Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On the Internet the other day I came across mention of a study that found that the more spiritual a person is, the less active are his or her right parietal lobes--the area of the brain responsible for what the researchers called “Me-Definers”. Interesting, since spiritual seekers are generally recognized as being less ego-driven and more prone to selflessness.

This ties in with my thinking about Asperger’s syndrome. Certain areas of the brain may have evolved because ego was needed to help humanity evolve out of tribal unconscious fusion with reality. But as we evolve to our next phase, maybe we’ll rely less and less on those areas of the brain related to ego, Me-Definers, and the little self.

I like the statement in the long passage I quoted on the previous pages, “For it is likely that the ‘inner world’ of our Western psychological experience, like the supernatural heaven of Christian belief, originated in the loss of our ancestral reciprocity with the living landscape.” (David Abram)

The inner world, created by a “me” that hadn’t quite existed in tribal times developed concurrently with ego. Without ego--no inner world. Without a symbolic, representational inner world—no ego.

But I’m quite certain we’re on a path of evolution that will have us living with immediacy again. The symbolic inner world will recede in importance as we learn to experience what simply is, with awareness. I’ve noticed since I’ve lived in Snyder and really embraced simple living than my inner world is much quieter than it used to be. I never neurotically fret about the past or the future. I’m not constantly rehashing events or imagining more favorable scenarios. My mind is quite clean and mostly able to just be here now. I almost never get caught up in the petty dramas of the ego.

This stage of loosening your grip on the ego is, I believe, absolutely essential in learning how to merge with the larger reality. As long as you identify with the ego, your mind will constantly be chattering. All of those egoic mental constructs--mental pictures of the past, imagined scenarios, obsessions and stories we tell ourselves--they all obstruct our ability to experience reality.

This life here in Snyder has been such an incredible blessing. There has never been a more fruitful time in my life. I can’t totally be a hermit here, but it’s close enough for now. I get enough silence, solitude, and simplicity for me to be able to slip loose from the ego from time to time.

I’ve started reading a book by a child psychiatrist about the importance of emotions in cognitive functioning. I think he’s saying that no matter how “logical” we think we’re being, underlying every decision is an emotional ground. First we have an emotional response, built upon all of the other emotional responses we’ve had in our lifetimes. After the gut reaction (which may or not may not even register) we may run things through logical filters, to bolster our argument for course of action, but it’s the emotional response that’s primary.

Which of course makes me think about how our “logical” brain functions are ego and self generators, while emotion is just our immediate perception of reality.

Emotion is kind of like a sixth sense, or it integrates the other five. But it’s also two-way--you feel as a response to what is, but then you also radiate that feeling back out. Others can absorb what you radiate and the emotion or mood becomes contagious.

If you are free of ego, and experiencing reality clearly, your emotions will be congruent with what is. So if others encounter you, your emotional state can spread contagiously and you create harmony. Egolessness equals congruency, harmony and integrity. Why else do people feel so of uplifted in the presence of a spiritual master? Because his or her congruency with the larger reality is radiating out contagiously.

Where emotions are concerned, it’s almost like we are a group mind--like a flock of birds. A person who “lights up a room” walks in and we’re all suddenly cheerful. A person is angry or stressed and we all become stressed.

The problem is that our emotional states are usually a result of egoic desires, needs, frustrations and fulfillments. So, usually they aren’t in alignment with the larger reality. The evolved person, who has transcended the ego, can radiate what is.

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