Reality Shift

In her book, Worldshift Happens!, Carolyn North makes an argument for a shift in our dominant worldview from a predominantly objective, reductive, narrow-focused, scientific perspective to a broader, more inclusive, all parts are interrelated and holistic one. These two world views seem very much to be the difference between left brain and right brain function. The left side, the seat of language, is more logical, analytic and objective. The right side is more visual and processes experience intuitively, holistically, and randomly.

Carolyn does not propose the abandonment of the one worldview for the other but rather a better balance of both worldviews. We certainly do not want to jettison science and subject ourselves to the capricious beliefs of who ever happens to be in power or be defrauded by every snake-oil salesman that comes into town due to a lack of reliable procedure for evaluating their worth (hmmm, I think we have that now.) At the same time, the current crisis of our planet: global warming, ocean pollution, deforestation, corral reef collapse and species extinction call for an approach that is broader, more holistic and respectful of our planetary inter-dependencies.

While the development of faster computers has made it possible for scientist to create complex models and predict the consequences of many of these inter-dependencies, the orientation is still separate and at a distance. Science tries to leave us out of the picture. Or, perhaps more accurately, removes that which is being studied from the picture. However, we are all connected and all responsible. What we are doing collectively as a civilization is not just affecting those frogs over there, poor things, it’s affecting all of us. Will we figure this out before we collectively do ourselves in?

The shift Carolyn requests is much greater then the addition of a few more variables in an equation, it is an adjustment in brain focus. More right brain use! And that shift just might send us down that slippery slope into the arena of the mystical, mysterious, awesome, divine. It is the very arena that the narrow focused, linear ordered left brain invariably discounts or dismisses.

There may be a gender issue here as well. According to Leonard Shlain in The Alphabet Versus the Goddess, the bifurcation of the human brain into asymmetrical right and left brain functioning was an evolutionary response to the needs of primitive humanity. It’s a complicated theory worth investigating. Basically, early woman relied more on the right brain to gather food and rear big-brained, dependent children, while men used the left side of the brain to be more successful at hunting — and to provide meat for their periodically iron-deficient women. I told you it was complicated.

Researchers have discovered that women have between 10% to 33% more neuronal fibers in the part of the brain that connects the two sides. Woman are better at integrating the two. Being able to shutout feelings and focus on a single task, he postulates, was beneficial for men engaging in the dangerous activity of hunting.

What Shlain doesn’t explain is the antipathy left-brainers have for right-brainers. This is illustrated in the story Carolyn relates about a physicist friend, who, upon receiving a seemly magical healing from Carolyn for a bad headache, said he would rather have the headache than have rethink his whole way of knowing.

Perhaps it is simply a matter understanding, of not being able to comprehend the other perspective because the brain-connection is lacking. Actually I believe it is a matter of upbringing. So does Carolyn, who in the last third of her book envisions a society with a better balance of the two. Upbringing is at its crux.

Personally, I love the mysterious and the unexplainable (unless it’s about where I left my glasses). I love that pharmaceutical companies go into remote areas of the world to learn the healing secrets of indigenous tribes rather than discover them in their own laboratories. I am thrilled to know that the “placebo” effect, i.e. people’s belief in the efficacy a cure, frequently accounts for more healing than the drug that is being tested. Synchronistic occurrences, like a friend calling when I’ve been thinking of her, make me smile. YESSSS!

What I like even better, however, is when the unexplainable or mysterious is confirmed by rigorous proof  — like the sighting of the sneaker on a hospital ledge. According to the story, a woman took an out-of-body trip to a hospital ledge three floors about the operating room where she was undergoing a life-saving operation. During this trip, she saw a sneaker on this ledge which, it turns out, was unobservable from any other vantage point. The sighting was verified by a social worker shortly after the woman revived and shared her story.

Unfortunately the very characteristic that thrill me about the unexplainable also make them highly susceptible to deception and fraud. So I welcome scientific rigor even as I deplore its narrow-minded methodology.

What I want from our scientists, the shift I am hoping for, is a little more awe and a little less arrogance. Before dismantling a system in order to discover the mechanism of its functioning, might there be a moment to revel in the miracle of its wholeness and appreciate that this whole may indeed be greater than the sum of its parts. Also, to recognize that those aspect of a phenomenon that defy observation and measurement are not irrelevant, but simply part of the mystery we have yet to decipher. Possibly in taking that moment, the scientists may allow some of their right brain to kick in and have an intuition or illumination that yields an unexpected break-through.

I celebrate the rigor of scientific study and applaud its application in those esoteric regions such as meditation, esp, channeling,  NDE , etc. At the same time, I acknowledge the wisdom and knowing that comes from personal experiences such as spiritual insight and vision that make up the core of our personal belief and in the end are less shakable than any scientific proof. We really need both sides of our brain for optimum functioning, now more than ever.

What is your right brain telling you? When is the last time you hung out together? Isn’t it time for a play date?

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