What follows is the first of a two part series of excerpts from my address at the Parliament of World Religions in Toronto, Canada last month . Alongside other esteemed women on the panel, we explored some of the great contributions of women spiritual leaders, teachers and saints within Buddhism, Christianity, and Hinduism.
November 3, 2018
Here we are in Autumn. Darker nights of the season, darker nights in our world. Society can cause us to reach toward the light within ourselves to act for peace, understanding, justice within ourselves, in our communities, and as global citizens. Light shines most brilliantly in darkness. In this way, darkness becomes almost a servant of the light, by fueling its brightness. In times like these, we are tasked to fill ourselves with light. When we are filled with light, then no darkness can touch us.
Seeing the light, the soul in all living beings — the earth, the animals, people of every color and nationality– connect us all as a beloved community, as we all come from the same divine Source, that is God; Who in the Bhakti tradition we call Krsna.
A number of years ago, at conference I heard a woman speak. She was a Supreme Court Justice from India. She gave a metaphor, which I still find it important today. “In India, traditionally families lived in a joint house, as in Spain or some other Islamic countries. A large joint family home has a courtyard in the center, and all rooms of house face in toward the courtyard. In contrast, facing out on the perimeter of house is the veranda. Sometimes there would be a fountain in the middle of the courtyard representing the fountain of life. The women of the family would be in the courtyard, building a beloved community, solving internal issues, healing illnesses with traditional herbal remedies, cooking together, and BONDING.
BINDING up the problems that confront family, caring for worship in the home…facing INWARD. The men would be out on the veranda talking about finance, politics, business, worldly things, facing OUTWARD.
These days we have a different way of being in the world. Today women hold positions of leadership in the top rungs of business, politics, medicine, science. It’s a different way of being in the world. But there’s a certain quality to a woman’s heart…
I like the metaphor of facing OUT to the world but simultaneously being INFORMED by facing IN. Facing IN to see and heal the wounds in family, in community, facing IN to truly see and hear.
In a holistic and visionary way, what are the deepest needs and hungers of family, of community, of society, of the world? We know when women’s voices are silenced a door opens for children and women themselves to become abused. We know conversely, what happens when women are empowered often in simple villages the men can be irresponsible, often have problems with drinking, etc. But when money is given to a woman she will feed her children, she will invest in them, in farming, and in creating a foundation for her family often more than a man.
Now in tiny villages, there is micro-financing and so many other initiatives where women are feeling empowered to lead to lead by facing OUT to see what are the needs of the future, while facing IN to see what will practically benefit in visionary and holistic ways, their families, children, and community. What are these INTERNAL ideals that will inform our world beginning now?