Testimonies sharing the experience of participating in The Awakened Life Men's Collective
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

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

Allow Yourself To Break open
Dear Men out there,

If you came all the way here it's because there is something within you that longs to wake up from the dream of the known, from the illusion of separation, and wants real, awaken, loving relationships. Isn't it true? Aren't you tired and frustrated living a life that seems to go nowhere, even if everything that you thought you wanted you already got? Aren't you fed up with the same way of being you, the normal way of doing things, the commonly agreed ways of behaving, being with the other, being in love? Do you feel like you are going around a circle, over and over again, and nothing real seems to happen or stay?

That's how it was for me, however it all changed when I became part of the Men's Collective. I found real, loving relationships based on Truth, honesty, humility, and a shared passion for Freedom and God Realization. I've got to tell you that I did not find a bunch of hippies, tripping on illusions in a some kind of denial or evasion of the world. Rather I found men who are willing to live real lives, to stand up for what is True and surrender to what is Real, always willing to go beyond the edge, even at the expense of death – of ego death.

I will never forget the first men's meeting I had. A man was being given feedback about how he was being caught in ego. I felt cramps, tension and contractions within but I just trusted and stayed with it. This man just took what was being brought to light to his heart and smiling he just thanked the brothers. I saw how his face changed from contraction and separation to liberation. Over the last years, I have been fortunate to see this man, whose heart seemed to be solid as a rock, break open more and more, expressing a most delightful care, maturity and responsibility. And for these past few years, I began to truly experience what it means and what is possible when men meet together with a clear intention around Awakening to who we really ARE with a Strong Spine and Open Heart. I am sure you, brother, will also want to know!

And, what about me? I like to compare myself to a tree. The more grounded I become in the Essence of who I am and the more I transcend my own habits of separation, the more my trunk gets stronger, the more delicious my flowers , the more nourishing my fruits, and the farther my seeds get spread out. I feel more myself than ever, even if I look at my life and say: how did I end up here, doing what I am doing? You need to know that this does not make me special. It is just the Reality of Life, of Nature, which I am awakening to and embodying every time I choose to let everything be as it is, and every time I surrender to the Great Mystery and respond. You can do this too, wherever you are; it is your Nature.

For many months, this written expression of what it means to be part of ALP Men's Collective has being simmering within. I really just wish to say it simple: Love and Truth. Being part of this journey together, of this Collective, has been for me a transformational no-path path through which I have understood and have begun to embody that Love, Freedom, the Great Spirit, in all relations. You and I are Oneness. One is who I am.

Please, brother, follow your heart. Be Real. Surrender. Do not be another case of a mechanical uninspected life. Fall in Love and allow yourself to break open. Awaken.

Esteban Ferrero Botero
Joined The Men's Collective in 2016
Founder and Guardian at Ecozentro Madre Kumbra, Manizales, Colombia

A Shared Joy Is A Double Joy

When I joined the Awakened Life Project I was on the verge of a breakdown. I felt that I was on a downward slope from a light, happy, but solitary existence, during which I had had spontaneous glimpses of Awakening. Eventually I realised that it was an illusion that I could hope to stabilise any higher level of development on my own.

At the time, and many times since, I have reflected on what we know of the life of Jesus and his disciples, for that community was a Men's Collective. In teaching his disciples, Jesus used analogies. And one of them illustrates well the importance of the Collective. In the analogy Jesus compared the individual to a single stick that easily breaks when exposed to a force of resistance. To illustrate the strength and his disciple's Collective he used the analogy of a bundle of sticks that resisted the same force. It is just such a strength in the face of egoic resistance that is active in our Brotherhood, and thus we potentially breakthrough in the face of challenges, rather than breakdown.

A priest and friend of mine once told me that "a shared joy is double joy" and how joyful it is when we occasionally come together informally and suddenly one of us exclaims in total awe; "How can it be, that we feel so much Happiness…what have we done to deserve this Wonder?" Of course this is not put out as a question, even though everyone could answer it as such. But the wonder of sharing this Wonder is just Wonder-Full and illustrates the amplification of shared Joy in the context of our Brotherhood.

So we experience a demand to grow through the independence (self-sufficiency) that we all in the years of adolescence, and also to grow up from whatever infantile patterns remain locked in our behaviour. And I believe that no better "shadow-work" is available, than what is practised by the laser-sharp reflection from the Collective as whole on the individual's habitual reactions.

