whole/hrid/heart. Healing and regeneration is the result. Enlightenment too, if you want to use that word.”