Tao Te Ching

The Power of Goodness, the Wisdom Beyond Words
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Feminine Principle

People are created equal in terms of value and intrinsic worth but confusing this with equality of skill, intelligence, and capacity completely flies in the face of reality. We’re all so different. And when we’re true to who and what we really are, the notion of “equality” appears superficial at best. As Carl Jung described, men have an anima, a feminine side and women have an animus, masculine dimension. Appreciating and celebrating the diversity brings more inclination to accept and be ourselves rather than striving for an obscure and false persona. Like Taoism’s yin-yang symbol, the ancient myth Plato described as masculine and feminine being two halves of a complete whole helps bring into focus the value and possibilities of opposites becoming complementary rather than in conflict.

In Buddhist literature, the feminine principle is described as our basic ground, Prajnaparamita (the perfection of wisdom), the "Great Eastern Sun," discriminating awareness wisdom, the dakini principle of inquisitive playfulness that prevents boredom but gambles with our lives, Vajrayogini—the world’s living life thread, the meaningfulness of life.

The dilemmas facing women challenge the most aware and insightful. Genes and hormones program women to attract men and most pursue that with abandonment spending billions on cosmetics, clothes, perfumes, and plastic surgery. An unfortunate side-effect of their success in this endeavor, however, includes attracting unwanted attention, sexual harassment, and rape. Men, on the other hand, have genetic programming to be attracted and act on this feminine attraction. Of course, men need to discipline and control their desire; but, women (and society in general) could also aid this restraint by discriminating more the context of their physical attractiveness and emphasizing other, more important aspects of their beauty: the allures of intelligence, charm, insight, and wisdom.

Marshall McLuhan's insight that "every new technology requires a revolution" applies poignantly and disruptively to balance of power between male and female. In this case, the new technology is birth control. Before easy to find and use, socially-acceptable birth control, women were severely hampered in the political, social, and familial balance of power struggles. Being pregnant much of their productive years and needing to take care of very needy babies of necessity extremely limited their ability to excel in the political, business, and in almost all income-generating realms. In terms of various kinds of evolution, this almost doubles the capacity; but, at the same time, it threatens masculine roles, creates a heightening of the "war of the sexes," and necessitates a revolution in all cultures around the world.

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Quotes (123)

“The duties of woman are created in the rites of wedding... a husband must be constantly worshiped as a god by a faithful wife... If a wife obeys her husband, she will for that reason alone be exalted in heaven.”

Vyasa व्यास 1 via Ananda Coomaraswamy
Hindu immortals, Vishnu avatar, 5th incarnation of Brahma
from Mahābhārata महाभारतम्

“Lavinia: ‘Why must there be war?... The horrible list of carnage they were making ready for… Why? What was it for? For a pet deer? For a girl? What good would that do?’
Turnus: ‘Without war there are no heroes. What harm would that be? Oh Lavinia, what a woman’s question that is.’”

Lavinia 1 via Ursula Le Guin
Prophetess and co-foundrer of the Roman Empire
from Lavinia

30. No War

“The female creature is a letter. The unborn children are the letters it carries. And the letters—although they have no voices—speak to people far away.”

Sappho 612 – 570 BCE
“The Poetess” and most famous Greek woman

“The mysterious feminine, the root and source of heaven and earth, inexhaustible and unfailing”

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via Shan Dao, chapter #6
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

“Recognize the masculine but turn back to the feminine and become the world’s riverbed.”

Lao Tzu 老子 1 via Shan Dao
from Tao Te Ching 道德经 Dàodéjīng

“Of all things that have life and sense, we women are the most hapless creatures; first must we buy a husband at great price, and then o'er ourselves a tyrant set, which is an evil worse than the first.”

Euripides 480 – 406 BCE
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today
from Trojan Women

“Zeus and Hera were arguing about who got more pleasure from sex: men or women. To settle the argument, they called for Tiresias, who had lived as both. Tiresias took the side of Zeus, saying that women’s pleasure was greater, and Hera, in her fury, turned him blind.”

Euripides 480 – 406 BCE via Robin Robinson
Ancient humanitarian influence continuing today
from Bacchae Βάκχαι

“The difference between men and women is mainly that men beget and women bear children. The pursuits of men are the same as the pursuits of women, the gifts of nature are alike diffused in both so there should be no difference in the kind of education they receive and little difference in the roles of both in the state's administration... a woman's talent is not at all inferior to a man's.”

