Monday 11 February 2013

Integration through uniting masculine and feminine within

I just finished reading the currently popular book - "The Secret of Nagas" by Amish.  In the book a Pandit explains to lord Shiva that (when distilled) there are only two ways in which human beings live -- the masculine and the feminine.  –He further adds, "The masculine way of life is 'life by laws' and ...the feminine way of life is 'life by probabilities'...".  While this is true at individual level it also applies to collectives -- a masculine or feminine organization, a masculine or feminine country! (quoting Amish from an interview, China is a masculine society while India is a feminine one.)  Today, my musing is around masculine and feminine aspects within each one of us.

A question relevant to all of us is - am I aware of my masculine and feminine aspects?  For, such awareness is the first step to developing a consciousness that helps me to be the true self; a self who's deeply satisfied.  In my case, over the years the discovery of this dichotomy within has been an important pivot around which the confidence, comfort, and contentment has grown.  


Although now I believe that 'gender' is a  socially constructed phenomenon (diagram above is an example of such a social construct) and not a biological-sex determined nature.   My  growing up years were dominated by my recognition, obsession and devotion to masculinity (read - male ego, for, that was my understanding of masculine).    Robert Bly beautifully explains how our suppressed side takes the shape of a shadow.  He describes how the 360-degree personality of a two-year old child that radiated energy from body and psyche alike, gets gradually corrupted.  To begin with, parents don't like certain parts of this ball of energy followed by teachers and others compelling the child to keep packing parts of her true-self into a bag.  By the time a child turns twenty (s)he is reduced to a thin slice of original energy with a big heavy bag, that is almost incapacitating.  Many of us keep on loading into this personal bag the dos-n-don’ts dictated by community, religion, race, nation, profession et al.  Even when one gets married (i.e. two thin slices come together), instead of slice of energy getting thicker, often the bag becomes heavier.

Much later in life some of us start unpacking this bag and start recognizing the parts of original self.  Few of us also muster courage and emotional fortitude required to off-load the contents of bag, making it lighter.  Into my thirties, I begun to recognize the under-acknowledged and often suppressed sensitive-self.  I have been fortunate to have had opportunities to uncover some of the lost parts of me and I owe gratitude to my children, mentors, and a few colleagues & friends. I haven't reached the state of 360-degree energy-ball and perhaps never will; however, the consciousness has brought a lot of ease and hopefully the bag is lighter today. 

A significant part of shedding the weight of the bag is embracing oneself as completely as one can.  And that entails Integrating the two (the masculine and feminine); it not only helps in  embracing one's shadow but also provides one with a more comprehensive range of emotions, dispensations and behaviours.  While no two of us are alike, the journey involving the integration of masculine and feminine has proved to be rewarding for all those who have invested in this quest.  

This is not a new knowledge.  From time immemorial people have known this.  A composite androgynous form of the Hindu god Shiva viz. अर्धनारीश्वर (Ardhanarishvar) symbolized inseparability of male and female principles and represented synthesis of पुरुष and प्रकृति (masculine and feminine).   Several decades ago Carl Jung's contribution to the field of  psychology included the concept of Anima & Animus*. Those of us wanting to develop along the self-actualization continuum will find it useful to refer to Maslow's reference to dichotomy-transcendence as an important step in that direction.  Today there are a large number of blogs, articles, books and films that convincingly demonstrate that there's no one right way of being a man or a woman. 

To be a whole being, the integration within is a must.  Mary Esther Harding said, "If any human being is to reach full maturity both the masculine and feminine sides of the personality must be brought up into consciousness."  Such an integration can bring life-giving development and make one a creative & generative being.  On the other hand,continuing to hold the polarized view and a strong identification with one polarity leads to superficial relationships, lack of joy, and disenchantment with life.  

As one begins the journey of uniting the masculine and the feminine within, one begins to cultivate the co-existence of - love with logic, discipline with patience, emotion with rationale, gentleness with stability, flow with focus etc. in combinations of traits which hitherto appeared contradictory, thus becoming a generative being capable of steering life (not just own) with ease.

How does one achieve Integration?  To transcend the dichotomy one has  lived all through their life, it is important to

  • Accept the inimitable self
  • Become awareness of the components of one's uniqueness
  • Recognize that the differences represent possibilities and they are not the  contradictions
  • Resolve the internal dilemmas through embracing the  complementary aspects 

 Thank you for joining me on this blog.  Look forward to hearing your views and experiences.

* Anima - the feminine image in a man's psyche; Animus - the masculine image in a woman's psyche


  1. Harish!

    Good article. The whole thing is about duality - feminine /masculine, good/bad, yin/yang etc and the journey of self to reach happiness and be "one with nature" . And this is by desolving (sic) the duality - getting to "ekathwam". Bhagawadgita tells us this is when the person becomes a "chitaspragynudu" . Before that final state of bliss is reached, those who can appreciate both (to some extent) are better off then others (I think!)


    1. Thank you Mouli for your response and bringing in the concept of "ekathwam"

  2. Wonderful thoughts and very well articulated.. enjoyed reading it... This topic is close to me and this article came as refresher for all that I have been assimilating over time. In the journey of striking an equilibrium between the feminine and masculine I realized that Masculine is "The Art of Separation" as it is the left brain process and deals with Logic & Language, Clarity & Distinction, Thinking and Deciding and all processes related to our conscious self. On the other hand Feminine is the "The Art of Union" as it is the right brain process and deals with Creativity & Intuition, Comprehension Synthesis, Feelings, Relationship & Connection and all processes related to our unconscious self.Separation without union would lead me to alienation and loneliness and Union without separation would lead me to addiction and co-dependency.The challenge is in striking the balance and enjoying the equilibrium which creates Love. I review myself as a deep Feminine with few traits of a shallow Masculine. I am enjoying this journey of integration.

    1. Thanks Nikita for sharing... indeed very well put these as arts of "Separation" and "Union"; I loved reading about 'alienation & separtion' or 'addiction & dependency' being the outcome of cultivating only one of the two

  3. Harish, i connected very well with the description of a child full of energy and how that energy gets corrupted by the energy of people around them. I looked at my journey as an individual & see the truth in there & more importantly it made me aware of what i might be doing to my child's energy. thanks so much, as always!