In The Feminine Land, there are no clocks. Any mention of “time” is gauche, like a toupee or a spray tan. Instead, everything moves according to natural rhythms. Like animals, we follow the internal compass guiding us toward food, nourishment, sex, fullness. Our bodies move freely, without the kinks and knots born of contorting themselves into an ideal that is disconnected from what is present or what wants to emerge. Our minds do not need to “jump the fence” away from the present moment because we do not demand any experience other than what is real right now.
In The Feminine Land, we allow ourselves to be drawn by and into our natural desires. We feel their swelling inside us, their release. Things that are now considered taboo—like enjoying sex without romance, being swept away by a tsunami of obsession, or feeling turned on by the burn of jealousy—are viewed as nourishment, even medicine. We know where to seek that nourishment by the intensity of the sensations we feel. Just as smoke leads us to fire, intensity leads us to food for our soul. When we feel that natural draw, we head toward it—rather than pulling back, clamping down, buttoning up, and patting ourselves on the back for our ability to resist and subdue our nature.
In fact, dominion over nature as a concept has dissolved—with much laughter, of course. We know that mastery lies in merging, in knowing life from the inside through our porousness and permeability. When we encountered a flower, we do not judge it from the outside. We feel ourselves inside the flower, trembling with the petals’ fragility, wrapped in a blanket of scent. We know the world as we know our own breath, from the inside out. This knowing dissolves all fear. For what is there to fear? With no other, there is no enemy.
In The Feminine Land, we welcome temptation. We are instructed not to resist it, but to see where it leads us. We know this life in the biblical sense, as a man knows a woman. Words are like sonatas sung over our connection with the life we know in our bones. As the whole spectrum of life spreads out before us, we embark on our mission to know it all—the brothels and the back alleys, the pristine temples, and pews. We allow all of life to wash through us and tell us its stories—through form, heat, light, vibration, a million molecules colliding. We ride desire in this way, both the slow and sensual motion of a touch, and the bucking grind of a fuck.
In The Feminine Land, our woman’s beauty, enhanced by the weathering of our faces and the roundness of bodies, communicates the fires we have stood before, the nourishment we have taken in, and the fullness of our mastery—a mastery expressed in the range of experiences we drink in. Only women with appetites for life can truly love God or goddesses, and we demonstrate this love by drinking in this life in all forms and ways. The nubile youthfulness we worship now only indicates inexperience, and that inexperience is not attractive in a world where we want to engage and play.
In The Feminine Land, we want partners who can find ever more doorways to enter intimacy and can fashion keys on demand. We want someone who recognizes the music that the two of us create between us and can play the next note. With us, life is art, and art theater, and theater love. Love manifests as an endless sea of creation of scenes that we play out with each other with ever more nuance and complexity. Love shines through the thousands of expressions that pass over our faces—housewife, whore, store clerk, fighter. As the world contracts down to flesh and sinew and bones and sex, we want us both there, sweaty and grunting as we released together into awe and revelation.
What is the significance of a land without clocks?
The Masculine World is organized by time—and the ensuing concept of progress. Progress, the way to progress, the result of progress, all these three ideas are the underpinnings of our entire masculine-dominated world. Whether in relationships, industry, or spirituality, we follow formulas. In relationships: We meet the person. We fall in love. We get married. We buy the house and have the kid. In industry: We go to school. We get the career. We meet the target. We retire. In spirituality: We accept the doctrine. We learn the principles. We follow the principles. We progress on the path. We arrive at heaven or enlightenment. Extrinsic and clear rules mark our way, we must renounce anything that impedes our progress. But these ideas and rules are human-made filters that impede actual contact with our experience: the touch of our palm on another human’s skin; the flame of a welding torch melting steel; the scent of jasmine blossoming over a grave. These formulas place an artificial construct—the notion of time—over reality as it is, which is always now. A sense of a separate self develops, based on an extrinsic object called a clock—and our intrinsic sense of rhythm is ignored in service to this object.
In this artificial, time-bound construct, we can follow a path with a beginning, middle, and end. We can chart our progress and position. We can compare ourselves to others and determine success: She is richer than we are. We are more attractive than he is. We are our own bosses, so we can tell them if they are smart or stupid. She is more enlightened than we are, so she can tell us if we are good or bad. Ideas begin to develop: an extrinsic goal, position, measurement, comparison, restraint. All of these concepts are a result of living in artificial time—time other than Now.
