2.16.2006

Being in Love

This post is from an initiated man who shares his perspective on love.

Why is this related to the ManKind Project and the New Warrior Training Adventure, you ask? Anytime I judge a man is speaking from the heart, I want to acknowledge that heart.

In my work in MKP, I realize that I create my own reality...how I repsond to everything around me creates that reality. What is your reality?

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf
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Pat's Blog
For Valentine’s Day: Being in love.

Think all phenomena are like dreams.

All of our reality is constructed by our perceptions, misperceptions, beliefs, truth, etc. I have been amazed at times that the proverb stated above, has been taken out of context to mean “Buddhists believe that this world is really a dream” – sorta like the plot of The Matrix – “yeah cool dude, like I’m really dreaming this is reality when I’m someplace else; like you know, asleep somewhere…” This proverb is really teaching, that we construct our reality and that we can construct it many different ways. My judgment that anything is good or bad, sad or happy, real or unreal… is my own construction. I believe certain conditions set the occasion for us to be more likely to fall to certain conclusions, …like falling in love.

When I first meet someone under romantic circumstances and certain chemistry occurs; I may “fall in love.” (I won’t bore you with the details of what those conditions are for me, since we all know them well enough; having spent huge amounts of time and energy seeking these conditions!)

Then at some point in the course of a relationship, I allow other circumstances and chemistry to occur, so then I wonder “Am I in love?” This started to come up in my relationship with my partner of 4 years, Frances. But recently, as I have come to more fully understand that I create my reality, I have been looking at how I can create “Falling in Love” with my partner in every moment.

So recently with my “beloved” (was my partner), I have been telling her I love her, doing other little things to let her know this, etc. And we have been studying Tantra together (No, I won’t embarrass us all by discussing the details here!) The result is I have fallen in love again.

On a different topic, this understanding helps account for the psychotherapy phenomenon of transference and counter-transference. Often therapy creates very similar circumstances to those that would set the occasion for “falling in love” such as self-disclosure under unconditional acceptance. Is the transference real? My answer is that it is as real as any other phenomenon we create. Some realities I chose to foster and others I chose to let go of.

So for now, I have decided to “fall in love”, and I am very happy with the reality I have created.

2.13.2006

A Different Take

I like this post; for one reason. OK...two reasons.

First, Joe Perez is an initiated man in the ManKind Project. So, I am anxious to read what another Warrior has to say. Guess what? See second reason.

Second, his opinion is different than mine. I honor that we have a different take on this article which I wrote a short piece about here. He has his view and I have mine. I agree and disagree.

The fact is we are brothers in the ManKind Project. What does that mean to me? It means we share a common basis for seeing the world. We come from a basis of understanding and striving to be better on our own individual level. We don't have to agree. We can honor each other for our place and our views.

What would it be like for you to be seen as who your and honored for being just that, no matter who you are? Find out. Take the leap. Men will be there to catch you.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf
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How not to write about the men's movement

Here's an article by Paul Zakrzewski on the men's movement. As my longtime readers know, this is a subject dear to my heart. I've participated in trainings and groups sponsored by The ManKind Project for several years. So bear this bias in mind when you hear my judgment that Zakrzewski's article, at least insofar as it discusses the mythopoetic side of the men's movement, not only flubs major facts, but misses the interesting stories entirely.

Most egregiously, Zakrzewski claims that the men's movement has been eclipsed ("today, however, the drums have largely fallen silent") and he claims that the ManKind Project "conducts New Warrior Training Adventures for some 3,000 men every year - these are mostly affairs for the already initiated..." Dead wrong. Simple fact checking would have pointed out that nobody can attend a MKP training--called the New Warrior Training Adventure--more than once. That's why they call them initiations, duh! Therefore, every man who attends a MKP NWTA is doing so for the first time. There are Integration Groups and advanced trainings for initiated men, but these are not really a big part of the organization. At this point in time, its entire culture is focused on putting on the NWTA and Integration Groups for uninitiated men.

