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The Challenge of Kingship for Contemporary Men
The Generative Man: A vision for us
Your Ego Is Not the Villain

Your Ego Is Not the Villain


The key to Optimal Manhood is not, as some believe, to abolish the Ego. Instead a conscious and effective Ego has a central role to play in reaching mature masculinity. An initiated man is one who has developed the ego consciousness needed to take moral responsibility for the great forces in his psyche.

Mature man psychology has perhaps always been a rare thing on our planet. It is certainly a rare thing today. It is enormously difficult for us males to develop to our full masculine potential as human beings. The struggle with the infantile within us exerts a tremendous “gravitational” pull against achieving that full adult potential.

Nevertheless, we need to fight gravity by dint of hard labor and to build the “pyramids,” first of boyhood and then of manhood, that constitute the core structures of our masculine selves. Each of us needs to build, brick by brick, toward the goal of mature masculinity, until at last we can stand on the high platform at the top and survey our realm. Central to this construction project is not only understanding the building blocks, but developing the mature ego consciousness that can serve as “project manager.”

Building Blocks of Mature Masculinity

I see every man as having within him four powerful archetypal forces: a King, a Warrior, Magician, and a Lover. These four major forms of mature masculine energies fit together like the four sides of a pyramid. They all complement and, ideally, enrich one another – if we learn to regulate them properly to be a whole person: a good King is always also a Warrior, a Magician, and a Lover. And the same holds true for the other three.

These four archetypes are mysterious entities or energy flows. They have been compared to a magnet beneath a sheet of paper. As iron filings are sprinkled over the top of the paper, they immediately arrange themselves into patterns along the lines of magnetic force. We can see the patterns of the filing on the paper, but we can’t see the magnet beneath the paper—or, better, we can never see the magnetic force itself, only the visible evidence of its existence. The same is true of archetypes. They remain hidden. But we experience their effects—in art, in poetry, in music, in religion, in our scientific discoveries, in our patterns of behavior and of thought and feeling.

All the products of human creativity and human interaction are like the iron filings. We can see something of the shapes and patterns of the archetypes through these manifestations. But we can never see the “energies” themselves. They overlap and interpenetrate one another, yt they can be distinguished from one another for purposes of clarification. Through our inner work, they can be brought into conscious dialogue and “remixed” so that we can realize the desired balance among their influences in our own lives.

The Ego as Chair of the Board

Jean Shinoda Bolen has usefully suggested that we think of this process --untangling and isolating the archetypes and then remixing them and blending them -- as a well-run board meeting. The chair asks each of the officers to speak his or her mind honestly and openly about the question at hand. After all opinions have been heard and the matter has been thoroughly discussed, the chair calls for a vote, and the decision is made. Often the chair must cast the deciding vote.

Our Egos are like the chair of the board. And the board members are the powerful archetypes within us. Each needs to be heard from. The input of each archetype--King, Warrior, Magician, Lover-- must be invited and welcomed. But the whole person under the supervision of the Ego must make the final decisions in our lives.

How does our Ego consciousness learn to do this? What used to be done for us by society through largely unconscious tribal ritual processes, we now have to take on as our personal moral responsibility. Our Western civilization pushes us to become, as Jung said, “individuated” persons. Any adequate psychology for our time must be a moral psychology that aids us in taking personal accountability for the great (often grandiose) archetypal energies within us and for consciously building a mature masculine self.

Construction Project Tools

A number of techniques can help us in this construction project. Analysis of dreams, active imagination (in which the Ego dialogues with the energy patterns within, thereby achieving both differentiation from and access to them), psychotherapy in a variety of forms, meditation on the positive aspects of the archetypes, prayer, ritual process with a spiritual elder, various forms of spiritual discipline, and other methods are all important to the difficult process of training our male Egos toward manhood.

King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine introduces you to these energies within you as well as to these techniques for learning to regulate them in a balanced way.

This is the challenge facing us as men today. We must step up to the task of becoming the kind of man we wish we had had in our lives.

The Challenge of Kingship for Contemporary Men


Kingship? How much a part of your contemporary concept of the “mature masculine” has to do with being a king? “Kings” have too often gotten a bad rap.

As I presented a portrait of “The Generative Man” in last month’s column, I acknowledged that my description of “Optimal Manhood” may have a somewhat culture-specific coloring, but I have found that the underlying manhood structures remain trans-cultural.

Indeed, my research has shown that the qualities most cultures identify as “masculine” in most historical epochs are remarkably consistent. Whether it’s the kings of myth and history, the “big men” of New Guinea, the muy hombres of Spain, or the “worthy men” of the Samburu -- all are protectors, providers, and procreators.

Great men manifest a selfless capacity for hard work, risk- taking, courage, and endurance.

  • Mature men embrace these roles in order to nurture their families and build their communities.
  • They are community bulwarks against natural and human foes.
  • Where able to accumulate wealth, they share it liberally.
  • They are expected to be energetically sexual and to foster the next generation.

While there are local emphases on one or another of the different functions of this transcultural understanding of manhood--protector, provider, or procreator—David Gilmore, in his Manhood in the Making, notes that the pattern is consistent.

The evidence from several other fields of study, makes plausible, even compelling, the idea that these traits of manhood are a transcultural expression of the archetypes of mature masculinity and, ultimately, of the incarnated King.

From Gilmore we can take a transcultural perspective concerning the ideal mature masculine Self, one we’ll be calling Generative Man. A generative man may be

  • communist or capitalist
  • industrialist or peasant.
  • an animal-rights advocate or a whale hunter
  • and is as much a poet as a soldier.

While a man’s lifestyle and work, under the best of circumstances, will reflect his generativity, Generative Man is the foundational aspect of every man in every culture and the closest parallel that modern psychoanalysis has offered for the archetypal King.

“Generative Man” is a term coined by the psychoanalyst Erik Erikson. In our view, Gilmore’s “manhood” and Erikson’s “Generative Man” are two similar ways of viewing the King. The man appropriately accessing the King is the protector, provider, and procreator for his people and his world--whoever and wherever they may be.

Generativity is the true basis for mature human being. Besides procreation in the biological sense, generativity includes all the products of the human imagination-cultural, religious, technological, and ecological. For Erikson, as for Jung, there is no inherent conflict between the instinctual drives in human beings and their psychological and spiritual aspirations. The so-called higher functions of human being arise out of our animal roots. Erikson calls the archetypes “action patterns,” and when they are not distorted by psychopathology of one kind or another, their push is always toward generativity.

According to Don Browning’s analysis of Erikson, Generative Man’s virtues are love, care, and wisdom. As Browning says, “The basic trust and hope of the generative man . . . gives him the trust not only to continue his own existence but to share in the generation of succeeding generations and to help care for and sustain their lives with hope.”

All the risks taken by a mature man and all the wealth he accumulates are finally designed to care for and sustain his family and community. Ultimately, this caring and sustenance are intended for his children, the world’s inheritors.

Trust and hope are products of strength and maturity. Out of strength and maturity, Generative Man can draw upon inner resources of autonomy and will. Out of his autonomy and will, he desires and has the capacity for intimate relationships. In personal relationships, as far as the social hierarchy will allow, he beholds the true worth of others. He provides what Erikson calls “a confirming face.” In other words, he mirrors and blesses. This is certainly the case in the male-bonded egalitarian brotherhoods that Gilmore examines. For Erikson, Generative Man’s relationships are not only intimate but societal as well--he has the capacity and desire to make meaningful contributions to the community.

All these qualities give a generative man a viable identity. This identity incorporates flexibility with integrity as well as with a consolidated style of fidelity. Out of his consolidated personality, a generative man is able to make commitments to his family, to his society, and ultimately to his God.

The initiated men of any society have placed their personal concerns beneath those of the larger social groups, and the social groups are subordinated to a divine reality. To Gilmore’s way of thinking, manhood can be either tribalistic or universal in its general outlook and in its visioning of its own tasks and duties. Real men, for him, can function with a variety of definitions of the greater good, from the most parochial to the most expansive. However, Erikson goes a step beyond Gilmore here. Erikson claims that Generative Man must be a universalist. He must nurture his own progeny, culture, and religion, as well as the larger world of all human societies, and the environment as an ecological whole. Generative Man, for Erikson, balances the good of society with the good of the planet by honoring both technology and nature.

As Browning says, “To generate and maintain a world, but in such a way as to include and yet transcend one’s own issue, one’s own family, tribe, nation and race -- this is the essence of the generative man . . .”

A man who has accessed the King properly demonstrates Gilmore’s “manhood” and Erikson’s Generative Man. The King calls every man into an Ego-archetypal axial relationship. Men who can achieve such a relationship are modern-day embodiments of sacred kingship.

When a man’s Ego is in the proper alignment with the King, he achieves the humility of the creature before its transpersonal source, its God. At the same time he comes to realize that God is within.

“If you knew me, you would know my Father also,” said Jesus. Jesus’ statement illustrates an Ego in an integral relationship with the inner King.

I will be talking more about the role of the Ego, in partnership with the Great King, as we struggle toward developing a balanced kingship in our lives as contemporary men.

For more of the challenge of kingship for men today see the newly released The King Within: Revised and Expanded Text.

The Generative Man: A vision for us


As you read these words, all over planet earth the forces of death, domination, and despair are led by males of our species who are immature emotionally, spiritually, and ethically.

Political and spiritual leaders constantly try to understand why narcissism, sociopathic behavior, and political corruption seem to become worse rather than improving. They have sought almost everywhere for the answer but have not looked in the place where it can be found--in the masculine soul and in our dismal failure to help the boys of today to become initiated, mature, and responsible men.

While no traditional culture should be romanticized or idealized, we must awaken to the fact that the ancient indigenous cultures of the planet did a better job than Western colonialist culture in finding ways to limit a narcissistic, malignantly aggressive masculinity and to harness its energies for the community. The challenge now facing us is to learn from our forebears the importance of male maturation and that mature, responsible men are made--and not the result of chronological aging.

Yet even our ancestors could not see beyond their tribal visions to imagine the possibilities of a vision of masculine maturity for our species as a whole.

If the world is not soon to be ruled by heavily armed "monster boys" in physically mature bodies, then we must have an awakening of a new "EarthMan." This new human man must be one who is conscious, mature, and wise: one who --

  • does not abuse women and children
  • stands against tyranny in any form
  • can show the way to the stewardship of masculine power, aggression, wisdom, and love for a democratic, just, peaceful, and compassionate future for our grandchildren throughout the world community--in order to secure the well-being of the "seventh generation" into our future.

What does this have to do with you? It is my belief that men, women, and children of every ethnic group and nation have suffered greatly throughout the centuries through the abuse of power by emotionally and spiritually uninitiated, immature "monster boys" both foreign and domestic.

It is my belief that a conscious and wise response to this experience of domination by immature males may enable Earth's Spirit Men to become leaders in a worldwide movement to call for a new and responsible masculinity at this critical time in history. Many men around the world are now beginning to awaken, not just to the enormity of our challenge but to their immense potential for spiritual and ethical leadership in the wider world.

In this critical time I call on you and other faithful and committed Spirit Men of your tradition to bring your gifts to a pan-tribal coalition for transformative leadership in what it means to be a responsible and mature man in today's EarthCommunity. It is my hope that you may be the key vanguard in turning the tide against the reign of the "monster boys" of Earth--and in the advent of the mature EarthMan.

I am writing this column to invite your partnership in visioning and embodying a new and better Way for the human male. In my work I have lifted up a comprehensive new vision for the mature 21st century male. We have already embarked on this part of the Great Work of our time, but we have barely begun embodying/incarnating this vision in history. This incarnation will not occur without your help.

In today¹s column I want to summarize the vision of the new Generative Man that is actually possible today. In subsequent columns I will offer other reflections on achieving Optimal Manhood and stewarding those powers for the human future.

What is an ideal generative man? Though the portrait I suggest may have a somewhat culture-specific coloring, the underlying manhood structures remain trans-cultural. No man can fully embody all of these qualities. However, psychologists often will describe at length what is wrong with us without providing us with an image of what it would be like to be healthy and whole. We’d like to address this imbalance here, for “without a vision the people perish.”

The generative man, drawing on the characteristics of the archetypal King, accesses the Center, Transformer, Procreator, and Structurer functions in an integrated way.

He is creative himself, and he welcomes creativity in others. He provides a safe, containing space where the people around him can flourish. He offers encouragement by taking care to really see others. In beholding his fellows he mirrors and affirms them. He confirms their individuality and the reality of their suffering and their joy. He is conscious of and sensitive to their underlying feelings and motives. He blesses their lives by sanctifying the fruits of their inner and outer labors.

