In our original form, as we were first created, male and female were all rolled up into one. And when all us fallen beings finish with this fabulous mystery tour, male and female will be one once again. In the meantime, as a byproduct of the Fall, man and woman are separate and split.

In general, the lower we are in our development, the more we are split into a greater number of parts. By the time we arrive here on planet Earth as human beings, our split is twofold. And so it is that we look around and find ourselves among two sexes: man and woman.

The goal of spiritual development is to make our way back to the original Oneness. So the pairing up of men and women has deep meaning.
The goal of spiritual development is to make our way back to the original Oneness. So the pairing up of men and women has deep meaning.

The goal of spiritual development is to make our way back to the original unity—the Oneness. So the pairing up of the sexes—the union of men and women—has much deeper meaning than mere baby-making. It’s in the relationship between men and women that we can overcome so much. We can learn so much; our development can proceed better than from any other way. Love, when kindled by eros and the sexual impulse, can flower more readily than it can in any other relationships. And love—well, that’s always the ultimate aim.

And yet isn’t it true that relationships between men and women offer more hurdles and more friction that just about anything else? This is because our personal emotions are more involved. As a result, we lack objectivity and detachment. This is why marriage is, at once, the most difficult of all relationships and the most fruitful, the most important, and the most bliss-filled.

Ever since humans arrived on the scene, certain misconceptions and mass images—collective wrong beliefs—have cropped up. For example, superficially, we seem to think there are so many differences between men and women. In reality, it’s not nearly as much as we think. Because every man carries inside his soul the female component of his nature, and women carry the male side of theirs. It’s like we each contain an imprint of our other half which is wandering around somewhere in the universe.

This imprint isn’t just a picture or a reproduction, it’s a real, living part of the nature of our personality. It is the other side of the coin, but it’s not completely hidden. It’s more like a disc that tilts more to one side occasionally, then to the other.

And it’s that live imprint of the other half in each of our souls that keeps us longing and searching for union, for companionship, for love with someone of the other sex. It’s the origin of our drive for sexual connection. It also accounts for the so-called male traits that show up in women, and the female traits in males. The more flexible the disc, the more we’ll see these opposite traits; the more rigid, the less so. But this doesn’t mean they are not there.

The healthier we are in our soul substance, the less we will be influenced by mass images that tell us “men are like this” and “women are like that”. So then the more opposite traits will unfold in a constructive way. Our two sides will harmonize rather than go against the grain of the accepted typical traits.

The Pull: Relationships & Their Spiritual Significance

If there is one collective belief we hold onto the most stubbornly regarding manliness and womanliness, it would be this: a man is supposed to be strong and a woman is supposed to be weak. And these: a man is supposed to be intellectual and creative, while a woman is supposed to resonate more with her emotions and not be as intellectual. A man: not intuitive or sensitive; a woman: both intuitive and sensitive. A man: active; a woman: passive. These concepts and the many similar variations that accompany them have been with us since time immemorial.

There were certain ancient cultures where the scale reversed, with everything swinging over to the opposite extreme; this flip-flopping still happens today in some respects. But movement from one extreme to the next comes from rebellion and misunderstanding, so it’s just as mired in mud—equally messed up and untrue. As such, it leads us right back where we started, stuck in the original alternative we were rebelling against. It’s only a matter of time.

So let’s go back to the original truth, which is that all these supposedly male and female qualities are present in each one of us. Each has a right to be there, and having both doesn’t diminish our manhood or womanhood in the slightest. Nay, quite the contrary is true.

Painting with a broad brush, there are two effects from these mistaken beliefs. First off, both men and women suppress the opposite qualities in themselves, causing each to feel guilty and inadequate, which is extremely harmful. Secondly, the misconceptions have caused each to deliberately overemphasize the traits that are supposed to fit each sex.

For century after century, men have been working on developing their physical prowess as well as their intellectual capacity. They have been nursing their active side. Simultaneously, men have suppressed their emotions and discouraged their intuitive nature from unfolding. With woman, the opposite has occurred. The loser in all of this has been humanity, as a whole.

Individuals are saddled with imbalance and disharmony, and entire societies have also been affected. Technical advances and an overemphasis on science and the mind have been the outcome of the man’s world. But the corresponding soul qualities have been neglected. The result? Wars and mismanagement of the world’s riches. Not good. And not so simple to remedy. No matter how clever we are, there are no outer measures that can fix the world situation and create justice on the planet unless we establish a balance of these forces in individual souls.

For many a millennia, women were forced to suppress their intelligence and creativity. What a shame, given what they could have been capable of if these were developed and integrated with her intuition and emotions. But whenever these forbidden soul qualities presented themselves, she was quick to pound them back out of guilt. She also felt she was protecting her own best interests. After all, acting in such unwomanly ways could cost her the love of a man. After a good long while, she finally said Enoughand rebelled. This is what we refer to as “emancipation.”

