Ayurvedic approach to knowledge 3

Self-assessment and process improvement 

perceptual instrumental awareness

Part 3


The perceptual process can be defined and described as a complex set of mechanisms and functions of instrumental consciousness that make use of certain brain functions that allow us to receive, interpret and understand the information we receive from the environment. The perceptual process involves many cognitive and emotional components and is influenced by our prior beliefs and experiences.

The perceptual process can be likened to looking through a window that can be clean or dirty, depending on one's personal cognitive filter, i.e. one's experiences and beliefs. The personal filter of instrumental awareness is usually made up of lived, subjective, personal experiences and is based on personal background, emotions and various previously formulated motivations.

An important aspect of the perceptual process is the reward system of instrumental consciousness that occurs in the brain when dopamine is released when we receive information that supports our existing beliefs in one way or another, leading to a state of pleasure or satisfaction. This contextual satisfaction may reinforce the belief in question, even if it is not necessarily essential or rationally based or grounded in genuine principle.

In order to have a perceptual process characterised by accuracy, fairness and objectivity it is necessary to overcome the personal perceptual filter and know how to be open to new beneficial experiences and new constructive points of view.

In this sense, exercises of introspection, self-awareness and self-objectification can contribute considerably to the creation of a free space in the sphere of personal consciousness that allows for a fair self-evaluation and favours the achievement of a perception of accuracy and correctness.

Certain pre-existing beliefs or biases can influence the current perceptual process mainly by narrowing the perspective and limiting the perceptual availability to certain possibilities that might be at odds with the nature of the pre-existing content in personal awareness. In modern scientific terminology, these are called cognitive biases.

The term "cognitive bias" was introduced in the second half of the last century to describe cognitive tendencies that can distort the way people typically process information, perceive life situations and make decisions accordingly.

Modern research has shown that in reality there is no human being who is not influenced, to a greater or lesser extent, by the existence of such "cognitive biases" that exist in their consciousness.

Having defined this concept and having studied it systematically in different situations and in different cases, researchers have found that the whole process of human thought is based on the existence of these cognitive tendencies.

These trends influence the choices and therefore the decisions people make in different existential contexts. For example, in the case of an Ayurvedic contest challenge where we intend to perceive the predominance of a particular subtle vital energy, such as the subtle energy of a vital force (dosha) in our being or the predominance of a particular taste-specific energy (rasa) among the six possible in Ayurveda, our perception may be influenced or experience difficulties due to the presence of these limitations, nowadays called 'cognitive biases' or, as mentioned in the Ayurvedic tradition, constitutive aspects of the personal point of view (naya) available to us.

Most human beings show some reluctance when they are asked to take a test, a knowledge check, an assessment or when they are asked to answer a questionnaire. It is necessary to recognise that not all human beings are always open to self-testing at any time, in any way and in any direction, especially in the area of knowledge. However, if we look carefully at the life situations we experience, we will notice that they constantly involve evaluation and validation. Every time we prepare to make a decision, we are in fact carrying out a form of evaluation in our own inner universe and in our own cognitive space.

Cognitive bias is the tendency to personally interpret information from outside our instrumental awareness in a predominantly subjective way that is influenced by our own life experience, knowledge, emotions and beliefs. This can lead to an altered or even distorted perception of objective reality and can often affect the personal way in which we make decisions or evaluate certain situations.

Cognitive biases are conditioning aspects of current cognition processes and often function as perceptual altering factors. By modifying or altering perception, 'cognitive biases' can lead to the manifestation of decisions that are inconsistent with objective reality, can influence the adoption of erroneous decisions, or can incline consciousness to adopt certain judgements that may be erroneous.

From a practical point of view, it is important to try to become aware of the existence of these "cognitive biases" in order to understand how our cognitive activity can be influenced by certain internal factors of our own consciousness. Further it is necessary to seek to recognise as well as possible and overcome the altering incidence of such "cognitive biases" by using educated discriminative thinking and an analytical perspective on consciousness.

Andrei Gamulea, Ayurveda lecturer AMN-Romania

part 4 here