Reply To: The Sense of the Sacred Worldwide

  • Don Salmon

    December 31, 2022 at 1:58 pm

    Hi Mark:

    Beautifully (and clearly) expressed. Mark D’s comment left me flummoxed, as what I wrote was the exact opposite of an appeal to authority (I don’t know if he thought my brief aside referring to Hart’s book – which is in Iain’s bibliography, was meant as part of some ‘argument”)

    I mention this because the instructions I gave from Alan Wallace are meant to be practiced, not agreed with or disagreed with.

    It’s actually quite fascinating comparing your comments with Mark D’s. What you described here and in your other comments is experiential. I tried in my suggestion for practice to direct Mark D’s attention away from abstract theorizing to a concrete scientific experiment in contemplation, but I guess while in abstract theoretical mode, it must have seemed like more theorizing (or an “appeal to authority”)

    It’s always been interesting challenge, one I found as a psychologist, mindfulness teacher and especially in teaching music. If your whole way of approaching the world is through abstract, indirect left hemisphere activity, how do you invite people into right hemisphere experiential awareness, when everything you say is filtered through the abstract (and often quite argumentative) left hemisphere?

    It reminds me of one of Iain’s favorite stories of his life as a med student. he had a patient who had a stroke and lost the use of his left arm. Iain was doing rounds and asked how the patient’s arm was, and he said, “Oh, it’s fine.”

    Iain tried all kinds of ways to talk to him about the problems with his arm, but the patient kept insisting (not lying, actually BELIEVING IT) it was fine. Finally Iain went over and lifted the patient’s arm up, asked him to keep it raised, and then let go.

    of course the arm dropped back to the bed. When Iain pointed this out, the patient said, “Oh, that’s not my arm, that’s the arm of the guy in the next bed.”

    I’ll say it again – not as an argument but EXPERIENCE:

    Try the experiment I suggested – observing the breath, then the passing thoughts, then simply being aware of awareness.

    See what happens. The only authority here is you.