The Power of Perception
Although reality exists as something separate from ourselves, it is only on rare occasions that we catch glimpses of it. This is not because our thoughts create our reality. For actually, this is only part of the truth. It is our perceptions that give birth to our reality.
To create or receive a thought that is not filtered through the lens of our perception is impossible. For all that we see, hear, read, and think is processed by our perception before we ever become conscious of it. Thus, rather than changing our thoughts, we must begin by altering our perception.
The choices we make may ultimately control the pattern of our lives. But it is our perceptions that create the thoughts that lead to the choices. Everything in life has an organic cause. If we wish to understand the process of a tree’s growth, we must look at the roots instead of the branches or the leaves.
Each of us is like a tree. And unless we focus on the root, we will never be able to measure or comprehend our growth. The health of the fruit that comes forth from a tree is alway dependent on the root, which, in turn, is dependent upon the soil. This is why it is crucial to furnish ourselves with the environment that we need to grow as we are meant to. You cannot become a tall, strong, tree if you are planted in soil that does not promote your health and well-being.
But until you perceive yourself as you are, separate from what others have told you about yourself, the soil you choose will not necessarily be what is best for you. The environment we find ourselves in is usually a reflection of who we think we are. Similarly, the people who are in our lives oftentimes reflect how we feel about ourselves.
It is not a coincidence that those who are happy and self-assured are surrounded by those who support them. Like does attract like. However, it is not because like seeks itself out. Rather, it is because that which is like something else recognizes itself and is drawn to it. In many ways, to continue to seek and to struggle is a way to fight against life. Seeking may lead to finding. But oftentimes that which we find is not what was truly sought by us.
There is an inherent tendency in human nature that causes us to find what we are looking for whether it is there or not. And when one embarks on a quest with a sense of unhealthy, frantic desperation, we may well grasp at anything that vaguely resembles that which we are searching for. We can easily convince ourselves that what we have found is what we sought, since, through our perceptions, we can create any reality that we want. This is why it is possible for some people to ignore the things that are blatantly obvious to those around them.
Perception is the most powerful tool that we have. And with it, we can make of ourselves a hero or a victim, a saint or a sinner, an individual or a conformist. In the words of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, “Perception is . . . the fundamental basis which cannot be ignored.”
Our ideas may be what changes the world. But it is through our perceptions that we change ourselves. For as long as the ideas we create are filtered through faulty perceptions, we will be unable to ascertain what changes are needed. And until we master the art of discriminating between false and true perceptions, the validity of that which we perceive will be a matter of guesswork.
Much of the time, our perceptions are accurate. But because we listen to what others tell us, our original perception mutates and transforms itself into something entirely different. So, we may find ourselves carrying through with actions and making choices that we feel a tremendous amount of conflict about.
We may even experience the sensation that we are being guided to act in a way contrary to ourselves. This is because deep within us, no matter what our perceptions tell us, there is an abiding sense of who we are that nothing and no one can completely take away from us. And when we reach the point where we understand the power that perceptions have over us, we will also find the capacity to control them rather than letting them control us.
In a broad sense, perception is to thought what intuition is to intellect. It can either support our thoughts by steering them in the right direction, or it can warp them with flawed logic and twisted reasoning. If our perceptions remain rooted in past experiences, then we perceive the present as merely an extension of what has gone before.
Thus, no matter what really occurs, we will only see the same pattern repeating itself. For without altering our perception, our reality will never change. In a way, our perceptions determine whether we experience freedom or not. For if we allow them to, our perceptions can build a crystal cage around us. They can trap us in a land of make-believe where there are rules that exist only in our minds and limitations that are the product of pure fancy.
Conversely, our perceptions can open up a vista of wondrous possibilities that can inspire us to strive towards accomplishments that others tell us are unrealistic. If in the words of Einstein, “Imagination is more important than knowledge,” we could say that perception is more important than thought. For without perception, thought is passive rather than active. It can only break through the windows of its own existence when it is shaped, for good or ill, by our perceptions.
Peace, Love, and Joy,
This page and all written material at My Odyssey is written by Sascha Norris. (C) Copyright 2010 by Sascha Norris. All Rights Reserved