THIS POST IS CONTINUED FROM PART 59, BELOW--
NONE OF THE SO CALLED ANCIENT CIVILIZATIONS OF THE PLANET HAVE LEFT BEHIND ANYTHING OF CEREBRAL VALUE IN WRITING-- ABSOLUTELY NOTHING !!
80% OF OUR VEDAS ( SAMHITAS/ BRAHMANAS/ ARANYAKAS/ UPANSIHADS) HAVE BEEN STOLEN / DESTROYED BY THE WHITE INVADER.
THE JEALOUS WHITE MAN POST DATED OUR ANCIENT WORKS PENNED DOWN IN 5000 BC, TO SUIT THEIR UNDERSTANDING OF BIG BANG DATED AT A RIDICULOUS 4004 BC.
IN THIS INTERNET AGE, IT IS PAY BACK TIME !
THE WORLD SHALL KNOW THE GLORY OF ANCIENT INDIA !!
CHECK OUT THE SOUND OF PATANJALIs YOGA SUTRAS PENNED DOWN 7000 YEARS AGO, WHEN THE REST OF THE WORLD WERE RUNNING AROUND NAKED DOING GRUNT GRUNT
CHAPTER I- SAMADHI PADA- CONTEMPLATION
tada drashtuh svaroope avasthanam
vrittayah pangchatayyah klishta aklishtah
viparyayo mithyajnanam atadroopapratishtham
shabdajnaananupati vastushoonyo vikalpah
tatra sthitau yatno abhyasah
sa tu dirghakalanairantaryasatkarasevito dridha-bhoomih
drishtanushravikavishayavitrishnnasy vashikarasamjna vairagyam
viramapratyayabhyasapoorvah sanskarashesho anyah
mridumadhyadhimatratvat tatopi visheshah
kleshakarmavipakashayairaparamrishtah purushavishesh eeshvarah
tatra niratishayan sarvajntvabijam
sa poorvesham api guruh kalenanavachchhedat
tasya vachakah prannavah
prachchhardanavidharanabhyan va prannasya
vishayavati va pravrittirutpanna manasah sthitinibandhini
vishoka va jyotishmati
vitaragavishayan va chittam
paramanu paramamahattvantosya vashikarah
tatra shabdarthajnanavikalpaih sankeerna savitarka samapattih
etayaiva savichara nirvichara cha sookshmavishaya vyakhyata
ta eva sabijah samadhih
rtanbhara tatr prajna
shrutanumanaprajnabhyam anyavishayaa vishesharthatvat
tajjah sanskaro nyasanskarapratibandhi
tasyapi nirodhe sarvanirodhannirbijah samadhih
CHAPTER II - SADHANA PADA-- PRACTISE
avidya kshetram uttareshanprasuptatanuvichchhinnodaranam
svarasavahi vidushopi tatharoodho bhiniveshah
te pratiprasavaheyah sookshmah
sati moole tadvipako jatyayurbhogah
te hladaparitapafalah punyapunyahetutvat
parinamatapasanskaraduhkhairgunnavritti -virodhaccha duhkham eva sarvan vivekinah
heyan duhkham anagatam
drashtridrishyayoh sanyogo heyahetuh
prakashakriyasthitishilan bhootendriyatmakanbhogapavargarthan drishyam
drashta drishimatrah shuddhopi pratyayanupashyah
tadarth eva drishyasyatma
kritarthan prati nashtam apyanashtantadanyasadharannatvat
svasvamishaktyoh svaroopopalabdhihetuh sanyogah
tadabhavat sanyogabhavo hanan taddrisheh kaivalyam
tasya saptadhaa prantabhoomih prajna
yogangganushthanad ashuddhikshaye jnanadiptira vivekakhyateh
vitarkaa hinsadayah kritakaritanumoditalobhakrodhamohapoorvakamridumadhyadhimatra duhkhajnananantafala itipratipakshabhavanam
ahimsapratishthayam tatsannidhau vairatyagah
shauchat svanggajugupsa parairasansargah
santoshad anuttamah sukhalabhah
tasmin sati shvasaprashvasayorgativichchhedah pranayamah
bahyabhyantarastambhavrittihdeshakalasankhyabhih paridrishto dirghasookshmah
dharanasu ch yojnata manasah
svasvavishayasanprayoge chittasy svaroopanukarivendriyanan pratyaharah
CHAPTER III – VIBHOOTI PADA - MANIFESTATION
tatra pratyayaikatanata dhyanam
tad evarthamatranirbhasan svaroopashoonyam iva samadhih
trayam ekatra sanyamah
tasya bhoomishu viniyogah
trayam antaranggan poorvebhyah
tad api bahiranggan nirbijasy
tasya prashantavahita sanskarat
tatah punah shantoditau tulyapratyayauchittasyaikagrataparinamah
etena bhootendriyeshu dharmalakshanavasthaparinama vyakhyatah
kramanyatvan parinamanyatve hetuh
shabdarthapratyayanam itaretaradhyasat sankarahtatpravibhagasanyamat sarvabhootarutajnanam
na cha tat salambanan,tasyavishayibhootatvat
kayaroopasanyamat tadgrahyashaktistambhe chakshuhprakashasanprayogentardhanam
sopakraman nirupakraman cha karma tatsanyamad aparantajnanam,
bhuvanajnanan soorye sanyamat
pratibhad va sarvam
sattvapurushayoratyantasankeernnayohpratyayavishesho bhogah pararthatvat
tatah pratibhashravannavedanadarshasvadavarta jayante
te samadhavupasargaa vyutthane siddhayah
bandhakarannashaithilyat pracharasanvedanach chchittasya parashariraveshah
shrotrakashayoh sanbandhasanyamad divyan shrotram
bahirakalpita vrittirmahavideha tatahprakashavarannakshayah
tato manojavitvan vikarannabhavah pradhanajayashch
sattvapurushanyatakhyatimatrasysarvabhavadhishthatritvam sarvajnatritvan cha
tadvairajnadapi doshabijakshaye kaivalyam
sthanyupanimantrane sanggasmayakarannanpunah anishtaprasanggat
kshannatatkramayoh sanyamadavivekajam jnanam
tarakan sarvavishayan sarvathavishayam akramancheti vivekajan jnanam
sattvapurushayoh shuddhisamye kaivalyam iti
CHAPTER IV-- KAIVALYA PADA -- LIBERATION
nimittam aprayojakan prakritinan varannabhedastutatah kshetrikavat
pravrittibhede prayojakam chittam ekam anekesham
tatra dhyanajam anashayam
karmashuklakrishnnam yoginah trividham itaresham
jatideshakalavyavahitanam apyanantaryamsmritisanskarayoh ekaroopatvat
tasam anaditvam chashisho nityatvat
hetufalashrayalambanaih sangrihitatvad eshamabhave tadabhavah
te vyaktasookshma gunatmanah
vastusamye chittabhedat tayorvibhaktah panthah
taduparagapekshatvat chittasya vastu jnatajnatam
na tat svabhasandrishyatvat
chittantaradrishye buddhibuddheratiprasanggah smritisankarashcha
drashtridrishyoparaktan chittan sarvartham
tadasankhyeyavasanachitram api pararthan sanhatyakaritvat
tada vivekanimnan kaivalyapragbharan chittam
tachchhidreshu pratyayantarani sanskarebhyah
hanam esham kleshavaduktam
prasankhyanepyakusidasy sarvathavivekakhyaterdharmameghah samadhih
tada sarvavarannamalapetasyjnanasyaanantyajgyeyam alpam
tatah kritarthanan parinamakramapari samaptirgunanam
kshannapratiyogi parinamaparantanigrarhyah kramah
purusharthashoonyanan gunanan pratiprasavahkaivalyan, svaroopapratishtha va chitishaktireti
2.52 - - Tatah ksiyate prakasa avaranam
Pranayama removes the veil covering the light of knowledge and heralds the dawn of wisdom.
