Transgender Spirituality Practiced – Ma’s India Spiritual Giftstore

Dear Spiritual Explorer: I was born a male, but feel myself to be a female. It seems that it is becoming more acceptable to be transgender. I am drawn to Hindu spirituality and wonder if there is a god or goddess that I might call upon that reflects a transgender spirituality. Ralph P., Cincinnati, OH

Shiva Ardanariswara

Dear Ralph: I am so glad that you have written. In light of the Bruce Jenner revelatory remarks with Diane Sawyer the other night, this issue has become very main stream and has brought forth a dialogue on a subject to which you have long been denied open discussion. Now our society has to reflect upon some of these issues that  have long been forced to stay hidden and undisclosed. More importantly, you are asking if transgender spirituality is available to you, and I am glad to say that Shiva Ardanariswara illuminates the possibility and expanded conception of man into goddess, not just man into god or woman into goddess. That would be the true definition of transgender spirituality.

Transgender Spirituality

Ardanariswara, a Shiva deity, carries within its essence, the quality of both male and female. The right side of Shiva is shown in a dhoti representing the male aspect; the left side is female in more female oriented clothing, thus representing transgender spirituality. Even more exciting is that the 9″ statue of Ardanariswara is made of clay from the Ganges River. I like to think of the Ganges River in India as a body of water that rejects nothing and in fact has welcomed all who come to bathe in its waters. The Ganges makes no distinction as to whether it is male, female or even animal and therefore, transgender spirituality would be welcomed within the pantheon of Hindu gods and goddesses.

The Difference Between Western and Eastern Thought

It has always been interesting to me that westerners have such a limited conception of God. Bertrand Russell once said “In the beginning God made man, and man has returned the compliment ever since.” Because of a westerner’s finite view of things, we are told by a small but forceful minority to put God into a small container. Thankfully, God will not have it as witnessed by the Pandora’s box that continues to open and disseminate its contents, much to the horror and surprise of the religious right. However, thankfully, because of the advent of eastern thinkers and other intellectuals, those of us who could find no satisfaction in worshipping a monolithic god with decidedly prejudicial views, could expand their minds and hopefully their hearts to be able to welcome and include differences.

Looking Within for Wisdom

I remember listening to Alan Watts in the 70’s when he told of the differences between eastern and western thought. To summarize, Mr.Watts talked about how westerners would view a tree. Western thought would just see a tree and would see its distinction from its surrounding environment. Eastern thought would see the tree as part of the earth, the sky and everything in its habitat or surroundings. Similarly, conventional thought wishes to circumscribe anything that is outside of its small and limited purview and that of course would include some westerner’s view of sexuality. It is interesting to me that instead of looking to themselves for whatever “sin” or difference resides within their awareness, they are very conscious of differences outside of themselves. It is much easier to bear someone else’s purported transgressions rather than owning one’s own. As Jesus would say, to paraphrase, look to the mote within your eye while judging someone else. That would amount to calling forth wisdom instead of prejudice.

While Ardanariswara perhaps best reflects what you are asking of the Hindu pantheon, let me ask you not to limit yourself to only prayers regarding your sexuality in your efforts towards transgender spirituality.  I understand of course that this topic has become very volatile and revolutionary and has stirred up questions within oneself and others as to acceptance of one’s own and others’ sexual nature. What is important to remember however is that one’s sexual nature is but one piece of a spiritual dynamic that needs to be explored and there are many other gods and goddesses with various attributes within the Hindu pantheon to rely upon. Sometimes we forget that we are multi-faceted creatures, all struggling together to return to the light, requiring that we all become inclusive and tolerant and perhaps not just focus upon one particular aspect of our personal evolution.

Thanks for writing, Spiritual Explorer

If you have a question about “transgender spirituality” or anything else, you can write me at Ask The Spiritual Explorer

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