4° Primal Dependence

For a very quick and fun look at Primal Growth in Intimacy, click on this blog article: Back in the Day.

So... what is this benighted Neanderthal stage of human development we call Primal Dependence? We use labels like ‘Dependent’, ‘Segregated State’ and ‘Human Childhood’. Sounds pretty horrible. But it's not... It's actually normal, and no matter how much you grow you will always have moments in the Primal Dependence State of Doing.

Let's start with a breathing exercise. Everyone reading this, take a deep slow inhale. Now quickly exhale. Inhale deeply again, then exhale quickly. Then take a third deep slow breath and hold it.

Hold it until you get uncomfortable. You want to experience some discomfort, some small pressure at least. Experience wanting air. Hold your breath as long as you can, and then exhale and begin to breathe normally.

You have just experience a moment of Primal Dependence. And no matter how much training, practice, growth, therapy, or even enlightenment you have achieved... you still need air. If I took the room you are in, and seal it, and then I instantly sucked all the air out of that room... within about 30 seconds, everything you cared about, your family and friends, your purpose in life, food, sex, beauty, intimacy… everything... would be set aside by your violent need for air. 

Another perfect example of Primal Dependence is a baby child.

Each baby child is in a state of Primal Dependence. It requires assistance (to put it mildly).  So whenever you are in a state of need, or when you can't necessarily help yourself, you are in a state of Primal Dependence.

Here is another example: If you break your arm, what do you do? You are in a dependent situation.  So...you go to the doctor, who fixes you, by setting the bone and putting it in a cast and giving you instructions on how to care for it and heal. You aren't going to say: "Screw this, I’m independent. I’ll go onto Google, learn how to fix and set my own arm."

Even a doctor will almost always go to another doctor to get help when wounded.  

Here is another example of Primal Dependence:

“I’m trapped in a burning fucking car! I’m in a Primal moment here: I’m really fucking dependent on you guys saving my ass!!”

“I’m trapped in a burning fucking car! I’m in a Primal moment here: I’m really fucking dependent on you guys saving my ass!!”

And as a counter point to being a dependent newborn babe, don't forget the dependence of old age:


Here’s the deal. We are living in a rare time where a large number of people have the opportunity to spend their time on spiritual growth. We have the luxury of thinking about gifting the world. About growth... But as a species, we are not wired to think about growth. We are not wired for what I call Integration: Human Adulthood.

We are bred in our DNA, in our fibers, to fight for what we need. To fight for food, for shelter, for sex, for love. It thousands of years of human evolution. Consider that when you give someone all of these things without a fight, they tend to create what some have jokingly referred to as First World Problems. After spending thousands of evolutionary years struggling for food… we actually have some people, young women mainly, starving themselves. Most people who become super wealthy turn into gigantic assholes.

The drive behind this all is Tribalism.

Tribalism simply means that we needed to ban together in tribes and families to survive.

Loners need not apply.

If you are kicked out of the tribe... you usually starved and died. Being out on your own wasn't a good thing.

And we see this reflected EVERYWHERE.  From Patriotism:

To Racism:

To every other 'ISM' out there. 

Consider the how deeply each of us tend to be 'afflicted' by High School:

Everyone wants to be loved... everyone wants to belong.

But tribalism hides an even more insidious fear. It's not just the fear of being kicked out and starving to death, which is a purely mechanical evolutionary survival program in our genes, but it is the great fear of all fears: No Self.

Tribalism is our main weapon against NO SELF.  We cling to each other, and we’re used to fighting for that spot in the tribe. What is the alternative? You get:

kicked out of the tribe

voted off the island

set adrift on the ocean alone

This is it. You and the ocean, no land in sight, just the abyss beneath you. Oh and the boat’s leaky. Yeah, it’s going down. Sooner or later. You can only bail it out so long…

FLow of The Other States

I put three states of human growth under the heading Tribalism, because all three speak to how we relate to others.  Primal Dependence is the "You take care of me" state.  Elemental Independence is the "I take care of myself" state.  Ritual Interdependence is the "We take care of each other and our world" state.  All of it revolves around the Tribe, and while we strive to grow into an Interdependent Person, we will always flow through the other two states, Dependence and Independence.

This is the Reality

Dependence to Independence to Interdependence and back again...

The idea that we pass through these states permanently is not very useful.  If you see it that way, you start getting turbulent whenever you are in a Dependent Behavior Moment, thinking: “Shit, I need to be Independent!”

But this isn't useful because we fluctuate up and down the levels, or stages, or continuum all the time.

Primal Dependency in Intimacy

But we are talking about Intimacy... and so what does this state look like in a relationship?

Usually... it's a needy and dependent state to be in. “Don’t Leave me this Way! I can’t survive, I can’t stay alive.”

Primal Dependencey moments in a relationship can be very unbalancing, and in intimacy whenever you trigger a ‘therapeutic’ moment it usually stops the intimacy altogether.

I’ve heard Primal Dependence in Intimacy described in terms of the 1950s.  Think Don and Betty Draper from Mad Men:

Primal Relationships for most of Human Evolutionary History were based on fixed roles – Men went out and hunted for food, the equivalent of that is our poetic hunt for money.  Women stayed home, took care of the abode, and nurtured the children.  Men controlled women with money, and women controlled men with sex.  It was an era mostly of need and dependence, absent our newly discovered search for depth.

