Posted by Trotter on November 16, 2008, at 13:41:15
In reply to Desire versus Acceptance, posted by Trotter on October 31, 2008, at 18:59:52
I just read a really interesting book by Jill Bolte Taylor Ph.D called "My Stroke of Insight". Jill is a neuroanalyst who suffered a stroke, where she lost the function of the left side of her brain. She eventually recovered, but for a long time she lived virtually entirely in the right side of her brain.
She experienced great inner peace and joy. She described it as nirvana. She felt as one with everything. Full of love and peace. She couldn't talk or think logically, but she was in heaven. This is the state the Buddhists aim for, but few actually achieve.
Over the eight years after the stroke she gradually recovered the left side of her brain, but tiny bit by tiny bit. All her memories and 'programming' gradually came back on line, much of it she did not like. As much as she could she chose what parts of her 'old self' she wanted to embrace, and rejected the rest.
Basically the left side of the brain is where the self is located, where all the mind chatter, judging, and analysis goes on. The right side is more pictures, impressions, living in the present moment. What is really interesting is that true happiness resides in the right side, and you don't have to do anything to experience it. One just has to access the right brain to be happy. Of course the problem is with most of us the left side of the brain is more dominant, so we experience little happiness. The left brain is great at getting us what we want/need, but it does not allow us to be lastingly happy.
How does all this relate to the original topic I brought up - the perceived conflict between desire and acceptance? Well the ego is located in the left brain, and it wants wants wants. It is never satisfied for long. To access more of the right side of the brain one needs to loosen ego's grip, and one's attachment to ego's needs. This is more an attitude of acceptance. Fuelling one's desires will tend to activate more of the left side of the brain, while an attitude of acceptance will tend to weaken left brain dominance, and allow easier access to the right brain. I'm not saying acceptance takes you directly into your right brain and therefore nirvana, but it will take you in the right direction.
To oversimplify things, the left brain helps you carry out evolution's purpose, take care of your needs, raise a family, have a career etc. The right brain cannot so these things, it is pretty dumb really, but it is the place of infinite love and happiness. Of course we want/need to live/succeed in the real world (left brain) but also be happy (right brain). Unfortunately the western world has become increasingly left brain dominated, with increasing selfishness and anger, and reduced happiness. To compete with others we become swept up in this left brain domination, to the detriment of our well-being.
To a large extent I think it comes down to a choice of the degree of success or happiness you want. It is not a case of one or the other, but they do tend to oppose each other. The more one is in the left brain the less one has access to the right, and vice versa.
One thing Jill Taylor has cleared up for me is that lasting joy and happiness is reached through inner peace and love (contentment), not through desire and passion.