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I listened to Thandie Newton give her TED talk Embracing Otherness, Embracing Myself this weekend. What I found most appealing about this talk is that Newton is able to express and celebrate belonging and connectedness without preaching how we’re all the same. She doesn’t dismiss the idea of uniqueness and being different. Rather she talks about how, through understanding of how we connect to each other, the earth, the spiritual, the world—that we come to find a higher sense of being. Definitely worth the 14 minutes it’ll take to watch this video. Give yourself an hour if you’d like for it to really sink in and allow you time to reflect. Her personal story is extremely powerful.
Just in case you didn’t know, March is Women’s History Month. With that in mind, I’d like to take a moment and express my appreciation for all of the women who have made a difference in my life, both directly and indirectly—thank you. This past weekend, I met an incredible woman Lori Darley, who works in many capacities to make the world around her a better place. She also keeps a very interesting and thought-provoking blog. I’m sharing with you her latest post. The piece is very well written and begs me to ask the questions:
- How do we come to know things which with which we have no experience?
- How does language affect the way we perceive information?
Thank you, Lori, for you witty insights into the human condition. For everyone else, enjoy…
The Magdalene Conspiracy: There’s Something About Mary
Mary Magdelene is not someone who permeates my every waking thought. But she does yank my philosophical chain. Mary Magdalene was one of the more interesting characters in the Bible. But I was never into the Bible. Didn’t or couldn’t relate. It felt rigged somehow. And it wasn’t until later in life that I discovered how rigged it really was. Believe what you want.
Me? I’m bored with beliefs. Bored with my own tired interpretation of stuff that’s already happened, stuff that is just over. Way over. So don’t get me started on the story of Mary Magdalene. What we don’t seem to get is that this is ALL a story. Your life, my life. Her life. Yet we hold on to our stories, build houses, prisons and religions around them, store them in elaborate filing systems, both real and imagined. And call them up when we want to prove our points. Cause we love to prove our points, don’t we? And if there were one point I’d like to prove?
Here’s one: That the need to be right about what I believe, or what you believe for that matter, feels like a complete waste of time, as far as I’m concerned. That would be a feeling though, wouldn’t it, not a point! I’ve noticed something. You may have noticed this too. Beliefs separate us from each other. And this too, is a belief. I believe I’m on to something. Like a crusading warrior with sword in hand, I stand for a world where we can all live side-by-side, in the presence and tension of seemingly opposite beliefs. But alas, I am felled by compromise, the paradoxical surprise-ending that leaves me feeling flat, whored up and talked down, from the ingratiating security of righteousness. Because no one likes compromise. Feels like a concession. Feels like you’ve lost, you’re a failure, a loser. I wanna know what we get when we can tolerate each other’s points of view and maybe even consider that BOTH could be “true!”
Anyway, back to Mary. If she’s all that western civilization has left of the feminine principle, then so be it. What about all this Da Vinci Code, pseudo-scientific research that attempts to link her DNA with the DNA of Jesus, no his last name isn’t Christ?! What is it that we’re so desperately trying to discover? That we’ve somehow gotten it wrong these last two thousand years? Well. Look around. What do you think?
Even with that, you’d be left with your own interpretation. I’m just not surprised about any of this either. It’s about time that we woke up to the reality that there simply is NO truth! Oops, is that a belief?? I guess it is. Oh well, can’t seem to get around that one! I thought this was going to be about the Goddess, the Feminine Principle and the annihilation of all values which honor nature, balance, harmony. I don’t know. Which do you prefer? Domination, pain, war, scarcity, hunger and competition? Or love, peace, pleasure, abundance and collaboration? Do you REALLY have to think about that one?
If you got to choose, I mean really choose, a place to live from, as in the fuel that makes you go, which would you choose? Do you believe it’s possible? Does it matter? Everyone seems so interested in finding answers. I’m more interested in the questions. But I guess this whatever-this-is is a bit of a give-away, eh?
I like stories, I really do. Especially when they are presented as a way to connect to something I feel deep inside myself. Like a “knowing.” Not like a belief. A knowing. What’s the difference, you might ask? Well, for me it’s about trusting my body’s wisdom, which is a very feminine gift, I’m told. Ever notice what Christianity has taught us to believe about our own bodies? Evil, already bad, to be mastered and battered and fixed and changed and injected, cinched, squeezed, and denied. When was it exactly we started telling ourselves that pleasure was a bad thing? I’d like to go back and re-write that day.
