The following is based on the book The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Spiritual Masculine (New World Library)
As a 67 year-old who has been male all my life, there’s something I feel compelled say to my brothers and the young men and boys who will soon be men.
Our species is in trouble. And we men are a big part (not the only part) of that trouble. A renowned scientist at Stanford University told me two years ago: "We are the first species in 4.5 billion years that can choose not to go extinct. But of course we have not yet made that choice."
As long as men are bogged down is superficialities – many of which our consumer-driven economic culture strives to addict us to – we will not be our real selves, our best selves, our most beautiful selves. We get into a locked squirrel cage of work, work, work and spend, spend, spend and have no time for asking: "Why am I here? What can I contribute? How do I give back my love and gratitude and wisdom?"
While lecturing recently in Chattanooga, Tenn., about the spirituality of men, a middle-aged African American man came up to me and said, "You are right. I am far too addicted to television and sports on television. I am wasting my life away on the couch. I really want to get going and contribute."
We are fools if we think we are on earth to watch an infinite number of games of other men (not us!) playing their hearts out to put balls in a hoop, pitches in the strike zone, footballs over the goal line, or a golf ball in a hole. Sports has its place, both personal and vicarious. But only a place. Not the space that our souls should be occupying. Not the space that should be communicating with the younger generation, so many of whom need relationships with elders and adults, males modeling how to live, love, relate, celebrate, care, learn and grow.
I speak to the Hidden Spirituality of Men, because I think most of us have a kind of inferiority complex when it comes to spirituality. We think some minister or preacher, some pope or monk, some professional pray-er knows all about spirituality and we are just novices kneeling to hear their wisdom and kiss their ring. While we can hope that our "professional pray-ers" know something about spirituality that is not the point.
The point is that spirituality (unlike much organized religion) is about the wisdom we all carry inside of us: The dreams, the aspirations, the yearning of soul, the ability to let go, to forgive, to move on, to struggle, to survive, to care, to be strong, to honor what is beautiful and what matters, to stand up for justice. We all carry these things inside us. We have all tasted the Divine – maybe it was on a camping trip out at night with the stars; maybe while studying the history of our people; or nature; maybe it was in making music or dancing or making love; or in organizing for worker’s rights or civil rights. Wherever the best of us has been called forward, that is where Spirit dwells. And it dwells and works in each of us.
But we have to dig to access it. We have to go deeper than talk about the weather or the Mets or the A’s or the super bowl or the stock market to get down to where spirituality truly lives and breathes inside of us. For it is hidden. We are not rewarded for "going there."
We have to change our ways. We have to want to find the hidden parts of ourselves. Otherwise, how will we change? How will our species change? How will our species survive if we don’t search for the best in ourselves? It is from this depth that our creativity will come alive and we will find ways to create alternative energies, participatory politics, more fair economics, new ways to grow and distribute food, and alternatives to war.
Our depths are often hidden even from ourselves. But they are there. We all carry depths within us. We need to remove the veils in order to uncover what is in us. Let us not fail to act. Let us not be hoodwinked into wasting our lives as couch potatoes. Let’s throw off the toxic messages about being male that society has been feeding us for centuries, messages that confuse the reptilian brain with manliness. Let us be lovers. The women in our lives will thank us for it and love us all the more. And the young will emulate us and become the men they were destined to become, as we become the fathers and elders we are called to be.