Your Neural AUM
The following information is taken from the upcoming NEW MUSE Series book:
The Colors of Mind in The Garden of Knowledge
YOU: The Waker, Dreamer, and Sleeper
Our human neural pathway………………………………..IS…………………..the Hindu Devanagari script for AUM
For the first time in history, it is shown that there is a neural, spiritual correlation between ancient Yogic literature and the modern findings of neuroscience and neuropyschology.
In the 1960’s, Dr. Paul Mclean, one of the brightest minds over at the National Institute of Health (NIH), was the first neuroscientist to note several interesting human neural evolutionary accretions, which he named the Triune Brain. He specifically noted a type of 3-dimensional scaffolding in our brains. He named these neural components; the Neo-Cortex, containing the topmost layers (and the left and right hemispheric brains) and the older, lower, and deeper brain layers Mclean named the Mammalian and Reptilian brains. “Triune” referred to the three layers of evolutionary tissue structures. Yes, you are, in small part, lizard; just don’t tell your friends. Take a deep breath… and then realize that your deeper rear, lizard brain is actually running that show, your breathing I mean. Its responsible for the core, essential requirements for your very life, moment to moment. Let it sink in for a while. Keep an open mind. Remember that Yogis and mystical folk such as spiritual author Eckhart Tolle, and others, often consciously contemplate their own breathing for a reason; the mystical one of spiritual union. So far we have counted three evolved brain masses in the skull; the older reptilian and mammalian, plus the new neo-cortex, with its’s left and right separated hemispheres. The idea that these distributed brains are somehow separate is now regarded as being incorrect in certain neurological circles. This is also how the ancient Hindu’s, Greeks and other cultures viewed the situation. To these we add the neuronal concert in the heart and gastronomic systems. There are neurons or neural substances in the heart, gut and blood, in addition to the cranial brains. That’s right, surprising research in medical science has located important body intelligence in these additional areas, even in the blood; we discuss these findings below. They are quintessential to the ‘concert’ that we are living, as neurally integrated creatures. We are more than personal Ego.We are spiritual creatures who are having a human experience called a lifetime. Its good to be able to understand ourselves, in a special neural way, to further the notion of ‘knowing yourself’, as Socrates and the Oracle at Delphi once advised. Pythagoras went further, and said to ‘Know the Empire of Thyself’, which we hope to do, by comparing the major components of neuroscience with ancient Greek and Yogic literature.
“When the brain is whole, the unified consciousness of the left and
right hemispheres add up to more than the individual properties of
the separate hemispheres.”
Dr. Roger Wolcott Sperry
“A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”
James: The Bible
Consider for a moment, that there are parallels in the above quotes, yet they are separated by several millennia of time, and mixed elements of religion and science are present. Would it be a bit shocking to you, say, if you were the first modern scientist in the world to actually listen in, to eavesdrop as it were, to how our frontal brain hemispheres communicate, talk, inhibit…and even fight with each other? Would you be amazed at the new revelations about the cranial nature of self? Pioneering neuropsychologist Dr. Roger Sperry won a Nobel Prize in 1981 for his astute observations of split-brain patients. The Nobel was awarded, specifically for “Discoveries concerning the functional specialization of the cerebral hemispheres”
Dr. Sperry’s work was initially considered vitally important, but the flame of success curiously died out after a few short years due to lack of scientific interest coming from a highly analytical intellectual community. Dr Sperry, who was also a neurobiologist, had been the first person to have direct psychological and scientific insights into the various cognitive functions of the left and right frontal hemispheres. His strategic insight came when he and his team neuro-psychologically evaluated the extremely odd post-operative behaviors of severely epileptic patients. These brain-disturbed patients had undergone a new type of brain surgery called a Corpus Callosotomy. As a last resort, to help relieve the dangerous and severe sufferings of the epileptic patients, pioneering neurosurgeons had purposely cut or disconnected the patient’s corpus callosum, the thick bundle of nerve fibers connecting the left and right hemispheres. These few individuals became known as the split-brain patients. The suffering of their epilepsy was thus relieved…but the astounding series of ensuing neurological evaluations and interviews revealed an entirely new view of the brain and the human self. Exceedingly strange neuropsychological behaviors were seen, which had never been seen before.
“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” is one of the most popular and frequently used quotes used by western scientists today. It was a coined catch phase of famous cosmologist Carl Sagan, who was the greatest popularizer of cosmological science in the 20th century. This implication of Carl’s phrase is very powerful and is a strong favorite amongst most purely analytical scientists. Here is the scientific gist of the phrase, according to Wikipedia:
“It is the heart of the scientific method, and a model for critical thinking, rational thought and skepticism everywhere.”
But, unfortunately for the purely analytical thinker, and the numerous skeptic groups, we will show that this scientific methodology can be significantly lacking, even prejudiced, biased, and sectarian, in a deeply neuro-scientific way. One can now even consider the phrase as reflecting an outdated, semi-useless paradigm, that is limited to the outward focus of cosmology alone. Why bring up Sagan here, along with his famous line? Because, before we address Dr. Sperry’s extremely compelling neurological findings, we must also state that there are significant scientific forces that seek to thwart his stellar work by either reducing its significance or by entirely ignoring the important observations by neuroscientists who focus on the hidden importance of hemispheric neuropsychological traits. Such is Science. Hmm? Can we consider that the important findings of one key science are seemingly ignored by other sciences, such as astrophysics, who are busily constructing their own ‘Theories of Everything (TOE), based solely on external observation?
