The Measure of a Man

“When you can win with humility, and lose with dignity, then, and only then, can you call yourself a man.”

Kevin Kinchen

You will know that you have reached that elusive milestone called manhood simply by observing yourself through life’s’ vicissitudes. Everyone, no matter who we are in life, must experience life as an ebb and flow of success and failure. None of us can experience a life of complete victory, nor total defeat. We all experience both in life.

The difference between a boy and a man, then, lies in relationship to this fundamental truth of life. Quite simply, a boy does not realize that failure is the path to success, whereas a man realizes that this is such. In other words, the only difference between a man and a boy is that a man can see through the illusion of failure, realizing that there is, in fact, no such thing as failure. A man realizes that, on the contrary, failure is but feedback teaching us the way to our success, and that even such success is transient.

To put it another way, a man is one that has learned to be detached in the experience of failure and success, accepting both as transient and impermanent as clouds passing through the sky. That is, the realization of manhood is to be found in the realization of life’s impermanent nature, and thus, accepts gain and loss as the same, not more attached to one over the other.

In indigenous societies- ancient human societies where human beings lived with nature (as opposed to living separated from nature) – the wise elders of the community who had come to such a realization would systematically lead all the boys of the community to this realization through a rigorous rite of passage. Though we do not have a formal rite of passage in this society, there are, nonetheless still life trials that we are called to endure that can have the same function as these ancient rites, in that they can lead us to the realization of this truth, for the purposes of allowing us to move skillfully through life.

The reason why it is this singular realization that is the essence of manhood is because the reason why any being incarnates into physical form as a male is for Spirit to explore this aspect of itself. And the aspect of Spirit that Spirit is trying to know within itself experientially is stillness. You see, there are two aspects of Spirit ultimately, stillness and dynamism. These sides, which we can understand as the masculine and feminine aspects of Spirit are the essence of creation in that it is ultimately a dance of stillness and dynamism. Thus, the masculine side of spirit, the side that you have incarnated to experience is stillness.

And, given that it is stillness that is the essence of masculinity (literally the masculine side of Spirit), it is in stillness that the acceptance of the ephemeral nature of success and failure, victory and defeat, loss and gain, is complete. Thus, it is in the stillness of mind, which accepts the ebb and flow illusion of success and failure, that a boy becomes a man- which is really a master.

Unfortunately, none can give this realization to another. In time, in response to the many trials that life will present to you, you will come to accept loss and gain, failure and success as one. And then, and only then, you will know that at last you have become a man.

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