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Control: The Downfall of the Masculine, and the Poison of Civilization

by Lion Goodman and John Jones

Published by GoodMenProject.com, October 2014

As men, it is vital to understand the issue of control if we wish to improve ourselves – or the world – in any way.

Control is pervasive, and it has permeated masculine humanity throughout the ages, at all levels of society.  Men (especially – but not exclusively) have attempted to exert control over their environments, social structures, and institutions. They have tried desperately to exert control over the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and behavior of others, and also themselves.

Males have historically used more extreme, violent and destructive methods to achieve and maintain control compared to females.  Women also work very hard to control others, though they tend to use more emotional and language-based strategies, rather than violent physical strategies.

Control is so pervasive that it is assumed to be a natural part of human behavior and the social order. It is present in virtually all human interactions. It thus remains camouflaged, and it escapes close scrutiny.  It is the basis of all forms of domination, subjugation, territoriality, and competition. It has infiltrated all every group, institution, and organization throughout history. It is the core motivation behind most decisions, and most strategies within organizations.

This penchant for control has destroyed countless civilizations and cultures.  It has resulted in uneven wealth, education and resource distribution among all of the world’s populations. It prevents building trust, teamwork, cooperation, and collaboration – and the solutions that could be built from altruistic virtues.

Humans have the ability to rationalize and justify the (supposed) need for control. In families, it is used to manage the development of children and the behavior of spouses.  Family members control each other through both threats and actions, including judgment, criticism, withholding of love and acceptance, withdrawal, abandonment, and punishment (through physical or psychological pain).  Even the most loving parents attempt to control their children in the name of keeping them safe and healthy.

When you believe you are in control, or when you gain some measure of control, you feel more secure and powerful.  Security is one of our most powerful motivational drives.   When we feel secure, fears and anxiety drop away.  To the brain, the pleasure of power, security and control are as addictive as heroin or cocaine.

Social structures are preserved by the process of control.  We feel secure when our structures are consistent, and solid.  We naturally avoid or suppress anything that could challenge or change the status quo.  To the brain, a reliable structure that produces pain is superior to the feeling of uncertainty that would be caused by change – even if the change could produce a better outcome.  For most of human history, the optimum survival strategy was to do the same things that your parents and elders did, and in the same way. This is one reason why so few things change within organizations and institutions.

Control is assumed to be necessary and appropriate. It’s unquestioned and unquestionable. It’s rationalized to be valid, true, and necessary. In fact, if you attempt to challenge its basic assumptions, there are built-in mechanisms that will respond to your challenge with a vengeance – and it will attempt to destroy you. Bumper stickers that advise, “Question Authority,” never add the second half of the truism: “… at your own peril.”

In the ancient Tantric tradition of the chakras, control is based in the root chakra – at the base of the spine. This chakra, or energy center, connects us to the ground. It is where our survival instincts are based, along with our motivation to do whatever it takes to survive.

Fear and insecurity are built into our ancient brain circuits. Neuroscientists have estimated that 75% of the brain’s functions are dedicated to looking out for signs of danger.[1] As soon as we are born, we begin to develop strategies to survive and stay safe. This includes learning to exert some measure of control over ourselves and our caregivers.  We will do anything to achieve it, even if it’s irrational or unwise.

Control is actually a myth.  We cannot be fully “in control” of our lives – or ourselves. There are too many outside influences, including other people, our culture, and the institutions around us.  Control is unattainable. It is only an illusion – one we chase after endlessly, to our detriment.

Let us state here that control itself is neither bad nor wrong. We learn to control our bodies so we can function in the world. Tools must be controlled to be useful. Our ability to control and manipulate objects has opened up all of science, engineering, production, and the arts.  The problem occurs when our desire to control the objects of this world is extended to the desire to control other living beings. This is when control enters dangerous territory.

One of the most powerful foundations of human drama is 1) having control, 2) losing control, then 3) regaining control. Consider Captain Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. Almost every episode involved an alien force causing Kirk to lose control of the ship. Through stealth, wisdom, and luck, he managed to regain control by the end of the hour.  All empires, including the Roman Empire, the British Empire, and our own American Empire, have reflected this drama of battling for control over power, wealth, resources and even salvation.

