Wanted: Awakened Warriors. ~ Ben Neal

Via Ben Neal
on Aug 26, 2013
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There is a lot of talk lately about masculine and feminine, and the dance they do together—most of it by women.

I recently read one such article by Lori Ann Lothian, in which she describes the widespread disappointment women feel with men today (an “existential despondency”) and their deep soul longing for a warrior-hero to meet them and match them in life and in love. I also read several comments on Facebook from men who claim her article is unrealistic, a “little girl’s fantasy.”

Really guys? Is it ridiculous for a strong, intelligent, self-aware woman to ask for a man to be her partner and her equal?

I understand the disappointment Lori is talking about. I am a man raised by my Mom—not because my father left or ran away, but because he simply didn’t show up. He came home from work every day, cracked open a beer, turned on the TV and essentially checked out; while my mother (who also worked) handled all of the duties of raising children and maintaining a household.

I’ve seen enough to know that this dynamic is all too common. Generations of men have been raised without any real example of manhood; just an absentee father and whatever cultural stereotypes are being pushed by the media.

So we try to fit this “manly-man” image—be tough, work hard, make money, chase pussy, play sports, eat meat, drink booze—but it’s a hollow shell that doesn’t reflect the true depth of human nature. It’s an outward show that leaves us feeling fake and inadequate. To hide from that feeling we do whatever we can to tune out, zone out and escape reality.

More and more men are rejecting this macho bullshit; turning within, finding ourselves and embracing the feminine aspect of our nature. Unfortunately, we often swing too far toward the opposite end of the spectrum, and in getting in touch with our feelings we lose touch with the primal essence of masculinity.

Collectively, we’re still trying to find the balance.

I think it’s fair to say that we men are receiving mixed messages about what women want from us. We’re asked to be brave, strong, confident and sensitive, caring, emotionally intelligent. We’re asked to be ambitious, driven, successful and to make time at home for family, love and intimacy. We’re asked to be artistic, romantic, passionate and balanced and responsible; to provide security, stability and fun and adventure.

Not to mention, blow her mind between the sheets.

In short, we are being called to grow in all directions at once. We are being invited to push the boundaries, break the mold, and come into the fullness of who we are and what we are capable of.

And you know what? It’s about time.

It’s about time we stopped selling ourselves short. I’ve heard enough excuses such as “nobody’s perfect,” or “I’m only human.”

Women aren’t asking anything more than what your boss expects of you at work, or what your coach expects of you out on the field—that is, everything you’ve got. To be successful in sports, in your career, or anything in life, requires that you give your all. Why should relationships be any different?

Women aren’t asking us to be perfect, they are asking us to be fully ourselves; fully alive, awake and purposeful. They are calling us to be artists, poets, fathers, lovers, activists, leaders, entrepreneurs, craftsmen, teachers and trailblazers who are intentionally creating a new and better way of life.

Is this too much to ask?

If it is, that’s fine. Go back to sleep. Find yourself a woman who is equally unconscious and keep playing out the same old co-dependent drama. I wish you the best.

But the goddesses of the world are ready for awakened warriors; men who are bold and strong, clear and present, fierce and passionate. They are calling for a new generation of bodhisattvas—heroes on the battlefield of life. Men who will show up, give their all and not hold back.

I know you’re out there. It’s time to stand up and be counted. Speak out and be heard. Let the women of the world know that we are here. We are awake.

We are ready to dance.

Like elephant love on Facebook.

Ed: Sara Crolick


About Ben Neal

Ben Neal is a father, a musician, a mystic poet and lover of Zen. He lives with his beloved in Kansas City, writing and teaching meditation and experiential spirituality, tending his garden, raising his son and riding the wave of global Awakening. He loves to have passionate philosophical discussions on the nature of ultimate reality over hand crafted Belgian-style ale. He aims to suck the marrow out of life, and infect the world with unbounded Love and Freedom. Connect with him on Facebook or on his blog.


26 Responses to “Wanted: Awakened Warriors. ~ Ben Neal”

  1. Kelly says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I've been saying this for years and it never ceases to frustrate or sadden me when I get responses that tell me I am being unrealistic in what I want or what I'm holding out for. I've been told on several occasions that I need to settle and that what I want doesn't exist. This article says it all! I will hold fast and strong to the life that I want and the life that I continue to live, and provide the example for my son that our lives and the choices we make are exactly that, they're ours. I continue to struggle with holding onto my convictions and your expression has lifted me once again to hold faith and believe in a greater consciousness for all of us. Thank you again…

  2. A beautiful exhortation to men. It will be interesting to see their responses.

  3. bneal817 says:

    Thank you, Kelly. The best advice I ever heard regarding relationships is not to focus on getting the right man or woman, but on becoming the man or woman that you want to be. In the process of doing that you find yourself surrounded by the kind of people that you want to meet.

