This is a continuation of the previous post Seeing the World Through Filters.
We discussed about how we perceive the world through the mind lens and we have some filters in front of the lens that provides meaning and context that affect on how we interact with the outside world.
We touched on how some of these filters were products of human evolution. Having a stand of either liking or disliking to something was crucial to survival. Humans survived by knowing what to like, or attracted to, and what to dislike, or repulsed to. Attraction towards sweet food – because it is a source of energy (important during hunter-gatherer times). Repulsion towards decaying things – because it potentially could bring disease.
This like-dislike, attraction-repulsion is called raga & dvesha and is two of the five kleshas. Klesha is often translated as mental afflictions, is described in Patanjali Yoga Sutra 2:3. The other three kleshas are ignorance – lack of awareness (avidya), I-am-ness (asmita), and clinging to life (abhinivesha). Kleshas prevent us to see things as they really are, and bound us to endless cycle of suffering (samsara). They are like filter in front of the mind lens, afflicting the way we understand the world.
Attempting to end this endless cycle of suffering can be done by reducing the intensity and eventually destroying raga & dvesha. It’s like reducing the coloring of the filter until it’s clear. How?
The first step is by acknowledging them, realizing that it’s all perception. It is us that attach value to things in order to understand the outside world. Things in themselves don’t have inherent value. Good/evil, beautiful/ugly – they all are, literally, in our head. Like the saying “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” – change the word ‘beauty’ with other adjectives and ‘eye’ with ‘mind’.
Everything has two extremes – negative/positive, too much/too little, black/white, yin/yang, light/dark, hot/cold, heaven/earth, good/evil, and so on.
But is that true? Is that reality? Or is it perception? Our perception? They way we perceive things?
The weather is just the weather… We attach our perception to the weather. When we say “The weather is hot today” – actually it is more correct to say “I’m perceiving the weather as hot today”. I may perceive the weather as hot, but someone from different environment may perceive the same weather as cool. So it’s all in the experiencer’s perception. And the weather is just the weather.
Because we forgot about the “we perceive” part – we are making a shortcut. Because of this shortcut we forgot that it is us that perceive… and then we forgot that we always have the option how to react on that perception… and then we play victim. This is difficult to explain…
I remember one scene from the movie Instinct – Anthony Hopkins’ character were sitting in the rain with the gorilla. The gorillas were just sitting there, Anthony Hopkins was using a big leaf as umbrella. Then he realized that he doesn’t need the umbrella. So he put down the big leaf and sat there getting wet just like the other gorillas. That’s when the gorillas accepted him as part of the family. In the context of what I’ve been trying to say here, when he uses umbrella he was still thinking in the duality mode.. eg rain is bad for me so I should take shelter. When he let go the umbrella he no longer think about rain as negative. Rain is just is.
From my personal blog post Duality & Perception (2012)
With understanding that it is all perception, we stopped reacting and start responding to the outside world. This is crucial in the uncoloring process. If we keep on reacting, the color of the filter gets more and more intensified.
To be continued with more on how to reduce the coloring.
Picture: Orange sky as it is (no coloring nor editing) – Pelabuhan Ratu, 2005