3.27.2007

Passion

"It makes you think twice about what you are doing and why? You don't do it for the money, because there is no money that can buy your life; there's no money that can buy you a pair of legs. Do you do it to be famous? Well, you can go to Hollywood to be famous. You don't have to risk your life at 250 mph to be famous. Do you want to be brave? If you want to be brave you go to the army. People will recognize you as a lot braver there. Then you realize you do it because you have passion for it. That was the conclusion that I came to, because I really love what I do."

Tony Kanaan, Indy Racing League driver, June 2002, RACER Magazine

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In the ManKind Project, men are encouraged to live their passion; that may be a father or a race car driver or a fire fighter or a poet. Whatever it is, men often find the support and courage to make these life changes while attending the New Warrior Training Adventure or sitting in their iGroup after the NWTA.

I became a better father and drew up the courage to get back behind the wheel of a racing kart. I screwed up the courage to be me and stand in who I am when things get tough in my world. I became a better me, which no one else can be.

Follow your passion, brother. If that means taking the NWTA, than so be it. If not, find it somehow. The world needs you to be passionate about being you.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

3.22.2007

So, What Did You Do

It's not easy telling you what the New Warrior Training Adventure is like. Of course the training is different for every man; but it goes beyond that. If you are willing it is life changing.

Try it.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

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From "So, What Did You Do?" by Mark McElroy

I continue to process the events of the New Warrior weekend, and to determine their impact on me.

Today -- my first day back at work -- many people want to know about the experience. "What did you do? Did you run naked through the woods? Did you dance around a fire? Did you wear war paint? Did you fall backwards into people's arms to learn about trust?" Other friends want to know what my "Indian name" is, or whether I brought them back a handmade wallet or a pair of moccasins.

Answering their questions without revealing confidential details of the weekend poses a challenge. Inspired by a comment made by one of the men I met this weekend, I finally say, "Going on the weekend is a lot like being on Survivor. You face physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional challenges, and you work as both an individual and a member of a team. But instead of bringing home a million bucks, the prize is learning something important about yourself."

The answer works. People nod. They picture me on a desert island, unshaven and sun-burned, eating worms and winning races to achieve self-actualization.

3.20.2007

Steps to My Present

One of the lessons I have learned while being involved in the ManKind Project is that my past is the steps to my present.

When I was a young boy, I wanted more than anything to win the Formula One World Driving Championship. I watched every race I could find; I dreamed; I finally strapped myself into a race car cockpit when I was 19; almost immediately discovering that that I was years too late getting started to ever consider a chance at the big time.

I was good. I could lap quickly and had talent. What I lacked was support.

The reason I am telling you this is that for years I beat myself up as if somehow I was to blame. In my world now, I realize there was no one to blame. Also, I have come to embrace that time for the time it was. It was exciting and I learned a great deal; many of the lessons I apply to this day.

My dream has come and gone. Recently, I tried a 100cc kart at a local track. I loved it. I felt some pain over the past, but by staying in the present I was able to feel the joy and the speed and the excitement again.

Want to change your perspective on the world? Take the training.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

3.16.2007

Everything Else in an Adjective

This reprinted article talks about the connection that Jewish men have with the New Warrior Training Adventure.

The NWTA is for every man. Look, here's how I see it. When you say Jewish man or Catholic man or Business man, the thing that those all have in common is men. We are all men to start with. That's our common ground. I come from there to understand our other differences and diversities.

We are men, first; everything else in an adjective.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

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From Forward; The Jewish Daily

In the Company of Men ManKind’s ‘New Warriors’ Embrace Nature, Each Other, ‘Sacred Masculinity’

By Nathaniel Popper | Fri. Jan 30, 2004

By the hearth of a crackling fireplace at the Deer Park Church Camp in rural Pennsylvania, Josh Shaneson was welcomed into a brotherhood of men, for the second time.

Shaneson, 19, had been inducted into manhood once before, as his yarmulke and ritual fringes indicated. But unlike his bar mitzvah, at this initiation he had plenty of company.

The 20 or so men flanking Shaneson — some with baseball caps and gold-cross necklaces, others with yarmulkes — had just emerged from a three-day New Warrior Training Adventure, a ritualistic weekend that aims to open up men to the “sacred masculine.”

Following a round of drumming and a blessing from one of the group’s “elders” at the “homecoming” ceremony, the men discussed the initiation experience while passing around a feathered staff. Between speakers, the men would simultaneously emit a guttural “Ogh!”

Since 1987, some 20,000 men from all religious backgrounds have gone through the New Warrior Training at 27 sites around the world. Though the organizers at The ManKind Project — the nonprofit organization that organizes the weekends — do not collect information on religion, past participants and leaders say they have been surprised by the number of Jewish men, like Shaneson, who have found their way to the training. The Deer Park weekend, with six Jewish participants, was not atypical; in fact, there often are more Jewish participants.

