December 2007 · Vol 4, No 12
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Awakening through the Senses

Mind. Mind. How unreliable.
Zen Master

To one’s ordinary senses, consciousness is invisible, like the scent of a flower. It's quicker than thought, difficult to detect, yet undoubtedly real. Although one cannot see consciousness, consciousness enhances and unifies one’s senses. When one is present, one becomes alive in a living, vibrant universe. As the sunrise illumines the sky, a bird calls in the forest, a good wine fills the mouth, a perfume hovers on the nose, a rain drop falls on one’s skin, it is through consciousness that one truly senses them. Sleep dulls the senses, so that sensations seem commonplace, jaded. In a heightened state, it is as though the senses are working for the first time.

Some schools develop consciousness through the ‘way of denial’, restraining the senses from the pure focus of attention: the monk in his bare cell reciting the prayer in his heart, the yogi on the road accepting whatever falls into his bowl. Other schools engage the senses in awakening, developing consciousness through art, and the coordination of hand and eye in the crafts. Yet the aim is the same, training the senses out of sleep in the service of awakening. The senses in turn become the servant of the soul.

As the Self becomes realised, its joy is expressed in countless ways, an outpouring of beauty that characterises this higher principle in humanity; as the poet wrote, ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.’ From artists and artisans connected to schools comes this outpouring of words, music, paintings, dance, architecture, drama and the crafts, some of which are so enigmatic, they have become the symbols of a higher world. Consciousness as expressed through the intermediary of the senses; the bold, skilful strokes of Rembrandt’s brush, the private ink of Shakespeare’s sonnets, and the anonymous hand that carved the orbits of the Sphynx’s eyes.

Related thoughts:

When I deeply know my senses, I feel in them the way to God and the purpose of living. Look at this surprising flower which cannot be seen, and yet its fragrance cannot be hidden. God is the invisible flower. Love is the flower’s fragrance, everywhere apparent.

The waking have one world in common, whereas each sleeper turns away to a private world of his own.

In your seeing, there should be only seeing. In your hearing, nothing but hearing; in your smelling, tasting and touching, nothing but smelling, tasting and touching; in your thinking, nothing but thought. As you eat, walk or travel, be where you are, otherwise you will miss most of your life.

The Self is the ear of the ear, the eye of the eye, the mind of the mind, the word of words, and the life of life. . . . This Self is none other than you.
Kena Upanishad

A Lohan’s awakening temporarily pacifies the lower self.

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Copyright 2007 All Rights Reserved. No part of this newsletter may be copied, reprinted, or reproduced in any form without written permission from the Fellowship of Friends, Inc. (The images included here are for educational purposes only and are not intended for any other use.)