If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?
Yes. And … who cares, really? Certainly not reality.
When a tree crashes down and no one is around to hear it, it still produces sound waves. But, these sound waves don’t actually produce sound as we perceive it. Sound is mechanically understood through our sense of hearing, which includes everything from our external ears, all the way to our brain, which processes and interprets the sound waves, delivering it to us as a crackling, rumbling crash. Yep, a tree has fallen. Did you hear it?
Two monks were arguing about the temple flag waving in the wind. One said, “The flag moves.” The other said, “The wind moves.” They argued back and forth, but continued to disagree. Another monk chimed in, “It is not the wind that moves; it is not the flag that moves; it is your mind that moves.
Perception. Perception is the ability to become aware of something through our senses. So, if we perceive the flag waving in the wind, it must be waving in the wind. Right?
Our perception is not necessarily reality, though. Reality is absolute, while our perception of it is an interpretation, based on the information at hand. As more and/or better information comes in, our perception can change, but reality continues to be what it is.
But, our perception of the reality at hand, as we currently understand it, must be accepted as “reality”. If it wasn’t, navigating life in this realm would be impossible. We need information, even if its not complete.
It’s the only thing we have to go on, which could be quite wrong, in some cases. We tend to fill in information gaps with bias, beliefs, education, mood, philosophies, character, experiences, and so on. This is why two people can witness the same thing and have completely different interpretations of it. As its been said, it’s not so much what we look at that matters; it’s what we “see”.
Our thoughts can distort perception. One of the hardest things to do is to observe without preconceived notions or judgement. Just to observe as it is and nothing else. And to accept the fact that the information is limited or incomplete, seeing what is apparent, without filling in those gaps with garbage intel.
Because the wrong interpretation, or the wrong perception of a situation can be exponentially more dangerous than knowing nothing at all.
Photo by Loyal Deighton on Unsplash