In most social animals, control is the foundation of status.  A pecking order reveals the hierarchy – who is above, and who is below.  Those above control those below.  And rank has its privileges.  The Alpha in any pack or troop controls the behavior of others, and has first choice of food, mates, and resources.  Because we are social animals, almost all of the structures of our society reflect this hierarchical arrangement. It is a biological drive as well as a social drive. The more status you have, the more likely is your survival.

Humans have extended the control of resources to vast territories and resources. Resource control has been the basis for most of the wars in the modern world, and they continue unabated today, right up to Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Ukraine.

Control is an attempt to achieve safety.  When we feel unsafe, we are anxious and defended. When we feel safe, we can relax and open. In the brain, the “unsafe” signal switches our limbic system into the fight-or-flight mechanism.  Built into our biology is the belief, “The more control I have, the safer I am.”

We seek absolute control, in order to have absolute safety.  However, we have no real control over other people, or our environment, despite our attempts and our delusions.

In following diagram illustrates the human dilemma: The Fear/Control Addiction Cycle.

Fear of every kind creates the desire for safety, to feel safe or safer.  This manifests the attempt to assert control over others, our environment, and ourselves.  All of these attempts ultimately fail, because control is a delusion.  This failure triggers more fear, and more attempts to gain control.  The cycle becomes an endless addiction.

As the cycle escalates, humans narrow their vision. They see situations and relationships in binary terms, such as safe/unsafe; true/false; and us vs. them.  The truth is that there is a huge and complex spectrum of factors in every situation and relationship. There are a myriad of subtle influences and nuances that influence every single situation.

As situations and relationships become more complex, and as the rate of change increases, fear increases, both at the level of the individual and globally.  This intensifies the reduction of human vision to myopic consciousness and black/white polarities, reducing human intelligence and the ability to make good decisions.

Control is so much a part of our thinking that we even use it to control ourselves. We are taught that with sufficient self-control, we can achieve our goals, meet the standards set by others, and gain personal advantage. We push ourselves relentlessly to fulfill our promises, and jump through hoops to make ourselves successful, or at least acceptable. We threaten ourselves with pain, self-judgment, and self-punishment as a way to force ourselves to behave in particular ways.

Instead of treating ourselves (and others) with love, we dole out tiny measures of approval as a reward for proper behavior. To compensate for this self-abuse and lack of self-love, we tend to over-indulge in pleasures. We then punish ourselves with shame and guilt. It is a complex matrix, and it’s not easy to extricate ourselves from it.

In the next article in this series, we will discuss the possibilities for freeing ourselves from the Control Matrix, and the true liberation that can come from doing so.


[1] “Buddha’s Brain,” Rick Hanson, Ph.D.

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Is “Too much abundance!” Possible?

For decades, I wanted “more.” More stuff. More money. More clients. More friends. More love. More attention.  This egotistical desire served me well.  I got a lot of everything, and in many cases, more than I could handle! The hunger for “more” seems to be insatiable.

There’s nothing wrong with ego desires – they move us forward in life – but as we mature (hopefully), we outgrow them.  As I aligned with my True Self, and discovered my soul’s purpose, my desire-body turned toward the longing for more opportunities to give my gifts to the world – through coaching, teaching, and writing.

When I discovered the tools of manifestation, I put them to use to create the life I wanted. In each step forward, I cleared my beliefs. I walked my talk.  And now… I have an abundance of clients, a plentiful supply of students for my courses, an ideal, growing relationship with my partner, and a flow of financial abundance.

It wasn’t an instant process. There are teachers who promise instant manifestation, but if something is too good to be true, it probably is.  Real abundance takes deep inner study and steady physical effort sustained over a long period of time.  Bringing your dream into reality doesn’t happen overnight. To build a cathedral, it used to take many generations.  Today, with modern technology, it still takes more than a year. Anything great takes time and effort to create.

In the personal realm of thought and imagination (your “inner-verse”), instant manifestation is actually possible. Huge inspiring visions can be created in just a moment, but that’s just the first step in a long journey.  You have to wrestle a good idea down to the ground, condensing it and shaping it to reality, which is precise and unforgiving.  The BeliefCloset Process works within this realm, so you can actually eliminate an old negative belief permanently, and virtually instantly.  When you make that kind of change, it echoes out into the rest of your life.

Your inner-verse exists within a larger universe, the “social-verse,” the realm of you and me.  In the “we” world of relationships, creation doesn’t happen by thought, intention, or inspiration alone. It happens through social conventions and interactions, through the media of communication, negotiation, and exchange.

