“This world is the body of the Goddess,” writes highly regarded yoga and meditation teacher Sally Kempton in her Foreword to Goddess: When She Rules.
“To love Goddess as nature can be exquisite—but it is limiting…The traditional view of the sacred feminine usually casts her as a generative, nurturing field for human (often, masculine) creativity…So, one of the great projects of our time has been the re-claiming of feminine divinity.”
As my own meditation and practice of bhakti yoga has progressed through many decades, Radha—the divine feminine and supreme Goddess—has come to the forefront of my heart and awareness. Meditating on Goddess Radha has unlocked transcendental reflections in me as I begin to understand the awesome implications that all souls are feminine in nature.
We all have an inherent quality of unsurpassed spiritual love we can cultivate, regardless of our biological genders.
Each day my relationship with Radha—and understanding how powerful the feminine can be—deepens. Goddess Radha is the exemplar lover, and she shows how to do away with inebriated concepts of gender by empowering ourselves with her divine qualities and her overpowering, pure love through service to our Divine Other.
We stand at a juncture never before experienced in Western history. Bhakti yoga and Radha, the feminine divine, reached Western shores only 50 years ago.
Her quiet appearance, when examined and understood, signals an opportunity to empower ourselves and shift social paradigms and behaviors away from patriarchal models, linear thinking, and material knowledge—all of which deaden the spirit—and to aim for transcendent wise-love.
In Sri Radha we don’t find an indigenous, nature-centered, feminine form, not a goddess of the material order (like her powerful expansion Durga), but the feminine divine who stands at the central topmost pinnacle of a loving reality.
The soul of Supreme Consciousness is Radha, and the full power of reality is the wise-love she embodies. If we bring Radha and her power into our daily lives through the practice of Bhakti, then we have the insight, strength, and heart necessary to end the world’s violence and suffering.
The idea of the sacred or divine feminine is resurging in books, conferences, webinars, interviews, radio shows, blogs, and secular conversations all over the world.
As I listen to the community discussion, I often notice there is little distinction between (and even less understanding about) material and spiritual qualities—feminine or otherwise. The shortcoming of conflating matter and spirit is that while we may have good intentions, and even insight into how to make improvements, if we’re promoting material qualities for material results we won’t receive ultimate benefit or achieve lasting results.
As communication over the internet broadens our perceptions and shrinks our world, we gain awareness of the plight of the world.
As men and women come together to try to solve the world’s ills, we find a growing number appealing to the divine feminine. After all, everything else has failed.
Many of us sense that if we were to receive the powerful grace of the feminine divine, people could transcend their human egos, which drive them to commit incredible atrocities, and to release their truest voices, garner their strength, and take definitive, sweeping action. In this way, we might stand a chance at changing the world’s descent into madness.
To where do we turn our attention to find the divine feminine?
Is the feminine divine a personification of the earth? Sophia? A metaphor, a process, an energy, a transcendent identity? Is the feminine divine available to men and women? Is the feminine divine a female version of God? Do we appeal to the divine feminine or the feminine divine? Have we even made a distinction between these two terms?
Are we using the two terms divine feminine and feminine divine consciously? Divine feminine means a person with “divine” feminine qualities. Feminine divine means divinity in feminine form. Let’s compare them.
In the Bhakti tradition, “divine feminine” refers to feminine aspects of the self/consciousness. Here, the word divine loosely means emotional and mental health, empowerment, and psychophysical wholeness. Thus discussions about the divine feminine center on the material shakti and remain in the physical realm. They are, by definition, limited in scope and influence. Something concerned with matter cannot release us from matter; matter cannot solve spiritual problems.
If our petition to the divine feminine is an appeal to the feminine in mundane clothing—I mean, bodily and mental conceptions—then we’ll find that essential divinity is absent and we’re without the fully transcendent assistance we need.
Without divine ego there is false ego.
Concerns of the false ego, whether they appear in men or women, however appealing, can only culminate in superficial solutions. Invariably, our attempted resolutions end in discord because self-interest is inherently disharmonious and diverse. If our first solution in a long math equation is wrong, that error will carry through the whole equation. Are we petitioning material shakti to solve spiritual problems? Is that why we haven’t found resolutions even in our hopeful approach to the divine feminine?
Our well-intended pursuit of balancing secular and spiritual cultures by emphasizing feminine qualities could produce the same problems that plague patriarchal societies and religions. Females are as capable of disempowering, disenfranchising, and abusing individuals, animals, and nature as are males.
If instead of pursuing the divine feminine, we seek the feminine divine, divinity in feminine form, Radha, through the culture of bhakti, we can bring wise-love into the world.
If the divine in males and females seeks shelter in the feminine divine, those people will lovingly conquer all.
As the soul of Supreme Consciousness, Radha is the source of all the powers of all goddesses; she is the full spiritual potency of the Supreme Absolute. Radha harmonizes all the characteristics of the goddesses and is the fully blossomed queen of wise-love.
Love—wise-love—can conquer; love can liberate and forgive and ingeniously find new ways to solve old problems. Love impels compassion; love seeks the highest good for everyone. If wise-love conquers the unconquerable, what can it not achieve in this world?
My own experience in serving Radha has convinced me that when those who want to improve the world and their own lives take shelter of Sri Radha they can fulfill their dreams.
Another experience I’ve had: prayer and intent possess tangible power. We might lead with a simple petition, O Radha, embodiment of love, please fill me with the quality and depth of your love. Make me a vessel of your loving dedication and mercy in this world. Please flood the world with your glance so that we may all be released from the suffering of self-interest and please our beloved Friend.
What is your experience with the Feminine Divine?
This essay is excerpted from the Afterword of Pranada’s latest book: Wise-Love: Bhakti and the Search for the Soul of Consciousness available now for pre-order on Amazon.
Author: Pranada Comtois
Image: Flickr/Os Rupias
Editor: Travis May
Copy & Social Editor: Sara Kärpänen