IN THE VERY ROOTS of Chinese thinking and feeling, there lies the principle of polarity in Taoism known as Yin/Yang…this is not to be confused with the ideas of opposition or conflict… in the metaphors of other cultures, light is at war with darkness, life with death, good with evil, and the positive with the negative… and thus it is an ideal to cultivate the former and be rid of the latter which flourishes throughout much of the world.

However in Yin/Yang these apparent opposites are interrelated and interdependent…they cannot be separated from each other but instead exist as an integral whole.

In the late 1960s an American psycho biologist Roger W Sperry discovered that the human brain has two very different ways of thinking. One (the right brain) is visual and processes information in an intuitive and simultaneous way, looking first at the whole picture then the details. The other (the left brain) is verbal and processes information in an analytical and sequential way, looking first at the pieces then putting them together to get the whole. Sperry was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1981.The left brain half is, as Sperry was able to show, is skilled in abstract thinking, interpretation of symbolic relationships and in carrying out detailed analysis. It can speak, write, carry out mathematical calculations and in its general function is rather reminiscent of a computer. Furthermore, it is the leading hemisphere in the control of the motor system, it is the executive and in some respects the aggressive brain half. It is with this brain half that we communicate.

The right cerebral hemisphere on the other hand is mute and in essence lacks the possibility to reach the outside world. It cannot write and can only read and understand the meaning of simple words in noun form and does not grasp the meaning of adjective or verb. It almost entirely lacks the ability to count and can only carry out simple additions up to 20. It completely lacks the ability to subtract, multiply and divide. Because of its muteness, the right brain gives the impression of being inferior to the left.

However, Sperry in his investigations was able to reveal that the right hemisphere in many ways is clearly superior to the left. Foremost, this concerns the capacity for concrete and intuitive thinking,and the ability to be creative and innovative. It is superior to the left hemisphere in imagination and the perception of the large picture. Because of its passive nature it is more relaxed and tends to experience the present rather the past or future.

Essentially these two sides of our brain have two different ways of seeing and experiencing life; two different value systems and lifestyles,and to some extent we are free to choose which side we want to be our primary identity.

As time moves on,the characteristics of these two brain hemispheres become clearer… and interestingly it looks quite similar to the ancient metaphor Yin/Yang…could it be that we are now finding what was well known to the sages of Taoism?

left brain/right brain

resistance/letting go



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