Socrates 469 – 399 BCE via Shan Dao, et alia
One of the most powerful influences on Western Civilization

“The world’s greatest power is the youth and beauty of a woman.”

Chandragupta Maurya 340 – 297 BCE
Ashoka’s grandfather, founder of the Maurya Empire

“A rich widow weeps with one eye and signals with the other.”

Anonymous 1
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history
from Portuguese proverb

“Woe to the house where the hen crows and the rooster keeps still.”

Anonymous 1
Freedom from the narrow boxes defined by personal history
from Spanish proverb

“Propitious Queen of Love whose vital power, air, earth and sea supplies… by they prolific might, springs and beholds the regions of the light”

Lucretius 99 – 55 BCE via Dryden
(Titus Carus)
from De Rerum Natura (On the Nature of Things)

“Fickle and changeable always is woman.”

Virgil 70 – 19 BCE
(Publius Vergilius Maro)
from Aeneid

“Only she is chaste whom none has invited.”

Ovid oʊvɪd 43 BCE – 18 CE
(Publius Ovidius Naso)
Great poet and major influence on the Renaissance, Humanism, and world literature

from Art of Love, 2 CE

“The basis for realizing enlightenment is a human body. Male or female, there is no great difference. But if she develops the mind bent on enlightenment, the woman's body is better.”

Padmasambhava པདྨཱ་ཀ་ར། 1 via Keith Dowman
("The Lotus-Born", Guru Rinpoche)

“the concepts of the creative and the receptive that originate in the I Ching are symbolized by Heaven and Earth. Through the union of heaven and Earth, there develop the 'ten thousand things', that is, the outer world.”

Lü Dongbin 呂洞賓 1 via Richard Wilhelm
(Lü Tung-Pin)

from Secret of the Golden Flower 太乙金華宗旨; Tàiyǐ Jīnhuá Zōngzhǐ

“The wooden man starts to sing, the stone woman gets up dancing.”

Dongshan Liangjie 洞山良价 807 – 869 CE
(Dòngshān Liángjiè; Tōzan Ryōkai)
from Song of the Precious Mirror Samadhi

“Heaven produces the ten thousand things through yang and brings them to completion through yin.”

Zhou Dunyi 周敦頤 1017 – 1073 CE via Wing-Tsit Chan
(Chou Tun-i)
from Penetrating the Book of Changes

“A superior maiden has the looks of a goddess, longevity, merit, and splendor surround her. Her mind and thoughts are like a crystal vase that seems to be filled with the amrita of everlasting companionship.”

Gesar of Ling གེ་སར་རྒྱལ་པོ། 1 via Robin Kornman
from Gesar of Ling Epic

“Just resting is like the great ocean accepting hundreds of streams, all absorbed into one flavor.. How could they not reach into the genuine source?”

Hóngzhì Zhēngjué 宏智正覺 1091 – 1157 CE

66. Go Low

“Much of the poverty and distress of our times arises from the fact that women are kept like domestic animals or house plants for purposes of gratification.”

Averroes, Ibn Rushd ابن رشد‎‎ 1126 – 1198 CE

“The feminine, the valley, the spontaneity of spiritual transformation, this subtle and profound way to wonder is the most powerfully creative principle”

Zhu Xi 朱熹 1130 – 1200 CE via Wing-Tsit Chan, Shan Dao
(Zhū Xī)

6. The Source

“Women are the treasure house of Buddhism. They are the source out of which every being came forth including Buddha and Bodhidharma!”

Ikkyū Sōjun 休宗純 1394 – 1481 CE via John Stevens
Famous trickster, flute player, and bringer of Zen awareness into everyday life

“No one who is not utterly blind can fail to see that God gathered all the beauty of which the whole world is capable of in woman. Woman far excels Man. Woman was not composed of any inanimate or vile dirt, but of a more refined and purified substance, enlivened and actuated by a Rational Soul, whose operations speak it a beam, or bright ray of Divinity.”

Agrippa 1486 – 1535 CE
(Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim)
Historian of the occult and early, important influence on science
from Female Pre-eminence​

“O night to me more splendid and more blessed than the most blessed and most splendid of days… you've made the bitter taste of this life sweet and dear.”

