originally printed in the Huffington Post
Why It Is Wise to Worship a Woman
A few days ago, after a particularly exquisite evening with my wife Chameli, I put this post up on Facebook before going to bed:
“I have had many, many great teachers in my life. A super abundance. No one and nothing comes close to the woman who is now asleep in the bedroom. My marriage has become the guru, the salvation, the muse, the crack through which the divine shines through.”
When I woke up the next morning, there were the usual offerings of people who liked the post as well as comments. One man had the vulnerability and courage to post this on facebook:
“Thank you Arjuna for this sharing, I feel like [I’m] in front of a choice which is between feeling envious of what you have and I don’t, or instead to decide that ‘I want that too,’ and, as you show, it is possible…”
I was touched.
Over the next days, I got several more messages like this from men: vulnerable men, honest men, rare and courageous men. They came in as private messages on Facebook or through our website, and they all said basically the same thing:
“I read your Facebook post. I want what you have. Show me how to get it.”
So, friends, here it is. The short guide on how to worship a woman, and why it’s the wisest thing that a man can do. First of all, lets pop a few very understandable doubts that you might have. I’m familiar with all of them.
1. “I’m wounded and damaged in my relationships to the feminine.”
So am I, dear brother, so am I. My parents divorced in a messy way when I was four. I grew up alone with my mother. She did her very best to provide for me, but she was unhappy and insecure. By the time I started to have relationships with women myself in my early teens, I discovered that I had a mountain of resentments, fears, and separation in my relation to the feminine. The conscious practice of worship can become a part of healing the wounds.
2. “Arjuna, you’re lucky. You’ve got an incredible partner. I’m together with a woman who’s not like Chameli.”
I really don’t have the ultimate answer to that doubt or question. It certainly could seem to be the case that I’ve been lucky in finding a great woman, but here’s how it happened for me. I’ve had a lot of less lucky connections in my life. I’ve experienced my share of the manipulative side of the feminine: the victim, the rageful, the vengeful. And I have seen the ugly side of the masculine psyche in myself. A few weeks prior to meeting Chameli, my wife, something deep and profound shifted in me, which I believe can shift for anyone in the same way.
3. “I don’t have a partner at all, and I sometimes doubt if I’ll ever meet anybody.”
Being with a partner where worship is not flowing, or not being with a partner at all, are basically two aspects of the same situation: you’ve had an intuition or a glimpse of the possibilities of a deeper love, and you want more of it. The solutions are the same.
4. “I feel my heart is closed down. I live in my head a lot, and I wouldn’t even know what worship was if it broke into my house at 2 o’clock in the morning and held me at gunpoint.”
That’s where the whole thing starts for all of us, when we realize that we don’t yet know how to love. And that’s that the big question that you have to consider: “Is that okay with me?” Never mind how much money you make, or how many friends you have on Facebook, no matter how nice a house you live in, or no matter how big a car you drive, no matter how impressive your partner’s bust size, or how much you meditate and become spiritual… have you loved for real, in a total and undefended way? If not, and here’s where you have to be honest with yourself, is that OK with you? Is it OK to die one day without the heart’s gift having been fully given?
Eight or nine years ago, I came to that question in myself, exactly that, and I discovered that the answer was, if I was was raw and vulnerable and uncomplicated, that it was actually not OK. If I died one day without having fully loved, it would not have truly been a life well lived.
Many many years ago, I went to Bali for a vacation, on my own. I met up with some other young travelers there and we hired a Jeep to take us on a tour of the island. We drove up right to the highest point of the island, where Tourists don’t usually go. Our guide took us to one of the most sacred temples. It was surrounded by a big brick wall with an ornate entrance. After removing our shoes and wrapping scarves around our heads, we stepped together through this entrance. Inside, there was a short courtyard and then another brick wall with another entrance. After more preparations of lighting incense and giving offerings, we stepped through the second entrance. We were allowed to go through the opening in one more wall, but that was it. All together there were ten walls around the deity in the middle. Hindus could go beyond the fourth wall. Devotees of that particular deity could go beyond the fifth wall, and so it went on. The only people allowed to approach the deity directly were those who had given their lives completely and totally to its worship. Everyone else could come a little closer, a little closer, to the innermost beauty, but not all the way to the center.
