Understanding The Powers of Perception

Before we can get any sense of Reality, we need to understand both the powers and limitations of our experience, our senses and our minds. As an example, Sri Aurobindo points out the following: “To our sense the earth is flat and, for most immediate practical purposes, within a limit, we have to follow the sense reality and deal with the flatness as if it were a fact; but in true phenomenal reality the flatness of the earth is unreal, and Science seeking for the truth of the phenomenal reality in things has to treat it as approximately round. In a host of details Science contradicts the evidence of the senses as to the real truth of phenomena; but, still, we have to accept the cadre provided by our senses because the practical relations with things which they impose on us have validity as an effect of reality and cannot be disregarded. Our reason, relying on the senses and exceeding them, constructs its own canons or notions of the real and unreal, but these canons vary according to the standpoint taken by the reasoning observer.”

The understanding of what we experience also changes with the viewpoint of the person making the observation: “The physical scientist probing into phenomena erects formulas and standards based on the objective and phenomenal reality and its processes: to his view mind may appear as a subjective result of Matter and self and spirit as unreal; at any rate he has to act as if matter and energy alone existed and mind were only an observer of an independent physical reality which is unaffected by any mental processes or any presence or intervention of a cosmic Intelligence. The psychologist, probing independently into mind consciousness and mind unconsciousness, discovers another domain of realities, subjective in its character, which has its own law and process; to him Mind may even come to appear as the key of the real. Matter as only a field for mind, and spirit apart from mind as something unreal.”

Of course, we can push this further to the next level at which the basis of reality is in spirit, and mind and matter become secondary phenomena….

reference: Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, Book 2, Part I, Chapter 6, Reality and the Cosmic Illusion, pp. 472-473

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