---“The Mystery of Love” by Melanie Dwita
Love is mysterious and beautiful. It makes us happy, gives us hope, allows us to believe that the impossible can happen. And yet, it's inexplicable. It can't be denned or analyzed, catalogued or priced. Its premier property is that when it exists, it can never be mistaken for anything else, and nothing else, no matter how worthwhile or supposedly grand, can ever be passed off as love.
Love is a divine energy that steps into human circumstances, a timeless essence that enters time. It is older, wiser, finer, truer, sweeter, and more radiant than any human being. It is what makes us wise, fine, true, sweet, and radiant. It is the best—the essence of God—in us. And it is love, this exquisite energy, with which we connect when we first enter into the human experience we call "a relationship." We see that energy in one another's eyes; we feel it in our bodies and we know that something bigger than life has stepped into our lives to capture our attention. It is this highly charged, buoyant, transcendent, delicious feeling, and the longing for more, for a lifetime of it, that propels us into relationships.
Relationships are the endless interplay of this vast energy of love and all that occurs in our daily human lives. Our desire to feel this love forever, to be in love always, to repeat and endlessly recapture this ecstatic luminous feeling day by day, year after year, with the person who first inspired it in us is not only why we "fall in love" but also why we choose "to have relationships." It is also why, when our relationships go sour or grow threadbare, we reminisce about the way they once were. We want to reconnect with love.
Our greatest desire is to have our relationships return us again and again to the transforming and beautiful experience of the love that first inspired them and brought them into being. We live to love.
BUY the BOOK:
"True Love" by Crystal Webb
In each of us there is a tremendous longing for love. The love we desire is not only the euphoric butter-flies-in-the-stomach feeling of new romance, but also the ineffable consolation of being deeply known, received, and cared for, the profound sense of peace and security of spirit that come from being deeply connected to another human being.
Achieving the first is often easy. Romantic love rides in on a wave of impulse or attraction, kindled by moonlight, the magic of music, the spell-binding fragrance of soft summer evenings. The second—true love— is much more difficult. All too often the loves we fall into disappoint us. We want to sustain the delectable feelings but we can't. We want to enhance and deepen the bonds between us but we don't know how...
Real love is more than a feeling, more than a magical interlude of emotional exhilaration that passes when the full moon fades to a sliver. Love is an array of behaviors, attitudes, and knowings, the practice of which creates and sustains the state of what we call love. Love, in the form of a relationship that satisfies, supports, and heals, is the product of intricate effort. In a very real sense, true love is a labor of love and it comes into being only when we realize that love, as well as being a gift, is also an undertaking.
For true love asks of us, as well as delivers to us. It asks that we alter our perspective about ourselves, the people we love, the world, and the human condition; that we learn things we are perhaps reluctant to know, or didn't imagine we needed to know. It requires us to change our behaviors, public and private, emotional and spiritual. It invites us to stretch as well as to reach, to nurture as well as to receive. It asks us to be kind, to be real, to be imaginative, thoughtful, attentive, intuitive, disciplined, daring. It instructs us in the art of being human...
We are not here simply to be given love; we must also become loving. True love is conscious love, and conscious loving—the knowing and doing of a wide range of seemingly impossible tasks on behalf of one another—is the spiritual art form of the twentieth century.
The love in whose presence we stand must also inhabit us. For it is in loving, as well as in being loved, that we become most truly ourselves. No matter what we do, say, accomplish, or become, it is our capacity to love that ultimately defines us. In the end, nothing we do or say in this lifetime will matter as much as the way we have loved one another.
BUY: True Love" — Daphne Rose Kingma
"Love is Who We Are" (excerpt) The Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart: An Emotional and Spiritual Handbook — Daphne Rose Kingma
---Windswept Dancer by Karen Tarlton
Love is who we are. Somewhere we already know this, but the beauty of difficult times is that in them we actually get to see that love shows up in a thousand ways—to hold us.
