SENSORY PERCEPTIONS OF SELF
Who perceives the five outflows, the five senses? As I stumbled around another turn in between sits this hua t'ou came to mind. Turning to each sense, I thought, "No eyes, ears, nose tongue, body, mind."
I am not vision. I'm not what I see. My eyeballs are just another sense faculty, another organ. But if you asked, "Hey, what's that over there?" I'd say, "Oh, I see such-and-such a thing." Who sees it? I can't be the thought a sight brings to mind. So how can I say that "I" see?
I'm not the perception of sound either. But if, for instance, someone long ago had not told me the color of my eyes, how would I perceive the color of my eyes? Or would I even think about it? How much more of my view of self is reinforced in the same way? The outer and inner ear functions, the ear drum and auditory nerve the response-stimuli from the brain where do I place "self" in this. What does hearing have to do with "me"?
I gather in a lot of information through my nose. "Ah, that's really fine incense." or "Is it going to rain?" or "Oh, this stinking body!" I like this smell; I don't like that one. How did "I" enter into my nose? What is there about the sense of smell I attach "self" to?
I may taste food through my tongue, but I certainly can not say "I" am taste or speech I can form words with my tongue and palate, and send them forth like this to you. But these are just more sound-waves reverberating echoes in eardrums. I'm not these words either, not made from words, or tastes.
The body is a large conglomerate of the sense organs. The stimuli-response nerves, the respiratory organs, tissues, muscles, blood, bones, and skin all play part in sending signals to the brain. From this collected data I think that "I" exist.
So I turn to the mind. Does the "self" I want to find exist in the brain? Sure, in each thought of self, but if a surgeon were to open my skull he wouldn't see "me," but rather, just another brain. He could not see a thought, but we see our thoughts manifest in our karma every day. All matter arises from the mind. My total dependency on what I derive from my senses to reinforce my feeling of "self" is the very reason I haven't found out "who" is really mindful. Turn the five senses inward so that they become one knowledge—knowing who is mindful of the Buddha.