What is Enlightenment is a monthly magazine that features themed articles and a dialogue between guru Andrew Cohen and philosopher Ken Wilber. This month’s title was The New Women’s Liberation.

Since my letter to the Editor probably won’t get published anyway, I am posting it here.

See my partner, Gary’s blog on www.garystamper.blogspot.com


golden goddess

Dear Ken and Andrew,

While I very much appreciate you “white guys” taking up the task of examining the higher evolution of women, and presenting some excellent insights and observations, I feel you are missing some huge pieces. As a transpersonal~shamanic psychotherapist for the past 30 years, and a spiritual teacher of women for the past 15 years, I have traveled the journey with women through victimhood to personal empowerment, and now to reclamation of spiritual authority. My overview is that women walk very differently towards spiritual evolution than men do, and that you are attempting to work with women from a male perspective that does not honor the natural wisdom and source of the feminine, which transcends and includes the biological factors and is very much based in her connection to Mother Earth.

Andrew, I am left wondering why your challenge to women would be to transcend (but apparently not include) the emotional body (which you call relational~biological) and sexual power? In my experience, these aspects of the feminine in ALL of us, are what defines the feminine, not what defines women at lower developmental levels as conditioned egos. Yes, the emotional body and sexual power has been repressed, denied, feared and perverted through the ages, but does that necessarily mean they are to be done away with while transcending? What happened to including?

Certainly I agree that we have been conditioned to be fearful and guarded and manipulative, etc. at lower levels of development, but what of a higher development, i.e. emotional, and sexual enlightenment? In my circles, I find that if emotional safety is provided, and women are encouraged to take responsibility for their shadow conditioning, and own their personal and spiritual authority, they will naturally delight and trust and demonstrate impersonal caring with each other. It is not as rare as you apparently think it is. We who have been on the forefront of spiritual feminism, are bright, evolved and conscious creatures who have been doing personal psycho-emotional~spiritual work for an average of 10-15 years longer than men. The key to the level of sisterly trust you are talking about is that we do this work with other women who also resonate with the female experience, rather than with a male guru. In the context of men, women will naturally take longer to self-actualize and differentiate. We have been so male referenced, especially spiritually, that no wonder it took you 12 years to crack the code and see results!

In reading your women student’s account of their evolving group, I am struck by how these women did what I would call a “spiritual by-pass” around feminine embodiment straight into the male spiritual world of the seeker~meditator. It occurs to me that their current interest in transcending their femininity is a direct result of having to back-track into and through a previous stage of development. This is also my experience in working with long-time women meditators who have not integrated and embodied their authentic feminine selves. I do feel, however, that after a woman has done her work with other women, that working with a male spiritual teacher may in some cases add to her evolution, but not necessarily!

There is exhilaration in integrating healthy emotional genius and full-life force Shakti energy as a valid feminine spiritual path. This is one of the major contributions that the feminine has to offer in healing her world. Yet, what I hear you both agreeing to is that enlightenment only comes in male versions…the “up and out” kind that is ascending, ego annihilating, and sweet and good. Isn’t it time we call enlightenment INTO the body, the emotions, our sexuality, sourced as a new paradigm that includes the feminine nature rather than expecting us to conform to the standard versions of no-self?

We do not need male teachers to tell us how to drop our egos and dis-identify with our own Source, the emotional, diverse, juicy, sexual, wild, nature of the Divine Feminine. Evolved Feminine Spirituality includes consciousness and transpersonal caring, for each other, our people, our communities, our world and our planet….all four quadrants. Please do not try to take away our emotional bodies and our sexuality! Instead, encourage us to grow through the lower stages into healthy emotional and sexual integration so that these become the source of our passion, aliveness, radiance, and movement toward enlightenment. And, please, can we start talking about another kind of enlightenment? Can we acknowledge Descending & Agape as a valid spiritual path? I hear Ken attempting to do this but there is really not enough of an emphasis in your dialogue. The self can be a big Self in the body just as easily as out of it, and the ego can be our servant so that we don’t have to annihilate it (Goddess knows if we don’t have healthy egos we WILL get annihilated these days!).

Let’s bring heaven to earth for a change. Let’s descend (and ascend) for a change, finally coming into a Sacred Union with All, Masculine and Feminine, all polarities and dualities finally coming together in a dance as the Divine Third. Isn’t that another way to view the next stage of development? Let’s acknowledge that the real reason we need the New Divine Feminist to take the lead is so we can finally integrate the Feminine Face of God~Spirit~All That Is within each of us….including you white guys.

Anyaa McAndrew