We Are All Pea Brains!
The part of our minds that registers experiences is no larger than a pea! Experiences come and go, but our awareness is always present. Our awareness is like a movie screen. A great variety of movies play on it. The experiences in the movies change from second to second. But the screen always remains the same. Your awareness is like that movie screen. Experiences that come into your awareness are not who you are, just as the flickering pictures on the screen are not what the screen is. Our experiences are temporary; our awareness is permanent. It is what I call “me.”
Awareness is very limited
Our awareness is very limited. It can process only 40 to 60 bits of information a second. Listening to a single conversation requires 60 bits of awareness. If two people are talking at the same time, we become confused. Our minds can’t process 120 bits per second to listen intently to two conversations. We’re all pea brains.
We control what comes into awareness through our intentions and focus
Let me show you what I mean. You can focus on what your left foot is feeling by bringing it into awareness. The feelings you notice are taking up the whole 60 bits per second of space in awareness. Now focus on your right shoulder. You must stop your focus on your left foot and focus on your right shoulder. You can’t focus on both at the same time. Look at the wall before you to see what is on it. As you do so, you lose focus on your left foot and right shoulder. You can focus on only one experience at a time. Repeatedly shift your awareness focus to your foot, then your shoulder, then the wall in front of you and you’ll see that you can allow only one experience at a time to enter your awareness.
Our mind fills in what is not in awareness to give us a sense of the whole
They why can we have an experience of a room with dozens of things in it that each would seem to require focusing our tiny awareness on it? As we stand in a room filled with wall treatments, chairs, tables, and objects, we scan the objects one at a time because our awareness can hold no more than one thing at a time. As we do so, our mind creates the impression of the whole room, even though our awareness is focused on one thing at a time. We feel like we’re seeing the whole room, but in our tiny awareness we’re experiencing only a lamp or a window or a picture on the wall, depending on our focus. Our minds fill in the rest of the room. We live our lives filling in reality based on our knowledge of what is there from past experiences and combining our scans using our tiny awareness into a whole impression that is entirely in our minds, not in our awareness.
Some experiences come into awareness unbidden
Some experiences come unbidden, such as a sudden peal of thunder or an image that just pops into our awareness from nowhere. Some experiences come from the world around us, such as seeing a daisy. Others may have been cued up from memory by something. We can see the daisy, and suddenly our friend Daisey’s image pops into our awareness, then the announcement we just read that Daisey was promoted to manager, then the name of the pharmaceutical company Daisey works for, then the memory we have to pick up our prescription drugs, all being cued up into awareness without our intention. Or we might be looking at old pictures and see a picture of Daisy. We then intentionally bring to awareness the image of Daisy playfully wrinkling her nose. These chains of cues go on during every waking hour. Some we intend. Some just come into our awareness. They blend together to fill our mental life. Our minds are filled with rich experiences from our changing environment and changes in what comes to our minds intentionally or unbidden. Our awareness focuses on only one tiny thing at a time. Our minds create the rest of our reality. We’re all pea brains.
We spend most of our lives on automatic pilot!
Our days are filled with activities we perform automatically without bringing them into awareness. We walk, talk, drive a car, or play a piano without using our conscious awareness at all. For a skill such as playing the piano, the experiences that come to mind that activate the arms and legs have been acquired through practice over decades. During practice, the pianist tried actions on the piano while practicing and eventually learned the correct notes, pedal activities, score tempos, and the rest of what makes good piano playing. The right combinations became experiences the pianist calls upon to perform the right actions to create a beautiful piano solo. The experiences that make great piano playing come to the pianist automatically as the pianist performs, without using the tiny area of awareness at all.
The estimate is that the larger part of the mind where these automatic actions come from, called by some the subconscious, processes information at 20 million bits per second. That is why we can talk and play the piano at the same time, drawing from the subconscious for these complex activities that require remarkable processing speed. Our tiny awareness that focus on what we are seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, or smelling processes information at 60 bits per second. That is just enough to listen to one conversation at a time. Our subconscious, which is where walking, talking, driving a car, or playing a piano is coming from, performs 20 million bits per second. The pianist can be playing a piano concerto, talking about Mozart’s genius, smelling the roses arranged on the piano, and reacting to the expression of someone standing by the piano—all at the same time.
Our intentions and focuses cue up memory experiences
When we intend to bring something into awareness from memory, we cue it up. We use something associated with what we want to focus on. If I wanted to remember the first car I had, I would intend to remember based on the cue “first car I had.” If I could not access it based on that cue, I might cue up the year I bought the car or the dealership I bought it from. If that didn’t work, I might cue up the image of the street I lived on to see what was parked there. Sorting through the cues and resulting experience memories is what we call “thinking” or “remembering.” When we can cue up something related to what we’re trying to remember but can’t quite get the thing itself, we say “it’s on the tip of my tongue,” meaning we have part of the memory but can’t get all of it. I want to remember the name of the salesman who sold me my first car and I can recall he had bald hair, wore a suit too small for him, and spoke loudly. Sensory experiences such as sights and sounds are more easily remembered and cued up into awareness than verbal memories, such as names. But his name is just on the tip of my tongue. Then I remember it was an Irish name like O’something, and that cues his real name, O’Reilley. That cues his first name, “Simon.”
