Gita Daily Readings

19th February
Chapter II:58
When, like the tortoise which withdraws its limbs on all sides, he withdraws his senses from the sense-objects, then his wisdom becomes steady.

Commentary

This is a vital yoga practice which should be applied to our daily life. The tortoise is a slow-moving animal which is therefore most vulnerable to enemy attack. Yet God's wisdom has provided it with natural protective armor.

Our spiritual progress or evolution is also very slow. All our life, all the way to spiritual perfection, we are extremely vulnerable to adverse influences. Unless we provide ourselves with a spiritual armor, we shall not reach the goal!

Our Master used to stress our spiritual need to have a background of thought which is our spiritual shell into which we can withdraw our limbs (the senses and the mind) whenever they are threatened by temptation or sneha. (This word sneha which usually means friendship or attachment, also means glue!) Before we get stuck in the world, we should withdraw our free "limbs" into this "shell," into this background of thought.

The best way to build this shell is thus: have a mantra (a name of God) and a mental image of God. Repeat this mantra constantly and also visualize the image of God as much as you can. This must be done specially and intensely in the morning and at bed-time. The meditation-current must be generated then; the armor must be "built inside" then. Even without any provocation, we should withdraw the mind into that shell whenever the mind is not actually occupied in essential activity so that the mind is never idle and is therefore not vulnerable. Especially when we are subject to temptation, we should immediately and intensely repeat the mantra and contemplate on God so that the mind is protected by the spiritual armor - the background of thought.

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