I’m often asked in workshops and intensives: “How do I get out of Primal Dependent state permanently?”  At least in terms of intimacy, and in any arc of growth, we don’t want to be stuck at the bottom level, do we?  And years after extensive therapeutic and and spiritual work… you find yourself still doing needy Dependency stuff!

The first thing to understand is that we will always have Dependency Moments, and Dependency Needs.  Let's talk about Relationship Needs.

Primal Intimacy Needs

Let me tell you a story about a man and a woman, they were married 45 years.  Pretty good right? Well, both had these dents from their childhood. 

  • The Feminine part of us wants love, to be penetrated, to shine, to love, to flow, to nurture, to change, and to be filled up. It’s the part that makes you feel safe and valued in the tribe. 
  • The Masculine part of us wants to direct, to protect, to penetrate, to do. It wants trust, that’s what makes you feel safe and valued in the tribe.

Now each of us have a masculine and feminine side (See: Polarity), and the man I’m describing, his feminine side, the side that wanted to be loved, was severely dented due to his childhood. This isn't unusual, most of us are dented in some way or another, to different degrees. But he really needed this love. Worse, he wasn't good at giving it, which is no surprise, a man from his generation, and so the woman who was married to this man once told me, “I will never fucking give him the love he needs, he never gives it to me, so fuck him.”

Yeah, they made it 45 years…

Different generation, right?

So the way to look at this, is like eating. You get hungry, you eat. Well damn hell, 4 hours later, you’re are hungry again.

It's like mowing the lawn:

I mowed the lawn last week, why should I mow it again?

These primal intimacy needs never go away.

Tribal Poetry

What is Tribal Poetry? As I've discussed elsewhere, we can spend lifetimes working on the progression from Dependence to Independence to Interdependence. You can always get better at these skills. They are endless pursuits. And... they all end in DEATH. Which makes the endless pursuit part fairly pointless.

I'll mention Tribal Poetry again and again throughout these pages, and if you come to my workshops and intensives we'll talk about it as well.  

The idea is to take a break from the endless gerbil wheel of Spiritual Growth and begin offering your deepest gifts now...  Why wait?  Why wait to love?

Tribal Poetry is accepting your dents and damages and quirks and eccentricities, and accepting these smelly parts of other people as well, and playing with them.  Turning them into poetry...

Why Not?

Going back to Primal Needs, let me offer one simple way to play poetically with these needs.  

“I will love you forever.”

These words work perfectly for the feminine side of you.  

“I will follow you anywhere.”

The masculine side loves these words.

So who here, reading now, likes the feel of these words? Imagine your partner, your deepest trusted partner, and if you don’t have a partner, imagine your perfect partner in the future… imagine them saying either of these things to you. Does it feel good?  Does it do something to you?

It does.

It’s your basic Primal need.

And it’s never going to go away. 

So... instead of wishing that need would go away in yourself, and in your partner... why not play with it? If you are a man, why not tell your woman everyday: "I will love you forever."  If you are a woman, why not tell your man, every day, "I will follow you anywhere."

Now… imagine how much easier life is when this little piece is filled every day?

Sure, you might say, I don’t need these dents to be filled to give my gift and my art. But as I mentioned in the beginning if I take away the air in the room, you will very quickly stop wanting anything else in the world except air!!! So... imagine how well you can give your gifts, your offerings to the world without air? You can’t do much. So the martyred artist is mostly full of shit. You need food, money, air, love.

So the question really becomes… and this is the real question:

Why not?  Why not give this to your partner every day? Why not practice Tribal Poetry? Creatively, repetitively, give your partner their basic needs without restraint.

Primal Nurturing

So Primal Dependence is a natural state you will be at often. And there are many ways to turn that need into a gift:

Who here reading this, men and women, have spent time taking care of a newborn child?

Now while there are moments of pulling your hair out, losing your fucking mind. (I raised three kids by myself, so I know all about this.)  But...there is something you receive out of it. 

Healing people, taking care of people, nurturing… that’s what it is, and it’s a good thing.

In iconography of the dominant religion in our times in America, Christianity, one of the most powerful scenes is that of the Madonna holding the Christ Child. Here we see the DIVINITY, of the universe, God, coming into the most DEPENDENT stage possible, and allowing, possibly as a GIFT, a woman, the Mother Mary, to nurture him.  What greater gift could any of us receive than to be given a GOD into our care? What greater trust?

PICTURE : Ambrogio Da Fossano

PICTURE: Ambrogio Da Fossano

So even in the context of a relationship, you can offer someone the opportunity to ‘take care’ of you. That could be a poetic offering.

Primal Masculine

While most forms of the Primal Masculine in a dependent situation in your intimacy is going to result in aggression and violence.  Distancing ourselves from that energy is one of the main achievements our current society has achieved.  Having said that, what about Tribal Poetry?  How can we play with the deep aggression of the Primal Masculine? How can we add heart to our dependent moments?  Our urge to compete, our urge to protect, our urge to ravish?

