Man’s senses are outer-directed, and they can only be outer-directed. There is no point in their being inner-directed. It is the same as when a scientist makes a telescope for exploring the faraway stars: he can see the far, far distant stars through it, but the one who is standing right behind the telescope cannot be seen through it. The telescope magnifies the stars that are located billions of miles away, but it does not magnify the scientist that is standing with his eyes pressed to it. The telescope is made for seeing faraway objects, but to see the one who is seeing through it, no telescope is needed.
The senses are meant for perceiving material objects; no senses are needed to perceive your own self. Your own self can be seen without any senses. This is because the sense-organs travel outwards, not inwards. But this creates a great problem: constantly observing the faraway stars, slowly, slowly the scientist can forget his own existence. The stars may become everything. Constantly being with the telescope and continuously observing what is out there and far away, the observer can be forgotten completely. The one that is hidden within and is not seen can remain unnoticed – and this is what has happened.
All our senses extend to the outside world. With my hands I can touch you. With my hands I can even touch my own body because that too is outside; it is also “the other”. But with my hands I cannot touch the self which is hidden in the body. With my hands I cannot touch the one who is actually touching.
When I extend my hand towards you, I am not extending only my hand; hidden within the hand I also am reaching out to you. It is I who wants to reach out, wants to touch you; that is why my hand is extended. My hand follows me like a shadow: I want to touch you so the hand follows me and obeys me. But when I am touching you two things are happening simultaneously: one is the you that I have touched and the I who has touched; the other is the hand through which I have touched and your body through which you are being touched.
The eye sees outside, it is able to see everything – only the “I” which is hidden within cannot be seen by it. The ears hear the external. Taste, touch and smell are all related to the external. The senses are created so that we can relate with the outside world; it is an arrangement for relating with others. But the one who is hidden inside is forgotten and remains uninvolved in this relating. Your being goes on becoming more and more covered. In the constant process of knowing things, you forget the knower completely. This is the first point of these sutras.
“The divine, self-illumined and self-manifesting, has made the doors of the senses to be outer-directed; hence, through the senses, one can perceive only outer objects, not the inner being. It is the blessed one, the intelligent one alone, in his longing to attain to the divine state, who turns his eyes and all his other senses inwards from outer objects; thus he realizes his inner being.