How You can Restore Vision Loss or Your Declining Sense of Taste, Touch, Hearing or Smell Through Nutritional Supplements and Meditation
I always wanted to write a book on this topic -- specific meditations for each of your 5 senses and nutritional methods to help optimize your sense or restore hearing loss, eyesight, taste sensations and so on.
It's heartbreaking to see our parents and grandparents get older and lose their sense of taste, smell, touch or even hearing or eyesight. Those losses can turn the golden years into prison years as the joy of life is gone.
If someone you know has started to lose the use of their sense faculties, there are a few nutritional things and meditations you can try. I've collected these remedies over the years and rather than write a book it seems easier to freely offer the information through an article until I finally get it done. There's so much more that I could add, but who has the time when it's an article?
You never know which of these things will work but since they're inexpensive, try them. Pay particular attention to the meditations.
Sense of Taste
Without a doubt, zinc is the first thing to take when your sense of taste starts to go, so think ZINC, ZINC, ZINC.
Zinc's ability to restore the taste faculties is legendary. Most people are deficient in zinc so boosting up on it is usually a safe thing to do through Opti-zinc or other capsulated forms. Hair analysis usually shows whether someone is deficient in zinc (and copper since the two go together) and since zinc is a major component of semen, you can bet that men who have lots of sex and ejaculate a lot are usually low on zinc stores. It's one those things that's usually low when men have prostate problems as well.
Liquid zinc is quickest acting and most absorbable form of zinc. Study after study have proven over and over again that taking zinc for a few weeks can restore the sense of taste in individuals who may have lost it. It's like a Godsend to these folks ... and all for a $5-8 bottle, so be sure to mention it! Just buy one or two bottles off the internet from a high quality manufacturer and in no time the sense of taste often returns to normal. What a miracle this is, and it's cheap!
There's also a very famous meditation based on the sense of taste that two brothers used to become enlightened and in time, Medicine Buddhas. Here's their story from the Surangama Sutra:
The two Bodhisattva named Bhaisajya-raja and Bhaisajya-samudgata who were present with 500 devas from the Brahma heavens, then rose from their seats and prostrated themselves respectfully in front of the Buddha. The each declared: "Since time without beginning we have been skillful physicians in the world and have tasted with our own mouths herbs, plants, and all kinds of minerals and stone found in the world. As a result we know perfectly their tastes, whether bitter or sour, salt, insipid, sweet, acrid and so forth. We know their natural, changing or harmonizing properties and whether they are cooling, heating, poisonous or wholesome. We received instruction from the Buddha and knew clearly that taste was neither existent nor nonexistent, was neither body nor mind, and did not exist apart from them. Since we could not discern the cause of taste, we achieved our awakening, which was sealed by the Buddha who then named us Bhaisajya-raja and Bhaisajya-samudgata. We are now ranked among the "sons of the Dharma King" in this assembly and because of our awakening by means of taste, we have attained the Bodhisattva stage. As the Buddha now asks us about the best means of perfection, to us taste is the best according to our personal experience."
One of the Arhats, Gavampati, reported:
Because of my verbal sins when I trifled with monks in a former aeon, in every succeeding reincarnation I have been born with a mouth that always chews the cud like a cow. The Buddha taught me the pure and clean doctrine of One Mind which enabled me to eliminate the conception of mind for my entry into the state of samadhi. I looked into tasting, realized that it was neither a subjective substance nor an objective thing and leaped beyond the stream of interdependent arising. I thereby disengaged myself from both the inner body and mind and the outer universe and was released from the three worlds of existence. I was like a bird escaping from its cage, thus avoiding impurities and defilements. With my dharma eye now pure and clean, I attained Arhatship and the Buddha personally sealed my realization of the stage beyond study. As the Buddha now asks about the best means of perfection, to me the turning of taste back to its knower is the best according to my personal experience.
Sense of Smell
Impairment of the sense of smell affects 50% of people over age 65, and 75% over age 80. German researchers studied patients suffering from a diminished sense of smell after respiratory infections. 26% had moderate improvements and 35% had remarkable improvements in the sense of smell just from taking alpha lipoic acid, a fat and water soluble antioxidant. The suggested dose was 300-600 mg per day.
