Contemplations

This page will be added as inspiration demands. It is a selection of ideas from many excellent books on male psychology and spirituality. Hoping that you find something here that helps you on your way to a more peaceful and fulfilling life. ~ Arjuna

image by Dmitry Ratushny

The Problem

‘The problem can be put very simply. Most men don’t have a life.’ 

Steve Biddulp in ‘The New Manhood’

‘Throughout history, men have needed to ‘act tough’ at times, but they could also drop the act, so as to love, laugh and be close; feel grief and build friendship. Today the mask stays put, and behind it is often a confused, scared figure. Most men spend their whole lives pretending that they’re fine when they’re not. Pretending, and having a life, are very different things.’

Steve Biddulp in ‘The New Manhood

image by Ian Espinosa

‘The problem starts early. Usually in his mid-teens, confronted with the problem of ‘becoming man’, a boy tries on several of the stock male masks on offer – cool dude, hard worker, good bloke, tough guy, … he decides which one will work best … But this pretending has a cost: hidden away, not really showing anyone our real self, it gets very lonely. … The mask becomes a lifelong obstacle to healing and love.’

Steve Biddulp in ‘The New Manhood’

‘Many of us treat life as if it were a novel. We pass from page to page passively, assuming the author will tell us on the last page what it was all about. … The invitation … is to become conscious, accept responsibility for the rest of the pages and risk the largeness of life to which we are summoned.’

James Hollis in ‘The Middle Passage’

Steve Biddulph

The Conflict Within

– Paramahansa Yogananda

‘Men’s enemies are often on the inside – in the walls we put up around our own hearts.’

Steve Biddulp in ‘The New Manhood

‘In the 1950’s male …  got to work early, laboured responsibly, supported his wife and children, and admired discipline.

’This sort of man didn’t see women’s souls well, but he appreciated their bodies, and his view of culture and America’s part in it was boyish and optimistic. … Many of his qualities were strong and positive, but underneath the charm and bluff there was, and there remains, much isolation, deprivation, and passivity. Unless he has an enemy, he Isn’t sure that he is alive.’      

Robert Bly in Iron John

– James Hollis

‘When you struggle with your partner, you are struggling with yourself. Every fault you see in them touches a denied weakness in yourself. Every conflict you wage is an excuse not to face a conflict within.’

Deepak Chopra in The Path to Love

image by Lesly B Juarez

‘Your thoughts can limit you or they can free you. … You have all the power to accomplish what you want, if you motivate yourself, if you remove the mental kinks that our blocking the flow of conviction.’

Paramahansa Yogaananda  in ‘To Be Victorious in Life’

‘Whether from physical, mental, or spiritual causes, failure starts with the avowal, “I can’t do it.” Such is the force of the mind and the vibratory Power of words.’

Paramahansa Yogaananda  in ‘To Be Victorious in Life’

image by Jeremy Perkins

State of the World

‘The dark side of men is clear. Their mad exploitation of earth resources, devaluation and humiliation of women, and obsession with tribal warfare are undeniable. … We have defective mythologies that ignore masculine depth of feeling, assign men a place in the sky instead of earth, teach obedience to the wrong powers, work to keep men boys, and entangle both men and women in systems of industrial domination that exclude both matriarchy and patriarchy.’

Robert Bly in Iron John

image by Vero Photoart

Complexity

‘We burden ourselves with a hundred different demands or expectations, which disguise our simple need to be and to have meaning.’

Robert A Johnson
in ’Femininity Lost and Regained’

‘In his fear of living, he also cannot participate in the joy and pleasure that other people experience in their lived lives. If he is withholding from others, and not sharing what he knows, he eventually feels isolated and lonely.’

Robert Moore & Douglas Gillette in ‘King, Warrior, Magician, Lover’

– Robert A Johnson

‘Such questions, the large ones, give worth and dignity to our lives. If we forget them we are consigned to social conditioning, banality and finally despair. If we are fortunate to suffer enough, we are stunned into a reluctant consciousness and the questions return to us once again. If we are courageous enough, care enough about our lives, we may, through that suffering, get our lives back.’

