MCTB The Specific Perception Models

Specific Perception Models essentially state or imply that an enlightened being will be constantly hyper-aware of every single sensation that arises in their field of perception, including not just the ultimate aspects of the Fundamental Perception Models, but also every single little detail of the content of those sensations, achieving at all times the perfected fusion of the completely open and panoramic perspective of High Equanimity with the laser-like precision of the Arising and Passing Away at its height. It implies that rather than stopping a process, enlightenment is about becoming so fantastically alert that you see not only the true nature but also the specifics of each and every sensation that arises at all times. This is not even close to what happens in reality. While enlightened beings will cycle through those stages, when mindfulness is low each of those stages will present in a low-key way, and only for moments here and there will there be anything like that kind of awareness, though when enlightened beings are on retreat and/or really powering the mindfulness and concentration they can temporarily achieve something that resembles these high ideals.

The Specific Perception Models are another instance where practice instructions get turned into an ideal of what is supposed to happen in exactly the same way as happens with the Fundamental Perception Models. They become one more example of carrying the boat after we have crossed the river. Again, mindfulness comes and goes, sleep comes and goes (though the Tibetan teachings on dream yoga are very intriguing), concentration comes and goes, various perspectives and perceptual thresholds parade through, and the cycles of the ñanas continue on and on.

The ideals in this model and many models that follow it are sometimes used as a weapon by those who like to criticize those who rightly or wrongly claim to be enlightened. Examples include: “Don’t you remember when I said (such and such)?”; “Didn’t you notice how I cleaned the bathroom?”; or: “How could you have forgotten to pay the power bill?” The implication inherent in each of these is that an enlightened being should have perfect awareness of all aspects of their sensate reality as well as perfect memory of all of those aspects. This ideal is unfortunately completely bogus. I so wanted to be a Sensation-Perceiving Superstar with a photographic memory and have been sorely disappointed. As basically everyone out there has some aspect of this model in their working definition of what “enlightenment” must be, these ideals can be a particular problem in relationships, particularly business relationships and romantic ones for those who are out of the closet about enlightenment.

In this basic vein, this brings up another selling point of realistic, down-to-earth, human models of what awakening brings. If you tell people you are enlightened and also promote very high, idealized, delusional, perfectionist models of awakening, those who actually get to know you well will realize how full of shit you are, particularly people such as spouses or partners, business associates, best friends and the like. Further, the more you get stuck trying to be like the person you dream you are supposed to be rather than who you are, the more you can get isolated in your false and pretentious fantasy land, locked away from the grounding, healing, and helpful reality testing that comes from community and real, intimate human relationships. However, if the Specific Perceptual Models are a problem in this way, you haven’t seen anything until you get to the Emotional Models.

MCTB The Emotional Models