Judo should naturally lead to meditation

Trevor Leggett, 8th Dan Judo, scholar and author of several fine books on judo and Buddhism, head of the B.B.C. Japanese service until his retirement, has had an enormous influence on Western judo. He is regarded by many as the greatest non-Japanese judoka. Background The 17-year-old Leggett started judo seriously at the Budokwai about 1931 because of bad health. “The doctor said I must do some physical exercise. I tried several things but found them boring. My parents forbade me to do judo, so I practised secretly for about a year. Tani and Koizumi were the two instructors, then, at the little club near Victoria Station, and they had very different styles,” explained Leggett. “I trained every day and did a lot of running at weekends, realising for the first time how bad my health was. I soon became fascinated by the variety of technique in judo. If you do tennis for six months you’ve seen all the shots even if you can’t do them all. In judo you will always see something different.” Leggett first went to Japan in 1938 as a 4th Dan, and after six months was confirmed as Kodokan 4th Dan. The Japanese Ambassador, Mamoru Shigemitsu, …

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The student must realize that the teacher has faith in him, the student himself

The cherry tree blossoms for three weeks. For the remaining forty-nine, nothing shows above the ground, but the roots are going deeper and deeper. The phrase in the Chinese Book of Change is: ‘The thunder is buried in the earth The vitality is in the roots.’ That long time of apparent inertia, and the short period of blossoming, form a unity. It is not that the cherry tree is depressed and sad, and a failure for a long time, but then has a wonderful success, but that success is, alas, all too passing, all too quickly taken away. No: this is a single tree, not two trees. The human being, especially the poet, sees the moment of qlory, and a long dull stretch when the life is in the roots as two things. But they are one. In the West there is a tendency to think of a tree or plant in terms of what is above ground only, though in fact the roots are sometimes many times bigger. If we are asked to describe or draw a tree, we present a trunk and branches. But the Chinese character representing a tree shows the roots as well, much more extensive …

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Reasons for quoting a verse in Sanskrit first, and then giving the English translation.

When I first went to Dr Shastri’s lectures on Vedanta and Yoga, one of the things that irritated me, as it puzzled me, was his habit of quoting a verse in Sanskrit first, and then giving the English translation. He would say, for instance: “The Gita says, in Chapter 13 Verse 30, Prakrityaiva ca karmani…..” and then a few more lines of incomprehensible Sanskrit. Then he would give the English: He sees, who see all actions Performed by Nature alone, And the Self not acting, Then he would go on to explain what this meant in living actuality. I used to think this was an incredibly pedantic habit. What was the point? He was speaking to Western people and none of them knew Sanskrit. So why quote Sanskrit? Why not simply give the English translation? I thought: suppose you wanted to study Relativity, you would not expect a lecturer or writer to keep quoting passages in German just because Einstein happened to publish his work in German. If the teacher wanted to site Einstein’s remark at the beginning of his original book on relativity, that it is not meaningful to speak of two events as being simultaneous, he would not …

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The yogic methods do not seek to confront illusions, they dissolve them

It is easier to get rid of a burglar than a ghost. You hear a suspicious creak in the middle of the night, so you ring up your muscular neighbour, and with him make a thorough search of the house. You then know for sure that if there ever was a burglar he has made off and is not there now. But with a ghost it is different. You have been reading a well-written ghost story before you fell asleep. Then you hear the mysterious creak in the night and you get the idea that the ghost is there in the house with you. You call the neighbour and make the search, nothing there, and you go back to bed. But then you hear a board creak and you realize the ghost is still there walking about. You lie there in fear. The application of this to life is that actual dangers can be confronted, and one can ultimately become free of them. But illusory dangers cannot be so confronted; they are always just round the corner. If you go around that corner you find nothing but they are now round the next corner. The yogic methods do not seek …

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It is not a crime to be spiritually only two or three years old. But we are expected to grow up

A teenage disciple asked the advice of a senior in the Yoga group he had joined. ‘My parents don’t understand me at all – we are always having rows. Why shouldn’t I have pictures of nudes on the walls of my room, like my friends do? I wanted to put one up in the hall too, but they raised hell over that. Why should I have to listen to them? I think I’m a natural rebel, and I won’t just meekly conform.’ The senior said: ‘Do you really get that much pleasure from these pictures?’ The teenager considered. Then he said: ‘Well, as a matter of fact, no. I think that clothes are like the sauce with a meal; they increase the pleasure. I don’t care much for bare meat. But all my friends have them up, so I do too.’ ‘But isn’t that just meekly conforming?’ asked the senior. ‘Shouldn’t the natural rebel refuse to do that?’ There was a pause, then the teenager said: ‘Yes, maybe you’re right there. Perhaps I’ll put up pictures that I really like. But it’s not only the pictures; it seems to be everything. My parents just don’t understand me at all. I …

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Extracts from S’ankara on the Yoga Sutras

In these extracts the translator proposes to give some idea of the original material which this sub-commentary provides for the study of the Yoga Sutras. Purely technical discussions are not included. It is intended that the meaning should be lucid and clear to the general reader. General information about the book  The Parallel with Medical Treatment At the beginning of his sub-commentary, S’ankara compares the yogic methods to the four-fold classification of medical treatment. This is familiar in even early Buddhist texts, and it had been assumed that Buddhists adopted it from medical texts. But, as Wezler has shown, the four-fold classification does not appear in medical texts before about 200 AD. Vyasa in the second extract below reproduces the Buddhist simile, and S’ankara echoes it in the first two but the simile in the third one is perhaps original to this text. We can note that S’ankara uses the term Samyagdarsana (right vision), a favourite word which appears repeatedly in the text, not so in Vyasa. Extract 1: Sutra I.1 (p51): No one will follow through the practices and restrictions of yoga unless the goal and the related means to it have been clearly set out, and the commentator …

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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 to clearly envisage the goal. His strength of character provided the will and determination and the efficient use of his energy to shape his destiny. Dr. Hari Prasad Shastri was Trevor Leggett’s spiritual teacher. Dr. Shastri, who had direct experience of what he taught, arrived in England to present the …

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