A war of the genders seems to exist these days and, specifically, an attack on masculinity has been more visible. Is the world really full of “toxic” masculinity and is it truly a patriarchy-driven society? Has the masculinity of men really become hyperinflated and poisoned? Is what we are seeing these days even masculinity according to ancient principles and traditions? Or could it possibly be something more or different? (Hint: It is something more!)
As a tantric man who has practiced and studied Tantra for more than 25 years, this topic is a passion of mine and hits close to my heart. You see, masculinity is actually very much prized and adored in Tantra and not for the reasons you might expect.
Tantra is the perfect lens through which to view masculinity because it looks at such principles strictly from an energetic viewpoint and removes all emotions and biases from the equation. It provides us with a balanced perspective based in truth.
I hope to shed a spiritual light on this controversial and highly debated topic and provide a thorough and in-depth view about conscious, sacred, and divine masculinity.
But before we dive into masculinity specifically, let’s generally discuss the masculine and feminine energies. They are two sides of the same coin essentially and you cannot really understand one without the other.
Masculine and feminine energies are the hallmarks of Tantra. The idea of an energetic polarity or duality is interwoven into every aspect of Tantra and all tantric practices. Tantra, in fact, is an interplay between the masculine and feminine energies. It is a dance between Shiva (the archetypal God and masculine energy) and his consort Shakti (the archetypal Goddess and feminine energy).
Tantra understands that all of nature operates according to the masculine and feminine principles. In fact, all of creation does. Creation exists because of the masculine and feminine principles and would cease to exist without both polarities. Plants, animals, and humans all exist because of the masculine and feminine energies coming together and uniting.
Other examples of the masculine and feminine energies represented as polarities include: sun/moon, active/passive, emissive/receptive, consciousness/energy, order/chaos, and dry/wet.
This idea of polarity is not unique to Tantra either. You will find mention of it in every spiritual tradition from the dawn of time.
In the ancient Chinese tradition masculinity and femininity are referred to as yang and yin, where yang is the plus polarity and masculine energy and yin is the minus polarity and feminine energy.
The plus and minus polarities are even found in electricity. In order for light or power to be produced, the source of electricity must have both a positive and a negative terminal. It is a universal law.
Tantra understands that all of nature operates according to the masculine and feminine principles. In fact, all of creation does.
In sum, the yin aspect is: receptive, dynamic, energy in ecstatic motion, lunar, black, feminine, Shakti, minus polarity, the Goddess, Divine Mother, Shiva’s executor who brings his unmanifested will into creation, the energy of transformation.
While the yang aspect is: emissive, pure consciousness, solidarity, white, masculine, solar, plus polarity, God, a beacon of light, unwavering and unmoving, a pillar of verticality, a state of equilibrium.
When masculinity and femininity are explained in this way, it is redundant to label one better than the other or inherently negative. They are simply two sides of the same coin, both crucial for the coin to exist.
This duality that defines our reality is fundamental, meaningful, and necessary. The interplay between the yin/yang and feminine/masculine is a continual evolutionary dance.
Both the masculine and feminine energies are contained within every single human being regardless of gender. We all have a yin side and yang side, and access to both masculine energy and feminine energy.
In Tantra, men are acknowledged as the ultimate symbol of the masculine polarity and principle, while women are the ultimate symbol of the feminine polarity and principle. This is not to say that men cannot manifest the feminine principle and women cannot manifest the masculine principle. They can.
However, the fact that a woman is born in a female body, she has female hormones, she has female reproductive organs, her mind and mentality tend to be more yin in nature, and she has a feminine emotional construct means she can manifest the Shakti energy exponentially more powerfully than a man can. She was simply born in a structure that is feminine, yin, and female by definition.
The same is true for a man. Because of the male structure, hormones, genitals, emotions, thoughts, thinking patterns, and mind, a man is able to manifest the Shiva principle and yang polarity usually better than a woman.
In Tantra, men are acknowledged as the ultimate symbol of the masculine polarity and principle, while women are the ultimate symbol of the feminine polarity and principle.
The differences between men and women are recognized, acknowledged, and cherished in the tantric tradition. Tantra is all-inclusive and views things only according to energy and spirituality.
When a woman utilizes her feminine gifts, strengths, and qualities in her spiritual practices, she is able to make great progress exponentially faster than if she tried to tap into her masculine energy for the same gains. The same is true for men. Men are far more compelling and effective when they tap into their innate masculine energy for spiritual purposes.
Tantra says that in order to be a successful, harmonious, and balanced man, you should have a firmly rooted connection to your masculine side and energy. The same is true for women and their feminine energy.
It is also necessary to have both the yin and yang sides balanced – meaning both wings of a bird are equally developed and cultivated. This means you not only have a good understanding of both energies and their harmonious aspects, but you can embody each energy independently of one another at will and on command depending on the situation.
Some situations are better suited for the yang energy and some for yin energy. Knowing which situation requires which energy is a matter of training and also experimentation. In Tantra, you learn tools just for that.
Ideally, as a man, you are predominantly expressing and embodying divine masculinity and tapping into your feminine less frequently, as situations arise. As a woman you are predominantly expressing and embodying divine and spiritual femininity and tapping into your masculine energy only as needed.
Tantra says if this were happening the world would be a far different place and there would be peace and harmony in society and among the sexes.
Masculinity and masculine energy are not inherently toxic. All energy is considered a neutral force. It is not by nature good or bad, toxic or beneficial. It all depends on how you use it.
Electricity, for example, could purify water in an African village and save millions from a terrible death due to disease and contamination. On the flip side, electricity could also be used to electrocute someone and bring about harm and even death.
All energy operates in this way – it can be harmful or beneficial. It all depends how you use it and who is using it for what purpose.
