An interview with Don Jones
Some poetry is meant to be read in private with
quiet personal introspection. Other expressions are
best served up in a loud voice to a great gathering
of men like Shakespeare's King Henry: "We few, we
happy few, we band of brothers; For he to-day that
sheds his blood with me shall be my brother "
Don Jones recently led a Mankind Project (MKP)
men's retreat in Reidsville, NC with the energy and
vitality of a king preparing his men for battle.
When he spoke - men listened. His commanding
presence filled the room as his big booming voice
resonated like the sound of rushing waters. This
must what God sounds like, I think. With great
wisdom and powerful poetry, this modern-day
adventurer led 55 men into a hero's journey of
their own souls. Trust me, the real Indiana Jones
in person is much more exciting than the
two-dimensional movie version.
Currently residing in Indianapolis, IN, Jones is
a former Disciples of Christ minister, author
("Wisdom for the Journey"), and past Chairman of
the Mankind Project International.
As he opened the first meeting on the weekend,
Jones invited each man "to let that golden child of
God be glorious" during the ensuing days. Here was
a man who could lead equally on Christian or
heathen ground. He recited the D. H. Lawrence poem
Lizard and encouraged the group to repeat it with
him. What magnificent sights and sounds there were
By D.H. Lawrence
A lizard ran out on a rock and looked up,
No doubt to the sounding of the sphere.
And what a dandy fellow! The right toss of a chin
And swirl of a tail!
If men were as much men as lizards are lizards
They'd be worth looking at.
Sitting at home overlooking a beautiful lake,
Jones gave me some of his "porch time" to discuss
his life and work. I wish I could have been there
"It looks like a little vacation spot here when
the trees are all filled out," he chimed on the
phone. "When men want to have a little mentoring
with me they say 'do you have a little porch
Peacefully living by the water, Jones said he
shares his land with Mallards, Canadian Geese and
an occasional Great Blue Heron.
"We learn most of our stuff in open-hearted
conversation," he began. "There was an educator
named Mark Hopkins and it was said that the true
nature of education was having Mark on one end of
the log and the student on the other end."
One-on-one conversations are the best method for
"getting a meaningful frame around what's happening
in a man's life," he added.
Although Jones is one of the most forceful
leaders I have ever known, he is also friendly and
unassuming. He's even got his own mentor.
"I have an elder mentor that I meet with around
breakfast to process what I need to get a frame
around," he explained. "It's a two way street."
Don Jones has been down many streets in his long
life including surviving prostate cancer. He
graciously credits the support of MKP men in his
"On the day of my surgery they had a 'Jones
watch,'" he recalled. "Starting in the prep room,
there was a man every hour there for a 24 hour
period ... they did an all day and all night vigil.
When I woke up from surgery, there was a guy there,
and when I dropped off to sleep and woke up there
was a different guy there. I thought wow, this
really is a wonderful thing to have men support
Jones said it was the first night he'd ever
spent in a hospital.
"I've always been a child of good fortune," he
continued. "Many people say 'Jones you can fall in
a vat of shit and come out smelling like a rose
every time.' I really am grateful, however, because
95 percent of the men who get the same diagnosis
are dead within months. Statistically speaking, I
should have been dead in the summer of 1995. That's
how long I've been living in the grace period of my
Jones said he is using his "grace period" to
share his spiritual gifts of joy with others.
"I have the consciousness that there is a
precocious divine child within me," he said, "an
energetic, miraculous little character who's got a
lot of wisdom. He sees the humor in just about
everything. He just pops out. I think that's one
reason I survived cancer and expect to live quite a
long time. An elder who doesn't have a connection
with his divine child within him is likely to
become a crusty old bastard. You'll meet elders and
wonder how they stay young as they are ... there's
an inner connection with a youthful spirit that
keeps animating them as they get older."
As a ten-year survivor of cancer, Jones said he
fulfills a part of his mission by speaking to
others who have cancer.
"It's an important piece of work because most
men are in a state of shock when they discover they
have cancer inside them," he said. "They need
someone that's been there who can listen and
appreciate what they're going through."
I sit here now at this computer lamenting how
few leaders there are in the world today who can
"listen and appreciate." Don Jones is a man I can
look up to. For me, he models a leader in
integrity. During the weekend, he spoke of four
principles that are essential in a true leader.
"Followers have four basic needs in relation to
their leaders," he told the group. "Unless leaders
are able to meet these needs consistently and with
integrity, the followers will look elsewhere for
leadership. Sometimes, so-called 'king-killing'
does not come from the shadow of the follower, but
rather is aggravated by the failure of the leader
to meet his followers needs."
According to Jones, those needs are
characterized as idealization, adversarial,
collegial and delegatory.
"I believe historically we've been through some
events that have damaged the idealization process,
starting with Vietnam; then Watergate; corporate
greed and misconduct; the Catholic Priests abuse of
children," he explained. "I think the fabric of
trust has been damaged because of a series of
events and disappointments for those we normally
look up to for leadership. We've been robbed of the
mechanism of idealization and admiration that
contributes to our own growth. There's too much
shadow king stuff. You know what I mean? We've quit
expecting to see golden kings anymore which would
inspire our own journey to leadership. When we do
see one we're very surprised and can't believe it.
I believe that golden kings still do exist."
A shadow king can not tolerate "centers of
initiative outside himself," he added. "He wants to
be the only center of initiative and when other men
around become the center - he tries to kill
How does one confront a shadow king?
"Sometimes you have to organize a group of men
to box him in and put up the mirror to the shadow
side of his behavior," Jones noted. "But usually a
shadow king ends up being isolated and alone
because strong men cannot tolerate living in his
neighborhood. So eventually everyone leaves him
except for those that he can play the one-up-game
on all the time. Sometimes that experience of being
left alone will sink in and he'll say, 'man, I'm
driving everybody away.' Sometimes it takes 3 or 4
men who have care and concern to pay him a visit
and do something like an intervention."
Power is an addiction like alcohol or sex, he
"Addiction is whatever you use to remain
unconscious," he continued. "Power is one of the
most attractive and most socially acceptable
The Mankind Project provides leadership training
for those interested in developing the "golden
"The MKP certification process is where a man
shows up in a front of a group of other powerful
men and gives them permission to judge him where he
is with shadow," Jones explained. "The shadow king
can't bluff his way through or intimidate his way
through the process when there's eight powerful men
there. More than one will see how your shadow plays
out. And, if you don't recognize when it's playing
out, you'll get a 'not yet' response."
To be a certified leader in MKP a man must be
initiated on a Weekend Adventure Training, take a
number of leadership seminars, staff numerous
weekends, and receive the nod from MKP leaders.
"It's a matter of whether you feel called to go
that route," Jones said, reflecting on his own
experience as a certified leader. "MKP has
developed some of the best leader training around
the world. Ultimately, it's about leadership in
your own life and the way leadership works out in
MKP will address the theme of leadership at its
summer conference in Chicago with the theme "Beyond
"We're asking the question 'How does leadership
look?' beyond our own groups," he said. "Let's take
a look outward. We've got 25,000 of the most
emotionally literate men in the world who are part
of MKP. What are we for? What's it all about? Is it
about only developing our own inner circles, or is
it about engagement with the world in a new level
of leadership and authenticity? We've been powering
up, empowering ourselves by creating the kind of
circles we do for men in MKP. The time for
engagement with the world has come."
Don Jones carries a strong vision for the
collective purpose of MKP, yet he does not
underestimate the power of one man.
"We have a leader in our community who has
transformed his entire business by conducting it
with the principles he learned in MKP," Jones said,
"and it's been a hell of a journey for him relating
to the people in his business in a new way,
gathering them in circles, and teaching them how to
communicate. He's reorganizing his whole business
and becoming the kind of king that blesses."
With the adversarial needs of men, some must
grow by testing their strength against a king,
"The shadow king, when he is being tested by a
young man, will be tempted to kill or undermine
him," he continued. "There are two ways to kill:
with the sword or with a dagger. You can do it
openly or by drawing a dagger surreptitiously under
For some men, cruelty is all they were ever
"If the only thing you're exposed to when you're
growing up is some form of brutality or abandonment
- which in a sense is the worst brutality - then
you're going to believe that your only hope of
survival is to become as much like those who
wounded you as possible," Jones said, "and you
learn to define strength in terms of being able to
wield the sword or the dagger."
So this is how we've gotten ourselves into the
mess we're in with misguided patriarchal images of
manhood dominating our culture. But, isn't it time
to stop apologizing for being a man?
"I think the deeper meaning of my poem
'Anthropos Rising' says something is happening in
our society where men are opening themselves up to
the arrival of a new whole masculinity that
transcends the patriarchal, mercenary and macho
ways of being a man," he said, "and where he steps
into a new relationship with women and other men in
By Don Jones
The Anthropos is rising!
