Perhaps to arrive in the purity of truth we must risk standing in the middle of the fire, looking destruction and death in the eyes. As long as we fear that we can be destroyed, we remain blind to our essential nature. The vital truth is as simple as observing the partnership of a single breath; inhale, exhale. The antidote for fear and chaos is there, in our center, inviolable, whole.
On a recent trip to China I was reminded of the importance of magical, celestial animals in Chinese culture. They figure prominently in their art, architecture, literature, feng shui and ultimately the way life is seen and lived. They are the bearers of good fortune, hope, health, and wealth.
Two of these animals are particularly sacred. The dragon and the phoenix. Dragon is yang or masculine and phoenix is yin or feminine. Together they create balance and harmony, the perfect marriage.
Dragon has the force of life, chi, in his breath, he is the bringer of strength, good fortune and hope. Phoenix is the goddess of all the winged creatures. She is ultimately male and female. She can transform bad luck into good. She is rebirth and continuation. She can not be killed by any flame. She rises from the ash of destruction.
Dragon and Phoenix, yang and yin, masculine and feminine forces, both are needed to have balance and flow on this earth.
I am not an expert on the system of feng shui, nor am I deeply schooled in the history and culture of China, but these symbols are familiar. When I sense into them I feel a bone truth. There is an intimate knowing that these energies are more than myth, more than story or superstition, they are alive and integral in our world. They are the forces of nature, day and night, sun and moon, life and death...earth and sky, water and fire.
The breath of the universe. Inhale. Exhale.
We are part of this cosmic rhythm, though we have entered a dream, one where we imagine ourselves outside of these forces, and so we have become estranged from our own truth and put out of balance. This imbalance is reflected in our culture, our politics, our relationships, the way we show up in the world.
The dragons of Western mythology are destroyers, monsters. Perhaps we have mistaken them for such, when all they are is heartbroken in their separation. Maybe they are in grief over the absence of the beloved phoenix. Without her the marriage is empty, love is lost.
We have a conspicuous absence of the powerful feminine in our consciousness at this time. Patriarchy dominates and so we have fire upon fire, burning things to the ground. We hear about scorched earth, we see it, smell it. There is fear, panic, roiling us in the wake of this destructive fire. We long for the phoenix to rise, but we have forgotten that she is what we are searching for. And so we stumble around in the dark, reaching out madly for something, but essentially all we need to do is open our eyes and see.
Much of Eastern spirituality centers around seeing through illusion. We are lost in a deceit, wrong seeing, both of ourselves and the world, which brings suffering. We believe a separation has occurred, between ourselves and divinity, when in reality it has not, and so we fight an endless battle against an enemy that lives in that dream, an enemy born in our minds and egos.
Right now it seems that all is burning, and complete destruction may be imminent. Fear and hate are making a stand. We are at each other's throats, it is epidemic, we see it all around the world.
All of it may end in ruins. But the phoenix is ready to rise.
The question is not an if, but a when.
The moment our inner eyes open, we see clearly, we reclaim our true nature. The dragon and phoenix that live in each of us are there waiting to be awakened, and we need them both. We must not forsake one for the other, either. We need the powerful masculine, and the powerful feminine, only together, united, can they bring the peace of love back to us. They are the inhale and exhale of the inner and outer spiritual world. Without an inhale, or without an exhale, we can't function. We are stuck, paralyzed, stagnant. Asleep.
We begin to undo the sleep state by embracing ourselves, by owning our power, and learning how to step into the world as peaceful warriors. Peaceful warriors have their dragon and phoenix at the ready, balanced in the yang and yin, fierce and wise, guided by great courage, armed with compassion. A peaceful warrior is engaged and active, ready to fight the good fight, but equally adept at forgiveness. When we step out of the dream, we step out of fear, because the dragon brings us the life breath, and the phoenix reminds us that we can not be destroyed. When we are out of the shadow of fear, we will create a culture of partnership and dynamic growth.
It may take a long time for us to awaken, to bring dragon and phoenix back into harmony. It may take many lifetimes. But each time a person is pierced by the light, whenever there is a flash or a glimpse of clear seeing, the shift gains momentum. I myself know this is what I am trying to live into. I think I have glimpses, and then I stumble back into fear - the illusion. The best I can do is try to return, practice, breathe, practice, open my heart, attempt to be as present as possible in any given moment.
The truth is. Truth may be obscured, buried, burnt to the ground, but it still is. My truth is...
I am fierce. I am loving. I am here, full of life force. I will go through deaths in life and beyond it. I will rise from the ash. So will you. This is who we really are.