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This article by Barbara Fox was prepared for the December 18, 2002 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Pondering the Elusive Brain-Spirit Connection

Charles Wesley Mark explains the relationship of religion

to spirituality this way: Imagine you are like a little fish in the

ocean, and that the little fish asks the bigger fish, "Excuse

me sir, where is the ocean?" The big fish replies, "Are you

kidding? You are in it." The little fish is not satisfied with

the answer and keeps swimming to the next, and the next, asking the

same question.

The ocean is like the elusive concept of spirituality, says Mark.

"Our curiosity to know what it is never stops. Every time we ask,

our understanding of it grows. If you have not developed the courage

and confidence to swim in its deep waters, you can swim only in shallow

waters."

Rev. Mark will discuss and sign his new book, "Spiritual Intelligence:

the Symbiotic Relationship between Spirit and the Brain," on Sunday,

December 22, at 5 p.m. at the Westin Hotel (formerly the Marriott)

in Forrestal Village.

Mark’s Hindu grandparents had converted to Christianity, and his father

was a Methodist circuit rider (a rural preacher who rode on horseback

to different congregations). Mark felt called to the ministry ever

since the day he and his father encountered a tiger on the way home

from one of the churches. "The horse stopped. A tiger was staring

at us. The horse and my father were motionless for 10 minutes. My

father said not to give eye contact to the tiger. I closed my eyes.

Then the tiger jumped and ran away. When we came home, my mother said

that it happened during the time she had been praying for us. My dad

said, `God has saved you for his purpose.’"

An ordained Methodist minister, Mark earned his bachelor’s and master’s

degrees in Calcutta and Bangalore, respectively, and in 1988 he obtained

his doctoral degree in intercultural history from Princeton Theological

Seminary. After serving a church in Keyport, he took a two-year leave

of absence from the ministry to work on this book; his day job is

at Borders Bookstore in East Brunswick. He published this book through

his own firm, Agape Enosh Publishing, which he dedicates to building

bridges between people of different faith.

In 10 chapters and 284 pages, Mark considers how spiritual intelligence

(SQ) is related to rational intelligence (IQ) and emotional intelligence

(EQ). He suggests that taking a new look at the study of left-brain

and right-brain activity may help explain the differences between

Eastern and Western spiritual practices. "I am primarily a right

brain thinker," says Mark, "but my thesis is that spirituality

can help us become more balanced."

His 120-item bibliography is huge, and his footnotes extensive. He

quotes the obvious sources such as mind-mapper Rita Carter, emotional

intelligence expert Daniel Goleman, and right-side-of-the-brain drawer

Betty Edwards. He also draws on such secular gurus of spirituality

as Dean Ornish, quantum physicists such as Fritz Captra, psychiatrists

like Robert Coles, Templeton Award winner Freeman Dyson, and even

the former CEO of Kepner Tregoe, Quinn Spitzer, who had contributed

a definition of spirituality to an anthology.

With his legacy of Eastern and Western thought, Mark makes the most

of his opportunity to negotiate the path between cultures. He compares

great Western thinkers (Marx, Weber, and Freud) to Eastern intellectuals

(Vivekananda, Aurobindo, and Radhakrishnan).

For a new author and publisher, Charles Mark possesses a singular

confidence that his efforts over the last two years will result in

success. His new book does contain an impressive analysis of the world’s

best thinking on the mind/body dichotomy, and East truly does meet

West in these pages. But his optimism may also come from the sense

of destiny imparted by his parents, who taught that "we are all

God’s children no matter what religion we are, and that God has no

grandchildren, only children."

— Barbara Fox

Brain and Spirit Connection, Westin, Forrestal Village,

609-883-5978. Free. Sunday, December 22, 5 to 6:30 p.m.


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