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In Search of MA: The Sacred Feminine in World Religions

Discussion in 'Interfaith Dialogues' started by spnadmin, Apr 27, 2009.

  1. spnadmin

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    April 25, 2009

    She just appeared in a prolonged moment of despondency, feeling a bad case of emotional beach erosion, with only enough will left to let what ever would happen or should happen wash over me. No accomplishment or good feeling of victory ever stays with me more than a couple of hours, or has been strong enough to dispel its counterpart self-doubt. There is a long list -- which is never about who I am or what I do but what is lacking. A bill of indictment loaded to the margins with accusations, most of which I have not even heard yet. My mere presence is a trial full of nuisance and consequences for myself and others...

    But then she was there, and her image threw off a soft pervasive light. There she was a golden lady and she told me her name was MA. Her name MA is not short for mother. She was not a mother-figure. She was not like my mother, nor was she anyone’s mother. That was not her identity. It was remarkable how she glowed within the dark spaces of my imagination. In fact all the illumination came from her. She reached out and I reached out, and she held onto my hand.

    I don’t know what to make of her except that she was comforting and powerful. Her presence was riveting. Her hair was red and brown and golden. Her eyes were quite large and dark. Her skin was gold. She wore a full dress of some kind – it was a deep rose and embroidered richly with gold thread. She never released her eyes from my eyes, and neither did I from hers. She told me that she was not the Satguru. That the Satguru stood invisible behind her. I didn’t know what she meant. She told me that there is no need for me or anyone else to move forward or upward. It was better to remain still, to stay put, for that is where she is, and she has always been there. No need to move because she is where she is for me and everyone else. "Stay where you are. I am here always," she said.

    It was given in this image that she supports the young and old, poor and rich, sick and well, deformed and beautiful, sinner and saint – that no one was too sinful or decrepit, too corrupt or too lame. She was equally there to sustain any one, and did. She was not old or young, and I would not characterize her as beautiful or ugly.

    After a while I realized that she was no earth-goddess, nor of particular importance to me as a woman, yet of great importance as a human being. She was MA -- what is that? So my search for the Golden Lady MA has continued off and on whenever I had a few minutes to search, through some serious storms on my side of the universe, no matter what.
     
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  3. spnadmin

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    The first place where I found concepts that helped me understand who this Golden Lady might be was in an article about Sufism. Among some Sufis the mystic quest is personified as a woman. Here I found that Laila who is night and Haqiqa who is Divine Reality are one. Together they shape the mystic quest for God.

    She is the holiest and most secret inwardness of Allah

    She is the holiest and most secret inwardness of Allah

    ...
    "Muhammad al-Harraq (d. 1845): "Seekest thou Laila [Divine Reality], when she is manifest within thee? Thou deemest her to be other, but she is not other than thou." Jalal al-Din Rumi (d.1273): "Though the many ways [diverse religions] are various, the goal is one. Do you not see there are many roads to the Kaaba?"

    In some Sufi orders the goal of the mystical quest is "personified as a woman, usually named Laila which means `night'... this is the holiest and most secret inwardness of Allah... in this symbolism Laila and haqiqa (Divine Reality) are one." This, and the above statements appear to be distinctly contrary to Muslim orthodoxy in their blatant echoes of Eastern mystic religions. Yet, for Sufis this is not a problem. As Ibn `Arabi stated,

    My heart has become capable of every form: it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christians, and a temple for idols and the pilgrims Ka`ba and the tables of the Torah, and the book of the Koran. I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love's camels take, that is my religion and faith.

    Another Sufi saint, Mahmud Shabistari, in his work Gulshan-i Raz (The Mystic Rose Garden) concurs, declaring, "what is mosque, what is synagogue, what is fire temple? ... `I' and `You' are the Hades veil between them.. When this veil is lifted up from before you, there remains not the bond of sects and creeds."

    ....

    This reminds me a lot of MA for She was equally there to sustain everyone and any one, and did, and had for eternity.
     
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  4. spnadmin

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    From the same web site; "Sufis have always described this theophanic experience as the vision of a woman, the female figure as the object of ru'yah (vision of Allah)."

    She is also the "mysterious angel Razbar (also Ramzbar or Remzebar). The writer, Frédéric Macler, claims that the name Razbar is of Arabic origin and means 'secret of the creator'. The term qiyama literally means, "rising" of the dead, and allegorically, it implies an idea denoting the rising to the next spiritual stage, and qiyamat-i qubra (great resurrection) means an attainment of the highest degree when a man becomes free from the ties of external laws, whom he shackles and transfigures into spiritual substance, which rejoins its divine sources.

    This divine woman is found over and over in religious literature as Wisdom, the Sustaining power of the Divine, and the model of spiritual wisdom which men in particular must find within their hearts. So we are not talking about the "goddess within" that has been so badly pandered in new age literature, but of a construct of perfect poise and compassion that binds a man to his soul.

    At the same web site I found this about The Lady of the Resurrection (Khatun-i Qiyamat), " the helper of human beings."

    "Sufism cherishes the esoteric secret of woman, even though Sufism is the esoteric aspect of a seemingly patriarchal religion. Muslims pray five times a day facing the city of Makkah. Inside every Mosque is a niche, or recess, called the Mihrab - a vertical rectangle curved at the top that points toward the direction of Makkah. The Sufis know the Mihrab to be a visual symbol of an abstract concept: the transcendent vagina of the female aspect of divinity. In Sufism, woman is the ultimate secret, for woman is the soul. Toshihiko Izutsu writes, "The wife of Adam was feminine, but the first soul from which Adam was born was also feminine."

    The Divine Feminine has always been present in Islam. This may be surprising to many people who see Islam as a patriarchal religion. Maybe the reason for this misconception is the very nature of the feminine in Islam. The Divine Feminine in Islam manifests metaphysically and in the inner expression of the religion. The Divine Feminine is not so much a secret within Islam as She is the compassionate Heart of Islam that enables us to know Divinity. Her centrality demonstrates her necessary and life-giving role in Islam.

    Sufism, or as some would define it "mystical Islam" has always honored the Divine Feminine. Of course, Allah has both masculine and feminine qualities, but to the Sufi, Allah has always been the Beloved and the Sufi has always been the Lover. The Qur'an, referring to the final Day, perhaps divulges a portion of this teaching: "And there is manifest to them of God what they had not expected to see."

    Islam is aniconic. In other words, images, effigies, or idols of Allah are not allowed, although verbal depiction abounds. There was a question long debated in Islam: can we see Allah? The Prophet said in a hadith, "In Paradise the faithful will see Allah with the clarity with which you see the moon on the fourteenth night (the full moon)." Theologians debated what this could mean, but the Sufis have held that you can see Allah even in this world, through the "eye of the heart." The famous Sufi martyr al-Hallaj said in a poem, "ra'aytu rabbi bi-`ayni qalbi" (I saw my Lord with the eye of my heart). Relevant to the focus of this paper is that Sufis have always described this theophanic experience as the vision of a woman, the female figure as the object of ru'yah (vision of Allah).

    There was a great Sufi Saint who was born in 1165 C.E. Besides Shi'a Muslims, numberless Sunni Ulemas called him "The Greatest Sheikh" (al- Shaykh al-Akbar).[18] His name was Muyiddin ibn al-`Arabi. He said, "To know woman is to know oneself," and "Whoso knoweth his self, knoweth his Lord." Ibn al-'Arabi wrote a collection of poems entitled The Tarjuman al-ashwaq. These are love poems that he composed after meeting the learned and beautiful Persian woman Nizam in Makkah. The poems are filled with images pointing to the Divine Feminine. His book Fusus al-hikam, in the last chapter, relates that man's supreme witnessing of Allah is in the form of the woman during the act of sexual union. He writes, "The contemplation of Allah in woman is the highest form of contemplation possible: As the Divine Reality is inaccessible in respect of the Essence, and there is contemplation only in a substance, the contemplation of God in women is the most intense and the most perfect; and the union which is the most intense (in the sensible order, which serves as support for this contemplation) is the conjugal act." Allah as the Beloved in Sufi literature, the ma`shuq, is always depicted with female iconography....

