“The Way of the Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Women, Work and Sexual Desire” by David Deida.
Following up on my post about Joe Erhmann and his new transformative model of coaching, sports, education and masculinity, I want to share more about the much-needed, radically different ideals of manhood that are desperately lacking in our society. The fact that the Twitter hashtag #YesAllWomen exploded with so much interest and input (as well as controversy) is a testament to how pervasive and difficult the problem of rape, violence and the marginalization of women has been in our society. It’s obvious that men and women have a very hard time reaching a common frame of reference to talk about their varied experiences with interrelationships between the sexes. An even harder problem – and something very fundamental to why men and women have vastly different perceptions of each other – is finding a model or worldview of how men conceive of masculinity that honors womanhood and is in harmony with the feminine. (To be clear, I’m not talking about “femininity,” but the feminine – the idea of nurturing, caring, loving and expressing emotion and affection.) There are very few people who are teaching or presenting the idea of a balanced, positive ideal of masculinity where men are taught how to value and express both sides of their nature.
Dan Deida’s book, “The Way of the Superior Man” is the best book I’ve come across, by any author – male or female, or from any background – that provides an enlightening perspective of the interpersonal relationships between men and women. It’s obvious that women are raised and conditioned to more aware of their emotions, to be more concerned about the family and others, to be more caring and considerate; it’s also obvious that men a socialized to be asserted, controlling and dominating. This we all know, and of course, the stage is naturally set for conflict. But given the obvious, how do we – as men and women – really start to get to a better way of being in harmonious relationships? What’s the next step?
Reading “The Way of the Superior Man” gave me more insight into my previous experiences with women (and my marriage) and a new, better way of thinking about interpersonal relationships. Deida talks about interpersonal relationships in a broader context of how men relate to their work, how they relate to their own emotions and innermost drives, and how all of this affects the way a man experiences his woman’s emotional reactions, her needs, sensitivities, fears and subconscious drives. Much of what Deida is writing is drawn from the Taoist tradition, and he includes Taoists perspectives on sex and Qigong or Chi Gong, exercises and techniques for the mastery of the male body’s life force. Even the title, “The Way of the Superior Man” fits with the concept of the Tao – which, when translated from the original Chinese, means the “path” or “Way” of Nature. Like the writings of Lao Tzu or Chuang Tzu, it implies that there is a moral “path” or “Way” that is the high ground, a natural, harmonious way of conducting oneself.
I gave this book to a friend who was having serious strain and conflict in his marriage, and I was quite surprised when I called him a few weeks later, and he told me the book helped him change the way he saw his wife. Sometimes one can be so used to seeing endless conflicts that it is easy to develop a cynicism about people being able to change or work things out, particularly when a marriage is falling apart and the two sides can’t seem to hear each other. I talk about and share these ideas when I can, because I believe the work of Dan Deida or Joe Erhmann provides a great road map for these issues that everyone seems to be aware of, but there is not enough understanding.
Categories: Trends, Observations, Evolution