Have you ever wondered why, that in spiritual texts and scriptures the word “man” is always used to describe the human race, with no mention of “woman”? Also, have you ever wondered why there is a tendency to always describe something that could either be male or female in the masculine; as though one half of the human race is being completely ignored?
Well, I have often wondered why this is so, and simply put it down to the fact that in the old days there was some very archaic ideas as to the role of women in society, and therefore anything and everything that could be either male or female was described as being male as a matter of course. Well, things certainly seem to have evolved in that way, for example, God is always deemed to be male, but believe it or not, that’s not how it was actually meant when the ancient scriptures were originally written.
In his book, The Yoga of Jesus, Paramahansa Yogananda gives a wonderful explanation of how the word “man” came to be used as a generalisation. He explains that the use of “man” in more modern-day translations of spiritual scriptures came from the Sanskrit word manas, meaning “one who thinks rationally”, and I would like to offer my own humble interpretation of why this word would have been used. The term “one who thinks rationally” applies to any human soul who has taken birth into flesh. The reason being that “rational thinking” only applies here within the earthly dimension; the realm of the relative. As humans we rationalize everything, we apply logic to everything; everything must be “hot or cold”, “sweet or sour”, “up or down”, “in or out”. We always think in terms of “I am happy” or “I am sad”, “I am feeling pleasure” or “I am feeling pain”. Everything has to have a label and everything belongs in its own box, therefore the term “one who thinks rationally” applies to any individualised being of spirit who has incarnated into the realm of rational thinking. In our Divine form we are neither male nor female, yet we are both, so manus does not refer to male or female but rather to any individual soul.
Yogananda went on to say that it made things so complicated having to differentiate between male and female all the time, that in the end, the word “man” was adopted as a generalisation. And that, my friends, is why, that in this modern age, where women are much more appreciated and have careers of their own and positions of power in society, spiritual texts and scriptures can appear to be so sexist and outdated.