Distorted Perception

9 December 2012 Originally posted on Facebook


 This short Youtube film (6 mins.) beautifully illustrates the “perversion of perception” (sanna vipallasa) described by the Buddha, here worsened by addiction. (“Leaves of Grass” by Ankit Bakshi of India.) Watch to the end. It is disturbing, but so is the reality. (“Leaves of Grass” by Ankit Bakshi)

On sanna vipallasa Ven. Piyadassi Thera wrote,”It is important to note that perceptions often deceive us. Then they become known as illusion or perversity of perceptions. (sanna-vipallasa…) A simile will illustrate the point. A farmer after sowing a field, will set up a scare-crow to protect the seed and for a time the birds will mistake it for a man and will not settle. That is an illusion of perception. Similarly sense and mental objects deceive our mind by producing a false impression. The Buddha, therefore, compares perception to a mirage.

“When a particular perception, perverted or hot, occurs frequently, it grows stronger and grips our mind. Then it becomes difficult to get rid of that perception, and the result is well explained in this verse of the Suttanipata.

‘Who is free from sense perceptions
In him no more bonds exist;
Who by Insight freedom gains
All delusions cease in him;
But who clings to dense perceptions
And to view-points wrong and false
He lives wrangling in this world.'”
– Piyadassi Thera The Buddha’s Ancient Path, Ch 7

See also Vipasalla Sutta (“Perversions” or “Distortions of the Mind”)

Quote of Ven. Piyadassi:  August 18 2014 update: The previous link is broken, hopefully only temporarily. Here is another source: (see chapter 7 p. 68.)


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