James Hollis in ‘The Middle Passage’

Collective

image by Tadeusz Lakota

‘The inner boy in a messed-up family may keep on being shamed, invaded, disappointed, and paralyzed for years and years. “I am a victim,” he says, over and over; and he is. But that very identification with victimhood keeps the soul house open and available for still more invasions. Most American men today do not have enough awakened or living warriors inside to defend their soul houses. And most people, men or women, do not know what genuine outward or inward warriors would look like, or feel like.’

Robert Bly in Iron John: A Book About Men

image by Thomas Kelley

‘In many tribal cultures, it was said that if the boys were not initiated into manhood, if they were not shaped by the skills and love of elders, then they would destroy the culture. If the fires that innately burn inside youths are not intentionally and lovingly added to the hearth of community, they will burn down the structures of culture, just to feel the warmth.’

Micheal Meade

– Peter O’Connor

‘Men are all too often at the mercy of their logic and reason, their logos. They operate almost always in the external world where occupation remains the cornerstone of their identity. They are compelled to know, to be right, to be pragmatic and in control, especially of their emotions. The result is a severing of their internal life from their external.’

Peter O’Connor’s book Understanding the MId-Life Crisis’

image by Patrick Hendry

The Way Forward

‘Change starts with acknowledging where you are – precisely because the denial of the pain is what holds us in our inner prison.’

Steve Biddulp in ‘The New Manhood’

‘We need people in our lives with whom we can be as open as possible. To have real conversations with people may seem like such a simple, obvious suggestion, but it involves courage and risk.’

Thomas Moore

‘Manhood isn’t an age that you reach, it’s more like a flow of knowledge and skill, like a river, which you receive and grow strong in, and then pass on downstream to others.’

Steve Biddulp in ‘The New Manhood’

image by Andrew Branch

Inner Life

‘In order to keep balance, we need to hold the interior and exterior, visible and invisible, known and unknown, temporal and eternal, ancient and new, together. No one can undertake this task for you. You are the one and only threshold of an inner world. …’

John O’Donahue in Anam Cara

‘We have to leave the Garden of Eden before we can start the journey to the Heavenly Jerusalem. It is ironic that the two other same place but the journey must be made.’

Robert A Johnson in ‘He’

image by Bekah Russom

Inner Feminine

‘Almost all of a man’s sense of value, worth, safety, joy, contentment, belongingness, and happiness derive from his inner feminine nature.’

Robert A Johnson

‘We are so rich in things and so poor in feminine values.’

Robert A Johnson

‘It is the most profound task of our age to give the sensuous and feminine elements this dignity, even in small ways, in order to restore them to their true creativeness. Who knows how many of our symptoms – both personal and collective – will turn bright if we can give them dignity?’

Robert A Johnson

image by Christiana Rivers

Feeling and Mood

‘Feeling is the ability to value; mood is being overtaken or possessed by the inner feminine. To feel is the sublime art of having a value structure and a sense of meaning – where one belongs, where one’s allegiance is, where one’s roots are. To mood is to be caught in the grips of the feminine part of our nature, to be overwhelmed by an irrational element that plays havoc with a man’s outer life.’

Robert A Johnson in ‘He’

‘A mood prohibits true feeling. If a man is engaging in a mood – or, more accurately, when a mood has engaged him – he automatically forfeits the ability for true feeling and thus for relationship and creativity.’

Robert A Johnson in ‘He’

image by Sabine van Straaten

A Call to Action

‘With the planet in ecological collapse, greed and rapaciousness everywhere, isn’t it time for good men to find their feet? To stand at their full height and do what’s needed to put the world to rights?’

Steve Biddulph

‘All action begins with thought, which is action on the plane of consciousness. To be manifested, thought must be charged with dynamic will by concentration and perseverance to rouse the indomitable power of the mind. Thus, to think greatness is a first step, but then you must empower the idea with will and set in motion the corresponding laws of action.’

Paramahansa Yogaananda  in ‘To Be Victorious in Life’

– Steve Biddulph

‘Success is when you have so expanded your consciousness that your life is a glory and happiness to yourself and to others.’

Paramahansa Yogaananda  in ‘To Be Victorious in Life’

The Long Quest

’if you wish for a true knight’s task, take up the story inside yourself where it now lies unfinished and proceed with it.’

image by Philipp Kammerer

Robert A Johnson  in ‘He’

(with thanks to Unsplash and the individual photographers for these images)