If you have diabetes, alpha lipoic acid is something you should definitely taking as it prevents neuropathy or makes it disappear. Since lipoic acid is an antioxidant, it will also help detoxify all sorts of chemicals floating around in your body.
Breathing exercises, where you hold your breath, are also a way to help your sense of smell which can deaden over time. All the tiny capillaries in your nose will open which will, in turn heighten your sense of smell.
I've always wanted to give a talk to perfume manufacturers, or people who manufacture essences, to teach how they could use their job to help attain samadhi and enlightenment. That's actually one of the reasons I wanted to write about this. In some Buddha lands, smell is the means by which people communicate or get the Tao and of course for this realm, the equivalency is chi.
The Surangama Sutra records the story of a Bodhisattva named Fragrance-Adorned who actually succeeded in this way, and it has always been one of my vows to tell his story and disseminate his method:
A Bodhisattva named "Fragrance-Adorned" then rose from his seat and prostrated himself in front of the Buddha. He declared, "After the Buddha had taught me to look into all worldly phenomena, I retired to meditate in seclusion and learned to put my mind at rest. While observing the strict rules of discipline and pure living, I saw some monks burn sandalwood incense. In the stillness, its fragrance entered my nostrils. I inquired into the smell, which was neither sandalwood nor emptiness, neither smoke nor fire, and which had neither whence to come or whence to go. Thereby my intellect vanished and I achieved the awakening of enlightenment. The Buddha sealed my awakening and named me "Fragrance Adorned." After the sudden elimination of smell, the wonderful fragrance became all embracing. Thus I attained arhatship by means of smell. As the Buddha now asks about the best means of perfection, to me smell is the best according to my personal experience.
The sense of smell is very much related to breathing practices; most yogis will tell you always to breath through you nose, not your mouth, and my own teacher told me that breathing practices, the ability to smell chi, etc. was one of the excellent dharma doors to enlightenment.
It's not a secret, but most people don't realize that masters who meditate almost always develop keen senses of smell. That's why they burn heavy incense, smoke cigarettes or refuse to see people who aren't vegetarian. Why? Because human bodies smell so much so they try to block the smell so as to suffer as little discomfort in that area as possible. If you haven't yet transformed your body by purifying your chi and opening your chi channels, no doubt it smells.
The Surangama Sutra also records,
Ksudrapanthaka then rose from his seat,prostrated himself with his head at the feet of the Buddha and declared, "I did not know much about the dharma because I didn't read and recite the scriptures. When I first met the Buddha, I heard of the dharma and left home. I tried to memorize a gatha of his teachings but failed for a 100 days because as soon as I could retain its first words, I forgot the last ones, and when I could remember the last words I forgot the first ones. The Buddha took pity on my stupidity and taught me to live in a quiet retreat and to regularize my breathing. At the time I looked exhaustively into each in and out breath and realized that its rise, stay, change and end lasted only an instant. With that realization, my mind became clear and unhindered until I stepped out of the stream of transmigration and finally attained Arhatship. I came to stay with the Buddha who sealed my realization of the stage beyond study. As He now asks about the best means of perfection, to me breathing is the best according to my personal experience in turning the breath back to the condition of nothingness."
Sense of Hearing
Over the years, I've heard of a variety of approaches to countering hearing loss. Unfortunately I have not had the merit or money to able to investigate many of these yet. Most of the machines or equipment you might try cost a pretty penny, so do some internet searches first before you spend your big bucks.
The first is to clean your ears of ear wax using those candles. For $5, this is a first good thing to try. It probably will not be the cure, but you never know as some people have never cleaned their ears in their entire life and they're encrusted with wax that's impinging on the eardrum.
There are also a variety of Tomatis hearing tapes sold by Tools for Health used for hearing sensitivity, and training using tuning forks to hear certain sounds. All sorts of remedies to try can be found on the internet but as I said, be careful because many are expensive. Frankly I haven't done a lot of research in this area other than to know that listening to Mozart, which has a lot of high frequencies, helps with hearing and concentration. There was also an article in the Science section of the Economist magazine (in my opinion, the best magazine on earth for news!) years ago on how you could actually predict the emotional impact of sounds with some machine. I wish someone would send me that issue if they ever find it.
