“One is not born, but rather becomes a woman” Simone de Beauvoir

Beauvoir arrived at a notion of a fundamental conflict between self and other….partly through her own struggle, an explicit and implicit subtext of a second sex with an imperious need for love that she experienced as a temptation to self-abnegation.

Introduction by Judith Thurman of The Second Sex (1949) by Simone de Beauvoir

Beauvoir describes the fall into knowledge…the beginning of conscious femininity…and the necessary step to becoming a woman, realizing the curse or responsibility woman bares which includes necessarily resisting the temptations of self-abnegation and power itself. She brazenly writes:

The conflict will last as long as men and women do not recognize each other as peers, that is, as long as femininity is perpetuated as such; which of them is the most determined to maintain it? The woman who frees herself from it nevertheless wants to conserve its prerogatives; and the man then demands that she assume its limitations. “It is easier to accuse one sex than to excuse the other,” says Montaigne. Meting out blame and approbation is useless. In fact, the vicious circle is so difficult to break here because each sex is victim both of the other and of itself; between two adversaries confronting each other in their pure freedom, an agreement could easily be found, especially as this war does not benefit anyone; but the complexity of this whole business comes from the fact that each camp is its enemy’s accomplice; the woman pursues a dream of resignation, the man a dream of alienation; inauthenticity does not pay: each one blames the other for the unhappiness brought on himself by taking the easy way out; what the man and the woman hate in each other is the striking failure of their own bad faith or their own cowardice.

We have seen why men originally enslaved women; the devaluation of femininity was a necessary step in human development; but this step could have brought about a collaboration between the two sexes; oppression is explained by the tendency of the existent to flee from himself by alienating himself in the other that he oppresses for that purpose; this tendency can be found in each individual man today: and the vast majority give in to it; a husband looks for himself in his wife, a lover in his mistress, in the guise of a stone statue; he seeks in her the myth of his virility, his sovereignty, his unmediated reality. “My husband never goes to the movies,” says the woman, and the dubious masculine pronouncement is engraved in the marble of eternity. But he himself is a slave to his double: what effort to build up an image in which he is always in danger! After all, it is founded on the capricious freedom of women: it must constantly be made favorable; man is consumed by the concern to appear male, important, superior; he playacts so that others will playact with him; he is also aggressive and nervous; he feels hostility for women because he is afraid of them, and he is afraid of them because he is afraid of the character with whom he is assimilated.

What time and energy he wastes in getting rid of, idealizing, and transposing complexes, in speaking about women, seducing, and fearing them! He would be liberated with their liberation. But that is exactly what he fears. And he persists in the mystifications meant to maintain woman in her chains.

That she is mystified is something of which many men are conscious. “What a curse to be a woman! And yet the very worst curse when one is a woman is, in fact, not to understand that it is one,” says Kierkegaard. Attempts have been made to disguise this misfortune for a long time.

de Beauvoir, Simone. The Second Sex (p. 752). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Desire For Meeting With Truth

A reading of an excerpt from Anne & Barry Ulanov’s book Primary Speech

“Prayer entered into seriously marks an unmistakable break with the way we have been living. It is never simply another happy little part of our lives, an attractive addition to the day or the night like a new car or a dress or a fetching new way to prepare a souffle. Prayer is struggle. But prayer, following the dictates of an imperious desire, can become a voracious appetite and in its own time, at least, become all-consuming. Deal with it frivolously and all desire for it will disappear, or it will be converted into such a mere decoration in our lives that it might be better to give those middling energies over to a more easily satisfied appetite….The desire for prayer is the desire for a meeting with truth. It is the thirst for understanding which will give purpose tot he boredom in which so many of us pass our working lives….In the desire for prayer, a wrenching need for wholeness expresses itself. we want to live our metaphysics and to experience our beliefs.”

Kairos Retreat In The Woods

June 10-12, July 17-19, August 15-17

“What is the priority of this moment?” Do you hear the call to go on a retreat seeking solitude as well as directed communal contemplative practice for all levels.  Dream work, creative self-expression, meditation, and movement are practiced with sister silence and mother nature, invoking restoration and vitality.

Do you feel a call to leave the city, pack up your tent and travel to the Healing Springs of Saratoga? Upon registration, more details will be provided.

Retreat Cost includes Meals, Camping, Spiritual Direction, and Art Materials: $500

A Love Song From God

A love song to God is, in Truth, a love song from God.

The next book in the Mystic Heart Series is the Bhagavad Gita translated by Stephen Mitchell, scheduled for July 9th at 11 am.

“Souls who love God, a Sufi sheikh said a thousand years ago, ‘know one another by smell, like horses. Though one be in the East and the other in the West, they still feel joy and comfort in each other’s talk, and one who lives in a later generation than the other is instructed and consoled by the words of his friend.’”

