All training requires a certain minimum of theory

As with all training, the inner training requires a certain minimum of theory. In this book there is an underlying philosophical structure which, however, stands not as ultimate truth but as a working basis. The Absolute, tentatively called Universal Self or Brahman or by many other names, is beyond concepts. It cannot be known by them: it can be known by being, by becoming it so to say. It is tentatively called existence-intelligence-infinity. Brahman projects universes as fundamentally purposeful and beautiful illusions. As latent consciousness Brahman is in every particle of the creation. The purpose is that the consciousness, at first unmanifest then latent in primary elements such as rocks, struggles to evolve into semi-consciousness in plants and animals and self-consciousness in man. The programme is that those higher in the scale of evolution should help those in less advantageous circumstances to rise higher. By doing this they also make …

Read moreAll training requires a certain minimum of theory

The Pole Star Within

The inner meaning of the title, The Pole Star Within, is that there is something within us which can give us unfailing guidance for directing ourselves in thought, word and deed. By it we can guide our experience in this world, and our spiritual progress. The Pole Star is in the north. The sun rises in a different place every day. We usually direct ourselves by knowing the marks of the locality where we live. But if we travel abroad, we do not know the locality, so we cannot find a fixed direction. A fixed direction is given to us by the Pole Star, often called the North Star. When we list the directions, we say north, south, east, west; north always comes first. But the Chinese list them quite differently: east, west, south, north. North comes at the end. East (they say) is where the sun rises and wakens …

Read moreThe Pole Star Within

The inner compass shows itself when the mind is calmed

The Inner Compass There is an inner compass, which will show itself when the mind is calmed and finally brought to complete steadiness, and free from the disturbing influence of illusions and passions (which are themselves forms of illusion). When these conditions are right, the inner compass, like the outer compass, has a life of its own. It directs the mind to the Pole Star of the cosmic purpose. The meditator comes to know what he is to do in life, and when he faces in the right direction, he also gets the energy to do it. In his book The Heart of the Eastern Mystical Teaching, (published by Shanti Sadan, London) Dr Hari Prasad Shastri gives a secret of meditation: “Every man must be able to go into voluntary nervous and mental relaxation, and concentrate his mind on a symbol of God … It is this prolonged silence of …

Read moreThe inner compass shows itself when the mind is calmed

Fearless of death for himself

The Prime Minister’s Quandary Here is an example from the first half of the twentieth century. It concerns one of the states in India which were ruled by princes, under the umbrella of the Commonwealth. The young ruler of this state had appointed a remarkable man as his Prime Minister. This was originally a brilliant scholar who had decided to serve his state by going into politics. He studied in Britain and then America for several years. When he returned, his policies, enthusiastically supported by the prince, began to transform the state. He set himself to tackle the periodic cholera epidemics, from which this state, like others, suffered. The true solution was to improve sanitation, and in the meantime he proposed compulsory cholera inoculations for the whole population. He was able to show how these had cleared up the problem in other areas, but he met opposition from some of …

Read moreFearless of death for himself

Expanded consciousness and what to do

The Prime Minister’s Inspiration In that state of expanded consciousness, there suddenly flashed the idea of what to do. He had himself been a scholar, and now he sought out three younger Sanskrit scholars and learned from them that though the general principles of the ancient medical science were known, there were some obscure passages which had been little understood. He commissioned them to make a detailed search, explaining what he wanted. Some weeks later a public debate was announced, on the cholera injection proposal. The Prime Minister asked his scholars to address the assembly. They reported that they had made a minute examination of the ancient texts on medicine, and they produced some passages which implied that there were certain procedures that involved puncturing the skin: they produced a passage in the medical classic of Sushruta, and another from the even earlier Charaka. They also pointed out that in …

Read moreExpanded consciousness and what to do

Spiritual river in the human mind

Making the Desert Bloom The great Thar Desert lies in what is now Pakistan and is almost completely barren. There is a tradition in the ancient Vedas going back to over 1000 B.C. that a great river, the Sarasvati, which rises in the Himalayas, flows a long way underground. Recent prospecting for oil suggests that this supposedly mythological river flows under the Thar, and thus could make the desert bloom. Beneath the human mind, even when it seems most barren, there is a spiritual Sarasvati, which can make the desert blossom into inspiration and energy. To bring this stream to the surface of daily life is a main purpose of yoga. To make a desert bloom. This piece is not meant as entertainment; it is for people who are in the desert. A great Zen master was approached by two men and a woman who wanted to do some Zen, …

