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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Healing the Masculine

In light of all the recent events where men have acted out in violent and aggressive behaviors towards women and children - from the horrible, unconscionable atrocities committed by the deranged young man in Connecticut to the group rape of the young woman in India - it dawned on me there is something broken in the male that needs to be seriously corrected.  We've been brought up to believe this is a violent world, that the only way to deal with violence is with more violence, and we puff up our chests and prepare for conflict.  We organize our society to prepare for war, and teach our boys and young men that violence is acceptable, even expected, because mankind's history is replete with stories of war, conquest, and battle.  The battlefield is glorified, and young men look forward to the time when they can join the ranks of their ancestors in fighting an enemy and achieving victory in a just and noble cause.  What we conveniently forget to tell them is the horrors of war, the emotional and psychological trauma that occurs, and the deep scars it imprints on their minds.  We are not programmed to kill when we are born.  It is not in our nature.  We have to be programmed to kill, desensitized to the suffering of another individual, taught to hate, and images of violence - through the media, video games, music, and the society which promotes it - encourages, supports, and enables violent behavior in men of all ages.  We only learn what we have been taught, what we learned from our fathers, and their fathers, and so on, and from the violence of mankind's history.  If we continue to look to our past as the only way in which we define masculinity, then we will continue to see and bear witness to more aggressive, fear based assaults on women and children.

What is true masculinity?  This is a question I have contemplated over the last few weeks, and I even imagined what my future self would tell me, the 125 year old man from the future (some of you may balk at the idea of living that long, but with the marvelous advancement of medical science, and the longer life expectancy of those now currently living, at this rate, we will be living longer lives, so it's not so far fetched, if you think about it).  Contemplate this for just a moment: wouldn't you like to be able to tell your younger version of you what you know now, so that you could give him the opportunity to make different choices, having already learned what needed to be learned by your sage advice and wisdom, without having to repeat it all over again?  What if there was a way for us to see into the future, see the best version of ourselves, and take his or her counsel to bring out the best in us right now and bring about the fullest realization of who we are capable of becoming?  The only link we have with us, unless you've been gifted with the ability to see into the future, is through our imagination.  We can imagine our future selves and then have them speak to us about whatever questions we might have about the issues confounding us.  Some of you may laugh at this and think this guy has completely lost his mind.  I'm laughing with you.  The reality of the 'millennial man' I will forthwith describe in the paragraphs below is an idea, something I've conjured up in the musings of my mind as I wrestle with this topic. Many will laugh and deride my musings, saying it doesn't match up with the realities of the world, the terrors we face, and the corruptible nature of man.  That's ok.  I'm fully aware and cognizant of the existing realities the world faces.  It is important to face the darkness and not be in denial of it, it is there for a reason.  Nonetheless, when light is shined upon the darkness, the darkness is converted into light, not the other way around.  I want to shine a light on the masculine, and discover what the future man could look like.  I'm a dreamer.  I dream of a better world than the one we live in presently.  And sometimes it takes just one person, one man or woman, to have an idea for it to set off a series of events which alters the course of human history.  I'm just one man throwing a pebble into the ocean.

Here's what my 125 year old version of myself told me.

"Mankind is at a crossroads in the time you now live in.  The ego-based thought forms for which you have been operating under for so many centuries and millenniums is coming to a head.  Two paths are open to you to continue down: the path of fear, driven by the madness of the collective ego and its desire to rule through fear and domination, or the path of love, which will bring man back in harmony with all mankind, with nature, with the universe.  It is yours to choose.

The male seat of power has been rooted in the false idea of aggression, domination, and control of the weak.  This idea has wreaked havoc on the world for thousands of years, and has brought about the imbalances between the sexes.  Because men have felt disconnected to the source of their existence, they have sought to bring the world under its control through force, coercion, intimidation, and manipulation, have subjected women to be objects that they possess and use to propagate, and have kept them down to create in them a sense of inferiority.  Although many women are now rising up to fulfill their life's purpose, many have adopted the same aggressive means of attaining achievements that men use.  The dark side of a man's nature is for domination and control, and if he is not successful, he will seek to destroy.  Be wary of this, the signs are excessive pride, anger, rage, hate, seeing everyone as the enemy, and wanting to take something away from someone else because of the value you project on it.

