By: Stefan H. Verstappen |
Excerpted from the book, A Masters Guide to the Way of the Warrior.
The ordinary man knows the world and calls this knowledge, the sage knows nothing and calls this wisdom. –Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
Perception is reality. Without the means to receive information from the outside world, there would not be an outside world. Although our senses provide information from the `world outside’ it does not mirror it, the mental image created in our minds is not a true reflection of the world.
There are several reasons for this. First, the view we have of reality is only a partial picture due to the limited `range’ of our senses. For example, the light energy that our eyes receive and transform into sensation comprises only about 2.5% of the electromagnetic spectrum, and yet ninety to ninety five percent of the information we receive from the outside world is through vision.
This is like trying to understand the 1300 page novel `War and Peace’ by reading only two pages from somewhere near the middle of the book.
In addition to a whole spectrum of sights we cannot see, there are also sonic vibrations, olfactory sensations, and magnetic fields that we cannot detect even though certain other species can. How different would our world be if we could smell each other’s emotions, taste atmospheric changes, see each other’s infrared emissions, hear sonar waves, and feel magnetic field fluctuations?
To use an analogy of our sensory limitations is to compare them to a fisherman’s net. If we throw a net into the ocean and examine what we are able to haul out, logical deduction would state that the ocean is populated by fish no smaller than the size of the opening in the net, and no larger than we could lift out of the water.
This deduction, while we know it to be false, is scientifically accurate based on the given information. If the net represents our senses, and the ocean represents the phenomenal world around us, then no matter how scientifically we approach a subject our deduction must nevertheless be based on only a small sampling of what really exists `out there’. Statistically speaking, we haven’t a clue.
This metaphysical assumption is the basis for humility – nothing we know, can be absolutely true, our sensory limitations are such that we can never see or comprehend the complete picture.
Like the parable of the three blind men examining an elephant, one feels the elephant’s trunk and declares the animal is a large snake, another feels the legs and believes he is touching the four pillars of a temple, the third grasps the tail and believes he is holding a fly whisk. Each is correct in his perception, and each is completely wrong.
Stefan H. Verstappen is a Canadian author, researcher, and adventurer. He is author of six books and numerous magazine articles. For a full list of Stefan’s work see Bibliography.