What is an authentic expression of an integrated and Awakened manhood in the 21st century?
What are the untapped potentials that can be catalysed through an evolutionary spiritual Brotherhood?
Grounded in the revelation of our essential freedom and prior unity, we - the men of the Awakened Life Men's Collective - are endeavouring to find out!
Founded by spiritual teacher and visionary Peter Bampton in 2009, the growing circle of the Awakened Life Men's Collective has evolved into a groundbreaking experiment that has radically transformed the lives of many men from a wide range of backgrounds, ages and nationalities.
In a time in which there are few clear, inspiring role models and developmental signposts for men and in which there is a general awareness of the oppression that women have and do endure in a patriarchal context, it is a lesser known truth that men are also suffering under the weight of psychological and cultural patterning, largely shaped by patriarchal values.
Usually cut off and self-contracted in their confusion because of the taboo against showing their vulnerability, men rarely discover relationships of real profundity with other men and women do not hear what men do not say.
Clearly if we are to truly Awaken and come together in deep Brotherhood in the 21st century we cannot return to the mythic dogmatisms and patriarchal rigidities of traditional masculine culture and we also want to transcend the materialistic bias of the modern male rational mind. However, we also have to unravel the distorting and depolarising impacts of a postmodern culture in which most spiritually inspired, progressive men usually tend to morph into "sensitive new age guys", insidiously denying and suppressing the grit, spunk and pure passion of a healthily embodied masculine.
Whenever I reflect on why it is that I would want other men to be a part of this Brotherhood I am reminded of my own journey up until this point. Tears come to my eyes and gratitude fills my heart, I am overwhelmed and inspired. This Love & Brotherhood continues to nourish me beyond ways that I could ever imagine.
I remember days gone by before I joined, where I was very much the Lone Wolf, believing that looking out for myself and being on a solo mission was what it was about. In control and answering to no one, but also alone and isolated and out of touch with what is important; out of touch with relationship, camaraderie, Love & Life!
But I had always felt in my heart that there was more that was possible, and I yearned to be together with other men, to not hold onto the struggles and heart ache of taking on the world alone.
And so fast forwarding to now, I have been a member of this Men's Collective for over 7 years and we are stronger than ever. I and we are continuously endeavouring to discover what living a free, healthy, integrated manhood looks like together and guided by our inspirational leader Peter Bampton.
We are pushing the edge, exposing taboos, daring to go where society says we shouldn't. We are embracing our raw masculine essence without shame. We are daring to expose our hearts without armour. Loving freely & raucously. Feeling the pain of what it is to be human in this world right now, without collapsing, with strength, vulnerability and open hearts.
And the best part is that we are in it together! A team, a family, a brotherhood that continuously pushes and supports only the best in each other. And there is a mystery to it, a magic that the mind can't understand, an intelligence that animates us collectively that makes us available to be of service to something way bigger than just these individual bodies and minds.
And this is the gem, the icing on the cake, the answer to our hearts longing, to be of service to a greater good, a Great God that is ultimately who we are.
I am honoured; honoured to be alive and to share this journey with my brothers and with other men who may be interested.
David Williams, UK
Joined the Men's Collective in 2014
A Heart Blown Open
My involvement with the Awakened Life Project Men's Collective started in summer of 2019 after attending the annual public Men's retreat.
Looking back it brings a smile to my face to remember my slight nervousness and trepidation walking down to the now very familiar Awakened Life Project Quinta and into the unknown of what the next few days would bring. I joined mainly because I was curious; exploring spirituality in the context of being with a group of men was something new to me and also there appeared to be a leaning towards personal development which was generally more my thing. And as always the nerves proved to me that getting out of my comfort zone was going to be good for me!
I would say that up until joining that first retreat my interest in 'spirituality' was important to me, I knew there was something mysterious and unfathomable about being 'me' that defied my limited reality. I had played around with meditation and yoga on and off for a few years but never any long term commitment. However belonging to any 'spiritual' group or community would have been the last thing on my mind!
So what changed for me? Well firstly being on the retreat as an 'outsider' joining the men who were already part of the Men's Collective gave me a clear and uncompromising immersion into their world. I also quickly felt a connection with and appreciation for Pete and his role as teacher, and I had a strong resonance and interest with what we dived deeply into on the retreat; a combination of spiritual teaching, meditation and male identity and conditioning, all of it based on a foundation of liberating ourselves from the limitations we self impose and identify with. I was impacted deeply and yet I was also very happy to leave and get back to my life.
