Message from Iain to members about why he wrote The Matter with Things

  • Message from Iain to members about why he wrote The Matter with Things

    Posted by Deleted User on April 12, 2022 at 9:35 am

    I believe that we are engaged in committing suicide: intellectual suicide, moral suicide and physical suicide. If there is anything as important as stopping us poisoning our seas and destroying our forests, it is stopping us poisoning our minds and destroying our souls.

    Our dominant value – sometimes I fear our only value – has, very clearly, become that of power. This aligns us with a brain system, that of the left hemisphere, the raison d’être of which is to control and manipulate the world. But not to understand it: that, for evolutionary reasons that I explain, has come to be more the raison d’être of our – more intelligent, in every sense – right hemisphere. Unfortunately the left hemisphere, knowing less, thinks it knows more. It is a good servant, but a ruinous – and peremptory – master. And the predictable outcome of its assuming the role of master is the devastation of all that is important to us – or should be important, if we really knew what we were about.

    Even if we could, by some miracle, reverse the course on which we are set, unless we changed our way of thinking and of being in the world – the way that is destroying us as we speak – it would all be in vain. That is why I have written the last long book I will ever write: The Matter with Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World.

    In it I search out what it is we have lost sight of, all that is there for us to see, if only we were not blinded to it: an inexhaustibly, truly wondrous, creative, living universe, not a meaningless, moribund mechanism. By bringing to bear up-to-the-minute neuropsychology, physics and philosophy, I show not only that these are in no way in conflict with one another, but that they all lead us, time and again, to the same insights. And that this is not in opposition to, but rather corroborates, the wisdom of the great spiritual traditions across the world.

    All this converges on a vision that is necessary if we are to survive; and, even more importantly, if we are to deserve to survive. What I hope for my readers is that, if they are willing to accompany me on this adventure, they will never see the world in quite the same way again.

    Iain McGilchrist

    Craig Matheson replied 9 months, 1 week ago 8 Members · 10 Replies
  • 10 Replies
  • Don Salmon

    September 10, 2022 at 2:32 pm

    Is anybody else active here? The groups on this channel seem quiet at the moment (9-10-22)

    • Mary Attwood

      September 26, 2022 at 12:53 pm

      Hi Don,

      I think some other members seem to now be finding the forums and posting a few comments and discussions. This statement which Iain wrote to the members last year in a newsletter has now been posted on the homepage of the mina website and I feel it is such a crucial and moving statement. There are echoes of this in Iain’s recent talk with David Fuller, who is a brilliant interview and especially good at interviewing Iain. It is now on YouTube and can be found here.

      • Don Salmon

        September 26, 2022 at 1:45 pm

        Hi Mary,

        Thanks for letting me know. I just thought maybe a little “hello where is everyone” might get something more started!

        Hopefully over time, the conversations will pick up.

    • James Willis

      September 30, 2022 at 2:35 pm

      After joining the introductory zoom a few weeks ago I have been waiting for some sort of notification that the new site was live – having given up on the old one – and when I finally had a look an hour ago I was surprised to find it up and running.

      I wonder if others are the same.

      • Don Salmon

        September 30, 2022 at 2:42 pm

        Hi James,

        I’ve been making an effort to add a comment or so on each of the discussions. I also started a separate “group” to discuss practice, which I find is WOEFULLY lacking in Iain’s works.

        I think you were at the last group zoom, where Iain made an initial comment to the effect that the idea of practice may be too “LH” then made a perfunctory nod toward mindfulness.

        But contemplatives around the world, throughout history, have struggled with and come up with brilliant ways of integrating “Effort’ and “Grace” (which is really more the essence of the challenge of practice than LH or RH, which BOTH are involved in ALL contemplative practices)

        If you go to “Groups” look for the “BE” logo and please join in. My favorite topic related to Iain’s work is attention, and the vast and varied ways Christian, Buddhist, Taoist and other traditions – as well as modern psychology and neuroscience – have found we can shift attention in a way that leads to profound transformations.

        you may know the little Zen story? I think Iain should tell it every time he gives a talk!

        A disciple has been studying Dogen, and Nagarjuna, and many others who have contributed to the Zen Buddhist tradition, and finds himself getting overwhelmed.

        He asks his teacher, “Can you sum up the essence of Zen?”

        The teacher replies, “Attention.”

        Having hoped for a LITTLE more, the student responds, “Well, can you say something else also?”

        The teacher responds, “Attention, attention.”

        “But,” the student, now a bit irritated, “what does attention MEAN”?

        The teacher responds, “Attention means attention.”

