Loving Through My Shadow – a poem

Category: Men and Shadow, Poetry 

by Les Gaines

What is this shadow following me, damn?
Just a lie of what I truly am.
A mark from yesterday
when some guy said I wasn’t good enough to play.

That old stain has been like a stone
locking away my heart in a catacomb.

How can I live?
How can I breath?
With this mirage of limitation blinding my destiny.

I pay the price to feel worthy.
But still it’s clear that I’m not free.
No, just a proxy of what I should be,
offering a little taste of what I could be.

So what about a little authenticity,
If I drop my spear,
if I drop my shield
if stand before you with my shame revealed,
If I let my mind settle in this space,
and show the of years of fears etched on my face,
then can I stay?
Can I stay and love you through my shadows anyway.

That shadow has a bind on me,
nothing I can do sometimes but say I’m sorry.

I’m sorry for my mother.
I’m sorry for my father.
I’m sorry for that freak down the street.
And that’ they all called a geek.
I’m sorry for my big head.
I’m sorry for my fears.
I’m sorry that I bite back hard,
when I fell attacked, and I’m not clear.

But, if I say I’m sorry for being me,
can I stay and love you through my shadows anyway.

I know that …
kings have other mansion
and, boys other toys.
Lovers have other passions
and, warriors other ploys.
But a man has only one heart to feel.
And, if he’s lucky he’ll hold onto one friend that’s real.
So, I will stay, I’ll stay and love you through my shadows anyway.

Les Gaines

After gaining victory over disabling PTSD, Les Gaines returns to his mission as a healer, coach, speaker, and advocate for disabled survivors of childhood trauma. He is a certified metaphysical healer, and an avid student of Judeo/Christian mysticism, and shamanism. Les hopes to share his journey of healing and empowerment through his love of poetry, art, and music. Les completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in August 2012, and is a grateful member of the BWOE igroup in MD.

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I know trauma – a poem

Category: Men and Shadow, Poetry 

by Les Gaines

As if asleep in a sea of denial, loathing my own shadow,
my faithful friend with me along so many miles.
I know the crippling fear of stepping beyond the front door;
that hope for a better life was best left ignored.

I know trauma.

I know the doubt that comes
when everybody wrong seems right,
and everything right seems wrong;
when every arm but mine looks strong.

I know the helplessness of trying to feel like something,
while my brain is screaming that I’m nothing.

I know trauma.

The intrusion of phantom hands, sounds, and scents
that cross the gap of time making danger feel so imminent.
Flashbacks they’re called,
by those who walk with memory intact.
I know just how long that panic can last.

But, I also know the power of Goodness and Life
that shields a soldier in the most vicious of fights.
I know the strength of hands, ready to survive.

You see,
I know how to thrive.
How to search the infinite resources of mind,
to unlock the chains of shame restoring innocence,
I thought left behind.

I know the power of the yearning for freedom
that made me stand from my crawl, and
throw away that doormat that read, “free-for-all.”

This is my Life!
And it’s time I change
the rules of that old abusive game
to restore each fragment of my Self to its rightful place.

I’ll say who I am,
Love, Life, and Freedom.
I am Choice. I am Real.
I am here … with the courage to heal.

Les Gaines

After gaining victory over disabling PTSD, Les Gaines returns to his mission as a healer, coach, speaker, and advocate for disabled survivors of childhood trauma. He is a certified metaphysical healer, and an avid student of Judeo/Christian mysticism, and shamanism. Les hopes to share his journey of healing and empowerment through his love of poetry, art, and music. Les completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in August 2012, and is a grateful member of the BWOE igroup in MD.

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WOUNDED LEADERS: A Book Review

Category: Reviews 

GUEST POST by Peter Clothier

Wounded Leaders: British Elitism and the Entitlement Illusion,” by Nick Duffell.

First, don’t assume from this book’s subtitle that is irrelevant to us here in America, or to our leadership. It is of vital relevance, no matter the specificity of his target. Nick Duffell’s title will have resonance for anyone who has lived through the past couple of decades in America and watched our own wounded leaders in action–or, more correctly, inaction. That said–and we’ll come back to this–his central argument is that the boarding-school educated governing elite in Britain are themselves unconsciously governed by the lasting wounds incurred by the experience of being sent away from the family at an early age, and placed in a militaristic environment in which they learn to protect themselves from a hostile outer world.

I can speak to this. I am what Duffell aptly refers to as a Boarding School Survivor. As a practicing psychotherapist, he has a long-standing practice designed to bring such people back from their emotional disorientation and isolation. I could have used his services, long ago, but had to discover my own path through this maze. I was sent away to school at the age of seven, and by the time I escaped to freedom at the age of eighteen, I had received a remarkable head-oriented education but remained what I often describe as an emotional cripple. I had learned the costly and dangerous art of evasion and emotional invulnerability. As a seven- or eight-year old, I could not afford to do anything but suppress the feelings that would open me up to attack from my fellow-boarders: fear, anger, sadness, grief, the terrible pain of being separated from parents who assured me that they loved me—even though it was hard to understand the paradox of being loved and yet exiled from the family, the locus of that love.

The result of my excellent education was that I never grew up. Rather, it took me another three decades before I realized there was something wrong with living like a turtle in a shell. Boarding School Survivors, as Duffell describes them, are stunted individuals so caught up in their heads that they remain disconnected from their hearts. I simplify his profoundly well-informed and subtle arguments, whose bottom line is that Britain’s ruling elite, boarding-school and Oxbridge-educated, are supremely unqualified to lead in our twenty-first century world because they get so intently focused on their distorted, rational vision of national and global issues that they remain impervious (invulnerable) to the bigger picture of human needs. They are unable to listen, to empathize with others than themselves and their own kind. They are guided by the certainty of their own sense of rectitude. To doubt, to question, to have a change of heart is to be vulnerable, and vulnerability is the last thing in the world they can allow themselves. (Duffell’s final chapter, on doubt, is particularly eloquent and on-target.)

I am admittedly unqualified to evaluate the more technical aspects of Duffell’s argument. To this reader, he seems impressively knowledgeable and up-to-date with the latest discoveries of neuroscience and academic psychology. He draws on a broad understanding of the philosophical development of rationalism and its critics, the countervailing social movements of repression and rebellion, and contextualizes his argument in that historical perspective. In our contemporary times, his exemplars are primarily the likes of former Prime Minister Tony Blair, England’s current Prime Minister David Cameron, and London Mayor Boris Johnson, whose attitudes and actions are profoundly—and in Duffell’s view—mistakenly reactionary. As he sees it, they bully and bluster their way past opposition into futile military actions and social programs that enrich the already privileged and wealthy and contribute to the continuing impoverishment of the needy. No wonder the England he describes is an angry country.

Late in the book, Duffell expands his vision of an entitled elite to include brief reference to American leaders—in particular, of course, George W. Bush, whose blind and reckless pursuit of a delusory obsession rushed us headlong into the war with Iraq. The disastrous results are with us today, in the form of a Middle East in unending turmoil. Looking at America today—a nation of people surely as angry as the British—I’d argue that what Duffell calls the Entitlement Illusion is by no means limited to British elitism. Our leaders must also be counted amongst the wounded. Our leadership is dominated by the squabbling of little boys who have never grown beyond the need to protect themselves and their own territory from those who do not agree with them. Our political problems are the same as those Duffell describes in his country: militarism, misguided and prejudicial rationalism, a lack of empathy for the poor and underprivileged, an assumption of rectitude that rejects other views without a hearing, an angry rejection of doubt or reappraisal of previously held views.

Entitlement, I’d argue, is not the exclusive property of the British elite. I myself believe it’s also, more broadly, a factor of historical male privilege, the patriarchal tradition. There is a persistent myth in our culture that sees men as rational beings, in control of events, capable, practical, while women are (still, in the eyes of too many of us men) perceived as irrational, guided by emotion rather than reason, and therefore less competent in leadership positions. Duffell argues passionately for a middle path, one that minimizes neither reason nor emotion, but balances the intelligence quotient with the emotional quotient, the head with the heart, reason with compassion and empathy. I agree with him, that unless we as a species can find that balance, we are in for dangerous times ahead. His book is a timely and important reminder of the need to “change our minds” in a fundamental way, and open ourselves to the powerful–and practical–wisdom of the heart. I sincerely hope that the book will find readers beyond the native country of which he writes. Its insights are profoundly needed everywhere, throughout the globe.

