Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Master and his Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World

Yesterday, I collected Iain McGilchrist's book — the one that inspired the title of this post — from the post office and once outside tore off the distinctly Amazon brown cardboard, releasing the book from bondage. The first thing that struck me was how thick it is (over 500 pages). I didn't realise there was so much to say about the right brain, or more specifically about the divided brain.

I waited for a bus to take me to work and, once on, flipped through the first few pages. As I read, I felt this overwhelming relief, a sense of coming home to everything I have been thinking. I was filled with such gratitude for the universal guidance which has never let me waver from my faith that I am right brain dominant. What Iain does in this book is to get away from the stark dichotomy of right and left, thereby alleviating the associated criticisms and dismissals which have been the fate of similar works in the past.

In the past, when compared to the right hemisphere, the left hemisphere of the brain has always come out of these studies lacking — exciting and creative as opposed to reasonable and boring. So Iain is at pains to stress that this research is more complicated and that most capabilities involve both sides of the brain. Yet, from what he has written there is no doubt that he believes the right governs different aptitudes than the left.

This is exciting because if consciousness is shifting from the left to the right then knowing how the right brain operates is going to make the shift less stressful and provide a context for it to happen. It may also explain the frequency of people reporting spiritual awakening-type experiences.

I scanned the book to see if there was any mention connecting the brain with vision that might provide an explanation for why I am right brain dominant. (My hypothesis being that an uncorrected, lazy right eye has not adequately stimulated my left brain so my right has had to compensate by being more active). On pg. 26 he states, "If you are a bird, you solve the conundrum of how to eat and stay alive by employing different strategies with either eye: the right eye (left hemisphere) for getting and feeding, the left eye (right hemisphere) for vigilant awareness of the environment." I'm not a bird, but it left me wondering what happens if there is a lack of visual stimulation from the right eye to the left hemisphere? Does the right brain work harder to compensate, in the same way one kidney does double duty when the other one stops working. It seems logical that it would.

I checked the index to see if there was any mention of spirituality or Kundalini. There wasn't, and I wasn't surprised as spirituality has not been identified as a right brain activity, much less Kundalini as a manifestation of it. Nevertheless, when I am on this track, inspirational notions come to me. For instance, this morning on waking I remembered a TED talk by neuroscientist, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor in which she watched herself having a stroke and experienced her consciousness leave her left brain and enter the right brain. This raises another question, i.e., is it the brain itself or is it the movement of consciousness? Is either side of the brain inert until fired up by consciousness?

As I re-listened to Jill Bolte's TED talk Stroke of Insight, I was once again struck by her conviction that it's a matter of choice whether we operate from the left or right in life.

What does this mean? That no matter what people say, if something doesn't feel right, then it's not. So rather than giving in, stay steady, ask for universal guidance to provide the answer and keep vigilant and alert.

In the face of criticism, it's all too easy to give up on our deepest truth. This is the challenge of being stay true to what we believe and what feels authentic. Over the years, many people have tried to tell me that my profound spiritual experiences and their accompanying states of consciousness are the result of karma or spiritual effort, but I have always known deep down that there is something else in play and I have stayed steady in the conviction that the something else is related to my right brain dominance. The details of this hypothesis are not yet fully cognizable, but they are coming together.


  1. Great post. I have felt, during this journey that I was a victim of left-brain dominance and it's tyranny. The K awakening helped balance the two and helped release creative talents that had remained locked in the rational world of the left-brain. You have explained this very well.

  2. You're definitely on to something; I think it supports my observations about how Kundalini reveals physical symmetry.

    One point I'd like clarification on is your statement about "consciousness is shifting from the left to the right." Is this observable? What evidence do we have of this occurring?

  3. I just finished watching the Jill Bolte Taylor video and I think I have a better idea of what you are saying, to wit: As more people practice the various "spiritual arts," they will acquire the ability to switch from one hemispheric dominance to another. And because survival is the job of evolution, evolution will want us to locate our consciousness more and more in the right hemisphere.

    Is that it?

  4. Yes, this is exactly my point, that the shift from the Piscean age into the Age of Aquarius is the shift of left brain consciousness to right. You ask how is this going to be observed. It will be observed in the number of people who will be coming forward claiming to have awakening type experiences. What is then going to be needed is some guidance on life post-awakening. I think that Kundalini is the vehicle for that shift.

  5. Hello Vivek - Thanks for your comment. I resonate very much with what you say about Kundalini being a balance between the right and left brain. It is only since Kundalini rose that I have been able to organise and write about it in the way that I do. Up to that point I could never find the words.