Reality, and how to perceive it

Something I’m practicing is more accurate perception of the reality and circumstances, as a basis for any action or interaction.

Andrew's left hand

A few examples may help illustrate what I mean.

My drawing in the past had predominantly been based on symbols i.e. figures and things that were symbolic and metaphorical. While I still do that type of drawing for journaling and note-taking, I realised how drawing abstractly limits my motivation to develop technically and to illustrate more subtle concepts or messy realities. I’ve recently started to draw more ‘right-brained’. The right-brained approach is more about accurately portrayal of whatever it is that your drawing.

What I found interesting as I was drawing this morning is that the same distinctions were relevant to an upcoming course and art I’m practicing called ‘Cheng Hsin’. The month-long training will start with meditation for a week, then move to Tai Chi and other explorations of ‘effortless power’ and a week of boxing. That is, the principles of effective (martial) interaction start with a foundation in accurate perception. Meditation, paying attention, not knowing and unknowing inquiry are necessary to get beyond conceptualisation, projection and inaccurate prediction of what is happening (or will happen). The teacher, Peter Ralston, has written a long book on “Not Knowing” that (at least for the first third) is heavily focused on exercises and instruction that point to the limits and ways around excessive conceptualisation.

Both these areas of practicing have illustrated how much of a beginner I am in being able to discern my own and others concepts and conceptions. Given so much of my work is in fields where new ‘concepts’ or distinctions are dominant (e.g. sustainability, Apithology, social entrepreneurship, community development and collaborative creation) clarifying how / if I’m perceiving reality any differently from other people is critical. Without that inquiry and discernment, I could easily misinterpret communication or act inappropriately in the cultural or social context. For example, a wise approach would be to inquiry, discuss and clarify individual’s and our collective conceptualisation (and meaning-making) around the term ‘social entrepreneur’, and to do that with those in our community who are being labeled (or are branding themselves) as such.

It’s fun and remarkable to feel like a beginner in the most basic of life skills — accurately perceiving reality?! One of the great values of this is how essential it is to learning. Whether it’s through a heart-rate monitor as I exercise, via a 360 feedback process in my work roles, or someone taking a video or photo of my kitesurfing, accurate perception and depiction of reality can be compared to your experience and conceptualisation as a basis for adjustment or inquiry into what exactly is going on and how it could be different. So, if what I’m writing about makes sense (or doesn’t) please let me know. To me it reads fine….but then I’m not writing for me, so feedback on the reality of how this is received can be your little contribution to me being a better blogger in the future!

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