The Code


Our circles and retreats operate within 14 guiding principles designed by our founder Phil T. Mistlberger. The code is grounded in his 30+ years of experience as a student and practitioner of numerous Eastern and Western transpersonal traditions as well as his deep and broad knowledge of psychology, historical warrior cultures and wisdom teachings.

A code of conduct reflecting the values of our brotherhood and provides a solid foundation to live by. We expect every member to aspire to, adhere to, and uphold the values contained in this 14-point code.

Say what you mean and mean what you say. In many wisdom traditions the ‘word’ is regarded as sacred and all-powerful. Many forms of mysticism, from the highest types of meditation and prayer, to the lower forms of elemental magic and modern teachings on ‘manifestation’ based on some understanding of the subconscious mind, rely on focused usage of sacred or meaningful words. In the New Testament, John’s gospel makes direct reference to the power of the ‘Word’ in the ultimate spiritual sense. Psychologically, good communication in life is essential for success and well-being. That does not mean that we mechanically ‘tell the truth’ in all circumstances in life.

Some circumstances may require us to be Gurdjieff’s ‘sly man’, a man who can adapt to circumstances and when necessary, ‘do in Rome as the Romans do’ (for example, not needlessly upsetting a very young child by telling them Santa is not real or burdening your old and dying grandparent with useless ‘honest’ information). But as a rule of thumb, truthfulness in life accords with living a life of power and integrity. A man who habitually speaks out of both sides of his mouth is rarely trustworthy.

The most recommended mode of communication for men—especially with other men—is straight and direct. Bluntness, without being gratuitously rude, is also masculine and when tinged with good will or humor can be very effective. Direct communication, the vast majority of times, is more helpful for others—and ourselves—than avoidance, triangulation (going through someone else), or sugar-coating. More to the point, make your own word in life count. Do not commit to something unless you are reasonably sure about your decision, but when you do, make your commitment count.

Be mindful. Explore your darker depths. Have an inner-work discipline, some sort of practice of delving into and understanding yourself (meditation, psychotherapy, etc.). Here again, balance is necessary. While a common problem with men from the earlier generations (born before roughly 1945) was resistance to looking at themselves (it was thought strange, or even unmanly, to undergo psychotherapy), a more common problem for modern men involved in transformational work is over-processing; that is to say, excessive focus on feelings at the expense of taking action in life. So while it is recommended, and even necessary, for any conscious man to cultivate insight into his mind, this needs to be balanced with a pro-active attitude toward life. Further, it is recommended to avoid talking excessively about your inner processes, and especially your feelings, with romantic partners—especially during a courtship phase. In general, it’s better to share deeper (and certainly darker) feelings with a friend rather than burdening your lover with them. As a romantic relationship matures, deeper emotional intimacy becomes possible and natural, but in the early stages of relationship do not overburden partners with your emotional realities.  

In addition to psychotherapy, meditation is a very good tool for the conscious warrior. There are many varieties of meditation, but the most basic is mindfulness—the practice of being directly aware of whatever it is that you are experiencing in the moment. A conscious warrior generates and sustains energy by not wasting it in excessive and pointless inner dialogue and outer gossip. Meditation trains the mind to become more present and less inclined to drifting off into disconnected fantasies or daydreams.

Martial arts, yoga, or at the least, a regular exercise regimen. A weak physical body, provided you’re not dealing with a particular medical issue, is usually a symptom of laziness or fear of life. A Conscious Warrior is not a lazy man. He may have off days and brief lazy periods, but he is never ruled by laziness. A trained and healthy body is a superb ally in life. The ‘hard’ martial arts—karate, tae kwon do, Muay Thai, kick-boxing—are very good for younger men who are aggressive by nature. The ‘middling’ martial arts—such as wushu (kung fu)—are good for most kinds of men. The ‘soft’ (or inner) martial arts (tai chi, qi gong), are good for middle-aged or older men, or men who are not in rugged condition.

Discover your highest purpose in life—your work. But not just any work. The task is to do the work you are most passionate about. For a man, work is crucial, but even more crucial is discovering your true calling. In life, your true calling is #1, everything else is #2. (You may have more than one true calling in life, but these generally unfold one at a time. Avoid attempting to explore too many ‘true callings’ at once, else you remain a jack of all trades and master of none).

