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David Deida


David Deida

About David Deida

David Deida is an American author, independent researcher, and teacher. He writes on spiritual practice, nondual sexuality, and sociocultural evolution. He has published ten books in more than 25 languages. Deida’s early scientific research includes psychobiology, human evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, and mathematical modeling of the immune and nervous systems. Since 1975 he has trained in hatha yoga, tai chi chuan, various forms of meditation, and sexual yoga. For over two decades, Deida has been writing books on spiritual-sexual growth, practicing in solitary retreat, and traveling internationally to present his work to a wide range of audiences.

Biographical Overview

David Deida was born David Greenberg in Cleveland, Ohio on March 18, 1958. His name was later legally changed to his childhood nickname, Deida, which his family called him since birth. After writing several privately distributed books, receiving the 1974 National Writing Award, as well as various awards in journalism and drama, Deida was granted early college admission in 1975, before his final year of high school. He was accepted into the Florida Scholars Program for “gifted and unusual” students at the University of Florida. As an undergraduate student, Deida founded and directed the Plexus Interdisciplinary Center, researching medicine and consciousness in affiliation with the teaching hospital Shands at the University of Florida. At this time, he also began practicing and teaching hatha yoga, tai chi chuan, and meditation as prescribed by his mentors.

In the mid ‘70’s, Deida started his first apprenticeship in hatha yoga with Michael Geison and Jacqueline Wurn, students of the iconoclastic teacher and author Joel Kramer who oriented Deida's approach to hatha yoga. At this time, Deida also began practicing tai chi chuan in the lineage of Cheng Man-ch'ing. Throughout his undergraduate years as a Florida Scholar, Deida was mentored in physics and consciousness by Joseph Rosenshein, Ph.D. and in world religions by Rabbi Shaya Isenberg, Ph.D.. Deida also immersed himself in study with British mystic Douglas Harding and Indian philosopher Dr. R.P. Kaushik .

In 1982, the same year he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s degree (BA) in Theoretical Psychobiology (combining psychology, biology, neuroscience, and computer science), Deida was granted a Fellowship at the Laboratory for Theoretical Neuroscience at the University of California Medical School, San Diego. As a graduate student at UCSC he conducted research with Robert Tschirgi, M.D., Ph.D. in the ontogeny of self/non-self boundaries and the evolution of the nervous system and its relationship to space-time dimensionality.

Awarded the Regents Fellowship at the University of California, Santa Cruz in 1983, Deida began conducting research in sleep and dream states (with Ralph Berger, Ph.D. ), evolutionary psychology (with Robert Trivers, Ph.D., one of the leading figures pioneering the field of sociobiology, noted for his work in parent-offspring conflict and deceit and self-deception), and gender-based behavior and somatic anthropology (with MacArthur Award winner Shelly Errington, Ph.D.).

While conducting research, Deida taught psychobiology, neurophysiology, evolutionary psychology, and hatha yoga at University of California, Santa Cruz. Deida also was an instructor in Artificial Intelligence at California State University, San Jose, and was elected as a Fellow of the Lexington Institute, a privately funded think-tank in Boston, Massachusetts.

From 1976 to 1989, Deida engaged in ongoing study with biologist, philosopher, and neuroscientist Francisco Varela, Ph.D. (1946-2001). Along with his teacher Humberto Maturana, Ph.D. , Varela is best known for introducing autopoiesis, organizationally closed self-creation, to the study of biological and cognitive systems. In addition to joining with Varela in scientific research, Deida was mentored by Varela in Vajrayana Tibetan Buddhism as transmitted by Varela’s spiritual teachers, meditation master Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche (founder of Vajradhatu and Shambhala Training) and Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (a Nepalese meditation master of higher tantras).

From 1983 to 2000, Deida practiced and developed work in partnership with Devadasi Sadir dancer and yoga teacher Sofia Diaz, focusing on the yoga of intimate relational communion. From 1986 to 1988, Deida was a student of the controversial American spiritual teacher Adi Da Samraj, founder of the religious movement Adidam.

Deida advanced to Ph.D. candidacy after passing qualifying oral exams for his doctorate and completed a thesis research paper on the autopoietic computer simulation of human immune and nervous systems, for which he was awarded the Chateaubriand Fellowship by the French government in 1988. In France, Deida conducted research with Varela at the Pasteur Institute and Ecole Polytechnique. Deida also conducted his first of many long-term solitary meditation retreats, at Karma Ling monastery (founded by Kalu Rinpoche) in Southern France. Subsequent to this retreat and prior to completing his final thesis, Deida began writing non-academic books for publication (see Principal Themes). He departed university before handing in his final doctoral thesis papers, which he never completed. For his work in France and the United States, Deida was awarded a Masters degree in biology from the University of California in 1989. Since then, Deida has not returned to institutional academic study.