“The new way of thinking, spawned by the cognitive revolution, shows strong promise … Reversing previous doctrine in science, the new paradigm affirms that the world we live in is driven not solely by mindless physical forces but, more crucially, by subjective human values. Human values become the underlying key to world change.” Dr. Roger Wolcott Sperry
After the initial scientific raves that Sperry had received for his Noble Prize, , the ultra-sophisticated and still largely unresearched field of brain-lateralism eventually had to be diluted and made simple for presentation to the public. The image below shows a presentation of the simplified view of the hemispheres:
After review of the brains basic hemispheric traits, we can see with new eyes, the implicit neural wisdom of the ancients, in quotations such as this:
He who speaks, does not know. He who knows, does not speak. Lao-Tsu, Tao-De-Ching
Thus, the left-hemisphere can speak, but doesn’t know much, while the right-hemisphere cannot speak, but is quite deep and wise; its a channel to our deeper nature
There are many mainstream neuroscientists who think brain hemispheric theory, along with its psychological and spiritual implications, is a scientific dead end. Nothing could be further from the truth, yet why the lack of interest? Why do they think that way? Those analytical, empirically minded scientists who feel they have a solid grip on understanding reality by the knowledge of matter alone, without consideration of the mind, will be forever haunted by the many breakthroughs in brain hemispheric science concerning conscious awareness. The externally focused sciences seem to abhor the idea of reality not being found somewhere in the expanding universe…but rather as being something inside themselves, but rather, as being related to conscious awareness. We can consider that they feel threatened by the revelations of Dr. Sperry’s Noble prize-winning discoveries. Perhaps that is closer to the scientific truth. As we mentioned earlier, each major modern scientific field is so incredibly complex these days, each field is literally a rapidly growing galactic ‘localized infinity of information’ unto itself. In spite of the supposed scientific ‘calls for evidence’, any attempts of scientific consilience or unification as attempted and desired by reality theorist E.O. Wilson and Einstein…are all doomed to fail. However, success may loom around the next corner, if those authorities can acknowledge and assimilate, the importance of the many scientific discoveries being made in the neuropsychological, consciousness, and psychic(PSI) fields.
In this book, we intend to show that ‘extraordinary neurological evidence’ is indeed being produced in neuropsychology and is routinely ignored between key scientific fields, especially in the cosmology and physics groups, who seem to have a problem identifying with inward, neural views and findings. As we shall see, they totally dismiss the important studies of consciousness and PSI because of their own neural nature, not because of their non-existence. They are more than comfortable with their own scientific path of least resistance; they cannot see beyond their own science; it has become their worldview. Therefore, other newer, emerging sciences are quite often ridiculed, derided and ignored, which can be extremely emotionally debilitating to all parties, as a scientific friction plays between the leaders in each science pack. The fractious situation is incredibly psychologically complex and shows that scientists are easily swayed by their own frail humanness far more than their science. You see, these two empirically-focused groups, the astrophysicists and particle physicists, stand to suffer the most, in terms of theory breakdown, should the full impact of consciousness, solipsism and neuro-hemispheric theory come to bear against them. Regardless, Reality would seem to be in our internal neurological makeup; as seen in the comments of one breakaway theoretical physicist:
“Reality is in the Mind”
Perhaps the scientific definitions of Reality are slowly shifting from the outside to the inside. All information from these outwardly focused groups will ultimately end up in an inner neurological understanding…as a brain/mind function. Scientific Empiricism has been dealt another hard blow, this time, by the neurosciences that study the intense intelligence of the heart, skull and body. With these studies, expanding conscious awareness is seen to be everywhere except perhaps in the mind of the scientific pedant. One has to look the other way to ignore such evidence, but it is very common to follow the path of least resistance in one’s own psychology, science, and also in the social taboo’s that exist. Another, harsher word for this unscientific situation of ignoring extremely pertinent data… is simply; scientific bias. This mental bias is becoming more strongly pronounced in the 21st century scientists. If we go back to Einstein’s era we find a far different view. Quantum physicist Max Planck, Einstein’s friend, mentor and colleague, also broke from the rigid scientific crowd by stating forthrightly that the study of man’s nature was quintessential, a view shared by a 16th century French prodigy:
“Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery that we are trying to solve. Whence come I and whither go I? That is the great unfathomable question, the same for every one of us. Science has no answer to it.”
Blaise Pascal: The Limits of Reason
As Planck pondered our own human nature, he also concluded that whatever was in our nature, was also seen in the development of the external universe:
“All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force… We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.”
The majority of today’s cosmologists, biologists, and physicists do not agree with Planck, again citing a lack of ‘evidence’ for this universal mind. Although Planck, a quantum science founder, was indeed brilliant, his view did not contain new information. If we go back to the early times of Pythagoras and Socrates, we see they echoed an ancient wisdom, which is to ‘Know the Empire of Your Self’, or more simply, ‘Know Yourself’. In this modern age of emerging Neurosciences, this song remains the same. We must attempt a new view of reality with a new correlation, a reality based upon this ‘Empire of Self’, along with our rapidly emerging knowledge of the Neurosciences, as they relate to neural processes found throughout the body. This is a remarkable and non-trivial task we must set for ourselves. We do need to ‘know ourselves’ through the thorough study of the elements of our body and mind.
“The proper study of Mankind…is Man”
Essays on Man, Alexander Pope
“Any model or description that leaves out conscious forces…
is bound to be sadly incomplete and unsatisfactory.”
Dr. Roger Wolcott Sperry.
It’s not surprising that Sperry was a factor in trying to assert that mind transcends the study of matter. He considered that ideas and ideals were important leaps beyond strictly physical and chemical interactions, nerve impulse traffic, and DNA. His brain model was one in which consciousness, and
other mental and psychic forces are recognized to be the result of some five hundred million years or more of evolution. Sperry was ahead of his time in accessing the true nature of mind over matter, which he considered as: “a single unified system extending from sub-nuclear forces at the bottom up through ideas at the top.”
To move back into the past for a moment, we find that Aramaic thinking was was also inclined to think we were neurally blessed.
“Touveyhoun: God implanted in your mind neural structures which will guide you when they are active. If they are inactive, you who follow these instructions will come into conscious possession of and be able to use this latent guidance system, designed to make available thought and actions that will increase your happiness and well-being.”
