Perception & Reality

“‘We read the world wrong and say it deceives us,’ wrote Rabindranath Tagore. We take for permanent that which is ephemeral and for happiness that which is but a source of suffering: the desire for wealth, for power, for fame, and for nagging pleasures…By knowledge we mean not mastery of masses of information and learning but an understanding of the true nature of things. Out of habit, we perceive the exterior world as a series of distinct, autonomous entities to which we attribute characteristics that we believe belong inherently to them. Our day-to-day experience tells us that things are ‘good’ or ‘bad’. The ‘I’ that perceives them seems to us to be equally concrete and real. This error, which Buddhism calls ignorance, gives rise to powerful reflexes  of attachment and aversion that lead to suffering. As Etty Hillesum says so tersely: ‘That great obstacle is always the representation and never the reality.'”

—Ricard, Matthieu. Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skill. New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 2003.