From 1989 to present, Deida has been writing, teaching, and practicing independent of traditional academic or spiritual institutions. He has developed a non-sectarian training program for spiritual practice, utilizing an integral approach to nondual sexuality that he teaches worldwide.

Principal Themes

Many of Deida’s earlier unpublished written works are privately distributed and based upon the integration of his many fields of study. Among Deida’s published works, the following themes are demonstrated, listed in approximate chronological order.

While developing a mathematics of cognitive distinction based on G. Spencer-Brown’s Laws of Form, Deida published several papers on a new system of formal representation of self-boundaries, space and time: “The Form of Duality: Objectification as Implicate Time (1985)”, “Some Fundamental Aspects of the Indicational Calculus and the Eigenbehavior of Extended Forms (1985)”, “The Indicational Calculus and Trialectics (1985)”, “An Approach to a Mathematics of Phenomena: Canonical Aspects of Reentrant Form Eigenbehavior in the Extended Calculus of Indications (1988)”, and “Multiplicity and Indeterminacy in the Dynamics of Formal Indicational Automata (1991).”

Throughout his academic involvement, Deida continued deepening and refining his various spiritual practices and teachings, and eventually decided to shift the focus of his writing to more popular cultural themes of self development and intimacy. In the mid-1990’s, Deida began publishing non-academic books on spiritual practice, sociocultural evolution, and nondual sexuality.

His first two published books, Intimate Communion (1995) and It’s a Guy Thing (1997), were oriented to a general readership and introduced some of Deida’s key concepts such as his three-stage model of psycho-sexual development and an understanding of non-gender-based masculine and feminine identities in a Western cultural context. His three-stage model lays the foundation for a developmental understanding and application of how to move from “first-stage” sexually differentiated co-dependence and power struggles, to “second-stage” sexually neutralized co-independence and cooperation, culminating in “third-stage” realization of the nondual unity of consciousness and light, with its potentially sexualized expression in love.

The first stage is characterized by self-serving egotism and also by the traditional 1950’s gender roles of man as breadwinner and woman as stay-at-home mom. Stage two is the “fifty-fifty” level of empathy and balance we see in much of the postmodern West today, where equality and congeniality reign supreme between the genders and our main aspiration is really just to get along. Then there’s stage three, [Deida] says, where we finally break free of the more timid and passionless aspects of second-stage partnership and begin to reawaken the [non-gender-based] masculine devotion to mission or feminine desire for love that allegedly will bring back our vital core energy and lead to a renewed sense of purposeful being…. “There is the [feminine] energetic light aspect of existence, and the [masculine] consciousness aspect of existence, and they are not separate,” Deida says. “Light is the shine of consciousness. Consciousness is the cognizance of light or energy. It’s the knowing aspect of energy, and it’s impossible to separate them. They’re together, and that’s why sex feels so good, because sex is the recapitulation at the human level of consciousness and light in unity.”

In The Way of the Superior Man (1997, 2004), Deida summarizes his three-stage view of men’s socio-cultural evolution in colloquial language: “It is time to evolve beyond the (first-stage) macho jerk ideal, all spine and no heart. It is also time to evolve beyond the (second-stage) sensitive and caring wimp ideal, all heart and no spine. Heart and spine must be united in a single man, and then gone beyond in the fullest expression of love and consciousness possible, which requires a deep relaxation into the infinite openness of this present moment. And this takes a new kind of (third-stage) guts. This is the way of the superior man.”

In 2001 Deida compiled a series of personal essays into a controversial book called Waiting to Love: Rude Essays on Life After Spirituality (2001). This book, currently out of print, stretches the reader away from main-stream and new-age beliefs into a more non-dual approach to life, love, and third-stage intimacy. “Our life is an offering. Can you feel the urge to offer more? Unoffered love is our suffering. Our ungiven gifts clench as stress. Relaxing as now frees the gift our love wants to be. You and I are love’s means. This moment is our offering. We will die fully given, or we will die ungiven, still waiting. Now is our chance.”“If you are waiting for anything or anyone in order to feel more full, free, relaxed, happy, or loving, then you are wasting this moment of your life.”