For example, I can envision a perfect sculpture in my mind, with exquisite detail and elegant design. But in order to bring it into the real world, I need to buy a block of marble from the quarry. I have to talk with people about my needs. I have to enroll others in its creation.  I purchase a block of marble for money, a medium of exchange in the social universe.

The social-verse rests inside the physical Universe, where the laws of physics, chemistry, and biology hold sway.  I can’t create matter, but I can use what’s already been created.  Social niceties don’t matter to a block of stone. To create in the physical universe, I have to truck it to my studio, and begin to shape it by cutting, joining, and decorating it. I use physical muscles, energy, and tools to bring the mental image in my mind into manifestation.

These are some of the principles we describe in our new book, Creating On Purpose, published by Sounds True.  The subtitle is “The Spiritual Technology of Manifesting Through the Chakras.” My co-author, Anodea Judith, is the world’s leading expert on the chakra system.  Using the principles of manifestation through the chakras, we created a workshop, taught it around the world, and wrote a book. We brought our vision down to earth, from inspiration to physical form.  If you want to create something new in your life, this guidebook will walk you through the process, step-by-step.

There is another important, yet little-known, principle of the mind that is so important, it should be taught to every student in every school in the world. This is it: Whenever you attempt to create something new, old beliefs get stimulated, and they begin to re-assert themselves.  As soon as you say, “I can…,” an old belief pops up: “You can’t…”

Why is it important to understand this principle of Mind?  Because internal voices of doubt and resistance stop more people from creating their dream than any external block, barrier or limitation.

When you recognize that these voices are just automata – essentially, machine parts – you can treat them as merely old beliefs.  They’re no longer authoritative source of wisdom.  You can acknowledge their presence without buying into their negative message.

If you come up with a great idea for making money, or for saving the planet, or for serving other people, a bevy of internal voices jump up and tell you why it’s a bad idea.  “No one will like it. They’ll reject you. It’s a bad economy. Nobody will pay for it. You’ll starve. Wouldn’t it be better if you just laid back, watched TV, and ate some chocolate cake?”

Once you see the messages as automatic re-assertions of old beliefs, you can remove them, one by one, and clear them out of your path.  I developed the BeliefCloset Process to do just that – to remove old, limiting, and interfering beliefs.  Once they’ve been eliminated, they’re gone from consciousness.  Your path has been cleared.  You can take the next step forward – easily. Then, other beliefs crop up, but you simply bring out the right tool to clear them. You keep taking steps forward.  Nothing can stop you from creating your dream.

Many clients and students have called The BeliefCloset Process a “magic wand”.  I’ve taught it to more than 400 coaches, therapists, and healers around the world during the past ten years.

You can learn this powerful technique for permanent belief change. If you’re ready to dive deeply into your own belief structure, clear your mind of leftover detritus from the past, and zoom ahead on your road to manifesting the life of your dreams, (and help others do the same), join me for the BeliefCloset Practitioner Training. It starts October 25th.

In just 5 weeks, you’ll get 20+ hours of in-depth training, and gain the skill of helping yourself and others clear negative and limiting beliefs out of the way – permanently.  Information about the course is here.  (CCEU credits are available through International Coach Federation.)

Thanks for reading my blog. If you’re interested in learning more, here are additional resources that may serve you:

Robert Han Bishop interviewed me on his radio program, Transforming Reality, about the beliefs men hold that keep them stuck. Listen here.

Holistic doctor (and championship ice skater!) Dr. Karen Kan interviewed me on her radio program about how the BeliefCloset Process compares to EFT, the Law of Attraction, and Byron Katie’s work. Listen here.

My partner, Carista Luminare, was interviewed on the Hoffman Institute Radio Show about our relationship training, “Confused About Love?”  The interview can be heard here.  Our 5-week teleseminar at En*theos Academy is going great. You can still register and take the class via recordings.  Visit www.ConfusedAboutLove.com.

145 people joined me for my Shift Network program, The Belief Closet Cleanout.  We had reports of deep healing of old negative beliefs and their annoying manifestations. Students cleared beliefs in the realms of money, relationship, health, and more. You can purchase a download of the entire 7-week program here.

I was interviewed by Susan Bratton of Revive Her Drive, a program for men who want to enhance intimacy and passion with their partners.  Learn more about this terrific program for guys here.

