Perceiving Your Perceptions

words & photo by Brian Thompson.

Have you ever noticed how we always seem to be in a constant state of anticipation?

There’s always one more thing we desire, one more thing we wish for, one more thing we’re convinced we need. What we have is never good enough. It never lasts, it always fades. We’re in a constant state of lack, always looking for something more to fulfill us. One more scoop of ice cream. One more day off. One more new pair of shoes. One more movie. One more night out. We think we'll be happy if we could just get one more raise in our salary, or one more ounce of recognition from someone whose attention we crave.

This is the illusion of reality we’ve created for ourselves, but it exists only within our minds. It is a fabrication. A farce. The fact is, we don't need to be so fundamentally dissatisfied all the time. Most of us already have everything we need to be content.

If you wonder why you always feel so unfulfilled, it’s this cycle of constant craving that is responsible.

If we want to be rid of our sense of incompleteness, we must move beyond our habit of over-thinking and all of our deluded perceptions of self.

Our sense of incompleteness is just that, it's a sense. It is a sensation that has been perceived. But a perception is not the truth, it is a manifestation that has arisen from the mind and cannot be trusted. I say this because all of our thoughts are relative. They are subjective. They are subject to our environment, they are subject to our bias, they are subject to our past experiences, they are subject to our discrimination, they are subject to our knowledge and understanding. Our minds therefore cannot be completley trusted, including our perceptions of self identity which we entangle our emotions with.

It is humanity’s greatest lie to itself that we believe in our own perceptions.

It is this alone that causes all ill-will, all greed, all bigotry, all war, all dissatisfaction and all suffering. Our human experience is subjectified by the impermanence of our passing opinions, criticisms and perceptions — all of which are not reflective of the absolute truth or reality itself.

We are all bound by our perceptions. We are each limited, and driven, by the boundaries of our own beliefs.

But a belief doesn’t necessarily equate with the truth. We convince ourselves of so many things, most of which are fundamentally false.

If I believe that I am unfulfilled, then so I will be (even though it’s only a passing thought). You see, my perceptions only become truth (but only for me) through the power of my unwavering belief. I create how I feel when I believe in my perceptions of self.

But what if I don’t believe my perceptions? Well then lucky me, they don’t become my truth — a-ha! And therein lies the answer to our suffering — don’t believe in any your perceptions of self when they first arise — question them. Don’t accept them as fact.

A perception that isn’t believed, that isn’t grasped at and clung to, is no different than a cloud that passes through a clear blue sky.

Our thoughts and perceptions are no different. They are impermanent manifestations that have spontaneously arisen within the perfect clarity of our empty and spacious awareness. They will pass, if we allow them to, and they will no longer become a belief — they will be nothing more than a passing perception, neither right nor wrong, neither good nor bad — empty of criticism and free from mental attachment.

Un-grasped by further attention, impermanent thoughts disappear. Even the ugly, upsetting and sad ones. We free ourselves from feeling incomplete and unfulfilled when we’re able to detach ourselves from our perceptions of self.

This isn’t to say we can eliminate all of our thoughts, feelings, or perceptions — such things independently arise all on their own. But we can however detach ourselves from the ones that are harmful. We can choose which ones we want to feel. We can be aware of our perceptions, as they manifest, and choose which ones we want to engage with further.

Most of our perceptions are delusional, critical, and overly paranoid thoughts about our self.

We tend to somehow turn everything into a story that’s all about us. We would be better off to just let the thoughts drift by.

The longer you entertain a thought the more it begins to feel real.

When we blindly believe our misperceptions we draw false conclusions from them as well. In turn, we then misunderstand both the world within us and the world outside of us. It is only through having an unobscured awareness of our perceptions themselves, as the perceptions that they undoubtedly are, that we can be free from the dissatisfaction, distress, and suffering they create.

When we are free from our beliefs, we are free to simply be. Clear your mind and allow yourself to perceive your perceptions. It is this clarity of awareness that will open the gateless gate of true understanding.

Observe your thoughts, beliefs, emotions and perceptions as the formless forms of consciousness that they are — it’s an incredibly liberating realization. It’s a true spark of spiritual awakening to realize that each of your perceptions are only impermanent formations of thought, and not reality itself.

The fact is, we either create our contentment or we destroy it — it’s up to us alone. Cultivate your wellbeing by detaching yourself from your perceptions, as they arise, and allow yourself to simply be — free from internal criticism.