“When a wise man points at the moon, the imbecile examines the finger.” –Confuscious
The Full Moon, if we choose to believe the mysticism and pseudoscience surrounding our celestial neighbor, the full moon is the culprit behind increases in crime, accidents, werewolves, and generally all sorts of, well…lunacy. And this isn’t a new idea at all. Even the word “lunacy” has its origins in Greek history which also happens to be where the mythconception of the moon affecting the water in our brains comes from. Mythbusting however, I will leave to my valued reader. What interests me is the “why” behind our fascination with the full moon. There is a term for it; Illusory Correlation. I always thought of it as our perception, but “illusory” works very well with the idea of perception.
A full moon and a new moon both have the same gravitational effects, and the same range of distances from the Earth. The only difference between a new moon and a full moon is the amount of sunlight reflecting off of the moon and subsequently, our ability to see the moon. Quite simply put, the moon is always the same, it is only our perception of it that changes. And perception is a powerful thing.
When we have a certain fixed perception about something say, a full moon, we have certain fixed beliefs associated with that perception. We are conditioned and with that conditioning comes a fixed response to our perception. If we stop and examine just about any aspect of our life, we will see this same relationship between our perception and a conditioned response. Our perceptions are just another way to judging and comparing. Judging and comparing lead us away from what is true and further into what is illusory and false. The more we judge and compare, the more we find things different and separate.
The moon is always there regardless of whether we can see it or not, regardless of whether we perceive it or not. What changes isn’t the moon, it is our perceptions, and with that change in perceptions comes changes in our conditioned responses. As our perceptions change, so do the filters through which we view the world. Our perceptions and our filters are what create the illusions we believe.
The beauty comes when we first, see our perceptions and second, begin to peel those perceptions back to find what is actually true. So let’s put the moon aside for now (don’t worry, it’s still there) and look at a practical example of why recognizing perception is useful.
At one point or another, all of us have experienced regret over some occurrence in the past. But regret can’t happen in the past, it can only happen in the present. And we can’t deal with feelings of regret by changing the past. In fact the past has nothing to do with our regret because our regret is created by our perception in the present of past events that we cannot change. Our perception brings up those conditioned filters of judgment, comparison, and what we think is true about ourselves.
When we start to look at regret from this—dare I say it—perspective, we can begin to see what is true. The past, just like the moon, is always there and is an immutable truth. It cannot be changed. The only thing that can change is our perception. When we start to see that our regret is born from our perception, from our conditioning, we can begin piece by peace to acknowledge and let go of those perceptions that perpetuate a painful illusion.
As the perceptions and filters dissolve, peace emerges, and the illusion of separateness also dissolves. With this rediscovered peace, the truth of just how interconnected we really are to ourselves and to others shines as brightly as that full moon lighting up the sky.