The Future of the Body – Part 3

(The Future of the Body is a remarkable book that has an encyclopedic cross-cultural study of the extraordinary potentials that human beings embody. Of the 12 capacities that the book identifies and details out, the following are the notes I made for ‘Vitality’ and ‘Love’. The overview of the book is available here and the notes on ‘Cognition’ are available here.)


Superabundant vitality that is difficult to account for in terms of ordinary bodily processes.

Examples of nascent expressions in everyday life:
– Feeling great warmth on cold days, without benefit of extra clothing.
– Remaining free of infection in spite of contagious diseases among those around you.
– Going without normal amounts of sleep for extended periods without loss of clarity, vitality, or physical strength.

Evidence of evolution from animal to ordinary human to metanormal (extraordinary) development:
Sustained energy levels, exemplified by warm-bloodedness among birds and animals.
Enhanced vital capacity such as the exceptional fitness produced by endurance sports and the ability to survive extreme deprivation produced by religious asceticism.
Extraordinary vitality evident, for example, in the rising kundalini of Indian yoga traditions.

Practices that foster this attribute:
– Psychotherapy that lifts repressions, resolves internal conflicts, and unblocks defences against strong feeling.
– Somatic disciplines that reduce chronic tensions, promote regenerative relaxation, and make available energetic reserves.
– Athletic training that improves blood circulation, metabolic efficiency, and general fitness so that more energy is available for mental and physical activity.
– Martial arts that promote mental alertness, emotional balance in stressful circumstances, and general somatic efficiency.
– Meditation or other religious practices that reduce draining emotions, unify conflicting volitions, and promote access to the subliminal depths of mind and body.


Love that transcends ordinary needs and reveals a fundamental unity with others.

Examples of nascent expressions in everyday life:
Experiencing love that removes all sense of boundaries between you and a loved one, as if you and the other were a single person or body.

Evidence of evolution from animal to ordinary human to metanormal (extraordinary) development:
Loving devotion to others exemplified, for example, in whales and dolphins.
Empathy and interpersonal creativity produced by emotional education. The loving service evoked by religious service.
Love that transcends normal needs and motives, revealing a unity among people and things more fundamental than any differences between them.

Practices that foster this attribute:
Love has many elements, among them:
– Delight in others for their own sake.
– Empathy, which can be developed by:
–>> experiencing actual situations that others experience.
–>> imaginatively entering another’s experience during role-playing, intimate conversation, or solitary reflection.
–>> extending the range and depth of emotions through non-interfering observation of suppressed or forgotten feelings, concentration upon visual, auditory, or other imagery that evokes it, etc.
– Desire that others thrive, which can be strengthened by:
–>> self-examination or therapy that reduces competitiveness and needs for dominance.
–>> practices that promote one’s own integration, well-being, and sense of personal security.
–>> philosophical reflection that reveals the similarity or identity of one’s own and another’s highest ends.
– A well-being that overflows to others, which can be cultivated through all the practices noted here and by mutual self-disclosure.

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