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Obstacles to Meditation- Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2:60

The aggressive and tormenting senses forcibly carry away the mind, Kunteya (Arjuna), even of a man of wisdom and understanding. —  Bhagavad Gita, chapter two, verse 60

We have seen ‘what lies beyond’, reached ‘the Highest’, and have become established in wisdom and understanding, but apparently we have not seen the last of this ever-present obstacle, the pesky senses. And to top it off, even though we try to avoid the eventuality of the mind becoming too active to slip into pratyahara, all our efforts appear to be doomed to failure.

Or are we jumping to conclusions here? When we take everything into consideration, we have to admit that under ordinary circumstances the senses are going to continue doing their jobs of bringing information into the mind in the form of images, sounds, smells, etc. This verse is reassuring us that the senses are going to carry on with their business in spite of our continued success.

Now that we have achieved pratyahara and entered the temple of true meditation and samadhi, what the senses have to offer is nothing by comparison. Although our attention will be attracted to objects of sense, we are not compelled to become attached and desirous of having them. If they come, they come. If they are pleasant, enjoyment is inevitable, but whether they are pleasant or unpleasant is irrelevant to us. It’s just another day on the job for the senses.

The mind gets its data from the senses.

The Power of the Senses

After learning that reaching true meditation is not as simple as sitting down like a pretzel and telling your mind to shut up, you find that even when you have ‘seen the Highest’ your mind still gets carried away by the senses.

As the senses continue to do their jobs of keeping you informed, they continue to attract your attention and bring information into the mind. This shows how powerful you really are. You have these five senses because you have these five inherent powers, five powers of perception and knowledge. These powers of yours have manifested on the physical plane to supply you with information that you need to navigate life, but the powers from which they derive are still what they are: powers.

The only problem is that you have identified with your ‘chariot’, your body, which includes the senses. Your power to know by means of your five powers of perception is very real, but the senses themselves are a part of nature. Trying to control them is trying to control nature. If that’s how you are attempting to deal with them, good luck. Try this Solution instead, or try these Backup Solutions which also work as a stand-alone solutions.

The Mind in Meditation

It is a common dilemma that thoughts and desires arise in meditation. We become disturbed by this, wondering if there is something wrong because the mind constantly thinks about desires, the grocery list, and other silly things, and we become disenchanted with meditation or feel like failures. What this verse is saying is, “Don’t worry about it. This is just nature doing its thing. It has nothing to do with you.”

Will and Surrender

It is said in Yoga that to continue to progress, one gives their powers back to the Source, submits them to God. 

Your own willful efforts can take you only so far. Remember the experiment where you pushed your stiffened arms against the insides of a door frame? You can only maintain this for so long, and when you finally let go and walk away, there is a moment of surrender, albeit unintentional, in which you step away from the door and your arms freely and effortlessly float upward. It wasn’t your willful effort that freed your arms to float, it was that moment when you gave up and surrendered.

Using your will outside the meditation room is pushing your arms against the doorframe. When you go into meditation and surrender yourself to God, you step away from the door and your ‘arms’ float upward effortlessly. This is what Arjuna has done. He has put God in the driver’s seat of his chariot.

Jaya Bhagavan! (Victory to Truth!),
Durga Ma

 


TERMS OF USE AND SHARING:

This post and text is original research material and is copyrighted. You are allowed to share this material for personal, non-commercial and educational use with the proper citations, references and links / tags back to my website. Clicking ´Share´ on FB or ´Reblog´ on WordPress would be most appropriate.Please obtain written permission from Anandi first if you want to use this material on your workshop, blog, organization, webpage, book, seminar or for any commercial purpose. All information provided, be it through sessions conducted or this post is non-liable and is not intended to replace professional legal, medical, psychological, psychiatric and/or financial counsel. How you choose to act on this information is up to your own free will and is entirely your responsibility.

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Meditation Isn’t What You Think- Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2:59

(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.

Read another person’s experience of pratyahara.

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.

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.

RENUNCIATION

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.

Jaya Bhagavan! (Victory to Truth!),
Durga Ma

 


TERMS OF USE AND SHARING:

This post and text is original research material and is copyrighted. You are allowed to share this material for personal, non-commercial and educational use with the proper citations, references and links / tags back to my website. Clicking ´Share´ on FB or ´Reblog´ on WordPress would be most appropriate.Please obtain written permission from Anandi first if you want to use this material on your workshop, blog, organization, webpage, book, seminar or for any commercial purpose. All information provided, be it through sessions conducted or this post is non-liable and is not intended to replace professional legal, medical, psychological, psychiatric and/or financial counsel. How you choose to act on this information is up to your own free will and is entirely your responsibility.

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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


TERMS OF USE AND SHARING:

This post and text is original research material and is copyrighted. You are allowed to share this material for personal, non-commercial and educational use with the proper citations, references and links / tags back to my website. Clicking ´Share´ on FB or ´Reblog´ on WordPress would be most appropriate.Please obtain written permission from Anandi first if you want to use this material on your workshop, blog, organization, webpage, book, seminar or for any commercial purpose. All information provided, be it through sessions conducted or this post is non-liable and is not intended to replace professional legal, medical, psychological, psychiatric and/or financial counsel. How you choose to act on this information is up to your own free will and is entirely your responsibility.