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#198003 - 10/27/05 10:40 AM perception is reality?
Kintama Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 2724
Loc: Massachusetts
We have a tendency to trust our senses and emotions to define reality.
http://www.michaelbach.de/ot/mot_adapt/index.html

The northern lights create a unique set of optical curiousities which we now understand why and how, but thousands of years ago humans may have looked at that same phenomenon and formed a different reality.

so now we have a set of realities that are a function of perception AND time.

why are some ancient realities no longer worth believing? look out to the sea - the horizon looks pretty flat to me...why wouldn't we still believe the earth is flat? it's still our perception that it is flat, so why isn't that our reality? Sailors never dared to sail into the altantic, since they were told they'd either fall off the edge or monsters would eat them or whatever the scarry story was at the time.

my question:
In Zen philosophy, does perception define reality?

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#198004 - 10/27/05 01:33 PM Re: perception is reality? [Re: Kintama]
rideonlythelabel Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/22/04
Posts: 1242
Loc: st-hubert quebec canada
Quote:

We have a tendency to trust our senses and emotions to define reality.
http://www.michaelbach.de/ot/mot_adapt/index.html

The northern lights create a unique set of optical curiousities which we now understand why and how, but thousands of years ago humans may have looked at that same phenomenon and formed a different reality.

so now we have a set of realities that are a function of perception AND time.

why are some ancient realities no longer worth believing? look out to the sea - the horizon looks pretty flat to me...why wouldn't we still believe the earth is flat? it's still our perception that it is flat, so why isn't that our reality? Sailors never dared to sail into the altantic, since they were told they'd either fall off the edge or monsters would eat them or whatever the scarry story was at the time.

my question:
In Zen philosophy, does perception define reality?





Very interesting question.

Can't say much about Zen philosophy's take on that, but here's mine.

I'd say maybe perception defines reality to a certain extent. Perception does not define reality. There is reality, and our perception of reality, which are two somewhat different things. But is our perception of reality a reality in itself? Follow me on this.

Say you were to jump off a cliff believing 100% that you would fly. Would you fly? No, you'd fall down and die. Perception did not define reality and you're dead.

But, it goes farther than that.

Our perception of reality is deeply biased, not only as individuals and products of our environment, but simply as human beings. Take for an example color. What is a color? Our body's way of interpreting a ray of light spanning over certains wavelengths. But, in the absolute sense, does color exist? Or is it simply an electromagnetic wave of a certain frequency? Does God (assuming he exists) see color as we do (assuming He has a sense of vision)? Same thing for smells. That particular smell is only your brain's way of interpreting a particular mix of chemicals. Does smell exists in the absolute sense? Who knows? It exists for me, in my perception of reality, but maybe it only exists there?

Basically this is a spin of the good old if a tree falls and no one is there to hear it fall, does it still make a sound? Well it certainly still create an electromagnetic wave, but if no one hears that EM wave, is it still a sound? Or simply an EM wave?


Moving right along;

My perspective of reality is something intangible and ephemeral, but it exists for me, so does that mean itís real?

If something only exists in my perspective of reality (smells, colors etc), does it become reality? If it does, that would mean that there are literally billions of different realities. Isnít reality the only truth by definition? Is it possible to have billions of different truths, and all of them be true, real, and correct at the same time?

On the other hand, is it possible that those things that I feel are not real? I feel them, how could they not be real? The simple fact that I feel makes those feelings real doesnít it? (read Descartesí Discours de la Methode if you disagree)

Another possibility is that my perspective of reality is real, but not reality in itself. But then this begs the question; if itís real but not reality, then whatís reality?

Whatís reality, exactly?

*scratches head*

Maybe my little human mind is not big enough to embrace such concepts.

*bangs head on the keyboard*

Iím confused. I give up. I don't have an answer. I'll ask God if I ever meet him, because I think I'm too hopelessly human to answer myself.


Thank you Kin, great thread, made me think a lot.
_________________________
patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons.

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#198005 - 10/27/05 01:40 PM Re: perception is reality? [Re: Kintama]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!
Prolific

Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Perception is also a function of information. My parents used to tell me that that thunder was "angels bowling".

So just last week, I found out it's actually caused by lightning heating the air very rapidly.

