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Old 03-10-2022, 02:30 AM
cognition cognition is offline
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The analogy of the chariot

The mind is the student as well as the object of study, when life as a whole is the theme that we wish to investigate and comprehend. In a famous image given in the Kathopanishad, the inner self of man is compared to a lord seated in a chariot, the body to the chariot, the intellect to the charioteer, the mind to the reins, the senses to the horses pulling the chariot, and the objects of the senses to the roads along which the chariot is driven. The Upanishad gives a caution that the supreme state can be reached only by him who has as his charioteer a powerfully discriminative intellect which directs the restive horses of the senses with the aid of the reins of the mind, and not by anyone else who may have a bad charioteer. The meaning of this analogy is that the human individuality and personality are outer forms and instruments to be properly used by the inner directive intelligence towards the great destination of life, and not to be taken as ends in themselves or mistaken for reality as such.

the road, the path along which the chariot of this body moves, is the sense object. The sense objects are the roads. It is the sense objects from which we have to restrain the mind and the senses. It is also the sense objects which are the conducting medium of this vehicle driven by the very senses which are to be restrained from contact with the objects.

That which is to be avoided is the very thing that we have to take advantage of. This is a principle made out in the tantra sadhana. That by which we fall is also that by which we rise. The medicine that can kill also is the medicine that can save our life, at least from the point of view of the homeopathic system. In a particular potentised form, poison saves life. If it is given in a crude form, it destroys life. The objects are bondages. They are hell for the jiva which is caught up in samsara.

Thus, many things are involved in the practice of yoga. The road has to be well laid. The objects are the roads. Whatever we see with our eyes is the road along which we have to move. This world is a passage to God. It is not an obstacle; it is not a hell that God has created for us. Along the very objects that are visible to the eyes, this chariot has to be driven. Here is a great secret which may easily escape our notice: how the objects of the senses, which are considered as evils from which we have to restrain ourselves, are also considered as the way or the road along which we have to move. We shall consider this matter shortly.

Self-control is the meaning of this description given in the Upanishad. What does the driver of the motorcar do except practise self-control? What vigilance does he exercise? He cannot be wool-gathering when he drives the vehicle along a winding road. The people who are seated in the vehicle may be sleeping, or reading a newspaper. Whatever they may be doing, the driver cannot afford to be missing the point of his attention.
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