Deida focuses on women’s third-stage practices involving whole-bodied exercises of compassion and devotion in Dear Lover (2002, 2005): “Whether you are angry or hurt—beneath and through all emotions—your love yearns. This indestructible love is the same love, or openness, that yearns at the heart of all beings. Even when you are tense or upset, you can practice surrendering your body and heart to be breathed open by this love that yearns in everybody’s heart.”

In Finding God Through Sex (2002, 2005), (with a foreword by one of Deida’s colleagues, Ken Wilber—Deida is a founding member of Wilber’s Integral Institute ), Deida writes on non-sectarian practices for dissolving first-stage fear and second-stage self-boundaries while sustaining third-stage self-integrity-in-communion during sex: “The cultivation of utter freedom—which is to live as the flow of love—can be practiced during sex…. To practice love [during sex] is to be and express your deepest heart, whatever your religious persuasion or chosen spiritual method.”

Deida’s approach to spirituality, considered to be increasingly unorthodox, is perhaps most fully elaborated in Blue Truth (2002, 2005). Referring to Blue Truth, Lama Surya Das categorizes Deida’s emerging orientation as having “...no pigeonhole. He himself is carving out his own territory, like a pioneer, an explorer... [Deida] is in the dynamic living oral tradition of maverick spiritual teachers who, like free-jazz musicians, can riff directly on Reality, outside of established forms.”

Deida’s experimental exploration “outside of established forms” continues in his semi-autobiographical novel, Wild Nights: Conversations with Mykonos about Passionate Love, Extraordinary Sex, and How to Open to God (2005). This story recounts a pivotal period in Deida’s life with friends, sexual intimacy, and God awareness through his time with an unconventional spiritual teacher, Mykonos. This controversial novel was a primary source for a magazine article appearing in 2009, which criticized Deida’s philosophy and use of language by comparing his work to that of filmmaker Quentin Tarantino: “Like Tarantino, who raises pointless conversation to the level of poetry, [Deida] likes to have fun with his audience while always staying one step ahead of them….and Deida’s got the same basic postmodern formula that took Tarantino to Cannes—a posh kind of skepticism, and the incorrigible coolness of not giving a damn.”

Another viewpoint on Deida’s orientation can be found in the foreword to Wild Nights, written by Rabbi Gabriel Cousens, M.D.: “As with the Medieval Kabbalahists and the Sufi poetry of Kabir and Hafez, where sex is a metaphor for opening to the Divine Dance, this book exposes us to the experience of Kashmir Shaivism or the Truth of Tantra...where all illusions are stripped away and we dance naked with God. ”

One of the many significant expositions that Deida has brought voice to is the applied distinction between therapeutic modalities, yogic practices, and spiritual realization. In the video program Function, Flow & Glow (produced by the Integral Institute), Deida speaks to the confusion of the post-modern Western confluence of therapy, yoga and spiritual ideologies. He delineates the differences by giving clear description to each. “Therapy cures, heals dysfunction into function…it makes yourself better.” “Yoga increases your capacity to allow energy or light to flow through you.” “In spiritual practice, you realize you are the light regardless of your capacity to flow or your wounds. You are the glow of God.”

Deida presents his introductory program for sexual yoga in the book The Enlightened Sex Manual: Sexual Skills for the Superior Lover (2004) and in the audio program Enlightened Sex: Finding Freedom & Fullness Through Sexual Union. Although Deida does not refer to his work as a form of traditional “tantra,” he offers a collection of what some have called neotantra practices of love and expanded awareness in Instant Enlightenment (2007). “…Deida’s ultimate spiritual context for practicing ‘living as love’ in every moment [is] similar to that of classical tantra, the recognition that all manifest existence is essentially a nondual ‘play,’ a divine show of energies, polarities, and sensory objects that move through our day-to-day, moment-to-moment experience but in no way fundamentally define who we are. Instead, we’re defined by our own deep subjectivity, by the space in which all of our experience arises, by the posture of the witnessing consciousness that sees everything coming and going but remains free of and unmoved by any of it.”


Debate about Deida and his work is in part due to his association with two mentors who themselves had long-term relationships with controversial spiritual teachers. Deida’s mentor Francisco Varela was a close student of Tibetan Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa (1939-1987), whose career is characterized by his style of "crazy wisdom" by his Western followers. Physically weakened by years of heavy alcohol use, Trungpa died in terminal stages of heart failure at the age of 48. Varela brought Deida to Trungpa’s funeral, introducing Deida to other Buddhist teachers, and it was through Varela that Deida was first exposed to a traditional form of “crazy wisdom.”

