The Eightfold Path Of Yoga-Part 3: Limbs Five And Six | Pratyahara And Dharana

The Context of Your Reality Within Your Primary Locus Of Control

Freedom from the external pulls of the world is the only way to truly obtain liberation from suffering.

This is what limbs five and six of the Eightfold Path remind us of.

Liberation from your social-sensual animal nature and your subconscious and unconscious impulses, aversions and attractions, which supports you with gaining mastery over the power and function of your mind, will allow you to gain greater mastery over your primary locus of control so that you can fully use your life-force energy/power for the specific aim of gaining greater connection to/with your higher Self/expression.

For some, this mastery may mean striving for complete freedom from desire and fear through complete renunciation and detachment, while for others, this freedom may mean striving for complete control over one’s lower self with a Tantric/physical action-based Path that does not renounce anything but instead divinizes and “rises above” all (which is not recommended for those who are prone to being carried away by sensual overindulgence/addictive tendencies), for example. Regardless of the way that one walks the path, however, it is the pull of desires and aversions (and it’s accompanying animal impulses and compulsions), or rather being pulled/led/guided by these things that you must gain control over in order to obtain the freedom that is required to create space within yourself to fully embody your true nature. When you are not driven by lust, gluttony, greed, jealously, fear, the need for attention/approval, and so forth you are free to run your minds and senses as opposed to being run by the distractions and illusions of the external world.

When you have control over your mind and senses, you make better decisions that are not based on unconscious biases, desires, drives, and so forth and are able to carry out conscious behaviors that steer your life in more deliberate ways. When you have control over your mind and our senses, you gain the mastery that is necessary to choose and experience higher states of consciousness and higher forms of being and living.


In order to get to this point of control and freedom, you must lose your appetite for, or deactivate your false perception of the ultimate power of, worldly illusions and gain mastery over your conditioned and social/lower-self-created delusions. After you accomplish this, you then become more readily available for true understanding and choice and for the next steps on your journey toward enlightenment.

This is what Pratyahara, or mastery of your senses (which is commonly considered to be the bridge between the first four externally-focused limbs and the last three internally focused limbs of the Eightfold Path), and Dharana/concentration/the development of a pure, well-cultivated mind, represent. Together, these two limbs allow your fuller/purer Self to take up more space in your mind, so that you become present for meditation/Dhyana, and then become ready for your ultimate connection with/expression of your lighted Self in Samadhi.

When this (mind mastery and concentration) occurs, you develop a form of “dispassion” for the world and are not as concerned with the trappings of society or as interested in the dramas of human relations and so forth. You become more fully focused on your Path toward the most important and beautiful connection and expression that you can experience in your lifetime, and everything else becomes a dull and colorless, pale, projection that only has your neutral interest for the purposes of observation and learning.

When you are not distracted by fanfare and Maya (illusion) as you navigate through the world with a sense of clear focus and purpose, and possess an uncontaminated mind that has very little pull toward the external projections of your individual and collective chitta vrittis (mind-stuff/delusions), you develop a rich and beautiful, peaceful, inner landscape and this becomes all that you desire to reside within. At this point, you begin your process of truly “being in the world, but not of it,” and start liberating yourself from deeper levels of suffering.

This liberation is required in order to connect to, and rest in, your True undistorted spiritual expression.


If you have ever lost your appetite for food for an extended period of time, for a clearer illustration, you will know that while you still have the drive to eat in order to stay alive, and can still taste and smell delicious things and discern that they are so, you no longer have the compelling pull of desire that causes many to impulsively act in a way that makes them driven by external factors as opposed to being inspired toward a conscious internal choice. When you lose your appetite, you don’t go for a 1:00AM drive to any fast-food restaurant in the middle of a snow storm to spend overpriced amounts of money on something that is not nutritious or healthy at the whim of a thought, you are not pulled by any waft of smell or sight that crosses your path, but instead simply take note of what is required to move you forward with optimal functioning in the form of nutritious and required foods each day as opposed to being driven (like Pavlov’s dogs) by a conditioned impulse.

When you lose your appetite for maya (or illusion), a similar thing occurs. You lose your desire to perform your “worldly, performing, circus-self” (which is what I often call it, and sometimes even hear the circus music in my head to accompany this description) and you gain control of your physical self as opposed to being controlled by the different collective fads, news stories, and fleeting neuroses of your family, community, culture, society, and the world.

And when you are not simply driven by desires, that are, at their core, tied to animal fears, that have been conditioned, like the desire for the attention or approval of others’ illusory opinions, for example, you move closer toward expressing your true nature. Recognition, fame, fortune and other externally depend desires to obtain a hollow sense of value and worth from things that cannot add value to your worth disappear in the same way that you do not have a need for the excitement of sugar, for the sensual explosion of umami, the enlivening tingle of something spicy or sour, the comfort of something creamy, and so forth when you lose your appetite for certain foods; and you are then free to choose to experience these things, or generate the effects of them internally, if you elect to do so for experience or for greater connection with your spirit (like in Tantra).

When you are free and in control of yourself, your desires, and your mind, you live life for Living, experiencing, and for honoring your existence, and you are driven by the natural inspiration to move closer to your spirt in the same way that you would, free from external addictions, eat for the maintenance, experience, and honoring of your body based on the essential drive of physical hunger to consume the nutrients that are needed to keep you alive and healthy. You live for the survival of your body that is kept well in order to support you with coming into full integration with/as your spirit as opposed to living for the conditioned appetites that come from the context of your past or present experiences colored by ignorance, social or physical animal senses, culture, illusory identities, and so forth. When you get to this point you will no longer be controlled by things outside of you and can more effectively come into your true Self expression.

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