Friday, August 26, 2005

Our mind and our perceptions

The mind can effect how we percieve this moment. Here is a personal story from my pre-zen days.

My eldest daughter was about eight at the time...we had a cat that had had kittens..we told here she could keep ONE...she selected the was cute....she had a kind heart and always was for the underdog...shortly after all the others had found a home the little
kitten sickened and died....she cried like only an eight year old girlcan when she is devastated. Circumstance required we go to off to an activity that was work for me and play for her. As soon as she was down to the sniffling phase we left home and headed off.....I could see
trouble coming as I saw a dead cat ahead on the road. My daughter said "look Dad there is a poor dead squirrel!"....on the return trip the dead animal was still a cat for me and a squirrel for her. It remained on the road for several was always a squirrel for her and a cat for
me...It was a life shaping experience for me....a direct point to the power of the mind to shape perception....for her it was just another poor dead among thousands she has seen.

From this moment forward I knew that what we perceive does often does not bear much relation to what is...especially if we come to it with unfinished business from the moments before. I worked with mentally ill people who had all kinds of what I thought of as misperceptions....they
just did not tally with consensus reality. From this moment forward I had a glimpse into the lying nature of perception....the power of the mind to shape the reality in which we live. I had some greater understanding of the effects of hallucinations and their effects on the
mental stability of an individual. I found a key that allowed me to talk to the mentally ill as if the voices (which for them were real) were in fact real for me too....and much progress was made....for both the patient and myself.

When I came to Zen, perhaps "only don't know" was easier for me....because I already understood that perceptions and the mind could lie so strongly we ourselves (the little voice in our head) would not even know about the lie. There is little faith in the words of a known
liar. I still did not know how to come to the moment without all the stuff I was dragging with me, and I still did not know how to live when we really don't know....but the first was already present when I came to sitting.

This is I suppose one of the reasons that "take care of this moment" is so important...even if it sounds so simple and responsible...finish your not try and short circuit those things that will not let your mind settle...let them come up and go...if
they do not go...take care of what ails you...get rid of all that baggage so you can come to the moment free of all that crap as soon possible.....until you can really are just stuck with the mind that is polluted by all that history of misperception. Trying to drive a
polluted mind into the moment by forcing it to focus on breathing or forcing it to gaze at your navel can only be momentarily successful. It is giving aspirin to a cancer patient. Sit..see what comes up and what goes away if you do not attend to it...if something keeps coming up....and you can't let go of it....then here is something that needs your attention....fix it..or fix your understanding of it....or let go of your knowing about it.....if it is doubted it will not have the power to force its way into your consciousness uninvited.

At the time of that drive I was sure that I was right.... it was a cat.....and that my daughter was wrong due to the fact that she could just not stand to see another dead cat at the time...these days I wonder which of us, if either, got the correct take on that drive to town.

Be Well