Your mission, should you choose to accept it
It’s important to look at why a purpose or a mission matters so much in the context of men and men’s work. The nature of the masculine is presence and utter attention to a particular thing, or nothing. This quality is very helpful in cutting through the proverbial Gordian knot, solving problems, hunting or building something where long stretches of attention in large quantities are required. One way this manifests in our lives is having a purpose or mission in life.
This mission or purpose makes masculine men come alive. Take this away, or have men entangled with the many aspects and distractions of life (compulsions, addictions, fear, desire etc), and you will have anger, frustration, suppression, violence, competition and so on because this energy doesn’t find a conscious expression. Not the good stuff we want from men.
As we’ve looked at it above some men are suffering, deeply, yet they don’t know or don’t know how to ask for help. I can share many sad stats with you on this but I’ll just show one: According to a 2016 survey by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, males accounted for 70% of suicides that year, and suicide rates for men are more than 3.5 times higher than for women. This is what seemingly immaterial compulsions, addictions or problems can create. And we wonder why our society is the way it is?! I’ll have more to say on this below.
I believe all of us and other men who have dedicated their lives to (real) growth, have realised that once they are beyond the grip of fear and desire, that gets triggered by a particular event or situation, and can fully pay attention to what’s happening their capability to do what’s appropriate in the situation: to help, say something, do something or just simply be present increases tremendously. Once men are not captive to these they can truly bring value to any situation. Once men are not caught by fear or desire they can be fully trusted, both by men and women. Then a man will do his best in any situation.
Life moves, it’s inherent in its feminine nature. Sometimes she moves in incomprehensible ways. The question is can you stay present to that? You can become entangled or you can move beyond it. It’s a matter of priority. There is a way to look at anything that is trying to take you off your mission, that’s fighting for your attention or that’s trying to drag you into a compulsive behaviour as, “ah, this is here to serve my growth”. Welcome it. Welcome the challenge.
Your side-mission, en route to your main mission, is learning to stay present.
Authentic presence is like a still lake. Once something triggers this attention it’s like dropping pebbles on a lake which causes ripples. Can you stay present while those ripples pass and can you do the necessary work so that these pebbles create less and less ripples? That’s the question any serious inner work asks. It’s a work of a lifetime!
That’s what is meant by learning to stay open.
Embracing the feminine
All of this brings me to the second aspect of men’s work which really is about embracing the feminine.
Our current way of existing on this planet, for the most part, is about the economy, money, power and conquest. The more masculine (expressed often as immature masculine) aspects of life. From an early age we are taught to achieve, conquer and be better than anybody. This carries through to school then university where it’s all about getting the best grades or finding the best job or raising the most amount of money without any merit for why we are doing what we’re doing and what’s the impact we’re creating.
We are on all the time globally and in the process destroying the planet, relationships, culture and society when we make success, money, power, domination, conquest and achievement unconsciously the main goals of life. I’m not saying that focusing on the economy is bad (I’m an investor…). It’s a great way to lift people out of poverty and create opportunities but our lives cannot just be all about that.
For the most part, our society through history, mostly led by men, have crafted a world where essentially conquest and survival are the top goals. In to this mode of existence we’re trying to fit women and children as well. But it doesn’t work sustainably. The goal should be to create a society where both the masculine and feminine have an equal role to play. She shouldn’t need to fit into this world we’ve created because half the world is hers anyway.
The feminine aspects are concerned with an entirely different dimension of life that is way beyond this competitive mode of existence. She is about art, beauty, grace, community, nurturing and the goodness of life itself. She is not about a goal oriented or directional way of existence. Really, it’s the colours of the rainbow and textures of the weather. Without the feminine we cannot have a proper civilisation. It’s impossible.
Unfortunately, we’ve forgotten this to a large extent.
We all have a feminine aspect, we all have access to it so it’s just a question of how much, when and how to bring out when appropriate. Having more conscious access to the feminine is a very important part of training and it naturally takes care of the various compulsions and addictions. It is the intuitive, all-sensing and knowing dimension of life because in effect it is life itself.
If you wanted an analogy you could look at an ocean on which there is a ship. Which is more useful in getting you from A to B? The ship. Which is more powerful between the two? Naturally, the ocean.
So how do you do stay open to life? There are various practices that one can cultivate, which I’ll not go into it here, but there is one sure way of doing it as we have discussed it above and on an earlier essay on surrender.
Learning to stay open to life.
Whatever she brings. Whether she brings health or sickness, marriage or divorce, wealth or poverty, success or failure over time one learns to remain equanimous. It is not about suppressing: “I just got a divorce but he said I should be equanimous”. No. Don’t ever do that please.
Learn to feel what’s happening. Don’t push it away. Don’t try to rationalise it. Just sit with it. Can you see that it’s really not you? Can you see that the way you feel inside was triggered by something that has happened on the outside? Good. So it means that it’s not you, right? You are the one that’s witnessing it. It is the masculine (presence) witnessing the dance of the feminine (life). Eventually she will go and will leave you lighter. But if you try to hold onto it she’ll cause misery for the rest of your life. That’s called creating a living hell of your life. Hell is not a destination rather the experience of your life.
Taking care of mother
The other very obvious way is how men treat women on this planet.
