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Kundalini and the Role of the Feminine in Global Transformation
by Kavita Byrd
Kavita lives in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu, South India, near the ashram and mountain where the great sage Sri Ramana Maharshi lived and taught. A dual citizen of the U.S. and Australia, for the last twenty years she has been based in India, studying and practicing the teachings of non-dual spirituality, Advaita Vedanta, and Zen Buddhism at Bodhi Zendo. She is a practicing craniosacral therapist (Craniosacral Biodynamics), with a background in yoga-teaching (Satyananda Integral Yoga) and Chi Gong.
A graduate of Princeton University with a B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing, Kavita is author of a published book of poetry, “Love Songs of the Undivided”, as well as numerous articles on spiritual and other subjects. Her own life story also appears in the recently published “Divine Feminine Fire” by Teri Degler.
Kavita has a passion for bringing feminine wisdom into spirituality and society, and has assisted at numerous conferences on this theme, including the conferences of the Global Peace Initiative of Women in Jaipur, India in 2008; Assisi, Italy in 2009; and the Sufi-Yogi Dialogues in Rishikesh, Delhi and Kashmir in 2010-11. She is currently working in connection with the Global Peace Initiative of Women to create the Shakti Centre, a sacred activist centre bringing in feminine wisdom, and writing a book on the same theme, called “Journey to Wholeness: The Role of the Feminine in Unity Consciousness and Global Transformation.”
Overview of the Thesis Proposed
The thesis being proposed in this paper is that an accelerated evolutionary transformation of consciousness is taking place today through the rise of feminine energy—known in yogic traditions as Kundalini Shakti[i] —in both individuals and the collective body. This energy, along with the feminine wisdom and values of interconnection, compassion and Oneness it fosters, is essential to bringing about the balance and unity needed today in our deeply divided world. It is vital not only to our healing, as individuals and as a collective, but, even more importantly, holds the power to deliver us to our highest birthrights of Self-realization and co-creative consciousness.
This thesis is founded upon several points:
- The awakening of the kundalini is an intrinsic part of the awakening of unity consciousness, cross-culturally and across traditions. It is validated by the science of energy, and therefore has universal implications; it is not simply a myth held by one tradition. Today this process is being accelerated, in individuals as well as the collective consciousness, and thus constitutes an intrinsic and vital part of the global transformation taking place today.
- The kundalini is classically recognized and portrayed as a feminine force. It effects awakening through balance and unity with the masculine aspect of consciousness. In classical yoga, it is the creative force (Shakti) that brings eternal consciousness (Shiva) into action and manifestation. However, this feminine force is not only, as Shakti, the complement, counterpart and consort of the masculine, its “other half”. As Parashakti, She also contains the masculine; in this highest form she is Wholeness itself, not only giving birth to, but containing and subsuming all duality. From a spiritual point of view, because she not only creates but contains and transcends all creation, she is the most immediate bridge to non-dual consciousness and is in fact co-existent with it. From a global point of view, because she reconciles immanence and transcendence, matter and spirit, unifying and healing all conflict and duality, it is her influence that is essential to heal the extreme fragmentation, competition and violence wrought through centuries of patriarchal divisiveness.
- This feminine force of interconnection and Oneness expresses itself as shakti-kundalini in the individual energy-field and Shakti or Parashakti in the greater universal field. While shakti-kundalini empowers the evolution and ultimate awakening in the individual, Shakti empowers this process on a cosmic scale, raising the collective consciousness into the realization of its true Oneness.[ii] In this way, the micro cosmos of the individual’s spiritual evolution reflects and is reflected by a macrocosmic shift of consciousness in the universal field. Ultimately there is no separation as the individual consciousness realizes itself as one with the Universal. The kundalini (and the uprising of feminine energy) is thus an essential force in this process, not only in individual but the collective awakening happening at this critical time in history.
- Women, at this time in history, and in response to the forces of the greater field, are especially receptive conductors and transmitters of this feminine energy, bringing it into traditionally masculine spheres. Men are also starting to, and must, integrate this energy, and join women in bringing it into expression in all of our social structures. As the rising kundalini brings the higher consciousness of interconnection and Oneness into all spheres of human activity – spiritual, psychological, social, scientific, economic and ecological – the world will begin to reflect its true Oneness – not only of masculine and feminine, but cultures, races, species, and all the forms of creation – and a new level of unity consciousness that is our true birthright.
Each of these points has been affirmed by great yogis and thinkers of both ancient and our own times. In the remainder of this paper, I will substantiate the above points with citations from such yogis, teachers and scriptures.
Kundalini as a Cross-Cultural, Universal Force
The action of the kundalini is not restricted to any one spiritual tradition or form, but rather is a universal process that arises from within. As Swami Satyananda attested “Whatever happens in spiritual life is related to kundalini. The goal of every form of spiritual life, whether you call it Samadhi, nirvana, moksha, communion, union, kaivalya or liberation, is in fact the awakening of kundalini.”[iii] He further affirmed the evolutionary nature of the kundalini, asserting that it is now moving beyond a phenomena confined to a small minority of spiritual adepts and masters, as it has been in the past, to a global phenomenon, on which the collective evolution of humanity rides. “Kundalini represents the coming consciousness of mankind… In everyone a female energy is sleeping. This shakti must be awakened.” [iv]
What in fact is the kundalini? In Hindu, yogic and Tantric literature, this energetic phenomenon, said to trigger or accompany spiritual enlightenment, is generally described in an evocative yet precise manner rich in the symbology of the culture: “Kundalini-shakti is depicted symbolically as a serpent coiled three-and-a-half times around the base of the yogi’s spine. When this dormant serpent awakens, it is able to travel up the spine, through the chakras, to reach the seventh chakra. Known as the crown centre, this chakra is sometimes called the seat of Shiva. Thus it is said that when Shakti makes her way to the crown, she unites with Shiva and brings about God Consciousness – Oneness with the Divine – in the individual.”[v] This union of Shiva and Shakti is often depicted as a love affair, consummating in the ultimate marriage between the Divine Consciousness Itself and all the forms of its creation.
