In this RSA produced video, the world of today is explained by Iain McGilchrist, a psychiatrist, writer, and former Oxford literary scholar. He came to prominence after the publication of his book The Master and His Emissary, subtitled The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World. The words of McGilchrist, and the illustrative and clever graphics accompanying the audio, describe how the two hemispheres of the brain operate and affect the way we interact with and see the world. He says that modern culture has developed a machine model of the brain that relies heavily on our left hemisphere and determines our perception of reality. While the rational perceptions of the left hemisphere offer much that is helpful and needed, the tendency is to sacrifice the intuitive and feeling experience of the right hemisphere - which limits our ability to relate humanely with others. We are not, of course, machines but we have been educated to think this rigidly rational and narrow focused view of life is how we “should” function to succeed in the world. In fact, we need both the broad intuitive focus and the narrow rational focus offered by the two hemispheres of the brain, otherwise we become lopsided and out of balance, lacking in empathy and appreciation for the subtle and beautiful aspects of reality that may be outside of rational explanation or experience. As humans, we do violence to ourselves in the way that we split off from our intuitive and feeling selves and overvalue our rational minds. In fact, the balancing of the brain’s perceptions offers hope for both a rational and feeling society that would be better for all.


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  • Bec

    So clearly put, this encapsulates so many of the grave issues facing society today - I am (re)inspired to seek balance in both utilising the left hemisphere for its gifts but reminded to be conscious of and actively making time to nourish the right hemisphere. I particularly resonated with the reference to presence in the moment that can be facilitated by a thriving right hemisphere - very thought provoking!

  • Linda

    I'm inspired to exercise more of my right brain by doing morecreative work like drawing or painting, reading poetry, etc.

  • Rosemarie Anderson

    While I usually enjoy KarmaTube videos the images of all male image after male image to represent humans is disgraceful. Don't women have 2 hemispheres, too? McGilchrit needs to be educated about the power of images to create impressions. In this case, males have brains and women do not! Rosemarie Anderson, PhD

  • Patrick Watters

    In a bit of both irony and unexpected grace/blessing, I suffered a traumatic brain injury as a child (rock slide). I had been a math/physics prodigy until then; even attending special classes on Saturday. My left frontal lobe is as damaged and my young brain compensated by forming new pathways across my cortex to facilitate left/right problem solving. Unfortunately, math and physics were now difficult, but my creative right side blossomed. My “seeing” became “enlightened” as my right brain took over in many different ways. Their has been suffering and doubt at times, but overall a blessed sense of oneness in the “seeing.” }:- a.m. Patrick Perching Eagle aka anonemoose monk

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  • Learn more about Iain McGilchrist's ideas that explain how modern, technological culture is being driven by the controlling tendencies of our left hemispheres. 
  • Discover a simple meditation technique can help balance the two hemispheres of the brain. 
  • Try to listen to the wholeness of yourself in a situation today-both the rational and the intuitive parts of yourself. Notice how multilayered our perception of reality can be and honor the value that a "whole brain" perception can offer. 

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