What is correct perception? Correct means that which is done without error. To perceive is to cognize and have something become known through internal sense apparatus. Correct perception, then, is correct knowing accomplished through accurately using the internal senses.
The five senses are amazing tools of cognition. We see, we taste, we hear, we touch, and we smell life every minute. It is clear that the range of human sense experience, and what we come to know as a result, is far reaching and varied. For example, a musician will hear more within a bird song that someone untrained in tone and note. A massage therapist or physical therapist will see in a person’s gait or posture things that might not be noticed by an untrained eye. The massage therapist will feel the nature of the body and follow the intuitive trail of discomfort with his or her hands. These are forms of perception.
Human beings have another sense apparatus: the mind. It is the mind that actually is the mechanism of correct or incorrect cognition. The mind gives a sense or meaning to that which the organs of perception have actually sensed. For example, the taste buds taste strawberry. To the taste buds, strawberry is a mixture of sweet and sour. Our tongue and mouth feel the texture of strawberry. The texture of strawberry is soft but firm and juicy. But it is the mind that gives these senses a meaning and a preference.
Here lies the rub or the liberation and the wrong or correct understanding of a perception. Cognition – to know because we have experienced something – is born from the mind. Cognition is what the mind does with the data perceptions offered by eye, ear, nose, tongue, or organ of touch. Data perceptions includes what we read in books, hear from others, or receive from any source.
For example, the eye might see a coiled something in a corner. The eyes, the optic nerve, and the neural pathways together produce the image to the brain of the perceiver. But it is the mind, a collection of memories, beliefs, repeated habits of thought, and projections of reality that will create the response to the coiled something in the corner. If the perceiver has a fear of snakes, or is fearful in general, then the coiled something in the corner is deemed as to be feared by the mind. The mind doesn’t really know what it is (being a coiled something in the corner), but according to previous experience (in this life or prior lives), the coiled something is to be feared, and an anxious mental story immediately arises within the person. If the person has been an adventurous child in the woods, seen snakes, and/or played with ropes, then this person’s mind will investigate with curiosity instead of fear and will probably delight in the outcome of either snake or rope.
Cognition is the result of the mind’s function which is to label and ascribe meaning or purpose to something. Perception is the result of the five sense apparatus that make things known. Perceiving takes in data and synthesizes it. Then cognition is engaged to give meaning to the collection of perceptions.
A conversation that I had recently with someone provides an example of perceived data or information and the human cognitive process and what it does with information. The information was Walmart selling an increasing variety of organic foods. We each had thoughts about the positive and negative of that based on a view of interdependence and yet came to different conclusions. Each of us had a story in our mind about Walmart selling more organic foods which included both beneficial and detrimental projections.
Correct perception, then, is realizing that the something is not actually the story we tell ourselves about the something. A strawberry is water, minerals, and vitamins combined together. Whether we like them or don’t, have an allergy to them, or have pictures of the annual Spring picking – these things are not in the strawberry. They are in our mind and our body-mind connection. Correct perception is to move through the day with the understanding that the story is a story. It has meaning to us, or we wouldn’t keep the story. The story might have purpose, like that fire can be dangerous. Or it might be flat out incorrect, such as statements and stories of bigotry, or how the conqueror tells the history, or delusions of grandeur or of self-hatred.
Wrong perceptions are predicated upon wrong, limited and limiting views, often ones that include personalization. This happens on small private scale such as the snake-rope example as well as on a large scale like the conqueror telling the history or stories spun to engage a war.
Cognitions (the known that becomes the story) with selfishness as their base will always be wrong, limited, and limiting and will use perceptions as validation for the selfish view. Intransigence about global climate change is an good example of this.
Correct perception, then, boils down to two essential understandings: a) interconnectedness-interdependence which is the antidote to selfishness and b) emptiness-infinite potential which adjusts or empties the story. All existence is completely and infallibly interconnected. That interconnectedness is predicated upon complete interdependence. Examples to illustrate this could be chosen from Nature, from your day, from the meal you last ate, or the electricity running the mechanism you are reading this post on. Choose one and consider the fullness of interdependence that is in that one example, knowing that there are factors of interconnectedness that you don’t currently know. Correct perception relies upon a two-fold process: scope back and have a wide consideration and realize that the single self (me on any scale) is focused on the single which is, by nature, wrong perception.
The second essential understanding is emptiness-infinite potential. The strawberry is not what we like or dislike about it. Nor is it what an ant, bird, farmer, or drop of rain might “say” about it either. And, of course, you are not what you say about yourself and I am not what I say about myself. We know that is so because what we say changes through the day. “I am late.” “I am hungry.” “I am tired.” “I am Donna.” “I am a woman.” The fact that these I am statements change makes clear that the person is not what the person says about him or herself. As I come to understand that I am not these I am stories and statements more of the infinite potential that I am is possible. Freeing myself of my stories, I actually am more free. Emptying my ideas of myself from my ideas of myself, I can begin to discover who and what is this self. Who and what is Donna?
Now organs of perception, unfiltered and unaltered by the mind (of me), provide a new adventure – the adventure of correct perception. It turns out that we are deleting or marginalizing whole types of perception because of the stories in our mind. This is why orrect perception is a whole new view of reality, of what already is.