The culture-specific and richly poetic symbology used should not however blind us either to the universality or the physiological precision of the phenomenon being described. It should rather reveal them, to those who can understand its deeper meaning and import. It is natural that in the Hindu tradition the Kundalini is represented in the mythic and symbolic terms of the culture, but the underlying phenomenon to which they refer is universal, and descriptions of its processes have been found in the spiritual literature of mystics from other traditions world-wide.[vi] Striking similarities exist between the yogic understanding of the importance of the Divine Feminine energy in our spiritual evolution, as well as certain key features of the kundalini awakening process itself, with descriptions from Christian mysticism, esoteric Judaism, Sufism, Taoism, in addition to some of the indigenous traditions.[vii]
Scientific evidence is growing to support the claim that the Kundalini-Shakti is not just a myth or a cultural concept, but actually corresponds to an energetic force, whether latent or active, within the human body. “Science has substantiated the yogic knowledge that a subtle energy exists which is body-based and has both physical and psychic properties. This energy, which powers our awareness and transforms and expands our conscious dimensions, is not just a myth or idea; it is not a metaphysical concept, but a fact. Kundalini is defined as the ultimate, most intense form of this energy, which lies dormant within each and every one of us.” [viii]
In this regard, the research of Dr. Hiroshi Motoyama[ix], psychologist, philosopher and pioneer in the investigation of human subtle-energy fields, and that of the eminent biomedical physicist Itzhak Bentov[x], have indicated heightened electromagnetic activity at the level of the chakras and heightened brainwave activity (gamma waves, pineal gland stimulation, increased inter-hemispheric coherence and synchronization[xi] as well as brain-heart coherence) in practitioners of yogas known to stimulate the kundalini or those experiencing spontaneous symptoms of kundalini activity. No doubt it will take mainstream science some time to acknowledge the validity of the kundalini phenomenon, but aspects of it are certainly already verifiable through subtle-energy measurements, MRI brain scans and other advancing technologies, and will become increasingly so as both our instrumentation and our investigative methods become increasingly refined. The verification of these aspects, taken together, points to the likelihood of an eventual validation of the phenomenon as a whole.
The great pandit Gopi Krishna, known for his own extraordinary experiences with the kundalini, has postulated that the evolutionary action of the kundalini is at the basis of all religions and spiritual impulses. “Religion is in reality the expression of the evolutionary impulse in human beings. It springs from an imperceptibly though regularly functioning organic power centre in the body, amenable to voluntary stimulation under favorable conditions. The transcendental state, of which as yet only a faint though unmistakable picture is available from the descriptions furnished by visionaries, is the natural heritage of man.
“The happiness and welfare of mankind depends upon adherence to the yet unknown laws of this evolutionary mechanism, known in India as Kundalini. The power of kundalini is carrying all men towards a glorious state of consciousness… From my own experience, I am led to the conclusion that the human organism is evolving through the action of this wonderful mechanism, located at the base of the spine…”[xii]
From both a scientific point of view and for the purposes of this thesis, it is highly revealing to note that the underlying physiological basis for the successful flow of the kundalini through the central channel is often understood to be the balancing and unification of the energies in the left and right sides of the body, and the corresponding right and left hemispheres of the brain. [xiii]According to this view, only when this balance and unification is achieved (and it is precisely for this purpose that yogic and Tantric practices are designed) can the energy flow up the central channel from the base of the spine to the crown, triggering spiritual awakening.[xiv]
An intriguing point, and especially in the context of this proposal, is that the right and left hemispheres of the brain are often associated (both in the ancient yoga traditions and modern neurophysiology) with the feminine and masculine qualities of consciousness respectively. The right hemisphere, associated with the feminine, is especially held to be responsible for inter-connective, holistic thinking; intuition, empathy and receptivity to the greater collective field. The integration of these qualities with the qualities of the masculine, which tend towards more linear, discursive and compartmentalized modes, is thus often considered, in the light of both yogic traditions and the science of consciousness, intrinsic to the process of our higher spiritual evolution and enlightenment.[xv]
This is a broad-stroke division, by necessity, given the scope of this paper, and somewhat over-simplified, of course; the brain is a complex organ, and so the picture here is also considerably more complex, and much further research is required in this area. Nonetheless, one can safely say that, according to the research so far, women are statistically better at certain skills specialized in one hemisphere or the other, as are men. This means that the more balanced the brain—that is, the greater the inter-hemispheric inter-connectivity and coherence—the more the person embraces both feminine and masculine aptitudes and qualities of consciousness.[xvi] Fortunately the brain’s enormous capacity for neuroplasticity—much-heralded and much-researched today—means that these sex-based divisions are not written in stone, and that in fact the feminine and masculine aptitudes and qualities of consciousness are highly amenable to balance and unification in our evolution, both as individuals and as a collective.[xvii]
Beyond the scientific specifics of the mechanism and symptoms classically associated with the kundalini phenomenon, however, the most important point is the wider, more universal implications of its processes. Again, quoting from Gopi Krishna, “this mechanism, known as Kundalini, is the real cause of all so-called spiritual and psychic phenomena, the biological basis of evolution and development of personality, the secret origin of all esoteric and occult doctrines, the master key to the unsolved mystery of creation, the inexhaustible source of philosophy, art and science, and the fountainhead of all religious faiths, past, present and future.” [xviii] The corollary of this (and this is a crucial point, which considerably broadens the scope of import of this thesis) is that while the most overt, dramatic manifestations or symptoms classically associated with the kundalini process might not always be evident, the underlying mechanism is nevertheless operating (and at certain stages with decidedly potent effect) in a wide variety of contexts – religious, spiritual, psychological, cultural and social. Indeed, if one takes Gopi Krishna’s words to their natural conclusion, the range of contexts in which the kundalini, covertly or overtly, influences humanity’s activities and direction is, it might be said, not only wide but possibly all-encompassing!
The Feminine Nature of the Kundalini and Her Role in Unity Consciousness: Creative, Evolving and All-Embracing Aspects
It is highly significant that the Kundalini is classically and consistently regarded as a feminine force. In the Indian yogic tradition, this energetic force which drives both personal and collective evolution to the highest reaches of consciousness is not only regarded as feminine in its nature but actually regarded as a Goddess.
Kundalini is literally both an energetic mechanism in the body, held to be coiled at the base of the spine, specifically responsible for the evolution of consciousness in the individual, and a feminine Divinity, the Goddess Kundalini, guiding the collective evolution of humanity to its highest goal.
It is not possible to overstate the significance of this fact, that the kundalini, the primary evolutionary force in both the individual and the collective, is consistently regarded as feminine. Above all, it can be highly illuminating to explore the ramifications of this fact for the guidance they can give us at this critical point in history. Why is the highest evolution of consciousness considered to be powered and guided by the feminine? And what does this imply about the specific role of the feminine at this time in history?
