Reflections on Religion and Women

INTRODUCTION

On December 4, 1990, under the auspices of the National Association for Religious Tolerance (NARETO), founded by Professor C.S. Momoh who passed on March 16, 2006, I presented a paper on Religion and the Woman Question and argued that the answer which religion has to the woman question was not persuasive.  That paper was dusted up, refurbished and published with the title, Women in Chains.  I handed over the publication at the Second International Widow’s Conference at Aba on November 24, 2005.  Listed as Special Guest of Honour was the First Lady and wife of the President, Mrs. Stella Obasanjo.  This is one woman whose preoccupation was the welfare of the human person, most especially the disabled.  She was always on the move, attending to the needs of the denied, the deprived. I looked forward to the occasion because she always had something to say that would lessen the pain of the disadvantaged.  And women have been disadvantaged, and still are.  But Stella was not to be at that forum.  She passed on in a hospital in Spain on the morning of Sunday, October 23, 2005.   She was mourned by the high and the low, along with 117 others who perished when a Bellview airliner crashed on take-off in Lagos on the night of Saturday, October 22.  The little pocket book was dedicated to Stella because she was touched by the needs of the human person, sans sex, sans colour, sans creed, sans status.

Early in 2006, Professor Momoh asked for a copy of the paper I gave in 1990 and I pulled it out of my computer and handed it over to him.  He told me he was going to publish it.  He did not get to doing so before he left us on that memorable night of March 15.  When Professor Jim Unah, Head of Department of Philosophy, informed me that the Department of Philosophy, University of Lagos, was organizing a memorial lecture in honour of Professor Momoh, and that I should present a paper on Reflections on Religion and Women, I thought the time had come to again call to duty that presentation I made on December 4, 1990.

The presentation is in three parts.  Part One looks at Religion and where it places woman.  The religions under reference are Christianity and Islam. In Part Two, I try to raise our gaze outside of the material, for indeed, we are in this world but not of this world.  In other words, we as human spirits, are not natives of this earth and should therefore not limit ourselves by stubbornly holding the intellect as king in a creation in which it is only a tool. I therefore locate three huge fields of knowledge where they should belong in creation which is a work that is segmented for recognitions.  Right here on terra firma, I locate science.  Up there in the spiritual, I locate religion.  And right below the spiritual but above the earth, specifically in the world of thoughts, I locate philosophy.  With a picture of where man and woman come from, I address the Third Part by showing that woman is not created to be a sex sport or a baby factory, but that her calling is higher than what we, in the massive narrowing of our vision, have reduced her to.  In the conclusion, I plead that orthodox ways of looking at women must change because women are more than the chattel we have reduced them to on earth and in our cultures.

RELIGION AND WOMAN

The Bible says…  The Qur’an says…  With quotations from these holy books, we endorse our behaviours to peoples, places and things.  We focus our worldviews and settle issues with pronouncements of those who had interpreted what the holy books say.  From the Bible, we quote copiously from the letters Paul wrote, and from the Qur’an we tell of what the Holy Prophet said that was recorded by the faithful ones.  The more distant we are from the time the truth bringers walked the earth, the richer the literature associated with the work they came to do for mankind.  Religions have therefore become the heritage of man that has regulated his birth, growing up, education, marriage and having children, ageing and dying and being buried.  We cannot therefore leave religion out of the affairs of man, and the travails of woman.

But what is religion and what working definition of religion do I want to adopt for my purpose in this presentation?  Also what is the woman question under reference?  How have we seen woman and how should we see woman?  What do the religions, as we know them and can identify from the scriptures, say about woman, her role, her status?

The Penguin Dictionary of Religions defines a religion as a set of recognizable systems of belief and practice having a family resemblance (page 270).  A.C. Bouquet, in his Comparative Religions (page 11), sees religion as a European convention which has led to its employment as a general term to embrace certain human interests the world over.   So, for Europeans, religion has come to mean a fixed relationship between the human self and some non-human entity, the Sacred, the Supernatural, the Self-existent, the Absolute, or simply, God!

In the Middle East and in Asia, such a relationship seems to be describable in terms of movement, as a way.  Thus, there is the Hodos, or Way of the Pharisees.  In the Book of Acts, early Christianity is called “that way.”  Buddhism is described as the “Noble Eight-fold Path.”  In Japan, Shinto (their nationalist religion) means “The Way of the Gods.”  Confucius calls his message “The Way.”

