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How Whole Brain Thinking Can Save the Future

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How Whole Brain Thinking Can Save the Future

by James Olson

In our quest for peace, we face a number of obstacles. Not least among these is religion, which ought to be a primary force—perhaps the primary force—for peace in the world, but isn’t. “There can be no world peace until the great religions make peace with one another,” Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire advises.

Why are religions, which teach love and peace, often adversarial?

My research shows that most of our conflict, religious behavior included, originates with the lateral split of the brain into two hemispheres, each with its own specialized operating system. The two systems are radically different in how they affect our consciousness. These differences are the primary source of our conflict. Our job then, is to take the two diverse sources of information constantly streaming into our consciousness/mind and shape them into a unified consciousness according to our will. This is our most fundamental act of creation. The choices we make from the two offerings existentially reflect who we are.

The problem with religion is that it is overwhelming managed by men. The operating system of the left hemisphere that guides the thinking and actions of most men tends to be separation-oriented rather than unification-oriented, selfish rather than sharing, competitive rather than cooperative, and prone to the use of force to obtain its goals. Since the upper echelon of religious leadership in the three monotheistic religions of the Middle East—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—tend to be exclusively male with some exceptions, this means that these religions are led by individuals who mentally, as a whole, are poorly equipped to share, poorly equipped to cooperate, and poorly equipped to maintain peace.

All of this is only made worse by the fact that the three have mostly, and in some cases completely, excluded holistic females from leadership roles, including scriptural interpretation. This exclusion of women at the cultural level of religion creates a system of religious governance with a near-total reliance on one half of the brain and an almost complete blindness to the other. Though religions urge us to live in peace, when people have lost touch with their peace, their religious expression can turn violent. And keep in mind that violence is a variable. At the lower end of the scale, violence can be subtle, a recognition that helped spawn the concept of micro aggressions.

How we can create an environment of peace in ourselves and in the world in this time of unprecedented global dangers and insanity—an environment that enhances and enables our best and most creative attributes? We must find peace within ourselves. But to achieve inner peace—and to create conditions for outer peace—requires more than that we desire it. It requires more than mere meditation or visualization or positive thoughts. It requires more than electing public officials who will work toward peaceful relations with other countries or with the diverse elements of our own society. And it even requires more than efforts to be fair and peaceful in our relations with others. All of these things are important, even essential, but they do not address a critical component. To achieve peace we must harmonize the two specialized information management systems (brain hemispheres) that feed our mind.

You will know that you have accomplished this when you cease to see dualities such as liberal and conservative in an adversarial relationship, and instead see them as viewpoints and responses that complement one another, and thus function as two parts of a whole. Perhaps the easiest way to do this would be to come to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each hemisphere’s information-management system. For example, were we to consider the brain characteristics of women and use that knowledge to the greater advantage of culture—we might choose to see that women were allowed to direct all religions at the highest levels.

The process of peace starts with us, with our peaceful choices. Only then are we ready to reach out. The violent world around us might be in far greater need of peace than we are, but if we don’t know how to achieve peace, it will be difficult for us to lead others to find it

Adapted from How Brain Thinking Can Save the Future by James Olson.

About the Author

James Olson is an integral philosopher whose studies have included religion, art, psychology and neuroscience. He has attended the University of Vienna; Oklahoma University, where he received a Bachelor of Business Administration; and the Kansas City Art Institute. Following the unifying guidelines of philosophy and drawing on his broad education, Olson has made it his mission to help bring the planet’s masculine (dualistic left-brain) and feminine (holistic right-brain) energies into greater harmony, through his advocacy of whole-brain thinking. Olson’s first book, The Whole-Brain Path to Peace earned several national book awards, including Foreword Reviews 2011 Philosophy Book of the Year.


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