Theatre, A Portal to Wisdom


“It is no longer sufficient to view our time through political or economic lenses alone. We are obliged to look into the deeper designs of the soul, to track the truculent engines of our darker selves.  Artists, who live there, and depth psychologists, who venture there, are instructive guides to the places we must go if we are ever to heal ourselves or heal our age.” Hollis

Game of Thrones is an epic saga that holds the archetypal stories forgotten in the Hebrew Bible, re-imagined but true to our history and existential summons to engage the spiritual battle to wholeness, to love. As the cast reads the finale scenes for this epic saga, we see the divine spark that comes through their collective imagination and the Holy sorrow held in these stories, portrayed and renewed in spirit by these fine actors. Each one of us carries a spark of the Universal and is implored to engage the search of our personal myth that weaves us together, remembering what was, is, and always will be.

Rilke’s Message for a Young Poet

“Rilke wrote to a troubled young poet, ‘We are set down in life as in the element to which we best correspond, and over and above this we have through thousands of years of accommodation become so like this life…We have no reason to mistrust our world, for it is not against us…And if only we arrange our life according to that principle which counsels us that we must always hold to the difficult, then that which now still seems to us the most alien will become what we most trust and find most faithful.’

In these moment of recognition, and self-acceptance, we integrate some richer aspect of the Shadow and gain some small, further purchase on the immensity of the soul.” – Hollis

What Teens Want Their Parents to Understand

Shadow of Ideal

“What contaminates one’s spirit at Dachau is the knowledge that this immense engine for evil could not have been constructed and operated in the name of evil. Such energy could only come at the service of some ideal. How could this have happened, one asks? And the answer is, they believed.” James Hollis

A Secret Diary Chronicled the 'Satanic World' That Was Dachau - The New  York Times

What Is The Way of the Image?

A reading from a chapter in Ann & Barry Ulanov’s book, Primary Speech. Ann Belford Ulanov is an American academic and psychotherapist. She is the Christiane Brooks Johnson Memorial Professor of Psychiatry and Religion at Union Theological Seminary in New York City and a Jungian analyst in private practice. Baruch “Barry” Ulanov (April 10, 1918 – April 30, 2000) was an American writer, perhaps best known as a jazz critic.

“A major step …. is learning how to have our fantasies and stand aside from them simultaneously.

Fantasy fully accepted in prayer becomes a rhythmic movement in one’s life that may lead to a meeting with Being. Here music can offer guidance and direction to the praying person. The alterations of sound and silence that we meet in music, of dynamic variations ranging from fortissimo to pianissimo, of every kind of beat and pulse, can evoke and support the rhythms of primary speech. We burst full of images and desires, crowded with rich fragments of ourselves. We fall utterly silent, lost in the timeless moment, still as an emptied pot is still. We are seized by a fantasy, and then stripped of it. But the images return, sometimes new ones, sometimes the old ones in changed form. The spirit works us like bread dough, leavening the lump of our inertia with images that make us rise, expand, and grow light in weight. Then it punches us down and the fantasies escape from us like so much hot air.

What the Difference Between Bread Flour and All Purpose Flour? | MyRecipes

We are pummeled and molded to fit a shape that takes its origin outside ourselves – the image of the being in which we were created. We are made to conform to its dimensions, firmer and larger than any we could fashion by ourselves. Then we can rise again to our full height. Prayer is a growing process.

A major step in the world of primary speech is learning how to have our fantasies and stand aside from them simultaneously. This apparently contradictory stance is intrinsic in all subsequent movements of the spiritual life. In its simultaneous gathering in and giving up, it rehearses us for the paradoxes and antimonies of the life of the spirit, where affirmation comes in denial and withdrawal may be the only way to move ahead.

After The Rain: A Dancer's Perspective | The Australian Ballet
After the Rain Ballet

We are like a dancer who learns certain basic movements, repeats them, depends on them, builds on them in the most complicated and advanced executions of the body, and then can forget all about them, not losing them but dropping them from full consciousness when a new world of movement must be entered. In the same way, we receive and hold in awareness the most full bodied fantasies for the longest time, building on them, never pushing them away. And yet we are able, when the time comes1, to relinquish them, to let them disappear from consciousness altogether. The spirit finds us this way and firms us. We grow into a capacity for grateful flexibility and for the endless ups and downs of prayer, not only pliable in this life that bounds between extremes but also durable.

What does this mean in practice? It means we take our fantasies seriously. It means we offer them to God. We have them and we don’t have them. We are rich and poor, hungry and satisfied, full and empty simultaneously. Our most fearsome fantasies remain with us – we are murderer and victim, sick unto death and healer of the dying, victor and defeated. We extend across worlds into every condition of men and women and are connected with them, as ourselves, in our living persons. We become bigger, more stretched out, more transparent, less densely compacted around our tight little identity. Our fantasies become lenses through which we see God’s spirit working at us, on us, and in us. We see through our fantasies and are less apt now to be duped by them.

we become more vivid and secure….

An element of play enters….

a sense of humor….

We laugh.

God must long for a funny story, we think, instead of still another lugubrious hymn or turgid meditation, still another solemn promise, still another tortured, pompous confession in which even our sins are matters of pride.”

-Ann & Barry Ulanov

  1. I apprehend the appointed time Ps 75

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