Bodywork therapies can also be very effective cases in certain cases of hearing loss; I had one bodywork teacher who told me he had helped restore 2 hearing loss patients, but failed with countless others, just by doing body work on the ear and ear canal.
Research is also showing that antioxidants protect our hearing from loud noises by protecting the ochlear hairs in the ear. Vitamin E, NAC (N-acetylcysteine), vitamin A, magnesium and zinc have been shown effective to help people protect their hearing and prevent further losses. In particular, Prof. Henry Joachim (Rambam Medical Center) has found that bed rest, prednisone, carbogen inhalation and magnesium, along with vitamin E, are instrumental in treating sudden hearing loss. Magnesium prevents noise-induced hearing loss and has helped in cases of military personnel exposed to large gunfire noises. Because the recovery rate for treating sudden hearing loss is only about 15% better than a spontaneous recovery, you have to use the antioxidant approach and seek additional modalities to make the treatment more effective.
Recent research in the medical journal, Laryngoscope, also showed that supplemental anti-oxidants may help protect the inner ear from traumatic and age-related hearing loss, particularly through the use of vitamin E. Other studies have noted hearing-protective effects for resveratrol, vitamin C, melatonin, acetyl-l-carnitine and lipoic acid (for more info see Life Extension magazine, September 2004).
Listening with the mind's hearing is a way to enter into meditation stillness, and a variety of Buddhas recorded their success with using hearing as a way to enter samadhi and then enlightenment. Samantabhadra, Kuan Yin and Manjushri all praised entry into enlightenment by using hearing to hear thoughts and then realize emptiness. Samantabhadra Bodhisattva reported:
I was already a son of the Dharma king when formerly I was with the Tathagatas who were countless as the sands in the Ganges. All the Buddhas in the ten directions who teach their disciples to plant Bodhisattva roots, urge them to practise Samantabhadra deeds which are called after my name. World Honoured One, I always use my mind to listen in order to distinguish the variety of views held by living beings. If in a place, separated from here by a number of worlds as countless as the sands in the Ganges, a living being practices Samantabhadra deeds, I mount at once a six-tusked elephant and reproduce myself in a hundred and a thousand hua-shen emanation bodies to come to his aid. Even if he is unable to see me because of his great karmic obstructions, I secretly lay my hand on his head to protect and comfort him so that he can succeed. As the Buddha asks about the best means of cultivation, according to my personal experience, the best consists in hearing with the mind, which leads to non-discriminative discernment.
Kuan Yin's method of meditating on sound is even more famous, and the monk Han Shan wrote of his success in attaining samadhi using this method:
At first by directing the organ of hearing into the stream of meditation, this organ was detached from its object, and by wiping out (the concept of) both sound and stream-entry, both disturbance and stillness became clearly non-existent. Thus advancing step by step both hearing and its object ceased completely, but I did not stop where they ended. When the awareness of this state and this state itself were realized as non-existent, both subject and object merged into the void, the awareness of which became all-embracing. With further elimination of the void and its object both creation and annihilation vanished giving way to the state of Nirvana which then manifested.
Sense of Touch and Feeling
Your sense of touch declines as we get older and start to lose feeling in our extremities. In How to Measure and Deepen Your Spiritual Realization, we actually discuss the fact the the ching-se, or sentient matter in the body starts to die, which is something no spiritual schools discuss.
How do you reverse the situation when you cannot feel your extremities any longer, such as your toes and fingers?
Improve your circulation!
I've written an entire book on this subject. You should get it, and if you're interested, click on this link to find out more. It will cover the use of nattokinase to clean your tiny capillaries to restore blood flow, alpha lipoic acid should be used to help detoxify your body and protect nerves, Adaptrin helps with circulation to the extremities and breathing exercises will help as well.
Meditation will also restore ching-se, or the sentient matter in your body that allows you to feel. You need to preserve your semen and meditate so that jing will transform to chi, your chi channels will open and your chi will become activated all over the body.
