Hacking at leaves in the jungle of life is no fun. Aside from the ecological and combat implications, napalm is far easier when it comes to the task of defoliation. That’s why the U.S. used this chemical weapon extensively in Vietnam. But this isn’t about Vietnam, chemical warfare or even the environment.
This is about the soul of a man. Your soul, and mine.
Men have been told—for the whole of my fifty years of mortality anyway—that we are supposed to “be strong” and that “real men” don’t cry. Our role models have ranged from the celibate to the hyper-sexual (far easier to find the latter.) We are told to revere women as carriers of “the divine feminine,” while we elected a President that boasts of grabbing them “by the pussy.” We may pay thousands of dollars for a seat to a sporting or music event to see a man who routinely abuses women. And I won’t even start to talk about porn. In business and in the political arena, you’re either very aggressive, “ballsy” or otherwise Schwarzenegger-ian, or you’re apt to get left in the dust. This has been my experience, anyway. In movies, we watch zombies eat people, love war, and gangster films and continue our “domination” of nature—which, like “conquering” a mountain, can obviously never be anything but temporary. All these are signs of a masculine principle run amok.
The point is that the masculine is in flux, in a great time of change. What it means to be a man is no longer the question because it depends on too many variables, on the rumbling bellies of too many powerful marketers. It’s far more helpful to ask, “what does it mean to be a conscious man?”
I don’t know what it means for you. The good news, however, is that you do.
Deep inside you, away from all the advertisers, all the messages that you are not enough without the big house, the expensive car, the “hottest” partner and the biggest bank account, away from what we’re conditioned to desire, is a seed. This seed is made of your core values. It’s connected to your soul and you know, on some level, that it’s the way to happiness, joy, and fulfillment. You feel it swell and germinate when you do things that resonate with it, with your deepest self. When you write or create art, serve others, work on your project car, hang with your family, go fishing or spend time alone in nature, you feel a type of peace that’s bigger than the activity. You wish you could do that all the time.
On the other hand, all the work you do, all the hours spent away from family, of working through illness and putting in hyper-long days, don’t get you any closer to this seed. All these activities are working around it, not helping to germinate it. You do all this “stuff,” but still feel empty. Within the culture we live, with its differing messages, sometimes there are just too many leaves to hack. You’re supposed to be soulful … but with a schedule like yours, do you really have the time?
Yes. Enter, “The Personal Constitution.”
Here’s my suggestion. Get to a still place, away from distraction. It can be in the middle of the Tetons in August, or it can be a series of mornings as the sun rises as you sit in stillness with a cup of coffee in your study, living room, or tipi. Once there, spend some time with this seed. Look at what you love best, and then create principles around it that guide your actions. The only way to germinate your “soul seed” is through action. It has absolutely nothing to do with spoken prayer. The only prayer that means anything to this seed is the prayer of your life of conscious action.
I’ve attached my own Constitution. It’s highly personal and I share it with some reservation (a sign of my own ego, I guess.) I share it only as a template for you to use in your own work; the work of being a conscious, soulful man. Don’t copy it. These are my values. Yours may end up matching and they may not. It’s not important to match my seed as souls and earthly missions differ, and that’s ok. What’s critical is that each of us gets in touch with our own seed so we can germinate it through the million choices we make every day. Find your own seed and get to know it so you can walk with it. Your Constitution will help you do this.
There’s a lot of talk these days about change, about “making America great again.” I agree that change needs to be made. Signs of this are everywhere. Change is easy, really. It just takes consistent action away from the status quo. But into what are we changing? Will we be better for the journey, or worse?
It’s far easier to tell if what we are about to do is in alignment with our core values if we know those core values. We learn them when we listen to the seed. It will tell each of us individually why we are here, what work we came to earth to accomplish. When we’re on our deathbeds, the amount of regret we feel will be in reverse proportion to the time we spend germinating the seed of soul. I guarantee it.
I suggest we stop hacking at the leaves of what it means to be a man. Your soul already knows, for you. Rather, let us go inside and see what the deepest parts of ourselves are, and then act in alignment with those things. If our souls are good, and they are, then what we change into will be worthy of us.
The Constitution of Eric
I keep brave men of integrity in front of me at all times.
• Historical examples: Jesus, the Buddha, Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Socrates, Ghandi
• Fictional legends: John Dunbar, Hawkeye, Tristan, John Galt and Forrest Gump
• Literary inspirations: Hermann Hesse, Eckhart Tolle, Miguel Ruiz, Saul Williams, Buddy Wakefield
I live according to my values.
• I understand that lasting happiness is unlikely without this ability.
• I understand that any joy is diminished when experiences must pass through a personal filter that is clogged with guilt, regret and/or self-doubt.
• I understand that a clear conscience is a gift that magnifies all others and gives me the self-confidence to qualify for more.
I speak the truth.
• I pause before I speak for as long as I need in uncomfortable situations.
• I use the words I must use to qualify my answers.
• I use words my audience can understand to communicate as effectively as possible the truth.
• If I cannot speak the truth, I do not speak. In these instances, I communicate this to my audience.
I understand that everything has a vibration.
• Every act
• Every thought
• Every word
…either is in accordance with my Higher Self or it is not.
Teachers Can Only Teach What They Know. I apply this concept in two ways:
• Me As Teacher: I do not speak as a knowledgeable person about what I do not know. I qualify my knowledge.
• Me As Student: I do not seek to learn what men cannot teach me. “By their fruits ye shall know them.” I learn all I can from all who are qualified to teach the subjects in which they are expert.
I have fixed my destination. All that remains is to follow the map.
• Proper education
• Proper values
• Faith and flexibility within the framework
I understand that my eyes may lead my heart; I work so that my heart leads my eyes.
• Meditation, Red Road, inspirational media, time in nature and good company help in this regard.
I do the small things.
• I balance my checkbook and make monthly financial investments.
• I meditate daily and pray regularly.
• I doodle, sit, read, daydream.
• I work every day on my big dream.
• I am on time.
I bring light.
• Wherever there is darkness, anger, pain, hatred, misunderstanding, I bring my gifts to help with the dissolution of the cause of the suffering.
I take care of my body.
• I get proper sleep
• I eat the right foods in the right amount
• I keep my guts healthy; vitamins, men’ health, lots of water, regular doctor and dentist visits, etc.
• I brush, floss, moisturize and smile regularly
• I exercise regularly
I practice gratitude daily.
• My happiness is not tied to my circumstances, ever.
• My suffering is never at its worst, and the East always smiles on me.
What is your personal constitution?
Photo: Getty Images