Watch for Peter Clothier’s forthcoming novel about masculine sexuality, “The Pilgrim’s Staff” (an old euphemism for the penis.) It’s told by two narrators, a contemporary figure painter and and 18th century English gentleman.  Frank sex scenes and potboiler excitement!  Peter is a 1994 NWTA initiate, a one-time active Ritual Elder, and a well-known art writer.  His latest book, “Slow Looking: The Art of Looking at Art,” explores the values of contemplation and meditation.  Feel free to write him at peter clothier@mac.com.

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A Circle of Men

Category: Men and Leadership, Poetry 

by Les Gaines

I sit in a circle with Men
who are ready to go within,
whose eyes blaze like diamonds in disguise
and whose bodies are poised with determination.

Unwilling to compromise,
and using clever minds as a honing device,
the brothers listen in.
For groans and moans of shadows and doubts
that utter, “I am less than.”

In this circle of men,
we find traces of hopes we’ve seen before,
hidden behind childhood doors
arousing pain we must explore.

And in that journey we find our life’s mission
to be who we are, without seeking permission.
To do what good men have always done,
be willing to be “the One.”

In this circle of men,
a warrior rises to the occasion,
to see the world he made
and claim his power to change it.

Here hands beat upon drums,
And, masculine roars form our songs,
calling the four directions, the sky and the earth
and upon ancestor’s shoulders we take up our work.

In this circle of men,
there is power to turn ore to steel,
to dissolve every illusions that prevents
living a life that is real.

In this circle of men,
there is truth in projections
and healing when a man encounters his own golden reflections.

Les Gaines

After gaining victory over disabling PTSD, Les Gaines returns to his mission as a healer, coach, speaker, and advocate for disabled survivors of childhood trauma. He is a certified metaphysical healer, and an avid student of Judeo/Christian mysticism, and shamanism. Les hopes to share his journey of healing and empowerment through his love of poetry, art, and music. Les completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in August 2012, and is a grateful member of the BWOE igroup in MD.

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The Rising of Basic Goodness — Embodiment in a Global Society

Category: Poetry 

by Two Crows Calling

First we took a hard look at our ego self
Speaking our feelings of what we wanted in love, work and a peaceful world
Discovering in our dyads and in our meditation that what
we yearned for was so often in breakdown,
“stalled”, not happening.

We saw our own self sabotage, living in illusion, deceit,
blaming others, caught in subtle consumer and family
dramas. Our list of counterfeit, cocoon traits hit home
as endlessly discouraging. For us, “looking good”so often
won out over just being Goodness.

Sitting, we connected deeply with our own “messiness”
We had placed our cart before the Wind horse of our Life.
We were not living from Buddha’s last words
“Be a Lamp unto Yourself”

What good fortune the dharma overcame our doubt, fear and
timidity. We were rescued by energies far more powerful
and vast than the dominant culture’s repetitive story lines.

Our practice sharpened our will and expanded our hearts.
Our teachers inspired us –breathing truth and love into us.

One day, you finally said a full and deep “YES”
You whispered into your own heart. “OK. I’m tired of being
sick and tired of all my half- hearted measures.”

You told your mind and heart. “I am ready to take it all on”.

I am ready to take the pain and heartache of society into my
own tender, vast and spacious Heart.

And you stepped forward to the front of history’s grand stage
You realized the poet Rilke was right after all:

“Whatever the question, Love is the Answer.”

Starvation spreads in Africa and the Middle East while grain rots
in our Midwestern grain storage reserves. More love needed. The 37,000
infant and child deaths every day from polluted water. More of my love needed.

The seemingly endless deaths of mothers and young children in Syria.
More love needed. Clean water for the children? More love from me.
Breaking the horror of human trafficking and slavery?
More love from me.

We leaned into the Wind. Into the Storm. Into the Darkness
of our present Age. We rejoiced in the advancement of Goodness.

We found the dharma was our Shield,our Sword. Our Light.
We felt in our bones “This is my moment.This is our moment.”

And so with each breath, we opened wide our hearts to the pain
and suffering of this world.

Over time our field of action expanded more and more. Sacred warriors
of basic goodness appeared at our side. We became a Oneness.

Together my sisters and brothers
We go forth across this vast world
fertile seeds in the Wind
Making Enlightened Society Possible.
Shambhala! Shambhala!

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The Butterfly King – Edmond Manning on Writing and Daring

Category: Memoir, Men and Sex, Reviews 

by Edmond Manning

By what right does a white man tell the story of a black man? Describe that man’s struggles, the lifelong challenges he faces, the hardships of living in a white-centric culture?

I have asked myself this question many times.

In September, the third book in my ‘Lost and Found Kings’ series, The Butterfly King was published. The premise is the same in each book: a gay, Midwestern car mechanic invites another man to spend the weekend together. He promises “…if you submit in every single way, I will help you remember your kingship. I will help you remember the man you were always meant to be.”

Sound familiar?

It’s a bastardization of the NWTA weekend. Well, kinda. There are absolutely no affiliations or mentions of MKP in the novel. There is not a fictional organization cleverly renamed “LKP.” Nope. No crossover activities. None. The car mechanic narrator relies on Joseph Campbell and the masculine archetypes to create experiences that help each man discover his unique giftedness. Combined with fairy tale storytelling, emotional manipulation, and a healthy scoop of man-on-man sex, these books have attracted attention for their innovative look at the masculine psyche and the possibility that all men are kings.

I’ve delighted in writing about different types of men. My tall tales celebrate the power of men, the beauty of men, which includes their woes: the lifelong consequences on a man whose father died young (the first book, King Perry), an angry man who feels betrayed by love and how shitty his life turned out (the second book, King Mai), and the most recent book, my third, deals with a black man in New York city who sacrificed his own future to care for his family.

The Butterfly King.

But by what right does a white man tell a black man’s story?

No right.

I find myself in a curious and difficult position. I want to write about interesting people and fascinating lives. It’s what writers do, I guess. But how dare a pasty-white, middle-class man attempt to get inside the head of a man of color? I can’t possibly know the circumstances of prejudice he experienced growing up and throughout adulthood. It’s very possible my attempts to portray empathy come across as condescending, ill-informed, and patronizing. I worry about this. It keeps me awake at night.

A curious parallel exists in my fiction genre.

Right now, most of the books written about the men-loving-men are written by heterosexual women. I’m not kidding. They compose the lion’s share of the market of both writers and readers. Some have adopted a man’s name for better acceptance or to hide their identities, afraid of the backlash. Most are open and proud of their writing prowess. In fact, gay men now find it difficult to publish their stories—honest-to-gayness-men-loving-men stories—because women so dominate this field and their preferences have become industry traditions. Gay men must conform to these industry standards to get published or be marginalized.

Huh.

The debate comes up three times a year or more in the blogosphere. By what right do women step in and tell gay men’s stories? By what right? They don’t experience gay bashing, homophobic slurs, and hell, they don’t even have the right junk.

And yet, they write. They dare.

The reasons fascinate me. They feel called. Because the stories are about love. Because it’s more interesting than writing about their known world, male-female relationships. Some of these women have gay kids, gay friends, gay garage mechanics and they want to make the world safer, more accepting. Whatever their reasons, they dare.

I love this. They dare.

Don’t we also dare?

As men in MKP, don’t we dare to love men different from ourselves? Don’t we step outside our comfortable skins to love men of different ages, of different colors? Don’t Republicans sometimes cradle Democrats as they weep over lost marriages? Have you not seen some granola, hippie leader love a young corporate go-getter, doing whatever it takes to honoring that man’s kingship? I know you have.

I’ve seen it, too.

We do not interfere in each other’s lives because it’s our right to do so. We do it because we dare to love each other as men, as brothers.

