Can we perceive reality as it is?
What we see around us depends not only on our perceptual faculties and memory, but also on our subjective interpretation of them. A TV screen, for example, does not project a whole or complete image of anything, but just millions of dots. It is our subjective mind that creates or composes the pictures.
Remember the old story about Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan when he landed in the Far East? I don’t know how true the story is, but it gives us an interesting lesson in human perception. According to legend, when Magellan and his men came to the Philippines, they anchored their huge ships far from the shore and used small boats. When the natives saw Magellan and his men, they were surprised.
The natives asked, “How were you able to cross the big ocean using small boats?” Magellan replied, “We did not reach your land here from across the globe using these small boats. We used those big ships over there, anchored far from the shore.”
The ships could not go near the shore, otherwise these would be grounded. The natives didn’t know that. Magellan and his men pointed to where the huge ships were anchored. The natives looked and looked, but none of them could see the ships.
Magellan wondered, “Have we come upon a place of blind people? How come no one could see our ships?”
So they took the natives to the ship. They went around the huge ship, which they had never seen before. Only then were the natives able to see the big Spanish ships from the shore.
A similar story is told, that when the first television set was first brought to Australia, the native Australian aborigines could not see pictures on the TV screen when it was turned on. They recognized only a chicken that crossed the TV screen. All the rest were blurred, unintelligible images.
Since that was the first time the native Australians saw a TV set, they could not understand how a person can enter a box and start singing and dancing. It was just not in their mental set or memory bank.
In my seminar on Inner Mind Development, I used to show the photo of a young, beautiful woman looking sideways, and an old, ugly woman superimposed on the girl’s figure. It is really a trick picture or optical illusion. It is difficult to see both at the same time.
Most people could see or recognize immediately the young lady, but not all could see the old woman. One participant, an executive of a foreign chemical company, was so frustrated, because no matter how hard he tried, he could not see the old woman, only the young lady. It took him the whole afternoon staring at the photo, before the old woman showed up. Why he couldn’t see her, he couldn’t understand.
What it signifies is that people see the world through rose-tinted glasses. It reminded me of the way the images of paintings by the world-famous Brazilian mediumistic painter, Luiz Gasparetto, appeared on canvas. I witnessed it in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
He painted while in a trance, using only his bare hands, instead of a paint brush. He mixed pastel colors on canvas with his hands. As his hands mixed the colors, you saw only smudges of colors with no clear images.
It was like looking at a Polaroid film. Gradually, an image began to form on the canvas. Gasparetto continued to sweep his hands quickly across the canvas. It was like magic. You didn’t know where the images were coming from or how they were formed, just like in a Polaroid film.
All the time, Gasparetto’s eyes were completely shut. He opened them only after the images were completely formed.
The younger generation reading this won’t know what I’m talking about, because they may never have seen what a Polaroid camera does, or what it actually is.
The point is, our perception of the world completely depends on our perceptual apparatus or faculties. If you have not seen anything like that before, then you won’t see it for what it is.
Reality is subjective.
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