The Limitations of Human Cognition

The Limitations of Human Cognition

Like the baseless fabric of this vision, the cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, the solemn temples, the great globe itself, yea and all that it inherit, shall dissolve. And like this insubstantial pageant, faded, leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little lives are rounded in sleep.”
(Prospero’s soliloquy from the ‘Tempest’ -w.s.)

P. D. Ouspensky (Russian esotericist and student of Gurdjieff), in his brilliant treatise titled ‘Tertium Organum’, posited a two-dimensional world, a plane, inhabited by a ‘plane being’ to help illustrate his theorem. The plane being’s entire perception was limited to two dimensions…length and width. His world was so limited that when he looked out into it, in any direction, all he saw was a line. Nothing else… just a line. Ouspensky then introduced a third dimension of depth, constituting unlimited space, which existed simultaneously with the plane being’s limited two dimensional world. The occasional sphere, cube or triangular object occupied the greater expanse and would meander by and sometimes pass through the plane being’s linear world.

From the plane being’s limited perspective nothing existed outside his linear world…in fact his linear world was the universe. He was completely oblivious to shapes and objects floating around in the wide open spaces of a three-dimensional realm until one of the objects entered his plane. At the precise moment the object (in this case a blue sphere) made contact with the plane it manifested as a tiny blue ‘dot’ to the plane being. As the sphere continued its trajectory through the plane the blue dot grew and grew into a linear entity of its own… something that actually existed in the plane being’s world. Once the sphere was half way through the plane the blue linear entity stopped growing and began to wane as the back end of the sphere passed through the plane until it finally withered to a blue dot again before disappearing all together.

From the plane being’s limited perspective he had just witnessed the birth, life and death of something in his universe. Something didn’t exist, then existed and finally didn’t exist again. But to an observer in the three-dimensional realm this was not the case…the blue sphere existed, fully in tact, long before and after it made contact with the plane. This simple model shows why so many visionaries and ‘great souls’ (as Einstein referred to them) have classified the advanced human’s ideological cognition as an illusion, a grand illusion caused by our extremely limited sensory equipment patched into an equally limited onboard computer whose sole function is to help navigate our temporal form’s journey through an equally temporal landscape. Pure cognition is thus limited to our computer’s interface with the wafer-thin surfaces of ‘matter in motion’.

“To know that you know what you know…and that you do not know what you do not know…is true wisdom.”


We super thinking, super cerebral, super ideological primates actually know very little of what there is to ‘know’… this all courtesy of our ability to think. Our thinking process is predicated upon (and confined to) the realm of imagination, thought forms, memories, conjurations, linear projections, etc., each a reflection of and informed by the very finite and ever-changing three-dimensional chimera that we are temporarily held captive in (Shakespeare’s term was ‘mortal coil’). Our limited thinking process, based as it is upon images and concepts, can never ever comprehend the subtleties of truth, pure reality or divinity… it’s like light trying to comprehend the properties of darkness or presence trying to comprehend absence. The nature of one is so diametrically opposed to the other that they could be universes apart. But in fact they occur simultaneously as in Ouspensky’s theorem… that pure reality and a very grand illusion co-exist simultaneously… like a hand in glove. Good example. The glove represents the ephemeral finite package (our physical bodies) and the hand represents the substance, the contents within (quantum reality, truth and divinity). Who wrote this script? I mean, what an intriguing set up… that we mortal, gyrating dervishes whirl out our ‘one hour upon the stage’ then quickly disappear into a wisp of dust without ever having the slightest inkling that we were ‘up to our eyeballs’ in divinity all the time.

So, via hyper-thinking and the ability to arbitrarily manufacture ideas we have constructed a ‘Berlin Wall’ between us (our super minds) and the truth existing deep within ourselves. This ‘wall’ of images, ideas, thought forms and beliefs probably accounts for the number of cultures spread throughout the globe and throughout history who have attempted to cross this ‘great divide’ between illusion and reality. And, by understanding that hyper-thinking constitutes the barrier, many (cultures) came up with unique, effective methodologies for bringing the chattering, image-dependent mind into a state of stillness and presence in order to make the profound journey into a state of divine consciousness. We could learn much from these folks.

The Christmas Tree

The universal (yet imperceptible) field of consciousness that permeates our three-dimensional realm can be likened to the hidden green power cord running through a typical Christmas tree. Both constitute one single, pervasive, unbroken field of energy that generates and sustains all the seemingly separate parts within their respective systems. One additional characteristic that both the Christmas light and the human body share is a rather short life expectancy… perishability is built right into their design, right into their DNA. At the end of their cycles – what we refer to as ‘death’ – the physical human body and (in the case of the Christmas light) the colored glass bulb are discarded. The phenomenon of death (being as essential to life as birth itself) is a commonly accepted occurrence in the cyclic unfolding of any system, be it a Christmas tree or a universe.

‘A single droplet of ocean spray contains all the qualities and properties of the great ocean itself…know the nature of the droplet and you will assuredly know the nature of the ocean.’

During their all-too-brief sojourns the colored glass bulb and the human body are flooded with energy and life that is inextricably connected to the universal power grids pervading their realms. Death and taxes may be a certainty but during this brief millisecond of existence we humans (in this example) have the opportunity to bridge the ‘gap’ between our limited cognizance of the tenuous and temporary realm without, and the unbounded consciousness of our divine essence within. In fact, we have the opportunity to realize (and actualize) the wise advice of an ancient Greek philosopher who once said ‘know thyself’.

Or, to put this in the context of our Christmas tree, to become less and less the colored glass bulb and to become more and more the energy and life force inside.

(Note: The above subsection contains snippets and elements gleaned from a much larger essay titled The Allegory of the Christmas Tree. To access that essay click here.

Dennis Lakusta

October 31, 2018