I used an analogy of Jesus before and I want to make use of another as a parallel to our Collective. He compares the firm attachment with which the leaves cling onto the tree; "So should thee cling on to Me (= the Tree)". And in my experience, it's reasonable to say, that we in the Collective are leaves on that same tree. When it occurs that this faith, trust and surrender is forgotten, and a man falls from the Collective "tree", by giving importance to imposed or conditioned values and thereby starts to doubt what the time in the group has revealed for him, then all forces are intentionally mobilized to "save" the man in doubt – a true attempt to save the soul of this brother by everyone in the Collective.

So when I wrote in the beginning, that I was on the verge of a breakdown, the "I" that was suffering was of cause the separate self. What the time in the Men's Collective has taught me to feel (and what I trust this testimony shows) is that the True Self is the identification with the Love for the Whole and the Happiness of Being this Love.

Poul Olufson, Denmark
Founding Member of the Men's Collective 2010

Collective Spirit
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
Awaken & Grow
Awaken and Grow. This was the theme of the Men's Retreat and this is what I actually experienced. These days were an awakening to the beauty and importance of being in a collective with other men who seek to live from their most genuine being, who seek to live a more integrated and harmonious masculinity, who seek to live intimate relationships with other men, from a place of vulnerability, dropping the masks of a conditioned masculinity. I woke up even more to the enlightening, transforming and healing potential of open and authentic sharing. I woke up to the enormous wealth of complicity and mutual support, as one who holds a fragile, and at the same time, sacred treasure.

These days of Retreat were also a time of growth. I grew in the ability to rescue the strength and power of my masculinity. I grew in confidence and in the ability to surrender to the abundance of life. I grew up in the desire to express my voice in a more authentic and spontaneous way. I grew up in the desire to allow myself to feel and enjoy the pleasure of life with all the intensity and freedom. I grew in the ability to commit myself to other men to take full responsibility for my life. I grew even more in gratitude to Pete Bampton for the mastery with which he led the entire Retreat, for his deeply wise and challenging teachings, which helped us to recognize our childhood dependencies and our adolescent characteristics of independence, pride and arrogance. I grew in gratitude to all the other men with whom I lived this wonderful retreat, who contributed to enhance the will and commitment and to be a more whole, more coherent adult.

Rui Ribeiro, Portugal
Joined the Men's Collective in 2015
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

Growing Up
I am speechless and still stunned by what happened. This is by far the most extraordinary Men's Retreat I have ever participated in. There was obviously a Great Mystery at work, a Great Intelligence behind the scenes. None of us could have predicted or make up what took place.

The theme was about Growing Up, becoming an integrated and authentic man – leaning into whatever understanding, clarity, breakthrough and commitment it takes for all of us to no longer indulge in our childish or adolescent behaviour, to become that integrated and mature man ready to Serve and Love.

As we all gave ourselves to the process, what started building up is an incredible field of collective transformation; At first more subtle, and ultimately utterly delirious. It was like a Fire building up in the centre of our gathering, and as we offered in sacrifice our uncompromising willingness, courage, vulnerability and love, it grew to the point of burning all of us. Is that even a metaphor? That Fire was what IS Real- certainly more than what got burned!

Amidst all the joys, tears, screams and laughter; the sweat and the cold, the pleasures and the pains, the fears, frustrations and breakthroughs, the depths and silence, the fasting and the pizzas…it was the collective blissful incomprehensible Ecstasy that was shot through it all. Our centre of gravity was consistently removed from our ordinary egoic self-centred one. Freedom was our context and Love outpoured without constrictions….

Having been through that Fire together, I feel a weight has been lifted off my all being, and I can now look at the world with new eyes. I experience strength and ease, clarity and determination, Love in and as Freedom, in a way not experienced before.

None of it would have been possible without Pete's guidance. While, on one hand, he seemed as overwhelmed and surprised as us, on the other, with the strength of his surrender and the clarity of his vision, he became the guiding instrument in the hand of that Mystery, a channel for the crazy wisdom to teach us and show us the Way….

So, this is IT! All of us present know, from the inside out, that there is no coming back possible. Something has happened that cannot be undone. I am grateful beyond words that such an opportunity was given to me, and I am so proud to be part of our Awakened Life Men's Collective.

Joel B, France
Joined The Men's Collective in 2014
Genuine Brotherhood
I'm completely blown away! This was the single most beautiful coming together as men I have ever experienced. It was my 4th Awakening Man Retreat and each year the Retreat is better, more profound, but this year was out of this world. I will try to explain why but I realise that the "why" is something that words are too limited for to fully describe.

A few words that come to mind when reflecting on it...

