The Feminine Principle at Work | Ella Reznikova

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Ella Reznikova
The Feminine Principle

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I remember the very first time I came to Karmê Chöling to attend a dathün, a 28-day group retreat. Before the dathün began, I was sitting in the Lower Living Room, and I felt like I was falling in love deeply and hopelessly. What was I falling in love with? The smell of incense, perhaps, or the intense silence interrupted by singing birds, the babbling brook, and occasional laughter. The experience was very direct and vivid. Many people say their first visit to Karmê Chöling had this pre-conceptual quality.

Many of us who live and work at Karmê Chöling came here out of a longing to connect with our humanness through meditation practice, study and community life. As we work and practice together, we are exploring our experience before concepts or judgment arise. We are learning to appreciate our life regardless of how painful or joyful it is. We are basically learning to love ourselves as we are, like a mother’s unconditional love for her child. This is the feminine principle at work, an unconditional acceptance before we attempt to intellectually clarify what our experience is, before we judge and blame ourselves.

The dakini principle is a secret to the awakening of our femine essence. Dakinis, translated from the Tibetan as “sky dwellers,” are celestial beings who inspire us to cut ego’s game and to see the world with direct perception. A dakini is the feminine aspect of one’s innate nature; it is nonverbal, nonconceptual and subjective. Karmê Chöling can be perceived as this space of unconditional loving-kindness before any particular action takes place.

Additionally, a dakini is a guardian of meditation. She empowers us like a mother to explore and express our potential. If we drop our personal agenda, she enters our stream of mind and creates heat that purifies unnecessary emotions into the space of being at peace with ourselves and others.

When we let go of our inner, opinionated movie — the storyline of our hopes and fears — we can’t help but feel warmth toward ourselves and others with whom we practice, work, eat and share all the exciting and mundane aspects of life. In this way, life at Karmê Chöling is based on the feminine principle wherein both the nourishing and wrathful aspects are pushing us to fly from our nest of “me” out into the open space of not knowing. Not being afraid of the state of not knowing could be considered the best job description here.

There is nothing wrong with rational thinking as long as it is understood to be just one aspect of our mind and is not allowed to dominate every aspect of our perception. Life teaches us that we are incapable of successfully manipulating our emotions merely by thinking about them. By cultivating our feminine energy, we can explore our emotions on a deeper level without relying completely on our conceptual mind.

The masculine and feminine principles do not belong to any gender; all equally possess and need these principles in their lives. Unfortunately, in our culture we have been emphasizing the masculine qualities of achievement, goal orientation and speed without knowing how to slow down and ask ourselves what we really feel. We have overly cultivated holding to masculine rationality and have neglected to learn to rest in the feminine space of intuition.

The way to deepen our understanding of these teachings is through direct and personal experience, and Karmê Chöling, where everything is so concentrated and intense, is the perfect place for that. There are endless occasions for our self-images, masks and manipulations to be seen through and one is constantly challenged to let go and relax. We have no luxury here to solidify our likes and dislikes, since there is no escaping the objects of our irritation; we even dedicate merit with them on a daily basis!

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2006 Karmê Chöling Newsletter.


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