The Future of the Body

‘The Future of the Body: Explorations Into the Further Evolution of Human Nature’ is the title of an 800 page scholarly book (the bibliography is 85 pages long) by Michael Murphy. When I read it many years ago I was so impressed and so overwhelmed by the details that I decided to read it all over again and take notes. I thought that presenting some of the notes in these blog posts may interest some of you. The blurb on the book says:

“In the oral and written histories of every culture, there are countless records of men and women who have displayed extraordinary physical, mental, and spiritual capacities. In modern times, those records have been supplemented by scientific studies of exceptional functioning.

“Are the limits of human growth fixed? Are extraordinary abilities latent within everyone? Is there evidence that humanity has unrealized capacities for self-transcendence? Are there specific practices through which ordinary people can develop these abilities?

“Michael Murphy has studied these questions for over thirty years. In The Future of the Body, he presents evidence for metanormal perception, cognition, movement, vitality, and spiritual development from more than 3,000 sources. Surveying ancient and modern records in medical science, sports, anthropology, the arts, psychical research, comparative religious studies, and dozens of other disciplines, Murphy has created an encyclopedia of exceptional functioning of body, mind, and spirit. He paints a broad and convincing picture of the possibilities of further evolutionary development of human attributes.

“By studying metanormal abilities under a wide range of conditions, Murphy suggests that we can identify those activities that typically evoke these capacities and assemble them into a coherent program of transformative practice. Such practice, he believes, if embraced by enough people, would constitute a crucial next step in the world’s evolutionary adventure.”

— End of blurb —

The book discusses metanormal capacities under the following headings:

  1. Perceptions of external things. Eg.: Auditions of beautiful music with no apparent source.
  2. Bodily awareness and self-regulation. Eg.: Awareness of cells, molecules, and atomic patterns within the body.
  3. Communication abilities. Eg.: Direct transmission of spiritual illumination.
  4. Vitality. Eg.: Yogis who do not feel the cold.
  5. Movement abilities. Eg.: Out of body experiences.
  6. Abilities to alter the environment directly. Eg.: Spiritual healing from a distance.
  7. Self-existent delight. Eg.: “For who could live or breathe if there were not this delight.” – Taittiriya Upanishad.
  8. Cognition. Eg.: Mozart said he saw many of his compositions ‘all at once’.
  9. Volition exceeding ordinary will. Eg.: Sportsmen doing what looks like superhuman feats when they are ‘in the zone’.
  10. Transcendent sense of self. Eg.: Perception of oneness with all things.
  11. Transcendent love. Eg.: Love that reveals a fundamental unity with others.
  12. Alterations in bodily structures. Eg.: Activation of the chakras and kundalini by yogis.

We will go into the details of some of the above in the weeks to come.

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