Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Men's Work Is Dead

"This past weekend 40 men’s leaders and 6 women answered the call to be a part of the Evolving Men’s Conference. The context? Some of us thought it was to “evolve masculinity.” For others, the hope was to plan a bigger conference next year. Others didn’t know what the context was."
So begins the article at the Evolving Men’s Conference blog/website. In it, the author of the article,Jayson Gaddis, declares "mens' work is dead," and goes on to say:
"The old way we have been doing and selling men’s work is toast and no longer sustainable. Some men will continue to “do men’s work” and even call it that. For me, the associations are too linked to the past of “wound worship” and drama. Men’s work has been synonymous with support, therapy, and other “wimpy” stuff most men simply don’t buy, nor are they interested in hearing about it.
Moving forward, most of the men there will be “selling” their product and services with a lot more awareness (see below). To me, this is a huge win because ultimately it will mean more men are drawn to inner work through channels and subjects that actually interest them.
Whether or not men’s work continues, remains to be seen."
I beg to differ with Jayson and am reposting my reply on the Evolving men's Conference website:
I’m sorry I missed what sounds like a great weekend and want to state my intentions to participate next year. I can’t believe I didn’t even hear about it!
About Men’s Work being dead: It’s a great attention-getting headline, but It seems to me that presumes that everyone is at the same place in their evolutionary development – an assumption that just isn’t true! Some men still need the “men’s work” that Robert Bly, John Lee, and others are doing. It feels like saying, “well, women are equal now, we can stop pushing.”
Just because men don’t want to hear about it doesn’t mean they don’t need it.
Plus, if we think we’re done with our shadow work and don’t need to go there anymore, we’d better think again. That sounds like “spiritual bypass.” It’s only by confronting, owning, and bringing (our shadows) to the light that we find our true masculine power, however that might be defined by each individual man.
Instead of shouting “men’s work” is dead, perhaps we need to put it into an evolutionary context and say “men’s work was the first step, and now we need to create the next one.”
And, I really support what Jayson and others are doing here. here's a video of Jayson inviting other men to the conference.
I can't believe I missed it!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Lover's Relationship to the Other Archetypes

The Lover archetype, one of the four major archetypes (the others are the Warrior, the Magician, and the King), is probably the most misunderstood of all of the archetypes. The Lover, accessed properly, gives us a sense of meaning in our lives. This sense of meaning is, I believe, the essence of Spirituality, no matter where one might fall on a developmental evolutionary scale or map.

The idealist and the dreamer are two examples of The Lover, deeply immersed and connected to the energy of the universe. The Lover is also playful, sensual, tuned into their physical environment, passionate and compassionate, joyous and creative, living in every moment.

The Lover appreciates and surrounds themselves with beauty, whether it's art, music, relationships, food, their home, and their very life, treating it all as art.

The Masculine Lover keeps the other masculine energies human, loving, and related, helping the King, Warrior, and Magician to harmonize with each other and prevents detachment in them. Each of the other archetypes needs The Lover to keep them from becoming sadistic.

The Lover needs the other archetypes, as well:
  • The King defines limits and boundaries for The Lover, bringing structure and preventing The Lover from becoming an addict, one of the The Lover's shadow sides;
  • The Warrior helps The Lover act decisively so that The Lover can detach from immobilizing sensuality and prevents fixation and obsession, an easy place for The Lover to go to, appreciating beauty as they do;
  • The Magician keeps The Lover's emotions in check, brings objective perspectives and helps The Lover see the bigger picture and the reality beneath the seeming.
Accessing the Lover:

If you want to develop your Lover archetype to its fullest possible expression, express appreciation of beauty; open your eyes and your heart to the beauty that surrounds you in everyday life; take dance lessons, do sensual practices, turn sex into art. Listen to music that moves you and move with the music. Make music and art a "practice of presence." Learn to play an instrument....sing.

Most of all, do what you love...or, do more of what you love; Learn to love what you do, or, learn to live with what you do...or, if it comes to this, Leave what you do.

Develop your compassion and Creativity Quotients.
"All of the spiritual traditions of the world agree that compassion is the ultimate expression of our better selves, of human morality" - The Hidden Spirituality of Men by Matthew Fox.
 And always remember: Beauty is immortal but beautiful things are not.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

What's the Matter with Men?

A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a man on the SeattleIntegral online discussion  list, a group I founded several years ago that is still going strong. Rather than explaining it all, I got his permission to repost his email here. My response can be found below his email.

