A sacred masculinity rests with those who risk the open-hearted vulnerability of being relational, feeling, and interconnected.
I stood outside, barefoot in the grass of the back yard, appreciating another island morning in Hawaii. Listening to the coo cooing of mourning doves, a breeze rustling in the tall stand of bamboo outside the dining room, and palm trees swaying with a clackity clackity sound, I inhaled a deep breath.
I do this every morning. It’s a ritual of mine, usually at dawn, opening my senses to acknowledge the web of life. I think of it as stepping out to greet the holy. It’s a quiet meditation before the day sweeps me up with work, errands, and demands.
As my eyes drank in the lush landscape, the vista of the sheer green mountains jutting vertically from the earth like a dragon’s spine, my gaze came to rest on a single Bird of Paradise flower just a few feet away. The morning sun illuminated it like a spotlight, making it seem to glow from within.
I crossed a few feet of green lawn to admire the display more closely, crouching down and noting a green anole gecko clinging to the pointed flower with his suction cup toes. The little fellow’s vivid colors — green, blue, red — alongside the purple crest and upright, orange featherlike leaves, well, it was a photograph waiting to happen.
Nature porn, I jokingly call it — real life images of the untamed, sensual world we inhabit.
Crouched beside the luminous Bird of Paradise and its brightly hued gecko, I smiled. Once again I’ve been seduced by beauty. Honestly, it happens everyday.
Until the conspiracy of sunlight and flower seduced me, I had been musing on how I might find my way into this week’s article on the Sacred Masculine. Barefoot outdoors, enfolded by beauty and nature, I trusted that something would appear — a key for finding my way into the new post.
In my recent piece, “Meet the Green Man: Archetype for A Wild Soul,” I suggested that there are many metaphors and manifestations — both ancient and modern — of what a “sacred” masculine could look like, the Green Man being one example. What we look to as an enlightened role model needn’t be religious or even spiritual, but it must have soul — that deeper, authentic, mysterious and essential component of nature and ourselves.
Woven through my men’s work, coaching, and various writings, I’ve repeatedly set forth several distinctive hallmarks of an evolved, conscious manhood. These qualities all grow from the taproot of soul, and they leaf, flower, and bear fruit in the heart of the Sacred Masculine.
A great deal more could be said — needs to be said — about each of the characteristics that follow, but here are a dozen attributes of an evolved manhood and the Sacred Masculine:
- The Sacred Masculine is a heart-centered manhood. The ability and willingness to feel deeply — and to share those emotions with both women and men — is foundational to being a conscious man. Being open, vulnerable, and “relational” enables us to become less alone and more connected to the world in a meaningful way.
- Wields personal power in an appropriate and balanced manner. We tend to perceive power as money and influence, but power exists in myriad forms. Authentic power is the life force that animates our breath and bones, a vitality that manifests in our creative, sexual, and spiritual energies. An evolved man cultivates his power and uses it as a force for positive change and transformation.
- A life-enhancing component of the planet (rather than a dominant, parasitic, or destructive one). Nature is not simply something out there; it is within us as well, and we are not separate from our environment. A conscious man sees the world as more than “resources” that can be used freely, and considers his role of stewardship and living lightly.
- The Sacred Masculine appreciates beauty. Beauty feeds the soul. It inspires and uplifts; it opens our senses and connects us.
- Celebrates his erotic nature and sexuality. Everything in nature centers on sex, but only humans are ashamed of it. Whether simply physical pleasure, or eroticism that profoundly nourishes the heart and soul, conscious men learn to appreciate sex without shame.
- Compassionate, generative, and generous. Embodying the Sacred Masculine means connecting to something other — lover, humanity, nature, planet — and having an empathetic, compassionate heart. Giving is essential to being relational.
- Honors the “bodymind” as the sacred vessel of life. Body, mind, soul, and nature are inseparable, and the creative intelligence of the universe experiences itself and the world through us. This changes a conscious man’s view of exercise, food, nourishment, sex, work… everything.
- A wise father, mentor and teacher. Even without children of his own, a man can embody the compassionate father energy of the Sacred Masculine. Whenever we foster creativity and dreams, when we model being strong and tender, when we embody and display principles of stewardship, ecology, and interconnectedness, we inspire others to grow and evolve.
- A different kind of muscle: yielding and flexible. Rather than plowing ahead like a bulldozer, we can learn to flow more like a river, still moving forward with direction. Flexibility loosens our hardened plates of muscle and emotional steel and begins to unfasten the armor of the heart.
- Cooperative rather than competitive. Evolution is usually misunderstood as “survival of the fittest,” but looking closely at nature, we see that cooperation and collective sharing accomplish more than competition. Nature’s first law is connection and interdependence.
- Everything has an entitlement to be here. Empathy and kinship with life is something that has to be felt. It arises through observing the interrelated nature of things, which happens only when our hearts, minds, and senses are open wide.
- A cosmological connection. We are constantly interwoven with all that surrounds. A larger story is emerging through us in the form of imagination, creativity, and soul; a man’s creative life force and passion has a higher purpose.
A sacred masculinity rests with those who risk the open-hearted vulnerability of being relational, feeling, and interconnected. It lives in the realm of soul. Just as with appreciating beauty, to embrace an affirming, soul-centered masculinity does not make us soft, timid or ‘safe’ men. Rather it makes us whole and authentic. Uniquely alluring, too.
Bare feet on the earth, my senses cast wide to the warm, island morning, I feel a sense of connection to earth and place. Roots, almost. On an intellectual level, I know that everything is relationship, a “mutually interdependent co-arising.” Like tiny gears turning other connected wheels around us within an impossibly complex biomachine, our daily life and presence affects untold others — from businessman to blue jay to bumblebee.
This morning, I somehow sense that connection more clearly than usual. The old mango tree, the rustling bamboo, a green world of garden plants, the local birds and their songs, a gold-eyed mongoose that lives near the stone wall — I know this small piece of land intimately. Yet there is always something new to be discovered, like an illuminated flower that drew me close to marvel at its beauty alongside a painted gecko.
Too often our minds are rushing and distracted. We are glued to our smartphones, laptops and televisions, consumed by ideas of productivity and progress. It’s only when we are paying attention, when our senses and hearts are ajar that we move closer to embodying the Sacred Masculine — that deeply feeling, soul-rooted masculinity.
Shed your shoes and walk outside, then take a deep breath. The journey to soul and a conscious, awakened manhood begins with a single step—showing up for relationship with the ‘more-than-human’ world.
I wonder, to what will you give the gift of your attention? What will you pause to appreciate with an open heart?