We have been assessing the reliability of our sensory apparatus – the mind plus the five sensory organs – in the last two Posts. We already discovered that they do not show what exactly exists out there. They may show non-existing things to be existing but we slavishly believe in what they show to us. Let us examine this issue one more time so that you will be free of doubt.
Undoubtedly a chocolate tastes sweet and a hammer dropped on our foot hurts. We find things hot or cold, tall or short, light or heavy and so on. But do these qualities rest within the objects seen out there or do our senses project them on to something which lies there? Is there truly an inherent solidity and physicality to the objects we perceive in our awake state? We seldom ever brood over this issue. Let us do a small experiment to know whether the solid looking stuff we see around really exists or not.
Some of the readers already may know it, but it is always fun to experience outcome of the experiment. I am borrowing it from the famous Non-dual teacher, Peter Dziuban.
“Say, you are right now enjoying the refreshing cup of your morning coffee. You take that the information you receive from the five sensory organs – the bright brown colored liquid seen with the eye, the nice warm touch to the palm, the slurping sound heard by the ear as the coffee enters the mouth, the invigorating aroma of the freshly brewed coffee detected by the nose, and the delicious taste experienced on the tongue – to be the percepts coming from a real entity, the coffee in the cup.
Take a minute to examine this experience a little more closely. Paraphrasing in the words of the teacher to whom I had already made a reference above, each of the five senses contributes its particular “aspect” of the coffee to the mind. As a result of all the sensations the mind experiences, it instantly says to itself, “Ah, a cup of coffee is here.” But look again.
“The entire and only basis on which the mind would say that coffee is present is by way of the senses. Absolutely everything the mind would know about the coffee is thanks to a visual sensation, a sensation of touch or feel, a sound, a taste and smell. The mind’s entire “evidence” is sensations.
Really stop a moment. Ask yourself what the coffee itself consists of, apart from those five sensations.
When you try to think of what the coffee is, entirely apart from those five sensations — what happens?
You can’t think of anything. And why can’t you think of anything besides the sensations?
Because there isn’t anything else.
There are only the sensations!
There are not the ‘sensations of the coffee’ and coffee!
Sensations are the entire and only “substance.” There is no coffee that is a standalone physical object “out there,” with its own substance, in addition to the sensations experienced by the mind. The “coffee” would be entirely mental — consisting one hundred percent of sensations only.
Suppose you take away those five sensations. Then see if you still can come up with the “coffee.” Nope!
The “coffee” is non-existent. The “coffee” as a separate, physical object didn’t go anywhere. It never was out there as a separate object in the first place!
The mind’s experiencing of sensations results in what is called the coffee, but never is there a separate item “out there.” All there would be is a series of images, feelings, tastes, sounds and smells — experienced entirely by the mind.
THERE IS NOTHING ELSE THERE.”
Now question yourself. Do the sensations have solidity to them? Do they have any physical dimensionality of size, shape or color? Do they have any weight?
So all the objects, which we take to be existing out there in our awake world to be rock solid, are, in fact, as wooly wooly as the dream substances.”
You will have fun to repeat the experiment replacing the coffee with any other object of your choice or person, say your spouse. You will reach the same result!
But then what exactly are the sensations we experience? I shall come back to this at a much later stage.
For now please make a note, as Prof. P. Churchland said: “Our cognitive system does not seem to have developed for an accurate and objective replica of the world, but to provide a task-relevant information when needed, not a moment before.”
In addition, your mind and brain play many tricks unknown to you in the game of saving your body-organism!
Now let us do another short test to find the “Me” or my “self.” For this we shall adopt the “Unfindable Inquiry” popularized by Scott Kiloby. As Scott says almost all of us go around with the belief that “I am a separate person with a ‘self’ sitting somewhere there in my body-mind and everyone and everything else is out there. We carry even ‘Deficiency stories’ such as “I’m not good enough,” “I’m unlovable,” I’m unimportant” and a host of others. We may not even be aware of it, but we are a slave to these beliefs.
The inquiry to find the truth of my ‘self’ is done through iterative loops of three questions. [An introductory Video by Scott here. (15:07 mins).]
- Name it. Name the person (or who you think you are). You identify a quality or entity you would like to investigate and ID it with a name tag.
- Find it. Try to find the locus and that person or entity. Go through each of the main thoughts, emotions, and sensations (one by one) that make up the person.
- Ask the question: For each appearance ask, “Is this me?” (e.g., Is this thought me? Is this emotion me? Is this sensation me?). There is no scope for two answers – it has to be either Yes or No. Just as the thought occurs and you feel that’s you, ask yourself – is that word or picture you?
- If not go for next emotion/feeling.
You will discover that you can neither identify yourself with any ‘thought’ or ‘feeling’ or ‘emotion.’ You do not find any ‘self’ locatable within the body. You may also inquire in this way any connected body feelings that may arise simultaneously as though the image has a counterpart hooked to it in the body.
What do we do then to know if there is any reality at all?
(To Continue …. Part – 6)