We’re taught not to trust. Our selves or each other. Is it possible for us to maybe find a compromise here? I don’t want to get into an argument about theological history. I know I’d lose. And that’s okay. And I certainly don’t want to get you mad, because I was taught good little girls don’t do that! But what if we pretended, just pretended, that the Bible wasn’t written by God, but by men who wanted to create a better world, yes, but also wanted to exert some power not just over other people, but also their wives? Because, you know, maybe they were really, frankly, well, just kind of scared of them. And what if the story could be brought up to date, just a little?
So here you go. There’s this really wise young man who from an early age, felt an intense love and compassion for the world and all things in it. Animals, plants, rocks, people, all of it. And he wandered the planet learning from all the great spiritual masters and practitioners who either walked the planet at the same time or learned from the greatest storytellers about how to live in peace and create a world that works for everyone, for the benefit EVERYONE. Not just those that believed. Along the way he also finds out that this world is really not as we see it, but actually a reflection of our own thoughts and the end result of how we’ve lived up till now. Right now. And what if he returns to his homeland to share all that he has learned? And he meets this really exotic and very powerful young woman who is not a stranger at all, to all things worldly. And she is shameless, because she understands that shame, along with dogma, is a control mechanism meant to keep her and all women like her, in their place. She too, was brought up in the traditions that expand spirit, not corral it. The young man sees her gift to the world and understands they are meant to teach together, all the secrets human kind ever cared to know. And they love each other. A lot. Fast forward. Barry White music plays in the background, and in the words of Barry, “they get it on.” And it is good. Oh yeah, baby. Cosmic orgasm of the first order. Lo and behold, they wed and have children and celebrate life in the traditions they hold most dear. They teach others how to treat people and animals and rocks and things. And the world appreciates it until some believe that this information must be controlled so that a profit can be made…
And that my friends, leads us right back to the story we all know. But let’s say the story didn’t leave the part out about the great sex. And the kids. And all the other great teachings. And that life was meant to be enjoyed and shared, not suffered through. Mary, at last, could find her rightful place in the pantheon of stories. What if the great creation story of western civilization didn’t start with Eve being ridiculously carved out of Adam’s rib. But instead, that they evolved, yes, evolved together, as a team. Both the masculine AND the feminine dance together, eat together, pray together, have sex together, go to school together… I HAVE A DREAM! Oops sorry, I digress…
And what if we all spoke the same language, the human language of love and compassion? That would be the Mary I’d like to know and love. And even Jesus would start looking more attractive to me as well. Up till now though, I’ve just seen him as the start of a lot of fighting and righteous arguing about what we should and shouldn’t be doing. This story, (or one like it) I believe, must now be told, before we lose our way. It’s a story that changes, like we do. As human beings that are continuously growing and learning and opening up more and more to the Mystery of All that Is. I’m a skeptic to all things written in stone. It’s a story that comes alive every time you hear it. Something else gets created out of the nothing and the story evolves to reflect the wisdom that each era needs to hear.
Here’s another belief I have that I’d like to share. That if we didn’t have religious laws, we actually would come to know, from a very deep place within us, that we know what works and how to treat people and all living things. I know this is radical. But I like being a radical and I love change. I guess that’s what makes me dangerous in a world that wants more and more to turn the clock back on itself. The feminine Principle is ALL about change. I like that. We could move from beliefs to guiding principles. We could share our personal truths as that, just our personal truths. Leave the greater truths for those quiet moments as we gaze upon a sunset or watch a child being born. I know I’m Pollyanna. It’s a character flaw that comes with being an optimist. But here’s the thing. We all get to choose. So what story do you choose to live by?
Lori Darley is a Certified Somatic Coach and Associate for the Strozzi Institute, where she received her certification. Over the last 25 years, she has trained in a variety of backgrounds, developing specialized training techniques to support her clients in reaching peak performance through dynamic communication, conflict resolution and leadership skills. For more of Lori, check out her blog and follower her on Twitter.