The Bhgavad Gita II:58
Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda
Control of Senses
When the yogi, like a tortoise withdrawing its limbs, can fully retire his senses from the objects of perception, his wisdom manifests steadiness. — The Bhagavad Gita II:58
The tortoise swiftly withdraws its limbs within the armor of its shell to protect itself from harm. Similarly, when the five senses of a yogi are withdrawn in his subconscious mind during sleep, or dissolved in his superconsciousness during deep concentration, or disconnected any time at will in the conscious state by Self-mastery or by nirvikalpa samadhi, that muni of steady wisdom is protected from the contact or tempting invasion of the sensory world.
Control of the senses is vitally linked to control of the prana or life energy in the body—an intelligent, electric-like medium whose instrumentality enlivens the whole human mechanism. In the sensory nerves, prana makes perceptions possible; all messages of the senses, all pleasurable and painful sensations from the periphery of the body, are reported to the brain through the medium of this life energy. In the motor nerves, prana makes movement possible. It is responsible for the activity of the involuntary organs; and thoughts and will require its help to express themselves in action.
Prana holds the key to the bodily dwelling and to its inner apartments of the brain and consciousness. It lets in or shuts out all welcome or unwelcome visitors of sensations and actions, according to the guidance it receives or the free rein it is allowed.
When the devotee’s mind is identified with the prana or energy in the optical, auditory, olfactory, gustatory, and tactual nerves, he is tempted by beauty, music, fragrances, tastes, sex, and other attractive sensations. The holy Gita tells the yogi to learn to withdraw his mind and energy from the five sensory channels to attain Self-mastery.
If, for example, a man has determined not to eat sweets, he may not be successful with will power alone, but he can conquer temptation scientifically by the technique of withdrawing his mind and energy from the nerves of taste and thus temporarily banish the thought and sensation of sweetness. If a telephone is disconnected, its message is cut off instantly. The yogi must be an expert switchboard operator for his sense telephones, able at will to switch on and off his mind and life force flowing through the five message-carriers of sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.
Bhagavan Krishna thus tells the yogi to follow the art of scientific control of the senses. An adept yogi can withdraw his mind from all sensations of the material world and can unite his mind and energy with the intoxicating joy of inner ecstasy or samadhi. In a high state of yoga perception and deep interiorization of the mind, the yogi feels retirement of the senses of smell, taste, sound, touch, and sight into the cosmic sound Aum, which ultimately melts into Cosmic Consciousness.