Kuan Yin

File:Guan yin 100.jpgHold your right hand up, pinky and ring-finger extended, ring and middle fingers curled, thumb out to the side to form an L. This is the I Love you sign.

I met U by the urn when I went to make coffee. I touched the kettle with my wrist, burning it slightly- halfwit- but did not want to interrupt the interaction.

-Give us a hug.
She will not, because I have asked in that way. It is like an order, a claim, and she does not respond well to orders. -But it is just a way of speaking, I would not order you- No buts. Even though she would like a hug, she will not share one unless I rephrase. Oh, OK.
-May I have a hug?

We hug. We have long hugs in this group generally, but U and I have particularly long hugs. I cannot remember what we were talking about, but she objected to something I said, and tapped me lightly on the back of the head.

-You hit me!
-It was a love-tap.
This time I will not let it go. You can’t just hit people! And neither will she. It was a love-tap. It was completely unobjectionable. I went off to cry in the bunkhouse- where I met S, who listened and cared and shared, and then S came and looked after us both.

I did a share in the large group. I am not here, I said, to have a relaxing weekend with friends. I am here to experience intense human interaction so I can get better at it. It takes courage for me to be here.
Up go the hands, in the I Love you sign. Lots of hands. I chortle delightedly, indicating them. -Ha! A full set!!

Guanyin Lung NuThe day before was a Goddess workshop taster, and I got Kuan Yin, Bodhisattva of compassion. The picture I had was simpler, even prettier and more feminine. Speaking in the group, I felt self-conscious in speaking in a very high voice, and saying that I had met her, and she had put her white robe on me. And it felt right.

“You’ve changed,” said Anna. “All the anger has gone from you.”


Daienin Kannon photographed by JpatokalI emailed U, saying “I ask your kindness. I do not feel you were kind to me this morning.” I dare to say that this, and my preferring to stroke Talking Tom than hit him, and other reactions, are “feminine”.

Can you imagine how much hurt and baggage I have around that? I have called it weakness. Remembering the example of Thomas Hardy’s character Christian Cantle, who was weak, stupid and cowardly and called these characteristics the virtue of Christian Meekness, I am wary of naming a weakness or vice as a virtue or positive characteristic. I tried to make a man of myself for 34 years, which took me to ridiculous places- a court solicitor who hates conflict, forsooth! Still I am wary of being this feminine, which feels so achingly vulnerable. And the Radfems would leap on it, saying I have no right to say what is “feminine”, the word is Patriarchal and I am an Oppressor. Being who I am is so wrong, in so many ways!

The compliment which has delighted me most over the last forty years is, “You can be serious, but underneath it all you are a joyful, playful child”. This weekend, I have amended that:

I am a joyful, playful adult.

I am feminine. Please tell me it is alright for me to call myself “feminine”!

That burn was superficial, two days later the redness is nearly gone. And- it was in the shape of a heart, on my wrist.

8 thoughts on “Kuan Yin

  1. feminine…this is so complex! for the sake of a quick note, i must say this: we can define words for the sake of dictionaries and conversations, yes? for the sake of being able to communicate, humans will always give words meaning; isn’t this why WE write? to communicate ourselves to the world.
    femininity is a glorious concept, as is masculinity, yes? i am a feminist, too. the only issues i have with the difference between the words masculine and feminine is the way the qualities are valued…being feminine is typically culturally devalued or seen as “weak” with masculine qualities being those that are more greatly valued. my hope is that we recognize these as words, concepts that all genders can claim equally as simple qualities of being
    …so, may i ask, is it alright if i call you feminine, too? you are beautiful…i always love your posts.


    • If you call me feminine that delights me. And “beautiful” delights me more.

      I want to use words to value and celebrate human characteristics and encourage diverse people, not do us down. I think the problem with the word “feminine”- and “unfeminine”!- is that it can be used to judge and condemn and restrict, though I want to claim it for liberation.


  2. You are what you choose to be, always. What other people may call that, or think about that, is their problem. Self definition always starts with the self. So go far, and there, far out, dare others to disagree with you. The chances are, they won’t, unless they are bigots. Then, why should that become your problem??

    You write beautifully.

    XXX 🙂


    • I am, I think, what I find within myself. Some of it is close to the surface, quickly found and used in habit. Some is deeper. Seeing others, so I may find their qualities within myself, is a practice I wish to develop.

      And- the judgment of myself only matters if it is echoed in me. As social creatures we create that echo, and we can lessen its force.


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