Proof Of Afterlife By Awareness
2.2. Section Two – Singularity Of Focus
2.2.1. Conversational Focus
When a woman in the back right of the room becomes interested in the man on the far left she quits paying attention to the conversation of her immediate group and focuses her attention on the man’s group across the room. Now she listens to their conversation. Consequently she tunes out both her conversation and the conversation in the middle of the room. A change in conversational focus looks like this:
She can do this because focus is based on attention, not proximity or volume. While a shift in focus like this is possible, ignoring people in your group is not good manners. So as soon as someone in her group speaks to her directly her focus will quickly return to her group where she will pick up the thread of conversation.
It is important to realize that her focus can be in her group or it can be across the room but it cannot be in both places at exactly the same time. We can simulate focus in two places by darting back and forth between conversations. Shifting focus like this is like the worker, bird, phone, coffee analogy in Section One. What appears to be simultaneous focus is really sequential focus happening over time. Our attention can dart between groups quickly, however at any one moment our focus is in just one group.
Singularity of focus is a fundamental concept of awareness. If we consider the party as a whole there are many groups and conversations going on. Of that whole, we are aware of only the conversation we are currently listening to. The conversation we listen to is a small piece of all conversations going on at the moment. All conversations versus our conversation represents the relationship between the environment versus awareness. That relationship looks like this:
1. The left side of the diagram above shows all the conversations going on in the room that are loud enough to hear but have chosen to ignore.
2. The right side of the diagram shows the conversation we are currently paying attention to.
2.2.2. Focus Conversation Versus All Converstations
The illustration below shows 15 conversations going on simultaneously. We can hear them all as background noise. To avoid confusion we “tune into” just one conversation and “listen” to it exclusively. We can still hear all conversations but we focus on one. Visually it looks like this:
The conversations in the room are represented as arrows coming at us. The arrows are the incoming stimulus hitting our ears competing for our attention. Of all these conversations, one conversation has our attention. It is the conversation shown in red. This is the one conversation we are actively listening to. It is the one we currently aware of. The other conversations are relegated to the background. We consider them background noise. While we hear them, we do not pay attention to them.
So here is what we have:
1. On one hand we have the conversations in the room (shown on the left).
2. On the other hand we have the one conversation we are listening to (shown on the right).
The sequential nature of awareness (our ability change focus over time) leads us to believe that we are aware of more than we actually are. To understand the true nature of awareness we must look at a single moment. As the party analogy shows, at any one moment in time, we are aware of just one conversation. Awareness moving around makes it appear larger than it is. Focus can dart from thing to thing in the environment. Because awareness moves around quickly we tend to think it is in two places at once. What is really happening is that awareness concentrates on one conversation, then moves quickly to another, and the back to the original.
Listening to two conversations at the same moment would feel like two people shouting at you, one in each ear, both demanding your undivided attention. It would be annoying, complicated, and uncomfortable. Undivided attention cannot be divided.
2.2.3. Total Incoming Stimulus Verses Awareness
At the party we are listening to one conversation while 15 other conversations are going on at the same time. Those ignored conversations are considered background noise. In addition to the conversations there is other stimuli competing for our attention. We have the wallpaper on the walls for example. As well as the carpet, what is in the windows, music playing, and everything else going on at the moment. There is a lot within the environment completing for our attention.
This illustration below shows all the conversations, as well as other stimuli in the room, as arrows approaching our consciousness. The heavy black vertical line represents the current moment. The black line represents all stimulus in the room reaching our senses. Our senses are taking it all in. We know that because all we need to do is stop a moment, change our focus to any stimuli, and will be aware of it. What we are consciously aware of is a matter of choice.
This diagram is a more accurate picture of awareness. It includes all conversations reaching our ears. It also includes all other stimuli (sight, smell, sound, at tactile) in addition to conversations. Of the barrage of information coming at us we are aware of very little. The question becomes what is the upper limit of sensory stimuli coming at us:
The answer is the environment itself.
The summed total of all stimulus reaching us is the present moment. It is our surround environment and everything going on within it. Geometrically it is space. The upper limit of stimulus is the length, width, and depth surrounding us.
Returning to the diagram above this is what we have:
1. Oh the one hand we have the conversation shown in red. It is the one stimulus able to get through to our conscious awareness. It is the one conversation we are currently listening to. It is our point of view within the environment.
2. On the other hand we have the other conversations that are relegated to background. We also have stimuli coming in through all senses that are relegated to the background. These stimuli are shown in grey because they are tuned out. We are not aware of them. These grey arrows represent the environment itself.
The next step is to examine the ratio between awareness and the environment. Awareness is less than the environment, that much we know. How much less will be determined in the next section. Are we aware of half our environment? Are we aware of one quarter of our environment? We will determine the mathematical relationship between our awareness and our environment.