Scientists have long debunked the notion that we only access 10 or 20 percent of our brains. We employ much wider portions on a daily basis. Still, numerous studies show that when we learn new skills or process novel thoughts, we make connections hitherto unformed.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about our corpus callosum. Here’s the Wikipedia definition: a wide bundle of neural fibers…at the longitudinal fissure. It connects the left and right cerebral hemispheres and facilitates inter-hemispheric communication
Most of us know the simplistic definitions of right brain/left brain. If we are “right brain dominant,” we are intuitive, creative, emotional. If we are “left brain dominant,” we are rational, focused on logic rather than spontaneity.
Dualism is not only part of our cerebral make up. It permeates the world around us, and can ultimately be destructive. Liberal vs. Conservative, Environmentalist vs. Capitalist, Faith vs. Skepticism, Christian vs. Humanist, Creationist vs. Evolutionist, East vs. West…I could go on.
The recent furor over gay marriage exposed the underbelly of either/or thinking. This is why I love a quote from Margaret Fuller: Male and female represent two sides of the great radical dualism. But in fact they are perpetually passing into one another. Fluid hardens to solid, solid rushes to fluid. There is no wholly masculine man, no purely feminine woman.
What if more of us learned to be “middle brain” dominant? What if we found ways to energize our corpus callosums, enabling inter-hemispheric communication until it dances from us in harmonizing ripple effects?
We wouldn’t be so quick to judge. We would build bridges rather than dig moats. We would listen compassionately to the familial and cultural origins of other people’s world views. We would discover more of what unites us. We would refrain from smugness on Facebook. We would draw lines of connection rather than lines in the sand.
Some Eastern traditions believe we have vestigial remnants of a third eye once attached to the pineal gland, which Descartes called “the principle seat of the soul.” There are meditations to enhance “third eye sight,” opening new levels of consciousness.
This notion isn’t confined to the East. Christian writer Richard Rohr has written about a “third way of seeing” as we develop “the mind of Christ.”
A few years ago, I wandered the streets of Munnar in Kerala, India. It’s a unique village where Christians, Muslims and Hindus live in harmony. Near an open air market I encountered a beautiful Hindu girl. Between her eyes was the bindi, that cosmetic red circle signifying the third eye.
Someone – perhaps her mother – had embellished it with lids and a pupil. Perhaps it was a maternal blessing: May my daughter see life in its totality. May she bring harmony to the lives of others.
In ways that still spur me on, all three of that girl’s eyes still haunt me.