Books, brains, brawn

I have too many books. The Cop will verify. Tyler will chime in, too — though he mostly likes them because they are tasty and fun to chew.

Every so often, I look at my bookshelves and am amazed at something I find there. I worked in independent bookstores in Boston, New York, and Mountain View for 10 years — and I collected some exceptional books. One of which I rediscovered yesterday: The Future of the Body.

Esalen cofounder Murphy has produced a massive tome that could become a bible of the New Age movement. His main thesis is that each of us harbors latent metanormal capacities rooted in biological evolution: ESP, clairvoyance, extraordinary movement abilities, uncanny somatic awareness and self-regulation, superabundant vitality and universal love, among others. Our genetic inheritance, he argues, predisposes us toward developing these powers, which can be mediated by Christian grace, the Tao or the workings of Buddha Mind, and also can be developed through specific practices. These include psychotherapy, fitness training, martial arts, meditation, biofeedback and prayer. Murphy’s claims for extraordinary human potential are annotated with references to 3000 sources, ranging from physiological studies of meditators to reports of near-death experiences. In closing he scans the impulse toward wholeness in ancient and modern cultures and warns of the mental imbalance that misuse of transformation discipline can cause.

I love that along with Christian grace, the Tao or the workings of Buddha Mind, he suggests that latent metanormal capacities can be developed through practices like psychotherapy, fitness training, and martial arts. I would also, definitely, throw rock climbing in there.

I am a firm believer that it isn’t WHAT you practice so much as THAT you practice. Your body can learn as quickly and clearly as your mind. This comes as no surprise, of course, to the naturally athletic, the Bodily-Kinesthetic among us. But for those of us who are “brains in a jar” (i.e., hyper-identified with our minds), it’s a big deal. I mean, look at me: psychoanalyzed, fitness-trained, taekwondoing, rock climbing gal. STILL I go around thinking my MIND is where it’s at — that all of the magic happens inside my jar.

You know, this is all just a conspiracy of that mind.

But I know better.


Any fits that get thrown or opinions that get heated about Esalen, Michael Murphy, the terms “New Age,” “metanormal capacities,” ESP, clairvoyance, extraordinary movement abilities, uncanny somatic awareness, universal love, human potential, or near-death experiences will be made fun of. By me. Consider yourself warned.


8 Responses

  1. I heed your warning. Keep in mid, though, that I engineer my testimonies of metanormal capacities, multi-orgasmic universal love and mortality-proximate experiences to flex and persist under extremely rational attacks such as yours. Your reasoning capacity is immense but my nebulousness powers are greater.

  2. Haha! I was actually figuring people might be eager to debunk the metanormal, etc. I intended to make fun of their logic and flex my nebulosity. So we are on the same side here, Carl.

    Okay, skeptics, bring it on! Carl and I are prepared to repel all logic!

  3. Tyler is precious.

  4. dzm, great post. love this topic.

    carl…please testify, i want to know the power. i need some stooooories!

  5. Proof! I need verification! Empricis!

    Meta normal you say?

    Listen, just because I groove on the immediate experience of my chakras (ahem) does not mean I believe in freaking *auras*. Just because I know Carl’s thoughts does not mean I have “metanormal” powers… it’s all probability I tell you. Let’s have some standards and let’s use our *heads* people.

    Pssst: I have been excited about this book ever since I broke down and purchased the very large history Esalen: America and the Religion of No Religion by Jeffrey Kripal. I really try not to buy books, but that’s a keeper. M Murphy is all over it. How awesome that you have had this in your life ever since the Boston days! Not that I totally love that quotation or anything.

  6. You know my thoughts? How do you know my thoughts? I’m going to head over to Bed Bath and Beyond at lunchtime and pick up a metal collander. I can’t have you receiving all my thoughts when I’m not even sure I get them myself.

  7. You are setting me up for a joke about someone’s mind being like a sieve. (See, reading your mind yet again.)

    See Book 4 of the Yoga Sutra. We can’t all just lean on Cody to keep us brushed up on your yoga scriptures, you know…

  8. Aren’t we supposed to wear metal hats to intercept mind reading beams? I think that’s what we’re supposed to do. Mind rays are electromagnetic in nature and since a collander’s holes are small it should work on any wavelength you might propagate from Santa Monica to Seattle.

    Book 1 of the Sutras is for kooks. Book 2 is for advanced-level kooks. I don’t even know what kinds of kooks dig into book 4.

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