As far as L.H. Grunebaum, author of Philosophy for Modern Man, is concerned, even if Religion cannot be defined, it must have some understandable content as all of us use it and seem to connect some definite ideas with it (page 11).

When we hear or use the word religion, we think mostly of one or all three of the following entities,

(1)        We think of God and belief in or doubt of Him.

(2)        We think of churches, mosques, temples, and similar religious edifices; and

(3)        We think of the great religious establishments, such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam and other so-called world religions.

In recent times, it would seem that the word religion has a meaning that excludes or even denies the existence of God.  Religions in our contemplation in this part of the world are in four groupings.

(1)        Islam

(2)        Christianity

(3)        Spiritual Groups

(4)        Indigenous Groups

Common to the four groups is belief in a creator; the creation of the world and of man and woman in it; the roles which different people must play, and the mode of, and in certain cases the institutions for, worship.

My working definition of religion is that “it is the way which an individual, alone or in a group, has agreed to take on his journey to the Kingdom of his Maker.”  It should be obvious from this definition that the important mission of the person in question is to reach the destination and that religion is just the way.  It is the way for him, but as there are no two persons in the whole of creation that are alike in all respects, this way for him can only be a way.  That he has chosen to strive in a group is a decision that is personal, and for which he bears full responsibility.

That we are herein looking at Religion and the Woman Question presupposes that the individual woman exercised her personal volition to be part of the religious group.  That she was born into the religion or “forced” into it in circumstances beyond her control is neither here nor there.  The point is that the decision to belong to a group is a personal one, and therefore the responsibility must be borne by the person who made the decision.

In the 1970’s when the United Nations declared a decade for women, the war of so-called liberation took a sorry turn and the delicate balance between the sexes continued (of course it started long before then) to tilt towards the positive, the active, the masculine.  It would be a question of time before the world would be a wilderness populated by beings in male bodies that were naturally not equipped to receive the delicate radiations that make women the spiritual mediators that they are supposed to be.  But we should come to this later and the picture should unfold naturally. Yes, with the war on for the so-called Liberation of Women, attention began to be more drawn to what society had done TO and not FOR women.  The battle of the sexes had begun.

Before we look at what Islam and Christianity have provided for woman, we should discuss the battle lines that seemed to have been drawn in Nigeria.  Many are the bodies that articulate different positions, but we should look at two representative viewpoints in this presentation. One viewpoint is in the findings of Women in Nigeria (WIN). The other is illustrated in Chinweizu’s Anatomy of Female Power!

In The WIN document, a detailed case is made for how women have had a raw deal in Nigeria in all fields of work, in rural and urban areas, and in and outside their homes.  A chapter of the 195-page, nine-chapter document was devoted to Women and Religion.  The document concedes that most Nigerians are religious and that they embrace Islam, Christianity or African Traditional Religions.  It is the view of Women in Nigeria, which is an organization that was formed to “work unceasingly for an improvement in the condition of Nigerian Women”, that the three dominant religions in Nigeria – Islam, Christianity and African Traditional Religions – “agree on the view which not only subordinates the spiritual destiny of the woman to that of the man, but also provides theoretical and historical arguments for the dehumanization of women.”

WIN gave examples of discriminatory postures of the three religions against women.  For the record, it is necessary to state their case in some little more detail.

1)         On African Traditional Religions: The spiritual fortune of the woman is tied to her husband’s in spite of the fact that the churches have priestesses.

2)         With Christianity: There are women church leaders in Methodist churches but there have been no female bishops.  The Catholic church would never allow any women to hold mass.  Some churches like the Celestial Church of Christ even view menstruation as a sign of spiritual un-cleanliness as women are restricted to the less “holy” part of the church.

3)         In Islam: the purdah system which socially curtails the movement and activities of women has deep religious justification.  Women cannot lead prayers in Islam.  In Nigerian mosques, men stand in front of women “so that the prayer could be heard.”

If the WIN document seemed to be extremely bitter in zeroing in on the harm a man’s world has done to woman, there is little doubt that Chinweizu’s Anatomy of Female Power is, without his meaning so to do, a profound analysis of how man and woman in creation have narrowed their vision as to why they are here, what they are supposed to do here, and where they are supposed to go from here.

