Life doesn’t pause for themes. It’s the wonderful thing about life, and about a blog. You can get going on a theme – like one of “care of the heart” or of “dialogue” – and yet at the same time you can jump ship – anytime you’re moved to a new topic. (And even discover that all themes merge together.)
So today, I was thinking of a friend of mine, Richard, who has an issue with his brain. Something is going on, but exactly what is not yet clear. I’d told him on the phone about Jill Bolte Taylor’s “Stroke of Insight.” If you haven’t heard of her or her book by that name, she was a 37 year old brain scientist when she had a stroke that affected her left brain. It took her eight years to fully recover. This wasn’t the encouraging part that I wanted my friend to hear. The encouraging part was about how she discovered nirvana.
My friend said he was spending a lot of time on the internet so I went out looking for videos from Jill. The first one that came up was this TED talk:
As Jill spoke of the brain, I had two things that I was relating to: my friend with the brain issue, and A Course of Love. Briefly, here is how she described the brain’s two separate hemispheres:
Here and now
Information as energy coming in from the five senses
Connection – connected as one human family, perfect and whole
Past and future oriented
Picking out the details, categorizing them
Jill’s talk illustrates this in amazing ways. She says, “Step to the right of your left hemisphere.” We can choose the side of our brains that we spend the most time with. The way of A Course of Love is one of “stepping to the right.”
Broadening your view from the specific to the general is one of the most difficult tasks of the curriculum. It is easy to see why this is so when you recognize how bound your thinking is to specifics. Again this is why we call on love and the hidden knowledge of your heart. Your heart already sees in a manner much more whole than the perception of your split mind. Even your language and images reflect this truth, this difference between the wisdom of your heart and that of your mind. Your heart may be said to break, but the image that these words call forth is of a heart cracked open, not of a heart in separate pieces. Your brain, on the other hand, is separated into right and left hemispheres. One side has one function, one side another. While your brain and your mind are not the same, your image of your mind and what it does and does not do is linked with your image of your brain. Let this image go and concentrate on the wholeness of your heart, no matter how you view its current condition. Be it wounded, bleeding, broken or full, it rests in wholeness within you at the center of who you are.
It is from this center that truth will light your way. 7.18-19
Your comments on these old posts are so welcome! You gave me a lovely reminder this morning of Richard, who died in 2012. But the first thing I thought of when I re-read the post and the quote from early in ACOL, was that you must have gotten the book and just read that section! You may be the first person to get to know ACOL through what I have written about it. I hope when you do finally get your book, that we speak together, the Course and I.
On the breaking open of the heart…it sure sounds to me like you are being called to make this movement to the heart. Being of a similar background as me, you already know how many Christian women and men call us to the heart and at times to the heart’s need to open more fully or even to break. I’ve been re-reading Rollo May’s Freedom and Destiny lately. It was one I read early on in my spirituality and there was this part where he said you know a prophet from a charlatan by the matter of despair. Heartbreak, of course, doesn’t have to mean despair, but it often does, and I have experienced it. Allowing for despair and/or heartbreak is no longer a popular idea, but in light of the way those who have shared the fruits of their broken hearts have spoken to me, I feel the depth and sanctity of this company, and I would guess you will be able to dwell there too, if it comes, and come forth richly renewed. All love to you~
The thought that my heart needs to be broken open has been recurrent for me over about the course of a month recently, partly in the context of some writing I’ve been doing. This theme emerged much more fully when I was with the Trappists this weekend, on retreat at the monastery for the Paschal Triduum. The words “my hearts is both broken open and safe forever in Jesus” came to me this weekend—not a locution, just my own thought, I think. The synchronicity I am experiencing right now in the context of my discovery of ACOL’s ideas (and I am still waiting for the book to arrive, having held my mail while on retreat) is really powerful. I’m sorry to barrage your blog with commentary, and I think I’m done for now, but this heart image and theme has been so strong for me already the past few weeks, and then to read this!! Thank you again.
“A Course in Miracles” says that the natural state of the mind is one of total abstraction. We can’t understand this fully in this world, but the direct connection between ACIM and “A Course of Love” is illustrated with this image of total abstraction, which would be an example of using the right brain.
Maybe when we all come to live more from the heart, as you recommend so eloquently, we will come to understand what is for many of us a new concept.