Mans Spiritual Challenge
Barry Long's revealing introduction to his book 'To Man in Truth'
The first thing an ordinary man has to do
to help him realise his spiritual yearnings for God, truth or enlightenment, is to examine his everyday life. He has to see where he is wasting his energies on distractive activities, and start making changes.
Every man has inside his body sufficient energy to take him through to the realisation of truth or God - God realisation, as it’s called.
For God realisation is the original natural state of man. But over the thousands of years of increasing interest in the distractions of the mind and the world, man has in most cases lost the state and the keen spiritual perception that goes with it.
Identifying Distracting Habits & Emotions
Within man’s daily life there are various habits he has to identify. He has to really see for himself that each is a form of distraction. For instance, he may have made a habit of talking too much, or frequently phoning his friends to see how they’re going. He does these things because he can’t stand the silence that is natural in him and because he can’t stand to be alone without a constant supply of information. The habitual reading of newspapers, the regular listening to the radio or excessive watching of TV, all fall into this category of wasting valuable energy.
There are also his emotional reactions which disturb him and others and destroy his spiritual energies. Anger is one of the most destructive. He has to gradually withdraw from this emotional habit. He does this by genuinely seeing that there is no excuse for anger: he is either trying to do the impossible and getting angry about it; blaming somebody for upsetting his life which means he is not responsible for his life; or he is stubbornly trying to get his own way when the situation doesn’t allow it.
Withdrawing Emotional Dependence
The man has to look very closely at his relationships. As a beginning, he has to ask himself, ‘If anyone I love died or left me, would I be in pain?’ If the answer is ‘yes’ it means he has an emotional attachment to that person; for it is attachment that causes pain, not love. He is dependent on the person and therefore they have the power to hurt or manipulate him. Such attachments destroy the man’s spiritual power; while they exist in him he can never really be free. So he has to start withdrawing his emotional dependence on people close to him. If it is his mother for instance, and he is terrified of her dying, he must stop phoning her every day or week when there is no need.
The Distraction of Work
He must also examine his work and see whether he’s a workaholic and what that is doing to his love-life. When he complains, ‘I’m so busy’, is he lying to himself because he’s really enjoying the momentum and excitement - even the problems? Is he aware that he’s on an endless continuity wave that closes him off from much of the rest of his life?
Work is one of man’s main distractions. If he gets too immersed in it he won’t really be able to be with his partner or children when he gets home. Half of him - his mind and emotions - will be on the momentum of work. His attachment will not allow him to leave it behind: for what you are attached to obviously follows you.
Also, after what he calls a hard day at the office he is likely to need a drink or a drug to slow him down and relax him. Really he should have already slowed himself down and been relaxed at work instead of getting emotionally identified with it.
As he gradually withdraws from these many distractions in his daily life, the man’s self is going to play up. His and everybody’s self consists of a block of resistance to any form of spiritual discipline or self denial. It is the opposite to the pure intelligence and goodness of the man. Faced with such intelligent action his self will feel restless and threatened. His self loves him to be distracted and doesn’t want him to have the extra spiritual power that is available when he learns to contain the energies he’s been wasting.
That power takes the form of a greater authority which the man realises is coming into him; a greater sense of being what he is. He will not give in to people’s emotional demands as he used to, either in his love-life or in the family. He will get a right aloofness from it all. He won’t be dragged into emotional situations because the people around him will know that’s not his game any more. For instance, he won’t argue with anyone. He’ll say, ‘I don’t argue. I just look to see the fact for myself.’ Eventually he will say, ‘I don’t discuss things. You can ask me a question and I will reply as best I can, but I’m not into discussions.’ Discussions solve nothing in the spiritual life; what counts is action.
The man will continue to love the people close to him, not according to their expectations, but according to the truth in him. As he does that, his inner authority increases and he has a greater perception of freedom. Living this way he sees more clearly through the distractions of existence in which he’s been burying himself, to something indescribable behind it all. He starts to have intimations of ‘the one’, the one unnameable Being behind everything. That’s another name for what I call God, life, love or truth. He will then have quieter moments, stiller moments of communion with that in his own being.