Aramaic scholar Dr. Michael Ryce and the Yonan Codex Foundation interpret Touveyhoun, in the above explanatory statement, and state that, in the Aramaic Bible, Touveyhoun was used repeatedly and emphatically by Yeshua eight times in the Beatitudes, to mark its urgency;
Today, time and again we see cosmologists, physicists and technologists consistently eschewing vital information and data coming from other pertinent groups, say in the neurological, psychological and psychical communities. This bias is a very serious neural mistake, for as we will see, a whole brained solution must eventually break through any pedantic, outdated scientific field. While Dr. Sperry’s discoveries are fairly new, we know that modern science is also fairly young. After all, barely five hundred years have passed since Galileo, in his telescopic breakthrough, had to get past the pedantic authorities of his day, namely the Church. Today, a different type of inner, neurally based scientific breakthrough, or revolution is needed. There is a rising sense amongst everyday people that the world very badly needs a change of direction, in spite of the so-called recent ‘deluge of science and technology’. Thomas Kuhn, writing in his book, ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’, wrote that science, since its conception, routinely moves, or cycles between, marvelous discoveries that often degrade toward scientific stagnancy and a series of misleading, distracting dead ends. The ‘cure’ for this analytical malaise, was for science to suddenly become revolutionary, where the existing, stalled sciences are severely disrupted by what Kuhn called a ‘paradigm shift’ or an entirely new modeling of reality, which must, in his view, include the human element. Certain hardcore scientists howled at the suggestion that their star-gazing and reductionist laboratories were not the final solution…and considered that Kuhn had tainted the entire notion of science. But…Kuhn was right. The latest and greatest evidence concerning the nature of Reality is not concerned with the cosmological discovery of the extreme outer limits of the universe. No, it is coming from the newer neurological fields, with leaders such as Roger Sperry, Michael Gazzaniga, V.S. Ramachandran, and Oxford’s Iain McGilChrist. Their own numerous laboratory-based observations about left brain dominant folk, vs right brained and/or whole brained folk, easily constitutes the ‘extraordinary evidence’, requested by Mr. Sagan, et al; evidence that is the supposed requirement for scientists to provide. The worldly and cultural implications of mental bias are extremely potent, if not overwhelming. They are deeply imbedded as a neural precursor into nearly every societal function, as indicated by Iain McGilChrist, who is formerly introduced in the next subchapter. With Dr. Sperry’s leadership and with the advent of new knowledge, neuropsychological, hemispheric processes are having a dramatic effect on what is seen as reality, and the most powerful approach is inward, not outward. We can paraphrase Victor Hugo and say that ‘nothing can resist an idea whose time has come’. Neuroscience, with its knowledge of the neural brains in the wholeness of the body, could be posed for a potential spiritual breakthrough in conscious awareness. Conversely, the rapidly developing, technological, ultra-modern world, as we know it, is being shaped by our species predominant neural patterns; namely, those of left brain dominance. Neuropsychologists can now easily point to the attributes of neural action, thought and character for an entire culture, using their hemispheric knowledge. Globally, we can consider that a massive, socially expressed, left-brained Ego is in charge of the entire planet, regardless of culture. Those angry scientists who are strongly left brained ignore such inward-directed suggestions, especially if they are looking far away, and busily discovering another one million Earth-type planets.
A Huge, Overlooked Science Discovery:
Ninety percent of Humans are left-brain-dominant
One of the most unheralded observations introduced by Dr. Sperry was not just that our dual hemispheres were presenting different personality traits, but also, on a much larger scale, he saw that the cultural representation of these hemispheres was highly unbalanced in human civilization. As his knowledge of brain hemispheres grew, Sperry saw that over ninety percent of the human race was ‘left-brain-dominant’, leaving only approximately ten percent of humanity as whole-brained folks, who used both sides more successfully, and perhaps more naturally, as in musicians, artists and creative folk in general. Prior to Dr. Sperry, the prevailing notion of early neuroscience was that the left-brain seemed fully functional, when measured with the weak neuroscience tools of the 1950’s, and that the right hemisphere was basically useless, for some reason they could not fathom. Even though this notion of the right hemisphere was developed in neuro-laboratories and spread into the public domain, the concept was entirely misguided. Sperry was the first modern scientist to discover that human beings are indeed of two minds, one speaking, one silent. Further, he saw that, once joined psychologically, they can produce something far greater than themselves. Sperry found that the human brain has specialized functions on the right and left, and that the two sides can operate somewhat independently. This new hemispheric concept made a big splash into neuroscience and the news media, as it portrayed the dramatic new findings…but then, strangely, brain hemispheric theory nearly disappeared, and was replaced by the cognitive, conservative neuro-mindset; the analytical, logical thinking dominated…and thus deep insights into hemispheric psychology seemingly dissipated after the initial hurrah of discovery. As we shall see in later sections of this book, numerous ancient cultures also had similar views towards the nature of humanities dual neural nature of mind. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in English literature, Sperry studied psychology, followed by several years of research at Harvard and the National Institute of Health. In 1954, he relocated to the faculty at Cal Tech where he remained for 30 years. In the early 1960s, Sperry and his colleagues, who included a bright young neuroscience student named Michael Gazzaniga, conducted psychological experiments on epileptic patients who had had their corpus callosum, the “bridge” between the left and right hemispheres of the brain, split so that the connection was severed. At first glance, after the brain-severing-operation, the patients seemed quite normal, but Sperry and Gazzaniga’s interview-like experimentation showed certain activities such as simply naming objects or putting blocks together in a prescribed way could only be done when using one side of the brain or the other. The right eye connects to the left brain, the left hand to the right brain, and so forth throughout the body. The ‘stimulus’ would be given to the side of the body opposite the brain hemisphere being tested. These abilities were not absolute, but, for the first time, the neuro-laboratory results strongly indicated that the left hemisphere specialized in language processes and the right is dominant in visual-construction tasks.
Waking Consciousness: The Ego-Interpreter
Sigmund Freud, in his psychological tome, ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’, was like Joseph Campbell, unaware that our ‘Interpreter’ function is the primary aspect of the Ego residing in the left-brain, while our right brain hemisphere is the Dreamer in us. Many left-brain dominant people, such as author/geneticist Richard Dawkins, admit they never dream.
Head Study, 1929 Rabindranath Tagore, National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi.