I researched this book thoroughly. I read about shifting ethnic migrations to and from New York City from the 1950s through the 2000s. I read books about race. I read articles about white authors attempting to write black characters. I read blogs about blind-spots in dominant culture and how it shows up in insidious, exclusionary ways. I’m glad I did this research, but none of it gives me the right to write.

But I dare.

I write about men of color because I have loved men of color. I have wept in their arms and they in mine. We told our sad stories and felt each other’s masculine healing. On staff weekends, we have wiped away each other’s sweat and tears, and went back to the carpet if not refreshed, certainly more sturdy. More ready to bear the next sorrowful tale.

We celebrate each other by telling these stories, stories which are not always ours to tell.

I remember a night long ago when my I-group decided my work that night was to share my coming out story. I shrugged. Although I had been complaining of the lifelong estrangements it has caused, I felt it wasn’t really relevant. Happened over two decades ago. As I told the experience telling my parents I was gay, two of the straight men in my group cried. Another man said, “Listen to me repeat this to you.”

When I heard my own story coming from his mouth, I cried myself because the story —surprise, surprise— was sad. Although he repeated a few details wrong, he heard and honored the spirit of the tale. Apparently I had to hear it from someone else to recognize the sadness.
When I think about this latest novel, I’m sure I fucked up in a few places because, like most of us, I sometimes fuck up when I’m attempting a big project. That is one story about me. Here is another story I learned by working with MKP: I am also glorious, ridiculously bold and I radiate effervescent, sparkling love from my fingertips when I type fiction. I have the power to reveal how gorgeous, how beautiful men can be.

I celebrate us.

And so, I dare.

Butterfly King

Edmond Manning is the author of a series, The Lost and Founds. The first three books in this series include King Perry, King Mai (a Lambda Literary finalist 2014), and most recently, The Butterfly King. Feel free to say hello at remembertheking@comcast.net.

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Working on My ‘To Be’ List

by Stephen Simmer – MKP USA Mission Circle Coordinator

I don’t read emails, I scan them. The idea of slowing down and staying fully present with a thought is very difficult, very foreign to me. If you’re like me, you might notice a persistent voice, right now, telling you to hurry through this email, to grab the point that Simmer is making, deposit into the meaning-bank for possible future use, and move onto the next email waiting in the inbox. If you’re like me, right now you’re saying to yourself, “I got it” and hurdling over phrases and sentences to get to the next paragraph to see if there’s more you need to grab. If you’re like me, you don’t read, you plunder for necessary meaning as if you’re looting a store for a couple of things of value.

I’m also aware that I’m that way with many parts of my life I supposedly care about. I listen with a half an ear to my kids, I listen to my wife impatiently, hoping she will get to the point so I can move on, I hurry down the road with my dogs to get the walk out of the way as fast as I can so I can get onto some other tasks that I can also hurry through.

When I think of working more on mission, there is a voice in me that says emphatically, “I don’t have time to do any more.” The conveyer belt is too fast already. I need to work, sack the trash, lug the air conditioners back to the garage, order the stone for the patio, pick up the prescription. Mission? Maybe I can schedule some world-transformation Tuesday between my son’s soccer game and grilling the burgers. If I can’t sandwich it in there, I’ll get to it next lifetime, or the one after that. My mission gradually becomes my o-mission, what I leave out.

This is all wrong. I was taught on my training many years ago that a mission statement had a vision and an action. An action: I saw it as another task on my endless to-do list. But what if mission is not a job? What if it’s really a presence? What if it’s a challenge to do less, with magnificence? What if it means slowing down, committing to be fully present in this ordinary, splendid moment? What if mission means that I commit myself to be a human be-ing rather than a human do-ing? What if busy-ness is a symptom of evasion of what really matters?

Athletes talk of special times when the game slows down, and maybe mission is really about a commitment to slowing life down so that moments become momentous. These are the moments of Flow that Mihaly Csikszentmihaly identified. This precious moment with my son outside school when he quietly takes my hand as we walk. This encounter with the CVS clerk. This walk with my dog in the rain, both of us dying, him probably a few steps ahead of me, leading the way. I’m ditching my to-do list and starting a to-be list. And what is startling to me is that there is only one thing on the list: to answer the door and welcome the visitor who has been waiting.

Stephen Simmer

Steve Simmer, for those of us privileged to know him, lives his life in the midst of the constant stream and theme of mission. Appropriately enough, one of his formal mission statements is that he “creates a world of freedom by encouraging men with my courage to do all that they can be and to be all that they can do.” By profession a psychotherapist, he works continuously to inspire men to actively find and engage in their own mission in this world. Dr. Simmer completed the New Warrior Training Adventure back in 2001, and has never been the same man since.
To learn more about Steve and his work you can visit his website

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My Poem 310: Meeting Wisdom

My Poem 310: Meeting Wisdom

The shaman knows those noises…
They sometimes disturb the hunt…they
are sometimes the result of the hunt…
You see, the shaman has kept
to his roots, not like the shamans
reed flute, having been cut from
its root, its soundings are the
lamentations of the broken hearted
which the shaman knows but he
Also knows of the healed heart…
knows the Icy grags and shadowed
vales…becoming knowing of the songs…
Of the void between notes, between
the lyrics, between the breath taken
in and the breath expelled… There
he finds the knowing of Wisdom…
There, he meets Her…Mother Sophia

——-

Addenda i54: Oscar Wilde said,

“Ah! Don’t say you agree with me. When
people agree with me I always feel that I must be wrong.”

Do our poems have
to please everyone?
Do we have
a responsibility to be provocative?

Yes! MEN!
We Have That Responsibility!

Of course! We have that responsibility!
Wilde said that! Wilde lived that!
Our ‘modern’ circumstances demand that …
How could we not … but to invite another Hitler …

Gaia, Mother Earth is demanding that!
Creating storm after massive storm
beyond our experience …

I am demanding that! … of
my Brothers & my Sisters!

The call has been made! It is international!
grass rooted, calling but walked upon …
springing back up into the calling air …
but CALLING again … every society … every Heart
The Mother and mothers everywhere are calling …
Fathers drop war from your consciousness.
It has no future … It begets no future …

But … ITSELF!
And an Earthen hell is the result …
Over and over … again and again …

MEN! What more proof need be portrayed than that goriest
Glorious 20th Century …???

MEN…WHO ARE WE THAT WE CAN”T SEE
IN ALL THIS LIGHT???!!!

Wali Qutbuddin Loren Ruh Smith
August 6, 2014

Qutbuddin Loren Ruh Smith: I’m 75 years old, born in Tacoma, WA and went to high school in Arcata, CA. I served in the US Army, met my first wife and had our first son in France. I started writing poetry in my first college English class in 1961. I’ve published a book called The Path to The Beloved and I have several books ready to publish. I lived in the Sierras in Grass Valley for 30 years before moving to Albuquerque, NM, in 2012. My book about fathers and sons called This Child and His Tree will be going to the publishers shortly.

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BOYHOOD: Not Exactly a Film Review

GUEST POST: by Peter Clothier

Originally published at the Buddha Diaries

(for Luka, a bit later in his life)

I woke this morning thinking about Barack Obama, and how perfectly he fits the model of manhood proposed by Rudyard Kipling in his unjustly maligned and frequently parodied poem “If.”  In case you don’t remember it, here’s how it starts out:

If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise…

Doesn’t that sound like Obama?

First, though, Boyhood, which provoked these thoughts. We finally got to see this beautiful and profoundly moving film last night.  I loved the twelve-year journey of these skillful and committed actors, playing out the emotional development of fictional characters engaged in a fictional narrative as they themselves physically aged.  I loved the “truth” of the story itself, of a family struggling with the realities of life—the failed and failing marriages, the financial woes, the abuse of alcohol and drugs, sibling love and feuding, school and the relationships with classmates, the pain of the teenage years, and so on.  All along, start to finish, the story had the convincing “feel” of life as most of us experience it.

And the film is true to its title.  It is about boyhood.  Even at the end, the young boy, Mason, whose life we have been following from elementary school to college has not yet emerged fully into manhood.  The last shot shows him, literally high in the beautiful natural surroundings of the mountains, and high on the mushroom fed him by his brand new college roommate.  With a lovely young woman at his side—they sit still shyly side by side and not in some false, premature embrace—he gazes out in ecstasy into the landscape as though into a future filled with allure.  But it is abundantly clear that he is still a boy.  Boyhood still glows in his face; he’s all promise, no completion.

