THE VISHAAL NEWSLETTER
VOLUME 0 NUMBER 2 DECEMBER 1985
After completing the article, ‘Mind and the Supramental Creation: The Mind of Light’, I received an interview with the biologist, Roger Sperry, from the August 1983 issue of OMNI. In 1981, Sperry received the Nobel Prize for his revolutionising contributions to brain research. In the light of what I had just written, his statements in this interview were extremely interesting and merit some discussion. Apart from the fact that his work has helped carry science to the discovery of certain functions of the human instrument which parallel aspects of my own vision in this sphere, the factor that interests me most is the light this throws on a concurrent pace between science and spirituality. In addition, Sperry’s comments offer the opportunity to discuss the areas which for science are yet obscure in brain/mind functioning.
I should also like to draw the readers’ attention to certain portions of my book, The Magical Carousel, written in March of 1970. The correspondence between what I wrote then and the brain/mind research that Sperry reveals was in progress at that very time is stimulating. Though this research was largely unknown to me when I wrote The Magical Carousel, in Chapter 3 I described aspects of the mind and brain in much the same light as Sperry and others have done on the basis of their scientific research. My descriptions were born exclusively from the insight into certain keys contained in the zodiacal hieroglyphs, via yogic experiential methods. Some of these insights are known to students of astrology and form the body of its ancient tradition. However, my contribution has been a unified vision of the zodiac, on which basis I have been able to reveal that it is a detailed blueprint of the stages of evolution of consciousness, in particular in the human species. Included in this vision is the role of the body as an evolving instrument for manifesting this underlying consciousness. By a comparison of certain aspects of The Magical Carousel and Sperry’s discoveries, it is possible to show once more that the seers who passed down the zodiacal hieroglyphs were well aware of the manner in which the 12-part division of the ecliptic in relation to our method of measuring time on the planet, provides us with clues to human evolution and the progressive unfolding of a higher, unified consciousness. I have called this 12-part division, the Map of the Manifestations; or, in other places, the horoscope of the Divine Mother.
In this context, it is most significant that the symbol the Mother adopted for herself precisely conveys all the details of that 12-part division that has reached us through zodiacal wisdom. Her symbol here reproduced has 12 outer petals which are the 12 zodiacal signs or the division of our ecliptic into 12 parts, corresponding to the months of the year; the three concentric circles are the energy flows or Qualities, as they are called in astrology, Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable (Creation, Preservation and Destruction); and the four inner petals correspond to the elements, Fire, Earth, Air and Water. In this we have an example of the manner in which symbols are used to convey a wealth of knowledge in one simple geometric form. To ‘read’ such a symbol, however, requires a lengthy discipline and preparation.
As all students of astrology know, the third zodiacal sign, Gemini, deals with the mind and the brain. However, The Magical Carousel brings out certain aspects of their functioning which were not known previously. For example, the focal point of Chapter 3 concerns the new discoveries for which Roger Sperry has received numerous awards. In this brief discussion, I would like to demonstrate how ancient wisdom was aware of the split-brain activities of the cerebral left and right hemispheres. For those who have read The Magical Carousel, this review will prove especially interesting.
In offering its readers an introductory description of Roger Sperry’s work, OMNI‘s interviewer describes his discoveries of the split-brain properties: ‘…it was as if two minds resided in one brain. Each half of the cerebrum was capable of learning, remembering, feeling thoughts completely unknown to the other.’
In The Magical Carousel odyssey through the zodiacal sign/lands, the children Val and Pom-pom, the main characters of the story, come to the land/sign Gemini in Chapter 3. There, in this ‘land of mind’, the children encounter the twins, Geof and Frie (Geoffrey), in separate bodies but whose minds function in unison, yet with a curious feature that reveals the existence of the two hemispheres of the brain, left and right. As Sperry and his colleagues discovered on the basis of surgical intervention, the two hemispheres when disconnected, reveal a dual nature; the right hemisphere is not cognisant of what the left is doing, and vice-versa, when certain connecting and central neural passages are severed. Accordingly, the twin creatures Val and Pom-pom meet in Gemini-land display this very same characteristic, since they are the personification of the sign’s overall significance; lower mind and brain. The following passage from The Magical Carousel offers an example:
(Val and Pom-pom) turn around to see two gentlemen, standing arm in arm with books in their free arms, dressed very fancily with high collars and shiny boots with spats, fine fitted coats and lovely silk cravats. Both have wonderful heads of yellow wavy hair topping high foreheads above sharp, alive, blue eyes.
‘Come here,’ they say in unison.
Val and Pom-pom hesitantly approach the couple and coming closer they soon lose all fear because the manner of the two is so pleasant that they are encouraged to communicate with them. Pom-pom boldly asks why everyone is in two’s and why they always speak together.
‘Two! What do you mean two? I am one. I mean, one and one make two and it takes two ones to make a two, so I am one and one in two and therefore one! How about you?’
‘Well, he’s just my brother,’ explains Val, rather embarrassed.
‘Oh, me too, a twin,’ they reply in unison. ‘Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Geof/Frie.’
They say the name in perfect timing so as to make it sound one.
