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I’ve had time to read a few books in the past several months in spite of all the effort I’ve been putting in trying to develop a new church website for our Norway UU church using Joomla. OK, while I’m at it, why not mention loose bowels? I seem to have not diarrhea exactly but a pronounced looseness bowelwise and also perpetual sleep problems, not unrelated perhaps. Good God! I didn’t intend to get off on this subject!

A few weeks back I finished “My Stroke of Insight” by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D., a neuroscientist. Her stroke deactivated a significant part of her left brain making it possible for her to function only through her right brain. The experience of this was what was amazing to her, and to the reader as well, I’m sure. The world, the universe, becomes something totally different. A feeling of oneness with the world and remarkable insight, a certain kind of spirituality where there exists no pressure to do anything, just to exist in the lap of the profoundest of feelings of wonder and, yes, joy. Of course, this was dangerous for her as the bleeding in her left brain was not stopping. With great effort she managed to save herself.

So, the mind has resources and perceptual abilities we never imagined.

Speaking of mind, I’m now working my way through “Absence of Mind: The Dispelling of Inwardness from the Modern Myth of the Self” by Marilynne Robinson. She really takes on the Richard Dawkinses of the world! She’s saying that there is a place for subjectivity and indeed religion, although so far she hasn’t said much about the latter. Some of it is hard for me to follow, but other parts ring bells. She goes after memes in a big way and tries to show how memes theory contradicts gene theories. I haven’t read the rejoinders by the rationalists yet, but I’m sure they’re tearing into her unmercifully because she really goes after them in this book.

Incidentally, Jon Stewart even gave her a favorable interview recently.

This quote from her has been highlighted by several reviewers: “Our religious traditions give us as the name of God two deeply mysterious words, one deeply mysterious utterance: I AM.” In other words, why the Hell am I here, who am I, why is anything here, and what does it all mean?

OK, that’s it for now.

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Hey, is it becoming a fad, or a useful tool in psychotherapy, or both? Perhaps both. That may be the conclusion of the article, Lotus Therapy, linked from the front page of the NYT this morning. Mindfulness Meditation is catching on in a big way all over the planet, so why not shorten it to MindfulMed?

I keep trying it from time to time but that’s probably not enough. Oh, if I only had a brain! But that’s the idea: don’t have one, get rid of that left brain. Easier said than done, and how can I get anything done if I do? Well, again, that’s the idea: stop DOING things. Naw, that’s not it either. Too much analysis and not enough doing IT. OK, ten minutes a day for a start? If I can remember…..
:roll: :lol: :mrgreen:

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Here’s Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, Harvard-trained neuroanatomist, giving a recent TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) talk on her experience with half a brain. Her left brain was erased in a stroke, which she eventually recovered from. (Minds Erased, take note!) What’s amazing is her out-of-body experience of Nirvana when her left brain is shut down and her right brain alone experiences the world. Great and profound talk.
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The New York Times has an article on her by Leslie Kaufman, the most popular article today, called A Superhighway to Bliss.

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Perhaps I should mention the books I’m in the process of reading or have read recently. I just finished The Meaning of Life by Terry Eagleton, and before that the Irish novel The Gathering by Anne Enright which won the 2007 Man Booker Prize. Now I’m trying to simultaneously read The Private Life of the Brain by Susan Greenfield, The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, and Cosmic Jackpot by Paul Davies. I’ve already read the latter — see here — so this will be a re-read. Also, I’m still dabbling in Roger Penrose’s The Road to Reality, a very heavy physics book for the “general reader”. Plus, there’s a bunch of stuff online on physics, cosmology, philosophy, and religion that I’m trying to keep up with. Incidentally, there’s a great put-down by Terry Eagleton of The God Delusion here.

My objective is to straddle science, philosophy and religion and see what kind of a mixture I might end up with, if any. :lol:

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How about a Beam of Light That Flips a Switch That Turns on the Brain? How’s that for a new way to get turned on? But what’s it like? Take a look?

See the neuron synapses in red? See the photosensitive protein on the cell membrane in green? For a layman’s discussion of the physics and chemistry and experiments with light check the link above.

But what’s it like? you ask. You mean you want to know what it feels like? Ha Ha Who knows? Ask a zebrafish? Or why not read Thomas Nagel’s article, What Is It Like To Be A Bat?

Oliver Sacks has been writing great stuff for popular consumption on the many peculiarities and mysteries of behavior caused by (coming from?) the brain. The latest New Yorker magazine has a fascinating article by him on musicophilia (a suddenly arising musical passion), and also apparently new mysteries of Near Death Experiences. The article is not online but an audio conversation with Oliver Sacks on musicophilia is available here.

These types of things highlight even more profoundly the dichotomy between the physical state of the brain and consciousness. Are we seeing dualism here?? Naw, we must eschew supernaturalism, say the sensible ones, like the Churchlands and many, née most, others in the scientific communities.

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