Right from the day one when we came out of our mother’s womb, we have been using the five sense perceptions to experience life. These five senses are Sound, Sight, Smell, Taste & Touch. Whatever physical experiences we have had in our life, they have happened only by using these 5 tools. But have you ever had the courage to question the sovereignty of these 5 senses? Have you ever questioned that whatever you are experiencing right now using these senses, Is this really real? or Is this a Distortion? I think most of us have never done that. Today we will dive deeper into this area of life and see what we can found. We will explore this aspect in a very scientific and systematic way so that we can first realize and then understand where do we really stand in terms of our knowledge of what life really is and what is its fundamental nature!
How does five sense perceptions work within a Human Being? : The very nature of the five senses is that they work in terms of comparison. Now when I say comparison, this means there always has to be two or more entities involved in order to allow our senses to do what they do. If that is so, we are clearly making a statement that the information provided by the sense perception is relative & not absolute. Even Einstein’s theory of relativity expounds the same that every physical activity in this universe is relative in nature. So if the experience using the five senses is relative, obviously it can never reveal the true nature of that particular experience to us. Let’s have a look at all the five sense perceptions one by one and see if the above-mentioned argument holds true or not:
1) SOUND: The sound creates an experience of Hearing. Today everybody knows that sound is a physical activity. Which means the very process of hearing is also physical. Whenever there are sounds of a certain frequency which hits our eardrums, there is a signal sent to our brain, that signal creates an electric current within the brain and after processing that current, our brain tells us that this is a sound. Now let’s see how the experience of sound is relative in its nature and always varies from creature to creature:
E.g 1: The human ears can hear sounds between the range of 20 to 20,000 Hz of frequency. But there are a whole lot of other creatures who can hear other range of frequencies and in human experience, they don’t even exist. Just to mention, Bats and Dolphins can hear the ultrasounds between the range of 20 to 100 kHz which is not audible to a human being. A Snake is literally deaf because he doesn’t even have ears, However, he senses the environment on the basis of vibrations using his skin sensors just above the mouth. This proves that the very process of hearing is relative and varies for every creature on this planet.
E.g 2: Not only the experience of sound is different, but the way we interpret and project that experience within ourselves is also different for each individual. For e.g For one person, Rock Music could make him feel high, but the very same music could be the source of nuisance for another individual. Now if you ask me which one of these two are correct? The answer is ‘I don’t know’ because it is all subject to that individual who is having the experience. Beyond doubt, this makes us clear that sound is a relative experience and if that is true, Nobody knows what is the fundamental truth about sound. That is still a mystery up-till here, Isn’t it? 😛
2) SIGHT: Just like sound, the process of seeing is also physical in nature and is dependent upon various factors like Who is looking? & What is being looked at? Let’s take e.g to understand it in a simple way:
E.g 1: We human beings usually say, Life is full of colors. Now if you will sit with a Dog and try to prove him the concept of color, this will be an endless argument because the receptors in Dog’s eyes are not capable of perceiving any colors. So for a dog; life is all black and white. Similarly, there are million other creatures who have no sense of color in their experience of life. This proves that the very experience of seeing a color is dependent upon who is doing the looking. Isn’t it?
E.g 2: If we paint seven colors of a rainbow (VIBGYOR: Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange & Red) on a piece of circular paper in equal proportions and rotate it again at a very high speed, you will suddenly see that all those seven colors have disappeared and the only color which is visible is white. If you first rotate that paper like a Teetotum and then ask somebody to observe it objectively, he will say the color of the rotating paper is white, which you know is not true in this case.
If I go further down to more fundamental aspect of color, The very way we perceive a color is a deception. For e.g we say A Rose is Red, but that’s not the true color of the rose. Today we know that we see the color of that frequency which is reflected by the Rose. So out of the color spectrum, a Red rose absorbs all the colors and reflect the photons of a particular frequency which we have named as Red. Which means we can never ever know what is the original color of any object for that matter, not just the rose. See how limited our seeing process is, it is not capable of telling us the nature of the absolute. It only projects the relative aspect.
E.g 3: Yet another powerful example is the experience of Light and Dark. The light for a human being is darkness for an Owl and vice versa. Now, no human being on this planet can convince an owl that the day is light and night is dark. In his experience the darkness is light, the reason being his visual apparatus has been designed to look after his survival and same applies for human beings.
E.g 4: Let’s say you don’t know the concept of a fan and If I show you a fan rotating at high speed, In your experience, you would perceive it as some sort of an opaque plate which is rotating in the ceiling. Only after I have stopped the electric current you will realize, Oh! These were just three blades appearing to be a plate while the fan was rotating.
E.g 5: In your usual experience, the sun rises on the east and sets on the West, But today we know there is no such thing. Sun never moves from east to west. It is the earth which is rotating around the sun with a velocity of 32 kilometers per second, but we don’t experience that movement, Isn’t it? This shows that the experience of seeing is also relative and doesn’t reveal the true nature of the appearance of object we are looking at.
3) SMELL: A fragrance is a fragrance for someone but could be a smell for someone else For e.g The smoke of a cigarette. The fragrance of a room freshener could be a smell for a person who is allergic to fragrances and will create an unpleasant experience for him. A rotten apple is a wasteful material for you, but if the maggots smell a rotten apple, they are having a party. A stinky filth is of no use to you, but if you throw the same filth to the roots of a plant, that plant will gift you wonderful flowers which now becomes fragrance for you. This shows that the experience of smell is also relative and doesn’t reveal the true nature of the smell of that object.
4) TASTE: The same cuisine is great for one person but not good for the other depending on the person’s background, preferences, culture, food habits etc. Some people like mangoes, some people like grapes, some like papaya and some like apple. It doesn’t mean that the rest of the fruits are bad. It’s just that you don’t like them. So tasting is also a relative experience.
5) TOUCH: The very Experience of Hot and cold is totally dependent upon our own body temperature. If you sit on an iron chair in winters, you will say the chair is cold, but if you lower your body temperature substantially below the present temperature of the chair, you will experience the chair as warm. The water inside a well feels cold in summers and warm in winters. And we very well know why is that. In winters the external temperature is low, but there is no change in the water temperature inside the well, so we say the water is warm. In summers, the external temperature is Warm and again there is no change in the water inside the well, so the same water will now feel cold.
So having read all of the above, It wouldn’t be wrong to say that ‘We don’t really know what is the reality of our life, and for what purpose we are even living in this planet if we don’t know fundamentally who we really are…..Isn’t it?
Our senses are not telling us a thing about real nature of the object or the activity. The examples clearly show that all the five sense perceptions are working in comparison. The comparison is inherently Distortion of life. One thing is clear that if we are looking only to survive in this world, then these sense perceptions are good enough. They can help us earn money, fight with somebody, accumulate material wealth etc. These are only the instruments of survival.
But when it comes to experiencing the true nature of life, we have clearly seen above that all these instruments of survival fail miserably because they don’t reveal us the fundamental nature of who we really are or what is the nature of our activity. The only and only way we can know and experience the life in its totality is when we transcend the limitations of our sense perceptions and start experiencing the life around as a part of our own self.
For e.g I am sure if you happen to be in love with somebody, you don’t feel the other person as a separate person, you experience him as a part of yourself. Similarly, for a mother the baby is not separate in her experience, the baby is very much a part of her own self. This is possible when we start looking inwards within ourselves and rediscover our true identity which is not subject to Caste, Creed, Race, Religion or any of the other social identities.The sense perceptions are the tools which are outward bound and are sufficient only when we are performing any kind of physical activity using the body and mind. But if we have to go beyond that then looking inward is the only option.
Yoga & Meditation equip us with the right kind of tools using which we can turn inwards & easily transcend the limitation of our physicality. Transcending the physicality means you start experiencing something which is beyond your body and mind. The moment you have that experience, suddenly you realize that there is a presence or silent witnessing awareness within you which is the source of all mental (thoughts) and the physical experiences. It’s like earlier you were able to just have a sight of the tip of the Iceberg, and now because you have dived deeper within yourself, you realize the immensity of the being within which is not visible otherwise.
That is the stage where you realize the true nature of your life. Suddenly you start feeling a deep connection with everything around you. You experience a deep sense of union both within and outside. Once you reach that stage, We say you are in a state of ‘YOGA’ which literally means the Union. Yoga is that quality or state of a human being which makes him feel connected to everything around experientially. Once this happens, suddenly you get an access to the core of your absolute being which is Omnipresent, Omnipotent and is not subject to Birth and Death! Post that Life simply becomes a series of Blissful experiences and you start to ride the cycles of time rather than getting crushed by it.
Peace & Love!