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journey to the center

by Dr. Robert L. Moore

There are two components to the sacred masculine and masculine spirituality. The first component is for a man to get connected to the great power that he needs for life, that his family needs for him to have, that his community needs for him to have, that the world needs for him to have. Second, masculine spirituality concerns what a man must do to keep his power from turning demonic and destructive in his personality and life, in his family, in his community, and in the world. Masculine spirituality has these two parts: (a) a man has to connect to the power, and (b) he then must figure out how to keep that power from destroying him and his world. In the history of masculine spirituality, we have not done well with the second one. We have at times been very good at powering up, like Nazi S.S. troops, but we have not always been effective in keeping our power from turning demonic.

center or chaos?

Throughout history all forms of spirituality have understood "the Center" as the source of power for living in the world. The first task of masculine spirituality is locating the Center, connecting with it, plugging into the sources of regeneration and creativity that are needed for life.

The great scholar Mircea Eliade (1959) is one of the most important people helping us to understand human spirituality. He has helped us to understand that when human beings cannot find the Center, they fall into chaos. That chaos has different forms. It can be a cold chaos. You have all been depressed. You have all been without energy, a cold chaos of the wasteland. Or, if you don't know where the Center is, you can have a hot chaos, a compulsive chaos, an addictive chaos, where you have got lots of energy banging off the walls and lighting you up like a Christmas tree, but it is making your life crazy, it is destroying your world. Before you find that Center, you either have cold or hot chaos in some way, and there is no space in the world that is habitable.

Our planet presently has a new form of chaos, a type that has never been seen before. It is a form of chaos that comes, not when the culture has the wrong leaders in its places of eldership, not when leaders need to be changed, but where the whole system of elders has collapsed, and the culture is falling apart and dissolving into chaos. You see it in many places on the earth.

Think of the emerging chaos in our cities, especially the enormous increase in violent crime and murder, particularly among our young males. We are seeing all over the planet a new thing that is more destructive than the Nazi and Japanese war machines. After the war, we sent teams under Douglas MacArthur to Japan in order to democratize existing political institutions. We did the same thing in Germany and Italy. What we are seeing now is systems and structures dissolving in front of our eyes, systems and structures that are needed if we are to hold anything together in order to preserve a humane habitat.

Our uninitiated Warriors, our monster-boy Warriors - the men running the gun trade in the world - are making it easy for boys of twelve years old, even of ten years old, to have AK-47's and M-16's all over the planet. Monster-boy gangs are increasingly dominating community after community, city after city, all over the world. It is not just America. Uneldered and uninitiated boys, abandoned by their uninitiated fathers and uncles, are terrorizing people world-wide.

finding the center
There is much talk about a habitat for humanity; that is just a new way to talk about the old idea of finding the Center so there can be a world that is habitable for humans who have found orientation. Eliade called that the axis mundi. That is the World Tree. In Christianity, it is the Cross. In Judaism, it is the Holy City of Jerusalem. In Islam, it is the Kaaba, the great black shrine. In Native American traditions, there are sacred mountains that are sacred centers, the Center of the World. If you have been to the Southwest, you have probably been to the Center of the World of some of the native peoples.

The old people of the earth always knew that they had to find the Center of the World. Why? Because they knew that if you did not find it, you would either fail to have the energy you needed to live, or any energy you had would be demonic. It would lead to craziness. So find that Center, and in that Center when you find it, the power of Being flows in through that Center. It is there that creation forms out of the chaos. It is there that the great "I AM" is said. It is there that you return for regeneration when things begin to deteriorate. It is there that the creative, regenerative energies of the world flow in.

In spirituality, and especially in masculine spirituality, the journey to the Center and to the fruits of that Center are imaged as an ascent. There are all kinds of examples of sacred mountains. Probably fifty cultures talked about pyramids and used pyramids to image this ascent, this spiritual ascent, the spiral toward the Center.

The transformative dynamics of that ascent, your experience and the experience you wish for other men, is a walking of this journey, of this ascent. It moves from the wasteland that is seen at the edge of the circle up to the Center where the cosmos, world, shalom, the sacred order of justice and peace is found. What is that energy for? What is the community stewarded for? It is stewarded for the polis, they used to say in Greece, the city and the cosmos, so that there can be a safe vessel for one's friends, for one's family, and for the rest of humanity.

So here is the journey to the Center, and the ascent, the struggle of the ascent, and the goal of getting beyond the self and even beyond the community to cosmos, to world building, to a world of justice and peace.

Eliade, M. (1959). The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion: The Significance of Religious Myth, Symbolism, and Ritual Within Life and Culture. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, Inc.

Moore, R. (1997). Masculine Initiation for the 21st Century: The Global Challenge. The New Warrior Handbook.

Moore, R. (2001). The Archetype of Initiation: Sacred Space, Ritual Process, and Personal Transformation. Philadelphia, PA: Xlibris Corporation.

Dr. Robert L. Moore

Internationally recognized as one of the foremost psychotherapists in the optimizing of masculine selfhood and leadership, Dr. Moore offers individuals Structural Diagnosis and Integrative Psychotherapy in Chicago, Illinois.

As a Jungian psychoanalyst and spiritual theologian, Dr. Moore focuses on the powerful, grandiose 'God energies' that burn fiercely in the heart of every human being. Faced consciously in faith and with authentic respect, these energies reflect in us the numinous, creative and transformative power of the Divine Presence. But if the human ego engages in a pretentious 'unknowing' of the reality and significance of this Presence, existential denial of the Divine Presence, a demonic alchemy occurs in which the sacred energies of the soul are twisted into destructive powers that have a 'hideous strength.' This power of aggressive non-being manifests itself in addictions, ritual violence and war, political oppression, racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, and the ecological destruction of our planet.

Through individual psychotherapy Dr. Moore assists individuals in learning how not to retreat into despair in the face of radical evil, but to have faith, courage, and the skills to confront it effectively.


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