Hardman is a Toltec master in the lineage of don Miguel
Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements. During his apprenticeship
with don Miguel, Allan learned that we are all dreaming
all the time, creating our own perceived realities. Our
suffering arises from flaws in the belief systems that underlie
our dreams. A belief system, combined with the continuous
drama going on in one's head, forms a parasite that consumes
personal power. The Toltec path provides tools for stalking
our beliefs. By doing so, we can reclaim enough personal
power to change our dreams from dreams of hell to dreams
of heaven. Allan has dedicated his life to sharing and elaborating
on this message.
In this interview, Allan exposes the secret fears and guilt
experienced by most men. He illuminates the source of this
suffering and how it manifests in men's relationships. Allan
explains why, in both men and women, the inner Judge speaks
with a masculine voice. He shows that the basic needs of
men and women are more similar than different; consequently,
our relationships can provide closeness and support for
our spiritual journeys to freedom. Finally, Allan shares
his inspiring vision of masculinity, a vision based on the
universal acceptance found in the World's Greatest Lover.
Miguel Ruiz has written about the Dream of the Planet, a
system of beliefs that causes suffering in humans. What
do you think the Dream of the Planet says about masculinity,
about being a man? Is there one message or are there lots
AH: There are lots of messages that intersect
with each other. Every subdream has its own standard. For
instance, the Catholic dream tells us what it means to be
a Catholic man; and the dream of marriage tells us what
it means to be a husband. Then there are the dreams of women
about what it means to be a man, the dreams of boys, the
dreams of old men and the dreams of the male CEOs. There
are all these dreams, and they overlap, but some of their
messages are miles apart or even contradictory
CG: Let's talk about the overlap. What's
at the core of all these dreams of masculinity?
AH: The most remarkable thing is that men
feel guilty about being men.
CG:: How did you discover this?
AH: I've led workshops and power journeys where I've taken
the men aside and asked them, "Who taught you to be
a man?" At first, men talked about their fathers and
mentors and so on. But when they talked about their childhoods
I heard statements like "My dad wasn't around much,"
or "Dad was working all the time," or "Dad
left when I was six," or "My dad was an alcoholic."
And I said, "It doesn't sound like your dad was teaching
you to be a man."
CG: There's a powerful negative message
there: that men are invisible to their children. But where
does guilt enter into the picture?
AH: In those workshops, men came to the
realization that their mothers were the ones who taught
them about men, and the message was usually: "Don't
be like your dad!" It creates a fascinating bind.
When I was a kid, my father was there, and yet I sensed
that my mother was unhappy. Even though it was a perfect
Beaver Cleaver kind of household, I sensed, without her
saying anything that she had sacrificed too much for the
And in families where the fathers were out on binges, the
mothers sat at the kitchen table with their sons, saying
things like "I hope you never grow up to be a louse
like your father. He's not home; he's not taking care of
us, and I have to do it all." However it was delivered,
the message was: "Mother is hurt, and Dad is hurting
her." I believe a little boy is genetically wired to
be a hero, a rescuer of damsels in distress. When he sees
his mother as a damsel in distress, he wants to rescue her.
It's his nature. He looks for the villain, and the villain
is Dad. But as a boy he's totally identified with Dad and
his maleness. So he wants to rescue the damsel, but the
villain is maleness and so is he. And if he tries to confront
Dad, the boy discovers how absolutely impotent he is.
So the boy becomes an impotent hero, trying to rescue the
damsel from himself, which he cannot do. He takes on the
guilt of being both the perpetrator and the impotent hero.
That's what it is to go into the world as a man: guilty
for being a man, believing that men hurt women, when in
reality he's just taken that guilt from the outside and
none of it is his.
CG: How did this guilt affect you in your
AH: One of the greatest gifts Miguel ever
gave me was pointing out this bind to me. He helped me see
that I had created a lifetime of rescuing damsels as a strategy,
to address my guilt. My thinking was that if I could rescue
a damsel in distress then I could redeem myself and feel
less guilty about being male.
CG: Did you ever rescue a damsel in distress?
AH: No. I'd meet a woman and say, "If you had me, you'd
feel happy and your personal power would return." But
the dark truth was that I couldn't afford to let her heal
and grow, because then I'd be out of a job. So I had to
sabotage her growth and healing so that I could stay in
relationship with her.
CG: I'll bet that's the story of a lot
AH: A lot of relationships! When, I discuss
this with men in groups, a lot of them turn pale, because
all of a sudden the truth about their lives and relationships
is revealed. They realize how impotent and guilty they feel
about being men. In that state, it's impossible for a man
to show up and say to a woman, "I'm a man, and I want
you." He's afraid that she's going to criticize him
and find out how impotent he is. So he tries to figure out
how to talk like a woman, even though he's not one. He tries
to learn feminine ways of talking about his feelings so
he can have relationship with the feminine, but meanwhile
he's afraid of women because of his male impotence, his
failure, and his guilt. He can't let them see those things.
