Patanjali says, the first source of right-knowledge is immediate, direct cognition, pratyaksha. He is not concerned with charvakas, the old materialists, who said that pratyaksha, only that which is before the eyes, is true.
Because of this word pratyaksha, direct cognition, much misunderstanding has happened. The Indian school of materialists is charvaka. The source of Indian materialism was Brihaspati, a very penetrating thinker, but a thinker; a very profound philosopher but a philosopher, not a realized soul. He says only pratyaksha is true, and by pratyaksha he means whatsoever you know through the senses is true. And he says there is no way of knowing anything without the senses, so only sense-knowledge is real for charvakas.
Hence he denies there can be any God because no one has ever seen him. And only that which can be seen can be real, that which cannot be seen cannot be real. God is not because you cannot see, the soul is not because you cannot see. And he says, “If there is a God, bring him before me so I can see. If I see, then he is, because only seeing is truth.”
He also uses the word pratyaksha, direct cognition, but his meaning is totally different. When Patanjali uses the word pratyaksha his meaning is on an altogether different level. He says, immediate knowledge not derived from any instrument, not derived from any medium is true. And once this knowledge happens you have become true. And now nothing false can happen to you. When you are true, authentically rooted in truth, then illusions become impossible.
That’s why it is said that buddhas never dream; one who is awakened never dreams. Because even dreams cannot happen to him, he cannot be deceived. He sleeps, but not like you. He sleeps in a totally different way, the quality is different. Only his body sleeps, relaxes. His being remains alert. And that alertness won’t allow any dreaming to happen.
You can dream only when alertness is lost. When you are not aware, when you are deeply hypnotized, then you start dreaming. Dreaming can happen only when you are completely unaware. The more unawareness, the more dreams will be there; the more awareness, the less dreams – fully aware, no dreams. Even dreaming becomes impossible for one who is rooted in himself, who has come to know the inner being immediately.
This is the first source of right-knowledge. The second source is inference. That is secondary, but that too is worth consideration because, as you are right now, you don’t know whether there is a self within or not. You have no direct knowledge of your inner being. What to do? There are two possibilities. You can simply deny, that there is no inner core of your being, there is no soul, as charvakas do; or in the West as Epicurus, Marx, Engels and others have done.