THE SENSE OF IT ALL
Animals have two ways of using their senses – focused and panoramic.
Focused sensing evolved to do all the things which animals need or want. It is always selective and specific, and consequently it always limits a panoramic awareness.
Panoramic sensing is the receptive awareness of everything happening in the immediate environment at this present moment. Animals use their panoramic senses to see, hear, and smell, anything and everything all around them. Its primary use is to guard against danger; it makes life safe.
Safety and Survival
Animals use this mode of sensing in combination with all their focused activities, and also while passively dozing. It doesn't replace focused activity, or dozing, it's an integral part of their lives.
Human babies are born sensing panoramically. Sensing panoramically is inborn, quickly available in our subconscious minds, and so fundamental that it's easy to do.
Modern human adults only use it in a subliminal or secondary manner. I experimented using it actively, for short half minute periods, with the intensity of the blackbird. The effects of this pure panoramic awareness was what motivated me to learn more about it. It was enjoyable. And even just a few seconds, interrupted all repetitive thought.
Throughout evolution, periodically being on the lookout has been necessary for survival. Panoramic awareness is the natural way to stop all focused activity. It's been tried and tested for billions of years. By using the panoramic senses, with any intensity, it's impossible to think at the same time. Panoramic sensing temporarily interrupts all sensory desire and wanting.
Some ancient cultures developed it, and recent psychological research shows that the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated by using the 'peripheral vision'. But generally modern humans have designed walls and warning sounds and lights, (maps, signs and labels, laws and insurance policies etc.) things which we can focus on to be safe, and now we ignore the privilege and luck we have, we ignore our panoramic senses.
Panoramic sensing is a moment's simple and direct peace of mind, a moment of feeling still inside, with a feeling of being directly in touch with, even integrated with the world around us. It is another way of perceiving, experiencing and understanding life.
For animals, this is an habitual experience and a constant reminder of how it feels to be still inside, awake, open, now, connected with everything around them, and safe.
Part One continues with Welcome to the Panorama.
The following introduces Part Two : The Habitual Ruts of Security and Pleasure.
The Human Survival Strategy
Humans developed an astounding ability to focus on memories and learn. Focusing can be amazingly creative and clever. Focusing allows us to focus on several isolated things at the same time, and combine them to make something new. This is a blessing and a curse.
We developed our focusing abilities by coordinating our senses, bodies, and minds – from shaping flint tools, to making fire, and then wheels. Then we found Gods to focus on. These all became cultural focal points, they gave us security, and pleasure.
Then very sensibly and naturally we repeated all the things which gave us security and pleasure. And slowly over thousands of years as we repeated our cultural knowledge, it gathered momentum, it accumulated and multiplied.
Our modern early training of concentrated focusing on drawing, reading, and writing, and then later studying specialised subjects, demonstrates our culture's development. But our human survival strategy lacks a fundamental balance. And after an astounding million-year-long history of focusing on our wants and needs, our strategy has now led us to a critical point.
The post WW2 rat race has become the new normal, and as our cultural knowledge multiplies, the velocity will always increase, (and more old people will get left behind, and there will be more need for children to have a vote). And this incredible momentum of modern life is all based on focusing, because focusing is the essential basis of the system which remembers and repeats all the things which bring pleasure or security.
Ways to Save the Environment
It's good and necessary to focus on ways to live wholesomely, cooperating with our environment; and it's good to have higher, noble, or spiritual ambitions and focal points in life. But – all other animals coordinate their panoramic senses with their focused activities!
If you came to this site looking to "ways to save the earth and environment" you were probably looking for something practical ... you didn't really want something which just sounds like a new meditation technique. But developing our humanity is essential – even if climate change is corrected, the next problems with our one-sided survival system are pre-programmed, corona, wars, ... Developing our full potential individually and culturally is vital to our future. There are many ways we need to develop our potential, but as a first step, nothing could be as easy as using our inborn panoramic senses.
It is often said that greed is the root cause of most of todays global problems. Greed is an excellent example of excessive focusing. Throughout evolution, the panoramic mode has been the natural way to stop all focused activity. It's the perfect counterbalance.
But the main usefulness and energy of panoramic sensing isn't just correcting the problems in our culture, it's in developing a way of enjoying life without wanting, getting, or having anything.
I cannot yet summarise all the other points scattered throughout this site, (especially in Part One). Smelling, listening and seeing, each have specific effects. Concentrated panoramic sensing neutralises all abstract thought, so it allows the intuition to take over ... to get ideas from outside the box.
In effect, it is similar to many meditations. But you don't close the senses and focus on something sublime, beautiful, or eternal, you don't have to believe in anything for it to work, and it only needs to be used for a few seconds to be effective.
Why does our culture ignore it? I believe it is inherent in our 'blinkered' focused way of understanding life, a form of tunnel vision: the idea of using the panoramic senses has become a blind spot. Consider for a moment: Our culture doesn't even have a generalised (or generic) name for the panoramic senses. We have simply failed to recognise it. Consequently, this easily available resource is one of the few things humans have not yet exploited!
Part One describes with the practical usage and effects of the individual panoramic senses. Please continue with Welcome to the Panorama.
Part Two continues with our world culture's present day chaos in The Habitual Ruts of Security and Pleasure.
Part Three discusses the Buddhist Truths which lie at the basis of this way of thinking in Desire is Dependent on Focusing.