Kensho in the Moment

As I discussed in the previous post, natural cyclic fluctuations the balance of our ego- and allocentric attention systems may occur in sync with a surge in inhibition of the pulvinar due to strong emotional stimulation leading to a sudden perceptual shift in which experience is no longer filtered through the first person. This state of bare awarenessis termed Kensho by Zen practitioners.

I remember an incident in my third year of medical school. It was early in the year, which is the beginning of the initiation to medicine. I was doing a 2 month rotation in psychiatry at the Georgia Mental Health Institute (GMHI) a large state hospital for people with very severe mental illness, mostly schizophrenia, hospitalized against their wills after commitment proceedings in which a judge was satisfied that they presented a clear and present danger to themselves or others. Despite the “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” connotations GMHI was a very progressive facility and the care was as humanistic as possible. As students we were nurtured by the treatment team and put in a position to succeed. In other words, psych was, in medical student parlance, an “easy rotation”.

Except for chairman’s rounds…



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