In a discussion over on Shared Vision, some questions came up that drew out an answer worth posting.
Is attention tethered perception? Does having an intention also create a tethering…? Can there be layers of perception happening all at once so that on one level, perception is untethered and on another level, perception is tethered?
Identification is tethered perception. When we are identified, we have connected ourselves with the objects of perception. We think “I am this body”. “I am these thoughts”. “I am sad/happy/angry” (ie: I am emotions)
Mind then makes stories about it to justify this perception. “I am angry because…”. “That person made me…”. Using memory, mind associates the stories with our experiences. Thus, when an experience arises in life, the first thing we do is call up our stories. Very much the actor on stage, in their role. It is an attempt by the mind to feel comfortable and in control. But it has the side effect of causing suffering. And disconnecting us further from who we really are, under the stories, under the identification.
Intention is directed or focused awareness. It may be encumbered by memory associations and such, but in it’s pure state is it is untethered. It is focused infinity. In our identification with the stories, we may see the intention as a fettering, like how we may see some desires as limiting or undesirable. But this is due to identification, not the inherent limits of any given intention.
We can also see that when there is a lot of resistance and drama at play, intentions will squeeze out in distorted sorts of ways. Unhealthy desires, for example. Underneath them, there is something pure. But it finds expression how it can, in ways that may be anything but.
And yes, there can be layered perception taking place, so we see both tethering and untethered. A classic example would be pre-awakening, when we experience that we are the Self, yet the ego-self remains. The identification with ego is much loosened, but enough is still there to hold it. Put another way, Self has begun waking to Itself, but is still in a pre-wakening semi-groggy state.