Which should not surprise us.  He had no models of real manhood as he was growing up.  Mason’s biological father is a charming rogue in his early years, unable to accept the responsibilities of marriage, job, and family.  The subsequent relationships his mother forms are with men whose manhood is as questionable as his father’s: a smooth academic whose insecurities lead him to drunken tyranny; a former military man whose immaturity is revealed in his insensitivity and inflexibility.  With one notable exception—a photography teacher who attempts to move our Mason beyond his obstinate, lethargic adolescence—the strong, mature figures who surround the growing boy are women.  The men are simply grown-up little boys.

Which leads me to reflect, beyond the parameters of the movie, upon this question: what are the qualities of manhood?  We find what I think of as a real man all too infrequently in our contemporary world.  We are surrounded everywhere by ungrown men: the drunks, the abusers, the workaholics; priests and teachers who take advantage of their positions of trust and exploit the vulnerabilities of children; lovers who take what they need and reject responsibility; politicians who lack the spine to govern and capitulate too easily to those who would manipulate them; gun-toting idiots who insist so stridently on their “rights” and are quick to spurn the rights of others; sports heroes pumped up with illicit drugs and phony testosterone; spoiled cultural idols, many of them scarcely more than teenagers.

Too often, the models of manhood we are offered are characterized by a false notion of strength.  To return to the President and his current predicament, surrounded as he is by well-meaning progressives to the left and fanatics blinded by their own rectitude on the right, all nipping at his heels and demanding displays of strength.  They fail to understand that the qualities of true strength are not intellectual inflexibility and rash, foolhardy action (the former President and his enablers come inevitably to mind) but the maturity to step back and take the longer view, the wisdom to listen and, when necessary, to change.  Even to bend.  That too is strength.  They have not learned the ancient lesson of the oak tree and the reed.

The qualities of manhood, in my view, are these: integrity, a sense of mission, a devotion to service.   We know how to teach these qualities.  We do it with our military men in boot camp (women, too, these days, of course, but I’m concerned here with men.)  While I’m not a fan of militarism in any form, I’ll concede that in most cases even this crass form of initiation can produce admirable men—men who have not only strength and skills, but a sense of purpose greater than themselves.  Our armed forces are worthy of the respect that they receive.  What turns boys to men is this kind of ritualized initiation—a process that’s significantly lacking in the development of the youngster who’s portrayed in “Boyhood,” as it is to the majority of us today.  Of myself, if I’m to be honest, I must acknowledge that I reached some measure of manhood only in my fifties.  For genuine initiation in our culture we have substituted such tepid rituals as Christian confirmations and bar mitvahs.

They don’t do the trick.  In traditional cultures, the transition was a far more dangerous journey, involving genuine threat to life and limb as boys were sent out into wilderness or jungle to temper the vulnerability and fearfulness of boyhood into the steel they would need to function as a man.  We in the modern Western world have no wild animals to deal with, unless we count those within.  We forget that these are powerful enough to rule our lives if we don’t learn to acknowledge and confront them.  The early myth of initiation for us is the ordeal of the knight apprentice, who rides out into the forest to test his mettle against the dark knight—or the dragon—and returns prepared to serve his queen.

What is integrity?  In simple terms, it is the fortitude to say fearlessly exactly what I mean, and do exactly what I say. Which implies, of course, a clear vision about who I am and what I am given to do.  If I’m in doubt or confusion, I lack resolve.  I dither.  The answer lies not in denying doubt and confusion—they are a part of being human.  No one escapes them.  In denying them I risk precipitous and futile action, when what I need first is to consult the inner wisdom that I’ve wrestled with myself to find, and rediscover the clarity before I act. A man of integrity is a man who “has his act together,” in the sense that his actions are in full congruence with his words.  He has “integrated” the four mainstays of his being: mind and body, feeling and spirit, and they are properly in balance. Action that is not backed by all four of these in unison–action that lacks thought, or heart, or energy, or purpose–is as ineffectual as the failure to act at all.

Inseparable from a man’s integrity, then, is the understanding that he has left behind the innocence of boyhood, along with the freedom that accompanied it.  He lives in a world of accountability to others and acknowledges his duty (yes, sorry, a quaint, old-fashioned concept!) to serve others than himself.   Sadly, it’s true that most of us fail to live up to this ideal.  We look around us, searching vainly for the most part for our Mahatma Gandhis, our Nelson Mandelas, our Martin Luther Kings—men who were certainly not lacking in the failings that made them human, but who managed to be magnificently greater than their weaknesses, and of spectacular, historical service to their fellow human beings.

We cannot all be men like these, but we can be men.  Without the challenge of traditional initiation rites, we are required to find, or invent, our own journey from boyhood into manhood.  It is no easy task to face the darkness and the inner demons that, without our awareness, can control our destinies.  All of us need some form of support as we make that journey: a church, perhaps, a spiritual guide, a trained therapist…  And the journey, for most of us, is never ending.  Who can sit back on his laurels and say with certainty: I have reached the fullness of my manhood?  Even in, at best, my last quarter here among the living, I still struggle with my own.

So we leave our young protagonist, in “Boyhood,” with the journey into manhood still ahead of him.  He may already have been initiated into sex and drugs, into the drudgery of work and now, finally, the college dormitory, but none of these has opened the door to the real, deep, inner work he will have to do if he is to become the man he needs to be if he is to fulfill his life’s destiny.  And that is yet to come…

Watch for Peter Clothier’s forthcoming novel about masculine sexuality, “The Pilgrim’s Staff” (an old euphemism for the penis.) It’s told by two narrators, a contemporary figure painter and and 18th century English gentleman.  Frank sex scenes and potboiler excitement!  Peter is a 1994 NWTA initiate, a one-time active Ritual Elder, and a well-known art writer.  His latest book, “Slow Looking: The Art of Looking at Art,” explores the values of contemplation and meditation.  Feel free to write him at peter clothier@mac.com.

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The Transformational Power of Daily Rituals

By Gonzalo Salinas

According to Charles Duhigg  author of The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, approximately 40% of what we do every day, we do unconsciously. We have formed a habit that we tend to repeat every day, and it’s making our choices for us.  

So, think about all the things  you do every day.  Some of them probably don’t serve your highest purpose but still, you repeat them religiously … even knowing specific behaviors are putting you away of the reality you want to live. Duhigg explains that every time you repeat those habits your brain reinforces them … so it craves, later on, this repetition. Even if is not beneficial, you get a neuro-chemical reward in your brain that not only will create some sort of addiction  but also reinforces the identity you have created for yourself.

I have tried many times to change bad habits and create new ones. With a sincere heart I must confess that I have failed more times than I have succeeded. But I noticed something happened every time I was succeeding; the positive new habits were daily rituals.

Yes. I do have rituals. Ritual - “a series of actions or type of behavior regularly and invariably followed by someone.”  I repeat certain rituals every day, and believe me dear reader of the MKP Journal, to repeat an action every day, is not an easy task, especially when I am trying to create a new self.

Let me share some daily rituals hoping that this will inspire action to enhance lives.

I do my rituals first thing in the morning: I wake up and I go for a run. The running part is simple. I already told myself that as soon as I hear the alarm I must jump out of the bed. At the beginning it was hard, now is automatic. My recommendation is to avoid dealing with ANY logistics  - so your sportswear must be ready next to the bed from the previous night.

rising-sun

A second ritual is: I carry in my wallet one handwritten page. One side of the page is divided in two: on the left side I have a few statements: my flaws or weaknesses to become aware of what I want to change, and on the right side my good qualities and virtues to remind myself the tools I have for my own growth. Deliberately this second list is bigger than the first one.  On the other side of the paper I’ve written a brief composition about who I want to be. I’ve included goals and projects and a description of  how I see myself in the next three years.

I read this paper three times a day. As soon as I wake up, at lunch time, and before I go to sleep. It takes me two minutes each reading. When I read it I focus on staying present: just reading.

