The Laws of Dharma: 6. Control of the senses (indraiya-nigrah)

My Indian guru used to have a very good allegory pertaining to today’s law. He would describe the typical Western mind as a runaway horse-driven chariot. The chariot driver had let go of the reins. So the ‘horses’ of the five senses – touch, taste, smell, sight and hearing – were literally being given free rein to run amock, wherever they wanted to go.

He would say that the purpose of turning our senses inwards in meditation is to find the chariot driver and give him the reins. The chariot driver is the I, the god principle that pervades the whole creation. After the I gets control of the horses, our lives will get back on course again.

I must say, all of that was a lot easier for me to practise while I was in his ashram in Andhra Pradesh, mainly because of his nature, but also because of the more spiritual culture. We would spend hours and hours and hours and hours of each day just sitting in his presence. Nothing else was required of us, at those times. It was called darshan.

Darshan was a thing. It worked on us. Whenever he came really close to me, I could sense the atoms of the air rapidly rearranging themselves to accommodate the passage of such a great spirit. His energy field was so powerful that after a few months, I felt as if I there was nowhere else to go, that all action was meaningless by comparison. In that way, my ‘horses’ soon gave up tugging and tossing their manes, and calmed right down.

I was often lucky enough to sit close to him. But sometimes, on big festival days, thousands of people would arrive and so I would get pushed to the back. I remember the first time this happened, I was sitting there feeling quite dejected, more than a hundred yards away from his chair. But when he walked in, he looked straight at me and penetrated my heart with a slight prick, which opened it up like a lotus. That’s when I got more of an idea about the potency of the energy field of someone who has realised their I.

This kind of inward-turning lifestyle is completely alien to us in the West. Here, everything is driven by outward action and consumerism, which has its roots in advertising in one form or another, all designed to entice our ‘horses’ away from our control. Few would dream of sitting for hours and hours and hours in bliss; we would be accused of shirking our responsibilities.

So returning here, I have been rarely able to completely reach the extent of what I experienced when sitting in his darshan. However, I am able to calm my ‘horses’ with various tools such as crystals and 432 hertz music, before settling down to meditate on Vedic mantras, and that really does help me to find the chariot driver and hand him the reins.

I sometimes long for those long, halcyon, blissful days in India, sitting at his feet. But there is nothing to return to. He reached his final samadhi just a few years after the passing of his elephant devotee, Sai Gita, who had been with him for 50 years.

However, I’m also content with my life now, and know that that huge dose of darshan was just an incredibly graceful and blessed interlude with one of India’s great ‘god men’ to give me a taste of what lies beyond maya (illusion) and show me that it is well worth striving for.