I am flabbergasted that this article could see its way into print, frankly, because when you discount the reach of the only international men's organization, how can you write an article then claiming that the men's movement has fallen silent!

There's so much else that's poorly done about the way that Zakrzewski handles the mythopoetic men's movement, I'm not quite sure where to begin. For starters, let me say that this is just about the umpteenth piece I have read about the men's movement that rehashes all the idiotic caricatures that have been said about the movement in the popular culture (e.g., it's just foolish men beating drums with war paint and running naked through the woods). That seems to be all most journalists care to say about this movement: people love to make fun of it (yeah, they sure do, including the journalists who write about it). Plenty of people mock and belittle the women's movement, but you don't see that fact mentioned in 9 out of 10 articles written about feminism. Zakrzewski goes a bit beyond the negative pop culture stereotypes, but not very far. He never asks whether any of these caricatures were unfair, inaccurate, or if they represented the emotional insecurities of men who were threatened by the men's movement. He never asks why the men's movement provokes so much terror in some men that they must cover up their fear by mocking what it represents for them. Now if a writer started looking into "men who bash the men's movement," there could be a fascinating profile in shadow for the world to see (somehow I don't think Zakrzewski is the guy to write it).

In the conclusion, Zakrzewski actually quotes somebody who blames the men's movement itself for the negative stereotypes, saying that they took good ideas from Robert Bly and then something "got lost in translation." Well, that's one guy's point of view. Fine. But how about interviewing somebody in the men's movement who has a different opinion?

I really don't think Zakrzewski gets the mythopoetic side of the men's movement, and in this sadly he is like most men in our culture. He admits to being in a men's "discussion" group, so that should give him some insight, right? Well, no, sorry, buddy. When it comes to appreciating Robert Bly or the deep healing work of groups like MKP, a discussion group doesn't count. In fact, it's a strike against you (re-read what Bly had to say about the danger of "Ascension" in Iron John). The men's movement earns my respect in large part because its psychic healing and interpersonal integration modalities are some of the most powerful, effective, and dynamic tools in existence ... and those tools are, by and large, in the hands of very capable facilitators. For many men this is Emotional Literacy 101, but I cannot tell you how many men came to do a NWTA or Integration Group thinking that they knew it all already only to be blown away. Discussion groups have a role to play, but they're nowhere close to the effectiveness of a NWTA or good MKP-style integration/shadow work group.

There are some great stories to be written about the men's movement. For any journalists who may be reading my blog, here are a few free ideas:

  • Someone could write a great piece on the role of gay men in the men's movement. How are their experiences the same or different from straight men's? How is the men's movement being used (or misused) by ex-gay conversion programs? More broadly, how is the multicultural movement impacting the mythopoetic side of the movement? I'd be happy to point any journalists in the right direction for finding men to interview.
  • Yes, the men's movement is in decline from its initial period, just as is the women's movement. How is the men's movement adapting? Is it going after the corporate leadership development market? Is it losing the spooky New Age rituals? Is the mythopoetic men's movement learning from the Promise Keepers?
  • And from an integral perspective, how are groups like the MKP succeeding at providing transformational weekends for men from a diverse array of levels of consciousness? Is the men's movement moving beyond pluralistic "mythopoetic" to a more integral stance? Does the men's movement give us a gender-based model for transforming consciousness?
Zakrzewski concludes that the "Bly-style men's movement highlighted a powerful urge for men to commune with each other that persists today," which sounds fine until you realize the Zakrzewski also says that men are communing by grabbing a few drinks at the pub or watching football. Sigh. Is this what we have come to: writers who think that the mythopoetic men's movement is basically about little more than kicking down a few brewskies? There are good stories waiting to be written about the men's movement...Anyone?

2.10.2006

Principles and Integrity

The symbol here is GI (Integrity) it means:

-- Be acutely honest throughout your dealings with all people
-- Believe in justice, not from other people, but from yourself
-- To the true warrior, all points of view are deeply considered regarding honesty, justice, and integrity.

These are strong and powerful words to articulate integrity.

In the ManKind Project, men are encouraged to live lives of integrity. A man is considered his own keeper or monitor. A man is considered to be open to the life outside integrity. For, we all go there. A man may be honorably called out and held open to being out of integrity with a statement, a choice, a word, a relationship, himself.

The ManKind Project has a set of principles that states:

-- I accept full responsibility for my actions
-- I maintain integrity in my relationships
-- I deal with disagreements directly
-- I treat others with dignity, respect their boundaries, and honor their confidences ]
-- I hold another accountable who I judge to be out of integrity

Are you willing to live your life in integrity with men around you that will hold a space for you to see where you do and don't? Are you finally willing to set foot in your own integrity?

I will be there to walk with you, hear you, honor you, and
reflect for you.

I'm out. Old-faithful Wolf

2.09.2006

You Have Value, Come With Me

Men

What is it that calls you to be better than you are? What is it that tells you that you can be more than you are? Do you listen to the voice or minimize it? Do you think yourself less worthy than me?

You have value, come with me. The time is now.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf
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There was a time when old men lived side by side with people of all ages, holding honored positions within the community; they were valued for their discretion and experience. In times of conflict, they balanced the young warrior's desire for adventure and physical challenge, offering sage discretion grown from having suffered the regrettable consequences of battle. Excluded from the rigors of war these old men were often left to face the grief of those remaining at home, conscious of the painful costs incurred when young men go off to dominate their world, these old men understood the unspoken consequences of aggression.

They knew boys would find a way to be initiated into manhood even if they had to create hardship and suffering to test themselves. The old men were gatekeepers to maturity, able to recognize when the time was right for a boy to become a man, they watched for signs confirming the moment, and they often had a long tradition of ceremony to support their challenge of initiation. Identified by many names worldwide, vision quest, hero's journey, rite of passage, all initiations share a common theme. Separation, Descent, Ordeal, and a Welcoming back. These old men were schooled in the art of initiation.

Young men were separated from their families, challenged emotionally and physically in an effort to discover unique strengths and weaknesses, then welcomed into the world of adulthood charged with the responsibility of making their contribution to the tribe or village. They began leaving the narcissism of the child behind, taking their rightful place, maturing as an adult. A pivotal moment began this process; the old men faced an initiate and said, "I see value in you, now is the time to prove yourself, come with me, we are ready for you." Deep within our bones a hunger still lives to hear an admired man speak these words. No matter where we come from, or which culture has left its imprint on our soul, our hunger to be seen as valuable, then challenged to reach our potential are the words we yearn to hear. Regardless of our tribe or culture, we share a common desire for initiation without ever knowing why.

"You have value, come with me"

How long have you been waiting for an old man to seek you out and speak these words?

We have abandoned our old men, assigning them positions of powerlessness. They diminish the wisdom gained from years served, certain their life experience has little value, banishing themselves to Desert or Oceanside havens, living with isolation and regret as their constant companions in self-imposed exile. Today the world worships a youthful god of action in place of the aged god of discretion and wisdom. We still hunger for some challenge offered by a respected elder, ache for some affirmation of personal value convincing us of our inherent worth, yet we resist aging. We pray maturity will somehow eclipse this world of youth, but secretly dream it will leave us eighteen forever. The desire to be valued first felt as a youth mutates into resentment as years pass and our hunger grows, fueled by competition and jealousy administered in doses by those senior in years or authority. Endlessly waiting for the benevolent acknowledgement and worthy challenge offered by a true elder, we instead grow bitter and cynical. The art of initiation practiced in the past by wise men and women may well be lost. Those schooled in initiation have almost disappeared, lost to a time that no longer exists. The hunger to be tested once satisfied by the vision quest of old, replaced by a solitary journey where no welcome home is offered, unique contribution discouraged and individual value left to languish crumbling over time into regret and self absorbed introspection. We try desperately to initiate ourselves through these passages, but what good is virtue when no one else bears witness.

