Since the practice of Dhamma, I have experienced a loss of masculine nature like I am almost becoming a woman. I have given up aggression, anger, I make sure I am polite, not indulge in harsh speech (yesterday somebody was rude to me, but I didn't hit back like a man, I let-go, like I am now powerless), withdraw from addictions, not to eat meat as far as possible, no participate in actions hurting others like any kind of physical aggression, give up gambling, don't find the activity of going to gym and pumping up muscles any meaningful, instead I sit and watch my thoughts.

Under this discipline, any form of adrenaline triggering activity becomes almost undesirable. It is like I am psychologically turning into a woman. I don't know if this is helpful but certainly screwing up my sense of being a man.

question is,

Is this what anybody else experiencing? Is there any workout around the problem? Is it inevitable?

  • 10
    In this part of the world, being calm and collected under pressure, not getting easily upset are also considered masculine qualities apart from physical strength Jul 17 '18 at 14:25
  • 1
    The anger of my youth has (mercifully) faded, but I don't feel feminine because of that. Jul 18 '18 at 0:37

There are positive and negative female and male traits. Positive male traits include courage, goal-orientation, reliability, capacity for leadership. Negative male traits are f.e. violence, tyranny, coldness. Positive female traits include nurture and a sense of family. Negative female traits are f.e. fickleness and timidity.

I dont think buddhism is about becoming some genderless entity. It's about adopting the positive traits of each aspect, not to give up one to be (bad at) the other.

You can be assertive without being violent, you can be a leader without being a tyrant. Likewise you can love a child without being overprotective.

You mentioned going to the gym. Sure, muscles can be used to hurt someone, but they can also be used to help someone move furniture, to rescue someone from a crashed vehicle or to carry a tired child.

Going to the gym also makes you feel good about your body, is good for your health and immune system and a myriad of other things, which I don't think Buddhism is opposed to. On a more technical note: Going to the gym and exercising increases testosterone. If you stop going to the gym after doing it for a while, it's natural to feel less masculine as your testosterone level decreases compared to before.

If you are a pushover I dont think this will do you good nor your community. Have the capacity for violence but only use it when absolutely necessary. Be able to lead, but be able to follow, too. Be calm and collected, not angry. All these are positive male traits.

In his youth the Buddha was trained in swordsmanship and archery, by the way. He certainly had the capacity to protect people from harm and all the other advantages that come from being a warrior in a garden rather than a gardener in a war.

I'd say meditate on which traits (male and female) are positive and which are negative and then adapt the positive ones or try to shift your balance of good and bad traits towards the good ones. Accept your dark side, enhance the good side.

  • It is not about being much so genderless but being non-discriminating. In the way that basic libidal and aggressive drives are hindrances that aim to please Self and there isn’t any reason to stick to such concepts.
    – user13383
    Jul 18 '18 at 13:31
  • I believe @eluebke has it basically correct. Another way to look at it is that the path we should be following is one of the evolution of the self beyond limited definitions of male (in your case) as defined by traditional 'traits' like aggressiveness or brutishness. As he said, meditate on the best of Human traits and try to redefine yourself via those. These are the ones which will help you progress forward in your quest for enlightenment. IMHO.
    – GVCOJims
    Jul 19 '18 at 23:21
  • "Have the capacity for violence" is not a Buddhist teaching or advice. One shouldn't attempt to meditate on male vs female traits but on doing good or bad in general. Both men or women can have sense of family - men don't have to hide behind labels to avoid responsibility. And lastly, yes, Buddha was taught archery but before he became The Blessed One, from which point he completely lost capacity for violence and that was his teaching. There are also some known myths from non-Buddhist perspective (scientific); for example long effect of exercising & spiking testosterone is negligible.
    – user13383
    Jul 22 '18 at 15:12
  • Even from Freudian perspective, man should be careful of animal and juvenile instincts (there "id" that stands for aggression and libidinal drives), by rational means of intellect and then self discipline as those are negative; meant to satisfy "me" in a fastest way possible without considering cause and effect factors. We are mindful in Buddhism to yield control applying ethics and rules and that is what we do to transform. If one feels non-masculine doing Buddhism - it means that this is progress stage of the path.
    – user13383
    Jul 22 '18 at 15:23

What is masculine and what is not is only the product of collective thought, consciousness, and superstition in a given culture. Note how this differs among animals, there, it (masculinity) is not a fixed, unilateral idea.

