Yoga Sutra 4:15
Minds perceive differently: Although the same objects may be perceived by different minds, they are perceived in different ways, because those minds manifested differently.
Yoga Sutra 4:16
Objects are independent of minds: However, the object itself does not depend on any one mind, for if it did, then what would happen to the object if it were not being experienced by that mind?
Yoga Sutra 4:17
The coloring of mind determines perception: Objects are either known or not known according to the way in which the coloring of that object falls on the coloring of the mind observing it. In other words, it is the coloring of one's own mind that determines perception.
We form our opinions and feelings about things though our experiences. For this reason, the yoga sutra tells us that it is important to recognize that our perceptions are not always truth. It is biased according to our experiences.
Concepts that are made up in our minds are called ‘maya’ or illusions. Maya creates suffering, which is why Buddhism teaches non-attachment. It is not about non-attachment to what is going on, but non-attachment to the perceptions that prevents us from seeing or experiencing what is real.
I guess we are a bit like the processors in our computers…we collect data, either from experiences or input from studying or learning about something, & then we use this data to form our conclusions. But very much like the computer, we can form skewed conclusions..
Living in the UK, dogs are quite well protected. My own dogs, get 3 walks a day. They are never left for long periods of time, practically get food on demand and we are always making sure that they are “happy” and enough entertained. Our perception of a dog’s wellbeing is pitched against our ideal for our dogs. When we meet dogs on our travels, especially in the 3rd world countries and see them tied up or treated as animals instead of family members, or when we see manky street dogs, we feel sad for them. We perceive that they are suffering—but is this true? Someone said to me, a lot of times, it’s the perceiver that suffers, not the perceived.
And sometimes, what we perceive is completely made up in our heads.
I shared this story on Instagram:
"I met this dog when we went to visit one of the mothers in a village in India. He was tied on a short lead, was skinny & didn’t have any water. Immediately my heart pained & I fed him my friend’s muffins & left him some water. As soon as we started to say goodbye, he was let loose & ran off happily with his friend to terrorise a cat! Perception deceives! He was tied up only because we were visiting- so he didn’t need that water anyway. He lives in a village & his owners entire home for 3 is the size of my bedroom - he is not getting roast chicken on an unlimited buffet like my guys & was not starving! In fact- he was a pretty happy fella. Probably one of the lucky ones! I am thinking about this now because I am looking at the horses in the field & feeling so sad for them having to stand all night in the cold & snow. But so are all the wild animals.. I know they are fine. Yet my mind keeps playing me these stories. we see what we see & it is not always easy to separate reality from these made up stories in our heads..."
How do we stay completely present and perceive what is present, unbiased by our experience?
Practice mindfulness is my only answer.
But i know it is so important, to collect positive and clear information from our experiences. If we always allow negative dialogue to manifest then we will always be forming negative opinions.