Read moreSpiritual river in the human mind

A time of crisis is a good basis for meditation

Meditation in Crisis In both Yoga and Zen a time of crisis is a good basis. A tragic bereavement, bankruptcy, public disgrace, ingratitude or even hostility from those who have been helped – these are the times when there is detachment from the world. These are practices that Dr Shastri recommended; they are well proven and reliable, and the book that they come out of is Meditation: Its Theory and Practice, which was written by Dr Shastri. One can be showered with different practices or presentations, but if one does one thing properly, then there is a chance for a response to come – an invitation to make the practices go further. But unless we start to do something there can’t be any response, there is no rapport. Lay down a particular time for meditation; he recommends first thing in the morning, when the mind is calm, though it might …

Read moreA time of crisis is a good basis for meditation

The handing on of a succession in some tradition

The Closed Fist of the Teacher The closed fist of the teacher is an Indian expression, referring to the handing on of a succession in some tradition. It is illustrated by one of the little stories in the Persian classic Gulistan or Rose Garden, which was several times quoted by Dr Shastri to illustrate some point (not necessarily the same one). Here it is. The Ninety-Nine Tricks The story can be summarized: A teacher of wrestling had a promising pupil, to whom he taught ninety-nine of the hundred tricks of wrestling. One rare trick, however, he kept back. As the boy became stronger and more skilful, the time came when he began to boast in public: “Of course in an actual bout I defer to my teacher and allow him to win. But in actual fighting ability I am superior.” Wrestling was then (and still is) a national sport in …

Read moreThe handing on of a succession in some tradition

Upanishad refers to sitting beside the teacher

Secrets of the Upanishads In spiritual traditions, words like “secret” are everywhere. The word Upanishad can be derived from upa = near, ni = down, and sad = seat (the ‘sh’ gets in by a phonetic rule that when an ‘s’ follows any vowel except ‘a’, it becomes ‘sh’). So the word Upanishad, a sacred scripture of India, refers to sitting beside the teacher, who then whispers it. Socrates refers to a doctrine whispered in secret and Jesus speaks of the secrets told to the close disciples alone. However, these things were not in fact kept secret. The formal title of the famous Gita, which proclaims itself to be open to all, is: The Upanishads Sung (Gita) By The Lord. At the end of the Gita it is said that to teach it, in a proper spirit and to proper hearers, is the greatest service. Some devotees learn chapters by …

Read moreUpanishad refers to sitting beside the teacher

The spiritual course must not become infected with worldly associations

Hidden Points in Life We come across such things in life. Suppose for instance that there is a long list of Chinese and Japanese delegates, experts, reporters and so on to a big international conference. There are thousands of the names, and it is desired to put the Chinese all together in some hotels, and the Japanese in others. The computer list, however, has mixed the names together, putting them in alphabetical order, beginning AN, then ANDO, then ARAKAWA, and so onward. The organisers will have to look up each name in various passenger lists; it is expected that the Chinese will have travelled on the national airline where they will get a discount, and the Japanese similarly. The job is going to take a good many people a good time. But they happen to mention the matter to an orientalist. He says: “You need not do all that. It’s …

Read moreThe spiritual course must not become infected with worldly associations

Paramatman is always in the peace and clarity of samadhi

Concentration and Meditation It is often recommended, that before we begin to study the Holy Truth, we should bring the mind to the central line of the body, and one of the ways of doing it is to isolate the point in the centre of the chest: just below where the ribs meet. This is technically called “the lotus of the heart”. Sitting reasonably upright, touch that spot; then using the after-sensation of the touch, bring the mind to this point. Keep the attention there, bringing it back if it is distracted, until it becomes continuous. Here is a text on this practice of samadhi meditation (Bhagavad Gita, VI.7): “Of the one who has controlled the mind, he is the inner Self, always in samadhi.” The Supreme Self called Paramatman, within each living being, is always in the peace and clarity of samadhi. By bringing the mind to this point, …