Today we are initiated in isolation; seldom clear on the lesson, rarely blessed for our action.

We find personal initiations today everywhere we look, opportunities to rise above our previous limitations and challenge our fears or create new. Unlike days of old where the challenge came from outside in the form of a fierce animal or harsh climate, today the greater challenges are found within ourselves. A failed relationship, or business crises brings us to our knees, forcing us across a threshold insisting we see ourselves in a new way. Marriage certainly one of the most potent initiations takes limitless courage if for no other reason than to deflect stories of broken promises trailing behind countless families. The birth of a child, the grandest of all initiations into womanhood initiates the father as well, propelling the new parents into a world of unfamiliar feelings and monumental expectations; every one, an initiation that shapes us from inside.

Today's "Hero's Journey" grows within us, often unspoken or endured with stoicism we are incapable of ignoring the call, life tests us insisting we discover our strengths. Few of us approach these initiations consciously, swept up in reaction or emotion we pass through life's challenges daring to risk an easy breath occasionally, yet also fearful of the future. Deeper enduring values are learned in the crucible of initiation, modeled by older wiser souls that know of the struggle, their vitality proof we will survive. They must refuse us passage through the gates until they see us consider our values and reflect them from our eyes for all to see. Only then do we become convinced of our value. When a respected man or woman looks into our eyes and believes we are powerful and just, we gladly live up
to their expectations. You are my best hope for the future; will my children be consumed by the hunger we have all suffered at the hands of absent elders? Or will you be the first to touch my daughter on the shoulder and say "Come with me, we are ready for you, I see something great in you" Will you seek out my son and convince him of his worth, challenge him to be great and fully capable of making his contribution?

Your "Hero's journey" awaits, will you put aside the playthings of youth, risk valuing your life experience enough to become that wise man or woman convincing others of their worth? Can you risk taking a stand against violence and oppression knowing the price? Put down the burden of your past and refuse fear the freedom to run your life? Will you touch my children with benevolence, while challenging them into true maturity?

"Most men live lives of quiet desperation" (Thoreau)

The desperation we experience is not one of inadequacy, we are all desperate to make a unique contribution, be remembered fondly and leave a visible legacy. Desperate because we know the time is running out.

We must not wait for the wise ones to appear, or lament their departure, we must become them. Are you ready? I see something great in you.

2.08.2006

Taking the Journey

Today's post comes from the Joseph Campbell Foundation Forum. I choose this snippet because I think it clearly shows the way a man feels after attending the New Warrior Training Adventure. The second post in the long forum series is from the man who I quote below. As you read you can follow his questions, his leaving for the weekend, and his return. This is men talking about the training and how it relates to a man's life.

I enjoyed reading all the posts. Give yourself a good 45 minutes to read all of it. It's worth it. Then sign up.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf
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ScottNass

"I had all of the same concerns before my initiation. Trust the voice that is urging you to go. The other one may be your shadow.

I can say that it worked for me beyond my wildest dreams. I have a clarity to my life right now that I have never had. You cannot know unless you do it. I was very dubious about it before I did it. People who know me see a major change in my persona to the point where they want some too.

Believe me. The ManKind project is a wholesome thing (something I was concerned about before I did it). It is utterly non-dogmatic. I believe in it so much that I would be willing to pay for the priviledge of initiating other men.

As you said, there is a 'safety net'. At any time you can leave the weekend. You get out of things what you put into them. If you are willing to give yourself over completely and trust the process you will come back a different man. A man who acts in integrity at all times. I.e. your thoughts, feelings, words, and actions in alignment at all times.

Since my weekend I have experienced some amazing sychronicity events and heretofore I was about as 'rational' a guy as you could find. Heck I still am. "

2.02.2006

The Golden Child, A Man's Journey Home

This post is a man's story. We all have stories. This man's story includes the New Warrior Training Adventure.

