When for the first time a three-dimensional movie was made, the people who went to watch it became afraid. In the first film of this kind which was shown in London, a horseman threw a spear and all the people in the movie hall leaned aside, because in a three-dimensional film the spear looked so real. For a moment it seemed as if the spear was really coming. All the viewers leaned sideways and there was nothing on the screen – no real spear, nothing to approach you or pass by you. There was nothing but a play of light and shadow, but the eyes were deceived. Eyes are not so trustworthy. Our senses are not so trustworthy.
The enlightened ones say that only self-realization is direct, immediate; all other knowledge is indirect because in between there is some medium. And the mediums cannot be totally relied upon. Whatever has been seen directly is the only thing that has been truly seen. Anything that is seen through some medium is not worth trusting. If you come in and tell me that it is light outside, I will just have to believe you. You may be telling the truth, you may be telling a lie, or you yourself may be under some illusion. How can the statement be trusted unless I go out and see it for myself?
But all material knowledge is bound to be indirect. Only the knowledge of the self can be direct because there is nobody in between. Only I am there, I alone; no other entity is in between to deceive or distort. Hence what is direct in your common experience is an indirect experience as far as an enlightened one is concerned, and what you never perceive in your common experience is immediate and direct for an enlightened one.
The soul is self-illumined: to see it no light of the senses is needed. A blind man is as capable of seeing it as a man with eyes. A deaf person is as capable of hearing it as a man with ears. A paralyzed person is as capable of experiencing it as a man who has the ability to climb Everest. The ability or inability of the body make no difference at all. The body is not used at all for knowing the soul. One’s body may be strong or weak, healthy or unhealthy, beautiful or ugly, black or white, it makes no difference. The body is of no use in self-realization. The use of the body is for knowing others; that is its utility. Your eyes should be healthy, your ears should be healthy, your body should be strong; only then can you relate with the other. But as far as one’s own self is concerned the connection is already there, there is nothing to be established.
This is why the sutra says, “the self-manifest divine….” The senses are not needed to know the divine, it manifests on its own. In fact, it is already manifest. But the world does not manifest on its own: in order to know the world, senses are needed. This is why the more numerous are the senses the more the world can be known.
In this world there are many varieties of sentient, living beings. Man has five senses. Then there is the amoeba, a tiny, living cell, which has only the one sense, its body. It experiences only touch, it has no other sense-organ. The amoeba is one of the least developed living beings in the world – not from the point of view of a soul, but from the point of view of knowing the world. All its information is based only on touch, that is the entire range of its knowledge. Then there are living beings with two senses, three senses and four senses. As the number of senses increases, in the same proportion, knowledge about the world increases.