It is not worth to be caught up by fixed ideas and divide masculine and feminine, for they are one and cannot exist without each other as there wouldn't be continuity of human life as we know it.

Such clinging to polarity brings suffering.

Rather, perceive it in terms of human virtue and nature in general and transcend such limited notion. Such notions lead to generalisations, generalisations lead to prejudice, and prejudice leads to suffering, inequality.


It is difficult and challenging to be the target of danger, violence, hate, anger and abuse. These threats to self give rise to fear and dread, with a compulsion towards fight or flight as a solution to defend self. Is fight masculine? Let's say not. Is flight feminine? Let's say not. Is fight better than flight? Let's say not. Instead, let's take a look at what is said about fear and dread.

The Bhayabherava Sutta (Fear and Dread) states:

While I walked, the fear and dread came upon me; I neither stood nor sat nor lay down till I had subdued that fear and dread

This sutta discusses dealing with fear and dread in controlled situations: sitting, walking, etc. But what about when someone throws a punch at you? I've been in fights where things got nasty because the only alternatives I had at the time were fight or flight. Was that a choice of masculine/feminine? No. Basically I did not have any skillful means. I studied Aikido and Zen together and learned a lot. And the dojo was coed--we all learned a lot from each other. Was that enough? No.

To live the truth of the Bhayabherava Sutta is very difficult. It is difficult because we need to live it with every breath, and most certainly when a knife is pointed at us. It is necessary to live it because only when you are free of fear and dread can you apply skillful means.


Sitting on a cushion with friends in a familiar place meditating is problematic when trying to deal with fear and dread. And today's society with all its guardrails tends to prevent situations of fear and dread. You could try to meditate alone in a graveyard but would no doubt be arrested for trespassing. However, it is possible to meditate on the Dhamma and the Bhayabherava Sutta in some adrenaline sports, provided that the focus is on the Dhamma and not the adrenaline or the adventure or the attainment. Dangers in these sports are very real and so is the fear and dread you need to deal with. Meditating with real fear and dread in action has helped me much more than worrying about gender. Indeed, I've learned more from brave women than brave men.



Well, I think giving up meaningless stuff like gym and reacting is a good thing.

What we consider to be a man or a woman is based upon social and cultural conventions anyway. Meaning, it differs from society to society. So, why cling to those ideas when they're that changeable? Not feeling 'like a man' is only a problem when one identifies with 'being a man'.

I myself don't feel like a woman. Most of the time I feel quite genderless, so to speak. I've ask a monk ones about this a while ago. Apparently it's something advanced meditators experience.

So, yeah. Letting go of identifications is part of the deal. And sooner or later you probably won't find it such an issue.

Hope this helps.


Sounds very familiar, I went through a similar phase. Whether you call it "feminine" or a "pushover", there is certainly the tendency to get exceedingly soft if one truly takes Buddhist practice to heart -- after all, you're supposed to eliminate ego with its defensiveness, aggression, and hard opinions. You're supposed to control your emotions, avoid harsh speech and other forms of violence, stay away from alcohol, guard your senses from violent and lustful experiences which are pretty much the cinematographical norm these days - and so on and so forth.

Leaving aside the question of masculine vs. feminine (which I think is irrelevant to this conversation), yes, I believe this phase is normal and almost inevitable. Luckily, this is not the final destination.

This phase is what my Zen Master called the "form is emptiness" phase, and what follows after can be broadly characterized as the "emptiness is form" phase.