But the short-circuiting of man’s role and woman’s role did not start today or at 10 a.m. on October 1, 1960 when Nigeria had its independence.  Once upon a time the highest estate of woman, however highly placed, was that of a slave.  She had no vote; she had no right to property.  In fact she was an item for ownership, to be used as the owner deemed fit.  So, for thousands of years, woman assumed one imposed role after another – a slave, a sex object for relaxation at will, a bearer of children, a servant of the family, an item of property to be disposed of at the passing on of the man owner.  But this is not what it was supposed to be, and we should come to that in a moment.

Chinweizu, tongue-in-cheek, denies the masculine posture which all aspects of life on earth has assumed through the taking for granted status we have assigned to women.  So, for him, woman is in charge because she has perfected her wares of deception and now controls the world at all important gates of land-mark manifestations.  These control points, Chinweizu identifies as the womb, the kitchen, the cradle, man’s inherent immaturity, and man’s lustful sexual cravings.

The ways out for man are as mundane as the preoccupation of man and woman to see their progress in terms of how much money and property they have; how many men and women in their lives; how many children they have and which choice schools they attend; how free are they to do what they like, even without answering for their deeds.

If Chinweizu’s ways and means for man to re-establish patriarchy do not invoke the blessing of the Most High, the way to salvation for woman in Nigeria  is also not, for WIN, through the gates that lead to Paradise. Yet, with due respect, there is very little we can do if we refuse to float a dream of how it was once upon a time and how it can be in future if we restore sanity to our craving for freedom.

But I would say right away that the Bible and the Qur’an do not seem to have been properly interpreted to give women a chance.  It must be recognized that the two books are spiritual works and speak of the Spiritual Sphere or Paradise which is the home of the human spirit.  If our global vision is narrowed to the material, to shadows, is it not logical that we would reduce our cravings to the material and document our achievements on how it was that we fared here on earth, a kiosk in a vast market from which, at the end of the day, after repeated earth lives, we ought to have gone back home, to the spiritual.

The story of creation in the Bible and in the Qur’an does not reveal any spiritual inferiority on the part of man or woman.  The misleading interpretations on how to live here on earth, are the faults of men, not lapses in transmission or wrong teachings of the bringers of the messages.

In the Holy Qur’an, for example, we are told what lies ahead for men and women who meet the demands of the Most High.  The language is straight to the point and there is no injunction that woman must meet the creator’s demand through man. Says Sura 33 v 36:

“Surely men who submit themselves to God and women who submit themselves to Him, and believing men and believing women, and obedient men and obedient women, and truthful men and truthful women, and men steadfast in their faith and steadfast women, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give alms, and women who give alms and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their chastity and women who guard their chastity, and men who remember Allah much and women who remember Him – Allah has prepared for all of them forgiveness and a great reward.”

And in Sura 57 verse 13, we have an idea of the reward lying in wait for those who perform their mission in creation, and there is no indication that the reward will flow to woman through man; or that marriage, child-bearing, property ownership or any other mundane achievement is the pre-requisite for the reward.

The section under reference says

“And think of the day when thou wilt see the believing men and the believing women, their light running before them and on their right hands, and it will be said to them ‘Glad tidings for you this day! Gardens through which streams flow, wherein you will abide’. That is the supreme triumph”.

The directive that men should be guardians over women in Sura 4 verse 35 is a clear example of the division of labour between men and women in their sojourn on earth.  It has nothing whatsoever to do with superiority or ownership.  The injunction is too clear and direct, straightforward and unambiguous to accommodate any invidious interpretation.  It says:

“Men are guardians over women because Allah has made some of them excel others, and because they (men) spend of their wealth.  So virtuous women are those who are obedient, and guard the secrets of their husbands with Allah’s protection.  And as for those on whose part you fear disobedience, admonish them and leave them alone in their beds, and chastise them.  Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them.  Surely, Allah is High, Great.”

The Holy Bible, however, seems to set for man and wife a ladder of ascent to the Most High.  In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul says in Chapter 11 verse 3:

“… I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”

In verse 7 of the same chapter, Paul asserts that man is the image and glory of God but that woman is the glory of man.  Chapter 14 verses 34 and 35 seem to establish proof of discrimination against women:

34:  Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive as the law also says.

35: And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.

