Today’s a busy day.
Women around the world are celebrating International Women’s Day at seminars, conferences, luncheons, dinners, and breakfasts promoting women’s rights, dignity, equality, and empowerment. The messages focus on themes such as innovation, the portrayal of women in the media, women in history, women’s health, and the importance of education and career opportunities. Michelle Bachelet, the UN Women executive director, shares a message here.
The Library of Congress and The National Women’s History Project are celebrating the day with the theme “Women’s Education—Women’s Empowerment.” The International Women’s Day group says the day is to celebrate economic, political, and social achievements for women, and their theme this year is “Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures.” The United Nations’ theme is “Empowering Rural Women and Ending Hunger and Poverty.”
Thousands of women work throughout the year, not just on one day, to help women and girls. I bow to them in gratitude.
I’m passionate about these issues, yet feel wholly incapable of making a difference in the tragic global picture of the mistreatment women.
My passion smoldered at first, then broke into a blaze by my mid-20s. I had to put a brake on my efforts for women when my health collapsed. Recently I’ve been thinking more about the historical picture for women, past to present: from the horrors of witch-burnings, sex slavery, and genital mutilation, to rape, bride burnings, flogging Muslim women to death for exposing an inch of skin, domestic violence, and female infanticide.
Women’s lives have been, and continue to be, oppressed through societal systems—educational, business, health care, media, economic and political—that reflect and reinforce widespread patterns of masculine thinking. Nearly every woman on our planet carries around the effects of this staggering imbalance, to one degree or another, inside her own heart.
The issues are so far-ranging, so embedded, the reasons they continue so complex I feel helpless.
But today, I feel a little less overwhelmed and not just because the world has International Women’s Day and thousands of inspired, beautiful women willing to make personal sacrifices for others.
Today I’m also celebrating Sri Chaitanya’s birthday.
Chaitanya was born in India in 1486 and revived the ancient practice of chanting the maha-mantra, or “the great chant for deliverance,” which he said delivered complex spiritual truths directly to one’s heart. He directed people inward, toward a scientific—experiential—understanding of the highest knowledge of man’s spiritual nature and consciousness. He challenged the caste system, and four hundred and twenty years before Gandhi, led the largest nonviolent, civil disobedience movement India had seen.
Chaitanya demanded the right of all human beings to have access to spiritual teachings of Bhakti, the Path of the Heart. As the Renaissance in Europe retooled thinking and the arts and changed Western history far beyond Europe’s shores, Sri Chaitanya rejuvenated the essence of India’s ancient spiritual wisdom.
The crux of Chaitanya’s Movement is simple: spiritual salvation is attainable to anyone who has pure love of God. His work was to spiritually empower of the masses, and the pivotal point of his teachings is that feminine characteristics give birth to, and are an absolute requirement for, spiritual progress.
In other words, from his perspective, the requirement for human happiness and evolution hinges on men and women developing the feminine aspects of devotional love.
When I read about all that is being done for women in socio-economic and political fronts I’m happy and concerned.
Worried that our solutions don’t address what underpins our problems. Concerned that if we forget we are spiritual beings our targeted goals may be misguided. Worried that until we understand the spiritual power of feminine qualities and gain tools to empower and employ this power, women’s lives will continue to be oppressed through societal systems.
Our educational, business, health care, media, economic, and political systems need to reflect and reinforce widespread patterns of feminine thinking: holistic, synthesizing, inclusive, intuitive, and loving feminine qualities.
A voice in my head says, “But what about balance? You can’t promote feminine over masculine and expect balance.”
I believe in balance, in careful consideration, and deep thinking. I want balance. And I’m not concerned that infusing massive doses of feminine qualities and thinking into our world will lead us astray: the world has never been short on masculine hierarchal approach and thinking.
Today I commit to women around the world and to my spiritual guide Sri Chaitanya with my little way of helping women and girls: to write about a spiritual avenue for addressing our problems, and practice what I believe in my daily life.
Happy Women’s Day. May we all work to making every girl, every woman’s day a better one,