That the beloved no matter what he or she may look like is always there to find us, to travel with us through our pain. Even in the darkest hours love will come and find you. It may not come in the way, shape or form you imagined, but it will come to you. Like the woman standing among the stretchers on the battlefield holding a single candle in the dark, love will surely come and find you. Like the carpet of new grass springing up on the side of the fire-charred mountains, like the raindrops of a summer thunder shower sizzling on the sidewalk after decimating months of drought, love will come and find you.
Love is always here in our midst and even now when it feels like your world is coming apart it will come and find you. As the mother reaches out through the crowd for the hand of her child, love will come and find you. As the Beloved wraps his arms around his lovers waist, as daylight wraps itself around the dark, so love, even in these hard dark hours, will surely come and find you.
Love has thousands of names and millions of faces, it will give you everything and ask for only one thing in return, that it may come and wear your face, that you will let it use your name.
---“Self-Portrait" by Jay Lonewolf Morales
“You can never solve the problem at the level of the problem ...” —Maharishi Mahesh Yogi
There is really only one way to arrive at authentic self-love, and that is to realize that you can never be fully satisfied on a psychological level. The "terrible errors of childhood" as the poet William Stafford once called our psychological wounds, can never been entirely redressed in a single human lifetime. Although you can take many steps toward claiming yourself on a psychological level, the true reception of the miracle you are can only be perceived in a higher frame.
When you're stuck in a traffic jam—tires squealing, horns banging, people yelling at each other —the hostility of the whole world seems to be concentrated on a single street corner, and the world feels like an angry place. At other times you can be in an airplane and see the vast and beautiful expanse of the planet, where cars are ants, huge office buildings mere pinpoints of light, and the earth seems like a tranquil and beautiful place.
It's the same with loving ourselves. The picture always has two frames. On an emotional level, learning to yourself is an undertaking of the personality. It means that, just as you are, a person stumbling, bumbling, and celebrating your way through life, you desire the tranquility of feeling good enough to proceed, finding peace in your heart when you sleep at night, having confidence asyou move through the vicissitudes of your life. But on a higher, spiritual level loving yourself is loving your essence, and that is quite another matter.
If you have applied the teachings of the first three steps in this book, you've probably already found a greater sense of comfort in your life, as well as real moments of loving yourself. True self-love, however, the unshakable joy of recognizing the you I spoke of at the beginning of this book can never be attained simply by shoring up your broken-down psyche. In addition to the first three steps, which deal on the psychological level, you must somehow come to an awareness of a higher self, the you beyond the you, the self beyond your personal self, the eternal essence that stepped into life in the form of this you for a time.
This essence is beyond all the psychological dramas and traumas you have endured. It is beyond your heartaches and woes, beyond your achievements, and even beyond the legacy you'll leave behind. This you is nameless, faceless, radiant, and eternal. This you knows who you are and what you're doing here. This you understands that the whole wonderful, self-doubting, nerve-wracking trip of a single human life is all about love, is really only a teaching about the mystery and the majesty of the all-encompassing ocean of love that we have come from and to which we will return.
We are love, and everything we suffer and endure, go through or dream of is here to remind us of that single final fact. It's very hard to remember this. And because we can only occasionally remember this, because for a lot of us this concept is like some wild jungle animal roaming around in the vine-draped outskirts of our consciousness, we're usually trapped at the level of the relationship break-up, the traffic jam, the lost job, or the mother-in-law—stuck in our own little personal grade B movies with no concept whatsoever of the grand eternal Roxy Theater where all our little personal movies are playing—each one of them just a scene in the all time longest playing movie in the world; the one called love.
It's very hard to remember this.
Human life is simultaneously a path toward and a huge distraction from the grand and eternal truth that our lives are all about love. Indeed, the only way that we can really ever love ourselves is to somehow get in touch with this picture, to see that we're a part of the whole, to remember that we are love—and that we are loved.
To arrive at true self-compassion, you must see yourself as part of this whole, as deserving of belonging. In the eternal context, you do have a place, you are a being of infinite value, you have been chosen. Knowing this can bring great peace. But to arrive at this peace requires attention, a conscious turning. To arrive at a destination, you must set out.
