Perception

When was the first time you were introduced to God?

What was the name they called him by?

Why exactly was the purpose of your meeting?

If you recollect and if I’m correct, you were first made to understand the human perception of God when you were a kid. It was probably conveyed to you that you need to pray to God because He always helps. If you trust Him, He keeps you out of trouble. You probably saw a framed picture or an idol, believed your parents and elders, followed their instructions and imitated what they did in terms of kneeling, bowing, trusting and everything. You began learning everything from YOUR elders. If you noticed a few odd looking God’s or some body parts looked wierd, you probably asked your elders why it was so. It could be a Big mighty Human/ monkey called Hanuman who ‘could fly’ or it could be Ganpatiji.

Isn’t is easy to perceive God in a form of your own? The human form? 

Samajh aata Hai. You can relate.

I say, This is your perception about a particular variable-  about ” Man-made Religion”

As life went on, you were exposed to different kinds of people who had learnt about God but in a different process altogether. These beliefs were quite new to you and you may or may not have accepted it logically. You went on to learn about the things you needed to do as per your age (Eg: 4 stages of the Hindu way of life followed in ancient times- which is rarely followed these days because there are barely any trees let alone forests), which were set aside quite before you were born. Rules and regulations were taught to you. A do’s and don’ts list was drilled into you as per the family culture cultivated over time and other factors. Expectations were set.

Time, Work, Culture, Society, Ideals, Education, Religion, People are all variables you come across as you grow. Thus there is a difference in perceptions and you grow learning to deal with it. Some may accept it and accept you, exactly as you are, with open arms, some may blatantly agree to disagree. The degree of acceptance may vary. In the initial years of your life, your perception is limited to what you are taught and as you grow, it is modified by what you see- i.e your own practical experience. 

And this is the beauty of seeking and not believing.

Let me take you through a true story:

Meera was a reserved and conservative girl. Her general perception of Alcohol was based on her old school learnings (in school) that it is bad for health and you MUST NOT consume it. All those who have consumed it have sinned or are bad people. After she joined a corporate and attended her first corporate party, she spotted a few of her close office friends, competing with Vodka shots. She was asked to join them, since friends never do crazy things alone. She was hesitant since these were hardcore values imbibed deep inside. She decided to maintain a distance from all of them. 

The next day she met them all at work and observed her own perception change. These were the same guys who had always been supportive and helped her with menial jobs. It was just that, everyone chose to act in a certain way the other night, well knowing the pros and cons. It was a matter of choice. She wasn’t comfortable with the idea of drinking while her friends were. Though the society tends to judge a person based on their actions, this is A MATTER OF CHOICE. Plus they could handle themselves the whole night without actually losing control of themselves. So why exactly did Meera think that drinking was bad? It probably wasn’t really bad after all. The same friends respected Meera even after she chose NOT TO DRINK vodka. So that meant she could be respectful of their choice too unless it harmed anyone, Right? 

That’s when she realized how her views had been so one sided. By the end of the the day, she was convinced that her friends who loved drinking were definitely not horrible people. It’s just a matter of your experiences and choice!!

Similarly, there are some common ideals / perceptions which we share as humans.

Eg: Like in God there are two bifurcations; One is the Good side and the other is the Bad side. You do good and good will always be with you. And vice versa. We are taught to be good to others, be polite, Give respect and take it. Etc.

I believed in what I was taught. I don’t know if that was due to blind Faith or because I thought highly of those who taught it to me or both. But I believed it to be the ultimate truth. Not that I disagreed with what others believed. I let them believe what they believed, I just did not change what I thought. 

I did not seek things myself. But I believed without a clue. And probably that was where we lost ourselves. In self created limitations and within boundaries.

That’s what we Humans think. Who knows if it is the ultimate truth or no? All of our perception depends on OUR BRAIN and OUR THINKING, isn’t it?

Similarly, a buffalo has its own brain. For the buffalo, God might be a bigger version of itself. It’s easy for him to imagine that right? The same way we imagine our God to be “Like us”.

Similarly, a stray dog could probably think of God as a bigger version of itself. Isn’t it quite possible? Even the spelling is quite close to God ( Dog inversed is God!)

So now you may agree, that it’s all an Illusion. An Illusion that you believe in and a making of your mind. You can only imagine to an extent but what about that, which exists beyond your imagination? Beyond the boundaries?

Why I am thinking about all this? 

Failure always gets you thinking: What exactly went wrong? Was the approach wrong? Or the process? Expectation? The actual deed? Timing? WHAAT?

There was a course of action I decided upon. I don’t give up very easily but I don’t mind giving up if I feel it’s not worth it. When you are conditioned to function a certain way, and have followed it with complete trust and suddenly it doesn’t work out, what exactly are you supposed to do? Then, can you completely trust the path or the process that you have functioned on? Well depends on how serious the situation is.

