“I would have liked to know her. But I was just a kid. The candle burned out long ago. But the legend never did.” Elton John. I have been very touched by the outpouring of response to this post from a few days back that shows Norma Jean doing yoga asnana that she learned from Indra Devi who learned from our source scholar Krishnamacharya. It was a fun connection to be made but the seriousness of the consideration has not gone unnoticed by many. It seems that Marilyn was and is a life-sign, deity, a Christ like sacrifice for the sins of man. She revealed the problem and the changes we must make in our own life and society. Many women have told me that Marilyn’s experience is essentially their own. Born fresh and free, wild and sexual, they became inappropriately sexualized objectified, abused, manipulated, feared, threatened. Some, having been sexually exploited, learned to turn the tables and went on to exploit. Others were depressed or even suicidal usually living in compromised situations pacified by media and legal or illegal drugs. Either way, all had to go through a life crisis to claim their own life, free them selves of the sexual dysfunction of society and the predatory male and learn how to be in relationships of mutuality, the cooperation of autonomous equals. “You lived your life like a candle in the wind. Never knowing who to cling to when the pain set in.” I would like to have know Norma Jean too. I would like to have given HER yoga to her, strength receiving, inhalation / exhalation, intimacy with the power of her own life. I would like to have given Marilyn intimacy with her own life prior to potential intimate connection to others. I would like to have taught yoga to her potential intimates too; so they too could love their life; so they would know how to receive her, the wild power and beauty of the natural life; instead of the need to control, manipulate, objectify, penetrate for some brief consoling moment with the feminine. The insidious manipulation and degrading of the feminine is universal and must be corrected in our time. “Even when you died the press still hounded you. All the papers had to say is that Marilyn was found in the nude.” It is not a simple equation, like male is wrong, female is abused. It is a vast cultural mistake based on the doctrines that have created civilization. That God or truth is “other,” elsewhere” and not in the Earth, not in the miracle of appearance, not in sex, not in woman, not in man. This vast mistake is of course the cause and fuel of fundamentalist terrorism we are suffering. The only long term cure is education. God is in the Earth, God is in sex, the miracle of life arising. We can correct the imbalance. We can create collaboration, cooperation between the sexes. It is not about one teaching the other but just a matter of receiving the power of the other for the mutual empowerment of both. To reside in and as the source of both for the benefit of both and for the benefit of all creation. Please help me deliver this into the world on behalf of Marilyn, all women and all men.
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.”
Dear Yogini Marilyn, power and vulnerability of the wild feminine that man had no idea what to do with. It finally destroyed her bodily existence. I visited her grave to pay respects. In fear of death man attempts to create eternity and glory for himself through religious institution, property, rape of Mother Earth and control of women. He does not come to peace with bodily existence or participate peacefully in the mystery power of the body or its passing. He therefore does not surrender to the Earth and the great powers of the Earth, the sublime regenerative force that is 100% given and constant. He does not surrender or support the wild feminine. She is enjoyed through the great nurturing polarity of male female union within and without and is everyone’s birthright. This is the primordial religious practice before man invented doctrine that dissociated him from the feminine. Man has not yet been taught to access this power of his own reality. Instead he is afraid, has vilified sex and struggles to control it and get it. When all along it is freely given. Dear Marilyn long may you live and thrive on Earth.
PS. Marilyn learned yoga from the great Indra Devi in LA, the first western student of Krishnamacharya. He predicted that it would be women who would uphold yoga and save humanity.
We see beauty. A bird in flight, the sunshine on the water. A bee on a flower. Then the mind tries to capture it, savor it, repeat it. Have you ever noticed that when the mind tries to do this the sense of beauty goes. The mind can never capture beauty or any experience. It is too slow. The point is YOU are the beauty. The same beauty as the sun, the flower the bird. When we stop trying to experience beauty we relax into what is already true and feel the beauty, the love, the one binding absolute reality that is appearing as you and me and everything. Just so, in trying to capture the experiences of the spiritual traditions we can never enjoy them. We are already what the sublime words are expressing. There is no getting to it. There is no “becoming” a Buddha, no getting “enlightened.” There is only the direct participation in what is always already given. So we can relax and do that.
Here is a teaching from the Dalai Lama: “Be careful not to mistake emptiness to be nothing ness.” He gives this to aspirants at the stage of their spiritual evolution when all partial identifications diminish and end. It is a dangerous stage in all people’s practice and just happens in life anyway. To be relieved of all conventional personal identity such as “I am the body, I am the car I drive, I am my family, nation, race, or religion etc,” can be entirely freeing yet also profoundly disturbing as the life we thought we had dissolves. The Dalai Lama is asking that we understand the emptiness of the Buddhists to be the absolute condition of reality, the condition of all conditions, or the power of the cosmos that is arising as every “thing.” The Hindus would call it fullness but the Buddhist are happy to describe it as emptiness because it is felt when all lesser identifications fall away. My Guru U. G. was fond of saying “The only hope is hopelessness.” In other words when all our strategies to “be somebody” have fallen through and are found to be hopeless then we can settle in to who we really are, the force of consciousness, reality itself. So don’t mistake emptiness, your life falling apart to be nothingness. It is the beginning of perfect freedom. These lesser identifications are sometimes described as the ego that must be destroyed. But it is good to understand that the ego is not a “something” to be destroyed. It is simply the minds association, called “asmita” in yoga. I am my body, my car etc. When these associations or identifications dissolve there is no ego, just realty itself arising as everything. Gloriously then we return to lesser identifications without problem. I am the body, car, career no longer a limit on reality that is pumping through us. These words say it, “First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is.” An ancient Zen statement and Donovan song!
To be clear the first mountain is of course absolutely fine. Growing up in a conditional world and taking it on successfully or unsuccessfully. But there is a warning implied that if you get a sense of an all encompassing power, absolute reality, or heart, your conditional reality or association with “things” as your personal identity will loose their interest and attraction as you become absorbed in reality itself. That is why the early Buddhist would say, “best not to start on the path, but once having done so, best to get it over with as soon as possible.” In all of this there is never an actual dissociation from anything. The embrace of all objects in the natural world is how we transcend them and is the means by which we know them and therefore know ourselves, consciousness or the One reality in which every “thing” is appearing. Its a good deal and can happen very quickly.
The process of healing and realization is in relationship with actual others. It is in the mutual intimacy between two actual people who freely choose each other. Practice of intimate relationship, including sex is the process of all psychological adjustment, self discovery and understanding. In relationship we release what is not needed to receive what is needed. The natural flow of feelings from anger, to its cause, pain, to grief, to compassion and forgiveness is enacted and practiced, in that order. The next more basic emotion is predicted and permitted. Practitioners learn to speed this process, and the overwhelming whole body heart connection to all things is understood to be the point of human life. Love brings up everything that is unlove to be seen and understood. So the process of relationship can be disturbing, as all of society’s dysfunction and the pain in one’s family lineage is released. Therefore the practical means of practicing intimacy need to be given. Our world is full of spiritual and psychological processes that do not fulfill this most fundamental need. It is shocking how so many great spiritual teachers never even mention sex and relationship, or acknowledge it as the basic method of transformation. Such teachers are often seen as the model of human attainment, so their sexlessness is passed on as the norm or regarded as a superior state. On the other side of the problem so called tantric or “sacred” sex teachers sell exaggerations, false desires and public confusion without giving the practical means of a real yoga (union), intimacy with life via body, breath and relationship, in that order. Whether it is new or old world religion, mindfulness meditation, popularized yoga, dance, shamanic medicine ceremonies or the myriad offerings of our secular world, there is scarce training for successful intimacy and sexuality. Nor is there acknowledgement that intimacy with all ordinary conditions including male female (same sex or opposite sex intimacy) is the means to know reality or “God.” In fact the usual spiritual offerings teach processes for the individual’s internal reveries that result in dissociation from all ordinary conditions. Such cultures created society’s sex dysfunction in the first place. These practices belong in the context of a robust prior practice of intimate connection. Otherwise they cause delusion and separation.
