The Divine Feminine is found in the East as well as the West. Consider
In China the Tao is honored as “the Great Mother, Mother of the universe” who is “always present within you.” She is both cosmic and intimate. She “flows through all things, inside and outside and returns to the origin of all things.” All things obey her for while humans follow the earth and the earth follows the universe, “the universe follows the Tao. The Tao follows only itself.” She is the source of all and consequently “every being in the universe is an expression of the Tao” and “every being spontaneously honors the Tao.”
The Tibetan name “Tara” means both “Star” and “Tear.” Mahayana Buddhism worships the Divine Mother as Tara, who is said to have been born out of one of the tears of the Buddha of compassion that fell to the earth. She who saves and restores was born from that tear. She offers liberation and illumination in our everyday life. Enlightenment is available to all. She is addressed in a Tibetan litany as “our mother: great compassion! Our mother: a thousand hands, a thousand eyes! Our mother: Cooling like water! Our mother: ripening like fire! Our mother: spreading like wind! Our mother: prevailing like space!”
In China, Kuan Yin is considered the Bodhisattva* of Compassion who listens and responds to the cries of all beings. Like Mary and Artemis, she is a virgin Goddess who “protects women, offers them a religious life as an alternative to marriage, and grants children to those who want them.” She is omnipresent for “in the lands of the universe there is no place where she does not manifest herself” and her wondrous compassion everywhere “pours spiritual rain like nectar” everywhere while “quenching the flames of distress.”
In Hinduism, we see the ancient honoring of Shakti, the Mother and creative life-force of the universe, who also dwells within every human being. She creates, sustains, destroys, and remakes all things. Yet she is intimate as well. She is terrible as well as tender, Destroyer as well as Preserver. The Vedas honor her as the “Mighty Mother…the underlying Spirit in Nature, in human relations.” A Vedic hymn sings: “The Goddess who exists in all beings as Mother, obeisance to her! Obeisance to her!”
* A Bodhisattva is a being who vows to not enter Nirvana until they have helped every sentient being enter there first.
Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells, Wisdom Springing From Global Faiths, pp 117-139
Query for Contemplation
Take a moment to consider these four eastern goddesses. Do any of them resonate within you? Do you recognize yourself in these descriptions?
Carry that Goddess in your spiritual imagination today and honor her each time you notice her traits moving through you.
Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.
Too often, notions of God have been used as a means to control and to promote a narrow worldview. In Naming the Unnameable, renowned theologian and author Matthew Fox ignites our imaginations by offering a colorful range of Divine Names gathered from scientists and poets and mystics past and present, inviting us to always begin where true spirituality begins: from experience.