I had done some research, general background stuff, and of course I was nervous, I'm only just beginning to grasp the hang of this interview thing, and here I was, strolling in to talk with a woman who has been described as "Buddha Barbie meets G.I. Jane."
Kelly's "I'm honest even to my own detriment" attitude is one I admire and appreciate. In our community, it's sometimes hard to tread through the frou-frou bullshit waters. I'm looking for real, even if it's not pretty and honest, even if it hurts. To me, it seems that is the only way to facilitate substantial change.
We began by talking about some of the changes being implemented in her Conquering Lion Yoga teacher training program. In my research I had discovered that the Conquering Lion program was a combination of two sacred lineages, Indian and Tibetan—I was wrong, things have changed, and for good reason.
Kelly Morris: Conquering Lion will retain the most salient and quintessential teachings out of the Tibetan and Indian lineages—karma and emptiness—but we are evolving into a new incarnation by incorporating a lineage of the Q'ero, from the high Andes of Peru. Its a lineage in balance between the masculine and the feminine. They're an earth-based society fully connected to the feminine.
Tibetan Buddhism is about 2500 years old. The Q'ero tradition, as well as other indigenous traditions, is over 30,000 years old, some say over 100,000, which suggests that Tibetan Buddhism, and subsequent lineages, are the beautiful offspring of this original lineage, in the same way we are all originally from Mother Africa, even though I am 'white'.
We are bringing this balanced lineage in because although Tibetan Buddhism et al has a wonderful efficacy, it wasn't addressing certain needs within myself or my community. As a patrilineal, male- dominated, hierarchical and rank-based tradition, it has seen its day, for me anyway.I doubt we're going to see a female Dalai Lama anytime soon, you know? While I have been a card-carrying member of the patriarchy since birth, it seems, I am letting my membership expire!
Now is the time for the Divine Feminine in our world. Now is the time for there to be healing on every level—healing between genders, healing between races, healing between socioeconomic backgrounds, healing ecologically, physically, emotionally. That's unlikely to happen under the exclusive purview of the masculine as that lopsided paradigm is predicated on someone being inferior and someone being superior. Healing cannot take place within that dynamic. Many other interesting things can happen! But in my experience, no one is brought to a place of healed wholeness if they're always locating authority in someone or something other than themselves.
The feminine perspective is different, a world apart. From that perspective, we've always been equal, we've always been perfect, we've always been whole, from the day we were born while Tibetan Buddhism and yoga often suggest that you are 'born ignorant'. Christianity doubles down on that and announces we were born 'in sin'. How is one meant to bounce back from that disgrace!? Good luck.
Conquering Lion's endeavor now is to become a haven for those individuals—men and women—who are seeking to redress this profound lack of balance between the masculine and feminine that exists within themselves and within their world. The response has been huge.
Now remember, I had gone into this thinking it would be just another interview—I love interviewing teachers, I have had the rare opportunity to sit down and talk with some of the industries leading mentors to talk about their views, beliefs, methods, etc. So as I am sitting here, listening, something inside of me is stirring.
There has been a ton of talk about the Divine Feminine lately, and to be honest, I have never put much stock into it. It's been blogged and reblogged about, especially of late. The thing that was lacking for me, was association. I felt zero affinity to the words being said, and in honor of total transparency here, it left me thinking "what the hell is the Divine Feminine?"
JC: There's been a lot of talk about the Divine Feminine lately. It's a subject I think maybe needs a bit more light shed on it.
KM: There's is a great call for the Divine Feminine. It will unseat the crazed patriarchy. It has to and it is meant to. The wild masculine is beautiful. It's just that it's gone entirely mad! The pendulum has swung way too far into the masculine. To redress that, we need to bring in the divine feminine.
To be clear, the divine feminine and 'feminist' are not the same thing. Feminism is an appropriate and political reaction to the global deprivation and diminishment on multiple levels of 50% of the Earth's population, women in this case. The divine feminine is something different. The Divine Feminine is a set of values that stands alone, autonomous in that it isn't an appropriation of male power, or a reactions to it, or a distortion of it, or a stealing of it back—it's actually your own. It isn't begged, borrowed or stolen nor is it flipping the bird at the masculine. It's about reanimating what's intrinsically within each one of us already.
We are left-brain addicts. We worship at the alter of rationality, knowledge and intellect, searching for more science, more proof, more logic, more analysis. Those qualities are not exclusively the purview of the masculine—but the feminine is located in the right brain. Its the creative principle, its the Earth, it's everything that's alive, moving and generating.
"It's the creative principle, it's the Earth, it's everything that's alive, moving and generating." I have always felt a strong connection to mother nature. Before I found yoga, I was really into reading about Mesoamerican indigenous cultures. Those texts would leave me feeling like I knew what we were missing as a whole, like they were doing something "right." This program is the joining of two things I feel a very strong connection to: yoga and finding a way back to a kinship with the raw material this planet is made up of, that we are made up of.
I had never put too much thought into finding a teacher, and serendipity is an odd thing. Truth be told, while I practice at home when I can, I have felt for some time that developing a real, solid practice was just not in the cards for me. There is virtually no yoga community where I live, and while that may be an excuse to some, to me it means I had yet to find a place to practice where I felt aligned. I realize that an at-home practice is sustainable for some people, but I need more guidance. And so, I just figured that when it was time, all things would reveal themselves. That time has come.
Not only will I be a participant in the upcoming Conquering Lion teacher training which starts in September, but I will be blogging my way through the entire course right here on YOGANONYMOUS—step by step, change by change, trials and tribulations. This is both exciting and nerve racking. I expect that my life will be completely altered, I am ready to heal, grow, and finally expand my practice, but to document these changes explicitly for all the world to see, to be raw, open and honest about personal highs and lows, I'm not going to lie, that scares me a bit, but I know this is what I am meant to be doing.
To listen to the full interview with Kelly via Where Is My Guru—what I've shared here is only the tip of the iceberg—please press play below:
The Conquering Lion Q&A that was mentioned in the above interview will be held on Sunday July 29, 2012 from 7:30 P.M.-8:30 P.M. at the Shala 815 Broadway, NYC.
Watch this space for more information on the blog series through the training as well!