Monday, June 29, 2015

Enlightenment: Women need not apply

"Just add a bra. He'd be a girl"
We all have heard of enlightenment. In most cultures, it is the highest achievement of the soul ... I mean a male soul. Of course, that is a ridiculous statement. Souls don't have gender, but like everything else the most talked about stories of reaching enlightenment or being enlightened belong to men. We have all heard of Buddha and Christ. We have heard of Siddhartha or Gautama Buddha leaving his wife and child and going on a path to liberate every other person . . . I mean guy. His precepts are primarily directed to men, and we are more likely to have heard of Buddhist monks than nuns. I am quite sure many women have reached enlightenment. Why their stories are not as popular, I have no idea. Why the face of temptation is a woman's for Christ (Mary Magdalene), Siddhartha (Mara) and others, I am not sure. Perhaps women are seen by men as the last attachment. Oddly the attachment is not at the heart but at the groin. These women always offer sexual temptation. Perhaps that speaks to the relationship these enlightened men have had with the women in their lives. It is one of lust and not love. This is not a very enlightened perspective.

It seems that on the way to rejecting all bodily desire, men run away, seeking isolation. They don't bring their wives or lovers.  They have what I like to call singular or single-sex enlightenment. Which is odd because many belief systems speak of duality, mostly letting the guys have all the good stuff and the girls get all the yucky, sticky, slow and bad attributes. That does not really seem enlightened, yet that is how the story goes. Alone, men seek the high ground and return to give the good news to men that the way to a good life is rejecting women and the world. These men do not see women as beings seeking enlightenment too. They see women as a bump in the road to enlightenment, an afterthought.

This leads me to question whether enlightenment is all that enlightened. I mean, sure, one should reach for the good and pure, but when it causes you to ignore more than half of the population in your quest, I start to wonder how good your enlightenment ears were listening. I cannot believe these men got the whole message. I think they heard what they wanted to hear or at the very least what was passed down to us is a skewed and incomplete message. As we know, truth does not do well on this plane of existence. It can hardly survive. So, I think the message is incomplete at best.

I have read many stories about enlightenment... I mean men's journeys to enlightenment from Augustine to The Alchemist.  According to Joseph Campbell, and other men, woman are temptresses in the Hero Cycle. Once again, woman is being viewed by the male penis eye and not as a human being with needs. Woman in men's psyches becomes the embodiment of the physical world which he must leave to ascend. How sick and sexist is that?

The Hero doesn't turn to the woman and say," I'm sick of this shit. How about you?" then takes her hand as they go off to seek spiritual peace together.

No. In literature women like to grovel in despair and evil, and we never learn. Women seem to always say, "No. Life is hell, but I like it this way. You go and get that thing called 'In light in mint' I'll stay here suffering. Go. Have fun."

So, the man goes and leaves the woman  and sometimes a child and reaches what I like to call "Callous enlightenment." This may be why these guys keep coming back or promising to return. I think they have something to learn about the true nature of everyone's soul. It is the same. Gender does not matter. All souls share the same desire for freedom. Yes, I know, no one can help another on the path of enlightenment. Sure. That's why men have so many helpers just waiting to aid and support him. He has signs and magical occurrences to keep him on the right path, but he can't give a sister a hint or hand up?  And when a man does get to that glowy stage, he returns at the journey's end to give sage advice to other men never a woman. We have to raise a hand or jump up and down to get his notice. Unfortunately our breasts bob up and down, and he gets tempted and walks away.

In a lot of literature, women seem to be the road upon which men seeking spirituality must tread. How come I never read a story where the woman says, "You know, I've been waiting and trying to figure a way out of this terrible life myself. You know this enlightenment crap sounds good. I think I'd like to try it. It's got to be better than what I have now. I'll just leave my kids and husband and find it." Oh yeah, I know why: because then everyone(man and woman) would hate her and say she was a despicable person who abandoned her responsibilities. Well, you've got to break a few rules to reach enlightenment. This is, of course, socially easier for guys than girls.

And even if a woman did try and go off with a man to find enlightenment, he would turn to her and say, "Sorry sister, this is a one man show, plus I am horny for you and enlightenment states you must give up the body, and I don't want to when I look at you."

Then she says, "That's okay I was faking it all the time. I'm ready for enlightenment."

"But I want sex and you remind me of it."

"I thought enlightenment meant you transcended all that. So, transcend."

"I can't with you looking like that," he says and goes away.

"Then you are not ready, Grasshopper," the woman yells,  then she goes into forest, listens to birds and trees and river, hears OM and transcends. Alone without writing a whole book about it, pounding her chest and saying how great she is and making people worship her.

There is, though, another side of the coin, one on which women are stamped as so good even our farts are enlightened.  In a few religions, it has been posited that women can stay home and stare at walls because we are perfect.  The Alchemist  also slings this type of hooey.  Basically,  just strap us in a chair as infants and then open the closet door twenty years later, and we will be perfectly normal and fully formed, no experience necessary.  We will be wise and helpful to a man in trouble and will hurl advice at him from the tent door as he goes on to have fun and find out what life is about while we sit at home waiting for him to come back and be a better man or forget to come back and be a better man.

So, women are either nasty god-forsaken sex tempters or angelic wise women? Nope, we are just like every other person, flawed, wise, stupid, silly, brave, cowardly, and enlightened.  You want to know what a woman is? Go look in the mirror and because then you'll see a person and that is what a woman is. We need to go out, fall down, get scars, pick ourselves up, change our minds, and most importantly we need to have our own heroic experiences, so we can grow just like anybody else!

We will all  know when men and the world have finally truly become enlightened when there are just as many popular stories about women reaching enlightenment or even couples transcending together. It may shock many people but couples who are truly in love, love beyond the physical body and have a love that is transcendent and beyond life, death or the changes of the material world. That is real enlightenment.

Candice Raquel Lee
Author of  The Innocent: A Love Story  

and Effed Up: An Abnormal Romance