In analyzing the scriptural transmission of the traditions of Abraham, we can chart a clear growth from historical record (Old Testament) to realization of union with the Divine (New Testament) and finally to psychological understanding (Quran). At each stage, humanity understood the Divine in terms of our receptivity. The Israelites were concerned with survival, Christians with redemption, and Muslims with surrender to the Divine (the definition of “Islam”).
As I have written elsewhere, the Divine principle is Unconditional Love. Love is a principle of relation that makes our partnerships marvelous. Our materiality both protects and traps us within ourselves. As Love seeks to enrich us through diversity, it must do two incompatible things: change us while preserving that which is pleasing to others.
The “changing” aspect of the Divine is masculine; the “preserving” part is feminine. The traditions of Abraham are masculine, as we see from the Garden of Eden. God “breathed His spirit” into Adam, making him “a living being.” Adam was given authority to project love into the world. But “it [was] not good for the man to be alone.” God took a part of Adam’s soul and formed Eve as woman, sealing up the place “with flesh.” In man’s materiality, he cannot wield his essential creativity, except through woman. Eve was given to Adam as a witness to his virtue, and it is only through woman that a man’s virtue can be sustained in the world, through the maternal capacity of procreation.
In this context, we should appreciate more deeply Dan. 11:37 [emphasis added]:
He will show no regard for the gods of his ancestors or for the one desired by women, nor will he regard any god, but will exalt himself above them all.
And the anointing of Jesus (Mark 14:3-9). Jesus, the man of perfect virtue, is the God desired by woman, the man accepted by them without resistance. Conversely, the tendency of the patriarchy has been to interpret “sealed by flesh” as the fictitious hymen, the “cherry” broken and bloodied by first intercourse, which is actually tearing of the vaginal wall due to the clumsy battering of untutored and brutal youths.
Israel was the fertile ground for masculine effort because Palestine stands at the crossroads of three great cultures, where change was inevitable in the violent struggle for dominance. In India, the opposite stood: a caste system cemented social rigidity and controlled self-perception. You were who you were born to be. In this milieu, Buddhism arose to foster liberating self-awareness and compassionate collaboration that softened resistance to change.
Coming to fruition in Vajrayana Buddhism, the tradition is most receptive to the feminine principle. To be aware is to surrender ourselves to inspection – to hold still so that we can be seen. This is the feminine principle in action. In Vajrayana tantra, the feminine principle is held most sacred. When we learn to submit to her inspection, she joins us with the wisdom that we need to act with “skillful means,” which in Buddhism is understood as “action with compassion for all of reality.” In other words, to act with skillful means is to act in a way that minimizes resistance. We do not force ourselves upon others, we invite them to participate, and eagerly attend their reciprocity.
Vajrayana dogma wraps this up in confusing symbology. The feminine principle manifests as dakinis wielding flaying instruments that separate the seeker from “ego grasping.” As well as being the source of all wisdom, the Sacred Mother is the ground upon which reality is experienced. To gain access, the seeker must cultivate and attitude of “no self” and “non-action.”
To understand this directly, I turn to the fundamental nature of reality. Dark energy is a field of small cells that fill space. That field is under pressure. We as selves try to project our intentions into the world, absorbing other selves through crude material mechanisms (Darwinian consumption and sex). When that absorption is resisted, the trapped spirit stretches out into space, and is liberated by the pinching of the cellular matrix. Conversely, disciplined souls seeking collaborative union (“enlightened” practitioners of the Vajrayana or “holy” persons of Abraham) reach out and are joined with the resources they need to heal the world of the illusions of materiality. In surrendering themselves to the service of love, they receive authority over personalities that are grateful for human guidance.
From this, we see that the Abraham and Buddhist traditions are complementary perspectives on the same process. In fact, both conclude in the same way: sacred union of the masculine and feminine principles, described as the “New Jerusalem” in Revelation 21 and 22 and the coitus of Samantabhadri and her consort Samantabhadra in Vajrayana iconography. This unification of perspectives is attained, however, through consideration of the paradox of Unconditional Love. It needs selves to join in marvelous relationships, and so it offers the maternal embrace that sustains and protects willing children while the masculine urge for change draws them together in new and creative combinations.