Perception is shaped by experience. It is important to know this when trying to explain our behavior. To behave, we must first be aware of our present context. We must have an idea of what is happening before we can act according to it. To believe that we all perceive the same context in a similar fashion is a big mistake. On a basic level, there is similar, or even equal, perception of context. Perception in itself is neutral, and what we both look at will be re-presented in our respective minds as “same” (apple, ball, building etc). I will not see a chair where you see a radio. But aspects of perception are indeed subjective.
Attention is what guides our senses, and we will attend to different aspects of the same context.
Valuing what is perceived will affect what meaning it has to me.
So on an objective level, you and med can be in context ABCDE, where A,B,C,D,E represents different objects/forms that we can see, hear, smell, taste or feel, and we both can have a similar experience of ABCDE. That is because ABCDE is unaffected by our perception of them, and our functions of perception and re-presentation are both “human”-like and thus comparable to each other. If we attended and valued in the same way, we would give the same, objective description of context ABCDE.
But usually, that is not what happens. My attention will probably have me experience ABCDE differently than you.
I smell C while you hear B.
Smelling C triggers thinking “blab la bla” and then I won’t perceive any of ABCDE for a moment because I’m lost in thoughts. My basic perception keep receiving input, but I will not attend to it.
Hearing B triggers seeing A which triggers listening more closely to B.
A = a radio
B = is the radio broadcast
C = the scent of detergents
So my attention goes to detergent and I come to think about my messy apartment I how I need to clean it up before my mother-in-law visits, and how she always seem to notice if anything is not tidy and how that bugs me and…
Your attention goes to the music and where it might come from. You see the radio and keep listening to that nice song it is playing.
Although our minds are basically the same in function, we would describe context ABCDE differently, not because we perceive it differently but because we attend and value in a subjective way. These subjective experiences will then have us act subjectively. We share the same world, but it appears as many worlds depending on which mind makes the re-presentation of it. As subjects, we will therefore act differently upon this world.
One beautiful aspect of mindfulness is that all these subjective worlds, where everyone is alone in his/her re-presentation, is brought together and equally shared by everyone present. Whenever we are mindful and non-judgmental, we are not alone anymore. In those moments, we are part of a mindful community of humans. In a mindful community, there is no disagreement or arguing about what we are and where we are.
This we are
Here we are
For as long as we are mindful