What is Perception?

Nonduality at Juniper Level Botanic Garden

Perception is the relative term humans apply to the singular and undivided dance of what is and the simultaneous perception of it.  As humans we seem to have the tendency to morph our sensory experiences of what is into words, into a relative language that seems to describe and objectify what is appearing with a personal me located at the center of all appearances.  We deeply believe we end with the perimeter of our skin.  Yet science is showing us this is not the truth of what we are.

Most languages are based on a relative world…a world of this compared to that, of up and down, of here and there, of past and future. Language is based on the flawed premise that there are separate subjects and objects, concepts and ideas, having specific tendencies and characteristics and appearing in time and space.

Humans like to name, claim, and label what seems to be unfolding….we refer to this as life or reality, and we even teach our babies and children how to name, claim, and label everything that seems to be appearing.  This tendency to categorize and judge happens innocently enough though, since the vast majority of humans never question what they are taught about reality, especially in well-educated cultures.

Most humans judge and sort life experiences into relative categories/buckets such as:

“worthy” or “unworthy”
“perfect” or “imperfect”
“loving” or “unloving”
“good” or “bad”
“better” or “worse.”

These judgments, claims, beliefs, opinions, and convictions are the root cause of all personal suffering as we have created a mental projection of ourselves as being separate beings. We accept some of life, and push away what we do not like, value, believe, endorse, or condone. We create buckets describing what we believe defines who we believe we are.

Animals, on the other hand, are not saddled with the tendency to name, label, and claim experiences. They do not judge or evaluate life or reality into relative buckets as humans do. Animals are in tune with the organic and primal urges moving through them – as them.  They live simply…and are simply being “lived.”

This is not to imply that physical pain does not bother them. Of course animals feel physical pain. I’m pointing to the mental and psychologial suffering.

Animals have no mental ruminating and psychological suffering.  Yes, animals seen to show raw emotion, but they do not judge what is unfolding as life, they simply experience what is appearing and their bodies organically react.

Jake and Elwood, our kitties, will not accidentally nibble on their legs because of primal sensory memories like pain and pleasure. They seem to do just fine living on the farm and in the house with us.  Neither do Jake and Elwood have a vocabulary for the objects they perceive, and they need no words or labels to accept their food, the sofa, the door, or the bed.

On the other extreme, Tony and I use language that labels and describes the objects inside our home. We recognize images of our stuff called forth from the past and stored in photo albums or as digital images.  The cats do not collect photos nor make distinctions about any of the objects in our home.  In this way, animals are like small children before children they begin to name, label, and claim objects and experiences.

When the kitties jump on the sofa they have no thoughts about the sofa, what color it is, how soft or hard it is, how heavy it is. Tony and I do. We ponder why we bought leather sofas when we have cats. Ignorance at its finest.  We characters have all kinds of labels for all our stuff. The cats are always present and their heads are never deep in thought…never deep in the weeds pondering when to share a sensitive topic or to discuss a challenging situation.

We’ve never seen our kitties worry, fret, or ponder the past or the future…they embrace this…here…now…appearing as what is.  They never complain about the color of the sofa or the cleanliness of the mudroom. The kitties have no preferences, they go with the flow…just like small children who are exploring the world with an open heart and a bushel of curiosity.

Tony and I as conceptual/mental entities exist only as this dream of separation. There is nothing beyond the dreamscape. Nothing, and not even nothing. Knowing the dreamscape is a mentally projected virtual reality and that the characters are illusory seems to allow an easing, a loosening, and there is no longer any attempt to escape the illusory world we appear to be inhabiting.

And yet, there is nothing really going on. It is seen directly that there are no separate objects divided by space or separate events divided by time. The angst and fear of believing we have control of our characters vanishes and it’s felt as a physical and psychological release of giant proportions.

It becomes obvious that life unfolds spontaneously and uncaused…that the idea of you being a doer is silly. It’s what Paul Hedderman refers to as “traveling lighter.” And it becomes as clear as day that the dreamscape, the illusory duality/relativity is what allows the recognition of oneness or unity and the ability to experience the relative duality of self and other.

Without duality, there can be no self and other, no characters to play with.  You might wake to the dream and see that you are a dream character, but you as a character will never escape the dreamscape.


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