At some point after I felt a tug inside however and knew instinctively that joining this brave band of men would potentially be life transforming for me. This was partly because of that first retreat experience and also because I could clearly see that what the Men's collective was living and expressing was breathtaking in its boldness and commitment to grow and transform together. I saw maturity and responsibility whilst also a humour, lightness and deep love and intimacy which was both very attractive and very challenging. And that is all still present.
I saw then and see now that the underlying foundation of the project and the Men's Collective is based on a direct and deep inquiry into how we can live the process of spiritual awakening in the complex and challenging world we inhabit, both individually and collectively. And our personal and cultural conditioning is an integral part of that.
We are a beautifully diverse group of people; different nationalities, ages, sexualities and interests all embodying different expressions of what it means to be interested in living a spiritual life. Some of us are working in the cities, some on the land and some living as residents at the project's Quinta.
My heart has been blown open by the love and intimacy we all share together and the immense collective exploration into what it means to live as awakened beings. By giving myself to that I am then expressing whatever that might look like at any given moment, out into the world. Sometimes joyful, sometimes painful but always alive and real. This is my commitment that I am choosing to live.
The foundation of where I stand in the world is my deep heart recognition and surrender to what I have always known to be true, the Absolute unconditional Being that we all are. And at the same time I am Larry with all my humanness, which means my self-transcendence and self-realisation is an ongoing and potentially never ending process. And that is why being part of the Men's Collective offers such a compelling, necessary and beautifully imperfect opportunity to stay on course with this process of spiritual awakening.
Larry Michaels, UK Joined the Men's Collective in 2019
Living On The Edge
I've lived on the edge all my adolescence seeking extreme experiences and people that would fulfil my extreme need to be happy and feel free. When I was 20 years old, I started understanding that I wouldn't find it in the way I was living my life and neither in the relationships I was seeking for. I started a journey into myself and some years later I listened to my first teachings of non-duality by Allan Watts. It was when I was 28 years old that I finally found Awakened Life Project. I started listening to their teachings and I just knew that I have found what I was looking for. More than everything I felt super attracted to the possibility of being part of a brotherhood, to be in a Men's Collective. I was a boy scout when I was a kid so I had a reference point about what meant to be in a collective but still, I didn't know what to expect from so many grown-up men coming together and supporting each other. I was thrilled by that possibility.
I remember the first time I met with all the men. There was an intense energy overtaking my body. I was anxious and happy at the same time. I felt there was so much love that I could barely let it in. All these men had a powerful and serious attitude. I felt excited that I had the opportunity to know them and to start a journey with them. I was amazed by the way everyone was treating me. It felt like very sweet and strong words were coming from all sides. I could feel for the first time men being open about what they feel and sharing the good and the bad of their lives, without pretending or fighting to stand out. I felt I was protected, not because I was comfortable, but because I could recognize that these people just wanted to be happy and true. Definitely, I felt a "no bullshit" environment and that made me feel very thrilled, wanting to know more, wanting to understand more about my experience in this world. I started following them, listening to them, opening myself to them, allowing myself to love them and trust them and everything started to be shown to me, all the challenges I had to go through came to me and all the support I needed from them also arrived in the right time.
Right now I feel I already have a lot to give back to the world and I'm still just getting started. I'm learning every day to go deeper and deeper into the exploration of what means to live a life beyond ego, in love with the mystery, being love, being god, being together with other god lovers. With the time passing by, I feel the bond between us is stronger and stronger. The more we dive deep, the more we feel in touch with the inherent love that we all are as humanity. We feel the pain of the world together and we fight to bring love to humanity the best we can do. We cry together, we smile together; we hug each other with the certainty that together we are stronger, being courageous to be ourselves and to bring to the world whatever wants to be expressed in this manifest world. I know limitation is not real and that there is only one Heart here. I fight every day to make that the principle on which my life is based. I don't want to be anything else than myself, my True Self, the Spiritual Heart that animates everything.
Rui Santos, Portugal Joined The Men's Collective in 2019
An Initiation Into Manhood
Pure love. A collective transformation. An initiation into manhood. A rite of passage into embracing our own power and putting it in service of the whole. This is in a nutshell what happened last week.
Moving from times of renunciation, no sleeping or sleeping in the cold freezing mountains waking up covered by ice, no eating and no speaking, to times of ecstatic crazy wisdom, hugging, fighting, competing, bathing naked in the cold water.
