Shots Of Awe

Awe: by Jason Silva

Take a moment to remember that child-like quality of wonder that lives in you.  When’s the last time you let awe out to play?  Check out this short (0:2:45) inspiring video by Jason Silva on awe.

If you love this (as I did) you can subscribe to Jason’s weekly Shots of Awe: where science, philosophy, and inspiration collide.


Transcript of video:

Awe: “an experience of such perceptual vastness you literally have to reconfigure your mental models of the world to assimilate it.”

So I think a lot about the contrast between banality and wonder,
between disengagement and radiant ecstasy,
between being unaffected by the here and now,
and being absolutely ravished emotionally by it.
And I think one of the problems for human beings is mental habits.

Once we create a comfort zone, we rarely step outside of that comfort zone, but the consequence of that is a phenomenon known hedonic adaptation.

Over stimulation to the same kind of thing, the same stimuli again and again and again renders said stimuli invisible. Your brain has already mapped it in it’s own head and you no longer literally have to be engaged by that. We have eyes, yet see naught, ears that hear naught and hearts that neither feel nor understand.

There’s a great book called The Wondering Brain*.
It says that one of the ways that we elicit wonder is by scrambling the self temporarily so that the world can seep in.

You know Henry Miller says, “even a blade of grass when given proper attention becomes an infinitely magnificent world in itself.”** You know, Darwin said “attention, if sudden and close, graduates into surprise; and this into astonishment; and this into stupefied amazement.“

That’s what rapture is.
That’s what illumination is.
That’s what that sort of infinite comprehending awe that human beings love so much. And so how we do that? How do we mess with our perceptual apparatus in order to have the kind of emotional and esthetic experience from life that we render most meaningful? ‘Cause we all know those moments are there. Those are the moments that will make final cut.

Only in these moments, we experience afresh, the hardly bearable ecstasy of direct energy exploding on our nerve endings.This is the
bursting forth of awe that expands our perceptual parameters beyond all previous limits, and we literally  have to reconfigure our mental models of the world in order to assimilate the beauty of that download!

That is what it means to be inspired! The Greek root of the term means “to breath in.” (aaaaahhhhh!)To take-it-in!

We fit the universe through our brains and it comes out in the form of nothing less than poetry. We have a responsibility to awe.

* Bulkeley, Kelly. The Wondering Brain: Thinking about Religion with and beyond Cognitive Neuroscience. New York: Routledge, 2005. Print.

** Miller, Henry. Henry Miller on Writing. [New York]: New Directions, 1964. 37. Print.

*** Darwin, Charles. The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. New York: D. Appleton, 1886. 278. Print.