    All the best to you, my dear.

    ~ Ben

  4. Christopher says:

    Sure I'm dancing but it is lonely on the dance floor. where is everybody?

  5. bneal817 says:

    So far no responses from men at all…

  6. Minor Quibble says:

    I'll bite. 🙂

    I absolutely agree with your basic message, that we all, all genders, should live life with awakened awareness, a zeal for life and leave no corner of our psyche or soul unlit with fire. You offered up a challenge to men, in a very manly way. I think I heard my old football coach yelling in the background.

    The first time I read this, however, I had a very negative reaction to it. Threaded through the article is a subtle yet pervasive "You must be *this* perfect to ride this planet", which, I'm sorry, is utter baloney. I believe it was the laundry list of Richard Branson-esque traits with the conjunction 'and' that raised an eyebrow, and the rather dismissive tone at the end that made me scowl. No one is going to meet every item on that list in a successful way. We all have our strengths *and* our weaknesses, and it is our imperfection that makes us human. Yes, I *am* only human, thank you very much. I may have a PhD, patents, a successful career, enjoy singing and sculpting, and so on, but I can only barely ballroom dance, my penmanship sucks, and damned if I know how to reseat the heads on my car. And you know what? I'm okay with that. I will still laughingly make a fool of myself on the dance floor, I will still translate my handwriting for others, and I will still take my car to the shop when it needs it. I'll be the best *ME* I can be, grandiose checklists be hanged.

    In discussing this article with my partner, she had a very different reaction: "Thank god, someone is finally saying it's okay for women to request of men the same high bar of perfection that we've been told we have to meet as superwomen." To which I responded that while I agree in principle on the basis of equality between partners, why in the h*ll would anyone insist perfection of *anyone* else? Instead, why not recognize that the 'superwoman' syndrome is toxic, and instead of applying the same to both genders in the name of equality, take a saner course that simply says… Be you. Be the best you that you can possibly be. Live your soul, live your moments, live your LIFE. But do it for you, do it for your own growth, and expand your boundaries for your own mind and soul.

    Not someone else's. Don't try and be something you simply aren't, for the sake of someone else's expectations. Expect the best of yourself, but don't try and conform to someone else's idea of what you should be, even checklists on a fantastic site. And for god's sake, do *NOT* do so for the appeal of a relationship. It will not end well.

    Just be yourself, present every moment, to the best of your ability… then find ways to be more able to be you. You will find yourself in the company of those who match and complement you, and your partner will arrive.

    For what it's worth, Lori's original article stated this much more clearly, in my opinion, and I enjoyed it greatly.

    There are manly men, and girly men, and womanly women, and boyish women, and every manner of gender bending and blending in between. And that's perfectly fine. Not every individual on the planet must be a paragon of humanity, representing the pinnacle of human progression, and exhibiting all of the best of the wide world of genderdom, with none of the downsides. We all have our own hearts, our own strengths, our own flaws, and our own paths, and that wee little nuance was sadly missing from your article.

    Am I ready to dance? Absolutely.

    Just don't ask me to foxtrot.

  7. Geoff says:

    A great piece Ben. I pretty much agree with everything you wrote. The culture these days isn't exactly supporting men in this endeavor however, so I blundered my way to similar conclusions. Parzifal and Don Quixote are good models for men like me. I need to laugh at my own journey sometimes.

  8. Erica says:

    This is amazing – this makes me so happy, for all the men that I love. That it struck me as surprising to see something so very empowering written for men about 'being men' is a huge problem, no?

    THANK YOU for writing this. It goes for women as much as for men so I found it inspiring for myself. We should all be being nothing less than everything we can be.

  9. bneal817 says:

    Excellent comment. And your absolutely right – I left out any mention of "gender bending and blending" intentionally, not because I'm ignoring it but because it felt to me like that would be going off on a tangent from my main point.

    As you have so well said, "that we all, all genders, should live life with awakened awareness, a zeal for life and leave no corner of our psyche or soul unlit with fire." And as you also pointed out, I am issuing a challenge to men, not all men but certain men, in a certain tone and for a certain purpose.

    I don't contend that men should be without flaws, or that all men should embody all the qualities here listed to the utmost level of development. But we should continually try and grow ourselves and expand our horizons in what ways we can, and hide away no part of ourselves but always own both our strengths AND our flaws and take responsibility for them. And work to improve ourselves, not to please a woman or Women in general, but because that is the whole thrill of life—to explore and expand forever and without end.