Its practice eliminates illusion, comprising ignorance, desire and delusion, which overcloud the intelligence; and permits the inner light of wisdom to shine. As the breeze diffuses the clouds that blanket the sun, pranayama blows away the clouds that screen the light of the intelligence. In the Yoga Chudamani Upanisad, it stated that there is no discipline higher than pranayama. It is named as an enlivened knowledge (mahavidya), a royal road to well being, freedom and rapture. Advanced pranayama is done after much practice. It’s mastership does not come easy. The result of it, is clear to a yogi because the dark mind space is cleared off and a brilliant light is perceived. This light is illuminating (prakasa). The regular practice of pranayama reduces the obstacles that inhibit clear perception.
2.53 - - dharanasu ch yojnata manasah
The mind also becomes fit for concentration.
Pranayama is not only an instrument to balance the mind, but also the gateway to concentration - dharana. Once the new light of knowledge has dawned through the practice of pranayama, the mind is fit and knowledgeable to move on towards the realisation of the soul. The allusion here is clear that the sadhaka who had to struggle initially to cultivate a yogic way of life by self-discipline and study, now finds his efforts transformed into a natural fervour to progress in his sadhana. The covering to the light of the Chitta is attenuated. Thus the mind becomes fit for concentration. Dharana practice requires a preliminary mastership in certain aspects of prana energy control. This is why when someone sits to meditate without first doing pranayama , he cannot be successful even though he may imagine for himself in peace happiness and light. Dharaṇa means single minded focus. The prior limb Pratyahara involves withdrawing the senses from external phenomena. Dhāraṇā builds further upon this by refining it further to ekagrata or ekagra chitta, that is single-pointed concentration and focus. Samatha is done by practicing single-pointed meditation, through mindfulness of breathing. All other operations of the mind are suspended or stopped. According to the Hatha Yogic school, a Yogi who can suspend his breath by Kumbhaka for 20 minutes can have a very good Dharana. He will have tranquillity of mind. Pranayama steadies the mind, removes the Vikshepa and increases the power of concentration. Fixing the mind on something is Dharana or concentration of mind. Dharana can be done only if you are free from the distractions of mind. The Vrittis that arise from the mind obscure your native state. They are like clouds that screen the sun. During the time of concentration, the seer identifies himself with his own native state. At other times of concentration, the seer identifies with his Vrittis. This is a great distraction of the mind. When all the Vrittis are controlled and when the mind is one-pointed, it is transparent like a crystal. The mind loses itself in the object concentrated upon. The mind acquires the power of appearing in the shape of whatever is presented to it, be it the knower, the knowable or the knowledge. Just as the crystal becomes coloured by the colour of the object placed before it and then shines according to the form of the object, so also this mind is coloured by the colour of the object presented to it, and then appears in the form of the object. Vedantins try to fix their mind on Atman, the Inner Self. This is their Dharana. When Hatha Yogins concentrate their mind on Shat Chakras or the six centres of spiritual energy, they concentrate their mind on the respective presiding Devatas and Tattvas. Bhaktas concentrate their mind on their Ishta Devata. Dharana is an important stage for any kind of Sadhana. When the mind is intensely fond of anything, there will be no perception of pain even if destruction awaits the body. You find lovers committing suicide together all over the world. There are five Yoga Bhumikas or stages or five states of mind, viz., (1) Kshipta (wandering); (2) Mudha (forgetful); (3) Vikshipta (gathering mind); (4) Ekagrata (one- pointed); (5) Nirudha (controlled or well-restrained). In Kshipta state the rays of the mind are scattered. It is always wandering. In Mudha state, the man does not know anything. He is quite dull. He will harm others. In Vikshipta state, the mind is centered for a short time only; but wanders about for a long time. In Ekagrata state, it is one-pointed and concentrated. You can enter into Samadhi with the help of this mind. In Nirudha state, all the Vrittis are controlled. This is the state of Vritti-sunya. But Samskaras which are the seeds for Vrittis are here. No Yoga is possible in the first three states of mind. Yoga is possible in the fourth and fifth states only. Purify the mind first through the practice of Yama and Niyama. Then take to the practice of Dharana. Concentration without purity is of no use. Ethical perfection is of paramount importance. A man whose mind is filled with passion and all sorts of fantastic desires can hardly concentrate on any object even for a second. His mind will be jumping like a monkey. There can be no concentration without something upon which the mind may rest. The mind can be fixed easily on a pleasing object such as a ishta devata or a fresh fragrant flower. It is very difficult in the beginning to fix the mind on any object which it dislikes such as a lump of stinking shit, a cobra or a bleeding body. Practise concentration till the mind is well- established on the object of concentration. When the mind runs away from the object of concentration bring it back again to the object. It is very difficult to practise concentration when one is very thirsty or when one is suffering from an acute disease. One has to make the mind fit for yoga practice (yogyata manasah). The mind will prevent the attention from linking to a higher concentration force or person if the mind itself is not surcharged with a higher grade of pranic energy. It will be unable to make a higher linkage, except now and again, by a fluke, haphazardly. For consistent practice one must do the asana with pranayama daily before meditation practice. Dharaṇa is the sixth stage, step or limb of eight elucidated by Patanjali's Ashtanga Yoga.
2.54- - svasvavishayasanprayoge chittasy svaroopanukar ivendriyanan pratyaharah
Withdrawing the senses, mind and consciousness from contact with external objects, and then drawing them inwards towards the seer, is pratyahara.