Believe it or not, several Buddhas and Bodhisattvas became enlightened through the sense of touch or by meditating on form. For instance, in the Surangama Sutra we have the following story:
Bhadrapala, who was with sixteen companions who were all great Bodhisattvas, rose from his seat, prostrated himself in front of the Buddha and reverently addressed him as follows: "When the Buddha with an awe-inspiring voice (Bhisma-garjita-ghosa-svara-raja Tathagata) appeared in the world, I heard the dharma and left home to become a monk. At the time of bathing one day, I followed the normal disciplinary rules and entered the bathroom. Suddenly I awakened to the causal water which cleaned neither dirt nor body; thereby I felt at ease and realized the state of nothingness. As I had not forgotten my former practice, when I left home to follow the Buddha in my present life, I achieved the state beyond study. That Buddha named me 'Bhadrapala' because of my awakening to wonderful touch and my realization of the rank of a son of Buddha. As the Buddha asks now about the best means of perfection, to me touch is the best according to my personal experience."
Buddha's student, Pilindavatsa also reported of his experience with feeling as an entry-way into the Tao.
Pilindavatsa prostrated himself with his head at the feet of the Buddha and declared: "When I first followed the Buddha to enter upon the meditation Path, very often I heard the Tathagata speak about the worldly which could not give joy and happiness. One day I went to town to beg for food and as I was thinking about his teaching, I stepped inadvertently on a poisonous thorn that pierced my foot and caused me to feel pain all over my body. I thought of my body which experienced and felt this pain. Although there was this feeling, I looked into my pure and clean mind which no pain could affect. I also thought to myself, "How can this one body of mine have two sorts of feeling?" and after a short mental concentration on this, [I let go of my body and] all of a sudden my mind and body seemed to become non-existent. Three weeks later I achieved the stage beyond study. As He asks now about the best means of cultivation practice, to me the pure awareness that wipes out the conception of body is the best according to my personal experience."
Actually, the reason most people never become enlightened or even attain samadhi is because they are always clinging to the body. To be technically correct, they are always clinging to the body consciousness and identifying with the body as being the self. For years I could never understand my teacher's sayings on this until I could separate the sixth thought consciousness from the body consciousness, and then understood what he had been saying. You can find out more on this teaching in the ebook, Measuring Meditation.
Basically, the big problem in cultivation is that we attach to the image of being a body, or attach to sensations and feelings. That's why so few people can succeed in Taoism, Esoteric Buddhism, yoga or even sexual cultivation. They all drop into the realms of physical bliss that keep them trapped within the Desire Realms.
Sense of Sight
Plenty of nutritional supplements have been shown to help declining eyesight. For natural cataract methods, you can grab a hold of 5 ways to eliminate your cataracts naturally, which also goes into the foods and medicines you should avoid that contribute to eyesight loss.
What about other helpful supplements. Gosh there's dozens. You basically want a combination product that contains vitamin A, bilberry, eyebright, lutein, zeaxanthin, NAC, glutathione, and other factors that can help with macular degeneration, the health of your retinas, and the capillaries of the eye. There are too many possible herbs to go into that can help with eyesight, so it's not a place to go into all of them here.
Visualization practice is a way to strengthen the vision, and here's a selection from my book Twenty-Five Doors to Meditation that explains these practices:
Visualization methods are just another expedient technique we can use to focus the mind and attain mental quiet. By focusing the mind on a simple or complicated mental image, we can arrive at the single-mindedness of samadhi concentration. From this state, our chi and mai will transform, and then with continued practice we can eventually enter into a deep state of mental calm. The ranks of spiritual attainment common to the cultivation schools of the world all involve this single-mindedness, or one-pointed concentration. When miscellaneous thoughts are abandoned and the mind is calmed through concentration, this is the samadhi of stopping.
One means to attain this type of concentration is to internally visualize an image of some simple auspicious object (such as a Buddha or holy letter) which will not create any subconscious problems. When a practitioner can finally visualize this image so clearly and completely that the mind becomes concentrated to a point, they should then switch their focus from the mental image to contemplate emptiness. In other words, the practitioner so concentrates until whatever they envision becomes "radiantly" sharp, or " crystal clear" (which is the sign of successful concentration), and then they must release this mental fabrication to enjoy the realm of mental quiet we call "emptiness". Within this emptiness, they must look around to realize that this emptiness is still a construction. In a sense we can say this emptiness "floats" in the formlessness of the mind and when you realize what we're talking about, and recognize the mind rather than the emptiness or thoughts, this is prajna wisdom.
