tantra

I acknowledge this graphic from the Net.

In this 65th verse and dharana of Vigyana Bhairava Tantra, Shiva says

Turning inward restraining senses

Entering the only void

Reach Shiva

Turning inwards, pratyahara, is the first limb of the inner or antaranga yoga of Patanjali’s ashtanga yoga practice, and the fifth limb overall. The first four limbs of yama (ethical conduct comprising truthful thought speech and action, non violent thoughts speech and action, simple living, non covetousness and seeking the ultimate truth). niyama (daily conduct of living clean, thinking clean etc), asana (firm and comfortable physical posture) and pranayama (balancing the breath energy) form the external or bahiranga yoga. Having mastered these, the practitioner of yoga uses them to control one’s senses by turning inwards.

Many of us live sensing outwards. Our senses are always on edge and this is considered intelligence. Whoever sees better, hears better or feels, tastes, smells better succeeds more. We move outwards from inside to outside. The yogi moves inwards towards that inner divine energy, which is the holographic individual representation of the universal energy. To make this happen the yogi controls or restrains the mind and body, by withdrawing from action,speech, emotions and thoughts. 

One does not have to retire the forest or even an ashram to do this. This can be done in daily life by disengaging from the obsession to results of action. One listens to Krishna when he says, do what you must, as you cannot be without cation, but surrender the results of action to me. Understanding this one verse of Gita is enough to disengage. To most of us, except for the privileged few pretending to disengage from life altogether, there is no option to live our daily life. We struggle physically, with thoughts, emotions, speech and action and make this visible. Some wear fancy robes and pretend , as Shankara says in Bhaja Govindam, ‘shorn of hair, in fancy robes, wearing masks, intent of filling your stomachs, you fools, you do not accept what you see’.

It is better to live normally and accept ourselves than to pretend we are above others. Acceptance of ourselves and our limitations leads to surrender. Still, we act, speak and think. If we can act, speak and think without getting entangled with the results of these, and with the understanding that whatever happens is good for us, we reach the void Shiva speak about here.

Daniel Goleman in his book Emotional Intelligence speaks of the marshmallow test. A teacher offers young children two sweets. The children can take both if they do something the teacher demands and wait for ten minutes; or they can take one and leave. The children are monitored over many years. Studies show that children who resisted the impulse to grab one sweet and run, but did what they were told and took both, performed far better in life. Winners learn to restrain their senses. Losers grab impulsively.

Any of the techniques that Shiva teaches in Vigyana Bhairava Tantra can take us inwards. Or simply watching your breath can.

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