Now the mind is able to concentrate and the senses no longer pester the mind for their satiation. They lose interest in the tastes and flavours of their respective objects, and are drawn back from the external world in order to help the mind in its inner quest. This is pratyahara. This is the basis of the path to renunciation. As a bird cannot fly if one of its wings is cut off, so is it in the case of the sadhaka. The two wings of yoga are practice, from yama to pranayama, and renunciation, from pratyahara to samadhi. Both are necessary for flights. Then the yogi dwells in his soul, perceiving all things directly, without the intrusion of citta - the conscious faculty. In ordinary everyday life, consciousness helps the senses see the objects of the world with thoughts of acquisition, rejection and resignation. They become hypnotised by them, and are drawn outwards, towards pleasure. In pratyahara, the senses are directed inwards, towards the realisation of the soul. Pratyahara is the withdrawal of the mind from its contact with the senses of perception and organs of action; then its direction is towards the soul. The relationship between the mind and the senses is justly compared to that of bees following the queen bee. If the queen bee moves, the others follow. When she rests, the others rest. They do not function independently from their queen. Similarly, when the mind stops, the senses, too, stop working. This is pratyahara. It is the beginning of man's return journey towards his Maker. It is the science of restricting the senses by depriving them of that that feeds them - the external objective world. It liberates them, by denying the supply of nourishment in the form of desires and their fulfilments. Nature consists of five gross elements : earth, water, fire, air and ether with their five subtle counterparts : smell, taste, shape, touch and sound. These interact with the three gunas - saliva, rajas and tamas. Citta, comprising ego, intelligence and mind is the individual counterpart of mahat, cosmic intelligence. This cosmic intelligence is the unevolved primary germ of nature, or the productive principle, for creation of all phenomena of the material world. There are also the five senses of perception - ears, nose, tongue, eyes and skin - and five organs of action - legs, arms, speech and the organs of generation and excretion. The five senses of perception come in contact with sound, smell, taste, sight and touch, send their impressions to the mind and are stored in the memory. Memory craves for further experiences and propels the mind to evade intelligence and tap the senses for yet more sense gratification. This in turn motivates the mind to seek further experiences through the organs of action. All through this process, intelligence measures advantages and disadvantages in order to counteract memory, mind and senses which, recollecting the taste of past pleasures, are passionate for more. Almost inescapably, intelligence stays disregarded. Through over-stimulation and misuse, the organs of action lose their power and are no longer capable of stimulating the organs of perception or the mind. Owing to the force of past impressions, one continues to ache after renewed sensation. But one can never be satiated. This spawns unhappiness and dissatisfaction. Here lies the true role of pratyahara, the fifth aspect of yoga. When the senses withdraw themselves from the objects and imitate, as it were, the nature of the mind-stuff, this is pratyahara. Withdrawing the senses, mind and consciousness from contact with external objects, and then drawing them inwards towards the seer, is pratyahara. When the mind is withdrawn from sense-objects, the sense-organs also withdraw themselves from their respective objects and thus are said to imitate the mind. The restraint of senses occurs when the mind is able to remain in its chosen direction and the senses disregard the different objects around them and faithfully follow the direction of the mind. When the mental organs of senses and actions (indriyas) cease to be engaged with the corresponding objects in their mental realm, and assimilate or turn back into the mind-field from which they arose, this is called pratyahara, and is the fifth step. Pratyahara means literally “control of ahara,” or “gaining mastery over external influences.” It is compared to a turtle withdrawing its limbs into its shell — the turtle's shell is the mind and the senses are the limbs. The term is usually translated as “withdrawal from the senses,” At the stage of pratyahara, the consciousness of the individual is internalized in order that the sensations from the senses of taste, touch, sight, hearing and smell don't reach their respective centers in the brain and takes the sadhaka (practitioner) to next stages of Yoga, namely Dharana (concentration) and Dhyana (meditation), and Samadhi (mystical absorption), being the aim of all Yogic practices. Indriya pratyahara involves withdrawal of senses, or sensory inputs into our physical being, coming from our five senses, namely organs creating a sensory overload, and hence hinders collection of the mind, as in Dharana, the next stage of Yoga.
Most of us suffer from sensory overload, the result of constant bombardment from television, radio, computers, newspapers, magazines, books etc. . Our commercial society functions by stimulating our interest through the senses. We are constantly confronted with bright colors, loud noises and dramatic brain washing sensations. We have been raised on every sort of sensory indulgence; it is the main form of entertainment in our society. The problem is that the senses, like untrained children, have their own will, which is largely instinctual in nature. They tell the mind what to do. If we don’t discipline them, they dominate us with their endless demands. We are so accustomed to ongoing sensory activity that we don’t know how to keep our minds quiet; we have become hostages of the world of the senses and its allurements. We run after what is appealing to the senses and forget the higher goals of life. Pratyahara is an important limb of yoga for people today. The old saying "the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak" applies to those of us who have not learned how to properly control our senses. Indriya-pratyahara gives us the tools to strengthen the spirit and reduce its dependency on the body. Such control is not suppression (which causes eventual revolt), but proper coordination and motivation. Prana pratyahara- control of our senses requires mastery over the flow of prana, as that is what drives the senses. Unless our prana is strong we will not have the power to control the senses. If our prana is scattered or disturbed, our senses will also be scattered and disturbed. Pranayama is a preparation for pratyahara. Prana is gathered in pranayama and withdrawn in pratyahara. Yogic texts describe methods of withdrawing prana from different parts of the body, starting with the toes and ending wherever we wish to fix our attention — the top of the head, the third eye, the tip of nose, heart or one of the other chakras. To stop the scattering of valuable vital energy of the body or prana, we need to seek control over its flow, and harmonize it. This is done through various practices including bringing the entire focus to a single point in the body. These two lead to the subsequent two types of pratyahara, the Control of Action or 'Karma pratyahara', which entails not just control of motor organs, but also right action or work, and Karma Yoga, surrender of every action to the divine and performing it as an act of service. We cannot control the sense organs without also controlling the motor organs. In fact the motor organs involve us directly in the external world. The impulses coming in through the senses get expressed through the motor organs and this drives us to further sensory involvement. Because desire is endless, happiness consists not in getting what we want, but in no longer needing anything from the external world. Just as the right intake of impressions gives control of the sense organs, right work and right action gives control of the motor organs. This involves karma yoga — performing selfless service and making our life a sacred ritual. Karma-pratyahara can be performed by surrendering any thought of personal rewards for what we do, doing everything as service to God or to humanity. The Bhagavad Gita says, "Your duty is to act, not to seek a reward for what you do." This is one kind of pratyahara. It also includes the practice of austerities that lead to control of the motor organs. For example, asana can be used to control the hands and feet, control which is needed when we sit quietly for extended periods of time. This leads to the final form of pratyahara - the Withdrawal of Mind or 'Mano pratyahara', which is practiced by consciously withdrawing attention from anything that is unwholesome, and distracting for the mind such as by withdrawing attention from the senses, and directing it inwards . We take in sensory impressions only where we place our mind’s attention. In a way we are always practicing pratyahara. The mind’s attention is limited and we give attention to one sensory impression by withdrawing the mind from other impressions. Wherever we place our attention, we naturally overlook other things.
