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20th of February 2018


On Being Enlightened -

—The Good Men Project posed the question, “Do you consider yourself to be an ‘enlightened’ man?” and “What does an ‘enlightened man’ look like on a day-to-day basis in your world?” “What does enlightened masculinity mean or do you prefer another term like awake, conscious, or mindful?”

My answer to all of the above is yes and I thank The Good Men Project for it.

The Good Men Project has helped me to contemplate the value of being awake to and conscious and mindful of, the personal and social meaning of identifying as being male.

As a social worker, I had taken a particular interest in counseling men with substance abuse disorders, by increasing their awareness of how and why being a man, puts one at greater risk of addiction to alcohol and other drugs and what can be done about that.

I was blessed to never have had problems with such addictions myself. When I was forced to quit working altogether due to Parkinson Disease, I met my biggest disorder to date.

As a man, I identified strongly with working. For fun, I liked to run and hike like many men do. It looked like the Parkinson disease was going to put an end to the for fun stuff too.

Identifying with work, running and hiking goes back a long way for men. Identifying with such things is more recent for women. There are other issues with women like the risk of sexual assault while running or hiking almost exclusively by men, but that is for another article.

At the time of my diagnosis, I didn’t think, “there goes my manhood.” I thought more like, “there goes my worth as a human being.”

As I gradually woke up to the fact that I wasn’t dead yet, I woke up to the fact that I had a strong dread of becoming more dependent on others. This is not uncommon amongst men.

I decided to make it my mission to stay as independent as possible, for as long as possible. I decided to not focus on my difficulty asking for and accepting help. It was a good decision then and five years later it still is.

The Good Men Project, GMP, has served me well in this regard. What I read about on the GMP website was stories about men who had something happen to them that called into question their definition as to what a good man was.

My disease called into question the value of my “a man is self-sufficient” beliefs. The answer to this question was these beliefs are now more valuable than ever. However, as this disease progresses that might change. My efforts to not burden others with helping me with my disease induced weaknesses now, may pay off for me later.

For me, the enlightened man is the man who can be flexible in defining his own masculinity as life circumstances shift and change, as life circumstances always do.

Reading the stories of the men on The Good Men Project helps me identify with ways I have of being a man that may be lying dormant. An example of this is writing articles for The Good Men Project. I am not a great writer, but with the help of editors at GMP, I am often a good enough writer. Even when I don’t write something good enough to get posted, the process of trying to write about my experience, as a man, can lead me to conclude that I don’t really know what I’m talking about. It is sometimes the case that GMP publishing just doesn’t always know brilliance when it sees it, but that is seldom the case.

Reading GMP articles and writing them has not only made me more mindful of the diversity in masculine experience but the commonalities as well. This increased mindfulness raises my consciousness of the differences and commonalities between the masculine and the feminine ways of perceiving the world. This leads of course to greater awareness of a shared humanity.

In my day to day life, I often identify with terms like, “awake,” “conscious” and “mindful” in different ways. If you were hanging out with me, I probably wouldn’t like that because I prefer to be left alone, but if you were, you might catch me being awake to geoengineering, the Mandela Effect, or evidence that the Earth is flatter than it is spherical. I may be writing about such things for GMP or calling you on your prejudicial thinking for not being open to check out the evidence of these most important matters for yourself.

You might catch me practicing mindfulness meditation or doing household chores mindfully. You might look over my shoulder at the book I am reading about consciousness.

If you see me dozing off with a full cup of coffee in my hand please don’t tell my wife. If I am mindful of cleaning up all of the evidence of such episodes that can be our little secret and believe me she really doesn’t want to know.

Continuing to read GMP posts and writing for GMP serves me well in staying humble. I am continually reminded of what little I know about what I don’t know about being a man, a human being, at one with the Creator and all of creation.

As long as I am able I will seek out the prompting of GMP to converse in my own head and otherwise, about how being more conscious of what it means and can mean to be a man makes me more of a human being inseparable from everything else.

This inseparability from the all is perhaps the most common usage of the term enlightenment.

The experience of that is generally considered to be beyond words and beyond a person experiencing that. In these terms, an “enlightened man” is the same as an “enlightened woman,” the opposite of what it means to experience enlightenment which is an experience of no one being there. Many report this experience occurs just after the experience of feeling that everything is there.

I agree with those who think we define ourselves better as verbs than as nouns. I may find myself in the process of moving towards or away from enlightenment. I am doing my mindfulness meditation well or poorly. I am judging the quality of my meditation or I am not. I am being concerned about what the GMP editors think of my tense changes in this paragraph or I am very relaxed about that.

The point is if you become more aware of what the GMP has to offer. That is a good thing if you are a man or a woman.

If you found skimming this article a waste of your time, please be mindful of what you learned in doing so.

If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project, please join like-minded individuals in The Good Men Project Premium Community.


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