Materials needed: Journal, Newspapers, scrapbook
Books and Articles:
Exercises and Practices:
* You will already have these books.
In the third chakra, the circle or surya mandala represents the sun which, in turn, stands for yang energy and proactivity, or taking the initiative. We will see how the hormone testosterone controls both libido and aggression. And we will examine some of the forms aggression can take, both negative and positive. Warriorship has long been a domain trusted to men, but it is now being claimed by women as well. Since it involves taking action, the topic belongs in a unit oriented to proactivity. We may find in it some possible solutions to global problems. Male menopause has just recently been recognized, so it is included for the sake of information.
Strange as it may seem, male sexual physiology is more similar to the female than it is different. And, which may not seem so strange, it is most different from the female during the reproductive years. Both males and females produce estrogen, LH, FSH and testosterone and both have monthly cycles related to estrogen, the female one being more pronounced. The male also has cycles of testosterone that vary by time of day, levels being highest in the morning and falling in the afternoon. Male cycles of testosterone also respond to the seasons with levels being highest in October and lowest in April. Monthly cycles are more individualized than those in women. Women's cycles tend to synchronize when they live in proximity to each other. Further, there is a rapid oscillation of testosterone three or four times every hour in men. These rapid changes taken with the other cyclic changes do influence male temperaments and "whip men around" according to Crenshaw (1996) who has done extensive research on sex hormones and their relationship to love and sexuality. In fact, she thinks the emotional and physical impact on men might well be greater than that of the monthly cycles of women.
Men may also suffer some of the symptoms usually associated with the premenstrual syndrome in women such as energy changes, irritability, moodiness, back pain, sleeplessness, headaches and confusion. Tavris (1992) found that men reported all of the same symptoms that women have, except perhaps the cramps, when the questionaire did not call them PMS. McFarlane et al, quoted in Tavris, also found evidence of weekday mood cycles in both sexes.
Also like women, men go through menopause. This is a time in later life when levels of testosterone, DHEA and other hormones begin to decline. Usually other life changes also play a role, and there appears to be an interaction between hormones and life circumstances as we might expect. Male menopause can come on abruptly or gradually; however, unlike women, the ability to reproduce does not cease. Men can father children well into their eighties and some beyond. Diamond (1997) ties this fact into the different roles fathers and mothers play with respect to parenting children. We will come back to this later.
The Reproductive Pattern
Males begin life in a form identical to females for the first few weeks of life at which time the fetal testis, as a result of androgen stimulation, secrets a substance that inhibits the development of female sex organs. When Leydig cells appear, they produce hormones that masculinize the genitalia. The testes descend into the scrotum a few weeks before birth because they need a cooler temperature to produce sperm. Temperatures over 104 degrees and fevers can lead to reduced sperm count. Androsterone and estrogen are also produced by the Leydig cells.
Males produce much more testosterone than females. This hormone is responsible for the onset of puberty between nine and nineteen years of age. At this time, with increased testosterone production, the genitalia enlarge, facial and body hair appears, the voice lowers in pitch and there is a growth spurt in height, larynx and muscle mass. There is an onset of secretions from the enlarging prostate and seminal vesicles, sperm are produced and spontaneous erections begin to occur. Along with all of this comes an increase in sexual desire (libido) and aggressiveness both of which are promoted by testosterone.
Hormonal Cycle. There are three gonadotropins secreted by the pituitary gland. You may want to compare the following with the female hormone functions given in Book II. The follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) acts to promote full spermatogenesis and its release is constant or non-cyclic in men. The luteinizing hormone (LH) acts on the interstitial (Leydig) cells to produce the interstitial cell stimulating hormone (ICSH) which is implicated in the production of androgens and estrogens. It complements the action of FSH and also is involved in a feedback mechanism to regulate amounts of testosterone. FSH and LH, act together to initiate and support the production of sperm. LH is produced continuously and FSH is phased to the rhythm of spermatogenesis.
The hypothalamus in the brain controls secretions of the anterior pituitary gland via the releasing factors FSH-RF and LH-RF. When steroids become low in the blood stream, the releasing factors are produced to stimulate the release of more gonadotropins.
Spermatogenesis. Sperm are formed in the testes which are suspended within the scrotum. The testes contains the interstitial cells and the seminiferous tubules of which there are about six to twelve hundred, each one to three feet long. Undifferentiated sperm cells migrate away from the lining of the tubules and go through a number of stages to develop into mature sperm with a nucleus, head cap, neck and tail which whips around to propel the sperm once they are ejaculated. A healthy sperm can move three to ten inches a minute. The head contains enzymes that enable the sperm to penetrate the outer covering of an egg (ovum). The differentiation process takes somewhere between 60 to 72 days to complete.
A normal adult male usually produces several million sperm a day. This process continues until death unless the health of the man is compromised.