Sperry’s early work helped chart a map of the whole brain and opened whole new fields of neuropsychology and spawned a new generation of brain-related philosophical questions. It seems Neuro-Philosophy has not prospered since. Dr. Gazzaniga, who moved on to his own research projects, was more interested in pure cognitive neuroscience anyway. He began to focus on neural properties closely associated with the left brains’ method of observing the world. One of the world’s leading researchers in early cognitive neuroscience, today Gazzaniga is a professor of psychology at the University of California, where he heads the new SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind. His fascination with split-brain patients is never ending:
“We tested the patient preoperatively, showing that everything worked. If you
put an object in one hand, the other hand knew about it. If you put an object in
one visual field, the other visual field knew about it. Postoperatively, we rolled
the patient back in for the exact same set of tests and, lo and behold! The patient
could easily name objects put in his right hand, which projected to his left
speaking hemisphere. But when the very same object was placed in the left
hand, the patient said nothing was in his hand. The same was true for vision. It
still takes my breath away.” Michael Gazzaniga
In a few short years Gazzaniga had developed his ‘Interpreter’ theory which reveals how we neuro-psychologically interpret the world-at-large. To explain the interpreter, or ‘explainer hypothesis’, we must take note of the neural pathing’s as they occur. In our chronological hierarchy of optical, hemispheric and rear-brain attentions, the incoming visual input from the eyes is sent to the rear visual cortex for processing, where the next pathway leads up to the right hemisphere, finally, in just a few milliseconds, the left-brain ‘receives’ what has previously been seen in totality by the silent right hemi-field. Similar to a Gestalt modality, we see the total picture first via the right brain, the imaging brain…and not in discernable parts, until the left brain quickly ‘interprets’ the right brains view, via the ever active, corpus callosum nerve fiber roadway. It may seem a bit eerie to realize that our neural pathing really does work in this way. Consequently, our left-brained explanatory wordings and descriptions of the Reality that forever precedes the analytical breakdown, can offer only a poets reflective meaning and use of metaphor, which means, in curious relation…. ‘to carry across’.
As the small team of early brain-lateralists continued their studies of the split brain patients, they encountered several remarkable scenes, never seen before. One patient, deciding to button up his shirt with his left hand, was thwarted by having his right hand unbutton the shirt, resulting in somewhat of a hapless stalemate, in simply dressing oneself. A similar dilemma occurred when the patient tried to open a door to an automobile; the other hand (and brain) decided it wasn’t going…and closed the door. Rather bizarre happenings dominated the days and nights of the split-brain patients, so finally Gazzaniga came to a strong conclusion:
“The next phase of the work was when Joseph LeDoux and I came up with the idea of the interpreter. Twenty-five years into studying these patients we finally got around to asking the patients, “Why did you do that?” after they had a response with the left hand that was being governed by the separated, silent, speechless right hemisphere. We began to understand that the left hemisphere “made up” a story as to why the patient did what he/she did, and in that moment, we began to see the cardinal feature of the left hemisphere: the ability to interpret actions generated outside its realm of conscious awareness.
“Interview with Michael Gazzaniga”: Annals of the New York Academy of Science (12 April 2011).
While the left-brain interpretations were important to understand in the minds of the split-brain patients, it remained to be determined if, in truth, and in daily life, our entire ‘perceived reality’ was (is) the result of an endless, ongoing left-brain interpretation of what it deemed ‘chaos’, coming from the simultaneous, extended view of the right hemi-field. The only way to survive the overwhelming torrent of ‘whole reality’, is for the left-brain to pare it down, to reduce the chaos to a manageable, controllable mass of sensations, which then becomes a reality construct, rather than a reality experience. Consider the nature of science and its scientists, if so. Our ability to create hypothesis and theory would seem to be subtly affected by any left-brained interpretation of scientific data and may occlude any presented evidence which it cannot understand, or measure.
In the early 1950’s, the philosopher Aldous Huxley, writing separately of his peyote visions in his classic book, ‘The Doors of Perception”, wrote with words that seem to reflect or mimic the severe limitations of the Interpreter, that Gazzaniga would later describe. Huxley concluded, without the benefit of neuroscience, that:
“To make biological survival possible, Mind at Large has to be funneled through the reducing valve of the brain and nervous system. What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet. To formulate and express the contents of this reduced awareness, man has invented and endlessly elaborated those symbol-systems and implicit philosophies which we call languages. Every individual is at once the beneficiary and the victim of the linguistic tradition into which he or she has been born — the beneficiary inasmuch as language gives access to he accumulated records of other people’s experience, the victim in so far as it confirms him in the belief that reduced awareness is the only awareness and as it be-devils his sense of reality, so that he is all too apt to take his concepts for data, his words for actual things.”
It is interesting that both Sperry and Huxley wax into the more mystical, philosophical views, where the analytical Gazzaniga does not. A similar observation is often made between Plato the mystical philosopher and his student Aristotle, with his relentless analytical views. As he matured in his chosen branch of neuroscience, Gazzaniga wrote a neuro-biography, ‘Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience”, where he describes his love of his forte:
“This special left-brain system kept note of all the behaviors that resulted from the many mental systems. It appeared to be the surveillance camera on our behavior, which, of course, was the evidence that a mental or cognitive act had occurred. The interpreter not only took note; it tried to make “sense” out of the behavior by keeping a running narrative going on about why a string of behaviors was occurring. It is a precious device and most likely uniquely human. It is working in us all the time as we try to explain why we like something or have a particular opinion, or rationalize something we have done. It is the interpreter device that takes the inputs from the massively modularized and automatic brain of ours and creates order from chaos. It comes up with the “makes sense” explanation.”
Gazzaniga goes on to reflect a left-brain tendency himself, as he describes a contrasting view of causation, from say, the principle of Karma:
“I believe that things just happen in life, and pretty much after the fact, we make up a story to make it all seem rational. We all like simple stories that suggest a causal chain to life’s events. Yet randomness is ever present.”
As Gazzaniga’s Interpreter hypothesis developed over time, it became known as the ‘Interpreter Module’ or “Self-Module’ in cognitive, analytical neuroscience. This module is composed of many detectable sub-components within the left-hemisphere itself. The intricacies of the Interpreter’s valuable function were described by scientist Michio Kaku as being equivalent to the ‘CEO of a large corporation’. In a sense, this is simply a redressing of the word ‘Ego’,, which is known for its executive capabilities, in terms of giving orders. Neuroscientist Thomas R. Blakeslee went so far as to rename Gazzaniga’s Interpreter as the ‘self-module’. The importance of the Ego-Interpreter cannot be underestimated.
