by Dr. Arlette Poland
Whitehead teaches us that perception involves several layers of activity. Neuroscience has recently proven his concepts to be accurate. The most simple of examples is our eyesight. Our eyes are not really what see the world. It is the brain that really ‘sees.’ Our eyes perceive upside down and the brain interprets the perceived world. That means our interpretation is the key to our experience of the world. I think this is what Whitehead wanted us to understand. I also think that this is what the Buddha wanted us to realize.
Science of Mind, teachings that were founded by Ernest Holmes in the 20th century, adds that our thoughts or this activity of perception via the device of subjective form not only determines our experience of the world but also significantly creates our world. In short, our thinking is creative of the world. How is that for power!?!
These ideas might prove to be good reasons to investigate how our perceptions are formed and even more importantly how they are or could be changed. After all these perceptions, subjective form for feeling, decide how or if we accept or reject information. In every moment, new information is made available and our subjective form, our perceptive device, decides how or if that new information fits into something already known. Are we stuck in the same patterns and thinking or can we extricate ourselves from habit thinking, perceiving, feeling?
According to Whitehead, novelty or change is the making of life itself. If there is no novelty, then there is no life. We could call this evolution a la Whitehead. Here Whitehead lines up well with Buddhism in that both advocate not only to explore carefully the device of perception but also to decide to alter the thinking towards acceptance of the new.
The subjective form, according to Whitehead, is the perceiving tool for the becoming event in the activity of becoming called concrescence, or becoming concrete. The subjective form is already in existence. It is waiting for the new information. The subjective form could be thought of as the color of the glasses we wear when we prehend (experience and comprehend) all that new information.
If our glasses are fogged with many labels that are fixed, we are likely stuck in thinking a certain way. If we hate the color yellow, then anything yellow might be ‘bad.’ The flower is yellow. Now we hate the flower!
Labels are only that … labels. For us to accept the responsibility for the creative power of our thinking, it is time that we use either Whitehead and/or a form of meditation to explore and constantly update our subjective forms, our world view, our labels.
It is time to focus on the opportunities for greater care and connection for self and others. Such focus means the development of subjective forms and labels that are consistent with this focus. Now.