Trampling the Goddess, Part Two

Psychic and Physical Self-Defense for Yoga/Meditation Practitioners

Ignorance is one of the “Three Poisons” in Buddhist thought. Along with hatred and greed, it is thought to cause most, if not all, human misery. The good people at Parallax Press came out with the following statement yesterday:

“We tend to think that what we perceive is an accurate image of what’s out there, but the Buddhist view is that our mind is constantly interpreting our world. Ignorance isn’t passive; it actively misperceives reality and takes it for something it’s not.” – Trinlay Tulku Rinpoche

The strangely misogynist atmosphere of election year politics has continued unabated since my first “Trampling the Goddess” post many months ago. It has now reached a fever pitch with the astonishing comments on conception through sexual assault made by a member of Congress:

“From what I understand from doctors – that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

This is truly astonishing statement, made more so by the fact that this individual serves on the House Committee on Science. For those whose families have been touched by the devastation of sexual assault, such horrifyingly dismissive statements about this violent crime are bad enough when they articulated by ordinary citizens. Much worse is the fact that they are now made routinely by men with the power to write legislation and appoint judges. For American women in this season of reactionary misogyny, voting has become an act of psychic and physical self-defense.

It is important to remember that this was not a case of “misspeaking,” but an unintentional reveal. The view is actually part of the dogma of an all-too-prevalent worldview. This observation from is important to consider:

“We should not be fooled that [this] statement, merely because it is so offensive and quickly retracted or clarified, is a mere slip. It actually represents the worldview of…many like-minded…colleagues. His comments are part and parcel of a view of civil rights, women’s rights, and science that should be antithetical to a modern society. It reflects a worldview that has held up progress on too many serious issues, a form of know-nothingism for the modern era, a rejection of the very notion of learning.” (E. Spitzer on

Despite the wholesale public outcry for this particular politician to withdraw from the Senate race, it would be a mistake to assume that the views he expressed were somehow the aberration of a single individual. The man currently contending for the second-highest office in the country has also worked tirelessly toward the same ideological agenda as the representative from Missouri. It was he who reclassified the crime as “forcible rape” for the purposes of furthering that agenda. (One wonders what non-forcible rape would look like. Are certain kinds of murder “non-fatal homicides?”)

As the people at Parallax Press reminded us, the perpetrators of the current bizarre offensive against women are victims of a flawed view of reality. Does that mean that women—and male defenders of women’s rights—should adopt a passive attitude towards them? Not at all! As I mentioned in another post, compassion for self requires that we engage in vigorous self-defense against those who would do us harm. The secret, I believe, lies in our state of mind when engaged in self-defense (or defense of another). Do we allow ourselves to be dragged into the abyss of anger and hatred, or do we defend ourselves and those we love with all the compassion in our hearts fully intact?



Copyright © 2012 by William K. Ferro All rights reserved

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