Love and hate are just some of the ingredients that go into perception; our memory and imagination get involved too. We don’t see stuff, it’s an act of creation, and every memory is an act of imagination.
You’ve probably heard the expression, “lovesick.” It explains the perceptive blindspot we can have when we fall in love. It helps us see the very best in another person, but it also mutes the negative. It’s an excellent example of how what we experienced by emotion. Other things get involved as well.
Perception is the Result of a Selective Process
When we see, hear, smell, or touch something, we think we are experiencing reality. But this isn’t accurate. Perception takes place within the mind. It’s well-known that blind people can visualize, and deaf people hear sounds in their minds. Our physical senses are just one source of input. Memory, imagination, beliefs, and the five senses are our consciousness’s input to fashion a construct we think is reality. So what we think we experience is not an exact representation of reality.
“Every act of perception is to some degree an act of creation, and every act of memory is to some degree an act of imagination.” — Oliver Sacks
Many people would agree that this quote contains a great deal of truth. Reality isn’t something we observe. We create a picture of reality with our expectations, which conform to our worldview or paradigm (1) parameters.
We want to believe that what we experience is a clear picture of reality. But, our perception is the result of several mechanisms that create a worldview. Our worldview is the filter through which we create an experience.
This worldview or paradigm has some hardwired programming as well as some additional external scripting. The hardwired tools are personality and instincts. However, the dominant cultural narrative can override these and program anything. None of these mechanisms have anything to do with what is happening.
So, our worldview is not an accurate representation of reality. It is a product of memory. Our memory stores the values we get from the Ego and the cultural narrative. Memory is imagination plus emotion, which both receive programming from our worldview. The programming of the dominant cultural folklore overrides everything.
The mind expects what we should perceive. It fits reality into our expectations. If we encounter something that doesn’t match what we expect, the mind ignores it. If we can’t disregard it, then it must be a hallucination. Right?
Perception is subjective because perception is the result of a selective process. The process contains a programmable filter.
There are a lot of moving parts. Our ego and cultural narrative are only a part of it. Some philosophers think the Observer behind perception also influences our memory. The foundation of memory is imagination. Memory uses the same processes to create as it does to store information. What we imagine can be far from what happened.
We can not think of the mind and brain as the same thing. The brain is like a radio; It is the receiver. The “mind” is consciousness, which is the signal or energy. You can’t find the music being played on the radio by taking the radio apart. What we think we experience is not the beginning of the process. Perception is subjective because it comes from a mixture of personal and cultural programming mixed with our imagination and memory. Here is a graphic to show the intricate working of the mind.
Imagination Plus Emotion
The limits of our paradigm shape the external boundaries of perception. These are the limits of our possibilities. Our imagination can break down these boundaries if we train it. Our emotion is the fuel of invention. People want to control this input so they can limitations of thinking and limit our use of imagination. Imagination and creativity are dangerous for those who want to control what we think.
Two primary sources shape our worldview in our modern culture. These are harmful religions and greed-based cultural programming. The programming of these elements starts early and comes from multiple sources that we trust. As children, we don’t even notice this programming is taking place. It becomes a part of our psyche structures.
Religion teaches us to react with fear to anything that challenges the paradigm. It triggers the same level of anxiety as facing a wild animal or fire. It uses this fear to justify ethnic and gender hierarchies and justification for prejudice and discrimination. All the while, we don’t realize the force and effect these structures have on our ability to reason. We don’t “see” how it affects our perception of reality. Religion is the primary source of this type of programming.
Relationship Between Reason and Religion
Not all religions are harmful. Only those that create boundaries and dictate values and thought. As a result, these are harmful because they adversely affect our ability to reason. Some religions have more limitations than others.
For example, Taoism and Paganism have the fewest constraints over freethinking. These systems help you to explore and develop your potential. In comparison, the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have the most significant boundaries.
Western Organized Religion uses several tools for individual and social programming. Some say that this probably the original primary purpose. They use self-hypnosis and continuous indoctrination to mold values and thinking.
Because perception results from a selective process, what we add to the mixture makes a considerable impact. Harmful programming contaminates thinking and values.
Organized religion effectively establishes boundaries, restrictions, and limitations on independent thought. We allow them to “tell” you what is wrong and what is right. They often dictate personal and social values that have ripple effects throughout society. Their impact on your life depends upon how emotionally invested you are in the propositions they are selling.
These systems sell hate, spawn genocide, wars, and discrimination of races, ethnicity, and gender. All the while proclaiming, they are agents of love. Those invested in these paradigms can cherry-pick the doctrines to fit their needs.
Imagination Plus Emotion to Overcome Reason
“You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, burning bushes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help?” ― Mark Twain
Here’s how it works. Western Organized Religion programs people to trigger the “fight or flight” response. They use this response to protect their beliefs. It creates boundaries to anything that threatens ideas that contradict the religion’s doctrine. The more rigid, inflexible, and extreme your religious beliefs, the less is your ability to consider new ideas. Anything outside the boundaries of your paradigm is taboo.
