Perception only Is a profound teaching of the Yogacara. The emphasis on perception only is to strengthen awareness. Everything is just your perception. It is the sound before the word sound, smell, before the word smell… before we go into the circularity of thinking that cranks out imaginary ideas of a separate self and other.
In this talk, Sokuzan tells us that when perceiving through the six sense fields, including the mind which also receives thoughts–just like the ear receives sounds–we probably are adding to it. We perceive something, and instead of just the perception, we add our ideas, our thoughts: “I like it; I don’t like it; this is good; I need more of that and less of this.” That will migrate out into our life–what we reach for, what we push away–and our whole life can be just about grasping stuff: “I see it; I want it”‘ rather than “I see it.” Sokuzan continues with talking about how we fundamentally need to stop going to war with ourselves and encourages us to “meditate first. Get your priorities straight. Train your mind.”
The term “consciousness only” associated with the Yogacara school of Buddhism is often misunderstood. To help us understand the intention of the teachings, Sokuzan reads from the introduction to The Twenty Verses in “Seven Works of Vasubandhu”, translation and commentary by Stephan Anacker.