In all of this one common denominator: bearing the intensity of the moment, no matter what.
For 7 days we entered into a different dimension, where time and space had no meaning. We were together for one week, and yet it seemed a lifetime and at the same time it is "already" over.
The level of intensity was arising with the days passing by. The Fire of our Hearts was burning relentlessly. The silence and the screaming were accompanied by the sound of cracking embers.
And with that, the recognition of the trust in ourselves, in each other, in the group and in our teacher was getting more and more established. We were strong, we were vulnerable, we were men.
Nothing was too much anymore.
The fear of doing something wrong, of not being able to support the process left space to the trust in the mystery of life. And with that trust it came the recognition that we, as an Awakened Men's Collective, can go anywhere together.
The more we were stepping into our own power and the more we were able to sustain the process of what was happening. No matter how strong and implicating the process was. There was always the knowing, the presence and the skills to support it.
There was no option to hold back, to not be part of what was happening. The circle of fire demanded everyone to be fully present. The only option was to surrender to God. To let go to the idea of being small, little children, immature adolescents. There was no space for that anymore. There was only one possibility: To have the courage to embrace our own power, as individual and as a group. To lead and to be led. To take risks and to trust.
And now what?
There is no turning back. Not anymore. We know too much, we have seen too much, we experience too much love and communion to go back to our small insignificant position of not being enough, of not being capable of taking responsibilities.
We are men now. And as men we have the capabilities to thrive in the face of any adversities.
There is only one way: the way forward, where the only limit is the infinite.
My body is exhausted. It needs rest. It needs time to integrate the beauty, the love, the communion and the compassion of what it really means to be a man and to be part of a Men's collective.
But my spirit is high, high as it has never been. The smiles, the struggles, the beauty of all my brothers are very presents in me. And every time I let myself touched by it, tears of joy come to the surface.
I am overwhelmed by love.
I am love.
Nothing more, but nothing less.
Marco Nilo, Italy Joined the Men's Collective in 2017
The Wildest Waters I've Ever Experienced
From the last June 5 to 12 of this 2020, the Men's Retreat was organized by Awakened Life Project, and from here, with just a couple of days after returning to the battlefield of daily life, I will try to express something. But language conventions cannot fully capture it, since it would be like collecting in words the infinite nuances of human relations brought to a terrain where the rules of the status quo are pulverized, as long as the courage of men is given over to True Love, that transcends time and space, to emerge in the moment, in the now, from the eye of the hurricane of Freedom, accepting the consequences, embracing fear, without hesitation, embracing love, without hesitation.
In a space that opens on our feet, where the unknown takes over human experience, and only the intuition of the Heart, becomes the compass, which guides us over the wildest waters that I have ever experienced.
During these days, in my personal experience, we passed from the renunciation of pleasures, with fasting and strict meditations, cold water baths in Fraga de Pena, or the high-altitude lake of the Serra da Estrela. On the roof of Portugal, sleeping in the open with the stars as the ceiling and very low temperatures; with the silence of Being Itself, without escape, in contact with the soul. And then we ventured towards ecstasy, in which joy collided with Truth, and in that collision, Happiness, Freedom, that does not exist as an experience, but is always available, that belongs to us, no matter what, was our Home.
In this Retreat we observed the aspects, in which, despite being adults, we continue to behave like children or adolescents, the aspects in which we continue to be irresponsible for our actions and individual freedom, the aspects in which we continue to fall behind our potential, in the illusion of the ego, in which we tell ourselves that we are mortal and hold back, throwing our life in the trash.
And after the retreat, I can assure you that I have grown. To stand side by side with those brave, admirable men, capable of decoding the traumas of the past, without victimisation or guilt, to move forward with responsibility, assuming their power and male freedom, well these men created a wild, frightening space for the ego, which was completely exposed and demolished, and which in turn, is the safest space, in which to expose all fears, and to be welcomed into that safe container, where what is sought is your True Self.
I continue to vibrate, very intensely, because life is intense, and scary, and wonderful, full of all those things that can be collected on the spectrum of human experience. I just want to live it, with my deepest understanding,
Thank you Peter Bampton for being a Human Being, a Maestro, an example, a guide to be myself in these times, and to explore my full potential. For being the prism through which the light of pure Consciousness penetrates, and projects all the colors of Love on us.