God and sex are the two most powerful words in the English language. Placed together, the use of both is purified. By separating these words, each has toxified the other. Now we bring them together and define the meaning of each through a deep, yet profoundly simple convergence of understanding both.
For most of the public, each of these words is uneasy and evokes a complicated response. God as “other” engenders either fanatical adherence to or fanatical rejection of the god-concept – or just a casual turning-away, because it is too hard to think about. Likewise, the word sex usually implies a compromise: something negative, something sleazy, or something that is fundamentally disappointing. Either there is exaggerated response, or denial, or oscillation between the two. Yet sex, the complete union of male-female polarity, is the way life renews itself, regenerates and evolves all species. Is that not God’s method on earth? The means of the creator – indeed, the basis of all creation – the union and attraction of opposites? No one enters this realm without sex. It is entirely God’s purpose; and can be enjoyed, participated in as the profundity of that purpose.
In the ancient world, the warp and weft of the cosmos were found in the dual concept of puruṣa and prakṛti. On one hand was awareness itself, masculine, pure and prior even to the finest grain of existence; on the other, existence itself, substantial and feminine, birthing all life from the most subtle hint of the promise of being to the weightiest and most expansive expressions of earth, sea, and sky. Creator and creation were thought of differently as the two aspects of reality. Each possessed its own integrity and identity, and provided one of the two fundamental components of being in this world in which mundane and sublime were crucially related. While puruṣa and prakṛti continued to form the cosmological basis of the philosophies that followed, over the centuries they were separated from each other and recast in an isolation that would restructure and redefine religious practice, taking enlightenment out of earthly life at the expense of human sensuality. The masculine puruṣa would be privileged over the feminine, mind placed above body, as philosophers reasoned the goal of existence out of existence. In order to reduce reality to a single principle, or to assert the supremacy of one God alone, feminine prakṛti was seen as less than real, a nettlesome illusion, or a blemish on the face of wisdom. To reach God meant to transcend and deny life – or sex in all its affective manifestations: love, family, community, food, birth, death, touch, music, joy, sorrow.
The pain and confusion generated by the resulting struggle to somehow escape this embodied reality – the reality of human being – has been documented for over two thousand years and has given impetus to technical and exclusivist philosophical discussions. Yet these elite philosophies of mokṣa, liberation from the “aimless wandering” (saṃsāra) of creation, too cannot reflect human life. If anything, they have added to the struggle, and alienated God from this world. A fraught situation has emerged in which figureheads of religion and philosophy urge us to seek direct experience of reality outside of this reality which we already live and breathe. We are taught to resist the temptation of our own lives! A holding-pattern arises as we vacillate, desiring both God and sex, but fearing what they have become.
Puruṣa and prakṛti speak of duality, of two forces at play in all the universe and neither reducible or subordinate to the other. In fact, puruṣa and prakṛti cannot be separated. Here is distinction without separation, for whilst puruṣa and prakṛti – our God and our sex – each possess their own independent and autonomous integrity, they are not opposed. Rather, they are deeply complementary, and they each constitute the meaning of the other through their state of mutuality. Each is defined through its autonomy in relationship. There is no conflict or competition between them. According to the earliest expositions of this cosmology, it is the sheer presence of God that inspires the universe to unfold. Life, as such, is the only means of knowing God. There is no mokṣa without prakṛti. There is literally no sex-without-God. Freedom from aimless wandering comes with the understanding that reality is our being. We are liberated into our own lives. It is this natural state of affairs that is allowed to rise when we bring God and sex together and see that their meaning is always already defined in relationship.
From the forth coming God and Sex: Now You Get Both