Love! Genuine Brotherhood! Growing Up! Waking Up! Power! Vulnerability! Care! Surrender! Wild! Ecstatic! Collective Intelligence!

Having been part of the Awakened Life Projects Men's Collective for about 4 years now I already knew and understood that the men we are raised to be in today's society have nothing to do with what real men are. In this Retreat we surrendered into Being I've never experienced before. We fought for each other's, and our Collective Freedom tirelessly. Short nights and long days and evenings of sitting in a circle, wrestling, taking ice cold dips, walking on fire, etc., and giving ourselves trustingly and vulnerably to the collective intelligence that knows the way. No man was ever left behind. Ego was seen and blasted into oblivion with brotherly Love. Light would be shone on shadows of the past, brought into awareness, seen and broken through. Constantly taking a step further into the unknown leaving behind habits and patterns, burning them up in the Fire of the Heart.

My body seemed to be vibrating at a higher level of energy. Quite literally it was buzzing, somewhat comparable with butterflies in your belly, but all over the body. It seemed a mixture of excitement, wonder and awe with an increased sensitivity to the pain and joy of others. It is pure Love, uncovered and seen, through the surrendering of my fears. I allowed myself to be that Love, in giving and receiving. I am that Love, as is everything else, always.

I want to acknowledge Pete, our Teacher. He is such a beautiful, selfless and powerful leader that surprises in each and every moment, taking risks to shake us out of our habitual comfort zone. Without him this would not have been possible and I'm eternally grateful that he gives his life to this so freely. He cares more for my liberation than I do!

Floris Winkelmeijer, Holland
Joined The Men's Collective in 2015

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

A Ring of Fire
It seemed just like One Movement driven by Love and Devotion, Trust and Surrender to God and to the Great Mystery of Life. It seemed out of any dimension of time and space, and it seemed that it could go on forever. It seemed that each one of us started as little whirlpools and, as we deepened our togetherness, intimacy and love, in wide open wonder to a collective force that suddenly was everywhere, suddenly there was no more of those whirlpools that came to the Retreat. There was just the Ocean, that was touching and recognising Itself in each one of us, with Its own agenda, everywhere, out of control, just an explosion of Love, Freedom and Revelation of Truth.

We were ecstatic, just surrendering in recognition of this Great Truth, just witnessing and being the vehicle of what is and what wants to manifest. It was crazy and wild and mind-blowing and ecstatic and overwhelming, and at the same time it is what we long for deep inside and know is the Truth… A Ring of Fire burned everything in Its way… A giant wave smashed everyone and left us in the one single Ocean of Love that we all are… Everybody thought they knew what was possible, but now we had a real taste of it!! I'm left with nothing but the glimpse of Freedom and with a posture of total surrender and submission to the Great Mystery of Life.

Tiago Silveira, Portugal
Joined the Men's Collective in 2018

The Most Terrifying & Amazing Experience Of My Life
The Awakening Man Retreat was the most amazing and terrifying experience of my life. I have never learned so much about myself. I'm eternally grateful to Peter for introducing us to the Teachings about our childish and adolescent chronic behaviours. It became more clear what I have to do to overcome my specific conditioning. On the other hand I realised that I'm so fucked up that I can barely function in this world. Hopefully or not, I was not alone on this!

Between panic and grace, fear and peace, I traveled into the darkest places of my mind, and have been rescued with True Love from my brothers, for which I am forever grateful.

It was a hard rollercoaster but it was all about growing up. Dramatisation doesn't solve the problem, and frequently is itself the problem.

The culmination of this Retreat was the lived recognition and experience that Love is the Only Truth. Love heals and nothing is missing.

The process is happening and yet it's already complete.

I am growing and I am already free.

I don't need to understand because nothing is needed.

Everything Is already.

Love is and I love you all.

Sergio Silva, Portugal
Joined The Men's Collective in 2017
Learning to Live
My experience with the Awakened Life Men's Collective has been extraordinary. We are a group of men who are truly living to create life, to shape life and not to get carried away by the endless conscious and unconscious influences that push us to build a society whose defects are so obvious.

This movement of real life and awakening is based on the realisation that we really are not what we usually think we are. To understand and liberate who we really are, we have to be aware of our psychological, cultural and biological conditioning. We must understand the incessant need that our sense of identity has to be unique and separate from the others, and that this sense of identity is a construction that takes place at the level of the mind. Thus we are limited by the sensory capabilities of the body and the cognitive limitations of the mind and therefore so often our perception does not correspond with reality.

The first step requires humility, taking a bow to what has happened over these billions of years of evolution, enabling us to reach the point of being able to reflect on our own existence, without actually able to understand it, but enjoying the beauty with which the complex evolutionary process brought us here. Humility grows as we learn to breathe with confidence in this process that has developed us and is guiding us forward.

Opening to this forum means being willing to drop our beliefs and our minds preoccupation with its particular sense of identity, so that we can open to a path that has allowed many of us to look at life with a different, broader, more comprehensive perspective, in which the sense of identity is no longer in the mind of the human body. In some mysterious yet undeniable way our sense of identity goes beyond the body, time and space. By reaching for the deepest and most comprehensive knowledge of reality that we can access we get a glimpse of the infinite perspective of our existence as part of Life, Earth, Space and Time, the Universe. To this end we share experiences and knowledge that allow us to discover a broader perspective more in accordance with the recognition that we are One. We realise that understanding the sense of individual identity associated with the body/mind only makes sense when included in this wider perspective. Then the function of our embodied life is seen and felt as a vehicle of service to existence, making us available to the Divine call to which we are awakening.

One of the most amazing aspects of participating in a group like this is that we are guided and motivated by each other as we unblock the practical issues of our personal lives so we can live life to the fullest and make our dreams come true. The highest expression of human life is the fulfilment of our life purpose, which comes from within and wants to express itself, but is too often stifled by the limitations of our context and the fears and desires of our separate ego that wants to keep our life under control, static and with a clean, clear and perfectly identifiable image. Transcending this movement of ego is demanding and challenging. But when we succeed then a path opens that allows our creativity to express itself in a pure form, which allows us to be who we truly are, which allows us to live our dreams and materialise an expression of happiness that is very rare. The group has evolved to encompass men from various walks of life, nationalities, age groups and sexual orientation. So we are quite heterogeneous yet very familiar, and to be so close with such an extraordinary bunch of human beings just adds up to the overall magnificence of the whole experience.

Destroying the cloaks of false identities that we have used to mask ourselves is very painful but remarkably liberating. The results are clear: big changes, doing things that make us happy, taking responsibility, acting with integrity and thus feeling an overwhelming trust, that is relentless and indomitable, giving us the strength to face all the challenges and understand all the difficulties as a learning environment.

We are also gendered beings. In the formal organisation of our community we have meetings specifically designed for men and for women, as well as mixed gender ones. We recognise the importance of the gender polarities that spark the motions of creation and transformation that are being manifested in this realm. It's important to recognise one's own "God given" role as a human being in the circuitry of universal manifestation to express a masculinity exempt from the fears of historical patriarchy as well as post-modern manhood. This way I can project the voice of my understanding without constraint, be proud of my strength, be brave enough to express toughness and even aggression, passionately, if it is required. Men have been conditioned to become either desensitised macho jerks, or on the other extreme, pseudo-super-sensitive sophisticated emasculated wimps. We want to harness the positive qualities expressed by both poles of this cultural evolutionary loop. We can be both sensitive and stoic, strong and intelligent! That's what we're meant to be!! That's what we're learning to express!

We are creating something truly new together, and we are just getting started. We point to a radical change, the creation of a new human culture. We do not know where it will go from here, but it will certainly continue, and we'll constantly be amazed with the novelty of what unfolds at each new stage, at each new challenge, at each new breakthrough!

Joao Pedrosa, Portugal
Joined The Men's Collective in 2012
Burning Up

Being part of the Men's Collective has brought me in touch with the radical simplicity and depth of the recognition that I AM prior to mind, body and the world. As such I AM not limited. For that recognition to be real and stick though, I have to undergo "the descent" to embody this truth. In that delicate process of facing my messiness, conditionings and confusions a band of brothers like this one is the safety net that allows myself to put down my weapons and be vulnerable.

In the process my unhealthy relationship to authority, my unhealthy competitiveness, my pride and emotional immaturities and narcissistic habits are being seen through and potentially burned up to give space to a more genuine expression of what I AM. I am learning to constantly surrender my unhealthy pride while embracing my natural strength and my capacity to love. I am learning every day how to become the MAN that I already AM.

My teacher is a full expression of what it means to actualise that recognition of prior Freedom in action. Pete is a living example of what is possible when one repeatedly endures the fire of purification and surrenders to the Mystery. He embodies what it means to be a true authentic expression of masculinity in the 21st century and as such is a rare masculine model to be inspired by at a times when it is desperately needed.

Everything that I am becoming I owe it to this Collective. I am proud, and constantly humbled to be part of it.

Bernard Erken, Belgium

Joined The Men's Collective in 2017
The Lone Wolf vs. The Brotherhood

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
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