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The Intriguing Thought-Provoking Insights Of The Legend: Alan Watts

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I am coming out of the closet. I’m a Wattsist. A what-ist? A Wattsist. After Alan Watts, the British-American philosopher, spiritual entertainer, and author. Alan Watts was a treasure to his generation and to ours, as his words continue to provide solace, humour, and understanding. His podcasts are increasingly well-known and his books seem to be experiencing a resurgence in popularity. His son, Mark Watts, has released a new documentary about his dad, so we can expect Alan’s popularity to keep rising even though it has been many decades since his death in 1973.

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I’ve been sufficiently inspired by Watts’ work that I am writing a new biography of this great man. It’s been an interesting journey because I’m learning, as one must when traveling from the realm of pure concepts to details of a person’s life, that Watts was no angel. His wisdom is beautiful and profound, but he wasn’t a very good father and he wasn’t a very good husband, at least not to his first two wives (he had three and died while living with his third wife). We shouldn’t, however, expect perfection from our spiritual leaders, particularly when the leader in question (Watts) was fond of talking about his own and all spiritual leaders’ “irreducible rascality.”

Watts was a British expat who spent most of his life in the U.S., with his later years in Marin County and the Bay Area. He died in 1973, apparently of natural causes, but no autopsy was completed. He was well-known to be an alcohol abuser later in his life so it is possible that alcohol had some role in his death.

He wrote a number of books, including The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are; The Way of Zen; The Meaning of Happiness; Cloud Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown: A Mountain Journal; In My Own Way (an autobiography), and many others. A good selection of wonderful Alan Watts podcasts are available on iTunes – recordings of the many talks he gave, which are free and present 15 minutes of profound wisdom with wit and grace.

Watts’ worldview and spiritual views were shaped largely by Eastern traditions, in particular Zen Buddhism, Taoism, and Vedanta Hinduism, but also by his Christian upbringing and training. He was an Episcopal priest for six years, serving at Northwestern University in Illinois, until he left the church after he and his first wife messily separated. Watts states in his autobiography: “If I am asked to define my personal tastes in religion I must say that they lie between Mahayana Buddhism [of which Zen is a type] and Taoism, with a certain leaning toward Vedanta and Catholicism, or rather the Orthodox Church of Eastern Europe.”

The constant themes in his talks and books are the perils of language tricking us into mistaken views about ourselves and reality, that mind is pervasive in all of reality, and – most importantly – knowing that we are, each of us, none other than God. Not “a” God, but “the” God. I’ll explore some of Watts’ key ideas further below.

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The World Is God Playing Hide & Seek With Itself

There is no better way to describe Watts’ view of God and the universe than to quote him from his profound little book, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Really Are:

[T]here are times when the world is, and times when it isn’t, for if the world went on and on without rest for ever and ever, it would get horribly tired of itself. It comes and it goes. Now you see it; now you don’t. So because it doesn’t get tired of itself, it always comes back again after it disappears. It’s like your breath: it goes in and out, in and out, and if you try to hold it in all the time you feel terrible.

It’s also like the game of hide-and-seek, because it’s always fun to find new ways of hiding, and to seek for someone who doesn’t always hide in the same place. God also likes to play hide- and-seek, but because there is nothing outside God, he has no one but himself to play with. But he gets over this difficulty by pretending that he is not himself.

In Fact, You Are God

So the universe is, to echo the comedian and philosopher Bill Hicks, just a big amusement ride. We can’t take ourselves too seriously in this grand game. At the same time, Watts time and time again returns to the theme of who we really are. Who am I really? Who are you really? Well, Watts makes the extraordinary case, rather convincingly, that you, yes, little old you, are none other than God. Not “a” God, but “the” God. You’re the boss. In fact, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Really Are, is all about this idea. This book was written for Watts’ children and all children who struggle to find their identity.

Mark Watts, Alan’s oldest child, was fourteen when his father sent him The Book. Mark told me over lunch at the Aroma Cafe in San Rafael in Marin County, that Alan had told him that he was thinking of Mark when he wrote the first chapter (Mark was living with his mother across the country from Alan at the time). While the book is accessible to teen readers, its wisdom is relevant and very enjoyable to adults too, including philosophically-sophisticated adults.