Some sense of the profound respect for the transformative power of the feminine, and the reasons behind it, can be gleaned from some of the ancient yogic texts as well as contemporary spiritual masters.
According to Teri Degler, author of The Divine Feminine Fire, “Right up to his death in 1984, the yogi and philosopher Gopi Krishna spoke tirelessly on the idea that absolutely nothing is more important at this time in history than understanding how this divine feminine force is awakening in the lives of individuals around the planet and what this means for the human race.”
Furthermore, she continues, “Implicit in many great thinkers’ perspectives is the notion that the divine feminine is in some way related to evolution. In other words, the cosmic feminine not only creates the universe, as she is seen to do in many traditions, she also keeps propelling it along; moving both the cosmos as a whole and all the individual forms of consciousness within it towards some specific goal.”[xix]
This brings us to what is perhaps one of the most striking characteristics of the Kundalini, and the key to her unique power. Kundalini-Shakti and her actions are famously known to be multi-leveled and multi-faceted. She has three essential aspects, which can perhaps best be characterized as the creative, evolving, and the all-embracing. It is this multi-leveled, comprehensive nature that make Shakti at once complete, perfectly whole and eternal; and, at another level, ever-creative and changing, propelling the whole spectrum of birth, growth and renewal. At one level she never changes and embraces all; at another level she is the highest agent of transformation, the driving force behind the processes of both personal and collective evolution.
Kundalini-Shakti, the Divine Feminine energy, is thus the quintessential shape-shifter. She spans the whole spectrum of existence, for She is the Source of all: its Mother, its Creatrix and its Matrix. She is Consciousness manifesting as energy manifesting as matter. She is that which flows between all states, transmuting from one to another, and at the same time She is the Space that contains them all.
That is why, in the Tibetan Buddhist Vajrayana tradition, she is called the “Sky-Dancer”, for she is supremely fluid, both assuming all shapes and containing them. While the masculine may, on the one hand, attempt to impose fixed orders and hierarchies, the feminine exists in between and around them. Or while the masculine may, in the name of detachment, attach itself exclusively to the transcendent and formless, the feminine flows between and around all such polarities, subsuming and including both transcendence and immanence, the infinite formless and its infinite forms.
The Divine Feminine energy, Kundalini-Shakti, is thus truly comprehensive, in the largest sense of the word: as such, she is the supreme bridge to non-duality, being non-dual herself. She is the agent and vehicle for what we could call “dynamic non-duality,” or, as it is sometimes called, “dynamic perfection” or “evolving perfection.” This means all-embracing Consciousness in both its eternal and evolving aspects, the still centre within all movement, and unity in diversity. And this is what is needed today, to move us beyond the divisions, conflicts and polarizations that are rendering our world asunder. This is a point we shall return to and deal with in greater detail later on in this paper.
Shiva, the masculine aspect of consciousness, with which Shakti is classically said to unite in the process of spiritual awakening, is portrayed as static, formless – the transcendent consciousness in which Shakti plays. Yet Shiva is confined to this one aspect alone. In the Trika philosophy of Hinduism, part of the Shakta tradition, Shakti is said to include all three aspects of existence – para, apara and parapara – while Shiva represents para alone. In fact, para, apara and parapara can be equated with the creative, evolving and all-embracing aspects, while para alone represents the transcendent. In this context, Shiva’s transcendence is not fully unitive or all-embracing because it neglects to embrace the creative or evolving aspects: the formless giving birth to, or manifesting progressively through, form. This is why evolution and the transformation of consciousness are classically associated with, and depend upon, the feminine.
This triune nature of the feminine is often cited in the classical texts of Shakti Tantra, Kashmiri Shaivism, and other spiritual traditions. In her commentary on Sloka 21 of the Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, Swami Satyasangananda states:
“Shiva, or consciousness, is revealed only through the medium of Shakti, or energy… According to Trika philosophy, which is the basis of Kashmir Shaivism and Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, shakti has three stages: para, apara and parapara… Para is transcendental, apara is immanent and parapara has traces of both. Shiva is para, whereas shakti is para, apara and parapara. In this sense shakti is present in all levels of existence [italics mine] and, therefore, is the most suitable medium through which that paramtattwa, Shiva, can be known.
“Parashakti is the medium for revealing Shiva. In the physical body parashakti resides at the base of the spine, lying dormant in the form of a three-coiled serpent as kundalini. All sadhanas without exception are intended to awaken this sleeping serpent power. ..When kundalini awakens and ascends to the crown chakra, it unites with Shiva and pure consciousness is experienced without separation or division.”[xx]
The three-leveled nature of the feminine—corresponding, as we have seen, with the levels of consciousness, energy and matter, or the eternal, evolving and form—is likewise also invoked here, in slightly different terminology but with parallel meaning. The suggestion is that the Divine Feminine in her highest aspect, Para Shakti (or Para Devi) ultimately subsumes and dissolves even the division between the masculine and feminine itself:
“Devi is herself Brahman in the Mother aspect. In her Para Brahman aspect, Devi is beyond all names and qualities. In her World Mother aspect, she has three forms: the omnipotent, which is unknown; the subtle; and the gross material form… In her Prakriti aspect, Devi is the source of Brahma, Vishnu and Maheshwara; she has the male as well as the female form [representing the aspects of creator, sustainer and destroyer, or the transcendent consciousness] though it is usually the feminine form that is meditated upon.”[xxi]
In Saundarya Lahari, we find a striking explanation of Shakti’s pre-eminent status in relation to Shiva,[xxii] the masculine aspect of consciousness, due to her versatility and ability to assume all roles:
“If it were not for Shakti, the inherent power of Shiva, that homogeneous stream of consciousness [that is Shiva] would forever remain motionless and inert. There would never be any spandan, or vibration, which is the very basis of motion. Shiva, devoid of Shakti, does not have the power to vibrate or set itself in motion. Thus it is motionless, timeless and eternal, as opposed to Shakti, which is motion, time, and both eternal and transient.