You must set out on a new path, to a higher level, to what has greater meaning. You must to move on from what you've always done, and set out in the direction of something new. In order to set out, you must begin by acknowledging that there's someplace beyond where you are that's worth going to, that you don't know it all, that you haven't arrived, and that there's more to receive.
Setting out implies an unknown—you take the first step, but you can't see your destination. There's a distance between you and it. You don't know what you'll find on the way—whether there will be disappointments or revelations, sidetracks and detours, dangers or miracles, tigers or angels. Nevertheless you set out—with the sense that something more awaits you, with the commitment to discover what that is. And the deeper you go with this commitment, the more of yourself you will find.
Sometimes we feel that the more we focus on ourselves, the better we'll love ourselves, and when you're dealing with your psychological issues, this is certainly true. Engaging in a process of emotional healing can take a great deal of time and focus, and, as we have seen, it's very important to become aware of your psychological issues. It's also important to find your voice and speak out, to take action, to clear away what stands in your way, to create inner and outer space for yourself. But after you've done all that, it's even more important to set out on a path of surrendering yourself to something that can show you that you are a part of the whole —not the whole of yourself, but the whole of the universe.
It is only in that context that the petty horrors of your life will finally dissolve, that the truest beauty of your self will finally emerge. This process of discovery is beyond the psychological. It is a spiritual journey. When you set out on this path, you will find your true essence.
Which Path Should You Take?
In a way it doesn't really matter which path you set out on. Any path, deeply committed to and followed with intention, can lead you to your deepest essence. In one of his stories, the writer Andre Dubus speaks of people who have practiced the spiritual path of Alcoholics Anonymous for many years. 'You know that look they have," he says, "when they've been dry for years. Like there's a part of them that nothing in the world can touch." He's referring to that deep quality of self that is achieved when one has truly set out on a path. Similarly, when you're in an ashram in India, and you spend a day in deep meditation with thousands of others who are also meditating, you recognize among them the utterly beautiful and tranquil eyes of certain people who, clearly, have been meditating for years. It's obvious that these souls have moved beyond self- loathing, that they've surrendered to a larger purpose. It makes sense that they're not lying awake at night still trying to patch together the tattered quilts of their broken self-confidence. In some profound sense they love themselves; in the heart of their being, they know they're all right.
The same is true for you. When you set out on a path toward something higher, you will discover yourself. Not your personal self, but your holy beautiful self, the one whom you can't help but love. The you who can step out of yourself and give. That you will find joy in fulfilling your purpose. That you is willing to serve. That you can do nothing but love.
There are many paths that can take you to this deeper self. Physical disciplines, spiritual practices, skills developed to such a high level they take you out of yourself. There's a beautiful Korean physical and spiritual discipline called Dahn Hak which I have practiced for several years. It specifically instructs you to honor your body and yourself by, for example, touching your face and saying the words, "I love you, my beautiful face" or by putting your hand on your chest and saying, "I love you, my wonderful heart." It also provides the physical discipline by which these words become true on an energetic level in your body.
Any form of dance can also do this, whether a sufi dervish, an Argentine tango, a flowing fox trot, or a sensuous samba. When you dance you connect with your own transcendence. Meditating can also take you to this deep place in yourself. Swimming will do it. Surfing will do it. Walking miles with your dog can do it. But it isn't just one dance that will do it, a single night at an AA meeting, one morning of Dahn Hak practice, or an hour of meditation every other week or so. When you set out on a path you must walk it—with grace, with commitment, with steadfastness. For only if you set out on it again and again will it truly support you. Only if you walk it will it give you ... you.
Each time you deepen the journey of the path you have set out on, you deepen your relationship with yourself. That's because the deeper you go, the more obstructions to your true nature will fall away. The more the obstructions to your true nature fall away, the more you will see your true essence.
The more you see your true essence the more you will see that your true essence is love. The more you see that your essence is love, the more you will love and receive yourself. And the more you receive yourself, the less you will struggle with questions of self- love. This is the circle you start to draw the minute you set out on your path.