Read moreParamatman is always in the peace and clarity of samadhi

Practice makes perfect, but one has to be a perfect practiser

Practice makes Perfect Practice makes perfect, but one has to be a perfect practiser, or at any rate on the right lines. People take up this type of practice for a time; they struggle with it for a bit and then give up. And this is because the method is not understood. In Yogic psychology, action is defined as having a “purposive content” when it is planned and performed – and it is this that makes an impression on the mind. The impression is dynamic and wants to repeat itself. In our lives, we are laying down by our action dynamic impressions at the base of the mind. These are not available to inspection, but they are there. They are called sanskaras, and they produce impulses in us: “I can’t stand this” or “I love that”. Sanskaras can be controlled and changed; but this can be done only indirectly, not …

Read morePractice makes perfect, but one has to be a perfect practiser

Our basic nature can be changed, but not by sudden force

Changing the Nature There is quite some difference between the popularly held views in the East and in the West on this question. In the West we often think that it is impossible; the basic nature is there and cannot be changed. All one can do is to try to develop means of adapting to it. In the East there are traditions which say, roughly, that it can be done, but not by sudden force. When we wish to establish a pattern of patience for instance, it will not be effective to try to do it by resolutely thinking: “I must be patient, never impatient.” Let us take an example from the history of chess. In the 1840s, the Englishman Howard Staunton was generally accepted to be the best player in the world. (No one had heard of the Indian masters then.) He designed the chess pieces which are still …

Read moreOur basic nature can be changed, but not by sudden force

Meditate on patience, calm, and serenity

Yoga Methods The method in yoga is not to think: “I must not be impatient,” but to meditate on patience as achieved. Meditate in wide concepts: on patience, calm, and serenity. With each meditation, sanskaras are being laid down. For a time we see no improvement. But we must try to understand the dynamics of the mind. Yoga teaches us that the changes are being made in the deep recesses of the mind. When there are enough of them, changes begin to appear on the surface, at first in fragmentary forms. Impatient, or timid, or harassed people begin to find that they can occasionally calm themselves down, by recalling the atmosphere of their meditation. But that is not all that is to come. Some time later, suddenly, in the middle of a situation which always sweeps them off balance, there comes of itself, without any struggle or effort, a feeling …

Read moreMeditate on patience, calm, and serenity

Bring the mind to serenity at the heart centre for two hours a day

The large part of the mind which consists of unexamined ideas and habits, will often raise objections to Yoga practice: “Waste of time.” Swami Mangalnath’s advice is to bring the mind to serenity at the heart centre for two hours a day. The mind will probably object: “But I’ll have to cut my television time!” Sometimes beginners feel that even an hour’s meditation a day is wasted. There may be a temporary exaltation, but it is soon lost in the rush of life. Would it not be better to use the time in life itself, perhaps doing some good instead of just sitting there? They do not understand the dynamics of yoga meditation. As a parallel, consider the case of an undeveloped country which wanted to industrialize itself. The government found young, idealistic, intelligent people and sent them abroad on scholarships to main centres of engineering and science to examine …

Read moreBring the mind to serenity at the heart centre for two hours a day

By meditation, that which is hidden becomes manifest

Inspiration The great point is, not to rule ourselves out but to follow the instructions and make the experiments. The sceptic may say, “There is no Rama, no such God in reality. What is the proof? Rama and Krishna were simply mythological dark-skinned South Indian divinities taken up by the Aryans after they found they could no longer believe in the old Vedic gods such as Indra.” They support their view by inferences from texts, always with the absolute conviction of materialist pre-conceptions. But these texts are to be tested by experiment, not ruled out from the beginning by what Shankara calls ‘forceful assertion’. In the Brahma Sutras, one of the great text books of yoga, it says (III.2.5), “By meditation, that which is hidden becomes manifest.” His commentary explains that there is divine inspiration and power within every one and, if there is resolute meditation and resolute inner purification, …

Read moreBy meditation, that which is hidden becomes manifest

The gift of things, the gift of courage, and the gift of wisdom

Three Gifts Words may not be needed. There are people who, when you visit them, say almost nothing so that you think perhaps you’ve wasted your time going to see them. But when you get home, you find something you’ve been frightened of doing is now not so frightening after all, in fact it is easy. You have received the holy gift of courage. Classically there are three kinds of gift: the gift of things, the gift of courage, and the gift of wisdom. You can be given money, which would be the gift of a thing, but that soon goes. There is another gift, not given necessarily through anything physical, and that is the gift of courage. Instances of it were often cited by our teacher. He recalled how Japanese would seek an interview with the great Saigo, and sit silently in the same room with him but without …

