Recovery is sobering, the walls of denial tumble, and lay waste my life-long illusions. Enabling has supported a construct built to honor my arrogance. My need to be needed is fully exposed to the harsh light of reality.

I have pulled the needle out of my own arm, as I discover that care taking is not love, it is a hook and a hole every bit as dark as a drug den. The anger, fear, guilt, shame, and unending grief come rushing out of my body like sweat and stink from a fever. I quiver in my own weakness, still thinking that this disease is my fault.

Alas, to realize the disease is really the arrogant belief that everything is my fault. Fused at conception, imprinted into the limbic brain, practiced over the years, it has become my art-form. Without it, who am I? Truly, who am I now?

So I take my tiny candle, and wrap the cloak around my shoulders, and take my first few steps out into the dark howling night. Frightened and alone, I cherish the idea that each step I take is toward freedom. Deeper than my terror … a drop of gratitude, one at a time.

The Water From Men’s Eyes

Years ago, when I was in the mountains outside Tucson, I had a transformative dream. “Men stood in line, waiting to  see Mary Magdalene. When they got to her, they jerked their seed into a large gourd from which she drank, washed her hair, and made her adorning colors. The scene sharply shifted to men standing in line waiting to approach the altar. As they got to the apex, they knelt and spilled the water from their eyes into the baptismal pool.”

I was 9 when I gave up my tears to the Old Masculine. It took me 20 years to reclaim them, and I have cherished them ever since. Through my own deep emotional experience, I have come to the belief that they are ESSENTIAL for a man’s evolution, particularly as he moves through the middle of his life and learns to kneel before the Sacred Feminine. The New Masculine does not fear surrendering to Her, for She has great blessing for him in his movement toward maturity.

We have metaphors throughout the archetypal world that show us the necessity of this act of surrender. The Old oak clings tenaciously to where it stands upon the earth, eventually to be cracked open in its brittleness. The New bamboo bends and flexes, its moisture creating the space and capacity.

The Warrior returns home, needing to immerse his “sword” into the cool waters. The Old warrior does that in an unconscious way, engaging the feminine in hurtful and dangerous ways, asking neither for permission nor blessing. The New Warrior … sooner or later in his own evolution … learns how to bend his knee, surrendering his heart without surrendering his power. For indeed, it is the Lady of the Lake who blesses the King.

My grief is palpable these days. Falling into “the slew of despond” is tricky business. If I stay too long, I will drown. If I do not stay long enough, I will emerge unclean and unfinished. How is a man to know how much?

The heart contains both fire and water. It always knows when either is too much. The fires dies when nothing fans its flame, the water empties when the heart stops aching, each finding its own level of stillness. A mature man has learned to trust his anger and his grief, for his heart always knows the truth.

Men and Pink

On Saturday, I marched with my wife and the women of San Miguel, with pink pussy hats galore. Women’s Right = Human Rights the banner said … like we have to even say what is so horrifically obvious. It felt like the 60’s again, and I was energized being on the lines.

The women sang the old anthem “We Shall Overcome”, the last word being ‘someday’. Well how about ‘today’, or will we keep imagining that someday women will have human rights, or blacks or browns or reds will have human rights? Do we keep imagining that ‘he’ or ‘they’ will give us what innately belongs to each and every human?

Vietnam was a catalyst for men, for our physical lives were on the line. Abortion rights, domestic violence, rape & abuse issues, equal pay … today women’s lives are on the line, physically, emotionally, economically. So I asked myself: How can I be an real ally to women? How can men stand in support of women in their struggle to be seen and honored for who they truly are?

I am amazed that any woman in the US could have voted for Trump. I acknowledge that I have objectified a woman’s body, I have used sexually crass language, in and out of the locker rooms. But when I watched my wife give birth to our two beautiful sons, my relationship with her, and the feminine, changed forever. That space between a woman’s legs is such a mysterious and sacred place. It is the entry to, and the delivery from, the most extraordinary process in this world … the birth of human life. It is the deliverer of the most exquisite and sublime pleasure, and the ultimate surrender into death and oneness. How can we not be in awe of its immense power? Is this why we fear women, that they have this capacity to wield this power such that it brings grown men to our knees, figuratively and literally?

There were several men like me who marched with the women. Most men stood on the sidelines taking pictures. The procession culminated at the center of Parque Juarez, and 2 women took the microphone. One spoke in English, the other in Spanish, everyone applauded the obvious declarations of human rights and freedom. I asked the moderator, a man, if I could speak to the men in the crowd. No, he told me, then everyone will want the microphone. This is what I would have said.

The greatest gift that a man can give a woman is his emotional presence. To be in his feeling body, connected, alive, sensitive to what she may be feeling, even when we haven’t a clue what that is. We have been trained to stay numb and detached, we have been programmed to not be vulnerable. To many men, staying numb and invulnerable feels like power.  But the real truth is, it is weakness. And from that weakness arises our fear, our need to control, and the instinct to inflict harm.

When a man opens to his deeper emotions, he connects to his own feminine nature … tender, caring, compassionate, nurturing. As he learns to give voice to these feeling textures, he reaches out across that great chasm of non-expression that separates us from each other. In the words of Hafiz:

“I have come into this world to see this: the sword drop from men’s hands, even at the height of their arc of anger, because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound, our Beloved’s.”


