Do you agree that perception is reality?

“Most all of the current brain research is leading to one conclusion. Most of what we consider to be happening ‘out there’ is really occurring ‘in here’ within the confines of our own head. Perhaps this is why mystics refer to the external world as maya, or an illusion. It’s interesting to note the word ‘illusion’ is derived from the Latin root ‘illusere,’ which means ‘innerplay.'” –MaAnna Stephenson in The Sage Age, Blending Science with Intuitive Wisdom

What do you make of this quotation from MaAnna Stephenson’s new book?

Do you view perception is reality as figurative? That is, psychological in tone, warped or clarified by our attitudes, preconceptions, philosophies, likes and dislikes.

Or, do you view perception is reality as actual? That is, literally concrete, dynamic, and totally synchonistic with your intentions (conscious or otherwise) and mission here on the planet.

Or, do you view the notion as merely interesting and/or absurd?

We can step into a labyrinth here, suggesting that if you believe perception is reality, then it is, but that if you believe perception is not reality, then it isn’t.

Perhaps your perception of perception has a great impact on your view of how things work in the world, whether it’s a jungle or an oasis, whether it’s filled with hate or love, whether goals and intentions create the “future” or whether fate and the purported stronger wills of others bring tomorrow into actuality, whether there’s more room in our lives for fear or for hope.

As the Christmas song asks: Do you see what I see? I’m suggesting that you may or may not see what I see and vice versa, and that problems between people often occur because they presume their perceptions of reality, while necessarily synchronous in many basic respects, are hand-in-glove matches. To know, better yet to understand, another person or another group requires, I think, really seeing what they’re seeing, that is to say, knowing quite literally where they’re coming from and where the “live.”

Does this make sense? How do you perceive such ideas? Are they foreign or are they an integral part of your reality? Either way, I’m suggesting that the universe is responding to your opinions and your imagination. Or, it may be better to say, I perceive that it is within my reality.

Copyright (c) 2008 by Malcolm R. Campbell


Embark on the Journey, Follow the Fantasy, Create the Reality

The Sun Singer, new age literary fiction by Malcolm R. Campbell

Buy the e-book for only $5.33 at Powell’s Books

11 thoughts on “Do you agree that perception is reality?

  1. In one sense, I see perception as all the reality there is, and yet I have to question how reality can change as perception changes. We see, “through a glass, darkly”, after all.

  2. How reality changes as perception changes is one of those nagging questions, isn’t it? I do notice that if I feel like I’m having a “down day,” the universe seems to want to provide me with additional confirmation by providing more examples of “bad” stuff as the day progresses.


  3. In a married couple’s argument, perception is nothing less than the truth.

    Forcing yourself to see things through someone else’s eyes allow you to understand why they feel so strongly. Understanding that actually allows you to make a more convincing argument (or at least that is what one high school teacher told me).

  4. Hi Chelle,

    Hmm, perhaps I’ve been there and done that only to be surprised later that neither of us saw the forest for the trees–or even the trees.

    I wonder if it was a debate teacher who told you about more convincing arguments.


  5. Malcom,
    Our perception is our reality, well at least that is my reality as you well stated. Interesting I just read a passage from a book written by Gregg Braden where he relates a story of being in a Tibeten monestary where he is challanged with the following question by a “teacher”, master if you will. The question was, “if you are in the desert and see a rabbit with antlers is it real or an illusion?” The answer which he gave was that “if one was to see a rabbit with antlers the reality would be based on that persons experience” (paraprhasing from memory). The point is that if that is what you saw and you had no experience which told you to think differently then a rabbit with antlers would be your reality.

  6. Malcolm,

    As I continue to consider this, something very disconcerting occurs to me. In today’s visual age, those who use the visual mediums to advertise products or to convince viewers concerning various causes, are using our attitudes about this to substantiate their messages. To me, that is a good reason to pose the question all over again but in a slightly different perspective, perhaps to more closely define “perception” or at least qualify the conditions with which we address it.

  7. Looked at one way, tobeme, one might say that nothing we perceive with the physical senses is actually “real.” Looked at another way–and this gets into what Montucky is talking about–our knowledge and experience is going to impact how we perceive anything. There are plenty of animals most of us have never seen (including in books and films) and our notions about them–should we see one–are probably going to be based somewhat on our preconceptions (right or wrong) about what constitutes an animal. Interesting story from the teacher, and it certainly starts multiple trains of thought.


  8. Such images are often designed to be manipulative even if they’re shown for causes or products we have to believe in. The old journalism truism that pets and babies and sex sell newspapers/magazines probably applies in various ways about the reason certain images are selected to illustrate the point somebody’s trying to make.

    Needless to say, perception and seeing aren’t the same, so we’re not going to accept as truth everything that comes across our mind’s eye. Some of the stuff we don’t accept is probably true, but we think it’s false because it doesn’t match our belief system. I think some messages fail to win any converts (and end up being a preaching to the choir kind of thing) because those creating the material don’t put themselves into the shoes of those who will view the ad or PR piece.

    The best I know to do is to use logic and intuition to check out the claims people make before I determine how I’m going to perceive the information.

    Is this what you’re getting at, Montucky, or was it something else?


  9. Unfortunately, there are lots of folks who don’t use logic, intuition, or common sense. The people now producing commercials seem to be attempting to equate visual perception with reality (they show things in commercials as though they were real) and I wonder how many un-thinking people go along with them.

  10. I’d like to comment on the tobeme’s statement that our perception is our reality. There are several historical accounts of a phenomena that has been verified by clinical tests that shows we cannot perceive what we cannot conceive. When Galileo first saw the rings of Saturn, he drew them as Mickey Mouse type ears on each side of the planet for two reasons. One was the less than perfect center resolution of the telescope he was using, and the other reason was that he just could not conceive of any such thing as a ring around a planet. The sailors aboard Cook’s ship couldn’t believe that Polynesian natives could not see the tall ship on which they arrived. This was rumored to have occurred when Columbus approached the Carribean as well. In more recent times, when folks in a third world country were shown a film on hygiene, they did not see anything on the screen other than a rooster, which was a sacred animal to them. They did, however, hear the audio track of the film. When I lived in Texas, I was introduced to the fabled Jackalope, which was a large rabbit with antlers. The joke on non-native Texans was to figure out if it was real or make-believe. (Natives will swear to you that a jackalope actually exists and have taxadermy models to “prove” it. PT Barnum would be proud.)


  11. Great point, MaAnna. Isolated peoples often presume unknown objects, entities and events are cause by gods and demons, while people in today’s industrialized nations might well assume such things have come out of advanced technology and science.

    I think of the character Xi in the film “The Gods Must be Crazy” who finds a Coke bottle tossed out of an airplane. His tribe has no knowledge or experience with such objects, much less the product once inside. At first, the bottle appears to be a wonderful gift, but then it appears more like a curse.

    That Jackalope story is one that just doesn’t want to go away, but if something showed up and was identified as such, what would our reactions be? For many of us, logic would tell us such an animal couldn’t have remained out of sight for all this time, so we would consider it a scam of some kind or possibly the mad creation of a surgeon with too much time on his hands.


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