The Sense of it All
There are two main themes on this site:
1. How animals coordinate their panoramic senses with all their focused activities.
2. The human one sided development of our focusing-learning system, and the overfocusing which lies at the root of our present world problems.
Overfocusing is the root problem. Greed, egoism, conceit, and closed mindedness are examples of overfocusing.
Animals have a simple remedy for overfocusing – they use their panoramic senses.
What We Can Learn From Animals
A COMPARISON OF SURVIVAL STRATEGIES
Animals have two ways of using their senses, focused and panoramic. The senses which they can use panoramically are seeing, listening, and smelling.
Panoramic perception evolved because it was the most efficient method of being receptive to, and aware of sudden movements and changes in the immediate environment. Animals use this to guard against danger; it makes life safe.
Focused sensing evolved to do things. It involves something animals need or want.
For animals, survival depends on coordinating their panorama mode with all their focused activities. Both are fundamental and vital to life.
Our modern human early training of selective focusing, with its brilliant ability to handle abstract thinking, completely overwhelms our panoramic senses before they even start to develop.
The Human Survival Strategy
And when humans developed beliefs, with Gods and ideologies to focus on, they became the central priority for our sense of reality, identity, and security in the world.
And it really didn't matter if we believed we were living on the back of the Great Turtle, or, that the stars were the children of the sun and the moon – because for our sense of security, the only necessity was the confirmation of the tribe, other people who agreed on the same story.
Our sense of purpose and belonging was found within our social group. The communal identity within our group, with each other and in relation to the big picture of our world, was confirmed by each other.
But slowly, over the last few centuries, as we started questioning our beliefs, we lost the mutual confirmation of our social group.
Humans are often in denial about our individual insecurity, but remember those uncomfortable times, growing up and often much longer – "Who am I?" "What am I?" "What is my purpose?" Maybe we cope admirably, but all the time, we are coping against a background insecurity which no other animal or early human has ever experienced or even imagined.
And so regardless our material security we feel insecure, and we are overcompensating with the only thing we know, our species' tried and tested survival strategy – we are overfocusing. We always want more, and we need beliefs which support our lifestyle.
Our human survival problem isn't CO2, it's all the different beliefs, ideas, and opinions on what to do about it. Our fight for survival is in the abstract world of beliefs. And we don't only want to fight greed and closed mindedness. We want to encourage intelligence and creativity.
Anyone with a heart must focus on climate and exploitation, and we too are closed minded about it, there is no way "business as normal" can continue.
But the survival and success of a species is dependent on the balanced use of all of their sensory abilities. And we too have inadvertently suppressed part of our basic awareness, intelligence and understanding.
THE PANORAMIC PERSPECTIVE
Modern man has lost part of how we always sensed the world around us, part of how we managed to survive for millions of years.
With the panoramic way of sensing, animals feel directly connected with everything they sense. It evolved over billions of years exactly for that reason: because it is the most effective way of hearing, smelling, and seeing all that's going on around us. Using the senses like this is a different way of experiencing and understanding life – not just perceiving it, but being in touch with it.
Throughout evolution, the panorama mode was the natural way to stop doing everything and be aware. For animals, this is a constant reminder of how it feels to be still inside, awake, and open to everything.
Rather than be vulnerable, or paralysed by panic, fear, and worry – every other second the blackbird will interrupt his delicious worm. He is alert, still, and receptive; he keeps watch, he checks for sudden random changes in his environment.
We have overcome the necessity for this interruption to life's pleasures ... but with that, we have also lost part of our awareness.
Humans ignore the privilege and luck we have to be actually safe. We don't need to run away when a door bangs or a light goes on. We don't need to panic when any small thing suddenly changes in our immediate environment.
Mostly we don't even notice such stimuli anymore, and that's the point. It used to be scary, so with our brilliant abstract focusing abilities we identified and understood the causes, then we knew we could disregard such stimuli, or we eliminated the problems – and with that we eliminated the need for our panoramic awareness.
Now that we have no need to be scared by the random changes, we could just carry on being aware and experiencing the 'big picture' (at least) in our immediate environment.
The panorama mode is similar to mindfulness, but mindfulness is usually applied to a selective focusing on breathing or inner body awareness. Animals apply it to a panoramic awareness with their three external senses. It is similar to a number of meditation techniques, but only few are so fundamental, natural, and easy.
This way of sensing is related to religious ideas. But this is not a new form of meditation. This is something we were all born with – and not a spirit body or anything deep or philosophical – it's a practical physiological ability which we have inadvertently suppressed.
It is another way of experiencing life, and even when used secondarily to focusing, it is another dimension, a depth perspective, and a new way of understanding life.
Anyone of any culture could do it, whatever their focused beliefs. It's not a new religion, it's a vital part of the original ancient way of being. It's part of the human make up. It's a common denominator among all creatures and people of all cultures.
Animals use their panoramic sense in a variety of ways. When dozing, the hare turns his ears outwards, open for sounds; and sleeping birds have one eye open. Predatory animals from snakes to kingfishers and buzzards use the panorama mode, to watch for the movements of their prey.
In its most sensitive form it's an intense receptive presence, and a preemptive awareness, always ready and waiting, a second before things happen.
I'm not saying that i fully understand it, i just know i enjoy it ... it's a stillness and peace inside ... it gives me 'a sense of it all'.
Children are born with this way of being in touch with and sensing the world.
We must play at going on the lookout with our children. Watching for movements all around and out of the corner of our eyes like blackbirds – listening out for dogs and humans like a hare does – and smelling on the wind for coffee or food cooking, just as the hedgehog will smell for apples and beetles ... and then there could be a happy ending to this story.