Weekly Journal for the week of July 18
For this week’s Journal I decided to share some correspondence I have been having with my American friend Rosemary, who is, as you will see, an amazing woman indeed.
Enjoy! – Tomas
Did I mention I had been reading that Otto Rank book Beyond Psychology? I think I did. It definitely has “rocked my world like no other.” Well, okay, like a bunch of others, but like no other lately. I see why his work was suppressed. There’s a ton of gender stuff in it. Gender (in case you haven’t guessed) is a huge issue for me. It has to be. Basically, my essential personality and being are a darn near perfect embodiment of everything that is nothing in this American culture. Everything that is suspicious, flakey, “passive”, useless, or worse. My true personality is utterly irrational, natural, flowing, feeling, intuitive, supportive rather than active, sustaining rather than initiating, embracing rather than asserting. You know I have an adequate rational capacity. That’s not what I’m saying. I think maybe you know what I’m saying. So my whole life has been this kind of confrontation with issues of basic self-worth. I actually married someone who is my total opposite. In some ways, it was absolutely what was needed for both of us, and it has taught us both a lot. I told you his family is so cookie cutter patriarchy it’s stunning. They literally hate and desperately fear anything feminine. It’s all about control. I took in all these messages when I was growing up, that basically what I was essentially bad, or at least worthless. It’s logical then to marry what is the opposite of you and lose yourself in that to try to be “good” in at least a second-hand fashion. Of course, it doesn’t work. That’s the high road to hell. So that’s context. But anyway, you know in Jung’s psychology how the anima, the soul, is called feminine. It is feminine in both men and women. In men, it is the Thou, the beloved of mystic poetry. The Other in those who fear it. And there’s a lot written about man’s relationship to the anima if he wants to search for Her in himself, instead of simply projecting Her onto a mortal spouse, which, granted, most people never bother with. But there’s nothing there about what the masculine spiritual aspect is. What is the Thou in a woman? What am I supposed to look for as a woman if I am searching for spiritual wholeness since the dominant aspect of my spirit is anima? What is the dominant spiritual aspect in a man? It’s the WILL! Maybe this is blatantly obvious. I guess it seems so to me now. I’ve never seen it written anywhere, but it seems to be this sort of given in a lot of writing. If you think about it, it fits perfectly. As acted out in collective human history, as well as in the individual psyche, the evolution has been that the masculine (will) has sought to act alone, on behalf of it’s own “interests,” diminishing, ignoring or outright destroying it’s relationship to the feminine (soul). This is the route to the creation of the false self (ego), the original addiction. And because such separation of the spiritual powers is artificial, it is tenuous and creates fear and requires dramatic efforts of self-aggrandizement and defense to survive. It is only when masculine (will) and feminine (soul) work together as partners within an individual and within the collective that there is harmony and peace and creativity. But the soul is “passive.” She waits. She receives. She cannot battle for a place at the table. The will, which is “active” must make a place, let her out of exile, for this to be. This is the “action without acting” which is so revered in Taoist and Buddhist philosophy. I feel sure of this. And it’s this huge missing piece for me. It’s not that I have no will. I actually have a seriously powerful will, but it has been opposed to my essential feminine character my whole life because that is what I was taught by our societal paradigm. I need to somehow turn it around and have them walk together, and the route has surely to be by way of self-acceptance. This is tough though. I don’t expect much external validation from my world, quite the contrary, and this is the painful thing that’s had my back to the wall. Its reached critical pressure. I think most of my external struggle is a projection of this internal conflict. What does embodied femininity look like? Not a projected masculine concept of femininity, but the real article??? The only positive symbol we’ve ever had is the selfless mother, even that’s pretty worthless now with over population as a major world problem. So then where do you start when there isn’t much role model, if any? What is a strong, whole, actualized woman, not simply a masculinized version of a woman? Are they different? I think very much so? I feel very much so. I’ll leave it there. Rose.
And my response was:
Every time I read your writings I am so amazed and delighted that I do not have the energy to respond in a way that might do it justice.
