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Learning To Sense Anew – Cultivating Respect For The Six Senses

By Tuere Sala

THU MAY 14, 2020

I know, another “better late than never” post. This month we will be exploring the fifth link in the cycle of Dependent Origination – the six senses. The six senses are a pretty phenomenal link. All the previous 4 links are, what I would consider, hardwired in us. They mostly occur pre-awareness. It is this link that changes everything. The six senses are the first opportunity to interrupt the flood of suffering into our lives.

There are 3 important aspects to practicing with the six senses and the cultivation of wisdom from them. First and foremost, it’s the recognition of mind as a sense door. We don’t normally think we are what we sense. We don’t think we are what we see, hear, smell, taste or touch. But when it comes to the mind, we definitely think we are what we think. Holding thoughts as objects of mind, like a tree is an object of the eye will allow a sufficient gap for mindfulness to enter.

Second, each sense gate has a medium that allows for us to perceive through the sense gate. So there is the eye medium for seeing, etc. These mediums include more than just the physical organ. They include objects, consciousness and contact. Together, they make up our sense gates. What we want to do is learn to get curious about or interested in how it is that this medium can create pleasure, distress or ease such that we would simply ignore the sense gate all together. The organs themselves don’t have any interest in the objects – so where does it come from? And, what is our relationship to that?

Third, the six senses are our the first doorway into truly understanding existence. We live with a lot of “not knowing”. We rarely notice the sense gates unless something happens to them. We don’t see the drawbacks of this “not knowing”. We don’t even understand that there are drawbacks or that we should consider looking for drawbacks around our senses. This “not knowing” is the through line between ignorance and suffering. The six senses can operate as a sealant that keeps us within the cycle of Dependent Origination (or samara) or the way out, when we use mindfulness to look for/pay attention to the drawbacks. The six senses are also like the fuel for the suffering engine, keeping us cycling into one difficulty after another. Practice is like putting on the brakes. It’s what helps us interrupt, slow down and eventually stop the automatic flow into suffering.

Join us this month as we explore the six senses in a whole new light.