Read moreThe gift of things, the gift of courage, and the gift of wisdom

With Patanjali the objective is limited to escaping from suffering

Patanjali – The World is Real There are different forms of samadhi. Patanjali lists nine and they are all based on the experienced fact of the reality of the world and its causes and effects. So, when the state of meditation, with its exaltation and freedom ends, the meditator comes back to a real world. In Patanjali’s system the objective is limited to escaping from suffering of being identified with a real body and mind in a real world. To that extent he is like a doctor whose purpose is to get the patient out of the suffering condition and back into society. The doctor does not inquire what the patient will do when the patient is healed. In the Advaita system of Shankara, there is the same purpose of relieving the immediate suffering of those who are sure that the world is real, and to this extent the Yoga …

Read moreWith Patanjali the objective is limited to escaping from suffering

In Advaita Vedanta experience the world is no longer what it was

Advaita – The World as Unreal Though there are some resemblances, when the yogi comes out of Patanjali meditation, the world is as real as it was before. After a successful Advaita Vedanta experience, however, described above, the world is no longer what it was. Knowledge has arisen and though there is a world, it is only an appearance projected onto the Universal Self. In some cases the one who knows continues to take part in the world as a sort of sport, as we would take part in a game. The yogis give the example of chess, where distinct powers are projected onto pieces of wood. They are all known to be merely wood, but they are treated differently: with a bishop all that is expected and permitted of it is a diagonal move, with a rook, straight lines. We know to win is unreal and yet we try …

Read moreIn Advaita Vedanta experience the world is no longer what it was

Swami Rama Tirtha on Samadhi

Swami Rama Tirtha made a list of samadhi-meditations on Knowledge. In some of these there may still be a shadowy knowing process, and known object, but they are no longer real. He calls them vikalpa, which means a theoretical and illusory construct. Shankara uses a pair of terms: with-vikalpa (sa-vikalpa) and without-vikalpa (nir-vikalpa). The term Brahman-with-vikalpa emphasises, that supposed attributes of Brahman the Absolute, are in fact Maya-illusion; Brahman-without-vikalpa means the Absolute without illusory attributes. Rama Tirtha adopted the extended use of the terms in his samadhi chart. One of the with-vikalpa samadhis is merely to watch unmoved the changing world, as it’s Light so to say. He calls this a Phenomenal samadhi. Another, which he calls Noumenal, is to meditate: “I am Existence-Consciousness-Bliss”. Another, the world and its values are accepted as a Sport and the yogi takes part in that world. In the with-vikalpa meditations, some shadowy appearances …

Read moreSwami Rama Tirtha on Samadhi

Individual self expands finally into the Universal Self

The Universal Self In Gaudapada’s Karikas, Books 2 and 3, there are several verses on this. The essence of the individual self is not lost but expands finally into the Universal Self. Fear of losing individuality is therefore unjustified. But when first heard, the maxim “Go above thinker, thinking and thought” is a shock. An inner voice says: “These things are my life. If they go, what will be left? I can feel nothing else, there is nothing else.” Here the holy tradition, which embodies the experience of many centuries, tells us that there is something else, as yet realised only intellectually and not in living feeling. An example of a potentiality, theoretically known but not felt is this: if in sleep you lie on your arm, it goes numb. As you get up, the arm seems dead and you can’t move it. Now though your thought tells you, “This …

Read moreIndividual self expands finally into the Universal Self

Scriptures change the lives of those who hear them

See, Hear, Understand, and Sit On The huge body of Chinese Buddhist scriptures, which include not only translations of many Indian texts which have disappeared in India, but also many texts which originated in China, are sometimes put together in an enormous revolving bookcase, in the form of a great drum. There is a belief that modern man – beginning presumably with the modern men in China of the first century AD when Buddhism arrived there – cannot be expected to study them all. Or even half, or even a quarter, or even a fraction of them. But if he has the faith, and stands before that great drum of the scriptures, and simply turns it round a complete revolution – why then, he will get the same merit as if he had studied them. It is a bit like the Tibetan prayer-wheel, though that has only one scripture, or …

