Mastery over the five senses of the body is one of the different types of Spiritual Power or siddhis outlined in the Vibhuti Pada (Book III) of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. The attainment of this power is particularly important in the practice of yoga because the objective of this enterprise is to make the body a fit instrument for divine works.
Traditionally, it is believed that the characteristic powers of the senses must not only be purified of defects, but also raised in its capacity for a greater purpose. In other words, the five senses, which are channels for the mind and body, must also undergo a spiritual transformation.
So, how do we do it? How can we develop a sense of smell exceedingly more powerful than that of a dog that can discriminate odors at concentrations nearly 100 million times lower than humans can? How can we develop a sense of sound incredibly sharper than that of dolphins which can hear frequencies ten times or more above the upper limit of adult human hearing? How can we be more like cats that can see at only one-sixth the light level required for human vision?
Patanjali gives the answer in Sutra 48 of the Vibhuti Pada:
"Mastery over the sense-organs by performing Samyama on their power of cognition, real nature, egoism, all-pervasiveness and functions."
— I.K. Taimni, The Science Of Yoga
"By observing the various aspects of the sense organs - their processes of perception, intrinsic natures, identification as self, interconnectedness, purposes - with perfect discipline, one masters them."
— Chip Hartranft, The Yoga-Sûtra of Patañjali
"Mastery over the powers of perception and action comes through perfectly concentrated Meditation on their fivefold forms; namely, their power to grasp their distinctive nature, the element of self-consciousness in them, their inherence, and their purposiveness."
— Charles Johnston, The Yoga Sutras Of Patanjali: The Book of the Spiritual Man
Mastery over the five senses of the body can be attained by performing Samyama Meditation on their corresponding energy centers:
1. Nose - Root Chakra
2. Tongue - Sacral Chakra
3. Eyes - Solar Plexus Chakra
4. Skin - Heart Chakra
5. Ear - Throat Chakra
Remember this chart from the previous articles?
According to the sutra, while meditating on each chakra, you are to strictly focus on five points for each of the five senses namely:
1. Cognitive power - The specific power of cognition which resides in the particular sense-organ. For example, sight gives us the power to perceive, watch, seize, apprehend, analyze, observe, investigate, and so on.
2. Medium for Sensations (Tanmatras) - Tanmatras are vibrating, radiant potential energy, subtler than atoms or subatomic particles. They are limited "bands" of information that form a description of reality. For example, Rūpa (Sight) is the transit medium for the visual sensations. It contains form and color.
3. Tendencies (Gunas) - Gunas serve as the fundamental operating principles. A guna is the tendency not action itself.
4. Pervasiveness – The quality of filling or spreading throughout. Example: Sight has the power of extension through the whole field of vision which includes the distance it reaches and all the objects you can perceive within that distance.
5. Functionality - The purpose that something is designed or expected to fulfill. Example: Sight enables us to see incoming danger within our environment.
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