Another alternative to the achievement of concentration is to keep reducing the size of your visualization to such a microscopic point that the furthest point of reduction naturally blends into an empty state of void. This takes an extreme amount of concentration and is similar to the idea of continually splitting a particle of dust in half until you arrive at atoms; keep splitting the atom in halves and you eventually arrive at emptiness. Of course at that point of concentrated visualization, a practitioner must really let go and forget everything, even emptiness itself, and this begins the practice of contemplating mind.
In general, one-pointed visualization practice is a technique for achieving cessation by tightly tying the sixth consciousness to a visualized mental image. After one attain the requisite concentration, they must abandon their visualization and use insight-contemplation to investigate the fundamental nature of the mind. So as in most all the methods we examined, the point is to reach some stage of cessation or stopping, where the mad rushing mind has stopped, and then to cultivate the wisdom awareness of this void. This emptiness is also a type of thought phenomena, so if you can realize that this is also a thought and abandon this idea of emptiness, then you're really making progress in cultivation. This is really "turning within", because that thought of emptiness is still something without.
An alternative route, as followed in the school of Tibetan Buddhism, is not to visualize a simple object, but to so tax the practitioner's concentration with a complicated object that they finally, under the strain, can let go completely to attain emptiness. Thus the Tibet school asks practitioners to visualize a complicated mandala, with hundreds of layers of detail, while simultaneously reciting mantras, performing mudras, ringing bells, imaging that they're a divine deity, and performing various other complicated instructions. In this practice, the individual assumes so many burdens upon their concentration that they eventually tire from the effort and relax from the strain by abandoning everything, which results in cessation. This is reaching discriminative emptiness through overloading thoughts, rather than by subtracting thoughts.
A similar example would be the case of imposing so many tasks on a computer that it finally slows to a halt, or loading a bridge with so much weight that it finally breaks. Naturally we're not talking about a mental breakdown, but a pathway for reaching emptiness by demanding that one's normal concentration expands to include limitless detail. Rather than reduce things to the simplicity of a microscopic point of concentration, one expands their mental tasks to include the complexity of the infinite.
Many people pursue complicated visualization practices without realizing this key point--that they must construct from nothing, and then abandon, a highly complicated mental fabrication in order to achieve emptiness. Unfortunately, many people believe that the purpose of visualizations is to actually build up one's "imagination muscles" by holding onto a visualization rather than to attain the state free of any images. It's true that you want to arrive at the state of one-pointedness in concentration, which leads to cessation and samadhi, but you want to do this in a certain special way. Even when people perform visualization practice somewhat successfully, they usually attain some stage similar to the samadhi of neither thought nor no-thought whereas the actual goal of visualization practice is to attain the samadhi of infinite consciousness. But this level of technical detail is something we can't enter into.
In short, the actual measure of success in visualization practice is whether or not you can attain a state of spiritual samadhi rather than whether or not you can hold a stable image in the mind, which can just as easily correspond to mundane stabilization. One should attain the view of emptiness by abandoning the visualization, and apply introspection (internal watching, or observation turned around inwards) to see what is doing the seeing. Originally our mind is empty, but in visualization practice we mentally construct an object of focus. The object is not special in itself, just a provisional means for focusing our attention. It's just a transient phenomenal realm with no special importance other than providing a focus point (hopefully auspicious) for our attention. After you focus on this provisional construction in order to get rid of excessive mental chatter, you must abandon your fixation and then apply contemplation, which is the silent mental watching and nondiscriminative awareness which gives rise to prajna wisdom. Visualization practices, like many other cultivation techniques, thus do not depart from the standard principles of cessation and contemplation.
You can reduce a visualized image to such a tiny point that only emptiness is left, or you can widen the task of visualization to such a large extent that the magnitude of the effort virtually overwhelms your mental chatter to produce cessation. This is similar to the method proposed by the Mexican sorcerer don Juan, who suggested that you gorge the field of vision with an entire horizon in order to shut off mental chatter. In either case, you are not seeking to produce a state of emptiness characterized by blockage, which can happen here, but are seeking to give rise to state of empty but clear awareness.
