Approaches to Yoga and Meditation

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/ApproachestoYogaandMeditation.mp3   It’s customary to begin a traditional talk with a classical verse or two verses, so these verses are from the Gita: ‘He sees who sees the Lord standing equally existent in all the beings, the undying in the dying. He who sees the Lord standing the same, kills not the Self by the self. So he attains the highest goal.’ And the third verse is: ‘Not by much learning, not by a brilliant intellect, not by hearing many things is the Lord within realised. He who seeks Him alone, to him the Lord reveals himself as Himself’. That is from an Upanishad called the Mundaka. The first thing to say is that although there is a tradition of learning in the Vedanta schools, they don’t depend on much learning, as you heard in the verse, not by much learning, not by a brilliant intellect, not by hearing many things. Well, why then, …

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Yoga not is meant for trivialities of life

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Yoganotismeantfortrivialitiesoflife.mp3   The yoga is meant, not for trivialities of life. It’s meant for when I suffer a severe accident and lose an arm; it’s meant for when my daughter goes on the hard drugs; when my son joins a criminal gang; when I’m going to be thrown out of my house; when perhaps I’m going to become a refugee. It’s for these occasions that we study yoga. A modern yogi, with a sense of humour, he used to say: ‘It’s no use studying swimming when the ship is going down. You should have studied long ago and learnt to swim before you got on the ship’. In the same way he said: ‘Now, while circumstances are favourable, practice meditation – enough to gain a certain independence of the world and then when the crisis comes, that will come to you’. It must have strength. We can have theories and …

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Truths can be found

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Truthscanbefound.mp3   Supposing someone’s a wild beast, how can you say there’s a divinity there?’ Well, here again, we must examine our own experience very carefully. These things are not meant to be theoretical concepts. They are truths, and if they’re truths they can be found, and will be found, in our daily experience, and so I give you one of my own. In tropical countries, in India for instance, especially in the summer, a good time ago, high fevers were common and people sometimes had delirium. Now, some people, and it depends on the circumstances, they can be like wild beasts, because they think they’re being – as far as we can make out – attacked by enemies or by wild beasts or something like that, and they’re fighting for their lives. Now, if you have some technique, you are told, ‘Well, you know, you’ve got these things – …

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Purify your own mind

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Purifyyourownmind.mp3   There’s a rather, ironical story. St. Therese of Lisieux, she was a rather sentimental saint in France in the last century, and she wrote in her diary that there was a nun in the convent who had got a very bitter tongue and nobody liked her. St. Therese didn’t like her either, but she thought ‘This is wrong’. So she thought ‘Well, I’m going to make a special attempt now to be particularly nice and helpful and kind to her’. So she did that and she reports that after three months or so, that nun said to her, ‘You know, I think you’re the only friend that I’ve got in the whole convent. You’re so nice and you’re so kind to me. You must like me a lot.’ Well now, a pupil of a yoga teacher read this and said to the yoga teacher ‘There’s a woman in …

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He sees, who sees the Lord

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/HeseeswhoseestheLord.mp3   ‘He sees, who sees the Lord’. It has to be an actual vision. You know the system of meditation, to sit still, in a roughly balanced position, and then as the thoughts come up to let them go. One teacher said: ‘Don’t shake hands with the thoughts when they come up. Not wanted.’ ‘Oh she said to me the other…’ Not wanted. ‘I could have got a good one…’ No. ‘There might be a chance…’ Not that. Don’t shake hands with them. ‘There might be a chance to pull off something good if I…’ and then you start shaking hands with them and making a scenario and then the meditation is interrupted. Some Zen people sit – it’s worth doing to have the experience – to get up early before the dawn, find a hill where you can see the sun rise and collect a cloth full of …

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The Flower of the Heart

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/TheFloweroftheHeart.mp3   Friends, these are a few rags I’ve collected. Once they belonged to beautiful garments and embroidered cloths, but they’ve been ripped away from their context and then they’ve gone through the grubby hands and perhaps the mind of a translator and then the grubby lips of a speaker, but some of them are so beautiful and so strong that perhaps something will remain. The first thing, the first one is a poem, written by one of Japan’s great poetic geniuses, one in the galaxy of women poetesses in Japan. They are not in the star rank by courtesy, they showed themselves there [in Japan]. Her name was Komachi. She was very beautiful, and, according to the traditional “Noh” play about her, she used her beauty cruelly. She wrote this poem, which has been, of course – translators being a catty lot -been criticised in translation, but I think it’s good one: Alas, it is the …

