Perception, Awareness & Concepts
Our true nature is Awareness - also called Consciousness, Presence-Awareness, Aliveness.
Awareness is Aware. Awareness is Aware of an Object (say, a tree) and also aware of itself, the Subject.
Perception is defined many ways that range from the taking in of sensory input, through the formation of concepts and abstractions, to the organisation and structure of mental models.
The original definition of the word perception 'to thoroughly grasp' (from the latin roots) is the meaning of the word that will be used in this web page. In more detail it means, for the purposes of this web page, full and complete receipt of sensory input and excludes labeling, interpretation, judgments, concept creation and abstraction building and other mind functions. This use of the word is about as 'direct' as you can get.
Perception, however, even direct Perception, is anything but direct.
Visual Perception is immensely complex and the part of the brain set aside for visual processing is very large. (It does not matter if you do not follow the detail in what follows.)
Light enters the eye, is focused on the retina and nerve impulses go via the Optic Nerve to the Brain. However, the nerves from the left half of the left eye go to the right side of the brain and those nerves from the right side of the right eye connect to the left part of the brain. This crossover occurs in the Optic Chiasma.
The very large visual center in the brain constructs a seamless 'view' for us that is not split as a result of having two eyes, or as a result of the crossing of the nerve fibres at the Optic chiasma. Furthermore, the image that we see is three dimensional. It is a truly masterful piece of computer generated graphics.
What we take to be 'direct sight' is in fact computer generated. It is Awareness that is Aware of the result of this computing masterpiece - just as you read these words right now.
Other sensors in the body work in less spectacular but equally marvelous ways. Stimulation of a sense cell occurs and impulses are carried by nerve cells to the brain. At this stage there is no difference at all between any of the actual nerve impulses - they are just nerve impulses. Reaching the brain - the olfactory center for example, the nerve impulses are translated into a so-called 'smell' of which Awareness is Aware. Nerve impulses from the Cochlea go to the auditory center and are translated into so-called 'sounds' of which Awareness is Aware.
So, the original sense organs generate nerve impulses when stimulated and those nerve impulses are relayed to the brain where they are translated into a form that is available to Awareness.
At the point that Awareness occurs - that is the Perception. The perception occurs IN that awareness and Awareness is not limited to that.
Awareness is aware of all that is there. Nothing is rejected, nothing is preferred - and the dualistic concept of 'acceptance' or 'non-acceptance' does not arise. There is no labeling, no assignment of concepts, no picking and choosing. Pure choiceless awareness.
Awareness is not 'your' awareness, or 'my' awareness - there is only One Awareness (the One Life) which is Universal, Eternal and non-personal. It is sometimes called the 'Buddha Nature' or the 'Christ Consciousness'.
The sensory information of which we are aware of in our daily life is taken as being direct - which it isn't - but it IS as direct as it could ever be.
Labels and Concepts
A small child, seeing a dog for the first time, will be very excited and keen to know what it is called - and eagerly learn the word 'dog'. Later on many more dogs will be seen - some of which may not be immediately identifiable as a dog by the young child - for example a Great Dane or a Chihuahua. Soon the child will be able to accurately identify dog types that have never been seen before - and at this point the concept 'dog' is complete.
The concept is a 'generalised dog' mental image - a construct of 'dogishness' - but is not a particular Live dog.
You cannot pat a conceptual dog, feed one, have fun with one or get bitten by one. A conceptual dog does not exist.
Concepts and Abstractions
An abstraction is a generalization drawn from many examples. The examples exist, but the abstraction is 100% content of thought.
As a child grows older the ability to conceptualise gets faster and faster - to a point where the perception is cut short (or even bypassed) in favor of the concept.
Conceptualizations of sensory input from the world and from our own bodies apparently cut us off from the Aliveness that we are - and from the Aliveness of the world. The concepts become those things in the computer-generated world.
Many people have so-called 'peak experiences' in nature - walking, driving, in a train, or on a sailboat - when labeling and conceptualisation fall away for a time and the Aliveness that has always been there is revealed.
A person can become a concept - or at least identify themselves as that. "I am a so-and-so survivor" and this can become a part of the story of 'me' - the conceptual sense of self.
On the so-called spiritual path the goal 'enlightenment' is an abstraction. This causes problems when an attempt is made to achieve an abstraction. The abstraction, the concept, does not exist and therefore cannot be approached or achieved.