Yet another form of one-pointed visualization practice, which is popular in Esoteric Buddhism, is to focus one's visualization efforts on a particular tantric deity. In this practice, you form your visualization by moving your awareness from the top downward, and then from the feet upwards, flowing through the visualized form so as to cultivate a rough image of the deity and their attributes. If you really practice well, which is usually done in sessions lasting three or more continuous hours, people who pass by your room will often see you in the image of your visualized deity. The Tibetans have many symbolic mandala and visualization ceremonies, but this is the real sort of visualization practice, and it's cultivating your chi and mai.
At the start of this type of practice, the image you're concentrating upon won't appear clearly but will fade every now and then. When that happens and the image becomes unclear, you must simply return to rejuvenate the visualization and continue meditating. Eventually the radiant presence of the visualization will increase, and you will attain the evenness of mental stability. The Tibet school never tells you the secret importance of this practice, but it's main effect is for cultivating your chi and mai; as the image becomes clear and stable, you're actually cultivating the areas of chi in your own body which match to the parts you are visualizing in your image.
In effect, everything we see is a visualization, everything about us is a mandala, everything will appear like a vivid dream state if we can just attain mastery of our chi and mai, and then move onwards from there . There's no difference between a visualized mental image or the real world of images about us, so everything we see can be used as mandala practice if we learn detachment and view the world as if it's a dream. In I-Ching studies, we would say everything is a hexagram just hanging there in space ready for our interpretation, and in esotericism we would say everything is a mandala. Every state constitutes a vision of "radiant appearance", and so all phenomena should be viewed as if they were being seen in a vivid, lucid dream. After all, just as in a dream, there's nothing you can grab hold of in the regular world as well; even though it seems more compact than the dream state, it's just as unreliable. Thus every situation should become a moment of practice, and this is how visualization practice enters the everyday world.
Visualizations are "adding cultivation practices" which cause you to add on more and more things until you can naturally let go and rest. They're often suited to people who are naturally-busy minded, tending to use their minds too much. "Subtraction methods" let you subtract thoughts until you reach emptiness. Such techniques are suited for those who are naturally empty. On the other hand, those who don't use their thinking processes too much can practice the visualization techniques in order to train their mind and help it become more refined.
Visualization practices are sometimes hard for people to master if they lose sight of these principles of practice. However, you should try it to see if you have a karmic affinity for this type of practice. The point is not whether you like a particular cultivation practice, but whether it is effective for you and produces results. The best cultivation practices for us are typically those we hate to undertake, for this dislike is often indicative of bad karma trying to intercede and prevent us from making spiritual cultivation progress.
In the Surangama Sutra, Sariputra reported the following:
In former aeons, the sight-perception of my mind was already pure and clean, and in my subsequent incarnations as countless as the sands in the Ganges, I could see without hindrance through all things either on a worldly or supramundane plane. One day I met on the road the two brothers Kasyapa, who were both preaching the doctrine of causality, and after listening to them, my mind awakened to the Truth and thereby became extensive and boundless. I then left home to follow the Buddha and achieved perfect sight perception thereby acquiring fearlessness, attaining Arhatship and qualifying as the Buddha's Elder Son -- born from the Buddha's mouth and by the transformation of the Dharma. As the Buddha now asks about the best means of perfection, according to my personal experience, the best consists in realizing the most illuminating knowledge by means of the mind's radiant sight-perception.
Actually, the Surangama Sutra mentions several individuals who became enlightened on account of sight, though it is not the best type of cultivation technique. The reason is that we use our eyes too much as it is and tend to cling to images; cultivation methods based on hearing or the hearing consciousness are best.
In the Surangama Sutra, after twenty-five Bodhisattvas and Arhats reported on the expedient methods they used to cultivate spiritual enlightenment, Shakyamuni Buddha asked the Bodhisattva Manjushri to comment on all these techniques and recommend the best one for humans to cultivate.
Manjushri Bodhisattva reported,
Reverently I declare to the Tathagata
What Avalokitesvara said:
When one dwells in quietude,
Rolls of drums from the ten directions
Simultaneously are heard,
So hearing is complete and perfect.
The eyes cannot pierce a screen,
But neither can mouth nor nose,
Body only feels when it is touched.
Mind's thoughts are confused and unconnected,
(But) voice whether near or far
At all times can be heard.
The five other organs are not perfect,
But hearing really is pervasive.
The presence or absence of sound and voice
Is registered by ear as 'is' or 'is not'.
Absence of sound means nothing is heard,
Not hearing devoid of nature.