The true seat of power within a man is in giving.  The masculine principle is a giving principle.  The man gives, the woman receives.  This is the fundamental principle that governs the whole universe.  Just look at nature.  The sky mixes with the water molecules in the air forming clouds, the clouds give water to the receiving ground, and the ground brings forth the plants and trees that give nourishment to all living things.  This process is constantly going on.  If the masculine principle did not give what it has, and instead took away from the feminine principle, life would not exist.  The imbalance in the man exists because you take what you think you want from someone or something else, and seek to control it through dominance and aggression.  This does not accord with nature, and leads to violence and destruction because you take rather than give.  Man was to cultivate and subdue the earth to live well, but not to destroy it, deplete its resources, and cause others to suffer injustice and cruelty.

The millennial man will recognize this fundamental principle and re-orient his thinking along these lines.  The more he gives, the more he receives, and the balance between the sexes will be re-established.  He will understand that to be a man is to defend and protect the weaker and the innocent, and that aggression, intimidation, fear, and control no longer constitute what makes a man in this world.  Fear is used as means of control by those who are weak, who are afraid themselves of the unknown, and mask this fear by pretending to be strong.  Fear only begets more fear.  True strength comes from love, and is used as a means to live in peace and harmony with others and with nature.  Love does not buckle in the face of darkness, it stands firm, prepared to protect and defend all that it loves from those who would try to do it harm. The power of love is so much stronger than the power of fear.  The men of your time have it confused.

Do not fear the rise of the woman.  Cherish it, encourage it, support it.  The feminine principle has been kept down for too long, and it is time for it to emerge in its fullest potential.  They have so much to offer and have just as much a right as a man to live a purposeful life.  The imbalance between the sexes originated in the man as a consequence of his distortion of the masculine principle.  As long as you continue to use masculine energy to control and dominate the planet through aggressive and intimidating thoughts, behaviors, and actions, the imbalance between the sexes will continue.  The feminine principle is broken as well, but the healing of this brokenness begins with men understanding what true masculinity means.

A woman's energy is a reflection of a man's treatment of her.  When a man understands that masculinity is a giving principle, he can call out the femininity of a woman.  A woman is much stronger than a man on the inside, and because of man's inner sensitivity, men have compensated for this by becoming more aggressive and dominant in our actions and behaviors.  Woman are also connected to the source of life, they hold life within them and give birth, where as men do not, and thus, men feel disconnected to life and the world around them.  A woman can give a man a deeper connection to his source, but only when he calls out the femininity within a woman.  This is done when a man recognizes what it is to be a man - protecting, defending, giving - and then, doing it.

The young men in your time will continue to behave in violent ways until the men of mature age begin to offer them examples to follow.  Too many young men are being left to figure it out for themselves, and the roll models out there to emulate only promote and encourage the violent and destructive behavior.  When you no longer desire this unnecessary consequence in the society you live in, men who emulate the new standard of the millennial man will begin to come forward and offer a truer example for the young males to look up to.  Until then, continue to expect more unruly violence from the young men in your society.  The boys and young men learn what you teach them, by what you say and by your example, and if you neglect them their proper education, they have no way to understand how to harness the wild passions and desires within them, and consequently, will act out their primal instincts until their primal instincts rule them.  This is a danger to all, women and children especially, and represents a regression to the animal within us.  Boys and men who live in this state act and behave without a conscience, and thus, keep all those around them in a constant state of alert for fear of the consequences if one should upset them."