Jed Diamond (1997) suggests that the sex-linked differences between men and women serve survival purposes. Children, in order to grow up must have both physical security for which they need protection and emotional security for which they require nurturing. Over thousands of years, nature sorted out the capacities to carry out various roles by sex. Males were stronger and better suited to fight and protect the tribes, so they were endowed with more of the testosterone that supports aggression. Also, since one male can impregnate many females, there was a surplus of males who could be spared in warfare. Men also used their superior musculature to hunt, to defend the territory against raiders and predators and to raid other communities for their wealth (p. 186).
Women who were smaller and more nurturing were given the estrogen and progesterone that supports pregnancy and nursing. So they bear the children, germinating the ovum and carrying the fetus in utero for nine months, a rather long time in the animal kingdom. They must also nurse and nurture children when they are infants, so they will survive. Therefore, it makes sense that they would produce only one ovum a month rather than the millions of sperm that men germinate. In addition, since it is usually the woman who takes primary responsibility for the rearing of children, it follows that her years of reproductive capacity would be limited in order for them to be able to grow to adulthood while the mother is still alive. Diamond supports this theory (p. 152) with the information that estrogen promotes receptivity and touching, sensual and emotional intimacy. Women produce more estrogen than men although men produce some. In addition, oxytocin induces females to mate and to care for and mother offspring (p. 187). Women, because they must stay near their babies in order to nurse them, were able to engage in raising or gathering food.
So sex-roles arose originally because the physiological characteristics of men and women favored them. This is not to say that we need to follow the stereotypes, but only that we recognize that hormonal secretions favor certain kinds of behavior.
Testosterone and Sexual Desire
Testosterone has two major impacts upon male behaviors. First of all, it creates the sex drive. Adult males poduce ten to twenty times more testosterone than females In fact, testosterone is responsible for not only libido but also for a sense of vital energy. We have already seen how testosterone is involved in sperm production. The relatively greater amount of this hormone in men accounts for their greater interest in sexual activity. Males reach a peak of testosterone production in their teens and early twenties the optimal years for procreation and fathering.
Women also produce testosterone though to a lesser degree. "A woman's normal physiology includes the production of a critical amount of testosterone, essential to her normal sexual development, to the healthy functioning of virtually all tissues in her body, and to her experience of vital energy and sexual libido." (Susan Rako quoted in Diamond, 1997, p. 153). This hormone also is implicated in erotic sensitivity of the clitoris, breasts and nipples, so it contributes to a woman's enjoyment of sexual contact. While males have more orgasms and these peak at ages 16-18 years of age thence declining, females peak in their thirties and decline very little after that. One study found that between the ages of 45 and 54, women prefer more sexual contact than they receive. The orgasm curves in both men and women correlate with measures of the amount of androgens in the system. One of these androgens is testosterone.
We should, perhaps, remember that in human beings, a large part of the desire for sexual contact originates in the cortex of the brain rather than in the glands. This means that what we think about sex and our fantasies about it usually influence our readiness to engage in it.
Testosterone and Aggression
Back in 1971, Persky et al found that the relationship between a group of hostility and aggression indicators and testosterone production accounted for 82% of the variance in the healthy young men in their sample. Since then, it has been reliably documented that males in all species and cultures are more aggressive than females (Maccoby & Jacklin, 1974). However, the correlation between testosterone and aggression declines with age in men.
The way this association manifests in human behavior is very interesting. Dominance maneuvers, territoriality, jealousy and fighting off competitors would all seem to be offshoots of sex hormones. We see these behaviors in all males to some degree or other. And, in fact, they are not limited to males. Women engage in them too even if to a lesser degree. All of these activities support continuation of the species and survival of the fittest.
The most interesting thing to me is the association of both libido and aggression with testosterone. It explains the tendencies of males to become angry when their sexual advances are not accepted. The testosterone is flowing and cannot find a peaceful, reproductive outlet, so it turns against the other person who is frustrating expression of the drive. It would also shed some light on the fact that rape is usually considered to be a crime of aggression, not of sexuality. Rape is obviously not accompanied by the nurturing influences of estrogen.
Lust. You may be wondering what all this discussion has to do with spiritual development. It has been observed that men have unusual difficulty curtailing their lust when they find themselves in celibate environments. All ashrams, monasteries and other such spiritual centers, that I know of, require that their residents be celibate. And celibacy is mandatory for monks and nuns who are making a lifelong commitment to spiritual awareness. So it may help our understanding of the difficulties to explore the roots of sexual desire.
The knowledge that a large part of sexual arousal is the result of mental activity suggests that its control might be seated in the mind. Even though we have glandular underpinings for our sexual desire, how we express it is largely learned within our social context. One of the most potent sources of information about sex is television with its ads and models of "how to do it." Television also hands out explicit instructions for violence, so that all one needs is a provocation unless powerful counter measures have been taken to innoculate children against it as they are growing up. Hence the importance of education by parents, schools and churches.