        • Tom Huntington

          October 28, 2022 at 9:37 pm

          Quoting you, @donsalmon

          My favorite topic related to Iain’s work is attention, and the vast and varied ways Christian, Buddhist, Taoist and other traditions – as well as modern psychology and neuroscience – have found we can shift attention in a way that leads to profound transformations.

          Hi Don, I’m just now finding your conversation with @JamesWillis . . . and I too am “a fan” of Attention. Thank you for sharing the Zen story. I don’t think I ever heard it. I did come to this realization/conclusion/opinion some years ago. I’d been kind of a “spiritual zealot” in my late 20’s to mid 40’s, with a very committed daily “spiritual practice.” And then had an experience in my 45th year that led me to begin to question “the spiritual wisdom” of my practice ‘in the world’ (the work world and the relationship world) and I became more open and interested in, and a student of, personal growth workshops, which included more than a few that were Gestalt based/informed. Eventually this led me to become interested in therapy-effectiveness research . . . which then introduced me to learning science and neuroscience and developmental science and social psychology . . . I now self-identify as a ‘human nature science geek.’

          I’d kept up my daily ‘spiritual practice’ (aka a mindfulness/meditation practice, which my spiritual teaching chose to call “contemplation” rather than “meditation”). I’d also, along the way, discovered the benefit of mind-body integration practices, especially the moving ones, such as QiGong and ‘movement meditation’ practices.

          Over the course of my serious study of healthy human nature science, including learning science and brain science beginning in the summer of 2002, I soon became aware of the was growing interest in ‘Mindfulness’ programs in the U.S. This was, and still is, especially true in California. When I moved to Santa Monica in early 2011, I was in walking distance of Insight LA . . .

          “the only organization of it’s kind offering secular, evidenced-based mindfulness training and traditional Buddhist teachings within the Vipassana or Insight tradition” (from their website).

          I’d learned/heard about the well-researched 8-week MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) program developed by Jon Kabatt-Zinn . . . research showing positive brain change results (in ‘stress reduction’). I’d been curious about the program (not for me – I felt quite happy/satisfied with my ‘mindfulness’ and ‘stress-reduction’ skills) but to check out for me to be able to recommend to others (with the integrity of having ‘checked it out’). There was a program starting in a few weeks after moving here. I signed up and committed to doing the program and the daily/weekly exercises and meetings. I not only got the validation to be able to recommend it to others with caring confidence, I found that it helped me and my daily “attention practices” . . . I’d already, several years earlier, had the opinion that the purpose/goal of “meditation” and “mindfulness” practices . . . as well as the mind-body integration movement practices I’d been doing . . . were all in the most basic sense for helping to improve our “attention/awareness” skills in all areas/domains of our lives.

          It was about that same time when my brain science mentor, Dan Siegel, recommended The Master and His Emissary, introducing me to The Hemisphere Hypothesis, which has helped me continue to improve my attention/awareness skills every day since then.

          While I agree with/appreciate Iain’s reluctance to recommend any specific “mindfulness practices” or even any specific “right-hemisphere-leadership-improvement” . . . because (IMCO) of the unique, idiosyncratic, subjective, always changing, nature of each of our brains and the danger of many of us making the “left-hemisphere-leadership-errors” that leads to rigidity for our selves and our daily “human team relationships” and to cults, polarized politics and wars . . . I do think, agree, that focusing on helping ourselves and our human cultural leaders at all levels know about The Hemisphere Hypothesis and prioritize our human attention/awareness self-skills, team-skills, brain skills be more “right-hemisphere-skilled”.

          [I do apologize @donsalmon and to anyone else who reads this . . . that I don’t know how to format my post to be easier/more inviting to read . . . nor do I know how to share links . . . and that is a shame (IMCO), because this is a great opportunity for those of us who want to be champions for helping get The Hemisphere Hypothesis out to the cultural leaders of the world who also care about our world.]

    • Mark Delepine

      October 11, 2022 at 2:51 pm

      Also here Don. Joined the channel not too long ago hoping for an active discussion forum. Of course we want a balance between high activity and thoughtfulness but the subject matter certainly lends itself to that. As my wife has high vulnerability to infection and doubtful powers of recovery, I find I may be more dependent that I would wish on virtual community. So I am hopeful of becoming more involved here.

      • Don Salmon

        October 13, 2022 at 1:19 pm

        Hi Mark, my wife is in the same situation, so we’re both being extra careful about non-virtual contact.

        nice to see you hear and look forward to more comments from you.

  • Niels Hoffmann

    November 8, 2022 at 5:51 pm

    Dear Iain, Happy Birthday TMWT, or perhaps (To Morrow Without Terror). I am fully aware of your manifesto, and that’s why I am here, the result of looking for like-minded people with insight into better ways of thinking, doing science, and saving the world from committing suicide by jumping into the abyss. The result of projective thinking with narrow sequential complete incomplete understanding, i.e., LH mechanics.