My perception of thunder has changed because I have found more accurate information about it's true nature. Perception defines reality until information proves otherwise.
_________________________
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

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#198006 - 10/27/05 01:54 PM Re: perception is reality? [Re: MattJ]
UofM Shorin Ryu Offline
Resident Forum Breakdancer

Registered: 02/07/05
Posts: 981
Look at optical illusions.

http://www.michaelbach.de/ot/

What you perceive to be true is actually not.
My favorites are the Ames room, Muller-Lyer effect, and impossible figures.

Muller-Lyer:
http://www.michaelbach.de/ot/sze_muelue/index.html
Ames room:
http://psylux.psych.tu-dresden.de/i1/kaw.../ames_room.html
Impossible figures:
http://www.michaelbach.de/ot/cog_imposs1/index.html

Good fun!

Perception is a function of info, but even with info, I still get fooled by optical illusions, especially the Muller-Lyer applications.
_________________________
Alea iacta est ~ Gauis Julius Caesar Ne quis nimis ~ Solon Nuts to cancer ~ Sanchin31

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#198007 - 10/27/05 02:20 PM Re: perception is reality? [Re: Kintama]
Foolsgold Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/02/04
Posts: 1635
Loc: South Lyon, MI, USA
Kintama-Actually, this is loosely intertwined with our conversation. (Speaking of which, I'm waiting on your reply. Don't leave a guy hangin'!)

The question that is brought up by this is, can reality exist outside of perception?


Edited by Foolsgold (10/27/05 02:22 PM)
_________________________
Soy stupido, pero soy guapo!

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#198008 - 10/27/05 04:55 PM Re: perception is reality? [Re: Foolsgold]
Kintama Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 04/17/05
Posts: 2724
Loc: Massachusetts
Quote:

The question that is brought up by this is, can reality exist outside of perception?



I think it most certainly does. how did people's perception of the moon change over time Vs. the reality of the moon over that same period? The moon has been virtually constant and predictable - human perceptions would be so lucky.
just once example as to why perception can't always be relied upon... seems like the more open a person is to accepting possible flaws in perception, then they would have more chance of finding truth than a person just taking someone's word for it.

here's how I think of it:
Critical thought reveils the reality to our perceptions.
Perceptions make us Human.

maybe Science is the pursuit of reality and Religion is the pursuit of Humans?

which would put Zen philosophy where? somewhere in the middle?

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#198009 - 10/27/05 05:02 PM Re: perception is reality? [Re: Kintama]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
Can't help it...stuck in duality. I operate with the understanding that there is an 'internal reality', fabricated via processing, and an external reality where objects tossed out of tall buildings DO fall. And the two are seperate. To me, Zen philosophy is about a practice where one becomes familiar with the internal reality that is completely malleable.

It is a practice that 'wipes the internal mirror' so that one sees clearly the external reality.

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#198010 - 10/27/05 05:35 PM Re: perception is reality? [Re: harlan]
Foolsgold Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/02/04
Posts: 1635
Loc: South Lyon, MI, USA
harlan- Ooh, nice point.
_________________________
Soy stupido, pero soy guapo!

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#198011 - 10/27/05 10:39 PM Re: perception is reality? [Re: Kintama]
ButterflyPalm Offline
Enigma

Registered: 08/26/04
Posts: 2637
Loc: Malaysia


All I am prepared to say at this moment is I really don't know.
_________________________
I'll rather be happy than right, anytime.

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#198012 - 10/28/05 04:21 AM Re: perception is reality? [Re: Kintama]
butterfly Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 3012
Loc: Torrance, CA
AH...the old philosophy question....if a tree fell over in a wood and there was no one there to hear it, would it make a sound?

In the end, it matter's little I think. Perception is a tool to guage reality. Whether our perception matches up exactly is what we all have been trying to do by letting scientists examine the natural world and letting the philosophers and religious among us, describe the reality underneath the perception.

Hey, if I see a green color, can I even be sure that this is the same green that others see? Perception. What if your color blind?

Ultimate truth is that dichotomy...the real that we experience and the real that we understand to be the cause of that experience, and ourselves in the middle...part of that experience trying to balance the issue.

If you believe something, you internalize that reality and perceive its worldly expression, inward, toward you. One may even rationalize outcomes of real world events to mesh with one's perceptions.

If not, then what happens in your perception of reality if it has no metaphysical cause that you can reason away? But the reality doesn't change...however, how we view the event may.

Whatever the case, you color the world even by your consideration of it, but when you are gone, the world won't care how you see it.

-B

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