Violence is a behavioral extension of aggression and differs only in degree. We think of violence as a sudden, powerful, physical force that is intended to injure someone. However, while violence is aggression, aggression may also take less violent forms including verbal, emotional and psychological manifestations. It may even be put to constructive uses. In fact, one of the important challenges facing parents is how to help children learn how to release their aggressive tendencies without giving harm to someone else.
Unfortunately men are the primary perpetrators of violence in our culture. Women are guilty sometimes too but not in such overwhelming numbers as men. The reason for this undoubtedly lies in the overload of testosterone that men carry. But we also need to look for social triggers and for the latent permissions and sanctions we may be offering to men to express themselves in these antisocial ways.
Please withhold judgment while we look at some of the more blatant forms of violence committed by men in our society. This is not meant to denigrate men but to underscore the vast parameters of the problem. We must find ways to rechannel male aggressive and sexual energies into more beneficial manifestations. Some solutions can be found in the eastern traditions, most notably Buddhism, and they will follow.
The extent of domestic violence is probably not fully realized even now when more and more women are reporting it. There are several reasons why women are usually the victims. They have less muscular mass to defend themselves. They usually love their partners or mates so do not want to leave them. And a large percentage of them are not prepared with skills to earn a living and so are dependent upon their mates for survival. More often than not, there are children, and these may also be abused. It is perhaps a bit easier for a childless woman to escape from a violent relationship.
Our legal system is not much help since it is slow to change from the traditional view that women "ask for it." So it is often the case that, when a woman reports the violence, the perpetrator is picked up, given a verbal lashing, and then released. Of course, he returns home and punishes his woman for humiliating him. Restraint orders work sometimes if the local police are inclined to enforce them which is not always the case especially in rural areas.
Why do men batter their mates and/or children? The most obvious and rather simplistic answer is frustration. They may be denied sex with their mates, or they may become aroused by a violent quarrel. However, the more likely explanation is that they are frustrated in their lives at work or in their relationships with others. Sometimes these men are unable to find work and feel that that reflects on their masculinity. So they "take it out" on someone when they get home by using some flimsy excuse to beat up the family.
Exercise: Domestic Violence
1. If you are a male, write a paper on your inner tendencies to abuse women. These thoughts or fantasies may not take physical forms but can be emotional, mental or psychological. If you think you do not have any, consider the times women make you angry. If you are a woman, look at your tendencies to abuse men. These can range from hostile thoughts to actual physical abuse. Be honest. No one but you will see this paper. In fact, you may want to destroy it when you are finished with it. When you have written it, go back through it to see if there are any themes that leap out at you. What seems to trigger hostility in you most often? Is it usually a person of the opposite sex, same sex, or is it events in the environment? What thoughts go through your mind when you are feeling angry? What would you like to do? What, in fact, do you usually do? What is the result? How do you feel about yourself when it is over? Do you think males and females express their angers differently? How so?
2. If you have the time, consider volunteering for a crisis hot line. To do this, you should receive training in how to respond and also be given information about the background factors of domestic abuse. Even if you cannot put in time answering the phone, perhaps your local crisis center would allow you to go through the training sessions in order to inform yourself. If you can spend the time, this is a very worthwhile practice of selfless service or giving back to the universe. And help is always greatly needed and much appreciated.
Incest differs from domestic violence in three ways. First, it takes a sexual form. It is usually committed by a father or other familial male with a young daughter though it can be a mother and son as well. However, the usual pattern is father-daughter. Secondly, incest though expressed as sexual contact is classified as a form of rape which means there is an aggressive component in it.
Third, in most cases, the mother is refusing to engage in sex with the father and usually says she was not aware of the incest. Most social workers, however, believe she has to be aware of it on some level. The important fact is that she does not intercede to protect her daughter. Daughters who have been sexually abused in this way are prime candidates for eating disorders. If the attacks are also violent, they may even develop multiple personality disorders.
Rape is sexual intercourse without the consent of the partner. It may occur as an attack by a stranger, as date rape or within a marriage. As with domestic violence, we are just beginning to appreciate the extent of the occurrences of rape. One of the reasons for this is that women often fail to report it because they feel humiliated, they fear retaliation or they know they will not be supported and/or protected from a recurrence of violence.
Raped women often feel they are responsible because they were out alone at night, for instance. However, we must ask ourselves what kind of social sanction allows a man to prey on a woman who is alone at night. Is not the safety of all of us the responsibility of all of us?
Other women who are victims of marital or date rape may feel ashamed because they think they "led the man on." This dilemma reflects the difficulty we have in our society obtaining the tender, loving touch we all need without sexual involvement being the only possible outcome. However, there is no legitimate excuse for any man in a relationship not to stop if a woman says "no."
