A COLLECTIVE BLIND SPOT
Limited UsageIt is not totally unknown, but only few people have started studying its value.
Some ancient cultures practiced panoramic sensing. Some branches of Zen Buddhism, on Hawii where it is called Hakalau, and the Australian aborigines have something called Dadirri which is related. Advanced martial arts combine focused and panoramic perception.
There are a few modern sites and videos on the subject, but apart from Hakalau none combine seeing and listening, or have recognised the potential for being here and now, or neutralising thinking and wanting.
I'm sure everyone has done it, when we see a panoramic view, when we interreact with nature, on walks, or fishing, and among country folk surrounded by hilltops – but then it just seems to be a response to the environment. So when we start thinking about it, we just start focusing abstractly on the memory of that landscape or river.
Humans use their panoramic vision when driving, but here focusing dominates. We focus on where we're going, mirrors, 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 for some autistic people.
We don't even notice the spontaneous chaotic stimuli inherent in panoramic sensing anymore. It 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 we started to disregard the stimuli. And then we forgot all about it.
Why has no-one else discovered this?I don't know. It's a blind-spot. It's part of the tunnel vision which is inherent in focusing.
When humans go on the lookout we scan our environment with focused selective attention. 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.
Modern Buddhism should have rediscovered this (together with how it feels to see, hear, smell, and taste the body from the inside) – with its wealth of central texts on the six sense bases, the origins and cessation of dukkha, the five Aggregates, and with the Middle Way.
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 and misunderstand it. The English "peripheral vision" describes the edges. Animals see everything as clearly in the centre as the peripheries.
The Latin based languages use the term panoramic. 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 can see and hear numerous things happening simultaneously, they recognise only the changes, with almost no awareness of the background panorama.
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.
We Suppress Our Panoramic AwarenessWith our early education in focused sensing, thinking, and doing, we inadvertently suppress our panoramic awareness from an early age.
Perhaps it's our pride? – Humans are better at focusing, than all other species. Why should we be interested in our basic animal senses any more? Perhaps it would make us doubt ourselves and our way of life?
Perhaps it's too simple. Everyone seems to be looking for complex answers, scientific answers, or answers that take at least at little effort... but nothing which has been staring us in the face for centuries and we were too busy being "clever" to see.
There is, to be polite, a certain egoism among humans, and i often hear "i can do that already". And sometimes, once or twice, they have arrived at this way of perceiving the world, through meditation, and credit it to the meditation.
So, a certain "been there, done that" attitude, often blocks the awareness.
Unfortunately meditation exercises 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.
Animals practice mindfulness with their panoramic awareness of what's happening here and now in their immediate environment. And we are ignoring this 'everyday enlightenment' which animals can teach us, and is so easily available to everyone now.
People often tell me, they do it when cycling. Good, but this is a passive usage involving probably the central 90° of the full panoramic field. And animals are always still when they listen and see panoramically.
It is also akin to gazing and gawping when daydreaming, or when stoned, but this is (usually) a passive usage, it is not an attitude of being acutely aware, open, ready, and waiting.
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.
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Back to Chapter Three : Civilisation's Habitual Ruts
Back to THE PANORAMA SENSES Priority Pages