If this reference to women being asked to depend on men for guidance in specified areas is the proof we need to establish that there is discrimination against women, then we err.  Even if Paul had asked that women should not speak in public, he would still not be guilty of discrimination. He would, from a valid perspective, be defending the sense of shame which every woman must have as a great virtue.  His letter addressed the church environment and we should be open enough to whatever spiritual reasons may have been given for such an injunction. If we only knew how powerful woman can be when in silence she mediates what flows through her to the plane in which she manifests!

Although women in western countries (and these are by and large Christian countries) suffer more from the tyranny of society than religion, I do not believe that Jesus Christ ever preached spiritual superiority of man over woman.  Even in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, it is possible to discern spiritual equality of man and woman.  Says Verse 12 of chapter 11.

“… as the woman was from the man, even so the man also is through the woman but all things are from God”.

I do not want to deny the discrimination against women, and women’s recognition and concern about such discriminations; but it is most unsettling to analyze the solutions that have been suggested to put an end to the discriminations so that unity and harmony may be achieved.  No, the solutions are too intellectual, and would even compound the problems of women the more.

It is therefore necessary to address the problem of mankind in creation in a more holistic manner so that the travails of women can be seen clearly, and so that what to do would be self-evident.

OF SCIENCE, PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGION

This part of the presentation should be the key to the appreciation of the problem of mankind on earth today.  If we have had so much confusion for thousands of years, confusion arising from ignorance, then the first step we must take is to seek that knowledge which will cure our ignorance.

The story is told of an incident in a Hindu Temple where tempers rose because a knowing one had rebutted the claim by a priest that God created man and placed him on a ladder of spiritual superiority, from white at the top, through red and yellow, to the black at the bottom, to fetch water and hew wood for the other races.  If we must make the claim of the knowing one persuasive, that the Creator did not ever discriminate in creating man, we will not have to stand here on earth and prove it.  We will have to follow from on high how it was that creation came into being, that you and I found ourselves here.

Recourse will have to be had to one or all of these ways of looking at life: from the perspective of Science, philosophy or religion.  Science studies what can be seen; philosophy, what can be sensed; and religion, what can be hoped for.  Thus religion tells us how it is far, far away in regions that are light, so light that the luminosity does not and cannot permit of shadows.  We can see what religion is saying only in pictures.  Intellectual appreciation of it is impossible because the intellect is a product of the brain and the brain is part and parcel of the body which houses the essence that senses those worlds that religion unfolds.

The boundary beyond which brain-power cannot go is the lowest below which religion should descend, in the unfolding of the picture of how it is in the luminous regions.  Between that region and the physically manifested world are distances which man’s calculating senses cannot fathom.  But the field which thought traverses is both; that is at the same time, if we must see it from our physical perspective; it is both vast, illimitably vast in our practical sensing, and non-existent.  That is that it is both far and near, farther than any distance we can imagine and nearer than our breadth and closer than our heartbeats.

This field, this world of thought, is the area of investigation of philosophy.  It is the area that brings mankind a dream, which is the condensation, the stepping down to mentally appreciable level, the hope that religion brings from the creative source.

What thought projects that has become visible in manifestation to gross material eyes is the field of investigation of science.  This field is so vast that, unaware of other worlds that come to us as dreams through philosophy and as hopes through religion, we say it is infinite.  We see the vast expanses of land on earth, the seas, the immensity of space.  With giant telescopes, we investigate the firmaments and watch stars billions of light years away, and whose transmitted light emitted billions of years ago, even before our solar system must have been formed, is just now visible to our gaze.  Also with powerful microscopes, we plunge into matter and regress even beyond the atom.

At the stage we have reached, and science shall still go beyond that stage, we recognize that the minutest building blocks of our material substance are neutrons, protons and electrons, what have been referred to as sub-atomic particles.  Science has made advances enough to recognize that what seems to us to be firmly-knit matter arises from radiation.  The less material the building blocks become, the less science can go to unravel the mystery, but the greater challenges to philosophy to move ahead to play back an unceasing flow from the creative source itself, so far as we can intellectually go.  The only limitation science has is therefore at that point where the difference in consistency sets in because at that point, no physically designed instruments, past, present or future, can be of help.