A university professor in a Women's Studies course once said that the plantation owners in early America used to rape their women slaves as a message to the slave men that they were helpless. We see the same thing occurring during warfare when occupying armies rape the local women. Perhaps that has the same intrinsic meaning.
One could say that exhibitionism is rampant in our society especially on the beaches and on television. But I am referring to the practice of exposing one's genitals to members of the opposite sex outside of the context of lovemaking. Usually the victims are unwilling and are frightened, repulsed or disgusted. This is a form of sexual deviance that falls into the category of violence because it intimidates the victim who is usually a woman.
All of these forms of violence have a victim. This means it is the result of uncontrolled aggression. Most of the forms mentioned here also have a sexual component. Most of the victims are women and all of the forms are illegal. Less dramatic examples of violence happen daily in so-called normal families in our society. Father "rules the roost." Everyone does what he says or is punished in some way either physically or psychologically. Countless women grow up socialized in this manner to be victims, and consequently they find it not at all unusual for their male peers and bosses at work to dominate them, put them down, give them inferior tasks to do, etc. More often than not, they do not even recognize that they are being abused. We have a social role of victimization. Any psychotherapist or counselor sees these victims every day. Some are men, but most are women. Could this be the direct result of testosterone?
Read chapter 7 in Emergence of the Divine Child. This is a case study of sexual abuse, but it will give you a feel for the experience of feeling weak and helpless. In what ways do you feel victimized? Spend some time in meditation with this question. Then look at the issues involved to see how much of the pain is directly traceable to your thoughts about them and how much might be real, physical or psychological trauma. Reflect on your fear level. How often do you feel afraid? Does your fear have an objective stimulus or is it a general low level of anxiety? If the latter, how do you account for that? You can work with these issues in meditation . If you worry the issues thoughtfully in your mind throughout the day, then let go of them, you may find the sources surfacing in your meditation. As they do so, you will find enormous release of tension. Keep in mind that all repressed material that surfaces in this way must be gently and kindly accepted and assimilated into the conscious memory in order to complete the process. Quite often we carry fear from childhood events that would not frighten us now that we are adults. So releasing the memories of them restores peace of mind.
"More than 95% of violent crime is committed by men" (Johnsen, 1998, p. 136), and most of these men are from lower classes. The majority of these are Black men. Prison does not correct the problem. Instead it makes victims of the perpetrators and teaches them new ways to express their tendencies to violence. The only conclusion one can come to is that we do not value these people in our society. And, because we do not value them, we do nothing to assist young boys who are fatherless to find guidance on how to become a man. Nor do we provide them with mentors to show them how to deal with their aggressive and sexual drives. So they repay us by committing violent acts against society. We respond to this with the violence of imprisonment thus escalating the dynamics.
1. Get a looseleaf notebook or scrapbook and make a collection of articles on crime from your newspaper or notes from television news broadcasts for a week or so. When you have an assortment, analyze the collection for themes. What kinds of themes predominate? What do you think that says about the news media? the government? the quality of entertainment desired by the public? Make notes about how much news is positive vs negative. Why do you think that is? Write a paragraph in your journal or in the scrapbook about what you have learned or make a collage of it.
2. Read verse 42 in Tao Te Ching. Do you agree with Lao Tsu?
War is violent aggression on a grand scale. And it is perpetrated almost exclusively by men. It is not enough to say that various creeds, theories, and other political machinations are responsible for war. To be a truly honest reason, it would have to engage women as well. Instead, war deprives women of their husbands, lovers, sons and fathers.
1. Read verse 31 in Tao Te Ching.
2. Read Part III in Planetary Brother. What is Bartholomew's attitude toward war. Do you agree with him? What is the solution he proposes? Do you think it will work? How can you collaborate with all those others out there who are trying to send their healing energies to humanity and the planet? What else could you recommend?
Rape of the Planet
Elizabeth Dodson Gray (1982) has pointed out brilliantly how our Judeo-Christian religion gave us an excuse to raid and destroy the planet in the name of stewardship (refer to Genesis 1: 28). We, in the United States, are the worst offenders since we use most of the resources on the planet and are systematically destroying the ozone layer, the forests, the animals and fish and the clean water resources to supply our greedy materialism. In addition, nuclear testing and nuclear wastes have created problems we are only beginning to understand let alone remedy. It is hardly necessary to point out that males dominate the realms of business, agriculture and government that are making these disasterous choices.
All of the forms of violence that have just been enumerated are aborted efforts to acquire and use power. In most so-called primitive societies, adult men train and initiate young boys into manhood. This includes instructing them in the acquisition of power and its legitimate uses such as hunting and protecting the tribe. It is important to note that every man in the tribe takes responsibility for every boy and youth in the tribe.