Me:  All that you said makes sense.  We men seem to have misunderstood the fundamental principle behind masculinity, that it is a giving principle, and not an aggressive principle.  But doesn't this contradict with what we do see in nature from other animals?  The dominant male will battle with other males for supremacy, and thus, the male that is most formidable through strength, fear, and intimidation wins out, holds the power in the pride or group, and has the best females to mate with to spread his seed?  Survival of the fittest?  Nature's way of perpetuating the best in the species?  Isn't it those who exhibit these qualities in the world - whether its in sports, business, politics, relationships - which seem to hold true?  That a man's power is in his ability to climb to the top of his profession through a fierce determination, motivated solely by his self-interest and ambition, and with no interest in who he might hurt along the way?  Is this not more true than what you just described?

125 Year Old Me:  "If man were only an animal, without the ability to reason, feel empathy or compassion for another human being, if he is only governed by his lustful desires for power, status, and success through greed, control, and dominance by the sheer strength of his will, then yes, this is true.  Men who operate on this level of consciousness are motivated by their egos and not their souls.  This is what I mean when I say this world is coming to a head because the predominance of the ego in its individual and collective manifestations has led to a world where the vanity of the ego, let's call it narcissism, reigns supreme.  It's about feeding your ego needs at all cost, regardless of who it might hurt along the way.  Men and women in your time will destroy all that is good in their lives to feed something they think they're missing, they are perpetually unhappy, and look to outside things to give them what they think they lack.  They will destroy all that is good in their lives in service of their own ego, they will make every excuse to justify their actions, and blame the other for the actions they took.   The ego is suspicious at best, and destructive at worst.  It is the ego which twists what it sees in nature to fit its own perception of the world.  Human societies which worked best were the ones who cooperated with one another, supported one another, held firm to what was noble within, and not what tempted them from without.  The moment something outside of them tempted them away from the love of their spouse, family, friends, countrymen, and the true virtues that held them together, (temptations such as greed, lust, power, and excessive wealth), those men (and women) lost their way, they became fragments of who they were, and their societies and families began to crumble from within.  Men, today, must find their true nobility within, which is to be better tomorrow than you were today, and recognize that you have the ability to rise up above your animal nature through your capacity to reason and the capacity to love and feel empathy for others.  Compassion for all is what will separate the millennial man from others, his ability to to connect to his feelings, and use it to find solutions for the betterment of society."

Me:  Wait a second, aren't you taking away something essential to being a man?  The way you describe the millennial man seems to me like he's a wimp.  He's weak, he doesn't fight, he's sensitive??  Who would want that kind of man?  What about a man just being a man, doing manly things, you know, being strong and tough, hanging out with his boys, drinking some beer, driving his truck, standing up for his girl?  Aren't you suggesting a rather weakened version of a man?

125 Year Old Me:  "On the contrary, a sensitive man, one who has compassion for others and restrains his acts of defense, will not be weaker, but stronger because he will know what is worth protecting and defending, and will not waste his time on situations where it only serves to inflate his ego in his eyes and in the eyes of others.  He will be more in control of his passions, and will be able to process situations without resorting to anger and threats in order to achieve his objectives.  He will outsmart and outwit those who are driven solely by their animal passions, and he will not be afraid to protect those he loves.  And who says you can't do "manly" things because you've understood that the masculine is a giving principle, and not an aggressive one?  Just because one understands this, doesn't mean you turn into a wimp.  Your sense of your own masculinity comes from within you, no one can take that away from you unless you yourself decide to give others the power to judge your masculinity, and therefore reduce it for their own particular reasons.  Be free of the good opinion of others!  What others say about you, think about you, comment about you, is not your business, that's their business.  If they have a problem with your masculinity, its their problem, not yours.  You are responsible for the kind of man you want to be, uninfluenced by anyone else.  As a matter of fact, because you understand the principles I am expostulating, you will be more manly, because you will give in every situation your are in, you are in touch with who you are and your connection to the male principle of the universe.  Only you can give your manliness away."

