Points of Controversy

8.7. Of the Senses in the Rūpa-Sphere

Controverted Point: That in the Rūpa-sphere the individual has all the six senses.

Theravādin: If that be so, and one in that sphere have, say, the sense of smell, you must admit odorous objects for him to smell; and so too for the senses of taste and touch. But you deny the existence, in that sphere, of such objects. Yet it seems only rational that, admitting, as you do, the existence in that sphere of both organ and object in the case of sight, hearing, and sense-co-ordination or mind, you should admit no less as to the other fields of sense, once yon affirm the existence, in that sphere, of any of the other sense-organs. “No,” you say. You are prepared to admit organs of sight, hearing, and co-ordination, and corresponding objects seen, heard, and cognized by those organs; yet while you admit the other sense-organs, you deny the existence of their objects. In fact, even if you were to concede the existence, in that sphere, of objects odorous, sapid, and tangible, you would, you say, deny they were apprehended by the corresponding organs, though you admit the corresponding apprehension in the case of sight, etc.

But there are among you some who would admit this apprehension of odours, tastes, and touches by the respective organs, the existence of which you affirm. I would ask them whether there exists in that sphere the odour of roots, pith, bark, leaves, flowers, fruit, raw flesh, poisonous, pleasant, or evil odours; whether there exists there also the taste of roots, pith, bark, leaves, flowers, fruit, or sour, sweet, bitter, pungent, saline, alkaline, acrid, astringent, nice, or nauseous tastes; whether there exist there also hard and soft, smooth and rough, pleasant and painful contacts, heavy and light tangibles? You deny that any of these does exist in that sphere… .

Andhakas and Sammitīyas: But is there not in that sphere the wherewithal for smelling, tasting, touching?

Theravādin: Yes.

Andhakas and Sammitīyas: Surely then it is right to say that in the Rūpa-element the individual has all six senses?