We control our senses by withdrawing our mind’s attention from them. According to this Yoga Sutra: "When the senses do not conform with their own objects but imitate the nature of the mind, that is pratyahara." More specifically, it is mano-pratyahara — withdrawing the senses from their objects and directing them inward to the nature of the mind, which is formless. The mind is like the queen bee and the senses are the worker bees. Wherever the queen bee goes, all the other bees must follow. Thus mano-pratyahara is less about controlling the senses than about controlling the mind, for when the mind is controlled, the senses are automatically controlled. We can practice mano-pratyahara by consciously withdrawing our attention from unwholesome impressions whenever they arise. This is the highest form of pratyahara and the most difficult; if we have not gained proficiency in controlling the senses, motor organs, and pranas, it is unlikely to work. Like wild animals, prana and the senses can easily overcome a weak mind, so it is usually better to start first with more practical methods of pratyahara. Pratyahara is related to all the limbs of yoga. All of the other limbs — from asana to samadhi — contain aspects of pratyahara. For example, in the sitting poses, which are the most important aspect of asana, both the sensory and motor organs are controlled. Pranayama contains an element of pratyahara as we draw our attention inward through the breath. Yama and niyama contain various principles and practices, like non-violence and contentment, that help us control the senses. In other words, pratyahara provides the foundation for the higher practices of yoga and is the basis for meditation. It follows pranayama (or control of prana) and, by linking prana with the mind, takes it out of the sphere of the body. Pratyahara is also linked with dharana. In pratyahara we withdraw our attention from ordinary distractions. In dharana we consciously focus that attention on a particular object, such as a mantra. Pratyahara is the negative and dharana the positive aspect of the same basic function. Many of us find that even after years of meditation practice we have not achieved all that we expected. Trying to practice meditation without some degree of pratyahara is like trying to gather water in a leaky vessel. No matter how much water we bring in, it flows out at the same rate. The senses are like holes in the vessel of the mind. Unless they are sealed, the mind cannot hold the nectar of truth. Anyone whose periods of meditation alternate with periods of sensory indulgence is in need of pratyahara. Pratyahara offers many methods of preparing the mind for meditation. It also helps us avoid environmental disturbances that are the source of psychological pain. Pratyahara is a marvelous tool for taking control of our lives and opening up to our inner being. It is no wonder some great yogis have called it "the most important limb of yoga." We should all remember to include it in our practice. One of the most common practices for Pratyahara is Pranayama, wherein we automatically withdraw from the external and bring our focus inwards towards our breath, as connection with the external senses and stimuli are all severed gradually. At the advanced levels, the currents which pulsate through the nerves and even the involuntary muscles are turned off by the practitioner. This may also be accomplished through Pranayama or breath-control. Pratyahara or abstraction is that by which the senses do not associate with their own objects and imitate, as it were, the nature of the mind-stuff (Chitta). The senses are assimilated in the mind which is rendered pure through the practice of Yama, Niyama and Pranayama. The mind becomes more calm now. The nature of the Indriyas is to have always connection with the objects. Where the vision is turned outward (Bahirmukha Vritti), the rush of fleeting events engages the mind. The outgoing energies of the mind begin to play. When they are obstructed by the practice of Pratyahara, the other course for them is to mix with the mind and to be absorbed in the mind. The mind will not assume any form of any object. Hitherto, the Indriyas were following the mind like the other bees which follow the queen bee.
Pratyahara itself is termed as Yoga, as it is the most important Anga in Yoga Sadhana. This is the fifth rung in the Yogic ladder. The first four rungs deal with ethical training and purification of body, mind and Nadis. Now with Pratyahara, proper Yoga begins which eventually culminates in Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi. Hence in Kathopanishad also in Part VI, Sloka 11, you will find: That firm control of the senses, they regard as Yoga. Again in the same Upanishad it is stated in Part IV, Sloka 1: The Self-existent created the senses outgoing, therefore, one sees outside and not the Atman within. Some intelligent man, with his senses turned away from their object, desirous of immortality, sees the Atman within. From the practice of Pratyahara, comes the supreme mastery over the senses.
Worldly persons enjoy with Raga and Dvesha.The Yogi, will not become a slave of the Vishayas, as he is a maaster out of his own free will. The Indriyas cannot grasp the objects even though they are placed before them. This is Indriya Jaya. There is a difference between control and supreme control. By controlling one Indriya alone, the other four will not come under your control. When the mind is rendered pure and one-pointed and when it is turned inwards towards the Purusha, then and then alone supreme control of all organs follows. He who has practised Pratyahara can have good concentration and meditation. His mind is always peaceful. This demands patience and constant practice. It takes some years before one is well-established in Pratyahara. He who has mastery over Pratyahara will never complain of Vikshepa or distraction of mind. He can sit in a place in a busy city where four roads meet and meditate whenever he likes. He does not want a cave for meditation. Just as the tortoise draws in on all sides its limbs, so also, the Yogi withdraws all his senses from the objects of sense through the practice of Pratyahara. Pratyahara gives power to the practitioner. When the Indriyas are withdrawn from the objects, then you can fix the mind on a particular point. Pratyahara and Dharana are interdependent. You cannot practise one without the other.
2.55- - Tatah parama vasyata indriyanam,
Pratyahara results in the absolute control of the sense organs.
The effect of pratyahara is felt when the senses are mastered, and the mind is mature and fervent for its spiritual quest. When the senses have ceased to pursue after pleasures obtained from the phenomenal world, they can be yoked to serve the soul. Sadhana pada instructs the sadhaka how to study his own weaknesses in every domain - moral, physical, physiological and intellectual - and how to eradicate them, since they are not contributory to yogic discipline and spiritual emancipation.
Yama germinates the art of living in society honestly; niyama, that of cleansing one's impurities. Asana eradicates physical and mental disturbances, and pranayama maintains harmony and prevents dissipation of the flow of vital energy, making the mind a fit instrument for meditation. Pratyahara sublimates both senses and mind. Pratyahara practice when mastered, gives the student yogin, the qualification to practice higher yoga, which are mainly actions on the mystic plane. Mastery of the senses comes about by learning to withdraw them. Through that turning inward of the organs of senses and actions (indriyas) also comes a supreme ability, controllability, or mastery over those senses inclining to go outward towards their objects. Since five senses create sensory overload, Indriya Pratyahara thwarts the collection in the mind. The Indriyas (senses) have two states, static and dynamic. When the desire begins to operate, the Indriyas are put in motion. This is the dynamic state. As soon as the desire is gratified, the Indriyas shrink through Tripti (satisfaction). This is the static or passive state. Indriya is a prolongation of the mind. The sea is fed by the rivers; the sea cannot exist without the rivers. Even so, mind is fed by Indriyas and cannot exist without Indriyas. If you have controlled the Indriyas, you have already controlled the mind. Mind is a consolidated Indriya. Indriya is mind in manifestation. Just as a minister obeys the king, so also, the five Jnana-Indriyas act in accordance with the dictates of the mind. Indriyas represent backwaters. The desire in the mind to eat has manifested as tongue, teeth and stomach. The desire in the mind to walk has manifested itself as legs and feet. The desire to keep away from sex ( withhold semen ) can be achieved by the mind. There is no need to sleep under the same blanker with two naked underage girls like Gandhi or give enemas to them. If you can control mind, you can control the Indriyas. Eyes can only see. Ears can only hear. Tongue can only taste. Skin can only touch. Nose can only smell. But, the mind can see, hear, taste, touch and smell. Mind is the common sensory. The five senses are blended there. It can directly see, hear, smell, taste and feel independent of the senses. It is an aggregate of the five senses. Mind is termed the sixth sense: "Manah shashthanindri-yani-the senses of which mind is the sixth" (Gita, XV-7). The five senses are the five Jnana-Indriyas (organs of knowledge, sensation or perception). Ayatana means mind (Chhandogya Upanishad, IV-vii) which is the substratum of the experiences of all other organs. Senses cannot do anything, if the mind is not connected with them. The eyes may be wide open during sleep. They do not see anything, because the mind is not there. There are six ways of controlling the Indriyas: (i) through Vichara, (ii) by will-force, (iii) by Kumbhaka (retention of breath in Pranayama), (iv) by Dama (restraint), (v) by Pratyahara (abstention) and (vi) by Vairagya and Tyaga. Perfect control can be made only through Vichara. Tapas thins out the Indriyas and eventually leads to control of mind. When the Indriyas are withdrawn from their respective objects, it is Indriya-Pratyahara. Mental abstraction takes place when the mind is disconnected with the Indriyas. Pratyahara is a general, broad term which includes Dama also. The effect of Dama (restraint of Indriyas) is Pratyahara. Pratyahara is the stepping-stone to inner spiritual life. He who has succeeded in Pratyahara can concentrate his mind quite readily for a very long time. Dharana and Dhyana come automatically if Pratyahara is perfect. An aspirant has to struggle hard to have mastery over Pratyahara. Perfect Vairagya is indispensable for success in Pratyahara. You can succeed after strenuous and incessant struggle for some years. If Pratyahara is perfect, all the organs are under perfect control. If you have the reins of the horses under your control, you can have a safe journey. The Indriyas are the horses. If you have the senses under your efficient control, you can have a safe journey in the path of Moksha. Indriyas cannot do anything without the help of the mind, their master and commander. Control of the Indriyas means control of the mind only. Control of thoughts leads to the control of mind and Indriyas also. It leads to the attainment of infinite bliss and eternal life. Control of thought is indispensable. In the advanced stages, the electrical currents, which pulsate through the nerves and even the reflex muscles, are turned off by the practitioners. This may be achieved through Pranayama. Thus ends the external quest (bahirahga sadhana). Now the sadhaka crosses the threshold of the internal quest (antarahga sadhana) of yoga. Here ends the exposition on sadhana, the second pada of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras.