The age-old, original man is coming to claim us
from our shadow imitations of manhood!
Patriarchal Man is dying!
You know him well - the one who feeds on
over women and children -
The one who lords it over other men,
And who rapes even the earth itself in the godawful
that he owns even Her.
Macho Man is a zombie -
a walking dead man who tries to keep himself
by worshipping fire power.
He stalks the earth with grotesque bravado,
threatening the life of everything that
unable to connect with anything except out of this
Mercenary Man is a joke!
He has substituted money for the true riches of
and has lost any sense of mission other than the
His days are numbered, and his feverish grip upon
will never save him.
The Anthropos is rising!
The gates of history are swinging wide to
The New Man, The True Man, The Whole Man!
The man who loves woman, not in the tired, old
but genuinely from the heart, and joins with her in
the embrace of equality!
The one who loves and nurtures little children
he sees in them the seeds of a new world in the
The one who blesses and does not curse other men
they are courageous brother warriors whose saving
is the same as his own!
The man who reverences the earth, and protects
and helps Her become the majestic Mother Garden
she was intended to be from the beginning.
The Anthropos is rising! The Anthropos is
I beg, I plead with you to welcome with me
the rising of the Anthropos - the Man who though
long in coming
is striding through the gates even
"The saving thing is with all the devastation
that men have wrought there is still an initiation
hunger in the hearts of every man," Jones
expressed. "He knows there is a greater manhood he
is intended for but he has not yet realized it - it
never dies, it is archetypal, universal and
permanent. And I believe that's the explanation why
the MKP organization has grown more rapidly than
any other form of men's movement. It satisfies that
initiation hunger. Once that part begins to be fed
it initiates him into a true man - a whole man. And
the gates are swinging wide to welcome that
Too many leaders "spend time circling around in
woundedness of masculinity and have blinded
themselves to the vision of masculine wholeness,"
Jones said he believes even the great D.H.
Lawrence "never fully embodied it himself" but
channeled his vision of sacred masculinity.
William Blake refers to "four great ones in
every man," Jones noted. He also gave a nod to
Robert Moore and Doug Gillette for their works with
the King, Warrior, Magician, Lover archetypes.
"You need to be able to define what a mature man
would look like if you ever saw one," Jones said
with a hearty laugh, " just so you can recognize
him when you see him. You have to ask what am I
being initiated into. If you don't know the answer
to that question you're on your way but don't know
where you're going."
Hopefully initiated into a real king ... so what
does one look like? Are there any examples from
history? Peter The Great personally led his men
into battle, along with General Patton, Jones
"For all his grandiosity, Patton had the ability
to step into the shoulder-to-shoulder relationship
with his men," Jones said. "We need to transcend
the traditional patriarchal structure with a man, a
leader, who is secure enough that he doesn't have
to flaunt the number of bars or stars on his
uniform. There's a lot of one-upmanship among men.
It doesn't matter how high you climb; what matters
is remembering where you came from. When a leader
can do that, he can open up to collegial
connections with other men."
According to Jones, the effectiveness of
delegation is enhanced by the ability to be
"When it comes time to delegate, men with whom
you've been collegial will say 'sure, I'll do
anything for that leader because he's been there
for me,'" Jones continued. "The man will think 'I
feel empowered by that leader who trusts me with
something that needs to get done.'"
A true leader does not work from imposing fear,
rather he gets things done through a common faith,
"A king can compel his followers to bring
tribute and blessings out of a desire to please or
out of fear," he explained. "However, the blessing
should flow from the king, not to the king."
Referring to Robert Bly's quote, Jones said a
good king's responsibility is to first be blessed
by "the king in the other world."
" and if you're open to that kind of blessing,
you don't have to extort a blessing from the people
who are at other levels," he said. "It's like you
become a conduit of blessings."
Alice Miller (Drama
of the Gifted Child) defines child abuse as a
situation where the child exists to meet the
emotional needs of the parent instead of the other
way around, Jones said.
"That principle of emotional abuse can apply to
leadership," he continued. "Leadership abuse is
where followers exist to meet the emotional needs
of leaders. The flow of blessings must be from the
leader not to the leader."
As he sat on his porch, I could hear him puffing
on a cigar. Jones said "porch time" was also his
own private time where he meditated and prayed.