Gaspara Stampa 1523 – 1554 CE via Jane Tylus
from The Complete Poems

69. No Enemy

“Only when yang descends and yin rises does everything flourish… When sages are above the people, and their hearts are below, we call this uniting with Heaven.”

Deqing 1546 – 1623 CE

68. Joining Heaven & Earth

“Well, knowledge is a fine thing, and mother Eve thought so; but she smarted so severely for hers, that most of her daughters have been afraid of it since.”

Abigail Adams 1744 – 1818 CE
One of the most exceptional women in American history

“Patriotism in the female sex is the most disinterested of all virtues. Excluded from honors and from offices, we cannot attach ourselves to the State or Government. Even in the freest countries, our property is subject to the control and disposal of our partners, to whom the laws have given a sovereign authority. Deprived of a voice in legislation, obliged to submit to those laws which are imposed upon us, is it not sufficient to make us indifferent to the public welfare? Yet all history and every age exhibit instances of patriotic virtue in the female sex; which considering our situation equals the most heroic of yours [men's].”

Abigail Adams 1744 – 1818 CE
One of the most exceptional women in American history

“The Eternal Feminine ever draws us upward.”

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von 1749 – 1832 CE
from Faust, part II

“I do not wish them [women] to have power over men; but over themselves. If women be educated for dependence; that is, to act according to the will of another fallible being, and submit, right or wrong, to power, where are we to stop?”

Mary Wollstonecraft 1759 – 1797 CE
Seminal feminist
from Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)

“A woman can make an average man great, and a great man average.”

Robert Burns 1759 – 1796 CE

“Without women, the beginning of our life would be helpless; the middle, devoid of pleasure; and the end, of consolation.”

Jouy, Victor-Joseph Étienne de 1764 – 1846 CE
French Dramatist

“The origin of all women may be called celestial, for their power is the offspring of the gifts of Nature; but, by yielding to pride and ambition they soon destroy the magic of their charms.”

Madame de Staël 1766 – 1817 CE
(Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein)
"The greatest woman of her time"

“The man's desire is for the woman; but the woman's desire is rarely other than for the desire of the man.”

Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772 – 1834 CE
from Table Talk, 1827

“If fine manners are so admirable in men, how much more effective are they in women.”

Juliette Récamier 1777 – 1849 CE
(Jeanne-Françoise Julie Adélaïde Récamier)
Prototype of beauty, grace, charm, and loyal integrity

“the fundamental fault of the female character is that it has no sense of justice... They are dependent, not upon strength, but upon craft... Therefore a woman who is perfectly truthful and not given to dissimulation is perhaps an impossibility”

Arthur Schopenhauer 1788 – 1860 CE
from Works of Schopenhauer

“Like day she came, making the night a dream
To move, as one between desire and shame
Thou comest from the realm without a name.”

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792 – 1822 CE
from Triumph of Life

“That man over there says that woman needs to be helped into carriages and lifted over ditches... Look at my arm! I have ploughed, and planted, and gathered into bards, and no many could head me! And ain't I a woman?”

Sojourner Truth 1797 – 1883 CE
(Isabella (“Bell”) Baumfree)

“Women are always true, even in the midst of their greatest falsities, because they are always influenced by some natural feeling.”

Balzac 1799 – 1850 CE
(Honoré de Balzac)

“A woman’s strength is the irresistible might of weakness.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson 1803 – 1882 CE
Champion of individualism

61. Lying Low

There is only one sex. A man and a woman are so entirely the same thing, that one hardly understands the mass of distinctions and of subtle reasons with which society is nourished concerning this subject.”

George Sand 1804 – 1876 CE
(Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin)
from Gustave Flaubert letter

“All human beings have the same interest in good government. Gender is as entirely irrelevant to political rights as differences in height or hair color.”

John Stuart Mill 1806 – 1873 CE via Shan Dao
from Representative Government

“A woman is the only thing I am afraid of that I know will not hurt me.”