“Thus, although Shakti is not different to Shiva, she has an additional quality which Shiva does not have, and that is to set things in motion. Shakti is both passive and kinetic, as opposed to Shiva, who is passive only. Is it not a great mystery or riddle how an eternal principle can also contain within it the germ or seed of transcience? Tantra solves this mystery by stating that Shakti is an eternal principle that bestows the power to create, sustain and destroy, and thus gives birth to creation.”[xxiii]
The Tantric scholar David Frawley offers some insightful observations that help to further clarify the nature of Shakti’s power, which may otherwise be feared or misunderstood. Hers is not a power of aggression, domination or retribution, as the term “power” is often taken to connote, nor is she out to overthrow the masculine; her power is not oppositional, but rather, precisely, the power of unity, the reconciliation of opposites, and therefore ultimately peace. This means that her highest power is to move us beyond the illusions and conflicts inherent in dualistic perception and deliver us to enlightenment, the consciousness of our unity with all things. This, in turn, is the only true basis for peace, within ourselves and our world.
Frawley makes this very clear: “The Goddess or cosmic feminine force in Tantra is worshipped as Shakti, generally translated as ‘power’, whereas the God or cosmic masculine force is worshipped as Shiva, meaning ‘peace’. [xxiv]Yet to render Shakti as power creates many misconceptions. Shakti is the power of Shiva or the power of peace. It is not the power born of violence or aggression. It is the power born in passivity, in silence of mind, the energy which comes forth from the void, like the life that comes forth from the womb. Shakti is not the power which is asserted against something, but a power that enlivens everything from within.
“In addition, Shakti is not an external power but Svashakti, one’s own power. To worship the Shakti is to take back one’s own power, which it to recognize the power of one’s own consciousness, the womb in which the energy of enlightenment is both.
“Shakti is the descent of Divine Grace, which is the power of peace.[xxv] Woman has the power and potency to create new life. She has the energy of beauty, delight and creativity. The transformative power of the Divine Mother is the Shakti that works behind all great changes in the universe, and brings the human being to the greatest transformation, which is enlightenment. The purpose of Tantra is to energize that Shakti dormant within us by unfolding all the different levels and rhythms of her movement, as she naturally seeks her native abode in the Supreme.” [xxvi]
Kundalini Awakening at the Individual and Global Levels
Kundalini awakening takes place not only at the individual as well as universal levels, but also leads to the realization that they are ultimately One: the individual is in fact no other than an expression of the Universal essence Itself, and has never been separate. This is Self-realization, the fruit of Shakti’s action within the individual and collective consciousness fields, revealing their ultimate interconnection and unity.
“Shiva and Shakti have individual as well as collective existence” affirms Swami Satyananda. [xxvii] “Human beings also have within them all the elements found within the universe. The body is a universe in miniature form. The creative power of the universe is lying latent in the human body also.”[xxviii]. In the same vein, Teri Degler writes “[Tantric writers of the Kālikā Purāna] wanted us to understand that this need for balance of masculine and feminine polarities is as essential within each of us individually as it is to the universe.”[xxix]
Degler explains the relationship between Shakti as a universal force and “shakti” with a small “s”, the evolutionary force within the individual body. These two mirror and amplify each other, until they finally reveal themselves as one; for what they lead to is the ultimate realization of the oneness of the individual with the universal:
“Yogic tradition tells us that there is not only a cosmic Shakti, but also a shakti that makes her home in each one of us as individuals.…Shakti is the creative force that has generated the entire cosmos into existence. But her role doesn’t end there. Once the cosmos has been created, she continues to propel evolution throughout time. Her job is to bring the myriad forms of existence closer and closer to God consciousness until, ultimately, all creation is propelled in a vast circle that leads it back to the One.
“In this sense, Shakti is the evolutionary force. As this great cosmic power, Shakti is sometimes envisioned as a great goddess, indeed the greatest of all goddesses, who is known as Kundalini. The “shakti”, with a small “s,” that manifests in the individual, can also be seen as having an evolutionary role. The goal of yoga is union. Shakti with a small “s,” often referred to as kundalini-shakti or just plain kundalini, can be thought of as the trigger that brings this sublime realization – enlightenment – about. This is the ultimate union – the union of the individual self with the Divine, or, as it is said in some yoga traditions, the realization that the individual self is, and has always been, one with the Divine.” [xxx]
Swami Satyananda likewise makes clear that the kundalini awakening, acting on both these levels, the individual and cosmic, is a progressive opening of the individual to the cosmic, leading to their convergence into One. “Although there are varying views about kundalini, one thing is certain – kundalini has the ability to activate the human consciousness in such a way that a person can develop his or her most beneficial qualities, can enter a much more intimate relationship with nature and can become aware of oneness with the whole cosmos.”[xxxi]
Gopi Krishna offers a similar vision, that the mechanism of the kundalini, implanted by natural and cosmic forces within the individual, blossoms into the realization of oneness with that very nature and cosmos:
“The doctrine of Yoga owes its origin to the possibility in the human organism of remoulding itself to a higher state of functional and organic efficiency, tending to bring it closer to the primordial substance responsible for its existence. This possibility cannot be accidental, nor can it be merely an artificial product of human effort entirely divorced from nature. It must exist as a potentiality, naturally present in the human body[xxxii]…. Although yet unperceived, Kundalini discharges an important role in shaping human destiny… The time is near when the mechanism will make its existence felt by the sheer force of inexplicable concomitant factors, which are not amenable by any other solution.”[xxxiii]
For the purposes of this essay, it is Shakti’s evolutionary aspect, driving us to evolve into interconnection and congruence with the eternal, which is of paramount importance. We need to evolve, urgently so, and we need a deep connection with guidance. Shiva is the eternal, but he does not evolve, nor is he involved with us; he is unmoved and unmoving. Shakti, on the other hand, is deeply involved in our evolution, and directly moves through us – moreover, where she is moving us to is precisely our re-connection with the eternal.
It is a paradox that evolution and involution go hand-in hand, that the highest expression of our spiritual evolution involves a return to our deepest connection with our original Source. Yet this spiral nature of spiritual evolution precisely suits, and depends upon, the versatile nature of Shakti, for she exists at all three levels on the spiral of time at once – the beginning, middle and end – creative, evolving and ever-returning to the eternal.
As the Saundarya Lahiri so cogently puts it “Shakti is that energy which has a tremendous range of expression… She is the cause of both evolution, and involution back to the source… The range of expression of Shakti is far more extensive than Shiva”[xxxiv]
Everything we do, we do because Shakti moves through us; she is our origin and our goal; in truth, She never leaves us. She is the Mother who never rejects us, because, though she gives us life, the infinite scope of her being extends beyond life and death. As alluded to earlier, it is this completely comprehensive, all-embracing cosmic nature of Shakti as the Divine Feminine that makes her the unifying force that an move us beyond the divisions, conflicts, and polarizations that are tearing our world apart today.
