Jonathan Foust on the evolution of masculinity

When we create our stories each week, one of the most agonizing decisions is what to call people. How do you distill a life—in the case of our storytellers, an otherworldly life—into the three or four words of a title scroll?

As I sat down for one of my favorite parts of the storytelling process, reliving and editing these glorious conversations, I had a surprising reaction as I poured over this particular piece of footage: “Mike is going to DIE when he sees this.”

This snippet of conversation started when I asked meditation and mindfulness teacher Jonathan Foust about a tender moment in one of his Dharma talks I attended, one which he co-led with his wife Tara Brach. He said something profound to us, and Tara responded with “oh! I like that!”

Without missing a beat, Jonathan warmly looked at her and grinned, “that quote will forevermore be attributed to Tara Brach.” The audience crackled with relief to the dynamic he named: his arguably more well-known wife might get the glory for his gem.

The entire room fell in love with Jonathan right there because we understood the courage it takes to touch that “male ego.” His humor diffused any possibility for tension, and in having the courage to name it, we understood that Jonathan’s genius and his gift defines a new way of being a modern man. Through his podcasts, writings, talks, retreats, photography, music, and teachings, he creates a sacred space for men to, as he says here, dare to open to their hearts to their innate sensitivity, and to risk being intimate with all that is holding them back from wholeness.

As this journey of 3-Minute Storyteller has developed over the last year, we’ve had long conversations about the meaning and purpose of these stories. Slowly, something has emerged. When we put something out there for you, we’re really trying to counsel ourselves. To keep an open heart. To stay in this moment. To keep listening to each other. To keep listening to ourselves.

In this part of our talk, Jonathan talks about his work with men who want to change course. Men who have a growing awareness that they have inherited a lineage from their fathers, their grandfathers, that keeps them separate, closed off, hardened. And men who want to stop that trend, and become the “creators of their karma.”

This lineage of dominant male energy has unbalanced our earth. If enough men decide that this separation, this hardness, ends with them, maybe we can tip the scales. And it’s only in addressing that suffering, that lineage that we begin to create communities where “power” begins to equate to “compassion.” Each man who wakes to this truth matters. The stakes are higher than ever.

I didn’t mention anything to him, but after he watched it, I couldn’t tell if Mike was excited or disappointed. A little bit of both I think.

“He said exactly what I’ve been trying to say for a year,” he smiled. “Only he said it way, way better.”

Subscribe to Jonathan Foust’s podcasts on iTunes and be changed.

Learn more at

Attend his teachings at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health and Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C. – IMCW

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