The Way of the Superior Man – Live as if your father were dead

If there would be a single book I had to recommend every man to read and contemplate over the years, I think it could be this one, by David Deida.

It is a deep and truthful dive into spiritual masculine essence, broken down into small chapters. These chapters give you concrete entry points for implementing conscious changes in your reality and mindset as a man.

Here is an excerpt of its last edition’s preface, just to give you an idea of its scope and tone:

“Live completely. Know your deepest purpose. Give the gift you were born to give. Enjoy sex as a cosmic portal into love’s wonders. Serve your friends so they may grow. And, through the inevitable cycles of breath-taking success and gut wrenching despair, when you have mastered and outgrown the challenges of women, work, and sexual desire, be willing to forget you were ever born”.

That’s it brother. The complete hero’s journey as a man.

The first time I read it was several years ago when I initiated my Nice Guy recovery. And throughout these years, I kept coming back to it at several occasions to check-in.

That’s what I just did again to prepare this post. But instead of providing a summary of the book here, which wouldn’t make so much sense, I thought it would be more interesting to relate it to my own journey, and figure out how it indeed influenced my life and mindset in these last years. It is also about providing concrete ideas on how to implement some of its principles.

The book covers many crucial aspects of a man’s life: his purpose, his women and sex life, his work, his shadows, his relationships with fellow men.

I will split this up in several posts, so more will be coming.

Today, I wanted to focus on this very significant advice I received from the book:

Live As If Your Father Were Dead.

(A man must love his father and yet be free of his father’s expectations and criticisms in order to be a free man).

Indeed, even if my father has been physically around throughout my childhood, he never managed to connect emotionally with me for some reasons. At a point, I realised that this situation had actually created a wound within my inner child. I had clearly missed growing up with a strong masculine presence, and realised that I had kept trying throughout my childhood to get attention from him, in vain.

My father is still alive, so this advice by Deida kind of surprised me at first. But it finally completely made sense. Indeed, I realised that even if my relationship with him could potentially start to deepen from now, it would actually never compensate for my childhood needs. What I had missed from the past was simply gone, so it would be futile to chase such a childish endeavor. And I had to take myself full responsibility to finally mourn, integrate my childhood’s issues, and move on.

This was empowering.

I also soon realised that my father had also been struggling in his childhood with very similar issues with his own father. And it made me acknowledge the fact that he had simply been doing his best throughout his life, while dealing with the burden of his own shadows, bullshit, and own child wounds, which were also actually partly mine as it turned out. Surprise surprise.

This was refreshing.

Very interestingly, this inner work also led me to realise that my motivation for pursuing long studies and academic career was partly driven by my unconscious need to get my father’s validation. It might have come from the fact that once, when I was around 11 years old, I overheard my father telling to his friend that I was a smart kid.

Wow. For once, I had the proof of getting validated by my father! And no wonder if I unconsciously chose many years latter an academic career for which intellectual skills are praised, even though it was actually not a real choice of mine, as I realized many years later.

The path towards self-realization and integration requires us to be completely free from our father’s expectations. 

And by the way, it makes me think about a couple of videos I came across on YouTube about some fucking top-level world-class athletes who had just won a top-notch competition they had been dreaming about most of their lives. When the interviewer gave them the mic to comment about their new achievement, they would start sobbing like little children and say, “Oh dad, I wish you were still around, you would be so proud of me”.

Oh boy.

Despite their impressive achievements, these guys had most likely been sacrificing many years of their lives in a pursuit of goals that were not actually theirs deep within. It is so sad to see what can be the price paid by unconscious childish behaviours in grown-ups. Sad and ugly.

Finally, I put an end to this process with my father when a couple of years ago, I sorted out a meeting with him. I made sure we would have enough alone time without being interrupted, and I took deep conscious breaths. I thanked him for everything he had done for me, told him how grateful I felt about giving me my life and passed on some of his gold to me. I stated very concrete examples of deep positive impacts he’s been having in my life and on my mindset. I told him that I was feeling grateful for acknowledging that he had been doing the best he could. Then, I asked him questions about his past and his relationship with his own father that we never talked about before. He was very touched by my initiative.

Our fathers, and our father’s male lines, have to be honoured.

It turns out that a lot of men — a lot — experienced lack of emotional bondings with their fathers in their childhoods. At least, that’s what I have been seeing within communities of men involved in men’s work, it is such a significant patterns in all of us. And the more I think about it, the more I am now wondering if many of these father & son wounds wouldn’t boil down to a simple and deeper need: the need to be seen, and acknowledged by our father figures, as we are, with our gold and our shadows. Something very different than needs provided by caregivers and unconditional motherly love providers. Something requiring a strong consciousness as well.

More to come about this amazing book in upcoming posts.

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