“The occult claim that there are seven senses in man, as in nature, as there are seven states of consciousness, is corroborated. … The Brahmana speaks in it ‘of the institution of the seven sacrificial priests (Hotris)’. He says: ‘The nose and the eyes, and the tongue, and the skin and the ear as the fifth (or smell, sight, taste, touch, and hearing) mind and understanding are the seven sacrificial priests separately stationed’; and which ‘dwelling in a minute space(still) o not perceive each other’ on the sensuous planes, none of them except mind. For mind says: ‘The nose smells not without me, the eye does not take in color,etc. I am the eternal chief among all elements (i. e., senses). Without me,he senses never shine. …
“This, of course, with regard only to mind on the sensuous plane. Spiritual mind … takes no cognizance of the senses in physical man.” ~H. P. Blavatsky
Since spiritual, occult, and religious writings always speak of things in sevens, it makes sense that we should think of the physical senses as being seven rather than five. The ancient book Blavatsky quotes from calls the sixth and seventh mind and understanding. She doesn’t explain what was meant by understanding. I think it would be more accurate to call those two senses mind and intuition. This will be confusing to some since what we are here calling the seventh sense is commonly considered to be the sixth. Some will also say that the mind is not really a sense but an interpreter of what the senses detect. That is splitting hairs, I think. And interpreting the environment is what senses are all about. The mind plays a big part in that process. Seven senses just makes sense.
Mind as a Sense
Whether you wish to consider the mind a sense or not, the fact remains that what we think the environment is around us mostly comes from the mind interpreting the information the other senses send to it. The eyes, for example, only see blobs of color and light. They have no idea what they mean. It is the brain-mid that figures out this particular pattern of greens, browns, and reds is an apple tree full of ripe apples.
Sometimes the brain-mind can be fooled. Other times it’s the five regular senses that get fooled and the mind tries to make sense of it. If you are looking at something you have never seen before, your mind will often attempt to interpret it as something it is familiar with. This accounts for our tendency to see faces where none actually exist. It is also why beings like angels who have very little resemblance to humans will be interpreted by the mind as shiny humans.
Real Life Example
Once some years ago, I was going to work with friend and coworker. As we were walking down the hall of the building toward our office , we both spotter a black thin on the floor. In fact both of us saw a large black beetle. My friend wouldn’t go anywhere near it, but I was willing to get close. When I did, its appearance lost some of the bug-shape. So I bent down and picked it up to discover that it was just a piece of a plastic trash bag. That sort of thing happened to us all the time. But why did we both see a
large beetle? My belief is that our subconscious minds are communicating with each other all the time and we are not aware of it. So one of us decided the strange object was a beetle and communicated it to the other. This caused us to share a delusion. This leads me to ask, how much of what we consider reality is just mass delusion? That is one of several reasons why we really need to get our spiritual faculties involved in this process of interpreting reality.
Soul as a Sense
The difference between spirit and soul is complicated. For our purposes, we can simply say that soul is like the mind of our spirit. So be have a material mind that I like to call the brain-mind, and a spiritual mind called the soul.
There are two primary differences between the functions of the brain-min and the soul. (1) The mind can often be fooled or confused by strange things and will often interpret them falsely. The soul never interprets things incorrectly because the fully awakened soul has access to all knowledge, all truth. What many of the ancients called Gnosis, or simply Wisdom. (2) the brain-mind is designed to interpret matter and it generally does a good job of it. But it knows nothing of spirit. The soul knows matter, but has little interest in it. The soul’s realm is the spiritual.
So when the brain-mind and the soul work together, we have truth and wisdom. And rarely, if ever, would such a combination be confused by what the physical senses relay to it. So if you really want to bring truth and beauty into the world, awaken your spirit and soul. Then all seven senses can shine.