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Pratyahar Introspection Stages (December 1. 2020)

Pratyahar Introspection Stages (December 1. 2020)

Pratyahar sensual energy practice, the 5th stage of ashtanga yoga has many levels. Initially, it is merely the effort to retract one’s attention from the physical world. As that practice is integrated, there is a flash of enlightenment which announces that the attention has application and is reinforced or disempowered according to what function it is applied to. This means that the introspection is revealed in the mind to be a complicated affair which is not as simply as the student thought it would be.

Once this is realized, the student may inquire from a guru for methods of parsing the attention during meditation, so that little by little it can be controlled. Where the attention is disempowered when it tries to reinforce certain mental or emotional functions, the student has an easy task but where it is reinforced, the student must struggle within to reduce and then eliminate the application of the attention to those persistent functions.

The attention energy originates in the sense of identity which is deep within the psyche. This identity function surrounds the coreSelf and is difficult to reach because of its abstractness. But that challenge of identifying the identity function is superseded by the effort to pinpoint and define the core. Where is it located? After all, some mystics declared that there is no core to locate, that there is no essential self.

The initial pratyahar sensual energy meditation practice is an introspection effort. Interestingly Patanjali in the Yoga Sutras list pratyahar as the stage before samyama which are the three highest stages of yoga as one sequential event. Why did Patanjali not list pratyahar with samyama. Samyama is meditation but pratyahar, according to Patanjali is the stage, the effort, made to enter meditation.

To go a step further Patanjali give applications of samadhi which is the highest stage of meditation. He lists not one, not two but several applications. This contradicts what many mystics define samadhi as a singular state of oneness or absolute consciousness.

If yoga was a gear mechanism. The neutral gear would be pratyahar. The first, second and third gears would be collectively called meditation (samyama). The first gear would be dharana, the second dhyana and the third and highest gear would be samadhi.

However before one can use any gear one has to start the engine, then press the clutch, then shift the gear handle is into neutral, then tilt it to enter the first gear, then move a distance, then shift into second gear, then move a longer distance, then shift into third gear. Once in the third and final gear, one can coast on the roadway to the destination.

The power to operate the vehicle comes from the engine. But it must be initiated into a start. The driver enters the car, sits behind the wheel and initiates the starting mechanism. The yogi enters the mind and is positioned to control what he sees through the windshield. He then withdraws interest from whatever is outside the car. This allows him to focus on shifting the gear handle into the first gear.

The beginner’s attention withdrawal is an effort to pull back the outward going energy which courses out of the psyche into the external physical environment. This is expressed through the five senses in terms of pursuing sounds, surfaces, colors, flavors and odors. The operation of any sense, or of some or every one at the same time, creates an interest which must be retracted in the withdrawal practice.

It is an abstract application but it is felt by the person when the effort is made to cease the search for objects of fulfillment. If the psyche was a circular form, the retraction of the interest would be like this

However, this is based on the assumption that the self is one cohesive something or that it is one cohesive nothing. That it is without parts, partless.

But is it?


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