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When the senses become withdrawn from their objects, as a tortoise’s limbs are drawn into its shell, one’s wisdom stands firm.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 The tortoise has five appendages that can be withdrawn. You have five senses that can be withdrawn.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.


  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 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.


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.


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

Screen Shot 2015-01-21 at 2.44.41 PM

Yoga samadhi is the aim of true meditation

Jaya Bhagavan (Victory to God!),
Durga Ma


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V:4-6 What Spiritual Path Suits You Best?…

Three Hour Meditation Workshop with Durga Ma
A Mindfulness Life Center, Scottsdale AZ, Saturday,  February 27
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Authentic Yoga Meditation the Easy Way 

The beginner says that the path of Samkhya and the path of Yoga are different, but not the wise. Undertaken together, one finds the fruit of both. 

Sankhya (सांख्य) – ‘bringing forth knowledge’
Sankhya is known as the path of Knowledge.

Yoga (योग) – ‘union, the act of yoking together’
Yoga is known as the path of Action.

The Path of Knowledge. The word sankhya means knowledge derived through intellect, reason, discrimination and meditation. Sankhya is one of the six major systems of Hindu philosophy.

The Path of Action. The path of yoga, ‘union; the act of yoking together’ gives yoga the distinction of action as its basis.

To the yogi, these two paths are not different. Case in point: The Yoga Sūtras, important aphorisms on the practice of Yoga, was written by Patanjali, a Sankhyist. One who has achieved success in their spiritual path understands this partnership of Knowledge and Action.

That which is attained by Samkhya is also attained by Yoga. Samkhya and Yoga are one. One who sees this, sees correctly.

Yoga Brings Forth Knowledge

A person on the path of Yoga naturally finds themself on the path of Knowledge as well, for Yoga brings knowledge both directly and indirectly.

The path of Action is called Karma Yoga (‘action union’). While some see Karma Yoga as devotional service, the yogi understands that action (karma) as described by Lord Krishna, brings the very knowledge sought by the traveller on the path of Sankhya.

No matter through which door one enters a room, it is still the same room. 

Lord Krishna stated earlier that the path of Action is superior to the path of Knowledge. He points out that the path of Action produces Knowledge anyway, and being also the path of Liberation, is therefore the superior of the two. 

The yogi on the path of Action avails himself of knowledge through oral teachings, scripture, and personal experience in meditation. In this way, the yogi is also on the path of Knowledge. Action proves knowledge through experience in meditation, and ultimately leads to liberation. But the path of Knowledge alone does not bring liberation.

Correct action produces correct knowledge.
Correct knowledge is proved through correct action. 

The Path of Devotion

We must not ignore the path of Devotion. It is not mentioned in these verses for one reason only: It is assumed, for one cannot succeed in either the path of Knowledge or the path of Action without it. Devotion is the very foundation for the success of both.

Devotion (bhakti) – love, trust, respect, honor, reverence, faith, humble submission.

Regardless of one’s personal orientation, Devotion, Action and Knowledge are all necessary for success. As one continues with the practice of any one of these three, progress will ultimately bring them together equally. 

The commitment necessary for success on any path is motivated in the Devotee by love and respect for God and Guru, in the Yogi by the desire for union with the Absolute, and in the Knowledge-oriented seeker by the hunger for wisdom and enlightenment. These three united are the bringers of success: the fulfillment of one’s Natural State.

Happiness is Your Natural State

Renunciation is difficult to attain without Yoga. Yoked to Yoga and progressing speedily, the wise soon attain Brahman. 

Put another way: Renunciation is easy with Yoga. One who understands Yoga and sticks to it will easily attain God.

Renunciation – Throwing down, laying aside, abandoning, surrender.

Renunciation is generally understood as a vow of poverty and a life of service or yoga practice, and the abandonment of desires. However, in these verses, we have come to realize that renunciation is the abandonment of the role of the doer of actions, which is synonymous with the ‘surrender’ of Surrender Meditation. Yoga (Action) is the means, and yoga (union) is the result.

Lord Krishna says that renunciation is difficult to attain without Yoga. Now, does he mean the path of Yoga, or does he mean ‘union’? When we understand that the path of Action, Yoga, brings about union, then we have it correctly: the answer is both.

If we are practicing Surrender Meditation, we are practicing the path of Action, Karma Yoga. If we pursue knowledge and understand it correctly, we are also practicing the path of Knowledge. As we continue our practice with Devotion, we will experience Truth and gain true Wisdom and Eternal Happiness.

Namaste (I bow to the Divine One that You really are, even as a being),
Durga Ma

Correct Knowledge
will give you a head start if you are just beginning to meditate.

At my  Remote Academy, you will find ten online courses in meditation, which are all intended for beginning and experienced meditators.

Correct Knowledge
will automatically upgrade your meditation if you already meditate.