Thus, also, the limit of philosophy is the take-off point of Religion. We can now appreciate the inevitability of the cooperation that must exist between science, philosophy and religion, a cooperation without which gaps will be left in the knowledge we need to operate with in this Creation.  In a division of labour setting, therefore, we can fully appreciate the field of expertise of science as the physical or gross material; of philosophy as the intellectual or world of thoughts or the Ethereal; and of religion as the spiritual.  Thus, the Gross Material, Ethereal and Spiritual are different consistencies which must come alive for mankind through science, philosophy and religion.  Each of these consistencies comprise worlds, and these worlds are knowable, each gearing into the other without a break, and all held together by uniform laws which we must understand if we do not want to be a nuisance as guests in this part of Creation we are in.

Over millennia, the story of creation came to man on earth in doses.  We cannot deny, to start with, that creation is a work, the work of the Creator.  Like a work of art, creation is a thought of the Creator, a volition of the Creator.  Let there be, and there was.  Though Creation, like the work it is, exists outside the Creator, the Creator’s Will, like the artist’s will, is in His Creation and can only be identifiable from it.  Man being a fruit of Creation cannot discern the Creator outside the Creator’s Creation.  The only way to understand the Creator is through knowing the Creation of which man is part.

But did the Creator just spend the proverbial week in laying out Creation so that man and woman would emerge in or into it to just multiply?  At this stage we need some help and this help is clearly provided in, In the Light of Truth, the Grail Message by Abd-ru-shin. The questions begin to thunder in. How was it before the picture painted in Genesis 1 verses 1 – 2:

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”

Is this picture in the Holy Bible telling us of what happened on this earth and the sky above us, or the world of matter we have briefly and generally referred to as the field of operation of science?  We are told in the Grail Message that the Creation of which the Bible and the Qur’an speak is not the earth!  The earth and the worlds of matter developed from that Creation, the First Creation.  The picture as is available now is, in a very general way, as follows:

1.         Primordial Creation:  this is the first and uppermost creation that came into existence with the words, Let there be light.

2.         Creation, the Second Creation, flowed from the First Creation but is of a different consistency; and

3.         Subsequent Creation which flowed from the Second Creation and came into being through development.

The first two Creations are Spiritual; and Subsequent Creation, the third in the structure, is Material.  Since the flow is from the Highest downwards to these distant areas we live in, and grow in to mature as human spirits, the First Creation is closest to the vicinity of the Source, of the Creative Will which was outside Creation when His Spirit started the work. Thus, Creation is a work, the handwork of the Holy Spirit.

The whole of Creation is populated by beings, from the Primordial Spiritual Beings in the First Creation, through the Spiritual Beings in the Second Creation, to the developing human spirits in Subsequent Creation. Man and Woman on earth belong in the species of human spirits that came from the lowest part of the Second Creation because at that level, they were not strong enough to be conscious.  By the Grace of God, they were located in that distant part of Creation, this subsequent creation, to grow in that soil where, as spirit germs, they could be sown to develop.  So all of us on earth, man and woman, king and servant, governor and cleaner, teacher and pupil, the Queen of England and the village girl in Auchi,  they all came from the last rung of the spiritual ladder on the way from the highest downwards to these distant areas.

These distant areas from the Spiritual, from Paradise, which we have identified as the third part of creation, as Subsequent Creation, is enclosed in a huge spiritual belt that provides warmth and friction, and infuses the material components with life. Thus, the worlds of matter serve only as cloaks, as coverings, and possess neither their own warmth nor movement.  It is as a result of the forced movement that the material takes on form, and in accordance with well-established and immutable laws.  While the soul of animal forms itself, the spirit of earthman already carries everything within itself in the spirit-germ and only needs to develop to become conscious.

The species always determines the form.  The human spirit has the human form which shows on earth as male and female or man and woman.  As at the time the spirit germ has come to consciousness, but not self consciousness, the human form it has taken is extremely beautiful.  It is through experiencing in the course of development in the world of matter that the beautiful form is retained or malformed.  The retention of the beauty or otherwise is therefore a function of the choice through expression of free will, which the human spirit has made.

Were we on earth to have chosen rightly over millennia, we would long ago have been back in the spiritual sphere, Paradise, as developed human spirits and we would be jubilantly playing our role in the development of the creations.  For as long as light radiates, so long will there be spirit seed-grains that will mature into spirit germs that would descend into the world of matter for development into fully mature human spirits.