In the realm of the Neo-Darwinian, consider the seminal works of the burgeoning neuroscience fields; now including neuropsychology, brain lateralization science, neuro-cardiology, trans-cranial magnetics, to name just a few. The findings of these new neuroscience fields truly represent significant evolutionary findings concerning our species; on a par with that of quantum and astrophysics; new findings that may yet have a revolutionary importance to our species and our cultures. If these new neural sciences can continue to advance in their development, we may not have to consider ourselves as machines after all. Instead, we might grow to think that…machine-like thinking is just a limited, non-contextual view of our nature; not technically incorrect…but just not as comprehensive as we need our new theories to be.
Homo Sapiens has another puzzle to solve…and it’s not the extreme starry landscape outside, or yet another quantum physics particle to discover, but rather our puzzle continues as in the ancient times; the puzzle of one’s self; one’s inner nature.
“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.”
For many cognitive, reductive-minded neuroscientists, this puzzle has been termed “The Hard Problem of Consciousness”. One could also call this elusive nature of Soul. Indeed, instead of seeing a hard problematic wall as does the analytical cognitivist, we could consider that there is indeed significant spiritual potential in direct experience of Consciousness in its various neural modalities, some of which, are far, far beyond the science of our century. This is the holistic notion of Integrated Neural Theory.
“The Brain is a Metaphor for the World”
The word metaphor itself is a metaphor, coming from a Greek word meaning to “transfer” or “carry across.” Metaphors can “carry” meaning between our separated frontal hemispheres. Our inner ideas and pictures move from right to left, across the corpus callosum…eventually becoming represented by written or spoken words; thus, the world is magically created and constructed.
Civilizations are created by our innermost neural processes…which take reflective wing… en masse…into the external world as desire, planning and action. We are creating our workaday world from our thoughts…working synergistically with the marvelous vehicle of MEST: Matter, Energy, Space and Time.
A contemplative and soft spoken Iain McGilChrist lives quietly on the Isle of Skye in serene northwestern Scotland. A psychiatrist and Neurological Clinical Director by profession, Iain subsequently turned his focus to neuro-imaging research, most of which was performed at John Hopkins University Hospital in the States.
He is affiliated with Oxford University and All Souls College. In his reckoning, it took him over twenty years to write “The Master and the Emissary; The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World”. In this thoughtful and comprehensive neural work, McGilChrist skillfully portrays the right hemisphere as the Master of our nature and the left hemisphere as an errant Emissary bent on domination. Although an analogue, this is not trivial, idle talk… but rather a very deep neuro-philosophical view gleaned from hundreds of neurological experiments and observations as one reads throughout the in-depth, six-hundred-page tome, which deals primarily with brain lateralization and its mesmerizing effects on the cultures of mankind. If Carl Sagan were still alive and wanted ‘extraordinary evidence’ for truly remarkable neuro-hemispheric claims, he would be fortunate to have such a book available. He would have but to read McGilChrist. This is to say that a cosmologist, such as Carl, would purposely cross disciplines into the budding field of neurology for the sake of scientific research into the Nature of Reality. Can that happen? What would it mean?
Even McGilChrist’s critics rave about the ‘dazzling masterpiece’ he has created (the book really is that good, even if difficult to read). The Master and the Emissary was the winner of several awards in psychology and medicine…but the remaining pantheon of sciences really took no note whatsoever of the far reaching evolutionary and cultural implications of Iain’s work. In the various theological sectors, nothing but a blank stare was received; this is very reminiscent of V.S. Ramachandran’s earlier observations on the theological response to the spiritual beliefs, or non-beliefs, of split-brain patients. Cognitive scientists, studying the ‘hard problem’ of consciousness might become fairly upset if they should realize the consciousness ‘problem’ is at least two fold, and will not yield to a mechanistic, reductionist method. In pop culture, the idea of hemispheric functioning has been hijacked and mockingly reduced for simple marketing needs; everyone from corporate trainers to advertising copywriters are pushed into overly simplistic knowledge of neuroscience…which skims over the depth and implications of the hemispheric divide.
Tim Crow, one of the subtlest and most skeptical of neuroscientists studying the research into mind and brain, has often remarked on the association between the development of language, functional brain asymmetry and psychosis. Crow has gone so far as to write that;
‘Except in the light of lateralization nothing in human psychology or psychiatry makes any sense.’
There is very little doubt that the issues of brain asymmetry and hemispheric specializing are significant areas for future neural research. Additionally, in understanding the world of difference between the two hemi-fields, McGilChrist writes that his research of the divided brain has taken him along a journey of consideration for many seemingly unrelated fields beyond neurology and psychology. For Iain, brain-hemispheric considerations and causations are displayed in the vast, multi-cultural fields of philosophy, literature and the arts, and even to some extent, archaeology and anthropology. I agree and would like to add more yet more categories; I think it appropriate to add that neural hemispheric interplay is also involved in affecting the views, beliefs and most importantly, the experiences of folks in the mystic, psychic and skeptical areas, in each and every culture. I consider, like others, that there are neurological reasons as to why psychics and mystics spontaneously have unique, sometimes rare, intense experiences that often display outward PSI characteristics, which are usually extremely difficult to measure and/or confirm scientifically. Correspondingly, skeptic literature is of course, devoid of this type of human experience; therefore, they say PSI doesn’t exist…
Academic brain research in this area, which we discuss later, can be linked with other long running PSI projects, such as the interesting clairvoyant studies at locations such as Princeton and other well-established universities. In this book, I think it’s important to point out that seemingly professional skeptics can also have rather glaring neurological problems; a sort of neural inability caused by a left brain dominated mind…that can cause them to have a rather dour attitude towards aesthetics, music or art… as well as an inability to have psychic or mystic experience. Further, they don’t think anyone else can have them either, however, we will discuss the reputability of their statements in a subsequent chapter I call ‘The Zen Zag of Skepticism’.
A runaway world is caused by runaway minds. The future is becoming increasingly unstable in my view and I think, in McGilChrist’s view; the causation seems to be in aggressive individuals and groups bent upon territorial expansion, often with a predacious nature. This notion is also in the minds of many other diligent watchful observers, as we will show. This noticeable dangerousness is due to runaway technological advances that are truly driven by power-driven technocrats, political lunatics and hubristic egomaniacs that are leading the modern world in government, politics, religion, mass media…and the world of business and corporations. Consider that predatory egomania is actually a TYPE-L personality running amuck; meaning a left-brained dominant type which has also been previously psychologically classified as a TYPE-A personality. These unbalanced neural types are running the world show today. Let me ask you, does the world seem rather crazy these days? I think ever increasingly so, given the torrent of spectacular news developing streaming daily into our electronic lives? There are very few whole-brained balanced leaders in the world at large today. Politics has become a Type-L aggressive, fomenting breeding ground that compromises whoever enters its domain. Dr. Sperry, in a very rough approximation, estimated that ninety percent of humans were left brain dominant, although they themselves don’t seem to readily acknowledge or understand this neural set of traits. It might be embarrassing. McGilChrists’s follow-up to Sperry should be seen as a Orwellian warning; a clarion call for change as the egotistical divided brain is quickly and technologically creating and destroying the world in which we now live. We live in an accelerating age. To illustrate this condition, McGilChrist relates, in his introduction, how he came to the title of Master and Emissary:
“There is a story in Nietzsche that goes something like this. There once was a wise spiritual master, who was the ruler of a small but prosperous domain, and who was widely known for his selfless devotion to his people. As his people flourished and grew in number, the bounds of this small domain spread; and with it the need to trust implicitly the emissaries he sent to ensure the safety of its evermore distant parts. It was not just that it was impossible for him personally to order all that needed to be dealt with; as he wisely saw, he needed to remain distant from and remain in ignorance of such concerns. And so he nurtured and trained carefully his emissaries, in order that they could be trusted. Eventually, however, his cleverest and most ambitious vizier, the one he most trusted to do his work, began to see himself as the master, and used his position to advance his own wealth and influence He saw his master’s temperance and forbearance as weakness, not wisdom, and on his missions on the master behalf, adopted his mantle as his own – the Emissary became contemptuous of his master. And so it came about that the master was usurped, the peopled were duped, the domain became tyranny and eventually it collapsed in ruins.
The meaning of this story is as old as humanity, and resonates far from the sphere of political history. I believe, in fact, that it helps us understand something taking place inside ourselves, inside our very brains, and played out in the cultural forms of the West, particularly over the last 500 years or so. Why I believe so forms the subject of this book. I hold that, like the Master and his Emissary in story, though the cerebral hemispheres should co-operate, they have for some time been in a state of conflict. The subsequent battles between them are recorded in the history of philosophy, and played out in the seismic shifts that characterize the history of Western culture. At present, the domain – our civilization – finds itself in the hands of the vizier, who however gifted, is effectively an ambitious regional bureaucrat with his own interests at heart. Meanwhile the Master, the one whose wisdom gave the people peace and security, is led away in chains. The Master is betrayed by his emissary.
Thank you for your Patience
And now, finally, the ancient way of seeing our Neural Wisdom is presented.
A U M
The Waker, Dreamer, & Sleeper in Ancient Hindu Literature
The Upanishads often speak of a Super Mind behind the cognitive Mind that we know as the personal self. The Karikas of Guadapada (600 CE) are another body of Vedanta literature that provide an excellent example of how ancient scriptures can corroborate and portray recent neuroscience findings. We can compare the Triune Brain notion theory of Paul Mclean and the three-opponent-processor brain theory of Marcel Kinsbourne with this excerpt below, taken from the 6th century AD Indian philosopher Guadapada , who is commenting on upon the nature of the ‘manifested self’ as the Waker (Vishwa), the Dreamer (Taijasa) and the Sleeper (Prajna). One can note many similarities in Guadapada’s words and our modern neural depictions.
Vishwa; The Waker
“The Vishwa, being the Lord who pervades and is conscious of the external, Vishwa is in the gate of the right eye.”
This is a remarkable match for the outwardly awake, personal Ego, the Left Brain Entity, which of course uses the opposite right eye. Also, it is the left brain Ego, also known as the ‘Self-Module’ in neuroscience, that is pervasive and ‘conscious of the external’ as in being the Interpreter of ‘the world’. Yet the seemingly real world of the personal self is imbedded in Maya itself. Aside from eastern mystics, deep-minded scientists have also sensed the illusion of Vishwa, the Waking Self;
“A human being is part of the whole, called by us “universe”; a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest; a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.” Albert Einstein
Taijasa; The Dreamer
“Taijasa, he who is conscious of the internal; within the mind.”
The Dreamer, Taijasa, matches well with the right brain’s pictorial dream capabilities and the quiet watching mental nature of the right hemisphere with its rich and deep neural connections into the rear areas of the brain. The left brain does NOT dream, this is the domain of the right-hemi field. The Dreamer can influence the Waker to consider that it is in a ‘waking dream’, which is a concept that spans numerous ancient cultures and enters into the major aspects of psychology itself, e.g. Freud, Jung, et al. It is important to note the the neurons of the right hemisphere have extremely long ‘arms’ called axons which can reach into the deeper tissue of the lower rear mammalian and reptilian brains.
Prajna; The Sleeper
“Prajna, he in whom consciousness is densified and drawn into itself.”