In short, because she both acts within and goes beyond duality, Shakti is supremely qualified to lead us beyond the struggles between good and evil, darkness and light, birth and death, that cause so much conflict and suffering, individually and collectively. She leads humanity beyond the inner and outer battles that afflict it, to its true Wholeness and the fulfillment of its highest potential. One of the classical epics of Hindu mythology, the Devi Mahatmya, is a symbolic portrayal of Shakti, or Devi, as the savioress of the world, intervening at a time of great crisis to slay the demons who have been attacking the gods, rendering them powerless. According to this great epic, She alone has the capacity to rescue the gods and restore the world order, saving it from chaos and destruction.
“Beneath this theology of a personal goddess who intervenes in mundane affairs lie subtler psychological and philosophical truths. The battleground is an interior one of the human heart and mind, where conflicts rage daily between the polarities of right and wrong, love and hate, duty and pleasure. The Devi is the indwelling Divine Self that calls us to the highest aspirations; the asuras [demons] represent everything that is selfish, ignorant and destructive in the human ego.”[xxxv]
Or, as the revered saint of the last century, Swami Sivananda, put it: “Devi, the Mother Divine, represents the triumph of the divine power over the myriad dark forces of negativity – too well-known in all human lives – in the struggle between the dual factors of good and evil, truth and untruth, virtue and vice, freedom and involution, light and darkness… Worship of the Divine Mother leads to the attainment of Self-knowledge…Nothing is possible without the Mother. Humanity’s material and spiritual progress is bound up inextricably with the Mother.”[xxxvi]
Again, we understand that he is talking about the rise and cultivation of the feminine within ourselves as well as within our world. It is important to understand that the Divine Mother, or Shakti, is not a form or entity outside or beyond us, to be propitiated or beseeched, but a universal force of love to be found within our own hearts, and expressed through our actions. Mata Amritanandamayi speaks about this as the rise of the Universal Mother principle within all of us, coming into action today to bring caring, love, reconciliation and unity to our world and all its life forms.
Shakti, or the Divine Feminine, by whatever name we call her, calls to us through our own hearts, and acts through us in our actions. She is the Cosmic power, but ultimately She is our own power, for She is our own origin, the Source of our very being.
Women’s Role in Global Consciousness Transformation Today
We have seen how, in yogic and ancient traditions, the highest evolution of consciousness is considered to be guided by the feminine, and, further, that it is considered to lead to the ultimate union of the individual consciousness with the universal. What does this have to do with actual women, and their role in global transformation today? Does the rise of the kundalini imply a more active role for women in shaping (balancing and evolving to a higher synthesis) the cultural consciousness, and the spiritual and social structures through which it is expressed?
The answer is a resounding yes, according to many spiritual masters as well as social leaders today. Since, as we have seen, the microcosmos reflects the macrocosmos, there is no question that the imbalance of power between actual men and women in society reflects and reinforces the imbalance between masculine and feminine principles and energies in the collective consciousness. Conversely, the shift to a greater balance of power, interconnection and unity between the masculine and feminine principles and energies in the collective consciousness will be reflected and reinforced by a corresponding re-balancing in the positions and roles of actual men and women in society, as well as concrete changes in our over-all social structures. This will occur, and is in fact already occurring, as a natural part of our evolution, as feminine values are given greater expression and honour in all spheres of human activity, both inner and outer.
The current imbalance between the masculine and feminine is recognized by many today as being one of the main causes of the crises imperiling the planet. “We live in a period in history,” says Teri Degler, “where the masculine is still honoured more than the feminine at every level. This is true whether it refers to the way women are still treated in most parts of the world or the way our society honours “masculine” traits more than “feminine” ones. The cumulative effect of this imbalance on a worldwide level is posing an ever-increasing threat. Gopi Krishna made the point that the main cause of the proliferation of war and the thoughtless destruction of the environment was that traits associated with the masculine side of our natures… had been allowed to run amok without being tempered by the traits of the feminine…”[xxxvii]
Many spiritual masters have affirmed the greater spiritual receptivity of women, their energetic sensitivity and ease of communion with the Whole, as well as the greater capacities for compassion, self-sacrifice and caring. “Awakening of the spiritual force (kundalini) is much easier in the body of a woman than in a man”[xxxviii] said Swami Satyananda in Nawa Yogini Tantra… “Our social structures will have to be based on a new concept of religious realities, in which the role of woman in mankind’s spiritual evolution is fully understood and accepted. This is absolutely necessary for the emergence of a new society.”[xxxix]
Why has this not been the case so far? Why have so few women leaders stepped forward, either in the spiritual or social domains, despite such inherent capacity, for these many centuries? Swami Satyananda explains “In many of the world religions, women were barred from higher spiritual life. Perhaps the reason for this is that men wanted to exploit them for their own carnal objectives. If women were allowed to live a spiritual life and encouraged to raise their awareness, then they could not be used or exploited. Therefore, women were relegated to the home, their sole purpose in life being to serve their husband and produce offspring.”[xl]
“Matriarchal traditions are generally more holistic and harmonious, promoting the welfare of all beings rather than any select or elite group. Patriarchal traditions are generally more hierarchical and punitive. The matriarchal religions teach tolerance, understanding and compassion for others, which reflect the feminine nature … Patriarchal religions are more aggrandizing and have produced religious wars… They have also prevented women from coming forward in spiritual life. However, in the twentieth century women all over the world have become more open and begun to realize they have an important role to play in spiritual evolution.”[xli],[xlii]
(I am not proposing here a return to any pure matriarchal traditions that may have existed in the past, nor do I believe this is Swami Satyananda’s intention, but rather the call for an onward movement in the evolution of humanity to a much-needed higher synthesis of the masculine and feminine, the reasons for which, as Swami Satyananda has cited, are abundantly evident. Though there is a good deal to learn from Goddess traditions and what may have been spiritually-based matricentric societies of the past – of which archeologists have unearthed much revealing evidence – the point here is not to return to an earlier stage in evolution, but rather to progress to a third turning in the evolutionary spiral, beyond matriarchy and patriarchy, to a higher integration of the masculine and feminine principles in the collective consciousness.)