Dalphine Kingma's Website (Books)
“Part 2 - Aching for Wholeness: Men and the Feminine Consciousness” (Excerpt from THE MEN WE NEVER KNEW) by Daphne Rose Kingma
---Painting “Swan Boat” by Lauren Woods
CONTINUED FROM LAST WEEK:
“Aching for Wholeness: Men and the Feminine Consciousness”
(Excerpt from The Men We Never Knew)
by Daphne Rose Kingma
The Age of Androgyny
"Sometimes I not only think but know in my bones that in our hearts there's really no difference between men and
If our male-female relationships are to survive and transform, and indeed they must, then somehow men must come to feel safe with this unspeakable process. Men must do this—not only for the women who want them to, but for themselves—and for the future of relationship itself.
We all yearn for union. Instinctively, we all seek reconciliation. When men begin the work of incorporating the feminine dimension, it will move us all in the direction of androgyny—the emotional state in which a person has fully incorporated all his or her masculine and feminine aspects and, in which, therefore, none are projected onto the opposite sex. The changes women have made have already catapulted us into the trajectory of a transformational process from which there is no return. Whether we like it or not, the transposition of attributes once deemed solely the property of either sex is already well underway, the move toward androgyny is already shaping the future of both male and female psychosexual identities.
Through their incorporation of the feminine, men must now balance the maleness that women have already begun to balance in themselves. In doing so, they will not only join women at the androgynous frontier, but will advance us all toward the spiritually provocative landscapes of the future. With the initiation of the feminine consciousness in men, both men and women can be powerful, logical, aggressive, and direct, as well as intuitive, nurturing, empathetic, and sensitive.
These territories are beyond the merely psychological. They point to the spiritual cosmos and represent not only what we can newly expect our relationships to be—union, communion, healing, and transformation—but embody the highest truth, that in its essence and ours there is no division or separation, no opposite or antithesis, no male or female. We are all one.
Panic in Androgynyville
"Men dominate, provide, protect, and accomplish. We are so far behind women that we have to dig even deeper to be open."
-Owner of video store, 38
Still, all this melting of boundaries is immensely scary, for it is through maintaining distinctions, and particularly gender distinctions, that we preserve a sense of order. In general we prefer rules to chance, sameness to change. We feel safer living in the illusion that things will continue as they are, than we do entertaining the possibility that our boundaries will be jiggled, expanded, or violated to a degree that will ask us to change more than we feel we can.
For, although in a subtle sense, the androgynous has already begun to be incorporated into our culture—unisex fashion, women with chopped-off hair and men with hair to their waistlines were early clues; women in every kind of job at every level and men at home pushing babies in strollers are no longer weird exceptions. Nevertheless, at the level of our collective unconscious, we still carry an exorbitant fear about androgyny. The excessive reactions to the whole cafeteria of sex role blurrings—coed dorms, shaved heads for women, the abolition of clubs for men only, women in the workplace, the marketplace, and the state legislature, and, above all, to male and female homosexuality—all reveal our fears, our deep internal need to keep things psychosexually "in place."
So even though androgyny is already galloping toward us, we are all still afraid of its arrival. In spite of the fact that both men and women would immediately gain greater access to themselves and one another in the further dissolving of gender boundaries, and that we would open a gateway to the spiritual level, on a psychological level we still fear it.
What both men and women need to bear in mind as they undertake these changes, however, is that androgyny does not imply that women will become men and men, women. Rather, it invites both sexes to draw as many cards as they like from a deck that spans the entire psychosexual and psychospiritual spectrum. When people are at ease with the full range of their emotions, embarrassed by neither the masculine nor the feminine in themselves, they approach life with a much greater sense of excitement, fulfillment, and possibility; they are more able to have an ecstatic experience of themselves and of others.
Nowhere is there a greater payoff for this than in intimate relationships. For it is precisely to the extent that we relax gender boundaries, that men will be able to approach women through their sensitivity and meet women in the place of real emotional exchange. In the ways we've missed men the most, we'll finally have the experience we've always desired, the relationships we've always longed for and men have i dreamed of.
For, to the degree that men become comfortable their own femininity, they will also develop the capacity for empathy, the feeling-with-others that until now has been the special privilege of women. This will enable men to identify with women in their suffering rather than simply trying to women's problems. In knowing what women suffer, frustrates them, what brings them happiness and satisfy both men and women will feel less alone. Finally men w able to give women something women can wholeheartedly receive.
