What if even the most highly educated & accomplished among us habitually "play small"? Below was written by a well-known, highly-respected, highly-educated psychiatrist & educator, Roger Walsh MD, PhD:
“One general principle that soon emerged was that my defenses, biases, and lack of experience limited my capacity to appreciate information or people of greater wisdom than I myself possessed. Moreover, it seemed that not only was I passively incapable of hearing it, but was also at times actively defended against it.
On one such occasion, I went to a public lecture given by Ram Dass … with approximately three thousand other people. During the course of the evening, he started to outline a multilevel model of consciousness and described the component states in ascending order from the ordinary to the more transcendent. My reactions and those of the audience provided unexpected insights into the nature of our usual state of consciousness and its relationship to apparently more developed states.
As he ran through the first two levels, they seemed very reasonable and readily understandable, the third was a little less usual, and the description to the fourth immediately evoked an experience in which I heard his words with perfect clarity, was struck by their import, and immediately afterwards could not remember a word he said. My next memory was of being awakened by the snores of the person next to me, and looking round the hall I saw that approximately one quarter of the audience had very suddenly fallen asleep.
… I had undergone massive repression or denial resulting in a literal and extremely rapid loss of consciousness, as presumably had a significant number of those people who had fallen asleep at the time I did. In order to repress something, we have to at least partially recognize it and assess it as dangerous. Yet if the descriptions of the higher states of consciousness were recognized and repressed, it could only mean that they were already known and that this knowledge was denied (entry into conscious) awareness through active defenses.
This and related experiences led me to a total reevaluation of the relationship between ordinary and ‘higher’ states. Formerly I had assumed that deeper wisdom was attained through the acquisition of new knowledge and understanding. However, now I was forced to consider the possibility that we already possess the requisite knowledge, that our usual state represents an actively and defensively contracted state, and that higher states are attainable, not by the acquisition of something new, but by the release of current defenses and the resultant expression of already existing capacities.” Roger Walsh MD PhD
John Welwood ed. “Awakening the Heart. East / West Approaches to Psychotherapy and the Healing Relationship.” Shambhala, 1983.