From a purely chemical perspective, the fox is a collection of elements just like those found in the earths’ crust. Its body consists of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen, among others. Assembled into complex molecular structures, they form the material basis that makes form and function possible.
Research into such structures over the past hundred years or so, have accepted that there is something invisible present, something immeasurable, which gives cohesive structure, life and movement to these assembles molecules, which are perhaps magnetic in nature. In systems theory, one speaks of dissipative, or self-organising structures.
The fox, as a product of an accumulation of molecules, is in constant interaction with its environment as it moves across the meadow. Its body has structure; it expresses its life through its sensory organs driven by its impulse for self-survival, and it has purposeful movement.
The anatomy, activity and functions of living bodies have been extensively studied and explained by science. How a living being develops and grows, and the influence of evolution upon it, have all been largely explored, but the underlying impulse for manifestation, the essence of life itself, remains a mystery.
Dual science and its consequences
As recent as the beginning of the 20th century, a very mechanistic view of nature was at its height of acceptability, and physical bodies, like that of the fox, were compared to machines. The heart was a pump, the muscles, pistons, the blood, lubricant, the sensors, the control center, the dash board. The successes in understanding the field of mechanics, especially in the western world, moved the academics and scientists to impose this experience and knowledge upon living bodies, and treat them from the same perspective.
In our modern view of life, even the exploration of the sub-atomic world had its starting point in ‘mechanics’. The model of quantum mechanics was the first attempt to grasp sub-atomic dynamics from a mathematical perspective. However, the physicists had to continually review their conclusions as they were faced with one seeming paradox after another. The perceptions that, up until now, were strongly built on a mechanical model, were newly challenged by the ambiguous results confronting the scientists, so that they were forced to seek answers to their observations in the field of probabilities.
For quantum physics, the once fixed paths on which electrons in the atom were understood to move around the nucleus, were now transformed into multiple probabilities based on their constant movement. Suddenly, there were numerous, even contradictory theories, to what was previously accepted as unambiguous. If Einstein dreamed of a ride on a beam of light, then this development demonstrates the important role the perception of an ‘inner world’ began to play.
Life as a network of energy and information
The theories of the early 20th century physicists, gave a sound foundation for the development of the systems theory. From their point of view at the time, the fox was more of a system in equilibrium, than robotic. However, what had then been seen as ‘moving machines’, now became living systems, vibrating magnetic fields or morphogenetic fields that interacted with their environment.
In systems theory, the contact between the living being and its environment is seen as a constant exchange of energy and information. To maintain a balance, beings have organs of perception. They have to eat food in order to live. For example, the fox’s organs of perception help it find the right food, and avoid those foods that might be harmful to it. Perception allows it to gather experience that subsequently leads to a more targeted behavior.
Life in the field of tension between balance and chaos
All sentient beings transform experience into evolving perception, and perception into behavior. Living systems undergo a process that moves towards maturity; a process where each life experience transforms their inner perceptions; a process that gradually builds from one development to the next.
A young fox is more curious, more agile, more alive. An older fox appears calmer, more focused and attentive, and has learned to use its strength more purposefully. The older one has gained more life experiences. He has gained a more acute perception of what is potentially beneficial or harmful to him, demonstrating how experience and perception are so interconnected.
The special thing that is unique to living systems, is that the quality of perception determines behavior. In the course of a lifetime, experiences can accumulate to the point of overwhelming the system; they can plunge the system into crisis, changing the quality and direction of perception. The oscillating effect of experience between harmony and crisis, between periods of equilibrium and disequilibrium, form a developmental process for perception. Each day the fox undergoes key life experiences that can lead to changes in behavior.
Man has seven senses
As far as we know the fox possesses five senses. When it walks across a meadow, it looks (vision) and listens (hearing); its feet feel the ground (touch); its sense of smell is constantly employed to sense danger or find food, while it uses its sense of taste to determine the suitability, the safety of food. It uses all of its five senses to interact with, and test its immediate environment, thus ensuring its continued survival.
While we recognize that man experiences an impulse towards achieving ever greater perfection, it is considered that in animals this impulse, if present, is closely intermingled with the urge for survival. In man, however, this drive towards perfection can be seen at both the subconscious and conscious levels.
Man has seven senses at his disposal that he can employ in his reaction to this impulse, however, science at this stage, has not recognized a sixth and seventh sense.
According to modern day scientific understanding, the head, the brain, and the heart are simply organs that perform an organic function, but are not classified as sense organs. Alice Baily, the Theosophical author, however, classifies the mind as the sixth sense, and intuition (the heart) as the seventh sense organ.
