Pure Perception: Fake It Until You Make It!

In February 2016, Phakchok Rinpoche answered a student question about pure perception. If we have not yet developed true pure perception, is it okay to “fake it”? Or is it better to just let go?

Pure Perception Takes Time

Rinpoche explains we need to work slowly. We may have to begin by faking it to make it, but we also need to let go. ‘Letting go’ is the emptiness part and ‘faking it to make’ is the pure perception part. We make it up (conceptually thinking “it is pure, all is pure, all is pure), but importantly then we let go. Very slowly, the pure perception will begin to arise because our nature is Buddha. Everybody’s nature is Buddha. But we don’t see our own nature and we don’t see other people’s nature. That is the problem.

In the ultimate sense, seeing things as pure is not faking! Yes, in the beginning, we are faking it, because we just don’t see it now. But we can at least intellectually begin to understand that it is the real truth. We start by faking it because we don’t see it.

Compassion Takes Time

That’s also how we develop compassion–in the beginning, we aren’t capable of extending it to all beings. But, we slowly come to understand that every sentient being is our mother. We gain confidence in that idea. And, Rinpoche asks us here not to let go of compassion. Fake it in the beginning. After time spent practicing regularly, there is no need to fake it, it becomes real.

And ultimately, it is real. We are all related in many lifetimes. Live with that thought for a few minutes. Here we together but we are not knowing each other. Not loving each other. All the different characters—that all disappears. The link of love becomes automatic. We are interconnected. Don’t worry about believing it or not believing it. Don’t make a big issue about it, but just think, “We are connected.” Then compassion automatically arises. The result will come. And when we have compassion, we become completely confident that our path is correct.

It is good for us to spend some time talking about these things and to share our understanding.


Does the idea that every sentient being has been your kind mother resonate with you? If so, spend a few minutes several times a day reminding yourself of that fact. After you’ve done so, can you observe your heart opening more readily? And how does that carry over into your personal interactions?

If you are struggling with this concept, that’s ok! But, still, give it a try by directing attention to some person or animal that you already care for deeply. Allow yourself to give rise to a sense of love and gratitude. Repeat this as often as you can to help moisten your heart with that love. Simply observe how this might affect your mind. Do you notice any difference in how your behavior changes?