Volume 5  No 1

Our Six Senses: Eye, Ear, Nose, Tongue, Body and Mind

We make contact with the world through our six sense organs: eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind. Yet, we can be driven to wrong conclusions even when there is nothing wrong with the objects of our contact. This is because our senses are not pure. This article illustrates why we need to be mindful about maintaining purity in our six senses.

Once an old man asked me,

"Venerable One, do you recite the name of the Amitabha Buddha?"
"Yes, I do. What about you?"
"I used to do that in the past."
"Why do you stop now?"
"Oh, Venerable One, I had a bad experience! Once I saw a Buddhist monk talking with a young woman and they were laughing and giggling. I thought to myself what hopes do I have by reciting the names of the Buddhas when even a monk who has renounced the worldly life, has six-sense organs that are not pure? I dismantled the Buddha altar and stopped reciting the names of the Buddhas."

I told him, "It is wrong of you to do that. That particular monk may not necessarily be talking about something unbecoming. Otherwise, why would they be doing that in full view of the public? Maybe he was explaining the Dharma to the young lady and the Dharma made them so happy that they burst out in laughter. Furthermore, if the monk is indeed not observing the precepts, and if he should descend to hell because of this, then that is his business. Why should you have to go to hell with him? When your eyes saw the monk talking with the woman, your mind begins to discriminate, thinking that they must be engaged in illicit activities. At this moment your eye is impure, your thoughts are impure, and when you dismantled the Buddha altar, your actions are impure; to the extent that you spread rumours about it, then your speech is impure. Whether or not the six senses of this monk are impure is yet to be established, but your own six senses are already impure. Yet you criticise that his six senses are impure!"

On hearing, this old gentleman saw his mistake and was repentant. He promised to immediately reassemble the Buddha altar and resume his cultivation.


Copyright 2002.Jen Chen Buddhism Centre