About a woman on the train and #MeToo

Home of the Light – Blog 3

Yesterday I was waiting for the train that would bring me and the crowd together from Utrecht Central Station to Amsterdam. I was leaning against a high bin and stared with dull eyes to the hundred people around me on Track 7. Most travelers, or “ladies and gentlemen,” if your prefer to call them that, were silence in all keys. As a flock of loose penguins they lightly bumped back and forth on the gray tiles of the platform. Most of the eyes were focused on the neon signs with train schedules, the bright white ray of the smartphone and here and there a newspaper.

The Apostle Paul wrote in his first letter to the Corinthians: “The women are to keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home.” (1 Corinthians 14: 34-35). And in the first letter to Timothy, Paul writes, as can be read in the Bible: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” (1 Timothy 2: 11-15).

I’m standing on Track 7 and do what I like the most of all. I quietly gaze at the eyes and movement of the people around me. I make myself invisible and try to discover patterns in the thousands of movements through time and space. 
The train arrives and the mass of gray penguins comes into motion. Some clever gentlemen and ladies, or ‘travelers’ if you prefer, calculate exactly where the doors of the intercity will open and make a little sprint, with elbows and mumbling, so they will have the best spot among the other waiting human penguins. But I’m standing in a stubbornly silence on the platform, for several eternal seconds: 
About five meters in front of me I see a woman I want to fall in love with immediately. She is wearing prominent pants, carrying a sporty backpack with a water bottle and she whistles a song.

My world is spinning around.

Just in time I realize that I will also have to move if I want to get on the train. Intuitively I wander to the same door as the new appearance with her brightly colored pants…

In the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, large groups of women are described that see the nearing death of Jesus from far away. As Matthew describes in chapter 27, verse 55-56, “Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.”

However, in the gospel of John we read something different: “Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,”  and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.”

The train. In order not to be noticed, I wait a while before I enter. Thus, the temporary woman of my life will not feel to be stalked.
I’m getting in love with women on the train more often. A difficult dilemma in double floor trains is the choice between the stairs up or down. If I follow the woman, there are immediate consequences:

First, she can think I have an eye on her. I do, of course – but an important part of my mental game is that she does not know about it. Secondly, when choosing her floor, I know that I will not get far in the book that I wanted to read on the train. I will undoubtedly look up every other sentence to check if she’s still there and if she still looks around so beautifully.

Lastly, if I follow hear I choose for the next devil’s dilemma: will I go the the four-seat where she has taken place? For sure I will be nervous, she’ll notice that I will be looking at her apathetically and I won’t be able to read any letter from my book. A wiser choice is to sit a four-seat a bit further away, on the same side of the train. If I determine my position well, I will be able to look at her through the long reflections of the window. And when she sees me on the other side of the mirroring glass, she can always think I am just observing landscapes.

On sentence in in the gospel of Mark strikes me. It is to be found in the chapter where the rising of Christ is described and where he can no longer be found in his grave. The sentence is as follows:

“Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils.” (Mark, 16:9-10)

If you read this sentence incorrectly, you could interpret that demons had to be driven out her and that she must have been demonic in her life. This is how she was described for centuries. But why would Christ appear at first to her when he had risen? That is because we have to read the sentence very differently:

The seven demons that are expelled refer to the path of initiation of Mary Magdalene in the spiritual, cosmic secrets. She was able look at the secrets of the cosmos and those in the little human heart on earth because she had undergone the steps of initiation. You could formulate that an initiate is someone who chooses to reveal the “God” in him or herself. This can only be done if the human ego disappears to the background and feelings of fear, uncertainty and insecurity make place for a deep knowing, inner peace and a sense of trust. This path of initiation to cosmic knowledge is a human path that is almost as old as humanity and certainly older than Christianity.

I’m on the train with this woman, with her striking pants and a sporty backpack with a water bottle in it. Due to the crowds in the train, I am forced to sit straight to her. I feel my heart beating.

I look up to her. I look at her eyes. She looks at me. Both of us quickly look another way.

The bottom line is that we are afraid. Yes, we are both afraid.

In the past week I read and heard dozens of #MeToo stories that came out following the stories about Harvey Weinstein. From friends and unfamiliar women, I heard the most horrific stories about a small part of the male sex that thinks it is normal to grab women by the pussy, push them into the bushes, make dirty women unfriendly jokes and I don’t know what else. Every time I heard or read a story the anger came up in me again. The rage of impotence.

So many women feel guilty because they think they were not clear in indicating their own boundaries. I learned that if you get stressed, your frontal cortex can go ‘offline’. And that frontal cortex is the part of your brain that allows you to communicate. Thus, if some idiot show his penis without asking, it may happen that the victim will freeze instead of giving a (non-verbal) kick under the male ass. Whether the woman, or the victim in general, communicates her boundaries before the sexual harassment is totally irrelevant. The brain wants to survive and therefore stops working.

But what remains is fear. Women I spoke to walk with far around groups of men on the streets. As a child, they were not allowed to go out alone because it could always go wrong.

It’s a fear that can ultimately lead to not daring to look at somebody’s eyes in front of you on the train, because you can not rely on his intentions. Not at first sight, at least.

