Monday, July 19, 2010

Self, True Self, Thinking, and the Senses

Self, True Self, Thinking, and the Senses
(A brief reminder--excerpted and slightly revised from a previous post)
Shobogenzo presents the “self” (and all particular dharmas) as the experiential or perceptible form, shape, or image of the “true self.” The true self of human beings is presented as the sole agent of and individual’s experience; the master, so to speak, of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and thinking (the traditional “five senses” of western thought plus the cognitive faculties).

Identifying thinking as one of the senses decreases the propensity to identify the “self” (mind) with the “brain.” As a sense, thinking is only one of six faculties of a single human being (our true self). Therefore, beings with more or fewer senses than humans are equal in regard to the true self. This is seen in Buddhist teachings that ascribe additional senses to advanced beings of (e.g. to see past lives, others’ minds, remote events, etc.) and affirms the Buddha nature of beings with fewer senses like earthworms, and even beings without senses (i.e. the non-sentient).

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