Here’s a great thought:

How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself anything less than a god.


— Alan Watts

The short answer is that what we experience through the five senses is limited and often misleading. In his lecture for being awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968, Yasunari Kawabata in part said:

The Zen disciple sits for long hours silent and motionless, with his eyes closed. Presently he enters a state of impassivity, free from all ideas and all thoughts. He departs from the self and enters the realm of nothingness. This is not the nothingness or the emptiness of the West. It is rather the reverse, a universe of the spirit in which everything communicates freely with everything, transcending bounds, limitless […] The disciple must, however, always be lord of his own thoughts, and must attain enlightenment through his own efforts. And the emphasis is less upon reason and argument than upon intuition, immediate feeling. Enlightenment comes not from teaching but through the eye awakened inwardly. Truth is in “the discarding of words,” it lies “outside words.” And so we have the extreme of “silence like thunder,” in the Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra. Tradition has it that Bodhidharma, a southern Indian prince who lived in about the sixth century and was the founder of Zen in China, sat for nine years in silence facing the wall of a cave, and finally attained enlightenment. The Zen practice of silent meditation in a seated posture derives from Bodhidharma.

The five senses are highly conditioned. They perceive through multiple filters: Our childhood, parents and family, culture and religion, peers, and our own wounds as well as biases, often based on the same wounds. The senses which inform the brain, and the brain directly are influenced very powerfully by the accepted and promoted version of “reality” we’re educated into. A “reality” the senses verify because they are constantly turned outward.

The only real way out of this conundrum is silence. Silence is at our core. If we stop we can reacquaint ourselves with it. The outer world is noisy and busy. Our senses are trapped in the noise and busyness. But those aren’t our real nature.

Buddha-nature, the essence of awakened enlightenment itself, is present in everyone. Its essence is forever pure, unalloyed, and flawless. It is beyond increase or decrease. It is neither improved by remaining in nirvana nor degenerated by straying into samsara. Its fundamental essence is forever perfect, unobscured, quiescent, and unchanging. Its expressions are myriad.


— Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche

Meditation nowadays has become a marketplace item, like everything else. A relaxation or guided meditation CD, going to the beach, swinging in a hammock, listening to running water all dim the input of the senses, or rather access the senses’ inner counterparts. These are all good places to start. It has to be emphasized, however, that the seduction of the senses turned outward is overpowering. To break this hold needs a more serious method and its engagement.

Meditation reveals the silence within. Meditation reveals that the five senses have subtle counterparts that access silence and everything it is. Meditation reveals that silence is an abode, constant and eternal. Meditation reveals truth. Meditation is respite from the racing mind. Meditation is unlearning.

Meditation, simply defined, is a way of being aware. It is the happy marriage of doing and being. It lifts the fog of our ordinary lives to reveal what is hidden; it loosens the knot of self-centeredness and opens the heart; it moves us beyond mere concepts to allow for a direct experience of reality. Meditation embodies the way of awakening: both the path and its fruition. From one point of view, it is the means to awakening; from another, it is awakening itself.


— Lama Surya Das

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Meditation Reveals…