Perception vs reality: role of acceptance
Probably the hardest challenge in life is accepting how things, events and people are in reality and not how we perceive or want them to be. Perceptions are just that: not necessary based on fact, not necessary right or wrong.
Many brakes are blocking our way to accept life and its content as factual reality.
Let me name the most powerful ones:
Our expectation, culture, beliefs, ideas, education, experience, emotion, and sensorial stimuli.
All of them are very effective on their own because they can be subconscious and controlled by our
dominant ego. They are creating mind-set, labels, hope and surprises.
The results of the combined actions of these multitude brakes is how we see, experience and feel our surrounding world are called perceptions that is impressions or viewpoint.
These automatic perceptions can induce suffering from its 3 main sources: desire, hatred and ignorance. One should add: not getting what we want, getting what we don’t want, regretting the past and worries of the future.
Our perception about almost anything creates strong preferences for how things should be or should not be
When we believe things should be one way and they are not, we tend subconsciousl to bend reality to make them fit within our perception.
At this point perception becomes fictional perception.
Don’t take me wrong:
It is perfectly fine to perceive and have opinion about “a” and “b” or make decision about “c” and “d”. In fact, we have to do these exercises all the time and people are expecting you to do so.
Also, it is perfectly fine as long as our perception is matching reality,…. but how often it does?
The problem rises when our perception of events, people and things does not reflect reality or are wrong. It is like looking at the reflection of an object on a distorted mirror.
During this scenario, Zen practice is advising the following approach:
1) Be aware of your current perception………which is not easy.
2) Does your perception reflecting factual reality or just an unproven assumption?
“ I am currently perceiving this or that: is it reflecting genuine reality of the moment or is it
reflecting a mind-made fictional thought ?” Ex: a thought does exists but is not real.
3) Being right or wrong, do these realities or fictional thoughts are causing me suffering?
4) If so, acceptance of your suffering is key before dealing efficiently with the situation.
Negative feelings may/will stay forever in the mind unless we accept them.
Practicing acceptance helps us counteract our ability to unconsciously skew our perceptions
as we try to make the world fit our beliefs and desires.
It is important to learn to be aware of our perceptions then to assess them such as:
Are they based on factual reality or just unproven or just fiction from our mind?
Are they right or wrong?
If our perceptions are causing suffering, acceptance of our suffering, rather than fight it, is key.
The objects of our perceptions and whether or not to accept or fight them should come only after.
Having an open mind called “don’t know mind” in Zen makes it easier to deal with our perceptions and their effects rather than having a mindset on everything and everybody which often induces negatives feelings.