10.12.2005

The Sacred Masculine

Another article lost from the Internet that needs reposting so its message can live on.

I welcome you to the adventure.

I'm out.

Old-faithful Wolf
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The Sacred Masculine

By Judith Person
THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Not everyone thinks the "sensitive male" concept has been good for men. Some believe it has gone too far — and taken true manliness along with it. At least that is how the ManKind Project's founders see it.

Created in 1985 by Ron Hering, Bill Kauth and Rich Tosi, the ManKind Project is a men's network based on the idea that the absence of traditional masculine rites of passage — slaying a bear, for example — has created a void.

Jim Underwood, at-large member of the group's board of directors, fears the concept behind the ManKind Project — with 27 centers spread across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand — may be difficult to explain.

He shies away from buzzwords such as "self-help" or "the men's movement" to describe the group because he doesn't want to resurrect what he refers to as late-night TV satire that portrays men's groups as "a bunch of silly guys sitting around in the woods and beating on drums and getting all, 'I love you, man,' " he said.

Drums or not, cultures worldwide have had rites of passage initiating boys into manhood. But the ManKind Project leaders said such traditions fell by the wayside, leaving each man to figure out manhood for himself.

The ManKind Project aims to help men "reclaim the 'sacred masculine' ... through initiation, training and action in the world," its mission statement says.

The "sacred masculine" includes qualities like leadership and wisdom — and remembering how to play.

In the 1950s, the ideal man was aggressive, liked sports, never cried and always provided, the group's leaders said. By the '90s, the "sensitive man" became popular. He is the ponytailed poet, the stay-at-home dad, the man who brags about being "in touch with his feminine side."

But the "sacred masculine" ought not change with the times, said Curtis Mitchell, chairman of the ManKind Project.

To properly integrate such qualities as strength and sensitivity, he said, each man requires a transformation process — one that will usher him from the psyche of a boy to one of a man.

Though many modern men manage this through:
  • The "descent," in which a man is encouraged to face his fears and any mind-sets that hinder him from being honest with himself.
  • The "ordeal." "It is impractical to make a man slay a bear or a lion," Mr. Rose said, so group members simulate the tribal ritual in which a man finds a sense of accomplishment after struggle.
  • The "homecoming," a graduation ceremony where men stand before their loved ones to be "welcomed into the community" as their newly balanced selves.
  • While members will discuss the philosophy behind initiation and the "sacred masculine," the specific events of the New Warrior Training Adventures are closely held secrets.
Whether any of this training is truly effective is anyone's guess.
Glenn E. Good, associate professor of the educational school in counseling psychology at the University of Missouri-Columbia, is doubtful initiations like those in the ManKind Project are necessary for a man's psyche.

"I am in support of the idea that it is worthwhile for men to take a look at what it means to be a man and to be masculine," he said, adding that such traditions are "often culture-specific."

He sees value in initiation rites like the Jewish faith's bar mitzvah, but he is confident men will become adults without that.

"I am not sure the initiationism is crucial, but I do think that actively getting together and talking and sharing support is important," Mr. Good said.

Each weekend warrior develops a "personal mission of service" to clearly define his mission in life, which in many cases leads him into community service, particularly in the area of mentoring.

Charlie Borden of the Minnesota ManKind Project works closely with Men to Boys, a network of men integrating the initiation process for adolescent boys.

Jim Hurley and Robert Terzian of the ManKind Project of Greater Washington work with prison inmates to help them find their own "sacred masculine" and missions in life.
Others volunteer their time working with veterans in a program called the Bamboo Bridge.

"They treat it as an expression of the meaning of life," Mr. Mitchell said. "They are getting out of that rut that says that 'The only thing that matters in life is me.'"

New Warrior Training graduates are refocusing their childish sentiments into systems of sentiments that are appropriate for adults, Mr. Mitchell said.

"It has to do with community focus, taking care of elders and behaving in a mature way to focus on someone other than yourself."

