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April 03, 2008

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One thing that surprises me is that there are few people describing this kind of experience, one which has been lived through by countless others, so altered states are seen as aberative. Classically, it is the analytical perspective that denies the right-brain experience and its value.
So one question is, why is this considered "damage'?

As a predominately left brain person the point of it for me was to focus more on the right brain. Curious, though, that we've never heard this kind of thing about stroke victims before.

When I heard Jill Bolte Taylor, I felt her to be a mental case. I was not impressed. Some experiences here and there happens.

However, I am doubtful whether anybody can switch over from left to right brain as if they are changing clothes.

Yes, I do concede that supernatural experiences can be felt in a state of illness. I had this experience myself when I was ill. Hallucinations are a part of illness. Although enlightenmetn and hallucinations are totally different. That's what I feel.

Jean is eloquent

Most Neuroanatomists are.

In the ambulance over to the hospital is when the critical thing happened to her

She surrendered.

The surrender of the ego, when it happens, by whatever forces or grace, brings amazing results. Interested?

Read the Book

Who am I? by Dadashri

I have translated it. it is free on the web at

http://www.dadashri.org/whomi.html

Kind regards

shuddha

Dear Brian,

I also offer a copy of a note I just sent to various of my friends and relatives, about Ms. Taylor's book:

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Dear folks,

Having finished it a day or so ago, I commend _My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey_ by Jill Bolte Taylor (1959- ), published in 2006. She was/is a neuroanatomist who had engaged (and still does) in studying how the human brain functions in all its profound ways. She had an arteriovenous malformation in the left side of her brain which eventuated in a stroke in December of 1996. She got to experience - from inside the event - the sort of thing which she had long been studying about. ("Wow, this is so cool!" - p. 44) Her treatment of the topic/event expounds in clear and understandable terms her life circumstances that led up to the incident, a brief anatomical overview of a brain's typical structure and function (along with her misfunction [and accompanying experience(s)]), her treatment and recovery (extending about eight years to "full" reacquisition of capacities, but with many partial steps and stages on that way), and her insights into the nature of human life/experience as in accord with a bicameral brain which interprets/deals with the world by means of two different "spiritual" stances. She suggests natural ways of seeking - and attaining - "deep inner peace" which anyone might attempt to follow. She further offers an appendix enumerating notions/attitudes to keep in mind when dealing with a person who has had a stroke (although the list might well be extended to others who might suffer from other sorts of health maladies). I believe its 184 pages of text is well worth the time of reading.

Allow me to quote from her:

- "My stroke of insight would be: peace is only a thought away, and all we have to do to access it is silence the voice of our dominating left mind." - p. 111

- "Nothing external to me had the power to take away my peace of heart and mind. That was completely up to me. I may not be in total control of what happens to my life, but I certainly am in charge of how I choose to perceive my experience." - p. 121

- "My stroke of insight is that at the core of my right hemisphere consciousness is a character that is directly connected to my feeling of deep inner peace. It is completely committed to the expression of peace, love, joy, and compassion in the world." - p. 133

- "Based on my experience with losing my left mind, I wholeheartedly believe that the feeling of deep inner peace is neurological circuitry located in our right brain. ...Step one to experiencing inner peace is the willingness to be present in the right here, right now." - p. 159

- "Ultimately, everything we experience is a product of our cells and their circuitry." - p. 172

Again I do commend the book. It deals with some basic information about how we all must grow in, and come to terms with, our worlds of experience(s). (And I'll deal with some other books at some later time.)

----------

Robert Paul Howard

What am I missing? Since hearing Jill Bolte Taylor’s description of her right brain experiences after her stroke I have been going thru a spiritual crisis, if not its death throes. As a life long seeker of higher consciousness I was stunned to hear her description of her experience while visiting her brains’ right hemisphereland. From this honest, intelligent, and perceptive woman I listened to her describe things which previously I’d only heard about from the likes of Joseph Goldstein, Stephen Levine, Stephen Mitchell, and many, many others. Edgelessness with the universe, eternal now, the constant presence of the empty blue sky of consciousness behind the cloudy chatter of the intrusive left hemisphere. Now, it seems to me that the experiences and enlightenments of Buddhist, Christian, and modern mystics were nothing more than excursions into right hemisphereland. Not glimpses beyond the mortal veil, but more akin to parlor tricks. I have meditated for many years, but now I wonder, what’s the point? How do I replace the intention of reaching out to the divine with simple relaxation and alpha wave surfing? It turns out it isn’t the physical world that’s the illusion, it’s the spiritual.

