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Assigning Primacy to the Unseen | The Truth Is You

Assigning Primacy to the Unseen

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They say that sight is the primary human sense. I'm not so sure I agree.

In a sense we live in a box made of our senses. Reality is not as we see it (or hear, touch, smell, taste it), we see it as we see it. Reality is not directly apprehended. The information reported by our senses is.

In the Buddhist scheme, the 6th sense is that of thought and mind. Thoughts occur and are sense by mind, or perhaps brain. In the same way that what we see is simply a subsection of input funneled through the "gate" of the eyes and optic nerve, what we think is likewise a subsection of input funneled through the "gate" of our brain and conditioning.

One of the sharp distinctions between something seen, and something thought, seems to be that something seen lies outside of our boundaries and can be tied with the source of other sensory impressions. We can see the dog, hear it barking, smell it's fur, taste it's drool, feel it's warmth. We also have thoughts about the dog, but they seem to float in some other "spaceless space" behind the eyes and between the ears.

Since thoughts are not so easily tied to objects, and since they are so fluid (we might like dogs in general, but not that one in particular, or not as much as we did yesterday, etc.) they seem to occupy some mysterious special case.

Perhaps this explains part of the mechanism of self-identity. Just as thoughts about a dog can be so tenuous, chimeric, and mysterious, how much more so are they about something we can't even see? The story running in the brain that we call our selves. Could it be that, that very mystery itself is what keeps it so potent? If that story were something we could also touch, smell, see, taste, and hear, would we give it so much weight?

I wonder.

What do you think?

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Leave A Reply (6 comments so far)


  1. Michael Bazeley
    5 years ago

    I smell solipsism …and approve. Thoughts are real, it's just their content that is forever unreal. "Self" is just this. There is no self beyond attributes and labels appended by thought. This represents the end of seeking, where all honest enquiry must lead. And arriving at knowing is to discover that knowing is already there and the thing that has defended against the knowing is the very thing that disappears when the light of enquiry is shone upon it.

    But it’s really fucking good at dodging that light…until it literally dawns that it’s not that its good: it just doesn’t exist and you’ve been stabbing into the blackness in search of a phantom, that actually resides behind the light, not in front.

    Your light will never touch it for that reason, but unaware of this you feel you cannot release the search.


    • Travis
      5 years ago

      I keep away from solipsism, Michael. I happen to find it very likely that there is a reality outside of this particular take on it. I also find it very likely that there are other unique takes out there. I don't believe it, but I feel very safe betting on it. 😉

      I've come to the point where I think that knowing anything, in any concrete sense is impossible. However, we can direct attention, and it is to attention that the "true enough" opens up to consideration, and the lie of the separate self is dissolved.

      Thank you for you thoughts!


  2. Sumathi
    5 years ago

    You are right in a way. Thoughts are so subtle and perhaps we could transcend them and hence remove ignorance or"avidya" as Maharishi puts it!!!


    • Travis
      5 years ago

      Worth trying! 😉


  3. Arthur
    5 years ago

    The illustration reminded me of the idea of having "no head" by Douglas Harding


  4. Travis
    5 years ago

    Awesome! I love the headless way! Earlier in this blog you can find an interview I did with Richard Lang about the headless way. It was Douglas' finger pointing experiment that finally clicked for me where John Sherman wanted me to look when he suggested I look at me.