Modern society seems to have got itself into a place of utter confusion about gender identity – and this will likely not clear until the fundamental flaw in the culturally dominant scientific material paradigm is corrected. This flaw, from which so many failures of understanding stem, is that we live in a physical universe, in which our inner experience is regarded as secondary, a product of the outer. The inner self is not given equality with the outer being, science has not given anything like as much energy to exploring subjective experience as it has objective. Luckily, for thousands of years, pioneering mystics and spiritual seekers have, so there are other ways of understanding our lives, if we choose to engage them.
In a materialist paradigm, we are each given a gender label at birth, and are expected to experience life as that gender, completely overlooking profound wisdom about human nature gained over millennia: this wisdom teaches us that on the inside, in our hearts, minds and spirits, we are all a combination of male AND female.
Science is gradually finding its own way to this truth, however reluctantly…
On the BIGTHINK website Paul Ratner reports on scientists using Virtual Reality to give people an experience of being in the body of another gender. He asks:
“Is associating with a certain gender more of a flexible sense than hardwired biological fact? A new study shows that people who were put under the illusion of having an opposite-sex body developed a more equal understanding, with fewer stereotypes, of both male and female aspects.
“In their paper, the scientists defined gender identity as “a collection of thoughts and feelings about one’s own gender, which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned at birth.” To probe this, they designed three experiments using virtual reality that allowed people to experience what it’s like to have a body they weren’t born with.”
The results led the scientists to conclude: “The fluidity of gender identity that we report here extends previous knowledge by demonstrating that the link between own body perception and the sense of own gender is dynamic, robust, and direct.”
The above article reports that
“Current gender theories, as outlined in the study, have moved away from positioning gender identity as a strict “male-female dichotomy.” Instead, the scientists say, the prevailing view is that gender is derived individually from a variety of associations with both genders, as well as from personal genetics, hormones, patterns of behavior and social life. There is also the understanding that the sense of your own gender is determined by your beliefs about males and females overall.”
This is at least a positive development, but note that the inner experience is still not given the level of respect it really deserves. Spiritual teachers have long pointed out that reality starts in the mind, that our beliefs create our life experiences. By ignoring this, modern science, either by design or default, is keeping us all dumbed down – left ignorant, being told what is what by our clever masters, which has led society into the nightmare phenomenon known as ‘Gender Wars’, where outspoken Trans activists and Radical Trans Exclusionary Feminists fight it out, generating headlines and media debate that fuel more division and confusion.
The dictates about how things are and should be from materialist viewpoints is no different to the religious dominance that science is supposed to have liberated us from. By default, and we presume not by design, science is actually using the metaphysical principle that Mind creates to convince everyone to believe we are just atoms randomly colliding in a meaningless, disconnected universe – if that is what you believe, it is how you will experience your life – the result is an increasingly divided, soulless world in which we are simply workers and consumers. Mystics know that there is much more to our presence here on the Earth, and they have long been trying to tell us to wake up and see through the lies imposed on society by people in power.
In mystical circles it has also long been taught that the soul is both male and female. For many centuries this knowledge had to be kept hidden, taught in secret in mystery schools only to initiates, because the Church would not tolerate such a view. The Holy Bible is actually a set of books written and chosen to firmly underpin the patriarchal system that developed to dominate the planet in the past few thousand years, following millennia when the feminine was at the centre of life in matrifocal cultures where God was worshipped in female forms, predominantly by female or gay/transgender priests.
In the Bible the prohibition on cross-dressing is clear –
“A woman shall not be clothed with man’s apparel, neither shall a man use woman’ s apparel: for he that doeth these things is abominable before God.” (Deuteronomy 22:5)
Note the abomination word which also gets applied in the Old Testament to same sex relations – the original Aramaic word that is so translated was in fact a reference to ritual practices of non-Hebrew peoples. Indeed, cross-dressing and same sex-loving priests/priestesses serving the Goddess in ways that united the sensual and the spiritual, the erotic and the ecstatic, were the norm in ancient times among the tribal peoples in Europe and the Middle East through to India and beyond, and that is really why the Hebrews, and later the Christians, took so against trans and gay people. The Church wished to control people’s minds and sex lives (making reproduction the only reason for having sex was in order to give birth to more Christians, as well as to control leisure activities so that people would be more available for work, and wars).
Much of the mystical knowledge taught in the mystery schools of the ancient world and in the secret societies of medieval and early modern Europe had its source in Egyptian magical teachings. The Emerald Tablet of Thoth is believed by some to be thousands of years old – from it were derived the 7 Hermetic Principles, number 7 of which is the Principle of Gender. This teaches that everything contains both masculine and feminine energy, everything has in it both yin and yang:
The Hermetic Principle teaches that on the physical plane each person has a male or female physical body, however on the spirit and mind planes each person is androgynous with male and female qualities.
It is from this principle that our discussions around gender should begin.
Judith Butler in Gender Trouble: ‘‘In as much as ‘identity’ is assured through the stabilizing concepts of sex, gender, and sexuality, the very notion of the ‘person’ is called into question by the cultural emergence of those ‘incoherent’ or ‘discontinuous’ gendered beings who appear to be persons but who fail to conform to the gendered norms of cultural intelligibility by which persons are defined’’
“Mythological images imply that holiness is hermaphroditic, for it holiness is wholeness the complete human being is at once male and female – the man who has developed his feminine aspect, and the woman her masculine. In Buddhist icongraphy, therefore, the Bodhisvatta is very frequently a hermaphrodite… the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, who, though masculine in name, is always feminine or near-feminine in form, especially in the Far East, where he appears as Kwan-yin, or Kannon – the ‘goddess’ of mercy…. it is not uncommon to find ardhanari or ‘half-woman’ images of Shiva, in which the body is female on the left and male on the right.”Alan Watts, The Two Hands of God
In Buddhism, anatta is the teaching of no self: it states that nothing conditional can be pointed to as being who or what you are. It accepts that no aspect of being can be identified with in any kind of continuous, independent sense, so gender itself is a veil through which our deeper nature manifests.
Hindu sages have long taught that the soul is genderless, but everything in creation results from the interplay of masculine and feminine energies, and everything is in fact birthed by shakti, the feminine power of the universe, including gender itself. Hinduism views the mind and body as the energy of Prakriti, the female spirit, and the soul as Purusha, the male aspect. Deep inside, we are all seen to be the same indivisible, indistinguishable, imperishable and eternal Brahman, who is extolled in the Vedas as the One without a second. Hindu teachings recognise that gender is not permanent, that we all incarnate over time as male, female or transgender due to karmic and cosmic reasons.
Institutional Christianity has been the most effective totalitarian mind control system ever invented. It has poisoned human minds, setting barriers on sexual and gender expression, turning the body into something evil, along with women and queers, the people most attuned to the sacredness of the flesh and of sensual connection. It did not have to be this way. From the 1st century through to the late Middle Ages there were rival Christian movements that considered personal spiritual revelation more than important than orthodox dogmas. They tended to accepted forms of sexuality, gave power to women as well as men and resisted the authoritarianism of the established Church. Some of these became so powerful – such as the Cathars – that the Church, in league with the political state, sent armies to crush them and their free spirited beliefs.
One way to ensure their faithful followers approved of the actions against the heretics was to focus on their approval of homosexual acts. So associated were gay sex and heresy that slang words for queer derive from their names – Ketzer in German after the Cathars and Bugger in English from the Bulgarian Bogomil sect that spread across Europe in the 12th and 13th centuries. In fact the first use of buggery in English in 1330 was a reference to ‘abominable heresy’ and it was only from the 16th century references to it start to relate simply to sexual activity.
In fact the very basis of Christian prejudice is blown away by a correct reading of the line in the first book of the Old Testament that tells us that God created humans ‘male and female in his image’ – this is generally taken to mean two separate sexes, whereas it is actually a reference of the Principle of Gender, that all things contain both male and female energy, that is how creation works. If this is grasped, the idea on which Christian discrimination against trans people is based is immediately washed away. In the ancient pre-Christian world trans people were considered to be closer to god and therefore often served in temples.
Science has tried to make Creation fit into neat, tidy, boundaried boxes. But life is more fluid and flexible than that. Science seeks understanding by examination of the material. Spirituality, which is way, way older than science, teaches us how to examine the immaterial, for that is where life begins. Resulting from the mix of religious and scientific prejudice over such a long time, there is now a ‘war’ underway over gender definition, but this war is a false war, keeping firmly in place the paradigm of separation and division, whereas the explosion in trans exposure, confidence and awareness happening in the world is really a sign that we as a species are ready to move on, to grow in understanding, as well as in acceptance and celebration of the magnificent diversity of the human race.
Things will change when we each grasp and the world accepts the Hermetic Principle – that on the physical plane each person has a male or female physical body, however on the spirit and mind planes each person is androgynous with male and female qualities.
It is from this principle that our discussions around gender should begin.