Ottawa Deadly Train Crash: Driver may not have seen it coming

800px-OC_Transpo_double-decker_bus_on_route_97XPsychologists: “…it’s possible to see an object clearly without realizing it’s there.”

On September 18th the driver of an Ottawa double-decker bus ran into a train, killing six people and injuring thirty.

The safety barricade and systems were fully operating, and the train was driving relatively slowly. Investigators have found no cause for the collision so far.

The driver was only seen trying to brake in the last few seconds before impact. One news article the Ottawa Citizen says,

Psychologists say it’s possible for drivers to see an object clearly without realizing it’s there.”

I found that to be a stunning expert statement for our society at this time, and very close to my experience of not seeing a man’s face with two different coloured eyes. In that experience (and a few other similar ones), I realized that it is not the eyes that see, but the mind that sees. The eyes are just the conduit for the light, which can be ignored if one is fully engaged in mental seeing or thinking (which could otherwise be called being “unconscious,” to use what may be considered a modern “spiritual” term right now).

The same goes for all the senses; you can be in a busy restaurant, but “tune-out” all the noise around you when you are engaged in a conversation with someone. This “tuning out” is actually a contracting down onto one sound, to the elimination of all others in our experience. The sense of feeling is also not immune; you can sit on your foot without noticing it for so long that you cut off the blood circulation and experience numbness and “pins and needles” when you try to stand-up.

I will often ask an audience if they have ever driven across the highway only to arrive and not remember to road on the way there, and I always get some knowing nods. That was because upon arrival they “came to their senses” and realized they had not been aware. (I would hold that this is very common. Perhaps other audience members did want to admit it, or did not come to their senses dramatically enough to realize they were not in touch in the first place, and nothing on the trip jarred them out of the stream of thinking mind either, or it it did, they did not realize it.)

When we contract our attention down, away from the senses, and focus on pictures, thoughts, sounds, and even smells, tastes, and feelings, in the mind, we quite literally can become blind, deaf, and ignorant to what is actually going on around us. That is how powerful your attention, one of the three powers you were born with, is. Another power is your power of interest. That which you are most interested in, you usually contract attention on, bringing it to the “forefront” of your experience, and sending everything else to the “background,” or even “eliminating” them in your experience.

Here is a fun demonstration of these two powers in the video below.

Take this two-minute attention test by watching this video and tell me, were you surprised? Leave a reply below. Warning: Do not look at the replies below before watching the video, or you will be disappointed.

You can learn to master the three powers you were born with; reading Alchemy is a good starting place. Here you can read all about the book, and here you can get three free chapters. You can also learn about the powers you were born with but were unaware of, and have been out of your conscious awareness by reading The Happiness Lie.

Comments 12

  1. How did that gorilla get in there!?

    I’ve been practicing Alchemy for more than 2 years now. I remember the days when I felt so awful I could hardly see what was right in front of me. Life in a dark tunnel of contraction. Now I notice stealthy gorillas, the varied colors of the grass beneath my feet, and so much more!

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      Thanks Sue! Not all are ready to see, but our own direct experience helps, which is the wonderful gift this video is. Researchers speak of it as “selective attention” which is not a bad description, however we need to learn the actual functioning, which is contractive attention. That is what is actually happening, and we can all know it. I love demonstrating it in a group (works best in person). Thanks for reading :-).

  2. I was totally and completely flabbergasted. I wouldn’t have imagined that I may overlook completely a very unusual aspect, even if I am concentrating on something different. I was looking for players dressed in white and apparently as a result of this I missed the black gorilla.

    Thanks for sharing this instructive video with us!

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      Hi Adrian,
      Yes isn’t it amazing that something can be right in front of us and missed completely?! That is exactly how it is with the Self/God/Infinite/Absolute/Divine/Reality/Existence. That is why upon seeing, there is so much laughter.

  3. I read this article a few days ago and it really struck me about conscious awareness and how much we are tuned in at times. I started thinking about times I tuned out not on purpose and also on purpose. 🙂 The video sealed it for me. I totally missed the gorilla! Great article, thanks Cindy.

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      But did you count the white passes correctly? If not, and you were distracted by the Gorilla, it shows how our second power, the power of attention, narrows and moves from one thing to another, (eliminating the previous, even while it still exists) and wanders onto whatever happens to appear, out of our conscious awareness.

      Your power of attention is like your breathing, it goes on “autopilot” when you do not take conscious control of it.

  4. When I watched I never was paying attention to how many times the basketball was being thrown, I was more interested in the people throwing th ball. Then the gorilla came into play and my thought was, “someone is going to hit the gorilla or run into him/her,” that never happened.

    So those young teens were focused no matter what because of the objective of that ball; or at least that’s what I gathered.

    So why is that?

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      This demonstrates your power of interest. If your interest was to count the number of passes of people in white shirts, you would have focused attention on that, but you did the reverse, so you saw the Gorilla, and did not succeed in counting. Most people intent on counting the white passes may get the right count, but completely miss the Gorilla.

      Yes, the people had a job to do and did it, but they must have simultaneously seen the Gorilla (and the other players), or they would not have been successful in passing the ball to white players.

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