Verse 25: The Sensing and the Sensed

Verse 25 seems concise and straightforward. Once again the Gunas are referenced to explain how different kinds of things come into being.

In this verse, two sets of special objects are described as arising from Ahamkara (“I-am-ness”). When Ahamkara is dominated by Sattva (buoyancy/illumination) a set of 11 special objects arises. When Ahamkara is dominated by Tamas (heaviness/obscurity) a set of 5 subtle elements arises.

In order to share a thought that is alive in me in relation to this verse I have to, yet again, violate the unfolding sequence by pointing to what is to come but has not yet arrived. Now that this has happened a couple of times here in the journal entries, I resonate with the temptation that probably led to this occurring in the commentaries.

This is also how the two paintings of verses 24 and 25 became siblings. When I started painting verse 24 I had already studied verse 25 and so it was already pulling me in the unfolding of the painting. At some point in the drawing process, I became aware of the pull. I revisited the summaries and confirmed that the essence of verse 25 had crept into the verse 24 drawing process. I then chose to extract and set aside the essence of verse 25 from the verse 24 painting and to allow the core of verse 24 to inform the verse 25 painting. And so, it seems that I have defacto upheld the unfolding sequence in the summaries and paintings but have elected some over-reach to creep into these journal entries.

The leap into future verses reveals that the 11 Satttvic special objects are going to be the organs-of-sense. In an experience of “smelling a flower” there is a sensing and a sensed. What this verse points to is that the sensing (via the organs-of-sense that will be explained later) is a that-ness that has a “lighter” quality and the sensed is a that-ness that has a “heavier” quality … and that they share an underlying quality of “movement”.

This reflection grips me. It has been with me for almost a year and it continually evokes in me both a sense of clarity (Sattva) and vagueness (Tamas). I wonder about Tamas as a metaphysical source of gravity – that which gives a sense of stable physicality by appearing as mass – a flower that emits a smell. I wonder about Sattva as a source of still presence without which the experiencing of “smelling the flower” would not be possible.

When the flower and I are near to each other there is already a potential for the experience, it is, in a way, already present. For it to become a conscious experience there needs to be a quality of stillness. If I am distracted or absent-minded it may be as if the flower is not there (even though it is). Inner stillness is required for me to notice and direct attention to the flower that beckons to me through the sense of smell. Outer stillness is also required for the flower to find me. If I am in a field at the edge of the forest with many plants producing many aromas the whole experience (sound, sight, touch, smell, taste) may dominate my experience and I may not find the flower. If I am in a kitchen trying to smell the flower while an aromatic meal is being cooked I may also not be able to connect with the flower. And so Sattva is required, an inner and outer stillness for there to be a “smelling the flower.” In such a way the dance of Sattva & Tamas seems to make possible the smelling and the smelled.

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