The Process of Disengaging Attention From the Objects of the Senses

The connection between the sense mind and the senses of perception is strong and imposing. We cannot simply shut off the impulses sent by the objects of the senses and carried through the nerve connections to the brain where the connection to the sense-mind is then carried out. At the same time, the Gita prescribes a reorientation to detach ourselves from our fixation on the outer world and its objects in order to turn our focus toward the higher and inner truth of our existence, the Soul, the Purusha.

Sri Aurobindo defines the issue: “This cannot be done perfectly by the act of the intelligence itself, by a merely mental self-discipline; it can only be done by Yoga with something which is higher than itself and in which calm and self-mastery are inherent.”

This is where a consecration and devotion can come in, by turning the attention first of all to the Lord of our being, who is the Purusha within, and unify our consciousness and identification of our standpoint with that inner Purusha. “And for that we must at first make him the object of our whole being and keep in soul-contact with him. This is the sense of the phrase ‘he must sit firm in Yoga, wholly given up to Me’;”

While we cannot prevent the objects of the senses from impinging on the sense mind, we can move the fixed attention and focus of the intelligence away from attending to and being fixated by these objects. Sri Aurobindo explains: “If this is done, then it becomes possible to move among the objects of sense, in contact with them, acting on them, but with the senses entirely under the control of the subjective self,–not at the mercy of the objects and their contacts and reactions, –and that self again obedient to the highest self, the Purusha. Then, free from reactions, the senses will be delivered from the affections of liking and disliking, escape the duality of positive and negative desire, and calm, peace, clearness, happy tranquility,…will settle upon the man.”

“It is this calm, desireless, griefless fixity of the Buddhi in self-poise and self-knowledge to which the Gita gives the name of Samadhi.”

Sri Aurobindo, Essays on the Gita, First Series, Chapter 10, The Yoga of the Intelligent Will, pg. 94,