Abraham Lincoln 1809 – 1865 CE

“[A man] can admire, and he can like, and he can fondle and be fondled. He can admire and approve, and perhaps worship. He can know of a woman that she is part of himself, the most sacred part, and therefore will protect her from the very winds. But all that will not make love. It does not come to a man that to be separated from a woman is to be dislocated from his very self. A man has but one center, and that is himself. A woman has two. Though the second may never be seen by her, may live in the arms of another, may do all for that other that man can do for woman, -- still, still, though he be half the globe asunder from her, still he is to her the half of her existence. If she really love, there is, I fancy no end of it.”

Anthony Trollope 1815 – 1882 CE
Novelist as teacher

from The Duke's Children

“Social progress may be measured precisely by the social position of the fair sex”

Karl Marx 1818 – 1883 CE

3. Weak Wishes, Strong Bones

“Great social changes are impossible without feminine ferment. Social progress can be measured exactly by the social position of the fair sex (ugly ones included).”

Karl Marx 1818 – 1883 CE
from Letter, 1868

“Behold a woman! The old face of the mother of many children, clearer and more beautiful than the sky. The sun just shines on her old white head. The melodious character of the earth, the finish beyond which philosophy cannot go and does not wish to go, the justified mother of men”

Walt Whitman 1819 – 1892 CE via Will Durant, Shan Dao
Premier "poet of democracy" and model for Dracula
from Leaves of Grass

“Here and there is born a Saint Theresa, foundress of nothing, whose loving heartbeats and sobs after an unattained goodness tremble off and are dispersed among hindrances instead of centering in some long recognizable deed.”

George Eliot 1819 – 1880 CE
(Mary Anne Evans)
Pioneering literary outsider

from Middlemarch

“Men and women represent two completely different kinds of consciences and therefore don't understand each other. They merit different kinds of moral law but in practice women are judged by the male rules as if they were a man.”

Henrik Ibsen 1828 – 1906 CE via Shan Dao
"The world's 2nd most-performed playwright"
from A Doll's House

“Judge not a people by the ferocity of its men, but by the steadfastness of its women.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. 1841 – 1935 CE
Game-changing Supreme Court Justice

“A woman is a riddle whose solution is a child.”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE via Will Durant

“The spiritual power of a woman is best demonstrated by her sacrificing her own spirit to that of a man out of love of him and of his spirit but then, despite this sacrifice, immediately evolving a new spirit within the new domain, originally alien to her nature, to which the man's disposition impels her.”

Friedrich Nietzsche 1844 – 1900 CE
from Human All Too Human - A Book for Free Spirits

“We are the slaves of slaves. We are exploited more ruthlessly than men. Whenever wages are to be reduced, the capitalist class use women to reduce them.”

Lucy Parsons 1853 – 1942 CE
(Eldine Gonzalez)
Political activist “more dangerous than a thousand rioters”

“The exemption of women from military service is founded not on any natural inaptitude that men do not share, but on the fact that communities cannot reproduce themselves without plenty of women. Men are more largely dispensable, and are sacrificed accordingly.”

George Bernard Shaw 1856 – 1950 CE
UK playwright second only to Shakespeare
from Saint Joan, 1923

“In human beings there is no such thing as pure masculinity or femininity either in the psychological or the biological sense.”

Sigmund Freud 1856 – 1939 CE
from Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex (1910)

“The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer in spite of my 30 years of research into the feminine soul, is 'What do women want.'”

Sigmund Freud 1856 – 1939 CE

“In human beings, there is no such thing as pure masculinity or femininity, either in the psychological or the biological sense.”

Sigmund Freud 1856 – 1939 CE
from Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex (1910)

“The human race, in its intellectual life, is organized like the bees: the masculine soul is a worker, sexually atrophied, and essentially dedicated to impersonal and universal arts; the feminine is queen, infinitely fertile, omnipresent in its brooding industry, but passive and abounding in intuitions without method and passions without justice... There is something mysterious and oracular about a women’s mind which inspires a certain deference and puts it out of the question to judge what she says by masculine standards.”

Santayana, George 1863 – 1952 CE
(Jorge Agustín Nicolás Ruiz de Santayana y Borrás)
Powerfully influential, true-to-himself philosopher/poet

“A woman's guess is much more accurate than a man's certainty.”

Rudyard Kipling 1865 – 1936 CE
Greatest—in-English—short-story writer

from Plain Tales from the Hills

“Poverty—more generous than wealth—gives women much more than the clothes they cannot buy: that is the desire for those clothes, which leads to the only true, detailed, and profound knowledge of them.”

