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How darkness dispels the light of illusion- Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2:58

When the senses become withdrawn from their objects, as a tortoise’s limbs are drawn into its shell, one’s wisdom stands firm. — Bhagavad Gita, chapter two, verse 58  

If you have been to an Indian temple you may have noticed a tortoise facing the door. If you have read Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, you will have come across pratyahara, the fifth limb of yogaIf you have read the Shiva Samhita or similar yogic texts, you will have encountered a chapter on mudra. These three, tortoise, pratyahara, and mudra, are related.

The tortoise represents pratyahara, the withdrawal of the senses from their objects, as the doorway to meditation and samadhi, the temple. The tortoise has five appendages that can be withdrawn. You have five senses that can be withdrawn. To enter the temple of deep meditation, you must pass Kurma the tortoise—you must pass through the door of pratyahara. In later stages, mudra, the advanced form of pratyahara, closes the door behind you.

TORTOISE

  1. The second incarnation of Vishnu, the Sustainer of Life, is in the form of a tortoise.
  2. Kurma is the name of one of the forms of prana that causes the closing of the eyes.
  3. Kurma represents pratyahara (sense withdrawal).
  4. Kurma is the name of a mudra (seal).

Only by passing Kurma can you enter
the temple of true meditation.

If you have not had pratyahara, you have not experienced true meditation. Kurma’s presence in this verse reminds us that we must be like him to progress to this stage.

THE EXPERIENCE

The mind becomes inactive when the senses are inactive. The inactivity of the senses is accomplished by their withdrawal and introversion. No data is thus being acquired by them so nothing enters the mind; the mind becomes extraordinarily peaceful and your five powers of perception become disengaged from their corresponding organs—they separate, and there is only the darkness of nothing.

The mind can become inactive only when
the senses are inactive.

When pratyahara first presents, you are so surprised that you are thrown right out of it from shear wonder and amazement. But you are so inspired that you will never give up your practice from that time onward. And this is a good thing, for you are headed for true meditation where you discover for yourself that it has its own aim: samadhi. As you progress, you go to places where everything shines of its own light, and the illusion of this world is revealed for the mirage that it really is: a world that can only be seen by indirect, reflected light. And it took complete darkness to get here.

Why is this mentioned after all the talk about indifference in any circumstance, not chasing happiness and having desires, not being subject to anger or fear, being ‘contented in the self by the self’ … and so on? Because all of these begin with pratyahara—it is pratyahara that gets you there.

ACHIEVING PRATYAHARA

Now you will want to know how to get this to happen to you. There are two ways. You can either use a meditation technique, or you can surrender yourself to God/Truth and let it happen in its own time.

Using a Technique

It doesn’t really matter what technique you use. All techniques require the use of the will. Apply your technique and do not stop. Don’t give up, stay with it at all costs. You may have to do this for a very long time or you may get results more quickly, but this will be dependent on how effectively you are able to get and keep your attention 100% engaged, and whether you can maintain this without wavering until pratyahara kicks in.

Using Surrender

In Surrender Meditation the will is not employed. One surrenders oneself to God and takes what comes without trying to control things in any way. This approach is effortless, but you cannot make anything, such as pratyahara, happen. However, because you have surrendered yourself to Truth, It responds accordingly and pratyahara comes quickly. And because you are surrendered, you will spontaneously go into deep meditation and samadhi.

PRATYAHARA and MEDITATION

Many people ‘meditate’, but hardly anyone knows what meditation really is, or even that there is anything to know about meditation, that there is something that must take place before meditation can even begin, and that there is something that comes after it.

Meditation isn’t what you think. 

There are also things that come before one can attain pratyahara. Achieving pratyahara is no small thing. It is not something that occurs casually. Pratyahara is the fifth limb of yoga, meditation is the seventh. To achieve pratyahara, one must have a regular practice that will allow it to present itself. We can call this practice ‘meditation’ because this is what we hope to achieve, or we can call it yoga (union) because this is what we hope to achieve. But it’s the same in the end, because yoga samadhi is the aim of true meditation.

The Eight Limbs of Yoga

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Yoga samadhi is the aim of true meditation

Jaya Bhagavan (Victory to God!),
Durga Ma


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The Means of Reaching God is God – Bhagavad Gita, Ch 9, Vs 16

God: “I am the ritual, the sacrifice, the holder, the medicine, the mantra, and the purified butter. I am the sacrificial fire, and I am the oblation.” — Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 9, Verse 16

Previously Lord Krishna said that when He assumes human form as an avatara, the ignorant and deluded despise or disregard Him, even though His highest state of existence is unborn Absolute God. However, those who have attained Him know Him to be the embodiment of the Imperishable Absolute. 

He goes on to say that it is He who is the entire process of reaching this state—the means of reaching God is God: God is the ritual, the sacrifice, the holder, the medicine, the mantra, the purified butter, the sacrificial fire, and the oblation:The Ritual

The Ritual
The enjoined action

The ritual is the practice of the knowledge we have been receiving: the secret Yoga. He gave us this knowledge and now he is telling us how this yoga unfolds by describing it in terms of action, the basis of which is…

The Sacrifice
The surrender of oneself to God

In the context of ritual (practice), the sacrifice is the full surrender of oneself to Absolute God. To make this easier for us mortals, Lord Krishna has declared Himself to be an avatara, a physical embodiment of the Absolute, giving us a place to begin that is more personal and more comprehensible: We can surrender ourselves to Krishna knowing that He is That: God, Guru, Absolute God, to whom we surrender. 


