A growing number of us today are becoming disenchanted, bored and depressed with life. Because of this, many of us are beginning to question the possibility that there is more to reality than meets the eye. For the sake of hope, it’s a good thing to ponder, but if you really want to find out if it’s true, you must find a way to exercise your own ability to perceive beyond the physical.
To access information beyond your current reality, you have to be willing to explore outside of the confinement of your mind. Much in the same way you can watch a movie with a ridiculous, unbelievable plot yet, remained engaged with the story, you have to play a little make-believe with your imagination in order to let go of your current version of the world and make room for an alternate one.
Temporarily suspending your disbelief is an effective way to stretch your mind and its capacity to perceive. To view one of the best demonstrations of how this works, let us look to the work of the surrealist artist, Salvador Dali. If you are interested in expanding your own awareness, his art is precisely the sort of the thing that will help.
Salvador Dali: Master of Perception
One of the constants in Dali’s artwork is a melting, morphing, and fluid quality to its features; fried eggs limply drip off wires, clocks ooze into the landscape, people’s faces sprout drawers, and human figures are formed through the suspension of spheres seemingly floating in space.
Dali’s work conveys a delight in playing with perception, function and significance. He had a unique ability to see beyond structure and translate this inner vision onto the canvas. To view his art is to accept an invitation to chip away at our own, solidly conditioned mental filters. His art is more than art, it is a challenging of reality.
His art is more than art, it is a challenging of reality.
He continually interchanged the boundaries of form from a solid, static and mechanical perspective, to a malleable, fluid and organic one. Rarely represented in his art are exact shapes, rigid lines, or precisely and singularly defined items; everything is more than one thing and nothing is distinct in connotation or character.
It’s this unstructured quality of design that exposes Dali’s ability to view the world as the ever-changing flux of energy it actually is – a world without distinct boundaries other than those defined by the mind. Through his work, the rational and irrational become indistinguishable, and the nonsense that is our reality is exposed.
The Paranoiac-Critical Transformation Method of Salvador Dali
Dali was fascinated with taking the images and ideas from his own, inner-world and enmeshing them with every-day objects and associations. He developed a game he called “The Paranoiac-Critical Transformation Method” to help loosen one’s rational view of the world. It was a process he, and his fellow artist friends, used to help them find new ways to perceive the world around them. In his own words, he used this method because “…it makes the world of delirium pass onto the plane of reality.”
Through his work, the rational and irrational become indistinguishable, and the nonsense that is our reality is exposed.
A form of visual-play based on the idea of the double image, it requires that one acts temporarily paranoid and view the world as if everything poses a sort of threat. To play requires imagination, as you work to persuade yourself, and your fellow game-players, to see the physical world in an alternate way, such as a cloud as a dragon or a tree as a giant.
You have practiced this method if you have ever gazed at a landscape and saw a face, or if you played make-believe games as a child. Perhaps your brother persuaded you that the mop in the corner of a dark room was a ghoul, or the shadow under the bed was an alligator. Dali’s version, however, took our innate ability of shifting perspectives and turned it into an art form, creating an excellent way to practice questioning reality while having some fun.
“…it makes the world of delirium pass onto the plane of reality.”
Naturally uncomfortable with the intangible, it takes effort to get the mind to deal with the abstract. But if you want to access the extra-ordinary, you have to withdraw the total hold the ordinary has on your awareness. This method helps loosen the systematic, unconscious categorization that dictates your perception by forcing you to make new associations, perceptions and categorization of the mundane and overlooked aspects of your environment.
Although Dali liked to play this inspired by fear, one could use this same method and apply love and other positive emotions to the supposed agendas of the inanimate and mundane. Play it often and with enthusiasm, and you will begin to notice the extensive framework of labels we have applied to everything. Then you can begin to loosen the bindings of reality.
Melting Boundaries – Expanding Awareness
Perception of the world through the physical is a mechanical process in which the human eye perceives variations of light. The mind then organizes the light into patterns, grouping and naming everything it sees. But the mind is only capable of naming that which it already knows, so when it doesn’t recognize something it either groups it in with what it does know, or dismisses it altogether. Knowing this, it is probably safe to assume that much of our true reality escapes our awareness.
It is probably safe to assume that much of our true reality escapes our awareness.
When you play with meaning, intention and form, the lines that demarcate yourself from your environment begin to fade. A thing becomes more than a thing… it becomes possibility. The world becomes more than the physical… it becomes amorphous, ever-changing, surreal.
Eventually you recognize that the world is in a constant state of flux, the only set-point being that which you have labeled. You must consider that there is no value or meaning to the objects in your reality except that which you have decided upon. You must consider that form only exists in the mind.
Question Everything: The Expansion of Consciousness
If you play with your perceptions and labels, sooner or later you will discover that there is more to everything than meets the eye, the mind, or even the senses. You will discover that the structure of life is upheld by mental constructs and beliefs that you did not choose, but rather were chosen for you, and you will begin to question those.
You are an unlimited, infinite consciousness and it is you, and only you, who chooses what to experience.
After all, what is reality? Does anyone really know for sure? And even more mind-altering to consider, what are you? If you can choose to alter the way you see things, can’t you also choose to alter the way you see yourself? Are you a physical being in a physical world, or are you something more? Are there limits to what you can perceive? If not, are there any limits to your being at all?
Awareness expands when you will push the limits of your perception to new boundaries, new possibilities, and the eventual realization that you are an unlimited, infinite consciousness and it is you, and only you, who chooses what to experience.
Salvador Dalí, 1904-1989: Conquest of the Irrational, Gilles Néret, Salvador Dalí – Taschen – 2011
This post is dedicated to my sister, Ann.