Some people will argue that the masculine-feminine imbalance in the world is not a major issue, that it is of limited importance. They see it as a “woman’s issue”, or, at best, passé, dead and dying with the aging feminists. But the truth is it has repercussions at every level of our being, spiritual, psychological and social: our personal struggles, our society’s, and, today, our planet’s. Balance between the masculine and feminine energies, balance between the masculine and feminine values, and balance between actual men and women, is at the very root of the mandate for our survival that the universe is delivering to us today.
Survival, the most self-interested of all interests, is at the same time the one common cause for us all, and it is also today, paradoxically, the one that is driving us to the highest realization of our true nature – a quantum leap from self to Self, from individualism to Wholeness, if we are to fulfill this mandate now set before us. And this requires, as has become indisputably clear, the inclusion, at all levels, of the feminine.
This has been recognized by some of the most important figures on the world scene today. As Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, a contemporary Sufi master, has urged us, “In denying the feminine her sacred power and purpose, we have impoverished life on personal and global levels... We have to realize that when we deny the divine mystery of the feminine, we separate life from its sacred core, from the matrix that nourishes all creation. We cut ourselves from the source that alone can heal, nourish, and transform. Yes, we see now the outer effects on the earth, but it is so much more difficult to recognize the inner effects, which have been devastating… [For] the same sacred source that gave birth to each of us is needed to give meaning to our life, to nourish it with what is real and to reveal to us the mystery, the purpose of being alive.”[xliii]
Mata Amritanandamayi, the great women saint from South India whose inspiration and solace have uplifted hundreds of thousands world-wide, has declared: “As long as the exploitation of women prevails, society’s growth and development will remain incomplete, like a half-blossomed flower. If a woman draws on her power within, if we align ourselves with that inner strength, this world can become a heaven. War, strife and terrorism will come to an end. If the future is to be a beautiful, fragrant, fully blossomed flower, women and men must join hands in all spheres. Those who desire peace and contentment in the world community must pay heed to this, right now, in this very moment.”[xliv]
We need only to look around us to see that this is already beginning to happen. It is not without reason that the Dalai Lama has said, in such unequivocal terms, “Western women will save the world.”[xlv] Women all over the world, in fact, are rising up today, not in protest or competition against men, but to bring in a new balanced paradigm for the benefit of the entire world community. They are working actively to integrate spiritual and social transformation, to bring in a new level of consciousness based on the principles of interconnection and Oneness, equity, ecological awareness, co-creation and unity.
This includes groups like the Global Peace Initiative of Women, Gather the Women, Women of Spirit and Faith, Women on the Edge of Evolution, and numerous other groups on the forefront of the evolutionary shift in consciousness occurring today world-wide. They are fostering not only new values and perspectives but transformative action in all spheres of society – the spiritual, psychological, scientific and social, including the ecological and economic levels.
In the spiritual domains, increasing numbers of women spiritual teachers are coming to the fore. It has been reported that up to half of all Zen and Vipassana teachers in the U.S. today are women. These women not only emulate but often further evolve their respective traditions by incorporating more integrative approaches, including practices for personal and global healing, as well as environmental and social activist perspectives. Female ministers, rabbis, sheikhs, lamas, roshis and swamis have emerged from the ranks of all the traditions – Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism alike. Many are forging new conjunctions between spiritual and social concerns, and often joining forces in interspiritual initiatives to further their common objectives of creating peace in a war-torn world, and raising humanity to a new level of unitive awareness. In addition, women number largely among yoga teachers today, introducing more feminine, flexible and responsive styles, as do the growing number of innovative women practitioners in the fields of holistic healing and energetic therapies.
In fact, women leaders are pioneering new innovative approaches in all domains of society. These visionary women, bringing a spiritual perspective to meeting the crises of our times, include Barbara Marx Hubbard (Evolutionary Metamorphosis and Conscious Evolution), Riane Eisler (Partnership Society and Caring Economics), Lynne McTaggart (Living the Field), Jean Houston (Social Artistry), and Joanna Macy (The Work that Re-Connects). Such women are leading the way, together with conscious men actively supporting the rise of feminine values, to a new more holistic, unitive and sustainable paradigm, helping to heal our world and usher in a new stage in the evolution of consciousness.
We have much evidence to conclude that it is the energy of the Kundalini Shakti that is driving this critical shift in consciousness today, and that it is a universal, evolutionary force propelling both collective and individual transformation. As Teri Degler affirms to her readers in the Divine Feminine Fire, “Shakti is propelling your evolution…transforming your consciousness. Although this transformation is occurring gradually over time in each and every human being, for many of us today this process is being accelerated. In Tantric and yogic traditions, this accelerated transformation is related to the “awakening” of kundalini-shakti in the body.”[xlvi]
It is my thesis that this process, the accelerated transformation of consciousness through the rise of the feminine energy, is taking place today in both individuals and the collective body, which, as microcosmos and macrocosmos, naturally reflect and amplify each other. In fact, these two levels, the individual and universal, ultimately merge, dissolving the dualistic divisions not only within the personal psyche but also between nations and cultures and between man and his environment. In this way the resurgence of the feminine holds the key not only to awakening in the individual, but an evolutionary leap between an era of divisiveness and violence in our world to one of unity and co-creation with the Divine. For the Divine Feminine expresses herself not only as the eternal over-arching cosmic Shakti or Parashakti, nor only as the embodied kundalini-shakti impelling our personal evolution, but also as the feminine side of our being, collectively and as women and men, whose values are so urgently needed to balance and transform our world.
The feminine has been repressed, in our personal psyches as well as collective cultures, too long, and now she is rising up, demanding that we honour and embrace her – or lose the very world she has created for us, and our very existence. In some way she is both propelling the crises we are experiencing, and pointing, loud and clear, to the solution. We must honour and embrace her within ourselves, and express her grace within our world. How can she embrace and heal us if we do not open up to, receive and embrace her? I believe that Kundalini-Shakti is poised to deliver us to the highest potential of consciousness, and not only the salvation, but the flourishing of our world beyond all we can now imagine, if we can only receive her.
[i] Please note that throughout this paper the various designations for the Divine Feminine energy – Kundalini, Shakti, Parashakti, etc, as well as the referent pronoun (She), will sometimes be capitalized and sometimes not. I’ve generally capitalized these designations when referring specifically to the aspect of the Divine Feminine as a divinity or Goddess, which is both anthropomorphized and deified; and left them uncapitalized when referring to more universal, abstract dimensions: the physiological process of the kundalini, or the highest non-dual dimension of consciousness to which the process leads. Of course, capitalization in quotes has been respected even when inconsistent with this.
