All hunter gatherer cultures throughout the world past or present inculturerated a tradition of a vision quest in one form or another. They usually culminated in a dream or vision that was interpreted as a message from the spirit world. These dreams and visions derive much of their power and influence from the animal imagery and symbolism they contained. So influential are these dreams and visions that people would often identify themselves with these images seen during their vision quest. This led to such names as Sitting bull and Crazy horse. While these vision quests are rich in culture and mysticism the foundation is vision itself. So in order to understand the vision quest regardless of its culture or motivation one must understand the process of vision in depth.
What we see and how we see it is an amazing process that starts with a cosmic origin that is photons of light leaving the sun. When they reach the earth they bounce off something, perhaps a deer. Then these photons go through the lens of the eyes and onto the retina where they form an image which is translated into pulses of electrons that are sent down the optic nerve and then deep into the brain.
So we know this chain reaction of photons images and electrons reaches the brain, does that mean they reach the mind? Sometimes they don’t, they fall off into an abyss that is neither the brain nor the mind, a place where vast amounts of potential information just disappears. To survive and become part of the conscious mind, to become a memory there must be a mechanism to receive and understand them, and properly file them away. This mechanism and the philosophy that goes with it affects everything we perceive and do.
In order to understand vision as it relates to the vision quest one must have a multifaceted understanding of the animal imagery. To do this will go through a scenario that many of us are familiar with, and perhaps played various parts in this classic scenario. We can start with a group of people casually walking through the woods on a beautiful sunny morning. One of them is a seasoned hunter. He is walking through a landscape that he knows and understands. As he walks along he sees squirrels birds and other wildlife that the other people just don’t seem to see. Finally they come to a deer and he points it out. The other people simply don’t see it, though they want to. So the hunter give some directions that goes something like this. Look at that big tree. The deer is to the right of it and a little closer to us". With this instruction the people still don’t see the deer, even though it’s visible with average eyesight and in their field of view. Then because of their talking and staring at it, the deer begins to move. Then like magic everybody sees the deer. After this the group just keeps on walking and talking, never to ponder the deep lessons that were there to learn.
There is much to learn in this scenario, and on many levels. This knowledge is truly esoteric in nature and those that possess it, can use it, to consciously utilize these kinds of situations as they happen. To do this one also needs to know some technical information that can be used as building blocks to build a structured form of knowledge that is beautiful and useful by design. For instance rays of light “information” bounced back and forth from one mind to another in our scenario. Predator and prey, each with its own type of vision and perception. One person saw the deer right away and the others could not, until it was pointed out and it moved. They could not perceive its presence even though it was in their field of view. That is to say it was all physically there, the rays of light, the image on the retina the electrical signal to the brain, yet the pattern was not recognized. So their subconscious and conscious mind were not aware of the physical reality of the deer’s presence.
So what was the difference between the mind of the old hunter and the other people? In the old hunter’s mind there are many images of deer, facing him, facing to the left facing to the right, in good light and bad light and so on. All this is in his memory, this gives his subconscious something to work with. Patterns that can be matched up to the constant stream images in the form of pulses of electrons entering the brain and the mystery of mind. One of the ways that this old hunter collected so many images in his mind is with the use of modern optics.
One of the first things we have to understand about optical equipment such as binoculars and spotting scopes is that magnification is just part of the total advantage they give you. We all start collecting images of deer, bighorn sheep, and other wildlife when we accidentally run across them. The eye that we see them with essentially has one power of magnification and about a 5 mm Aperture or opening, so numerically speaking the eye is 1x5. If you are viewing an animal at a distance with a pair of binoculars that are 10 x 50 you are essentially 10 times as close. This means you can find an animal 10 times as far away than with the eye alone. This in itself means you will see perhaps as many as 10 times the amount of animals with these optics. But one must remember these are 10 x 50 and this 50 has a significance all its own, that should be understood. It is a measure of the diameter of the objective or front lens. When calculated as surface area, it collects roughly 100 times more light than the 5 mm eye alone. This relates to the quality of the image in the form of detail, color and brightness. So with all this we can see that the old hunter has literally seen many more animals, and with a very high image quality. It is these images in the form of memories that are in his mind and available to the subconscious to work with, to identify the elements of the outside world.
There are other advantages that the use of optics provides that are somewhat unknown and rarely discussed and thereby part of this esoteric knowledge. This is their ability to focus the conscious mind and direct the subconscious. This aspect of using optics such as binoculars and spotting scopes is every bit as important and powerful as their magnification and light gathering ability. So this process is worth examining and understanding.
