Hal Zina Bennett

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The Lens of Perception

Developing the inner-seeking eye of the modern-day shaman

By Hal Zina Bennett, Ph.D

Newest edition available July 23, 2007

ISBN 1587613166


This underground classic, helps to answer that question posed by the bestselling movie What the Bleep Do We Know?!. Lens of Perception provides a liberating and practical view of our relationship with the quantum world and tells how to make use of that information in our everyday lives.

The lens of perception--the part of human consciousness that creates our sense of reality--is a core concept in virtually every spiritual and psychological tradition, from ancient Buddhism to Native American shamanism to Jungian psychology. Through this book you'll explore the inner workings of human consciousness and unravel the Gordian knot of reality itself.

  • A guided tour of human consciousness that takes readers from individual self-awareness to becoming co-creators of their reality.
  • An underground favorite that was way ahead of its time, reissued as a New Thought classic in a freshly revised third edition.
  • A wonderful companion book for the film What the Bleep Do We Know!? which has inspired millions of readers and hundreds of online discussion groups. 

This book is based on the author's experiences with peyote shamans of the U.S. and Mexico. Since its initial publication in 1987, The Lens of Perception has won tens of thousands of readers and has been praised by leading teachers of shamanism, spirituality, and personal growth. 

Only by knowing the ancient secrets of the lens of perception can we actualize our highest spiritual potential.

Areas of Interest


"Hal Zina Bennett is becoming one of my favorite authors...The Lens of Perception brings the magical world of existence into our everyday lives." ~Lynn V. Andrews, bestselling author of Medicine Woman

"The Lens of Perception offers a new perspective on the process of rebirthing spiritual insight into post-modern life." ~Terence McKenna, author of Archaic Revival

"This is a wonderfully lucid and intelligent book, full of fascinating insights into the mysteries of human perception. Hal guides us through traditional  ways of viewing reality and seduces us into embracing our own. I love this book!" ~Gabrielle Roth, author of Sweat Your Prayers

"...a fascinating account of how we each create our own experience of life." ~Shakti Gawain, bestselling author and lecturer

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From pages 19-20

Sen's snoring stopped. He took a deep breath, then suddenly began to tremble all over, as though he was having some sort of fit. The light changed and I saw a giant cat, a mountain lion, standing between me and him, teeth bared.  

"Sen," I cried, wanting to warn him. But a strange sound came from my throat, a hissing that I barely identified as my own voice. Sen sat bolt upright and looked calmly past the cat. In fact, his gaze was piercing, looking right through the cat into my eyes. "Stop this nonsense right now," he said. "You need your sleep. You'll be exhausted by morning."  

"The cat," I cried. "Don't you see it?" At that moment I wasn't certain of anything. I could not clearly see the cat myself. It was too close. I was terribly confused. Whey couldn't I see it? I was aware only of its threatening posture, baring its teeth, ready to pounce.  

"Of course I see it," Sen said. "It's your cat. It's not going to hurt me."  

My cat, I thought. Mine? Was all this truly my own creation? I stared back at the cat. Its face lit up, glowing, as though it had been a plastic mask; now someone had turned on a light behind the cat mask, exposing the illusion. The body of the cat vanished and I was looking just at its face, at that backlit mask. The mask of the cat began to dissolve, as though the heat of the light behind it was causing it to melt. Soon it was nothing more than a molten blob turning in space like a star. As I watched, it began to reshape itself into a much more geometric form.  

After a few moments its transformation was complete. Round, saucer-shaped, it turned slowly in space before my eyes. The light still shone within it, as though it possessed its own source of illumination. It turned again and again, revealing its full configuration from the front. It was a lens, like the lens from a telescope or a magnifying glass. But this lens had an organic appearance, not unlike a living cell, translucent and soft, definitely alive, a geometric jellyfish.

 I moved closer to the lens. Deep inside it I saw movement. What were these shapes? I saw many images from my childhood, my brothers, the house where I'd lived during my high school years in Michigan, my parents, my first lover. I thought about how people often reported seeing their lives flash before their eyes when they were faced with death. Was I dying? I looked deeper into the lens, as if to find my answer there. I saw a cat, a mountain lion...a giant bird...a beautiful sunset over the ocean. There was a rugged trail up a mountain, and a man...Sen. He was sleeping by the rock, his head on his knapsack. I could not figure out where he was--in the lens, or beyond it, or both? 

The lens turned in the air. I closed my eyes, trying to block it out, trying to see around it, or to see a clear place through it, where the world beyond would not be distorted by the images inside the lens. But I could not escape the lens' influence, and now I was aware that it was turning deep in my consciousness, in the same space out of which dream and imagination are created. I had never before noticed how large this mental space I called imagination could be. It had no limits, no beginning, middle, or end. It seemed to stretch out in all directions, a vast landscape whose borders were as unlimited as space itself…  

For a long time I just sat quietly and thought about this. It seemed to me that the lens was like a vehicle for my awareness, giving me an identity separate from the rest of the world. This was the image I had been seeking since I was a child. A thousand questions and speculations that I had entertained along the way now focused on the lens image for me.  

Having the sense of separateness which the lens provided seemed to me both exciting and frightening. It meant that I was not like an ant, with instincts, that is, pre-programmed responses built in, dictating my every action. It meant that I was capable of creating my own program, or even of overriding whatever biological or God-given programs might be built in.  

My decisions, my fears, my dreams, my acquired knowledge--all could come into play. In my present situation, up on the mountain, I could make a decision, based on my fears or on other factors contained in my lens, to leave my guide (Sen) sleeping by the mouth of the cave and make my way down the mountain trail alone. Or I could choose to trust him and wait for morning. Regardless of which decision I made, my awareness of my separateness--achieved through the lens--was now very clear to me. I alone was responsible for my destiny. I was terribly excited about being able to see all this. The vision of the lens provided me with a symbol for making sense of knowledge I hadn't even been aware that I was collecting over the years… 

(Continued on page 20 of the book)

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All articles and images in this website are copyrighted by Hal Zina Bennett 2003-2010.  Written permission must be obtained before use of articles and images. Last modified: October 05, 2010