We have lost this sense of caring for all children, and, as a consequence, many of our youth are deprived of the male guidance they need to prevent expressions of violence against the society. Nor do they know how to define themselves as men, so their masculine self-images suffer. The result is gangs of boys learning from each other to the detriment of everyone in the society. We have, at present, no adequate models of adult manhood that anyone would want to emulate although Robert Bly and others are trying desperately to retrain men for the fatherhood that is lacking.
It is probably fair to say that women's liberation has also upset traditional role playing in such a way that men are left without guidance as to how they should now behave. So they have abandoned the old roles, but have not yet established new ones that are more egalitarian. To make matters worse, the escalating divorce rate often means that children are deprived of adequate fathering, at least in cases where custody is given to the mother. Our children are falling through these gaps.
In addition, gross materialism has created chaos in our social value systems. It is true that our religious norms needed to be questioned, but they have often been discarded without new ones being found to replace them, so we are also left without spiritual guidance.
Children, both males and females need their fathers in order to learn how both sexes behave and care for each other in adulthood and also for the sense of security that male protection and provision provides. Single women are gallantly trying to raise their children alone, but, in this day and age, one salary is frequently not enough to supply all the family's needs. Also, when a single mother works, or both parents work, the day is very long and lonely for children, especially little ones, who essentially have no parenting during the 8-12 hours the parents may be absent.
It is obvious that our society is in a state of transition with respect to familial roles and the nuclear family, and that we need to find new ways to nurture the youngsters among us. This is slowly being worked out, but, in the meantime, many children are being shortchanged. One of the important consequences of parent deprivation is that children are increasingly being socialized by their peers. The results are familiar to all of us.
David Blankenhorn (1995) has written a book called Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem which might supply you with more information about this problem.
All aggression is not wrong. We need the hormones and the ability to arouse ourselves to fight or flee because there are situations in which we need to defend ourselves or others. The problem is learning how to use this potential wisely and how to control it so it does not result in violence, evil or global destruction. We need to develop new socialization practices to teach children when they are very young how to manage their frustrations and how to sublimate destructive impulses.
Ahimsa, you may remember, is one of the Yogic yamas or observances. In fact, it is probably the primary one. It is the practice of doing no harm, and it can be applied to every aspect of life. Sometimes called non-violence, it does not mean being passive. It means doing no harm. Gandhi brought this attitude to its zenith in his leadership of the peaceful revolution against British rule in India. He called what he did satyagraha. That meant defending the truth with passive resistance. Martin Luther King followed his lead in his fight for the civil rights of Blacks in this country. Gandhi said:
In the application of Satyagraha, I discovered in the earliest stages, that pursuit of Truth did not admit of violence being inflicted on one's opponent, but that he must be weaned from error by patience and sympathy. For what appears to be truth to one may appear to be error to the other. And patience means self-suffering. So the doctrine came to mean vindication of Truth, not by infliction of suffering on the opponent but one's own self. (quoted in Handbook for Satyagrahis by Narayan Desai, 1980, p. 12)
A satyagrahi develops him- or herself in the three main areas of Yogic practice: jnana (knowledge and/or self-study), karma (selfless service) and bhakti (devotion). The handbook referred to above could be seen as a manual for developing a non-violent personality.
Find a copy of Handbook for Satyagrahis by Narayan Desai. It was published by the Gandhi Peace Foundation in 1980. There may be a newer edition out now and it may be available in bookstores in this country. If not, it used to be distributed by Movement for a New Society, 4722 Baltimore Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19143 or the Gandhi Book House, 1 Rajghat Colony, New Delhi 110002, India. Some form of it should be available in Yogic bookstores.
Read this book as if it were a manual for child development. Make an outline of parenting practices that would promote non-violent behavior without having a negative effect on the child's self-image. Keep in mind that we are a very aggressive society and other children will have learned to be bullies or to engage in fighting to get their own way. How can we prepare our children to face those contingencies without engaging in the same kind of violent behavior?
Pleasure to Defuse Aggression
In 1975, a neuropsychologist by the name of James W. Prescott wrote an article for The Futurist magazine on the use of body pleasure, specifically touch, to reduce crime and violence. He uses research data from a number of cross-cultural studies that show definitively that children who are touched and nurtured physically grow up to be non-aggressive adults.
The original work with Harlows' monkeys triggered interest in the problem when their studies showed that deprivation of touch by the mother monkey resulted in all sorts of neurotic and violent behaviors. Prescott says that there is a reciprocal relationship between pleasure and violence because stimulation of a pleasure center in the brain turns off violent behavior abruptly and the reverse is also true. In view of the fact that both of these kinds of behaviors are triggered by testosterone, we are not surprised by this finding. Prescott goes on to describe animal studies that show that animals deprived of somato-sensory stimulation will mutilate their own bodies. They also have impaired pain perception and an aversion to being touched by others.
