A profound twist on this concept is in Graham Hancock’s fascinating book Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind (2003). In it, Hancock views our senses as faculties that constrain our sense of the world around us. And in support he cites one of the world’s greatest explorers of inner space, the English intellectual Aldous Huxley (1894-1963).
In his 1956 book The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, in part a description of his experiments with hallucinogens, Huxley contends our senses act as a “reducing value” to keep us:
… from being overwhelmed and confused by a mass of useless and irrelevant knowledge, by shutting out most of what we should otherwise perceive or remember at any moment, and leaving only that small and special selection which is likely to be practically useful.There are people, Huxley contends, who can experience reality by essentially turning off the reducing value:
What comes out at the other end is a measly trickle of the kind of consciousness which will help us to stay alive on the surface of this particular planet … Most people, most of the time, know only what comes through the reducing valve and is consecrated as genuinely real by local language.
Certain persons, however, seem to be born with a kind of by-pass that circumvents the reducing vale. In others, temporary by-passes may be acquired either spontaneously, or as the result of deliberate ‘spiritual exercises’ or through hypnosis, or by means of drugs. Through these permanent or temporary by-passes, there flows … something more than, and above all something different from, the carefully selected utilitarian material which our narrowed, individual minds regard as a complete, or at least sufficient, picture of reality.”
The painting at top is the work of Peruvian shaman Pablo Amaringo who instructed Hancock on use of the powerful hallucinogenic plant Ayahuasca. Click here to see more of the shaman’s remarkable visionary paintings on Hancock’s web site.
Photo is of Aldous Huxley.