[ii] While kundalini-shakti drives the evolutionary process of awakening within the individual, and Shakti drives the evolution of awakening in the collective to the highest realization of their Oneness, Para Shakti (or Para Devi) represents this Oneness itself, the all-embracing space containing and transcending all processes, micro- or macro-cosmic. (Note, however, that the term “Shakti” or “Devi” is often used in a general sense to refer to the Divine Feminine in any or all of her aspects, spanning the entire spectrum of the levels she expresses.)
[iii] Swami Satyasangananda, Sri Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, (Bihar School of Yoga, Yoga Publications Trust, Ganga Darshan, Munger, India, 2003), pp. 142-3.
[iv] Swami Satyananda, Devi: Honouring Shakti, (Publication of Sivananda Math, Munger, Bihar, 2005), p. 53
[v] Teri Degler, The Divine Feminine Fire, (Dreamriver Press, Flourtown, PA., U.S.A, 2009), p. 22
[vi] For a more in-depth exploration of parallels with the Christian mystic, esoteric Jewish and other spiritual traditions (such parallels are drawn throughout the book), Teri Degler’s The Divine Feminine Fire, ibid., is highly recommended
[vii] This applies not only to mystical traditions but also the energetic systems postulated by other cultures. “Interestingly, the energy centers and pathways discovered in the yogic tradition correspond remarkably well with similar energy pathways described in other cultures – as widely varied as the Chinese in their system of acupuncture and the Hopi Indians in North America, as well as current energy research by some Western scientists.” (Stephen Cope, Yoga and the Quest for the True Self, Bantam Books, New York, 1999, p.204, with footnoted reference to Swami Rama, Rudolph Ballentine, and Swami Ajaya, Yoga and Psychotherapy: The Evolution of Consciousness (Honesdale, PA: Himalayan Institute, 1976, p. 54)
[viii] Swami Satyananda, Kundalini Tantra, (Yoga Publications Trust, Ganga Darshan, Munger, Bihar, India, 1984), p. 325
[ix] Hiroshi Motoyama, Theories of the Chakras: Bridge to Higher Consciousness, (Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, Illinois, 1981), pp. 257-279
[x] Itzhak Bentov, “Micromotion of the Body as a Factor in the Development of the Nervous System”, in John White, ed., Kundalini, Evolution and Enlightenment (Paragon House, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1990), pp. 316-339
[xi] Cf Endnote 13
[xii] Gopi Krishna, Kundalini: Path to Higher Consciousness, (Orient Paperbacks, Delhi, 1976), p, 200
[xiii] Many of the ancient Tantra and yoga scriptures, as well as modern commentaries and scientific research, support this view. Christopher Hill sums it up when he says: “The first step towards the control of kundalini energy… is achieved by balancing the polarities of the shakti female force on the left side of sushumna (central spinal channel) with the shiva or male force on the right side through the ida and pingala nadis. Through breath control the prana (life force) springs up the central nadi from the base of the spine… On reaching sahasrara (highest chakra) the kundalini or burning fire unites with the magnetic part of the mind and causes the expansion of the self-sense into limitless selfhood.” (Christopher Hill: “Is Kundalini Real?”, in Kundalini, Evolution and Enlightenment, edited by John White, Paragon House, St. Paul, Minnesota, 1990, p.116)
Stephen Cope adds. “All three of these major nadis originate at the base of the spine and move upward through the body. Two of them, the ida and pingala, crisscross back and forth as they ascend along the area of the spinal column and find their end points in the left nostril (ida) and right nostril (pingala) respectively.” (Stephen Cope: Yoga and the Quest for the True Self, Bantam Books, New York, 1999, p.256) .
[xiv] This classical view is also supported, in rather quaint language, by Swami Bhupendra Nath Sanyal, in his book on the Srimad Bhagavad Gita. He explains how the unification of the flows in the left and right channels, merging in the central channel, Sushumna, is the basis on which spiritual awakening occurs: “So long as the Swash (breath) is continuing in the Ida and Pingala, until then actual Jnana (spiritual knowledge) does not start. With the help of Sadhana (spiritual practice), when Swash (breath) starts moving through the Susumna only then Suddha-Bhava (pure feeling) will arise and only then Prajna, that is, knowledge (Jnana) will develop.” Swami Bhupendra Nath Sayal, from Ashok Majumdar, Nervous System in Yoga and Tantra, NAG Publishers, Delhi, 1999, p. 540
[xv] In Western neurophysiological science, the contralateral connection between the left and right hemispheres of the brain and the opposite sides of the body is of course well-documented. Note also, in preceding reference to Dr. Motoyama’s work, that increased inter-hemispheric coherence and synchronization has been found by modern scientists to be a hallmark of advanced yogic and meditative attainment. Corroborative evidence has been found in studies of various traditions, including Transcendental Meditation and Zen. For example, extensive EEG brainwave recordings of advanced Transcendental Meditation practitioners revealed that “the overall pattern is one of interhemispheric integration and synchronization...enhanced interhemispheric transmission of signals… and increase in coherence…”.(Michael Winkelman, Shamanism: The Neural Ecology of Consciousness and Healing, Bergin and Garvey, Westport, CT, 2000, p. 167). James Austin, researcher on Zen Buddhist meditation, in an intriguing variation on this theme, suggests that Zen meditation effects a similar cross-lateral cerebral integration, but rather via the sub-cortical bridge, deeper than the division between the two hemispheres. James Austin, M.D., Zen and the Brain, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1998, pp.361-2)
[xvi] It is interesting to note that researchers have also observed significantly greater neuronal interconnectivity (sometimes reported to be as much as 30%) through the corpus callosum (the bridge of neuronal fibres connecting the two hemispheres) in women than in men, as well as greater integration between the three evolutionary levels of the brain (reptilian, limbic and neo-cortex.) This is a very suggestive – but correspondingly sensitive – point, which also bears further investigation for its numerous implications around the evolutionary role of women today in fostering a more integrative, balanced and harmonious society.