The principles of manifestation work!

Now… where’s the valve I can turn to slow the flow?  I could use some rest!

I send my best wishes for your abundant life. May happiness become your constant companion.

~ Lion

P.S.:
My new book, Creating On Purpose, is getting rave reviews.  Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money, wrote: “Creating on Purpose is a brilliant piece of work by two brilliant teachers. Their clarity and insight will open your life up to a new level of freedom and flow. Buy, read, and immerse yourself in this book, and your life will soar!” Read more reviews and purchase the book at www.CreatingOnPurpose.net (or Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your local bookstore).

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Shame, Vulnerability, and Connectedness

When I listened to a talk by Brene’ Brown, PhD (sociologist and researcher, author of The Gifts of Imperfection), I was touched deeply. She spoke articulately about shame and vulnerability, and I could feel those forces working inside of me. I am able to facilitate deep transformation in others only because I have dived deeply into myself, into the core of my own shame-based personality.

Brown defined shame as “the belief and fear that you are not enough – and if the other person really knew you, they would disconnect from you.”

Shame is a based on the belief, “There’s something wrong with me.” Variations include “I’m bad,” “I’m broken,” “I’m not enough,” and “I’m a sinner.” Most shame is indoctrinated – programmed into us by a parent, caretaker, sibling, or an individual with power – such as a priest or teacher. It often comes from an admonition, an expression of power or domination. It feels like verbal or emotional abuse (“What’s wrong with you? You have no sense!“).

The founders of the Catholic Church discovered a profitable secret that brought them immense wealth and power: If you make people feel ashamed of themselves, you can control and manipulate them easily. They will do anything (and pay any amount of labor or money) to be relieved of that shame, to achieve salvation. The Church sold “indulgences,” a sort of “Get Out of Hell Free” card.

If there is something wrong with me, I cannot reveal this fact to you because you might reject me, leave me, or disconnect from me. You are the Source of my being okay – or not. This is true for all of us in our infancy – we need to be taken care of by our parents. If they disconnect from us, or stop taking care of us, we could die. Connectedness – being cared for – is a matter of life or death.

No one enjoys feeling “excruciating vulnerability.” We avoid it at all costs. And when we feel it, we do everything we can to suppress it, stop it, or push it away. When I was an infant, I was wholly dependent on my mother, but she wasn’t there. Like most infants of my generation, I was bundled up and put in a bassinet next to other screaming babies in the newborn room in the hospital. I felt separate, alone. I felt terror. I needed my Mommy, and she wasn’t there. Babies cry to communicate, “My needs are not being taken care of!”

As a baby, I observed my parents and older siblings able to do things I could not yet do. They could walk, talk, and control their environment. My conclusion was logical: “I can’t do what they can do. There must be something wrong with me.” I did not understand that I was growing and learning, slowly and appropriately.

Shame is not always indoctrinated. It is often self-induced. Shame is an easy belief for us to take on, and an awful feeling to feel. That uncomfortable feeling motivates us to learn, to change, and to figure out how to do things. It may be nature’s spur that pushes us into growing up.

Most of us feel inadequate at some level, and we all fear disconnection. Put these together and you can easily create the belief, “If she knows I’m inadequate/broken/bad/unworthy, she will go away and leave me alone – to die.” Thus, we begin to hide our brokenness, our inadequacy, and our vulnerability.

I can’t let you see my badness, my brokenness. I must hold that part of me back. I must create a wall around those bad parts of myself. Sometimes, the wall we build is so thick that we can’t even see those parts of ourselves. We disown them. They get pushed into the background, and become our Shadow, forever hidden from view — until they come back up to bite us in the butt.

Imagine being told as an infant, “You’re imperfect, and you’re hard-wired to struggle. You will continue to learn and grow. You are beautiful just as you are, and you are worthy of love and belonging.” If your parents told you this, you do not have shame at your core. You have self-confidence, self-acceptance, and self-love. Unfortunately, few of us were told that. We were not treated that way by our parents, family, or community. Our shame creates the fear that we’re not worthy of connection, not worthy of love and belonging.

Brown defines vulnerability as “the willingness to be seen.” You may have heard intimacy defined similarly: “Into-me-you-see.” This is counter-intuitive: It is our vulnerability that allows us to be intimate with another person. It is our willingness to feel, and tell the truth about our feelings, that engenders compassion in the other person. When we admit the truth to another, the other person can feel it and say, “Me too. We are the same, you and I.”