Moving Beyond Patriarchy

We have come far in the last 50 years … technological explosion, advancement of women and minorities, global diversity awareness, economic growth for 2nd and 3rd world nations, Yet the American workplace still operates under the old patriarchal values.

Patriarchy is not about gender.  It is a set of beliefs, attitudes, and practices that affect both men and women.  It is the masculine principle gone astray.  We see it in the corporate structures across the world, where decisions and interactions are aggressive, power seeking, defensive, hierarchical, homophobic, misogynistic, racist, competitive, and emotionally disconnected from people and from the earth.  The underlying emotion is fear.

Most men imagine they can bypass fear by following the traditional roles and rules of success, namely the quest for power.  We have been trained for this since birth, and this complex is the driving force in our lives.  Power is not bad, in and of itself … it is the ability to render effective choices.  But when our power is misused for egotistical and defensive reasons, when it is not connected to our sacred principles and values, it wounds us, and we wound others.  We are disconnected … from women, from other men, and from our own hearts, souls, bodies.

Men are not to blame here, there really is no blame.  Men are beautiful, when we live from the positive masculine attributes.  We take on challenges, we focus, discern, act.  We wrestle with issues to determine a clear course of action.  We protect, we serve, we care.  We are curious, determined, loving, fierce, spiritual, passionate.  We are good fathers, loyal friends, committed husbands … we are the active principle and the initiating spark of life.

But the workplace, with its blind allegiance to the antiquated defensive structures, drains men of our life force, asks us to trade in our souls for some false illusion of power.  It alienates us from ourselves, and from our own caring qualities … it alienates men from the Feminine principle.  Finally, we … men and women … are beginning to realize that men are in trouble, and the principle of the Masculine is under assault as well.

The patriarchal definitions of gender have always been clear:  no tears, no emotion save anger, no weakness, no vulnerability.  But today, there is an interesting wrinkle.  Many younger men, having witnessed and been fathered by men programmed in this way, have gone in the opposite direction … they are sensitive, caring, emotional, but denying the fierce masculine power that they judge as abusive, disconnected, rejecting, uncaring.  These young men have a tenderness that their fathers never had, but they often lack the clarity, focus, will, and determination that comes with access to the deep masculine.  They have good hearts, but no real balls.

In our men’s trainings, we see both types come into the work.  The older men whose lives have collapsed under the strain of the old program, and the younger men, desperately looking for a way to access their true power, wanting new models of a healthier masculinity.  Regardless of what issues drive them, what they both lack is an ability to hold an essential paradox: the direct, penetrative, aspects of fierce authentic power, and the caring, connected, compassion of a tender heart.  Ironically, in teaching men emotional literacy, we actually teach them to access their feminine qualities, but without losing access to their deep masculine.  Inner harmony … in men and women … is both fierce and tender.

It is difficult for men to embody the feminine principle. Everything in our cultural upbringing tells us this is weakness. In truth, most men are terrified of the feminine, in women and in themselves.  The danger to women entering the workplace is that they adopt those very same behaviors. They are asked to relinquish their feminine heart and when they comply, they give up the very core of who they are.  They trade in their authenticity to insure acceptance and success. They trade in their emotional/feeling/intuitive nature for power.

In my opinion, these women are the true warriors of our time, for in their hands lies our future.  They desire an opportunity to express their creative energies, to accomplish something.  They seek recognition, success, appreciation.  They want an opportunity, finally, to participate on a level playing field with men.  But the patriarchy takes no prisoners.  Its misogynistic tendencies ask women to give up the feminine principle as it does to men.  Power, control, competition, money over authenticity, caring, cooperation, empowerment.  There is little room for real feminine values in the workplace.

The absence of a conscious connection to this principle leads to the everyday decisions, small and large, that separate us from life and from the earth.  We stand at a precipice, our very existence in jeopardy.  If we do not embrace the Feminine, we are doomed.

The inconvenient truth is not only about the environment and how we treat Mother Earth.  It is about the way we build our social, economic, and political structures, as well as our interpersonal relationships.  To embrace the life-affirming qualities of the Feminine, in conscious relationship with an active, focused, purposeful Masculine … these actions, attitudes, expressions will transform the workplace, and transform all of our collective affairs.

I have been doing conscious gender work for close to 30 years. In working with thousands of men, individually, in groups, in the workplace, I witness the same unconscious attitudes and behaviors … fearful and defensive.  In my work with women, particularly corporate women, I have witnessed a similar phenomenon.  Women often act like the worst parts of men, those very behaviors they so abhor.  And their relationship to the Masculine is no healthier, for the patriarchal masculine lives in women as much as in men.

Is it even possible for a woman in the workplace to be successful without having to give up her feminine qualities?  Must she act like a man, must she adopt the negative qualities of the patriarchal masculine to be successful? This is the million dollar question for many women, and so much is riding on how they choose.

