Who’s Driving your Chariot?

Symbol of our inner instruments: The chariot is used by the ancient Yoga sages as a symbol for how to train your mind and senses. Though most of us do not use horse drawn chariots, the lesson is as practical today for Yoga as it was thousands of years ago. Allow your mind to visualize this image, and it will become a wonderful tool in your Yoga practices and daily spiritual life.

How to drive your chariot

Roads  The many roads down which the chariot may travel are the countless objects of desire in the world and our memory. 
Horses  The ten horses are the ten senses (indriyas) through which we relate to the external world by perception and action.
Reins  The reins are the mind (manas) through which the senses receive their instructions to act and perceive.
Charioteer  The charioteer is the higher intellect (buddhi), which is supposed to be the wise giver of instructions to the mind. 
Passenger  The passenger is the Self, the Atman, the pure centre of consciousness, which is always the neutral witness. 
Chariot  The chariot itself is the physical body, the instrument through which the Self, intellect, mind, and senses operate. 

Who’s driving your chariot?: For many of us, much of the time, the charioteer is not on duty. The reins called mind are flapping around freely without the proper guidance of our inner wisdom. When the reins are free, they give no instructions to the horses called senses. The horses (senses) roam freely down any road they feel pulled towards in the moment, in response to their memories of the past (chitta). The chariot (body) takes a beating, the horses (senses) get tired, the reins (mind) get frayed, and the charioteer (intelligence) gets lazy. The passenger is completely ignored.

Put the charioteer back on the job: The solution to the problem is to retrain the charioteer (intelligence) to pick up the reins (mind) and start giving some direction to the horses (senses). This training is called sadhana, or spiritual practices. It means training all of the levels of ourselves so that we might experience the still, silent, eternal center.

Allow the charioteer to serve the passenger: As the charioteer (intelligence) becomes more stabilized in being back on the job, there is an ever increasing awareness of the fact the the entire purpose of the chariot, horses, reins, and charioteer, are to serve as instruments for the passenger, the true Self.