Creating change by way of rebellion, though, is not the most healthy or constructive way to go about things. Rebellion is revolution, and revolution is always in opposition to evolution—which means real growth. In real growth, we unfold slowly as we gain a profound understanding of the self and whatever the issue is at hand. But rebellion, or revolution, always hides an unrecognized anger that we project onto the world. So the change that a revolution or rebellion brings about ignores something vital about the self. This ignorance, then, prevents healthy growth. Doh.

Yes, there was some true growth happening in the emancipation of women. But it was largely built on rebellion. So then we scratch our heads wondering why it hasn’t been a grand success. Ever since, in fact, when women assert their equality with men by adopting more “manly” traits, they actually diminish their womanhood, making it seem like those who are still upholding the wrong beliefs are correct. The way out of this is to completely understand the personal inner issue. Then rebellion and resentment will stop automatically. We will give up the ghost.

What happened historically is that women received this inner message to unfold those dormant qualities that she had been suppressing for centuries. She went through with it, but acted out rebelliously because she didn’t get the message quite right. She didn’t unfold her intelligence and strength, her creativity and her activity, she just rebelled. So she ended up becoming less of a woman.

What about the men? They were also receiving an inner message. But he didn’t have as much reason to jump on the bandwagon as the women did. He was in a good position to go on satisfying the rulership principle of the infant that lives within the human psyche. So the harmonizing currents that were trying to establish balance on Earth also touched the men. Like it or not, he got swept along in the movement, but was half-hearted about it since he didn’t really comprehend what was going on.

For centuries, men had been developing in a one-sided way, emphasizing their intellect, resourcefulness and physical strength. But they thwarted their emotions and intuitive nature. Since we can’t have true inner strength without pulling this latter half into the mix, men have weakened themselves at their very core. By denying traits that they thought of as unmanly, men became less of a man. And so today it often seems that women are stronger emotionally than men. And often they are.

The Pull: Relationships & Their Spiritual Significance

Good news: lately, we seem to be heading in the right direction. That direction is harmonization and the unfolding of our hidden and forbidden sides. But we’re still a little loosey-goosey about where we’re trying to go with this. And our personal sideways issues are still mingled in. As such, we use the great aim of equality as a screen to hide and foster wrong motives. For women, this promotes her use of aggression and being hostile. For men, he moves to weakness and dependence. Whenever we muddle up good motives with shady ones—and we don’t see that this is the case—the outcome is doubtful. This happens personally as well as collectively.

The growing population of people who are homosexual, in both sexes, is an outcome of misunderstanding the soul’s message to unfold its total nature—to develop one’s other side. The direction we are to go is always given to us, so that we can be in alignment with the universal spiritual laws relating to love, truth and justice. But we sometimes misread the tea leaves regarding how to find all within ourselves that deviates from divine principles.

So we may feel the inner deviation but we try to superimpose the right way to proceed. This can’t work. Because when we do this, we are driven by compulsion and a desire to rebel, even when we think we are going about things in the right way. But our development then slides into the wrong channel instead of producing real balanced growth. If men develop qualities such as softness, they will become more manly, provided they don’t do so with immature dependency. If women develop healthy strength, activity and creative powers, they will become more womanly. Provided, that is, they don’t do so by way of aggression, hostility and rebellion.

The differences between men and women aren’t that great. Even anatomically, we can be seen as the negative of a photograph paired with the positive. What shows up as black in one appears as white in the other, and vice versa.

The Pull: Relationships & Their Spiritual Significance

These collective loads of misguided thinking, also called mass images, are always based on the individually wrapped wrong conclusions in our own noggins. Freeing ourselves from mass images then can’t happen by dissing society; we’ve got to find them within. That’s the only way to restore the whole system—yours, mine and ours—to harmony. When we bring our whole nature into focus by uncovering hidden wrong conclusions, we will be able to find unity on the whole planet. No other way than this. The up-shot of doing this work of healing is that it also enables us to have successful relationships with intimate partners. We will be able to make marriage the satisfying and meaningful venture it has the potential to be.

In this day and age, there is a ton of advice and counseling available to support us in our personal development. But if we ignore these basic realities about men and women, the help we get may be superficial. In truth, we can’t find union if we are continuing to develop lopsidedly, pitting either of the sexes and their characteristic traits against the other.

In truth, both men and women manifest activity and passivity. We just highlight different aspects. The woman’s activity should enliven her receptivity so she doesn’t become passive and stale. She’ll remain fluid and flowing. The man’s activity should be used to bring his passivity to the forefront so he doesn’t become too aggressive. This will take off the edges, rounding him out and mellowing him. Both, in the end, are doing the same thing, only the opposite side is turning inside out, so to speak.

Without the feminine qualities of love, kindness and intuition, the masculine soul qualities of intelligence, understanding and reason are nothing; they won’t result in anything constructive. But love, kindness and intuition without the benefit of discernment, which comes from reason and intelligence, will get lost in wrong channels and become destructive—possibly self-destructive. So one set of qualities without its matching counterpart will result in exaggeration, or stalemate. But together they can create a happy, harmonious whole individual who is ready to join another in forming an ideal union.