When men become emotionally literate, when they are courageous enough to take the interminably long journey from their heads to their hearts, and create an alignment in the body from head to heart to gut to sex, we will know how to relate to each other, to women, and to the world.  Likewise, when women acknowledge their own disconnection, when they join hands with their sisters AND their brothers, when we each stop blaming the other and realize who the true enemy is, then this world will be truly different.

Benefits of a Mentoring Program for Men: Finding Your Spiritual Path & Direction

As a man, are you still trying to discover who you are, why you are here, and what it is you are supposed to do?  Do the typical definitions of male success leave you unfulfilled?  Do these questions, and ones like these that you often ask yourself in the middle of the night, leave an ache deep inside? As discomforting as this may be, it is not uncommon.  Especially for men who are approaching middle age … men in their late 20’s, 30’s, early 40’s.  There is nothing wrong with you, for this is more a function of a culture lacking in conscious mentorship, a culture that does not always value relationships, and the willingness to share hard earned wisdom.

The benefits of a mentoring program for a man is that it supports him to consciously clarify and define his direction and spiritual path.  Especially for a man who has come of age in a competitive workplace, a good mentor aids a man to develop emotional literacy & relationship skills, strengthens his leadership & conscious decision making abilities, and encourages him to live from his love, truth, & inner alignment.

A mentoring program is the passing down and sharing of knowledge and wisdom.  It is typically an oral transmission, and seems to work best along the same gender lines:  women mentoring women, and men mentoring men.  Mentoring a man is done primarily through coaching and spiritual teaching.  A male mentor is a trusted counselor, or influential supporter, who guides, educates, and reflects to a younger man.

Why do men feel so alone and disconnected in the workplace?  Women seem to be thriving while men are floundering.  Competition, within the market and especially inside of an individual organization, is what historically has driven success.  Yet underneath the surface, competition breeds fear and isolation.  Men typically do not reveal this soft underbelly, but the unexpressed belief and feeling of not being good enough eats away at our well being, and creates all manner of dysfunction.  A conscious mentoring program supports a man to work through those challenging emotional places, to be the man he is meant to be, and hopefully to find his path and clarify his spiritual direction.

In many of the cutting edge corporate cultures, there is the growing awareness that cooperation is a higher order function than competition.  Here the focus shifts from product to process, from bottom line valuation to values-based practices, like emotional literacy & communication, integrity, and accountability.  Where quality is more important than quantity, and human relationships are seen as the organization’s strongest and most important resource.  A mentoring program is the pathway for this transmission.  It places value on supporting a man to find his path, to live his life with a spiritual direction & purpose, and to become the conscious leader that is so desperately needed in this transformational time.

Placing value on relationships is an evolutionary step in an organization’s development.  Information is shared, collaboration is encouraged, creative experimentation … which includes successes & failures … is welcomed.  These days, women creatively advance in this new environment, whereas men still operate from the old genetic patriarchal conditioning.  As competition gives way to cooperation, the value of mentoring increases the lines of communication throughout the organizational culture, in all directions.  And everyone benefits.

In the profound absence of male initiatory rites of passage, a younger man does so without the deeply personal witnessing and reflection of who he is.  This “seeing” is a transmission of the sacred emotional, soulful, and spiritual material consciously passed along the male lineage.  Without this, the masculine soul atrophies.  Mentoring a man feeds his soul, connects him to something deep and precious inside him, allowing his sense of his own worth develop and grow.  For a man to find his path and spiritual direction, he first has to find himself … to know who he is, what he is, and how he serves.

Many of us have grown up either without fathers or with emotionally absent fathers who could not give us the attention that we deeply and secretly yearned for.  Every young boy or young man needs the clear and loving reflection of an older man, one who sees him, not only for who he is, but for who he might become.  There is a kind of non-verbal ‘energy food’ that gets transmitted from father to son, a passing on of the essence of masculinity.  Men who have not been adequately fathered seek mentorship from an older man.  And often times, they do not even know it.

Robert Moore, the noted Jungian theologian and author of the renowned “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover”, a men’s work classic, says:  “It is the task of an older man to admire a younger man.”

A young man emotionally ventures out into the world along the path that his father has prepared for him.  If he has been mentored … blessed, admired, and fed by his father … he will step out into the world with a strong sense of who he is.  If he has been abandoned by his father, or told that he is not enough, his steps will be tentative and cautious.  He will remain hungry and empty, feeling abandoned and betrayed, and he will continuously be looking for validation from some ‘father’, seeking the message that he is okay.  It is said that we are attracted to the workplace that most closely resembles our family of origin.  While a mentoring program cannot fill a man with the the soul food that his father did not provide, this offers a significant opportunity for men in the workplace to contribute to healthy emotional development and healing.

The mentoring program that I offer is the opportunity for a man to be honored and blessed, not only for what he has done, but for who he is and who he might become.  When a man finally accepts and believes and feels that he is enough, only then can he step fully into the world, knowing that what he does is enough as well.  Achievement becomes a function of the creative energy of his being, rather than a measure of how good he is in his doing.

In this men’s work, there is a high tolerance for imperfection, a low tolerance for bullshit.  If you are a man in need of being seen and blessed and mentored by an older man for exactly who you are, my program is for you.  I already see you, so come and let yourself be really seen.

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