Third: In the morning I also do a brief visualization … right before I come back from running I stop and I visualize: It takes me three to five minutes. I visualize the same three goals I have written on the paper I carry on my wallet.

Finally, is my gratitude time. On a notebook I got specifically for gratitude, right before I go to sleep, I write three things that I’m grateful for that day. It doesn’t matter if it’s as simple as “the kid I saw having some ice cream at Lincoln road in South Beach.” If I feel like writing it, I write it. Then I say a brief prayer, and I go to sleep.

These four rituals have changed my life dramatically in the last two years. Have I been 100% consistent with them?… absolutely not. I used to give to myself a guilt trip, this usually led me to abandon my regular practice for a while. If for some reason I miss my rituals now, instead of the self punishment, I just carry on.

That’s it. Just a couple of thing before I finish: You may notice that my rituals are very simple;  they are simple because when I create a complex plan, I find I’m planning to fail. Start small and keep going; it is a great exercise of self love.

And lastly, be creative with your rituals! Some people create a vision boards with images, others do mantras or incantations, others meditate or do breathing exercises. The rituals become habits because of  repetition, and the daily practice causes transformation.

I’ve got more from my 2 years of rituals than from my entire previous life without them. Use them and then you tell me!

 

Gonzalo photo

Gonzalo Salinas is an Assistant Editor for the ManKind Project Journal, a publication of the ManKind Project, a nonprofit mentoring and training organization offering powerful opportunities for men’s personal growth at any stage of life. Salinas studied Literature in Lima, Peru at San Marcos University, and has been living in the United States since 2003.  He lives in Miami, FL. Salinas is committed to his own personal development, and to spreading the word about the vision and mission of the Mankind Project.

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Your Distraction Vortex – Purpose Block #3

by Chris Kyle

If you missed the special Live Q&A call on April 15 for the Man on Purpose Course and want to listen to the audio, go to the Man on Purpose Course web site to listen.

Over the last week, I’ve shared with you the first two core Purpose Blocks which are:

Purpose Block #1 = the Fear Triad
Purpose Block #2 = the Doubting Voice

Now it’s time to explore the third of the 3 Purpose Blocks. Purpose Block #3 is the Distraction Vortex.

In our modern, media-saturated and technology-driven culture we have a never-ending list of things we can do in our daily lives to keep us busy and our schedules extremely full.

The daily choices are mind-boggling … TV shows, books, internet surfing, sports, phone calls, porn, email, movies, hobbies — and on and on and on. And all of this is in addition to our daily work (that hopefully pays the bills).

All these possible activities make up the Distraction Vortex: a swirling pool of constant and seemingly endless things TO DO … that can suck up all of our precious time.

None of these activities, in and of themselves, are inherently “good” or “bad.” However, if we are spending much of our time in the Distraction Vortex — there is a good chance that we are also distracting ourselves from what we might want most in our lives: deeper connection, greater joy, more meaning, and a clearer sense of purpose.

And because the journey into these states can be more subtle and unclear, it’s frankly easier and likely more soothing to numb-out or check-out with a juicy distraction like a TV show, a series of YouTube videos, or a trashy novel.

The challenge and question is, “How do I consciously navigate this Distraction Vortex, so it doesn’t suck up all of my time — and instead frees up my time for focusing on living more fully into my purpose?”

Here are three steps you can take to help set you free from the Distraction Vortex.

1. Slow Down and Observe Your Activity
The first step is to use whatever stillness practice you have, like meditation or mindfulness, to slow yourself down each day (and if you don’t have one, then start one), and begin to observe what pulls your attention toward what you would consider unhealthy distractions.

Then take on a one week “distraction awareness practice” by tracking where you are spending your time in the activities that you consider distractions. This brings to conscious awareness what activities YOU use as distractions to not face something else in your life.

2. Notice What You’re Avoiding
The second step is to notice what you may be avoiding in your life that the distractions helps you not have to face. It is typically something you don’t want to look at, and which makes you uncomfortable… something that you struggle with in your life.

Being more conscious of the activity, feeling or the energy that you’re avoiding helps to burst the bubble on your distraction patterns. Now you have the awareness to make a new choice about whether to engage the specific distractions or not.

3. Recommit with Support
As you see more clearly how your particular distractions don’t serve you, you can now recommit yourself to the actions and activities that truly support and serve you — your own growth and your purpose.

By declaring your commitment to the activities that feed your passions and purpose to another person close to you helps you stay accountable to not slipping back into the unhealthy distractions. This support is key to breaking out of the Distraction Vortex.

In the Man on Purpose Course, starting tomorrow (April 17, 2014), we spend two of the 7 weeks on looking at the patterns and habits that take us out of the fuller expression of our authentic power, creativity and purpose. This helps clear the way to bringing more energy and power to our purpose.

To your distraction-free purpose,
Chris

P.S. The Man on Purpose Course starts tomorrow, April 17th, and there’s still time to register and lock in your seat in the course. Go here to register for the course. One man who took the course last year said:

“The course opened me up to the desire and passion to start living as a man who lives to be more of service in all aspects of life. Not “what is my purpose?” but rather how to LIVE with purpose!” — Edward Werger

Chris Kyle

Chris has trained and coached hundreds of individuals to achieve greater success in their businesses and their lives. In partnership with The ManKind Project® USA, he recently created The Power of Purpose Summit and the Man On Purpose online course. He is also the co-creator, with Amy Ahlers, of the ongoing tele-series, New Man, New Woman, New Life.

In addition to his leadership development work, Chris has spent over 24 years as an executive, entrepreneur, consultant and business coach, working in Fortune 500 companies and owning his own eco-adventure travel company. Chris graduated from Stanford University where he studied Political Science. He lives with his wife in Northern California.

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Curious about Why you are Here? Special Q&A Call!

Special Q&A Call Tonight & Important Announcement

We’ve received a lot of great questions over the last week around the topic of purpose and wanting to know more about our upcoming course — Man On Purpose: The Essential 7-Week Online Course for Men which starts on April 17th.

As I mentioned in my last post, George Daranyi and I will be hosting a special interactive Q&A call tonight – Tuesday April 15th. We will be answering some of the most frequently asked questions about the course, and also about how you can access your hidden power to activate your passions and purpose in the world.

If you have any lingering questions about the course, please join this special Q&A call TONIGHT, MARCH 15TH at 5:30 pm Pacific Time to get the answers you need.

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Here’s how to access the Q&A Session with George and me:

TONIGHT at 5:30 pm Pacific / 8:30 pm Eastern / 12:30 am+1 UTC

To listen by webcast online, go to:

http://InstantTeleseminar.com/?eventid=54169320

To listen by phone dial:
Number: (425) 440-5100
Access code: 405934#

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A number of men who have experienced the work with us were eager to share how it had improved and changed their lives:

“They showed me how I had been asleep for most of my life, and how I needed to “awaken” and take charge of my life, to take responsibility and be accountable for my actions. In the program, I received the tools to get back into integrity with my family, my friends, and mainly with myself… I learned that it in order to make a difference in this world, to live into my purpose, I first had to change myself.” — Joe A.

“Chris’ approach helped me to see where I’m not showing up fully in my life and the shadows that were holding me back. His intuition and awareness guided me to confront these shadows and helped me stay present, even when it was uncomfortable. With Chris’s help, I found my growing edge and learned how to take what I experienced in the sessions into my professional and social life, my intimate relations and most of all, my inner journey. By experiencing this place of “deep knowingness”, purpose and fierce love, I experienced the essence of my true nature.” — Tim C.

I also wanted to let you know that our 3-payment option ends this Friday. So if you’re planning to register for the course and would benefit from the option of spreading the payments over three months, be sure to register by tomorrow to take advantage of this opportunity.

To learn more and register visit the course information page.

To living your purpose,
Chris Kyle & George Daranyi

Chris Kyle

Chris has trained and coached hundreds of individuals to achieve greater success in their businesses and their lives. In partnership with The ManKind Project® USA, he recently created The Power of Purpose Summit and the Man On Purpose online course. He is also the co-creator, with Amy Ahlers, of the ongoing tele-series, New Man, New Woman, New Life.