Because he is himself secure and centered, the generative man can allow others to be themselves. He does not experience them as extensions of himself, but recognizes when he is confusing his own motives and values, his own hopes or fears, with those of others. He is not easily thrown off balance by others. Even hostile and aggressive people cannot easily get to him. His integrity is such that sarcasm, innuendo, accusation, and confrontation have little effect upon him. He can manage in most situations to defend his legitimate personal boundaries firmly, and without hostility. Yet when a wrathful response is called for, he is able to act aggressively. There are situations that present clear and present dangers. The generative man, drawing upon his Warrior-King reserves, responds with vigor in these situations to neutralize his foes.

A generative man seeks to free himself of envy. Possessing all the power he needs for his own life, he can dispense to those who need and deserve it the affirming energy of admiration. He confers deserved riches-- symbolic and material--upon members of his family, his friends, his business associates, and others. Rather than belittle others, he supports them in their attempts to contribute something of value to society.

In a leadership role the generative man evaluates his subordinates’ ideas and performances objectively and with compassion. If others have good ideas, he celebrates them, implements them, and gives credit where credit is due.

At home, he lavishes deserved praise upon his children when they come to him for mirroring; however, he never exaggerates his praise. He speaks the truth, and the truth he speaks gives every member of his family a firm basis for self-evaluation and self-affirmation. His truthful words and actions help others feel their own reality and get a sense of their own authentic being. He deflates grandiosity and enables others to discover their realistic greatness.

A generative man may be a mediator between the archetypal King and his fellow human beings. He may be further along than others in accessing the King and the other mature masculine archetypes without being overwhelmed by them. He is a seasoned veteran of the dialogue between Ego-consciousness and the depths of the unconscious. He is familiar with the inner landscape we all share--its dangers and pleasures, its angels and demons, its illusions and truths. With the wisdom of this familiarity, the generative man can help others in their efforts to integrate. He can reflect back to others what he hears their inner adversaries and allies saying, because at one time or another he’s heard the same voices himself.

A faithful steward of the creative life-force, a generative man never engages in wanton destruction. He is not indifferent to the plight of the oppressed. He is vitally concerned about the rights, safety, health, and material prosperity of all human beings. Beyond this he is interested in the welfare of the ecosystem as a whole.

Though he may be a master at utilizing the physical environment for the benefit of his family, his nation, or all humankind, he honors both technology and the environment in a balanced way. He encourages the harmonious interaction between society and nature. He is neither the enemy of science and industry nor an irresponsible dumper of toxic wastes. He seeks a middle path which is responsible to both immediate and long-range human needs -- and to his planetary home.

The generative man vigorously pursues the extension of the created order against the forces of destruction and death. There are many facets of these forces--drugs, racism, classism, nationalism, religionism, poverty, child abuse, spouse abuse, petty quarreling, ignorance, egoistic power-grabbing, environmental pollution, political and economic depression--and all are expressions of human chaos. Their ultimate effect is always the destruction of global well-being. A generative man is concerned with law and order wherever that law and order contribute to the flourishing of human beings. He is a protector of the weak and disempowered. He does what he can in order to assure justice and equality of opportunity for all people.

The man who adequately can access the archetypal King is a reconciler of opposites. He listens for what truths are spoken on all sides of a dispute. He looks beneath the surface arguments to the fear and anguish of the child within. He addresses this deeper reality when he speaks to each of the opposing sides. While he prefers diplomatic solutions, when destructive impulses need subduing, he acts swiftly and decisively to reestablish order out of his own sense of integrity. Even though others grumble about his severity, they know that he is just. Everyone knows the difference between men in leadership positions who are firm because they are genuinely interested in our welfare, and men who are severe out of their own grandiosity. A generative man is able to help us subdue our own self-destructiveness, and for this we deeply appreciate him.

Self-sacrifice is an inescapable part of world building, something this man realizes. The generative man gives his life’s blood for the people and causes entrusted to him. His hard work and personal sacrifice both provision others and advance the generativity of the world. He spends as much of his life energy as he can to help others build their worlds. At the same time he is no martyr or masochist. He cares for his own welfare, choosing to sacrifice himself only because of his sense of an abundant and replenishable self-worth. He volunteers in causes that awaken both his compassion and his just anger. In these and other ways a generative man provisions the world.