10.06.2005

The Way of Transformation

"The man who, being really on the Way, falls upon hard times in the world will not, as a consequence, turn to that friend who offers him refuge and comfort and encourages his old self to survive. Rather, he will seek out someone who will faithfully and inexorably help him to risk himself, so that he may endure the suffering and pass courageously through it, thus making of it a "raft that leads to the far shore." Only to the extent that man exposes himself over and over again to annihilation, can that which is indestructible arise within him. In this lies the dignity of daring. Thus, the aim of practice is not to develop an attitude which allows a man to acquire a state of harmony and peace wherein nothing can ever trouble him.

On the contrary, practice should teach him to let himself be assaulted, perturbed, moved, insulted, broken and battered – that is to say, it should enable him to dare to let go his futile hankering after harmony, surcease from pain, and a comfortable life in order that he may discover, in doing battle with the forces that oppose him, that which awaits him beyond the world of opposites. The first necessity is that we should have the courage to face life, and to encounter all that is most perilous in the world. When this is possible, meditation itself becomes the means by which we accept and welcome the demons which arise from the unconscious – a process very different from the practice of concentration on some object as a protection against such forces.

Only if we venture repeatedly through zones of annihilation, can our contact with Divine Being, which is beyond annihilation, become firm and stable. The more a man learns whole-heartedly to confront the world that threatens him with isolation, the more are the depths of the Ground of Being revealed and the possibilities of new life and Becoming opened."

The Way of Transformation, by Karlfried Graf von Durckheim

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This is a way to look at change and tumolt. I ask you to look close at the way you keep yourself comfortable and safe. Is it working for you to stay in the safe zone of your life? Are you willing to risk it all? Are you willing to make a change so drastic as to change very cell in your body? Are you willing to spend a weekend in something you will never forget?

If so, click here.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

10.03.2005

A Northern California Man's Experience on the NWTA

This piece is from a man who has recently been through the New Warrior Training Adventure. Every man has a different experience on the training. I offer this to you so that you can see what that looks like for this man.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf
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From: Generative Transformation

New Warrior Training Adventure

I've recently completed the ManKind Project's New Warrior Training Adventure. Whoa. It was incredible. Up there with CPM and Vipassana for truly transformative experiences. The reason it’s called New Warrior Training Adventure and not NWT Retreat or Weekend is because it is an adventure. Thus, if I told you everything that transpired during the weekend, it would no longer be an adventure. It’s not that it’s a secret, it’s about protecting what is sacred. The journey is about dealing with the unexpected, not knowing everything ahead of time. With this thinking in mind, I will only as they say, “describe the fruits of the tree, not the trunk”.

As I mentioned before the adventure, the main reason, amongst many other reasons, I attended this $650 adventure was to understand why I have difficulty communicating with women. I believe I got what I came for and much, much more. I thought this inability was due to some teenage heartbreak. While getting dumped on my ass by my first love certainly sucked, bad things happen all the time. It’s how I deal with them that matters. More specifically, it’s what frameworks, judgments and values I employ to absorb new information and behave.

This led me to examine my own judgments about women. I didn’t respect anything they said, and still catch myself discounting their assertions for no good reason. I am/was clearly a misogynist. Why? Women aren’t evil or mean. In fact, they’re quite nice. I actually like them a lot, but why then did I show such disregard for their thoughts and feelings? Where did this misogyny come from? As it turns out, several places.

A child needs love. Lots of it. My parents did the best they could to deliver it to me, however, my Dad traveled a lot and at times was conditional with his praise. Thus, with love from my Mother much more plentiful and secure than that from my Father, I did whatever I could to please him. I played sports, got good grades, became a social animal, etc. And I was praised.