    Among the Ghulat there is much respect paid to the Divine Feminine. In the Ghulat group the Ahl-i-Haqq ("the People of Truth"), the Divine Feminine appears as the Khatun-i Qiyamat (Lady of Resurrection) who also is manifested as the mysterious angel Razbar (also Ramzbar or Remzebar). The writer, Frédéric Macler, claims that the name Razbar is of Arabic origin and means "secret of the creator". The term qiyama literally means, "rising" of the dead, and allegorically, it implies an idea denoting the rising to the next spiritual stage, and qiyamat-i qubra (great resurrection) means an attainment of the highest degree when a man becomes free from the ties of external laws, whom he shackles and transfigures into spiritual substance, which rejoins its divine sources. "The King of the World was sitting on the water with His four associate angels (chahar malak-i muqarrab) when they suddenly saw the Pure Substance of Hadrat-i Razbar, the Khatun-i Qiyamat (Lady of the Resurrection). She brought out from the sea a round loaf of bread (kulucha), and offered it to the King of the World. By His order they formed a devotional assembly (jam), distributed the bread, offered prayers and exclaimed `Hu!' Then the earth and the skies became fixed, the skies being that kulucha."

    Another rendition of the emergence of the Lady of the Resurrection is as follows: "After this the Holder of the World and Creator of Man looked upon `Azra'il with the eye of benefaction, and `Azra'il became split into two parts, one exactly like the other, and from between these parts a drop of light emerged in the form of a loaf of kulucha bread. The Creator then said, I appoint that person (surat) who became separated from `Azra'il to be the Lady of the Resurrection (Khatun-i Qiyamat), who will on the Resurrection Day be the helper of human beings."

    Source is
    William Van Doodewaard, Sufism: The Mystical Side of Islam
    (The University of Western Ontario, London, Canada: 1996)
     
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  5. spnadmin

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    In Christianity a view of the divine feminine was recounted by the mystic Thomas Merton. His vision is mirrored by the experience of Sufi al Arabi.


    " In his newly released autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung himself describes a vision in which he was sitting on his porch when a dove descended to his table. This dove became a little girl, who smiled and stayed awhile, quietly playing, and then turned back into a dove and flew away.

    Likewise, modern mystic/monk Thomas Merton, one of whose many books is titled Hagia Sophia (Holy Sophia), "saw" a girl or young woman on two occasions. The first was a dream in February 1958, which he describes as follows: "On the porch at Douglaston I am embraced with determined and virginal passion by a young Jewish girl. She clings to me and will not let me go, and I get to like the idea [Merton was good-humored about his lustful side]. I see that she is a nice kid in a plain, sincere sort of way. I reflect, 'She belongs to the same race as St. Anne.' I ask her name and she says her name is Proverb. I tell her that is a beautiful and significant name, but she does not appear to like it -- perhaps the others have mocked her for it." (Interestingly, the Book of Proverbs, and especially Chapter Eight, is one of the places in which Wisdom is most vividly portrayed in the Bible.) Merton's second experience followed within a month, on March 18, 1958, when he had a waking vision that was to affect him for years. He was outside his monastery for the first time in many years, standing at the corner of Fourth and Walnut Streets in Louisville, KY. He had been thinking of "the Annunciation, of the Incarnation, of Sophia, and of the so far largely imaginary Proverb," when he experienced a sense of intense love for, and lack of separation from, all the "strangers" milling around on that street corner. In his journal entry the next day (March 19) he addresses Proverb, whom he felt he had mystically encountered at that street corner the day before: ". . . I knew that when I saw you again it would be very different, in a different place, different in form, and in the most unexpected circumstances. I shall never forget our meeting yesterday. The touch of your hand makes me a different person. To be with you is rest and Truth. Only with you are these things found, dear child, sent to me by God!" After this experience, Merton also wrote of it that "It cannot be explained. There is no way to tell people that they are all walking around shining like the sun." Finally, though he doesn't elaborate on this statement, Merton insists that Vladimir Soloviev once saw some kind of personification of Holy Wisdom in Egypt. (Restricted Journals)