When someone is said to have a sixth or seventh sense, what is generally meant is that they are able to perceive impulses that cannot be experienced or explained through the normal five senses. The area of intuition and extrasensory perception cannot be scientifically proven, nor can they be attributed to one sense organ in particular – however it is accepted that even the classic five senses are subject to very fluid boundaries of perception which will depend on the sensitivity of the individual.
The mind is a very complex organ whose functioning is built on the concept of consciousness. But as a sense organ, what does the mind perceive, and why does it perceive? Our minds are able to think rationally, independently, and to focus our thoughts on a specific object or event. A classical sense organ on the other hand, functions differently, as its impulse is processed by the mind into a perception.
It thinks in me
Today, when we speak of ‘thinking’ or ‘thoughts’, we generally say, ‘I think this or that’, implying that I produce the thought. Our whole culture is built upon this assumption. The philosopher, Rene Descartes, gave us that well known statement: ‘I think, therefore I am’, yet even with all of the contradictions that lie within this sentence, it has become a catalyst for the Western mindset. Here, the organ of thought is the production site for personal thoughts and not an organ solely of perception.
In his book Indigenialität (Indigeniality), the German philosopher and biologist, Andreas Weber, describes a mindset that is peculiar to indigenous tribal cultures. ‘Indigeniality’ describes a cultural consciousness in which the opposing perceptions of ‘I’ and ‘the world that surrounds me’ largely do not exist.
From a systemic point of view, every human being is part of a larger web of life in which energy and information flow freely. In this view, it is only a small step to consider thoughts as modulations of this larger network, which are received and processed by the mind as an organ of perception.
Thus, ‘I think, therefore I am’, becomes ‘it thinks in me because it thinks in you’. Such an attitude of mind could potentially revolutionize the foundations of cultural thinking, and place the mind centrally as a sixth sense organ.
The intuition of the heart
In the book The Little Prince by Antoine de Exupery, the fox says to the protagonist, ‘Here is my secret. It is very simple. One sees well only with the heart. The truth remains hidden from the eye’. Intuition is much more elusive and mysterious than are the perceptions of the mind. It is more difficult to define as a sense organ than that of the mind.
Sometimes intuition is called a ‘gut’ feeling. It has sometimes been used to assign an element of truth to an insight that could not be proven otherwise. It can be seen as playing a special role in a persons’ life, where events that seem to randomly come together, have, through intuition and hindsight, revealed a common thread.
Plato described knowledge regarding the world of his ideas as intuitive, since they could not be proven. The mystic, Jacob Boehme, was also unable to prove much of his philosophical ideas, yet many who have familiarized themselves with his writings, assert to their inner truth.
A stream of impressions, thoughts, feelings and images
Whoever experiences these two special sense organ impressions, will be aware of the mixture of individual and supra-individual currents that can include thoughts, impressions, images, and intuitive feelings. They can drive one to actions which often feel aimless and spontaneous, yet in retrospect can show the hidden elements of purpose and meaning.
The result is an altered consciousness that can positively change the other five sense organs right down to a fundamental organic level. This can potentially enable a greater subtlety, a heightened perception. Thus, we see that the influence of the sixth and seventh sense activities, can bring positive changes to the entire metabolic structure of the web of life.
Through their activity a heightened awareness develops that can bring a deeper harmony and balance to the life system, an equilibrium that dissipates chaos and nurtures a greater level of consciousness.
Perception of stillness
In recent years, the term ‘mindfulness’ and with this, the perception of the ‘inner worlds’, have become quite popular in many social circles in the western world. From this there has also developed a deeper consciousness of the interconnectedness of perception and life. Some mystic philosophers have described life as having an intangible and imperceptible primordial foundation, while other philosophers speak of a transcendent being, which religion calls God. Science however, because of its long-held tradition of material thought, have rejected intuition as unscientific.
Through a deeper self-awareness, the human being learns to appreciate the mind and the heart as sense organs that can give them access to an ever-growing insight into the greater mysteries of life. Perception and intuition are essentially products of our personality, but as a part of the greater whole, their essence belongs to everyone or to no one.
If we leave behind the nature of dualism, then the insights gained from both organs of perception can flow together into a single unity, and make it possible to experience the stillness that underlies all of Life; a Life that no longer includes the constant movement between harmony and chaos.
‘One only sees well with the heart’, so says the fox. The holographic nature of the web of life can be experienced more intimately through intuition. Seen in this way, all of humanity could symbolically be a sense organ for the planet and the cosmos. Then perhaps humanity could be the eye with which God looks into matter