November 10th 2019

Last time I wrote I mentioned the appearance in my meditation of a ‘forest of vaginas’. Initially I wasn’t going to mention it, but having decided that I was going to be open about my experiences I went ahead. The image not only stayed with me for a while but coincided with a shift to a much more deeply satisfying and contented experience in meditation. Then I remembered that Milarepa had also had a similar experience and on reflection the meaning of the image became clear. The image also touches on one important dimension of my mythic life.

In 1972 I had a dream. A dark haired woman dressed only in a red silk bath robe sat on the edge of a bath. As she stood to face me the robe fell aside to reveal a line of mystic symbols on her body from her throat, between her breasts, across her belly and finally to the dark triangle which was the most mysterious and powerful symbol of all. I was fascinated by this mysterious woman. A few months later on a Keffolds retreat I started to feel that I was part woman, and indeed could feel my breasts, although they remained invisible. I talked to Bhante about it. He said not to worry, most men had ten percent of woman within them. I snapped back that I was not ten percent woman I was fifty percent. He was noticeably surprised. I continued to feel that I was both male and female and gradually I became able to distinguish somatically and psychologically the two sides of my personality. When I was ordained in 1973 Bhante gave me the name Manjuvajra explaining that it represented both masculine and feminine energies which I should try to develop equally. Over the following decades, partly consciously but mostly spontaneously in dreams or meditation, I have gradually developed an inner life based on symbols associated with gender and sexual union. I often experience dhyanic states in terms of sexual symbolism and although I have not always found a sympathetic ear when I discussed this realm with friends, I gradually gained confidence in the myth – which, through the dakini, links in strongly with the ideal of Freedom and Renunciation which is another strong mythic current running through my life. In the mid 1980’s I had a series of experiences involving union with my feminine side that changed me in quite fundamental ways, and symbols relating to this myth are still strong in my dreams and meditation.

I could say a lot more but let me come back to that forest. In a forest you are completely surrounded by trees; I was completely surrounded by the essence of femininity; the rigidity of my mind softened; my dry emotional state became moist and rich; a source of new life was there and over the next few days the bleakness I’d been experiencing relaxed into a happy state of contentment, which I’m pleased to say continues.

Meanwhile back in the Kamaloka, Vajrabandhu, Aryanaga and I have finished clearing away a lot of rubbish and laying a gravel terrace in front of the house. It is very satisfying that we have done something to make Uttaraloka more attractive – this is the objective of our short daily work periods.