We know that perception is what we are aware of by using our sense organs. We see and hear, and the things sensed, becomes our perception. Seeing a rainbow is similar to perceiving a rainbow. And we are happy with such perception, and we do not have to behave in any particular way. But perception is more than what our senses perceive.
Looked at from a deeper point of view, perception takes on a whole new dimension. It includes your interpretation of what you sense. But you attach “value” to the object of perception. You then react to theperception according to your point of view, your assessment and your acceptance or rejection. For example, you are walking down the road and there is a scruffy man walking by. Your perceptive judgment may tell you that he is dangerous. You may have seen or read that such a person could be a criminal. You then react according to your perception. Alternatively, you perceive that the man is poor, unemployed, and has no family. You attitude would change and you would feel compassion. The man is the same, but your perception has changed, and it dictated your behaviour.
It is possible to change your perception! You have to delete your preconceived ideas about people and situations. You would need to develop neutrality, a non-judgmental, compassionate and forgiving personality. These positive attributes need to be your core personality, and your perception would take on a different and more positive tone. You want to be a good and positive person, and this new perception would put you on the pathway to becoming that person. But as stated earlier, your preconceived ideas that have become “fixed” in your mind, is the root of prejudice. I once read, “Prejudice is a great time saver. It allows you to jump to conclusions without bothering with facts.” So prejudice is not rational, and it cannot lead to rational behaviour.
Your perception would create certain feeling states, attitudes and behaviour. You have the choice, but you have to use wisdom to develop the positive behaviour and reap good results. A good example would be what Satguru Kabir stated, “भूंखे को कछु दीजिये, यथा शक्ति जो होइ,ता ऊपर शीतल बचन लखिये आत्मा सोइ-Give to the hungry according to your means. Then speak sweetly to him recognizing that he is also a soul.” Perceiving that he is a soul just like you would change your beahviour for the better. So think about it!