Watts states in The Book:

[B]ecause there is nothing outside God, he has no one but himself to play with. But he gets over this difficulty by pretending that he is not himself. This is his way of hiding from himself. He pretends that he is you and I and all the people in the world, all the animals, all the plants, all the rocks, and all the stars.

In this way he has strange and wonderful adventures, some of which are terrible and frightening. But these are just like bad dreams, for when he wakes up they will disappear.

Now when God plays hide and pretends that he is you and I, he does it so well that it takes him a long time to remember where and how he hid himself. But that’s the whole fun of it—just what he wanted to do. He doesn’t want to find himself too quickly, for that would spoil the game. That is why it is so difficult for you and me to find out that we are God in disguise, pretending not to be himself. But when the game has gone on long enough, all of us will wake up, stop pretending, and remember that we are all one single Self—the God who is all that there is and who lives for ever and ever.

We Can’t Change Anything

Is there anything with which I might quibble about when it comes to Watts’ thinking? Surely. One issue in particular, however, may rise above the level of a mere quibble to an actual disagreement: the degree to which we, as conscious beings, should “go with the flow” or work actively to change things.

In his last book, Tao: The Watercourse Way, published shortly after his death, Watts presents his take on Taoist thinking. Taoism is one of two major strains of Chinese indigenous philosophy and spirituality (the other is Confucianism). Taoism is thought to have begun with Lao Tzu in the 4th Century BCE.

tambookThe Chinese term Tao may be translated many different ways but is generally translated as the “way.” By understanding the Tao and not working in opposition to the Tao we literally go with the flow that is the entire universe. The Tao may also be thought of as the ground or ocean of being, the substrate from which all stuff grows. How could we possibly act in opposition to the very ground of being and the flow that is the universe? Why would we want to? This is the case that Watts makes in his book and in some of his talks.

Well, many people might want to change things, for various reasons, including desires for social justice, environmental improvement, spiritual growth, political improvement, etc. Where I think we may improve upon Taoism and Watts’ own thinking is by recognizing first that the Tao itself may indeed change over time, and, second, that the manifest universe and the Tao itself is nothing but (literally) the sum total of all individual desires and actions. While the Tao is indeed eternal, it doesn’t have to be unchanging, and it is in fact very likely not unchanging. Rather, we, as part of the Tao (of course we are part of the Tao because we are part of the universe and, in a very real sense, we are, each of us, the entire universe, as discussed above) are helping the universe to evolve over time.

What does this mean? To me, it means that every choice we make, every thought and every action, has repercussions in the entire actual universe as well as the Tao from which it grows. While the actual universe will likely grow in complexity for many trillions of years to come, it will eventually perish into complete stillness with the passage of additional trillions of years. But the Tao will not and cannot perish. Rather, it will continue to proceed blissfully and joyously for all eternity, birthing new universes, new games of hide and seek, forever and ever. The Tao, the ocean of being, contains the reverberations, the echoes, of each cycle of the actual universe within its calm depths, even as each actual universe dissipates back into the Tao from whence it came. And we are, each of us, part of that unimaginably long process.

In closing, I have been tremendously appreciative of Watts’ wisdom and wit and I hope that many others will take the time to learn more about this underappreciated philosopher and sage. His website, run by Mark Watts, is www.alanwatts.com and many of his books are still widely available. Read, listen, enjoy! Who knows, maybe you’ll become a Wattsist too.

As I mentioned above, I’m working on a new biography of Watts and I am looking to talk with people who knew Watts. If you or someone you know knew him well and are interested in discussing your experiences, please let me know (I can be reached at tam dot hunt at gmail).

Tam Hunt is a lawyer and writer based in Santa Barbara, California, and Hilo, Hawaii.

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Consciousness

Full Moon In Taurus: Growth & Perseverance

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We are having a Full Moon in Taurus on November 12th at 1:34pm Universal Time. It will appear the fullest on the night of the 11th in the Americas and on the night of the 12th elsewhere.

This is the peak of the Lunar cycle that began two weeks prior with a New Moon in Scorpio. The energies of a Full Moon build up as the Moon increases its light and are strongest in the days before and after. However, it will still be a part of the backdrop over the following two weeks.