[xvii] In this regard, coming back to the theme of neuroplasticity as a capacitor, at the physiological level, for the re-balancing of the brain necessary for the re-balancing of society (see p.6 of this text), Sharon Begley, reporting on the Dalai Lama’s support for further research in this area in the interests of world peace, notes that the increasingly-recognized principle of neuroplasticity “has the potential to bring radical changes, to both individuals and the world, raising the possibility that we could train ourselves to be kinder, more compassionate, less defensive, less self-centered, less war-like.” [Sharon Begley, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain, Ballantine Books, New York, 2007, pp.24-5] As Begley goes on to observe, echoing eminent researchers, “If the will is there, the potential is immense.” The limiting factor of neuroplasticity, then, is essentially the will to change (which includes the willingness to admit the existence—and seriousness—of the problem in the first place). If the will is not there, change is not likely to happen, but if it is, the potential for change is enormous, with actually no known limits at this time. Not only this immense potential for change, then, but the ready willingness to change, both in men and women, vitally needed to ignite this potential, cannot be over-emphasized; both have huge implications for the re-structuring of the relations between the genders in the interests of world peace and far-reaching social transformation.)
[xviii] Gopi Krishna, from Lee Sannella, The Kundalini Experience (Integral Publishing, Lower Lake, CA, 1987), p.124
[xix] Degler, Ibid., p. 19
[xx] Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati, Sri Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, (Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, Bihar, India, 2003), p. 142
[xxi] Swami Satyananda, Devi: Honouring Shakti, Ibid., p. 36
[xxii] A still more elaborate representation of the spectrum from pure consciousness to matter along which Shakti so effortlessly rides, is associated with the classical description of the five yogic sheaths, the five energy fields emanating from the human body, which range from the most subtle aspect of cosmic consciousness to the gross manifestation of the physical form. We learn from the Vijnana Bhairava: “Paradevi is the transcendental energy which, as the sum total of all the energy in the universe, is responsible for creation or manifestation. Paradevi manifests in the physical body as pranashakti, the life force. At the individual level [Parashakti] assumes five fields or koshas, each more subtle than the other: annamaya kosha, the physical sheath; pranamaya kosha, the vital energy sheath; manomaya kosha, the mental sheath; vijnanamaya kosha, the intuitive sheath, an extremely rarified field of energy, which is closer to spirit than matter, surrounding the mental sheath; and anandamaya kosha, the sheath of bliss, where pranshakti is united with the supreme self. – [From Swami Satyasangananda Saraswati, Sri Vijnana Bhairava Tantra, (Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, Bihar, India, 2003), p. 149]
[xxiii] Swami Satyasangananda, Sri Saundarya Lahari, (Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, Bihar, India, 2008), p. 96
[xxiv] “Peace” is apparently here meant in the sense of passive, inert, unacting, as in the quotes immediately preceding this one – an interpretation of Shiva that is standard in Hindu thinking. Shiva is famous for being passive and quiescent. He is the silent witness-consciousness, unmoving and unmoved – the silence of the mind, the void, as Frawley goes on to explain.
[xxv] Shakti as the power of peace is, of course, not her only aspect. As we have seen, she displays an astonishingly wide array of powers, actions and aspects. In her aspect as Kali, for example, she can be fierce and powerful, even fearsome. But, even so, her actions are always in the interests of our higher evolution and thus ultimately benevolent. If we understand the symbology, we know that hers is never a wanton violence, but what could be called fierce love -- slaying the demons that stand between us and our spiritual liberation, destroying our delusions and the obstacles to our awakening.
This is a crucial distinction between the darkness of the feminine in Shakti Tantra – leading to enlightenment – and the darkness of the feminine in other traditions, especially patriarchal ones, where it connotes, in contrast, a low or inferior status – obscurity, deficiency, void, the inchoate, chaos or danger. The darkness of Kali is worshipped and revered as a transformative force of the highest order – mysterious, unknown and sometimes indeed the source of swift and unpredictable upheaval, but always towards our ultimate liberation.
[xxvi] David Frawley, Tantric Yoga and the Wisdom Goddesses, (Motilal Banarsidass, New Delhi, India, 1996), pp 46-7
[xxvii] Swami Satyananda, Devi: Honouring Shakti, Ibid., p. 42
[xxviii] Swami Satyananda, Ibid., p.37
[xxix] Degler, Ibid, p. 263
[xxx] Degler, Ibid., pp. 20-21
[xxxi] Swami Satyananda, Kundalini Tantra, Ibid., p. 36
[xxxii] Gopi Krishna, Kundalini: Path to Higher Consciousness, Ibid., p. 202
[xxxiii] Gopi Krishna, Ibid., p. 205
[xxxiv] Swami Satyasangananda, Sri Saundarya Lahiri, Ibid., p 98
[xxxv] Devadatta Kali, In Praise of the Goddess: The Devimahatmya and Its Meaning, (Nicolas-Hays, Inc., Berwick, Maine, 2003), p. 96
[xxxvi] Swami Sivananda, from Swami Satyananda, Devi: Honouring Shakti, Ibid., pp. 18-19
[xxxvii] Degler, Ibid., p. 267
[xxxviii] Swami Satyananda, from Swami Muktananda, Nawa Yogini Tantra (Bihar School of Yoga, Munger, Bihar, India, 1977, 1983), p.4
[xxxix] Swami Satyananda, from Swami Muktananda, Nawa Yogini Tantra, Ibid., p. 8
[xl] Swami Satyananda, Devi: Honouring Shakti, Ibid., p. 64
[xli] Swami Satyananda, Ibid., pp. 66-7
[xlii] It is important to note here that most scholars in the fields of archeology and anthropology do not believe that a true matriarchy – as defined as rule by women – ever existed. There were, however, almost certainly matrilinies, i.e. societies in which the family name of the mother was passed down, and egalitarian societies in which women could have taken leadership roles.
Anthropologist Marija Gimbutus, PhD, and author Riane Eisler, an attorney who has a background in sociology, use the terms “matrifocal” (mother-centered) and “matristic” to describe the religious and family structures in societies that they believe existed in prehistoric central Europe and believe were more peaceful and egalitarian than “patriarchal” societies. While their ideas have gained acceptance as fact in popular literature, leading academics in these fields caution that Gimbutus’ theories still need, at least at this point in time, to be thought of as hypotheses rather than established fact.
[xliii] Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, The Return of the Feminine and the World Soul (Golden Sufi Center, Point Reyes, California, 2009) from Chapter 1, Reclaiming the Feminine Mystery of Creation
[xliv] Mata Amritanandamayi, from a keynote talk given at the conference “Making Way for the Feminine for the Benefit of the World Community”, sponsored by the Global Peace Initiative of Women, Jaipur, India, 2008
[xlv] His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from a talk given at the Vancouver Peace Summit, Vancouver, Canada, September 2009
[xlvi] Degler, Ibid., p. 22