(Yes, it’s a double entendre.)
Last week we discovered that there is something that comes before meditation and that without it there can be no true meditation, and without meditation there can be no samadhi (merging with God). This ‘something’ is pratyahara, the internalization of the attention through the withdrawal of the senses from their objects. Previously we looked at this withdrawal and what the experience of it is like. Now we will look at how it comes about.
STAGES of PRATYAHARA
1. You begin to lose interest in sense objects. (Sense objects are anything the senses can perceive.) Once you have begun to make real progress in your sadhana you soon find that you are more attracted to it than to the things of this world. (This happens soon and effortlessly for people doing SKY* for more than an hour or two a day.)
2. The mind becomes inactive in sadhana. There are no desires, no likes and dislikes, no sensory input, nothing to be conscious of. You have traded your cravings for fulfillment and you are about to get it.
3. The powers of sense separate from the physical sense organs. This allows you to sense (see, hear, feel, taste and smell) without the use of the sense organs. You perceive directly, as clearly and definitely as you do under ordinary circumstances only more and better—you see things for what they really are, you see things other people can’t see with their ordinary sight (ditto with the other four senses). This sounds like psychic stuff when put into words, but that is a different experience.
4. You become disinterested in the things of the world in and out of sadhana. This stage sets in in a very real way after much experience with Stage Three and samadhi which is dependent upon it. At this point, you are not only disinterested in the things of the world, but you find them irritating, lacking, overstimulating, and a poor substitute for the real thing, which you have by now seen for yourself. This is when you will never give up your sadhana no matter how difficult it gets, however hopeless you think you are at it, no matter what it costs you to continue.
With the withdrawal of the senses there is true meditation. With true meditation, there is samadhi, merging with God/Truth and the ultimate fulfillment.
*SKY — Shaktipat Kundalini Yoga, the sadhana (practice) of Surrender Meditation.
CHAPTER TWO, VERSE 59
In this verse we find that pratyahara is not easily attained, but hidden within it is the secret to attaining it.
The objects of sense turn away from the fasting embodied one, except for taste. But even taste turns away from one who has seen the Highest. — Bhagavad Gita, chapter two, verse 59
Delving deeper into the Sanskrit . . .
The influence of sense objects will cease for one who doesn’t feed them even though cravings for them persist. But even the cravings for them cease for one who has beheld what lies beyond.
Avoidance is the usual means of not ‘feeding’ the senses, i.e., the sense of sight: a man intent on avoidance who sees a beautiful woman walks the other way. This technique is why we find spiritual commentaries naming ‘woman’ as poison and the downfall of man. It isn’t woman that is the problem, it is the craving stimulated by the sense of sight coming into contact and becoming attached to a desirable sight. So a woman would walk the other way to avoid the sight of a beautiful man for the same reason. It is not sense objects themselves that are the problem but the influence they have on the mind (vs. 57).
Even though this technique is useful, the relish for sense objects remains intact. Faced with this, we suddenly remember ‘indifference’ and are taken into the realm of non-attachment.
It is not you that is attached but the senses.
Because you are identified with your body and mind, you mistakenly believe that you have desires, but this is just the senses becoming attached to attractive objects. For as long as this misidentification is in place however, you deal with desires as if they were your own, so remember this: It is the nature of the senses to attach themselves to their objects. It is their job. But you are not nature, and you are not the senses.
Non-attachment comes about naturally as a result of Stage Three pratyahara and the deep meditation of samadhi. This is what renunciation (sanyasa) really is.
Having experienced Truth directly, you have beheld ‘what lies beyond’—the Highest, God, Truth—and nothing in this world can touch it or even come close. You no longer have an issue with the senses becoming attached to their objects, for acquiring these objects could never satisfy you now. Only God is enough. And when something is enough, we are fulfilled.
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