"Form is emptiness" is when you work on destroying attachment to form. You start by giving up and destroying the crudest attachments, like coarse anger and desires. Then you destroy more subtle attachments, like e.g. the tendency to self-assert and judge others who don't follow the same path. Then you destroy even subtler attachments, like subconsciously basking in your own purity and sainthood. Then you destroy whatever remains after that. This process goes on until you pretty much lose any form; you destroy all clinging to any conceptual ground; you no longer identify with any position, especially the position of "goodness" or "purity".

This leaves you with no ground to stand on, nothing to protect you, no desires to provide a sense of direction, no values to give you purpose. This is the peak of losing form. At this point you are 100% vulnerable, way beyond losing masculinity. It's like, you are not even a person anymore. There is no personality, no individuality, nothing left - you are completely transparent with no desires, no opinions, no will of your own.

And then, once you get more or less comfortable with having no ground (you can't really get comfortable, but you can get used to it) -- you can start exploring the other side of nonduality, called "emptiness is form". This is when you realize that since nothing in life has absolute importance, you are free to declare new forms, and you have a right to assert your opinion. You can even manifest aggression when that's required by the circumstances.

So, to summarize the above: this phase is normal, keep letting go of progressively subtler attachments until you completely lose shape, and then some part of your aggressive masculinity that you're currently suppressing because of its inherent violence interfering with the Path, will be reintegrated back and you will no longer feel "feminine" or meek.

  • 1
    I wouldn't maybe say reintegrated back (in the same form) but transformed and made of something of very indifferent importance to dwell upon; worth a chuckle at best.
    – user13383
    Jul 18 '18 at 21:24

A lot of the things you describe are associated with an active way. For example, to develop your body versus listen to your thoughts, is a clear example of active and outward versus passive and inward. These dichotomies correspond with masculine and feminine in many cultures.

Is this what anybody else experiencing?

The dominant culture in much of the world today is excessively outward and active. It is natural that in seeking the middle way, one turns inward and becomes more passive to counter-balance. Much of Buddhism also teaches of and trains toward the importance and the benefits of passivity in the external world. There again, it is natural that a practitioner will turn inward and become more passive.

Is there any workout around the problem? Is it inevitable?

This is harder to answer. The above points give context one can operate it regarding activity and passivity in one's life, internal and external. Seek balance and clarity. Looking closely at one example, let's consider going to the gym. Are you clear about why you go? Try to gain as much clarity about it as possible (which will take both active seeking and passive listening). With clarity about the phenomenon or experience, try to seek balance about it in your life. Sometimes balance takes a "hands off" approach, and sometimes having a hands-off approach takes effort. Sometimes balance means finding the right amount of something (a passive process) and adjusting habits and ways accordingly (an active process). There are many layers to striking a balance, and there are more layers still to walking the path. Therefore it is hard to say what is inevitable or what appropriate workarounds are for a particular instance.


The real issue is you losing all those "addictions" you are describing. That, I believe, is the goal you are trying to reach, but I can remember talks from some western Buddhist monks who said that at some point some people get afraid that when you lose all that stuff - what do you keep in the end?

I would suggest to you that you should be happy - whatever you are doing seems to be working as intended.

Whether you label it manly or womanly is up to you and your level of, frankly, machismo - but irrelevant, at the end. Those more extrovert things you notice (getting angry, hitting back etc.) are simply something we maybe relate most with men (aggression), hence the psychological connection in your brain about that.


Physical aggression / gambling / going to gym / pumping up muscles / hit back / addictions / meat eating.....etc etc etc...

None of the above, are gender specific traits. Meaning, they are both a manly or womanly thing, it can happen on Men and Women.

In Buddhism perspective, there are only wholesome and unwholesome acts. Your best bet is to stick with the wholesome acts.


Dependence is a niche acquired through mental mutilation. Addictions being the best example. Mental conditioning is sadly a dying art.