There is no guarantee that the other person will respond this way, so it takes an act of immense courage to reveal ourselves, to let ourselves be seen fully, with no hiding or filtering. This is authenticity. It is risky business. But when we do, compassion and love emerge, for both ourselves and for the other person. We have to let go of who we think we should be in order to be who we really are. When the other person sees the real me, and doesn’t reject me, doesn’t go away, I can then feel safe. I belong. I am loved. I am connected.

A person who is “wholehearted,” in Brown’s terms, is one who is willing to be vulnerable without a guarantee. They will invest in a relationship that may or may not work out. They live with this vulnerability, and thus experience intimacy, true connection, love. Vulnerability is the birthplace of joy, love, gratitude, happiness, creativity, authenticity, and belonging. We live knowing that we cannot control or predict others or the future. We offer our whole heart to another, and to the world. We treat ourselves, and others, with kindness and compassion. Our heart may be broken, but we take the risk – and thus find true love. What makes us vulnerable also makes us beautiful. Our vulnerability is thus not excruciating, and not comfortable, but necessary for deep and authentic human connection.

I am still in the learning of these lessons, still in the practice of feeling my feelings of hurt, isolation, shame, guilt, disappointment, and sadness. The more I can feel them, and accept them, and communicate them, the more mature I feel.

The alternative to this practice is to wall ourselves off, afraid of the dark places within us, pushing away the light of truth and vulnerability. To avoid the feelings, we numb ourselves. Brown points out that we cannot selectively numb our emotions. If we cut ourselves off from fear, disappointment, sadness, shame and grief, we will also cut ourselves off from happiness, love, and joy. Then, we feel miserable, separate and alone. This adds to our shame. It adds to our feeling separate and alone. This adds to our suffering, and that adds to our shame. This is a downward spiral that can lead to depression. We numb ourselves further with food, drugs, alcohol, sex, TV, work… pick your favorite addiction. We isolate ourselves — from friends, family, and community.

Brown points out that we are the most addicted, obese, medicated, in-debt adult population that the world has ever known. Is it any wonder that we can’t find love, joy or happiness?

I see my own methods of separation and numbing. I work late, and don’t take care of my body’s needs. I withdraw from relationships when I get uncomfortable. I “plug in” to the TV, or other people when I’m lonely. I’ve observed these tendencies for years. I’m gaining the ability to sit with the discomfort and hang out there. I still indulge myself, but less often. I find it best to take a gradient approach. One step at a time.

The first step seems simple: Become willing to feel uncomfortable feelings. (See my article, Dorothy and the Very Bad Awful Disowned Feelings.) When you can feel the discomfort of vulnerability, and can open yourself to another, you can gain the connectedness you seek. Compassion and love emerge. You see yourself in others, and you feel “as one.” This is the ultimate state we are all seeking. This is the ultimate in being human, connected to others, connected to everything. One step at a time.

Lion Goodman

You can listen to Brene’ Brown’s TEDx talk here. I hope it inspires you.

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The Divine Masculine

For five decades, since the beginning of the Feminist movement, awareness and interest in the Divine Feminine and the Goddess has expanded. Scores of books have explored her historic appearance and role, and her many forms and guises. The question is asked repeatedly, “How we can return her to her rightful place in our culture?”

But what of the Divine Masculine?

After 5,000 years of masculine domination, control, patriarchy and imperialism, the Masculine looks like a problem to be solved rather than a subject to study, or an energetic force to embody. The Western Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – are rightfully considered the chief cause of destruction of cultures, oppression of women, and rape of all things feminine, including the earth.

In Jonathan Kirsch’s excellent book, “God Against the Gods: The History of the War Between Monotheism and Polytheism,” the core value of monotheism is identified as “exclusivism.” Beginning with Akhenaton in Egypt, and then by the Jews, monotheists believe that worship is to be offered to a single god – to the exclusion of all other gods and goddesses. Not only is their god the best god, but the one and only god. All other deities are false, and must be destroyed. This zealotry extends to excluding or killing anyone who does not share their One True God. History is filled with their victims. They believed that their God demanded the blood of the non-believer.
From the Jews, this idea was extended into Christianity (against Jesus’ teachings), and then into Islam.

