The soulful quest begins when the hero leaves his easy role, going into the depths of the self, the purification of their infantile masculinity, penetrating the character armour protecting the personality, and plunging into chaos and pain of the true “Masculine self “—learning to feel their way through illusions, crawling through the drains and sewers, where unmanly feeling and beliefs dwell, and having to confront demons and the shadow that holds them captive.

The hero learns to utilise his fierceness, courage, and aggression to break through the rigidity of societal manhood’s “old Egoic Structures”, exploring negative emotions. A series of passages, from emotional numbness to manly grief, from dark wisdom to potent doubt, from infantile guilt to mature responsibility, to honest despair and virile fear, from compulsive action to relaxed waiting and renewal. The hero starts to rage against his mother/lover’s anima, cowered before her primal power, afraid of abandonment and death, and finally able to see the two faces of womankind and the worst in her.

Man has been trapped in the extroversion, the materialistic world, unaware of his unconscious and the creatures that inhabit the shadow realms. Once upon a crisis, depression, alienation, or dark night of the soul, we must accept and honour the call and cross the threshold. The old pillars of our false identity can no longer support us and fulfil us, as it’s time to leave your achievements and attachments behind. Initiated into the path to selfhood, the man is compelled to separate from the “Normal” world of adulthood. This new revolution of values, wandering and questing into one’s true potency and pride, once considered sources of shame. The need to acquire an innocent eye, a childlike view, recognises our lostness and failings, seeding a new identity, where being is becoming, born again, where to live is to feel.

Once one has passed the numbness and started to cry, he enters into the tangled web of grief and unashamed sorrow connecting to the fear through the valley of tears and losses; man must mourn before they can be replaced and reborn. Today the aching void of the absent father is prevalent, lost to the world of work, emotional unavailability, inhibition, divorce, or feminism. A day without grief is a day without awareness or compassion; life is meant to be full of suffering as well as happiness. When we refuse to soften, to surrender, to mourn our daily dying, we live with a high degree of illusions and depression.

We can all pay a terrible price for conquering fear and viewing ourselves as heroes, reduced to an exhibitionist arena, with constant virtue signalling or artificial courage, lacking patience, honesty, and wisdom, dominated by competition and warfare. Tough on the outside, empty within. Full of shame and guilt, with a constant need for approval and fear of rejection and punishment. To gain freedom, we must confront and conquer unconscious guilt and shame, not just by thinking positively and avoiding all negative emotions.

The hero, by contrast, fears self-betrayal and loss of self, more than the loss of reputation.

Depression is more than low self-esteem; it indicates you are on the wrong path and not being true to yourself; here, something is being suppressed, ignored, and imprisoned. The descent into despair feels like death, where the old self is dead, and we find a new doorway and path to renewal. Learning to trust something will happen without conscious intention, they start to move upwards, the phallus rises, as they say, rises to the occasion, depression lifts, and hope resurfaces, and we can start to feel joy for being alive. A new sense of self emerges, able to feel and listen with greater sensitivity and responsibility, gaining true acceptance and gratitude. We are set free from the agonising realm of self-consciousness and participate in the world beyond the self.

The unavailable man is encumbered with himself, preoccupied with money, power, image, and status

Solitude begins when man silences the aggressive voices and starts to listen to the dictates of the heart, takes time to be himself, discovers his desires, tastes, gifts, and wounds, and keeps growing.

  • Smart men think abruptly; wise men think auto-biographically.
  • Smart men remove themselves from the problem; wise men bring all their experiences to bear
  • Smart men think quickly and consciously. Wise men slowly simmer and allow the unconscious to play out.
  • Smart men live in a moment where any problem can be defined and solved. Wise men recollect the past and reject the limits of human conditioning.

The hero’s path is filled with conflict, with their eyes open to suffering, disease, and injustice, feeling outraged and hearing the call to arms. One requires all the spiritual wisdom they can accommodate and accumulate to accept their deepest injuries and losses, powerless to change. The battles are no longer fought in the political or intellectual realm but within the spiritual world of good versus bad. The hero soon learns they cannot earn a living from trivial and destructive means, supporting the beast and maintaining true self-worth.

Keen, S . (1992).Fire in the Belly: On Being a Man.Bantam USA; Reissue edition