Reply To: Is anyone reading Iain’s essay “‘Selving’ and Union”?

  • Whit Blauvelt

    September 12, 2023 at 4:48 pm

    Nice piece. I’d missed it on first publication. One place this might be taken further: Here Iain writes of each hemisphere have its own mode of attention, but associates will with the “grasping” of the left hemisphere’s mode. Does the right hemisphere hold the potential for a different mode of willing? In many spiritual traditions, on leaving behind the left hemisphere’s grasping ego the spiritual “master” then retreats from the world, contributing at most some enigmatic poetry to us from her or his remote situation. With all respect to the essential value of retreat, our world is in an “all hands on deck” metacrisis at present. More wandering sadhus are, on balance, good, but not the level of heroism we need — even while ego-based heroics are themselves among our serious dangers. So: May there be ways to establish a right-hemisphere seat for or mode of willing? I don’t mean some surrender, in which we are to be possessed by some “great” spirit from beyond, but rather a will which is anchored thoroughly in the right hemisphere’s native modes of attention to our worlds, and our places in them?

    On the self or no-self question which the essay mentions, I’ve just lately been wondering whether the better answer is fractal, rather than any binary declaration of self or no-self. I’ve long been fond of an old Chinese view, “No self in self.” The corollary of that would be “No other in self, either.” A danger of taking Iain’s books too literally, which I fell into a few times myself, is ending up where one not only seeks to identify with the right hemisphere, but to somehow sanction the presumed left hemisphere ego as an “other.” This splitting is, of course, not good. So my current view is it may be better to take the selves in self as fractal, varied, a whole best ordered resonantly, even as they take different parts in their chorus.