VIBHUTI PADA- CHAPTER 3
3.01— deshabandhashchittasya dharana
Fixing the consciousness on one point or region is concentration (dharana).
Dharana means focus of attention. Centreing the attention on a chosen point or area, within or outside the body, is concentration. By it the functions of the mind are checked and brought to one focal point. Once mastery of the five stages of yoga from yama to pratyahara is achieved, the art of focusing the mind and consciousness is guaranteed. Dharana is established when the mind learns to remain steady on its own, or hold on to an unmoving object. Through the practice of yama and niyama, the sadhaka develops emotional firmness. Through asana, he keeps his body, the abode of the soul, free from disease. In pranayama, he learns to stop the dispersion of energy by regularising its flow for proper distribution all through his body and mind. Through pratyahara, he develops will-power, detaches himself from the organs of senses and acquires precision in thought. This is the beginning of culturing the brain. Once he has become unresponsive to worldly matters, he is fit to continue on the inner quest, enriching the mind through dharana. Dhyana and samadhi lead the consciousness on the innermost quest (amaratma sadhana), to the soul itself. The eight components of astahga yoga are interwoven, though each is delineated individually for the sake of convenience. They are subdivided into the external quest (bahiranga sadhana), the internal quest (antarahga sadhana) and the innermost quest (antaratma sadhana), which facilitates even the naive to learn to concentrate, step by step, on concrete forms by systematic practice. Having readied maturity and refinement, they are able to fathom their inmost thoughts and feelings. Most people, even most yoga practicians, are under the impression that asanas are only external and physical. This sutra removes that misapprehension. Patanjali defines concentration as the centering of attention either within or outside the body. If, in performing an asana, one directs the organs of action and senses of perception towards the mind, and the mind towards the core, external sadhana is transformed into internal sadhana. If the limbs, the senses of perception, the mind and the discriminative intelligence are then repressed and merged with the energy of the soul, this becomes the innermost sadhana. If one performs each asana passionately, blending with integrated attention every part of the body, the digressing mind and the discriminative intelligence with the soul constitutes spiritual practice. In asana, the initial commitment or passion lifts itself, through concentration, to the level of total absorption. Such practice brings modesty, without which dissemination of the subtle levels is impossible. Dharana is the art of reducing the disturbances of the mind and ultimately eliminating them entirely, so that the knower and the known become one. Dharana may be focused on external or internal objects. External objects should be auspicious and associated with transparency. Internally, the mind penetrates the soul, the core of one's being - the object is, in reality, pure existence. For higher meditation, everything is within the mental and emotional energy fields. The paradox of it is this: the very same mental and emotional energy which caused us to become attached to this world, can also in turn, cause liberation. The gate for exiting this world is in the same mento-emotional energy (cittasya). Concentration (dharana) is holding the mind within a center of spiritual consciousness in the body, or fixing it on some divine form, either within the body or outside it. The mind has reached the ability to be directed [dharana] when direction toward a chosen object is possible in spite of many other potential objects within the reach of the individual. A perennial flow of dharana is called dhyana or meditation. If dharana is the drop, dhyana is the river. Many concentrations make a meditation. Qualitatively they are non-different, but functionally there is a distinction between them. When the student enters into dharana, he can know something of his personal structure. He becomes an observer of himself and an object of his study. The rationale behind the practice of dharana has been earlier explained under the context of pratyahara. The reason behind the effort at concentration of mind is the same as that underlying the need for pratyahara. It is a psychological necessity with a deep philosophical background. Unless the 'why' of concentration is properly answered, one will not have satisfaction within and hence cannot take to the practice wholeheartedly. Concentration is the channelizing of the chitta or the psychic structure within towards universality of being. This goal is achieved by many stages, with a graduated movement of the finite to the infinite. Sincere effort is necessary on the path to keep the mind in balance; for balance is yoga. It is only when the balance is upset, due to some factor in life, that worry sets in. Hence, the first step in yoga is not pratyahara or dharana, but a psychological disentanglement, or a stock-taking as people do in business, and a striking of the balance-sheet of the inner world. One has to find out where one stands. Yoga is a positive state, different from all moods of the day. There is nothing of the negative in the yoga way of life, neither in the mind nor in the perspective of one's vision. Misgivings about yoga are due to a want of proper understanding of its meaning. All anguish is to be set right. How to do this is a personal problem. It has to be dealt with on an individual consideration, as the answer varies from person to person. Just as a physician does not treat patients collectively but pays them all individual attention, each question has to be taken separately and solved, unless they are all of a similar character. Yoga techniques are based on natural laws of universal application and not on dogmatic or religious beliefs. It need not be emphasized that a Guru is necessary, and also one should be capable of practicing sense-control, especially sex-control. Treading the path of yoga always implies some loss in the eyes of the sense-world. The student should decide what he wants. Does he want comfort, praise, name and fame, etc., or is he honest in pursuing the way of self-restraint , concentration of mind and deep inner bliss ? Concentration of mind has much to do with inner satisfaction, there cannot be concentration of mind when there is unhappiness. An unhappy man cannot be a student of yoga. We do yoga because there is something substantial and positive in yoga. Psychological contentment brought about by self-analysis is a great help in concentration. Sometimes, when one is affected too much by thoughts of the contrary, thoughts pertaining to things and conditions opposed to or different from the aim of yoga, Patanjali says that one has to practice thinking or the feeling of the opposite (pratipaksha-bhavana). This is to affirm the opposite of what is happening. If a particular sense-organ is troubling the student, he gives intense work to the other organs so that the energy will be drawn by them, and the troublesome element is divested of strength. If one is sexually agitated one might think of Bhishma . The desire would slowly wane because of the higher thought occurring to the mind by continued contemplation. Daily practice will create in the mind samskaras or impressions which will in course of time prevent the rise of such negative thoughts and, even if they come, they will not be vehement or powerful enough to disturb internal peace. This is the method of 'substitution' which was lifted and patented by Western thieves as psychoanalysis. The three methods which the mind employs usually are repression, substitution and sublimation. Sublimation is the proper course to adopt, but it cannot always be done for obvious reasons. People repress desires into the subconscious due to social taboo, but later on this causes complexities. Repression is not a remedy. Gandhi achieved SHIT by sleeping under the blanket with underage girls and giving/ taking enemas from them. When one cannot fulfil one's desires, one swallows them, which, in the long run, become complexes that may turn into illness of various kinds. Nothing inspires murderous mayhem in human beings more reliably than sexual repression.If expression of sexuality is thwarted, the human psyche tends to grow twisted into grotesque, enraged perversions of desire. We know what the sexually repressed Catholic clergy does, right ? We know how many billions of dollars the pope has shelled out to buy silence. There's little question that the centuries-long campaign of child rape