Purified Perception

Meditation on Perception (pp. 31-42)

The Buddha defined pure perception as what the senses sense without embellishment.

In order purify our perception, the mind must be trained. We use mindfulness and meditation as tool for the training.

Purification of Perception

The main teachings for the purification of perception (pp 31-42) come from the Eightfold Path (Right Understanding, Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.)

Perceptions arise and fall away from two conditions:

  1. Causes and Conditions
  2. Effort

Causes and Conditions are noted in the first Step in the Eightfold Path: Right Understanding.   Sometimes referred to as karma, conditions arise from many causes to affect our perception.

Effort is noted the sixth step in the Eightfold Path: Right Effort. While we can’t do anything about past causes and conditions, we can train our mind with right effort.

As the Buddha noted in Right Effort, we can direct our effort to cease suffering in four ways:

Prevent the arising of unwholesome states of mind

Overcome unwholesome states which have arisen

Strive for wholesome states to arise

Maintain those wholesome states which have arisen

The flow of purified perception is shown in the diagram below.  Our internal sense bases make contact with one of the external sense bases and our consciousness brings it to our attention first through feeling (pleasant, unpleasant, neither pleasant nor unpleasant) and then through perception (identification).  Mental formations arise that can then cause more contact with external sense objects and go through the cycle again.   By applying the eightfold path, we can gain wisdom through Right Understanding and Right Thinking, prevention though Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood and purification through Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.

Purified Perception and the Eightfold Path


The End of Distorted Perception

“Because only purified perceptions arise, coarser perceptions no longer arise.  Equanimity is purified and bright.  For this reason, we do not form positive or negative thoughts or feelings, nor do we generate any good or ill intentions toward people or things.  For this reason, we do not cling to anything in this world comprised of our mind and body.  When we do not cling, we are not agitated.  When we are not agitated, we attain cessation – personal nibbana, the end of suffering. As the Buddha expressed the knowledge and vision that arises in this state:  “Unshakable is the liberation of my mind.  This is my last birth.  Now there is no more renewed existence. (p. 42) 


Reflect on the talk daily. Practice Right Effort as you perceive distorted perception. Strive for wholesome states to arise and be maintained.


As you meditate, observe your perceptions as they arise. As with the reflections, practice Right Effort.

Next: Introduction to the Ten Healing Perceptions
Previous: Distorted Perception II