Prior to this exclusivism, hundreds of gods and goddesses lived and were worshiped in cultures throughout the world. There is evidence that early Jews worshiped the goddess Asherah along with Yahweh, their male deity, until the Jewish goddess-worshipers were all killed. The Jewish mystical tradition still acknowledges Shekinah as the feminine principle of life, but this esoteric understanding is not widely known or preached.

In Anodea Judith’s award-winning book, “Waking the Global Heart,” she paints a visionary story of the changes that occurred as civilizations shifted from Goddess worship to Gods-and-Goddesses worship to exclusive (masculine) God worship. When gods were both male and female, there was more parity between men and women. Gods and Goddesses of all cultures shared the qualities of their human worshipers — including love, lust, rage, and jealousy. Men and women could see qualities of the Divine within themselves because both genders were represented among the Gods.

When the Goddess was systematically overthrown and killed off by powerful male hierarchies, the solo male God became the (unqualified) source of life, creation, and salvation. God and men became responsible for fertility, nature, and taking “care” of the world. Masculine cultures produced excellent weapons, machines, and hierarchical organizations, but half of all culture was lost. Whatever was feminine became repressed, threatened, destroyed, and buried in the rubble. As Ms. Judith noted, “A religion with only one God is half-way to atheism.”

To find the Divine Masculine, we must search beyond patriarchal religions. We must look elsewhere for our Divinity.

In their classic book, “King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine,” authors Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette make a distinction between “Boy Psychology” and “Man Psychology.” They write, “Feminists have seen how male dominance in patriarchy has been oppressive and abusive of feminine characteristics, virtues, and women themselves. Some feminists conclude that masculinity in its roots is essentially abusive, and that connection with “eros” – love, relatedness, and gentleness – comes only from the feminine side of the human equation. In our view, patriarchy is not the expression of deep and rooted masculinity. Truly deep and rooted masculinity is not abusive. Patriarchy is the expression of the immature masculine. It is the expression of Boy Psychology, and in part, the shadow – or crazy – side of masculinity. It expresses the stunted masculine, fixated at immature levels.”

Moore and Gillette, both psychologists, utilize Jungian Archetypes to distinguish the best qualities and virtues of mature masculinity, comparing them to immature expressions. If our Divinity is a reflection of our Virtues, we must examine the virtuous expression of masculinity to understand the Divine Masculine.

They identify four mature masculine archetypes: the King in his fullness, the Warrior in his fullness, the Magician in his fullness, and the Lover in his fullness. The immature expression (Boy Psychology) of each is identified as an earlier attempt to come into fullness: The Divine Child grows into the King, The Hero grows into the Warrior, the Precocious Child becomes the Magician, and the Oedipal Child becomes the Lover.

As with any path of virtue, there are many ways to go wrong, to allow ego needs to take over and express the negative aspects of the archetype. For example, the King has two shadow aspects: the Tyrant and the Weakling Leader. The Warrior’s shadow aspects are the Sadist and the Masochist. The Magician’s shadow includes the Detached Manipulator and the Denying “Innocent” One. It is easy to see that historical patriarchy is an expression and function of these shadow aspects. Imperialism, oppression, destruction of cultures, monotheistic exclusivism, uncaring exploitation of the earth’s resources, and domination and control of others are all expressions of these negative aspects of masculine power.

What are the Divine aspects of these archetypal forces?

A divine King is a benevolent provider for his kingdom. He brings order and safety where there is chaos and harm, organizes culture to provide prosperity for all, and ensures a free flow of energy and communication to elevate everyone around him. He serves the people along with his Queen, who is equal in stature and partnership.

This benevolent leadership can be seen in many of our cultural heroes – Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, the Dalai Lama, and even CEOs of companies such as Ray Anderson of Interface, a carpet company on a mission to save the Earth’s environment.

A divine Warrior is a protector, not an invader. He creates a safe environment in order for the people to thrive and grow. He defends his territory, which could include the whole earth, from destruction and exploitation. He is also an Inner Warrior, doing good battle with his own ego and psychology, fighting to strengthen his own divine nature against the inner forces of chaos and vice. Our eco-warriors at the front of battle, including tree-sitters and environmental lawyers, are doing this battle. Spiritual warriors like philosopher Ken Wilber use their own strength and fortitude to discover the truth that includes everyone and everything, leaving nothing out.

