Is there a better term for the “Five +1”?

2012 Thing on Thursday #11

A key concept introduced in the original “What is Humanistic Paganism?” post was the Five +1.  It refers to the five empirical senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch), plus the additional “sense” of introspection.  It’s a way of conceptualizing looking within, which can be a strange proposition to some.  By analogy to the traditional sense organs, introspection becomes a sixth sense.  To avoid paranormal connotations, the term Five +1 was introduced.

The problem is, the “Five +1” has garnered almost no response at all, despite discussion and a meditation designed around it.  I wonder if the term just doesn’t resonate with people.  Some other term might be better.

That’s why I need your help.

Please rate the appeal of the term from 1-5, with 1 being least and 5 most.

Then please share your suggestions for alternative terms in the comments.

The importance and roots of the concept are briefly explored after the poll.

Importance of the concept

The concept behind the term is solid: if you hold that the effects of ritual and magic are subjective, then being able to “look” inside and witness subjective thoughts and feelings is pretty much essential.  This is something many are not accustomed to doing, or doing accurately, so it requires development.  That makes a term to help conceptualize this process indispensable.

Roots of the concept

The concept was inspired by the Buddhist ayatana, or six sense doors.  It also has roots in the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl and others.  Ayatana might invite too much additional Buddhist baggage, however, and phenomenology has never spurred much more than abstract philosophizing.  Some other term seems necessary to make the concept feel comfortable in practical Western spirituality.

Alternative terms?

Have you encountered the same concept in other contexts?  What do they call it there?  What other possible terms can you imagine?

Please share your suggestions in the comments.

About Thing on Thursday

Althing in Session, by W.G. CollingwoodThis post is part of a series of councils on matters vital to the future.  The name represents both the generic term for, you know, a thingie, as well as the Old Norse term for a council of elders: a Thing.

Each week from the Autumn Equinox until the Winter Solstice, Thing on Thursday explores a new controversy.  Participation is open to all – the more minds that come together, the better.  Those who have been vocal in the comments are as welcome as those quiet-but-devoted readers who have yet to venture a word.  We value all constructive opinions.

There are only a few rules:

  • be constructive – this is a council, so treat it as such
  • be respectful – no rants or flames

Comments will be taken into consideration as we determine the new direction of Humanistic Paganism.

So please make your voice heard in the comments!

8 Comments on “Is there a better term for the “Five +1”?

  1. I do think the label is a bit cold. The idea beneath the label seems to be a good one. So perhaps the label is problematic, and I’m glad you’re considering this.

    Oddly enough I still haven’t tried it. I’m very interested in meditation and contemplative practices, and of course I’m also interested in the concepts to which this site is dedicated. So why haven’t I taken the plunge? I really couldn’t say, except that I’ve been doing vipassana style meditation for a while now and that seems to have pre-occupied me.

    Getting back to the idea of label, the sensory/sensual focus of this practice seems interesting and at odds with the numeric/mathematical name. Perhaps a name which emphasizes this would serve well?

    • Good suggestion. Something more sensory-based would be better.

      If you already do vipassana meditation, the Five +1 may be superfluous. The difference between that and the Five +1 meditation is minimal. Unless you’re talking about S. N. Goenka-style vipassana, in which case the explanation/rationale for what you’re doing might be radically different.

  2. I’m new here so I may be way out of bounds, but maybe there is a term in quantum physics that might deliver the needed punch. People need something to grab them emotionally while, from what I gather, the term also needs to hold its weight scientifically. Quantum physics seems to have the necessary gravitas, though which specific term I mean, I yet have no idea.

    • Interesting. I would be open to such a suggestion, so long as the analogy is valid. Quantum physics does get mis-used a lot in Paganism, so we’d just have to be careful.

  3. When it comes to names, I like to look at the root of it to get my inspiration. What is the point or purpose? Labeling the purpose or end result often labels the subject. i.e. Nirvana – its not labeling the process, its labeling the end point.

    • The point/purpose is to help conceptualize the act of “looking inside” at one’s thoughts and feelings. This can be quite odd for some people, like trying to look at your own eyeball. People are often too identified with their thoughts and feelings to “see” them. So the Five +1 re-conceptualizes introspection as a sense faculty, like the normal five senses, to encourage a sense of “observation.” Those with prior experience in some forms of meditation may have no such trouble.

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