The Death of Religion and the Rebirth of Spirit: A Return to the Intelligence of the Heart took me a long time to get through. Don’t get me wrong, it is not because the book was not interesting. On the contrary, I find his writing fascinating. He includes a lot of actual science in with spirituality and metaphysics, and sometimes it takes me a bit to wrap my head around the concepts he introduces.
The Death of Religion and the Rebirth of Spirit expands the author’s theory of our next step of evolution that he began in The Biology of Transcendence. In the first book, he hypothesizes that all of the great spiritual teachers, for example, Jesus or Buddha or Mohammed, were sent here as examples of what we could become in our next stage of evolution. Instead of looking to them as an example, our societies have put them on a pedestal and said, “I could never do THAT!” And so it has become a self fulfilling prophecy.
In both books, he looks at the evolutions our species has come through so far, particularly the evolution of our brain. We start with the reptilian, which governs basic survival and action. Nature’s next phase added the “old mammalian” brain, which is associated with emotions and memory. Most recently, the “new mammalian” brain was added. It is associated with thinking and language, and it is the part of our brain that makes us human.
There is another part of the brain, however, the prefrontal cortex, about which less is understood. Pearce’s theory is that the development of the prefrontal cortex, and in particular, its connection to the neurons and electromagnetic field of the heart, are our next phase of evolution.
Each phase of our brain’s development has a specific window of opportunity. There is much overlapping between the levels of development. However, each level of development is dependent on the previous levels and on the right nurturing environment to reach its full potential.
Pearce explains that our very culture does not provide the correct nurturing environment for our brains to develop to their highest potential. As an example, one of my old tools: television.
TV is an excellent babysitter: a child won’t move his eyes – or body – away from the screen. His visual system is literally held there by an amygdala-survival brain interlock, immobilized by stimuli from such constant change that there can form no stable imagery to which structures of knowledge can relate. This television exposure results in the primary sensory patterns of our reptilian brain locking into a danger-alert mode in reaction to the underlying flicker of the screen and the rapidly shifting imagery that create such sensory confusion that they indicate possible threat. This old-brain startle effect keeps the high brain alert for emergency and entrained with the lower brain as the child stares at the screen. (p. 193)
While television may be bad, religion is one of the worst agents of culture, since it is from religion that most of us have received our moral code of dos and don’ts. It doesn’t matter if you are religious now or not. Chances are your grandparents were, and their grandparents were, and their habits have become your instinctual behaviors.
Both books also talk about the research done by the Institute of HeartMath. My favorite quotes from this book regarding the heart-brain connection:
Coherent heart frequencies arise from relationship, love ,joy, and other such positive emotions and can, in effect, propagate or grow in strength or be reinforced by other coherent waves, which can match them peak and trough on some regular enough basis to mutually stabilize and even increase.
Incoherent waves, occurring when we are fearful or in pain, may be picked up by someone quite close to us physically but do not radiate out very far because they cannot synchronize or cohere with other waves. They remain localized because they cannot, by simple physical law, extend into that realm of coherent frequencies. In this way, incoherent frequencies block our interactions with the higher heart frequencies, resulting in isolation, emotional deprivation, or spiritual void. (p. 144)
If our general state is incoherent, for whatever reason, no amount of sound and fury or effort on our part can inform some higher power of our plight. The cosmos, by its nature, is indifferent, and if we weep alone, we do so not because some stern judge in the clouds has not heard us or chooses to ignore us, but because the Vastness can’t register our weepy frequencies. (p.189)
Though the picture Pearce paints of the damage culture is doing to our evolution, the answer he proposes is relatively simple, if not easy. The answer is love. Love and allow the heart to lead the mind. It is definitely something I strive towards. Who knew the Beatles had it right all along – All We Need is Love.
If any of these ramblings have intrigued you, I highly recommend both books!