I received some very interesting correspondence from Neil Slade after last week’s post. For one thing, he reminded me about the Curious Case of Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist who had the “great good fortune” of being able to observe her own stroke in progress. I’ve tacked on her TED talk about it below, noticing that over one million seven hundred thousand people have viewed it. Obviously, the split brain is a subject of interest and her story is so extraordinary, it’s worth saving and listening to from time to time. In a nutshell, her stroke virtually destroyed her entire left brain and she came to the realisation that:
I am an energy being connected to the energy all around me through the consciousness of my right hemisphere. We are energy beings connected to one another through the consciousness of our right hemispheres as one human family. And right here, right now, all we are brothers and sisters on this planet, here to make the world a better place. And in this moment we are perfect. We are whole. And we are beautiful.
This wasn’t my first introduction to Jill Bolte Taylor and I mentioned her in my Sea of Joy chapter, The Split Brain, which, thanks to Iain McGilchrist, now needs further revision. One thing JBT taught me was that my attempts to get a nice balanced view of the brain were doomed to failure. Worse, as McGilchrist points out, the brain is not symmetrical. I love symmetry, so that is an unsettling revelation.
Anyway, as I wrote in The Split Brain:
The contradictory characteristics of brain behaviour have been a source of great embarrassment to some researchers, who have clung tenaciously to the idea that the brain is a compartmentalised construction and nothing more.
My concluding words were, “It is here that we have to leave the lump of grey matter behind and start surfing the Holographic Brain“. If a holographic brain sounds like a bizarre concept to you, please read the entry, because you’ll need to be able to accept it as a possibility before you move on to Thomas Campbell and his Big TOE. Campbell’s TOE (Theory of Everything) is that we live in a digital world or rather, all our perceived realities are digital realities. The more I listen to him, the more compelling his arguments become. For an introduction to Tom Campbell and his Big TOE, read my blog entry, Thomas Campbell, William Blake and John Lennon: A Strange Symbiosis and watch the video attached to it.
And that brings me to the point of this entry. Note how I wrote “the more compelling his arguments become” above. To “argue” is a distinctly left brain activity because it’s verbal in nature. There’s a huge problem with any verbal “argument” (whether benign or hostile): arguments are not grounded in reality or, as Iaian McGilchrist pointed out about the left brain, yield “a world that is ultimately lifeless.” Campbell presents his arguments in order to help us begin the process of disentangling ourselves from the narrow scope of our left brain, intellectual thinking processes and imagine alternate realities. That process of imagination is a right brain activity and hence is more holistic, balanced and ultimately realistic.
Personally, I think amygdala tickling and other visualisation techniques work simply because they are imaginative techniques. Whether or not the science is precisely correct is beside the point. The science helps, because we are so trapped in our illusory Newtonian, mechanistic world, we need an escape route and a compelling argument provides that route. Jill Taylor Bolte was lucky because she was a true believer in the world of matter and her stroke was a “stroke of insight” into the infinitely larger world of the “right brain” (in quotes because that is an illusory concept itself). Most of the rest of us have to take a slower route, since our “left brain” is like a magnet pulling us back to earth.
Tom Campbell is interesting because he has explored many worlds, but doesn’t view any of them as particularly important. What he stresses again and again is the importance of LOVE as the ultimate reality that animates all temporary realities. As Walt Whitman wrote and is echoed by both Campbell and in JTB’s words quoted above:
And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own,
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers, and the women my sisters and lovers,
And that a kelson of the creation is love
(more than) Enough said. Enjoy the video: