Interspiritual Gender Reconciliation

January 22, 2012

One of the best things that happened to me in a long time was connecting with Cynthia Brix and Will Keepin of the Satyana Institute about a year ago (http://www.satyana.org/conf_jun_2011.html).

Will and Cynthia are the ones who invited me to join them at Camp Brotherhood, the interfaith retreat center in the woods near Puget Sound, last June. I had the great honor to work alongside a luminous circle of teachers from different faith traditions for a gathering called “Heart of the Beloved.” It was a powerfully collaborative experience, not only among the leaders but also between the presenters and the participants. Will and Cynthia have this magical ability to build community—swiftly and joyfully—so that everyone involved drops their habitual self-defenses and opens their collective heart. I’ve never seen anything like it. I wrote about a transformational experience I had there in my upcoming book, GOD OF LOVE.

That’s why when they invited me to attend a “Power of Reconciliation” workshop at Ghost Ranch near my home in northern New Mexico last weekend, I moved mountains to show up (http://www.satyana.org/power_new.html). I would follow Will and Cynthia anywhere—I’m seriously tempted to join them one of these days for their remarkable service work in Africa or India. Besides, Abiquiú (where Georgia O’Keefe painted her stunning desert landscapes) is only a couple of hours away, and the drive is gorgeous.

It’s not that I thought I had any particular issues with gender wounding (ha!). After all, I grew up in the counter-culture, the daughter of feminist parents who taught me that I could do anything I could dream of (and I have). But it did not take me long to recognize all the ways in which I had been subjected to the cultural imbalance between the masculine and the feminine, and had been unconsciously complicit in contributing to my own suffering and to that of the men in my life. It was a potent awakening. But much more significant than my recognition that this issue is an issue for me after all was the realization that all the religions of the world, which I am so passionately involved in writing, speaking, and teaching about, have this shadow of gender imbalance at their core. All my efforts to point out the common message of love at the heart of all faiths are futile until I acknowledge this and deal with it. That journey began last weekend. What made it even more relevant for me was the fact that the gender work Will and Cynthia do is grounded in an interspiritual approach, weaving in prayers, practices and celebrations from many spiritual streams. It’s quite revolutionary. I urge you to experience it for yourself.

But the most powerful part of the weekend was meeting a group of young religious leaders who, though deeply rooted in their respective faith traditions, have this living love for all the world’s spiritual paths and wisdom ways.

Matthew has recently graduated from seminary and been ordained as an Episcopal deacon. He also prays the salat five times a day in Arabic (his smart phone erupted with Call to Prayer every few hours, and off he went with his prayer rug to a corner of the room). He also has a regular mediation practice in the Hindu tradition. This guy is not only extremely smart (he taught me a thing or two about the Gospels for the upcoming class on Christian Scriptures I was scheduled to start teaching at the University the following week), but he radiates love and joy. It’s as if Matthew’s entire purpose on Planet Earth is to open the hearts of everyone he meets. He certainly opened mine.

Gabrielle is a gifted singer who grew up in the Evangelical Church and is now beginning to shift and broaden her perspective to actively include the Sacred Feminine. This is a courageous act in her culture, but her heart is so on fire with love-longing, and she is so stunningly articulate, that I do believe she is going to start a revolution. Gabrielle had the inspiration to take a line from the Song of Songs, translate it back into Hebrew (with the help of a young rabbinical student also attending the retreat) and put it to music. Within a couple of days after our return from Ghost Ranch she had sent us an audio clip of a hauntingly beautiful chant she created. I told her it was if she had tapped into the ancient stream of yearning and awe in the Jewish tradition.

Adir is studying to be a rabbi in the Conservative tradition. He grew up in the Old City of Jerusalem as well as a small village in the South of France. His parents have been actively involved with the Peace Movement between Israelis and Palestinians since long before most Americans had ever even heard of such a thing, and he has been surrounded by great mystical Jews and Sufis his whole life. He is also involved in the Vedanta path and has a contemplative practice. Adir and I led a Shabbat service together during our retreat, and we seamlessly blended our respective liturgical lineages to create a ritual of such simple sweetness that the people who participated were moved at a core level, and Adir and I are bonded for life.

Natalia comes from Colombia and has lived her entire life surrounded by danger, strife, and violence. Her response has been to meet fear with love, chaos with gentleness, despair with radiant optimism. Her innate goodness and insightfulness made me feel that I was truly in the presence of a young saint. Natalia has tapped her ancestral indigenous roots and is learning to incorporate Native shamanic wisdom into her work in the world.

These four young people are passionate about the intespiritual path—about walking it, talking it, teaching it, and letting it lead them to unexpected, not always comfortable, places. I am in awe of each of them, and I have this feeling there are many more young spiritual leaders like them emerging during this time of global crisis and planetary awakening. This gives me such hope! If you have any stories about this new crop of interspiritual beings, we’d love to hear them here.

Toward the One!

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2 Responses to “Interspiritual Gender Reconciliation”

  1. tara lupo said

    Dear Mirabai, your comments about these lovely peacemaker interspiritualists brings to mind what I once understood about the teaching which, roughly paraphrased, tells us that no one is enlightened until we all are.

    I think one take on the meaning of that teaching is that when we can see all others as awakened boddhisattvas, then we dwell there as well. The way you see people uplifts them in such a way that we’re all uplifted.

    You empower us with your devotion to the one spirit residing in each and every one of us and if it isn’t already apparent in our own hearts you show us how to get there.

    What a blessing you are.

    BTW, Women’s Worldwide Web (www.womensworldwideweb.org) would like to connect with Satyana Institute to see if we can write a piece about their organization on the blog “Voices.” What they’re doing looks incredibly important and we’d like to help get the word out.

    All my love,
    Tara

    • Thanks Tara. In the intro to God of Love I acknowledge what Ganga Das calls “Mirabai’s Master Syndrome” – a tendency to see and proclaim almost everyone as some kind of rarefied being. I can’t help it if I happen to be surrounded by saints! You are one of the shiniest, though you are faraway now, and I miss you.

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