With the advent of one of the coolest movies soon to come out, Lucy, it seems appropriate to write about a common myth about our brains. Everyone has been programmed to believe that we only use 10% of our brains. And we wander through life thinking that, if only… As a Toltec we look at this through different lenses. First because we recapitulate myths, and second because we have greater access to many things most people don’t acknowledge.
From a biological perspective, it is silly to say we only use 10% of our brains because evolutionarily if this were true, our brains would shrink to 10% of its size. Nature does not keep what it does not use. It sends it down the trash heap and eliminates the excesses for greater efficiency. We use 100% of our brains biologically. We have to. Lucy in the movie above is not using more of her brain. Rather she is accessing more or increasing the number of nuero-network connections within the brain. This increase in connectivity increases our intelligence and awareness across the board. Plus it would increase memory and a host of other senses. Cool huh!
So what do we know as Toltec’s given our practice. We know that self-importance, or the ego, which assembles a limited perception of the universe as a whole, keeps us from accessing our full perceptual potential. Science has discovered that there is within the brain a place where our ego resides and constantly limits our senses to immediate needs. This focus is a survival technique so we are not distracted.
If we had no center, no self, then the brain would be constantly giving us tons of information to which we must constantly respond. Lets take breathing. There are two forms of breathing. The first is what sustains us. This is very low in the brain stem, the reptilian brain, where the lungs just work. The second is conscious breathing. When we choose to breath. Unconsciously we breathe 4 times a minute at the minimum. Consciously we do so much more. If we did not ignore the unconscious or autonomic breathing, we would have to devote conscious energy to breathing all the time.
It is true of a number of systems within our body that work because the brain lets them work in the background. Digestion, pumping blood, reactions to certain stimuli, etc etc…. if we were continually aware on a conscious level of all these things we would go totally mad. Thus the brain limits what is important information and brings it to a central location… the self, the ego, the assemblage point. And this function both limits our perception and advances it. Keeps it focused and opens up potentials.
Every person who has partaken of a plant ally experiences a flood of additional information. Some of this is sensual, like visual or auditory. This advancement of perception is because the plant allies have no central ego, no limited field. They shift us away from that centralized location and we begin to perceive what is always coming in that we so often ignore. Also there are many things that occur in the brain, like putting information away, forgetting etc, which these allies also give us increased access to. In working with them, the brain is amped up and the ego is pushed aside such that we can open our field of perception both within and outside.
The McKenna brothers forwarded one of the most interesting ideas about why we chose in our history to use plant allies. They stated that primitive man ate mushrooms because we were omnivores and ate everything. We found, through trial and error that a specific one increased visual input. This allowed us to hunt into the evening dusk period as well as earlier in the morning pre-dawn. Thus we increased our protein and food intake and were able to defend ourselves from predators better with this increased sensual input. The result was an increase in awareness and advancement of our genetic inheritance. Practical and sensible theory that of course can’t be proven in any direct manner…. But those who have shared in this ally understand.
So as a Toltec we strive to decrease the power of self-importance, our limited central view of me, me, I, I… and through eliminating the binding stories, we are able to access deeper reaches of our awareness both within through shifts, and without through perceiving greater sensual ranges. Plant allies may begin this journey and aid us in seeing. But it is our practices of dreaming and stalking that help us really become more flexible. Discipline follows any significant break of the consensual ego. Thus we can open more doorways of perception and shift our assemblage points as an act of will rather than random acts of alteration or influences by another.
Of course we use 100% of our brains, but we don’t use 100% of our field of awareness due to the limitations of the ego and self-importance. The stories we believe are the stories that limit access to the unknown, the nagual. As Toltecs, we strive to increase our awareness beyond the limited possibility 10% or less, which has evolved in the brain to keep us focused, and often distracted from the more.
Post Script: Amazingly Lucy was about eliminating the dominance of the ego over our conscious awareness. Then Lucy has access to all of her brain functions in a conscious manner. At which point the nuero-networks of her own brain and body begin to expand. While watching the movie, it struck me how much the Toltec concepts of awareness, evolution and eventually burning from the fire within have made it into the media, movies etc. Bravo to the makers of this film!