Friday, August 8, 2008

The Synthesis-of-All-Posts Post

This is going to be the most important thing I ever write, and I want to hereby announce that I know beforehand that it will never ever be taken seriously. Not for a couple hundred years, at least.*

Following my own moving and somewhat alarming experience with rising Kundalini energy last year, I've read more than a few articles on the physiology of the still-somewhat-new-to-the-West phenomenon. Yesterday, I read an article by Ravindra Kumar and Margaret Dempsey that was published in the Journal of Religion & Psychical Research (July 2002, Vol. 25, Issue 3) titled "Kundalini, Soul and the Right Side of the Brain."

In their abstract, they state their major claim: "Kundalini shifts consciousness from the left side of the brain to the right resulting in spiritual intuitions and insights."

We'll get back to that. Today, I made what was probably a seemingly throw-away remark on Michael's blog that would not surprise any of my four regular readers -- I suggested that rationalism is a way of thinking and knowing (call it "heady") that need not necessarily be assumed as a better alternative to something non-rational ("hearty"). **

The right brain, to remind my readers, would be associated with the non-rational or "hearty" way of knowing -- but as Kumar & Dempsey note, it is also the half of the brain that "runs" the left side of our body.

One more digression: my wife is left-handed. She claims that lefties have a kind of implicit understanding among each other. Her favorite place to visit has always been Block Island, RI, where an incredible 38% of residents are left-handed. She says it's an essential part of the culture there, but of course, when I ask her to explain what she means, she cannot rationally account for it. Not incidentally, my wife seems to me to be a quintessential example of the right-brain type.

My thesis: that the rational and non-rational thinking are co-equal (if very different) ways of encountering the world. Further, that humankind has probably had its phases where either one of these modes was dominant (perhaps the "Dark Age"?). Further, that handedness might serve as a general indicator of what kind of thinking, and in what percentage, our society values.

Currently, roughly 10% of people are left-handed. If I'm right, that means that (roughly) one in ten people are non-rational-dominant thinkers.

If there were a time an place in human history where non-rational thinking was dominant, I would expect to find a far greater percentage of inhabitants who were left-handed. Of late, the Mayans with their mystical astrological understanding and their calendar ending in 2012 have been among the most famous non-rational thinkers in history. I'd like to hire some diggers to tell me if their pottery was made for lefties.

In any case, what I really want to suggest is that there may sometimes be changes in society and human being that are so vast, slow, and subtle that they go almost undetected -- that they cannot be readily conceived because they seem stable to the lay observer. If babies born after December of 2012 start to use their left hands more often, though -- don't be totally surprised.

*What I've proposed here I've come to know because I am left-brained by nature and mostly nurture, but in the course of the Kundalini experience, I became aware of the right brain way of thinking. I'm a little ambidextrous with my head, that is.

**Since I'm linking to Michael's blog, I thought I might make an example out of his content. Michael's talking about the value difference between African American Enlish Vernacular and whatever we call what Brian Williams speaks. Michael assumes, I think rightly, that each of these languages expresses some things better, and some things worse, than the other -- in other words, that they are co-equals with widely divergent uses. I think the same mindset might be very effectively applied to the difference between Rational and Mystical (or "non-rational") thinking, for many of the same reasons Michael offers in justification of his argument: certainly the rational way has its strengths and can reveal certain truths -- possibly the mystical is just as effective (I think we live in a culture that unfairly values the rational to the exclusion of the mystical).

4 comments:

Jon Sealy said...

I was ambidextrous as a toddler, but someone (a doctor or a teacher) told my parents to encourage me to be righthanded to make my life easier.

EnthyAlias said...

I hate to undermine your theory, but I'm a hyper-rational lefty. And I have another co-worker here at UNCW who is as well. I've also known several non-rational righties - all meanings intended there.

I also changed my right-brainedness (I was a creative writer as an undergrad) to left-brainedness (I am now a theorist). That change came rather abruptly when I realized I was a bit of hack at fiction and couldn't earn a paycheck that way.

But I still get what you're saying about the yin/yang balance of the hemispheres and I do believe we are nutured to exercises the synaptic muscles of one over the other.

Just imagine how different life would have been for Jon if he'd been allowed to be ambidextrous his whole life? (And likely, Jon, you are a born lefty, because we tend to be more ambidextrous naturally.)

Casey said...

I hit baseballs left-handed!

ShanaRose said...

Yay! I'm stoked to read on.

I have a good friend who is a left handed writer and she and I are always having mis-communications. More often than not I assume it's because she is so rational about her responses and I am so "feeling" about mine.