A Sacred Marriage of East & West, Feminine & Masculine

I see a Great Marriage of East and West, Buddha and Christ beginning to happen: Buddha’s holy patience and serenity; and Jesus’ holy impatience and passion for justice.  We need both.  We need a Sacred Marriage.  Every individual and every community needs both holy patience and holy impatience. 

“Christ and Buddha” by Paul Ranson, 1880. Wikimedia Commons.

Gandhi himself, representing the ancient eastern wisdom of Hinduism, said that he learned to say “No!” from the West.  Hinduism was overly patient in Gandhi’s eyes with allowing the continuance of impoverishment toward the ‘untouchables.’  “Next incarnation they will do better,” was the shibboleth.  “No!” said Gandhi.  Justice needs to happen swifter.  Gandhi represents a marriage of East and West. 

So does his disciple (who was also Jesus’ disciple), Martin Luther King, jr. whose spirit-filled activism filled the jails and the streets with marchers demanding their rights and an end to racial injustice. 

Father Bede Griffiths was an English Benedictine monk who lived and worked in an ashram in southern India for fifty years.  In his book called The Marriage of East and West, Griffiths proposes that the Sacred Marriage of East and West will parallel the Sacred Marriage of the Masculine and the Feminine.  The West specializes more in the masculine; the East more in the Feminine.

Bede Griffiths speaking during retreat in Denmark circa June 1984. Originally posted to Flickr by Dialogcentret billedarkiv.

He says: The ideas of Western science and democracy have penetrated to every part of the world–they are marks of the growth of humanity to a greater maturity, to a greater realization of what it means to be human. 

But he warns that something is missing as well.  But the limitations of Western science and democracy have become more and more evident.  The disastrous effects of Western industrialism, physical, social and psychological, polluting the world and threatening to destroy it, are only too evident. 

Bede’s solution?  The Western world…has now to rediscover the power of the feminine, intuitive mind, which has largely shaped the cultures of Asia and Africa and of tribal people everywhere.  This is a problem not only of the world as a whole, but also of religion.


Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp.262f.

To read the transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Guanyin, who originated as the Sanskrit Avalokitesvara, Bodhisattva of Compassion (all bodhisattvas were originally male), then was later represented as a goddess; in the Honolulu Museum of Art in Honolulu, Hawaii. Photo by Thad Zajdowicz on Flickr. “Black Madonna of Montserrat” Photo by Patty on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you agree that the limitations of Western science and democracy have become more and more evident—and even more so since Griffiths wrote his book in 2003?

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

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8 thoughts on “A Sacred Marriage of East & West, Feminine & Masculine”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you ask, “Do you agree that the limitations of Western science and democracy have become more and more evident—and even more so since Griffiths wrote his book in 2003?” Yes I do! You begin by saying, “I see a Great Marriage of East and West, Buddha and Christ beginning to happen: Buddha’s holy patience and serenity; and Jesus’ holy impatience and passion for justice. We need both. We need a Sacred Marriage.” Then you tell us that “In his book called THE MARRIAGE OF EAST AND WEST, Griffiths proposes that the Sacred Marriage of East and West will parallel the Sacred Marriage of the Masculine and the Feminine”–the marriage of the Cosmic Christ and the Cosmic Kaun Yin, the Compassionate Mother. And finally I would comment on Father Bede’s warning, ” the limitations of Western science and democracy have become more and more evident. The disastrous effects of Western industrialism, physical, social and psychological, polluting the world and threatening to destroy it, are only too evident.” May we heed this warning lest we go even deeper into the hole we have been digging over the time of our sojourn as humans on this planet.

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      Here we are on the planet we have degraded and weaponized, on the verge of World War III…
      There have always been prophets, east and west, male and female, warning us about the choices we make, many choices that defy both wisdom (feminine) and justice (masculine). Will we choose ‘One-ing’ or will we fall into the dark hole we have dug for ourselves???

  2. Avatar

    The words within today’s DM, “The western world, has now to rediscover the power of the feminine, intuitive, creative imagination, experientially”, really resonates with me. I agree with Mathew, that this rediscovery can blossom through engaging with eastern spirituality… however as Father Bede Griffith, Ghandi, TNH and Thomas Merton demonstrated… within the interweaving of this experience, they all rediscovered the depth of spiritual wisdom, often hidden within their own spiritual faith traditions as well… resurrecting this in intuitive, imaginative and creative new ways.

    Emerging from this evolutionary, nondual, inclusive, communion of relatedness, they experientially braided these universal truths, unifying the eternal Sophia wisdom found within all of the great religions and spiritual paths. The archetypal essence and presence of the Holy Spirit of Sophia, the wisdom of Divine Love flows like a fountain of fullness into all spiritual paths and religions… like Mathew has taught in his book, “One River, Many Wells.

    My sense is that we are in the midst of a sacred gestation, a dark womb season, which is experientially unfolding within the hearts, minds and souls of humanity, that is beginning to take on substance, shape and form within the conscious awareness of our understanding of the collective awakening unfurling. As we learn to surrender in faith, hope and trust, to the intuitive, imaginative and creative movements of Sophia, the Divine Mother and the cosmic expansion we are painfully undergoing… we will eventually, co-creatively give birth to from within… the wisdom of our divinity within our humanity… the evolution of incarnated LOVE.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, While engaging with eastern spirituality, we have the advice from those of Eastern faiths such as Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama both counsel us to, “rediscovered the depth of spiritual wisdom, often hidden within our own spiritual faith traditions as well…” And so our encounter and understanding of Eastern faiths is not for the purpose of converting us to an Eastern faith but rather to find new richness in our own faith because of our encounter with the East.

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      Jeanette, I am heartened by your ‘time of gestation’ metaphor. It would make some degree of redemption for the darkness and pain and suffering that I get overwhelmed by. Thank you! And deep thanks to Matthew- your profound simplifications always give so much to think about, to hold on to. I look forward to your perspective every day. Thank you!

  3. Avatar

    Matthew, thank you again for another profound and beautiful meditation for our modern, perilous times! The integration of the Divine Feminine & Sacred Masculine/ Mother~Father Creator Spirit with-in us is so important and urgent on our universal contemplative journeys with one another on this sacred Mother Earth….

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