The Sleeper, Prajna, matches with the withdrawn nature of the primordial rear brain, where indeed, the cerebellum has a neural density four times higher than that in the frontal cortex. The sleeping Prajna represents the deep neural unconscious…which, as neuropsychologists know…can drive the entire apparatus of the frontal cortex based upon its deepest desires. Let’s remember that the flow of the outer senses which are the ‘input’ to our neural flow, rapidly course through the rear brain vision center first…then the information is passed up to the right hemisphere…and then across the corpus callosum, arriving at the domain of the left-brain Ego for the final ‘interpretation’ of Reality. This of course, is a nearly instantaneous process, yet, taking only 2-3 milliseconds, yet, the Ancients may have been aware of the core flow-like processes of our consciousness and our deeper awareness as well. Also, the idea of the Prajna may extend beyond the location of rear ancient brain…and be linked with the heart-brain connection itself, again an idea found in modern neurocardiology (see HeartMath). In medieval times, other scientists also noticed portions of the cranial brains: Here are Emmanuel Swedenborg’s statement concerning the rear brain:
“…And the influx of celestial angels is into that part of the head which covers the cerebellum, and is called the occiput, extending from the ears in all directions even to the back of the neck; for that region corresponds to wisdom”
(Occiput’ is simply an older scientific term, referring to the rear of the brain.)
In the 18th century, Shankara, another eminent Vedanta philosopher, commented upon Gaugdpada’s earlier observations of the Waker, Dreamer and Sleeper:
“The position taken is this, as the Entity Which Cognizes enters into the three conditions one after another and not simultaneously, and is moreover in all three connected by the memory which persists in feeling; ’This is I, this is I, this is I. It is obvious that that it is something beyond and above the three conditions and therefore One, Absolute and without attachment to its conditions. These three, Vishwa, TaiJasa and Prajna are experienced even in the waking state. The right eye is the door, the means, through which especially, Vishwa, the seer of gross objects, becomes subject to experience”.
Again, we can note that Vishwa, with its right eye, would correspond to the entity of the left hemisphere. Vishwa is the Ego.
AUM and the Neural Traveling Wave
In the development of early neuroscience, only static pictures of the brain could be taken by devices such as the EEG (electroencephalogram) and the fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) systems. As in the earlier neurological myth of our only seeming to use ten percent of our brains, early cognitive neuroscientists thought of the grey matter in our heads as just, somehow, containing pictures, words and memories; the envisioned ‘scene’ of the inner workings of the brain…was a static, non-moving picture…or a squiggly line on an EEG screen. As with the earlier myth, most of the true, dynamic activity of the brain was overlooked back then…because traveling brain waves had not yet been observed. Then, along came the development of magnetoencephalography (MEG) and another small piece of brain history came into focus. MEG revealed to neuroscience the motion of brain activity. Traveling brain waves may coordinate the process involved in ‘global’ coordination of cortical activity. Much of neuroscience still tends to regard the human cortex as a network of somewhat machine-like, semi-autonomous regions, as we’ve described. Since these regions rarely operate in isolation, with the additional knowledge of traveling brain waves, we can more clearly see the importance of coordination of all brain areas…as the waves pass thru their respective regions.
In the material sciences, atomic theory rules the modern day…yet nuclear physicists readily acknowledge that ancient Ionian Greeks, namely Democritus and his teacher Leucippus, spoke and wrote about the mysterious, diminutive atom…as early as 460 BCE. Interestingly, at about the same time, in the Mandukya Upanishad, there is another subtle hint that the ancient Indian seers could have understood such complicated notions as regions of the brain and even traveling neural waves, which neuroscience has only recently discovered. We previously described the attributes of the Waker, Dreamer and Sleeper; now read how these three are related to the patriarchal use of the ancient word AUM, in the Mandukya Upanishad.
“Now this the Self, as to the imperishable Word, is OM; and as to
the letters, His parts are the letters and the letters are his parts,
namely, A U M.
The Waker, Vishwa, the Universal Male, He is A, the first letter.
The Dreamer, Taijasa, the Inhabitant in Luminous Mind, He is U,
the second letter.
The Sleeper, Prajna, the Lord of Wisdom, He is M the third letter. “
(Note that the “O” of OM is achieved by the slow, rolling combination of ahhhh—ooohh sounds…that of A and U in the original Sanskrit language.)
Now, consider the following case for travelling brain waves as revealed by the by this most ancient word of AUM, the primordial letters that provide a vibratory access path to our deepest inner nature. Let’s remember what Shankara stated;
“the Entity Which Cognizes. enters into the three conditions one after another and not simultaneously.”
This is actually what philosophers and psychologists, such as William James, have referred to as the ‘stream of consciousness’. In neuroscience, this is the flow of awareness between the pertinent neuro-geographical centers of the cranial brains. MEG (magnetoencephalography) can reveal the flow of of our minds. In eastern literature, the word mantra can mean mind-wave or mind-vibration, which is what the Yogi experiences during his A U M sound meditations.
If we take the position of the seated Yogi for a moment, and begin to slowly and methodically chant A U M, as indicated above, we will start with the Waker, Vishwa, and Sanskrit letter A, which represents as the personal Ego in the left hemisphere. The guttural, vibrational sound then moves to the right hemisphere and midbrain, which houses Taijasa, as the 2nd letter of U, representing the Dreamer. The age-old chant then moves to the rear brain and M, the 3rd letter of AUM, represented as The Sleeper, Prajna, the Lord of Wisdom; this completes the OM chant as known to the ancient Mandukya authors;
“Who knoweth Him, measureth with himself the Universe and becomes the departure into the Eternal.”
Yet, the Mandukya states that, even beyond the sacred sound A U M with its cranial resonances, there is yet another 4th state:
“Letterless is the Fourth, the Incommunicable, the End of Phenomena, the Good, the One than Whom there is no other. He that knoweth is the Self and entereth by his self into the Self, he that knoweth, he that knoweth.”
Paramatman is the “Primordial Self” or the “Self Beyond” who is spiritually identical with the Absolute, thus, it is identical with the Hindu supreme Brahman. Selflessness is the attribute of Paramatman, where all personality/individuality vanishes. The word Jiva refers to another living entity; another psyche yet within the human body; the abode of the Heart.
The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad suggests that that at the time of spiritual release, or Jivan Mukti, the portion-aspect of the Paramatman and the portion-aspect of the Jiva, presiding in the right eye… become unified with the Paramatman and the Jiva presiding in the heart. Similarly, as seen in the cosmic dance of Nataraja, the final step of the Shiva-focused yogi is to retreat entirely from the brain and its transient 3 opponent processors…and enter directly into the heart; the final resting point of pure consciousness, while still in manifest form.
