I often write articles about personal inner work but current events are bringing large shadows to the surface. It’s important to talk about so we have a reasonable perspective on the issues being highlighted.
For a long time, the masculine has been dominant in global cultures. This takes the form of a dominant 3rd chakra. This has led to an emphasis on power, the mind, and in the West, individuality – the personal self. Culturally, we’re like pre-teens focused on me.
This is an evolutionary step up from survival and tribal cultures. But if it becomes entrenched, it becomes imbalanced and expresses as the need for control, the need to be right, status, and dominance. Modern media and politics are saturated in this agenda. Yet for someone to be dominant, others have to subservient. For someone to be right, everyone else has to be wrong.
This has led to many territorial wars, violence, discrimination, misogyny, privilege… the banes of our time.
An unbalanced masculine means suppressing the feminine, including feelings, intuition, and community. They become shadow. Sexuality is poisoned. Fairness, equality, and a balanced culture are thrown under a bus.
Despite how you may have been taught Darwinian evolution, nature is not survival of the fittest. This is a meme from the unbalanced masculine. It’s not us vs them. We’re in this together.
While our physical gender is binary, male or female, our gender chemistry is on a spectrum. Few people are at the far ends. Most of us are somewhere along the spectrum. Some are even on the other side of the spectrum from their physical gender.
But the gender I’m talking about here is on the level of principle. That expresses partly as the above but we all have both and our full development and expression requires both. (See for example, Atman and Sattva.)
Archetypes & Roles
The roots of this agenda are in the broad cycles of time. Many of the drivers are subtle, on the level of archetypes or idea-forms. We’re immersed in them from before birth. We mirror family members behavior and energy patterns from a young age to learn to fit in. Because they’re the norm and very familiar, there’s little to highlight their influence unless we’re being suppressed.
This means they are largely unconscious for most men and many women. As a tall, white male and a child of this culture, I know I’m in the thick of it. And this article is of course written from this perspective.
In itself, role playing is normal and fine. We don’t want to have to think through every little step we make. Like driving a car, it’s easier when it’s habituated. But just as in driving a car, we still want to pay attention or we’re simply reacting our way through life. Auto-pilot isn’t living.
If you’re not conscious of these dynamics, a first step can be to notice how we shift between various archetypal roles or personas – the friend, the partner, the parent. We automatically run programs to play our part on the stage of life. The provider, the warrior, the lover, the leader, and so on. We wear masks yet act as if they are real.
Yet notice how you introduce yourself to someone new. You share your name and perhaps your occupation. Our self-sense is single. But we may be very different at work than at home or out on the town.
Another way we can notice is by other people’s behaviour. Just as we step into roles automatically, others will automatically slot us into roles to know how to respond to us. This is largely based on our appearance or their expectations of us. I can recall how differently I was treated when I cut my hair and wore suits many years ago, for example.
Do you dress for your role? Do you cooperate with others expectations? Or do you play out of type?
A third way we notice is when we’re in the wrong role, such as being caught up in our worker role when we come home to our partner or children.
Complicating the issue is that the roles are often tainted by avoidance of pain. Thus they’re not just subconscious but also shadowed. We then have an aversion to being aware of them even if our role blueprint is messed up.
That’s one of the big surprises of making this conscious; the useless and sometimes appalling stories we find in these programs.
Family dynamics can express a long history of habitual roles. Developing an adult relationship with family members may mean calling them on their old automatic responses to you. Perhaps you’ve become a program to them that was set when you were 12. Do you play the expected role to avoid rocking the boat?
Worse still, when we’re identified with our identity, we defend these roles and take any threat to them personally. We gain a sense of entitlement for the territory we’ve “gained” and desire more. It’s like a schoolyard battle for position.
Person or Role?
The nasty part that messes up relationships occurs when we live in our roles and fail to see past them. If we’re seeing others by our expectation of their role, we’re not noticing the person in front of us. We’re in our head and we’re seeing them as an object.
If we’re playing the tape of an unbalanced masculine archetype, we’re also likely treating them poorly without realizing it, like expecting deference from a store employee (often a woman).
And then we wonder why our relationships are messed up. Many people don’t know how to be present to themselves let alone with another person.
Playing a Man
Men often have a fear of being seen as less-than masculine. They may over-compensate in their behaviour, like driving a noisy truck or over-dressing in “power” clothes. They fear expressing emotion or other “feminine” traits. We deny a part of ourselves to fit a role? This is a folly.
Similarly, many men balk at performing “feminine” roles. This can be so deep, they have no idea how to perform even simple tasks like serving tea. There’s no archetype there for them to act from. It’s like asking a child to wash the floor.
When we repress identity issues and unmet needs, they get pushed down and often leak out in the lower chakras. This means they show up in control, creativity, sexuality, and sustenance arenas. For example, this article (document link) explores how our core wounds show up in our sexuality. Take the eroticism off your sexual fantasies and you may be surprised by what is being expressed. This is the real issue with a lot of porn. It can have little to do with sex.
Our unmet needs may also express as violence.
Forms of Violence
Aside from criminals, the average man may think violence has little presence in our society. But it’s surprisingly prevalent. Just consider Ahimsa, the practice of non-violence and how difficult that can be. Violence isn’t just physical but can be emotional and mental too. Even simple intent. The deeper the violence, the more powerful it can be. For example, fear of violence is a powerful tool to control others.
