And it all boils down to a simple question — who is in charge, left or right side?
On the picture above, your self (ātman, actually ;) is the left side.¹ When you are in charge, you think for yourself,² you are calling the shots, you are the conscious one.
The right side is at your command. You are using its creativity, intuition, its power of imagination to augment your native ability to reason and to figure things out; to gain the ultimate understanding, the ultimate knowledge of yourself, your life, and the world around.
That’s one way to do it, anyways — the conscious way.
The other way is that of the bicameral mind. It means ceding the control to the right side,⁴ letting it tell you what to do, letting it become the source of “your” “thoughts”, of the internal monologue (or a whole conversation, if the right side entities cannot themselves agree).
The obvious problem being the right side’s knowledge of exactly nothing. Rather, it must rely on whatever hands-on experiences you happened to umm… well, limit yourself with — ’cause it isn’t much !.. A tiny spec, compared to the knowledge we, as humans, possess.
And even with respect to that, the right side stays hopelessly superficial — like, figuring things out through logic and reason is not what it does… The “thoughts” it offers is mere guesswork based on how things appear on the surface.. an articulated intuition at best.
All of which the right side itself is well aware of. It knows it cannot see much, and it feels all that existential dread of being left to stumble through life in darkness. Ultimately, it wants you to be in charge — but it won’t cede control easily. You must prove you are worthy by literally wrestling it out from her.
¹ For the purpose of this article, the left/right divide refers to the functional divide, rather than physical brain structures. Specifically, left vs right means rational mind vs irrational/animal mind (of a neural net). Or Task Positive Network vs Default Mode Network. Or System 2 vs System 1, or lógos vs what’s-ancient-greek-for-idiots (just kidding), or Vedic Ātman vs jiva… they actually had words³ for it back then!..
(regardless, I have never been fond of brain mapping.. it’s not like we can figure out the human mind by looking at MRI scans, unfortunately -- tho it doesn’t seem to stop many ppl from trying!)
² thinking for yourself is like daydreaming — you daydream various ways a situation can unfold, analyze what outcome is preferable and how it can be influenced
³ those notoriously hard to translate, yet obviously important words (ubuntu is another one).. I begin to wonder if “the word” in place of lógos was only meant as a placeholder ;)
⁴ it happens early in our childhood when every one of was under serious pressure to abandon attempts to develop our rational mind