Three Ways That Sense Perception Is Limited

[Krishna's lotus feet]“Man’s knowledge should be developed to explore the technology which deals with the difference between a living man and a dead man, a living body and a dead body. That spiritual knowledge was taught by Krishna in the beginning of Bhagavad-gita. Arjuna was talking to Krishna as a friend. Of course, whatever he was saying was right, but it was right only to a certain point. Beyond that point there are other subject matters of knowledge, which are called adhokshaja because our direct perception of material knowledge fails to approach them.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Krishna, the Reservoir of Pleasure)

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“Science is the way. It has already debunked so many long-held beliefs, myths and legends of the past. You can’t blame the people. We call those times primitive for a reason. There wasn’t superior information available. The people didn’t know better, nor did they have a way to validate what was fed to them through tradition and religious leaders.

But now there is science. Sure, it hasn’t answered every question, but just see the progress made. And that progress continues. Nothing can stop it. Eventually, everything necessary to be known will be known.”

There is no denying the influence of science and technology in modern day life, but has it made man more enlightened? What about peace? Is the average person today more at peace than say someone living two or three hundred years ago?

As real science is based on observation and experiment, there is one flaw that cannot be overcome. It is a limitation, which provides another way to understand the Almighty.

1. Can’t see beyond the clouds

It’s a cloudy day outside. I wanted to play golf, but it looks like it won’t be much fun. Try hitting a ball stuck in a puddle in the grass. One time I took three swings and the ball didn’t budge. Very frustrating. I know that there is sun in the background, but there is no way to see it at the moment. Using special technology, I can get images of the sun taken from the other side, but still no direct line of sight.

2. Can’t hear perfectly

I was so excited to go to this concert. I’m not a big fan of the outdoor stadium, but it’s summertime so what can be done? It is my favorite band, and at least for one night I can forget my troubles. The issue here is that my seats are relatively far away from the stage. The discomfort from the distance is mitigated somewhat by the large screens in the background.

There is an issue I notice shortly after the concert begins. When the drummer hits the symbols, the sound doesn’t reach me until a little later. I can see the strike with my own eyes, but the sound is delayed. This is very annoying. The same applies for the singer. The lip movement is not in sync with the sound reaching me.

I recall something similar when playing baseball during my youth. In the outfield I would have to judge the trajectory of a fly ball without hearing the sound immediately. That is to say it took a split second or two for the sound to reach me after the batter struck the ball. I’ve been told that the cause is distance. The vision is immediate, while the sound needs time to travel.

3. Can’t smell something in another house

You are baking blueberry muffins. The aroma is wonderful. It has created a pleasant atmosphere in the home. The only problem is that I cannot share in the joy. I am in a different home, not closely located. The range of perception for smell is limited, as was the case in the previous examples.

[blueberry muffins]Indeed, the range of perception for all senses carries the same limitation. There are some ways to get around the fact, such as recorded observations flowing through time and space. There is camera technology and the like, but the limitation is always there. That is to say one person cannot perceive anything and everything.

This is another way to understand God. One of His names is Adhokshaja, which means “beyond the measurement of blunt instruments.” As instruments are used to document what the senses perceive, God has features that no instrument can properly read. His measurements are beyond our understanding. He is simultaneously greater than the greatest and smaller than the smallest. He is close by and also far away. He is with form and also without.

This understanding is significant, as it shows that science will never be able to reach God. It is simply not possible due to the limitations with sense perception. A person may be able to extend the capabilities, but nothing to reach infinity. Observation and experiment can only operate on what is witnessed, and the Supreme Lord is above and beyond the greatest witnessing capacity.

[Krishna's lotus feet]The effort to reach Him is not without hope. Though He is so difficult to perceive, there is the method of the descending process of knowledge. Consult someone who represents Him and learn more. Begin to find a way to connect. This is known as yoga, which is beyond the senses. A true yogi has managed to surpass the limitations of the material body instead of working within that realm. They become spiritual in the process and realize the greatness of Adhokshaja.

In Closing:

Can’t see beyond the cloud,

Sound over travel coming loud.

From distant image cooking to tell,

But not perceived that blueberry smell.

Limitations in this way found,

Preventing understanding sound.

With Divine way only through descending,

From yogi the spiritual vision lending.

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