    Thanks for taking the bait, my friend.

    ~ Ben

  10. bneal817 says:

    Christopher, I feel your pain. The truth is that people—of both genders—who are awake and aware and fully alive are a sad minority right now. But if you dance your ass off, and put your whole heart into it, the dance itself will carry to the right people who can match your vibration and your passion.

    Thanks for your comment. Bless you brother.

    ~ Ben

  11. bneal817 says:

    I salute you Geoff, one Don Quixote to another. Thanks for your comment, my friend.

    ~ Ben

  12. bneal817 says:

    Thank you Erica. As you can tell, what I am really trying to arouse here is the passion to give your all to Life. I would like to see that passion burning in every man, woman and child on the face of the earth.

    Blessings to you and all the men you love.

    ~ Ben

  13. lj says:

    Oh dear, if there are men like this in existence, please, send one my way! I have been all across this country searching nooks and crannies and so far I have had the fortune of meeting only five in my lifetime. They are dear friends and we have lengthy discussions unraveling the mysteries together, supporting each other in our endeavors. I didn’t start out the typical way; my goals were not to have the car, the career, the kids, the dog and the house. I set out on a much different path: to make beauty out of images and sound; to seek the truth; to unravel what is beneath the surface of life. I set out to learn what the sages know and add to it if I am given the honor. I put myself on a path to realize my potential as a human being. Every day I wake up and attempt to transcend my physical limitations, emotional barriers, limited scope of understanding, constraints of time, money, and obligations to create something worthy to return to the canon of beauty, joy, and inspiration so many have blessed this earth with, my humble offerings. In the past I have loved men with potential, vast potential, all geniuses in their own right blessed with gifts they either did not know they had or took for granted. Unfortunately, they were also crippled by apathy, emotional damage, or just plain lacked the motivation to make anything of their days ~ being tossed from one state of mind to the next with no intention behind them. I think this subject needs to be part of the cultural conversation. I have been thinking a lot about this process lately in every arena of my own life. I have also been thinking about writing about this very thing, as you have done. It means so much to me to hear it from a man, however. I am so grateful. I have been looking for my match for so long now, does he exist? Is there a man out there willing to rise to the occasion? To be courageous in the face of love? To work through the dysfunction and conditioning we are raised with in our culture and respective family lives? I have been doing the hard inner work many years now and have a long way to go. Occasionally I meet someone who is also challenging themselves and the status quo. This is not an easy path that I have chosen. It is hard work to look closer and face so many things that are easier left untouched. It is no wonder so many people live their lives in a collective amnesiac state. I am awake and honestly it is hard to live that way, but I can not live any other way. Nor would I want to live in any inauthentic way. Life is so rich. I wish I had a love to share it with that understood these things that to me are fundamental. I truly appreciate your articulation of these ideas that are so obvious yet so difficult to see and define on such a graphic scale. Well done sir! And by all means, consider this my dance card. <3

  14. OH I loved this. I've been following these articles lately… because my girlfriends and I had been having the same conversation… about finding a man who matched us. Who was as strong as us. ANd you know what? In a strange coincidence… at least three of us have, all at the same time. And I'm blown away by my man. He is all that and more. I'm so glad I stayed true to me and stuck to the course. He was SO worth the wait. Awakened Warriors do exist. I've found mine.

  15. kmacku says:

    I think we're seeing more of this from men. I've written a few reflections on a similar topic. We're looking for the right words; I've seen articles saying the same thing but calling it things like, "Be the Bad Boy" or "Going to the Shadow Side," or using familiar words, phrases and tropes like that.

    Admittedly, it's a difficult topic: what you're talking about is, for the men like us who aren't echoes of the competitive spirit of the previous generation is to essentially kill that part of ourselves. Again, "kill" is a very powerful word, but it's effective when it comes to describing the act performed on a fundamental part of ourselves.

    The good news is that more and more men are coming to this realization, and as our numbers grow, I think we're going to start advancing the dialogue to the next stage: how.

    I was on the plane headed to New Orleans about a month ago. My neighbor in the adjacent seat was in (film) production. I, being an actor, saw on his iPad at just the right time a bunch of movie details; things in production—where, who the lead billing artists were, the producers, etc. We started up a conversation. Looking through the list, I saw an action movie with some of the older stars coming back (not another Expendables, but something along those lines). I made a comment about how, dang, those guys were getting old. His reply hit me kind of hard, "There are no action stars of the younger generation."

