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Posts Tagged ‘Emotional Intelligence’

Buddha Nature and the Divided Brain

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 9, 2012

By John Stanley and David Loy

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a world that honors the servant, but has forgotten the gift.
–Albert Einstein

Except in the light of brain hemisphere lateralization, nothing in human psychology makes any sense.
–neuroscientist Tim Crow

An Old Tale

There’s a traditional Buddhist story about a statue of incomparable value, which is lost and then forgotten. For generation after generation, various kinds of human rubbish and debris accumulate to bury it. Nobody ever suspects that anything important lies under the ground. Eventually a clairvoyant person happens by who comments: “If you dig here, and clean up what you find, you will discover something invaluable.” But who would follow such advice?

Our Divided Brain

In his remarkable book, “The Master and his Emissary,” neurological psychologist Iain McGilchristprovides a wealth of scientific evidence to support his contention that two opposed realities are rooted in the bi-hemispheric structure of the human brain.

Although each hemisphere is specialized, neither functions as an “independent brain.” They integrate their activities to produce physical movements, mental processes and behaviors greater than, and different from, their individual contributions. With functional NMR scanners, real-time brain imaging is now routinely used to determine the functional effects of all kinds of strokes and brain injuries, and in that way we can observe how the hemispheres act together as “opponent processors.”

Basically, the right hemisphere is mute, perceives in a holistic Gestalt manner and synthesizes over space. The left hemisphere, the seat of language, analyzes over time. The right hemisphere codes sensory input in terms of images, the left in terms of words and concepts. Specialization of function offers all kinds of advantages, but integrating those functions is a special point of vulnerability. When it comes to the large and complex human mind-brain, harmony can easily be lost. Read the rest of this entry »

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Good News: You Are Not Your Brain

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on August 8, 2012

By Deepak Chopra, M.D., FACP, and Dr. Rudolph E. Tanzi, Ph.D., Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy, Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School Director, Genetics and Aging at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH).

Like a personal computer, science needs a recycle bin for ideas that didn’t work out as planned. In this bin would go commuter trains riding on frictionless rails using superconductivity, along with interferon, the last AIDS vaccine, and most genetic therapies. These failed promises have two things in common: They looked like the wave of the future but then reality proved too complex to fit the simple model that was being offered.

The next thing to go into the recycle bin might be the brain. We are living in a golden age of brain research, thanks largely to vast improvements in brain scans. Now that functional MRIs can give snapshots of the brain in real time, researchers can see specific areas of the brain light up, indicating increased activity. On the other hand, dark spots in the brain indicate minimal activity or none at all. Thus, we arrive at those familiar maps that compare a normal brain with one that has deviated from the norm. This is obviously a great boon where disease is concerned. Doctors can see precisely where epilepsy or Parkinsonism or a brain tumor has created damage, and with this knowledge new drugs and more precise surgery can target the problem.

But then overreach crept in. We are shown brain scans of repeat felons with pointers to the defective areas of their brains. The same holds for Buddhist monks, only in their case, brain activity is heightened and improved, especially in the prefrontal lobes associated with compassion. By now there is no condition, good or bad, that hasn’t been linked to a brain pattern that either “proves” that there is a link between the brain and a certain behavior or exhibits the “cause” of a certain trait. The whole assumption, shared by 99 percent of neuroscientists, is that we are our brains.

In this scheme, the brain is in charge, having evolved to control certain fixed behaviors. Why do men see other men as rivals for a desirable woman? Why do people seek God? Why does snacking in front of the TV become a habit? We are flooded with articles and books reinforcing the same assumption: The brain is using you, not the other way around. Yet it’s clear that a faulty premise is leading to gross overreach. Read the rest of this entry »

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Buddhism and the Unconscious

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on July 19, 2012

By John Stanley and David Loy

“My life is a story of the self-realization of the unconscious.” –C.G. Jung

Those who see into the Unconscious have their senses cleansed of defilements, are moving toward Buddha-wisdom, are known to be with Reality, in the Middle Path, in the ultimate truth itself. Those who see into the Unconscious are furnished at once with merits as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. They are able to create all kinds of things and embrace all things within themselves. –Shen-hui (as translated by D.T. Suzuki)

At the end of his life, C.G. Jung dictated to his secretary an extraordinary autobiography, “Memories, Dreams, Reflections,” whose first sentence we cite above. Earlier he had observed how human nature resembled the twin sons of Zeus and Leda: “We are that pair of Dioscuri, one of whom is mortal and the other immortal, and who, though always together, can never be made completely one. … We should prefer to be always ‘I’ and nothing else.” Recent neurological studies into those “twin sons” have been exploring Jung’s insight, leading to discoveries that have many important implications, including how we might understand traditional Buddhist teachings today. Read the rest of this entry »

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Buddhism and the Unconscious

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on June 9, 2012

By 

 “My life is a story of the self-realization of the unconscious.” –C.G. Jung

Those who see into the Unconscious have their senses cleansed of defilements, are moving toward Buddha-wisdom, are known to be with Reality, in the Middle Path, in the ultimate truth itself. Those who see into the Unconscious are furnished at once with merits as numerous as the sands of the Ganges. They are able to create all kinds of things and embrace all things within themselves. –Shen-hui (as translated by D.T. Suzuki)

At the end of his life, C.G. Jung dictated to his secretary an extraordinary autobiography, “Memories, Dreams, Reflections,” whose first sentence we cite above. Earlier he had observed how human nature resembled the twin sons of Zeus and Leda: “We are that pair of Dioscuri, one of whom is mortal and the other immortal, and who, though always together, can never be made completely one. … We should prefer to be always ‘I’ and nothing else.” Recent neurological studies into those “twin sons” have been exploring Jung’s insight, leading to discoveries that have many important implications, including how we might understand traditional Buddhist teachings today.

Neuropsychology of the Unconscious

Brain research over the last generation has confirmed the difference between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Our left cerebral hemisphere is the place where language is generated and received. It serves a linguistic consciousness with which we describe and think about the world. On the other side, our silent right brain hemisphere serves an unconscious awareness that cannot be coded in language. Non-verbal contemplative practices — such as being quietly present in the natural world, “open presence” meditation, tai chi chuan or yoga — elicit sustained awareness rooted in the unconscious. We are fully aware of what is happening, within and around us. Yet such experiences cannot be put into (or directed by) words because they are served by modules for sensory awareness in the right hemisphere. Focusing attention in the present suspends the usual executive functions of the conscious mind, so that the resources of the unconscious may unfold. Read the rest of this entry »

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Buddhist Insights for Accepting and Respecting Our Emotions

Posted by worldamity on June 11, 2010

By Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche [1]

You would certainly recognize your signature on a piece of paper, but do you know your own emotional signature? We all have one. It’s our predictable way of reacting to situations. Your friends probably recognize your emotional signature better than you do. When you get into a fight with your partner, for example, they can predict just how it will go. They know if you’re likely to slam a door, storm out of the house, or call your mother. They know if you’ll be processing the argument for days or immediately shut down and clam up. How do they know so much? They know because they’ve seen it all before. Our behavior may seem spontaneous to us, but to those who know us, we’re not too surprising. Read the rest of this entry »

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