In addition to his leadership development work, Chris has spent over 24 years as an executive, entrepreneur, consultant and business coach, working in Fortune 500 companies and owning his own eco-adventure travel company. Chris graduated from Stanford University where he studied Political Science. He lives with his wife in Northern California.

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What is your Doubting Voice keeping you from? – Purpose Block #2

If you missed the first post: here are the 3 Purpose Blocks:
The Fear Triad
The Doubting Voice
The Distraction Vortex

As we move further along our purpose journey path we’re likely to run into the second purpose block: The Doubting Voice.

This Doubting Voice inside you might sound like this:

  • Do you really think you can live your purpose — what about making enough money for the family?
  • It sounds too risky to shift careers now… why would you want to do that?
  • Where will you get the support to take on this new project?
  • What happens if it doesn’t work out?
  • Do you think you have the talent to write your book, it’s really difficult…

Essentially, this inner voice is that part of our thought pattern that is negatively questioning everything we say or do.

And the problem is that when your Doubting Voice collides with your Calling, your unfolding purpose, then it wants to find all the ways to keep you from going to the “unknown edge” — to the places that you’ll have to extend yourself, to risk, and to grow in likely uncomfortable ways.

The Doubting Voice’s mission is to eliminate risk, keep things the “safe”, and to NOT be uncomfortable. This obviously puts you at odds with yourself at times, and why it is a core block to living your purpose.

So, how do we work with and neutralize our Doubting Voice?

I have found that the best way to work with the Doubting Voice is to make friends with it.

I know, easier said than done. But here’s my process of be-friending, or said another way, integrating my inner Doubter.

Start with naming the Doubting Voice in you. You might call it: Doubting Dude, or Cantankerous Cathy, or simply Mr. Doubter. What this does is twofold:

Brings lightness and humor to that part of ourselves that is pretty heavy and a limiter to our full, authentic expression
Allows the witnessing part of yourself to arrive so you can see the bigger perspective beyond your fearful, doubting ego-mind thoughts/voices.

Then it’s time to have a brief dialogue with your Doubter. It flows like this:

“Mr. Doubter, do you have some true wisdom for me that I should know about?” Here you’re investigating for important information that might be in the doubting voice. A grain of truth that you feel may be important to the issue at hand. Listen to what comes back.

Then say to yourself: “Thank you for sharing. I don’t need you at this time. I’m now going to make room for a choice that is for my highest good – my empowered choice.”

And now there is space for you to make a new choice toward your purpose, toward that which brings you more alive.

In the Man on Purpose Course, George Daranyi and I will speak on how to turn your negative inner voices (what we call Inner Bullies) into allies for your growth and expansion. So, I encourage you to let your Doubting Voice be the new fuel for your growth, for a deeper self-acceptance, that will bring more energy and clarity to your purpose work.

To your purpose adventure,
Chris

P.S. George and I are hosting a special live Q&A Call on Tuesday, April 15th at 5:30 pm PT / 8:30 pm ET to answer all your questions about the upcoming Man on Purpose Course, which starts on April 17th. Mark you calendars now and we’ll be sending out Access Details on Monday. Go here to learn more and register for the course.

Chris Kyle

Chris has trained and coached hundreds of individuals to achieve greater success in their businesses and their lives. In partnership with The ManKind Project® USA, he recently created The Power of Purpose Summit and the Man On Purpose online course. He is also the co-creator, with Amy Ahlers, of the ongoing tele-series, New Man, New Woman, New Life.

In addition to his leadership development work, Chris has spent over 24 years as an executive, entrepreneur, consultant and business coach, working in Fortune 500 companies and owning his own eco-adventure travel company. Chris graduated from Stanford University where he studied Political Science. He lives with his wife in Northern California.

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What stops you from claiming or more fully living your purpose?

The challenge I see constantly with people who want clarity of purpose, or want to bring more energy or focus to it, is that there’s at least one BIG block (if not several) in their life that’s keeping them from being fully engaged and lit up by their purpose.

I’d like to share with you the top 3 Purpose Blocks that I’ve discovered through the purpose work I’ve done with hundreds of people over the years; and then how to move through these blocks. Today I’ll focus on Purpose Block #1.

Here are the 3 Purpose Blocks:

  1. The Fear Triad
  2. The Doubting Voice
  3. The Distraction Vortex

Purpose Block #1 is the Fear Triad. I have consistently found three specific fears that people face when diving into discovering their purpose, OR when they are trying to put the vision of their purpose into action in the world. The three core purpose fears are:

  • Fear of Survival (mostly financial)
  • Fear of Failure
  • Fear of Ridicule

The survival instinct is deeply rooted in our old brain, the reptilian brain, and is now, in our modern culture, mostly connected with our financial resources.

So the Fear of Survival unfolds like this: If you choose to go after your purpose, living it fully, then it may drain ALL your resources and/or not be sustainable in the future, and you won’t “make it” —  you won’t survive. You won’t be able to pay the bills and feed your family. So, it’s just easier to avoid the question about purpose altogether than to face the possibility that you might not survive by living the “fantasy” of your purpose.

The Fear of Failure inside our purpose exploration can become more pronounced because the call of our purpose may stretch us into unknown areas, or test us with new approaches or concepts.

It may unfold like this: If you go for what you really want, your purpose, and fail; then you’ve failed on the really BIG one in life — living your purpose.” This would not just be failing on a project or a task, but may have the sense of a “whole-person failure” — the message being: “I am a failure in my life.”
The Fear of Ridicule unfolds like this: if your purpose is calling you to do something different in your life, to take on a new vision for your life with a new set of actions, you may find yourself misunderstood by family, friends, colleagues and maybe even your partner.

This exposes you to people’s reactions, their own fear and their ridicule. The fear may arise that you’ll be laughed, belittled or rejected because your ideas seem non-conventional or simply strange to others.
So, here is the 3-step flow of how to work with these natural fears in the Fear Triad:

> Awareness of the Fear 
Notice and acknowledge the fear. It is important to pause yourself and take a deeper look inside at what these fears are for you. Name them in your OWN way and in your words. Bringing them out of the shadow and into the light of your conscious mind is the first step.

> Allow and Embrace
Once you are aware of your unique flavor of the fear, then you’re ready to embrace this fear as simply a part of you and a mechanism that your ego-mind uses to keep you safe.

This means accepting the fear with self-compassion and seeing it as a natural part of your growth and evolution as a human being. It’s important for you to watch your tendency to push the fear away, to deny it or pretend it’s not there.

> Open to a New Choice
As you allow and embrace your fear, it begins to lose its hold and power over you. It may still be there, but it’s been seen, named and embraced. So, now it’s time to make a new choice that supports your highest growth and calling in the moment.

What you thought was just not possible before because of one of these fears, now may seem possible. Make a NEW choice that serves you and your passionate, creative expression.

In the Man on Purpose 7-Week Online Course we teach you a powerful tool called the Reframing Process that will help you reframe your fear messages and shift them to new possibilities and new choices.
Go to our course information page to learn more.

Chris Kyle

Chris has trained and coached hundreds of individuals to achieve greater success in their businesses and their lives. In partnership with The ManKind Project® USA, he recently created The Power of Purpose Summit and the Man On Purpose online course. He is also the co-creator, with Amy Ahlers, of the ongoing tele-series, New Man, New Woman, New Life.

In addition to his leadership development work, Chris has spent over 24 years as an executive, entrepreneur, consultant and business coach, working in Fortune 500 companies and owning his own eco-adventure travel company. Chris graduated from Stanford University where he studied Political Science. He lives with his wife in Northern California.

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Wake up call

Category: Memoir 

by Gonzalo Salinas

Every morning after my run on the beach and my morning rituals, as I drive to work, I see the kids from the South Beach Elementary crossing the street, I see the cuban windows full of people buying their morning cafe cubano, I see the many yoga fans carrying their mat to their morning practice and I see the magic atmosphere of the beach waking up and starting the day.

I cross the MacArthur causeway admiring the breathtaking view, with the Miami skyline and the port of Miami on one side and the mansions in front of the ocean and the Miami bay on the other one. I take the I95, my usual shortcut to the roads in Coral Way to get to my office.

