“We are taught, if not imposed upon to use our eyes to project what one will see
and not, receive what is truly there to see.”
(Serge Benhayon, Esoteric & Exoteric Philosophy, ed 1, p386)
Vision is such a dominating sense (if we allow it to be), that we seldom consider what is available to us without vision (other than possibly the dread of ever going blind). However, it is through those who have damaged visual pathways that science has become aware of the many aspects of vision that are actually non-visual – no picture is formed and in many cases we are not even conscious of the information received and/or processed and then acted upon.
Neuropsychologists and neuroscientists, in their work with ‘blind’ people, have discovered that we actually have two separate visual systems: one that perceives and recognises objects – our conscious visual experience – and one that guides our actions and is largely ‘unconscious’. This second system, that is inaccessible to visual consciousness (and is much less understood and studied), provides the vision needed to move about and interact with objects, and its response is quick and accurate.
How can vision be unconscious and unseen, yet be described as vision?
We think that we use our eyes to look, however the eyes are just light receptors – they receive light and convert it to electrochemical neural signals which then travel along visual pathways to various areas in the brain. A huge number of nerve fibres travel to the back of the brain where the information is converted into an image that we then ‘see’. Although many nerves are involved in this process, most extend from a very small area on the retina called the macula, and are thought to account for about 6% of our vision.
From the time the light hits the retina to it being seen takes about 100-200ms, so what we see and respond to has always already occurred; it is in the past (at least a tenth-of-a-second old). So, in reality, if we reach out to catch a fast ball, we should miss it because we would only see its position 100ms afterwards. How can this be? How can we catch a ball when the visual information is only seen when it has already past the point at which we see it? One aspect is that what we call seeing is often an internal projection out into space of where we predict the ball to be in real time (we see what we presume is there to see – even though it seems so real, we actually make it up. Hence the one reason that two people can see the same things so differently). The other part is where our ‘unconscious’ vision comes into play. This system bypasses the need to actually ‘see’ the ball, yet we receive all the information and are able to respond and act (i.e. catch the ball).
What we are aware of depends on what we choose to attend to, and not merely on the light entering the eyes. We receive constant communication through our body; some tangible through our senses and some received on an energetic level (through clairsentience). Clairsentience gives us a much more spherical understanding of a situation than we can gather only from what we can see, hear, smell, taste, touch, presume or project.
When we keep it small and rely only on our five senses, our perception of an event is often manipulated by our past experience and expectations. Our selective attention, what we choose to look at in this case, depends on our individual needs, goals, plans and desires. What we then see is an internal concoction by the brain (which means it is in fact subjective and not actually real).
In other words, we create our own reality – we see what we want to see!
Goodale M. Milner D. Sight Unseen: An exploration of Conscious and unconscious vision. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press. United Kingdom. 2013.
Pegna AJ. Khateb A. Michel C., Landis T. Visual recognition of faces, objects and words using degraded stimuli: Where and when it occurs. Hum Brain Mapp. 2004;22(4):300-11.