Thanks to those men, my brothers, who with their courage illuminate a wild, unexplored, unpredictable space. Laughing and crying with you is to grow. All of you show me what Freedom truly means.
And for all who read this testimony, I challenge you to experiment, to allow yourself to love yourself, allow yourself to forgive, allow yourself to feel everything that arises in your experience, no matter what. Allow yourself to be you, whatever the consequences, allow yourself to break the chains of the status quo, allow yourself to grow, allow yourself to be happy. Do not postpone your mission to fully serve in this world as an agent of Love, because is what a human being is meant for. You deserve to be who you really are, beyond masks and narratives, the world itself deserves you as a True Self. Embrace the Awakening!
Javi Fernandez, Spain Joined the Men's Collective in 2015
This Retreat was one of the most intense experiences of my life. There were seven days where everything happened: meditation, silence, fasting, but also physical exercise, fighting and much more. All these different activities have had their place and their importance this week! Physical activities and fighting served to awaken in us the deep masculine strength that is so often repressed in our society; others like meditation, periods of silence and fasting served to go deeper and dive into our Nature, absent from the constraints!
Texts, videos and teachings were transmitted to us by Pete, powerful tools that helped us to move forward together in this retreat. Yet the secret of this week, more important than the power of any activity, was the power of the Collective!
The impact that a group of men can have on my life and the lives of each of these men is incredible! The degree of trust, love and spirit of the group, led to a harmonious mutual aid – as if it were a living organism – in which each does his part and encourages the others to do theirs. In this way everyone benefited and everyone transcended themselves!
Thanks to all the members of the group giving themselves, something magical and mysterious can happen. We went deeper than ever, developed a Collective Spirit stronger than ever, helping each other to a point never seen before! And we didn't have to be friends for many years for this to happen. The common motivation for growth and for transcending ourselves individually and collectively moved us all in a common direction and left no one out. This motivation was the catalyst and a superior magic just happened!
Thanks to our Teacher, Pete, for leading this Collective and this retreat in such a brilliant way! The way in which he lives his own teachings is extraordinary and shows how to be free is, and must be, our highest priority. His expression is free, his commitment is infinite and love for all of us, instigates us and sets an example for us to do the same, in his image. To the Collective, to the volunteers who gave their energy and who helped to materialize the retreat, to the Core Men, and to the mysterious Force that was and is Always Present: AHO!!!
Sergio Costa, Portugal
Joined the Men's Collective in 2017
Interviews & Dialogues
Explorations on the theme of Men's Liberation and Development
Interviews & Dialogues
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDKm3JI6qVU; The Sound That Male Cells Sing - Jed Diamond; 53:34; An interview with Jed Diamond, prolific author and founder of Men Alive, about why we need a New Men's Liberation, the profound value of men's groups, and what an authentically liberated dance between an integrated masculine and feminine might look like. You can find out more about Jed's work at: http://www.menalive.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUVAoZ82NUg&t=1669s; Discovering Authentic Polarity: Masculine Dominance & Feminine Radiance with Mark Binet; 1:01:14; A fascinating and provocative dialogue between Peter Bampton and Mark Binet on the theme of men's liberation through the embodiment of an integrated masculine dominance. Topics also include hyper-masculine spiritual communities, postmodern depolarisation of the sexes and what women really want. You can find out about Mark's work and his Academy for Masculine Dominance & Feminine Radiance at: https://www.facebook.com/mark.binet.3
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGJfC7mL1_Q; New Warrior Training & The Mankind Project with Boysen Hodgeson; 1:00:39; In this dialogue Boysen Hodgeson shares how his life changed as a result of doing the New Warrior Training and how that led him to become a facilitator of with The Mankind Project and a long-term participant in a Men's Group. Peter and Boyson explore why Men's Work is not only deeply rewarding but is essential on a wider cultural level. You can find out about Boyson's work at: http://boysenh.com/
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VvC3iXEsPaE; Make Me A Man with Jerry Hyde; 1:07:13; In this dialogue Peter Bampton and Jerry Hyde share and explore their experience in guiding men's groups, some of the main themes include the beauty of masculine vulnerability and tenderness, the importance of a non-judgemental forum in which all shadows can be exposed, and the transcendent quality of deep brotherhood. You can find out about Jerry's work and documentary Make Me A Man at: https://makemeaman.com
Images from Retreats and Meetings in various locations in Portugal