Saturday, October 14, 2006

Alienation From Vital Man

I’ve been thinking about this category of “vital man,” and for some reason I’ve been having difficulty putting it into words, even though I am quite familiar with the type of person we are talking about. I can tell in an instant if I am dealing with a vital man, but it happens on such an intuitive level that I’ve never really put words to it. But the more you develop spiritually, the more you will recognize a gulf between yourself and this kind of person.
--Robert Godwin

I believe that I intuitively understand something of what Dr. Godwin means by "vital man," and I share his growing sense of separateness and even alienation from individuals, groups, and even entire subcultures steeped in this orientation toward life. I also share his dismay with the coarsening (he might call it the de-subtilization of emotions) effect of this orientation at sporting events, in the media, and in the arts. But I wonder if it's really true that the "more you develop spiritually," the more you feel separated and alienated from "this kind of person."

Something deep within tells me that real spiritual development, at least at its highest levels, does not entail these feelings of separation and alienation. Quite the opposite actually. And what this suggests to me is that I have a long, long way to go. But what I wonder is whether I must first increasingly feel more separate from others before I can feel spiritually united with them, or whether a genuinely spiritual path never fosters this feeling of separateness or, at least, never regards it as any kind of virtue.


copithorne said...

Alienation is the experience of differentiation from your recent past and involves projection of qualities one is seeking to outgrow within oneself.

Once the growth is fully integrated, the process is completed with inclusion and harmony.

Anonymous said...

Years back I took a class on gender psychology and learned that
for the most part, the deep fear for women is that we will be abandoned.

The deep terror for most men is of being engulfed and of losing autonomy.

So in states of reactive anxiety, women are apt to seek companionship, and when in reactive anxiety, men will deal emphasize separateness, even to the point of ignoring the brutal truth that when we are ill and vulnerable and need care, we will have every reason to hope that the nurse or aide who cares for our IV and changes our catheter and pee will be a kind and compassionate person.

The people who look after us when we get old are other people's children today.

If we dont find ways to make this a nurturing and compassionate world for today's children, our future caregivers will have a hard time cultivating compassion in relation to us.

A friend of mine was quadraplegic. He became friends with one of his nurses, a lady from the Philippines, because he spoke some Tagalog. So she always made a point of checking in on him.

One night, my friend had trouble breathing. The orderly who was supposed to suction his lungs came in, looked at him and didnt do it. Instead, he stole some bottles of narcotic right out of the cabinet and left X alone to die.

My pal had gigantic lung capacity and kept himself alive until morning, using disciplined breathing.

His Philipina nurse checked in on him the minute she arrived, and caught him just as he was starting to black out. She saved his life and their testimony exposed the drug addict orderly.

My friend took the trouble to be kind to a woman who had been someone else's child in the Philippines, half a world away.

This sense of connectedness this non-separateness generated an attitude that through a complex chain of cause and effect, saved my friend's life.

The person who will care for us when we are ill is probably someone elses child today and may be living half a world a way.

That is reason alone to look for common ground instead of emphasizing seperateness.