May 28

An Alternate Explanation of the Spiritual Path

As discussed in many places on this blog, the spiritual path can be thought of as a shift of consciousness. The previous article looked at this shift in terms of right-brain and left-brain functioning.

The two hemispheres work in different ways; with the left-brain being involved in verbal, mathematical, and logical skills; while the right-brain is involved in intuitive, visual, sensory, and emotional aspects. This basic understanding clarifies how we live in the world. The previous article that describes Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke, in which she lost her left-brain functions, illustrates the nature of the consciousness shift that takes place during a spiritual awakening, and shows, in one traumatic event, the spiritual end-path that many strive towards. It is very clear that left-brain dominance is the norm in the world. We create our inner world by constructing an elaborate thought matrix. We are thought dominant because we have been conditioned that way by our parents and the culture we live in, and our self-image is based on how well this thought matrix works for us.

The inner thought matrix requires effort and tension to maintain. Over time, it can create significant stress which harms our physical and mental health. The effort to reduce this “stress of living” pushes us to create intervention strategies. Without fully understanding the nature of this thought dominant lifestyle, we look to drugs, religion, spirituality or any number of behaviors to reduce this burden.

The spiritual life or path, can be seen as a way out of thought imposed burdens. Paradoxically, one tries to understand their chosen path using thought as the tool. One usually feels good about some practice or exercise and then rationalizes their entire chosen path in terms of their acquired thought matrix. Using this approach, one never is free of the tyranny of thought, but has only chosen a less stressful way to live.

The radical shift of consciousness is an event of some type (due to psychological processes and/or physical trauma) that shifts one’s orientation or dominance from left-brain to right-brain such that one fully understands the difference between the two. Those that have a full-blown, right-brain experience never return to the left-brain, thought dominance way of being. They realize that a thought-dominant way of being is not where they want to rest. The joy and peace of the right-brain experience is where they want to go when there is no need to engage the world using the tools of thought and logic.

The spiritual journey (if you want to use that paradigm) is complete when one has gone through a defining event that breaks the hold of thought dominance, and one then learns to balance the needs of going out in the world using thought and logic with the pull to rest in the peace of right-brain functioning.


    • Sid on July 17, 2008 at 9:20 pm
    • Reply


    I am impressed with the recent discovery of the two hemispheres of the brain…suggesting the right brain is the physical site of the spiritual experience…however only reached when the left brain is defeated and becomes passive.

    I tend to see the left brain as an adaptive tool and not an identity which it has become to most people…the shifting to one’s identity to the spiritual right side is a momentous event.


    • Jenny on July 29, 2008 at 4:04 am
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    Sid, you made some good comments. I agree that more people need to shift their identities to the right. I think if more people did that it would make world peace a possibility.

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