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Michael O’Neill remembers Trevor Leggett

An unscripted Dharma Talk – given by Michael O’Neill in January 2017 I’m going to tell a little story that I read in a book from Trevor Leggett called The Old Zen Master.             Just by way of introduction, this really began before Christmas 2016. As we were leaving the Buddhist Society, we met the people from the Trevor Leggett group. They were a very serious group of people, about half a dozen mostly elderly gentlemen who obviously sat with Trevor Leggett back in the day. .             I actually had come across Trevor Leggett already, as most of us have done over the years. I came across him very early on and his was probably the first or second book about Buddhism that I ever read. He also wrote books about judo and he was a very accomplished judoka. So many many years ago I had read Zen and…

Afternoons spent with Trevor Leggett

Memories and thoughts about afternoons spent with Trevor Leggett in my student days: Carrying water and chopping wood or rather making tea and cheese sandwiches.  “Look on this time of friendship as a lucky windfall, for after this time has passed, the wheel of heaven will make many a turn and bring another day and another night.”- Hafez  It was a spring afternoon and I had finished my lectures for the day. It was a short walk from SOAS to Tottenham Court Road tube station and then a 15-minute ride to Notting Hill Gate. I have always had an excess of energy and usually ran up the stairs at underground stations rather than using the escalator or the lifts. Today was no different. I bounded up the stairs and out into the street.  I walked into the fishmonger and picked up Trevor’s order of smoked salmon. He ordered it every…

My friendship with Trevor Leggett

I first had the good fortune to meet Trevor in the early 1970’s when, with my wife-to-be, we made weekly trips from Kent to London to attend talks given by speakers from Shanti Sadan at the Friends’ Meeting House in Hampstead.  A different speaker was chosen for each talk throughout the six week termly series and as – unsurprisingly, since most members of Shanti Sadan had no prior experience of public speaking – the quality varied greatly, it was always with delight that we saw Trevor taking the chair. And anyone who has listened to the recordings of Trevor speaking on this website will readily appreciate just how much his audiences enjoyed his talks. At that time Trevor was in his fifties with a personality and presence that inspired both awe and attraction.  In our early years as members of Shanti Sadan, although he was always approachable, we spent little…

Om for realization of the Self

Practice The practice is to be done first of all in a meditation posture, preferably on a cushion or folded blanket on the floor, with one foot up on the opposite thigh and the other foot underneath, forming a triangle on which the body can be supported for a long time. Failing this, the practitioner may sit on a chair, but without supporting himself on the back of it. The general posture of the back is something like that of a horseman looking into the distance. The spine is balanced, which means fairly straight, and the weight of shoulders and head should be felt to rest on the loins. Hands are locked together in some way, and eyes half shut or, if there is no tendency to sleep, fully closed. Westerners should cultivate where possible a seated position on the floor; it does not have associations of sleep for them…

Trevor Leggett’s Notes and Observations series 1

Miracles In Shaw’s St. Joan, the miracles were no use to the main leaders, who took advantage of them and then explained them away as luck.  They themselves did not change. The powers of grown-ups are miraculous to the child; but they are not granted as the child’s demands. He wonders why not. As he grows up, he can perform more and more of them himself, but also gets to know their limitations.  If they do not conduce to inner growth they are of little use.  To do the child’s homework for him produces a miraculous result, but it has no lasting value; in fact in the slightly longer run it holds up his development. For vairagya The attractions of the world are like stage characters – a creation of lights and make-up and stage props (e.g. money, power etc.), on top of the real character of the performer.  To fall…

Trevor Pryce Leggett

Trevor Pryce Leggett was a multi-talented man who excelled in whatever he seriously set his mind upon. His major interests were Adhyatma Yoga, a well-trodden classical path to the realization of the infinite and all-pervasive Supreme Self, and its non-dualist philosophical basis, Advaita Vedanta; Zen Buddhism; Judo and Japanese culture. His creative genius gave rise to the production of scholarly and instructive works, Yoga and Zen teaching stories, practical manuals, Sanskrit and Japanese translations and transcriptions as well as his broadcasts to Japan, in his professional capacity as head of the BBC’s Japanese service. Among the set of brilliant talents that  constituted his personality, two qualities in particular enabled Trevor Leggett to succeed in making a profound contribution, not only in terms of his life’s productive output, but upon the lives of others. His intelligence determined the effort, training and discipline necessary in a given field, born of the ability…

Naming and understanding

There is a mediaeval Japanese story about learning which is quite revealing. A man turns up at a mediaeval court, supposed to be about 13th century, and it is noteworthy that the local lords are, in the cheerful, democratic, traditional Japanese way, often presented as  fools. Anyway, the local lord is there and the man turns up at his court and asks for a job of employment. The local lord says, ‘What can you do?’ The man replies, ‘I know the unusual things that other people don’t know’. ‘Oh, oh, well, that might be useful, mightn’t it?’ so the lord takes him on. Well, the man’s at the court and periodically there are court crises when the accounts are miles behind and they ask him to lend a hand. He says, ‘No, no, the accountants can do the accounts, clerks can do the accounts. I do the things that no one…

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