The Process of Containment
What I have described is a process of containment to develop a spiritual consciousness. It is the troublesome and distracting self that has to be contained. The self is a hard lump of emotional cunning that has formed in the subconscious out of all the disappointments and hurts the person has experienced since birth, particularly those of a sexual nature. It is terrified of being seen for what it is and directs most people’s decisions and reactions from the safety of the dark of their subconscious. Being an unhappy entity, its influence spoils good relationships and situations and inevitably makes choices that are soon regretted. Under the light of spiritual scrutiny the self squirms and does everything it can to deflect the attention.
In any situation of self-denial or withdrawal, the self will be felt as an uncomfortable disturbance or restlessness in the belly, as everybody has experienced. It will try to move the man’s body when he is being still; make him go for a walk, read the paper or turn on the TV. It will pressure him to think about giving up the process, to feel that he is being hard done by or even misled. The man must not give in to this. He’s just got to stay with the self and not try to get rid of it, knowing that by containing it he is gradually reducing it. The authority he has gained is the intelligence with which he surrounds his self. But it must be without thought. And any pain is simply his self dying. He must not look for overnight miracles. He must remember that he himself made this restless old unhappy self and it is only right that now he should take responsibility for dissolving it.
Honesty in Partnership
One of the most difficult things for man (and woman) to grasp is how to withdraw from attachment to the partner. For this he has to introduce truth into the relationship. Normally people fall in love, make love and that’s pretty well the end of it - until the misunderstandings and arguments start. When there is truth in the relationship from the beginning, the chances of conflict are reduced enormously. It means putting honesty before the love of the man or woman. The man must see that if he takes his emotions and negative reactions into a relationship - as everybody does - the partnership is going to be problematical. To avoid that he has to be prepared, with his woman, to give up his emotions and find out what causes them, in him and in her.
That requires a pretty intelligent partner, so in this I’m not just talking to man. Woman has to be honest, too. If he finds that she’s emotional, in order to introduce truth or God into the situation he has to be able to say, ‘What are you emotional about?’ And particularly to ask this very rare question, ‘What am I doing to you, or not doing, to make you emotional? If I’m doing something then I want to change that. I love you, so I don’t want to make you unhappy. We’re together to enjoy being together and if there is anything I can remove in myself that has come between us, I will endeavour to do it.’ Of course the woman will say and do the same, if she’s a real woman. And neither must react in the old defensive ways of the past. So the principle is: honesty before love. Otherwise you will have a dishonest love no matter how hard you try.
Honesty in love is the process of detachment. It brings reality into the partnership, reducing selfish and irresponsible emotional expressions. Each one takes responsibility for their own emotions instead of trying to put their emotions on the other by accusing or blaming them and saying, ‘You’re making me emotional’. That’s ridiculous. Only my self makes me emotional.
A man endeavouring to live the spiritual life has to practise loving woman. For the essence of woman is God or love in existence. Every man knows that woman is what he thinks about most throughout his life - from boyhood to the time of his death. He might say he doesn’t want woman but he will still think about her. He will have thoughts about how he needs or wants to love her; or what he would like to do with her body - he’s always thinking about that. This is true of all men. It indicates that the truth of love for man must be in woman. However, the one major obstacle to his loving her is his sexual lust for her. Now, how does he get rid of lust?
He gets rid of it by loving her physical body. I said loving her not sexing her. Love is utterly different from sex, although love is expressed through the sexual act. To love a woman is to enjoy her. And I don’t mean just to enjoy her for five minutes in physical lovemaking. First man has to see he loves being in the presence of woman for the pure sensation of that enjoyment - holding her hand, walking with her - without any thought process. Any thought process about woman turns to sex. When the physical woman is in front of him, does he need to think about her? No, you only think about what’s not immediately present. If he does think or fantasise about her while she’s there, he is lusting, not loving. And if he thinks about sex with her when she’s not present, he’s still lusting.
The man has to be able to see the beauty of her. If there wasn’t this recognition of her beauty somewhere inside him, why would he think about her all his life? He has to see her intrinsic beauty instead of his own habitual sexual wanting to possess her. He has to realise that he loves her because she has an indescribable essence that he, man, does not have. She is his missing love, the missing expression of God in his existence.
