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When the senses become withdrawn from their objects, as a tortoise’s limbs are drawn into its shell, one’s wisdom stands firm.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 The tortoise has five appendages that can be withdrawn. You have five senses that can be withdrawn.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

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Distinguishing desires of the mind from other desires- Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2:57

One’s wisdom stands firm by remaining unaffected in all situations, neither rejoicing nor lamenting whether encountering the pleasant or unpleasant. — Bhagavad Gita, chapter two, verse 57  

When the mind stands unmoving in deep meditation (samadhi), union (yoga) is attained. When the mind becomes active again, this state is lost. Desires of the mind are the cause of mental activity.

Desires of the Mind
The effects of contact of the senses with their objects.

What goes into the mind gets there through the senses. We like something that is pleasant, and because we like the feeling it gives us, we desire it. These feelings are learned, but there are other kinds of feelings that are not. Distinguishing these will help us to distinguish desires of the mind from other kinds of desires.

Because of the association of desires with feelings, and feelings with emotions, many spiritual people believe that emotions must be done away with in order to do away with desires. This logic is understandable, but it is only logic, another function of the mind. Desires, feelings and emotions are related but are not the same. 

Desires
Wants.

Feelings
The experience of emotions.

Emotions
Active configurations in the energy body corresponding to biochemical and neurological events in the physical body.

NATURAL and LEARNED EMOTIONS

It is often thought that emotions are in the mind. The event-memory associated with an emotion may be in the mind, but the emotion is in the body.

A natural emotion is seated in the body and is something you will have as long as you have a body. Its primary purpose is survival. A natural emotion is a pure emotion.

A bear comes to the door. Fear produces adrenaline to handle the situation before you even know there is a bear at the door (the body is very smart).

A learned emotion is seated in the mind and happens in the body. Memories of events and the feelings they generated are held in the mind. The emotion this information evokes when revisited, triggered by a similar situation, happens in the body.

You are sitting in your high-chair eating an apple when your father comes in and engages in a heated argument with your mother. As an adult, even though you do not remember this event, you don’t like apples.

How to Know the Difference

When an emotion continues long after the event that triggered it, it is learned. When it goes away soon after the event is ended, it is probably natural.

Emotions remembered by the mind that reassert themselves under similar circumstances are learned emotions. Natural emotions come with the packaging, hard wired, so to speak. But there are also emotions that have been learned by the body, stored in body-memory.

PHYSICAL EMOTIONS

The body has a mind of its own.

Desires of the body, such as its desire to survive, can generate learned physical emotions.

You live where there are bears, Uncle Henry bangs on the door, and bingo, adrenaline rush. There was no bear, but the body remembered the last time when it really was a bear and reacted accordingly.

It can be difficult to distinguish physical emotions from those that are mentally based, for when a physical emotion arises the mind will often come up with something to accompany it.

Physical emotions often happen to people during Surrender Meditation. The experience is one of having an emotion without any mental content. There is a definite knowing that the body is having the emotion apart from any mental association.

The other day, my chiropractor put his hands on my shoulders and gave me a short massage. I found myself in the midst of a physical emotion in which the body was about to cry. Looking closely at this phenomena, there was no mental content at all. The body was having its own emotional response to being touched. I was aware that the body was having sadness even though I wasn’t feeling sad but very peaceful. It was a very positive experience, and one that did not disturb the mind.

One can eventually become able to distinguish among learned, natural and physical emotions outside of meditation. The ability to do this requires experienced self-honesty and comes over time. But just knowing about it can accelerate the ability to distinguish desires of the mind from other kinds of desires by using this criteria:

Natural Emotions
Short Term, Event Related

Physical: Hard wired emotions designed in the best interest of the body’s wellbeing involving biochemical and neurological responses to real-time events.
Not related to Desires of the Mind.

Learned Emotions
Long Term Residuals

Mental: Stored memories, conscious and subconscious, of events associated with strong feelings trigger the same emotions under similar circumstances.
Directly related to Desires of the Mind.

Physical: Body-memories of past events superimposed on natural emotions trigger the same emotions under similar circumstances.
Not related to Desires of the Mind.

