Thursday, March 27, 2008

How a neuroanatomist studied her own stroke as it happened - Boing Boing

As her left brain shut down, she experienced a classic non-dual experience of the universe without separation, labeling, or distinction. And, of course, she was completely unable to function.

There is a portion of the mystical experience that is referred to as "oceanic", which is when the individual is completely subsumed into the whole, and the "I" through which we relate to the world ceases to exist. There is a tendency among those who have had this experience to romanticize it and talk about it as if it were the key to greater understanding of the world, and to say things like "if everyone would spend more time like this, we would have world peace". (I'm paraphrasing.)

I'm not saying it's not valuable, but we need both the recognition that we are more than ourselves and the recognition that we are autonomous individuals. People participating in riots report the same sort of loss of individuation that Dr. Bolte Taylor had. It's important to remember that.

On the flip side, though, we do spend entirely too much of our lives caught up in planning, anticipating, remembering, categorizing and narrating our lives, and not enough simply experiencing it. That is entirely correct. The key is balance.


Jen said...

OMG, I was just talking about this woman and her stroke today at lunch! Thank you for the link!

Do you know the Holcombs, formerly at Missou, but now in Kirksville?

Mike said...

Yup. I've known Jack for, let's see, carry the seven, jiminy christmas, 18 years now. I've only known Melissa for 15 or so, though.