"One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws its limbs within the shell, is firmly fixed in perfect consciousness.
The embodied soul may be restricted from sense enjoyment, though the taste for sense objects remains. But, ceasing such engagements by experiencing a higher taste, he is fixed in consciousness.
His senses are so strong and impetuous, O Arjuna, that they forcibly carry away the mind even of a man of discrimination who is endeavouring to control them.
One who restrains his senses, keeping them under full control, and fixes his consciousness upon Me, is known as a man of steady intelligence”…………….Bhagavad Gita Ch 2: 58-60
The ambit of the space within the tortoise shell signifies safety from external intrusion. The existence of the tortoise is always rooted in the terrain where it has to live out its life but it has the option to withdraw unto itself when threatened by external danger or when its awareness has to be lowered.
This is exactly what happens when we are in constant contact with a world that is generated through our senses. This reality in which we live constantly modifies our awareness into believing that there is no other reality other than what our senses dictate.
Even if we go by the Kantian categorization of phenomenal and noumenal worlds, the phenomenal world is the product of the mind based on precepts provided by the senses and the noumenal world, which is based on true reality, is beyond comprehension. Hence it is impossible to fix once consciousness on God who exists purely in the pneumenal sphere. If we extrapolate pure reasoning through the mind into the realm of the pneumenal we encounter a barrier. Moving away from the sensory world is not an easy exercise as Lord Krishna points out.
This is where discrimination comes to the aid of the seeker. A linear relationship from the phenomenal world in a process of deeper awareness into the pneumenal world can only be linked through the operation of causation. Causation leads to infinities from a purely mental perspective, hence we need to make a clear cut positioning based on the understanding that though we live in phenomenal world, we need to discriminate and do away with all sensory related process and move into intuitive grasping. This entails expansion of consciousness.
What is the basic difference between withdrawal and discrimination?
The basic difference according to me is; in a process of withdrawal we are aware of the current mental construct of the object from which we withdraw and it is a positioning through duality. It is a process of conscious positioning in which the frame of reference is still situated in the object from which we withdraw. But our concept of reality is so strongly rooted in the phenomenal world that we find it near impossible to overcome the force that binds us to this existence.
In a process of discrimination, there is a shift in the frame of reference which is rooted in the deep knowledge of the object from which we withdraw as well as a new frame of reference which is rooted in an alternate reality.
Restraining one’s senses and keeping them under control means that there is a deeper understanding of phenomenal world and why it is given to us. It is not a process of discarding but a process of understanding the functional utility of the sensory world. As a result of this awareness, an expansion of our consciousness happens.
A practical example is the autostereogram. It is an optical illusion of depth usually observed by allowing the eyes to focus behind the image (diverge), or, less often, in front of it (converge). These two methods are also known as wall-eyed and cross-eyed, respectively. The slight differences in vertical repetitions of figures or random dots create the illusion of depth in the 2D image, just as the slight difference in perspective between one's eyes creates the perception of depth on 3D objects and scenes. What we do here is to defocus and allow a larger awareness to take over and then we see the extra dimension emerging.
Similarly through spiritual practices we must expand our consciousness. This is what is meant by fixing one’s consciousness on God. This is the steady process of discrimination through which the multi-layered reality is brought into cognition.
Love to you all.