From the Five Senses to the Sixth


Antar Marc comments on moving from the five senses to the sixth, consciousness.

Sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch are the five traditionally recognized senses. The traditional five senses are enumerated as the “five material faculties” in Hindu literature. They appear in allegorical representation as early as in the Katha Upanishad (roughly 6th century BCE), as five horses drawing the ‘chariot’ of the body, guided by the mind as ‘chariot driver’.

The Gita also describes the Self using the image of a chariot as a metaphor. The chariot itself is the body, sarira. The passenger who rides in the chariot is the individual soul, jivi, and the person who is driving the chariot is the Self, atma. The horses are the five senses, indriyas, the reins on the horses represent the mind manas, and the road along which the chariot is driven are the objects of senses. The body, soul, mind, Self, and senses work together to guide the chariot through life.


“Man’s body is like a chariot and man’s consciousness should be the charioteer. But it is fast asleep and the chariot goes on moving according to the horses. The five senses are five horses. They have their own different ideas and they are running in all directions; hence the misery, the chaos. It is a miracle that somehow we keep on going.

“The charioteer has to be awakened, he has to take the reins in his hands. That’s what sannyas is: the beginning of an inner mastery, the beginning of a sense of direction, the beginning of a center in your being, a rootedness, a groundedness. Each movement has to be made consciously, only then can life become something significant, otherwise it remains accidental”. (1)

In Buddhist philosophy, ayatana or ‘sense-base’ includes the mind as a sense organ, in addition to the traditional five. This addition to the commonly acknowledged senses may arise from the psychological orientation involved in Buddhist thought and practice. The mind considered by itself is seen as the principal gateway to a different spectrum of phenomena that differ from the physical sense data. This way of viewing the human sense system indicates the importance of internal sources of sensation and perception that complements our experience of the external world.

“The six senses have to be noted down. Ordinarily we talk only of five senses; the sixth is dormant. The moment you turn in, the sixth sense starts working. Hence when the Buddhists talk about six senses it amazes people – where is the sixth sense? It is not visible, it is when you close your eyes: suddenly you see a new sense penetrating in your interiority which you have never known before. It has always been there, but you have never turned inwards.“ (2)

I have always strived to develop my senses and become more sensitive for inner and outer experiences such as making art, cooking, dancing, gardening, massage and meditation.

In Osho’s communes I could experience and develop the sixth sense of consciousness by meditation integrated in daily life, whether it was working in the kitchen, mopping floors or being on disco-shift. Using all my senses consciously has enriched my life forever. Working with awareness became worship and made life more colourful; it gave my life so much more sense and depth.

MarcMarc is a regular contributor

More articles by the same author on Osho News

Excerpts by Osho
(1) Dance Till the Stars Come Down, Ch 4
(2) The Language of Existence, Ch 3

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