{Ram Dass/Alan Watts Week 1: Day 3} Floodlight Inspiration

In this week’s lectures, Alan Watts says,
"The spotlight is what we call conscious attention, and that is trained into us from childhood as the most valuable form of consciousness. When the teacher in class says, “Pay attention,” everybody stares and looks fast at the teacher like that.

But we also have another kind of consciousness, which I’ll call the floodlight. For example, you can drive your car for several miles with a friend sitting next to you and your spotlight consciousness will be completely absorbed in talking to your friend. Nevertheless, your floodlight consciousness will manage the driving of the car, will notice all the stoplights, the other idiots on the road and so on, and you’ll get there safely without even thinking about it.

But our culture has taught us to specialize in spotlight consciousness and to identify ourselves with that form of consciousness alone. I am my spotlight consciousness. My conscious attention, that is my ego, that is me. And very largely we ignore the floodlight."

If spotlight consciousness is the figure, and floodlight consciousness is the ground how can you begin to shift your awareness to the ground more often? Please share a line or two of poetry, song lyrics, or other inspiration that can help bring into awareness things we don’t typically have in our awareness? That brings the floodlight awareness of what we typically ignore into the spotlight, at least for a moment.


I was intrigued by the spotlight/floodlight analogy and it’s a topic that I’m working on in an ongoing project. I came to think about The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, a book written by psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist that are part of my research material and that I just started reading.


“The quieter you become, the more you can hear.” - Rumi


I’ve started by getting off social media. I only have a discord and twitch account now for personal use and a LinkedIn for professional use. Years of social media got me stuck in my head and only in the spotlight. I think that alone is helping me get more aware.


I perceive spotlight and floodlight consciousness differently. My perception: A figure is a figure. Ground is ground. Light lies within us, and we can adjust the aperture of our projection lens. A narrow beam spotlights a point in a scene, whereas a wide beam floods the entire landscape with light. It also depends on where we’re standing. If we’re firmly in the physical world, our beams are limited to the physical world. If we learn to navigate back and forth, our light becomes boundless. Truly boundless.


The 5 W’s! - If the who, what, where, and when of any particular thing amounts to the figure, asking the “why” of something is always a short trip to the ground, albeit a pretty daunting/difficult exercise to master effectively…

“Ripple in still water, where there is no pebble tossed nor wind to blow. Reach out your hand if your cup be empty. If your cup is full may it be again. Let it be known there is a fountain, that was not made by the hands of men…” “Ripple” by the Grateful Dead (A turn on the phrase “Creation is beginningless” is that not only are the dynamics of life inherently productive… but that non-existence somehow naturally yields to existence (eternally so), which then promotes opulence and charity/all sorts of modalities of swagged out bliss… from nothing comes all of the things, etc.)

1 Like

I continually take myself out of the equation. If the thoughts are mostly beginning to start with ‘I’, I tend to take a step back and work on maintaining the witness or loving awareness. First I had to understand the concepts of duality and that they are relative and you can’t have one without the other. I use this as well, looking for the antithesis to what the ego is so stuck in.

Russ - Adventure
‘When I waѕ at mу lowest hаd to hold my head thе highest,
Reconnect with silenсе оtherwise it’ѕ hard to hear the guіdancе, (Нeаr the guidance)
Thinking that I got a broken vеrsion оf success,
Untіl I realized thiѕ is the vеrsion thаt I’m supposed to get,
І ѕee thе way the roads соnnect іf you just keep on driving,
Triеd to fight the moment thоught the stars neеd realіgning,
Told my mommа that I quit,
Told mу friendѕ that when I get back from brazil thаt thіs is it,
Dоn’t nobody hit my phonе I was digusted wіth god,
Тried tо diѕcuss it with god,
Thіs ain’t how it’s ѕupposed to gо I’ve had еnough of this god,
Вut then І remember whеre I started from,
Reаlized I’m far frоm thеre and I’m far from done. (True)’