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Home >> Seeker’s Solace  >> Know Thyself: Instruments of perception

Know Thyself: Instruments of perception


The cube has other qualities and characteristics.

Well, what is the other characteristic? Touch, the sense of touch.

With the sense of touch, you can actually feel the cube. You say, ‘it’s hard or it’s soft or it’s rough or it’s smooth’ and, therefore, since you can feel it that way, the cube must be there.

Ah! Remember, you can’t positively say ‘it’s a cube’ after the second elimination based on shape, but we can say it is there. It is there because I can feel it, I can hold it, it’s hard, it’s soft, it’s coarse, and you know the drill.

Now–the sense of touch–is such an uncertain affair. It’s very misleading. Suppose you put your hand into hot water, then into cold water and then back into hot water in rapid succession, you feel the hot is cold and the cold is hot. Of course, don’t put your hand into boiling water to test that! No matter what your instrument of perception is, you will end up with a burning scald!

Now as you can see, and I can see, I poke my finger into the cube and we see that it’s hard to the touch, we cannot penetrate through it. But is it so, actually?

Take a piece of cloth, for instance. It appears quite solid, your fingers cannot penetrate the cloth. However, if you look at it with a microscope or a magnifying glass, you see a lot of space between the warp and the woof, between the cross weavings. If you look through such instruments, you will find wide spaces, empty spaces between the threads. You say it is solid, but consider a virus or a bacteria, and you will realise hundreds of them can pass through that cloth because they see a lot of space.

So is it solid? Yes to me, maybe not to something else. Slowly, a certainty about its solidity is crumbling. Now, if you ask a physicist, he will tell you that what you call a solid actually consists of wide-open spaces.

We discover gradually that it all depends on the instrument of perception and not entirely on the object under observation or under perception.

I’m talking about the primary material–the brick of the universe–for instance, an atom. Of course, there are subatomic particles like the quarks, for instanceDid you know that quark is a word taken from Finnegans Wakea beautiful, metaphorical novel written by the incomparable James Joyce?

Anyway, let us come back to our subject. In an atom, for instance, most of it is empty space with electrical charges called electrons going around a central nucleus in circles. This is the basic particle, the primary particle from which the universe is made. This is what we call the solid universe. So, is it solid at all or does it appear to be solid to us because of the conditioning of our instruments of perception?

So, we discover gradually that it all depends on the instrument of perception and not entirely on the object under observation or under perception.


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