Let us set our stage with this statement from the Dalai Lama: The world will be saved by the Western woman. His comment stirred up a great deal of discussion and some controversy, yet it highlights an essential issue of our times. The statement also mirrors the sentiment of this book, and it points to why it is important that women take the journey of enlightenment.
Throughout the ages there have been individuals who sought enlightenment, spiritual illumination. We tend to think of this as solely an individual matter; although, when individuals reach this holy state, they often become illuminators and benefactors for an entire society. Think of Buddha, Jesus, Lao-Tsu, Shankara, and countless other luminous or nameless sages who preceded or followed them, and the lasting impact these individuals had on the world around them. Today, many people are seeking enlightenment. While they may benefit personally from their quests, humanity at large is in even more need of such awakened wisdom. We need the guidance of awakened beings, especially awakened women, to chart our course into the future.
“Namaste,” the Hindu greeting and farewell, translates into something like, “The god in me recognizes the god in you.” It comes from the philosophy that we all have within us a spark of divinity. It honors that we are not mere personalities facing each other, but that each of us has a deeper soul nature that beholds and embraces the other.
I’d like to start by thanking you for having the curiosity and interest to begin this book. I welcome you not from personality to personality or as stranger to stranger, but as two Divine Souls who have always known and loved each other through time and space. I recognize you, whatever your worldly accomplishments and attributes or lack thereof, as the Divine Being, the Goddess. My soul has been longing for you forever. I have yearned to communicate with the person you have become in this birth, to beckon her to her true home and identity as the Goddess. Welcome, Dear One.
This is a book about spiritual awakening, specifically about women’s spiritual awakening, an enlightenment that can be realized in the midst of ordinary life. I am a teacher of spiritual awakening, and this book is your invitation to take the journey of enlightenment. It has been my great privilege to welcome women to my spiritual path, to receive them as the Goddess who abides within, and to nourish that Divine spark to its fullness of expression. I offer this as one who has come to know his own inner Divinity and lives as an expression of that Oneness. More than 20 years ago, I left a career in top-level business management to enter the spiritual life, and since then that calling has never left me. After many years of intense spiritual development, I began to teach others, and in the spirit of that teaching, I offer this very personal book to you. In the chapter “Embrace Your Feminine” I’ll say more about how I came to this calling.
People conduct their lives by presenting to the world around them a personality that they have constructed for “public display,” and their primary objective with others is to have this character be accepted and respected. In focusing on this effort, however, it is easy to forget that we are the authors, the creators of this character. And the imaginative, creative person who is thenceforth unacknowledged in the story can often feel unseen and lonely, regardless of the world’s response to the invented character.
Not only that, but in living this charade, the deeper levels of your being, whether you are aware of them or not, can also be hidden from you. You are more than the personality you have created. The many levels of your being include:
- Acted character (the personality you present)
- Ego (the creator, presenter, and arbiter of that presentation)
- Authentic individual (you as this alive, natural being behind the mask of ego)
- True self (your fundamental soul nature)
- Godhead (you as Goddess)
Conventional life is lived almost entirely at the first two levels, with only occasional glimpses into the authentic self. Psychology also deals with the first and second levels, and sometimes the third. The two deepest levels (true self and Godhead) are almost completely hidden from us, and our culture and society discourage exploration into these depths. Interest in the topic of spirituality can take place at the first two levels, and many people’s lives are improved by such inquiries. But it is in the serious pursuit of spiritual awakening—enlightenment—that the dive into our deepest source levels can occur. These are the realms of the Divine.
My gift is to see beyond the character you present, to recognize and honor these deeper levels, and welcome you as all of them. The intention of my work is to open you to your depths—which are already present, though hidden—and encourage their expression. This is the job of the spiritual teacher.
I teach, I guide, I lead, but mostly I listen with an open heart. Whatever skills I possess are not the key, however. The vital core that enables everything is that you are seen by me and are beloved to me. And it is in this state of brotherly love that I offer this book.
Woman, Goddess & Savior is a guide to your deeper regions. Though your journey will be unique, there is a general territory that can be described and offered as guidance for your personal quest. Think of this book, then, as first a tour guide to the land of spiritual fulfillment and second, as an invitation to discover your specific role in joining with other awakened women to steward humanity through its next stage of evolution. You can become one of the midwives who are helping to birth a new species of human.
In many technologically advanced societies, traditional religious affiliation is stagnant or declining while participation in spiritual education is flourishing. Many millions of people in these countries participate in some form of spiritual upliftment. Some may not even know that what they are doing can be considered spiritual, such as yoga or meditation, but others are quite conscious of their spiritual curiosity, interest, or hunger. There is a thriving market for spiritual books and digital media spanning a wide range of perspectives and topics. Many people participate in spiritual workshops and retreats or attend lectures. And the majority of people who participate in these kinds of spiritual activities are women.
Just as there are many people who attend religious services but few who live in monasteries or ashrams, so too are there few people dedicated to the serious work of spiritual awakening. Many people say they are “spiritual,” but what they usually mean is that they want a little spiritual peace, love, and comfort in their lives. Few are committed to spiritual development to the point that they are willing to alter their lives significantly in order to pursue more profound spiritual work.
In my teaching, I do not ask people to give up their lives, but, like any spiritual teacher, I prefer to work with people who are committed to their full spiritual evolution. For the women I guide, their desire for spiritual awakening is a passion, not a hobby or mere interest. They have an undeniable hunger or calling for enlightenment. Ordinary life is not fully satisfying; they know there is more to living, and they want it. It is their passion that I serve.
However, the students I teach lead typical lives. They are women of all ages, family situations, and career paths. What they have in common is a very full life. Almost none would be able to leave their life situation behind and enter into full-time spiritual work at some remote seminary, ashram or monastery. So the spiritual practices I teach are designed to be used in the midst of ordinary, modern lives, as you will learn in this book. Today, one need not abandon normal family living in order to become enlightened.
What does it mean to be enlightened? Enlightenment entails a radical change in identity and relatedness. It means you have reached your full evolution as a human; it means god-realization; it means transcending your limited ego identity to experience oneness with existence.
Philosophers, mystics, and spiritual masters throughout the ages have said that this journey of awakening is the greatest adventure an individual can undertake and the greatest service a person can offer to her fellow humans. The journey is our birthright for being born human. I hope that reading this book will inspire you to take this journey, leading with your heart and your hope for humanity, propelled by the hunger for your own self-realization.
In Part I, we will briefly consider whether someone should embark on this journey at all. In Part II we take a fuller look at what spiritual awakening actually means, and I describe how the path that I teach goes about the process of awakening for women. Part III discusses why it is vitally important for humanity that more women awaken to their true spiritual depth and bring their holy love and wisdom to the myriad problems facing humanity.
You’ve probably read quotes by Gandhi and others similar to this one from Sri Chinmoy: Do you want to change the world? Then change yourself first.
I would paraphrase it thusly: “First, change your Self to be the world.” So, with that as our guide, we will begin with you.