Our research shows there is an inverse relationship between religious beliefs and common sense reasoning. Thus, the more extreme your religious beliefs, the less you can perceive ideas outside the paradigm. The more drastic your views, the more likely you are to reject facts and opinions that conflict with your worldview. You become a puppet of the belief system. You react with fear or hate when you encounter any idea or fact that challenges any boundary.
Determining Religious Programming
You can tell how invested you are in your paradigm by the emotional reaction to ideas that challenge it. Since perception is the result of a selective process, everyone’s programming is different. Here are some questions to help you see how much programming you have:
- Do you find you need to “defend” your religious beliefs?
- Are you operating under guidelines that prohibit you from exposure to ideas that would threaten your beliefs?
- Do you attend weekly or semi-weekly meetings where you expose yourself to groupthink manipulation? It’s propaganda that “strengthens” the boundaries and restrictions on your thinking.
- Are you having an adverse emotional reaction to this article?
If you answer yes to the above questions, this is a sign you are affected by negative religious programming.
Memory is Imagination
There are three types of memory, immediate, short-term, and long-term. There is a lot more going on with memory than we realize. The memory of events differs from the memory of things you program into memory using dynamic memory techniques. The latter is the conscious use of the mind to record data.
The memory of events or situations is different. These memories aren’t hardcoded; they are transient and flexible. These memories are like a distorted form of time travel. Several factors affect memory; the passing of time, the emotions attached, our mental health, dreams, and new experiences. One thing is for sure. Our memories are not an accurate representation of what happened.
For example, during the inquisition of those charged with being Witches, it was customary to torture and burned people in the town square. It was socially acceptable because of the cultural programming they received from the Church.
Memory works in conjunction with imagination to create a mental picture of the past event. But this picture is skewed by time, emotion, events, and cultural programming. How does this work?
First, the passage of time distorts our memory of past events. The older the memory, the more likely our memory is not a true reflection of the event. It’s the reason witness statements need to be taken as soon as possible in any investigation. It is a proven fact that time degrades the accuracy of memory. Eye-witness identification isn’t that accurate to begin with, and it only errors over time.
Second, emotion also distorts our memories. Memories can have a positive, negative, or a combination of both feelings. And our emotional attachments to the memory can change depending on several factors.
Third, our cultural programming colors our memories. This programming can be changed or removed, thus changing the emotional attachment and the memory of the event. It’s how people believed they were on the side of God when they tortured and burned people they thought were Witches.
Forth, current events impact our memory. As we store new data in our immediate memory, we move older similar data to short-term memory. When we transfer this information, we often truncate and minimize it to save space. You can remember everything that happened in the last hours, but most people cannot recall every detail of yesterday’s events.
Our dreams can also affect our memories. The subconscious mind pulls on data from many sources to create a fantastical landscape. Then, we have the cultural narrative continually bombarding us with all kinds of data on top of everything. They design advertising to generate a need for which they have a product. Catchy and memorable slogans and images help this need to surface and drive our buying behavior.
A lot is going on with memory. Our imagination is the machinery that molds everything together. We imagine this or that happened. We “think” it was real. Then we file it away as a memory. Perhaps it’s the same when recalling it again, but it has more than likely somewhat different. Still, we perceive it as “what happened.” What went into memory was not accurate, and what comes out is even more distorted.
It is most important not to confuse memories of past events with memory techniques that can lock data into our long-term memory. The latter is a conscious and specific use of memory enhancement techniques. The former is the perception of the imagination.
Perception is Subjective Because of Non-Ordinary Reality
Here is another example of using memory and imagination as a tool. Shaman use imagination as a tool within the Shamanic Journey. They see several possibilities within reality, and that which is available to us is far greater than most people fathom.
The reality for the Shaman exists as several possibilities. One cannot “reason away” the experience of non-ordinary reality. We all know the realms of non-ordinary existence exist. Anyone who has had a dream while sleeping has experiential proof. Dreams are proof that we have access to these other possibilities.
Besides ordinary waking awareness, the Shaman shows us we can “traverse” other realms of existence. They describe upper and lower worlds and a middle world existing alongside our “normal” reality. Since the Shaman can travel to these other realms, they can understand perception from a different framework.
In ancient times people sought a Shaman who could help them sort out these factors. Some shamans could help people through their inward journey. They assist them in interpreting the subconscious mind. They even developed practices to untangle and release memory connections holding people hostage.
A critical equation helps us understand how our psyche works; Memory is imagination plus emotion. What we think of as dependent on external things reflects these internal processes. Reality offers many possibilities, but our paradigm’s boundaries limit our perception. Perception is the result of our worldview, not a reflection of reality.
It all comes down to one formula: perception is subjective because perception results from a selective process.
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(1) What is a paradigm, Wikipedia
(2) Joseph Campbell & Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia