Who sent me the book?

Hello, all –
A couple of days ago, a package arrived with a book in it: My Stroke
of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD (Viking Penguin, 2006). There
was no note or return address (except that of the shipper), so I have no
idea whom to thank. But thanks, for sure.
Jill Taylor got her PhD in neuroanatomy, and was vitally interested in
how the brain works. She was employed at Harvard when, awakening on the
morning of Dec. 10, 1996, she suffered a severe hemmorhagic stroke that
devastated the left hemisphere of her brain. For a time she lost a large
part of her hierarchy of perception and control. But she remained aware
and capable of thought and memory (obviously), and in this book describes
her whole experience including her essentially complete recovery over a
period of five years or so.
I plan to write to her to find out if what she described at various
points in the narrative was what I call the Observer Self. Another
fascinating idea was that she somehow was consciously helping her damaged
brain to reorganize – to relearn, in effect, the skills that had been
destroyed, as if for the first time. This, of course, raises the question
of whether this is how the learning takes place originally – I have
wondered whether the phenomena of awareness and reorganization that we
explore in the Method of Levels are being guided somehow by the Observer
Self. This is not to say that the Observer already knows all the skills
and teaches them to the brain, but only that there is some sense of
orderliness or completeness or – well, something – that sets
goals to be achieved and keeps reorganization going. Vague ideas, I know,
but when one is ignorant all ideas start out vague.

Throughout the book, she speaks of “my brain” as if it is
something she can observe working, something she depends on and loves,
something she takes care of – but not something she IS. When people talk
that way I always want to ask who is talking, because the observed
phenomena are clearly not the one who is observing them. All the
properties of the self, or selves, seem to belong to the brain, but the
observer self does not have those properties.

When Jill was first cut off from contact with large parts of her brain,
she was isolated in a new way. But instead of feeling only terror,
sorrow, and confusion, she experienced the same thing I experienced in my
experiments, back in the 1950s, with Kirk Sattley, and that Kirk reported
too: a sense of peace and wholeness, a release from all the tensions of
living. No conflicts. She, as did Kirk and I, speculated that this state
was what the Eastern philosophers spoke of as enlightenment, satori, and
so on. Non-attachment. It seems that this state of being has been known
about for many thousands of years. Of course the descriptions get
embellished with religious and mystical interpretations as people invent
theories and try to explain the experiences, but aside from that the
descriptions seem remarkably uniform. There is something real
there.

Actually, I’ve decided to CC this post to Dr. Taylor (to show her a
little of the respect she deserves) and will just leave it to her to
decide if there’s anything here worth looking into. There is too much to
talk about to cram it all into a first-contact post.

I thank the unknown person who sent me the book, and recommend it to both
the neuroscientists and psychotherapists in our group.

Best to all,

Bill

P.S. Dr. Jill, check out
[
http://www.pctweb.org

](http://www.pctweb.org/)

She gave a short talk on TED in 2008, fascinating.

http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html
I especially liked her description of inner talk during the storke:
"And in that moment my right arm went totally paralyzed by my side. Then I realized, “Oh my gosh! I’m having a stroke! I’m having a troke!” and the next thing my brain says to me is, “Wow! This is so cool. This is so cool! How many brain scientists have the opportunity to study their own brain from the inside out?”

Best, Adam

NOTE: Dr. Jill Taylor was CC’d originally, but with a bad address.
Hello, all –
A couple of days ago, a package arrived with a book in it: My Stroke
of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD (Viking Penguin, 2006). There
was no note or return address (except that of the shipper), so I have no
idea whom to thank. But thanks, for sure.
Jill Taylor got her PhD in neuroanatomy, and was vitally interested in
how the brain works. She was employed at Harvard when, awakening on the
morning of Dec. 10, 1996, she suffered a severe hemmorhagic stroke that
devastated the left hemisphere of her brain. For a time she lost a large
part of her hierarchy of perception and control. But she remained aware
and capable of thought and memory (obviously), and in this book describes
her whole experience including her essentially complete recovery over a
period of five years or so.
I plan to write to her to find out if what she described at various
points in the narrative was what I call the Observer Self. Another
fascinating idea was that she somehow was consciously helping her damaged
brain to reorganize – to relearn, in effect, the skills that had been
destroyed, as if for the first time. This, of course, raises the question
of whether this is how the learning takes place originally – I have
wondered whether the phenomena of awareness and reorganization that we
explore in the Method of Levels are being guided somehow by the Observer
Self. This is not to say that the Observer already knows all the skills
and teaches them to the brain, but only that there is some sense of
orderliness or completeness or – well, something – that sets
goals to be achieved and keeps reorganization going. Vague ideas, I know,
but when one is ignorant all ideas start out vague.

Throughout the book, she speaks of “my brain” as if it is
something she can observe working, something she depends on and loves,
something she takes care of – but not something she IS. When people talk
that way I always want to ask who is talking, because the observed
phenomena are clearly not the one who is observing them. All the
properties of the self, or selves, seem to belong to the brain, but the
observer self does not have those properties.

When Jill was first cut off from contact with large parts of her brain,
she was isolated in a new way. But instead of feeling only terror,
sorrow, and confusion, she experienced the same thing I experienced in my
experiments, back in the 1950s, with Kirk Sattley, and that Kirk reported
too: a sense of peace and wholeness, a release from all the tensions of
living. No conflicts. She, as did Kirk and I, speculated that this state
was what the Eastern philosophers spoke of as enlightenment, satori, and
so on. Non-attachment. It seems that this state of being has been known
about for many thousands of years. Of course the descriptions get
embellished with religious and mystical interpretations as people invent
theories and try to explain the experiences, but aside from that the
descriptions seem remarkably uniform. There is something real
there.

Actually, I’ve decided to CC this post to Dr. Taylor (to show her a
little of the respect she deserves) and will just leave it to her to
decide if there’s anything here worth looking into. There is too much to
talk about to cram it all into a first-contact post.

I thank the unknown person who sent me the book, and recommend it to both
the neuroscientists and psychotherapists in our group.

Best to all,

Bill

P.S. Dr. Jill, check out
[
http://www.pctweb.org

](http://www.pctweb.org/)

[From Rick Marken (2011.11.09.1130)]

My thoughts after watching that clip were that I'd love to see Bill giving one of those talks!

Now wouldn't that be lover-ly

Best

Rick

···

On Wed, Nov 9, 2011 at 10:57 AM, Tim Carey <tim.carey@flinders.edu.au> wrote:

Hi Bill,

You might be interested in the video lecture by Jill Bolte Taylor posted on the TED website.

http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html

Kent

On Nov 9, 2011, at 10:58 AM, Bill Powers wrote:

NOTE: Dr. Jill Taylor was CC'd originally, but with a bad address.
Hello, all --

A couple of days ago, a package arrived with a book in it: My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD (Viking Penguin, 2006). There was no note or return address (except that of the shipper), so I have no idea whom to thank. But thanks, for sure.

Jill Taylor got her PhD in neuroanatomy, and was vitally interested in how the brain works. She was employed at Harvard when, awakening on the morning of Dec. 10, 1996, she suffered a severe hemmorhagic stroke that devastated the left hemisphere of her brain. For a time she lost a large part of her hierarchy of perception and control. But she remained aware and capable of thought and memory (obviously), and in this book describes her whole experience including her essentially complete recovery over a period of five years or so.

I plan to write to her to find out if what she described at various points in the narrative was what I call the Observer Self. Another fascinating idea was that she somehow was consciously helping her damaged brain to reorganize -- to relearn, in effect, the skills that had been destroyed, as if for the first time. This, of course, raises the question of whether this is how the learning takes place originally -- I have wondered whether the phenomena of awareness and reorganization that we explore in the Method of Levels are being guided somehow by the Observer Self. This is not to say that the Observer already knows all the skills and teaches them to the brain, but only that there is some sense of orderliness or completeness or -- well, something -- that sets goals to be achieved and keeps reorganization going. Vague ideas, I know, but when one is ignorant all ideas start out vague.

Throughout the book, she speaks of "my brain" as if it is something she can observe working, something she depends on and loves, something she takes care of -- but not something she IS. When people talk that way I always want to ask who is talking, because the observed phenomena are clearly not the one who is observing them. All the properties of the self, or selves, seem to belong to the brain, but the observer self does not have those properties.

When Jill was first cut off from contact with large parts of her brain, she was isolated in a new way. But instead of feeling only terror, sorrow, and confusion, she experienced the same thing I experienced in my experiments, back in the 1950s, with Kirk Sattley, and that Kirk reported too: a sense of peace and wholeness, a release from all the tensions of living. No conflicts. She, as did Kirk and I, speculated that this state was what the Eastern philosophers spoke of as enlightenment, satori, and so on. Non-attachment. It seems that this state of being has been known about for many thousands of years. Of course the descriptions get embellished with religious and mystical interpretations as people invent theories and try to explain the experiences, but aside from that the descriptions seem remarkably uniform. There is something real there.

Actually, I've decided to CC this post to Dr. Taylor (to show her a little of the respect she deserves) and will just leave it to her to decide if there's anything here worth looking into. There is too much to talk about to cram it all into a first-contact post.

I thank the unknown person who sent me the book, and recommend it to both the neuroscientists and psychotherapists in our group.

Best to all,

Bill

P.S. Dr. Jill, check out http://www.pctweb.org

<http://www.pctweb.org/>

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com
www.mindreadings.com

[From Bill Powers (2011.11.10.0908 MST)]

She gave a short talk on TED in
2008, fascinating.

http://www.ted.com/talks/jill_bolte_taylor_s_powerful_stroke_of_insight.html

I especially liked her description of inner talk during the storke:
"And in that moment my right arm went totally paralyzed by my
side. Then I realized, “Oh my gosh! I’m having a stroke! I’m having
a troke!” and the next thing my brain says to me is, “Wow! This
is so cool. This is so cool! How many brain scientists have the
opportunity to study their own brain from the inside
out?”

Doesn’t this make you wonder who or what is saying this? “My brain
says to me” and “study their own brain.” Whose brain? Who
is examining this brain – is this the right hemisphere talking? No,
because in the talk she explains how she can stand in the right side,
what she calls the serial computer side, or move over and stand in the
analog side where time doesn’t exist, where there is only Right Now. It’s
pretty clear to me that she’s talking about the Observer, as I call it.
That’s where SHE really is, and it’s neither hemisphere.

Some time ago I speculated that the right and left hemispheres are really
different levels – there was no more room so they had to fit in side by
side with the corpus callosum connecting them back and forth instead of
upward and downward. It would be interesting to know if there are animals
with brains that don’t have hemispheres. When did we run out of
room?

Best,

Bill P.

···

At 05:40 PM 11/9/2011 +0100, Adam Matic wrote:

Hi, Henry –

I’m ccing part of your post about Jill Taylor’s video to the whole
group.

Hi Bill,

I do know the experience that she mentioned. It’s exactly the
experience that people who train in the internal martial arts and Qigong
try to achieve. They rely on stretching of the spine, proper
breathing techniques, and specific postures. These are largely based on
Taoist principles native to China. But Zen buddhism (introduced to China
later, less than 2000 years ago) tries to achieve the same state using a
sitting meditation posture based on yoga, which is much older. In China
people have long noted how these different techniques achieve essentially
the same state. The difference is that the Taoist way, especially
the ‘martial’ way, is more gradual and easier, because it does not rely
as much on what you would call the imagination mode
extensively.

I think this is probably what Dr. Jill calls the right hemisphere’s
thinking.
Explaining, logically reasoning, working out cause and effect.
But the Observer is not identified that way, by either left-side or
right-side thinking. As she says at the end of her lecture, she can
occupy one hemisphere and think that way, or the other hemisphere and
think the other way – or (which she didn’t say, though she demonstrated
it) find some other point of view from which she can observe both
hemispheres doing their different things.
It’s not the postures or the breathing or the chakras or the exercises or
mantras or Qi or any of those things that lead to this state. It’s simply
observing from some point of view, then moving somewhere else and
observing the point of view where you were, and so on until there’s no
place left to go. The particular activities you carry out while you’re
doing this don’t matter – almost anything will work, and people have
tried just about everything and found that it works. But, reasoning with
their left hemispheres, or with their logic levels as I would say, they
logically conclude that what they were doing or thinking was what caused
the final peaceful and unconflicted state of being, and that is what they
try to get other people to do or think so they can have the same
experience. Other people try it, and some of them get to the same place.
Many don’t.
The Method of Levels goes directly toward the goal, which is simply
Observing without any thinking or emotion or anything else but simply
Observing. It’s a process of disengaging from sensation, thought,
emotion, reasoning, speaking, and so on, reorganizing as you go so your
brain gets at least some understanding of what is going on. It’s getting
to the point of view from which you can experience sensation, thought,
emotion, reasoning, speaking from a point of view in which nothing like
those things is going on, so you can view the systems in which they
are going on.
My thinking about levels of control and PCT began to take shape after
Kirk Sattley and I had explored these point-of-view phenomena and, at
least briefly and temporarily reached the point of disengagement and the
sense of enormous peace that results when all the conflicts are left
behind. I think the ancient philosopher-psychologists in India called
this state samadhi. Dr. Jill was showing her audience how she has
reorganized her brain to understand all this, and she was also showing
that one does not just relax and enjoy this state forever. Having found
that place, she knew that anyone can reach it and return to it whenever
there is a need to be reminded of it. But life is not living in this
disengaged state. One returns to the fray, as it were, and wants to
spread the knowledge, because as the eastern philosophers (eastern, at
least, from where I sit, though I am east of them in this closed-loop
world) discovered a very long time ago in human terms, all the conflicts
and confusion are what makes normal life less pleasing than it could
be.

One of our great unsung philosophers asked, “Can’t we all just get
along?” He wouldn’t have asked that if he didn’t somehow have an
idea that it might be possible, even as the police truncheons were
descending on his drugged body. The answer, I think, is “Yes,
Rodney. We can.”

Best,

Bill

···

At 01:44 PM 11/9/2011 -0500, Henry Yin wrote: