Someone asked me this morning how important the five senses are to our inner work. It seems like a good question to examine into more detail, in fact, such a good question that it ought to be examined by us collectively.
It's safe to say that modern science does not recognize any senses other than the five "ordinary" senses. It's equally safe to say that there are senses inside that sense things quite differently, and are capable of sensing things that the five senses don't adequately cover.
The inner senses have their own specific organs for receiving and processing impressions, and their own range of abilities, which we are for the most part unfamiliar with. When idiot savants perform astonishing feats of mathematics, or display extraordinary artistic or musical abilities, the origin of these achievements may well lie within the range of what the inner senses are capable of.
We don't know. What we do know is that things go on which are absolutely inexplicable when considering the action of the five ordinary senses alone.
The outer senses are absolutely vital to our work. Man was not put on the planet in order to live within the inner senses alone; that's been discussed in this blog in several different postings. The inner senses need the outer senses in order to develop. The outer senses need the inner senses in order to develop. The law of reciprocal feeding operates here, as it does everywhere. Within an edge condition, it is the meeting and blending of the various sets of impressions that create exchange, growth, and evolution.
One-sidedness in any kind of development is no better than parthenogenesis, i.e., asexual reproduction.
Here, again, nature becomes our instructor. It has been known for several hundred years -- and perhaps much longer, among intelligent people who study such matters -- that there are animals that can reproduce asexually. They don't need mates.
Sexual reproduction, in fact, is entirely unnecessary from a biological point of view. The organisms that do not use it seem to succeed fairly well, from an evolutionary point of view, over long periods of time. Biologists are still somewhat at a loss to explain why sexual reproduction has become so dominant in the natural world. This is especially true of larger organisms, where it's safe to say that 99.9% of them reproduce sexually.
The simple fact, I think, is that a much richer set of possibilities for development arise when two different elements blend. Within the blending of disparate factors comes the possibility of change, and something entirely new emerging.
This suggests, among other things, that the nature of man was created in order to allow a certain kind of sexual reproduction to take place, where a new potential of consciousness is created between the blending of inner and outer impressions. That is, in fact, almost exactly what Mr. Gurdjieff posited.
Here's another thought.
Without the five senses, and the interaction with the ordinary world, the higher would not be able to penetrate this level and perceive it. Without perceiving it, it would not be able to draw any food from it. In other words, the five senses may be part of what one might call an "astral food web," that is, a means by which higher organisms -- which are composed of more mobile energies, and not crystalline molecular entities--gather what sustains them. If we view it this way, we would then understand organic life as part of an ecosystem, which--once again--is pretty much the way Mr. Gurdjieff pitched the idea to Ouspensky. The difference between his ecosystem and the ecosystem that biology proposes today is that Mr. Gurdjieff's ecosystem extends from the top to the bottom of the universe.
He was a man who understood how to ask the big questions.
If you remove the five senses from the picture, it's like taking all the anchovies out of the food chain. Without any anchovies, the birds don't have any food to eat. Without any bird droppings, the pelagic microorganisms that feed on the nitrates don't have anything to eat, and they die off. Then there's nothing for the anchovies to eat. Remove one link, and it's all over.
So: here's a universe where everything depends on everything else. You can't have a God without men who sense through the five senses, and you can't have men without a God who needs their perception as part of his food.
A lot of religious works seem to be dedicated to somehow transcending the five senses, getting out of the body, and living on an astral level of some kind or another. I think all of these works miss the point. There is a reason for incarnation. It is necessary; it is vital; it is inescapable. We need to be incarnated. We would not be down here on this planet sensing as we sense and doing as we do if it were not necessary. This is another lesson that nature always teaches: every single element is there for a reason.
All of this being said, because man is so intensely invested in his outer senses, to the point where he believes that that is all there is, inner work begins with the necessity of going deep inside to discover the place where inner sensation arises.
Equipped with that understanding, one can begin to recondition a receiving apparatus appropriate to the needs of both the inner and the outer being.
May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.