One day I listened a talk online and I heard: “A leader can act as warrior and as a healer. As a warrior, the leader acts with power and decision. That is the Yang, or masculine aspect of leadership. But most of time the leader acts as a healer, in an open, receptive and nourishing state. That is the feminine, or Yin aspect of leadership. This mixture of doing and being, of warrior and healer, is both productive and potent. There is a third aspect of leadership and that is called in Chinese “Dao” or “Tao”. Periodically, the leader withdraws from the group and returns to silence, returns to God. Being, doing, being, then Dao. The leader withdraws in order to empty the self of what has happened and to restore the spirit. What draws my deep attention is the relationship between the Taoist concept of Yin and Yang and the Feminine and Masculine aspects of leadership.
All beings carry Yin and embrace Yang, they achieve harmony by combining these forces. (Laozi, Dao De Ching chapter 42)
A Master knows his masculine power, but most of the time he uses his feminine power, the people come to him because the potent influence of power makes the people to be attracted to him just like the stream collects water.
A Master knows that fame follows from the light he sheds, but he instead lives as an obscured being, his obscurity is a demonstration of the obscurity of the natural law itself.
A Master knows his glory, but he instead lives as a lowly being, the master contains all beings because of his openness and receptivity just like a valley can contain everything. (Laozi, Dao De Ching chapter 28)
These virtues described by Laozi are perfect to illustrate the attributes of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. This also helps me to understand that masculine and feminine power is the power of our divine. If we can learn to keep them in balance in our spiritual practice, it is the power that can really change the world.
What are the virtues in masculine and feminine power? For masculine (Yang), they include: direction, logic, focus, integrity, stability, independence, discipline, confidence, force, strength, purpose, control. For feminine (Yin), they include: submissiveness, modesty, receptivity, empathy, radiance, flow, sensuality, nurturing, affection, sharing, tenderness, patience, love. These attributes should be the potential qualities we all have and not dominant in just man or woman. As the Dao De Ching tells us, they need to be in balance in order to achieve harmony inside and outside. It also tells us, if we live life most of time in obscurity (or modesty) as a feminine being, the world can be gentle and be nourished. The masculine power shows in our action and doing. The feminine power shows more in who we are and how we live. They are the two aspects of our spiritual lives, doing and being, productive and potent.
Yin and Yang is the movement of our life. Yin and Yang also is the process of civilization. We can’t progress just by doing and without discovering and enhancing our feminine power. The feminine power is the power to nourish our spiritual life and give the human temple the life of the spirit. Look at the world we are living in now, it seems more dominated by the masculine power. The divine civilization can’t progress without the infusion of spirit. Nourishing our life of the spirit is developing our feminine power.
Learning to keep the balance of Yin and Yang is part of the process of our spiritual growth, to get back to our natural inner being. With it, we will look at every challenge in our life from a different perspective. We must try to understand what virtues we need to cultivate in order to keep our Yin and Yang in balance. What we experience is just for us to learn more about ourselves, and help us to see which masculine virtues, or which feminine virtues need to be strengthened. To see what virtues we need to strengthen, we must see with God’s eyes and know what God’s desire is for us.
The New Age will be an Age Less Masculine, The Feminine and Masculine Elements will be More Evenly Balanced (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 615)
The feminine and masculine, the negative and positive are opposing elements; their union produces a new creation. (BW – Baha’I World Volumes, Volume 1, p. 152)
As we can see, Yin and Yang is the principle of nature. Keeping them balance is how things work in harmony. Laozi told us how it works. Use feminine power to nourish our spirit and others. Practice living in modesty and lowliness will help to enhance the feminine power and subdue the masculine power of which we have plenty in the world right now. “Return to Dao”, it is also very important in that our heart need to be able to be still in front of God to replenish the spirit. We can’t nourish our life of the spirit without God. Spending a little bit time to mediate allows us quiet time to replenish our spirit, to strength ourselves in the spiritual journey.
‘Abdu’l-Bahá said “Look at me, follow me, be as I am.” What we look at and what we follow has deeper meaning after we understand more about the balance of Yin and Yang. I hope the wisdom of Laozi and the demonstration of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life can help us think about the priority of our spiritual development. For the equality of men and women in our world and for each person’s development, both men and women need a balance of masculine and feminine powers. This will bring the establishment of a divine civilization.