One of the greatest mysteries in the world is how we perceive. Many are familiar with the old adage that a pessimist sees a glass as half-empty, while an optimist perceives it as being half-full. But what is it really, that brings about this most marvellous act - an act that is so fundamental, and so vital, but which we so often take for granted?
For not only is the act of perception a vital act, but the consequences of how we perceive affect and dictate every aspect of our lives.
The act of perception is one of the greatest mysteries of the universe. Over the ages, Toltecs have learned a little about this mystery, but even after thousands of years of research, the mechanics of how we perceive remain elusive.
However, Toltecs have learned enough to enable them to make use of the energy of perception, and also to realise that the mystery of perception is the key to other mysteries in the universe.
So, what is the nature of perception, and how can we best make use of it?
As a starting point, we need to look at the definition of the word perception, which originates from the Latin, meaning, to take or receive. In this respect, one of the significant older meanings of the word is, "partaking of the Eucharist." The reason this is highly significant is that for Toltecs the act of perception relates to the act of conception.
Every time we perceive something, we are engaging in an act of receiving or, more properly, an act of conception. The implications of this are staggering.
The truth that we are responsible for creating our own realities is glibly stated by many. Yet, without an appreciation of the act of perception there can be no real recognition of the true responsibility inherent in the act of creation. Instead, people get stuck at the level of positive thinking - which has little true power, and is a very hit or miss affair.
What is lacking in the proponents of positive thinking, is an understanding that we perceive at more levels than just thinking, and how we have learned to perceive, as well as what we habitually perceive, is clearly ingrained in our psyche through our social conditioning.
Every conception - unless it is aborted - leads to a birth. That is the natural order of things. But if the act of perception is an act of conception that will mostly be brought to birth, is not the awesome responsibility within the act of perception plain to see?
Whatever we choose to perceive should lead to a birth of sorts. Given the higgledy-piggledy thoughts, emotions and reactions of most people in the world, is it surprising that we find the world in the mess we see today?
For the most part, the things that people generally bring to birth in their lives are the product of their deep-seated social-conditioning, mixed with fashionable suggestions taken on board from external sources like the media. However, this is hardly living up to the true responsibility inherent within the act of perception.
In order to gain a deeper appreciation of this responsibility we need to look again at the meaning of perception, and particularly in the old sense of "partaking in the Eucharist." This is because the meaning of the word Eucharist, which is the Christian sacrament of the Lord's supper, or communion, derives from the Greek, "to offer willingly." If we relate this to the act of perception, we can see that the meaning is "the ability to receive or to partake in what is offered willingly." And what is offered to each and every one of us, willingly, and without equivocation, but Life itself?
However, if our perception of what is going on in our lives, of what it means to live, is confined to our social conditioning, is shallow, or is a mere recycling of the mundane, then how can we be said to be playing a meaningful part in life, and if we are not playing a meaningful part in life, how can we be said to be partaking in life? At best we are doing nothing more than existing - passively waiting for something - and at worst, we are contributing directly to the apathy, lack of direction and destructiveness that is so prevalent in the world today.
The quality and fluidity of our perception form the basis of our ability to take responsibility for our life - to create our life, and so enable us to partake freely in all of life. These are the foundations of true freedom.