enabled by institutional cover-up is a direct result of the Church's inhumane teachings concerning human sexuality. If Catholic priests were allowed to form erotic connections of our wedlock or even with consenting adults, who can doubt that countless children would have been spared outrageous torture at the hands of these sick, distorted men? Suppression of core emotions and the denial of their resolution in healthy society accepted love always always leads to personal distortion, compulsion and loss of perspective. The moods of people are nothing but the occasional eruption of repressed emotions and attitudes. Repression is not the method prescribed by Patanjali, though he suggests substitution as a middle course leading to sublimation by yoga. Before starting the practice of concentration, the student has to establish a proper relation with the world and society by the practice of the yamas and niyamas. If the world is up in debauchery , arms and cudgels, one cannot practice yoga by being in it. For peace with the world and peace with oneself, Patanjali prescribes the yamas and niyamas, respectively. Asana and pranayama are intended for establishing peace and harmonious relations with the muscles, nerves and the vital force. Pratyahara establishes peace with the mind. Yoga is the science of peace. The world outside having been properly coordinated with our personality by the yamas and our having come to proper understanding of ourselves by the niyamas and by vichara or self-analysis, having also achieved some sort of control over the muscles by asana, the nerves and prana by pranayama, having brought compromise within by pratyahara, the student is face to face with the problem of concentration. What is one to concentrate upon? First of all, the point of concentration has to be external, so that one may concentrate with greater ease, because the mind has always a tendency to go outward. But this need not mean going senseward. We may give the mind some freedom, of course, but it should be within a limited circle. The ambit of the activity of the mind should gradually become smaller and smaller. One moves, but in more and more limited circles. The circle of the mind's work becomes smaller as it rises to higher states of concentration. In the most initial stage, the student can concentrate on any one point. A wide leash is given in the beginning as is done with a wild animal under training. Satsanga and svadhyaya are some of the methods which one can adopt in limiting the activity of the mind to smaller circles. Instead of going to any place at leisure, one attends Satsangas or visits holy places or shrines. And instead of browsing through all sorts of sick and dirty literature one reads philosophical and elevating scriptures. All this is an achievement in the concentration of mind by way of limitation of the circle of its activity. Instead of chatting with persons at any time, one restricts speech only to a necessity. The long leash has been cut short. The radius has been reduced in length. This practice is the beginning of a true religious life. Having lived a life of religiousness rather than that of worldliness one further tries to limit the circle of the mind in yoga. And now, the stage has come when, instead of going to holy places, one settles down in one place for a spiritual way of living, and one has pinned the mind to a still smaller circle. Having settled in a particular place, one chalks out a daily programme which should be such that it will not contain any item that is not directly connected with the practice of yoga. Occasionally, a few may be indirectly related, which, however, are to be slowly snapped later by gradual effort and only the direct connections with yoga be maintained. The programme of the day which the student chalks out for himself depends entirely upon the aim of yoga, which is the determining factor in the day's programme. What he will do during the whole day will depend on what he wishes to make of his entire life, for many days put together constitute life. The daily programme should therefore correspond to the life's programme. Nothing non-spiritual may engage the attention of the student on any occasion. In the programme of the day, certain items should be essential, such as study of scriptures (which one cannot dispense with until one gets so absorbed in the mind that there is no need for any study). Sacred study is necessary because in such study one keeps oneself open to higher thoughts, ennobling one's character. Simultaneously with this practice, there should be recourse to japa (repetition) of the mantra (mystic formula). Japa is directly connected with dhyana. The relation between svadhyaya, japa and dhyana is sequential and very significant and they form a complete course of yoga. Japa is a more intensive sadhana than svadhyaya and dhyana more intensive than japa. Dharana, dhyana and samadhi are considered as the internal and true yoga, while everything else is an external accessory to it. Yama, niyama, asana, pranayama and pratyahara constitute the external (bahiranga) yoga, while dharana, dhyana and samadhi are the internal (antaranga) yoga. The internal yoga is a pure activity of the mind-stuff (antahkarana), independent of the senses. While the senses had a part to play in pratyahara, they do not operate in dharana, any further. We have come nearly to the innermost point of the personality and the outer activities as well as relations are given up. The mind has become powerful because now it does not waste energy through sensory activity. Most people complain that the mind is weak, that the will has no strength, because much of the energy leaks out through the channels of the senses. The senses are factors of dissipation of the centralized energy in the human system and until this channelization of energy by way of sensory activity is stopped, the will would remain naturally weak and this is why so much emphasis is laid on the control of senses. The mind which conserves energy in itself becomes more powerful than it appeared earlier. It is now ready to gird up its loins for the ultimate steps in yoga, concentration and meditation. It has nothing to vex it, because it has severed all its connections outside by an inner withdrawal. Concentration now begins. Concentration does not come suddenly, in spite of all efforts on the part of a student. The mind has been habituated to think in terms of diversity and to turn it away from multitudinousness and to bring it to a point is really hard to achieve. The mind does not accept it. In the beginning, there is repulsion and later on there arises difficulty in the practice of concentration. But if the practice goes on with proper self-analysis and understanding, the mind will be able to appreciate what it is for and what it is expected to do. Any unintelligent activity is not easily taken in by the mind because thought is logically constructed. Before making preparations for chalking out a programme one should try to be methodical and logical in thinking, for the mind will not accept chaotic ideas. It appreciates only system, symmetry, harmony, beauty, order, etc. The mind dislikes any thing thrown pell-mell, because it is made in an orderly fashion. Without knowing the why of it one does not like anything spontaneously. The way in which the mind functions is what is known as logic. One should not hastily move to things and jump into any conclusion. Many people suffer from this travesty, because they cannot take all aspects of the matter into their judgements. All persons cannot consider every side of an issue, and this pinches the mind from various directions. A programme that one may have to change constantly is not a well-thought-out programme. Let there be no need to change what one has decided to do. Let it be thought and arranged well, even if it would take many days to make the decision. Let there be beauty in thinking, as there is beauty in the outer world. The more is one logical, the more is also one's happiness. Hence, it is necessary to prepare the ground with a thorough-going analysis of the situation of one's personality. 'I want God', should not be the student's sudden answer when he is asked what he is up to achieve. Logical thinking is, therefore, a help in bringing about concentration of mind. The test of logicality in thought is that one feels a delight the moment one arranges one's thoughts in a method. One feels a comfort within because of the completeness introduced by the system of logic in the mind. Logicality is a form of psychological perfection, and all perfection is joy. After having properly thought out the programme for life and for the day, the programme of one's sadhana has to be considered. 