How Many Brains?

How Many Brains?

In some ways, the whole body can be seen as a “brain” in the sense that the brain is an interface with mind and consciousness. However, there are certain centers that are more focused as a nerve plexus. We could say they’re more connected.

We usually think of the brain as being in the head between our ears but recent research has discovered other major centers of nerve concentration that have other specializations.

The brain between the ears is composed of about 100 billion neurons. It behaves as the central processor, the place where most of our sensing is interfaced into a world-experience (in the mind), and the executive function or intellect. Subjectively, we tend to experience thoughts in that vicinity too.

We also have a “heart brain” which gives us an overview of our situation and chats back and forth with the head brain. The heart’s priorities include circulatory neurotransmitters and many of our emotional responses.

Some describe the heart as the home of consciousness but I’d suggest it’s better to understand the heart chakra (in the center) as the home of the soul or point value of consciousness. Life begins from here.

And we have the “gut brain” which has more neurons than the head. Some describe it as a second brain, minding our quality of health, immune functioning, neurotransmitter functions, and sympathetic activation (fight/flight/freeze).

Also notable here is the gut biome. Our digestive track contains a wide range of flora that help us digest food, trigger appetite, and make requests for specific foods. In other words, it’s often not our body that is asking for food but the garden we’ve grown in the gut communicating with us.

We can say the entire physiology and everything in it interacts and is full of feedback loops. We access information in various places – gut hunches, head information, heart feelings – from which we view the world and respond.

This 3 brain approach also corresponds some with the Triune brain model. But more interesting is that they correspond with the 3 points of identification related to the first 3 stages of enlightenment: Self Realization, GC, and Unity. This corresponds with Adyashanti’s head, heart, gut model and the 3 “am-egos” I’ve described.

While there was a close correspondence between the stages and these 3 points of identity for Adyashanti, myself, and some others I know, I’ve since seen examples where these identifications lag the unfolding. Like the friend having their heart opening after Brahman. Or the teacher in Brahman who’s still driven by a gut identity.

This has surprised me – that openings can happen when core identifications are still in place. But human development is a messy and complex thing. Enlightenment is also something that has to mature and be integrated. It takes time to clean up and embody the shifts.

Isn’t it cool that the core identifications correspond to new brain discoveries? That makes sense.


Last Updated on February 18, 2018 by Davidya

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  1. What a lovely batch of blog posts for Feb. 16th. The correspondence between the new brain discoveries and the points of core identity is very cool. The “lags” are indeed fascinating- something that also surprised me with my first spiritual teachers. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a taxonomy that didn’t ultimately prove to be squiggly.

    1. Hi Ishtar
      Yes, they tend to cluster sometimes as I work through editing them.

      Agreed – as I mentioned, human development is a rather messy thing. There is an underlying process and certain common patterns but a host of variation in personal unfolding.

      I sometimes use the analogy of puberty. Same underlying process but it’s experienced in a very wide range of ways.

      1. I’m always happy to hear all of the developmental cases that pass through “Davidya land”. Coming from the Ishayas’ Ascension practice, our model of the development of higher states of Consciousness is the same as the TM model. Many thanks again for keeping up a rather wonderful blog.

        1. You’re welcome, Ishtar. I’ve gone back into older texts and have expanded on the original TM model. It’s still there but added to quite a bit.

          Maharishi didn’t have people around him living it yet, so he didn’t go further.

          1. Yes, I reckon I’ve made it through your whole blog at this point- lovely writing! The post unity stages you’ve (and by extension those of Lucia and Lorne) outlined pretty much line up with the stuff that came downstream from the main teacher of my practice, though Brahman wasn’t typically discussed in as much detail as it wasn’t the most useful subject at the time for the majority of us. The developmental territory after Brahman was broadly referred to as Krishna Consciousness. The movement into Brahman was sometimes expressed as an awakening into/filling out of other nervous systems. I suppose if unity consciousness were explained as a mushroom realizing itself to be be the fundamental mycelium in all mushrooms through the perspective of one mushroom, then the move into Brahman might be described as a deep filling in of the other mushrooms, from the standpoint of the Infinite Mycelium.

          2. Thanks, Ishtar. Thats a lot of reading.

            Maharishi gradually added to the list, then formalized the “7 states” in the early 70’s. I think he was trying to integrate with what science understood because some of them were states of the physiology and some stages of development. He abandoned that model by the mid-80s and thereafter spoke about Brahman.

            I did see reference to Krishna Consciousness but it wasn’t defined enough to know what he meant.

            At one point, he referred to Brahman as the 10th stage of Unity. Because that brings it inside the 7 states model, it was adopted as standard. But Brahman is quite a distinct stage.

            Interesting. I’ve talked here about head, heart, gut. Also about it coming down to root for Brahman. It then moves out into the world. This points to what you’re referring to but I considered that how it was embodied rather than a central feature.

            But everyone’s emphasis is different. Each unfolding has a different subjective emphasis which brings out different nuances and different ways of framing it.

  2. I’ve only been accused of having some experiences in that section of the pool. I typically wouldn’t write or speak on Brahman as I reckon it’s a rather large stretch for me!- a bit above my station 🙂 I usually put terrain before all maps, but sometimes coming across the right map alerts me to the terrain that I’ve been walking through without realizing it.

    1. Hi Ishtar
      Brahman isn’t really something you can talk about experiencing anyway as it’s beyond the dynamics of experience. 🙂

      But yes I agree. It’s like you’re strolling along and someone says “look at that” and there it is. Obvious once you’ve noticed.

      It is a tricky balance. I studied the maps for some years prior and none of them held up to the actual terrain. But then when I came back to it, I realized they were valid. It was only my minds take on them that didn’t match the actuality.

      On the flip side, they can be very valuable to someone on that part of the road.

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