In related studies of human beings, Prescott (1975) also found that
societies that gave their infants the most amount of physical affection were characterized by: low theft, low infant physical pain, low religious activity, and negligible or absent killing, mutilating or torturing the enemy. These data directly confirm that the deprivation of body pleasure during infancy is significantly linked to a high rate of crime and violence. (p. 66)
Prescott also found a high correlation between punitive-repressive attitudes toward premarital and extramarital sex, and crime and violence. Perhaps these people substitute violent aggression for the sexual pleasure they are denied. Prescott suggests that our nuclear family structure may be a contributory factor to repressive attitudes toward sexual expression (p. 67). He also points out America's apparent preference for sexual violence over sexual pleasure, giving examples from movie films.
He then goes on to present data associating drugs and alcohol with parental punishment and sexual repression. He says that such people usually had little affection from their mothers, and fathers who preferred physical punishments as a form of discipline. Based on a questionaire given to college students, Prescott was able to develop a personality profile of the violent person.
Prescott also examines the roots of our problems in Judeo-Christian religion, and shows how connections were made between those teachings and our marital difficulties along with our mistreatment of women and children. He also described the neurophysiology of brain development and showed how brain structures and neurotransmitters are affected by sensory deprivation. He then makes suggestions about how to change these patterns.
You may draw your own conclusions.
Exercise: Pleasure vs Violence
Read Prescott's (1975) article (see References at end of this unit). Your library can get a copy of it for you at minimal cost. What he has to say is very thought-provoking and provides information that everyone needs in order to make the choice between pleasure and violence, both individually and socially.
Aikido is a martial art that uses the energy of the attacker to divert the attack away from its intended victim. One learns balance, how to center oneself, how to be entirely present in the moment without distraction and how to control one's ego and emotional impulses. It is a practice sublimely useful to maintain non-violence. And it offers many good ideas of how to respond to conflict.
Read The Magic of Conflict by Thomas Crum (1987). Tom was a companion and fellow traveler of John Denver, and he said, ". . resorting to violence, more often than not, was proof of a person's self-doubt and insecurity, not their strength. It demonstrated not a lack of intelligence, but a lack of consciousness" (p. 8) He also said, "Peace is a conscious choice" (p. 10). This book can be seen as another handbook for how to grow into manhood in a conscious, transformational way, without overt aggression or violence. It shows how to take risks, how to be centered, how to cocreate and, most of all, how to take non-violence into life. Tom shows us how conflict can be an opportunity for choice and change. It is a mind-body discipline that includes meditation, breathwork, openness and play.
As you read, you may want to add to your schema for non-violent parenting.
2. If you have the opportunity, take a course in aikido so you have first hand experience of the method. It will serve you well as a non-violent defense mechanism in addition to its instructive potential.
The Warrior Path
Warrior in this context is the tradition of human bravery, or the tradition of fearlessness. (Trungpa, 1984, p. 28)
Lest it be forgotten, let me say at the outset that warriorship is for both men and women. [See article by Linda Johnsen, (1998) "Compassion Born of Rage" for discussion of women as warriors.] It does not refer to attacking others but is the Buddhist tradition of fearlessness. Most of us, if we are honest, will admit to an underlying fear that makes us uneasy and that has no apparent source. So it is a big challenge to aspire to fearlessness when we do not really know what that is.
The word "warrior" in a Buddhist context is taken from the Tibetan word pawo which means "one who is brave." So, according to Trungpa (1984), the key to warriorship is "not being afraid of who you are" (p.28). We face our lives with courage and kindness. This gentleness is the hallmark of a true warrior. Swami Gopalananda (David Forsee) at Yasodhara Ashram is a very special example of the true warrior. He was a disciple of Swami Radha and has recently written a book about what he learned from her. It is titled Can You Listen to a Woman? (Forsee, 1999). You can find out from him what it takes to achieve warriorship. Trungpa also says that the essence of warriorship or bravery is "refusing to give up on anyone or anything" (p. 33). There is a taste of satyagraha in this, isn't there?
As a warrior, we get in touch with our essential goodness and human dignity. We cultivate bodhicitta or awakened heart. This means we acknowledge and accept our vulnerability without shame or explanation and allow our hearts to be exposed. "Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness" (Trungpa, 1984, p. 46). It is going beyond fear to trust in your basic goodness, the Great Eastern Sun, the surya mandala of dignity and human energy. This is the harnessing of testosterone to true Power.
1. Read Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chogyam Trungpa (1984). This is yet another manual for how to harness and tame aggression. It also teaches how to protect oneself non-violently. And, since anger is more often than not a response to fear, it gives us help in dealing with our frustrations and threats in life.
See what Trungpa means by magic, how he explains the dilemma we have gotten ourselves into, and what he suggests around letting go. The chapter on "How to rule" offers an alternative to patriarchy as a model. What does he say about authentic Presence? What would you add from this book to your collection of tools?
Cynthia, Kneen (1999) has produced a set of audio tapes called "Shambhala Warrior Training" if you wish to pursue this further.
