There are many posts on this blog that would make you think I have a short fuse with my friends. However, there is nothing further from the truth. In fact, I have one friend that has lately been a source of renewal in my practice and he has given me much to think about. The inspiration for this blog was a conversation I had with him about perception. I sincerely thank him for his friendship and his honesty.
What is perception? Perception is how we view the world through our mental filters. The filters are products of upbringing and past lives. How do these filters affect our views? When driving down the road and a person blows past us driving well over the speed limit: what do we think? “That idiot is going to kill somebody!!!” “What makes him so important that he doesn’t have to obey the law?!” Basically, we view him as a narcissist that has no regard for the decent laws of society. He is a bad person. But, can we really make that judgement? What if he is speeding to get to his mother’s home after receiving a call that she is having a heart attack? What if this man is delivering an organ for transplant? How do you know? You don’t! That is perception! We aren’t looking at reality, we are adding our own story to it…it is delusion.
Another thought: how often have we sped? Are we a bad people? No, not at all. We know why we speed and it made perfect sense. But what is reality. In this case, the speeder is simply a man driving. Nothing more. We can’t really say he is speeding. May be his speedometer is broken and he thinks he is doing the speed limit. What if our speedometer is the one broken?! How do we know? We don’t!
How do we get through the delusion and to reality? We can cut through the delusion by challenging our thoughts. We can let go of our judgements, which are the basis of perceptions. When we see a person with a bad hair cut or is overweight, what do we do? We judge how that person looks and that judgment is a perception that colors our view. How can we love a person when we can’t get past their shirt, hair or weight? When we let go of our perception and with bare attention and wisdom view a situation, we will not see an overweight person in a “bad” shirt, we see a “person.”
What do we accomplish by cutting through our perceptions? Perceptions take up most of our metal space. It clutters our minds with delusion and confusion. No one is hurt by our perceptions except for ourself, but they can cause us to act in harmful ways. How many times have we wounded ourself with the whip of our perceptions believing someone harmed us. And then, being armed with these perceptions, how often do we then turn that whip on our brothers and sisters causing unknown harm? The kamma we pick up from that action is enought to keep is in lower realms for a long time! However, when we eliminate the perceptions, there is a vacuum which has to be filled. And, the only thing left after our perceptions are gone is love. Not the amorous ideal expressed in harlequin novels, but real love: the all-encompassing feeling of equanimity, a love for every being with whom we come into contact, a love that fills us with gratitude and joy.
An interesting fact of which I was recently reminded by blog guy named DaveyWavey (www.breaktheillusion.com) is that the mind can only have one thought at a time. If we are having a thought of hate or judgement, we cannot have a thought of love. If our mind is blinded by perceptions and delusions, we cannot see reality!
Maybe it is time to start the work of breaking through delusion and perception and get to reality. Maybe it’s time to start clearing our mind of the clutter and filling the mind with love and reality.