“Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras, Socrates, Jesus, Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton were all misunderstood... To be great is to be misunderstood.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
Jill Bolte Taylor is a brain scientist at the neuropsychiatry department of Harvard University. She learnt her first lesson in true brain function when, at the age of 38, she came down with an intense headache one morning. The pain was so unbearable and soon made her lose all her left brain functions like speech, comprehension, use of the right half of the body and self-consciousness. But what she discovered that morning was so profound which no one could ever have found, which the world needs to know. Jill had the unique opportunity to learn the brain functions inside out. She was acutely aware of the two distinct brain parts, the right and the left connected only by millions of axons through the corpus callosum.
The right brain is a parallel processor, while the left brain is a serial processor, if you like. While the left brain thinks linearly, the right thinks holistically. The left brain understands the present, past and the future, the reason why we all feel miserable. The right brain, on the contrary, connects us with this whole universe as a speck in the omnipotent universal consciousness. That morning, Jill felt real “nirvana” in her own words. However, now and then her dying left brain would kick her back to the mad world, reminding her “Hey Jill, you have a problem, you need help!” Soon she will fall back into that blissful satchitananda of the disconnected right brain that connects her only to her maker, the universal consciousness.
Doctors at the Mass General Hospital removed a large blood clot in her left brain caused by a vessel bursting open. It took her eight years to get back her normal functions, to go back to work again on the human brain. She goes round the world telling people how she felt that fateful morning which transformed her whole life and gave her a new perspective. She has learnt to forget those two most dangerous days of the year — yesterday and tomorrow. God presented her with a present — “today” to enjoy.
Yesterday has been a dream and no force on earth can undo that: tomorrow is only a mirage which no one could predict. Why then worry about those two days and make life miserable? One could live blissfully in the present trying to help others live well too. Happiness comes in search of you when you help make another person happy. Thena thyakthena bhoonjithaaha — “rejoice in giving” is the advice of the Ishopasnishad.
One need not get brain haemorrhage to realise God. We could do that by stimulating our right brain functions through praanaayaama regularly. David Schanoff Khalsa, a neuro-psychiatrist in San Diego University, had been working on the benefits of left nostril breathing (Kriya Yoga) in treating mental ailments such as depression, epilepsy, obsessive compulsive neurosis and other anxiety disorders. Human mind is intangible but is a wonderful wonder. Mind is not an organ in the conventional sense; it is not situated in the brain or any other organ. Brain is a computer coordinating all the body functions. Mind is only energy at the subatomic level of every single human cell of which there are one hundred thousand billions in all.
Matter and energy are the two sides of the same coin; they are not two distinct entities at the subtlest level, opines a great physicist, Hans-Peter Duerr, Emeritus President of the Max Planck Institute in Munich, who succeeded Albert Einstein and Werner Heisenberg. Trying to look at matter at its subtlest level for the last 55 years, Hans-Peter recently realised that there is no matter distinct from energy at that level. That vast omnipotent energy is the universal consciousness (or God) and we humans are but a tiny bit of that consciousness, the individual consciousness.
One need not go in search of God in all temples, churches and mosques, while our own God resides within all of us as universal compassion and friendship. Why not try and develop that God who is attainable to each and everyone of us? One need not even be literate to do that, one has to be educated though, to know that God resides inside each of us. We need to transform ourselves from the manliness of “getting and forgetting to the godliness of giving and forgiving.” One could attain godhood easily by meditation and praanaayaamaa not overnight but by constant practice.
(The writer is a former professor of cardiology, Middlesex Medical School, London, and former Vice-Chancellor, Manipal University. firstname.lastname@example.org)