In-comprehending Awe

Psychologist Nicholas Humphrey has proposed that our ability to awe was biologically selected for by evolution because it imbues our lives with sense of cosmic significance that has resulted in a species that works harder not just to survive but to flourish and thrive.

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

Select Quotes

Watch the video for full effect, but here are some select quotes from the video.

Getting Stuck in Habits

I think that one of the problems for human beings is mental habits. Once we create a comfort zone, we rarely step outside of that comfort zone.


Over-stimulation to the same kind of thing, the same stimuli again and again, renders said stimuli invisible.  Your brain has already mapped it in its own head, and you no longer literally have to be engaged by it.  We have eyes, yet see not; ears that hear not; and hearts that neither feel nor understand.

Experiencing Awe

One of the ways we elicit wonder is by scrambling the self temporarily, so that the world can seep in.

Even a blade of grass, when given proper attention, becomes an infinitely magnificent world in itself.

Attention, if studied close, graduates to surprise, which leads into astonishment, which leads into stupefied amazement.  That is what rapture is.  That is what illumination is.  That is, that sort of, in-comprehending awe that human beings love so much.

That is what it means to be inspired.  The Greek root of the word means to breath in; to take it in.

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


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