“The union of feminine and masculine energies within the individual is the basis of all creation”
Women’s Day – a global paradox of celebratory culture when most members of the female fraternity are denied basic rights, abused and their power usurped. The varied problems affecting the lives of women is out in the open, data and statistics readily available for all to analyse, interpret and draw conclusions. The debate and discussion over the atrocities on women is ongoing. Showering women with gifts on their ‘special day’, the symbolic appeal to commemorate the accomplishments of a select few don’t really do much to contribute to the elimination of a deeply rooted, toxic patriarchal culture. As a mental health advocate and spiritual seeker, one often wonders where does it end?
Ancient Indian tantric traditions talk about the spiritual philosophy of ‘polarities’ in human personality. Tantric doctrines mention the integration or coming together of archetypal polarities such as the mind and body, above and beyond, inside, and outside. Herein, key emphasis is laid on the union of between what the divine masculine and the divine feminine, pure consciousness and pure creation is.
In Hindu texts, Shiva is representing pure consciousness and Shakti, the primordial energy from which all is created. ‘Ardhanarishwar’ is the celebration of gender equality highlighting the complementary nature of the masculine and feminine. Thus, the male and female principles in one body or being are inseparable- a symbolic bridge to crumble the walls of patriarchy and break the shackles of toxic masculinity.
Neo-Freudian Carl Gustav Yung describes the vast realm of the unconscious using the analogies of the inner feminine and inner masculine called the anima and animus. The two polarities here were acknowledged as two dimensions of one body. Today, such Jungian thought forms the basis of contemporary gender theories and analyse cultural struggles such as gay marriages.
The recognition of gender binaries and gender polarities in our inner and external worlds pave way for purposeful change. Wholeness, balance and unity in our minds and body can be harnessed when present reality is acknowledged. The reality of an embodied experience where even the limitations of what is perhaps symbolic or mythic (Jung’s anima/animus, A/A) can be transcended.
Different philosophies and modalities offer their unique perspectives on what is masculine and what is feminine. The essence behind celebrating Women’s Day is to honour the power of female strength. While we aim to challenge the varied inequalities, social roles, and upset the status quo accorded to women, it is essential to note that what is exclusively all-male and all-female cannot be defined. Hence, the weaving together of these polarities is what creates a sturdy fabric. It is the embracing of the male and the female strength in one body which supports a healthy, balanced ecosystem.
When humanity accepts the differences which define and perpetuate the existence of belief systems and social structures which cause this great imbalance, a resolution will not be beyond reach. Our belief systems which regard matter as real and spirit as an illusion, brahmins superior to Dalits, men more privileged than women, do not represent a healthy balance. The inferior status accorded to women and minorities in our culture is due to the population denying the prevailing injustices. Through compassion, empathy and peaceful tolerance can such differences be ironed out.
This Women’s Day we choose to preserve the fabric of women’s realities. A reality where we don’t harp on ‘women’s issues’ but divert our attention to finding solutions- those which help us find harmony and oneness in our inner and outer worlds. Women’s mental health is never exclusive of socio-economic-political issues of the state. This could serve as a possible starting point of conversation to raise awareness, curb oppression, and overcome prejudices to resolve many iniquities. One could argue this to be the way forward to settling many of the world’s crises.
Image Credit: Scientific Monk
Sohini is an educator, artist and mental health advocate. After being a teacher for almost a decade she found her calling again and decided to pursue a career in creative art therapies. When she’s not busy guiding her young learners, Sohini writes on mental health awareness, paints and reads nonfiction. She lives in Kolkata with her mother.