Posted by: bobroth | January 14, 2010

Emily Dickinson and the Brain

“The Brain – is wider than the Sky – ”

Ultimately, harnessing the full potential of the human brain is the key to all the good stuff we want for our often-wretched world—in my humble opinion… For example, stopping violence—domestic, societal, and international. Or raising a new generation of creative, inquisitive, field-independent (means they can think for themselves, not overly influenced by, for example, advertisers), energetic, enthusiastic, open-minded, ethical, successful (means they choose to do things that are creative and healthy and useful for themselves and appreciated and worthwhile for society) young people…

Ultimately all this comes about from developing the brain.

I say this because brain scientists say that, ultimately, all behavior is based on the way your / my brain functions… All emotions  (e.g., compassion or hatred), insights (e.g., on-target or totally off-base), thinking (e.g., scattered or focused), perceptions, decisions, judgments, innovations, moods and mood swings, conclusions, biases—everything is ultimately based on the brain. It can’t be any other way.

Brain research reveals that every experience changes your / my brain in a distinct way. Eat a lot of junk food or practice the violin or figure out a calculus problem—each unique experience will change your / my brain in a unique way. And repetition of a particular experience (playing the violin or shooting free throws for hours at a time, day after day) will train your brain to function holistically in a particular way. (She is a great free-throw shooter; he plays a mean violin.)

Recent brain research also shows that the only experience that wakes up the whole brain is the experience of the Transcendent (you knew I would get around to this at some point, didn’t you!). This is the experience of “pure consciousness” gained during meditation—the most settled, silent level of awareness, which lies deep within the mind—as if forgotten or overlooked by the steady stream of chatter and clatter emanating from the surface, active, thinking mind.

The experience of the Transcendent alone transforms the whole brain. Enlightens the whole brain. Allows us to be truly human in our full potential—humans who are masters of our own destiny—not victims of situations and circumstances that would otherwise make us a slave to our environment (hassles at work, problems at home, etc.).

Understanding and developing the whole, healthy brain—and not just studying fragments of a diseased brain (as is the focus of much of neuroscience today)—may well be the final frontier of science.

The great American poet, Emily Dickinson (1830 to 1886), must have had some pretty incredible expansive experiences of pure consciousness in her life. (You can tell when you read her work.) Here she writes about the cosmic nature of the brain.

“The Brain – is wider than the Sky –
For – put them side by side –
The one the other will include
With ease – and You – beside –

“The Brain is deeper than the sea –
For – hold them – Blue to Blue –
The one the other will absorb –
As Sponges – Buckets – do – ”
Emily Dickinson

I suppose it would be hard to fully fathom what Emily means by her words, unless you / I have the brain to do it…

Thanks for listening



  1. We have a bilingual (E/F) edition of her whole work for a few months. Nice way to attempt meliorating my English (vocabulary more than grammar)! I partly love her because I know I’ll never understand totally (like for David’s work!). Just now, I hit on these words:
    “The Himmaleh was known to stoop
    Unto the Daisy low –
    Transported with Compassion
    That such a Doll should grow
    Where Tent by Tent – Her Universe
    Hung Out its Flags of Snow –
    (Poem 460)

    Later, some questions.
    Thank you DLF to follow me!

  2. Bobby, it’s always so inspiring to read your accessible and enlightening prose-you speak directly to us, your readers. I also love Emily Dickinson, America’s greatest and most enlightened poet. Thanks for posting. — Kennyji

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