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The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali - Book 3 - Union achieved and its Results
47. Mastery over the senses is brought about through concentrated meditation upon their nature, peculiar attributes, egoism, pervasiveness and useful purpose.

Sutra 44, dealt very largely with objectivity and the nature of the five forms which every element assumes. This sutra concerns itself with that which is subjective, and with the subtle apparatus through which forms are contacted and likewise turned to specific purposes. We are dealing here with the indriyas, or senses, which are usually divided by Hindu philosophers into ten instead of five. They divide the five senses into two groups, those which we call the organs of sense, such as the eye, the nose, etc., and then the faculty which makes it possible for the eye to see and the nose to smell.

In considering the senses, the student studies them, therefore, in five connections and this likewise in relation to their counterparts on the astral and mental planes. The five divisions are as follows:

1. Their nature. He studies each sense in its twofold condition, that of the external instrument [351] and the internal capacity of that instrument to respond to certain vibratory impacts. He knows why, for instance, the organ of sense called the eye vibrates to those impacts which produce the condition of sight, but fails to respond to those impacts which cause scent or smell. He discriminates therefore between the senses and learns thereby to follow a vibratory impulse back to its source along one or other of the five possible lines of approach, and this he does intelligently and not simply blindly.

2. Their peculiar attributes. He studies then the quality of the senses, laying the emphasis not so much upon the particular sense concerned (this is covered above) as upon the peculiar attribute of the sense and of that to which it gives the key in the macrocosm.

3. Egoism, refers to the "I" making faculty which so predominantly distinguishes the human being and thus brings in the sixth sense, the mind, as the interpreter and synthesizer of the other five. It is the capacity of the human being to say "I see," "I smell," - a thing the animal cannot do.

4. Pervasiveness. All the senses are capable of infinite extension and every sense when consciously followed and utilized can lead a man in three main directions:

  1. To the center of all things, back to the heart of God,
  2. Into close communication with his fellow man, putting him en rapport with him, when so desired,
  3. Into touch with all forms. [352]

To the average man there is only that which he can hear, touch, see, taste and smell, only five ways in which he can know. There are only five responses possible to him as he contacts vibration of any kind and in our solar system there is naught else but vibrating energy, God in active motion. These five methods put him en rapport with the five elements and when this is realized, the infinite possibilities open to the aspirant, begin to appear. Later to the advanced man another and higher range of vibration opens up when he can use the mind itself, not only as the unifier of all the five senses but as a sixth sense also. This is the object of all Raja Yoga practice. Through the mind, the soul realm is cognized, just as through the senses the objective world was contacted.

5. Useful purpose. When the relation of the five senses to the five elements is understood, and the Law of Vibration is studied and mastered, the adept can then turn to useful purposes all the powers of his nature. He not only can enter into communication with all parts of our planetary system but can also use discriminatingly and wisely all those parts of his own nature which are allied to, or correspondences of the nature of God as shown in the macrocosm.

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