The Hero is, curiously, part of Boy Psychology. The Hero looks like a man, but is really a boy attempting to become a man. He journeys out to save a damsel in distress or fight a dragon to prove himself. His ego seeks acknowledgment and praise for being a hero. Military officers are most often heroic types, and consequently can rationalize destroying a village in order to save it, as Lieutenant Calley did in Viet Nam. Most film heroes are of this ilk. Rarely, we see an example of the mature masculine in films, such as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars, or Seven Samurai in Akira Kurosawa’s 1954 film.

A divine Magician uses his skill and knowledge to benefit all of humankind. Doctors, healers, scholars, inventors, musicians, and wisdom leaders are examples of the virtuous Magician. In it’s negative, egoic, or boyish manifestation, it may appear as a know-it-all, using knowledge to oppress, manipulate or brutalize others. Our divine Magicians are generous creators such as Deepak Chopra, who weaves others’ wisdom into popular culture, and Bono, the Irish musician in U2 whose social activism has brought international acclaim.

The divine Lover is a man of both heart and wisdom. In partnership with his consort and partner, he brings the fullness of love to all of life. The good husband and father who works hard to love and raise his family is an example of the Lover in his fullness. He may lead a non-profit organization that is working to heal the world. David Deida, a controversial teacher of Tantra, represents the divine Lover in his fullness, bringing the power of love to his work and life, and encouraging men and women to fully embody the divine forces.

It is important to separate the masculine and feminine from the male and female genders. The virtues of the divine masculine can appear and have full flower in any body, regardless of the shape and size of its genitals. In the same way as the divine feminine has been recognized as a force that can be owned and embodied by both men and women, the divine masculine is inside us all.

As human beings, we stand between the earth and the sky. We are a product of both mother (mater = matter/matrix) and father (pater = pattern), a masculine God and a feminine Goddess, Creator and Creatrix. We are part of their divinity, and we are thus divine by design. When we actively practice and pursue our virtues, we become naturally caring, generous, loving, protective, encouraging, curious and creative.

Some virtues appear to be more expressive of the feminine, others as expressive of the masculine, but all virtues are expressions of our divine nature. When we are in our fullness as human beings, we express the best of ourselves. Our communities and our cultures thrive.

Two virtues are especially required today: vigilance and fierceness. We must be eternally vigilant, protecting ourselves and our families from negative, immature qualities – whether feminine or masculine. We must bring our fierceness as well as our love and wisdom to educate and grow ourselves, our children, and each other. Our job is to create a whole, balanced, and good life for all. May you be blessed by both the Goddess and by God in healthy partnership on your journey forward.

(c) Copyright 2010 by Lion Goodman. All rights reserved.

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On Being Judgmental

I wrote this post on Facebook recently:

Judgment of another person puts them in a box and reduces them to a mere label. When we judge ourselves, we put ourselves in the same box. Compassion is what opens the box — the full-spectrum humanity of the other person (as well as our own) is revealed, shining like a jewel.

I was mentoring a brilliant young coach who complained about her own judgmental nature. She found that her judgment of others kept her separate from them. It created a safe distance, but made her feel lonely.  The problem was her habit of mind: She judged everyone, including herself.  “Judging others is bad,” she said, “and I’m bad for judging others.”  I pointed out that judgment is a sword with two sharp ends.  It always stabs in both directions.

One definition of “to judge” is “a formal utterance of an authoritative opinion.”  Another is “the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing.”

Discernment is the positive side of evaluation and forming opinions. It is the ability to detect whether something is good for you or not, helping you establish good boundaries with others and the world, and  keep yourself healthy and safe.  We could all use a little more discernment.

What turns discernment into judgment is the added belief (a value judgment) that the other person’s characteristic or behavior is not just different (or “not right for me”), but is wrong or bad.  There is a positive benefit to doing so: an elevation of self-status.  If he’s bad or she’s wrong, I’m now above them.  That feels good.  As social creatures, we want to know where we belong in the pecking order.  We want to elevate our status whenever possible.  Judging others works well.  If I put her down, I go up.

Once we label someone with our judgment, we no longer see them as a complete human being with the full range of personal characteristics: successes, failures, struggles, pain, joys, limitations, beauty, glory, etc.  Instead, we see through the label we’ve slapped onto them.  They are no longer a person — they are sub-human, a thing, an object of our derision.  In the extreme, this turns into verminization — seeing a group or class of people as pests which must be destroyed.

