Training the Inner Self

Instruction: Learning through instruction consists mainly of hearing and reading. Some people say, ‘Instruction is wrong; let students find out everything for themselves by experiment’. That idea is nonsense. How can we say to a student? ‘Here are some copper, zinc, acid and wire. Now discover electric current! Geniuses like A. Volta, M. Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell took only about 200 years. Perhaps you can do it in an afternoon’. Clearly it would be impossible; he must have some instruction. For a negative-‘Don’t do that!’-the instruction alone should be enough. Judo beginners are often told: ‘Do not try to prevent yourself from being thrown by putting your arm out on to the tatami. It is dangerous. You may dislocate your elbow’. In life a similar instruction would be: ‘Do not drive a car when you are drunk’. These instructions may be followed, or not followed, depending on the intelligence of the pupil and also on how much he respects the instructor. For many people, such warnings alone are not enough. ‘A hundred hearings are not like one seeing’. The instruction may have to be confirmed by other means of knowledge. Observation: This is seeing what happens to others. If …

Read moreTraining the Inner Self

The Four Keys to Learning

Many years at Judo-first as a student and then as an honorary teacher in London-have given me some valuable lessons for life. I discovered that one can learn in four in ways-instruction, observation, inference and personal Experience. My conclusion is that to know something thoroughly one must learn it in all these four ways. This applies to life in general, but we can see it in a model from Budo. Budo practice in a dojo training hall is like doing experiment in a laboratory. If the correct result is clearly confirmed, one can recognize the same principle everywhere outside the laboratory, though not in such a clear form. For instance, the principle of gravity is demonstrated in a laboratory, inside a vacuum. In the vacuum, a thread falls at the same rate as a stone. This does not happen in the world outside because of air resistance. But the same pull of gravity is still there. Once we have seen it in the laboratory, we can recognize it everywhere. The autumn leaves, blown high by the wind, seem to contradict gravity, but still we know that gravity is working on them. In the same way, in our Budo training in …

Read moreThe Four Keys to Learning

The great Self takes on itself the illusion of the succession of bodies

II.22 As the wearer casts off worn-out clothes and puts on himself others which are new, Even so, casting off worn-out bodies, the body-wearer passes on to new ones. This great verse on reincarnation comes at the beginning of the teachings, and it refers to the great Self which takes on itself the illusion of the succession of bodies. A master of meditation remarked that the idea of reincarnation contains hints at wider truths than the bare idea of things wearing out and being replaced, which to many older people has a depressing ring. They find their bodies less and less reliable, and less competent to fulfil most of the purposes of life as they have understood them. He said: ‘Take the case of furniture. If a chair is reasonably well made, at the beginning it sparkles with the fresh varnish laid evenly all over it. It has an unyielding firmness, and is perfectly adapted for its purpose. But it is not necessarily particularly attractive. Now suppose it has been in use for a hundred years. A good deal of the varnish will have been rubbed off the arms where the sitter has let himself down. For some years it …

Read moreThe great Self takes on itself the illusion of the succession of bodies

Shaku Soyen gives Suzuki hidden help with the koan

 For a teacher or expert to help without the pupil knowing or recognizing it is good for a pupil’s motivation. But if the teacher is not present, it may induce despair when there is continued failure or seeming failure. For the pupil to know he is helped may on the other hand lead to dependence – “What do I do about this? Oh, he will sort it out for me when he comes to it.” A good teacher is able to give a tiny hint at just the right moment to bring the pupil to a realization or a success, so that he feels he has achieved it by his own efforts. Only afterwards does he appreciate what was done for him. Then he is grateful. In a memoir, Dr. D.T. Suzuki wrote of how he was given the koan of the Sound of One Hand by the famous teacher Shaku Soyen, and struggled with it for three years. Each time when he had come in, made the prostrations and announced the koan, the teacher simply stuck out his left hand in front of him and remained like that while Suzuki presented his solution. Then he rang the bell to …

Read moreShaku Soyen gives Suzuki hidden help with the koan

For a complete change, you have to change yourself too

“The doctor says that I need a complete change. So I am going to Italy, to stay for a month with a family which one of my friends knows well. It’s beautiful country round there. They don’t speak English, but I know a little Italian, and they say they would like their small children to hear the real English accent a little bit. I am not to go with a companion, and I am not to meet any English people there, or fluent English-speaking Italians. So it will be a complete change. I’ve made all the arrangements.” “Not quite all, perhaps” remarked the friend. “It won’t be a complete change if you are there yourself. For a complete change, you would have to change yourself too. What arrangements have you made for that?” “What can I do?” “You might take with you a text that tells you how to change your self, such as the Gita for instance.”   © 1998 Trevor Leggett

There are no ghosts except those that haunt the human mind

An old Zen Abbot and his attendant, while on a journey, stopped at a small inn. In the evening they talked and the innkeeper asked the priest about ghosts. The abbot said “There are no ghosts except those that haunt the human mind.” The master was a bit annoyed at this as ghosts had been seen in the neighbourhood, but the abbot would not give way, and soon went to bed. Still rankling at his defeat, the innkeeper said to his daughter: “In the night, you go and steal into his room, go up to his bed and hold his hand. Then I and one of the others will burst in with lights and discover you. He will be humiliated.” The daughter said “I couldn’t do anything like that” The innkeeper said, “Is a silver piece any good to you?” The daughter said, “Oh well of course, I am your daughter and I have to do what you say”.   So in the middle of the night she crept into the abbot’s room, came up to his bed and took his hand. The abbot sat up and shouted “Ghosts! Ghosts! Bring lights!” In a shame-faced way the innkeeper brought light …

Read moreThere are no ghosts except those that haunt the human mind

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!