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Pointing directly to the human heart

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Pointingdirectlytothehumanheart.mp3   The second sentence in the Zen summary which Bodhidharma was supposed to have given us, well, it’s translated generally as pointing directly to the human heart but the word can mean a finger, a finger, penetrating to the heart, stabbing to the heart. The first sentence is, ‘Not setting up words and writings’, and very often talks on Zen begin like that. Of course, Zen does not set up words. And books on Zen often begin like that: ‘Zen does not set up writings’. And then you think, yes? Then the speaker or the author writes ‘nevertheless’. and then the whole matter. But the point of what follows is that the finger should go directly into the heart and not be pointing outside. Is there Buddha nature in the dog? Yes or no? The great Saigo, at the end of the century, although he ultimately became a rebel, is always called Great Saigo. He was very fond of …

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The concealment of realisation

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Theconcealmentofrealisation.mp3   The rich man flashes his magnificence but when there’s an actual need to help someone, suddenly he’s got no money like a poor man’. ‘The sage hides his wisdom, as if he hadn’t got any, but in the end there is a light in the people’s hearts’. And another one: ‘The sage’s illumination is like the sun in the clear blue sky, but he conceals it as if it was in a medicine pouch’. And the next verses describe that the ignorant man displays his false coins for everyone to see, and the truly wise man conceals the gold of his wisdom, till it’s used very skilfully and secretly. It is a great theme in Zen – the concealment of this realisation, and there are many examples, like, for instance, an old woman who keeps a teashop but she is able to outface some of the great, very keen spiritual …

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Reaction from the universe

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Reactionfromtheuniverse.mp3 ‘If he comes with the arrogance of wealth, I meet it with goodwill’. ‘If he comes with rank and power, I meet it with righteousness’. ‘The superior one is not to be caged by a semblance of superiority’. ‘If one is fully determined, he can defeat fate’. ‘If the will is one pointed, the cosmic energy moves for him’. ‘Ambitious men think that they use the world. In fact they are used by the world and then thrown away’. ‘The noble one is not clay to be moulded by some potter’. ‘In your heart stand one step above the world, lest your robes trail in the dust and your feet be washed with mud, but in worldly life keep one step behind the others, lest you be a moth on a flame or a ram caught in a thicket’. ‘Those who hold to virtue will at some time find themselves …

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You cannot live on sweets

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Youcannotliveonsweets.mp3   The roshi, when he comes here he says, ‘It’s almost like heaven, your country, with your freedom, and your open spaces, and your facilities for the old, and your marvellous adult education facilities here, and the general kindliness of people. Almost like heaven! He said to me, ‘Don’t the people here feel these green fields in their heart?’ I said, ‘Well, if they could see under the complaints you know, they might be able to find them. We live in a bed of roses but the trouble is some of the leaves are crumpled, aren’t they? And we don’t like pink!’ Well, we are angels, or we ought to be, living in heaven, but a Chinese who knew the British well, said, ‘There is a lot of goodwill among them. They are angels, but they are lazy as hell!’ These things, the kind of pieces that I’ve been presenting, which I myself, …

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Some essential thing is missing

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Someessentialthingismissing.mp3   We know when the fly is caught in the window, its half open, and he’s buzzing against the glass, isn’t he? He wants to get out into the sunshine. Then we’ve often watched them. They go up the top and there’s the edge of the window there; beyond that it’s open. He comes to the edge, he just comes up a little bit, and we think, oh no, it’s all dark. Back in sunshine… and he’s buzzing against the glass again. If he could just leave that… go on… then he’d be free! This is used by a teacher as an example. People are going to go beyond the glass of the mind but then they get frightened, and they come back to it, frustrating though is. A little more, and then they’d be free. Well, I’ll read one translation which I didn’t read yesterday. This is from the Zen master at the …

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Naming a thing is not knowing it

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Namingathingisnotknowingit.mp3   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 rather 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 …

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Loosening the Knot of the Heart

