I was brushing my teeth this morning, in front of the mirror, in the bathroom. In the mirror, I could see the clear reflection of my portrait, my head to the torso. At least twice every day I see this reflection, after breakfast in the morning and before sleeping at night. Have you seen yourself too?
I feel my teeth to the tip of the brush. My brush rubs and cleans the uneven surfaces of each tooth. They feel a bit rough and tough, solid. When I see them in the mirror, they look smooth in texture and white in color. However, when I touch them with the brush (or with my fingers) they are not “White” or not very smooth. In fact, the brush or my fingers do not see or sense the color. They tell me about the texture of teeth only.
So, I think I look at my teeth in the mirror and brush the same teeth. Is it?? Or is it not? I recognized the food for thought in this and let my thoughts enjoy a full hearty meal. Have you seen yourself really?
We have six distinct sensory organs. We detect signals coming from the outside world through them. Namely, they are eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. Yes, the sixth sense is the mind. The mind has dual functionality here. It not only functions as a sensory device but also a processing device for all inputs captured.
Then we process these inputs again, in a different context in our mind and understand the outside world. But these sensors operate independently of each other. They deal with totally different types of signals. For example, the eye captures light signals and creates an image of objects inside the eye. The objects it focuses is from the outside environment. But this image is just a color graphed snapshot of an instance of the outside object. The eye creates is similar to the functionality of a camera. So again, have you seen yourself this way?
Then we touch the objects we see, we feel its texture. We smell it with our nose and recognize that it smells good or bad. Taste it and recognize that it tastes good or bad, and so on.
So, the point is with all our sensory organs we receive inputs on different characteristics of the outside world. The eye tells us the color and shape. Ear tells us the noise it makes. The nose tells us the smell it gives. Tongue tells us how it tastes and our skin(body) tells us about its texture when touched. Then in our mind, all these individual inputs are tied up and amalgamated. It gives us an aggregate idea of the object we saw/heard/smelled/tasted and felt. This processing of input data inside the mind creating knowledge for us, about our surroundings.
Now the question is……”Do we really see with our eyes? Or do we see what our mind projects, for us to see?”. Let’s clarify to understand have you seen yourself exactly.
Suppose you look out from your room window. You see a tree in your garden and a bird on a branch of that tree. You see there is a mild breeze that sways the foliage of the tree slightly here and there. Also, the bird has very smooth feathers. It is cleaning the feathers with its beak while singing a soft chirpy chip. The colored leaves of the tree dance in the breeze. A loosely attached leaf detaches from the stem from time to time in the breeze. They fell over the soft green grass on the earth. You see that the wind carries a mild fragrance. In a nutshell, you know how you are enjoying a lovely autumn day.
You can look at this and enjoy it without knowing the bird has flown away. Not knowing the fragrance is no more in the breeze. But you can still see both of them in your mind.
Now, if you really see with your eyes, you should see a colored picture only. You can see no sounds, no movements or no feelings of textures. The only input your eye can recognize is light. But, was it the case? Was it only the colors you saw? No, it was a full, complete motion picture including bird’s song, smoothness feathers, and even fragrances. You saw the lightness of the leaves and smoothness of the grass on the ground, and so on. What you saw was the projection of the complete movie your mind compiled for you. Your mind fabricated a full movie based on the inputs you captured from all sensory devices.
When your mind creates this compact compilation of inputs, it adds up the knowledge gathered previously. The knowledge coming from previous such encounters Thus, you see an “edited reality”. Now what do you think about the question – Have you seen yourself?
So, you see that the bird is singing the same song as last time. The fragrance in the breeze is a floral fragrance…maybe something as specific as lavender. It all comes from the knowledge gathered in our minds. Not from the input captured by the eye from what you saw at this moment.
Let us come back to where I started again. I am not sure whether I brush the same teeth I see in the mirror. Because what we see is the edited reality created by my mind and not the absolute reality.
The absolute reality is our awareness that we do not see reality. Once the wisdom to distinguish raw captures of sensory organs is developed, we can see this absolute reality. Until then, it is wise to live in the edited reality, knowing the truth.
And that is simply following the teachings of the great Lord Buddha.