Oakville Zen Meditation

#93. Dealing with our perceptions: a Zen perspective.25JAN16

Perceptions are input to the mind and emotions are output. Both are instantaneous, non-stoppable and impossible to master. Both control our subsequent behavior before any rational thinking can intervene. Because perceptions are either right or wrong they can play bizarre tricks on us.

How often are your perceptions right or wrong? It is impossible to answer definitely since perceptions vary from one person to another even if the source is identical.

There are only 2 ways to see people, events and the world: the right way or the wrong way. Our perceptions are right when it is reality and our perceptions are wrong when it is not.

How it is means reality. It is liberating because our perceptions are right and our ego loves it!

How it is not means not reality. It is creating illusion and delusion because our perceptions are wrong.

In both cases it is like a game play where we become the players either loser or winner.

We all have personal ideas and values of what reality is or should be and if we do not agree with this obvious reality, negative emotional reactions will pop-up. When we cannot see or don’t want to see things as they are in reality our vision of the world is distorted. Our views are based on zillions of factors such as education, experience, expectations, ideas, values and previous judgments. These distorted views create a fantasy world of delusions made of false interpretations and illusions with the risk of surprise, anger, frustration, disappointment and unhappiness. We have very limited control, if any, in making people and things the way we want them to be. Believing otherwise comes from a serious ego problem. As stated already, it is also a significant cause of frustration, unhappiness and maybe stupidity that many will carry all their life.

How to deal with our perceptions and differentiate the right from the wrong ones?

Perceptions/judgments and realities are two different things. We have to keep this in mind.

Like with any potential problem, the best way to deal with your perceptions is to:

  1. Be mindful to your perceptions and review all concrete facts before finalizing your opinion/judgment.
  2. Keep an open mind in accepting all possibilities in advance: look at people, events and situations as they are and not as you want them to be.
  3. Accept the facts even if you dislike them. This is not an easy decision since many people and situations are not acceptable.
  4. Look at the positive aspects of that person or events rather the negative ones.
  5. Accept the world as it is. This is not a sign of cowardice and your suffering level will go down.

Only after following this approach, may you continue to imagine how you would like the world and people to be according to your values and work toward this goal.

Many of our sufferings come because we want desperately people and the world to be our way or according to our perceptions and not accepting or understanding other possibilities. Happiness can be enhanced dramatically; frustration and anger can be reduced significantly in having an open mind and by engaging with people and the world as they are. This attitude will prevent you from having emotional reactions. It will help you greatly to improve what should be improved around you.

Thoughts to contemplate:

  • Do you agree that perceptions and reality are two different things?
  • Are you mindful to your perceptions and do you test them with objective facts?
  • How often do you see things as they are?
  • How often do you see things, as they are not?
  • How often do you see things, as you want them to be?
  • How did you react when you realize you were wrong?

 Thank you   J.G. Sunim 25JAN016