I acknowledge this great picture of a yogi amidst New York traffic!
Now to Tao 12: Controlling Senses
Colors distract eyes. Sounds divert ears. Tastes mislead tongues. Thoughts confuse minds. Desires drive us to evil, 12.1
Our senses are the gateways to our mind. The eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin communicate between our mind and the external world through sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. These inputs give rise in our mind to thoughts, feelings, emotions, and desires.
In Tao as well as in yoga, thoughts and desires lead only to one thing. They divert the mind from its main purpose of looking inwards. They lead the mind and us astray from its inner energy.
Tao describes this as evil. Tao itself is neutral to good and evil. Both coexist in this world. However, we have a choice.
By allowing the senses free play in distracting the mind from its purpose in life, we can stay on the evil side. By controlling the senses, we can move to the good side.
The choice to fulfill our inner energy is ours to make.
The Sage witnesses the world without attachment. He fulfills himself without the senses influencing him. 12.2
The yogi, the wise one, the sage is adept at controlling the senses. He moves the mind inwards away from the distractions of the senses, which project the external world on the mind’s screen.
Pratyahara literally means starving the senses. By practicing pratyahara, as Patanjali recommends, we withdraw from the senses and the sense objects. This does not happen by merely closing eyes, plugging ears and suspending oneself in mid-air in a vacuum chamber. The mind will still replay stored memory tapes.
What one needs to do is to consciously withdraw the mind from the senses and sense objects. This alone leads to disengagement from all pleasures and pains that the senses bring to mind. Detachment from pleasure and pain leads to uniting of mind, body and spirit.
This is the fulfillment of inner energy.