Saturday, March 18, 2006
The Trouble With Testosterone
The Trouble With Testosterone: And Other Essays On The Biology Of The Human Predicament (Paperback)
I've never actually read this book but I like the cover and it's probably pretty good. (See amazon for details.)
I remember the very day I first heard the following interview on NPR's This American Life. I had travelled 40 minutes to binge read at my shrine- Barnes and Nobles on a beautiful sunny day where most sane men are out competing for pussy. I think it was 2002, and that was right around the time I started reading Ken Wilber. I sat in the parking lot during the whole show, unwilling to leave the car.
My mind was in flux as I began to realize that all spiritual endeavors were virtually pointless, ending up almost invariably in disillusionment and that almost every supposed spiritual master was fraudulent or deeply flawed as a human being. I began getting interested in Zen because it appealed to rationality and rejected the trappings of spiritual flakiness and superstition. I thought if anything about spirituality was valid, it must reside here.
Then I heard this interview, and I was never the same again. The interview with the man who suddenly lost all his testosterone planted seeds for a later acceptance of materialism which I never really saw coming at all. Each time I update my worldview, it's not because I want to. It's always because I learn something that makes it impossible for me to take the prior worldview seriously anymore.
As I was learning about Zen, I found it striking that a normal man with a chemical imbalance could accomplish the same effect over night that it takes a zen practitioner years to accomplish. The spooky thing is how the guy describes his experience- the same exact types of words as those you might find in something like a Thich Nat Hahn book. I was blown away. I began seriously doubting that I had any sort of freedom over all my narcissistically prized states of compassion, caring, equanimity, thoughtfullness. Maybe I was really just a big pussy with a low level of testosterone.
I began wondering what choice I even have in the matter. My open mindedness and evolved tolerance was not something *I* chose any more than it was an arbitrary genetic predisposition. On top of this, I always noticed changes of libido and mood with my meditation practice. More meditation, less libido, less desire, more satisfaction with less, less ambition...etc.
But enough of my bullshit, just listen to the interview.