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Experience, Understanding,
Perception, and Knowing

by Michael Maciel



Experience
We do not need extraordinary experiences in order to have extraordinary lives. To have an experience at all, not just a concept about it, is extraordinary in itself.

It is in the everyday material of our lives that we find the opportunity to truly know.

It is in being attentive to the mundane necessities that we practice the art of awareness.

Paying attention to the needs of those around us is the way to be present in the moment. Such actions take us beyond the borders of our ideas and concepts and engage us directly with life itself.


Understanding
We want to come up with a new way of seeing the problem, not just an explanation that will satisfy the intellect.

Understanding and seeing are two different functions; understanding requires stepping back from the object or idea. To experience it is to become one with it.

This is not a process of figuring it out, but rather a way of seeing it anew.

We want the realization of the truth to emerge from within us, from the mind of Christ.


Perception
Opinions are the ideas we have about our perceptions and can only be as good as the perceptions themselves. Faulty perceptions form the basis for faulty thinking. Clean up perception, and the thinking will automatically get clearer. What we're looking for is a new way of seeing, not a new opinion.

One thing that we know about the mind is that it continually wants to move on to something new. The sooner an unresolved issue can be completed the better. Like the unscrupulous district attorney who wants to wrap up a case with a conviction, any conviction, in order to satisfy the public outcry for justice, so the mind places more importance on expediency than it does on the truth.

Our sense of justice is one of the greatest obstacles to seeing the truth. For instance, it is easy to adopt the seemingly sophisticated notion that there is no such thing as a victim, but it's not so easy to question whether or not there is a victimizer. Our sense of justice would rather spread the blame than remove the guilt. We would rather feel justified than know the truth.

Scientifically speaking, there is no such thing as "good" perception and "bad" perception - there is only perception. Nor can we say that perception comes by degree, because unless something is perceived in its wholeness, it is not being perceived. Reality does not reveal itself one part at a time, because no part exists separate from the Whole. Reality is a unified system. This is why knowing one thing makes it possible to know all things.


Knowing
Questions fly in the face of what we know, and what we "know" keeps us from seeing what is. If we question what we know, we make room for something new to arise in our awareness. Continuing to question takes us to higher and higher levels of the inquiry.

Knowing is the focal point of our being, the lens that gathers all of the energies of our mind and soul to bring about manifestation in our lives. Our lives are an out-picturing of that which we know.

We live as a nameless wanderer in a sea of potential, building up an identity around us consisting of the things we have said yes to.

The word "know" can also be spelled "no". When we know one thing, we automatically say no to everything else. It is an interesting mental exercise to go into meditation and say no to everything that arises in the mind, to negate its existence, and to refuse to give it any attention. This has a clearing effect; in fact, it creates a clearing or space within the field of consciousness that acts like a vacuum, drawing to itself in increasing stages of intensity the objects of mind that have the most psychological weight. Each object comes masked. Saying no to the object peels away the mask, perhaps revealing a more subtle one underneath. In the end, after the last mask is removed, observer and observed become one, and KNOWING, not mere understanding, is achieved.

In a strictly mechanistic way, the mind wants to maintain homeostasis, readily accepting anything that will fill in incomplete sentence structures in ways consistent with its own underlying logic and value systems. This tendency is automatic and relatively easy to short-circuit.

Having the power to accept or reject anything the mind offers up, by saying either yes or no, we cause the mind to search in ever tightening parameters for ultimate solutions. The more it does this, the closer we get to the very thing the mind is trying to describe. In other words, we approach the direct experience of the thing itself, not just a concept of it.

This occurs naturally in us from time to time in those transcendent moments of beauty known as aesthetic arrest. We might also experience it at times of extreme terror, or while under the influence of certain drugs. In all cases, the mind must be shocked out of its normal routine of filling in the blanks and made to step aside, so that the one using the mind can look for itSelf.