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A road trip on our own is a good way to catch up with one’s thoughts. At least, that was my intent. On my way out the door, I grabbed a six-CD set that I had bought a few months ago at a Vedanta event. The CD set was like one of those many books that I buy, that sit unread in the bookshelves, till it is time for them to see the daylight of my eyes. I popped in the first CD, titled “why should we meditate” as I got on the highway.

Four hours later, as I pulled into the parking garage at the hotel, I was still listening to the fourth lecture. The conversation was about our senses – their direction, what directs them, if and how we can control them, their contribution to the minute by minute state of our mind, and much more. The sense of taste (tongue), sight (eyes), smell (nose), hearing (ears) and touch (skin). The speaker focused on the five senses, their physical seats of perception, and the bondage that they can create.

For the honey-bee, the attraction is to the taste of the honey. All its life, the honey-bee’s is bound by its seeking of the sources of honey. For the fish in the water, the attraction is to the smell of the bait. The extent of freedom of the fish depends on the sense of smell. The elephant loves the sense of touch – of dirt, of water, and of the thin rope around it’s foot. The deer’s attachment is to the sense of sound. And finally, the moth is entranced by the sense of sight, which feeds it’s irresistible attraction to light, to heat of the flame (Shankaracharya – Vivekachudamani, 76).

Such is the attraction and dependence to the physical world created in the bee, the fish, the elephant, the deer and the moth. And they each only have a single strong sense. So, what is to be the state of (mind of) us humans, who have all five senses present within us? If we were to pause and examine our daily lives, we indeed bound by all five of these senses. Our intake from the external world through the five seats of perception contribute directly to the mind, or our mental state.

And this is why, when we attempt to meditate, we very often get frustrated. The outward-directed mind has been fed all kinds of inputs by our senses all day along, and even during our dream-filled sleep. What chance does it have to be controlled, let alone be quietened without a change of direction of our senses? The probability for most of us, to control our mind as long as it retains an outward focus, is extremely low. The five horses are going to keep running our chariot amuck, unless we strengthen the charioteer (the intellect).

How is one to strengthen the intellect? One way, perhaps the only way, is to direct the senses inwards. What if we were to train our senses and their preceptors to direct their energy inwards, towards the divine? Can we direct ourselves to see with divine sight, hear the divine words, feel the divine’s touch, taste with divine purity, and smell the divine fragrance? If we were to direct our senses inwards, with strengthened intellect and power of discernment, could we become the charioteers of our inner, and hence outer lives?

On the return trip, I listened to four more lectures, for a total of eight hours of listening on the first CD. I have five more CDs to go. I cannot wait for the next road trip. In the meanwhile, I have a lot of inner re-direction to do.

The bridge awaits.

Kumud @AjmaniK

P.S. Come join me and the #SpiritChat community as we explore our sense of direction, and some (re)directing of our senses – Sunday, July 18th at 9amET / 6:30pm on twitter. Namaste.

Suspension Bridge over Ohio River (Cincinnati, OH)