The Hitching Pin

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

A large camel train was passing through the desert and arrived at an oasis where it stopped to take rest for the night. The drivers were all anxious to sleep, but when they started to secure the camels they found that they were short of one hitching pin. All the camels were duly tied up except one. The drivers searched for some means to tether the animal but none could be found. No one wanted to stand watch all night and lose his sleep, nor did the drivers want to lose the camel.

After some thought, one of the drivers had a good idea. He went to the camel, took the rope and carefully went through all the motions of tethering the animal to a pin - an imaginary pin. This triggered off the signal in the earners brain that it was bound and afterwards when the animal was bedded down, it stayed firmly in its place all night long.

The following morning the camels were released and all made ready to continue the journey except one camel. It refused to get up. The drivers cajoled and coaxed, but the beast wouldn't move.

Eventually one of the drivers realized the reason for the camel's obstinacy. He had forgotten to release the trigger in the camel's mind and it still believed it was tied to the imaginary pin. So he stood before the make-believe hitching pin and went through all the motions of untying the rope and releasing the animal. Immediately afterward, the camel stood up without the slightest hesitation, believing that it was now free.

Of course, the camel had been free all the time, but it had allowed itself to be convinced that if was bound. It is the tame with each human being - man it always potentially free, but most people allow themselves to be bound by their problems. For example, as soon as we have a loose bowel movement, the thought is triggered off in our brain that we have diarrhoea. So diarrhoea develops because we believe that it is inevitable and thus we are bound by it like the camel to the illusory pin.

It is the same with all the emotional problems which plague us. In certain situations we become angry, afraid, insecure, worried or depressed because the memory of past experiences enters the mind and turns on the switch. These responses become conditioned, like a habit, so much so that we identify with them and come to expect them. This affects us is many ways as has already been proved by medical and scientific research. Biofeedback, in particular, has shown direct correlation between these states of mind and physical disease.

When desire, jealousy, worry, anger, fear, insecurity or doubt enter the mind, a certain type of vibration is created in the brain. This is transmitted via the nervous system to the glands which produce the corresponding hormones. When these hormones are injected into the blood stream, we get various diseases: migraine, gastric disorders, epilepsy, hypertension, diabetes, asthma, etc.

No amount of medicines can ever eliminate them because they originate in the mind. Of course we can relieve the pain of these disorders by masking the physical symptoms, but as long as the mental or emotional triggers remain, the same diseases will erupt again and again. There is no antidote for the subtle conflicts of the mind except yoga, and no one to untie the imaginary knot of our own fears and problems except ourselves. These unwanted disturbances will only be eliminated when we realize that we are truly free.

This is the great service that yoga does for mankind. By showing us the way to understand and control the mind, psychosomatic diseases and emotional problems can be understood for what they really are - illusory hitching pins.

Chronicler: Kriyamurti Saraswati