Taste is another sense that is usually and widely accepted as a normal sense. Just like smell, it is a sense that Steiner considers a “middle sense” because it borders the inner and outer energies in life.
Remember from the last blog on the senses, the sense of smell, I mentioned that the middle senses are all related to feeling. This does not mean specifically, the act of feeling something with your skin, that is the sense of touch which is the very first sense and is categorized as a lower sense. This is because touching is an inward experience. Steiner (1920/1986) explains this,
When you touch objects, you actually perceive only yourself. You touch an object and if it is hard it presses forcibly on you; if it is soft its pressure is only slight. You perceive nothing of the object, however; you sense only the effect upon yourself, the change in yourself. (p.39)
Taste is the sixth sense among the twelve that Rudolf Steiner, founder of Waldorf Education, developed and introduced about 100 years ago.
The sense of taste is the second of the middle senses, classified as outward and senses of feeling. These senses are helpful with interpreting the external world.
Van Gelder says, “The observation of taste is made up of two components, the actual taste of something and its smell. When something is in your mouth, its smell enters your nose. When you put something in your mouth, its smell can change as new scent particles are release”
How does this relate to Unitarian Universalism and Religious Exploration?
The Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism are the ideas which we affirm to “hold as strong values and moral guides.”
I identified twelve key concepts that appear throughout them. These are:
When we make a conscious effort to fortify the sense of taste, we will in turn be developing awareness of worth, acceptance, and connectedness.
I am drawn to consider how taste and smell work together to create our experience and smile when I see the similarity of how we can work together as Unitarian Universalists to live out our principles and behave noticeably as vital congregations.
Rev. Dr. James Kubal-Komoto recently completed his role as the Pacific Western Regional Lead and shared an inspiring final letter of how we can all do just that.
He encouraged us to be compassionate and kind (without having loosey-goosey boundaries or entertaining an “anything goes” attitude). He encouraged us to practice gratitude and generosity and be joyous. He encouraged us not to get stuck on past hurts but embrace the move from hurt to healing. He encouraged us to be hopeful about ourselves and our future and create positive experiences for others around us. They may be long time congregants or new visitors. Either way, it is our calling to consciously smell and taste the opportunities for justice, love, and peace among us.
In closing, as we lean toward building vital congregations, he encouraged us to “embody the cultural change one wants to see—in the paradigms one uses, in the way one frames questions, in the way one talks about problems and challenges, in one’s own actions, and most of all, in the way one interacts with others. The world desperately needs vital Unitarian Universalist congregations, so I wish each of you the best in helping your congregation become the most vital congregation it can be.”
What can you do to fortify this sense?
Taste different foods, first while you are holding your nose and then without holding your nose. What observations can you make?
Make liquid solutions for each of the tastes sweet, sour, salty and bitter. You can make a bitter solution by steeping used coffee grounds in water. Brush each taste in turn on different parts of someone’s tongue. Do not let the subject know which taste is being brushed onto the tongue. Ask the subject to describe his observations, and what he tastes.
Hold your nose and close your eyes, and ask someone to put something in your mouth. Do not move your tongue. Try to find out what it is. First, only rely on your sense of taste. Then feel it by rolling it around in your mouth. Then stop holding your nose so you can smell. Describe the differences in your observations. At what point could you guess what was in your mouth?
My best to you with many blessings,
DRE, Beacon Unitarian Universalist Congregation
Pacific West Region newsletter, July 11, 2019. (let me know if you would like to see his entire letter. I am happy to forward it to you!)
Steiner, R. (1986). Spiritual science as a foundation for social forms (M. St. Goar Trans.). Hudson,New York: Anthroposophic Press.
van Gelder, T. (n.d.). Sense of taste. Retrieved from http://tomvangelder.antrovista.com/sense-of-taste-129m50.html