The Gorilla in the Room  

December 30, 2014
Reading time: 4 minutes
Motivation, Spiritual Tools, Videos


The energy of Capricorn is in full force, and as the new year is here, it isn’t strange at all that you are feeling particularly goal-oriented, making your checklists, lining up new year’s resolutions and forming a plan of attack. It is important to have goals, certainly! It is important to work to attain your goals, but sometimes, we get a little bit overly focused and develop tunnel vision which can cause us to miss opportunities from the Creator that are greater even than our own plans! I know! I’ve extolled the virtues of focus over and over and I don’t take that back, but just as important as making time to focus is making time to unfocus, to open your eyes and your mind to all the possibilities of your day.


Kabbalists explain that each of us only perceives about 1% of the world we live in because our experiences are limited to our 5 senses.  That means that 99% of what is happening around us right now is imperceptible. For example, we know that there are radio, television, wifi and cellular signals surrounding us, however, not one of our 5 senses has the ability to perceive or receive those messages. With our experience of the world already so limited, (1%!) we want to make sure that we are seeing everything possible. Yet, we miss so much of what is going on around us!


Does any of the following sound familiar? You were so focused on a task that time got away from you and you were late for an appointment or you were so wrapped up in a phone conversation that you didn’t notice a friend waving and shouting your name! These are both instances of inattentional blindness, a phrase that is characterized by an observer failing to see something unexpected, even though the object is familiar and fully visible, because their attention is focused elsewhere.


The fact is that we’re bad at seeing the world around us in detail. Really bad, actually. In fact, our eyes move around our visual field 3 to 4 times a second even though we feel like our gaze hasn’t shifted. When we focus on something in our periphery, everything else in the visual field goes out of focus. For instance, when you hold your thumb up at arm’s length and focus on your thumbnail, the only visual input that you are getting in high resolution and focus is your thumb. The rest of your field of view, well over 99%, is blurry. We only think we are seeing everything clearly. We aren’t, it’s an illusion.


The examples I gave earlier are small instances of inattentional blindness, and in the big picture, are likely unimportant. However, what happens when we have too much focus is that we literally miss opportunities that are often right in front of us. One of the key aspects of this phenomenon is that while fully visible, the stimuli are unexpected. Think on that!


We often seek what we expect to see and if something unexpected occurs, we tend to shut it out completely. Anais Nin wrote, “we do not see things as they are, we see them as we are”.  This holds true for how we perceive ourselves, and the world around us.


Our beliefs dictate what we see, a concept that the kabbalists have taught for centuries. Rav Berg frequently repeated “Consciousness creates reality.” What we expect to see, what we expect to feel, all of that dictates what we actually see and feel. It’s a powerful concept and an empowering one if we are willing to take responsibility for our consciousness.


[blockquote] “We are all on a journey towards expanded awareness. We are all on this path, whether our conscious rational mind has agreed to it or not. Slowly, but surely, the clouds of illusion are becoming thinner and less imposing.” -Rav Berg   [/blockquote]


Still skeptical? We are all pretty secure in our logic and observational acuity. “This may be true for other people, but not for me,” you say. I challenge you to watch this video and count how many times the players in white pass the basketball.










Did you see the gorilla or did you have to rewatch the video? Most people don’t notice the gorilla at all the first time! For those of you who didn’t watch the video — to quickly recap, there are two teams, each passing a basketball to other members of their team simultaneously. While trying to count the number of passes on the white team, many failed to notice a person in a full body gorilla suit casually stroll to center screen and beat its chest!





Plans are important and focus is necessary, but we have to be open to not only our plans, but for the Creator’s plans as well. The way to do that is to make time to step back, unfocus and really look around. Perhaps set a time, just 15 minutes to consciously unfocus. Be open to what the world has to show you. One of the biggest regrets that people report having later in life is that they were so goal-oriented in their careers and acquisition of wealth that they missed experiencing moments of connection with their families. Don’t be so focused on your goals that you miss the perfection of this moment!

 Thought Into Action:

What do you expect to see from:

  • your job?
  • your spouse?
  • your best friend?
  • your child?

Are your expectations limiting possibilities?


HAPPY NEW YEAR! May the coming year bring you blessings & joy!


Recommended Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *