Enlightenment is the recognition of the limitlessness of self-deception.



The NEXT Mindfulness Lecture
Serpent, time and consciousness
Reflections from the Salt Mines
Dear Mindfulness Community,

Welcome to another edition of time, another colorful canvas of leaves and thoughts during this gorgeous autumn.

Take a seat and enjoy the space of reflection as you read on.



Where has all the meaningful time gone? 


Saturday, November 1, 2014
3:00pm - 5:00pm

You don't have the time, you cannot make the time, you cannot afford the time, you cannot find time. Time is the hottest commodity; it trades at a premium all the time. Lack of time is believed to be a major source of stress.


Driven by the belief that time is a child of circumstance the solution most people pursue is to try and make more time by changing their circumstances. Experience shows that this approach only trades one time scarcity for another, because changing circumstance does not change the source of the lack of time. You cannot find more time within time!


This lecture explores how little we understand time, and how to find more time we have to look in a surprisingly different direction than the direction of time.

* All lectures provide some common-sense directions about how to practice mindfulness.  


Because of the way our brain is wired (resonance circuitry), when we are open and receptive, we resonate deeply with everything around us and every experience we encounter. Experience changes the energy flow of our organism and becomes ingrained in the form of neurofiring patterns - this is called resonance. These patterns sit in the depths of our body's fibers, and when we allow the resonance from experience to take its full course and eventually enter awareness, it will manifest at various times in our lives as meaningful internal images and experiences. We not only harbor such patterns from our personal history, but also from the tens of thousands of years of human evolution, which is why they take on universal meanings. C.G.Jung called these patterns 'archetypes'. 

One such archetype is the snake, such as the one I photographed and deeply resonated with. Because the snake changes its skin repeatedly over its life time, it is the symbol of eternity, not in the sense of endless time, but of timelessness. The topic of the upcoming lecture inspired me to pick this photo. 

The snake is also the archetypal symbol of intuitive wisdom. It invites Eve to wake up from the slumber of ignorance and eat from the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. As you well know, in the Bible it takes humanity 3 pages to get into trouble and the full catastrophe of the human condition, then approximately 1032 pages to get out of it. Many people mistakenly believe the serpent was the problem, but it wasn't. 

The serpent represents the language of the body, in our neurobiological parlance also called the sensorimotor realm of neuroprocessing. This refers to the bottom-up energy flow of non-verbal sensory input, that vast and limitless well of raw sensory impressions flooding our organism from moment to moment, as they get processed through successively more complex stages up the neuroanatomical ladder all the way to the medial prefrontal cortex. 

The first large recipient of this incoming energy is the right brain, the one that presents reality to us in its unadulterated non-verbal form. The right brain is the body brain, the introverted brain which reaches deep into every cell of our body and prefers relationships over achievements. In archetypal language, the right brain is the feminine side of the brain, the one connected to the earth. Of course, who does the serpent first talk to? Eve.    

Only after the right brain has processed the data does the information continue to the left brain, the archetypally masculine part of the cortex responsible for re-presenting the information the right brain presents. This is why Eve then relates the good news about the possibility of awareness to Adam by passing him the fruit to take a bite. But as we all know, marriages are challenging, and God the marriage therapist has his/her/its moments of frustration, throwing up his/her/its arms at the intractability of human relationships.  

The problem then is not the serpent, but the relationship between Eve and Adam, more poignantly, the challenge God faces in his relationship to both Eve and Adam. It is our relationship to our left and right brains that causes the Bible to collapse after 3 pages and have to engage in a 1032-page healing repair lasting a life time. You may wonder why these two have such difficulties communicating.

I cannot possibly go into detail about this here. To summarize a very long and complex research story, both brains' conception of the world are equally important, but not equally valid. The left brain is overly optimistic, unrealistically positive in its self-appraisal and in denial about its shortcomings. It is also unreasonably certain, competitive, and prone to paranoia and mistrust. It needs to feel in control, thinks it knows it all, and thinks it can go it alone without the right brain. Last but not least, it is the one that has the voice to overpower the right brain. 

Must I say more? The story of human suffering is the story of the battle between the hemispheres, between Eve and Adam. Not only does it cause major problems, but the internal drama of our brains plays itself out in the world at large, and goes a long way to explain the shape of human history. The predicament we find ourselves in today with respect to human survival on this planet may well have its roots in this drama. This hemispheric issue is not just an academic preoccupation nursed in the laboratories of science; it defines the world we construct and then live in, which reflects the drama of the unresolved battle between the two hemispheres, where the left subjugates the right. 

The consequences are grave indeed. Adam the left hemisphere has no insight and believes he can see and do everything alone without input from his partner Eve on the right. He goes through life like a zombie, happily sleepwalking straight toward the abyss - without a care in the world.    

This is not the serpent's problem, nor Adam's and Eve's. It is God's problem, the challenge to bring the medial prefrontal cortex on line through mindfulness, so that the left and the right hemispheres learn to dance with each other - so that God can rest peacefully watching Adam and Eve enjoy the fruit of knowledge and discernment. 

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I look forward to seeing you next Saturday. 

With kind regards,

Dr. T.

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