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The Divine Mother
The Divine Mother. Image: GoranH / Pixabay

From the Editors
Vol. 48, No. 1

The Divine Feminine

THIS ISSUE OF Collaboration focuses on the divine feminine as a powerful presence and force in our world. In the Integral Yoga, this presence is known as the Divine Mother. However, there are many names and forms that the presence of the divine feminine takes since it has prominence in many diverse cultures around the world. The recognition of this force has deep historical and even prehistoric roots. Although the representation of male divinity has been emphasized in some traditions with the result that recognition of the divine feminine has been suppressed; nevertheless, the reality of the divine feminine persists and remains prominent. In fact, both feminine and masculine representations of divinity can be compatible and exist in a harmonious relation. Sri Aurobindo describes this sublime compatibility eloquently in a sequence of passages from Savitri (Part I, Book I, Canto IV, “The Secret Knowledge”) about the play of the disguised divine masculine and divine feminine in the manifestation. He sums up at one point with the line: “This whole wide world is only he and she.”

The consciousness of the divine feminine has been sensed and experienced in all cultures and can be regarded as the overarching consciousness which orchestrates the life of our world and the universe—the consciousness that exists above all and which cares for all. This wonderful consciousness has been called by Sri Aurobindo, simply, the Mother. This divine presence and force exists at transcendent, universal, and individual levels. Most people experience it at the individual level in the inner being—the heart of hearts. More specifically this presence is felt especially by the psychic element in our nature, the psychic being, the spark of the Divine within us all. It is this that resonates with the truth of the divine presence and, in the language of the Integral Yoga, effectuates the progressive surrender to the Divine.

Sri Aurobindo has written extensively about the significance of the Divine Mother and he has also written about the importance of the soul’s offering of itself to her divine presence and reality. The progressive offering, which in effect constitutes one’s surrender to the will of the Divine, ultimately becomes surrender to the Divine Mother. This action in the being greatly enables one’s progress, as the divine Shakti takes up the work of the yoga for the sincerely surrendered individual.

The articles in this issue cannot begin to express fully the range, scope and significance of the divine feminine in our world. Yet, we hope that they will give some indication. Among the expressions of the divine feminine in the current issue is a poem, “Infinity’s Star,” by Rod Hemsell, from his recently published book, Journey to the House of Light (Raya Publishing, available from major booksellers), a series of poetic expressions focused on nature and spirit as they mirror each other in the journey to oneness and transformation. The book also includes beautifully evocative photos by Edith Stadig.

Lynda Lester has contributed the text of a talk given on “The Transitional Being and Mother’s Yoga of Matter.” This describes how evolution is both spiritual and physical and includes discussion of the Mother’s work on the very cells of her body. Lynda notes that the Mother’s evolutionary work in the body was based primarily on surrender to the Divine, a practice which all can include in their daily lives.

Gary Millar has contributed a lovely poem, “O Wild Cherry Tree,” which reflects the joy and beauty of springtime, and also an essay, “The Divine Feminine in Nature,” about a pilgrimage experience in the Himalayas, where he has lived for many years. In this essay, Gary offers a vibrant description of that journey. Martha Orton has also contributed a poetic tribute to the Divine Mother, “Divine Presence.”

Many readers of this journal will have heard of Jyotipriya, the spiritual name which Sri Aurobindo gave to Judith Tyberg. Bahman Shirazi has contributed a deep appreciation of Jyotipriya, “A Tribute to Jyotipriya,” and her role in establishing the Integral Yoga in the U.S.

Another person who has made a significant contribution to the Integral Yoga in this country, Dakshina Vanzetti, is beautifully honored in a powerful remembrance by Prapanna Smith. For many of us, Prapanna’s heartfelt tribute will bring back vivid memories of Dakshina and her role with Sri Aurobindo Sadhana Peetham and beyond, including her many talents and accomplishments, not only as an artist, but also as a leader with courage and conviction empowered by faith.

Continuing her exploration of the Shakers and their founder Mother Ann Lee from the previous issue of Collaboration, Susan Curtiss notes that the age-old longing of humanity to transform its nature and become one with God found an astonishing expression in England’s American colonies. Mother Ann attempted to bring spiritual knowledge into a living community wholly committed to a form of a perfected divine life.

This issue also includes enlightening quotations from Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, which focus particularly on the reality of the divine feminine and its significance in life.

Martha Orton for the editorial team