‘However, please tell me why you haven’t yet learned to speak together. How can you stand such a crazy split?’
The point made in this passage is that though the functions are distinct and in a sense independent of one another, there is nonetheless an overall unity maintained, which in part is provided by mind. It is this unifying element that Sperry discovered when in the mid-Sixties he finally found that mind was above the brain in the hierarchy of consciousness.
In 1980, a report appeared in newspapers throughout the world which I would like to quote in full. Had this report appeared prior to writing The Magical Carousel and not ten years later, readers would surely have thought that I had modelled the Gemini twins on this real life pair, who, in an astounding manner, behave just as Geof and Frie do, almost as if they were their feminine counterparts, with the same initials too!
‘Identical twins Greta and Freda Chaplin have the scientific world and general public intrigued and psychiatrists and social workers baffled.
‘The 37-year-old twins are so alike in the way they think, act, dress, look and live that experts say they genuinely appear to share one mind between the two bodies.
‘They do everything together, scream or sulk if parted and most uncannily when under stress they talk in unison speaking the same words simultaneously in identical voice patterns that create a weird echo effect.
‘Doctors say they have never before encountered a case like it and believe the twins may be linked by telepathy.
They first became news last July  when they appeared before a magistrate at their home city of York in Northern England on a charge of breach of peace.’ (Associated Press)
(From: The Indian Express, 6 December 1980)
The fantasies and intuitions of my right-brain hemisphere do not seem to be so fantastic after all!
In this chapter of The Magical Carousel, the hemisphere that is prominent is the left, which controls linguistic abilities, among other things. Geof and Frie (Greta and Freda?) indicate this in the following dialogue:
‘Have no fear. You have come a long way in ignorance but finally here in Geminiland your education will begin. You will learn to complement each other and the outward results will be to speak in unison. After all, two minds are better than one, even if they are separate. And words, dear friends, ah, you will learn the excitement of words!’
In continuing their odyssey, the children come to the next land/sign, Cancer, and there the emotions prevail, which is the sphere that comes under the aegis of the right hemisphere. In Taurusland also, this aspect is stressed (‘pictures, not words!’). But the theme of The Magical Carousel is to present a purview of the integral nature of the development of the human species, whose evolution will ultimately produce a creature of higher and lower functions integrated into one harmonious whole. Thus, when the first 9 sign/lands have been experienced by the children, the final 3 provide the elements for unifying the consciousness and being. The land of Sagittarius (the 9th sign) is the sign of higher mind and the opening to planes above mind which command the lower. But again there is a dual aspect to Sagittarius. Its pictograph is the Centaur, half-man, half-horse. This duality, in contrast to the separately embodied Twins of Gemini, is contained in one form, thus providing the clue to the nature of the two hemispheres in the human brain that control precisely the activities which are symbolised in the two features of the Centaur: man-half, mind; horse-half, vital.
Perhaps the most fascinating aspects of Sperry’s research concern the question of the causal role of mind in the brain. Prior to his discoveries, all commands and controls were thought to originate in the brain itself. Sperry revolutionised this by the concept of mind as the higher causal factor: ‘The key realisation was that the higher levels in brain activity control the lower. The higher cerebral properties of mind and consciousness are in command. They envelop, carry, and overwhelm the physiochemical details. They call the plays, exerting downward control over the march of nerve-impulse traffic. Our new model, mentalism, puts mind and mental properties to work and gives them a reason for being and for having evolved in a physical system.’ Sperry then goes on to define ‘mentalism’, the concept his research introduced in the Seventies. He uses the aphorism, ‘the whole is greater than, and different from, the sum of its parts’. Mind is an ‘emergent property’, in effect greater than the sum of the parts which it commands and, according to Sperry, from which it has evolved.
‘Since each side of the surgically divided brain is able to sustain its own conscious volitional system…the question arises, Why, in the normal state, don’t we perceive ourselves as a pair of separate left and right persons instead of the single, apparently unified mind and self that we all feel we are?
‘In wrestling with the split-brain problem I realised that…interaction with, and response to, objects and other inputs requires that emergent consciousness have a causal impact on brain activity. The normal bilateral consciousness can be viewed as a higher emergent entity that’s more than just the sum of its right and left awareness and supersedes this as a directive force in our thoughts and actions.’
The interviewer aptly sums it up in this way: ‘So the two hemispheres normally function together as an integrated whole, and the mind as a bilateral unit then arbitrates and integrates the activities within each hemisphere, making decisions that are carried out as physical or chemical events in either or both sides.’
The results of his research brought Sperry to a mental and vital integration which was criticised in scientific quarters as a return to animism. In this interview Sperry defends his position, saying that he would revive vitalism ‘in a modified form’. The point he makes is clear: …this ‘changed scientific interpretation…includes mental and vital forces that science has traditionally renounced. Not only does it include mind, the historic antithesis of matter, but it also puts mind over matter in the hierarchy of causal control. It offers a different right-brain picture of reality.’