When somebody brings up a pair of binoculars to their eyes the first things that happens is it literally removes any and all peripheral distractions from the eye and thereby to the conscious mind. This “focuses” all this attention somewhere on a distant hillside, where the conscious mind can pick through the boulders and cactus to look for a distant ram or deer. Every time the conscious mind does this it learns more about the visual process as well as how to concentrate and direct its motivation, this prolonged and refined state of desire to see a ram or a deer. This strengthens the communication process between the conscious and subconscious mind. So at the end of all this the subconscious mind has clear and decisive directions to follow, with a wide range of strong and precise images to work with. This all starts when we pull the binoculars out of their case or put the strap around our neck. This is a ritual with real meaning in the real world, because it tells the conscious and subconscious what is expected of them. This has psychological power similar to putting on a uniform or camouflage clothing and there is more power in these small rituals if we understand them consciously. Another important difference in the old hunter’s mind is that he has stalked and killed these animals. These are deliberate and emotional experiences which put willpower and drama in to these primal animal images in his mind, the likes of which there is no other way to acquire. So it is, these concepts and experiences affect what we see what we remember and what we do. If we sum this all up we find that equates to a large part of our identity, and to understand this, is self-knowledge.
This understanding of light perception and consciousness is part of the identity of all animals. Whether predator or prey, they manipulate light with their conscious and subconscious mind to orchestrate the properties of perception and deception to their advantage. We can see this in the design and coloration of many animals. Many have a color scheme that is played out worldwide. If you’re looking head on or from the side they are camouflaged. And if you’re behind them you’ll see the bright white rump patch that stands out. These physical attributes are part of their identity, and sometimes it’s how we identified these animals with names such as the cottontail rabbit and the white tailed deer.
So let’s look at the design of the white tailed deer to examine this phenomena a little further. When we look at the white rump patch of white tailed deer one of the first thing we will notice is that it is not static. The deer can move his tail with his conscious or subconscious mind. We can understand this as a deliberate variation in reflecting the photons that are bouncing off of it. This is the animate using the inanimate to produce a signal to change the thought processes of other conscious entities. This in turn affects the thought processes of the deer itself and thereby its behavior, but to what extent? It does so in a deep internal way, this part of the body that is the white rump patch and the tail are connected to the brain and thereby the mind. They are connected to the brain and the mind to protect them, keep them alive, this is their purpose. Of course the brain and the mind are connected to this part of the body to protect them, to keep them alive, this is their purpose. This, of course, is a feedback loop. Every reverberation exists within the individual animal and thus has effect on it behavior and thereby its survival. This helps to ensure and direct the regeneration of the species. Which means every generation is another level of perfection in the deer’s fit to the environment of light and consciousness.
So let’s look further into the design and function of these animals that are camouflaged on one end and bright white on the other. In this study we will use the desert bighorn sheep. The reason for this is that the desert bighorn sheep is very typical in its design. It survives in an extreme visual environment, that is the wide open spaces of the desert. It is for this reason that the desert bighorn sheep has mastered the skill of hiding in plain sight. It is tuned in mind and body to be able to do this. A good example of this was in our opening scenario with the deer and people. The color of the deer’s body matched its background and its mind told it’s body to hold perfectly still so it did not contrast to the motionless background until it felt threatened enough to move. This demonstrated that all that is illuminated is not seen.
So in the pursuit of this knowledge let’s run through a scenario where we encounter some desert bighorn sheep. This is not a product of aimless wandering, this kind of experience can be viewed as a vision quest in its own right.
Our scenario starts as were walking over the top of a small hill, very carefully looking through our 10 x 50 binoculars every step or two till we get over the hill, to where we are no longer skylined. There we sit down and mount our 10 x 50 binoculars on a tripod and carefully scan the terrain ahead of us. Mounting binoculars like this on a tripod doubles or perhaps quadruples their effectiveness. Perhaps a more effective way to understand this is in relation to time. The number of animals that you see in two days using the binoculars and tripod will take you four to eight days if you don’t have the tripod. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the tripod holds the binoculars very still. This allows you to see a lot more detail than when holding them with your hands. This aids your conscious and subconscious mind to find the patterns they are looking for. Then you will find it much easier to concentrate on what you’re looking for when you don’t have to use part of your mental concentration to hold these binoculars with your hands and hold your body still. Now that you sitting down and your 10 x 50 binoculars are on a tripod, you see something that you missed when you were holding these binoculars in your hands. In the distance you can see a large ram, so you take the binoculars off the tripod and mount your spotting scope to get a better look. Now looking through your spotting scope at 45 power you can see that it’s nothing more than a rock. This is sometimes call a “ram rock”, it’s the manifestation of a very interesting phenomena that one should experience and understand. If you experienced this from time to time it tells you that your conscious and subconscious mind are working together and are really looking to find a large ram. And if you’re not seeing ram rocks your mind may not be trying hard enough and you’re probably not seeing, or that is, perceiving animals that are there, even though they are in your field of view. Now having seen this ram rock and understood it one can see it as something amusing but not discouraging.
So you decide to continue scanning the hillside with the spotting scope in the hopes that it might reveal something that you missed with the binoculars. There are four aspects of going from the binoculars to the spotting scope that we must understand. The first is the increase in magnification this of course is a positive. The second is the reduced field-of-view and this can work for you and against you. A reduced field-of-view is just that, you can’t see as big an area on the hillside. So if an animal starts moving, remember this makes it easier to see, you might not see it at all because it’s not within the field-of-view of that particular instrument. Third and more philosophical the smaller field-of-view concentrates your attention on to a very small piece of ground and it is this aspect that often reveals what you’re looking for. Fourth the combination of a small field-of-view and focus concentration means it will take you longer to sweep through a hillside than with the 10x50 binoculars. For this reason a 20 x 80 binocular is a good instrument to have with you. To orchestrate these instruments, to know where to be, and when to be there, is an art form. Those who have mastered this art, know that they’ve achieved a level of environmental awareness the likes of which numbers such as 10 x 50 or how many days in the field this or that is worth, doesn’t really apply. The advantage to the pursuer of this art is cerebral and serene, one achieves a oneness with nature through the very essence of reality, light and consciousness.
So let’s continue on our desert bighorn scenario. We're scanning through an 80 mm spotting scope now set on 20 power. Looking at a distant hillside, working our way through the rocks and crags of the desert landscape. Then we see something white in the distance, that could be the white rump patch of a bighorn sheep facing away from us. The shape is very distinctive. At a distance it looks like two white circles very close together with a little white line going down from both of them. At this distance this shape and color can be visually misinterpreted as bird droppings on a boulder or just a light-colored rock. So we zoom up to about 40 power and can see clearly that it’s a group of desert bighorn sheep. Here we can see that the coloration and design of the desert bighorn sheep maximizes its white rear end. The coloration on and near its tail forms a black stripe that separate the rump patch into two halves. Then, the back legs have a white stripe down the full-length of the backside of each leg. We can see here the difference between the white tailed deer and the desert bighorn sheep. The white tailed deer uses its tail to vary its signal from bright to not so bright. Desert bighorn sheep on the other hand maximize it signal behind them all the time, because they live in a visually extreme environment. If we look closely at the desert bighorn sheep we will see a white patch on their nose or muzzle, that on desert bighorn looks similar in design to their rump patch. More or less the black stripe down the middle of their rump patch is mimicked by their black noses. Deer also have this but they tend to have a white patch across the top of their neck perhaps this is so they can vary the intensity the signal by moving their head up and down. And again this is something that bighorn sheep cannot do. It is interesting to note here that both the male of the desert bighorn sheep and the deer tend to have a stronger visual signal on the front end than the females. In any case this signal was meant to be seen but not from as far away as their rump patch. Here in our scenario we’ve just experienced the danger that is inherent to this strategy, that is, being easily spotted by a potential predator. We did this by using superhuman powers, that is the 80 mm spotting scope. This allowed us to overpower the limits and the design of this animal's strategy. Yet if we take the time to watch these animals through our 80 mm spotting scope for 3 or 4 hours we will see this strategy play out, in the way that is advantageous to the sheep.
In this scenario we find our sheep just as there coming up out of a small ravine and spreading out across the hillside. In time some of them are 4 or 5 hundred yards apart with other sheep in between and facing in various directions. Now what we have before us is a structure design to maximize their awareness in the form of an Internet like system based on the transmission of light, using their white rear ends. This is how the system works. Each and every individual is looking out for his own safety using vision, hearing, and his sense of smell. So in our scenario let’s say sheep ‘A’ catch's wind of the mountain lion. The first thing he’s going to do is start moving quickly up hill and into better escape terrain or to the center of mass of the herd. Sheep ‘B’ sees this and begins to behave in a similar fashion because it knows that ‘A’ is being driven by fear of something. Now sheep ‘C’ begins to do likewise even though it cannot see sheep 'A’ due to distance or visual obstruction but it can see sheep ‘B’ so we have a chain reaction throughout the herd. Here we have a situation where the sensory perception of each individual is an outpost for the collective. The awareness of danger or safety as perceived by the individual is transmitted through the herd on this Internet like system, based on the transmission of light. With this system the possibilities are infinite and sometimes to a predators advantage. Yet the balance almost always favors the individuals that are connected to the system.
Now as we return to our scenario, the sun is beginning to set, and with it goes the power of these signals, and distance they can reach. So in proportion to the setting sun, the sheep begin to coalesce, to come together, and prepare for the absence of light. Yet in this darkness there is a form of light. That resides in the depths of the minds, of both predator and prey alike. For all that has been perceived, is now in the form of memories and dreams, and this is the way we perceive, all that is consciousness, and light.
By Carlos Gallinger