I have designed these meditation courses to provide you with information and personal experience in authentic meditation. You will find them to be easy, yet amazing in depth and clarity. You will be surprised at what you will learn and gain from these courses, even if you have meditated for years.


My meditation of choice, initiated and directed by Shakti.

Put God in the driver’s seat. Let Shakti do all the work for you,
and kundalini will awaken naturally and safely.

Shaktipat Diksha, Remote or Live


69 – 72 The Awakened State Reveals the Real

Bhagavad Gita, chapter two, verses 69 – 72

That which is night to all beings is day for the sage. That which is day to all beings, is night for the sage.

Alternate translation:
The awakened state of the Sage is but a dream to everyone else; what is real to them is the dream to the Sage.

The awakened state reveals the Real. Our everyday sense of life and this world is the dream. The several verses leading up to this one have been teaching us how to attain this state that exposes the Real.

“The Sage”

Samyami – ‘having restraint’, from samyama, meaning ‘holding together, restraining, binding, tying up’. The root is yama, meaning ‘reined, curbed, bridled, restrained’.

The Samyami is the Sage for whom something is being held together, restrained. What is restrained for him is his senses. You will recall that this is pratyahara, the state in which the senses become restrained, withdrawn from their objects. We are being reminded of this yet again, so reaching this state must be very important for revealing the Truth about how things really are.


In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras, the last three steps of yoga (union)—concentration (dharana), meditation (dhyana), and the equanimity of union (samadhi)—taken together as one state, is called samyama.

The state of samyama can only be reached through pratyahara (restraint of the senses), the fifth step of yoga, which is reached through the fourth step, pranayama (life-force restraint). This is a natural sequence of events that occurs as one advances, and describes the Samyami, the Sage, for whom life is but a dream.

8 Steps of Yoga - Screen Shot - no shadow

Like an ocean becoming filled with water yet remaining unmoved, one for whom all desires enter while remaining unmoved, attains peace. This is not the case for one who longs for his desires. 

But that person who remains indifferent to desires, acts desirelessly. Indifferent and non-doing, he attains peace. 

Alternate translations:

Just as an ocean remains unmoved when water enters it, one who remains unmoved as all desires enter him, attains serenity, but not one who yearns for the fulfillment of his desires. 

That person who remains indifferent to all desires, acts desirelessly. Disinterested, without the sense of doership, he attains serenity.

Desires will continue to arise within us as the senses continue making contact with desirable objects, but by remaining indifferent to these desires we are not motivated to act on them. Thus we end-run our egos (‘I do’), and as ‘non-doers’ we find peace.

‘Indifference’ does not mean that we have no desires, but that we are not excited by them to the point that we mentally linger on them and become compelled to chase after them. Not being under the sway of the senses is consistent with the Truth that (1) we already have/are everything, and (2) what we really are does nothing (nirahańkāraḥ, ‘I am not the doer of actions’). Until this truth is realized within us, we cultivate its arrival by not allowing our desires to control us.

Self-referencing: Note the difference between the object of desire and the desire itself.

During your day, whenever you think of it, without self-criticism, try making this distinction when you are confronted by something you find desirable, by separating your perception of the object, from your perception of the desire for it. This simple exercise will help you to overcome the tyranny of the senses. Because you cannot be what you perceive, you will separate yourself both from the senses, and from desire itself.

This is the culmination of what this chapter started with. It presents us with the concept of ‘ego’ as acting from the assumption that we are the ones doing things (ahamkara, ‘I do’), and that this assumption is incorrect.

What we truly are already ‘has’ everything, is everything, is everywhere without limitation. Every desire we take so seriously that we feel compelled to act, ‘to do’ something, in order to obtain it, contradicts this truth. Conversely, in the state of samyama we are one with Truth.

Fixed in this God-state, Arjuna, never again does one become confused or unconscious. Situated in it even at the hour of death, God-Nirvana is assured.

“God-Nirvana is assured”

God Nirvana is Divine Beatitude, the eternal happiness and highest bliss that is God. We are being assured of this. Even if we only reach this state of ‘disinterested non-doership’ at the last minute of the hour of death, we are assured Brahma-Nirvana. Seems like something worth cultivating, don’t you think?

” Having renounced all actions precipitated by the mind, not acting nor causing action, the Embodied One (you) sits happily as the ruler within the city whose gates are nine (the body).”

— Lord Krishna, Bhagavad Gita, chapter five, verse 13

End of Chapter Two
The Yoga of Knowledge


This chapter is called the Yoga of Knowledge and yet we have long been discussing action, so I think we can safely say that we have gained some knowledge about action. What we have learned about action in this chapter has to do with enlightenment and Self-realization. With this knowledge, we can understand it and cultivate it until it’s a done deal. In chapter three we will learn more about what action really is.

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

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