“Being spiritual is not macho.”

“If you’re a spiritual guy, you must be a wimp.”

“If you’re spiritual you can’t be a real man.”

Gentlemen (and ladies, too), I have news for you! Masculinity and spirituality are not mutually exclusive. The perception of “machismo” is ego driven.

In ancient times men were called to war to defend the tribe or conquer another. Willingly or not, in order to go into battle the men were told to be fearless, suppress all emotions (except anger) and put aside any concern of brutality forced upon the enemy. The reward after the battle was one’s life, riches and sex. When the men of war came home, the experience was still one of dominance, harshness and conquest. This still persists in the forms of machismo, dominance, chauvinism and lack of intimacy in relationships.

For some men, the only time they could express any feelings, vulnerability and intimacy was in the act of love. Then they would return to the “warrior” state in which feelings, emotions and having an open heart were again suppressed. That state was necessary for survival. In our modern Western society, it is no longer necessary for survival, but have we males adapted?

It is a scientific fact that the more testosterone one has in his or her system, the more aggressive and assertive they become and desire is heightened (this is also true for women). The level of testosterone is directly proportional to the desire for competition, physical strength and dominance.

Ego can play a large part here too, but this biological system of hormones does not preclude experiencing a sense of the divine. Closing off that intuitive and open sense is a learned trait. If we look at our boys we will see a natural tendency for physical expression and assertiveness, but young boys also have the need to be loved and nurtured. There needs to be a balance. 

This balance is upset to a great extent by what is expected in society and religion, and then this expectation is passed down through generations, especially through the family unit — fathers, of course, by example, and mothers, too, by what is expected of a man (by women) in the male role.

Being spiritually focused does not preclude enjoying sports, exercise, competition, sexuality or consuming alcohol. In our society, there is a tendency to make these things our “God” along, with the rights of manhood. Yours truly has joyously experienced all of these, and yes, I am a bit of a “gym rat.” But there is more, so much more. Allowing ourselves to find that balance of the young boy again — allowing our male-selves to have an open heart, express feelings and be consciously aware of other’s feelings with compassion will enhance all our other physical pleasures and activities. Yes, gentleman, the experience of intimacy will be a far better and more meaningful experience when we allow ourselves to be consciously present with an open heart. And indeed, you will be a better lover!

We must understand that the persona of “machismo,” being a “man’s man,” is a learned ego-based identity. Ultimately, there is no real value in this identity. It’s simply an experience, but an experience that will block a greater expression of self. It will also block a deeper and more meaningful experience of life. To be spiritually focused does not preclude one’s masculinity, but actually enhances the natural expression of it. A “real man” owns his masculinity but is not bound by it.

Ladies, so much of what we discussed here you already know. Please allow the men in your life to step out of the traditional masculine “macho” role and help them to step into their fuller, more balanced expression.

When we men embrace our masculinity and invite in our spiritual nature, we will experience life and an inner peace unlike anything we have experienced before. Just do it.

Jim Hatton is the author (under the pen name James Apollonius Alan) of “A Spiritual Master’s Guide to Life” (available on Amazon). Email him at RevFatherJim@outlook.com. Send 600- to 700-word articles for Inner Peace to Sally McKirgan at innerpeaceforyou@outlook.com.