Revered AD, I am a extremely good-looking woman in my early thirties and have been striving my spiritual growth since last 8 years. I don’t know why but vanity has been my obsession despite all spiritual endeavours and my self-identification with body is not loosening. I consulted many Gurus and they all asked me to take away my attention from it..but nothing seems to be working. Please suggest a remedy so that I can get into that state where I am able to become a witnessing.
Beloved Shalini, If we see the visible or recorded part of history we can clearly see that number of men who reached the state of self-realization and god-realization are much higher than the fairer sex. It has a reason. A woman body, her psyche, her thought process and many other characteristics are unique and are no way near to males however the masters and seers who instinctively got to a higher state had no clue on how to extend a helping hand to women because their methods were woven around refraining from even the sight of women, what to say of touch and conversation.
It has been happening since centuries and women were left behind. No one seemed to be even talking to them.. even otherwise the most noble and intelligent Gurus were clueless on how to help women because they did not know what are the intricacies and complexities of women psyche. I am not saying their intentions were not right but they all were helpless and they hardly knew what are her drivers, what can engage them and help them transcend the mundane and experience the zenith of human potential. Although early eastern spiritual practices did not bar women from participating in it however I believe since women were mostly busy in household, taking care of the born and unborn children gradually they were left behind and later the whole system became political. Men could do all what they wanted, even if that was something to do with self-realization while women were forced to stay away.
I call this political because no master directly instructed women to not participate but they could successfully plant the idea in the mind of their disciples and followers that women are the biggest obstacles in their progress, growth and ascention. The forced practice of celebacy and warned their disciples to stay away from even the shadow of a woman. This trick worked and gradually even women by virtue of this indirect ridicule by enlightened men made them believe that their presence around a monk or a seeker may cause them a sin. Women themselves started keeping off spiritual practices.. they would happily sing and dance in the temples as devadasi but remain untouchable, at least on the records officially. On the other side the pressure of majority view was so strong that the sects and methods (like tantra, Kaulachaara) which gave equal opportunity to women had to shift in closets of hideouts.
It was only after Buddha that women were once again made part the spiritual community without any discrimination. But the methods were lost by then. The same meditations didn’t work for women which gave birth to so many enlightened men. However since Buddha lot many changes have happened and many more women are engaging actively in spiritual practices but unfortunately the masters don’t have methods for them because they themselves are the product and produce of some doctrine which either ignored or avoided women altogether.
Shalini, in all probabilities the methods of Gurus wouldn’t work for you because they dont understand you because they don’t realize a woman is the temple of creation and thus her mind has been programmed to keep this temple in best of condition and shape. They also don’t realize that beauty is just another name for orderliness. Women love to keep things in order.. it is not just accidental that they do so, in fact a women is more closer to the creative energies of universe by virtue of her physiology, her psychology. Nature by inducing menstrual cycle in her not only keeps her power of creativity alive but also tunes her being to natural cycle, an orderliness. And whenever there are changes in her psyche, thought process and other distrubances all these starts reflecting in her menstrual cycle which becomes hatirregular, erratic and out of natural rhythm.
In any case the natural inclination towards vanity is never to be taken as any weakness for it is natural and very much part of a woman, what you are. I don’t know if you are married, committed or otherwise but in any case you must know that your beauty is for someone else.. not for you. It is for your man, it may be for your beloved or it may be for all around you but not for self. Think it over – you may say that when you get tidy, shiney and attractive you feel good but it is not so.. the real reward comes later.. in fact when you leave your mirror. It comes when other people become you mirror and when you are able to see your beautiful reflection in their eyes, faces and gestures. The physical beauty is an attribute which is least enjoyed by its keeper.. physical beauty infuses a sense of admiration or desire in others rather and this feeling of being wanted, adored, desired is the real obsession. It is not the vanity in itself.
If you are in any relationship and you really love your man.. you can come to witnessing even without having the need to leave the vanity. This is very much possible. I will not ask you to not spend hours in preparing yourself.. keeping your body tidy, shapely, flawless and glowing. Do continue with what you love, whatever you have been doing.. but hence forth you need to take this process as ‘preparing a beautiful gift for your beloved’. If you don’t love any person then let your divine ego take a leap.. become a goddess, gift your body to the God personified. Let this act become worship, your offerring to your beloved in any case. And remember the real offer of gift doesn’t expect a thank you in return. It is your expression of love towards your beloved. Its not typical give and take of a child’s birthday party where those little kids are simply interested in return gifts.
Adding this rider of treating your body as a gift for your beloved, that you are not the owner of this body any more, you would, in a moment, when your awareness deepens, not only see that you are not your body but it is someone who took the decision of adorning it. Gradually when your intensity of surrender and service reaches its peak, in those intimate moments in a flash you will find yourself standing away from your body. A lightening and you will see it all. You will see that this is just a vehicle which is just housing the real you.
I would not speak about what effect it would make on to you. I would like to hear from you instead..
All I know.. if your love is real with your man or the divine.. for whomsoever you prepare the gift.. it will give you the glimpse of something beyond and you will be able to step in to that domain of witnessing upon which the shower of divine love and light will always be there for you through out your life.. your eyes shall open to the real beauty, not the one which will stink when you leave it.
– Acharya Agyaatadarshan