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A Treatise on Cosmic Fire - Section One - Division E - Motion on the Physical and Astral Planes
b. Touch. In taking up the subject of the second sense, that of touch, we must note that this sense is pre-eminently the sense of very great importance in this, the second, solar system - a system of astral-buddhic consciousness. 81 Each of these senses, after having reached a certain point, begins to synthesize with the others in such a way that it is almost impossible to know where one begins and the other ends. Touch is that innate recognition of contact through the exercise of manas or mind in a threefold manner:
  • As recognition.
  • As memory.
  • As anticipation.

Each of the five senses, when coupled with manas, develops within the subject a concept embodying the past, the present and the future. Therefore when a man is very highly evolved, has transcended time (as known in the three worlds), and can therefore look at the three lower planes from the standpoint of the Eternal Now, he has superseded the senses by full active consciousness. He knows, and needs not the senses to guide him any longer to knowledge. But in time, and in the three worlds, each sense on each plane is employed to convey to the Thinker some aspect of the not-self, and by the aid [194] of mind, the Thinker can then adjust his relationship thereto.

  • Hearing gives him an idea of relative direction, and enables a man to fix his place in the scheme, and to locate himself.
  • Touch gives him an idea of relative quantity and enables him to fix his relative value as regards other bodies, extraneous to himself.
  • Sight gives him an idea of proportion, and enables him to adjust his movements to the movements of others.
  • Taste gives him an idea of value, and enables him to fix upon that which to him appears best.
  • Smell gives him an idea of innate quality, and enables him to find that which appeals to him as of the same quality or essence as himself.

In all these definitions it is necessary to bear in mind that the whole object of the senses is to reveal the not-self, and to enable the Self therefore, to differentiate between the real and the unreal. 82 [195]

In the evolution of the senses, hearing is the first vague something which calls the attention of the apparently blind self

  1. To another vibration.
  2. To something originating outside of itself.
  3. To the concept of externality. When sound is first contacted the consciousness for the first time becomes aware of that which is without.

But all that is grasped by the dormant consciousness (by means of this one sense of hearing) is the fact of something extraneous to itself, and of the direction in which that something lies. This apprehension, in course of time, calls into being another sense, that of touch. The Law of Attraction works, the consciousness moves slowly outwards towards that which is heard; and when contact is made with the not-self it is called touch. This touch conveys other ideas to the groping consciousness, ideas of size, of external texture, and of surface differences; the concept of the Thinker is thus slowly enlarged. He can hear and feel, but as yet knows not enough to correlate nor name. When he succeeds in naming, he has made a big stride forward. We might note here, therefore, that the earliest cosmic symbols are applicable to the senses as well as elsewhere:

  • The point in the center - consciousness and the not-self at a stage where sound alone is descriptive.
  • The divided circle - consciousness aware of the not-self, through a dual recognition. [196]

81 Astral-buddhic consciousness is the term applied to the basic consciousness in our solar system. It is characterized by emotion, by feeling, sensation, which have eventually to be transmuted into intuition, spiritual perception and unity.

82 Sensations aroused by sense objects are experienced by means of the outer instruments of the Lord of the Body or senses (Indriya) which are the pathways through which the Jiva receives worldly experience. These are ten in number, and are of two classes:

  1. The five organs of sensation - Jnanendriya
    1. The Ear - Hearing.
    2. Skin - Feeling by touch.
    3. Eye - Sight.
    4. Tongue - Taste.
    5. Nose - Smell.
  2. The five organs of action - Karmendriya
    1. Mouth - Speaking.
    2. Hands - Grasping.
    3. Legs - Walking.
    4. Anus - Excretion.
    5. Genitals - Procreation.

The organs of sensation are the reactive response which the Self makes to sensation. The organs of action are those through which effect is given to the Jiva's desires.

"The Indriya or sense is not the physical organ, but the faculty of mind operating through that organ as its instrument. The outward sense organs are the usual means whereby on the physical plane the functions of hearing and so forth are accomplished. But, as they axe mere instruments and their power is derived from the mind, a Yogi may accomplish by the mind only all that may be done by means of these physical organs without the use of the latter...

"The three functions of attention, selection and synthesizing the discreet manifold of the senses, are those belonging to that aspect of the mental body, the internal agent, called Manas. Just as manas is necessary to the senses, the latter are necessary for manas... Manas is thus the leading indriya, of which the senses are powers.

- Serpent Power, by Arthur Avalon

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