Distorted Perceptions

When I was visiting Kurukulla Center for Tibetan Buddhist studies this past weekend, I was able to meet and spend a little time resident Geshe at the Center. He gave me a gift of a book that had been written by his teacher (the former resident Geshe at the Center).

As I was flipping through the book after I returned home, I came across these lines, which express something that is often true of us, whether we are Buddhist, Christian or something else. He writes:

Even if we notice many good qualities in someone we resent, our strength of perception that holds that person’s faults eclipses any perception of good in them. Also, even though we may notice many faults in ourselves, the great strength of perception that holds to just one type of good quality in ourselves eclipses the perception of faults.

We tend to see most things and people with an overlay of prior perception that covers how we see their faults and their virtues. An unpleasant or negative trait or action of statement of someone I am disposed toward may seem like a minor thing. Yet the same trait, action or statement in someone I have a low opinion seems much worse.

It is hard to let go and see each person and their actions as they are in that moment, without the prejudice of our perceptions of them. And I think Geshe-la is right that the same thing is true of our evaluation of ourselves.