Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New Man Episode 36: Ken Wilber: Integrating the Battle of the Sexes

Ken Wilber is making the rounds, first visiting the Buddhist Geeks and now joining The New Man podcast for a discussion on the "battle of the sexes."

Episode 36: Ken Wilber: Integrating the Battle of the Sexes

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The life of the New Man just got a whole lot more complicated.

This week we're talking with Ken Wilber, world-renown Integral philosopher about the evolution of men's and women's roles in our society. Ken shows us how our current disagreements over equality between the sexes actually stemmed from old school tools and "little things" like pregnancy.

Ken also talks about how we're all influenced greatly by not just technology but our personal beliefs and the pressures of society. His work is centered around showing how all of these forces impact us and one another. In other words, Ken shows us how all the pieces in this crazy life fit together and the end result is fascinating. You may never see your life the same way again.


Click here for a really good intro to Integral Theory.

Wilber's 4 Quadrant model:

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Ken Wilber Books


ned said...

Hi Bill,

Just found this blog. As a woman who is trying to understand what men are going through these days, trying to redefine the meaning of being a man, I'm quite pleased to have found your blog. I hope I can continue reading about these struggles and learn from them.

All the best!

ned said...

Ah, just started listening to this podcast and am already rolling my eyes at how immature people's priorities are. (I hope you won't mind this intrusion and critique from a woman. ;-) )

I'm an Aurobindonian so that's my take on all of this. The integral yoga's goal is to synthesize the masculine and feminine principle in each of us.

My two cents: much of this has to do with men's anxiety toward *each other*, and much less to do with women. I.e. most of this "new man" movement and the search for new male archetypes has to do with the fact that men can't seem to stop threatening each other or being threatened by each other (an unfortunate consequence of patriarchy which will take a long time to grow out of). Men are scared stiff of being called "wimps" by each other.

But truly how can you open yourself up to the Divine (or higher consciousness if you will) without admitting that you are utterly helpless and vulnerable? All this display of manly strength and masculine egoism -- what an illusion it is, given that an earthquake or a hurricane could rip your body to pieces at any time.

I guess what I am saying is, the paradox of true spiritual strength is that it is only by admitting that one is weak that one has the ability to receive true strength. Only by surrendering is there any hope of being empowered.

The rest is just fun and games, and peanuts.

This said, I am deeply sympathetic to this struggle that men are going through. I realize it is actually much harder for men to break free of patriarchal constructs than for women.

ned said...

Okay just heard the whole podcast ... liked it (though the interviewer is a bit annoying). Ken's point about studying the history of the roles of men and women reminded me of this quote from Sri Aurobindo: "Break the moulds of the past, but keep safe its gains and its spirit, or else thou hast no future."

WH said...

Thanks for sharing your views Ned - a woman's experience is always welcome

I like the Aurobindo path, too, all part of the integral perspective

I do think men have more work to do in this area - we are taught not to be vulnerable in any way, which is necessary for opening to divinity - it's hard work to undo that, and the culture doesn't help in any way

but more men are seeking that tender heart that allows experience of love and life :)


ned said...

Hi Bill,

Just thought I add a few more comments here in case you might find some of these ideas useful.

First of all, Pir Zia Inayat Khan gave a fantastic talk on chivalry which you might like:

As I understand it, true chivalry, true courage, true strength, power and serenity, comes from surrendering and transforming what Sri Aurobindo calls the "vital being". Both men and women have this of course, and everyone who is initiated into the integral yoga has to, of necessity, learn how to become a warrior in the "vital". The vital is the seat of emotions, passions, effective enthusiasm. It is a dynamic energy which most of us in this yoga experience as extending from the lower sexual chakras up to the level of the heart chakra. Transforming the vital allows a descent of peace and power into the lower chakras, effectively making one fearless!

The transformed, noble, courageous, resilient vital is ready to give itself to the Divine, ready to die for the Truth, ready to sacrifice itself for the good of all, ready to protect and empower the weak. This is what I see in the knights, maidens, samurai warriors, etc. etc. of old.

In my opinion, *this* is the manhood that so many are seeking. It is a disinterested, detached, noble, warrior vital, ready to be a martyr for Truth because it knows that it is the instrument of an immortal soul and an Eternal Reality. It is this inner warrior, consecrated to the Truth, that we are all seeking.

What I have started to discover in my own journey is that there is no fear in our higher nature. That fear is only in the lower animal nature. The same stimulus can cause the experience of fear or exhiliration in the "vital", as I call it. As the vital being evolves, grows, and becomes more noble, it stops experiencing fear, and starts experiencing exhiliration, a sense of adventure, at fighting off evil.

If by some Grace or miracle, we could get the military forces of the world to start developing these noble vital beings, purified and plastic, that would create armies of humanistic warriors who could never become abusive and who would protect the weak and serve the Truth.

But right now, this ideal is a long way off! As I said above, the problem is that as long as we remain satisfied with the lower animal nature and don't admit how helpless and vulnerable we are, we can't possibly grow out of this lower nature. Unfortunately this is what I often see in the kind of masculine egoisms that most men acquire as a substitute for the kind of manhood I am describing here. It is a pretense to strength, not the real thing. Until these illusions are challenged, true manhood -- becoming vital warriors -- is out of our reach.