Alastair I. McIntosh - Enhancing perception
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
A Commentary on the ‘Christos’ Technique - Alastair I. McIntosh
It is obvious that in order to survive, people cannot be equally aware of everything in their environment at the same time. It is therefore necessary for them to filter out all unnecessary information, and also to learn to process certain sorts of information automatically — below the threshold of consciousness — so that they can interact with the world more efficiently.
While this processing or ‘automatization’ is necessary for us to live normal lives, it does restrict our view of our surroundings very greatly — particularly where aesthetic appreciation of the world is concerned. We have all had the experience, no doubt, of listening to a favourite piece of music so often that we get bored with it. What probably happens is that as we get to know it better we produce a mental model of it — we ‘automatize’ it — so that it is no longer necessary to attune ourselves to the direct sensory experience and to listen carefully to every note in order to be aware of what is happening in the auditory environment. Rather, the brain can say to itself, as it were, ‘I know what that is; it fits the model for Beethoven’s Ninth, so I needn’t bother remaining conscious of it to a very high extent.’ In other words, we replace the direct experience by an abstract category, and sadly this results in a correspondingly decreased awareness of such qualities as beauty, goodness, wholeness, etc., which can only be had when one is conscious of the direct experience to a very high degree.
Now then, it seems to be fact that if one reduces awareness to levels approaching that of ‘one-pointedness’, the restrictively automatized awareness begins to break down, so an after-effect is that our surroundings are temporarily experienced at a more direct level ….. Arthur Deikmann (1966, 111 Tart, 1969) refers to this process as a ‘de-automatization’.
If, when in this state, people turn their senses back towards the outside world, they will see it in a very different way — probably in much the same way as somebody using psychedelic drugs might see it. But if the attention remains subjectively orientated, then the experience of one’s inner self will also have an enhanced sense of reality and depth about it, and the imagination might flower with a creativity previously unthought of.