2. Practice standing meditation every day for two weeks for 15 minutes at a time. This is simply to take a comfortable stance with weight equally distributed on your feet, posture erect and relaxed. Then you stay put without wiggling for the time selected. It is exactly like the mountain pose in Hatha Yoga. You watch your breath and keep coming back to it whenever your mind wanders. You may note what comes up for you in your journal when you finish each day. You may find this practice more difficult than you expected. If so, consider what that means for your own development. See how your experience varies depending on whether you are inside or outside in nature and whether the time of day is influential.
If you are interested in pursuing this path further, there is a set of training tapes available from Sounds True called "Shambhala Warrior Training" by Cynthia Kneen who was a student of Trungpa's. She directed Shambhala Training weekends for over 20 years. [Order No. F035. www.soundstrue.com; email: firstname.lastname@example.org]
Transmuting Sexual Desire and Aggression
Empathy is what keeps us from harming others (Goleman, 1999).
By now, you will have acquired many ideas about how to deal with aggression. There are just two more to add to your repertoire. One is working with the mind, and the other is energetic.
Training the mind
We have seen before that emotions tend to result quite often, if not nearly always, from how we interpret an event. It may be true that our hormones predispose us to lust or aggression, but we have total control over how we manifest these drives. We can sublimate them into other forms of behavior, or we can express them in loving, non-violent ways. Both drives have intrinsic value and should not, therefore, be repressed. It is our challenge, being in a human, animal body, to put their energies to the best possible uses for our own benefit and for the support of our families and communities. Our evolved mental and emotional intelligences equip us for this job.
We can learn to change the way we think about things, and that is perhaps the most powerful way of all to impact our lives. The cortex of the brain which is the seat of thinking has multitudinous connections with the limbic system (emotions), the hypothalamus (and thence the pituitary gland and its hormones) and the sensory-motor cortex. These connections provide pathways that allow our thoughts to influence every aspect of our lives from sensation and perception to the loftiest spiritual experiences. Therefore, mind training is an essential practice on the spiritual journey. This means you learn how to control your own mind, not that you allow someone else to do it for you because such a default could lead into culthood.
Exercise: Mind training
If you have not already done so, read chapter 20 in A Path with Heart. If you have already read the chapter, reread pages 296- 305. Do the meditation "Undertaking the Five Precepts: Nonharming as a Gift to the World."
When you are finished, make a list of the precepts in your journal and make some notes about how this exercise contributed to your efforts to reframe your thinking about aggression and sexual desire.
Transmuting Sexual Desire
The east Indian idea about stages of life is helpful in determining what approach to take to our sexuality. The first stage is youth when we are learning. The second stage is that of the householder when we are supposed to raise our families and make our contributions to society. The third stage is the forest academy. When householding is completed, we go into the forest to meditate. The fourth stage is teaching. We come back into life to share what we have learned with others.
This would suggest that there is an appropriate time to express our sexuality and other times to restrain it. During youth, we are learning. That may include how to deal with our impulses and to take responsibility for what we create, including children. Because the sexual drive is so powerful, it is difficult to resist. Yet, a child is often conceived during intercourse, so we must consider how to meet that possibility mindfully. Each person must make his/her own decision about what feels right for them. But, not making a choice is a denial of our divine freedom to choose and to take responsibility for those choices. So childbearing deserves careful consideration, preparation and a commitment to abide by the decision.
Mindful exercise of our sexuality can lead to inexpressable joy, comfort and support during the householder years of service we give to the family and community. It is a time for mellowing and loving kindness to all. Protection and nurturance allow our children to grow into balanced, compassionate, responsible adults.
During the Forest Academy years, we are mostly beyond the insistent demands of our libidos, so it becomes possible to consider the value of celibacy. A decision to not be sexually active can result in renewed energy to devote to the spiritual path and to selfless service to others. If a true decision to be celibate is made, you will find that the body obeys and the demands of desire will lessen and fade. Such a decision can be temporary or final. You must consider it in terms of your own life's context no matter which way it goes. A choice to continue in an ongoing sexual relationship instead is, of course, valid and has its own different merits and outcomes.
The stage of teaching. By now, one is in the 70's as the stages are each 20-25 years long, approximately. Sexual activity is still possible, and if you are in a committed relationship where it is appropriate, it can be a source of great love and comfort. Celibacy as an alternative provides more energy for the work of giving back in service.
It is not so important which way your decisions go as that you make them; that you think about what you are doing, both to yourself and to the others with whom you are involved. It is wrong to take powerful drives lightly because they can destroy your life as you know it, suddenly and without warning particularly if you are young and inexperienced.
