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YOGA OF SELF-RESTRAINT

 by Swami Sivananda

The withdrawal of senses is natural to a sage. He never practises abstraction of senses. The senses always remain in a state of abstraction. It is only the aspirants that practise abstraction of senses in the beginning to keep the senses under control. As the senses cannot do anything independently, control of the mind is also necessary if you want to attain complete success in abstraction of the senses. If you can detach the mind at will from the senses, you will be established in abstraction of the senses.

The senses withdraw from objects even in the case of an ignorant person who practises severe austerities and abstains from all sensual objects—also in the case of a sick man who has weak senses;—but, the taste or inclination or longing for those objects does not vanish in them. Whereas, in the case of a sage who has realised the Self, even the longing is entirely eradicated.

Even if the treasury of a king is well-guarded by sentries, clever dacoits plunder the treasury in astounding manner. Even so, if the sage who possesses discriminative knowledge strives his level best to control the senses, the dangerous senses, forcibly carry away his mind. Although sage Visvamitra was practising severe austerities, he was carried away by his turbulent senses when he came across the celestial nymph sent by Indra (the Lord of the Devas) to disturb his austerities.

A king enjoys peace of mind by closing first the outer portals of his palace, and then the inner gates. Now the enemies or dacoits cannot do him any mischief or create any trouble. Even so, the Yogi closes the outer gates of his body-palace by practising abstraction of the senses, and then shuts the inner gate, the lower mind which is filled with various impressions of actions, by practising serenity and renunciation. Now he rests in his own blissful Immortal Self and enjoys supreme peace.

Just as the child enjoys full security and peace when it is in the lap of its mother, just as a baron experiences full security when he has surrendered himself in the hands of a mighty potentate, so also, the aspirant can enjoy abiding peace and can have complete mastery over his senses when he has totally surrendered himself at the feet of the Lord. That is the reason why Sri Krishna says to Arjuna in the Gita, “Restraining all the senses, a man should remain steadfastly intent on Me. He has a stable or poised understanding whose senses are under control.”

The senses are endowed with outgoing tendencies. They, therefore, drag the ignorant man to the external objects. But the aspirant who possesses discrimination and dispassion, checks the outgoing tendencies, curbs the turbulent senses and reaches the abode of Immortality, just as the driver of a carriage checks the turbulent horses by the reins and reaches his destination safely. When the sage completely withdraws the senses from sense-objects—as the tortoise withdraws its limbs from all sides,—his knowledge is steady. He has a balanced and poised understanding.

Unrestrained senses do much havoc. Thought of the sense-objects is the source of evil. Sense-control leads to peace and happiness. The man who has revolting senses cannot meditate even for a second. Sense-restraint gives strength, inner peace, contentment, and conduces to steady knowledge. The self-restrained Yogi, who has subdued his senses, enjoys infinite peace and bliss.

 


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