I’m grateful for all the things I get to see every morning. Why? Because everything I get to see every day is a blessing. I know it firsthand…

south beach

When I was a kid, I absolutely loved to play. I was always organizing the games. I remember always playing with my older brothers, with my friends or my cousins.  Inventing games, running, jumping, screaming … one of my favorites was playing soccer with a paper ball covered in duct tape. I was always busy being a kid.

Sometimes at school, the bell rang earlier than usual. I was very happy because I had the chance to go home and play, but, at that young age,  I wasn’t aware of how dangerous the reason was of why they were sending us home hours before the end of the school day.

My grade school was threatened by the terrorist movements of Shining Path or the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement. Both terrorist groups that had taken my city, Lima,  and were destroying everything they touched. When they threatened the school, the only solution was sending everyone home for the day. Most of the time, these were false alarms, somebody calling for no reason,  but in the rest of the city, you couldn’t go to a cafe or a restaurant because the terrorist were bombing the commercial areas, public offices, banks, private companies and every public place you could possibly imagine, spreading chaos and terror all over Lima and the rest of the country.

I grew up on that environment, without being aware of the constant risk that was just walking on the streets of my city. In 12 years of horror from 1980 to 1992, the result was approximately 70 thousand people killed. Fortunately the Peruvian government was able to bring the terror to an end.

There are many places in the world right now, like Pakistan, Iraq or Somalia where terrorism is part of the daily life. I feel so blessed to live where I live now. And I am awake – awake to the reality that not everyone experiences the world I live in. And I am also responsible for staying awake.

So every morning, I am grateful for what I see on my way to work. Gratitude, for me, is the opposite of fear. Be grateful for what you have and send your positive energies or say a prayer for those places where terror is the reality. I pray for a world where all the kids can go to the streets, and play.

Gonzalo photo

Gonzalo Salinas is an Assistant Editor for the ManKind Project Journal, a publication of the ManKind Project, a nonprofit mentoring and training organization offering powerful opportunities for men’s personal growth at any stage of life. Salinas studied Literature in Lima, Peru at San Marcos University, and has been living in the United States since 2003.  He lives in Miami, FL. Salinas is committed to his own personal development, and to spreading the word about the vision and mission of the Mankind Project.

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Lighting the Darkness – Lumos

Guest Post

New Warrior Brother Michael Marlin from Hawaii will enlighten audiences with his stage production of LUMA: Art in Darkness during a ten-city tour at performing art centers across the country beginning March 28th.

A top comedy juggler who played Las Vegas and opened for the likes of Jay Leno, Jerry Seinfeld, George Carlin, and REM, Marlin walked away from his successful solo career in 1986. He sold his house in Redondo Beach, CA and moved to the island of Hawaii to co-found an alternative community while building and living in a tree house with no electricity.

In 1989 while standing on an active lava flow he noticed the hypnotic effect it had on people and had the epiphany, “All life is drawn to light.”

This was the genesis of LUMA, a show that has now appeared in 15 countries, 44 states and has been touring since 1998. LUMA, with a cast of seven, is a show about the subject of light that combines all manner of physical disciplines from rhythmic gymnastics, puppetry, magic, dance, acrobatics, physics and experimental methods.

Fused with a myriad of light technology from incandescent to bioluminescent, from LEDs to lasers, the tour will take it from Arizona to Massachusetts over a five-week period.

“Three years ago Marlin came to Houston and opened with his juggling act,” Sonny Elliot, a ManKind Project ritual elder recalls, “[LUMA] was a brilliant and over-the-top performance. With the ‘visual’ music and ‘technical’ dancing, along with the crowd’s enthusiasm, it was a home run.”

In manifesting his vision of LUMA, Marlin encountered a lot of skepticism. He has stayed true to his brainchild, expanding the show and building on new technology as it has evolved, watching as other artists have recently flirted with some of the theatrical light elements he has pioneered, popularizing it on shows like “America’s Got Talent”.

Marlin has long been a pioneer and visionary. His work in the field of comedy and juggling back in the 70’s and early 80’s influenced a generation of jugglers who followed. Barry Friedman from the ManKind Project in Northern California and half of the juggling duo “The Raspini Brothers”, reports, “I remember standing in our family kitchen when I was 18 years old and seeing Michael Marlin on a TV show called Real People.”

“It showed me a bigger picture of what was possible if I stuck with juggling: the possibility of having fun and making people laugh. Marlin has continued to raise the bar both artistically and professionally. His show LUMA has brilliantly merged the visual appeal of juggling with the mind-boggling technology of electronically controlled lighting.”

COME SEE LUMOS

Come see LUMOS this spring.

“The journey to take a vision bigger than one person can pull off and turn it into a physical manifestation with so many moving parts was daunting,” says Marlin. “The work I have done in the ManKind Project has helped me in an incalculable way in my ability to lead others in a clean way and not pull my hair out, (or theirs) when things don’t go as planned.”

“I have no doubt that the ripples Marlin is making in the lives of both his audiences and the members of his cast will spread out and touch millions of lives,” said Friedman.

Ticket information and videos of LUMA can be found online at http://www.lumatheater.com.

Show Schedule:

March 26th Gilbert, AZ – Higley Center
April 4th Ft. Collins, CO – Lincoln Center
April 6th Santa Fe, NM – Lensic Theater
April 7th Las Vegas, NM – University of New Mexico Highland Center
April 11th Chippewa Falls, WI – Heyde Center
April 12th Madison, WI – Barrymore Theater
April 13th Schaumberg, IL – Prairie Performing Arts Center
April 20/21st Roanoke, VA – Jefferson Center
April 27th Storrs, CT – University of Connecticut Jorgensen Center
April 29th Queens, NY – Queens College
May 2nd Worcester, MA – Hanover Theater

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Video: “The Revolution is Love” with Charles Eisenstein

shared by Chris Kyle

This powerful 4-minute video features Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics, from a documentary about the Occupy Movement. Charles will be a featured speaker at the ManKind Project USA’s upcoming Power of Purpose Online Summit in March 2014 (more details are coming soon).

I love Charles’ last line of this video clip: “…Everybody has a unique calling and it’s really time to listen to that. That’s what the future is going to be. It’s time to get ready for it, and contribute to it, and help make it happen.”

Charles Eisenstein is a teacher, speaker, and writer focusing on themes of civilization, consciousness, money, and human cultural evolution. He is the author of 6 books includingSacred Economics, The Ascent of Humanity and The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible.

“Remember that self-doubt is as self-centered as self-inflation. Your obligation is to reach as deeply as you can and offer your unique and authentic gifts as bravely and beautifully as you’re able.”
— Bill Plotkin, author of Soulcraft*

* Bill is also speaking at the Power of Purpose Summit in March.

Chris Kyle

Chris has trained and coached hundreds of individuals to achieve greater success in their businesses and their lives. In partnership with The ManKind Project® USA, he recently created The Power of Purpose Summit and the Man On Purpose online course. He is also the co-creator, with Amy Ahlers, of the ongoing tele-series, New Man, New Woman, New Life.

In addition to his leadership development work, Chris has spent over 24 years as an executive, entrepreneur, consultant and business coach, working in Fortune 500 companies and owning his own eco-adventure travel company. Chris graduated from Stanford University where he studied Political Science. He lives with his wife in Northern California.

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My Elder Soul ~ a poem

Category: Men as Elders, Poetry 

by Reuel Czach

Elders, we are losing our Soul.
We are so caught up individually in petty offenses
and bickering and wounded-ness,
that we are letting our civilization and our planet die.
But most importantly,
we are letting our souls die.

When I chose to be wounded,
and walk through life withdrawn in my cave,
or I choose to be over-armored,
to the point of being weighed down,
with such heavy baggage,
nothing else matters,
…..my soul is lost.

I chose to take a step toward claiming,
my lost soul,
when I chose to meet with men in an honest, open circle.

I choose my soul,
when I decide to be so humble,
that no one can offend me.

I choose my soul,
when I chose wisdom,
over being right.

I choose my soul,
when I chose service,
over selfishness.

