God lives in the right brain

As mentioned, “I’ve been reading “My Stroke of Insight” in which the author describes feelings of spiritual transcendence after suffering a serious left brain stroke. She describes feeling liquid, connected to the universe, and at some points incapable of delineating where her physical self ends and the rest of her environment begins.

Today, I find myself scanning through an old New Yorker article, “God on the Brain.” (September 17, 2001.) The piece discusses the brain scans of Tibetan Buddhists and Franciscan nuns taken “before and at the peak of their transcendent feelings.” It notes…

Beforehand, the scan’s computer portrays the brain’s activity as a palette of fierce reds in rich yellows. During meditation or prayer, however, a marked color change was noted in a small region of the left side of the cerebrum called the parietal superior parietal lobe, which is just behind the crown of the skull. The flaming reds have turned into deep azure, signaling a substantial decline in activity.

A left brain stroke, of course, would also lead to “a substantial decline in activity” of that area. The piece continues…

The parietal lobe is involved and how we locate ourselves in physical space; it integrates cues from the environment so that we do not walk into a door, or fail to raise her foot and step smartly off an escalator… With no sensory stimulus to delineate the borderline between self and the world, the authors conclude, the brain would “have no choice” but to perceive the self is “endless and intimately interwoven with everyone and everything the mind senses.”

The takeaway seems to be that inhibition of this particular area on the left posterior superior parietal lobe leads to feelings of spiritual grandeur. Later today, I’m going to try some self experimentation by using a power drill to remove this section of my brain. I will report my results back here.

5 Responses to “God lives in the right brain”


  1. John Saleeby

    That’s interesting, tonight I am experimenting on my brain by imbibing massive amounts of Mike And Ike candy. I’ve been eating this stuff by the handfull for about half an hour now and am hallucinating tiny little Ozzy Osbournes climbing out of the box and jumping up and down going “Hello! How are you!? You’re a gigantic person!” Yes, little Ozzys, I am! What can I do for you?

    I’m going to continue eating Mike And Ikes and hanging out with the Ozzys for a while.

  2. Wil

    That makes a lot of sense because Mike and Ike’s candy is famous for inducing transcendental meditative states. The little Ozzys were probably fragments of your superego.

  3. John Saleeby

    My Mom was just telling me that.

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