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/LooseningtheKnotoftheHeart.mp3   When the food of the mind is pure, the essence becomes pure; memory becomes firm; there is a falling away ( prati-moksha ) of all the knots of the heart. At this centre we follow our teacher’s direction to use the commentary by Shri Shankara on the Upanishads, and go deeper and deeper into their meaning. Shankara comments on this phrase ‘the knot of the heart’ where it comes in the Mundaka Upanishad, and in other places he quotes it elsewhere also. The knot of the heart is loosed, all doubts are cut away,  all his karma-s are destroyed, When He is seen who is both high and low. Shankara quotes this (by citing the first phrase, in the customary way) near the end of his Gita commentary, to describe one who has realized the cosmic Self. The knots are of two kinds they are are impulses of …

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Swetaketu was a naughty boy

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Swetaketuwasanaughtyboy.mp3   There is an example of this last in one of the oldest Upanishads, the Chandogya.  (This must be at least 600 BC, and according to tradition, is much older than that. Our teacher quoted this example in one of his early lectures. There is a boy, Swetaketu.  Dr, Shastri said in his talk that this was a naughty boy.  That isn’t in the Upanishad nor in Shankara’s  commentary on it; but our teacher had access to some tradition which evidently said so. His father was a learned Brahmin, and who one day said to him:  ‘Svetaketu, you are now twelve years old and you should go and study under a teacher. No‑one in our family has ever been just a Brahmin by name.’ The duty of a Brahmin is to study spiritual texts. Manu the Law-giver says: ‘An elephant made of leather and a Brahmin who lacks piety …

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Flexibility is life and rigidity is death

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Flexibilityislifeandrigidityisdeath.mp3   Knots can be of different kinds, Shankara says. Status can be a big one. Here again, flexibility is life, and rigidity is death.  As an example, take the case of winning and losing at games.  A very influential book from the sixteenth century onwards in Europe was: “The Courtier” by an Italian nobleman and diplomat, Baldassare Castiglione. This classic tells the man good social position never to play any game or any form of sport against social inferiors in public, ‘unless absolutely certain to win!’ The book creates a knot: The man of higher status must not be seen to lose in public. If he lost, his status would be damaged:  he must be superior to others in everything he did. Contrast this with the attitude of the English land-owners in the seventeenth and eighteenth; centuries. They were called Squires, and many of them were very keen on …

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Vasanas and sanskaras govern human lives

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Vasanasandsanskarasgovernhumanlives.mp3   In the great classic known as the Yoga Sutra-s, Patanjali’s sutra II.5 says: Ignorance  is the conviction of permanence, purity, happiness, and self, in what are really impermanent, impure, painful and not-self. So the fixed impulses – called by him vasana-s and sanskara-s, which normally govern human lives, are based on illusion, and he puts them in four main classes of illusion given in the sutra: (1) the illusory conviction of permanence in what is impermanent We think things are permanent; we realize intellectually, but cannot realize practically, that they are always passing. When the Spanish dictator General Franco, at a very advanced age, lay dying in his palace overlooking a main central square in Madrid, detachments of his supporters marched through the square to make their farewells. ‘Good‑bye Franco, good‑bye!’ they chanted.  The dying Franco beckoned his doctor and asked feebly: ‘Where are all these people going?’ He …

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New discoveries are made by young men

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Newdiscoveriesaremadebyyoungmen.mp3   In Science most really new discoveries are  made by very young men.  Einstein was in his early twenties when he revolutionized two separate branches of physics. But after forty he spent the rest of his career in a losing battle against Bohr’s extension into indeterminacy of one of the very theories he had helped to found. The young visionary had become a pillar of conservatism. The lesson of many biographies of scientists is, that after some fifteen years accepting the basic principles so far discovered, they become dogmas. There is also the economic point: if he has a successful career, it is based on those dogmas. To lose them would be to lose his position as an authority. His books, lectures, and articles will have to be re-written, which may be psychologically unwelcome. There have been a few who were continuously creative in a long life, such as …

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  They become copyrights and lose their inspiration

