EPISODE 32 – Fierce and Tender Wisdom with Mirabai Starr

David Nichtern and Mirabai Starr chat about masculine versus feminine energy, embodying fierce and tender wisdom, and shifting the paradigm of women in spirituality.

Mirabai Starr is an award-winning author of creative non-fiction and contemporary translations of sacred literature. She taught Philosophy and World Religions at the University of New Mexico-Taos for 20 years and now teaches and speaks internationally on contemplative practice and inter-spiritual dialogue. A certified bereavement counselor, Mirabai helps mourners harness the transformational power of loss. Check out her latest book, Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics, and learn more at MirabaiStarr.com.

The Masculine vs. The Feminine 

David Nichtern and Mirabai Starr discuss the terms masculine and feminine. These terms are fluid and can not have one strict definition or differentiation. There is masculinity and femininity in every person. However, certain qualities (such as rationality, legality, and dissociation from feelings) can be viewed as typically masculine, while femininity is typically perceived through qualities such as tenderness, compassion, and fierceness. 

“Masculine spirituality has been largely about transcendence…and the feminine is so much about embodiment and reclaiming our embodied experience as holy.” 


Shifting the Paradigm (12:17)

Spirituality has been previously rooted in a more masculine mindset. However there has been a recent recognition and affirmation of the feminine in spirituality. Being able to have these types of open discussions is what gives a voice to women within the spiritual field. David reflects on the ways that femininity has shifted how we can access dharma information since women often write with more beauty and sentimentality.

Mirabai’s Journey (27:11)

From New York, to New Mexico, to the Yucatán Peninsula, Mirabai discusses her eclectic upbringing with her counterculture parents. These experiences were instrumental to Mirabai in becoming a spiritual person and devotee of Neem Karoli Baba. However, her journey was not always joyful. She was sexually abused by a spiritual elder and endured other traumas. Still, this spiritual path led Mirabai to becoming a voice for women, a well known author, and close member of Ram Dass’ spiritual community in Maui (after years of what Mirabai calls invisibility by design). 

“We’ve been conditioned by these patriarchal religions to disappear– that the ego is bad, that personalities that we tote around are somehow unspiritual. I think that it is time for us all to stand up in what is ours to do and be and give. 

The Fruit of Tumultuous Times (37:47)

David and Mirabai discuss how we can use creativity as an outlet during the tumultuous times we are living in. Oftentimes, during periods of pain or destruction is when our imagination can be most fruitful and generative. Can you think of a time when you took pain and turned it into something else? Mirabai hopes that during this fire of change we can all collectively co-create the world we all want to see and live in together.



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