The apparent appeal of the training for Jewish men in particular, from all levels of observance, shines light on the complicated relationship so many Jewish men have with their masculinity.

“The ideal of the Jewish man is more the scholar than the athlete,” said Harry Brod, an associate professor at the University of Northern Iowa, where he specializes in men’s studies, and editor of the anthology “A Mensch Among Men: Explorations in Jewish Masculinity.”

“Because standards of Jewish masculinity are different than in the dominant culture, there are already questions about masculinity in the minds of Jewish men,” Brod said, “and the tendency toward sensitivity in Jewish men makes it okay to explore those questions.”

Judging from attendance at New Warrior Training sessions, many of the men caught in this bind are observant Jews. On Shaneson’s weekend, all six of the Jewish men were Orthodox. The weekends have grown so popular with Orthodox men that this winter, for the first time ever, a Washington-area training was rescheduled to begin after sundown on Saturday so that five Lubavitcher chasidim could take part.

But many of the Jewish men who came forward to talk about their Warrior Training experiences at the Pennsylvania homecoming had not been to a synagogue in years.

Stan Sherman, one such man, who is the enrollment director of the national organization, said that on his first training weekend, in 1997, he turned to a friend and remarked on the incredible number of fellow secular Jews who independently had found the training.

“Yeah, think how much money we’re saving on therapy,” his friend shot back.

The training does demand a bit more than the typical session on an analyst’s couch. While the exact activities are kept secret from nonparticipants, the leaders talk about a ritual hunt (though they are quick to add that no animal is actually killed) and intense emotional confrontations between the initiates and the leaders. Secrecy is an integral part of the weekends, about which information is spread solely by word-of-mouth.

The physical challenge promised by the weekend would naturally be attractive for many Jewish men, says Michael Kimmel, a sociology professor who researches masculinity at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

“Growing up in my own Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn,” said Kimmel, editor of “The Politics of Manhood,” “there was a lot of shame to being a Jewish man…. I think this weekend, like a lot of contemporary Jewish politics, comes out of a similar impulse to never let anyone push us around again.”

But the more emotionally in-touch Jewish man of lore does not get left behind in the training. Like a good bagel, the weekends promise that elusive combination of crunchy and chewy.

“It’s not like you go out and eat raw deer,” said Andrew Epstein, 54, a graphic designer from Chicago who went to his first New Warrior Training in 2003. “You go into the woods and process,” Epstein said, “and in the process I, for one, met a network of men who I’ve been able to rely on.”

The ManKind Project is one group in the so-called “mythopoetic men’s movement,” which sprang up during the 1980s with inspiration from the writings of Robert Bly, author of the bestseller “Iron John.” The movement, mocked by its critics for its appropriation of Native American rituals and reliance on New Age self-help models, aims to get men in touch with some sense of “primitive masculinity” by creating trusting relationships between small groups of men.

At the Deer Park graduation, all of the initiates talked about the love they felt for their new “brothers.” At the back of the room, men locked in silent, 30-second bear hugs.

The tribal resonances of such communal bonding are a neat fit for members of the Jewish tribe. Yet the tribal language used during the weekends takes its cue from Native American spiritual rituals, some of which create uncomfortable friction with Jewish tradition.

Group leaders strive to incorporate these rituals into an nonreligious context; at the Deer Park Church Camp, the ManKind Project banner had been draped to obscure a tiled replica of ‘The Last Supper.’

But many Jewish men said that some of the spiritual elements made them nervous, at least initially.

Rabbi Jeffrey Greenberg, 26, who helped lead the training session for Orthodox men near Washington, said that during that weekend he had supervised the kitchen for kosher restrictions and helped provide substitutes for the rituals that had made him uncomfortable during his own training.

Greenberg, a teacher at a Jewish day school in New York, said that many of the rituals were easily infused with a Jewish spirit. The ceremonial sweat lodge, for instance, had an easy precedent in the old-fashioned shvitz.

Such substitutions, though, are not usually made, and many Jewish men came to the weekend looking for a spirituality they felt was lacking in their Jewish experiences, most of all in their first initiation into manhood.

“My bar mitzvah was just a big party,” said Hal Klegman, a 56-year-old executive recruiter from Chicago who completed his first training in 1987. “Spirituality was not what my parents were looking for in a synagogue. Spirituality was the lacking component.”

For Shaneson — a regular Hillel attendee at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is a student — the weekend brought him to see a more intricate set of problems in his own Jewish education.