Me:  That makes sense.  But what about the young guys?  They've got all this energy and need to put it somewhere?  You can't expect them to read poetry, sing songs, and play the harp?  Boys like to play rough, young men too, what do you have to say about that?

125 Year Old Me:  "The millennial man is not adverse to the activities that define maleness nor would he impose limitations on the boys and young men from experiencing their own physical strengths and abilities.  In fact, he would encourage it.  Boys and young men need to grow into their abilities, and competition, both individually and on teams, facilitates and develops these strengths in an optimal environment where the boys and young men strive for excellence.  The root word of competition is compete, which means the desire to make better.  It it vitally important for a man to be exposed to athletics, to engage in physical activities that push him to be at his best, to teach him the value of belonging to something bigger than himself, and to understand how to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat.  Many life long lessons are taught in these type of activities, and men benefit in life for participating in sports, belonging to the military, or striving for excellence in an individual endeavor.  The millennial man wants to bring out the best in all men - physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual - there's is no aspect in a man's life that needs to be diminished.

When violence occurs, regardless of its form, the man has brought forth the destructive power within him, he is moved by anger, hate, and revenge, and these do not create excellence within a man.  When a man discovers these dark forces within, and finds success in life by acting out from these emotions, without proper influence from other older males who will teach him how to corral these emotions and keep them under control, he will continue to act out in these ways as long as it gives him what he wants.  This only feeds the ego, and the male ego dominates the planet.  Aligning yourselves with the spirit within, and grounding yourselves in actions based on love, will re-orient the male energy towards the giving principle, and this will initiate actions within the male that consistently done over time will enable the world to re-balance itself for the harmony and good of all."

Me:  I see.  Makes sense.

125 Year Old Me:  "Let me ask you a few questions.  What do you think a man ought to do to bring out his best self?"

Me:  Well, I don't know, let me see.  First, I think a man needs to know who he truly is, without the influence of his wife, partner, parents, his siblings, his teachers, coaches, girlfriends, friends, priest, pastor, or anyone who might try to define him based upon their preconceived notions of what it means to be a man.  A man discovers this through self-inquiry.  For instance, what do I like?  what gives me joy?  what kind of man do I want to be?  what do I want to have in my life?  How do I go about doing this?  I think a man needs to uncover all that is dark within him, face what needs to be faced, all his insecurities and fears, and recognize them for what they are: illusions in his mind.  What is not made conscious comes to us as fate, and these can be hard lessons to learn.  A man must own all of himself, his achievements and his failings, take responsibility for it all, and as a consequence, he will learn how to grow from his mistakes rather than project them out onto others and blame them for his errors.  A man must remove any duplicity he has in his life, any area where he is not being authentically himself, and question why he feels it is necessary, even desired, to behave contrary to his true nature.  A good man is a good man in all situations and in all circumstances.  And when circumstances throw us off, and we act in ways that are mean and cruel, a man must re-center himself, take inventory on why he slipped up, correct what needs to be corrected, forgive himself and forgive others, and make amends where and when he can.  He needs to be honest, real, and authentic, and remove lying from his discourse with others.  Lying and deception is based on fear, and fear breeds cowardice, a most undesirable attribute in a man.  I also think a man needs to find a way to connect to life without needing someone else to fill the void, he needs to unite both the masculine and the feminine principles within himself first, so that he returns to the world whole and complete within himself, and thus, doesn't fall into the trap of needing someone else to fill the emptiness inside.  This is painful at first, but the rewards are great, for one comes to truly 'know thyself', as the Greeks used to say.  And when he is in a relationship, he will have more to give, because he will be coming from a place of wholeness.  I think a man needs to stay physically active, challenging himself, and pushing himself towards excellence in all that he does.  Intellectually, he needs to develop and educate his mind in multiple areas - science and technology, mathematics  grammar, languages, the arts and humanities, the classics, philosophy,  history, spirituality, etc - to be able to process lots of information, analyze it, and synthesize the information in ways that support his growth and development, and helps him to contribute to the society he lives in in constructive and positive ways.  He needs to be self-reliant, and support himself before he tries to support others.  Emotionally, he needs to control his emotions, not act on them.  He must have the ability to recognize when he needs to communicate what he feels, and develop the ability to do it in a way that keeps his sense of masculinity in tact.  He must stand firm in his truth, and not someone else's, and do it with dignity and self-respect.  The strength of a man is in direct proportion to the respect he has for himself.  And when a man respects himself, he respects all of life, including women and children.