Marcel Proust 1871 – 1922 CE via Justin O'Brien
Apostle of Ordinary Mind

“The religions of Egypt and Babylonia were originally fertility cults… In Babylon, Ishtar, the earth-goddess, was supreme among female divinities. Throughout western Asia, the Great Mother was worshipped under various names. Greek colonists named her Artemis… Christianity transformed her into the Virgin Mary, and it was Council at Ephesus that legitimated the title Mother of God”

Bertrand Russell 1872 – 1970 CE
“20th century Voltaire”
from History of Western Philosophy

“Don't tell me women are not the stuff of heroes... My body will not allow me to mingle with the men but my heart is far braver than that of a man.”

Qiu Jin 秋瑾 1
"China’s Joan of Arc"

“the psychological relationship between the sexes… the real domain of woman. Woman's psychology is founded on the principle of Eros, the great binder and loosener, whereas from ancient times the ruling principle ascribed to man is Logos.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist

42. Children of the Way

“Woman always stands just where the man's shadow falls, so that he is only too liable to confuse the two. Then, when he tries to repair this misunderstanding, he overvalues her and believes her the most desirable thing in the world.”

Carl Jung 1875 – 1961 CE
Insightful shamanistic scientist

61. Lying Low

“It is this radiance in women, more than any other quality, that urges men to every sort of heroism, be it martial or poetic... Woman possesses the power of perpetually creating in man the qualities she desires, and this is for her an infinitely grater power than the possession of those special qualities could ever confer upon her directly.”

Ananda Coomaraswamy குமாரசுவாமி 1877 – 1947 CE
Perennial philosophy's Citizen of the World
from The Dance of Shiva (1918)

“In all domains of science, art, social work, and government, woman has proved to be capable of reaching the greatest heights when circumstances were favorable... And the many other talented women—actresses, painters, poets, among all nationalities! So many wise leaders, warriors, and great saints among women!”

Helena Roerich Елéна Ивáновна Рéрих 1879 – 1955 CE
from Letters of Helena Roerich II, (1937)

“Being a woman has only bothered me in climbing trees.”

Frances Perkins 1880 – 1965 CE
One of the most influential champions for worker's rights

“No matter how happily a woman may be married, it always pleases her to discover that there is a nice man who wishes she were not.”

Henry Louis Mencken 1880 – 1956 CE
alt.right founding father

“the majestic reality, the flood of energy, which now revealed itself to him: omnipresent, unalterable in its truth, relentless in its development, untouchable in its serenity, maternal and unfailing in its protectiveness.”

Teilhard de Chardin 1881 – 1955 CE via Bernard Wall
from Divine Milieu

25. The Mother of All Things

“In the reproductive functions proper, woman is biologically doomed to suffer. On the other hand, as regards sexual attraction and as regards the erotic pleasures, the woman may be on an equal footing with the man.”

Marie Bonaparte 1
Princess, psychoanalyst, sex scientist

“He thought her beautiful, believed her impeccably wise; dreamed of her, wrote poems to her, which, ignoring the subject, she corrected in red ink.”

Virginia Woolf 1882 – 1941 CE
from Mrs. Dalloway

“All women are not Helen but have Helen in their hearts.”

William Carlos Williams 1883 – 1963 CE

54. Planting Well
61. Lying Low

“She was beautiful in her ignorance, virtuous in her simplicity, and strong in her weakness. Today she has become ugly in her ingenuity, superficial and heartless in her knowledge. Will the day ever come when beauty and knowledge, ingenuity and virtue, and weakness of body and strength of spirit will be united… ?”

Kahlil Gibran 1883 – 1931 CE

61. Lying Low

“There is only one woman in the world. One woman, with many faces.”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE via Film version (1988)
from Last Temptation of Christ

“Helen has become a love cry—to this day every woman reflects her splendor. She traverses the centuries, awakens in every man the yearning for kisses and perpetuation. She transforms every woman we clasp to our breast... sexual desire assumes exalted titles of nobility. At her touch ugly children become beautiful”

Nikos Kazantzakis 1883 – 1957 CE via P. A. Bien
from Report to Greco

“The position of women in early societies was one of subjection verging upon slavery. Her periodic disability, her unfamiliarity with weapons, the biological absorption of her strength in carrying, nurturing, and rearing children, handicapped her in the war of the sexes and doomed her to a subordinate status”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Our Oriental Heritage