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Theybecomecopyrightsandlosetheirinspiration.mp3   Rama Tirtha makes a great point of it. He says “many people with great will and devotion make a success of something because they are unselfish and they are devoted to it for its own sake.  Then something happens and they lose their inspiration.  They become copyrights. They think they are proprietors of what they have done. This drags them down into a cage.  The 19th century genius Helmholz. who consistently came up with new ideas in various fields of science, once remarked, ‘Suppose you have a new idea, but no time to develop it at the moment, but you  mention it casually to a colleague. He says nothing to you, but goes away. And then a year later he puts out a brilliant piece of research, based entirely on your idea which he has confirmed. He now publishes it under his own name, giving no credit to …

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The Supreme Self is to be meditated upon

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/TheSupremeSelfistobemeditatedupon.mp3   This isn’t meant to be an academic presentation of the texts, but it’s more to do with the practice. And the instruction and practice is more like a series of thrusts which we receive from a teacher or somebody who’s experienced, and one or two of them may register on us and then we’re expected to react constructively to it. So it’s making a few points with vivid examples, what’s called in Sanskrit, drishtanta, the visible example. When you present in the Indian logic, which is very old, when you present something you present the principle and you present the conclusion, and then you present an instance of it from daily life. For instance, where there is smoke there is fire. To demonstrate that you’d say well, fiery things, smoke. Then the drishtanta is as in a kitchen, that’s to say you’re given something definite from daily life, …

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The laws of nature are controlled from within

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Thelawsofnaturearecontrolledfromwithin.mp3   There’s a very famous case in 1912 when Debussy, who was a rotten conductor, used to come over from France and conduct his set of three pieces, Images, with one of the London orchestras, and Sir Henry Wood had rehearsed these pieces. Now, the first one is Clouds, it’s very quiet and harmless, the second one is called Fêtes and it’s meant to be a festival at night and the torches suddenly break through the trees, the brilliance of the torches and then they’re gone again. So there are very quick changes of tempo and this brilliant thing and then it stops. Now, Henry Wood had rehearsed the orchestra again and again and again, and then Debussy came over. But he was a very poor conductor and he failed to give one of the entries and then failed to give another one, and the result was that half the orchestra ended a …

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Brahman makes the mind creative

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Brahmanmakesthemindcreative.mp3   The world is taught to be a projection by the Lord, and it is like a play, we’re told. We have to think of a play. A play has its causality: Casca stabs Caesar and the blood comes out. And then a few others have a go and finally Brutus, and then Caesar makes his remark and falls dead. Well, all that happens because the conspirators have stabbed Caesar. You see the blood and he falls dead, and that’s a satisfactory chain of causality isn’t it? Because they’ve done this, therefore this has happened, but we in the audience know that although this is a chain of causality there is another chain of causality which is the real one, namely that these are actors, a troop, who are being paid their money and who have rehearsed this scene and Caesar has to practice falling down; it’s quite an …

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Mandukya Upanishad

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/MandukyaUpanishad.mp3   This Upanishad has a historical place of course, about 200 A.D. or something, and there is a famous work which goes with it, called the  Karika which again, is thought to be something like 600 A.D. And on those two, on the Upanishad and the  Karika, Sri Shankara,  whom we follow here, of whom our teacher was a most faithful follower, did a commentary. The Upanishad is very short, only twelve verses. Sri Shankara calls it the essence of the Upanishads, and our teacher’s teacher, Shri  Dada also said this is one of the three Upanishads which if studied will give the whole of the spirit of those Upanishads. The waking state, the dreaming state, and the dreamless sleep state. Now these are regarded as key concepts of the beginning of the Upanishad. The first state is awareness of external things. Shankara doesn’t, use the word ‘waking state’ …

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You have to worship

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Youhavetoworship.mp3   There is a Chinese, and  Japanese, legend of a bird whose feathers are so beautiful and pure that  the heavenly beings beg this bird form to make their feather robes, and the bird will give feathers and then it grows new ones. But this also is a creation of names, words and pictures, and it’s familiar and it’s recognised by the people in this tradition.  Shankara says that, In the same way, if things are created by names and the names are the things, then he says it is a disease to take these things which are names as real and we suffer from it, from this disease. And it is cured by knowing that they are creations of names. And he says that this is done by meditation on the Self. And he quotes the  Maitri Upanishad in his commentary here, ‘As the Self worship  OM, Worship …

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To meditate on a fact is not creating an illusion