Be honorable. Do not abuse your powers and strengths by gratuitously dominating lesser men or women. When appropriate, protect those weaker than yourself. Avoid ‘keeping score’ battles with primary partners (romantic or business). In addition, avoid picking fights with men or women you deem stronger or more advanced than yourself, merely as a way of proving yourself. It’s a bad policy that rarely works out. (It only ‘works out’ when the ‘stronger’ person is obviously corrupt. But even there, caution is recommended and rash actions are not—it’s usually wiser to just turn away and leave).

In general, face into the fires of life (except when it is clearly wiser to turn away). Do not avoid life. Remember, personal energy basically works via momentum. In order to get up to speed, you have to make efforts, sometimes extraordinary efforts. Once you have the momentum, the ‘magic’ takes over and things will unfold and opportunities will appear with much less effort. (If they do not, then you have insufficient momentum and more effort is needed!). Courage, and forward direction, are the key antidotes to laziness and fear of life.

Avoid being overly reactive. This especially applies to your relationships with romantic partners. Listen and be patient, strong, and resolute, and practice not taking things personally. Space is a crucial element in relationship—it can be understood as the natural counterpart to passionate expression. The latter is needed for closeness and intimacy, but it is space that allows for individual development and the ability of two people to enjoy both connection and individuality at the same time. For a conscious warrior space is important because it is what allows for his deeper connection to the cosmos outside of his own egocentricity. To ‘hold space’ may sound odd—how does one ‘hold’ something that is empty? In this context ‘holding space’ refers to not just the art of letting go with correct timing, but also a sensitive attuning to the realities of another person. To hold space for another person is to deepen one’s understanding of what it means to be selfless. To hold space when spending time in Nature is to deepen one’s connection to the cosmos.

Learn to distinguish between the two. They are like fire and water—perfect compliments, but if mixed indiscriminately, they amount mainly to steam (hot air). A man who drowns his passion with excessive compassion is usually ineffectual (too much of a nice guy). Likewise, a man who exercises passion but is weak in compassion becomes too self-centered and arrogant and sooner or later suffers accordingly when his pride gets busted by life. Mastering the balance between passion and compassion is the secret alchemy of true masculinity.

Never rest on your laurels. Study the deepest thinkers from history. Capacity to reason clearly is a masculine trait and works best when supported by the humility and curiosity to learn from those great minds that came before you. To quote Isaac Newton, stand on the shoulders of giants, instead of trying to prematurely become a giant yourself. Learn from older role model figures. (A ‘role model’ need not be perfect—some of their flaws may even be obvious to you—but the idea is to learn from them the trade they are good at).

You will always be able to find one. When you yourself become that Noble Cause the universe will support you by sending worthy lieutenants or helpers to assist or co-create your project. If it doesn’t, it means you are not yet ready. In order to be a great leader, it’s first necessary to be a great assistant.

Be decisive, pro-active, take initiatives. Masculine energy can be likened to solar energy—at its best, it radiates like the Sun, penetrating the vastness of space with its heat and light, sparking projects, injecting life, fertilizing the ground, and generating productive energy and a chain of creative consequences. A man embodying his solar energy is ready to move beyond the fear of penetrating life while keeping his heart open at the same time.

Be honorable in your business dealings. In many ways a man’s quality and moral fiber is best demonstrated by the way he conducts his business. He may have all the best intentions, values, talents, and charms, but none of that amounts to much if he can’t operate in integrity with the world and if he can’t balance his budget and pay his bills and debts. Of course, each circumstance is unique. But there is always a high road that can be taken. As with most things, it comes down to attitude.

Do not avoid relationships. Stay connected to the important people in your life, and to the world at large. Many men have a natural ability to isolate in their minds and to disconnect from their bodies. In so doing they easily become indifferent to relationships, disconnected from their pain, or recoil from deeper intimacy. A man must counter these tendencies by making real efforts to extend to the important people in his life. Include your body in this. Online connecting, while useful in some ways, is no substitute in the long run for embodied interrelating. Be present when relating. The greatest gift an older man can give a younger man is show curiosity and interest about him and his life. Practice this attentiveness to others even if a young man.

Be good to family members and stay in relationship with them if at all possible. You were not born accidentally into your family, and your children were not born accidentally to you—meaning, above all, that your life has meaning. In many ways family are your deepest mirrors and among the most significant lessons in your life. And you will never be able to trade them in like a used car or a short-term lover, so get used to them.

Copyright © 2015 by P.T. Mistlberger, all rights reserved.