The Wild, Wise Feminine

By Tiffani Gyatso
Buddhistdoor Global | 2021-09-09 |
By Tiffani GyatsoBy Tiffani Gyatso

To be Wild means that I am fully connected to my heart, brooking no doubt that my every expression is born out of love. Love for Life before anything else, with a deep sense of gratitude that infuses the heart with a keen awareness of the honor of being alive. This love should always burn brightly within us. Such assertiveness of one’s own existence is what it means to be Wild. To live in Wild Awakening means to be so much in love with Life that every experience is one of bliss—even our experiences of loss and sadness—because this, too, is Life. To be Wild is to trust Life, to surrender to Her, because She is so much bigger than this little Me. How dare I think I could do differently than Her Will? This is Life—Nature’s Will; Her Will. How much we lose in acting against the Big She . . . If She wishes to wash away my attachments, I am left only with the opportunity to surf the wave or swim against it. All of the stars and flowers I see today will lay dry over my bones, how dare I think that I could raise a fist against Her Will or rise my little voice against Her Truth? This is the Big She, the Wild Feminine who gave birth to what I call “I.” I came from Her, I am in Her, and I will return to Her.

Surrendering to Her means being fully alive. It has nothing to do with gender; we all have this life energy. The Feminine in you means Life and the more you learn to recognize and accept it, the more it shines and magnetizes. 

In the tantric traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, this specific recognition is personified in the figures of various enlightened female beings known as dakinis. It is the dakini principle that is potent within all of us. She is usually depicted dancing, because life energy is pure movement, cyclic and dynamic. She can have many different voices, like a singer with an expansive vocal range and repertoire. In one image, such as the  female buddha Tara, She is the savior mother, tenderly hugging us to be fed at her wisdom breast with unconditional love. We can access this love and feel nourished, liberating our mental imprisonment imposed by enemies such as fear and sadness. She can also manifest naked and fierce, like Vajrayogini, drinking the blood of such enemies. She does not give her breast gently, but offers the sharp edge of her curved knife to cut away once and for all the entanglements of our attachments and to dance free in the sound of her wild laughter. She can be half animal, like Simhamukha, when her most basic instincts and her infinite wisdom are dancing, shaking the ground with her roar, scaring away enemies and illusions. She comes in infinite forms because She is Life, She is infinite and pure energy, also called Shakti.

Green Tara. By Tiffani Gyatso

But the way we perceive life is through opposing experiences. We perceive daytime, because there is nighttime, we move between ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, desire and aversion, hot and cold, near and far, beauty and ugliness, living and dying. And with these perceptions we move here and there. It is based on these perceptions that we make our decisions; we are always between two.

Thinking in this manner, I am able to see in a poetic way when I think of the opposite of Life, being Her own fierce lover who can have many names, such as Death or Time, Emptiness or Shiva. And He comes also as part of Her and says: “If you wish to be eternal, you must always have half of you dying, so that you can express the freshness of renewal and evolution, for your infinite children can pour into the womb-space of creation. Before I give the seed, I shall seek for an empty but fertile ground in you.”

In this perception, it’s not for us to know what is feminine and what is masculine, that doesn’t really matter. Buddhism brings signs and symbols to create a language to understand our intangible interior. Feminine and masculine are the duality within us that can confuse, but also move us. A duality that’s not two things that come together but that exist inseparably from two different aspects—like light and heat, two inseperable aspects of fire.

This is very important to notice and bring into our awareness so that we can include it in our perception of reality, even if we perceive it at first glance to be contradictory. With wisdom, these opposing forces always work in favor of evolution. I have thus been reflecting on the attitude that mankind holds toward Nature, Mother Nature, especially now in my country, Brazil, where one of the biggest and most massive indigenous manifestations is taking place in the capital in protest as the government reconsiders which areas of the country are indigenous as corporate interests seek to expand destructive mining and forest exploitation.

It’s interesting not only to notice the apparent contradiction within ourselves and society, but also in the history of mankind. We can see nature itself as the clearest manifestation of Feminine energy, we can recognize how intimately connected we are with our own energy by watching how comfortable we feel with nature. 

In a collective way, our inner awareness is in decline, which is reflected in how we as collective consciousness do not respect nature as we perforate, penetrate, extract, explore, overproduce, commercialize, and raze its surface. This is the patriarchy within us all. We see another extreme case in Afghanistan, where women, who are the life-bringers, color, song, and perfume distributors, are being completely covered and negated, and we see a culture of hatred, terror, violence, and death arising. This brings death in a very unbalanced way, and I don’t think such a restrictive culturemaking anyone happier or more satisfied. 

Although i would like to consider, in the absolute sense, that it’s through the manifestation of war that the awareness of peace and love is brought to life, it’s not an easy path for us human beings. But life is gentle and violent, it’s passionate and it’s repulsive, and the only way we grow aware of the need to be compassionate is through witnessing suffering. Yet let us also have some perspective right now on the relative truth of reality.

Women have always had a natural awareness of the body, menstruating with the lunar cycle, giving birth and feeding life from her own body. This made our female ancestors real healers of body and soul. Somewhere in history, men became uncomfortable with women holding such sacred knowledge, which eventually led to that horrible period of inquisition in Europe, which portrays well this reaction of fear that men feel over women. Internally, it’s our own fear of life. When we try to control the natural flow of life with fixed plans, fixed ideas, and fixed strategies, without considering what is natural, we go against life. Contraception that halts menstruation is an example of what we seek in our lives: control and convenience. But this comes at the cost of our own wisdom, because when a woman is in tune with her cycles she knows about her fertile periods, she can hear her body, and even men who are in tune with the feminine can sense her periods in the temperature of her body and taste. What we think is convenience is actually costing us our inner and intimate wisdom, turning us mentally flaccid and emotionally rigid. Although considering incidents of rape and prostitution, making use of contraception may be the only option for survival. There are some studies which indicate that men could also make use of contraception, but that possibility wasn’t well accepted in the marketplace, the products just wouldn't take . . . but just consider that women are fertile only once a month while for men it’s basically every day. And so we are living in a time in which are witnessing not only the rape and prostitution of women, but the rape and prostitution of our planet Earth and her resources. Seeing how society treats women, we know how we are similarly treating Life and vice-versa.

Wisdom Dakini, acrylic on paper, 2016. By Tiffani Gyatso  

The “structure” of men is more stable in the sense that his cycles are longer, offering him the ability to be a solid ground for Life and a protector while women are creating. Women not only create other human beings, but bring Life energy to any household or family table, and to any celebration, especially when she is happy. Anyone, man or woman, who is happy brings life to even the most wretched of places. In cultures where men respect, protect, listen to, and serve women, he is being fiercely wise as Life returns fully to himself when he does so. And so were our indigenous ancestors, the descendents of whom are today in the streets of Brasilia asking a little group of men for permission to live. How did we reach such a point?

In this pivotal moment, what we could do best for the planet is to relate with more awareness to our own lives, asking ourselves: how do I accept Life’s Will? How much can I trust Her natural flow? How much power do I seek to gain over Her and why? How much do I actually gain by creating excessive structures of control and power in my life? How unsafe do I feel when I am in Nature? Do I feel that She is a threat? 

When we  bring these questions to our awareness, simply and honestly, we automatically move our subtle energy channels toward Life, slowly becoming our own medicine. If we take more responsibility for our own attitudes toward Life, we can inspire others to do the same. If we can find happiness without amassing a large bill for Mother Earth to pay, we are being considerate to the Feminine within each of us, and we benefit entirely. We are inseparable from this planet, like light and heat. Let us be wild and fiercely in love with Life. Let us inspire our children to celebrate our interconnection with each other and with nature, so that men respect women’s wisdom and women love men’s presence, and we want and are able to make each other happy without superfluous demands. We need to trust. Trust in Life—She is much bigger than any one of us.

Photo by Maddy Freddie

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