    When asked to assist London Underground to develop its Station Congestion Model. Following the Kings Cross fire in 1987, LU had the desire to develop such a simulation model. The result was an AHA moment when discovering what we could call RH mechanics.

    Sunday morning, I looked up Niels Bohr in TMWT. With 82 hits, it was a moving time as a fellow Dane and namesake. And dare I say, familiarity with his mindset. The awareness of opposites and complementarity. In book III: “It is the hallmark of any deep truth that its negation is also a deep truth”, Niels Bohr.

    How better to think Rightmindedly with complete understanding, RH, as opposed to LH’s complete incomplete understanding?

    To Iain McGilchrist and the McGilchrist community with love, Niels

    (And to the Pari Centre with thanks)

    RH Dynamics

    (Iain McGilchrist TMWT)


    Iain McGilchrist’s Split Brain Hypothesis backed by Iain’s incredible work on empirical evidence and understanding was a reminder of work done in the field of transportation modelling and microscopic simulation the foundation of which in a holistic way also resonated with David Bohm’s: ‘Wholeness and implicate order”, with the implicate order of the two hemispheres being different, as two sides of the same coin, the process. (The ultimate example of A N Whitehead’s idea of Process and reality)?

    Some thoughts on reality from Roger Penrose as a starter:

    Roger Penrose: “The Road to Reality”:

    34.7 The roles of mentality in physical theory

    “Whatever the status of these ideas, it seems to me that a ‘fundamental’ physical theory that lays claim to any kind of completeness at the deepest levels of physical phenomena must also have the potential to accommodate conscious mentality. “

    Last paragraph chapter 34,

    “Perhaps what we mainly need is some subtle change in perspective—something that we all have missed . . . .”

    What it is, The subtlety here asked for seems to be in the direction of a completeness paradigm which eliminates complexity, it simply doesn’t see any levels of difficulty. It constitute the process of dealing with the extreme complexity of the brain in an efficient and complete manner as a learning mechanism for consciousness emanating in the so called unconscious RH. I believe it should be subconscious, unconscious is a left over from the time, not long ago, when general wisdom was to ask: ‘why do we have the right hemisphere? It doesn’t seem to do anything!’ More likely it is subconscious all the time, a necessary function in order to reveal the full scope for action (sub-consciousness) and bring the most appropriate one into the conscious awareness of the LH. Thanks to Iain and many others we now know better.

    How? We simply reduce the complexity irreducibly and not the problem by sorting and labelling network branches in order of distance either from an origin, the scope of the LH, or to one or more destinations simultaneously, the scope of the RH. This reduses the complexity from any enormous lateral dimension to a single vertical dimension, hence the claim for process reduction rather than problem reduction. Now, it is the same open sorting process for the two hemispheres extending to the end of the universe. Note, distance can be any additive variable, to be minimised, like time, amount of green house gas used, …. Interestingly the sorting of things is well known as a means of solving problems in general but inconceivable in case of RH. Since the process itself is the same for the two processes we can like Hillary Lawson who in a reason chat on IAI, used the coin metaphor for the process and the sides as the two thought systems implying something mythical for the complex side, i.e. perhaps the sacred, my interpretation.

    I recall Iain’s recent interview with the Theos think tank where Iain talks about consciousness as an encounter the solution of which sounds very much like just described. An enormously complicated horizontal complexity reduced in an instant revealing in the same instant all equal or indifferent choices for action. And that instant is a split second in the simulation program of learning what it would take billions of years to learn using the LH. Because of this incredible operational speed of the wide shrinking to the single perspective we may comprehend the dynamics delightfully experienced by both Iain and Alex in one of the dialogues on chapters of TMWT, 13 or 14. Their faces of delight talking about brain imaging, said it all.

    The process in the LH represent a closure of the self-referential open field. Good for knowledge of how far to everywhere, i.e. creating a travel distance matrix. In this sequential process integration is along links in the order of shortest distances from the origin.

    The process in the RH on the other hand represent a closure of the everything- referential, anyone can get to a destination from wherever they are in a way of equality (the golden rule or an expression of love?) . This became an AHA moment when asking the question of how to solve the problem of parallel processing, achieving the ‘impossible’ viewed from the LH perspective. Here the integration is from the future in the direction of the past of shortest distances of travel towards the future, a learning process for learning any Maze completely in an instant. From this we may suppose the workings of a universe to be in accordance with a superior mind, that of God envisioned by Stephen Hawking in his ‘A Brief History of Time.’ He sees this as the result when we fully understand nature, we will have found a mechanism so simple that everyone can understand it. Søren Kierkegaard expressed this as: ‘We live forwards but understand backwards’ and ‘either or’. Backwards integration equals forward differentiation in an instant at all levels, necessary for complete closure to happen based on complete understanding, mental consciousness!? Schrodinger in his book “What is life” talks about negative entropy which enable a movement of ions in both direction aligning with the pre consciousness RH process to kick in and reveal action to LH sensory system perhaps. Seems logical to me.

    Iain, I just watched your talk to the world AI congress in Amsterdam. It really spoke to my heart. Here was a prophet of fire warning people of the danger there is in ignoring the creator of us all and thinking we have the ability to become as God and act as self-created beings. The ministry of Jeremiah.

    As Mark Vernon brought out in his recent talk about perceptual awakening in Iain’s work. I would like to extend Marks prophetic statement that Iain and his work is anointed. I also know from having followed Mark and Rupert Sheldrake’s dialogues that the spirit of a new old world order is well and alive. Thank you Mark and Rupert for not keeping quiet also.

    The change we need has been envisioned by a number of scientists: Waddington, Sheldrake, Bohm, Hiley…, and many more, Bergson, Peirce, Aristotle… . From Plato, Moses and Jesus we have the miraculous least action/effort paradigm which I believe resonates with the RH process of/and reality.

    The process solution proposed is a Graph theoretical solution; a network of relational connected things a help in reasoning first made use of by Euler in his seven bridges of Konigsberg paradox. Something Leibniz was very keen un and called geometria situs, or geometry of position but had to abandon because he couldn’t get funding for this work (sounds familiar in todays world where institutions sometime seem to block real progress rather than support. Eric Weinstein call this GIN: Gated Institutional Narrative)

    Just briefly on Iain’s talk to the AI community. Judged on the applause, I think Iain, you touched on an instinct of desire of the community at large. This made me think of Google. When they started up their graph theoretical search engine with a mindset of giving, they were forced to submit to the capitalist system in order to survive economically.

    Reading Martin Ford: “AI Architects of Intelligence”, where Martin interviews 23 of the most prominent architects of AI, I found a consensual desire to create something good for us all. Despite disagreeing on when and how AGI for the machine and robotics would happen, they mostly agreed that since there would be less need for human input to keep the world going, there would be a need to do something for the unfortunates’ not able to partake in the party of wealth creators who are currently raping the earth of it’s resources in the race of LH dominance, and in so doing has largely created hell here on earth. Universal Income seems to be the most inspired notion they could come up with? In a paradigm with no complexity, a paradigm which seeks and strive only on optimising for the good of everyone we should be able to create efficient futures based on efficient thinking to serve everyone and everyone serving everyone when having learned the RH mindset, true equality has arrived. No more headbanging and blaming and killing for gain; any one with the LH mindset would be a laughing stock. The LH RH dichotomy explains it so succinctly. Who would want a LH created world anyway?!

    To round up, we need briefly to touch down on the Sacred, as experienced by some through almost a lifetime, so well described by Iain in TMWT as the inspiration and insight given us through the RH. My experience has always been, and I believe strongly like many others, the experience of something greater than ourselves in terms of power, perfection which direct us in resolving our endeavours, desires and needs. This is given us all but only some hear.

    Iain and Mark have both expressed awareness of the book: “A Course In Miracles” this book deals essentially with the mind body issue from the point of view of the sacred and reality, LH perception or upside down thinking and RH true perception and reality or Right Thinking. Not in competition with TMWT, but in great harmony with the issues of Iain’s hypotheses of the split brain and empirical evidence. Interestingly, the mechanism of the Holy Spirit minimises the need for time by effecting a sudden shift from horizontal to vertical perception which substitutes for learning that might have taken thousands of years. Also, the recognition of the part as whole and of the whole in every part is quite natural, it is the way God thinks, and what is natural to God is natural to us. This I believe resonates with the structure of neurons as junctions, each one a whole and groups of neurons a whole as well, in a transportation network. David Eagleman, a neuroscientist, talks in one of his books about a neuron can be as complex as a large transportation network. The course is summed up very simply in this way:

    Nothing real can be threatened.

    Nothing unreal exists.

    Herein lies the peace of God.

    The course is said to be just one way to God.



  • Craig Matheson

    October 11, 2023 at 4:12 pm

    If the current intellectual state of affairs is overall identified as so desperate that there’s justification to employ such drastic terms as “committing suicide”, could this justify the use of any point/fact which could also be employed to enlighten in ways handy for drawing more attention toward Iain’s findings & accompanying message?

    If so, then why not draw more attention to the fact that the right eye of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man looks more enlightened than his left eye, and that whence the circle therein is vertically split equally his head can clearly be observed tilting toward his right half/hemisphere of said circle?

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