I choose my soul,
when I chose looking within,
to find all the evil I see outside myself.

I choose my soul,
when I walk the path of life,
where I am nothing,
and I am everything,
in sacred balance.
My choices mean everything,
my offenses mean nothing.

My offenses mean I still have inner work to do
and for the sake of generations to come,
I better get it done as quickly as possible.

My choices mean I have the power to save myself,
my loved ones, my friends, and possibly many more people,
from a mean, selfishness and a lonely death.

I feel great sadness and sorrow,
for all that is being lost.

While the distractions of hurt,
wounded-ness and bickering,
suck so much energy out of my soul,
…..and the soul of my people.

Every hurt and wound and chance to be right,
is a mirror of my soul,
and an opportunity to heal.

Do it! Choose healing.
Then choose wisdom and kindness,
and be the Elder you were meant to be.

Distractions are my enemy,
anything that tries to pull me off,
my narrow mission.

I just need to let Spirit control my life,
where my spirit joins and serves,
a much bigger wisdom,
than I could ever fully understand.

I am asked this day to request of myself,
and men who call themselves Elders.
A humble request,
that we focus on the wisdom to light a path,
for those who come after us.
Humble man, Jan 2014

Reuel Czach

Reuel Czach is a 60 year old, Christian man with a wonderful wife and two sons, a daughter and a stepson. He has lived in San Luis Obispo County, California for over 30 years and practiced architecture for most of those years. Czach is an I-Group Coordinator for the Swallow Creek Coastal Circle in Cayucos. He actively supports and builds the Elder community in San Luis Obispo and is the Co-Elder Chair of the MKP Santa Barbara Community. Czach leads a weekly men’s circle in my church and is a leader in the men’s ministry.

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My Purpose Over My Relationship?

by Chris Kyle

I came across this quote from David Deida (author of Way of the Superior Man) a couple of days ago:

“Admit to yourself that if you had to choose one or the other, the perfect intimate relationship or achieving your highest purpose in life, you would choose to succeed at your purpose. Just this self-knowledge often relieves much pressure a man feels to prioritize his relationship when, in fact, it is not his highest priority.”

I have to say right off the bat, that when I first read this quote I thought to myself… do I have to choose one OVER the other?

And then another part of me stood up (in my head, of course) and said “that’s right, achieving my highest purpose would definitely rock!”

Clearly there’s a conflict running inside me regarding how I prioritize living my purpose as a man, and where I place my relationship.

So, as I look at my own life to investigate this question of the priority of purpose, I do see that I am most alive, engaged and passionate when I’m doing what I love, giving my gifts and bringing my purpose forward to serve others.

And if I decided to choose my relationship OVER living fully into my purpose, I think a part of me would shrivel up. And I know that my power and confidence would be diminished in the world.

And at the end of the day, I don’t want living my purpose to hurt or damage my relationship with my wife. I know that I can give my full presence and heart to my relationship without sacrificing my purpose.

But real juice and fire in our relationship comes from me making bold choices to follow my heart and gut, and give my gifts, my purpose with passion and without apology. And my wife finds this super sexy and is proud of me even during the times I am putting my purpose work above our relationship time.

The twist here is that in my experience living boldly into my purpose, with all the triumphs and failures that goes with that, my relationship thrives.

And of course, my purpose as I shared it above applies to my wife as well (she’s a “being” too), and so I can be in my purpose through supporting her on her path of growth.

What I hear from many men that I work with is that they are trying so hard to make their relationship work or to please their partner so they can have a more harmonious and “easy” life.

The challenge of putting their relationship above the full expression of their purpose, is that it diminishes the energy, fire and confidence in themselves that could infuse the relationship with much needed passion or juiciness.

So here’s how I have learned to hold this priority tension between relationship and purpose. I give my full presence, attention and heart to my relationship whenever we are together. I am not half-there or checked out because I’m thinking about work, or half-listening to her because my purpose work is invading my thoughts and it’s THE PRIORITY.

Rather, when I’m engaged in my purpose work, I’m there fully and making that a priority in my life even if it means making some difficult choices about the time I spend with my wife.

I find that the natural balance arises when I am passionately engaged in my purpose AND I bring that juice and fire into my relationship with full presence and an open heart — regardless of how much time we have with each other (days or minutes).

And you know, I still reserve the right to make my relationship the focus of my purpose at any given time if it needs it and demands more of me for a period of time. How’s that for a slick caveat — and it’s been true at specific times in my life.

Keep working your purpose edge, bring full presence to each moment, keep your heart open and you’ll see your life soar… in both your purpose AND your relationship.

CK

P.S. What do you think? Leave a comment!

Chris Kyle

Chris has trained and coached hundreds of individuals to achieve greater success in their businesses and their lives. In partnership with The ManKind Project® USA, he recently created The Power of Purpose Summit and the Man On Purpose online course. He is also the co-creator, with Amy Ahlers, of the ongoing tele-series, New Man, New Woman, New Life.

In addition to his leadership development work, Chris has spent over 24 years as an executive, entrepreneur, consultant and business coach, working in Fortune 500 companies and owning his own eco-adventure travel company. Chris graduated from Stanford University where he studied Political Science. He lives with his wife in Northern California.

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The World Needs More Elders

Category: Fatherhood, Men as Elders 

By Donald Clerc

What’s the difference between being an Elder and being elderly?  I never really thought about that question until joining the ManKind Project two years ago.

I’m 57, have three grown children, one young grandchild, and own my own business.  So I’ve “been around the block” a few times and have learned a thing or two along the way.  But no one had challenged me on what I can do with that experience and wisdom in this second half of my life.

What are the characteristics of an Elder?  We all know of older people who do not behave in an Elder way.  And we also know of younger people who already exhibit Elder-like qualities.  Here’s what I see are some of the qualities and behaviors of an Elder:

•       Speaking the truth with authority and wisdom.
•       Speaking with kindness and a fierce authenticity at the same time.
•       Having a gracious and open heart.
•       Standing for higher values and strong standards of behavior.
•       Drawing the line against counterproductive behavior.
•       Giving, serving, honoring and blessing others.
•       Standing in responsible support of leaders.
•       Knowing when all you need to do is be present and listen.

Old-PeopleBeing an Elder is not the same as being elderly.  Just because you are older doesn’t make you wise.  And if you don’t share that hard-won wisdom with others, then you are not benefiting society as an Elder.

Being an Elder is not the same as being a leader.  The Elder looks out for the leaders and the lead alike.  The Elder uses his wisdom and experience for the good of everyone.  His honesty and values help the young to mature and help the already mature to stay in touch with their core values.

Many other societies honor their Elders.  It seems like our materialistic society only honors those people (young or old) who buy things, make things, or do things.  How does one get honored for being and sharing wisdom?  Elders can help the younger generations focus on developing their core values and stop being overly focused on material things.

Where can today’s Elders practice their craft?  I grew up in a Presbyterian church, which is run by Elders by design.  But outside of organized religion, schools and businesses, where else can Elders give of their gifts?  If our communities can learn to utilize all of this elder wisdom in an organized way, everyone benefits.

What stops older people from stepping into the role of the Elder?  The first obstacle to overcome is the assumption or lack of awareness that one is already an Elder simply because one has already experienced a half-century or more of life.  The second obstacle is a lack of training on Elder-like behaviors.  These behaviors are not difficult to learn – what most people need to learn are how to undo the negative habits that inhibit or cover their natural Elder qualities from coming out.

In conclusion, young people need more Elders in their lives.  They grow up easier and with more maturity.  I think it’s time for older people need to step into their roles as Elders.  This gives them a greater sense of fulfillment and contribution to society than continuing the consumerist behaviors of when they were younger.

What we still need are a way to train more people in the second half of their life to embrace their inner Elder.  And we need to develop more avenues in society where Elders can give of their gifts to others.

Donald Clerc is a computer technologist and entrepreneur.  He has over 30 years experience working with computers, and started his own computer consulting company 16 years ago.  Before that he was an associate school psychologist.  Donald is married (for over 35 years), has three grown children and one grandchild. He completed the New Warrior Training Adventure in 2011 and is a declared Elder in the Houston MKP Community.
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