“Let me, before I die, sing a hymn in praise of women... if anywhere there is divinity it is here... Catholics have been right in praying chiefly to the mother of God... The grace of her movement is poetry become flesh”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Fallen Leaves

“Most economic advances in early society were made by the woman rather than the man… she developed agriculture, made cotton cloth, developed sewing, weaving, basketry, pottery, woodworking, building, primitive trade, and slowly added man to her list of domesticated animals training him in those social dispositions which are the psychological basis and cement of civilization.”

Will Durant 1885 – 1981 CE
Philosophy apostle and popularizer of history's lessons
from Our Oriental Heritage

“Mary Magdalene beat her breast and sobbed,
The beloved disciple turned to stone,
But where the silent Mother stood, there
No one glanced and no one would have dared.”

Anna Akhmatova Анна Ахматова 1889 – 1966 CE via Judith Hemschemeyer
(Andreyevna Gorenko)
Russia's most loved female poet

“If it is so painful to love and to be charged with this electric current, how much more painful must it be to a woman and to be the current, and to inspire love.”

Boris Pasternak Бори́с Леони́дович Пастерна́к 1890 – 1960 CE
Russia's greatest poet

“Where the woman is faithful, no evil can befall. The woman is the root and the man the tree. The tree grows only as high as the root is strong.”

Pearl Buck 1892 – 1973 CE
from Dragon Seed

“Let woman out of the home, let man into it, should be the aim of education. The home needs man, and the world outside needs woman.”

Pearl Buck 1892 – 1973 CE

68. Joining Heaven & Earth

“All women’s dresses are merely variations on the eternal struggle between the admitted desire to dress and the unedited desire to undress.”

Lín Yǔtáng 林語堂 1895 – 1976 CE

“Women administer the home. They set the rules, enforce them, mete out justice for violations. Thus, like Congress, they legislate; like the Executive, they administer; like the courts, they interpret the rules. It is an ideal experience for politics.”

Margaret Chase Smith 1897 – 1995 CE

“There is a historical rejection of the Mother Goddess implied in the story of the Garden of Eden. The male-god-oriented group rejected it… in religions where the god or creator is the mother, the whole world is her body. There is nowhere else”

Joseph Campbell 1904 – 1987 CE
Great translator of ancient myth into modern symbols
from Power of Myth

“wisdom is represented by the divine female form, compassionate action by the divine male. Both symbolize the lunar and solar psychic faculties in human beings, which must be integrated in the process of enlightenment.”

Li Gotami Govinda 1906 – 1988 CE
(Ratti Petit)
Pioneering, fearless, artistic woman of wisdom
from Tibet in Pictures

“If we ever doubted that women are the Forgotten Men of history, the Adams epic should remind us… despite the fact that Abigail was one of the brightest, most public-minded, and most sacrificing of the family, she has been treated as little more than a mirror for her husband and the age.”

Daniel J. Boorstin 1914 – 2004 CE
American intellectual Paul Revere
from Hidden History, 1987

“The trouble with girls is, if they like a boy, no matter how big a bastard he is, they'll say he has an inferiority complex and if they don't like him, no matter how nice a guy he is, or how big an inferiority complex he has, they'll say he's conceited. Even smart girls do it.”

J. D. Salinger 1919 – 2010 CE
from Catcher in the Rye

“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.”

Timothy Leary 1920 – 1996 CE
Pioneering psychonaut, performing philosopher, and counter-cultural hero

“He who is aware of the Male but keeps to the Female... has the Eternal power which never fails.”

Jack Kerouac 1922 – 1969 CE
from Some of the Dharma

“I know of no industrial society where women are the economic equals of men. Of everything that economics measures, women get less.”

Ivan Illich 1926 – 2002 CE
"an archaeologist of ideas"
from Gender

“A woman in harmony with her spirit is like a river flowing. She goes where she will without pretense and arrives at her destination prepared to be herself and only herself.”

Maya Angelou 1928 – 2014 CE

“A wise woman wishes to be no one’s enemy, a wise woman refuses to be anyone’s victim.”