CG: So as men we're afraid of women, we
can't let them succeed, and we can't acknowledge our own
vulnerability in the process. How have men dealt with this
AH: One strategy is to look for victims
to rescue and then not actually rescue them. Another is
to be a rebel who doesn't need anything from anybody: the
independent guy who can take 'em or leave 'em.
There's also a strategy of bonding with the feminine. Some
boys, in their desire to rescue mother, bonded with her
emotionally: They find a lot of comfort in women by pretending
to be women. It's like dressing in drag to go into the harem:
They dress up in feminine emotions because of the fear of
revealing themselves, standing forth as men, and claiming
their roles as men.
CG: Through your work with don Miguel Ruiz
you had the opportunity to not only deconstruct the Dream
of the Planet, but also to build and live your own dream
of masculinity. Would you like to share any of the conclusions
AH: Yes. One of my favorite movies is Don
Juan de Marco, about the World's Greatest Lover. When I
think of myself as a man, I think of the world's greatest
lover. I've made a list of the ten qualities of the world's
greatest lover, and I think it's going to be the list of
the qualities of a real man. Women can be great lovers too;
but there's something inherently masculine about that dream.
In the movie, don Juan says something like, "Women
see in my eyes the reflection of their beauty, so they can't
help but fall in love with me." To be a mirror like
that, one must be generous and free from guilt. Don Juan
de Marco shows up as a man saying, "I want you!"
Now, that voice is alive in women too, the one saying, "This
is what I want." But I think that there's something
particularly masculine about saying, "I want you!"
I haven't found very many women who would refuse a man who
knows what he wants. They can surrender to that kind of
love without having to be small.
CG: What do you mean?
AH: In the system I grew up in, a woman
had to be very small to surrender to a man. But in the context
of the world's greatest lover a woman can surrender and
still be huge and powerful. Having a powerful man containing
her energy gives her the potential to become even bigger.
CG: One thing about the Don Juan de Marco
movie is that people tend to focus on don Juan's sex-life.
But he had loving relationships with men, too, like that
scene with the male nurse Rocko. And his best developed
relationship was the with the psychiatrist, Dr. Jack Mickler.
So how does your ideal man, the world's greatest lover,
interact with people who are not his sex partners?
AH: He interacts in virtually same way.
He sees all people as beautiful beings. To be the greatest
lover in the world is to see the beauty and perfection in
everything. And if his brand new car gets rear-ended he
will be the greatest lover of the person that rear-ended
CG: What does love look like in that context?
AH: That kind of love is acceptance in seeing the perfection
of the person, their actions, and life itself. If someone
hits your car unintentionally, then they were doing their
best. Even if it was intentional, they were still doing
their best in some limited sense. If you are a great lover,
instead of taking it personally, blaming them, and being
a victim, you see that they were doing their best. Perhaps
they were talking on the phone, were dealing with a child
in the car, or were drunk.
To be the world's greatest lover is to see that perfection
and never feel victimized by it, to accept the whole world
on its own terms, the way it is. You are in communion with
God, the Creator, saying "Your creation is perfect,
and I love the way you did it."
CG: Even if God's creation involves the
destruction of my car?
AH: Even then. Only humans put negative
judgments on events like that. They don't intrinsically
have any good or bad built into them. We add all that. The
accident is not good or bad, but the mind perceives it in
CG: All my suffering arises from my mind's
perception of good and bad?
AH: Suffering comes from the mind, yes. And to be the World's
Greatest Lover is to have a mind free of those judgments.
CG: Speaking of judgment, Miguel Ruiz has
written about the Judge and Victim that we carry around
inside our minds. I know that this teaching plays a big
role in your work, Do these entities, the Judge and the
Victim, have their own genders?
AH: Yes, they do. I describe the Victim
as the part of us that carries the feelings, which are hurt
by the Judge. And most people assign the feeling body to
the feminine. Even though this model is a dangerous place
to get trapped, it's also usable. So we could say that the
feelings that get hurt, the Victim Child judged by the Judge,
is the feminine aspect of the Self.
Now let's look at the Judge. When we were little, the Judge
was outside of us; it was the voice of those who made us
wrong for being who we were. When we internalized the Judge,
we were trying to beat that voice, judging ourselves before
they could judge us. If we could change our behavior before
they could judge us for it, it would be less painful, less
I conceptualize the Judge as that part of us that wants
to protect our feelings from being hurt. When we were little,
that part tried to say, "Don't talk to me that way.