You are SO close to what you seek. In fact you have it already you are just not appreciating what you have. Another way of saying that is that you are only close – as opposed to having it – because you do not appreciate what you already have and so look elsewhere when in fact it is already in you – if only you valued it you would have it!!
You NATURALLY have what you seek – the ability to be (as you call it) passive, or responsive, giving, surrendering, merging, flowing…. you have that without WILLING it or choosing it – it is just there and THAT is why you do not value it!
Lets view it like this… we all have some Yin (receptive female principle) and some Yang (dominant, male principle). Some have them in balance; some have a predominance of one or the other. You describe yourself as having more Yin. Fine. You want more Yang (i.e. Male dominant active initiating energy of WILL) AND you want to know how to be magnificently Yin instead of merely passive.
Well, the key is to have a Will to BE Yin. CHOOSE who you already ARE. THEN find people who see, value and love that, and see, love and value you for that. THEN you get to love and value you for being so fully Yin/woman.
Looking at this from a totally different perspective… I, as a male, saw that being a “male” in the normal traditional way meant to push the Yang/dominant energy forward and block / suppress the Yin / feminine within me. To change that – and the only way I know how that actually really works – is to learn to Master Surrender…. to choose and be in control of giving up control in order to learn the power, beauty and safety of the Yin flow.
Having mastered Yin/surrender there is no ego need to control, and so to move into male/Yang /control is a free choice freely made and not a necessity based on fear (of not being in control).
Truth is that surrender/Yin/Female energy is astonishingly powerful IF consciously chosen. And male/Yang/dominant energy is also astonishingly powerful IF consciously chosen. Trouble is that men are taught to “play” at dominant out of fear and thus the fear-based need to be in control just as you have learned to “play” at passive – neither is choosing! The sad joke is that those men are being passively dominant!! lolol
(i.e. no conscious choice… just automatic male role playing)
So the long and short of it is that the shift you need to make is to choose HOW YOU ARE! Second – to see that that is incredibly beautiful and valuable. Third – to find others (especially a man in relationship) who love you for having that amazing power and those amazing Yin/female qualities fully owned, enjoyed and blossomed.
Hugs and love,
Her response was:
First, let me thank you for your extremely moving and profoundly intuitive response to what I wrote. I really appreciate it. I know that you are speaking truth because I got that feeling I get when a nerve gets bumped, kind of yearning and fear and a little sadness all together from the gut. I fear my response will not be adequate, but I feel compelled to try. The one thing that occurred to me right away was the mistake I have often made, and I’m not alone, in mistaking exploitation for appreciation, even seeking it. How strange. I think there is something very key in this. I remember when I was training my puppy, reading in a book on dog behavior that some animals will persist in bad behavior, even if they are beaten because being beaten is better than being ignored, even to dogs. Another thing is that what you write about conscious choice, particularly with respect to control, if very profound. Huge “yes.” I think very much this functions even within the individual. We all have times of experiencing both sides of this issue. And there’s a paradox implicit in it that in the system where everyone is merely playing at roles, the feminine is as well exploiting the masculine in an inverted kind of way, hiding rather than manifesting. Once, I was reading this text about this man’s spiritual experiences of surrender, and he wrote a lot about a deep fear of non-existence and having to overcome that in order to let go and experience communion with Divinity. I think, from a feminine point of view, there can also be a fear of existence, even though that seems counter-intuitive. Existence is a great deal of responsibility. And risk. I feel that one in my bones. As you say, responsibility and choice…yes.
You have helped me with something major today, and it will take me a while to really digest it. Thank you again.
Your term Feminazi is pretty funny. I always think “militant feminism” is really just patriarchy firing at it’s own reflection in the mirror. The most patriarchal person I know is a woman, for sure. She baffles me. Doesn’t it seem sometimes that we are all so, so deeply afraid of one another? Or what we’ll find out about ourselves via each other.
This feels totally inadequate. But it is the best I could do today. Much love and gratitude, Rose
© 2004 Tomas Gregory
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