Iain McGilchrist in his book The master and his emissary talks about the divided brain and which hemisphere is the master and which is the emissary. It’s important to note that we are talking about TWO brains here and not one. The point is that the human brain has evolved into two morphologically and dimensionally different brains ( or hemispheres) on top of the singular brainstem.
Now all you scientific types with a ‘preening’ ego crowding your left brain would expect the master to be the scientific,logical, orderly left brain, focused on fragmentary things and of matter of utilitarian value. Wrong! The Master is directed by the spirit of the holisitic, process oriented, relational right hemisphere that steps outside and beyond the rigid structures of left brain logic to be creative, to bring into existence something from nothing, concepts that the logical left brain cannot compute, understand or even be aware of. So without using new words to describe the right hemisphere’s control of the aspect of mind we currently call the ‘unconscious’ (for lack of a better word), here is a preliminary stab at the differences between our two brains and why the ego driven left brain without balance from the right will, if left solely in denial and to its own devices, destroy humanity.
Left Hemisphere ( associated with ‘conscious awareness’ and attention)
- directed by ego
- focused attention – figure (of figure ground)
- temporal – committed to events in time
- identified with getting and grasping (competitive and selfish)
- existing in Time using ‘conscious’ thought memory
- fragmented, logical, unemotional, disembodied, symbolic (a vertical dimension of connectedness to one’s own self interest)
- consists of explicit objects and things
- utilitarian, singular
Right Hemisphere ( associated with ‘unconscious’ awareness and detachment)
- directed by spirit
- unfocused detachment – ground (of figure ground)
- non-temporal – uncommitted to events
- identified with being and being-in-the-world (collaborative and compassionate)
- existing outside of Time. Uses a memory that is time independent
- unfragmented, holistic, emotive, embodied, experiential (a horizontal dimension of connectedness to others and non-self)
- consists of processes, flows and relationships
- relational/ group/ societal
An interesting and obvious support to such theories is that we can easily observe ( as phenomenologists) how these two brains that operate in fundamentally different realms or dimensions have shaped our society and our behaviours in exactly the same manner, depending on which aspect of consciousness is the dominant factor in society at the time. The hermetic principle of as above..so below works on the macrocosmic and microcosmic level (vertically so to speak), where one reflects the other as a fundamental aspect of nature. Repetitive patterns at increasing orders of magnitude in the physical realm are what we experience. However, such patterns and relationships can also be found in the dimension of consciousness too ( though here we are looking horizontally). Society is the averaged-out sum of expressions of a multitude of ‘individual’ consciousnesses, a macroscosmic version of the individual’s microscosm. So, as within.. so without. If we draw a line through both these hermetic principles to symbolise the spectrum of the vertical and the horizontal experience we find a cross, the symbol of Christ’s consciousness.
If two independent consciousness’ in one individual can be brought into a collaborative balance through some form of ‘synchronicity’ as in the Taoist symbol, then the evolution of the Mind and therefore humanity can take place.