Although this blog has mainly focused on the Budddhdharma, the teachings of the Buddha, it’s never been limited to that. Over time, I’ve shared skillful spiritual teachings, poems, and even music, that reflect humanity’s quest to come into a complete humanhood. I also strongly feel that the best in Western psychology powerfully complements the wisdom of Eastern spiritual traditions.
That why, in this post, I’m sharing an excerpt from an essay by Dr. Robert Augustus Masters, a highly skilled psychotherapist whose work reflects both Western and Eastern wisdom. I found that this essay, aimed toward men and issues of manhood, spoke powerfully to the inner work I am doing to free myself from crippling mental artifacts from my past that have to do with my father.
Whether one had a great relationship with one’s dad, or a horrific one, or no real relationship at all, I think all men have some sort of “father issue” to work out at some point in their lives.
This particular essay isn’t so much a “how to” as a deep cry of the male heart about the things that most hurt and pain one’s sense of manhood. This emotive essay may not speak to everyone, with its almost mythopoeic language and often painfully vivid imagery. But if what is said rings true, or stirs the heart, or if one feels a deep aversion to what is so vividly portrayed, then maybe that points to work to be done to come into a fuller manhood, a fuller humanhood.
Dr. Masters has written some wonderful, highly skillful books, but to go further into the painful but liberating quest to free ourselves from our shadows, I especially recommend:
Now, here is the excerpt from “Birthing the Man”
“There’s a fast-aging father staggering blindly through a maze of foggy streets, archaic avenues, degraded alleys, nylon labyrinths, bloody ditches, cement canyons, smoky hollows, pornographic wastelands, his paycheck in one hand, his despair in the other, his face a defeated fist or an optimistic list, his stride not his, his boyhood crushed behind his eyes, his pride trampling his cries, too much of his life a mechanical march, a dead-end trip with a blank epitaph, a buried cry for a truer life.
He lives in you, his muffled needs and suffocated dreams sculpting you, defining your stance, your cultural trance, binding you to a rigid dance, driving you into your headquarters to wage needless wars, and it is his chest, whether inflated or deflated, through which you wander and squander your juice, desperately searching for the treasure, the quick-buck or super-fuck grail, fighting false dragons, pursuing false maidens, living in castles of storybook maleness, seeding your sons with the same disease, the same old soul-freeze.
Must you wear his shoes, or the opposite? Must you submit to him, or spear him? Only in weaning yourself from his vision of you, only in intimacy with the authority native to you, only in claiming your own ground, only in the clarity and depth of your own spirit-land, your own heart’s primal demand, can you really go past your past with him, both forgiving and outliving him, your stride lit with fierce compassion.
He wanders large but vague across a quivering snapshot pinned behind your eyes, and your mother, or someone like her, fills the foreground, however passively, her gaze brimming with promised milk and sweet bedtimes, her touch, given or not, craved, and her presence, dark or light, hard or soft, meek or not, made irresistible by an aura of eternal sanctuary, and there you linger at the bottom of the photo, no larger than a thumbprint, wearing a partial smile, your eyes belonging to two very different faces, your seedling grief but the faintest of smudges.”
From “Birthing the Man” by Robert Masters
Masters Center for Transformation
You can read the full essay here:
Clearly, this excerpt is evocative, and uncovers and reveals without offering quick solutions—as if there were any! But even to begin to look at the shadows, at what we might not want to admit or recognize, is the beginning of healing. If we do not learn how to take care of and cherish our inner child, we will never really grow up. Dr. Masters’ Meeting the Dragon, as well as many of the posts at this blog, point towards healing through gaining insight and through loving-kindness meditation. Here are a few that you might find especially helpful in this work:
I hope you will avail yourself of these resources here at Metta Refuge, and if you are so led, look into what Dr. Masters has to share. This is not an “endorsement” of him by me, though I have huge respect for the man’s skillful teachings and healing work. I’m simply sharing what has proved helpful in my own life in terms of healing and becoming more whole.
May you be led to what helps you deal with your shadows and break the chains of the past! May you be led to whatever develops the healing light of insight, compassion, and loving-kindness!