'What is my sadhana going to be?' Thus may the student of yoga cogitate seriously. Merely because one has heard a lecture on yoga, it does not mean one has a clear path set before oneself. After much hearing, there may still remain some fundamental difficulty, that of choosing a proper method of practice and coming to facts, not merely doctrines. When one touches the practical side, an unforeseen problem arises. This is an individual difficulty and cannot be cleared in a public lecture. It is, therefore, necessary to find out one's temperament, first, and decide upon the nature of one's case. In as much as every mind is special in its constitution, proclivity and temperament certain details peculiar to one's mind have to be thought out clearly for oneself. Though it is true that concentration is the purpose of all sadhana, the kind of preparation for this concentration varies in different types of yoga. Concentration is an impersonal action of the mind, because, in this inner adventure, the mind attempts gradually to shed its personality by accommodating itself, stage by stage, with the requirements of the law that determines the universe. Patanjali, in his aphorisms on yoga, has suggested varieties of concentration of the mind on points which can be external, internal or universal. A protracted and intensified form of concentration is called meditation. The sixth limb of yoga, dharana, is referred to as “concentration.” It’s a limb that can get overlooked as either unimportant or too difficult to bother with, especially since its fuller, less tangible translation is “the binding of the mind to one place, object or idea.” This conjures up images of master yogis staring at objects until they’re “one” with them. And while there can be some truth to this scenario, it’s not entirely accurate. Dharana, in reality, is one of the most important parts of yoga there is, and learning how to practice it (because it is definitely a practice) may be one of the most worthwhile things we can do for our brains. This is party because dharana and the next limb of yoga – dhyana, or meditation – are two sides of the same coin. Conceptually they can be separated, but in practice, that makes less sense. Dharana, at its very heart, can be thought of as the work it takes – the practice – to get your mind to the point where it’s ready for meditation. So dharana isn’t so much the state of concentration, but it’s more the act of brining your “monkey mind” back to whatever it is you’re focusing on. Again, and again, and again.Many yogis say that for beginners, choosing a thing to focus on, rather than an idea, is the way to go. The object can be a physical object, the breath, or an oral mantra. The idea is just to have something outside yourself that serves as a point to draw the attention toward. If you’re not using a mantra, though, and you’re practicing concentration with an image or an object, the most important thing to remember is that the goal is in the practice. The practice of dharana is not concentrating on a object – it’s the act of redirecting the mind, again and again. This very practice itself is called concentration: the mind running, your bringing it back; its running, your bringing it back. You are taming a monkey. Once it’s tamed, it will just listen to you.. Training your mind to meditate is what is called dharana. Dharana can help us with our focus in any walk of life, not just when we sit down to meditate. Concentration gets easier as you practice it. It’s joyous to concentrate on something, there’s pleasure in it. When you get familiar with dharana, the mind becomes a much less restless place to be.” While describing the eight aspects (angas) of Ashtang Yoga, Patanjali has stated Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi as the last three aspects. It is also stated by him that all the three aspects are collectively termed as " Sanyam" (Control). This implies that all the three aspects should be considered together. We should also bear in mind while studying that Dharana, Dhyana and Samadhi are progressively advanced stages of concentration. The highest stage of mental concentration described by the modern psychologists is more or less similar to the description of Dharana i.e. the primary stage of concentration as described by Patanjali. This indicates the thoughtfulness of Patanjali while describing the three stages. Another characteristic of these three stages is that there is no dividing line in between these stages. When certain progress is made in the studies of Dharana, Dhyana stage is automatically entered into and with the progress in Dharana stage, Sadhaka automatically enters in the Samadhi stage. The three stages mingle into each other as easily as three colours are mixed into each other on the canvass of an artist. Patanjali has stated the definition of Dharana in this sutra. Patanjali states the preliminary process of Dharana, a primary step in the lengthy process of controlling the mind. The restriction put on the mind is known as "Alamban". With the help of the "Alamban", the mind is fixed and engaged in a particular area.
The study of Dharana is the study of concentration of mind. Hence, certain preliminary preparations are necessary. We get various perceptions, through the five sensory organs. The mind usually runs behind such sensory perceptions. To stabilise the mind, attention has to be paid as to how these perceptions can be reduced. The surroundings should be pleasurable to the mind and not repulsive or troublesome. There should not be any external disturbances. The general chaos, other sounds, strong breeze, different smells, extremely bright light are various disturbances that should be avoided. When these are removed, the causes, which seek the attention of the mind, get reduced. Then one should sit on a comfortable seat in a pose conducive to Dhyana such as Padmasan, Swatikasan or Siddhasan. One should have the practice of sitting firmly, yet comfortably in a particular pose for a longer duration. Otherwise, the mind will get diverted towards the signals from various muscles. The pose should be "samkay shirogreevam" and the eyes should be fixed on the picture of OM in the front. The picture should be at the eye level and placed under sufficient light. Whenever the eyes try to avert itself beyond the picture, an effort should be made to lock it on the picture again. The mind generally follows the eyesight, so fixing of the gaze will result in locking the mind too. Start the Japa of OM with calm attitude. The way with which the sound of OM is emitted through the mouth should be gradual and effective. The vocal cords or the lungs should not feel strained while doing the japa. The japa is automatically heard by the ears and as such again felt by the mind. Thus, the mind will be firmly kept onto the OM. Out of five sensory organs, the eyes, the tongue and the ears are concentrating on only one subject of OM, so the mind, which runs after the sensory perceptions, will also be firmly engaged on OM. Here, Om is an "alamban" and the dimension covered by Om is the restricted area in which the mind can move (deshbandh). After some period, stop the japa, close the eyes and try to concentrate the mind on the memories of OM sensed through the gaze, the tongue and the ears. This experience transcends the sensory organs and the engagement of mind in this is the real dharana. While practising this, the mind may sway beyond the experience towards other things. This discontinues the dharana. Then the mind has to be brought again into the experience. There will be several disturbances; however with practice, they get reduced. The concentration without any disturbances is dharana. In that stage, there is no other experience than the "Alamban". It is a soothing, pleasurable stage giving intense satisfaction and peace of mind. When Dharana is practised for half an hour or so, the stage is experienced only for a few minutes, the other moments spent in controlling the wandering mind. However, with continuous practice, the duration of the pleasurable stage increases and the sadhaka becomes prepared to enter into the next stage. With further practice, the area of the "alamban" or its limits is to be reduced. With the reduction of the area, the dharana will be more effective and the sadhaka will get nearer to the next stage of dhyana. If the "Alamban" is subject of only one sensory organ, then the other organs will choose their own subjects and try to pull the mind towards them. This will make mind unsteady further. All this should be considered while choosing the subject of the "alamban". Dharana is the stage of high concentration of the mind. The modern psychologists have described the highest stage of concentration of the human mind.