Deida was also briefly associated with the controversial American spiritual teacher Adi Da Samraj from 1986 to 1988. In Deida’s novel Wild Nights, the main character, Mykonos, is allegedly based on “one of [Adi] Da’s closest students, and he initiated Deida into the crazy wisdom tradition of his guru by exploding Deida’s assumptions about what it means to be a sincere seeker…. The late Adi Da Samraj (1939-2008)…taught very passionately that yogic sexual awakening could be ‘a process in which humankind, in the form of individuals who are responsible in love, is sacrificed into Communion with the All-Pervading.’" Whether or not there is any correlation between Deida's work and some of Adi Da's writings, Deida strongly recommends monogamy for most people including himself.

In addition to his association with these two mentors who came from controversial lineages, Deida’s own ecumenical approach as an independent teacher has caused some to question Deida’s discrimination for audiences. Online documentation suggests that in recent years Deida has publicly taught rabbis and swamis, celebrities and pick-up artists, at Christian churches and at Buddhist centers. Furthermore, Deida has characterized his recent work more as “spiritual theater” rather than “religious teaching”. Undermining the authority of himself and others, often calling himself a performance artist and entertainer, in recent talks Deida suggests to his audiences to take what he says with a grain of salt since what he speaks about merely expresses his continually evolving experiences and opinions. This orientation has led one critic to suspect Deida’s spiritual depth and integrity, specifically questioning whether Deida’s recent approach has conflated post-modern nihilism with mystical nondualism . Other criticism questions Deida’s political stance, alleging an element of misogyny in one of his books.


Intimate Communion (1995) ISBN 978-1558743748
It's A Guy Thing: An Owner's Manual for Women (1997) ISBN 978-1558744646
The Way Of The Superior Man: A Spiritual Guide to Mastering the Challenges of Woman, Work, and Sexual Desire (1997, 2004) ISBN 978-1591792574
Waiting to Love: Rude Essays on Life after Spirituality (Pre-publication edition, out of print) (2001)
Naked Buddhism: 39 ways to free your heart and awaken to now (2002) ISBN 1-889762-19-9 (published in 2005 as Blue Truth)
Finding God Through Sex: Awakening The One Of Spirit Through The Two Of Flesh (2002, 2005) ISBN 978-1591792734
Dear Lover: A Woman's Guide To Men, Sex, And Love's Deepest Bliss (2002, 2005) ISBN 978-1591792604
Blue Truth: A Spiritual Guide to Life & Death and Love & Sex (2002, 2005) ISBN 978-1591792598
The Enlightened Sex Manual: Sexual Skills for the Superior Lover (2004) ISBN 978-1591795858
Wild Nights (2005) ISBN 978-1591792338
Instant Enlightenment: Fast, Deep and Sexy (2007) ISBN 978-1591795605

Audio CDs

The Way of the Superior Man: The Teaching Sessions (Audio CD) ISBN 978-1591793434
Enlightened Sex: Finding Freedom & Fullness Through Sexual Union (Audio CD) ISBN 978-1591790839
David Deida: The Complete Recordings, Volumes 1-3 (Audio CD) (1998-2002), Volume 4 (2009).


Function, Flow, & Glow (DVD) ASIN B000CEX3JE
Spirit, Sex, Love: David Deida in Australia (DVD) (out of print)

Manuscripts, Published

1985 Deida, D., and White, C.A. “The Form of Duality: Objectification as Implicate Time.” Proc. 1985 Intl. Conf. of Soc. for General Systems Research, I, 156-162, Seaside, California: Intersystems
1985 Deida, D., White, C.A., and Berkowitz, G.C. “Some Fundamental Aspects of the Indication Calculus and the Eigenbehavior of Extended Forms” Proc. First Annual Conference/ Workshop on Sign and Space, edited by G.C. Berkowitz, 54-96.
1985 Deida, D., and Horn, R.E. “The Indicational Calculus and Trialectics” Lexington Institute Monograph Series
1986 Deida, D. “Before There Is Perception, What is There? Biological Cosmology and the Limits of Knowledge” Laughing Man Journal, 12:34-49
1988 Berkowitz, G.C., Deida, D., and White, C.A. “An approach to a Mathematics of Phenomena: Canonical Aspects of Reentrant Form Eigenbehavior in the Extended Calculus of Indications. Cybernetics and Systems 19:123-167
1991 Berkowitz, G.C., Deida, D., and White, C.A. “Multiplicity and Indeterminacy in the Dynamics of Formal Indicational Automata” Cybernetics and Systems 22:237-263


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