Read moreScriptures change the lives of those who hear them

The Tibetan prayer wheel enclosed a minimal scripture

Inner Scripture There has to be an inner scripture. The Tibetan prayer wheel enclosed a minimal scripture, or a sentence from a scripture. But the real effect is from revolving in the heart, not from the external whirling. Again, two Chinese Zen monks, in the same monastery, thought they would help each other to remember the urgency of the Buddhist undertaking, by writing on their foreheads the six-stroke Chinese character DEATH. The idea was, that each time one of them saw the other, he would be reminded that on his own forehead too was the word Death, and he would recall the urgency of the Buddhist aspiration to go beyond life-and-death. A visitor to the monastery saw them, and was much impressed. He asked the abbot about it, and was surprised when the old master said: “Oh, it is all right for beginners perhaps. But until that word is written, …

Read moreThe Tibetan prayer wheel enclosed a minimal scripture

Kena Upanishad If you think you know it well, then little indeed you know

Known to Whom it is Unknown ‘If you think you know it well, then little indeed you know.’ (Kena Upanishad) With these words, the teacher gives the mind of a pupil a shake. The words are a thrust at self-satisfaction. The pupil has an intellectual grasp of Brahman, Truth, and some experience of it. But he thinks that this shining intellectual experience is the True Knowledge that gives liberation from confinement in body-mind individuality. The teacher gives a thrust: “If you think that this is knowing it, you know almost nothing about it.” Badly shaken, he leaves the group of disciples and goes to a solitary place. There he sits down in the deep meditation which leads to samadhi, and takes the needle-point of his ‘I’ consciousness beyond associations and memories. In the Zen phrase, the bottom falls out of the bucket. He comes back, and the teacher looks at …

Read moreKena Upanishad If you think you know it well, then little indeed you know

Those dominated by instinctive impulses often claim to be freely enjoying them

Free Fall A rock, or a human being, falling from a cliff is said to be in free fall. But they are not free, because they have no choice. Similarly, those dominated by instinctive impulses often claim to be freely enjoying them, but in fact they are no more free than a falling rock. They are not free to check themselves. Freedom can be a sort of verbal trick. When Henry Ford first introduced mass production, his famous Model T was always painted black. A reporter from abroad asked him whether customers could choose other colours. “They are free to choose any colour they like,” replied Ford, “as long as they like black.” Another instance which provided a good deal of entertainment in its own way, came about when a successful English abstract painter was being interviewed (of course through an interpreter) on the French radio. The interviewer asked: “Would …

Read moreThose dominated by instinctive impulses often claim to be freely enjoying them

Extraverts find it difficult to remain alert without constant reinforcement

Welcome, Well Come Extraverts have a reputation for energy, but in fact they find it difficult to remain alert without constant reinforcement from the surroundings. As a result they are always influencing, and influenced by, that environment. If good-natured, they try to have good relations with others. Their inner weather depends on the outer weather, which they can only partially control. Those who can turn within, however, can develop considerable independence – they carry their own weather with them. If it consists of thunderstorms, they are unhappy; but if they have learnt how to create serenity, they can carry a clear sky wherever they go. Suppose it is a question of coming to attend a serious meeting. The extravert takes a chair, but does not check how it is placed. Perhaps he puts his things on a neighbouring chair. Now when someone else arrives, the extravert will at once sit …

Read moreExtraverts find it difficult to remain alert without constant reinforcement

Silence can deepen into an almost tangible peace

Falling Snow  Someone with a little inner training, checks the position of the chair before sitting down, and is careful not to encroach on any neighbouring space. He settles down silently, and then withdraws and sits still. With audience of this kind, the place fills up without any disturbance; they come in, as the Zen phrase has it, ‘like snowflakes falling’. The silence can deepen into an almost tangible peace. When the concert or address begins, it is heard by minds already calm, and correspondingly capable of fullest appreciation. They come in this way who have passed through the Zen riddle called The Sound Of One Hand. They have well come. Back to series

The karma-mirror

Poetics A noted, middle-aged poet lived like a recluse in a remote area. The country had a strong tradition of poetry; for every public occasion, and some private ones, there would be a commission to write a poem. This poet had, aided by some strokes of luck, established a reputation, and many commissions came to him, so that he became comparatively wealthy. He was an eccentric man, who lived in solitude, and he never visited the capital. He wrote his poems in a little two-roomed retreat he had built in a corner of his large garden. Hardly anybody knew what he looked like; he employed a local, simple-minded boy as his messenger, to go to the local town with his correspondence. It was popularly supposed that he spent his time in creation and contemplation, but as a matter of fact he had a secret passion for gambling. From time to …

