Spirituality To-Do, Item 5

Putting the Bhagavad Gita into practice.

Know my senses are flawed, only ever glimpsing a fragment of what is.

When I look out the window, I see only a sliver of what surrounds my house. And being that my window is covered in a haze of dust on reflective glass in front of a bug-screen, I’m not seeing the same thing I’d see if I was actually outside — I’m only seeing a flawed fragment. Similarly, my senses perceive the world in a very limited way.

My eyes are easily tricked by optical illusions. I often mishear people and song lyrics. Sometimes I smell a particular smell only to find out the imagined source was never there. The taste of food reflects my mood and hunger-level. And as far as touch, I’m sure there’s something obtuse about that too. In other words, what you see is NOT what you get.

If I were to base my knowledge of the world on my senses, I’d have a very inadequate view. And I can’t depend on other people’s senses, as they’re just as flawed as my own. Then what’s the alternative? One possibility is to accept my ignorance, accept that I’m incapable of perceiving an accurate state of affairs through my senses.

I used to think my senses were a doorway to reality, but this viewpoint is problematic. I didn’t realize how flawed my senses were and assumed they were providing accurate data — whoops. Your analysis can only be as good as your data, and I had crap data. Now that I know I have bad data, I must stop using it as a basis for analyzing the world.

Then how do I know what’s going on here? Short answer: I can’t. But this foundation of unknowableness is a great relief in the sense that there’s nothing to worry about anymore. I don’t know enough about anything to form a conclusion about what I should be afraid of. Whereas when I had full confidence in my senses, I was scared of everything.

Therefore, to better get along in this world I must know my senses are flawed, only ever glimpsing a fragment of what is.