I’m not a big believer of the worship of statues, but there’s a beautiful symbolism to what I saw there, because a woman’s heart is just like that. At the essence of every woman’s heart is the divine feminine. It contains everything that has ever been beautiful, or lovely, or inspiring, in any woman, anywhere, at any time. The very essence of every woman’s heart is the peak of wisdom, the peak of inspiration, the peak of sexual desirability, the peak of soothing, healing love. The peak of everything. But it’s protected, for good reason, by a series of concentric walls. To move inwardly from one wall to the next requires that you intensify your capacity to devotion, and as you do so, you are rewarded with Grace. This is not something you can negotiate verbally with a woman. She doesn’t even know consciously how to open those gates herself. They are opened magically and invisibly by the keys of worship.
If you stand on the outside of the outermost wall, all you have available to you, like many other unfortunate men, is pornography. For $1.99 a minute, you can see her breasts, maybe her vagina, and you can stimulate yourself in a sad longing for deeper love.
Step through another gate, and she will show you her outer gift-wrapping. She’ll look at you with a certain twinkle in her eye. She’ll answer your questions coyly. She’ll give you just the faintest hint that there is more available.
Step through another gate with your commitment, with your attention, with the small seedlings of devotion, and she’ll open her heart to you more. She’ll share with you her insecurities, the way that she’s been hurt, her deepest longings. Some men will back away at this point. They realize that the price they must pay to go deeper is more than they are willing to give. They start to feel a responsibility. But for those few who step though another gate, they come to discover her loyalty, her willingness to stick with you no matter what, her willingness to raise your children, stick up for you in conversation, and, if you are lucky, even pick up your dirty socks now and then. And so it goes on. You’ve got the gist by now.
Somewhere around the second wall from the center, she casts the veils of her personality aside, and shows you that she is both a human being and also a portal into something much greater than that. She shows you a wrath that is not hers, but all women’s. She shows you a patience that is also universal. She shows you her wisdom. At this point you start to experience the archetypes of women, who have been portrayed as goddesses and mythological figures in every tradition.
Then, at the very center, in the innermost temple itself, all the layers of your devotion are flooded with reward all at once. You discover the very essence of the feminine, and in a strange way that is not exactly romantic, but profoundly sacred all the same, you realize that you could have got here with any woman if you had just been willing to pass through all the layers of initiation. Any woman is every woman, and every woman is any woman at the same time. When you love a woman completely, at the very essence of her being, this is the one divine feminine flame. It is what has made every woman in history beautiful. It’s the flame behind the Mona Lisa, and Dante’s Beatrice, and yes, also Penelope Cruz and Heidi Klum. You discover the magic ingredient which has lead every man to fall in love with a woman.
When you learn how to pay attention to the essence of the feminine in this way, you fall to the floor in full body prostration, tears soaking your cheeks and clothes, and you wonder how you could have ever taken Her, in all of Her forms, for granted even for a second.
So just a couple small questions remain. First, do you get what I’m talking about? Does it jive for you? Does it make sense? And second, if yes, how are you going to get from where you are now to being able to the full capacity of your heart to love for real? I’d be glad to share more about this if we get to know each other better, but here’s how you get started.
First, do what I did, and create an altar in your room dedicated to Divine Feminine. Put only symbols of the feminine on it. I have a painting called “Beatrix” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti. I have a statue of Quan Kin. Populate your altar with anything that reminds you of the feminine, and spend a few minutes of the day in worship. Yes, worship. Adoration. Devotion. Offer up rose petals. Offer poems. Offer everything, and beg Her to reveal Her innermost essence to you. This will work miracles whether you’re single and waiting to meet the right woman or whether you’re already in relationship and long to meet your woman in a deeper way.
The second way to get started: make a practice, a discipline, of telling your woman, or any woman, ten times a day something which you adore about her. “I love the smell of your shampoo.” “I love the way you laugh.” “The color of your eyes is so beautiful.” Of course, you need to keep it appropriate. You can go as far out on a limb as you like if you’re in relationship with a woman, but with anyone else remember the gates. Keep you communication appropriate to the gate number that you find yourself at. Appreciation the curve of a woman’s breast, for example, if she happens to be the cashier at the supermarket, would equate more to harassment than worship.
So here’s enough to get started. Of course, there’s a lot more we can say about this. Feel free to post your comments below, and I’ll use them as the foundation for future blogs.