Hi Gary,

I am not replying to the SI group because I currently do not have time to sustain a discussion that might result. I appreciate very much your making these points about men hurting (Men Are Hurting) in our culture. The fact of the prevailing male population of prisons is a fact of deep significance and I have made this point on several occasions. Men, while supposedly dominating the society, are also profoundly uncomfortable inhabiting it within the full truth of their being.

The thing I do not understand is why ritual and initiation are the keys to the solution. Maybe your materials shed light on this. On first glance I would say that suitable life practices that occur with some regularity would be a solution. Yoga, dance, etc? Our society seems to provide initiations - men are initiated into a sort of career business warrior while in college. It is unbalanced but so it was unbalanced in prior cultures where the warrior was the prevalent archetype - because it was the most productive way of using men for the survival of the group. So the business warrior achieving material success in the world is the dominating archetype and this causes certain men to subjugate others.

Integralism seems to make a value out of balancing the quadrants or you make a value of balancing the 4 male archetypes.  What is the basis for that? What is in your view the genuinely masculine contribution to the value of life - a contribution that women really cannot make? Answering this question would perhaps allow you to solve the problem of men.

The dominance of the mother in upbringing of boys, the fatherlessness of boys is I think a specifically American phenomenon. It is related to women having a take-charge attitude stemming from the settler frontier days of America.

Thanks for posting - i hope to get more active soon within the Seattle integral,


Thanks for this email, Thomas. It gives me a great opportunity to share some more about why I'm so passionate about The Integral Warrior workshop.

It's certainly true that men are profoundly uncomfortable inhabiting our culture while "supposedly dominating the society," and I'm sure there will be many women, and some men, who respond, "Give me a break."

For years, the media  have delivered the direst of prognoses: "Men are in decline." This summer, The Atlantic's Hanna Rosen went so far as to declare that "The End of Men" is upon us. Newsweek followed suit on September 27 with an article entitled "Men's Lib," which addresses the idea of why, "it's time to reimagine masculinity."

I won't go into the statistics addressed in these articles as they are there for you to read. Suffice it say that, indeed, men are hurting.

Ritual and Initiation are not the "keys to the solution:" They are part of the solution, but only a part.  There are many parts that go to making up a more complete "whole," and what initiations our culture does provide are pretty weak. Yes, there's graduation, Bar Mitzvahs, baptism, military basic training and the like, but there's also getting drunk or laid for the first time, Fraternity hell weeks, getting your driver's license, your first hunt, a gang member beaten badly in an initiation, and such, and yet, the perplexing question still remains: What does it mean to be a man?"
"Most men long for the support and nurture of other men to help in the journey toward masculinity, maturity, and a deeper experience of the Divine. Through the ages, many cultures have helped men by means of initiation rites and vision quests." - Richard Rohr, Adam's Return.

In The Integral Warrior workshop, we spend a full weekend on each of the King, Warrior, Magician, and Lover Jungian archetypes, culminating each weekend in a ritual ceremony of the men claiming and owning both the positive and  negative (light and shadow) aspects of each archetype. I call this The Four Initiations. Interestingly, and this is important, this is, as far as I know, the first time in history when men are able to initiate all four of the major archetypes into their being. This assures that all of our archetypal being, and therefore the man, is balanced.

The importance of balancing the archetypes is critical so that none dominates the other - because without balance, the Lover becomes the addict, the Warrior becomes brutal, the Magician behaves as a charlatan,   and the King becomes the tyrant.

Today, with all of the challenges facing us, including our very survival, we need enlightened and transformed Magicians, Lovers of life and beauty, and strong non-violent warriors to produce truly big-picture men - or Kings.

Add in Integral and Developmental systems and the altered-states technology of the Shaman, and the combination of all creates a new paradigm of teaching, healing, and learning.

Lastly, Thomas, to your question, "What is, in your view, the genuinely masculine contribution to the value of life - a contribution that women really cannot make?"
Let me quote what Matthew Fox says in his book, The Hidden Spirituality of Men

Soul and Spirit are not the same thing. In Latin, "spirit" (spiritus) is masculine and "soul" (anima) is feminine. An awakened soul seeks spirit, but an asleep soul may distort spirit, so that spirit is all "sky" energy with no "earth" energy."
The contribution men make is Spirit to the Soul and is "holy marriage," or hieros gamus, which includes an intimate union of opposites. And this time on the planet, in the midst of the greatest shift we've ever seen, what could possibly be more important?