Core Qualities of the True Masculine
A core quality of masculinity is strength. But what do we really mean by strength? Too often in our society, strength is understood as strength over another, whether that other is another man, a woman, a child, a rival country, or nature and the planet itself. And that notion of strength-over leads to machismo, inappropriate competitiveness, self-doubt and lack of self-esteem, which in turn all too often degenerates into violence and abuse.
We understand strength differently. We believe strength to mean the capacity to hold and acknowledge one’s wounds and the wounds of another. The capacity to acknowledge and admit one’s own weaknesses or infallibility. And the capacity and desire to uplift another.
These qualities of strength are not competitive and are not measured by how much one man achieves at the expense of another. Rather, they are additive – meaning that they add to the well-being both of ourselves, others, and society at large. They naturally give rise to empathy, compassion, honesty, authenticity, deep friendship, and a capacity to give and receive love.
Sensitivity is a natural human gift and blessing. Whether that sensitivity is physical or emotional sensitivity, intuition, or an ability to feel and read energy, we are all born with this innate gift. But at an early age many young men are conditioned away from their natural sensitivity, to think of it as weak or effeminate, and we find ourselves imprisoned in a suit of armour that we may not even be aware of.
But sensitivity is actually what allows us to be the men we most deeply yearn to be. The more we can live in and feel our bodies, the more we can feel and appropriately express our emotions, and the more we can access our intuition in all aspects of life, the more fully we can embody what it truly means to be a man.
We long to be good friends to those we love and admire. We pray to be the best fathers of our children. And all of us, in whatever stage of adult life, whatever constellation of relationship we find ourselves in, long to be the best and most sensitive lovers we can be.
Vulnerability is not a quality many of us would associate with what it means to be the best man we can be. And yet vulnerability is a foundational quality that supports our strength, our sensitivity, and the full expression of our sexuality.
Vulnerability does not mean weakness, and it does not mean collapse. It means a willingness and an ability to allow every aspect of ourselves to be experienced and to be witnessed, including the parts that we do not wish to experience and do not wish to be witnessed by others.
Vulnerability also means a willingness to open to the vast expanse of the universe and to feel humble and grateful, without diminishing our own beauty and strength. Whether we experience the vastness of the universe by standing outside under a star-filled sky, by perceiving the beauty of the natural world, by genuinely appreciating the brilliance of another, or by losing oneself in the beloved eyes of a friend or partner, the capacity to gently let go of our own tightly-held boundaries allows us to experience our own fullness.
So it takes great courage, and that courage opens our hearts to ourselves and to the rest of the world. We become more fully alive and more fully present.
A healthy and ecstatic sexual life is possible for every man, whether in relationship or single. Furthermore, an open and refined connection with our sexual energy – which is, after all, our vital life energy – leads us into our right destiny, and makes possible the full expression of our creativity and generosity. Our sexual energy can uplift the glorious breadth of our humanity and that of our partners.
We can develop and refine our sexual energy in partnership with another or others, or by ourselves. Meditation exercises and specific sexual practices can increase our capacity for sexual pleasure and ecstasy. The same exercises help us refine our sexual energy, so that we no longer feel ourselves at the whim of our desire or experience ourselves as lustful predators, but can consciously direct our sexual energy appropriately with and toward the right people.
Whether a man is homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual, whether he is single or partnered, whether he is monogamous or polyamorous, the arena of our sexual lives is one filled with the greatest potential, for both good and pleasure and, unfortunately, for harm and suffering. We work to great depth to create health in our sexual lives, for the good of each man, and for the good of all the people he encounters in his life.