Here is what the German poet Rilke had to say:
Sometimes a man stands up after supper
and walks outdoors, and keeps on walking,
because of a church that stands somewhere in the East.
And his children say blessings on him as if he were dead.
And another man, who remains inside his own house,
Stays there, inside the dishes and in the glasses,
So that his children have to go far out into the world
Toward the same church which he forgot.
The church in the East is a symbol for the inner journey. It’s living the ‘examined life’. Even though a father might become pre-occupied with a spiritual quest for a while, he always stays connected and lives up to his responsibilities to his family and to his son. It is not a literal departure to unknown lands, rather it is a necessary separation from the falsely advertised security of the silent majority and from the bitter illusion of the materialistic con called the ‘American Dream’.
If a man is to become himself, he has to venture upstream and liberate himself from the downstream psychology of those in the mindless collective, who are slaves to consumerism and the bullshit celebrity culture. If a Son doesn’t see his father’s life as soulful , he is pressured to bear the tremendous burden of his father’s ‘ unlived life’. Only a father who has looked deeply into the mirror and acknowledged both the light and dark side of his soul can teach his son to individuate and find his own way and not be dependent on approval from and applause by others. If a father doesn’t blaze his own trail to the ‘church in the East’, he hinders his son’s journey as he cannot teach or transmit what he hasn’t acquired himself.
When that occurs, the mother-son relationship carries too much weight. Most mothers love their sons, but they cannot initiate their sons into something they are not. A mother hurts her son by either doing too much or doing too little. A son needs a father to pull him out of his mother complex. If the reader will allow me to oversimplify again – a ‘mother complex’ in a man keeps him imprisoned in two basic lifestyles. He is either overly dependent, needy, clingy and poisonously passive-aggressive or he compensates for his dependency with a power driven, controlling macho attitude. I’ve seen enough macho types in my office, who when their wives finally find the strength to leave them, totally decompensate into a lengthy meltdown. Neither the passive nor the power driven man can be soulfully connected to a woman – a mother complex makes a man’s relationship not personal. A son needs to get this understanding from his father.
A father also needs to instruct his son how to work, how to bounce back from failure and adversity and how to tolerate frustration and delay immediate gratification. He needs to promote his journey from home to horizon and teach him how to chip a piece of earth out for himself and be responsible for it. A father needs to tell his son it’s perfectly normal to be afraid and most of all that he loves him deeply and accepts him. Finally a father needs to teach his son about women.
If this was not provided by our fathers, we have to learn to father ourselves. Finding a mentor who is connected to the wisdom of the forefathers and who knows about the shadow world can be very helpful. Becoming a man amongst men, finding our peers and sharing our lives with them is essential. An education in history, philosophy and literature can provide good fathering. All the major battles in life are waged within the soul. When we take a conscious look into our inner psychic landscape, the land of complexes, fears, dreams, internal allies, demons, abysses and wisdom….healing occurs.
P.S: The man who is brothers to all men cannot be defeated !
Peter Milhado © 2013