Amazingly, while an attempt to approach the abstraction occurs - the Real, the actual true nature is already there in full view - complete and pristine in every way. We already are what we seek. The astounding Cosmic Joke.
In attempting to Stay with the Feeling as a spiritual practice what quite often happens is that a person stays with the 'anger' or the 'frustration', which are concepts. There is no SEEing in staying with the concept. Only SEEing the actual will do - which is the raw feeling, the raw energy, without the label 'anger' or 'frustration'.
Krishnamurti spoke a number of times about the problem of violence. He said that the violence itself has to be directly faced - and therein lies the resolution. He described how 'non-violence' was invented as an abstraction and how a failed attempt was made to achieve that abstraction.
Away from the Actual
The original perception we have of the world which we regard as 'direct' is not direct - it is computer generated. That is one step away from the actual.
Concepts are added in layers and layers and layers over the original perception of the actual, to the point where the original perception is virtually obliterated. Faced with the actual all that is 'seen' is the conceptual.
Krishnamurti told his audiences that they have probably not seen their own husbands or wives for thirty years - they do not even know their own partner! Only the conceptual wife or the conceptual husband.
The images we have in the brain from normal life are computer-generated images - reconstituted from sensory input.
There is an ability to invent sequences of images from imagination - home movies of a very personal kind. These imaginary images are computer-generated as well.
An imaginary 'in the head' dialogue with someone with whom there is a conflict (I said this, he said that) can engender similar emotional responses to a so-called real situation.
Interpretations of events become a part of the conceptualised event itself -
The ultimate abstraction is the false sense of self - the ego. This is a computer-generated construct and is pure imagination. The mental sense of self is acquired - it is not something that we were born with - and very quickly becomes more than just an 'image' - it IS ME !!!!
When the 'me' is believed to be the REAL ME it becomes the focal point for beliefs ('my' beliefs), values ('my' values), the story ( the story of 'me') and many other mental positions like judgements and comparisons.
When mental positions are challenged the 'me' takes it as a personal attack and believes its very existence is threatened. The 'me' suffers and those around suffer too.
Bad thoughts about 'another' are not too bad but when they are about 'me' they can bring about suffering on a large scale with depressing consequences.
The 'me' , to which we normally refer, is a mental construct - a computer-generated apparent entity in our own 'reality show'. Our own 'virtual reality' that we think is actual.
There is no aliveness to the 'me- bot' (see note below) - although thoughts exist that say it is alive. The 'me' cannot be found, but there are thoughts that say it is present. The false 'me' has no intelligence but there are thoughts which say the actual intelligence of Life Itself comes from the 'me'.
Can we know that the self image, the ego, the personal sense of self, is real? The only evidence is that there are thoughts which say it is real.
The 'me' is real until it is looked for - at which point it appears to vanish.
When looked for in a deeper way it is found not to exist at all.
Furthermore it is found to have never, at any time, existed.
It was imagination and there is nothing wrong with imagination when it has been seen through.
What is Real
There are two things which you can be sure of - that you exist and that you are aware. This is called Presence-Awareness and is your true nature.
You can walk in nature without thought and be aware of the trees and be aware, at the same time, of That which is Aware. This is awareness of both Subject and Object concurrently. You already are That.
Your true nature is also called Consciousness / Awareness / Aliveness. Your nature is not an object and does not have characteristics or attributes.
The belief that you are an object - a separate person - "This is who I am" - is belief in a fiction.
SEEing through the so-called 'me' is liberation itself as it blows apart the apparent conceptual cage that has been identified with.
Only SEEing - Awareness itself - can see through anything.
SEEing, Awareness, is non-conceptual. This means that there are no concepts, no thoughts. So liberation has nothing to do with thoughts or concepts - nothing to do with mind content at all.
SEEing, Awareness, only occurs/exists in the immediacy of the present moment. This means there is no past and no future. Without past and future there are no thoughts, concepts or abstractions.
The 'me', the separate person, cannot control, manipulate or use Awareness for its own ends.
There is no Aliveness in the ego - only Awareness is Aliveness.
Awareness is Life Itself.
SEEing the Real as Real - the Truth as Truth - is seeing your true nature.
Awareness is aware of itself.
Abide in That. The actual.
Written by Mike Graham 24 May 2008, last edited 13 June 2008