Absence of sound is not the end of hearing,
And sound when present is not its beginning.
The faculty of hearing, beyond creation
And annihilation, truly is permanent.
Even when isolated thoughts in a dream arise,
Though the thinking process stops, hearing does not end,
For the faculty of hearing is beyond
All thought, beyond both mind and body.
[Humans have] the six organs,
Derived from one alaya
Which divides into six unions.
If one of these returns to source,
All six functions are ended.
With all infection ended,
Bodhi is then realized.
Any defiling remnant requires further study
Whereas full enlightenment is the Tathagata.
Ananda and all you who listen here
Should inward turn your faculty
Of hearing to hear your own nature
Which alone achieves Supreme Bodhi.
That is how enlightenment is won.
Buddhas as many as the Ganges' sand
Entered this one gateway to Nirvana.
All past Tathagatas
Have achieved this method.
All Bodhisattvas now
Enter this perfection.
All who practise in the future
On this Dharma should rely.
Avalokitesvara did not practise
It alone, because through it I also passed.
The Enlightened and World Honoured One
Has asked about the best expedients
For those in the Dharma ending age
Who wish from samsara to escape
In their search for Nirvana's heart.
It is best to contemplate on worldly sound:
All other methods are expedients
Used by Buddha in particular cases
To keep disciples from occasional trouble.
They are not good for indiscriminate practice
By men of different types.
I salute the Tathagata Store
Which is beyond the worldly stream.
Blessed be coming generations
So that they have (abiding) faith
In this easy expedient.
'Tis good for teaching Ananda
And those of the Dharma ending age
Who should use the hearing organ
Which surpasses all others
And with the True Mind accords.
Hence Samantabhadra, Avalokiteshvara, Manjushri and Shakyamuni Buddha all advised us that the top meditation method is to cultivate through hearing in order to win enlightenment.
What they didn't say is that the second best cultivation method in our human realm is to cultivate the sense of smell because of chi, or the wind element. This is why cultivating the breath is a popular and effective meditation technique.
What led us into this particular dialogue is the fact that in the Lankavatara Sutra Buddha explained that some realms have no speech and communication was therefore achieved through gestures, smells, glances or other vehicles. In fact, he also mentioned in the Vimalakirti Sutra that all sorts of vehicles are used to communicate and transmit the Buddha dharma and teach sentient beings:
And there are some Buddha lands where the radiant light of the Buddha is used to do the Buddha's work. Some where bodhisattvas are used to do the Buddha's work. Some where phantom beings conjured up by the Buddha are used for the Buddha's work. Some where the Buddha's garments or bedding are used for the Buddha's work. Some where the Buddha's food is used for the Buddha's work. Some where gardens, groves, pavilions, and towers are used to do the Buddha's work. Some where the thirty-two features and eighty characteristics, auspicious marks that accompany the body of the Buddha, are used to do the Buddha's work. Some where the Buddha's body is used for the Buddha's work. Living beings, responding to these various agents, are thereby led to undertake the practice of the precepts.
There are lands where similes such as dreams, phantoms, reflections, echoes, images in a mirror, the moon in the water, or shimmering heat waves are used to do the Buddha's work. There are some where voices, spoken words, or written words are used to do the Buddha's work. Or pure Buddha lands where tranquil silence, without words, without explanations, without purport, without cognition, without action, without conditioning, does the Buddha's work. Thus, Ananda, among all daily activities of the Buddhas, their comings and goings, every act that they carry out, there is not one that does not do the Buddha's work.
Truly the number of realms of existence and the cultivation methods used by these realms is exceedingly large, and certain groups will feel threatened by all these facts. Certain religions will truly feel threatened if they must accept the fact that there are other realms of human existence superior to ours, in terms of culture and spiritual merits, while lacking that religion's teachings. Those most likely to feel threatened are the ones which fallaciously hold onto the notion that they are unique and supreme in this world.
But that is beside the point.
The point is that your senses and sense consciousnesses can be used as entry ways into enlightenment. You can also use nutritional supplements, herbs and a variety of approaches to help heal, buttress, upkeep or reverse the degradation of your senses. If you combine the two together you have a killer combination. While I haven't had the time to show how to seamless weave the two together, you now have enough material to get started on your own without my help.