Desires of the Mind
All desires of the mind are learned

Because everything that gets into the mind gets there through the senses, all desires of the mind are sense-related and learned:

What feels good is desirable—positive desire: you want it.
What feels bad is undesirable—negative desire: you want to avoid it.

WHAT TO DO

Most of the desires we experience on a day-to-day basis are of the mind. When a ‘want’ or a ‘like’ arises, see if you can determine its source. This is more helpful than trying to make it go away, even if you don’t find the answer. Eventually, because you are paying attention you will become distanced from the experience, and the desire itself will also become distanced, separated from you, and ultimately lose its influence.

Jaya Bhagavan (Victory to Truth),
Durga Ma

P.S.  When the same emotional response to the same or similar events occur traumatically or repeatedly or both, a ‘signature’ is recorded in the energy field of the body. This field is called the energy body, emotional body, or astral body. When only the physical body and mind are addressed in the process of changing ‘behaviors’ in order to change the brain, one may continue to experience great suffering. This is because the emotional signatures have not changed, and why it is so difficult to change unwanted patterns. This omission can leave a person feeling like ‘something is really wrong with me’ and resorting to denial out of desperation. The converse is also true: Just dealing with the energy is not the answer either.


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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When you stop chasing happiness you will know joy- Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2:56

He whose mind is free of the passions of desire, fear and anger is easy of mind in happiness or misfortune, and steady-minded, he is said to be a sage. — Bhagavad Gita, chapter two, verse 56 

Alternate translation:

One who is not overly excited by happiness or unhappiness is free of desire, fear and anger. He is said to be a sage who thus finds his pleasure in equilibrium. 

In this one verse we are told what leads to wisdom and what can undo it.

A person who remains composed in any situation without resorting to suppression is free from the influences of desire, fear and anger, for they are the essential causes of the loss of a steady mind and equilibrium.

NOTE: The verse refers to someone who is never anxious or agitated, but it also applies to anyone in any situation in which they would otherwise be agitated and are not, without resorting to suppression. So one may have moments of wisdom without being a ‘sage’. And these moments can grow and multiply.

When you are not overly excited by happiness or unhappiness, you will not be inclined to chase one or avoid the other. You will be happy at times, and unhappy at times, but if you are not affected by either, they cannot cause agitation and your inherent joy can surface. Therefore it is said that the sage finds pleasure in this state.

Your inherent joy can arise
when you stop chasing happiness.

Being free of desire, one is free of fear and anger, for it is desire that begets these two—if there were nothing to lose, there would be nothing to fear, and if there were nothing to fear, there would be nothing to be angry about. One produces the other in serial order.

Desire is the fuel for fear and anger.

Desire, fear and anger are the Toxic Trio to the seeker of Truth. Fear appears when something you don’t want arises or threatens to arise. Anger appears when something that you have and are attached to is lost or threatened. Both fear and anger revolve around desires (wants and don’t wants). If you don’t care, you won’t have a reaction, and neither fear nor anger will arise.

Attaining Equilibrium

As long as there is a sense of doership at the core of the mind running things, one must contend with the desires of the mind. Though there may be other kinds of desires, these are the ones to look out for if we want to achieve and maintain wisdom and reach yoga samadhi.

The desires of the mind are at the root of the emotions that disturb one’s equilibrium, but it is not the emotions themselves that are the culprits, it is the agitation they can cause, and there is a way to deal with this.

I think it is fair to say that abandoning desires for happiness, and quitting fear and anger, are not easy tasks. So what shall we do?

We must place ourselves in the hands of That which is already free of such disturbances: Absolute God, Absolute Truth, the True and Absolute Self. Surrender to the Absolute in the meditation room puts us in the position of having abandoned the role of ‘doership’, and we can gain experience with this through its practice. Outside the meditation room, we can apply techniques designed to take the charge out of reactions and unwanted feelings. In time, union with God/Truth will overtake us and bring us the freedom and joy that we seek.

In the next installment, we will discuss how to go about distinguishing desires of the mind from other kinds of desires.

Jaya Bhagavan (Victory to That!),
Durga Ma

INTUITION
If you wonder how intuition fits into all this, see Simone Wright’s video on how to sort this out.


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.