In the light of what I have written in ‘Mind and the Supramental Creation’, it is evident that the human brain, consisting as it does of two hemispheres, is thereby equipped to serve as the instrument into which mental commands are transmitted that correspond to the two major aspects of being – mental and vital – which in their combined interaction serve to distinguish the human species from the rest of the animal kingdom. The activities of the right hemisphere are intuitional, emotional, visual-spatial and non-verbal. These attributes concern properties of the vital being, one of the four planes of consciousness that comprise our material reality in which these subtle dimensions and forces are operative. The left-brain controls, among other things, linguistic ability, logic, reasoning, and so forth. Investigations by yogic methods reveal these functions to be connected to the mental plane and being.
The human brain thus consists of these two clearly defined and separate control panels or relay stations, as it were. The higher graded mental consciousness is the causal agent that uses this dual instrument to carry out its commands in a body that is distinguished from other forms of life due to this balance of mind and vital. These are the features that animate and give intelligent life to our species, via our physical bodies. The physical is merely the instrument that these forces use; the brain is equipped with dual hemispheres that serve as the material transmitters to allow our bodies to enact the commands of these parts of the being, received from the more subtle dimensions. The result is a form of unity, of integration. But only in its elementary stage, for the present human species is in transition to a finer poise.
Sperry decries reductionism (the trend of reducing everything to atoms and elementary particles), and the excessive focus science places on a mechanistic materialism, which has left no room in its perspective for the other right-brain aspects of the human being. His conclusions, he affirms, result in the fact that ‘we are free of the kind of mechanistic materialist forces with which science used to saddle us. We are lifted above these into a higher realm with a different kind of control – a control unequalled in freedom anywhere else in the known universe.’ But he continues by describing mentalism as ‘strictly a one-world, this world answer’. He opposes any mystical implication in his findings. For Sperry, mind and consciousness are emergent properties that have their origins in the process of evolution: ‘Everything indicates that the human mind and consciousness are inseparable activities of an evolving, self-creating cerebral system.’
It is in this area that we are forced to part ways with Sperry, since practice of the integral and supramental yogas provides us with different answers. The factor that he seems to overlook is the involutionary phenomenon. The truth of our world is both evolutionary and involutionary, constant and simultaneous in their interaction. When scientists like Sperry come to appreciate this concurrent, interwoven activity of the Supreme Consciousness in its universal deployment, they may come to find the answers to many of the questions that still hound them in their research and remain elusive. Some, of course, are attempting to present cosmological models which do incorporate this dual action, like the physicist, David Bohm, with his ‘implicate order’, or Arthur Young’s ‘reflexive universe’.
In Sperry’s words, ‘In any non-living thing the spacing and timing of the material elements of which it is composed make all the difference in determining what a thing is. Science has specific laws for the molecules [of which a thing is composed] but no such laws for all the differential spacing and timing factors, the non-material patterns or form factors that are crucial in determining what things are and what laws they obey. These space-time nonmaterial components tend to be thrown out and lost in the reduction process as science aims toward ever more elementary levels of explanation.’
Indeed, what are these factors that determine why the countless forms populating our world are what they are and how do they become what they are? This is still a mystery for science, but when it begins to deal with time in a more enlightened manner, time’s contribution to the evolution of forms will become clear.
In Sperry’s view, science has misled itself and humanity by not giving due importance to what he calls, the ‘nonmaterial elements in reality’. This, he feels, is responsible for the crisis we face as a civilisation. In fact, he is now channelling his efforts into evolving a ‘new ethic’ that can unite humanity and can ward off what appears at this point to be an inexorable march to our collective annihilation. In his opinion, science is the best framework for the evolution of an ethic that has the potential to cut across the barriers that religions have constructed and because of which society has become so divided.
However, as interesting as his discoveries may be, the gap remains in his research insofar as he does not see or has not experienced and accepted a nonmaterial reality or plane of consciousness beyond what is presently scientifically measurable. If he were able to perceive these subtle dimensions with their often opposing forces and activities, and measure them according to the formulae provided by the new cosmology, he would certainly appreciate even more deeply that the workings of the brain in themselves cannot be relied upon and must be validated empirically: ‘The human brain can easily go wrong by itself. You can let your internal logic processing run loose and arrive at all kinds of rationalizations. That’s the nature of the brain. It has a built-in logical processing system and it picks up reasons for this and that, but such logic is not always airtight,’ he states.
From where is the brain ‘picking up reasons for this and that’? The answer to this question carries us to the true realm of integration of the material and the nonmaterial; and above all the perception of the involutionary-evolutionary patterns that result ultimately in the innumerable forms nature provides as vehicles for the expression in the physical dimension of essential, causal truth-seeds.
The interview concludes with this advice from Roger Sperry: ‘Like everything else today, even the desirable irrationalities of life – the mysteries and the magic – need more rational protection. It’s just that with everything considered, it would seem far safer for our children if we don’t continue to gamble the world’s destiny on conflicting mystical answers anymore – or on outmoded materialist ideologies.’
With this I can fully agree. The world needs a ‘way’ that is something entirely new. In the next Newsletter, I shall discuss this position and the emergence of what the Mother has called, ‘the third way’ beyond both science and spirituality.
The Aeon Centre of Cosmoloy
Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, India