Exercise: Transmuting Desire
1. Read chapter 6 in Emergence of the Divine Child. Reflect on the karmic, emotional themes in your life. If you have been sexually abused, you may want to read the next chapter also as it deals with that issue. Work out a set of values that you want to abide by in your life related to your sexuality and write them down in your journal. Include your reason for each idea, so that you do not forget in the future. You may also want to consider what kinds of problems are likely to arise around your decisions, so that you are not surprised and are prepared to deal with them if they come up. Watch your dreams for a few weeks for related content and messages from your Higher Self. Process those that seem pertinent.
2. Repeat the exercise on Lust in Unit VI. If you need to, make variations that serve you better. Offer all the energy up to Divine Mother. This exercise may be especially useful if you are considering celibacy or if you are a young male in the throes of testosterone arousal.
Just as women do, men have a menopause. The symptoms have gone unnoticed until fairly recently, but now literature is emerging that allows us to give due consideration to the discomforts men feel as a result of hormonal changes in their later years. Although men are capable of procreation well into old age, they may have functional problems especially related to the prostate that seems to be particularly vulnerable to the aging process. Because they do not fully understand what is occurring, men often feel like an affair with a younger woman is what is needed. Jed Diamond (1997) speaks to all these issues in his book Male Menopause which is recommended to everyone. Some of you will be in this period already and will appreciate the information and reassurance. Others will have aging men in their families and the book will help you to understand what they are going through and how men experience the transition differently from women.
Exercise: Male Menopause
Read Male Menopause by Jed Diamond. A corollary book he often quotes is The Alchemy of Love and Lust: Discovering Our Sex Hormones and How They Determine Who We Love, When We Love and How Often We Love by Theresa Crenshaw (1996). If you are not menopausal yourself, you may prefer to read this one for its different type of information. Another good source is The Evolution of Desire: Strategies of Human Mating by David M. Buss (1994). Any of these will have bibliographies that will lead you to more material if you want more information on human sexuality.
o O o
We have looked at the physiology of male sexuality and the influence of hormones on various kinds of behavior. And we have seen how tendencies to violence might be overcome by spiritual practices and transmutation. Also, male menopause, as a newcomer to the field of scientific research, was briefly reviewed.
Blankenhorn, D. (1995). Fatherless America: Confronting our most urgent social problem. NY: Basic Books.
Buss, D. M. (1994) The evolution of desire: Strategies of human mating. NY: Basic Books.
Crenshaw, R. L. (1996). The alchemy of love and lust: Discovering our sex hormones and how they determine who we love, when we love, and how often we love. NY: G. P. Putnam's Sons.
Crum, T. F. (1987). The magic of conflict: Turning a life of work into a work of art. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Desai, N. (1980). Handbook for Satyagrahis: A manual for volunteers of total revolution. New Delhi: Gandhi Peace Foundation; Philadelphia: Movement for a New Society.
Diamond, J. (1997). Male menopause. Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks.
Feng, G. and English, J. (Eds.) (1972). Tao te ching. New York: Vintage Books.
Forsee, David. (1999). Can you listen to a woman. Spokane: Timeless Books.
Goleman, D. (1999). Lecture on "Emotional Intelligence," PBS TV, March 6, 7:30.
Gray, E. D. (1982). Patriarchy as a conceptual trap. Wellesley, MA: Roundtable Press.
Johnsen, L. (1998). Compassion Born of Rage. Yoga Journal, November/December, 68-75, 135-8.
Kneen, C. (1999). Shambhala Warrior Training, F035, audio cassette tape set. Voices of wisdom: A sounds true catalog, Summer, 1999, 10.
Kornfield, J. (1993). A path with heart: A guide through the perils and promises of spiritual life. New York: Bantam.
Maccoby, E. E. and Jacklin, C. (1974) The psychology of sex differences. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Masters, W. H. and Johnson, V. E. (1966). Human sexual response. Boston: Little, Brown & Co.
Moore, M. M. and Franklin, J. (Eds.) (1991). Planetary brother. Taos, NM: The High Mesa Foundation.
Persky, H.m Smith, K. D., and Basu, G. K. (1971). Relation of Psychologic Measures of Aggression and Hostility to Testosterone Production in Man. Psychosomatic Medicine, 33, (No. 3), 265-277.
Phillips, R. (1990). Emergence of the divine child: Healing the emotional body. Santa Fe: Bear & Co.
Prescott, J. W. (1975). Body Pleasure and the Origins of Violence. The Futurist, 1975, April, 64-74.
Tavris, C. (1992). The mismeasure of woman: Why women are not the better sex, the inferior sex, or the opposite sex. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Trungpa, C. (1984). Shambhala: The sacred path of the warrior. Boulder: Shambhala.
In Unit VII. Male Sexuality, we have examined the influence of the male hormone testosterone on sexuality and aggression. Variations of warriorship were offered as possible ways of transforming these powerful drives into vehicles of transcendence. Unit VIII. Speech as Control will look at various ways speech is used in thought and in self-defense. Speech in the form of vibration may be seen as the creative principle behind logos.
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