In Buddhism as I have been taught it, the mind is included as part of the six senses. So in contrast with the 'normal' five senses we have those five plus mind giving us six. However mind still feels different in some way to the other senses. Is there anywhere in the Buddhist texts where it is acknowledged that mind is in some way special or separate from the other senses. Or is that just an illusion and closer reflection would reveal that actually it is no more different to the others than hearing or vision.

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According to Theravada Buddhism anyway, mind is different; it acts as both the receiver of the other five senses, as well as being a sense in and of itself. Meaning the mind can receive objects from any of the physical senses, but it can also receive mental objects. The reception of mental objects is different from receiving physical objects:

The six types of cognitive processes are conveniently divided into two groups—the five-door process (pañcadvāravīthi), which includes the five processes occurring at each of the physical sense doors; and the mind-door process (manodvāravīthi), which comprises all processes that occur solely at the mind door. Since the bhavanga is also the channel from which the five-door processes emerge, the latter are sometimes called mixed door processes (missaka-dvāravīthi) as they involve both the mind door and a physical sense door. The processes that occur solely at the mind door are then called bare mind-door processes (suddha-mano- dvāravīthi) since they emerge from the bhavanga alone without the instrumentality of a physical sense door. As will be seen, the first five processes all follow a uniform pattern despite the difference in the sense faculty, while the sixth comprises a variety of processes which are alike only in that they occur independently of the external sense doors.

-- A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma, Bhikkhu Bodhi

Since, in regards to the sixth sense, the mind is both the object and the receiver, it my often appear as though the mind is outside of the senses; in a sense it is, since it covers all senses, and acts as receiver for each. The standard understanding is that just as there are six senses, there are also six types of consciousness.

There are other ways of looking at reality that may shed light on the subject in a different way, e.g. the five aggregates, the elements, the faculties, etc.

  • This "mind" is equivalent to the 6th consciousness in the consciousness aggregate which is more or less equivalent to the 3rd aggregate, the discrimination aggregate... right?
    – Ahmed
    Aug 19, 2015 at 0:11

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