Perceptions and projections
Our View has an enormous impact on the way we move, breathe, and act.
There is a classic example used in Vedic philosophy that illuminates this point: A farmer returns to his home after a long day in the fields. Upon entering a dark room, he sees a snake coiled in the corner. He jumps back in fear, heart racing, and lights a lamp. As light fills the room, the man realizes the snake is actually a coiled rope. He sighs in relief. Immediately, his fear is gone. The body, however, continues to tremble for a while as stress hormones make their way through his bloodstream. This affects his posture, heart rate, breathing, and many other physiological and psychological functions. His mental and physical reactions were real. Even though, in reality, there was no snake and no threat.
Our perceptions and projections are kicking up dust all the time.
Many of our worries and problems are simply snakes in the rope. Ignorance causes us to think, speak, and act in disaccord with the way things actually are.
Most of our suffering arises from misperception. Misperception results from seeing the world through clouded assumptions.
The trouble is, our presumptions don’t particularly like to be exposed. Assumptions, like ignorance, function best in the dark. When we begin to shine the light of awareness on our assumptions, they get a little uncomfortable.
As beliefs get challenged, feelings of irritation or defensiveness can easily arise. This is usually an indication that a particular belief is concealing a more sensitive issue. Usually, it’s the fact that we feel confused about more things than we care to admit. Our façade has been breached. We don’t have answers to life’s big questions. We’re not sure who we are. We have feelings, sensations, and experiences that we don’t fully understand. Beliefs and assumptions offer temporary relief. We lose ourselves in them. Like an anesthesia, they buffer the sting of immediate contact with the imperfect reality of our personal situation.
One of our culture’s core assumptions is that life has to make sense.
Society values knowing. We give precedence to people who know. We make a big fuss over faith, conviction, and belief. People with strong convictions seem to transcend the humbling dilemma of non-knowing. They are confident and magnetic. Charismatic. We like that. It’s exciting. Maybe they know something we don’t. Our cultural presumption is that if we can just get rid of uncertainty and feel solid in ourselves, we will finally be comfortable and happy.
It doesn’t happen like that.