There is a little room where I wait before I have a meeting with my Zen teacher. On the wall is a tantric picture – not at all a Zen picture – of Shiva and Shakti. Shiva is all blue and sits immobile, facing front. Shakti is all white and is straddling Shiva, sitting on him, her back to us, with her legs around his body.
In addition to the very Eastern idea that the explicitly sexual is totally appropriate in religious iconography, I find the idea of Shiva and Shakti relevant to teachers, even in the Zen tradition.
According to Shaivism, Shiva is transcendent consciousness – the absolutely calm yogi, uninvolved with the world. Shakti, his consort, is the immanent – the energy of creation. He is the thought-free state of meditation. She creates and plays in the world.
I find this interesting because I think of two Zen teachers that I love. The man will listen to your everyday woes, of course, but he is much better at coursing in the absolute, in emptiness. [And then it is very possible that he will forget the mundane details.] The woman, on the other hand, listens with the body and heart of compassion. She understands the nuances of words and actions. She comforts and heals.
Of course, a man and woman teacher can do both. But each has his/her essentially different approach. And we become intimate with and need both.
Traditionally we practice with one teacher. Practicing with a man excludes the feminine. Practicing with a woman excludes the masculine.
Do you think it would upset hundreds of years of Zen tradition if we studied with both?