Episode 87: Integrated Feminine/Masculine Compassion

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“I am always compassionate, but sometimes in a very feminine, gentle way, nurturing and supportive, and sometimes in a very masculine way, ruthless and decisive. But I always have in my arsenal what is necessary to get the job done. I am totally integrated. There’s no need to become integrated; I am Integrated Feminine/Masculine Compassion. Another name for me is Big Heart.” ~ Zen Master Dennis Genpo Merzel from Big Mind · Big Heart

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Integrated Feminine/Masculine Compassion

“I am always compassionate, but sometimes in a very feminine, gentle way, nurturing and supportive, and sometimes in a very masculine way, ruthless and decisive. But I always have in my arsenal what is necessary to get the job done. I am totally integrated. There’s no need to become integrated; I am Integrated Feminine/Masculine Compassion. Another name for me is Big Heart.” ~ Zen Master Dennis Genpo Merzel from Big Mind · Big Heart

That quote is from the interview Genpo does with a hypothetical Voice of Yin/Yang Compassion, also know as: Integrated Masculine and Feminine Compassion. (The second half of the book is basically Genpo walking us through the “employee” interviews — where we get introduced to a range of “Voices” within our heads. REALLY powerful stuff.)

So, Integrated Masculine and Feminine Compassion. This is a *really* Big Idea.

I was first introduced to it by Diane Hamilton (one of Genpo’s senior students and a leading Zen teacher) at a weekend Integral Institute workshop in Los Angeles. She told us a story about horses to bring the point home.

Imagine a female horse (a mare) giving birth to a little baby horse (a foal). Now, this foal isn’t too healthy. It’s struggling to get up and stand upright — a very important event for a newborn horse. The momma horse is working and working to support the little guy and a few other female horses cruise over to help out as well.

Nothing seems to be helping, though.

This goes on for awhile when, suddenly, a stallion appears, breaks through the mares, picks the little foal up in his mouth, carries him to the edge of the meadow and slams him into the ground — ending his life.

That’s feminine and masculine compassion.

One is nurturing and supportive. The other is ruthless and decisive. BOTH (!!!) are essential for an integrated compassion.

In fact, if you’re stuck in feminine compassion, many great teachers like Pema Chodron and Trungpa Rinpoche and Ken Wilber, will say you’ve got “Idiot Compassion.”

It’s kinda like the Maserati that’s stuck in first gear. We’ve gotta be able to hold BOTH aspects of compassion to have a truly integrated perspective. Make sense?