It's not fair. You're wrong. I didn't do it!" as a
way of protecting the feelings and the feminine side. That
tells me it was a masculine part, a protector who says "No!
Stop!" But if you're three years old and you do say
those things to someone who's angry with you, they will
teach you very quickly that it's not okay to talk back to
them that way.
As a child, that protective part of you shouldn't have been
put in that role. It was the adults' job, theoretically,
to hold a safe space for you, protecting you from abuse
and judgment so you could grow up and discover who you were.
For me, the ideal parent is one who says, "I'm so grateful
that Life gave me the stewardship of you. I'm going to protect
you and hold a safe space so that you can grow up and be
who you came here to be. I'm excited to find out why you're
here and who you are."
CG: But how many parents are prepared to
AH: Very few are. Most parents judge the
child instead of protecting him, and when the child tries
to protect himself by talking back, the parents judge that.
So the child learns that the male aspect, the protective
aspect of the self, is impotent. That part turns inside,
still trying to protect, and says to the feelings, "Don't
cry! Don't let them see you vulnerable!" and so on.
Whatever rules come from the outside, the protective side
internalizes them and tells the feeling side to shut up
and stop being vulnerable.
CG: So these messages that came to us in
childhood got trapped in our minds, and we're hearing them
forty years later when they're no longer appropriate?
AH: Exactly. The messages got trapped in
a part of the mind that was trying to protect us. Protection,
in this model, is a masculine role. So the inner Judge is
almost always masculine, whether he's in a man's mind or
a woman's mind. As a hypnotherapist, I have taken many people
into trances, journeying inside to meet their Judge, and
it has almost always been masculine.
As adults, those messages are still trying to protect us.
The Judge says: "You shouldn't have come to this party.
Look at what you're wearing. Everybody else is dressed better
(or not as well) as you and now they'll think you're weird.
And if they think you're weird they'll reject you. And if
you're rejected you'll be alone and you'll be abandoned
on a street corner. That's a miserable outcome, so you'd
better do it right."
That voice follows us and haunts us all our lives.
CG:: In your work as a spiritual counselor,
do you find that men's spiritual needs are generally different
from those of your female clients?
AH: On the surface they seem different,
yes. But underneath is always the same core: people's desires
to be authentically who they are without the fear of abandonment
or rejection and all the subconscious ways we deny ourselves
Perhaps men deny themselves more, because of the way they're
domesticated, the guilt we discussed earlier. They have
so much judgment around emotions. One of the ways men try
to rescue women is to get them to stop being so emotional.
Men often just don't know what to do with emotions. But
with both men and women my work is to help them be comfortable
with the truth of who they are.
CG: This is a very reassuring message.
The fundamental issues are the same, whether you're a man
or a woman. That leaves lots of room for understanding.
Even though I'm a man, I still have the same fundamental
insecurities about showing myself to the world that a woman
AH: Men are from Earth, and women are from
When I work with couples and they come to the joint realization
that that they have the same issue (even though it may manifest
differently) then there can be cooperation. When they see
that their internal struggles are the same (to be authentic
and stop judging the self), then there is closeness. They
come closer in the midst of their struggle, rather than
separating on account of judging and resisting each other.
CG: Back to your outlook on masculinity,
How should one live as a man?
AH: I think being a man is a glorious thing,
and one of the glorious things about it is that it gives
us the opportunity to love women -- or other men. Being
in a body, male or female, gives us the opportunity to love.
To love physically, to love spiritually, to be the World's
Greatest Lovers-- what a privilege! Let's quit being guilty
about being men and step forward and embrace life. Let's
say "yes!" to Life and claim our places as spiritual
The old image of men as physical warriors was about hacking
and slaying. Perhaps we don't need that any more. But as
spiritual warriors we can hack and slay the old agreements
and beliefs, throw them off, and step forward into Life
itself. We can embrace Life and be the World's Greatest
CG: We can show up like birds in bright
plumage saying, "Here I am!"
AH: Yes! You don't see a male peacock ashamed
or guilty about his plumage. He's not guilty when he courts
a female. Mating and reproduction are the essence of life.
Life is out there celebrating and reproducing itself, and
that's our nature too.
If everything were imbued with the Divine Being during the
creation process, then we must be imbued with that Divine
Creator as well. To step into that celebration is to step
into relationship with the Divine. That, to me, is the highest
way to live as a man: as a spiritual warrior, knowing my
own divinity and reflecting that divinity back as a lover
to my beloved, which is all of creation.
CG: Thank you, Allan, for sharing your
AH: My pleasure.
Hardman is a Toltec dream master in the lineage of Miguel
Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements.
Stephen Gold is a writer and educator residing in Santa
Rosa, CA, where he helps his wife of twelve years raise
their six year old son. He holds Ph.D. from Stanford University
and aspires to be a great lover.