I have a curiosity about people and their interaction with each other. While attending a Birthday party recently, my attention was drawn to a group of Jocks who were gathered together (as far away from the dance floor as they could get.) but it was their body stance and posturing, as well as their nervous laughter while talking that had caught my attention.
As it turned out, their conversation was on: ‘Bromance’ and how confusing the term was, one fellow said: “I love this guy (pointing to the man standing next to him), but hey, don’t get me wrong, we are straight and married.” I thought it was funny that he had to point out the obvious, but I guess with people calling themselves any number of sexual orientations and the list growing every day, that he felt he needed a qualifier.
In this current age of transformative roles and changing morality, the question of male love / bonding really becomes tricky. As human beings, we naturally experience changes during the course of our lives here on planet Earth with some appearing to come out of left field. These changes are challenging, even overwhelming at times.
Individuals find themselves unconsciously seeking to make sense of it. I feel they are trying to articulate their Archetypal journey from sense to soul - The path that is hidden beneath the surface. In the case of this male bonding episode it was grist for my mill to ponder, I call it Tantalum or the practice of contemplation to clarify.
It may seem a bit odd to think that the answer to this form of relationship lay in the Ancient Archetypes. Let's bring examples of those mythic archetypes to the forefront of our mind to lend some clues and have a chance to release some taboos about our man friends in the flow of daily encounters.
Seldom is a Conscious focus used to understand what may be going on with us, life just seems to happen. Thus, some wander disoriented through life, others on a self-destructive path, in a world that is understood, and measured primarily by the external environment. Seldom by a choice of the Conscious Contemplation.
You hear all the time how we have lost sight of the personal connection be it with environment, each other, and with even our self. We have a disconnect from the Archetypal Source. Sadly, too, we have come to understand “myth” as a lie rather than the symbolic and metaphoric gateway to a deeper truth.
For example, when the guy was talking about his love of his buddy, a piece of the mythic story or experience came to my mind. It was told to me years ago as a form of American Indian lore about manhood and love.
Love in Indian lore as per males, was described not as a concept revolved around a romantic getting your grove on sentimentality, but rather shown as adherence to service and duty.
Every boy, from the beginning of his training, was an embryo public servant. He put into daily practice lessons that reflected public service, so in this way, it would become part of him. His expectation for his service was not salary, nor prizes to work for. He took his tribute in the recognition of the community’s betterment and the consciousness of unselfish service.
The finest love a man could develop then was with his fellow men in unselfish service; these friendships were thought to be - the severest test of character.
You'd think it would have been loyalty to family and clan, or man and woman. The love between man and woman founded on the mating instinct and is often times not free from desire and self-seeking. But to have a friend, and to be a true friend under any and all trials, was considered the mark of a man! The highest type of friendship was the relation of ‘brother-friend’ or ‘life-and-death friend.’ This bond between man and man was usually formed in early youth, and could only be broken by death. It is the essence of camaraderie and fraternal love, it was considered beyond the thought of pleasure or gain, and whose bases is on support and inspiration. Each is vowed to die for the other if need be, and nothing is denied the brother-friend, but neither is anything required beyond their bond.
Their Courage was predicated on the ability to forget oneself in the pursuit of duty and the desire to serve and protect others. Bravery was a high moral virtue, yet it did not consist so much in the form of aggressive self-assertion, but in the development of conscious self-control. The effect of the vigorous physical training young men participated in, was thought to be a way sports and games could serve as a funnel for their sexual energy, so that they might maintain a courageous self-mastery in their lives. A boy was taught by the men in his tribe how to use this skill in hunting, fishing, and the warrior defense of their agrarian way of life. Also to understand the tribe’s code of service and to learn to be led by Spirit.
Men’s groups known as fraternal organizations have existed as far back as ancient Greece and Rome. In the 1950-60’s there were many different fraternal groups in the United States, and I would guess a good 30 to 40% of adult males belonged to one or another of these kinds of organizations. Many with animal sounding names such as Lions, Moose, Goose, Eagles, Owls, Orioles - or with names like - Odd Fellows, Knights of..., Veterans of…, Freemasons, Rotary, to name only a few of the vast array.
Men associated with these organizations with the intent to bring out the best in themselves through companionship and brotherhood; these environments were dedicated to the intellectual, physical, and social development of its members, and in some way, somehow to be of service to their community.
So I entertain, in this current age of contemporary coded language – that entails words like - Bro, Bromance, Dudes, Posse, and Wing-men - that the context of these 21st Century words, have a deeper and more Universal Reality that is the same in all cultures, and all times, which is the Mystery that binds all lives, which is Love.
These are ancient archetypal rooted practices are trans-formative in a man experiences. It is the “encounter” experienced as a larger focused context of Purpose. That brings clarity to relationships and a larger sense of Love.
“Amazing things begin to happen when we do what we can where we are. Albert Schweitzer, the French Nobel Peace Prize recipient of 1953, expressed it this way: “I am certain of one thing. The only ones among us who will ever be truly happy are those of us who have sought and found a way to serve."
The greatest shift in most of our lives will take place when we decide to make ourselves available to something greater than our-self. The moment that the internal dialogue moves from the question “What’s in it for me?” to the question of “How can I be of service?” will be the movement in the direction of discovering our unique relationships with others.
Otherwise there is that uncomfortable veil feeling, as if something is missed. As if the Universe has kept knowledge hidden from you. Look closer then at what your relationships are - to the Men in your lives, to Service, and what you say you Love. To be more present, be more patient, and to stay on purpose that delivers you to the possibility of a life-lived-in-depth, the possibility of authentic living. By keeping it real, the veil is lifted.