“We always read what we should be, and we don’t focus on what we are, and how to appreciate that, as the New Warrior Training teaches,” Shaneson said. “The ideal of Judaism can be limiting and restricting.”

For Shaneson, and many other Jewish participants, the weekend caused a re-evaluation of their Jewish connections. In the end, though, most of them talked about feeling closer to Judaism.

Kourosh Babaian, a 25-year-old clothing salesman from New York, said the Deer Park training weekend helped him to “feel more comfortable as a Jew doing everything” and “to experience my religion in a spiritual way.”

The pathways through which this happens have been criticized by a number of feminists, who see the entire mythopoetic men’s movement as reestablishing the old gender hierarchies, a criticism Brod expanded upon.

“The idea that there is some essential manhood that lies in separation from women is a dangerous idea,” Brod said. “Where comes this idea that men can only learn nurturing and emotional support from other men?”

But most of the wives and mothers at the homecoming ceremony seemed thrilled with their new, improved husbands and sons. And the leaders were full of talk about all the old, artificial categories that are broken down by the experience.

“It allowed a bonding opportunity with other men and with the outside world that might not have been possible otherwise,” said Greenberg of the Lubavitcher men who went through the weekend. “They put aside those religious labels, and other externalities, and allowed their core person to come out.”

3.14.2007

Time to Revel

Time to revel in the joy of this work!

Last week, a man e-mailed me that he had read this blog and was signed up to attend a New Warrior Training Adventure this last weekend.

I wished him well and wondered what the world would be like for him on Monday. I hoped to hear back from him. Monday came and went and I decided to let it roll. He would contact me if he felt the need.

He got back to me yesterday and these are his words reprinted here with permission:

Old-faithful Wolf-
I am back from the weekend.
I am a changed man.
As a man among men I am forgiveness.
It is such an incredible gift I have received.
A profound sense of peace and power I feel.
I am no longer alone and in pain.
-Michael (Desert Snake)

Ahhhhh, the joy of hearing a man get what I got from the New Warrior Training Adventure; the joy of knowing another man has stepped into change and into the present; the joy of changing me, men, and the world--one blog post at a time.

Jump in, my brothers. The time is now.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

3.13.2007

Flip Side

From The Bush Diaries, I repost this piece because the site is being abandoned and this post is too good to let disappear.

The author speaks of an elder gathering of men from the ManKind Project. His presentation is that of a letter to U.S. President Bush; the content is beautiful testimony to the lushness of men in the ManKind Project.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

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The Flip Side


I would not wish to leave you thinking, Bush, that everything up there in Oregon, at our gathering, was doom and gloom. Far from it. The predominant feeling there was joy. What I was speaking about yesterday was only the head part, the intellectual content. It was more than balanced by the heart and soul parts, soaring like the eagle by day and the owl by night above the beautiful alpine valley where we met.

Above all else, I was awed by the quality of these fifty men, and their generous capacity to love and serve. Where else but in a gathering of men of the ManKind Project could I expect to be greeted, a stranger to all but a handful of them, with immediate, heartfelt acceptance and extraordinary warmth? To feel at home at the moment of my arrival? Where else could I feel so free to return that feeling without the least restraint or reservation? These fifty men, each one of them fifty years in age or more, going up to the mid-seventies, represented together more than three thousand years of lived experience. And each one had experienced at least the beautiful, intense, and archetypal drama of the Project’s initial training weekend.

Let me tell you, Bush, about the quality of just a few of these men—-though without the need to name their names. In some cases—-do you know this feeling, Bush?--I dare to know something of their solid hearts and souls without knowing the first thing about the detail of their lives. I think of the man who owned the property on which we met, who devotes his life to the stewardship of this spectacular spot on the Earth’s surface, to the conservation of its natural beauty and the wildlife with which it abounds, and to opening it up for the use of gatherings like ours where men and women explore their relationship to each other and the world.

I think of the man who served his country as a fighter pilot, who brought with him the experience of the true warrior, hardened by the experience of action, but armed within by the breadth of his own understanding and compassion. I think of the man who served his country as a sniper in the early days of the conflict in Vietnam, who brought his anger and his sense of shame for the lives he had taken on the orders of those who commanded him, along with his pride and his contrition.

I think of the man who has devoted his intellectual life to scientific inquiry, and who brought with him the results of his research into the effects of man’s activities on the planet. Of the healer. Of the two men who have brought their knowledge and skills to the service of philanthropy. Of the man who devotes his life to the study of eldership, and the need, in our society, for a healthy understanding of the values of wisdom, experience, ritual, and compassion that come with the accumulation of years. Of the man whose special insight saw the need, twenty years ago, for a new understanding of masculinity and the role of men in the world today, and who—-along with two other men of vision—-pioneered the work that led to the ManKind Project, now an international organization some thirty-five thousand strong.