In some larger, more mystical sense, for men to take on the full range of emotions will also have the effect of mitigating the polarization between the sexes. For, when a man can se feminine in himself, no matter how it expresses itself—whether in creativity, in the verbal expression of his emotions, ii compassion for his wife, in his tenderness with his children in his awareness of his fear of death—he can far more re honor these sensitivities in a woman.
Conversely, the woman who has embraced the masculine in herself can be far more appreciative when she encounters in a man the hallmark male attributes of aggression, logic, emotional detachment, and power. Instead of denigrating these, as women so often unconsciously do, we can then and beautifully honor the gifts of the masculine.
Androgyny, this blending of sex roles, is an exquisite kind of mirroring. For when we can see ourselves in each other, we no longer judge; we begin to love. This is the beginning the healing we all need.
In the development of the feminine consciousness men lies the blueprint for the end of the battle between sexes. For, so long as we view one another as opposites, representatives of totally antithetical camps, we will all keep facing each other off across the emotional barbed wire barriers that keep us prisoners in a brutal sexist cold war.
Women's enormous discontent will be assuaged only when men have integrated enough of the feminine that women can resonate with it. Then and only then will women feel encouraged to appreciate men in their incontrovertible masculinity, and to further enrich both the masculine and feminine aspects in themselves.
(Excerpt from The Men We Never Knew)
by Daphne Rose Kingma
Ms. Kingma’s Website:
Part 1 - “Aching for Wholeness: Men and the Feminine Consciousness” (Excerpt from THE MEN WE NEVER KNEW) by Daphne Rose Kingma
---Painting “Swan Boat” by Lauren Woods
"Basically men are useless in relationships unless they've developed their female side."
-Computer executive, 36
If Freud's unforgettable question of the 1890s was "What do women want?" then the antiphonal question for the 1990s is "What do men need?" I believe the perennial attempt to answer Freud's question stems from the unconscious hope that if only, or if ever, men could figure out what women need and could satisfy them, then finally they could discover their own needs too. In a sense, men have been living in emotional poverty, for, as we have seen, until very recently their emotional needs, both collective and individual, have been virtually unidentified, unacknowledged, and unaddressed.
What do men need? Men need to be emotionally healed. Men need to be released from their roles as women's enemies and saviors. Men need to gain access to the sensitivity women claim they want them to exhibit; men need to be freed from their own limiting definitions of what it is to be a man. Men need to have an internal, as well as an external life, to be able to feel as well as to do, to express as well as suppress, to contemplate as well as perform. In short, men need to have an emotional life, to be able to communicate—with words, with tears, with tender gestures—with women and with one another about the various rich and difficult inner contents of their lives.
As we have seen, however, rather than being given or guided into an emotional life, men have been trapped in the role of being provider-protectors, heroes, and automatons, and they literally do not have access to the emotional materials and techniques with which to create the emotional experience they need. As things stand now, they are delivering all they can from their limited repertoire, and the fact that they're willing to give women everything except the emotional encounter is itself a proof of what they don't possess.
It's not for lack of good will that they continue to disappoint women; they simply can't deliver what they still don't know they have, the invisible component to which men have always held title but have never gained possession.
This mysterious vacancy in a man's psyche is what we may call the feminine consciousness. By feminine consciousness I refer to those qualities of personality, whether they reside in men or women, that are in essence receptive, intuitive, caritative, and visionary. By receptive I mean able to take in, to be acted upon; by intuitive, able to sense by extra-ordinary and specifically nonverbal means; by caritative, feeling, nurturing,
responsive to that which is in need or pain; and by visionary, partaking of the capacity to see the unseen, imagine the impossible, connect with the universal, the mysterious, the . divine. The feminine consciousness is the consciousness of union, of peace, of sensitivity. It is the consciousness that has as its essence the seeking of similarity, rather than difference. In all of us, it is the force that binds, not divides, that is willing to undergo transformation, rather than defend the status quo. In the past, these luminous qualities have been seen as \ primarily pertaining to or residing in women, hence we call them feminine. Indeed, in general it is true that women have been the carriers of the feminine consciousness in the world. We all look to women to nourish our bodies and spirits, to console us in the dark hours, to nurture our children, to express our collective anguish at the wailing wall, to apprehend the truth beyond language that intuition embodies.
The Whole of Personality
"From now on, I'm going to make the important decisions in my life according to my feelings, my intuition, my logic, and my best self-interest."
-Divorcing entrepreneur, 42
It is precisely this feminine dimension men need to incorporate now. To know their woundedness, to be able to grieve, long for, and want; to desire, to tend, to console—these aspects of feminine consciousness which have always before been seen to be the exclusive province of women must now become the familiar stomping grounds of men.
If we think of the totality of a person's consciousness, we may say that, as in some alchemical formula, it is composed of a certain number of parts which we call masculine and others which we call feminine. Each of us is a blend of the masculine and feminine aspects, with men, of course, tending to contain more of the masculine and women more of the feminine.
The degree to which a man embodies what we call the masculine consciousness, for example, is the degree to which he embodies the male aspects of ego, male pride, identification through work, the suppression and displacement of his feelings, an analytical mind, and reliance on his physical strength. To the extent a man is in possession of his feminine aspects, he is able to cry, to express his emotions verbally, to rely on his intuition.
In spite of what has changed, at the emotional level we are all still acting out the same old sex roles. Most men are still locked in the position of expressing only their masculine attributes and are still so unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the feminine that they're trying to hide or deny it, while men who are blessed (or cursed) with possessing it already are struggling to find a culturally acceptable outlet for it without being punished for possessing it.
As an engineer said, "In my profession the lack of recognition for my sensitivity has felt like a lifelong condemnation for being 'the wrong kind of man.'" Another, a products designer, said, "I only know how to be vulnerable. Everything affects me. There are times I wish there were some other way I could be. It would make my life a whole lot easier." Yet another man told the horror story of being accused of molesting a young boy because, at his father's funeral when the boy had burst into tears, this man had kneeled down and taken him into his arms to comfort him.
The sad truth is that whether men already possess the feminine to some degree—and have to deal with it as an aberration—or don't acknowledge it at all, they still aren't able o move comfortably with it in their lives. Men are still living the horrible fallout of having disowned the internal feminine and women are still angry at them because they have.
Some men are beginning to become aware of this. But awareness—simple diagnosis—is a breathtakingly long distance from transformation, healing, and change. To know what has wounded you, even to name the wound, is still not to have been healed, still not to be, though scarred, reborn.
So what can men do about their pain? The problem of course is that men's pain is an emotional phenomenon. It occurs in precisely the venue in which men are unable to help themselves. Emotional pain, and emotions—the psychological antidote with which to heal it—are off limits for men. If only they could cry—but men can't cry. If only they could collapse—but men can't collapse. Instead they're stuck with their grief.
The process of emotional healing for men requires that a man be given the vision with which to apprehend his own wounds: to identify them, mourn them, shed tears over them and, in the end, be cleansed of them. This process of identifying, grieving, and being cleansed is, if you will, an essentially feminine process. It is feminine because it is receptive in essence. The person being healed must be in possession of the pain that needs to be alchemized. He must receive it to the point where he can feel it, and having taken it in, then and only then can he begin to grieve and release it. Only when he has mourned will his eyes be washed so that he can see his own suffering, so that he can become compassionate not only with himself, but also with women.
Approach of Change
"/ want to become more spiritually and emotionally connected. I would welcome knowing that part in me. It's a good part, and I want it to come out."
-Band manager, 45
A number of men and women on the forefront of oping consciousness have watched as men have been ling on tip-toe, tap-tapping outside the gates of their own unexplored feminine dimension. Men are talking more, taking : time for themselves and with one another. But nowhere : emerging feminine more readily apparent than in men's willingness to take a more active role in the rearing of children, n women's encouragement of them to do so.