Joseph Campbell, in his tome, ‘The Mythic Image’, also added poignant words to the consideration of the aspects of AUM, although he was not aware of the neural geography involved with the sacred AUM :
‘The ~A~ is announced with open throat; the ~U~ carries the sound-mass forward; the ~M~…brings all to a close at the lips…the seeds of all words have been contained in this enunciation of AUM, and in these, the seed sounds of all things.
The initial A of AUM is said to represent the field and state of Waking Consciousness, where object are of ‘gross matter (sthula) and are separate both from each other and from the consciousness beholding them. On this plane of existence, I am not you, nor is this that.
And so, we come to the letter U, which is said to represent the field and state of Dream Consciousness, where, although subject and object may appear to be different and separate from each other, they are actually one and the same.
A dreamer is surprised, even threatened, by his dream, not know what It means; yet even while dreaming he is himself inventing it.
M is of Deep Dreamless Sleep, where (as we say) we have ‘lost’ consciousness and the mind (as described in the Indian texts) is “an undifferentiated mass or continuum of consciousness unqualified”.
After chanting AUM, the heart opens and the pure consciousness flows to and from it. So, as the Yogini, exhales, she actually sings the ancient hymn of the Universe. After the vibrational mind-waves of the sonic AUM permeates the three entities in the cranium (Waker/LH; Dreamer/RH and Sleeper/Unconscious Rear Brain), the exhaled vibrational sounds cease; and then during the audible pause, there is the intake of breath to feed prana and oxygen directly to her heart. then the process repeats… as the Yogi becomes one with her deepest nature. This is the core process of knowing oneself. Is there another?
By following AUM, we notice that the yogi reverses the usual everyday neural path flow where most information flows from our outer-senses to our rear brain…then up through our right hemisphere to the final interpretation of the world by the Ego of the left brain. The Yogi goes the other way, by chanting AUM. The process starts inwardly not outwardly; she sings A for the Waker in the left hemi field, U for the Dreamer in the right field, and M for the Deep Sleeper…in the oldest rear portion of our triune cranial brains.
“Subtlety is not grasped by the Insincere” Steven A Key
At a time when the world is starving for spiritual direction due to the collapse of materialistic, organized religion, it remains that the ancient wisdom and spiritual experience of the devoted Yogi still holds true. Yes, deep Raja Yoga, such as that of Patanjali, is as sound a spiritual and psychological path as it ever was. The issue is with current societal trends. Modern society, while starving spiritually, doesn’t really want spirituality. They want Bling.
I was in meditation recently, when words came to me; ‘Subtlety is not grasped by the Insincere’. How true. Consider that it is the left hemispheric mind that always ‘grasps’ or tries to control things…due to its predatory nature; we learned this from McGilChrist. The modern left brain EGO, with its outward ‘waking’ consciousness focused on its desires as the Bling of the Day, actually cannot be subdued to the point of modesty and sincerity; hence, there is a failure to connect spiritually. My parents would have called this problem ‘Getting the Big Head’. While having balance in self-esteem and confidence is important, everyone knows we are living in and moving towards a runaway, consumer driven ‘Me, Me, Me’ society.
In today’s science-driven world, fewer and fewer people are listen to ego-reductionists, such as spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle. Big Ego’s are not interested in smallness but rather Grandeur. Indeed, many technologically minded scientists view the excessive ego-driven ‘Me, Me, Me’ culture as…not a problem…but rather as the epitome of their fine cultural efforts. This distorted direction of excessive materialism and personal EGO actually create a psychological noise, a non-stop chattering voice, that inflicts an emotional incapacity on anyone who might desire a spiritual solution. The small, quiet voice that Socrates heard…. would not be heard today. In modern days, God is indeed Dead… for the vast majority of humans, as Nietzsche once stated…and it is because of the dismal, weak, preconceived notions of the overly developed left-brain dominant Ego, which shuns psychological depth in favor of endless materialism, or more simply, something to shop for; The modern Ego likes being supersized; “bigger, better, faster, more’… is its modality.
The ancient, sacred focus on AUM has been trivialized by modern folks, especially in Western culture. For those trendy, half-hearted, disinterested people who call themselves ‘spiritual but not religious’, OM may be seen as a handy tool for light meditative effort…something to calm the senses for a while. This casual approach is self-defeating for the seeker. Indeed, it is the spiritual intensity of the sincere student that opens the spiritual world of AUM and the Heart Center. For the ancient Yogi, the great AUM truly was…the transcendent, divine Brahman itself. The Sound of AUM meant God…in three resonating, vibrating Sanskrit letters. Scientists today can acknowledge that the universe is governed by the unseen Law of Vibration, which produces all sounds and movements. Every object in the universe has its own vibrational frequency; there is no such thing as a ‘solid’ object; a chair and table are simply vibrational energy temporarily lent to our physical existence. Einstein worked hard to point this out in his theories…that all matter is simply the energy of the universe, although this is difficult for most people to see, in their daily lives. Like the Law of Vibration, the AUM is also said to produce all diverse sounds and movement in the universe. In the earliest writings of Christianity, we can find AUM represented as the primordial sound vibration;
“In the Beginning was the WORD…and that word was AUM.”
The Moody Blues
What’s the Frequency Kenneth? REM
The Earth, Moon, our Sun, and even all of the huge Galaxies, are forever Moving and Protecting all Living and Non-Living things with a natural frequency pulsation of 7.83 HZ, as described by modern science. Ancient Mystics however, knew this sacred frequency as A U M, and also knew that we are neurally ‘wired’ for acceptance of this frequency. But, Alas, the SET the Opposer, whom we now call the underdeveloped, modern EGO, is strongly resisting any divine influence these days, as a Sign of the Times.
We Are the AUM
Peace and Health.
A Late Addendum to The Neural AUM 09/20/2020
This shocking, new information may cause a screaming and howling in the Hindu and Muslim religious communities, both of which are extremely protective of their religious ICONS, as a cultural heritage. This startling new view may also upset mainstream Academia and Theology, who have their own heritage to consider. Peace and Health. Steven
Recently, I was reading a Facebook page on spirituality. A good fellow named Dino pointed out that there appears to be a