“Warriors of light are not perfect. Their beauty lies in accepting this fact and still desiring to grow and to learn.“
“Look at every path closely and deliberately. Try it as many times as you think necessary. Then ask yourself alone, one question . . . Does this path have a heart? If it does, the path is good; if it doesn’t it is of no use.“
(Don Juan Matus)
Young boys and men of today still face many of the same outdated, often contradictory and destructive gender roles and identity definitions of the past. Society imposes on them an outdated false image of masculinity and strength often defined by emotional toughness/closedness, aggression (even violence), risk-taking, competitiveness and ambition (typically of the financial/material kind). And many of these imposed gender roles effect men not only by preventing them from realizing their true selves or developing healthy relationships, but they also impact men negatively by reinforcing disrespectful attitudes and behaviors towards women.
We train our young boys towards these inauthentic gender roles with emotionally constrictive attitudes and implied encouragement for aggressive behaviors, with expressions like “don’t be a sissy“, “stop crying“, “suck it up“, “boys will be boys” etc. And as adult men, we often face enormous social pressure from other men in our lives when we see them cat-calling women, sharing offensive or degrading jokes about women or making sexist or misogynistic comments towards women.
Young boys and men are bombarded by these sorts of negative and disrespectful attitudes towards woman all the time and unfortunately for many men, they lack the personal integrity, honor or courage to think for themselves in order to break away from these harmful attitudes and behaviors. And although the harm and disrespect towards women is obvious with these negative attitudes and behaviors, there is an equally damaging level of harm caused to the integrity and soul’s of the men who blindly follow these disrespectful and dishonest gender roles.
When surrounded by other men who express these negative and disrespectful attitudes towards women, particularly when they are your friends or work colleagues, there is enormous social and psychological pressure to conform. Maybe you laugh at the degrading joke or even share one of your own. Maybe you just grin in silence in order to feel like you are “one of the boys“. This is natural, these are “normal” social and psychologically bonding behaviors and intentions – wanting to conform. It is exactly these sorts of social and psychological pressures to conform which build the societies we live in, and help to reinforce our own sense of identity and social belonging. But at what cost?
Do we really want to keep encouraging and building a society where boys grow up believing they cannot express their emotions and must “suck it up” in order to be respected? Do we really want (or need) to keep creating men who believe that success and strength is measured by the accumulation of material wealth and the display of physical acts of aggression or violence? Do we really want to keep creating men who think it’s funny to make jokes about rape or to see women simply as weak, needy and emotionally unstable or irrational creatures whose only value is to serve our sexual desires as we lust after them?
In order to change these soul-damaging, disrespectful attitudes and behaviors towards women we not only need to change how we raise our young boys and the attitudes and behaviors towards women we model around them, but we also need to help model and reinforce respectful attitudes and behaviors around the other grown men in our life. But where do we start? It is not easy for men to openly share their deepest feelings around other men. It is not easy for men to express their honest emotions, cry or go against the often misogynistic social attitudes and behaviors of peers and colleagues.
The first place to start is that a truly conscious and authentic man must first notice the tension in his soul which reminds him that these behaviors, attitudes or jokes are wrong and insulting. A conscious man must recognize that those disrespectful attitudes and jokes about women do not reflect how he himself feels about women and that they are in no way “normal”. A conscious man, a true Warrior of the Light will know deep inside himself that he must do something to help change the disrespectful attitudes and behaviors of the men in his life and he must model the types of attitudes and behaviors towards women which honor the Divine Goddess which he recognizes in all women as well as within himself.
Conscious Men, Warriors of Light also need a safe space, a sacred space in order to encourage and support the authentic and non-judgmental expression of their emotions and the personal struggles they face which society often forces them to suppress due to these outdated gender roles and “in-crowd” or peer expectations. A space needs to be held for these men by other men and most importantly by women who recognize and support their struggles and value the masculine expression of the divine feminine from conscious men. A safe and sacred space for the conscious men who are struggling with the emotional and cognitive dissonance of trying to balance the authentic divine feminine within themselves, with the overwhelming pressure to confirm to these outdated and inauthentic masculine roles often expressed by our peers or colleagues. A safe space where these men can be open, emotional and vulnerable and not feel judged, inadequate or “unmanly”. A safe space where their most authentic, emotional or painful experiences can be shared, heard, acknowledged and not judged and where they can experience the empathic as well as physical expressions of love and support from other men and women.
“Warriors have an ulterior purpose for their acts which has nothing to do with personal gain. The average man acts only if there is a chance for profit. Warriors act not for profit, but for the spirit.” (Don Juan Matus)
As most of my friends know I have been going through a great deal of personal, emotional and even logistical challenges lately with the end of a relationship, sale of my beautiful sacred home in Squamish and then a move to the Sunshine Coast where I didn’t know anyone. Over the next year my plan is to finish a couple of school programs, expand my own spiritual, emotional and physical development and to begin reaching out to the community in search of individuals and groups who embody the spiritual and intellectual values which are part of my own path.
It has taken me a little over a month to finally begin to reach out to the community and on my first attempt I was fortunate, blessed, to have met two extraordinary young men of noble characters and authentic souls. Two conscious men in touch with their own divine feminine, who possess enormous personal integrity and with the courage of true Warriors of Light. These two deeply conscious and noble men of integrity, two Warriors of Light, invited me to a sacred ceremony, a sacred space upon a sacred mountain. It was an evening of holding space for each other surrounded by sublime vistas of ocean, mountains and a rare full moon casting her serene glow upon each of us. A sublime and sacred evening filled with honesty, personal struggles, emotional disclosures and tears. An evening where I felt fully welcomed and nurtured by open hearts, non-judgement, active listening and many warm embraces of empathy and support. A sublime evening which also happened to be the most sacred day of the year for Buddhists (Vesak) which celebrates the birth, awakening and death of the historical Buddha, Siddhārtha Gautama.
Thank you from my heart David and Shaun for allowing me to join you in what was an extraordinary evening (early morning I guess since we did not finish up until 2:30am!). You are both extraordinary and truly Conscious Men of the world. Genuine Warriors of Light in the world. Men who possess a level of personal integrity, honor, divine feminine and supreme courage needed to destroy these false and damaging gender roles and to set a fine example to other men and young boys.
We need more men in the world like the two of you. Men of honor, men of integrity, men of extraordinary courage and truly Conscious Men, Warriors of Light. I am honored to have met both of you and grateful for allowing me into your sacred space. I very much look forward to learning more about, and from, each of you and helping to bring more men (and women) into these sacred and authentic gatherings. Thank you.
Our fullest potential is found in the weaving and balancing of the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine energies within ourselves. Both men and women carry feminine and masculine wisdom and tools. However, sometimes one or both of these energies is out of balance, silenced, wounded, misunderstood or disrespected. Men and women throughout time have been both the oppressor and the oppressed. Often it is the self-created oppression of our feelings, wisdom, power, beauty, truth or love that is the ultimate betrayal. Regardless of your past experiences and choices, you always have the option of embracing each of these energies where they are, and understanding what they need to become more whole and integrated within you for a more balanced Divine version of yourself. (Anahat Ananda)