And what then arises is distrust in the other. A slumbering and unconscious suspicion, though, one that works through the freedom of a woman to be in contact with man. And what then arises is a base of distrust in the other. A slumbering and unconscious suspicion, though, one that works against the freedom of a woman to be in contact with the other, as a human being.

And I think that this affects me, as a man, too. I’m not a victim of significant sexual harassment. But as a man, I think twice before looking for eye contact with an woman I don’t know. Of course, that’s also because I’m shy and even a bit mousey in nature. I feel vulnerable when I’m in contact and with unfamiliar people, vulnerability is often unsafe.

But moreover, I do not look at the woman who is sitting in front of me because I’m afraid she finds me perverse. Afraid that she thinks my intentions are purely erotic and sexual in nature. And the line between vulnerable intimacy and insecurity becomes very thin. Of course: I also have my lusts and desires. But in the eyes and lips of the woman on the train, I especially want to see the beauty of her as a human being. Is that still aloud? Why do we always look away when we’re on the train? Because we lost the contact with each other somewhere? Because we feel naked when someone tries to really see you?

In my first blog (only in Dutch..) I wrote about a dream. A dream in which I ran on the beach, through tunnels. Endless tunnels. And on the other side of the tunnel there appeared the abstract imagination of a woman.

Psychologist Carl Gustav Jung wrote in a phenomenological way about his own soul and that of many of his patients throughout his life. He heard something very special in the dreams of the people. Every man found a female structure in the depth of his psyche. And vice versa.

The man, biologically built for outward activity, for conquering and subjecting will find the appearance of the image of a female being in his depiction of the subconscious. A female being that makes clear to him that he must not forget his true motive of life. And that is an overall human motive.

Biologically seen, human beings have a both male and female origin. I read that the primitive kidney, which during the early embryonic stage carries out the entire urogenital system, develops both organ systems for a certain time, until the moment of transition to a male or female body. The potential of the opposite sex in embryonic development continues to exist and affects the psyche, in the deeper layers of our subconscious mind, according to Jung. These deeper layers of subconsciousness are reflected in the visual language of the archetypes we know from fairy tales and religions, in all history of humanity.

Let’s take Adam and Eve as an archetypal example. Apostle Paul described that Eve was born from to body of Adam and drew the conclusion that women should obey to man. However, I think we should look at Adam and Eve’s image very differently. Let’s follow Jung in this example.

Eve appeared in Adam’s subconscious mind, and just as well the other way around. Eve is the internal duality in Adam’s unity (I will come back to this). Each Adam carries his Eve within himself. Every man or woman has a search on earth to meet the other who resembles his or her own Eve or Adam (as an image in the subconscious). In that way, the human is searching for the other to balance his own mind with the mirroring gender.

In us, we carry a dual tendency, both male and female. And it is a necessity to feed this inner duality. If a man becomes unilaterally male and loses his mirror in his femininity, he will live and survive with purely male biological drives; with outward activity, ready for conquest and submission. And that’s dangerous.

Adam and Eve can be seen as an image of the mirror, the duality in the unity of the male and female. In the earliest mythologies and mystical, archetypes had not yet become the duality of man and woman. Perhaps it was that outer duality that caused the fall out of paradise?

It goes too far to say that I was trying to find my Eve in the woman opposite my on the train. But I want her and my to learn to look again. To look into the appearing mirrors in our subconscious mind and to look at the eyes of the other, without fear. 

Somehow, I have the feeling that it makes sense to dive into Maria Magdalena’s life and path of initiation. I get the feeling that her mystical love and the descriptions of her inner path to the spiritual world can make us understand better what masculinity and femininity in the world of our subconscious mind are actually trying to tell us. As I wrote above, let the human ego disappear into the background and allow feelings of fear, uncertainty and insecurity to pass into deep knowledge, inner peace and a sense of trust. Perhaps Maria Magdalena can make us realize that in the mysteries of the psyche images of inner duality arise. In our minds we are both male and female, we are Adam and Eve, we find both light and darkness, we are entirely alone and connected to everyone and everything on earth.

In the coming weeks, I’m practicing this world in the mind, through two mind experiments:

  1. I imagine God as a woman, so that I no longer imagine the (possible) Godly image with a male appearance, but ultimately with a general human appearance.
  2. I write down everything that I think, which is not directly applicable to my external life events. I write down thoughts, dreams and colors. A research to my subconscious mind and my inner woman.

Oh and by the way: I have never met this woman on the train. She appeared only to illustrate my story. So you don’t have to wonder how it ended.

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My search for the feminine. My search for the meaning of the other realities of the night. The night of the year is the winter. For the earth comes a new day again and again, but what are the nights for the sun? What are the days for the universe? What is the home of light?
On December 15, 16, 22 and 23, Chamber Choir JIP will perform in concerts about the celebration of the birth of light in darkness, with music by only female composers, along with cellist Emma Kroon and visual artist Barbara Ilse Petzold Horna. In twelve blogs. In twelve blogs I investigate the mystery of the night, the qualities of midwinter and christmas and the feminine.