The mind is kept firm at one place instead of letting it wander here and there. This reduces strain on the mind. The mental strength increases. The daily practice of dharana reduces the wavering attitude of mind and a different kind of peace can be observed throughout the day. The last three rungs of Yoga: Dharana (concentration), dhyana (meditation), and samadhi are the final three rungs of Yoga.
Dharana is concentration is the process of holding or fixing the attention of mind onto one object or place. Dhyana or meditation is sustained concentration, whereby the attention continues to hold or repeat the same object or place. Samadhi is the deep absorption, wherein only the essence of that object, place, or point shines forth in the mind, as if the mind were devoid even of its own form.
It is attention itself, which is progressively moving inward through these few stages: Attention leads to concentration (dharana). Concentration leads to meditation (dhyana). Meditation leads to absorption (samadhi).Dharana means ‘focused concentration’. Dha means ‘holding or maintaining’, and Ana means ‘other’ or ‘something else’. Each limb of the Eight limbs of Yoga prepares us for the next. Whereas Pratyahara teaches us to withdraw our focus from the external to the internal, the practice of Dharana teaches us to ‘zoom in’ so we’re able to focus on one thing alone. This, of course, is not an easy thing to do! Most of us have experienced what we call in yoga the ‘monkey mind’ - restless thoughts jumping around like clamorous monkeys leaping from from tree to tree - so it takes some discipline and patience to learn how to focus our attention on a single thing.
It’s impossible to ‘empty’ the mind but we can train it to become so completely and utterly absorbed with one thing that we lose all sense of time and space and most significantly, Self. We all had the experience of ‘losing track of time’ because we’ve been immersed in something that has held our undivided attention. Often these moments are entirely unplanned.. One minute we’re tackling the task at hand, the next, 3 hours have flown by and we don’t know where the time went. However, it’s often when we consciously set out to focus our attention while sitting quietly that the mind decides it doesn’t want to play ball. Mantra chanting is a helpful practices of Dharana. One-pointed focused concentration needs intention, relaxation, softness, and ease - and for these to arise, we also need patience and practice. Antar darshan is a practice of pratyahara. Pratya comes from the word pratyaya. Pratyaya are the internal seeds, the basic tendencies in our nature which are there from birth to death. They are the basis of our personality. The word ahara means food or nutrition. Normally in our day-to-day lives, we are concentrated and extroverted in the outside world, so the mind, the senses and the pratyaya, these internal tendencies and seeds of consciousness, are receiving nutrition from outside, from objects, events, situations and interactions in the external world. So, pratyahara means a practice which internalizes the senses and the mind so that the mind begins to receive its nutrition from within. The pratyaya begin to receive nutrition from within. This is the first stage in mental training, when we can learn to internalize the senses and the mind at will. Pratyahara is not just one practice but a series of practices which aid the mind to complete this process and to be able to internalize at will. Perhaps at some point we will be able to internalize and externalize at the same time. This is total perfection of this stage, where we are aware internally and externally at the same time. Right now, however, we are only aware outside, and when we are aware outside then we are not aware inside. Sometimes we shut it all off, we go into a room and put on some music, or we sit in a chair, close our eyes, relax and go inside. Then we become aware inside, depending on the degree to which we have developed. Pratyahara means to go inside but to keep the awareness at the conscious level, around the level of manas. In the stage of pratyahara we are not attempting to go deep. Only when we have mastered pratyahara will we begin to dip into chitta, the subconscious mind. Dipping into the subconscious mind while we are still awake is actually an achievement. This can be done when the mind is in the alpha mode. When we practise meditation techniques, beginning with pratyahara, we gain the ability to go into this subconscious dimension consciously. This will come only in the last stages of pratyahara, not in the beginning. In the early stages we try to work on developing our internal conscious state and becoming aware of what is happening in manas. Watching the thoughts, watching the emotions, seeing how they interrelate, how a thought engenders an emotion and how that emotion engenders another emotion. This is the stage where the practice of antar darshan comes in. Antar darshan is not a kind of rebirthing technique where you go very deep into your subconscious and unconscious emotions and try to bring them up. That practice comes later when we have mastered and understood exactly what is happening at the conscious level. We have to clean out the area where we live – our bedroom, the living room, the sadhana room, the workplace. We do not try to clean out the attic or the cellar first; we have to start where we are. This all takes place within the area of manas, through the practices of pratyahara. In the practice of antar darshan we can expect to look at the more conscious feelings and emotions. We should not try to have intense experiences during this practice. If an intense experience arises, that is fine and we can just experience it, but that is not the aim of this practice. It is important to understand the development of the process. It is like learning to swim. First you go to the beach, enter the water and stay in the shallows. You walk in up to your knees, then up to your waist, then up to your shoulders and then you submerge yourself in the water. You submerge in the mind, and you start to swim in this shallow area. If at any time you feel a bit uneasy or unsafe, you can just put your feet down and touch the bottom and find your stability there. When we go out of pratyahara and into the next stages of dharana and dhyana, it is like going out of the shallow water into the depths. Dharana is like the first depths where you go in maybe ten to twelve feet over your head. When you go into dhyana you go deeper, maybe twenty-five or thirty feet. In order to swim in the depths you must be a good swimmer, you must be confident that you can swim, otherwise it is not safe. The same thing applies to the mind. You must first train your mind in the different stages and practices of pratyahara. You must develop a strong mind. A strong mind is a mind that is not afraid of itself, that can face the experiences that arise within without becoming unbalanced. In this way it is a mind which remains serene and balanced in all situations in life. If you are suddenly faced with a death in the family, the loss of a job, or a tremendous rejection from somebody that you love, what will happen to your mind then? What often happens is that we go out of control and we become weak suddenly because we are not able to face that situation. We are not able to face those emotions with equanimity. A strong mind is a mind that has been trained for years, or even a lifetime, to face itself in every situation. As the mind gets stronger this happens by itself, and even without practising concentration the mind becomes concentrated. As the mind becomes concentrated we become able to swim out into deep water and we are able to have more intense experiences in meditation. The perfection of antar darshan will lead us to hridaya-kasha dharana. Hridayakasha dharana comes when the mind and the emotions have become stable and steady, and when we have attained some degree of mastery within and without ourselves. The practice of dharana comes when we have become steady, stable and unshakeable. We are unshakeable because we understand ourselves. We understand our mind, our emotions and our thoughts. We have come to terms with them so we are unshakeable. Whatever faces us and whatever situation arises we can manage it without being affected. Dharana is a higher stage, not just in meditation but in life. Be passionate about your life and the experiences you fill it with. Remain open to as much input as possible. Don’t shut down the feedback loop with judgment, rigid beliefs, and prejudices. Don’t censor incoming data through denial. Examine other points of view as if they were your own. Take responsibility for making conscious choices. Work on psychological blocks like shame and guilt – they falsely color your reality. Free yourself emotionally – to be emotionally resilient is the best defense against growing rigid. Harbor no secrets – they create dark places in the psyche. Be willing to redefine yourself every day. Don’t regret the past or fear the future. Both bring misery through self-doubt. Awareness isn’t passive. It directly leads to action (or inaction). As you take steps to expand your awareness, you will naturally find yourself harnessing your mind’s infinite power to create greater health, happiness, and love in your life.
THIS POST IS NOW CONTINUED TO PART 61, BELOW-
CAPT AJIT VADAKAYIL