What if we’re experiencing only 20% of the information which surrounds us?
What if there was so much beauty in the world, that if you let it all flood in at once, you’d be overwhelmed in awe, momentarily debilitated by the sheer potency of emotion gushing into you with every millisecond that passed. You end up on your knees staring at a blade of grass growing out of the floor, as you cup it in your hands a tear wells up in your eye before it rolls down your face, “this is what it means to be alive”. A sudden sense of realisation that true beauty is everything and everywhere envelopes you, it’s just hidden, it’s just that, you only experience what your brain allows you to – and now you’re finally seeing everything for what it is, infinite.
“If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.”
– William Blake
I’ve always toyed with this thought when times get tough for me, it gives me a sense of comfort that it’s not the world which is an ugly place, perhaps it’s just my head which makes me see it that way. The problem with truly understanding this, is that we don’t have a unit for measuring ‘information’. Weight has grams, light has lumen, sound has decibel, even for spicy food we have ‘Scoville’. As humans we need units of measurement to fully understand and gauge a subject and we don’t have one yet for emotion, there are gradients i.e. good or bad, but no scale of potency.
As humans we still operate on survival instinct and have developed these over the many thousand years of evolution and passing of our genetics, it is not obscene to propose our brains have developed a filter to block out all useless information. I believe all human thought process drives from two foundations; (1) the need to survive and, (2) the need to perpetuate the species. Every other action is a by-product of these two instincts. The information that surrounds us, colours, sounds, smells are all whittled down to just the bare essentials of what is required, and what we experience are the dregs of this planet, the bits that are necessary to simply survive and reproduce. Instead of taking in 100% of the information floating around, perhaps we only experience 20%, because, staring at a blade of grass crying at its beauty has no place for a species looking to not get killed.
What if we could train our minds to experience 40% of this information instead? What would the world seem like then?
Perhaps a world where we experience a greater deal of information is a much kinder one. A place where silence is not viewed as awkward but instead, it’s an intimate, connected experience of enjoying your surroundings with another person. A place where communities look out for each other, are less greedy and more likely to share their belongings. Quite simply from gaining greater control over this filter, can we then push for a better world simply by tapping into those drowned out, yet wholesome, feelings.
To train ones perception, is to tune yourself into the world and experience more ‘pointless’ information. For example, when most people see the colour red they might think of what is essential to them, stop, blood, danger, love, hot!… not necessarily that early winter morning as a young child where you ran into the garden in bare feet to feed the birds, and what you noticed on the floor beneath your toes was a small red berry the size of a pea, and how you wondered mischievously whether you were allowed to feed it to the birds or not – that memory is otherwise deemed pointless for our survival, yet it’s packed with emotion and happy thoughts to get lost in.
I’ve always been fascinated with Buddhist Monks and how their lives seem so plain and simple, yet they are so happy and in awe with absolutely everything. Perhaps they, after a lifetime of training, have mastered the art of perception.
Next time you’ve a spare minute – and we all do – take the time to focus on something and truly experience it. Admire how a plants leaves branch upwards towards light, touch it and try to ignore that which is jumping straight into your mind and dig deep for those hidden thoughts that are otherwise forgotten. Waste time in your thought. Life is meant to be experienced, so it’s time well spent. The first step to gaining control over your perceptive ability is to challenge it regularly with small activities like this.
Stay awake, stay open