Posts by the teachers of the Advait Tantra school.
16 September 2016
Why Tantra is our Greatest Asset in Addressing Patriarchy and Creating Real Social Change
by Maya Yonika
“Patriarchy Has No Gender” ~ Bell Hooks
There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the term Patriarchy nowadays, and reasonable enough. After all, we’re in the midst of an intense societal transition where, Inevitably, many of our old definitions and understandings are falling away to be replaced by the circumstances and environments in which we now find ourselves as well as that which will be the upcoming societal phase.
Traditionally patriarchy has been defined as a system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and decent is traced through the male line. Yet as woman have gained greater strength in the economic and political spheres, as well as where feminist movements have come to fruition, the defining lines of our social structure, at least in reference to gender, are clearly shifting. Yet patriarchy in essence still runs strong. Why? Stick with me as this will take a bit of explanation.
Over the past several decades of our social transitioning, Bell Hooks, a well-known feminist voice, used the term “Imperialist White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy” in an effort to describe her recognition of patriarchy as a system which not only has controlled women through it’s structures, but is “the single most life-threatening social disease assaulting the male body and spirit in our nation.”1
Hooks well understood that patriarchy is an authoritarian culture that controls men and women alike through structures of thought and methodology that have been handed down through thousands of years of conditioning. It is a state of mind in which we are raised from birth on that permeates throughout western society. For the most simple example, the proper roles for boys and girls; boys shouldn’t express feelings, violence is good (but only in appropriated contexts) and girls can express feelings (but rage and violence is always inappropriate). The problem with conditioning is it tends to manifest in forms that we rarely if ever even consider, because we believe such qualities are innate.
Many such things are indeed being addressed today within workshop culture, albeit even there deeply internalized patriarchal expressions are still being worked out. Some of the male practitioners of the neo-tantra movement for example, all good intentions aside, still maintained much of their unconscious sexual ego-male domination initiatives, and so lacked any real depth of concern or interest in recognition of the paradoxical complexities of women’s socialized sexual issues. This unfortunately led to unwise choices in a ‘healing’ context and the re-traumatization of many women, turning them away from what can otherwise be a healthy sex-movement. This also ultimately lead to the nasty internal fighting that has played out over the past decade, corresponding with the growth of the underground tantra scene. If you’d like to know more on the subject of Tantra vs. neo- tantra, see my blog, Tantra vs. Neo Tantra and the Transformation of Desires.
Which brings us how Tantra plays an awesome role in eradicating patriarchy and creating social change.
Tantra is about creating union; balance between the feminine and masculine within ourselves- as represented by the eastern symbolic yab/yum figures- which innately brings us to a place of deep surrender. Tantra initially addresses patriarchy because it’s methodology is one of working to unravel the deepest and most ingrained of social biases; our learned beliefs that, say, maleness is innately violent or sexuality is only appropriate when regulated to certain contexts or our beliefs about the inferiority or superiority of certain races, or our beliefs about people within specific groups deemed ‘privileged’ or ‘unprivileged’ etc. In short, it is metaphorically about ego death.
For as long as such categories remain unconscious, they lock us into extremely troubling and even violent psychological arenas. They are dualistic processes of divisiveness and separation, both from our own innate essence as well as that of others. Our social biases and beliefs are one of our most efficient means of patriarchal control- a place of mental imbalance in which our patriarchal ideas based on fear, hierarchy and control drive our very thought process.
Consider for a moment, of all places, the ubiquitous new age spiritual movement that touts ‘love and light’ in a battle against ‘darkness’ or ‘evil.’ Here, the dualistic Christian view of good vs. evil has been passed down to us where love of course equates to good and darkness equates to evil. Yet the latter is confused in definition. Tantra recognizes darkness not as evil nor bad… but actually as immensely powerful, rich and beautiful. Darkness is the unknown, expansiveness, the limitless possibilities of Life, and the intuitive feeling inside of each and every one of us.
Darkness is the Feminine aspect.
As early Christianity transitioned into the androcentric religion portrayed in the bible, what was once the Goddess symbolism of the bull was transformed into the horned devil. And the serpent, another symbol of the Goddess became the evil seductress who tempts Eve to eat from the tree which creates the fall. Woman becomes spiritually inferior and something owned by man which is only of value if untouched by another. Hmmmnn…where did the slut idea come from?
Anyways, this divisive otherness- the battle against darkness- continues in the new age movement. It denies its own ‘darkness’ and projects it onto others, often with violence, the thing that shouldn’t be here and must be eradicated. It then attempts to express the ‘good spiritual person’ qualities and ultimately places onto a pedestal anyone who might portray said image really well. It equates to a lot of really fun sex scandal stuff in the big yoga/guru scenes that fascinatingly still shocks us when it happens.
But I digress.
In other words, Tantra is an awesomely effective route to deep, real, lasting social change. For as we unravel from patriarchal values and thinking, we begin to grasp a much greater overview and not only see our dualistic authoritarian social models more clearly within ourselves as they are brought into consciousness, but we innately lose interest in them. At least, this has been my experience.
We learn to surrender, and a healthy Masculine quality replaces the fear based, forceful and ego based aspects. We then offer room for our innate Feminine creativity, knowing, feeling, nurturing and intuitive qualities. A deeper love arises, one that no longer holds such deeply ingrained hurts or prejudices, understanding Life has been leading us all along and all of our divisive ideas are rather ludicrous, for truly all is One.
Which, by the way, does not mean we do not have discernment and speak into distortions or we don’t feel, floating around in a blissful state of Love and detachment. Rather, we simply don’t have a violent, triggered hateful response when we’ve had the experience of recognizing and bringing into consciousness said distortions in ourselves.
Final point; Just recently, I created a meme on my site and Facebook Page called ‘Beware of Dakinis- even the nice ones are mean!’- Dakini being a female Tantric guide. And I find myself continually amazed at the seemingly endless judgments and questions based upon the meme.
Who has deemed you a Dakini? – ie. It is absolutely essential that you come from a traditional patriarchal lineage model in order to have anything of real value under the name of Tantra to teach. Ironically, my Tantric mentor is indeed a man, but hardly hierarchal- quite the opposite, and wisely so.
Beware?? Why are you seeking to induce fear? – Does it truly? Do you actually feel afraid? Or… is that just another idea?
You are mean? Why do you want people to be afraid?? Attack attack…
The most intriguing thing is these questions have always come from women. Women who, as part of patriarchal thinking, want to control other women- and especially a woman who is in her power- ie. she who knows she has something valuable and beautiful to offer. This is as threatening to the patriarchal mind as it has always been. It’s completely unconscious, and as justified in one’s mind as believing ‘sluts’ are ‘bad’. This stuff runs very very deep. I know, because i’ve been and said and done all of these things. Tantra teaches us to dig in far….
Indeed. One must be able to move past at least a simple gateway such as this one with relative ease in order to even think about taking on Tantric teachings!