    In 1201, Moslem Sufi poet/mystic Ibn al-Arabi, while circumambulating the Kabah, saw a young girl he called Nizam. According to Karen Armstrong, author of the book A History of God, al-Arabi was "surrounded by a heavenly aura, and he realized that she was an incarnation of Sophia, the divine Wisdom." Armstrong says that al-Arabi's epiphany made him realize that "it would be impossible for us to love God if we relied only on the rational arguments of philosophy." The creative imagination al-Arabi employed in composing love poems to Nizam "transformed [her] into an avatar of God" (pp. 234-235)."

    Source: SEEING SOPHIA: AN ARCHETYPAL DREAM
    SEEING SOPHIA: AN ARCHETYPAL DREAM
    by Lynea Search

    The nature of the Golden Lady: Wisdom, Sophia, Lady of the Resurrection, Laila, Haqiqa.
     
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  6. spnadmin

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    MA is a syllable within the 10-fold Kalicakra monogram which occupies the center of the Circle of Bliss mandala in Tibetan Buddhism. There are 10 bijas or syllables within the monogram, and MA lies in the center. Within the monogram the syllables are stacked one on top of the other.
    [​IMG]


    And this is MA

    [​IMG]

    Within Tantric Buddhism, the monogram itself pertains both to the energy rising through chakras, but also to the path of enlightenment. MA takes her place as follows:

    When MA faces the outer physical world, she represents the realm of desire. When she faces inward MA represents the spine and the body, the channel that facilitates the flow of the 5 elements, making her an integrating presence. She represents the purity of Mt. Meru, a mythical place considered to be the center of all creation. MA is also known as the garland of light, and she encloses the 5 elements as with 5 walls. She contains the 5 elements and possesses the 6th element, awareness. Thus MA embraces all classes of awareness, she embraces everything with her awareness, her buddh.

    In Tibetan Buddhism MA is depicted in the union of Kalachakra and Vishvamata - or the Father Mother Union.


    • Kalachakra is the Wheel of Time.
    • "Time" is relative and refers to compassion,
    • "Wheel" is an absolute and refers to wisdom and the realization of the emptiness of form.
    • Vishvamata is the World Mother.
    • Fused together, they symbolize enlightenment.


    [​IMG]


    MA shows her wisdom in her patience and her compassion.
     
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  7. Archived_member7

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    i have been to Ladakh last year and have seen those paintings depicting Kalachakra...its a deep philosophy..indeed..perhaps answers to the question about the creation of the world ..some years back i had taken interest in Tantra philosophy ..gradually i realised i was getting lost in mysticism...i perhaps couldnt digest it ..or maybe was not made for it ...
     
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  8. spnadmin

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    raj khalsa ji

    Thanks for recognizing that we have "tantric" philosophy at work and we are not talking about "sex" but mystical union. Let's see where the thread goes. It would be great if you would talk about those temples and what you learned, because I have some information, but none of the first-hand energy that you can supply. :)
     
  9. Archived_member7

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    i will try posting the pics of the temples i visited ..you will find it strange ..but thee wasnt anyone with whom i could talk abt it ...the Lamas are somewhat moody...they are nice ..but may not have wanted to share their knowledge with me ...me and my wife would ask them...what does a thangka or a painting depict ..there were usual answers like ..ohh thats buddhism... or ..its all abt the Buddha's life...

    Take my word Aad ji ..once in your life time ..make it a point to visit Ladakh...a lot will remain unanswered how ever ..the peace ..the serenity of that place is amazing ..i dint want to come back :8-:)
     
  10. spnadmin

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    Thanks rajkhalsa ji

    For some reason the Thanks button is missing from this and a few other threads.
     
  11. Archived_member7

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    yea a lot buttons are missing..the avtar, the online/offline ...so much i was abt to pm you...i have certain books back home in mumbai ...lets see if i am able to get them...in case i do ...i would carry them..i m coming to the states probably in a week or 2
     
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  12. spnadmin

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    Thanks button back and I will check the rest.
     

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