Mercury is also currently retrograde in Scorpio which you can read more about here. In the day leading up to this Full Moon, Mercury was conjunct the Sun in what is known as the ‘inferior conjunction’ and is still playing out during the Full Moon.

Generally this is an important phase of every Mercury retrograde, however, this one has even more significance because Mercury was exactly aligned with, and visibly in front of, the Sun. This is not the case for every ‘inferior conjunction.’ This is called an ‘Occultation’ and also referred to as a ‘Transit of Mercury’ by astronomers. The last time it occurred was May 2016 and the next time will be in November 2032.

This can be a period of increased insights and the themes of this retrograde may get amplified. However, typical retrograde complications can also be stronger at this time depending on your circumstances or how you are applying your energy. In some cases, this may also be a period of ridding yourself of certain thoughts, ideas, perceptions, old interests, expectations, or other things that are not serving you to make way for new ones to be seeded either at this time or in the coming months.

Full Moon In Taurus Opposite Sun and Mercury in Scorpio

Full Moon’s are a period in which we feel a push-pull between two opposing signs, in this case being the Moon in Taurus and Sun in Scorpio. It can play out as either a conflict, integration, or some sort of dynamic playing out between the energies of both signs.

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We can feel this opposition happening individually within us and/or we can also experience it play out around us with some people (or circumstances) expressing the Scorpio side and others expressing the Taurus side. In some cases, Full Moon’s can also reflect/trigger some sort of release or change which may apply more so in this case when considering Mercury’s conjunction with the Sun in Scorpio.

Taurus is an Earth sign ruled by Venus. It is associated with values, worth, the material world, sensuality, money, food/substances, security, beauty, art, and nature. It is physically oriented, practical, and realistic. Taurus is thorough and also likes stability and routine. It is like a rock; slow, grounded, and solid. Negatively, Taurus energy can be too rigid, lazy, habitual, greedy, possessive, stubborn, materialistic, overly self-indulgent, and very slow.

Scorpio is a Water sign traditionally ruled by Mars and associated with Pluto. It is about power, transformation, intensity, sexuality, passion, regeneration, hidden matters, depth, as well as shared or owed resources and money. It is emotionally oriented, intuitive, primal, complex, calculated, mysterious, and is associated with shadows and the unconscious. Negatively Scorpio energy can be vengeful, manipulative, compulsive, obsessive, and fearful. (Learn more here about how Scorpio energy can play out during this period)

Full Moon Trine Pluto, Mercury Retrograde Aspecting Saturn Sextile Neptune

This Full Moon is moving towards a trine with Pluto which can be beneficial in supporting the Mercury Retrograde process in Scorpio. This can be good for getting to the bottom of things, making positive changes, evolutionary growth, empowerment, and resourcefulness.

This Pluto energy combined with the post ‘inferior conjunction’ and waning Moon is supportive of releasing aspects of our lives that are not serving us. The previous Full Moon in Aries was also in a configuration with Pluto so for some people these themes may have began around then and could still be playing out now.

This month, Saturn in Capricorn is in its final sextile to Neptune in Pisces. This aspect began earlier in the year but may be more apparent now as it is concluding with both the Full Moon and Mercury Retrograde triggering it. This can reflect developments, thoughts, or ideas around efforts or ambitions pertaining to our ideals, creativity, inspirations, spirituality, or imagination. This can also be good for commitments associated with selflessness, compassion, healing, or spiritual practices.

Mars Sextile Jupiter, Venus Square Neptune

Mars is in Libra aligned with the benefic star Spica while in a sextile with Jupiter in Sagittarius. Considering that Mars is the traditional ruler of Scorpio where Mercury Retrograde is, this helps to bring a more pleasant, optimistic, and perhaps even fortunate energy to the retrograde experience at this time and in the following weeks.

This is in stark contrast to the previous few weeks in this same Lunar cycle that had more challenging configurations which could have reflected obstacles, limitations, delays, intense feelings, and perhaps even destructiveness.

In comparison, the energy now is more expansive, explorative, and growth oriented. We can feel more confident or perhaps even be presented with opportunities. We may want to take action in a big way or towards things connected to education, media, marketing, travel, beliefs, or ideals.