Your story could include this adventure, as well. You just have to get up and go. Simple as that.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf
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The Golden Child, A Man's Journey Home

by Edgar Carter

Last night, lying in bed with my partner, I almost succeeded. After having spent the last three days living in my inner fearful child, I really connected with my pained child, and now I've almost gotten all the way back to claiming my Golden Child.

Who are all these “children”?

Let me explain. It's starts with my own story.

I came into this world as the third child to a teenage mother. The fourth was my brother, who was born when Mom was a mere twenty years of age. At twenty, Mom was not equipped to deal with four demanding, obnoxious brat kids under the age of six, and was even less equipped to give them the love and the nurturing they needed and deserved. So as time went on, Mom and Dad became alcoholics and abusive, and as a result, I took on a lot of pain, and created beliefs about myself that I know now aren't true. “I don't deserve to be loved”, “I'm better off alone,” and “I don't belong on this earth.” Somehow, even with these beliefs I survived. From the very beginning, I stumbled through life, acting out, and leaving a lot of damage in my wake.

In 1997, a good friend of mine in who was in recovery introduced me to the concept of “Men's Work.” He invited me to attend something called the “New Warrior Training Adventure.” The NWTA is an experiential Men's training weekend, designed to start a man on the journey to reclaim his own Golden Child. The training was created by three men, Rich Tosi, Ron Hering, and Bill Kauth. Bill was conducting men's circles before they were popular. In 1984 he went to a conference with his girlfriend who was president of the Wisconsin Feminist Therapists Association. As he noticed he was the only man at the conference and he began to ask himself, “Why isn't there anything inspiring for men? Women have all this support, and men - well, they don’' seem to have anything like it!” He asked this same question to Rich and Ron, and soon the three of them all gathered around Rich's kitchen table and planned a weekend just for men. So, the “New Warrior Training Adventure” was conceived and the first one was held in January 1985, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since that time over 30,000 men worldwide have attended the NWTA. And now it has evolved into an International Men's Organization called, “The ManKind Project.”

In MKP, we often use a process called “Head, Heart and Soul” to describe the stages in a man's life. This process is designed to help men see how they may have been wounded and built walls within and around themselves. It brings clarity to how, as men our journey from childhood to manhood may have included disowning certain parts of ourselves so we would fit in, be accepted and loved. It starts with the Golden Child, that 360 degrees of pure, golden potential, complete in every way. As we move through the Pained Child, and the Fearing Child, we shut down parts of ourselves, especially those that don't work in our current environment. The acting out begins to really manifest as we move through the Immature Warrior, then as the Shielded Child we begin to hide who we really are. As the Rational Man we began to fully live in our heads, disconnect from our hearts, no longer able to see the Golden Child. Finally, the Bewildered Man looks around, and says, “I'm doing everything that is asked of me, why isn't it working, why am I not wondrously happy?” The process then goes on to describe how a man can turn around, look at those disowned parts of himself and began the journey of reclaiming them, and finally reconnecting with the Golden Child, the one who KNOWS how to be wondrously happy!

So, I attended the NWT in April 1997, and for me, this man began my own journey to reclaiming my “Golden Child.” At that training weekend I began to consciously let go of blaming my parents for my life. Sitting in a circle in Kentucky in 1998, I confronted how I had always ran away from those close to me. With the loving support of men in that circle I made the decision to do whatever it took to return to Georgia and get into a relationship with my family - my children, grandchildren, siblings, and parents. I had just reclaimed that part of me that is able to connect with those that I love.

And this led back to last night, with me laying in bed with the wonderful woman that I have finally been able to call to me. And as I lay in my pained child, crying I touched those early beliefs that no longer work for me. I made a conscious choice to now believe that, “I DO deserve to be loved” and “I DO belong on this earth.” And as I laid there feeling the love. I could now embrace my Golden Child, and pull him into my heart.

Edgar Carter is a co-founder and center director of Mankind Project of Georgia. A community of men committed to living lives of Authenticity, Integrity, and Accountability. MKP of GA. facilitates several “New Warrior Training Adventures” each year. You can reach Ed at: HealingJoy@adelphia.net