"Prayer has ceased to become a one way
conversation with me where I ask God for things,"
he said, "It's more like I write out conversations
between myself and what intermediary figures there
are between me and God. The way god deals with me
is through interesting figures in my psyche they
are spokes persons for the divine. They carry a lot
of wisdom and guidance. I think the best writing
comes from overhearing those conversations. A good
novelist will tell you he does not invent the
dialogue, he overhears the conversation and simply
records it. He plugs into a conversation that is
going on between two entities, two psychic
entities, two imaginary characters. In the same
way, a good spiritual practice is to carry on
conversations with psychic energies that are real
to you in that moment, especially those that
personify the king."
Jones recommends that people identify with king
figures from literature or history.
"Imagine that character that carries the ideal
king energy as real and talk to him. I carry on a
conversation and record it," he said. "A man
brought a dream to me. He was standing at his
picture window looking at his yard and Abraham
Lincoln was out there. Then in his dream, a
messenger came and knocked at the door saying that
'Mr. Goodright' was there. It was clear my friend
needed to open up to king energy. I told my friend
the message of the dream what that he needed was to
sit down and write out a conversation with him and
Abraham Lincoln the king figure."
Who does Don Jones interactive with? No one less
than the Biblical Melchizedek.
"I talk to Melchizedek. He was an archetypal
figure. He had no genealogy. He was an original
from God. He came straight from God."
Don Jones is a true original who began his
conversations with God at an early age.
"I was a Disciples of Christ clergyman for 40
years," he recalled. "I was called at 17 to be a
minister through spiritual experiences that were
remarkable. I'd never been in church until I was
15. The minute I went to church, I found more love
there than I had ever experienced at any venue in
Fluidly moving from the scriptural to the
literary, Jones spoke of the King Arthur story and
young Parsifal's marvelous experience when he first
wandered into the grail castle.
"That happens to a lot of young men in their
teens, they have deep spiritual experiences," he
explained. "But, Parsifal didn't know how to answer
the question 'what is this for?' He had to wander
for years before finding the grail. Sometimes
spiritual experiences happen so early we can't
integrate them because the culture doesn't support
that experience. If you were to take that
experience to a psychologist you'd get a diagnosis
instead of a blessing. Our culture makes it
difficult to accept spiritual blessings from the
spiritual world. That's too bad. But that's part of
the enlightenment and scientific world view."
And what about going to church?
"Sometimes it's the only avenue people know that
is open to them," he said, "but it can become a
substitute form of spiritual experience. How many
of us go to church to hide from God?"
Jones said he usually sees "more miracles on a
New Warrior weekend than in church."
"Through MKP, I see transformations and openings
of the heart, and men tapping into the resources of
love that God has endowed us with," he said.
Jones quoted a sign in Latin that C.G. Jung hung
over his study door. The translation is: "Called or
not called, God is there."
"That's how I understand the New Warrior
weekend," he added. "It doesn't matter if we use
the name of God on the weekend, the divine presence
is still there."
Whatever the word, there was a glorious presence
on my weekend in May with Indiana Jones.
"A leader invokes the blessing of inviting men
to be glorious - be glorious along with me," he
concluded. "That's the job of a weekend leader, not
just to form the container but to inspire and
ignite the container with energy and meaning. I
believe a leader has to fire up a container. That's
why I use the poetry I do, to energize the
container. When I get through doing poetry on a
weekend there are goose bumps all over my body. I'm
opening myself to the energy of the poem that is
invoking the energy. It's my way of being who I am
on the weekend and getting an influx of energy for
me ... and it seems to work for others."
You should experience for yourself how it works
for others - the foot-stomping joy of sharing in
this great energy as a large group of men repeat
these inspired words together:
By D.H. Lawrence
When we get out of the glass bottles of our
And we escape like squirrels turning in the cages
of our personality
and get into the forests again,
we shall shiver with cold and fright
but things will happen to us
so that we don't know ourselves.
Cool, unlying life will rush in,
and passion will make our bodies taught with
we shall stamp our feet with new power
and old things will fall down,
we shall laugh, and institutions will curl up like
© 2005 Reid Baer
* * *
The fame you earn has a different taste from the
fame that is forced upon you. - Gloria
Reid Baer, an
award-winning playwright for A Lyons
Tale is also a newspaper journalist, a poet
with more than 100 poems in magazines world wide,
and a novelist with his first book released this
month entitled Kill
The Story. Baer has been
a member of The ManKind Project since 1995 and
currently edits The New Warrior Journal for
The ManKind Project www.mkp.org
He resides in Reidsville, N.C. with his wife
Patricia. He can be reached at E-Mail.
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