Maya Angelou 1928 – 2014 CE

“[Discussions about] gender bring us right up face-to-face with sex, as well as love… the functioning of society and the conditions of freedom.”

Ursula Le Guin 1929 – 2018 CE
from Matter of Seggri

“The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mode but the true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives the passion that she shows. The beauty of a woman grows with the passing years.”

Audrey Hepburn 1929 – 1993 CE

61. Lying Low

“A women's place in history has never been given the attention that it needs to be given, and that's why we have a lot of the misogyny in our society today.”

Dolores Huerta 1930 CE –

“According to the Tantric path, women are the source of wisdom phenomena and the support of desireless bliss through desire... those who do not depend on women can never be liberated.”

Thinley Norbu གདུང་སྲས་ཕྲིན་ལས་ནོར་བུ 1931 – 2011 CE
(Kyabjé Dungse)
from Magic Dance (1981)

“Tell us what it is to be a woman so that we may know what it is to be a man. What moves at the margin. What it is to have no home in this place. To be set adrift from the one you knew. What it is to live at the edge of towns that cannot bear your company.”

Toni Morrison 1931 – 2019 CE
(Chloe Ardelia Wofford)
Story-telling voice of American wisdom
from Nobel Prize Lecture (1993)

“A trophy wife polishing her veneer continues a hopeless path toward obsolescence.”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –

“The masculine principle proves best at innovation, action, beginning new things; the feminine principle best at maintaining and nurturing the newly created. Genghis Khan was a genius at creating a new world culture of religious, ethnic, and gender equality but his sons could not maintain it, modern civilization was saved by his daughters.”

Shan Dao 山道 1933 CE –

“The pedestal on which some thought women were standing all too often turned out to be a cage.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg 1933 – 2020 CE
Fierce and influential voice for justice, equality, and women's rights

“I think that all women are witches, in the sense that a witch is a magical being. And a wizard, which is a male version of a witch, is kind of revered, and people respect wizards. But a witch, my god, we have to burn them. It’s the male chauvinistic society that we’re living in for the longest time, 3,000 years or whatever. And so I just wanted to point out the fact that men and women are magical beings. We are very blessed that way, so I’m just bringing that out. Don’t be scared of witches, because we are good witches, and you should appreciate our magical power.”

Yoko Ono 小野 洋子 1933 CE –
(“Ocean Child”)

“A woman watches her body uneasily, as though it were an unreliable ally in the battle for love.”

Leonard Cohen 1934 – 2016 CE

“The Western Woman will save the world.”

Dalai Lama XIV Tenzin Gyatso 1935 CE –

“Here's all you have to know about men and women: women are crazy, men are stupid. And the main reason women are crazy is that men are stupid. ("And the reason men are stupid is that women are crazy." - Shan Dao)”

George Carlin 1937 – 2008 CE
One of the most influential social commentators of his time

“We are not saying that the feminine principle belongs to women and the masculine principle belongs to men. Realization does not belong to either sex. Wherever there is a perceiver, that is the masculine principle; wherever there is a perception, that is the feminine principle.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa

“No matter how happily a woman may be married, it always pleases her to discover that there is a really nice man who wishes she were not.”

Mary Catherine Bateson 1939 CE –

“Because of the feminine principle… there is a lot of room, openness, groundlessness… no one is standing on any ground so communication can take place quite freely.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE
from Illusion's Game

6. The Source

“The mother principle, the feminine principle of basic sanity is the basic ground of pure space uncorrupted by dualistic confusion. A fundamental and cosmic principle, it constantly gives birth churning out the colorful display of phenomena while protecting and nurturing discrimination.”

Chögyam Trungpa 1939 – 1987 CE via Shan Dao
from The Collected Works of Chogyam Trungpa

“Instead of getting hard ourselves and trying to compete, women should try and give their best qualities to men - bring them softness, teach them how to cry.”

Joan Baez 1941 CE –

“Never before or since have women [the daughters of Genghis Khan] exercised so much power over so many people and ruled so much territory for a long as these women did.”

Jack Weatherford 1945 CE –
from Secret History of the Mongol Queens

“Contemporary feminism cut itself off from history and bankrupted itself when it spun its paranoid fantasy of male oppressors and female sex-object victims. Woman is the dominant sex. Woman’s sexual glamour has bewitched and destroyed men since Delilah and Helen of Troy.”

