Chapter 9: This, Is That
He sent the two young men back and said to the third one, “You have at least this much awareness - that when even your senses are unable to see, when there is no light at all, even then, you are a witness. And to perceive the inner witness the senses are not needed.”
No matter how dark a room may be, where you are unable to see anything at all, even there you are conscious of your own presence. You may not be able to see the walls of the room or the objects in the room or the other people in the room, but no darkness can erase the experience of your own presence. Under all circumstances you will be there and you will know it, that you are there. Your own presence is self-evident, it is not proved through any medium. This is why all the enlightened ones have said that all the experiences of the world are indirect; only the experience of your own self, of self-realization, is direct.
This looks very paradoxical. We normally think that everything is direct, a first-hand experience. The trees are visible, people are visible, everything is in front of your eyes. But the awakened ones say that all the experiences of the world, of the outer, are indirect because our eyes are working as a medium, they are in between. You are hidden behind the eyes, the object to be known is outside and in the middle are the eyes, like a broker. The eyes can deceive. This knowledge is not direct, not immediate: there is a medium between the knowledge and the knower. So if somebody is suffering from jaundice he will see yellow where in fact there is no yellow. If somebody has some defect in his eyes - say, they are color-blind - then that man cannot distinguish between colors at all. What is the reliability of the eyes? What is the guarantee that the eyes are reporting rightly? No, one simply trusts the eyes.
Now this is a very amazing fact: that people ask for proof of everything but they never ask their own senses for any proof of what they are reporting. What is the evidence that your eyes are seeing correctly? The charvakas and other atheists have accepted only one evidence: that which is manifest, visible; they say they will believe only what is in front of their eyes. But those charvakas never ask themselves: on what basis are they trusting their eyes so much? Does the eye always see rightly? No, because it also sees dreams in the night: they are visible, manifest, but not real. Sometimes they see a rope lying on the path as a snake, and when they see the snake in the rope the snake looks very real. But when light is brought in you don’t find any snake there. You can also see a mirage in the desert.