When Eckhart Tolle writes “Stillness is the only thing in this world that has no form. But then, it is not really a thing, and it is not of this world.” I can’t help but think what he really means is--Stilling the brain’s left hemisphere is the only thing in this world that allows the experience of the formlessness of the right hemisphere. It's the real thing, it is of this world, and alas, that‘s all that it is.

Robin, great comment. You really hit upon the crux of what Taylor's experience implies for "spiritual" and "mystical" experiences. As a long time meditator myself (about forty years), I share your feelings about the left brain/right brain nature of what many people believe to be divine intuitions of a higher reality.

But truth can't be argued with. I'd rather live in what is real, than my own fantasyland. If calming the left side of the brain leads to fresh awarenesses, that's good -- even if it is purely physical.

Brian,

You speak about 40 years worth of meditation but what did you actually experience in all that time? You talk about not seeing light or hearing sounds, so what DID you experience?

If you didn't hardly experience anything, then perhaps you don't have the right brain for it. Just a thought.

David, are you kidding? What do you think someone who meditates daily for 40 years (1969-2009) would experience?

A lot!

I've had countless experiences. But like I said in yesterday's post, they just weren't the experiences predicted, or promised, by the Sant Mat teachings that I hypothesized were true. See:
http://hinessight.blogs.com/church_of_the_churchless/2009/05/cogent-critical-analysis-of-sant-mat.html

I've had so many feelings of peace, of being immersed in a void, or settling into a space under thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. I've been to places where doing nothing with my mind is by far the easiest thing to do, whereas usually activity is what the mind prefers.

I've shed copious tears ... of love, frustration, anger -- sometimes from yearning so much to get to the bottom of what the cosmos is all about and feeling like I'd never get there.

I didn't experience another realm of reality, like the astral plane, or see majestic sound/light shows. I'd get glimpses of some sort of inner light, and hear humming/ringing sounds from time to time. But I never had a strong sense that these were coming from outside my brain.

My strongest "mystical" experiences have come outside of meditation, when I least expected them. They are the experiences and intuitions that I trust the most, because they didn't come attached to a preconceived belief system. An insight would simply wash over me, a sensation of "This is the way the world is."

Which usually would be along the lines of... Mystery. It is what it is. Everything is as it should be. Our problem in life is believing there's a problem to be solved. Let it be. Every moment is infinitely precious, never to come again.

At these moments meditation would seem like just another experience of life. Not different from making breakfast, responding to a blog comment, taking the dog for a walk.

What changed in those moments was how I saw life as a whole, a flip-flopping of my usual assumption that experiences were the most important thing.

Yes, I enjoy dramatic, fun-filled, exciting experiences, whether these be physical or "spiritual" (whatever that word means). But what I've learned over those 40 years basically is: the experiencer is more important than the experience. Who we are is more important than what we do or what happens to us.

But your experience may be different. Heck, it surely will be. Because you're you, and I'm me.

Brian,

thanks for this reply. Sounds like you experienced what they call the "thoughtless state". That must have been pleasant. Would you venture to call it blissful?

Just one more question. You mention intuitions. I wondered if you could expand on what you mean by this? Have you had hypnagogic experiences? Psychic experiences?

I became thicker as the years went by and meditation deteriorated when I was doing RSSB. I put it down to RSSB meditation being a solitary, non-communal sportless inactivity.

If one can stay in the moment for about 15 minutes during meditation(virtually impossible- but SM will tell you that the Shabd will hold you there for 2,5 hours), then a re-run of what you did since the last time you meditated is a good idea. (Many teachers will not agree with this good idea) Then it is possible to sort of clear the charge of that day, and with it the continuous unnecessary repetition of one hum-drum occurence or thought. What I found is that I would have very little of worth running through my mind anyway- the same silly thing played over and over. If that thought roots and grows there for a few years, it becomes smothering. Then one's contributions to oneself and society are not as valuable.

Otherwise I reckon many solitary meditators, just sit like a blob, or sleep, developing bad posture and a confort zone mentality and yes no lights camera or action and a great opportunity to pick up bad habits.

On the other hand, group meditation is, in addition to the solitary option or as an option on it's own, in my opinion a good thing because the meditator is forced to behave.

I think perhaps the best way of meditating, if you can do it, is to remain aware without falling asleep and just watch the thoughts without becoming attached to them.

The way i see it, the mantra (whatever one used) is simply a device to prevent sleep.

Most of the interesting stuff occurs in the hypnagogic state.

Thanks. I like what you have to say. Read the Ashtavakra Gita and searched for associated reading, wound up here. Enjoyable and thoughtful.

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