Emptiness & the Human Mind (Eye Consciousness)

In my last post, we looked at the nature of emptiness & that according to Buddhism, the mind is a sense organ – not something tangible like the brain. So if the mind isn’t tangible, and we can’t pinpoint it to a specific location, how come it gets so affected by negativity etc?  

In Buddhism we have different levels of consciousness related to the different senses. Eye consciousness is one of these, as is ear consciousness, body consciousness, tongue consciousness & nose consciousness. In the west, we know these as sight, sound, touch, taste and smell, but how do they relate to mind and our perceptions of the world? More importantly how does this relate to future experiences? Let me explain…. The brain is the power station for the eyes physical movement & sight so when we see something, we recognize it with a name because of how we were taught  at school or by our parents. 

At night, I look up to the sky and my eyes see the golden orb immediately recognised as the moon. There’s no disputing it’s the moon,  but sometimes our eyes say something and the information passed to our mind may be incorrect. In Buddhismconsciousness is just one of the five defined  “aggregates” of experience. It’s called consciousness because it recognises. So Eye conscious sees something and recognises it & straight away it relates it to good or bad. For example…..On the table there’s a plate of mushrooms, my mouth starts watering because I love mushrooms but my friend feels physically sick at the very sight of them. This is because our eye consciousness sends messages back to our mind consciousness – which then makes sense of things & forms a bigger picture. So what we must try and do is learn to acknowledge and accept, what we see is only part of the experience & not everything. What happened in our lives to make me love mushrooms & my friend hate them? One thing’s for sure, mushrooms ane mushrooms – neither good nor bad.

Here’s an exercise you can try to prove the power of eye consciousness. It’s called the “Invisible Ball”

You’ll need a small ball that you can hold in your hand (make sure it doesn’t have patterns. 

  • Place the ball in front of you and stare at it but don’t move your eyes. Of course you can blink if your eyes get tired and close them for a moment but don’t look away from the ball.  
  • As you hold your gaze, you’ll get the urge to look in other directions, but try not to. Try to just hold the gaze of the ball. 
  • After a few minutes, you’ll find things start to happen such as the ball changing shape, moving slightly or even having some kind of mist or a halo around it.
  •  Just observe this visual phenomenon and try to understand and acknowledge how you can see or perceive so much that really isn’t there.

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