In a world where women have been seen traditionally as someone’s wife, mother, daughter, or sister, why would a woman choose to follow a spiritual path? Perhaps because, deep inside, every woman has a longing to be someone in her own right–fully aware of herself, confident and in control.
When we talk of spiritual power, we are, in fact, referring to the original power of the self to be whole and independent–free from the web of domination and suppression, free from the need to exist for someone else’s sake. For the last two thousand years or more, women have not fully utilised their spiritual power. Instead, aspects of the ‘feminine’ have taken mainly symbolic forms from the Virgin Mary to the vestal virgins, from Earth Goddesses to the Shakti Devis.
On the one hand, women have been put on pedestals and worshipped on account of their purity or femininity. At the same time, they have been excluded from religious practices and barred, even until now, from entering some places of worship. Elevated or chastised, exonerated or condemned, the main problem facing women is that they have never been treated as equal to men–either as spiritual leaders or spiritual seekers.
This lack of equality finds its roots not only in sociological and cultural systems, but more particularly within levels of consciousness upon which spirituality and attitudes are ultimately based.
Women as spiritual leaders
Women become spiritual leaders when they themselves acknowledge they have the capacity and necessary attributes to play such a role. The change of consciousness needed is to move away from unworthy feelings and attitudes and to see the greatness contained within the self.
Feminine qualities such as love, tolerance, compassion, understanding and humility are qualities of leadership. They are also needed for spiritual progress, for without them it would be impossible to come close to God and attain self-realisation. Every human being possesses those qualities but women are more easily and naturally able to tap them, for feelings of love and devotion are often more natural to women, combined with a profound sense of discipline and order.