However, considering the retrograde and depending on what it is, it may not be the best time to make final decisions, or solidifying/initiating something major. However, use your judgement. Not every big decision made during a retrograde gets derailed by problems, sometimes it can just be annoying glitches or challenges can playing out in different ways that are still manageable.

Venus in Sagittarius, the ruler of this Full Moon, is moving towards a square with Neptune which is strongest on November 14th. This can play out as confusion, disappointments, and uncertainties which may be connected to relationships, values, finances, worth, or perhaps something to do with aesthetics, pleasures, or material things. We may not see things for what they really are.

Issues around boundaries, self-sacrifice, escapism, intoxication, or sensitivities may also be a theme. Alternatively, this can be good for creativity as well as social situations revolved around spirituality or art. In some cases it can also be magical and romantic.

Things To Consider During This Period

Pay attention to what comes up now or in the days before and after this Full Moon. Circumstances, developments, conversations, thoughts, feelings, or other things that catch your attention may help to provide important realizations or helpful insights. You may better understand something connected to the past and/or whatever occurs now may also be planting a seed for the future.

What aspects of your life need an adjustment, revisitation, or even transformation? Do you have ideas, thoughts, or behaviours that need to be purged? Have you had experiences, feelings, or exposure to anything connected to personal shadows or trauma? Regardless if you did or not, be open to anything that comes up now which can help you or others towards healing and achieving wholeness.

Is there anything coming up regarding financial matters or values, and if so, what changes do you need to make? What do you need to do to be constructive with your inspirations, ideals, compassion, spirituality, or creativity? Do you feel like you should be incorporating a new spiritual practice or ambition in your life? What actions can you take that are empowered or expansive?

These are just some examples of what could come up during this period; however, there may be other variations of this energy playing out. If you wish to do any sort of intentional release connected to what has come up it is best to do so anytime after the peak of the Full Moon or as it is waning over the following two weeks. The exact moment of of it will be on November 12th at 1:34pm Universal Time. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.

Follow me on INSTAGRAM, FACEBOOK, and YOUTUBE for more astrology related content.

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Looking for astrological insight into what is going on in your life? Or perhaps looking to better understand your life and its potentials? Get a personalized astrology reading with Carmen (author of this article) specific to you based on your exact birth date, time, and location. Click here for more information or to order. 

 

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Consciousness

Dealing With “Waking Up.” How To Handle Discovering More Than Just The Tip of the Iceberg

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In Brief

  • The Facts:

    An evolution in the way we view our world and the systems within it is necessary to create meaningful change at this stage in humanity's journey. This starts with an evolution in media.

  • Reflect On:

    Can we truly change our world if we don't know where we are truly at? Can we expect to see change in our world if we don't change ourselves?

A look at our current world might bring about emotions or observations linked to feelings of chaos. With the incredible divide happening in the US due to the upcoming presidential elections, the manufactured gender, race and sexual orientation divides taking place all over, it’s easy to feel like there are ‘bad’ things happening all the time.

People often look at the media and say it’s there to ruin or shift your perception of the world negatively, and I would partly agree with this for sure. After all, that’s what inspired me to create a news source that took a different approach. But the reality is, we’re in a time where we have to look at some of the tough things going on in our world in order to understand why they are happening, where we are at and how we can shift. The difference in the way we like to do that here at CE is, we might talk about some of the ‘darker’ stuff, but we’ll always help in moving through it vs leaving a reader hanging.

This is done through an important process I built called The CE Protocol. This is partly how we have been creating an evolution in media for the past 10 years.

My feeling is that we must combine an observation of what we are actively creating in our world with personal transformation so that we can truly change the challenges we face at the core, versus simply throwing bandaids at the situation.

For example, we might want people to unite and be more peaceful with one another, yet we’ll actively attack, mischaracterize others and divide ourselves simply based on something like political orientation. Why do we do that? Because we don’t know who we are deep down, and we actively get caught up in the illusion of politics that has been manufactured to prey on our programmings.

