We tend to think, “The whole point of having senses is that we should use these to enjoy the pleasures we can see, hear, taste, feel and smell. Otherwise why would these senses exist!?” I partially agree, but want to refer you to the initial part of the 15th chapter of Bhagavad Gita: this world is an inverted reflection of spiritual reality. The senses that we have right now are a reflection of senses we are capable of having.
To explain this fully, I will go back to explain what a “soul” is, where it originates, and how it comes to exist with an ego, mind, intellect, and body of five senses.
The soul in a “pure” (or “unawakened”) state is consciousness only. It manifests no identity, no will, and therefore of course has no mind, intellect or senses; but it has the inherent potential for such things because it is a ray of light emanated from the original sun. The emanation has qualities of what it emanates from, much like a child possesses traits of its parents. Since the original “sun” of the atoms of “light” is itself a distinct entity, the potential for individual distinction exists implicitly in each ray of light which emanates from it.
The unawakened soul is merely an unknown, unidentifiable wave of light vibrating homogeneously in the entire infinite expanse of spiritual light (“bhramajyoti”). By some catalyst (perhaps the freewill of the Supreme?) an individual particle/wave in that spiritual light is quickened to awaken and activate it’s potential. It is this quickening which will cause the seed-like kernel of the pure soul to spout appendages of identity, intellect, mind and senses.
The quickened soul awakes to perceive that the spiritual light is a border between two huge, endless realms of manifest existence, wherein countless activities are taking place in fascinating sequences and to wondrous ends. On one side all activities are centered upon the source of all “light”, Godhead – like planets harmoniously orbiting the central Sun. On the other side, each individual atomic wave of light gets a chance to make itself the central locus of all activities, attentions, desires, and affections.
There is a deep purpose why there are two realms and not one. It expresses the essential importance of freewill and the ability to make a choice in the grand scheme of what existence itself seeks for in the first place. Existence seeks the highest enjoyment, that is love. Love is freely given. Therefore there must be two realms, the soul must be given choices and freedoms, or else the purpose of Divine Existence would not have been able to unfold.
And so the awakened soul’s original free choice occurs in the act of choosing either the Godhead-centered realm or the self-centered realm as the field in which it wishes to grow and sprout it’s identity.
When this awakened consciousness is thus drawn into the realm it chooses, it is immediately bathed in the divine energy of that realm – like a seed placed into soil and bathed in profuse sunlight and water. In the triplicate energy of the realm it enters – like a seed entering soil, light and water – the hitherto unmanifest uniqueness of the spark of light sprouts.
We can wonder if what sprouts from the soul is new to it or if it is an expression of some potentiality that was always latent in it. It is possible that the soul possesses, even when submerged in the non-being of the spiritual-light, an indelible unique “stamp” as a result of being a ray of light emanated by a specific aspect of the spiritual-sun. I favor this perspective. In either case, new or inherent, what sprouts from the soul is undeniably what it is and what it becomes.
A cascade of blossoms now sprout from the soul-seed. The first is an individual locus which we call “identity” or “ego” – which is astrologically the Sun. From this springs the well of things which the individual reflects upon, feels, and wants. This we call the “mind” – which is the astrological Moon. From the mind springs forth the ability to interface and exchange with the subjects and objects of our reflection, feeling and wanting. We call this “intellect” and in astrology it is Mercury. This interface-facilitator (intellect) finally generates the actual instruments that literally interact with the subjects and objects we feel for. We call these instruments “the senses” and they are Venus in astrology.
This cascade of sprouting from the spiritual atomic spark occurs in both realms: Godhead-centered or self-centered. This is one of the important implications of the Bhagavad-Gita’s fifteenth chapter analogy of the Banyan tree inverted due to being reflected, as if on the edge of a pond: Like a reflection, the manifestations of reality are superficially identical in both the God-centered realm and the self-centered realm. The difference is essential, not superficial. It lies in what the entire manifestion is centered upon.
Thus in both the “spiritual” and “material” worlds the living being has an identity, a mind, intellect and senses, i.e. a body.
To say the senses are created to enjoy the sense objects of the world is true if we only consider the senses within the self-centered realm. If we broaden our awareness of Venus and senses – as we should, because the reflected tree is not the real tree after all – we can see that the better definition of senses is that they are the instruments with which we interact with sense objects. The motive of self-enjoyment in such interactions is present only when the soul is in the self-centered realm. When the soul instead inhabits the Godhead-centered realm, sensual interactions are without any selfish motive for enjoyment. Their motive is the enjoyment of Godhead. Thus in that realm, souls are extremely beautiful, attractive, talented, delicious, delighted and wonderful – because they are connected directly and explicitly to the ever expanding infinite enjoyments of the Supreme Life, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who has the appropriate moniker “Sri Krsna” – the all-attractive enjoyer.