The HolderThe Holder

The holder of the vessel

The holder is you. You hold the vessel of the sacrificial offering. In an earlier chapter we learned that “one lifts the self by the self.” No one can surrender for us. And because we are mortal and will not achieve the Ultimate in an instant, we must continue this practice unceasingly. It is enjoined, it is our duty before all other duties.

The Medicine
The perfecting power of the ritual

This continually repeated practice purifies, cleanses and clears the body, feelings and mind. It is the medicinal herb to the one who practices this ritual sacrifice.

The Mantra
Spontaneous repetition of sounds heard and expressed during the ritual

The repetition of mantra occurs as a spontaneous effect of the ritual (practice), so it is a part of it. Mantra not only keeps the mind on God, but the repetition of the sacred syllables of the mantra and their vibrational effects clear the mind and swiftly dissolve the debris. 

The Purified Butter
The remainder after purification

Impurities are burned away through the process of the ritual bringing about tapas (heat). The ‘butter’ is melted down, separating the pure from the impure. The impurities are discarded, leaving only what is pure.


The Sacrificial FireThe Sacrificial Fire
The awakening of Kundalini

Fire is energy. The ‘sacrificial fire’ is the intensification of the Life Energy, prana, so that it becomes strong and can awaken kundalini, the evolutionary force. The sacrificial fire accelerates kundalini’s mission to evolve you to the perfect, divine one that you really are.

The Oblation
The offering

The oblation is what you offer into this fire: yourself.

Now try reading this verse again: “I am the ritual, the sacrifice, the holder, the medicine, the mantra, and the purified butter. I am the sacrificial fire, and I am the oblation.” This describes the process of Experiential (Surrender) Meditation: It’s all about YOU — God, the practice and you are one and the same, so success is inevitable.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com


Shaktipat Intensive

Saturday, May 27, Phoenix, Arizona

Experiential Meditation seminar 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM – $50
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9.4-6 Where is God?

4
All living beings, visible and invisible, are propagated by Me. All beings abide in Me, but I am not in them.

Alternate translation:
All beings emanate from Me in my invisible material form. All beings are in Me, but I am not in them.

Every living being, all animate life, is created and sustained by God in an invisible but material form: DNA.   

Now you may wonder at this, since it was written before western science was on the scene and DNA was discovered. However, in reading the works of those great sages who reached the fulfillment of perfection and the end of compulsory returns (reincarnation), not to mention an open-minded look through the temples of their ancestors, there is every evidence that they knew these things long before western science upstaged the Wisdom of the East. 

Another alternate translation:
All living beings, visible and invisible, are spread out from Me, and have their existence in Me. But My existence is not dependent on them.

5
And my existence is non-being. Behold my majestic yoga power! Not a being yet sustaining beings,  I cause all beings to come into existence.

“My existence is non-being”
Lord Krishna, who is standing with Arjuna in the middle between two armies readying themselves for a war and looking as human as everyone else, is saying that He is not a being. He has alluded to this before, many times.

Repeating Himself once again, he gives us another opportunity to catch on to what He really is when He says that He is the cause of the existence of all beings and sustains them with His “majestic yoga power”. The word for ‘power’ is from another word for God, Ishvara, which means ‘ability, mastery, lord, king, queen’. “Yoga power” then is the power of God that is yoga.

Yoga power:  the power of God is yoga (union).

Now obviously, there is some kind of union that produces or is this power, and this is what He is teaching Arjuna. And just to make sure He is understanding Him he goes on to say….

6
Consider this: 
Like the mighty wind going everywhere is always in space, in the same way, all beings are always in Me.

Space – ākāśha, is ether, air, sky or space. Of the five elements, akasha is the subtlest. Akasha is said to be a universal etheric field in which a record of past events is imprinted. It was once believed to be the medium whose vibrations constituted light and other electromagnetic radiation.

Wind – vāyu, isthe wind of the body, the vital air, the breath’. Vayu is Prana, all forms and functions of the Life Energy in the body. It is also defined as breath because the breath is recognizable as a means of Prana entering and leaving the body.

The root of vāyu is , wind, and is also found in words like nirvāṇa, meaning that this ‘wind’ is not moving but still, and may also suggest the breathless state of yoga which comes about when the vital air in the body (Prana, Life Energy) stops moving by becoming completely concentrated (dharana) in one place.

“Yoga is the cessation of the modifications of the mind-stuff.” — Patanjali, Yoga Sutras

Alternate translation:
Look at it like this: Beings are in Me in the same way the wind is in the air.

Akasha and vāyu are essentially the same thing: Life Energy, the Life Force, and called akasha outside the body, and vāyu is inside the body. Other systems call this energy Shakti when it is outside the body, and Prana inside the body.

Like the mighty wind (vāyu) is everywhere in space (ākāśa), Lord Krishna, incarnation of God as the Sustainer of Life, is everywhere inside and outside your body. When there is no heartbeat or brain activity, one is considered to be dead, but it is when the Prana leaves the body that death truly arrives.

This is one of the reasons that practitioners of Experiential (Surrender) Meditation meditate in complete privacy. When the breathless state ensues one appears to be dead, but in this state, even though nothing is moving, Prana is still in the body and one is very much alive.

After so many years of practice, I have slipped into this state in public places and nearly missed the summoning of EMTs. It is also one of the reasons I have remained in solitude for so long, and why I will not truly “come out” until one or more of my students live nearby. 

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are),
Durga Ma
durgama.com

Shaktipat Intensive
Saturday, May 27, Phoenix, Arizona
Seminar 11:00 AM – 2:00 PM – $50
Initiation 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM – Optional
Read more >>>