What’s funny is, when nothing more can be done by humans, God apparently always comes to the rescue. What happens when God stops functioning? Or say, your ‘perception’ of God is shattered and that perception doesn’t hold true anymore? Suddenly you question every single activity you do. You question your belief, other’s belief, and try to reach a conclusion. You become more sensitive to your surroundings and your keen-ness to learn helps increase your observation levels.

It could be a possibility that rituals evoke a certain positive energy. When you were initiated into this “religion” thing as a kid, explaining the whole belief to you could have been difficult. Obviously a 5 year old would not understand the ‘Powers of the mind’ and the ‘Laws of attraction’. Tell them stories and fairy tales and they would think you are nice. They would be curious to know more such stories. Apsaras, devils, heaven,hell – they all seem interesting.

The other day I found my cousin teaching his 3 year old daughter why we conduct Ganpatiji’s Visarjan in the pond after 1.5 days of Pooja. Apparently as per my “Well to do”, ” Well educated” and a “Ranker” Cousin, Ganpati Bappa goes down the lake and is transported to his another home where his mother is waiting for him under the lake. He comes to our home every year for some time. 10 more minutes and the child did not continue the topic once she saw her doll.

That’s how morals are inculcated in kids, isn’t it? 

Point is , you need something relatable for you to believe in the concept. Like kids understand it with stories. Scientists and historians understand it with theories coz they are over the kid phase. Some people believe miracles are due to God. Others believe in Opportunity and preparation striking together. Some believe in destiny. Your belief and experience shape up your expectations and viewing them from one angle is a perception. If you use a pair of binoculars to see something for a very long time and continue to see a variety of things using the same binoculars, you could possibly lead yourself to believe that the binoculars are your eyes, since you have used it for so long. Prejudiced.

But the truth is, you could change your binoculars or moreover stop using it. Or use someone else’s. 

It’s perception!

And then there is Karma. You do everything as per the choices available to you in situations and you reap what you sow. It sounds logical and ideal and is self driven. It can motivate you to work for what you want and what you don’t want in life. Irony- I have taken to understand this logic better after watching a TV series after a Hindu God- popularly known as Shani who is ‘The One who awards and punishes everyone for their actions’. I always thought that Shani meant Bad luck was on its way. But my perception changed when I realized that this God gave rewards too! Humans are said to be scared of this God since he is The One meeting out punishments to Humans for all of their crimes as per the severity of thier crime. 

Another example of Perception. Not related to God but a modern day example.

A young man and woman went on a blind date in Chicago. The guy in an urge to lighten up the atmosphere, goes on to crack a few racist jokes about Black people. The woman is unsure of her date on the first joke, and politely mentions that it’s quite racist and he must stop. He doesn’t take it seriously and continues some more black jokes. She insists not to because it’s outright mean. He tries the third and the last racist joke. She decides to end the date there and then. They both split the bill and walk out. As she searches for a cab, a black stranger walks out to the lady trying to reach out his hand to her while trying to ask her a quick question. She dismisses him, without listening, saying that she doesn’t have change for the poor man. The stranger tries to complete his question, but she continues to interrupt and wave him off. Finally the offended black stranger sternly clarifies- the question he has been wanting to ask – the directions to a particular address. 

The woman realises her grave blunder of assuming the black man to be a beggar and apologises to him (in front of the man she ended her date with). The black man refuses to take her apologies and she is left highly embarrassed at her unnecessary rude and racist attitude. Meanwhile, the joke cracker- date, who has been standing in the corner watching the drama unfold, guides the black man to his required address. He smirks as he looks into the eyes of the woman, taunts her about her words and reaction and moves on to his business.

Now who had the wrong Perception?

Been to any place where they have a distorted mirror? If you see yourself into the mirror, you can see ‘an image’ of yourself. But it all depends on what you see in the mirror and the kind of mirror you are standing in front of. 

Convex and concave mirrors can be a lot of fun. When you see the distorted images of yourself for the first time, it’s amusing. But say, the plain mirror was not invented and you saw the same distorted mirror everyday at home, wouldn’t you believe a distorted image to be the true image of yourself?

Its time to realise just this: What we see many times could be because of the way we see it and not how it actually is. There could be hundreds of things going on in a person’s head but what you see on the his face could be something totally different. How difficult is it to hide your real feeling these days? How easy is it to apply filters, edit, Photoshop those ridiculous photos? “To put on a show” that you are happy when in reality you are far from what you show. How easy is it to fool others that you are really having a great time with someone whom you barely know, when in reality you cannot even spend quality time alone, coz it’s depressing to stay alone for too long.

 It’s better not to define and brand someone as “Type A” and someone as “Type B”. It’s better to do just what we are meant to do. To trust our own instincts over perceptions of others.  To question what we follow and not follow convention. To seek and not blindly believe. 

Because remember, it’s all a temporary Illusion.

How has your perception changed? Let me know in the comments below!

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