In The Feminine Land, the intent is not progress, but intimacy, depth, and breadth of experience. We value an afternoon laughing with a lover as highly as an afternoon designing the interface for a new app. An entirely different set of exalted qualities come into play: Playfulness. Ferocity. Sensitivity. We live in connection with our senses, our choices informed by a dynamic reality of feeling and desire—an entire self-organizing system that determines when we are hungry, what we are hungry for, how much to consume, and when to stop.
In The Masculine World ruled by clocks, this pull toward our desires must be ignored. We break connection with our senses. Not only do we ignore this system, but we attempt to control it, to gain dominion over it. Because this inner, sense-based system will never be in alignment with the clock—with the notion that there is somewhere to get to. To stay in sync with the clock, we need to activate an inner will that pushes against the experience that is happening here and now to get to there and then.
In Clock World, this experience that is happening now is always deemed inferior to what could or should be. We always judge our current reality by how close or far we are from this constructed notion. This present moment always loses out to a future or a past moment. A friend we meet at a party tells us she is lonely. But as we nod our heads and pretend to listen, we’re already scanning the brightly dressed throng behind her, looking for imaginary partners who—when we charm and possess them—will erase our own loneliness instead.
When we live by the laws of The Masculine World, we deeply mistrust and even demonize our internal experience—hunger, lust, thirst, itching, longing—because it’s rooted in the now. We scramble our senses, decreasing their intensity so that they don’t interfere with our capacity to check things off our to-do list. In The Masculine Land, we eat according to ideas of “good” food—whether it’s “healthy food,” “comfort food,” or “food that makes us thin.” But we do not listen to our real-time hunger in such a way that it could speak, self-organize, and determine what is best for us in this moment. Because if we listened, we might be drawn into what we have arbitrarily decided is “bad.” We define “bad” differently, depending what category we have decided is “good.” If we’ve defined “not healthy” as good, we might define bad as “not organic.” If we’re aiming for weight loss, bad food might be loaded with sugar. If we were trying to stay with “comfort” food, bad food might have too many vegetables.
In The Feminine Land, our appetites guide our food choices in a real-time response to a whole gestalt of internal requirements—nutrients, emotional impact, beauty, flavor. We respond to the dynamic, ever-changing kaleidoscope of our perceptions. The entire industry of diet books is useless because the authority determining what, how much, and when to eat is now our singular, internal knowing, rather than myriad, external, often conflicting authorities. The “right” choice, although dynamic and changing in each moment, always relies on our internal wisdom. One morning, we might breakfast on oatmeal piled high with fresh bananas and blueberries; another morning, on miso soup; another morning, on a chocolate croissant and an espresso, sipped on a balcony overlooking the Seine.
The access point to this inner wisdom is desire. We listen and respond to the deeper voice that speaks beneath the filter of time-constructed realities. We do not follow scripts about what to eat, or how to live our life. We instead follow the next beat, just as one jazz musician improvises from the last riff played by another. Our sense of “good” and “bad” is dynamic and fluid, based on our capacity to “hear the music” and respond to it, rather than the ability to “read the music” and execute. We need to develop our ability to intuit or sense into the underlying rhythms to determine what brings greater intimacy with the moment.
We do this by shedding the layers of conditioning that say “no” to impulse, that keeps us from being able to feel our body’s urges, whether the desire for a latte, or the desire for the barista who’s pouring it into our cup. Like an improv artist, we learn to say “yes” to what the moment offers. In this way, we access an inner knowing that arises from our body, rather than being imposed by our thinking mind.
To live beyond mere execution of a script, we must evolve this kind of inner ear. Those who have not awakened it are still in the world of good and bad, right and wrong, and their approach to the world is rigid.
To function and execute our plans, The Masculine World demands that we have little ambiguity, limited scope of experience, little emotionality, well-defined compartments, and a well-developed capacity to “resist temptation” in order to be “good.” After a night spent trying to get a crying baby to sleep in its crib, we must be able to push past our exhaustion to leap out of bed when the alarm goes off, to grab a Power Bar and Red Bull, drop the baby at daycare, and head out through heavy traffic for another 14-hour day in front of a computer screen.
To leap from this limited world to The Feminine Land, we must make a phase transition—the way ice melts to water, and water becomes steam. We must dissolve the skill set we developed to function as ice. We must learn to become fluid, to respond to temptation, to dissolve fixed notions of good and bad in service to what is called for in this moment. We must be able to maintain connection with the deeper rhythms despite ambiguity, uncertainty, the dissolution of categories. In this world, perhaps we take the crying baby into our bed to sleep, where we both get the rest we need. Then we hand the baby to a friend for a few hours while we work at our kitchen table, where, creativity flowing freely, we solve in two hours a challenge we might have fruitlessly hammered on all day at our office.
Only when we have freed ourselves from the bondage of the man-made rather than natural laws can our inner sentience roam free in this kind of pitch-perfect response to our environment. We need to unravel ourselves from constraints that keep our responses potentially limited: a 9 to 5 workday, five days a week. A bra that’s too tight. Ideas about what can and cannot be spoken. A definition of love that’s inherited from our parents and fashion magazines. Only then can we melt what was frozen inside of us and make it fluid and available. We must allow ourselves to feel the whole range of emotions from grief to rage, from ecstasy to serenity—so that when that note is played in the environment, we can respond to it with our own perfectly calibrated, full-bodied response.
Wouldn’t this radical shift of orientation bring utter chaos, confusion, and anarchy? Don’t we still need fully stocked grocery stores that open and close at a certain time? Don’t we need people to get to their jobs on time; kids to go to school, and teachers to teach them, whether they might feel like it in the moment? Don’t we sometimes need to eat vegetables even if what we crave is chocolate?
The Masculine World is binary—license and abandon on one side, discipline and rigor on the other. In The Feminine Land, these two extremes marry. The result of opening all our inner potential is not massive, unconscious indulgence. Instead, it’s a deeply lawful relationship of call and response with all, from our bodies to our partners to nature herself.
Whereas in The Masculine World the ability to narrow our focus ensures “success,” in The Feminine Land what brings success is our capacity to expand and include all of reality. We make room in our heart for sickness as well as health, failure as well as success, the broken as well as the functional, in ourselves and in others, so when life deviates from our carefully scripted plans, we are not devastated. Our spiritual practice is rooted in the question “How can we be in relationship with all things as they are?” or perhaps even, “how can we love even this?”
In The Masculine Land, we get results from our ability to set boundaries, to be self-sufficient, to remain unaffected by the external or even the internal world. We step over the homeless person on the sidewalk to get to the theater on time. We cry a few tears at our mother’s funeral, then show up to work the next morning in a business suit, our eyes dry. In The Feminine Land, we need a new skill set based on inter-dependence, forgiveness, and a faith in the invisible. We cultivate our capacity to attune to what can only be sensed—and when we cannot sense it, we continue looking for it. We remain loyal to this force regardless of how compelling the extrinsic reward or promise for abandoning it, or how dismissive the world is of it. We fill notebook after notebook with our poetry, without caring whether it gets published in a prestigious literary journal. We say what we really think in a business meeting, even if our boss doesn’t agree.
As this new skill set starts to reward us in connection and the currency of being fully alive, it’s vital that we pause to acknowledge these gifts. In a production-based, time-bound world, acknowledgement is inefficient, and we simply keep moving, no matter what.
Acknowledgement, a vital aspect of The Feminine Land, allows us to develop intimacy, a back-and-forth with the present moment, so that we don’t simply move on autopilot. Through words, we anchor and digest our experiences. Wilderness guide and educator Job Young teaches his students that after a profound experience in nature, they must come back and share it with others. He says that if you don’t put language to the ineffable, it will become surreal.
Acknowledgement enhances our enjoyment. In The Masculine Land, enjoyment is compartmentalized and delayed: We can only have sex after we’ve finished our nightly routine, or if we’ve gotten enough done for work. We can’t just stop in the middle of a busy day for 30 minutes of connection—what about the to do list? At best, we can add that connection to our schedule at some future point. Enjoyment is integral to the whole of The Feminine World, springs from the experience of intimacy, and is also fuel that keeps that intimacy burning. Enjoyment signifies that we are becoming more complex and connected human beings. We speak of enjoyment that occurs when we foster our souls to do what they are here to do—from creating, to resting, to making love.
We speak about honoring temptation and the call of our senses, an honoring that extends to the terrain of what is often considered taboo. In The Feminine Land, we cultivate and welcome what The Masculine Land considers darkness: obsession, jealousy, dependence, dominance, surrender, sneakiness. Excluding these things from our experience is like eliminating the bottom notes on the piano. To be a masterful musician, we want the full range available to us to “play” the perfect note at any moment—a note that is beautiful, rich, complements the moment and sets a particular mood or atmosphere.
In The Feminine Land, we need to be facile in the worlds of taboo, transgression, rage, sorrow, and the erotic to know those chords well enough to play them. We must honor and recognize this domain’s power and the laws that operate here. Whereas the masculine world offers accolades for what we accomplish, the feminine world only gives a damn about how we feel while accomplishing it. A masculine approach values a deliberate, rational plan. The feminine seeks unpredictable dynamic change moment by moment. The masculine takes disgust as a sign to pull away, while the feminine feels the turned-on sensation of disgust which compels us to come closer.
We need to become comfortable in a world that has dominion over us, that moves us, where our will is useless, where we allow ourselves to be possessed. In return, this world rewards us with a creativity, a sense of personal power granted rather than earned, a brilliance that can never be accessed in the other world. In this world, we all are artists, weaving the narrative of our lives, acknowledging the gaps which lead us to the gain of access to that which pulses beyond this world.
In The Masculine Land, all our training would have been to dismiss, diminish, control, and steer these experiences. Being “a good person” depends almost entirely on our capacity to not respond to these impulses. In The Feminine Land, our real capacity to draw into our world would be determined by our ability not only to not dismiss, but bow to what we had formerly considered inferior, including that which occurs in ourselves. In other words, to love and serve what has previously been unlovable: our obsessive mind, our irrational desires, our inability to commit, our fierce jealousy, our obstinate refusal to move unless profoundly compelled.
Our reward is a felt understanding of this life. The world begins to reveal its secrets to us, as anything that is met always reveals its secrets. We harbor an extraordinary vision. People might wonder how we knew something they hadn’t told us, or how we did something that looked impossible. They might feel uncomfortably naked in our presence.
I once had a student in OM that I didn’t like at first—a stiff, Eeyore-like guy, a little awkward, perhaps on the autistic spectrum. But several years later, he had progressed to the level of a senior student. I kept hearing that his stroking was remarkable, but I couldn’t imagine it—until I saw him give a demonstration for an assessment. He leaned down to stroke his partner—and his entire, pudgy, sloth-like body appeared to just fall away. Something else—at once totally entranced with the process and masterfully perfectly synchronizing his movement with it. It was not clear if he was playing her body, or if her body was playing his hand. There was just electricity and illumination so bright I could barely look at it.
This ability to see below the surface of life might seem magical, but it is anything but that. “Magical” implies the use of will to override the laws of nature. This ability arises because we’re operating in accord with the laws of nature and including all of her. When we do this, the whole world begins to communicate with us. We start speaking the invisible language in which people tell their secrets. We do not need to study psychological textbooks to understand why people do what they do, we can simply see it. We do not require science to know if something will work, we can sense it. We do not need to ask someone if they are lying, we know.
A young woman walked into a gas station and, as she said later, “all my hairs stood on end.” She left. Within 3 minutes, everyone inside was shot by a pair of teens standing in the back by the cold case. Across town, a mother feels panic rising; out of seemingly nowhere, she fears for the three small children she left at home with a sitter. Feeling decidedly not crazy, she sped home just as the fire department arrived. She didn’t have video cameras; she was connected to what she knew, and she honored it. She knew, they knew, we know. It’s a matter of listening and acting from that place of knowing. The only thing preventing this inner knowing would be the residue of the filters developed from the old, time-bound world. (How often have you walked under the bird’s nest, not even hearing the song?) Remember those filters demand that we ignore what is to keep driving to what could or should be. As we drive over reality, we essentially crush it, so it is not predisposed to reveal itself to us.
Without realizing it, when we limit the range of what we can experience to what is appropriate or acceptable, we cut off our connection to intimacy. We insult reality by saying that some part of it is not beautiful. We lay the burden of proof on reality to show us why we should tune into it, rather than honoring it and promising to discover the hidden beauty that exists within it. When we honor reality as it is, with all its moving parts that may or may not make sense, that may or not appear beautiful—when we have the courage to meet each tiny fraction of our experience with the premise that “I know that you are real, true, valid and important,” then the majesty of life reveals itself.
This strength is hard to imagine before we have developed the courage to know and explore darkness. This force depends upon trusting the invisible’s tender gentleness, the experiential discovery of what is here now without filters on it, the offering of oneself over to the unknown, to uncertainty, but it is not something that occurs in a future life and is not in any way supernatural.
Our influence is, in fact, as natural as elements and beings get.
Our power is as fluid as a girl dancing wildly to her own inner music, without caring what the ballerinas around her think.
Our awakening lies in our capacity to build and tend to worlds.
Our potency is as intuitive as wild animals resting after their hunt—even if we happen to be sitting in meditation halls.
To be woman is to be defined by accommodation, the unconscious and acquiescent adherence to non-native habitats, or the unconscious swing of the pendulum of backlash that is the predictable result of any animal living in a state of perpetual adjustment, lost in translation.