While the pianist is playing, the same principle is at work. The notes, changes in tempo, and pedal movements are all being cued up at incredible speed from the subconscious so the concerto unfolds from the pianist’s movements in the correct sequence. It’s all still cueing from one action to the next. There’s no thought or awareness involved. It’s all subconscious!
Where do these experiences we access as memories or skills come from? It is common to say that the experiences we bring into awareness are stored in a mysterious place we call memory. That is a mistaken notion. They are no memories stored in the brain or in Akashic records. Memory experiences are simply accessible. The term most often used for where they come from is the “subconscious.” But that also is mistaken. It is better to just refer to either what is in our awareness or the wide range of experiences accessible by our awareness. Memories and skills such as playing the piano are just accessible.
How can we live lives filled with love, peace, and joy?
The component of who we are that results in either lives filled with love, peace, and joy or lives filled with loneliness, discord, and unhappiness is our interpretations of experiences. Experiences are neutral. An experience has different effects on different people because the individual’s interpretation of the experience gives it impact. When we see something coiled up in a dark corner of the garage, some will feel fear if they believe it is a snake; some will feel nothing if they feel it is a rope; and some will feel joy because they love pet snakes. The one experience is interpreted differently by individuals. The result of the interpretation is emotion. The emotion from any single experience could be fear, indifference, delight, desire, amusement, or other emotion that depends on the individual’s interpretation. The emotions are not inherent in the experience. They are entirely in the individual’s interpretation of the experience.
We want to feel the emotions of happiness, love, contentment, security, and peace. We want to avoid feeling the emotions of unhappiness, rejection, loneliness, depression, fear, and discord with other people. These positive and negative emotions motivate our actions. We want to get good feelings. We want to avoid bad feelings.
People in our societies today are taught that to be happy, they must have certain things in their lives: a big house, a new car, a spouse who treats them well, obedient children, a job that gives them good money, and adulation from their family, colleagues, and boss. If they don’t have these things, they can never be happy. They are destined by cruel fate to be unhappy and discontented. Happiness comes from a world that gives us what we want. If we don’t get what we want, it’s the fault of the people around us and the world. They must change for me to be happy.
Schools teach children at the ages of five or six that they are successes or failures. To be happy, they must be better than other children so they receive adulations from their parents and teachers. If they are rated as failures, they lose approval and can even be punished. They feel discouraged and unloved. Schools reward children who excel over others, regardless of their actions and motivations. They do not reward being other-centered and giving help when a fellow student asks for it. You must be better than everyone else to feel good about yourself. As a result, children learn they can have happiness only when they acquire things, feel they are better than others, and are given praise by others for winning. They are taught to be self-centered rather than other-centered so they can feel happy.
The major reason we are in Earth School is to change our interpretations of experiences so we become other-centered, loving, and compassionate. We will then feel empathy and act to reduce other people’s suffering. Reducing others’ suffering will bring us joy. Then selfishness, actions that hurt other people, cruelty, and violence will be viewed as unacceptable. Changing our minds and hearts to be other-centered, loving, peaceful, and joyful is our reason for being here.
The wise Raabi who taught in the hills of the Galilee in the first century CE, name Yeshua bar Yosef, or Jesus, is reported to have said “You must have a change of heart and mind, for the Kingdom of Heaven is here now.” It was mistranslated as “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” The word “metanoia” mistranslated as “repent” really means “have a change of heart and mind.” Jesus was saying if you have a change of heart and mind, you will enter the Kingdom of Heaven now, in this lifetime. You can live in love, peace, and joy if you just change yourself.
Our reasons for being in Earth School
Our souls, higher self, and guides planned for us to grow up in Earth School to learn lessons, grow in love and compassion, and enjoy ourselves. We have a great variety of experiences that are constantly in flux. As we grow older and our circumstances change, our experiences change. The new circumstances continually being presented to us give us new opportunities to be loving, compassionate, and joyful or to feel hateful, full of disdain, and discouragement. That is how we have a metanoia, a change of heart and mind. It is how we enter the Kingdom of Heaven now.
When we interpret our experiences with other people with love and compassion, we act with love and compassion, so we grow loving, compassionate relationships. As we grow in love and compassion, we advance humankind’s evolution toward having a peaceful, loving, compassionate world.
Our tiny awareness is passive. It just registers what comes to it. Our interpretations of the experiences are the most important part of our lives from moment to moment. The interpretations can result in love, joy, and peace or agitation, fear, and animosity. These interpretations come automatically from our subconscious, without our control. The emotions automatically follow.
We can change what comes automatically from the subconscious when we have experiences. We can change disdain to empathy, fear to fearlessness, agitation to peace, and animosity to good will. Our common emotions can be love, peace, and joy most of the time in our daily lives. To do so, we must change our interpretations of experience one interpretation at a time so eventually we almost always interpret experiences with love and compassion. Our lives will then be filled with love, peace, and joy.
We will have had a metanoia.