THINKING THROUGH PERCEPTION…

Photo: ‘Kanizsa’s Triangle Illusion’ – Wikipedia
https://tinyurl.com/y6pwr5oq

THINKING THROUGH PERCEPTION…

Thinking involves many different mental processes. For instance, perceiving visually I most often take for granted that when I see something, it’s a fact. BUT… if I take the time to investigate what I THINK I saw, I am astounded at how ‘inaccurate’ I actually am. Take the Kanizsa Triangle Illusion pictured here, as an example of how, in the instant of perception an impression is reflected, and I look for what is familiar about it in an effort to make sense of what I see.

I almost immediately conclude that there are circles and triangles pictured in black and white. But actually… there are no circles or triangle there… rather, they are suggested by ‘spatially separate fragments that give the impression of a bright white triangle, and possibly others, defined by sharp illusory contours, three occluding black circles, and a black-outlined triangle’… NO CIRCLES OR TRIANGLE ON THE PAGE, they are simply suggested, as my mind fills in what is NOT there. In fact, in order to describe what is happening I use the words ‘triangle’ and ‘circles’, as if positing that they ARE there, despite what I’m saying to the contrary.

‘Perception’ points to a lightning-fast process, visually or through the other senses. Rinpoche in his books often invites us to explore how we perceive, to inquire if we really ‘see’ what is there… or are we perhaps ‘skimming over’ referring INTERACTIONS between the subject who is perceiving, and what the subject takes to be an object… a process in time we seem compelled to engage in, just to make the object meaningful.

It’s quite interesting to observe the process of perception in EACH of our senses, to understand how an initial stimulation is interpreted and identified… In “Knowledge of Time and Space”, p. 392, Rinpoche says, regarding our sensing fields that establish our reality, “within their activity of establishing, original intimacy remains open for discovery and appreciation.

So as I continuously try to get my stories straight… what I narrate to myself what I perceive as the way things are… I seem to often confuse or conflate the things that I encounter with the symbolic meanings and descriptions I assign to them. This just seems like my normal human perceptual process… as if the map were actually the territory it symbolizes. Perhaps it has to do with encountering a background ‘some-thing’, and then automatically and simultaneously, the intrinsic activity of perception is happening. It reminds me of water cascading over a precipice… at some point something coheres or pools together… and I declare, “That’s it!” That frilly, stringy, waving, flickering thing in the breeze that I’ve encountered is a certain type of ‘TREE’.

It seems important to observe this happening. And what I’ve noticed is, gradually I seem less obligated to identify with my idea of the thing… I effectively counter the tendency to confuse the thing with my thoughts ABOUT the thing…the names, and images I remember. The gravity or weightiness I might ascribe to my story… that which infuses my thought-rushing, my ‘minding’… more space is introduced, more background and foreground is allowed, a more open atmosphere seems available as my focus opens, and I’m at ease and less likely to be emotionally carried away or misdirected…

AT THE LINC… A TSK student describes in his practice notes, exploring the INTIMACY in the act of perception… noticing not only WHAT arises, but inquiring in to HOW it arises… getting a glimpse of how we ‘interpret’ our way through time…

Focus – the knowledge aspect of the establishing activity of the senses

About David Filippone

For more than 25 years I’ve been a 'student' of the Time, Space, Knowledge vision (TSK), not a teacher. And I write from an inquiring student's perspective neither proclaiming nor declaring. I figuratively sit in awe at the feet of a master, Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche. For the past 12 years, my personal TSK guide has been Jack Petranker, founder of the "Center for Creative Inquiry" (CCI), past dean of the "Tibetan Nyingma Institute", and author of "When It Rains Does Space Get Wet?", "Inside Knowledge", and other TSK related books and articles... I've also received TSK instruction from the late, Carolyn Pasternak of the Odiyan Retreat Center... As a volunteer for the past several years, I've been curating the TSK focused, CCI Facebook page at... https://tinyurl.com/ybyfolcf
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