Read moreThe karma-mirror

Action on individual and cosmic planes

The Dilemma What is the difference between action on the individual and on the cosmic plane? Suppose an obsessive gambler once more approaches a better off friend “for a small loan”, perhaps of forty pounds and perhaps of four hundred. He promises it will not be spent on betting, a promise he has made, and broken, many times before. The friend knows what will happen, but often he cannot refuse the bedraggled figure at the door. Now if he has done some meditation, the awakening buddhi will tell him: “No. To give confirms his habits of betting, drinking, and breaking his promises.” This hint, in the unfamiliar language so to speak, may be difficult to translate. “I see that and I have tried that occasionally; but when I refuse him, I feel terrible afterwards. He knows this, and turns up every week and sooner or later I give in and …

Read moreAction on individual and cosmic planes

Meditate and some way will suggest itself

A businessman who practised yoga in a group, went to a senior for advice. ‘There is an opportunity for me to do quite a bit of good to some people in need, but it would mean tricking another man. I know that he is quite a rogue, so I feel tempted. The good would outweigh the bad, and he would get no more than he deserves, considering what he himself has done to others. I can’t find this sort of case covered in the traditional books.” “No,” agreed the senior, “the general principles are sometimes difficult to apply, but let me ask you about something in my own experience. When I was young, my brother was starting up a life assurance business. To help him make a start, I took out a savings policy, at a monthly premium, which I could just about afford, and kept this up for a …

Read moreMeditate and some way will suggest itself

The buddhi can reflect cosmic purpose

Translating Behaviour Learning a Language When we begin to learn a foreign language, we may learn a few words by the so-called Direct Method. But for anything more than simple meanings, we have to construct an English sentence in our heads, and then search for equivalents and structures in the foreign language. This can go on for a very long time, even when there is a good knowledge of the new language. It takes courage to bring out a foreign sentence without checking it first. Shaw’s remark, that it is impossible to learn to skate without looking ridiculous, can be useful here. If the grip of fear can be loosened, the time comes when in some little emergency, the speaker finds himself producing a foreign sentence without the previous English draft. He has begun to think in the new language. This is generally a decisive moment, and from then the …

Read moreThe buddhi can reflect cosmic purpose

The power to discard unwanted thoughts

Discarding Unwanted Thoughts A central principle of yoga is to cultivate the power to discard unwanted thoughts. The value of this is sometimes vaguely recognized in ordinary life. A cypher officer working at speed tries not to let his mind become engaged with the meaning of a vital text; it is found that if he does, his operational skill becomes affected. It is well known that a surgeon avoids operating on a member of his own family; his emotions are not merely irrelevant, but may be a positive disadvantage. However avoiding a problem is not solving it. And it means that some unexpected advantages are lost which can come from a solution. Back to series

Telepathy in Japanese Chess

In the Japanese form of chess called Shogi, some of the masters do practise special forms of concentration which are almost unknown in the West. One of the great champions of Shogi (which is considerably more complicated than Western chess, played as it is on a larger board with more pieces) was the late Yasuharu Oyama. When in a championship game Oyama had the first move, he often did not make it at once, but sat confronting his opponent across the board. Then after a few minutes he would make one of his usual opening moves. In these games there is a time limit, and it seemed curious to use up those precious minutes doing nothing. The present writer knew Oyama and asked him why he did it. He replied: “Many players when they have the first move make it at once, eager to bring about one of their favourite …

Read moreTelepathy in Japanese Chess

The Way is manifesting

Martial Arts Another fractional application of the principle is in the field of the martial arts. In a way, these are better illustrations, because the result is so instantaneously apparent. There normally has to be some technical skill as a basis for the experimental field. Armed with his sword or spear, he goes against the opponent, but on this occasion to practise forgetting all his skill, forgetting desire to win or fear of losing, and in fact giving up thought altogether. What happens? What actually happens is, that the other man scores with a blow to the head or chest, while he stands like a dummy. What went wrong? It is this: to think of not thinking is itself a thought. So his mind was not clear like a blue sky, but clouded with “I must have no clouds: how am I doing?” When the practice has been done many …

Read moreThe Way is manifesting

In meditation a higher dharma stands out

Good, No Good The Chinese Zen master whom the Japanese call Tozan presents this case: you see a frog sitting on a water-lily leaf; silently moving towards him from behind is a hungry snake. Do you interfere by driving off the snake with your stick, or even killing it? If you do this because you do not like snakes and are sorry for the frog, then you interfere with the great course of nature. If on the other hand you stand back, watching the snake devour the frog, then where is your compassion? Now, the frog while it is alive is engaged in catching insects by shooting out its long sticky tongue. So if you interfere, it is bad for the snake, good for the frog, but bad again for the insects. If you don’t interfere, it is good for the snake, bad for the frog, but good for the …

Read moreIn meditation a higher dharma stands out

Speak out the truth fearlessly regardless of consequences

The Brahmin Thief In classical India, one of the duties of the privileged class of Brahmin priests was, to speak out the truth fearlessly regardless of consequences, and another was, to give spiritual instruction where it was clearly needed. Some of the great priests confronted and checked the arrogance of kings, and the virtue of Dana or Giving is stressed in classics like the Bhagavad Gita. An astute businessman, who had foreseen a famine, had collected all the available rice in his granary. He now held on to it to squeeze the highest prices out of the better off. The poor, beginning to starve, consulted a Brahmin equally poor, to plan a raid on the granary next to the businessman’s house. The carpenter had spotted a weak point in one corner, and thought he could make a hole through which a man could wriggle. Once inside he could pass out …

Read moreSpeak out the truth fearlessly regardless of consequences

Words of love are not necessarily kindly words

Kindness A yogin who had realised God while still a young scholar, was approached very privately by a scion of a noble house. He knew that the yogin had some skill in the traditional medicine of India called Ayur Veda, and he begged for his help. He dared not go to his family doctor, or to any other doctor in the town because of the nature of the disease; he was well known, and the matter would soon find its way back to his father who was rigid in his moral convictions. He had already told his son that any further falls from the path of virtue would mean his expulsion from the family. The yogin-scholar agreed to help, and in fact found an effective treatment. The young man professed eternal gratitude, but the yogin said: “Demonstrate your gratitude by upholding your father’s name as he wishes it.” This was …

Read moreWords of love are not necessarily kindly words

Frightening people into silence is not real strength

A Prince Reprimanded After Aurangzeb died in 1707, the Mogul Empire began to decay and India was effectively split into independent states. Their authority was often weak, and much of the country was at the mercy of brigands and freebooters. After the British were more or less invited in to restore order, many of the states retained semi-autonomy, though protected by the central government. Some of the rulers used to send their sons to be educated at a private school for princes run on English lines. This had many advantages besides learning the language of the sovereign power: the youngsters could meet each other without the constraining, and distancing, punctilio of formal court etiquette. They met, and often made lasting friendships, on so to say neutral ground. The school was widely respected till Independence in 1947, when the princes ceased to exist as such. The successive English headmasters had some …

Read moreFrightening people into silence is not real strength

Sermons by Oka Kyugaku

The Treasury A monthly magazine Shuzen (Zen Practice) consisting of sermons by Oka Kyugaku came out for seven years until his death in 1953. They were delivered by this famous Zen master in his retirement at Shuzenji Temple in Izu Peninsula, Japan. The Key to the Treasury is one such sermon. The Giving of the Precepts is a very solemn matter. Originally, these are rules for worldly conduct which are in fact from the beginning natural to man, but it is only when they have been heard from a senior monk and deeply assented to in the self, that they can really become one’s own. This is brought about for the first time at the ordination ceremony. The word ‘senior’ means the Buddhas of the three worlds and the patriarchs of history; and the Conferring means that they transmit what they practise themselves; Receiving means that what has been transmitted …

Read moreSermons by Oka Kyugaku

The ordinary man becomes a Buddha

A Story Once upon a time there was a poor man, and he happened to meet a kindly rich man, who felt very sorry for him. So he took the poor man with him and entertained him to a splendid meal, including rice wine. The poor man, not used to the wine, soon became tipsy, and finally collapsed into a deep sleep. The friend thought that when the other awoke, he would still be as poor as before, and he thought how he might make him able to live better in the future. So he sewed a precious jewel into a corner of the sleeper’s cloak, thinking that when he sobered up, he would find it and his troubles would be over. With this thought, he left him. But when the sleeper awoke he did not notice what had happened and went on as before, going from place to place …

Read moreThe ordinary man becomes a Buddha

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