If you don’t think you engage in any forms of violence, consider if you’ve ever done anything with an edge, some oneupmanship. Playful rivalry is one thing but how often have you dismissed someone by talking over them or attacking them personally. Or sharing jokes at the expense of others. Or nasty stories. Or spending time in a conversation thinking about what you will say next rather than listening.
All of this dismissal of others is a subtle form of violence that communicates they have no value. Shame and fear of shame are potent forms that were reinforced with violence in many a childhood. Even without physical violence, their shadow dwells over many. Do we use that to our advantage?
Nowadays, our heros are people playing roles we admire. They’re not real people and they often behave badly. When we see others by their roles, they become just another idea in our head. Then they’re easy to dismiss. If we see a real person that’s not so easy.
Lori Ann Lothian referred to the “Nonduality Manscape,” competing concepts and personal attacks masquerading as spiritual exploration. Rick Archer spent years trying to control this behaviour in discussions of his interviews.
Feeling anonymous on-line, some think they can spew without consequences, not understanding how our dumping and nastiness contains our energetic signature and will come back to us (nothing is anonymous online).
Also prevalent is the larger societal role that fear of sexual violence has in oppressing women. This article for example. For most men, this is invisible. If they see women as objects, the complaints are easy to dismiss.
Robert Augustus Masters popularized the idea of spiritual bypassing, using spirituality to avoid personal issues. Here he speaks of pervasive misogyny and how it’s coming to the surface now.
Realizing how we’re role-playing and how others are objectifying us is not a happy discovery. It can be tricky territory. It can push buttons and raise old hurts. But this isn’t about judgment or making anyone wrong, just clear seeing. Judgment is part of what’s polluted the waters. Getting into guilt and blame doesn’t help you get out of the hole.
This is also not to demonize a drive for authority and influence. Just to make it more conscious so it doesn’t override a healthy balance. Like a politician working for the common good, authority has its place. But when it becomes about a person wanting status and dominance, the good intentions get lost in the roles.
When you see through bad roles and refuse to play old games anymore, you may lose friends and upset family. People dislike change and can prefer familiar dysfunction. But once you’ve seen, you don’t want to go back in the hole.
All of this does get much easier from an awake witness when we’re not caught in the ego’s machinations. But we have to be willing to go into our shadows. Even some awake people are unwilling to go there.
If we’re confronted over our behavior, we may be offended and get defensive. We take it as a personal affront. Yet we can ask ourselves why we balked so royally? What are we defending? It can be difficult to recognize our dynamics even when it’s obvious to others. It takes some serious self-reflection to move beyond our past and recognize the obvious imbalance and moral issues in play.
Ironically, power itself originates in the feminine. While the masculine 3rd chakra is the fire and power chakra, it can’t do much but burn and try to control and protect on its own. The creative, manifesting power is in the 2nd feminine emotional/energy center. With balance and harmony, they can work together and express that power. But divorced from our emotions, we’re handicapped. It’s very difficult to be present to another if we’ve suppressed our connecting center.
Of course, this arena is complex. Men don’t see things nor prioritize them the same way as women. We are wired a bit differently, especially in the brain. For example, in problem-solving, men lean to black and white, right and wrong. Women are more likely to see things in relationship and may take longer to come to clarity. Yet the result is a more comprehensive solution that accounts for the impact on others.
Gradually, we’re waking up. The end of slavery began a long process of ending racial discrimination. Women’s emancipation, the vote, and equal rights have been a long, slow process. The West is farther ahead but the archetypes have only partly shifted. Most of this is not conscious in the majority.
The #MeToo movement is a more recent calling out of behaviour that men of power once got away with. As a culture we once ignored it, condoning it by being unwilling to deal with it. Having gotten away with bad behaviour and unconscious acting out, these men are now shocked by the sudden consequences. Playing a role, they may have been willfully blind to the effects of their behaviour.
More broadly, our governments are acting out the unresolved crap in the culture. It’s very good for this to be rising to the surface to become conscious. But the key is holding to the fire of truth, seeing through our own junk, and resolving our shadows. Getting caught in the resulting dramas is counterproductive and can reinforce the issues rather than resolve them.
“I was once asked why I don’t participate in anti-war demonstrations. I said that I will never do that, but as soon as you have a pro-peace rally, I’ll be there.”
— Mother Teresa
There is a big difference between an assertive stand for truth and an aggressive venting of anger. It’s easy to get caught up in what we’re against and fail to support what we’re for. What we feed with our attention grows stronger so we should favour the latter.
It’s not enough to wake up. We also have to clean up so we don’t bring power to our old baggage and cause more trouble. By relating to those around us as objects and shadowing our feminine side, we end up disconnected from ourselves, those around us, and the community in which we live. This serves no one.
It’s not always been this way. We’ve had historical times of balance and equality. But we have work to do to come back to center. Yet there is a strong and accelerating movement forward. This is one reason all this junk is surfacing.
Can you imagine living in a community where everyone is present? Remarkable…
What comes next as a culture? Our next evolutionary step is the heart, a feminine chakra. We don’t have to fix everyone, just get enough of us living there or beyond and the whole will be lifted up.