Therefore, the more we wake up and see the illusion that politics is by consuming different media, the more we begin to see truth and are inspired to make new choices. This turns us inward where we make changes within ourselves and this then leads us to interact within our world differently because now we are operating from a different state of consciousness.

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Many people feel we can simply change our world by working only on ourselves, without having to see the truth of our world. Often times that changes a person slightly, but they will still support the systems in our world because they still believe in them, thus things don’t change.

CETV is our On-Demand streaming platform using the CE Protocol to shift consciousness. Sign up for a free 7 day trial here.

Here’s How It Can Be Done

In the four short videos below, I will guide you by explaining exactly what this protocol is and how it encompasses the totality of what’s needed to create a shift in inward consciousness and our physical world.

The basic steps are: 1. Breaking The Illusion 2. Awakening Neutrality 3. Deprogramming Limits 4. Living Aligned

1: Breaking The Illusion

2: Awakening Neutrality

3: Deprogramming Limits

4. Living Aligned

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Consciousness

Parables For The New Conversation (Chapter 12: The King)

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The following is a chapter from my book ‘Parables For The New Conversation.’ One chapter will be published every Sunday for 36 weeks here on Collective Evolution. (I would recommend you start with Chapter 1 if you haven’t already read it.) I hope my words are a source of enjoyment and inspiration for you, the reader. If perchance you would like to purchase a signed paperback copy of the book, you can do so on my production company website Pandora’s Box Office.

From the back cover: “Imagine a conversation that centers around possibility—the possibility that we can be more accepting of our own judgments, that we can find unity through our diversity, that we can shed the light of our love on the things we fear most. Imagine a conversation where our greatest polarities are coming together, a meeting place of East and West, of spirituality and materialism, of religion and science, where the stage is being set for a collective leap in consciousness more magnificent than any we have known in our history.

Now imagine that this conversation honors your uniqueness and frees you to speak from your heart, helping you to navigate your way more deliberately along your distinct path. Imagine that this conversation puts you squarely into the seat of creator—of your fortunes, your relationships, your life—thereby putting the fulfillment of your deepest personal desires well within your grasp.

‘Parables for the New Conversation’ is a spellbinding odyssey through metaphor and prose, personal sagas and historic events, where together author and reader explore the proposal that at its most profound level, life is about learning to consciously manifest the experiences we desire–and thus having fun. The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.”

12. The King

On a little hill on the outskirts of the village on the island of Allandon the children were playing ‘King of the Hill,’ a game in which the last one standing at the top of the hill would be able to proclaim a royal decree that all the other children would have to obey. The game would often bring on bloody noses and bruised muscles since every child wanted desperately to end up on top. On this particular day, however, for the first time that anyone could remember, a clever little girl was the last one standing and was made king. And so they began the traditional ceremony to announce the royal decree.

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“Long live the king,” said the children in unison from the bottom of the hill.

“I am your king. And you will obey my command,” the little girl said.

“How may we serve you?” the children asked.

“I ask only one thing. That from this day forward, rather than the people serving the king, the king will serve the people.”

The children were confused.

“Can she do that?” said one boy to another.

“I guess so. She’s the king,” said the other.

“Please be silent,” the girl said. “It is time to think about what you desire most. How may I serve you?”

From that day forward the game changed. Although becoming king was as revered as ever, the children no longer fought so hard with each other for the honor.

Of the dualities present in human life, one of the most prevalent in our day-to-day experience is that of male and female. It is virtually impossible to ignore, and even in the name of equality it makes no sense to pretend it isn’t there. Indeed, the suggestion that women and men come from different planets seems to be helpful in our endeavor to explore our unique qualities and accept our differences. Many a relationship has been saved or enhanced through the understanding that broadly speaking men and women have different needs and desires, as well as a different way of looking at things.

However in the larger picture of our social and political order, our recent history shows that we have used these differences more as a way to divide us than unite us. Western society leans more heavily on the side of the male perspective, and as a result our power structures have been dominated by men for most of our known history. Perhaps more significant is the fact that this has long been seen by men and women alike as the natural order of things. But we are starting to see now that this belief is no more than mere convention, a model that has been enforced through physical might to perpetuate itself over time.