Camille Paglia 1947 CE –
Fearless and insightful status quo critic
from Sex, Art and American Culture : New Essays (1992)​

“when they tell you that I was heartless, a shameless man-chaser, don't forget this: I loved what I saw... what aggravates them is I've never shed one solitary tear... as we all know, a woman is supposed to cry.”

Louise Erdrich 1954 CE – via Love Medicine

“I am one of those women who love sex... something women are still not supposed to admit in polite society... some women love sex more than they love love, some love love more than they love sex, some love them both at once... then there are women who would rather stay at home any day and read a book instead”

Linda Jaivin 1955 CE – via Women Love Sex

“The minds of men are an evolutionary record of the past behavior of women. And vice versa.”

Robert Wright 1957 CE –
from Moral Animal — Why we are the Way we Are

“women weren't designed to be suburban housewives”

Robert Wright 1957 CE –
from Moral Animal — Why we are the Way we Are

“Each of us is descended from innumerable generations of men who lied, cheated, charmed, bullied, or killed their way to sexual intercourse, and from innumerable generations of women who charmed, seduced, lied, or manipulated their way to extracting economic privileges in return for access to their bodies.”

Paul Seabright 1958 CE –
Author and British Professor of Economics
from War of the Sexes

“There is no boy, at this age, cute enough or interesting enough to stop you from getting an education. If I had worried about who liked me and who thought I was cute when I was your age, I wouldn’t be married to the President of the United States.”

Michelle Obama 1964 CE –

“Men invented money. Women invented mutual aid.”

David Mitchell 1969 CE –
from Bone Clocks

44. Fame and Fortune

“Men need to get laid. For women it's less of a 'must' and more of a 'might be nice' or a 'possibly.' We can't win. If we don't play the game, we're frigid or we can't get a man. If we play the game too much, we're a slut, the village bike, damaged goods... patriarchy is a stitch-up.”

David Mitchell 1969 CE –
from Utopia Avenue

“The veil deliberately marks women as private and restricted property, nonpersons. The veil sets women apart from men and apart from the world; it restrains them, confines them, grooms them for docility. A mind can be cramped just as a body may be, and a Muslim veil blinkers both your vision and your destiny. It is the mark of a kind of apartheid, not the domination of a race but of a sex.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali 1969 CE –
Powerful voice for Islamic reform

“Taoism is unique among the major schools of Chinese thought in emphasizing the priority of the feminine principle (yin) over the masculine principle (yang).”

Yi-Ping Ong 1978 CE –
from Tao Te Ching - Introduction and Notes

“extremists are afraid of books and pens, the power of education… of women.”

Malala Yousafzai ملالہ یوسفزئی 1997 CE –
from I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

Comments (1)

  1. Shan Dao
    Shan Dao 6 years ago
    The idea that things need to get worse before they can get better, that they need to get more dire before they can motivate change seems to be playing out with the explosion of sexual misconduct accusations. Trump’s blatant Access Hollywood tape may have started a momentum tide that we’re seeing today. If so, hopefully this same dynamic will play out in many more ways. Called a “war on men” though, this reaction may be too dualistic not recognizing the male side of the feminine and the female side of masculine. As always, the focus on a specific, external problem can expose much broader and deeper issues. In this case, the imbalance, misunderstanding, and distortion of male-female relationship. $25 billion+/year in the US and Europe is spent on cosmetics and perfume while $6 would provide basic education, $8 would provide water and sanitation, $12 would provide reproductive health care for all in developing countries. ($780 billion spent each year on militaries). It’s ironic that so much spent on making women more seductive and attractive which generates huge and unknown amounts spent on sexual harassment law suits. Of course, the innocence defense used by rapists based on their victims wearing sexy clothes is completely bogus and they are still guilty even if a scantily-clad woman walks down a dark alley in the middle of the night. That doesn’t make that woman’s behavior any less foolish though. Perhaps in a similar way, spending $25 billion a year on perfumes and cosmetics, a corresponding amount on sexy clothes, liposuction, and cosmetic surgery; could represent a feminine participation in our rampant sexual assault statistics. Hopefully this will lead to a relationship reprioritizing from face to heart, from external attractiveness to inner goodness, to valuing the depth more than the surface.
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