Day of the Feminine - Sadhguru on International Women's Day
Sadhguru looks at how our lives become beautiful only if the feminine and masculine aspects of life are balanced. He explains why it is important that society realize this and create the right situation for the blossoming of the feminine.
Sadhguru: It's truly unfortunate that we are dividing the human species on gender bias, but it might have become necessary now because of centuries of exploitation that’s been heaped upon the woman in different societies in different forms, because we created very exploitative societies. But we also need to understand that these exploitative situations prevailed for long periods essentially, because for a long time in the history of humanity, humanity was mainly concerned about its survival. When we are on survival modes we trend to… we tend to grab whatever we want, and grabbing will lead to quarrel, quarrel will lead to fight, fights will lead to battles and wars. This’s been the mode of most of the human societies. When human societies are fashioned like this, naturally the male will rule. When strife is the way of the human society, naturally the male will rule simply because of the physical prowess of the masculine. A society can be created on equal keel only when we establish a certain stability in the social structure, when survival is not the pinnacle of life, survival is just a small part of our life. Only when civilizations are well-established in a way where art, music, aesthetics are as important as economics, defense and other aspects which rule the society today, only then a woman will find her rightful place in a society, otherwise either she will be trodden upon, rough stowed, or somebody will carry her on their shoulders because she is a plaything. Either this or that will happen. To be able to treat a woman just for the value that the feminine brings into one’s life - as masculine brings one type of value to human life, feminine brings another type of value to our lives. Unless we are able to see that both these values are equally important in our lives, there will be no true equality or justice or you cannot say a civilization exists, where we cannot even accept the women folk of our own species as a part of everything that is.
So, any society, nation or family which does not know how to treat their womenfolk, though physically they maybe of a weaker denomination, if you do not know how to treat them, how to value them and what value they can bring into our lives, then that family, that society, that nation will not know the flower of life; it will know only the bark of life. Because today in the world we are making economics the most important part of our existence – economics essentially means survival mode put on steroids. With so much intelligence in a human being he is still behaving like a worm. A worm and an insect is twenty four hours on survival mode. I don’t think they are because I see the insects having an orchestra in the evening (Laughs), they are having a music festival going in the evening. So I don’t think they are completely on survival mode, but a human being with this level of intelligence and awareness need not be on a survival mode twenty four hours of the day, 365 days of his year. With this level of intelligence, if you dedicate 10% of your intelligence you should be able to take care of your survival.
Unless you raise a social consciousness to a place where survival is just one aspect of our life, not the whole of our life; unless we do that, a woman will not find her rightful place in any given society. If she has to find her rightful place right now, she has to behave like a man. So when a woman begins to behave like a man, the loss for the womanhood is even greater than exploitation because the very feminine will disappear from our societies. The very nature, the quality of what the feminine can bring into our lives will be gone simply because we are expecting the woman to fit into a man’s mould. We are expecting the feminine to fit into a masculine mould.
Today we have reached a point in this world where definitely women have much more physical freedom than what they had hundred years ago, this being the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Day, but you need to understand this, that this physical freedom has come into woman’s life not because of some liberation movement, not because of some enlightenment in the male mind, simply because of technology. In the sense, today, many women are sitting here, they have travelled long distances and come – if they had to walk and come or if they have to ride a horseback and come or if they have to sit in a bullock-cart and travel these distances and come, most probably there would be no women here except the local ones But today they can come because of technology. They can get on to a train, get on to an airplane and be wherever they wish to be. So it is technology which is leveling the gender inequality in the world. Today a woman can go out and work wherever she wants because of technology, not because of any liberalization in the male mind or any liberation movement as such.
So one way of understanding this is that we need more technologies, we need more technologies which will level this bias where muscle is not the value of life. If the muscle was the value of life, the brawn was the value of life, definitely masculine would rule. So naturally because of technological developments, the societies across the planet are shifting from brawn to brain. So if intelligence, sensitivity, perception are the most valued aspects of life, then only gender equality will come. Whatever movements that women have created and fought, I very much appreciate that some women stood up to do this, but at the same time fighting is necessary at a certain stage, but beyond a certain stage, fighting will not work, fighting will create more distinctions, distinctions will invariably lead to inequality.
So probably in many societies – maybe in some societies women still have to fight, but in many societies we are reaching a point where fighting will not be relevant anymore. What is needed now is to bring to the awareness of the masculine that feminine is an equally important part of life. The media, education systems and other social setups must strive to do this that our lives will not be beautiful just because we make so much money, just because we build this or that; our lives have to become beautiful means the feminine, the aspect of the feminine has to be around us, only then everything will be beautiful.
