We propose a functional model based on Theravada Buddhist texts and practices to show how the mind works in relation to our senses, and how we perceive the external world. Our model suggests that the mind acts as a common internal sense organ, receiving all sensory data from the five external senses. It shows how contact (when sensation becomes available to access consciousness) plays a central role in generation and the continual reconstitution of feelings, perceptions, and thoughts expressed as emotions. The model shows how previous memories influence our thoughts to create an illusory experience of the present moment, and how we cling to them. We also propose a cognitive series using our model with some relevant neuroanatomical locations superimposed. We believe this model could function as a basic conceptual map of the mind by integrating philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience, and also facilitating the practice of mindfulness meditation itself.

Piyal Walpola

Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Heath Program, University of Toronto