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Tomeditateonafactisnotcreatinganillusion.mp3   The opponent says, ‘Your, Vedantic meditations are just like that. You’re trying by meditation to persuade yourself that the stump of a tree is a man. And all the time, really, you know that it isn’t.’ And  Shankara meets this point. He says, ‘It’s not like that, because the scriptures tell us that these meditations which are given, are not symbolic but are facts, are true.’ And in the Brihadaranyaka  the point is discussed at great length, and he points out that to meditate on a fact which is not yet realised is not creating an illusion, but it’s truth. And so he, in the meditations here he says, ‘In the state of seeing exterior things, let him meditate that heaven is his head’. The opponent says, ‘But heaven is not the man’s head’, and  Shankara says, ‘No. Not as the Sankhya’s see the self, circumscribed by the …

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The luminous inner sphere of Tejas

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/TheluminousinnersphereofTejas.mp3   This is a Yogic technique of quite a high order, to be able to shut out the voice and withdraw from the external, the consciousness of the external objects, into this luminous inner sphere of  ‘Tejas‘. In one of his books, which I read and they’re very interesting, he was having trouble with the newly founded unions, not very long after the war, about ten or fifteen years, and the row was on when the year changed. Well, New Year holiday, things close down, and then on the fourth day everything opens up and it’s customary then for the President and some of the managers to go, make a formal inspection of the whole premises. And everybody’s standing there, it’s all been cleaned up and it’s all spruced up and so on. Well, they thought they’d, kind of try him out as they were having a row. So …

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The source of Inspiration

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/PreludetoWagnersRheingold.mp3   The music here is in the prelude to Wagner’s Rheingold. The purpose of this piece is to depict the motion of the Rhine river. The pedal creates a constant drone and steady a framework for the rest of the orchestra to “flow” over top of. Although the river is in a constant state of movement, the actual concept of the river is solid and steady, which is being reflected and held down by the pedal point. https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/ThesourceofInspiration.mp3   As a matter of interest, the music we have just been listening to, it has strict rules of harmony and counterpoint. There is one case in which all the rules are ignored, or can be ignored, and that is when there is what they call a pedal base, a steady, long, deep note unaltered in the deep register. Then all the rules which have guided the harmony in the counterpoint …

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Our personalities can be purified

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Ourpersonalitiescanbepurified.mp3   People feel, “You can’t purify our mentality, our personalities, our complexes.  They can’t be purified; it is like trying to wash mud clean”. But that’s not the yogic experience. There is a technique for doing it. When we begin a spiritual piece of research and thinking, it is a good idea to bring the mind and attention and feeling to one of these points and this one is between the brows. If you touch or tap with the finger or press the finger nail, or you even pinch there, and use the after-sensation to bring the mind to this point, bring your feeling to this point.  Discard the other things, come back to this point. If you would like to just try. Sit reasonably upright and then just press the finger nail or just touch here and use the after sensation. Take your hand away, use the after-sensation …

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Thoughts come from the Karana-Sharira

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/ThoughtscomefromtheKarana-Sharira.mp3   It’s necessary to study some of the philosophy but not necessarily very much. If we don’t study some, we’ll never have the energy and resolution to practise. Briefly, there is the body consciousness and the mental consciousness. Then there is what is called Karana-Sharira, causal consciousness from which the thoughts, for instance, come. We don’t know where the thoughts come from. We are sitting here, suddenly a memory comes up and something quite unexpected comes up. We don’t know where they come from or where they go to. There is a layer which is not accessible to the ordinary man’s consciousness. Where, for instance, the hidden memories remain, where the complexes and the memories and the dynamic impressions join up. But beyond that there is a deeper level, which is an area of light – and from that area of light, the inspirations will come. Now we have …

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Clear the mind and light will shine through

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Clearthemindandlightwillshinethrough.mp3   Poincaré, he speaks of these experiences but he points out that it is a new order that comes out. It is not just sowing seeds. When you sow seeds you know what’s going to come out, no new order comes out. Poincaré says: “The problem is that it is possible to imagine that the subconscious, as it was called then, simply tries many combinations.  But the point is, there is something which evaluates them and presents one of them as the solution, and it is something entirely new and unforeseen. This means that there is something in my subconscious which is more intelligent than I am. I should hate to admit that.”  And he sought to get round that by saying: “Well, it is possible that beauty is an index to truth, and that this subconscious entity can evaluate beauty and select it on that basis. At least …