Like the sacred kings of the Far East, the generative man works toward harmony and order in his own inner life. He views setting his own house in order as a prerequisite for helping others order their own lives. He is relentlessly honest with himself about his failings. He takes his share of responsibility when things go badly, but no more and no less than his share. Out of this empowering stance he is able to do something positive and concrete about the problem that confronts him. He may be involved in some form of psychotherapeutic process. He knows that where his own integrity is at stake, one way or another he must work to develop his own psychological and spiritual life. He is open to criticisms, for he realizes that they will usually hold some truths. He is not, however, a misguided moral perfectionist. Rather he urgently engages himself in a quest for wholeness and moral seriousness.

Out of his deep loyalty to himself the generative man is able to be loyal to others--his family and friends, his company, any voluntary organizations he may be fostering, his community and his nation, and ultimately his world. These loyalties may at times be at odds with each other and set up intense conflicts within him. To the extent, however, that a man can be generative, his loyalty will be to the greatest good for the greatest number. His loyalty in the end will be to a Transpersonal Other that is deeply compatible with his own sense of self.

Finally, the generative man has achieved a rich masculine identity both by building his inner masculine structures and by valuing his inner feminine characteristics. He has come to know the mystery that his masculinity is enhanced to the extent that he is appreciative of his Anima. He has experienced within himself the sacred marriage of the King with his Queen. Full generativity, he realizes, in psychospiritual affairs just as surely as in biological ones, is possible only where the masculine and feminine energies are united. He is almost certainly sexually active and eager for intimate relationship with a partner as capable of intimacy as he is. Together they may generate and nurture children; if not, their energies combine in more subtle but still tangibly creative ways.

Protector, provider, procreator--the generative man is a Center for world building, an axis mundi around which others may rally.

At his Center he is unassailable. He provides stability to his inner world, and to others who come to him looking for order in themselves. His own opposite impulses are reconciled at his Center, and through his experience of this, he helps others to do the same.

As a Transformer, he makes usable the creative life-force he carries within him. Others draw from him a sense of their own empowerment.

He may be a Procreator in the specific sense of fathering the children he cares for and teaches. Certainly he is a Procreator in the broad sense of initiating creative advance in the world he has been given to steward.

He is also a Structurer, establishing calm in the midst of chaos and facilitating order through determined action. He is committed to the preservation and the extension of a civilized, yet vigorously instinctual, way of life. In these ways he incarnates the potential in the actual, the sacred in the profane.

He is an image of mature masculinity toward which all men may strive.

In the columns to come I will talk further about this image of Optimal Manhood and using its powers for the human future.

For more of the Generative Man described here, see the newly released The King Within: Revised and Expanded Text, Chapter 5.

© 2010, Robert L. Moore

*    *    *

Contemporary man has rationalized the myths, but he has not been able to destroy them. - Octavio Paz

Dr. Robert Moore is an internationally recognized Jungian psychoanalyst and consultant in private practice in Chicago, Illinois, USA. He is the Distinguished Service Professor of Psychology, Psychoanalysis and Spirituality in the Graduate Center of the Chicago Theological Seminary, where he recently founded and become director of the new Institute for Advanced Studies in Spirituality and Wellness. He is a Training Analyst at the C.G. Jung Institute of Chicago and Director of Research for the Institute for the Science of Psychoanalysis. Author and editor of numerous books in psychology and spirituality, he lectures internationally on his formulation of a Neo-Jungian paradigm for psychotherapy and psychoanalysis. He is the author of, among other books, The Warrior Within, The Magician Within, The Lover Within, The Within Quartet: King, Warrior, Magician, Lover; The Archetype of Inintiation: Sacred space, ritual process and personal transformation; The Magician and the Analyst: The archetype of the magus in occult spirituality and Jungian analysis; and Facing the Dragon: Confronting Personal and Spiritual Grandiosity. Also an audio with Malidoma Some, John Lee and Robert Bly called Who Welcomes the Newborn to this World? African and Western Perspectives. His most recent book is The King Within: A revised and expanded edition Accessing the King in the Male Psyche. www.robertmoore-phd.com



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