The men's movement and men's studies aren't exactly mainstream topics. However, over the past few years I have been slowly working my way through a few books on just that. Last Christmas I recieved 2 books. While reading the first, a lot of heavy things came up for me that lead me to take a break from reading the second. Now I am ready, so I have recently started to read "The Hidden Spirituality of Men - Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine." I first heard about this book from an article in Ode magazine ( a magazine for intelligent optimists ). What they showed was an excerpt that turns out to be from the book's forward. I'd like to share a specific part of this book as well, in the hopes that some might join me on this journey. By the way this excerpt is used without permission.
Why have men, to greater and lesser degrees, "hidden" their spiritual ives? The reasons are almost endless, but often each man's reasons interlock in a tight web that keeps spirituality unacknowledged and unexpressed. Here are just a few:
- Because Western culture is still a dualistic patriarchy that values thinking over feeling, material wealth over spiritual, scientific fact over intuitive knowledge, men over women, and heterosexuals over homosexuals.
- Because men are rarely rewarded and often mocked, for openly expressing their deepest feelings of joy, sensitivity, and pain.
- Because many men carry wounds inside they would rather forget or put aside than admit are there.
- Because modern religions are out of touch with their mystical traditions, whose language and concepts help us cope with our deepest experiences, our "dark nights of the soul."
- Because often spiritual truth and understandings defy language and live in silence, and what is not lassoed by words is considered secret and kep hidden.
- Because men, who are "not supposed to cry," learn to hide their grief as well as their joy.
- Because in times of war, governments do not welcome the authentic, questioning spirituality of warriors, but want the religious obedience of soldiers.
- Because our anthropocentric culture puts more value on human life, needs, and ruls than in connecting humbly to the vast cosmos.
- Because men sometimes work so hard that they do not have time or space for exploring their hearts.
- Because, in an attempt to respect the women's movement, some men feel compelled to silence themselves and hid any "unacceptable" maleness.
- Because homophobia robs men of their capacity to relate deeply to other men. Even men who overcome homophobia must often keep this secret in an excessively heterosexist culture.
- Because men sometimes confuse religion and spirituality, and in the process run from their own journey with Spirit.
- Because men lack rites of passage that demarcate movement from boyhood to adulthood, and such rituals that modern religions maintain, such as confirmation and bar mitzvah, fail to do the job.
- Because our culture more often rewards men for their extroverted rather than their introverted sides.
- Because there may be a hiddenness about all spirituality. What is deep is hidden, and a spiritual journey explores the "unnameable" aspects of Divinity, the Godhead behind God.
- Because many men are mystics but lack the vocabulary to name what they experience.
- Because "men learn only through ritual" ( Robert Bly ) and substantive rituals are hard to come by in modern culture.
- Because men want to hide their shame and aggression or at least hide from them.
- Because communication between boys and fathers is often cold or nonexistent in our culture, and too many elders "retire" to the golf course rather than mentor younger generations.
- Because fatherless homes offer few role models for young men to emulate.
- Because an "original sin ideology" makes men doubt their beauty and right to be here, and teachings about God as a punitive Father create a toxic, punitive role model.
- Because men don't know how -- and are not trained -- to deal with their anger and outrage in healthy ways.
- Because men, like all humans, can be lazy and will avoid the hard work of spiritual exploration if they can.
- Because cynicism, depression, and exhaustion can make soul work seem pointless or overwhelming.
I plan on sharing what I get out of reading this book in a hope that it will help others understand men and/or themselves better. However, I am not a scholarly writer so my words may not be as eloquent as those in the book. So if you want to join me on this expedition into the depths of masculinity it might be best to bring along a good book.