In intimacy, what if you embrace your woman and she's in dependent needy stage.  What if she's in an independent dry masculine stage?  How can you use your primal energies to open here heart?  To swoop her off her feet and penetrate her with your purpose and depth?  To ravish her open and bring her back to her own depth?

Primal Feminine

The Primal Feminine can be a powerful force.  Where men tap into that deep dark state to hunt and kill, women can tap into that same dark place to kill and disrupt.  But how can such a primal energy be translated to Tribal Poetry, a gift to her Man, pushing out of needy darkness and into murderous light?

Imagine you come home one evening to find your out of work husband drunk on the couch playing video games and or watching sports. Or he may have worked today, but he hates his job and hates his life, and instead of standing up and changing, he's settled for what little light he can get from beer and TV.

So what do you feel? Anger? Rage? Want to cut his fucking head off and tell him to get off his ass and find himself?

This kind of dependence often requires a ‘harsh’ type of response.  Hence we often utilize the symbol of Kali in the feminine as a perfect energy for women to use in for women dealing with their men when they are being less than they can be.  Kali is a Hindu deity, who cuts the head off of men. She is often pictured naked, with a string of heads, or penises around her neck, standing on the form of SHIVA, the Masculine God. Shiva is often picture with an erect penis in this regard. Kali has become a New Age symbol of feminine strength, and has gained worshipers becomes of this. But she has a loving side as well.

PICTURE: Raja Ravi Varma

PICTURE: Raja Ravi Varma

So often the gift a woman can give to a man who is in a Dependent moment, is to be Kali.  Every parent understands this, there are times when you have to kick the bird out of the nest. To do it in a loving open hearted way is the gift.

Why Do We Hold Back?

We'll talk about this idea of holding back a lot more in my Intensives. The Primal side of this state is often very scary.  Combined with dependence, fear, and selfishness it can create great and lasting damage to self, family, relationship, and the world. But it's also a core energy source that is so useful when growth is necessary.

Often though, we wont' offer these primal gifts. The reason we won’t goes back to tribal fear. It’s all about fear, don’t let anyone fool you differently. This is the classic codependent relationship. You keep your little addict dependent so you can keep him under your thumb, so you can keep the jollies of being a nurturer going, but that’s all bullshit, what you really fear is them leaving.

That’s the fear if you cut off their head. Take that man on the couch. If you as the woman finally put your foot down, and cut off his bloody fucking head demanding he stand up and be a man, that might be the only thing that saves him. But it might also cause him to leave you.

Real Wounds

Look, I don’t mean to say there aren't real wounds. There are. They are real. And that’s my next topic, because if you are sitting on the couch as a lazy bastard, I hope your woman turns into Kali and cuts your head off and gets you out there as a man finding your purpose and offering your gift. I sincerely hope that happens to you.

But you might wounded.  And wounds need to be treated differently.

Anyone recall the 1989 NBA Finals, Los Angeles Lakers vs. Detroit Pistons? Magic Johnson was the MVP of the season, and they had swept all the teams before them in the playoffs. Better than that, they had already beaten Detroit in the previous year’s finals. They were poised for victory again. And then in the middle of game 2, Magic is running down the court and he suddenly pulls up. BAM.  Hamstring. 

Just like that, he’s done. No amount of willpower is going to change that. It’s a wound, and it needs healing. Period. There is no other option. Magic was wounded. It was done. And the Lakers lost the series, 4-0. 

We all have wounds, or will get wounded.  We will all be reduced to dependent moments, and we have to know the difference between showing up fully in our lives (getting off the couch) and healing from deep real wounds?. One is being lazy and sacred, the other is being wise.

The Yoga of Dependence - Tribal Poetry

If you are seriously deeply wounded... how can you turn that into a gift and offer it?  So, let’s discuss Magic Johnson again in terms of Tribal Poetry. Later in his career, some of you may know, he was diagnosed with HIV. This was a wound far greater than a mere pulled hamstring. Now he tried to keep playing basketball, but in the environment of the time, it ended up not working. People didn't like him having that disease, he could touch them, and bleed on them, etc, and so he retired.

Magic became wounded… and his basketball career was over. He became dependent upon a regime of drugs and therapy to keep himself alive. And in this moment, from this place, he began making ceremonial offerings. He is a well-known philanthropist in the LA area, and a strong HIV/Aids advocate.

The idea is to find ways to give, regardless. I was injured once, making love to my woman, I hurt my back. And couldn't move. So intercourse was out, but did that stop us? Absolutely not, we found ways to give each other, even from a very dependent place lying down unable to move.

And face it men, this is going to happen to all of us. As we get older, our dick will get softer, and we’ll have to find other ways to fuck our women open. We’ll have to feel past the fears of impotence, and find ways to give our gifts.

We are all going to die, we are all going to return to the ultimate Primal Dependent state as we get old, and then ultimately die.  Worm food, or food for the kiln of creation.

In this knowledge of our impending death, in this knowledge of our moments of dependence… can we still give our offerings?

I think the the answer is yes... in these moments we can. But first let's check out the next state of doing: Elemental Independence.