Our 6th Sense of Awareness

by meditative - January 11th, 2016

Along with self-compassion, the practice of mediation is also fundamentally about awareness, its qualities, its stability, and its reliability. It’s about bare attention, discernment, and clear seeing of the actuality of things- and at the same time it’s also about an affectionate quality in the attention- an openness- a kindness- an intrinsic, heartfelt attention of caring.

From the meditative perspective, our sixth sense involves our mind- not just our thinking mind, but our mind which is closer to awareness itself- that capacity of mind that knows non-conceptually- and that knows where you are right now having a sense of orientation in time and space. In this notion, there is an awful lot that we actually take for granted, and that we actually know in very deep yet subtle ways.This is what we are referring to here in the mind as a ‘sixth sense’.

With awareness, our minds are clear seeing or clear knowing. For instance, knowing what’s on our mind, and therefore thinking- and knowing our emotional state and therefore feeling what we are feeling whether it be fear, anger, sadness, frustration, irritation, impatience, etc.

The amazing aspect of our awareness is its capacity to hold it all- both the inner and outer landscapes of our experience. There is no fundamental separation between the inner and outer- the knower and the known– the subject and the object– or even being and doing. There only seems to be, and there really does seem to be, but that seeming is such a powerful aspect of our experience especially when we are not paying attention to it in the present moment in a non-reactive, non-judgmental way through mindfulness that it obscures the underlying unity which is that there is mysteriously just the seeing- just the knowing- just the state (or act) of awareness or ‘awarenessing.’

Think about the aforementioned for a moment. Just seeing- the miracle of that, or just knowing.The pure, elemental clarity of just seeing or just knowing- that is awareness,  and it is through this ‘6th sense’ that we begin to explore the whole domain of looking into who we are as human beings living and functioning in a very  complex, ever-changing, stressful, and sometimes disordered and chaotic world.

This ‘sentience’ is our ability to know- our conscious awareness- our “wise” perception- our subjective experience- and our uniquely human characteristic that separates us from other species. It is this discerning characteristic of our being that we often take for granted in our ordinary, everyday lives even though it defines and animates who we truly are as a species- as growing and developmental beings.We are perceiving beings with the capacity to discern both our interior and exterior landscapes.Our sentience helps to define our relatively infinite realm of choices and possibilities to tune, modulate, and refine not only our own being, but the world in which we live. Synthesizing a perception of the world through sensory input and possessing the ability to discern what is sensed in the awareness of our experience… moment to moment… is truly an amazing gift, one that we should not only cultivate, but honor.