The Pull: Relationships & Their Spiritual Significance

From where we stand today, marriage is a tough row to hoe. It will be a few hundred more years before humanity will have reached the point in which most marriages are truly successful. But isn’t that all the more reason to try—to make the best of it and learn from where we’re at? Because there is so much we stand to gain.

We cannot force union, however. We can’t slap a good intention over the top of unconscious fears and blocks, and just hope for the best. Forcing won’t bring us to happily ever after. But we can try to bring as much error into the light of day as possible. We can search for misguided notions like the belief that love is weakening and dangerous. Any marriage would take a hit if that belief is lurking around.

Over time, in a marriage, each person must learn to communicate, which can be difficult when emotional issues rear up. Men may evade talking things over due to their tendency to shy away from emotions. Many men are afraid of emotions, thinking they are dangerous. They believe that if they can’t avoid feelings, they should at least keep them hidden in a closet—especially when they are causing problems. Misunderstandings are problems, which reminds men to keep these pesky emotions under wraps.

There can also be a mass image claiming it’s beneath a man’s dignity to have an intellectual conversation with a woman who is supposed to be his inferior. Perhaps he will be comfortable discussing neutral topics, but when personal shortcomings come into the picture, which inevitably happens during quarrels in a marriage, he fears not being able to cope with the woman. She is jeopardizing his masculinity.

Since women, by nature, tend to dwell on emotional subjects and in particular on anything personal, they are more well-prepared and better versed in this respect. The man, then, is afraid of losing to her. To him, it’s about more than losing an argument; he is facing, he thinks, losing part of his masculine dignity. All this, because he has shied away from facing his own rightful emotional nature.

As always, there is a corresponding hiccup in the woman’s make-up. She may cover up her aggression and hostility, resenting the man for putting up a façade of a reasonable discussion. There may even be some positive goodwill present for that to happen, but to the extent she also has a negative motive, there will be a resonance in the deeper levels of the man’s being. So then he reacts negatively, making the woman more furious that she is not able to address things constructively.

The way forward here is to go slowly. Don’t force anything and don’t try to convince each other of anything; that rarely solves much. Instead, we need to search inside for what we’re doing to attract a negative response. Sure, the other might be wrong. But surely, we think, there’s nothing amiss in ourselves. Think again. This time without the convincing rationalizations. Once we find our hidden emotions, it won’t be such a mystery why others react negatively to us when we were believing we had only the purest motives. Marriage offers a wonderful mirror for this type of self-reflection.

The Pull: Relationships & Their Spiritual Significance

We can see the reflection of this whole subject in the physical bodies of men and women. For example, both sexes have both kinds of hormones: testosterone and estrogen. Women can’t live without having male hormones present, nor men without female hormones. This is proof—a physical symbol—of the way that both aspects exist in both sexes. It’s just a question of balance and distribution.

Many of us are under the general impression that only women go through certain cycles in their lives: the cycles of menstruation and the change of life. But men also go through similar cycles. They just don’t manifest in the same way. In order to discover these cycles and the principles by which they work, humanity’s psychological development must keep pace with spiritual and metaphysical progress. Then each man will be able to find his own cycle, which work individually in men rather than according to set biological rules, as in women.

The principle of men’s cycles can be compared to an astrological chart that has been prepared separately for each individual. So a man’s cycle is similar in principle to a horoscope. The rhythms of men’s uniquely individual cycles have a profound significance in a man’s life.

One can also consider the reality that not only women give birth. It is the woman who gives birth physically, but men can give spiritual birth, in their souls, so to speak. The same laws that hold true for physical birth apply here. For example, the health of his soul will determine if the spiritual birth is healthy, troubled or aborted.

Spiritual birth happens when a man, through his creativity, gives birth to a beautiful, constructive idea. Such a blessing can become usable and workable in all realms, not just the physical one. This is so because thoughts and ideas are alive. We tend to take this as a figure of speech, but the process that births an idea is the same as the one that ushers a baby into the world.

Women, of course, are also creative, so females can also give spiritual birth—and we do. In fact, it is only the female side of our nature that is capable of giving birth. Since in women this side mostly turns outward on the tilting masculine-feminine disc, physical birth takes place. But that doesn’t prevent her from also giving mental and spiritual birth at other times, when this face of the disc may be turned inward. Men, on the other hand, have this birth-giving feminine side of their nature always turned inward.

These words may sound strange—perhaps even a bit simplistic—as a way of explaining the interrelationship between men and women, or between masculine and feminine qualities, but if we open to them, they may open new vistas inside of us, helping us to understand ourselves and broaden our perceptions.

The Pull: Relationships & Their Spiritual Significance

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Read Original Pathwork® Lecture: #62 Man and Woman