When I was 11 my parents split. Without getting into too much detail as to why, let’s just say my Mother is a strong woman and my Dad a strong man. After the split, my Dad moved out and I was on the receiving end of even less love because of the distance. Concurrently, my Dad also began a descent into some unhealthy misogyny of his own. It had gotten to the point that my brother and I would listen to my Dad’s Andrew “Dice” Clay and Sam Kinison comedy tapes, which along with his less controversial Carlin, Sarducci, Dangerfield and Phillips tapes, we enjoyed frequently. For those of you who don’t know Dice and Kinison, these are two of the most misogynist comedians. Young boys should not be exposed to women-hating, especially by men they deeply respect and love.

As I entered highschool, I moved in with my Dad, who dated a lot. I began to see male-female relationships modeled for me. Mind you, my Dad and I always have had a close, open relationship, so talking about sex, crime, drugs, etc. was never off limits, however I’m not necessarily sure that the way my father treated women in front of me and talked about them when they weren’t around was healthy. He put up some big numbers while I was in highschool and wasn’t afraid to tell me about the intimate details of the encounters or the abrupt nature of their termination, which I thoroughly enjoyed.

In addition, I had a strong support network of other jocks, who also treated women like shit in front of me. And there was plenty of NWA, Snoop and Dre to go around. Bitch this, ho that. You get the picture. I was told often that the key to getting girls is to pretend like you don’t even like them. And lo and behold, there were more than enough women around to corroborate this hypothesis and cement this behavior. The more outrageous and callous I was, the more sex I seemed to have. While my unhealthy behavior was certainly heavily influenced and encouraged by men, it was equally validated and enabled by women, who recognized and were attracted to this sort of behavior they’d seen modeled for them by their own father, the media, what have you.

I’m not blaming, my father, my friends or Eazy E. I did those bad things to women. However, a man is not store bought, he is cultivated by his own drive for growth and by his environment. Whether or not I wanted to be a good guy (I didn’t) is not secondary, but neither exclusive to the misogynist influences in my life.

This misogyny led me to think that women were worthless and that lying to them was perfectly acceptable behavior to “get the skins”. “Jason, you don’t lie to me, you lie to girls.” – Rodney Dangerfield, ‘Back To School’. Thus, I never respected women. I had many errant judgments against the gender that derived from this lack of respect. Without respect, there is no communication, no trust, no love. NO LOVE!

And there you have it. I was disabled from interacting genuinely with women, because any time their actions deviated from my narrow bandwidth of acceptable behavior, I accused them of being crazy, irrational, immature, childish, etc. I had an immediate “power down” switch anytime a rational conversation turned otherwise. Time to go drinking with the boys. Years of avoiding these conversations laden with emotion retarded my ability to understand and appreciate women and the full spectrum of their being. Most of the time, as I’m now figuring out, they just want to vent, to be held and listened to.

Net, net, this weekend was by no means a cure-all for my fucked up history with women, however it did produce some amazing insights and most importantly frameworks and support for carrying this hard work forward. I’m beginning to understand and deal with my own emotions first; I’m learning to discard this “boys don’t cry” bullshit and get real, really real with myself.

Men - if you're interested in developing yourself along the lines of Gandhi, MLK, etc., i.e. a more nurturing, sensitive and compassionate way of being and leadership, this is for you. Despite the apparent "softness" of this adventure, it is anything but. It will test you mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually and if you have an experience similar to mine, then you will also have a renewed sense of purpose and confidence to execute on your life’s mission. An ancillary benefit of the training is the tremendous sense of brotherhood and great friends you make.

Moreover, it ain't over when it’s over; once the adventure weekend concludes, you have the opportunity to join an Integration Group which meets once a week and helps you apply and integrate the spiritual/servant leadership principles, communication skills and emotional fluency into your daily life. This is intense and I highly recommend it to anyone serious about growth.

Additionally, if you have or are planning on having kids, this is a must. One of the major takeaways was the tremendous amount of emotional scarring that results when fathers administer tough love, are not connected with their emotions and have no emotional fluency. http://www.mkp.org/

Women - this is not just for men. Woman Within is the sister organization. I'm told they are similar, but obviously focus and much different issues. Check them out. http://www.womanwithin.org/about/index.htm