A man can also exert his force and energy upon the world in a terrible way. He could create war, famine, and destroy Mother Nature. Does that mean every man is inherently bad, toxic, and destructive and should be lumped into the same category? I think not. We have a rich history of men who used their energy for the good of all of humanity at the expense of themselves.
Contemporary masculinity is often defined as aggressive behaviors and war-like attitudes as well as signs of the “alpha male” typology – machismo, toughness, and emotional aloofness. Manliness is considered the quality of a world leader, military commander, or successful, savvy businessman. However, these are very limited and superficial forms of masculinity which are often clouded by egotistical and self-indulgent tendencies.
There is a spiritual form of masculinity, or divine masculinity, though which is much more refined, sophisticated, and beneficial. In Tantra, authentic masculinity is the embodiment of the yang energy and principle – an energy that represents restraint, honor, morality, virtue, and many other noble qualities described earlier.
Practically the yang energy manifests as focus, centeredness, solidity, decisiveness, detachment, and objectivity as well as the ability to internalize and interiorize at will. Additionally, a man sincerely rooted in veritable masculinity will act from a place of selflessness, spiritual responsibility, compassion, and altruism – action carried out for the greater good and not any promise of fame, fortune, or ego gratification. In fact, you can have a man who is physically not masculine at all according to modern standards but mentally, emotionally, and spiritually he is a force to be reckoned with.
Divine masculinity is a path for men to transcend the ego and find meaning and purpose in something much greater than themselves.
Authentic masculinity, according to the tantrics, is panoramic, expansive, and far-reaching, touching every aspect of a man. A man learns how to rebuild himself from the ground up or, in this case, from the inside out. He develops a genuine masculine spirit by reconnecting to the inherent qualities that already exist inside of him. He comes to understand the core of who he really is and realizes that his nature is interconnected with cosmic consciousness.
Tantra’s approach to a man’s masculine and spiritual development is systematic and precise. There are definitive practices and techniques that help to shape and mold the male construct, which cultivates a full-ranging masculine approach to life. I like to call this “Global Masculinity” and the path of the vira, or spiritual warrior.
Part of Tantra Sexuality Module
Many people say today that the world is overtaken by a dominance of the masculine energy and “toxic masculinity” in particular, but I would like to share with you the tantric view on the state of the world.
According to the tantric texts, we are actually living at a time which is excessively yin and where the yang energy is painfully lacking.
If you view world events from a more zoomed-out perspective, you will be able to see the following:
These are all signs of a world in crisis and chaos, and all of these above are exemplifications of yin conditions. The yin energy is out of control and as a result people, both men and women, are spinning out of control. There is emotional overwhelm and people don’t know where to turn to for peace, clarity, and solidarity.
It is like a bird without a right wing. The balance is greatly disturbed. The yin needs yang in order to be equalized. Said in tantric terms – Shakti needs Shiva’s divine presence and equanimity for all to be right in the world.
According to Tantra, if there was a great presence of spiritual masculinity and more yang energy, balance could easily be restored and harmony and peace would reign.
As mentioned, men and women have both the masculine and feminine energies inside of them.
However, because of the physiological structure of a man, his hormones, the way his mind functions, and how his emotions are constructed, he has a greater potential to embody the masculine energy and true masculine qualities.
In fact, men are taught in Tantra that the quickest and most efficient way to spiritual success and evolution is by using their masculinity as their greatest tool. The same goes for women.
If you desire to explore divine masculinity deeply and to become a conscious man yourself, there are tools, techniques, and teachings to accomplish just that. Here are the best ways, from my personal experience, to do that:
Masculinity is thoroughly studied and practiced in our lineage according to the ancient teachings and original knowledge. We offer a dedicated workshop on this topic alone that is strictly for men and taught by male teachers. It is called Tantra Masculinity: The Vira Training. It will open your eyes to the most important aspects of your being and will help you understand true masculinity, its qualities and benefits, and how to enhance it harmoniously in yourself.
Authentic and ancient Yoga actually has a strong, masculine legacy with a history of hardcore, devoted yogis who engaged in austere and rigorous practices – not for the faint of heart. Tantra Yoga for Men is an ideal approach for a modern man to define and refine himself into a vira, a true spiritual hero.
Study and emulate the masculinity of well-known male spiritual masters such as Sri Yukteswar, Paramahansa Yogananda, Milarepa, Swami Sivananda, Sri Aurobindo, and others. There are many great books written about these spiritual viras which are very inspirational and provide a true glimpse into spiritual masculinity.
Watch movies which display old-style masculinity such as “Fountainhead” (1949), “Braveheart” (1995), “El Cid” (1961), and “Kingdom of Heaven” (2005), for example.
In these movies the main male character’s morals, ethics, integrity, and even livelihood are challenged and he is asked to conform to popular standards despite them being wrong, dishonest, and sinful. In each of these movies you see that the man remains loyal and true to his moral and religious convictions no matter what. He is unwavering even when faced with death, punishment, starvation, and torture. This is the path of the spiritual vira.
If we can move past our convoluted views regarding masculinity, we can come to realize a new paradigm where the conscious man embodying divine masculinity benefits all of mankind and is an antidote for a world in crisis.
Sacred and spiritual masculinity is a pathway toward authentic living and an end to the common struggles of modern men. It is also a guiding light for women to rediscover their divine femininity and for peace and respect between the sexes to be restored.
If you are a man, I hope you will embark on the path to divine and spiritual masculinity. It is the gift that keeps on giving to yourself, to your loved ones, and to humanity as a whole!
Founder and Head Teacher
Spiritual yogi, lecturer, teacher and author, Somananda is the founder and head teacher of Somananda Tantra School.
A Powerful Training for Serious Men