It is at the same level in the uppermost part of the Ethereal that the human spirits that have fully matured in the worlds of matter shed their final cloaks which formed around them on their way to the veils of matter.  Up, up in the spiritual, those spirit germs that were being sunk into the animistic belt on their journey into the worlds of matter to mature, can be seen emerging, technically popping up, out of that belt onto the lower part of the spiritual.

As has been indicated before these elaborate explanations, the Creator would not have laid out the whole of the worlds of matter for the spiritual to descend into it and set it ablaze with chaos.  That is why there should be no reason why science, philosophy and religion should not have a meeting point to explain Creation to mankind up to the level of their various competences, and in full recognition of their limitations.

For the avoidance of doubt, I want to once again re-iterate my perception of the roles of science, philosophy and religion.  The area of investigation of science is Coarsest Gross Matter and the limit of scientific investigation is Medium Gross Matter or the Astral Plane.  The reason is simple.  The Astral Plane, light as it is, is still physical and all manifestations on earth have their astral proto-types which gave rise to the manifestations.  On the separation of a human soul from the physical body through physical death, the gross material death, the gross material cloak drops off, then the astral covering, before the soul moves on.  If science works hard enough, it should be able to investigate medium gross matter with instruments specially designed gross materially for the purpose.

The field of philosophy is not only, as precursor of development, the areas of investigation of science, but also the Ethereal World in which mankind has vast areas of thought population set out in homogeneity.  Even beyond this, philosophy can stride, up to the boundaries of the world of matter.  Beyond these boundaries, in the Spiritual, Primordial Spiritual, even the Divine Sphere, which is outside Creation, is the province of Religion.  No intellectual pondering can open the gates to the Spiritual.  Only the core of man itself, the real man, the spirit, can remotely, in these far away distances, sense how it is back home, in the Spiritual.  We have, through ignoring the use of the necessary instrument in our bodies (the back of the small brain, also called the cerebellum) distanced ourselves from clearly sensing the Spiritual.  Instead, we have, over millions of years of forming the physical bodies in which we manifest on earth, over-developed the frontal brain (also known as the big brain or the cerebrum).  It is through the activity of the frontal brain that thoughts are generated that are more closely tied to space and time and which eventually constitute the intellect.

As man and woman had their origin in the Spiritual sphere, and like all other beings in Creation, have their roles to play, it is a sad commentary on Religion, Philosophy and Science, in that order, that those roles have not been fully spelt out and performed.  Only man, and woman, in the whole of Creation have subverted their role to enable a smooth growth and development in the worlds of matter which are the only part of Creation that come into being, grow, mature, age and go into disintegration to start over again, a new life span.

In the natural consequence of narrowing of vision occasioned by the development of the cerebrum at the expense of the cerebellum, which is the bridge across which the soul should control the body and therefore experience jubilantly here on earth and mature faster, religion suffered a crushing blow. With time, religions no longer mediated virtues to mankind, but reduced these noble gifts which the Creator invested the human spirit with to so called morals.  With time, man lost all sensing of faithfulness, truthfulness, grace, modesty, diligence, heroism, courage, skill, fulfillment of duty, wisdom, humility and compassion, by cutting off from on high the radiations that would enable them awaken and blossom.

We even lost touch with, and sensing of, the presence of the mediators which even the ancient peoples could see with their inner eyes and referred to as gods and goddesses.  Yet if we as human spirits had developed as we were meant to do; if religion had been clear-eyed enough to teach us correctly; if the interpreters of the Holy Books who had been speaking to us of the Spiritual Sphere, of the Paradise of human spirits, and even beyond—if they had not themselves forgotten their point of origin, we would have been able to strive correctly to manifest here on earth what it is like back home in Paradise. We would have felt the closeness of those out there who reach out to us in love. These pure ones, we are told, are female and male figures, prototypes for all humanity; and in them, each one of them are anchored a virtue we can access if we work hard enough.

If these male and female prototypes of all humanity perform their role dictated by the Creator in happy fulfillment, why must it be different on earth, but for the fact that religion seems to have failed mankind as a way.

My conclusion does not call for the denial of religion as the most competent way, at least more competent than science and philosophy, to the Creator.  My call is for Religion to re-establish its focus by making amends where it has erred, including the role which is ordained for woman in creation.  Where that role is explained and woman still falters, then the consequences should be obvious and everyone would see, even in our present earth lives, what visible changes can come over woman.