Man cannot love a woman truly - as woman needs to be loved - while his sexuality is rampant. That means while he excuses his sexuality; while he watches pornographic movies, reads pornographic magazines; while he excites himself with photographs of naked women or parts of her - and any of that sort of distraction instead of loving a real woman’s body; and while he masturbates which means having sex with himself. Also, man cannot make love to a woman while he is fantasising about her or another woman because that’s introducing a phantom woman into the relationship. Man often does this to keep his self excited but it means he’s not really there, and he’s not loving. He has to give it up.
Something man does habitually is to look at women in the street. In doing this he is subconsciously feeding his sexual self. His sexual self actually turns his head and looks out of his eyes at a woman, often before his attention has even noticed her. The sexual self is faster than the mind. There are two ways of looking at a woman. One is to see her beauty. The other is through the sexual self which has a phantom affair with her in a glance. He’s got to give up looking. He’s got to go through a stage where he actually denies himself the right to look at women in the sense I’m talking about. It may be said that that’s suppression. But it’s not, because he knows what he’s doing - he’s practising containment. Suppression is when you feel as though you’re doing something because somebody has made you do it.
Woman of course often dresses to attract man’s attention because she has a sexual self too - due to our sexual society. Some women go to excess and exhibit their breasts more to make them more obvious to man. A man trying to give up his lust has to turn away and not dwell on such a woman as he would otherwise have done. If a naked woman walked down the street, all the men would be gaping for as long as they could see her. But the man practising love would say, ‘I’m not going to do this habitual thing that most men do in their unconsciousness. I won’t look any longer and indulge my sexual self.’
Being True to One Woman
I teach that it is important for man, as soon as possible, to stay true to one woman and take her on. This helps to bring him to his senses and out of his imaginative sexual mind. The key is that he takes her on and together they practise honesty first in their relationship (as I have described) and discover how far they can go together into the mystery of love. If a man still wants other women, how can he take on one woman? He can’t. He’s not mature enough yet. Wanting other women, he will be restless and discontented; or he will dishonestly pretend that all is well and because it is not, emotional friction will arise between the couple - a common cause of disharmony in relationships.
It is imperative for a woman, once she is impersonally mature enough, to have her man’s total focus. But he will not be able to give her this while she is still distracted by her emotions and the lure of the world of experience. Woman has been so disappointed, so wounded by man’s itinerant and casual loving of her, that despite what man and woman think, she cannot yield her love - the essence of her body - to him completely until she knows that he truly loves her. When she realises that - it is a deep psychological subconscious place - she can give her extraordinary divine energies to him in their lovemaking. These rarely invoked energies are the God coming forward through the woman. But while he is half-hearted in his love he cannot bring her or himself to the consciousness of this God within her.
The purpose of physical love between man and woman (who are the dual embodiment of God in existence) is for her to give him what he can never have on his own - the glorious female essence that lures him all his life. This divine energy purifies him immensely of his restlessness and negativity, as it does her.
The Noble Man
I have described man who truly loves his woman as a noble man. He is noble because he is willingly dying to his own notions of love and independence. He is in the process of realising the consciousness of God or truth in his woman and in the reality of his own love. A quality of love or truth shines through him. Whatever he is called upon to do, there will be nobility in his action. For instance a noble man can love his children rightly because he is not attached to them. He speaks to them from a place of divine or impersonal love beyond the fluctuations of clinging and selfish human love. A noble man is he who reveals the human spirit in love, in looking after the sick, in caring for the suffering, in sacrificing himself in wartime or simply not allowing his unhappy emotions to sully love. It’s all a matter of love.
So, the key to man rising within to the wonderful heights which the spiritual life makes possible is to first identify the distractions in his daily activities that are consuming the precious energy he needs. If he is honest, these are always there to be seen immediately in front of him.
He must not look to absolutes, to God, to enlightenment as something to be achieved. If he does he will overlook the immediate distractions that are impeding him - and continue on a futile search.
When I was a young man I used to go fishing off the surf beach of an evening with my first father-in-law. He was catching all the fish, and good ones too. I said, ‘What am I doing wrong?’ He said, ‘You’re doing what most people do. You’re throwing out too far. You’re throwing over them. The fish are right in close at this time of day.’
Barry LongAn extract from 'To Man in Truth'