“East and West must establish a golden middle path of activity and spirituality combined.” (Paramahansa Yogananda - Autobiography of a Yogi)
What can we glean from these words? Does this literally mean the Eastern portion of the World versus that of the West? Well, we can look to the history of some Eastern cultures, (India, as an example), and though filled with exquisite art, poetry and spiritual wisdom, from an economic and structural standpoint, there has been less progress. Yet, if we look to Western cultures, whether one agrees with its practices or not, you see economic and technological growth, scientific progress, but a loss of integrity, morality and faithfulness. The West is the world of action, and the East is that of spiritual wisdom and receptivity.
But what if we take this a step further. Can this be a perfect example of the functionality of our right- and left-brain hemispheres? Is the World and its continents a physical representation of our consciousness? The right brain represents our creativity, imagination, holistic thinking, intuition, arts, emotions, faithfulness among other things. All those wonderful characteristics so common of the East and so graciously imparted to the West. Our left brain is our world of action, logic, analysis, language, sequencing and linear thinking. Characteristics of the West and its concern with external evolutions. Action versus intuitiveness.
We see this in the Kabbalistic Tree of Life (symbolic of the body), as well. The right side of the Tree is receptive, expansive, compassionate. Though superimposed it is the left-hand side of the body, it represents the right-brain hemisphere, and vice-versa with the left pillar, which is action, restrictive and linear. The middle pillar is associated with integration, holism and balance. So how do we achieve the balance and what is the effect of non-integration personally and culturally?
Yoga, meditation, kundalini yoga are practices for creating union between our two major nervous systems, the parasympathetic (PSNS) and the sympathetic (SNS). PSNS controls our at-rest functions such as our heart rate, our intestinal functions, while the SNS is active and controls our “fight or flight” responses. When we are driven more by the parasympathetic system, we can become lethargic and so blissful that we ultimately succumb to isolation or even depression. We can become so obsessed with the state of “being” that we forget to “do.” Again, we see the analogy of East and West from a physical persepctive, the spiritual/receptive versus externally-driven action.
But what about when we experience psychological states such as peace, unity, grace? Where does this reside? There are some that claim there is a “God-spot” in our brains. This has been disproven by neuroscientists engaged in studies using electroencephalography on the effects of meditation, spirituality and our feelings of compassion. They discovered all parts of the brain light up when engaged in spiritual and artistic endeavors. All parts of the brain are linked together. It’s just certain parts play a more dominant role. However, from a consciousness level, is this God-spot the CPU of all our actions, emotions and pilot of our functionality?
So what stands in the way of the integration of our physical and spiritual worlds (right- and left-brain hemispheres. Our East and West?) Ego, illusions, or maybe we are just not emotionally evolved enough to handle living in both realms as it can take a lot of courage to confront the idea that our ego does not dominate. Our living in the West, the world of left-brained activity, versus living in the East, our right-brain receptivity.
To live more harmoniously and successfully, one cannot take dominion over the other. We must find ways to integrate. We can do so by engaging in mindfulness meditation in order to clear our minds and allow the less dominant right brain to be released. As the Beatles so wisely put it, “Turn off your mind, relax and float down stream. It is not dying.”
The goal for our consciousness evolution and for successful living in a world that we are so blessed to be a part of is the merging of spirituality and action, as Paramahansa Yogananda so lovingly taught. Imagine the miracles we could create collectively as a culture and personally if we were to merge Eastern philosophy and Western civilization, and vice versa. Could we eradicate suffering in poverty-stricken cultures? Could we re-introduce diplomacy, morality, compassion, respect, and love for all mankind in a culture so consumed with materialism, celebrities and status, financially and egotistically? Can East and West merge to eventually create a world with less suffering and pain?
Many believe YES!
Debbie Peluso obtained her Bachelors degree from the University of Metaphysics in association with the University of Sedona in Arizona. She is a certified practitioner in Meditation, metaphysical/spiritual counseling, and is a working astrologer and co-owner of Zion Yoga Studio in the Washington, D.C. area. Debbie is also a facilitator of and teaches the Kabbalistic Tree of Life and an OMTimes Expert.