With physical eyes, I see into the physical world. With the mind’s eye, I see into the world of the mind, which has its own forms and textures as surely as the physical world. With the eye of the heart, I resonate with the play of feeling, formless yet as distinct as light and shadow on a summer’s day. All of these are the objects of perception.
Is perception based in the brain and nervous system, the cumulative result of experience which has patterned a genetically constructed mechanism evolving over time? And is the ‘I’ of this experiencing merely the reflexive thinker, the afterthought of a psychological entity who reacts to incoming data based on conditioning and claims the reactions as itself?
Or, are we perceiving beings, whose essence is in the knowing, before the processing of the brain and the afterthoughts of the thinker?
The paramecium, a single cell creature, has no brain or nervous system. It senses food and when to flee. Is this chemical programming evolved over millions of years or a quality of knowing? In sensing, is it all a matter of structure performing its tasks mechanically or is there knowing behind the sensing, a reader of the data, a perceiver of experience, looking into life?
Does it not seem that the universe is intelligent, that it is a knowing entity? Do you sometimes have the sense that the universe is looking back at you, in the eyes of another, a human, an animal, an insect? Is knowing a shared phenomenon?
It seems to me that the world is a play of perception, of what I see and do not see. The seeing comes first, before what is seen. Sometimes I have the sense that the universe sees through my eyes.
As Rumi says, “Looking is a trace of what you are looking for”.
If you can look and simultaneously know (not think) you are looking, you have entered into an ‘a priori’ state of being.
The problem is that perception is obscured by the psychology of the perceiver.
Yes. The constructed self…that dearly held pastiche of identifications, undigested experience and conditioned reactions to stimuli…interferes with perception, expending its resources interpreting the little that is perceived and limiting the range of what can be perceived. The aim of observing is to see and unravel the constructed self. Meditation provides an opportunity to see the mechanisms of interference, the stage manager as one might call it, and experience moments of bare attention.
What is the difference between perception and attention?
When perception is voluntarized, it is attention. Attention is perception but also the qualities of holding, connecting and choosing, all of which are aspects of will. So, attention is perception and will together. Of course, there is also automatic attention but this is another matter for another night. Every impulse has will but not every impulse is conscious of itself and its source.