In most men’s experience, although unconscious, women are the representative of the feminine. Radiantly beautiful yet incomprehensible in so many ways. Like life herself. Because by and large women have been life oriented, which was inappropriate for men’s logical mind, historically horrific things have been done to her in vain attempts of trying to control her. Just look at abortion laws especially in modern times. What a nonsensical idea of trying to enforce control over women! And anyway it takes two people to make a baby, no?! How immature and childish! But ultimately the lesson here is that she cannot be controlled.
She is life.
A brief detour to the junk mailbox of society
I’m taking a small detour here and expand a little bit on one of the addictions I’ve listed earlier in the essay.
Forgive my indulgence.
I wanted to bring you attention to one particular item on this list because I feel it’s not in the public enough (in a healthy way): porn.
I cannot tell you how many men spoke up, in closed circles, about their first sexual encounters, their difficulties, addictions or perversions. Somehow their entire sexual experience has been tainted by porn, this very thing that is not even on speaking terms with reality.
I call porn the junk mailbox of our society.
It’s a collection of our shadows. Everyone knows that it’s there but very few speak up about it. Porn is responsible for relationships turned sour, for divorces, for perversion, even for suicides and not just in adults. If you think this is only a problem for people in their teens or twenties, you’re wrong. Very wrong.
This is no laughing matter.
It is wrecking lives and livelihoods and yet it’s almost swept under the carpet because…well…sex sells.
An entire industry knows that men are always looking for a release from difficulties in life, no matter how young or old. If you can get them aroused most cannot help but to look for some kind of release. And porn is abundantly available.
Normally, the first exposure to porn starts around the age of 13. When the only thing available was your uncle’s Playboy stash it was a more manageable situation. When you’ve the entire world of porn, from soft to hard, coming to your smartphone unfiltered 24/7, well that is quite a different issue. Some of the things you see there would make you sick to your stomach.
People say porn is very animalistic. But if you actually look at it, for instance the way women are treated and what they are often subjected to, animals would hesitate to do such things. It is way below what an animal would do. This is what the human psyche is unfortunately capable of.
In reality, sexuality is just one more aspect of life. There is nothing inherently wrong with it. That’s how we all ended up on this planet. Through sex, right? In fact, it is and can be a really beautiful thing between consenting people but when it’s distorted for financial gains it turns very ugly. It turns into addiction, a compulsive process in men and for many it determines the quality and often the course of their lives. Sexuality can be explored and turned into a conscious process for growth, as it has been done in some eastern cultures where they had the time and no social morals about exploring such things.
Unfortunately, these things have also been twisted heavily in modern times as they came to the west. Just look up tantra on Google and you’ll see what nonsense is available there. Most of such authentic traditions have gone underground a long time ago because of modern social norms, morals and public prudishness. Exploring sexuality consciously is still considered weird, yet watching a gangrape on YouPorn is not uncommon because, “well, you know, boys will be boys” (I’m exaggerating but I hope you get the point).
If your uncle’s Playboy stash is considered the gateway drug the psyche will eventually be satiated and look for something harder. In the process it gets desensitised to life and what it’s doing creates all kinds of suffering inside and in the outside world when expressed.
Sexual content is not the issue, it’s our relation to it. It’s been in existence in various forms since the beginning of humanity. It’s not good, it’s not bad, it just is. For some people sexual content ru(i)ns their life, for some it spices up, while some are beyond it. Is there a solution? Yes, but it’s not in the banning or renouncing of it. That’ll just suppress it further. It’s been tried with alcohol during the prohibition and the end result was a booming illicit industry. The idea is to bring the shadow to the light, so that it eventually dissipates.
The idea is to become conscious of it to it’s full extent, be able to have open conversations about it then eventually, with work, just go beyond the compulsions it creates.
If you think a conversation is easy just look at how awkwardly sexual education is conducted in schools or how uncomfortable it might be to talk about it with your partner. Most men are not able to be fully open up with their partners in this arena because of a fear of shame, guilt etc. That’s how deep this goes. This, along with many of the unhealthy and suppressed addictions, combined with a healthy dose of testosterone, are the building blocks of “toxic masculinity” that you see discussed often today. The idea here is not to “cancel” sexual content but to raise awareness.
Taking care of mother (continued)
I think we’ve sufficiently addressed the above…
Why is it important? Because of biology and physiology women are able to be hosts for life and birth the next generation. This is no small thing by any means. Yet this hasn’t been treated with the appropriate level of humanity and reverence. This aspect of the “mother” within women have been noted by great beings of past and present. Just look at all women like a mother. They might not be your mother but they are, or could be, a mother to someone else. In reality, you exist here together with everyone.
As Swami Sivananda wrote in his book titled Brahmacharya, “There is no harm in looking at a beautiful woman. You can admire the beauty of a girl just as you admire the beauty of a rose, the beauty of the sea, the stars or any other natural scenery. Think that the beauty of your wife belongs to Nature. Whenever you see a lady, put this question to your mind: “Who is the creator of this beautiful form?” At once, a sense of wonder, a sense of admiration and a sense of devotion will arise in your mind. It is only when you dart a lustful, unchaste look at a woman that you commit sin. You commit adultery at heart. Only when you entertain lustful thoughts, bondage and misery come. The beauty that you perceive in the faces of the ladies is the beauty of the Lord. You can have admiration in this manner.”
If this becomes a living experience, and it can through practice, many of the compulsive behaviours will naturally fall away.
Stay tuned for the final part.