And of so many others, each with his own gift. The gathering was enriched by the grief of a few who brought the pain of recent losses in their lives, and who were there in part as the reminders of the shared knowledge that, as elders, we are each preparing for our own deaths even as we participate to the full in the richness of life. This was the deep and lasting bass line of the weekend’s music, the source—-along with the majesty of the natural environment--of the sense of spiritual depth that pervaded it.

I believe that it is the work of men such as these, Bush, that can literally save the world. I wrote yesterday about the bleak prospects for a world in which acquisitivness and greed predominate, a world governed by men with neither consciousness nor conscience, men all too ready to exploit the earth’s limited resources for their personal gain. I write today about the flip side of that coin, about men of dignity and wisdom, nobility and compassion who are ready to devote their energies to restoration and renewal, to the benefit of all the living beings with whom they share this planet and its natural resources.

And let’s not forget the element of joy and laughter. It was pervasive, Bush. We were up there somewhere in the treetops with the sheer joy of being there, beyond the foolishness of youth but still able to participate in it, at times possessed of the gamboling spirits of the little kid still alive in each of us.

What a blessing such men are to this country, Bush! I only wish I could see you surround yourself with them as your advisors. Their hearts and minds, both, would serve you well. To me, these elders represent the best hope for our future. I can embrace that lovely irony, Bush. Can you?

3.09.2007

Mentoring Boys into Men

"As I point out in the Man-Making book, I'm of the opinion that until a man steps into the ancient role of mentor for a boy or boys, there is a hole in his mature masculinity. Something critical in him goes undeveloped. A man can pretend his life needs to be all about him, wearing a tie or serious expression, but until he accepts his responsibility to guide the next generation of boys into manhood, he's not fully "grown up." He's living in the land of "neverty."

The premise of the book, The Peter Pan Syndrome, by Dan Kiley is the same. Too many men are inhabiting a place where, consciously or not, they are refusing the obligations of manhood.

Showing up for boys is one of the ways men can begin to self-initiate themselves into a full and responsible manhood. Until they do, the men will remain stuck in "neverty," that place between boyhood and manhood. Both they and the boys who need them will remain lost on their mutual journey to manhood."

Earl Hipp; from Man-Making; Men Helping Boys on their Journey to Manhood

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Leading boys into manhood is akin to leading men into manhood. It is absolutely mandated in our genetic makeup that a boy steps out of being a boy and into being men. Those boys and boy-men who were not initiated and mentored into manhood are left to wonder and flounder in an ever more complicated world filled with pitfalls.

Is it time for you to step into your manhood? The time is now.

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

3.08.2007

Wild Men

Wild Men
By Meng, Cosmic Raven

Good to hear your voice,
in the wind,

bellowing into the hollow woods, ---- calling me home....

To be there!!! longing for the
dark.......................................CAVE

that lives inside this deep and beautiful wild male,
holding the ancient spinning origin of masculinity

Purchased on the fulcrum of groin..........................Moving motion
into heart and mind, breath and lung, word and paradox, courage and sadness

the loss of all i know-----------------
every moment ....... witnessing birth and death in the changing of light
......

Dripping, Luscious and liberating ---- I come out seeking more mysterious
truth

between the light and dark .....

on this outrageous human journey .......

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This post just touched me with its power and grace.

Jump in!

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

3.05.2007

Four Quick NWTA Questions -- 1; Reid Baer

Number 1 in a series of New Warrior Training Adventure interviews of men in the ManKind Project.

I am posting these interviews to show how men experience the New Warrior Training Adventure.

Thank you, Reid!

I'm out.
Old-faithful Wolf

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Four Quick NWTA Questions

When and where was your NWTA?

February 1995, Sunrise Ranch in San Diego, CA

What motivated you to attend the NWTA?

My older brother recommended it. I did it for him. Then somewhere during my I-Group PIT cycle I remember coming to an “ah ha” where I knew I needed to make a commitment – for myself – to do my own personal work for the rest of my life.

If a man asked you why he should attend, what would you tell him?

First, I would ask him what is working in his life and what is not working. Then I would tell him that there’s a place where he and other men share whatever is going on in their life. It’s an accountability group, and a support group. I’d tell him I’ve been involved with the organization for a dozen years, and I’ve never found a better place where I can find men to trust who will help me with my deepest personal work.

What keeps you in the ManKind Project?

I’ve stayed because of the skills I continue to develop … I keep learning everyday by being an initiated man. Also, I like this network that introduces me to strange and wonderful men – inside and outside the Project. I get to have a local community, and an international one. Finally, I get to bring my writing gifts to this Project, and be blessed to help facilitate the talents of others. I get to live my mission in The ManKind Project.