Brain space

September 24, 2012

I was reading Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditation for today, about “Mystical Love.”  There’s some contrast being made between prophets working in the world and mystics in their hermitages and what to do with some perceived tension between priestly concerns and prophetic concerns.

I think the issue is actually about brain space and energy usage.  I’m wondering whether it’s analogous to grieving; when a person is grieving, even if they don’t realize it, some part of their brain seems to be processing the grief and that “distraction” seems to be related to the uncharacteristic mistakes in the checkbook or misplacements of items in odd places around the house.  I am thinking that communing with God or the divine or the universe takes up brain space.  It would not surprise me if there’s less left over for things like navigating in the material world.  I suspect what I’m calling “brain space” also involves available energy for the various applications.

My guess would be that different people make different decisions, knowingly or not, about how much brain space and energy to devote to what.  It does also, I think, involve patterns of thinking and the energy it takes to speak in multiple languages and switch between the two, but if I just focus here on brain space and energy, I would say that people who participate in mystical love and who are also involved in social action have one sort of allocation going on while those participating in mystical love more exclusively just “stay up there [in the spirit realm]” and don’t allocate space and energy for many of the usual mundane tasks of human living and social interaction.

I came back in May from a trip to NJ more “up there” than usual, due to a complication in the drive home, and for me at least I experience a difference in how I relate to the material world depending on how much of me is oriented toward the spirit world — when I get enough of me “out of the way” in order to let more spirit through, less of me is available to interact with others and with the world.  Later, when the situation has passed, I have to almost consciously bring back out those parts of me I got out of the way, like taking out my winter clothes when the seasons change.  I’m thinking that those in hermitages keep more of themselves out of the way more of the time than those engaging in social action in this world — they keep their winter clothes in storage, as it were, and live in the world wearing very little, as least metaphorically-speaking.

Of course, there may be people who are able to do both (that is, engage in both worlds), either by toggling back and forth better than I can or because they have more brain space or energy to begin with.  Or maybe I don’t take into account in my own situation how much of my brain space and energy is used in care-taking of other people — without that function in my life, who knows how much brain space and energy I would have for other ( including worldly) pursuits.  I suspect such a change would also have other consequences, but I don’t know.

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