hamster with tunnel vision

Normal Human Usage

I'm sure everyone has experienced it – when we see a panoramic view, when we interact with nature, on walks, or fishing – but then it just seems to be a response to the environment. So we take photos of it. If we start thinking about it, we just start focusing abstractly on the memory of that landscape or river.

When modern humans go on the lookout we scan our environment with focused selective attention, often using binoculars amd telescopes.

Modern humans only consciously train their panoramic vision for driving, but here focusing dominates. We focus on where we're going, mirrors, maps, and signs. The "peripheral" vision is only subliminal... and then as soon as we notice something subliminally – we focus on it.

Adult humans never use their panorama senses actively, except perhaps some autistic people.

Available Information

Panoramic sensing is not totally unknown, but only few people have started studying its value.

Some ancient cultures practiced it. Some branches of Zen Buddhism use it, on Hawaii it is called Hakalau, among the Australian aborigines, Dadirri. Advanced martial arts combine focused and panoramic perception.

There is also a start on research into peripheral vision from a modern psychological perspective.

I haven't done exhaustive research here. They are all valuable perspectives on the subject, but there doesn't seem to be anyone who does it and uses it as animals do. For me this means they haven't realised its fundamental value.

Animals are the living example and proof that it works.

Why has our Culture not rediscovered this?

Why have our scientifc and psychological researchers not discovered panoramic sensing as animals use it? Why have they not realised the value of combining or alternating it with focused sensing?

I don't know why. It's a blind-spot. It's part of the tunnel vision which is inherent in focusing.

For a species which only knows focusing – it is outside of our imagination.

We should have rediscovered it by observing animals. But animal trainers and researchers are only interested in animals' abilities to focus and learn tricks, solve puzzles, develop memory, and abstract thought. They want to know if and how animals can learn human abilities.

Perhaps it's too simple. Everyone seems to be looking for clever answers, scientific answers, or answers that take at least at little effort... but nothing which has been staring us in the face for centuries.

Normal meditation practices usually search for a higher consciousness, in silence with closed eyes. Even mindfulness is usually applied to a selective focusing on breathing or inner-body awareness. Such practices aren't conducive to discovering panoramic sensing.

Modern Buddhism should have rediscovered this – with central texts, even The Noble Truths direct discussion on the six senses (the sixth, mind being considered as having the same function as sight or hearing), the five Aggregates, and the Middle Way.

So far even my experience with Christian leaders is one of abhorence at the idea we could learn something from animals... as though the next step would be public copulation. Christianity is dominated by an attitude of we're here to look after the animals, not the other way round.


We collectively ignore it – we have meticulous words for every part of the bicycle – even subatomic particles and abstract theories have names. As soon as we recognise something, we name it.

There is no verb for this activity, and many languages misrepresent it. The English "peripheral vision" describes the edges. Animals see everything as clearly in the centre as the peripheries.

The words to differentiate between focusing and panoramic sensing are relatively new. The term "panorama" was first used in 1796. It was first incorporated in a Spanish dictionary in 1884.

Panoramic describes how a landscape artist, or a filmmaker sees background and movement. But for animals, the background is unimportant.

Animals are only interested in what's moving. They recognise only the changes, with almost no awareness of the background panorama. Privately i call it broadband sensing, or broadbanding.

The lack of a clear, common, or scientific name always indicates a lack of cultural recognition. And when there is a lack of cultural recognition, we can always expect a multitude of unresearched and unrecognised effects.


Life used to be scary, so with our brilliant abstract focusing abilities we identified and eliminated the causes, we made walls, warning signals, and weapons, and then we started to disregard the stimuli. And then we forgot all about it.

Wide countrysides bring it out, so natural peoples would certainly have this ability. And in olden times it would have been normal among country folk on hour long walks to work, just at times being casuallly panoramic, nothing special, nothing worth talking about, nothing worth writing about by the educated upper class.

We Inadvertently Suppress Our Panoramic Awareness

With our early education in focused sensing, thinking, and doing, we inadvertently suppress our panoramic awareness from an early age.

Our blindness to sensing in this way is further compounded by the fact that it is only possible to describe the panoramic experience after the event, and then, only by using the words, grammar, and conventions, of focused sensing.

This in turn encourages philosophical theories about it which fascinate and tempt us to focus on clever ideas, without ever a set of practical instructions to help us actually sense in the panoramic way.

We Dismiss It

Perhaps it's our pride? – Humans are better at focusing, than all other species. Why should we be interested in basic animal senses any more? Perhaps it would make us doubt ourselves and our way of life?

Perhaps it's human egoism. I repeatedly hear "i can do that already" and very probably most people have touched on the experience. But this "been there, done that" attitude, often blocks openness to the full experience.

It is akin to gazing out into the void when daydreaming, depressed, or stoned. True, this is a way of sensing without focusing, but it is hardly an attitude of being acutely aware, open, ready, and waiting.

People sometimes do it casually walking in nature, or when cycling round in a relaxed way. Good. But this is a passive usage, and only involves a central area of the full panoramic field.

The essential difference is that to use it with any intensity, animals always stay still. They can't listen and see everything effectively if they are moving. And when they use it, their lives often depend on it, so they give everything to it, it's not a casual experience.

We Consider It to be Useless

If we did ever think about it we would consider it useless. We have no need for it in our daily lives. We overcame the daily fears and insecurities which other animals have. There is no need to be ready and waiting, or on the watch all the time. The original use of panoramic sensing is indeed obsolete and redundant.

Really? Have we no use for feeling, safe, at peace, alive and connected with all other living things?
These effects are promised by many therapies and meditations. By 'panoraming', they can be easily experienced.

This 'everyday enlightenment' which animals can teach us, is easily available to everyone.

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