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Inspiration of Pauling, Helmholz, Russell, and Poincaré

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/InspirationofPauling%2CHelmholz%2CRussell%2CandPoincar%C3%A9.mp3   There are partial evidences which are recognised by us in our ordinary lives. For instance, I mentioned before, these moments of inspiration. Somebody like Pauling, the American chemist who made a number of discoveries in a long life, which many scientists don’t do. They make one discovery at the beginning and then they live on the fame of that for the rest of their lives.  But he was consistently productive, like Helmholz who was another one. Pauling said: “When I am confronted with a problem that defeats me, I deliberately make use of my subconscious mind. I concentrate intensely on it for at least three weeks and then I deliberately dismiss it. That’s not so easy but I dismiss it. And then sometimes weeks or months later, as with the structure of alpha-keratin, suddenly the answer pops into my head from nowhere”. If we read biographies we shall …

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Sit on a hilltop under the blue sky

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Sitonahilltopunderthebluesky.mp3   To sit up reasonably upright, not uncomfortable.  Now to feel one is on a hilltop under the blue sky. In your lap you have a cloth full of pebbles. Now a thought comes up – something which happened yesterday – and I mentally pick up a pebble and throw it and the thought away, so it goes rolling down the hill. Then another thought comes up – a row that’s brewing – take the pebble and throw it away with the thought. Gone. Not wanted. Another thought: “I wonder if this will come….”.  Throw it away. Another thought:  “Oh, these things always happen to….”.  Throw it away. Now mentally sit there.  You need not move the hands at all, but as the thoughts come up, mentally throw the thought away with the pebble. No thought can remain long in the mind if we don’t support it with our …

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Word Clouds and Realities

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/WordCloudsandRealities.mp3   Our teacher sometimes quoted the last lines of the verses of the late Victorian poet, Henley: Out of the night that covers me, Dark as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods there be For my unconquerable soul. It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul. When we hear these words, providing we are reasonably comfortable, there is a tendency to sit back in the stall, so to speak, and clap ones hands and cry, “Bravo! Magnificent defiance of death!” But, of course, we don’t take it as real. He has long been dead. And the cynic says, “He’s a puppy, barking bravely in front of a steamroller. Was he the master of his fate?” When our teacher quoted them these were not to be word …

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One method of teaching by Shankaracharya is superimposition

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/OnemethodofteachingbyShankaracharyaissuperimposition.mp3   One of the methods of teaching by Shankaracharya is said to be superimposition – putting on things which are false, imaginary and fantastic ideas [fanciful] onto the Absolute, and then removing them, which means liberation. As an example of this, here is a quote from a very reputable text book on Advaita and Vedanta: ‘We superimpose qualities and relations such as omniscience, omnipotence, causality etc. on the Absolute as they help us to understand it to start with. This is the stage of superimposition. On closer examination, we find that the Absolute, which is super-sensuous, is free from qualities and relations, and so we negate it of all qualities and relations. This is the stage of negation.’ P.G.Wodehouse used to write comic stories about the perfect manservant, Jeeves, who was much better educated and far more intelligent than his master, the amiable chump Bertie Wooster. On one occasion …

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Yoga theories can be verified by experiment

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Yogatheoriescanbeverifiedbyexperiment.mp3   In yoga we have theories, and they can be proved by very careful reasoning and analysis. Yet, the mind does not take them in. But, when they are verified, partially at least by experiment, then the resistance of the mind is overcome and they can be accepted. It must not be merely theory. If it is merely theory, it will never have any depth to it. We shall be told, “You are that”, and we shall say, “Yes, I can say without any hesitation I am… oh, it’s not quite clear… oh! Brahman! I am Brahman! I am fear….(turns the page)…less and immortal!’ No, that is merely theory. It has to be something which is true by experience, not simply a theory. Well, how are these things brought about? If we look at some of the actual cases given in the Upanishads [we will be given an indication]. …

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Intensity of enquiry enables transformation

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Intensityoftheenquiryenablestransformation.mp3   In the ChandogyaUpanishad, Satyakama comes for initiation and he demonstrates his love of truth and the teacher gives him a single initiation and sends him away with a herd of cows to look after them. And he thinks I will come back when there are a thousand of them and he is there for several years. So he has this one initiation in which the truth has been spoken to him. He lives with that, constantly in service of his teacher. Swami Rama Tirtha, too, it is said, achieved the whole path on a single initiation because there was so much intensity behind it. When the cows become a thousand, nature begins to speak to the disciple. The bull of the herd declares to him the glory of Brahman. Then a swan declares to him the infinity of Brahman. A bird declares to him the light [of Brahman.] …

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Theories may be propounded but cannot be lived through

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Theoriesmaybepropoundedbutcannotbelivedthrough.mp3   We can easily get into the idea of mere theory, as though Vedanta was simply intellectual concepts, superimposing concepts and then taking them off again at will. But it is not so. The theories may be propounded, but they cannot actually be lived through, even though the Vedanta is supported by very carefully reasoned arguments and very fine analysis of states of consciousness, to which full assent is given. Yes, it is proved, and yet it cannot be taken in. Well, if it is proved, and we know it is proved and we accept it, how is it that it is not taken in? I’ll give an example. A newly rich businessman wanted to show off his new house, so he invited a host of fifty odd guests, with the occasion being his sister’s return from abroad. She had married an astronomer, and he was going to meet …

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The Great Lord seated in the body

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/TheGreatLordseatedinthebody.mp3   The Gita has a definite programme of karma yoga, which is the lower form of tapas, and then it says he [the spiritual aspirant] has to try to discover the witness Self. In the thirteenth chapter, which is one of the chapters on knowledge, the field is described. “This body is the field. He who knows it is called the field-knower”. This does not mean that part of our mind looks at the other part of our mind and thinks, oh well I know. There is something within us which is quite separate from the field which is defined as the physical elements of the body, as the mind, as the senses, as pleasure, pain, desire, aversion, firmness, steadiness. All those things are the field. There is something which is apart from them. Shankara, in later verses of the chapter, says that it is as different from them …

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Vedanta is supported by very carefully reasoned arguments

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Vedantaissupportedbyverycarefullyreasonedarguments.mp3   We can easily get into the idea of mere theory, as though Vedanta was simply intellectual concepts, superimposing concepts and then taking them off again at will. But it is not so. The theories may be propounded, but they cannot actually be lived through, even though the Vedanta is supported by very carefully reasoned arguments and very fine analysis of states of consciousness, to which full assent is given. Yes, it is proved, and yet it cannot be taken in. Well, if it is proved, and we know it is proved and we accept it, how is it that it is not taken in? I’ll give an example. A newly rich businessman wanted to show off his new house, so he invited a host of fifty odd guests, with the occasion being his sister’s return from abroad. She had married an astronomer, and he was going to meet …

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Beyond the tangle of words

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Beyondthetangleofwords.mp3   The text, the holy text, on which our teacher based much of his instruction is called a Bhagavad Gita. Now one of the verses of chapter two says, in rough translation, ‘when you begin to pass beyond the tangle of illusions you will get adverse to, our teacher said sometimes you will get sick of all you have been told and all that they are going to tell you, the tangle of words, and then you will turn away from words and you will bring your mind within and then you will bring it to a stationary unmoving concentration called samadhi’. This is in Chapter II verse 52 and two verses later the disciple Arjuna asked ‘what is this man like who has brought his mind to steadiness and who is practising samadhi?’  That last phrase often gets left out, they often say ‘what is this man like …

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The Bhagavad Gita takes us beyond words

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/TheBhagavadGitatakesusbeyondwords.mp3 Now words can have power and some people say, Don Cupitt is one, that the words are everything and that you cannot think except by words ‘you think in words’ and so he says that words like God they are simply words, simply thoughts, they correspond to no reality. Nothing extra mystique can be meaningful or can be understood, we think in language and we understand only language. We think in language and we understand only language.  Now I’ll just ask you to listen for a very short time and think how you would describe this in language. Plays music. The fact is we have no words at all.  A trained musician has words he can visualise the score and he can describe it to some extent but for most of us there are no words whatever but that does not mean we can’t think about  music and be …

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