    I had to sit back and think. Damon's 42, and he's of the *youngest* of the action stars (I give him that title after the Bourne trilogy; I think he earned it there).

    What would really help are a new set of myths, a new set of heroes to emulate. Before you write this off as petty, it was the lack of an identifying figure that supposedly brought about this mess. In lacking the presence of the father, the surrogate idol must come from the realm of myth. We need writers. We need people to imagine. We need actors to follow, and characters for those actors to play. That's the next step. And then we'll return to the drawing board.

  16. bneal817 says:

    Thank you Kara-Leah. Indeed, awakened human beings exist! Men and women are evolving, healing psycho-sexual wounds and shedding the broken belief systems that created the old gender stereotypes.

    I appreciate your comment. I'm glad that you have found someone who blows your mind 😉

    ~ Ben

  17. bneal817 says:

    An interesting insight, Kevin. I had never considered the lack of young action stars, and how that indeed mirrors the shift in consciousness… Media and entertainment could help to inspire and instruct young men who are still, sadly, growing up without anything healthy to emulate.

    But I think that the archetype of the healthy, balanced spiritual warrior is not so new, really. It exists in all ancient cultures. And it exists in us, at a deep level, long forgotten and re-ermeging…

    Thanks for your comment, brother.

    ~ Ben

  18. bneal817 says:

    Thank you lj – both for your comment here, and for living a life devoted to the pursuit of truth, beauty and all that is holy and eternal. Dance honey, dance… the whole universe dances with you!

    ~ Ben

  19. Freya Watson says:

    Ben, I loved this! And will share it on. We can argue – as some have above – about the language, words and sub-text. But the bottom line is that we are being asked to step up and be the best we can be. That doesn't mean being perfect and it doesn't mean being someone else's version of perfect. It just means putting the energy into life that it asks of us if we want to enjoy every aspect of it to the full. It also means starting to 'write' our own 'stories' rather than relying on others to present them to us so that we can copy them. Role models help but I'm beginning to think that they are only a spring board to stretch our imagination so that we can broaden our personal horizons to accommodate the heroic. We are all heroes of our own journeys – men and women – and it's time we started to show up in our lives fully in a way that makes us proud of ourselves. And yes, as someone commented above, it is lonely on the dance floor at times, but I'm sensing it's starting to fill up as more of us start to play our own unique music and encourage others to do likewise.

  20. bneal817 says:

    Thank you Freya. You're absolutely right—the key is to live life so fully and whole-heartedly that when we go to bed each night, when have a smile on our lips. That is facing life like a warrior, with integrity.

    With language you can't please everybody. Some guys have definitely been rubbed the wrong way by this piece, and that's okay. Some guys have really felt it and been moved by it, too. And some women have seen a glimmer of hope that indeed, awakened relationship is possible. And if even one person is touched, then it was worth writing!

    ~ Ben

  21. oirishm says:

    " And work to improve ourselves, not to please a woman or Women in general, but because that is the whole thrill of life—to explore and expand forever and without end."

    So if this development is not being done to please women, why is so much of your article given over to what women do and want? If we are to improve ourselves for our own sake, then what women want is irrelevant.

    Also, I'm curious as to why you automatically assume women are "goddesses" – but apparently the best a man can hope for is to be a "bodhisattva" – not a god. Intentional or inadvertant?

  22. I am a bit late to this discussion, but thank you MQ for this well written and pointed reply. I love your writing style here, but more so, the message. Yes, we are not aiming for perfection, or to be something we are not for the sake of another or a relationship….


    I realize there is confusion here (in my own writing, and that of others) when we talk about heroic, divine, sarcred and even archetypal masculine. It can be read as a prescription to change our personalities and talents, when it is not that at all.

    Your comments have stirred my muse. Thank you! (and thanks Ben Neal for your participation in the dialogue)

  23. Kevin, this is so key. "The good news is that more and more men are coming to this realization, and as our numbers grow, I think we're going to start advancing the dialogue to the next stage: how. :

    Your words too, about a new set of myths resonate deeply–a new set for men and for women


  24. Very good post, Ben Neal. Very tuned in. I'm at a point of wanting to delve all the way into my music career, and some logistics related thoughts, like making sure my 3 children and wife are supported fully from other work I do, keep me from making the leap all the way to only music. But your article here is a nice reminder and catalyst to make it happen. Thank you.

  25. I've replied, below.

  26. Darci says:

    loved this piece. I'm still looking for my Awakened Warrior and someday…we'll find each other till then I'll be waiting ont he dance floor 🙂