What we refer to as masculine and feminine are two fundamental qualities in nature. It's got nothing to do with the gender. There may be men who embody the feminine qualities much more than most women. There may be women who embody the masculine much better than most men. It is important that a society begins to recognize this that one’s body may be either female or male, but one’s quality may be feminine or masculine or a combination of both. This is a nation, this is a culture where inward-looking is one of the most significant aspects of our lives. Because of this inward looking… If you look inward deep enough, you will see you… every individual whether you are in a male body or in a female body, the masculine and the feminine exists in equal proportions within you and hence even our gods are represented like this - Shiva is shown as the Ardhanaari, he is a half man - half woman and everybody is, unrealized. Every human being is made like this. It is just that do to… due to very skewed social cultures, women are becoming excessively feminine, men are becoming excessively masculine which causes an aberration in the society. It's important both men and women embody the masculine and the feminine.
I think… I do not know how many of you will accept, but I think it's time we name this day as the ‘Day of the Feminine’ rather than ‘Women’s Day’ because it's important that the feminine comes forth and plays in the world. If masculine invades the feminine… female body and women become free, that is not good. If masculine plays through the woman’s body, through the female body that will be the biggest tragedy. In every human body, both the masculine and the feminine should play. It is only then you can look upon the gender as just a nature’s necessity, a certain distinction, but not a discrimination.
Right now human mind is in a state where every difference we will make it into a discriminatory process. If this discriminatory proc… this… If this discriminatory process has to go and we have to appreciate all the differences that exist in the existence, the unique nature of every aspect of life has to be appreciated and enjoyed.
The most important thing that needs to happen in the world is that there must be a spiritual element in everybody’s life. When I say a spiritual element I am not talking about enhancing your religions. Spiritual means your experience of life has transcended the limitations of the physical. Something beyond physicality has become a living experience for you. There is a dimension beyond the physical within this (Referring to oneself), if you are in touch with that you will be a man or a woman only when it is necessary; you do not have to carry your gender like a badge every moment of your life.
Unless a spiritual el… spiritual element pervades in a society, women will always have to protect themselves or they have to seek protection. If you seek protection it will naturally lead to various exploitative situations, or you have to fight. If the fighting has to cease and the need for the protection has to go, it is important that we must bring that spiritual ethos in our cultures where every human being – his life and his experience of life is not limited to the physical body. He sees life as something more than the physical. He experiences life beyond the physicality of who he is, because the gender is of the physical nature. If your experience is beyond the physical nature, gender will be just a minor issue in your life. If it has become a major issue, what it means is body parts are ruling you. If some body part must determine the nature of your life, let it be at least your brain, not your reproductive organs.
So on this day of the feminine, I am taking the liberty of renaming it - instead of being a Women’s Day, let this be a Day of the Feminine. This is a culture which has worshiped the feminine for thousands of years. This worship of the feminine existed across the planet which has been systematically uprooted everywhere else. This is the only land on the planet where still feminine is at least worshiped. Due to economic strife, due to poverty – I think mainly because of poverty - in India, the woman takes the beating mainly because of extreme poverty conditions, but culturally if you closely look at this culture you will see actually women have more rights than men, but those rights are not practically possible today because of extreme conditions of poverty and deprivation.
So in this country, I feel women’s exploitation is mainly because of poverty. I have been asked to come and speak in a conference in the next few days to prevent female foeticide. Even such horrible things are happening mainly because of economic situations, mainly because of poverty conditions, but culturally you will see every village you go to there is a Devi temple, there is a Amman temple in every village in Tamil Nadu, there is a Devi temple in almost every village across the country because the feminine has always been worshiped. And ‘mother-worship’ is the most ancient form of worship on this planet which has been systematically removed and uprooted in other parts of the world which still lives here and this should be nurtured, because how strongly, emotionally they feel about something, that is how much value people attach to something. If people strongly feel emotionally attached to the power of the feminine, to be able to see that in every other woman becomes a possibility, but that possibility has been impaired mainly… mainly due to economic deprivation in this country.
There are many, many things or many many levels in which the exploitation of the women has to be stopped by law – I think generally we have stopped it, but in reality, in social reality is yet to happen. So it doesn’t really need a fight on the street, it needs a proper enforcement of law, but if a proper enforcement of law has to happen, a conducive social situation has to happen and that conducive social situation is not going to happen unless there is widespread dissemination of knowledge in the form of education and the economic possibility. If these two things happen, I don’t think women will have to fight for their freedom. They will be free anyway. Too strong, hmm?