The patriarchal model of society favors action over reflection, matter over spirit, and confrontation over conciliation. It is built on the equation of power with control, which has in large part defined the way in which our social, political, and religious structures have been organized. Massive hierarchies with top-down chains of command have predominated, founded on the essential belief that humans must be placed in a regimented environment and need to be compelled to act in the interests of the collective in order for a society to flourish.

Generally speaking, women do not thrive in this form of organization. Historically, whenever a woman of power has appeared on the Western geopolitical landscape, she tended to be as uncomfortable with the hierarchy as the hierarchy was with her. A perfect example is Jeanne D’Arc, a teenage girl who vaulted over the entire male-dominated military establishment to lead her French people to repel English occupation in the early 15th century. It was her intimate connection with divine inspiration that gave her the wisdom and the courage to succeed where her male compatriots had failed. And while the generals may have grudgingly been willing to honor her deeds, there was no place for her in her country’s military establishment. She felt above it all, and rejected any attempts to be assimilated into its ranks. In the end, both sides of the male-dominated war she was engaged in—not only the embattled English but also the victorious French—were complicit in having her tried for heresy and then burned at the stake as a witch. Translation: she could not be controlled by the hierarchy and therefore had to be destroyed by it.

This is not the exception but the rule of the past two thousand years. It is believed that tens of thousands of women have been burned at the stake as witches, essentially because they were exhibiting a greater understanding and connectedness with divinely inspired wisdom than their male counterparts. Supported by the thinly veiled prejudice that men were superior and therefore the authority on such matters, symbolized by the all-powerful one God being male, the unwarranted violence, intimidation, and abuse that has been heaped upon women is perhaps the most relentless mass atrocity that has occurred in the course of our history.

One of the greatest shortcomings of a predominantly male-centered society is that it actually promotes inequality. The whole concept of equality, balance, and cooperation is a feminine attribute. And so in essence a patriarchy will cast women more as rivals than mates, and men will be driven to seize the gifts that women might otherwise want to offer freely. Chastity belts, genital mutilation, black burkas in the searing sun, all are telling signs of men trying to control those things that are most lacking in themselves. Male-centered efforts to suppress the power of the ‘weaker’ sex speaks to a broad if fairly unconscious campaign over the last few millennia to deny feminine influence in our society. And by and large it has been successful, positioning men as the sole rule-makers of the game of life. Men have garnered all the roles of influence: the political leaders and priests, the explorers, the literate and educated thinkers, the scientists, and the scribes and historians, those recounters of the past whose writings were rife with patriarchal undertones that reinforced the myth that men were the superior sex. We are still at the effect of the designation of terms such as ‘man’ and ‘mankind’ to represent all of humanity, as though a woman’s inferiority was so patently obvious as to be seen as a sort of sub-class of man.

In recent years, however, we have started to see through the collective fog that proclaims men superior to women. And the more we penetrate this fiction and see that it has no real foundation, the harder it becomes for us to believe that this mindset endured for so long in our history. It is certainly no coincidence that people have suddenly become captivated by the growing evidence popularized by Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code that Jesus may have had a lover or a wife in Mary Magdalene, and that she was considered an equal to him and held a high degree of honor and status in her society. The significance of this point is not to be understated: it gives us reason to infer that the Biblical portrayal of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute was part of a much larger, almost systematic effort on the part of men to strip away evidence that women ever had any power or influence in the world.

Today we are poised to acknowledge and assimilate what historians of ancient myth and culture have always known: that male domination in the world marks only the recent history of humanity, and that in fact many periods in the Ancient world were matriarchal in nature. In old agrarian cultures, where survival was dependant on the fertility of the Earth, it was natural to see the all-powerful Creator as female, as the provider of life and sustenance for all human beings. If anything, a civilization guided by women would seem more like the natural order of things. A woman’s bodily cycles put her into greater alignment with the grand rhythms of nature, and as her body is the vessel to create another human being, she is more connected to the process of bringing a life into the world.

This is not to say that I think women want to be more important in the world than men, nor does it mean that they are plotting global revenge for all the injustices perpetrated against them. This simply is not the way of women. What it does mean is that the pendulum has begun swinging back to the center, which will not only give women a greater voice but also give men permission to awaken the other side within themselves. This promises to bring more emotion to our thoughts, more art to our sciences, and more heart to our human relations.

While male energy is more of a doing force, female energy is centered more in being. Men and women alike have both male and female energies within them, and it is only when these energies are balanced and working together that we are able to act in a way that makes us feel fulfilled. The shift that is coming in our society is away from commanding and towards being of service. A male-centered perspective views serving and being a servant in a most pejorative fashion. Subservience means disempowerment, servitude implies a lack of will, being a servant is closely associated with being a slave. To desire to serve rather than command is seen as a sign of weakness. The implications of this are clear: a society where everyone has to fight for what they need, where citizens feel alienated from each other and disconnected from the community.

We have to hearken back to less patriarchal societies of the past to see that being of service was once revered as a strength, not simply because it benefited the community at large, but the individual as well. Serving others without expectation of personal gain or reward helped to move individuals away from self-consumed isolation to a feeling of connectedness. When I was in a Yoga Ashram in India, which promotes a balance between male and female influence in daily life, we were asked to practice selfless service, or karma yoga. I noticed that the simple act of serving the morning meal to other yoga practitioners brought me closer to all the people there, towards the blissful feeling of unity that is the goal of yoga. During one of our lectures, the swami was asked about the burden of availing himself in the service of others throughout the day. He responded with a wry smile that he might actually be the most selfish one of all, since he knew very well from experience that as he serves others he is served tenfold.

The growing strength of the voices of women in our society has been a big part of the shift away from a self-service mentality and towards a service-to-others mentality. This is starting to gain traction in the way we look at our environment, our governance, our economy. New business models today are actually preaching service over self-interest. People are volunteering for community-building activities more than ever. And the very wealthy in our society, from our athletes and entertainers to our politicians and businessmen, have come to realize more and more that their most worthwhile endeavors involve contributing to others less fortunate or even creating foundations of their own in order to share their wealth.

Of course some of the old power brokers will not change their ways. They want to stay driven by a heart that beats to the drum of control, and they will try to tighten their grip. The only thing is that a growing number of men aren’t buying into it anymore. And women are gaining confidence that they no longer need to put up a male-centered façade in order to have some sway in the ‘Old Boy’s Clubs’. With the gradual but steady influence of more and more women into positions of power and influence, we are seeing things differently. The fact is that we have become weary of control-oriented governance. We can feel now that we have been suffocating and we just want to breathe again.

As we become more aware of how much this disparity of opportunity and influence between men and women has skewed the unfolding of our lives, we will become conscious participants in restoring balance and issuing in a greater sense of belonging for all. Rules will be taken down in favor of freedom, intuition will move back into collaboration with reason, and indeed women will start to take their rightful place beside men in returning a wholeness to the process of human evolution.

My own experience speaks to the benefits of increasingly giving women a voice and letting them be a bigger part of the conversation. I look back to an educational program I took part in recently where women served not only as facilitators but also as the program architects and administrators. What seemed different was that although the subject matter was complex and sometimes even confronting, there was an atmosphere of mutual support, acceptance, and trust that pervaded throughout. It was completely unlike my experience of academic life, which dealt more in superficiality and rarely struck to the heart of issues important in my own personal growth. The conversations in this program were intelligent and subtle, capable of cultivating a shift in my thinking and my life. And because I still came fundamentally from my mind rather than my feelings, this experience was exactly what I needed. I was able to gain a brand new awareness of what a balance of male and female energies felt like. Near the end of the week-long program I was moved to stand up and make an acknowledgement to ‘the brilliance of women’ for creating a fertile environment for learning and transformation and fostering such an inspiring conversation throughout the program.

The new conversation not only promotes the bringing-into-balance of polarities such as male and female, it is at the same time being informed by the way this growing balance is manifesting in our society. This illustrates how the new conversation is emerging organically while we slowly raise our consciousness together. As more men and women enter into the new conversation, we will develop an ever clearer vision not only of more balanced personal relationships but of a higher social and political order. Women will be poised to have a shared influence in the corridors of authority in our society where, anchored in the wholeness of its citizens, power can be transformed from something that is feared and fought for into something that can be celebrated and enjoyed by all.

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