This season of gratitude and loving intent naturally lends itself to reflection and greater Self-awareness. In the spirit of that reflection, I share here more of my understanding about the perceptual illusion, three ways in which our very human nature selects the information presented to us, biasing our awareness in particular directions. This process is our original ‘fake news,’ that which keeps our systems running in the same place instead of moving ahead in consciousness to meet the potentials of our times.
May these thoughts invite your own expansion and contributions to this critical moment in human history.
All the best, Jeff
ONE. PERCEPTION IS LIKE THE CIA: It presents us with only the information ‘we need to know’
Our perceived world is all that we know of reality. In fact, perception is the only way that we can know reality.
But perception is like the CIA; it classifies us and restricts our access to classified information. We are classified, not by our rank in the organization, but by our position in the tree of life, that is, by our species. Furthermore, it is not some bureau chief that classifies us, it is evolution.
But the standard by which “we” (by “we” I mean not just people, but every species of life) are classified is the same. It is according to the need to know. [Along with everything else, evolution furnishes every species of life with a specific sensorium (senses) and this sensorium, in turn, is precisely tuned to what the species in question needs to survive. It accesses the information that the plant or animal “needs to know”.]
But even this data that we are privileged to know has a slant; it is intended to bias us towards an outcome.
What is this outcome? It is survival.
So, what makes the perceptual illusion illusory? To begin with, it is being limited to, or in the case of the human species, based upon our senses. In fact, that is the first way that perception creates an illusion. Because it is based on our senses, our inner world of perception is subjective. In fact, objectivity flat out doesn’t exist, it cannot. All observation is definitionally subjective.
However, this information, this data that we have privileged access to, is meant to tell us what the reality out there is like. So how and why is it illusory? It’s illusory because it doesn’t tell us what reality is; it only presents us with a partial appearance, an illusion that suffices to keep us alive and reproducing! We must never lose sight of this beneficial aspect of the perceptual illusion, because that is why it evolved in the first place.
So, the first evolutionary benefit – as well as the last, is survival. All of the information that we have access to is related to one thing – survival. And in the final analysis, what evolution wants to preserve, whatever form it is embodied in – is consciousness.
But this is the rub – the turning of the circle – what is the essential nature of this consciousness that evolution is preserving at any cost? It is the embodiment – of the experience – of the drive to survive.
TWO. PEOPLE AND THINGS APPEAR TO BE MATERIAL OBJECTS: science and language confirm this perceptual illusion
The second way perception creates an illusion is by objectifying subjectivity, making the appearance seem real. This creates the consensual reality we know as materiality.
Materiality dissects the continuous system of Oneness into separate and apparently physical things. It does this by integrating sensory inputs with memory and cognition to create the illusion of materiality.
The scientific method potentially offers a way of going beyond all facets of the aforementioned illusion, but in order to realize this potential, science has to be philosophically sound – and it is not. It is important to keep in mind that science itself is built upon and largely confined to perception. Therefore, even its potential is limited.
However, upon re-admitting rigorous, philosophical analysis after the illusion is made visible, there is a jump possible, a re-conceptualization or re-figuring. After making this jump, the perceiver can conceive of real reality, aperceptual reality; a reality free of the illusions of sensory observation, comparison, relativity, dualization and thingification.
Yet, there are even problems with this. One of the problems is that there are no words capable of symbolizing, designating or even just describing reality. All the words that we commonly use to designate sensations, percepts, concepts or other metaphors for percepts, are nouns or things confirming the illusion, and hence, in the context of aperceptual reality, devoid of meaning.
We have to invent new ways of describing the unexperienceable and/or the unperceivable. Or else we have to build a field using PsychoNoetic Clearing, meditation, koan practice, etc., and, then, just use words to point to it.
The evolutionary benefit of the illusion of materiality or physicality is protection or safety – which, of course, also directly translates into survival. Without this illusion a cobra would not seem a snake, a lion would not seem dangerous, a knife would not seem a knife and a bus would not seem a bus – that is until it ran you over.
THREE. I APPEAR TO BE AN INDIVIDUAL AT THE CENTER: Benefits and disadvantages of this perceptual illusion
The third way perception creates an illusion is by arrangement. Perception rearranges the appearance of things so that the perceiver appears to itself as the center of the world – whereas in aperceptual reality, there is no such thing. (Instead, the perceiver is only the center of its world.)
When human beings are concerned, this leads into the commonly held belief that “I am an individual, and, as an individual, I am the center of the world.” The reality is that no one is wholly an individual, just a holon (both a part and a whole), and everyone is only a center.
If this misconception is not fully corrected (and, because everyone perceives from their center, it never fully is), it leads to the assumption that the survival of the perceiver (i.e., the perceiving consciousness) is of the upmost priority. This is the root of the survival consciousness which jump-started evolution in the first place.
The evolutionary benefit, then, is the illusion that as the center of the universe, we are the most important things in the universe, and therefore, our survival is essential. This illusion is an essential component of striving to survive, which again is a necessary condition for evolution to take place.
Yet, in human affairs, the centrism of the perceptual illusion also promotes the self-centeredness which is at the root of most social evils, including the thingification and rejection of other people and the assumption that ‘it’s all up to me.’ From the perspective of humanity as a whole, there is certainly reason for us to evolve beyond this illusion.
The one and the only way people are individuals is from their perspective… Joshan
What you think you know
Is just what you see
But you see through what you already believe
And what you believe
Just ain’t so
Brilliant! Yes, I wholly appreciate your definition of this process, dissecting perception and survivalism. Thank you.