We lose our connection to the person or group we’ve judged, and immediately lose our connection to the part of ourselves that is like them.  Until we judge, we are part of everything, and everything is a part of us.  The ultimate result of judgment’s harsh and final separation is our own deep feeling of being disconnected — alone in the world.  Our loneliness then turns us into a sociopathic seeker after connection, which we might find in drugs, alcohol, unloving sex, bad relationships, food, over-work, or some other addiction.

Imagine removing the belief “There’s something bad (or wrong) about that person.”  Then imagine replacing it with the belief, “That person is different than I am, but just like me, they are a full-spectrum human.  They have had difficulties and hurts, and they are seeking ways to be happy.  Just like me, they are learning about life, the world, and themselves.”

This is the essence of compassion, which removes the “Other” from the box we’ve put them into, and gives them back their humanity.  We become more fully human in the process.

And if we are judge ourselves (and who among us does not?), we do the same thing – label ourselves, make ourselves wrong, aim the arrow of criticism inward.  Try this belief instead:  “Just like other full-spectrum humans, I’m a learning being.  I make mistakes, and that’s how I learn and grow.  I am a multidimensional doorway to Spirit, to God, to Source.  My soul is whole and unbroken, and my human nature is beautiful, including its imperfections.  I am a part of the Universe, I belong here, and I accept all aspects of myself.”

Here’s the test of whether a belief is empowering and positive:  Would you enjoy living in a world in which everyone believed that?



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The Discomfort of the Unknown

Beliefs are useful. They eliminate the discomfort of the unknown.

When we are uncertain, or in unfamiliar territory, we feel anxious. “I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”  The sensation is familiar — feel what it feels like to hold the belief, “Something out there might be dangerous. Something bad might happen.” It is a biological signal, heightening our awareness of the environment, preparing us for “fight, fight, or freeze.”

Beliefs are a way out, back to the comfort of the known.  “It’s okay, it’s just the wind.”  “Daddy’s here to protect you.”  “Look — there are no monsters underneath your bed.”

Our biological and anthropological history installed anxiety as a survival mechanism.  If we’re uncertain about what’s going to happen, and we’re driven to figure it out and prepare for it, we have a much better chance to survive the next snowstorm, famine, or attack.  “Figuring it out” is the construction of a belief.  “Planning in advance” is a learned behavior based on the belief in predictability.  We live in a mostly predictable universe.  Except when the shit hits the fan.  Then, anything goes.  No amount of planning in advance is helpful.  Sometimes a deep ocean drilling rig explodes and spews millions of gallons of oil and gas into the ocean waters.  Then, you do the best you can.  In an emergency, apply awareness first.

When we’re uncertain about our past, as in “Why did that happen to me?,” beliefs are useful as explanatory devices.  “I’m a bad boy. That’s why Daddy hits me.”  Something is settled.  The unknown is now known.  The belief may be fallacious, but it settles the anxiety deep in the body’s psyche.

Every belief we accumulated was useful at the time. It reduced some anxiety or uncertainty.  Do you remember the feeling of being called on in class and not knowing the answer?  It’s shame — especially if other kids laughed at us.  This feeling drives some children to come to the conclusion (belief), “That’s never going to happen again. I’m going to study so I know the answers.”  Other children take the downward path into the belief: “I’m just stupid.  I’ll never learn that stuff.  I give up.”

The unfortunate fact is that beliefs do not automatically expire when their usefulness is over.  Even as we grow into adults, the old beliefs run us, especially when similar incidents occur.  The boss asks you a question you don’t know the answer to. Your face flushes. The familiar, bitter taste of shame appears.  Suddenly, you feel (and act) like you’re seven years old.

The BeliefCloset Process is a tool for success. When you delete your collection of old, useless beliefs, one-by-one, out of your belief closet, you make room for new, useful and empowering beliefs.  You can live the life you were meant to live.  When you face the unknown from centered Presence, rather than your old patterns, your natural enthusiasm, curiosity, joy, and playfulness emerge.  You are no longer limited by your old patterns or limitations.  Your True Self shines in the world.  You’re giving your gifts that you were designed to give.  This is No-Limits Living, and it’s available to you.  Start by cleaning out your Belief Closet.

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