Amir Freiman: Two types of spiritual exemplars

Some of the exemplars were highly articulate and coherent, conceptually savvy, and tended to give more “ready-made” answers, which they had probably thought and spoke about before. A few exemplars tended to give more elaborate philosophical explanations before, and sometimes instead of speaking directly about their experience.

Other exemplars, on the other hand, were more interested in “tuning into” their experience at the moment, attentive to nuances of the questions and to the interviewer’s personal questions, and contemplative in their answers. Their responses were more relational, emotionally and spiritually impactful at the time of the interview. The interview often took in those cases the form of a friendly dialogue and mutual exploration.

With numerous exceptions, those who gave more philosophical-conceptual answers tended to be male exemplars and those who were more present with their experience at the moment were female exemplars.

Amir Freiman in a Facebook post, January 27, 2023

I am not exactly a “spiritual exemplar” except in the broadest possible meaning, but I relate to both of these approaches. When I write here, I often find myself going into the philosophical explanations and to phrases I have developed before that are generally close to my experience. (And I do check in with my actual direct noticing as I write, even if the phrases are used before. I generally don’t write about anything that’s not alive for me here and now, and if I do I make that explicit.) When I talk with someone, I usually use the other approach, look at what’s here now, and find words that match it in the moment.

I can find both of these approaches in me here and now. A part of me likes the philosophical and intellectually rigorous approach. It feels familiar and it’s fascinating and feels safe in an intellectual sense. And when it comes to actually being guided by someone, I far prefer the ones who speak from their experience in the moment. It feels more honest and something I can trust a bit more.

Why do I use the first approach when I write? I am not sure. The first response in me is that it’s faster and more convenient, and I have developed ways to talk about my direct experience that feel like a close match. It takes a little more time to notice and find new words that match my noticing here and now. Another answer is habit. I am in the habit of writing this way, so it’s easy to go into that groove again. And it would be fun to find more fresh words when I write.

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