This trend of male participation in childrearing is just piece of evidence that intuitively we're all beginning to agree it's time for men to gain access to the feminine. In spite »t openly acknowledging this, we are shyly creating opportunities for it to occur and in the protected emotional environment of a man's relationship with his children, we do allow a to get in touch with the softer, more vulnerable aspects of elf. Through nurturing his children—holding, rocking, and ing them—a man can begin to gain access to his feminine without shame, contempt, or embarrassment.
In spite of, or perhaps specifically because of such changes, it's difficult to comprehend the degree to which men till terrified of the feminine in themselves. Most men can't face how afraid they are of their own feminine aspects, and men who are aware of their fear and trying to overcome i having a difficult time. As a friend acknowledged to me, int to be sensitive, warm, and loving, but I have to admit 11 see men hugging each other, I'm really put off."
The truth is that, although some men are exploring their sensitivity through therapy or men's groups, most men are still stranded in the outback of male consciousness and have miles to go before they meet women on the common ground of the conscious feminine. What this means is that although they may be venturing a peek at their emotions, men still haven't gotten acquainted or comfortable enough with them to use them as the medium of their connection with women.
Why Men Are Stuck
"Somehow I know that my capacity to feel will change when I get the words to describe my feelings. But I don't know how to do that."
-Graduate student, 30
Men haven't raced downtown to buy admission tickets to the conscious feminine because dismantling and reassembling male consciousness is a terrifying proposition. Embracing the feminine is a process that will require the profoundest revision of male sensibilities and self definitions. For a man to take on the feminine dimension doesn't mean simply putting on—as he would a three-piece suit, a carpenter's belt, a hard hat or gun— a different outfit called "the feminine." It means, rather, that he will have to see that in the very deepest reaches of himself, he -is not only capable of acting and performing, as men have always done, but that he is also capable of feeling while acting, and of feeling instead of performing.
Men will have to discover that they have a purely receptive feminine, feeling function, as well as an aggressive masculine performing function—and that the feminine function will not disrupt the organic functioning of their masculinity. They will also need to claim this as their true and integrated male possession, for there is also the very complex problem of orchestrating a whole new repertoire of behaviors and feelings.
Therefore taking on the feminine means a man will have to be able to feel instead of act—if feeling is the appropriate response to a given situation—but that he will have to learn when to move from acting to feeling (or vice versa), and when to do both at once. This in itself is an elaborate level of emotional discernment not readily familiar to men. To integrate the feminine means profoundly understanding that being in the feeling state could actually enhance the way they hold up the world.
Contemplating embracing the feminine also brings men face to face with some of their worst fears, because to be emotional is, above all, to be vulnerable. To be vulnerable is to be open, to be able to be wounded. It is the capacity to undergo, to be affected by an emotion or experience, and, once having been affected, to be transformed by it. Thus, to be vulnerable is to be able to be deeply changed.
For a woman, the ultimate,experience of this vulnerability is the transformation of her body during pregnancy. In it, a woman takes in a man, undergoes the rearrangement of her physical structure, and with the birth of her child, completely revises the physical and psychological function of her life.
Since the defining characteristics of male consciousness are the embodiment of power, action, and control, for a man, vulnerability—this potential total rearrangement—in any form is frightening. To be male is to be the agent, not the object, of change. Men want to act upon, to assert, aggress, and enforce. Whereas the essence of the feminine is to be affected by, it is the masculine essence to try to remain unaffected.
Taking on the seemingly infinite capacity of the feminine to undergo change is terrifying to men. Yet in even the simplest of emotional encounters, women are asking essentially that men develop vulnerability, which represents the antithesis of everything men have always been told to be as men. This consciousness is a totally new undertaking for men, one which, it seems to them, will compromise their entire male identity, and they're scared to death of it.
For men, opening to feeling necessitates not only developing the ability to have a new experience, it also requires giving up a level of protection that has been a great source of comfort to them. In a nutshell, in being emotionally vulnerable, men will have to give up being invulnerable, and in so doing, to develop a whole new male archetype. While from women's perspective, invulnerability is a defensive second-rate emotional stance, for men it represents the protected sanctuary from which, precisely, they have been able to function—and function on women's behalf. Occupying this place they have also been spared the anguishing sorrows, emotional convolutions, and importunate outpourings women have always been prey to.
In this regard it should be mentioned that women have never particularly wanted to see that there are advantages to being unfeeling—but there are. Being able to proceed in heartbreaking circumstances without being yanked off course by the distracting pull of emotions—going into the burning house to save the child without getting hysterical in advance, wielding the knife on the operating table without having your hands immobilized by the fear of failure, being able to work twelve hours a day for your wife and children without getting bogged down in self-pity—all this is of great advantage to the man who must do so, and to those who benefit from his so-called insensitivity. A man instinctively knows that what women receive through his being cut off from his feelings is of great value.
Evolution of any kind takes sacrifice. Thus it is that even in unconsciously contemplating becoming vulnerable, a man intuits that he will lose something of importance, something precious, something he values in himself; and he fears that it won't be replaced by something of equal value.
This fear is made even more palpable by his instinctual recognition that in having an emotional life, he will not only come into the presence of his positive feelings, but also of his terror, rage, and sorrow. He fears he will do the impossible thing—be vulnerable, go out of control—and that once having done it, he will encounter not only his joy, but also a shocking immensity of monstrous, negative feelings. As one man said, "It's bad enough to be vulnerable, without having to feel all this sadness too. If I have to get into the feeling state, at least I should get to have a good feeling."
The unconscious recognition of what being vulnerable would mean is so threatening to men as to make the emotional undertaking almost the last thing any man would want to do. In fact, most men would rather do almost anything else than get in touch with their feelings. They would far rather double or triple their efforts at what they're already doing: working, providing, protecting, paying (the Everything-But Syndrome again); disappoint the women in their lives by boldly insisting they don't have a need to communicate; fool themselves into thinking they're already in touch with their sensitivity; despise, deny, and disown their emotional vulnerability; or insist they don't need to change. At the level of the collective male unconscious, it is so unbelievably threatening for men to contemplate this change that even though there have been invitations galore from women, most men are still hiding out and waffling.
Although it is extremely difficult for men to submit to the state of vulnerability in order to learn, if they are going to take on their emotional lives, they must. What they need to remember, however, is that vulnerability, as modeled by women, is also power, for when the woman is most changed, as when her body is transformed in pregnancy, she also becomes most powerful.
Accepting the feminine in themselves also means that men must acknowledge that in some sense they have always been incomplete. Facing this incompleteness is one of the more difficult things a man can do. For as we have seen, men believe that they must be everything for everyone, and their attendant greatest fear is that they won't be enough. Allowing themselves to see that in some sense they aren't enough is the mo; frightening thing they could contemplate. Seeing themselves a having a lack—in this case, the lack of the ability for emotion; experience—is a nightmare discovery for most men, and another reason that, no matter how much they may unconscious] desire it, they resist incorporating the feminine. In short, me hate to see that something is missing in them.
Yet the paradox is always the location of the miracle; the moment of terror is the moment of possibility. The courage required to embrace the feminine proves a man's masculinity for only a very strong man has the strength to be so ver vulnerable. In disclosing his fear of being weak, a man become beautifully strong; in being open and receptive, he become authentically protected. The man who can say he's afraid can begin, instantly, to receive the solace he needs; no longer must he bear his fear alone. The man who can weep can have his tear wiped away. The man who can open to his fragility can finally embrace his true power.
In short, the man who integrates his feminine self becomes more wholly masculine because he is all that he is. He is no longer a shadow of himself, half there, living an as-if life o emotional suppression and passive-aggressive defensiveness He is finally born whole. As one young man, embarking on hi healing journey in psychotherapy, put it so beautifully, "I’m scared to death to be here, but I'm here because I don't want to live my whole life as somebody else." Intuitively he knew that there was so much more to him than he had already experienced or would ever discover if he continued to follow the path of being a man that had been so narrowly laid out for him. This is the same young man who said, when he completed his healing journey, "I feel stronger than I ever imagined possible, but in a completely different way. Now I know how I feel-for me that is being a man."
(Excerpt from The Men We Never Knew)
by Daphne Rose Kingma
Ms. Kingma’s Website: