The following is a chapter from my book ‘Parables For The New Conversation.’ One chapter will be published every Sunday for 36 weeks here on Collective Evolution. (I would recommend you start with Chapter 1 if you haven’t already read it.) I hope my words are a source of enjoyment and inspiration for you, the reader. If perchance you would like to purchase a signed paperback copy of the book, you can do so on my production company website Pandora’s Box Office.
From the back cover: “Imagine a conversation that centers around possibility—the possibility that we can be more accepting of our own judgments, that we can find unity through our diversity, that we can shed the light of our love on the things we fear most. Imagine a conversation where our greatest polarities are coming together, a meeting place of East and West, of spirituality and materialism, of religion and science, where the stage is being set for a collective leap in consciousness more magnificent than any we have known in our history.
Now imagine that this conversation honors your uniqueness and frees you to speak from your heart, helping you to navigate your way more deliberately along your distinct path. Imagine that this conversation puts you squarely into the seat of creator—of your fortunes, your relationships, your life—thereby putting the fulfillment of your deepest personal desires well within your grasp.
‘Parables for the New Conversation’ is a spellbinding odyssey through metaphor and prose, personal sagas and historic events, where together author and reader explore the proposal that at its most profound level, life is about learning to consciously manifest the experiences we desire–and thus having fun. The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.”
12. The King
On a little hill on the outskirts of the village on the island of Allandon the children were playing ‘King of the Hill,’ a game in which the last one standing at the top of the hill would be able to proclaim a royal decree that all the other children would have to obey. The game would often bring on bloody noses and bruised muscles since every child wanted desperately to end up on top. On this particular day, however, for the first time that anyone could remember, a clever little girl was the last one standing and was made king. And so they began the traditional ceremony to announce the royal decree.
“Long live the king,” said the children in unison from the bottom of the hill.
“I am your king. And you will obey my command,” the little girl said.
“How may we serve you?” the children asked.
“I ask only one thing. That from this day forward, rather than the people serving the king, the king will serve the people.”
The children were confused.
“Can she do that?” said one boy to another.
“I guess so. She’s the king,” said the other.
“Please be silent,” the girl said. “It is time to think about what you desire most. How may I serve you?”
From that day forward the game changed. Although becoming king was as revered as ever, the children no longer fought so hard with each other for the honor.
Of the dualities present in human life, one of the most prevalent in our day-to-day experience is that of male and female. It is virtually impossible to ignore, and even in the name of equality it makes no sense to pretend it isn’t there. Indeed, the suggestion that women and men come from different planets seems to be helpful in our endeavor to explore our unique qualities and accept our differences. Many a relationship has been saved or enhanced through the understanding that broadly speaking men and women have different needs and desires, as well as a different way of looking at things.
However in the larger picture of our social and political order, our recent history shows that we have used these differences more as a way to divide us than unite us. Western society leans more heavily on the side of the male perspective, and as a result our power structures have been dominated by men for most of our known history. Perhaps more significant is the fact that this has long been seen by men and women alike as the natural order of things. But we are starting to see now that this belief is no more than mere convention, a model that has been enforced through physical might to perpetuate itself over time.
The patriarchal model of society favors action over reflection, matter over spirit, and confrontation over conciliation. It is built on the equation of power with control, which has in large part defined the way in which our social, political, and religious structures have been organized. Massive hierarchies with top-down chains of command have predominated, founded on the essential belief that humans must be placed in a regimented environment and need to be compelled to act in the interests of the collective in order for a society to flourish.
Generally speaking, women do not thrive in this form of organization. Historically, whenever a woman of power has appeared on the Western geopolitical landscape, she tended to be as uncomfortable with the hierarchy as the hierarchy was with her. A perfect example is Jeanne D’Arc, a teenage girl who vaulted over the entire male-dominated military establishment to lead her French people to repel English occupation in the early 15th century. It was her intimate connection with divine inspiration that gave her the wisdom and the courage to succeed where her male compatriots had failed. And while the generals may have grudgingly been willing to honor her deeds, there was no place for her in her country’s military establishment. She felt above it all, and rejected any attempts to be assimilated into its ranks. In the end, both sides of the male-dominated war she was engaged in—not only the embattled English but also the victorious French—were complicit in having her tried for heresy and then burned at the stake as a witch. Translation: she could not be controlled by the hierarchy and therefore had to be destroyed by it.
This is not the exception but the rule of the past two thousand years. It is believed that tens of thousands of women have been burned at the stake as witches, essentially because they were exhibiting a greater understanding and connectedness with divinely inspired wisdom than their male counterparts. Supported by the thinly veiled prejudice that men were superior and therefore the authority on such matters, symbolized by the all-powerful one God being male, the unwarranted violence, intimidation, and abuse that has been heaped upon women is perhaps the most relentless mass atrocity that has occurred in the course of our history.
One of the greatest shortcomings of a predominantly male-centered society is that it actually promotes inequality. The whole concept of equality, balance, and cooperation is a feminine attribute. And so in essence a patriarchy will cast women more as rivals than mates, and men will be driven to seize the gifts that women might otherwise want to offer freely. Chastity belts, genital mutilation, black burkas in the searing sun, all are telling signs of men trying to control those things that are most lacking in themselves. Male-centered efforts to suppress the power of the ‘weaker’ sex speaks to a broad if fairly unconscious campaign over the last few millennia to deny feminine influence in our society. And by and large it has been successful, positioning men as the sole rule-makers of the game of life. Men have garnered all the roles of influence: the political leaders and priests, the explorers, the literate and educated thinkers, the scientists, and the scribes and historians, those recounters of the past whose writings were rife with patriarchal undertones that reinforced the myth that men were the superior sex. We are still at the effect of the designation of terms such as ‘man’ and ‘mankind’ to represent all of humanity, as though a woman’s inferiority was so patently obvious as to be seen as a sort of sub-class of man.
In recent years, however, we have started to see through the collective fog that proclaims men superior to women. And the more we penetrate this fiction and see that it has no real foundation, the harder it becomes for us to believe that this mindset endured for so long in our history. It is certainly no coincidence that people have suddenly become captivated by the growing evidence popularized by Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code that Jesus may have had a lover or a wife in Mary Magdalene, and that she was considered an equal to him and held a high degree of honor and status in her society. The significance of this point is not to be understated: it gives us reason to infer that the Biblical portrayal of Mary Magdalene as a prostitute was part of a much larger, almost systematic effort on the part of men to strip away evidence that women ever had any power or influence in the world.
Today we are poised to acknowledge and assimilate what historians of ancient myth and culture have always known: that male domination in the world marks only the recent history of humanity, and that in fact many periods in the Ancient world were matriarchal in nature. In old agrarian cultures, where survival was dependant on the fertility of the Earth, it was natural to see the all-powerful Creator as female, as the provider of life and sustenance for all human beings. If anything, a civilization guided by women would seem more like the natural order of things. A woman’s bodily cycles put her into greater alignment with the grand rhythms of nature, and as her body is the vessel to create another human being, she is more connected to the process of bringing a life into the world.
This is not to say that I think women want to be more important in the world than men, nor does it mean that they are plotting global revenge for all the injustices perpetrated against them. This simply is not the way of women. What it does mean is that the pendulum has begun swinging back to the center, which will not only give women a greater voice but also give men permission to awaken the other side within themselves. This promises to bring more emotion to our thoughts, more art to our sciences, and more heart to our human relations.
While male energy is more of a doing force, female energy is centered more in being. Men and women alike have both male and female energies within them, and it is only when these energies are balanced and working together that we are able to act in a way that makes us feel fulfilled. The shift that is coming in our society is away from commanding and towards being of service. A male-centered perspective views serving and being a servant in a most pejorative fashion. Subservience means disempowerment, servitude implies a lack of will, being a servant is closely associated with being a slave. To desire to serve rather than command is seen as a sign of weakness. The implications of this are clear: a society where everyone has to fight for what they need, where citizens feel alienated from each other and disconnected from the community.
We have to hearken back to less patriarchal societies of the past to see that being of service was once revered as a strength, not simply because it benefited the community at large, but the individual as well. Serving others without expectation of personal gain or reward helped to move individuals away from self-consumed isolation to a feeling of connectedness. When I was in a Yoga Ashram in India, which promotes a balance between male and female influence in daily life, we were asked to practice selfless service, or karma yoga. I noticed that the simple act of serving the morning meal to other yoga practitioners brought me closer to all the people there, towards the blissful feeling of unity that is the goal of yoga. During one of our lectures, the swami was asked about the burden of availing himself in the service of others throughout the day. He responded with a wry smile that he might actually be the most selfish one of all, since he knew very well from experience that as he serves others he is served tenfold.
The growing strength of the voices of women in our society has been a big part of the shift away from a self-service mentality and towards a service-to-others mentality. This is starting to gain traction in the way we look at our environment, our governance, our economy. New business models today are actually preaching service over self-interest. People are volunteering for community-building activities more than ever. And the very wealthy in our society, from our athletes and entertainers to our politicians and businessmen, have come to realize more and more that their most worthwhile endeavors involve contributing to others less fortunate or even creating foundations of their own in order to share their wealth.
Of course some of the old power brokers will not change their ways. They want to stay driven by a heart that beats to the drum of control, and they will try to tighten their grip. The only thing is that a growing number of men aren’t buying into it anymore. And women are gaining confidence that they no longer need to put up a male-centered façade in order to have some sway in the ‘Old Boy’s Clubs’. With the gradual but steady influence of more and more women into positions of power and influence, we are seeing things differently. The fact is that we have become weary of control-oriented governance. We can feel now that we have been suffocating and we just want to breathe again.
As we become more aware of how much this disparity of opportunity and influence between men and women has skewed the unfolding of our lives, we will become conscious participants in restoring balance and issuing in a greater sense of belonging for all. Rules will be taken down in favor of freedom, intuition will move back into collaboration with reason, and indeed women will start to take their rightful place beside men in returning a wholeness to the process of human evolution.
My own experience speaks to the benefits of increasingly giving women a voice and letting them be a bigger part of the conversation. I look back to an educational program I took part in recently where women served not only as facilitators but also as the program architects and administrators. What seemed different was that although the subject matter was complex and sometimes even confronting, there was an atmosphere of mutual support, acceptance, and trust that pervaded throughout. It was completely unlike my experience of academic life, which dealt more in superficiality and rarely struck to the heart of issues important in my own personal growth. The conversations in this program were intelligent and subtle, capable of cultivating a shift in my thinking and my life. And because I still came fundamentally from my mind rather than my feelings, this experience was exactly what I needed. I was able to gain a brand new awareness of what a balance of male and female energies felt like. Near the end of the week-long program I was moved to stand up and make an acknowledgement to ‘the brilliance of women’ for creating a fertile environment for learning and transformation and fostering such an inspiring conversation throughout the program.
The new conversation not only promotes the bringing-into-balance of polarities such as male and female, it is at the same time being informed by the way this growing balance is manifesting in our society. This illustrates how the new conversation is emerging organically while we slowly raise our consciousness together. As more men and women enter into the new conversation, we will develop an ever clearer vision not only of more balanced personal relationships but of a higher social and political order. Women will be poised to have a shared influence in the corridors of authority in our society where, anchored in the wholeness of its citizens, power can be transformed from something that is feared and fought for into something that can be celebrated and enjoyed by all.