If Jesus himself summarized the role of man and woman without discrimination, and that is by saying that the two most important of the commandments is the worship of God and love of the neighbour, and illustrated the two through parables, is it not clear that Religion should be helping us in the way God should be worshipped and who our neighbours are and how we can love them!  If man is told what to do and woman is told what to do in a division of labour setting so that the roles can be more fully played out in the way life is lived on this plane, can we not see the relationship more as partners walking life’s path than one being there to be enslaved by the other, resulting in the roles being seen more in the breach than the observance?

IS WOMAN A BABY FACTORY?

It was Kahlil Gibran who was quoted as saying, (page 6 of his Spiritual Sayings):

“This is the history of man: birth, marriage, and death; and birth, marriage, and death, and birth, marriage, and death.  But then a mad man with strange ideas appears before the people and tells a dream of a different world whose more cultured beings see more in their dreams than birth, marriage and death.”

We do not now have to dream before we know that the mission of man and woman on earth is not to be born, to marry, bear children and die.  If we make deductions from the picture we have painted of Creation, it is easy to note that the physical body, being material, belongs in the World of Matter, and so cannot achieve beyond it.  But the core of man, being spirit, must strive for values that lie high up at his point of origin.

Marriage, as we know it, is a physical union of man and woman to procreate and provide an opportunity for human spirits to manifest on earth in physical bodies. As everything active in Creation is radiation, including men and women, which radiations are embodied in male and female bodies, it is not difficult to deduce that the embodiments have specific duties which are complementary.

The actual concept of manhood and womanhood issues from the nature of their activity in Creation.  It is the nature of the activity ordained for man in Creation that determined the male and masculine form of man; just as the nature of activity ordained for woman in Creation determined the female and feminine form of woman.  Man, therefore, is and should be naturally stronger than woman in those areas of fulfillment of duty assigned to man just as woman is and should be naturally stronger than man in those areas of fulfillment of duty assigned to woman. Thus they work side-by-side, not one on top of the other, or one a slave to the other.

The duty the male or female will perform emerges soon after the human spirit-germs leave their sphere of origin in the Spiritual Realm.  Even in that state of very vague consciousness when mere inclination towards a particular area of duty is all that the spirit germ is capable of showing by way of expressing a wish, a choice registers on the spirit germ.  The spirit germs that are inclined towards the active take on male forms while female forms shape themselves around the spirit germs who wish to work passively.  The active or coarser working and the passive or more delicate working are two different kinds of activity; but they are of equal strength.  There can be no question therefore of a weaker species.

We are told that in the Divine Sphere, that is outside Creation, the Guardians of the Holy Grail harbour within them both the active and passive radiations, un-curtailed and working in harmony.  In Creation, however, the active is separated from the passive as regards their working.  Every spirit carries within itself, either the active only or the passive only, which is later also repeated with the spirit seed-germs.

It is the duty of all womanhood on earth to keep awake the longing for the Light as the guardian of the flame of the preserving-and-upward-leading-longing for the Light.  Woman is therefore equipped with a more delicate capacity to perceive intuitively than man.

Man, on the other hand, tends towards coarser activity so that more spiritual substantiality is drawn from him than the woman who is thus the receiver and mediator of radiations which man can no longer receive. In this receiving and mediating, womanhood stands higher than man.  But that is when she stands aright and does not fritter away her abilities or obstruct them herself.

Unfortunately, woman, through her struggle to liberate herself from the oppression, exploitation and harassment of man, has been moving in a direction that will draw, and has in fact been drawing, the spiritual substantiality from her.  The danger to Mankind is that as man cannot harbour these delicate radiations, they will hang loose and not be accessible to mankind for adequate nourishment to sustain a life of fulfillment here on earth.  What this means is that were woman to disappear from the face of the earth, the role of mediation would not revert to man because he is not made to receive the delicate vibrations directly from the Light.  Man will therefore perish.  The same fate awaits mankind where woman deliberately suppresses these abilities.

What Kahlil Gibran says about man (and also woman,) reducing their perception of their role in creation to birth, marriage and death, can therefore now come into focus.  Says Abd-ru-shin, author of In The Light of Truth The Grail Message at page 645 of the Composite Volume in a lecture entitled Woman and Her Vocation:

“Become spiritual at last, you men, for you are of the spirit.  Recognise and also have the courage to accept the fact that maternal bliss, which was considered the highest goal and most sacred destiny of earthly womanhood is rooted only in the animistic! Woman’s most sacred vocation, however, lies much higher, lies in the spiritual.”

No one should misinterpret the call here to womanhood to strive to perform her spiritual role in Creation.  Yes, marriage is necessary, but marriage is not and cannot be sine quo non for spiritual fulfillment.  Is it not therefore a pity that so much time and space is devoted to how to curb women in our religions preachments.  Are we not aware of the information from On High that we must respect woman, being as she is and should be, the blossom of the thought of the Most High.  “As the leaves protect, nourish and shade the blossom,” so, we are told, “protect woman.”

Are we protecting woman by denying her rights to be a human being, to own property, to be educated appropriately for her role in Creation?  Are we protecting woman by enslaving her, by reducing her to a sex sport, to a baby factory, and to a servant in the kitchen?  If the home is her beat in Creation, is home definable only as kitchen?  Can she not with dignity bring up our children and with time the nation if we played our part by protecting her and providing for her?

The challenge facing science, philosophy and religion today is more, in the area of  the role of woman, for religion to take the lead to educate itself on re-establishing the sign-posts from this dense World of Matter to the Spiritual Realm  we all came from.  The current political posturing of religion will make more impact and lead more fruitfully upwards if it is based on knowledge.  But as it is, it is an unnecessary diversion into areas that belong to science and philosophy.

CONCLUSION

The presentation here may offend the promoters of dogma and orthodoxy.  But they would thereby be accepting, without, perhaps, meaning so to do, that the story of man ends with birth, marriage and death, activities that are mundane in the extreme.  But if they regard the presentation of a different world whose more cultured beings see man’s mission as more than being born, marrying and dying; if they see this picture as the hallucinations of a mad man, then I would opt for madness, and calmly await that day when, like Nigeria’s late flamboyant politician Chief Ozumba Mbadiwe would put it, the come comes to become!  And we would then be confronted with the truth in its nakedness, without the creepers infused by interpreters over millennia.

But we cannot risk the waiting when it would be too late to make amends.  The point must therefore be pushed strongly here that there is a minimum level of behaviour expected of the human person that must accord with the stage of evolution of man on earth.  Yes, crude ways in the past were meant to serve a purpose of refining us.  But the past is gone and recourse to crudity is not the way.  What can be more crude than imposing on women conditions we are not willing to accept as men, like putting them through ordeals to prove that they have nothing to do with the death of their husbands; like setting them down as part of the property to be inherited even by those they may not be in love with; like setting aside a group of persons for boycott even in an era when we accept that all creatures are equal before God because they have a common origin!

We must not be deluded.  The seeds of tomorrow are sown today.  Refusal to know this amounts to crass ignorance which is a seed that must bear fruit for the reaping.

I thank you for your attention.

Being presentation made at the Memorial Lecture in honour of the late Professor C.S. Momoh at the Faculty of Arts Boardroom, University of Lagos on Thursday March 22, 2007.

GENERAL REFERENCES

1.         The Holy Bible

2.         The Holy Qur’an

3.         The Other Bible, Ancient Esoteric Texts, edited by Willis Barnstone, Harper/San Francisco, USA.

4.         Islam – Beliefs and Teachings, by Ghulam Sarwar; The Muslim Educational Trust, London.

5.         The Bible, The Qur’an and Science by Dr. Maurice Bucaille, World Islamic Call Society, Tripoli..

6.         The Next 10,000 Years, a Vision of Man’s Future in the Universe by Ardrian Berry, Coronet Books, Great Britain, 1976.

7.         Collins Gem Encyclopedia, Harper Collins Publishers, Glasgow 1993.

8.         In the Light of Truth, The Grail Message by Abd-ru-shin Composite Volume, Alexander Bernhardt, Publishing Co, Vomperberg, Tyrol, Austria.

9.         The Art and Civilisation of Black and African Peoples, Vols. 1 – 10, CBAAC, 1986.

10.       Nigeria Since Independence, The First 25 years Vol. VII, Culture by Panel on Nigeria Since Independence Project; Heinemann Educational Books (Nig) Ltd, 1989.

11.       Communism and Cultural Heritage, E. Baller, Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1984.

12.       Cultural Policy for Nigeria, 1988; Federal Government Printer, Lagos.

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