Reply To: Inhibitory neurons at play between L+R prefrontal cortex

  • Don Salmon

    May 4, 2023 at 2:51 am

    Hi Rodney (Don here – not sure if it was clear, that was my comment on Dan Siegel, and yes I agree MUCH too complex:>))

    But I want to make sure I let you know – I read your full paper of the education of the heart. Incredibly sweet and beautiful.

    I have so many questions don’t know where to start.

    But I do have one based on what you just wrote. You wrote of what I understand to be the integration of the Self and not-Self. You also write in your paper quite freely (and eloquently, I think) of God.

    So here’s the question:

    Not in terms of teaching others, but for yourself – after obviously having read many of the greatest mystics, saints, sages, etc – was there anything specifically in your own prayer practice that was new for you – I mean in terms of practice, not in terms of interesting information about the brain – that occurred when reading McGilchrist?

    People think I’m criticizing or judging him when I speak like this, I’m not. I recall reading Haridas Chauduri, in a book I think he wrote either in the late 1950s or early 1960s, making exactly the same distinctions that McGilchrist does. There was a column of 2 modes of thought, with about 20 correlated terms, at least half of which are the primary terms that McGilchrist uses to describe the hemispheres. So perhaps I was just already familiar with all this when I came across his work in 2010?

    NOw, I was spectacularly enthusiastic, not because it was anything new for me personally, or because I thought it would make a difference in terms of practice. But I was wondrous about the fact that this gave folks an opportunity to hear about something of fundamental importance that they simply wouldn’t accept coming from Chaudhuri.

    You know, you quoted AJ Grayling critiquing McGilchrist, saying neuroscience is just not finely grained enough for the conclusions he makes. I remember this as a review that was quite negative of the hemisphere theory.

    I wondered, “My gosh, do I actually agree with Grayling?”

    Then I realized, yes, but with the opposite conclusion. Grayling rejects McGilchrist’s view of the different modes of attention because neuroscience, he says, doesn’t support it. I ACCEPT Mcgilchrist’s view of the modes of attention because it is obvious to me he has the intuitive capacity to see it, just as Chaudhuri did 60 or so years ago, just as the Upanishads, Gita, Vedas, and countless other contemplative texts describe it similarly.

    What I don’t think is that the hemispheres alone account for the realization of God or the Self. I think that realization is infinitely beyond anything we know about the hemispheres, but also, I just don’t see even in McGilchrist’s concluding chapters more than a very distant glimpse of certain aspects of the beginning of the path to that Realization.