… each of us has known mutations in the mind
When the world jumped and what had been a plan
Dissolved and rivers gushed from what had seemed a pool.
For every static world that you or I impose
Upon the real one must crack at times and new
Patterns from new disorders open like a rose
And old assumptions yield to new sensation;
The Stranger in the wings is waiting for his cue,
The fuse is always laid to some annunciation.
I’ve spent a lot of time in the course of my life contemplating my perceptions – of sunrise or sunset, of the firmament of the heavens, of the diameter of the great star Betelgeuse measuring at (conservatively) 766.8788 million or (more widely held) 850 million miles (compared to Earth’s 8000 miles), of my taste preferences at lunch, of my appreciation of the arts, books, colour, my fellow humans, the constituent parts of the ‘reality’ in front of me – poetry, the solid mountain, the fluid and reflective lake, Edinburgh’s Christmas Markets, music and other frequencies, sounds and vibrations, photographs and ultrasound images, silence, scent, touch, anticipation, delight or fear, movement, and the speed at which my car transports me to the supermarket, the enthusiasm and abandon of the little dog, ears flying, bowling across a field.
And sometimes I feel quite certain about the ‘reality’ of some ‘things’ – people, animals, flora, fauna, landscape and space. But fortunately there are many other times when I’m glad to say ‘I don’t know.’ I am uncertain. Glad in the recognition that on the one hand I have innumerable things to ‘learn,’ and on the other that I’ll never get to the bottom of all that I might learn – which is an eternal continuum. (A newsflash has just informed me that ‘Two Supermassive Black Holes have been observed.’) And glad, too, in the recognition that every single human being ‘sees’ or ‘learns’ or ‘knows’ absolutely everything only to the extremely precise degree that their unique brain has been formed by their remembered perceptions to date.
That is to say that I have come to realise within myself a ‘provisionality’ about all things – my expectations of ‘myself,’ and of others; my inability fully to ‘know’ the experience and perceptions of anyone outside my own physical being; my inbuilt inability to fully ‘know’ the ‘truth’ of my own perceptions within that unique physical frame; all of this is somehow wonderfully liberating. This is, at least, an inability that we ALL share! There are always going to be ‘surprises’ ahead – and that’s what it is to be alive. Anil Seth is a fascinating companion with whom to share something of the journey in which every one of us is engaged. And I am the more minded to reflect upon the value, or otherwise, of perceptions (what Seth calls ‘controlled hallucinations’) – alongside a regular seeking and inclination to enter into nourishing silence. And flow …
see the book ‘Being You – A New Science of Consciousness’ by Anil Seth