125 Year Old Me:  "Excellent.  However, you haven't quite explained the attributes of a man's character that will be the core of this new millennial man.  Expound on this a little more, reach deep inside and ask yourself what must you do to bring out the best in you?  What character traits are yours to give, in common with every other man, which all men can relate to?"

Me:  Boy, you're making this hard.  Uh..let's see.  I think this man must have unshakable faith in the goodness of his soul and the goodness he brings to the world.  He must have integrity, a willingness to do the right thing as best he can at all times and in all circumstances.  This man must stand up for what is right, what is truthful, and must do it with kindness, gentleness, and non-violence.  His loyalty, first and foremost, is to God, and then to truth, love, and beauty.  And if someone unjustly and cruelly injures him, causes him harm, he will stand firm in his own being, pull himself up by his bootstraps, and continue on, choosing to bring good into this life.  It is not what happens to us that defines us, it is what we do with what happens to us after it has happened.  Do you overcome it or does it overcome you?  A man's character is built through the challenges he faces, not the ones he avoids or denies.  In regards to the other person who has done him harm, the best that a man can achieve is to forgive that person, not because they deserve it, but because the man deserves peace.  Forgiveness is the strength of the millennial man, I think.  Why?  Because it allows a man to see things clearly and as they are, his mind unclouded by the darker emotions of hatred, anger, revenge, and matching cruelty with cruelty.  Forgiveness doesn't mean you get walked all over by those who've done you wrong.  On the contrary, you are able to hold people accountable for the wrongs they've committed without resorting to being cruel and unjust yourself.  I think this man doesn't look for trouble, but he doesn't back down when trouble comes his way.  He stands in his own integrity, and seeks to peacefully correct all injustices and cruelties in his life, in his community, in his world.  Kindness is a hallmark of this man.  He is charitable and kind to all, honest, forthright, and wants more for others than he wants for himself.  He is a lover of life.   

125 Year Old Me:  "Good.  What about compassion and love?  Why are these important in bringing out the best in a man?

Me:  Compassion is the ability to see in another our shared humanity.  It is only when we have suffered, do we recognize the suffering of others, and this leads to empathy, which ultimately leads to kindness and love.  When a man understands his own darkness, he can see in others theirs, and out of that common pain, love for others springs forth, and healing begins.  A man who has love in his heart, and operates from the foundation of love, will influence the people in his life in a much different way then if he was motivated by his ego.  All his thoughts, words, behaviors and actions will reflect what is his motivating force in life, and the love he has and shares will increase ten-fold.  A man who brings love into the world inspires and enriches people's lives, and unites rather than divides.  This man will not provoke a fight, will look for all possible options to solve problems, but will not fear to stand up to those threatening harm or injury to his loved ones, his friends, his countrymen.  It is because of a man's love for his wife, his partner, his children, his family, his brothers that he will give up his life for them, not because of fear.  This, I think, is a common element among all men, and shows what a man will give for those he loves.  At the same time, love is gentle and kind, seeks only the best for all, wants only the best for all, and men governed by this principle will work towards a society where all are able to experience love, joy, peace, and happiness.  Love is the glue that binds everything together, and I think when more men lead from their hearts, live from their hearts, and act from their hearts, then the world will change for the better.

125 Year Old Me:  "Well said.  Now go out and do it.  This is your challenge at this time, now is the time to step up and bring forth all that is best in you."

Me:  One last question before you go, which path does humanity take?  The path of love or the path of fear?

And before I could finish my question, he disappeared.