A friend who has been a Buddhist nun for 20 plus years wrote this response to my previous blog, and I asked her if I might share it here:
I don't know anything about what they call Artemesian solitary austerity or the joyous union of Aphrodite, though I can guess, but I understand the difference she paints between the misogynist patriarchal structures and the more balanced contemplative formats. I wonder if anyone really knows anything about these groups devoted to Artemis or Aphrodite, and whether they really were based on feminine principles. It seems to me, since they were dominant power structures in their cultures, they still may have been controlled by men, but it seems to me it's hard to discern what really went on from the available information. In any case, in a perfect world, or organization, there needs to be, I think, a balance between action with focus, which I think is the masculine principle, and feeling receptivity, the feminine. Chastity is definitely a character quality that can be expressed whether one is in a
sexual union or not. And I think this is a point well taken: Anxiety towards the opposite sex and a solitary life are two realities which should not be confounded." Nor do I think solitary contemplation and joyous union are mutually exclusive. It seems to me that many monastic orders have become dangerously one-sided. It says very clearly in words attributed to Jesus that One must love the Lord your God, AND your neighbor as yourself. Not Love God OR your neighbor. So we need to have that relationship with God, which fuels a relationship with other persons, and allows the practice and application of what is given and felt in the God contemplation. The vows of poverty, chastity and obedience are wonderful, I think, when taken spiritually, but when usurped by a materialistic patriarchal structure for the purpose of worldly authority and control are perverted and extremely detrimental. Who is more poor of self than a mother or caregiver, who expresses
divine love in tenderness, nurturing and patience with a child? Who is more chaste than a lover, wife or husband, who is loyal to their partner and believes in their loveliness through many cycles of life? And who is more obedient than one who refuses to do what they are commanded to do out of obedience to the commandment to love their neighbor? But of course those acts don't fit into a traditional monastic format. I would say Principle, or law/truth is a masculine function, and Love, the feminine, and both are necessary to manifest Life in creation.
Thanks for the food for thought!