The Story ofF Raikva

One of the attractions of a certain type of story is its demonstration that the reader is not merely, being treated to an ingenious exhibition of gossamer word-spinning and thought-weaving ; what he is being told actually works in practice. The story of Raikva, according to the great commentator Shri Shankaracharya, is introduced in order to make the general subject matter of this part of the Chhandogya Upanishad easily understandable and to show how a man of firm virtue is eventually led to a Teacher who imparts to him the supreme Knowledge. Of rather different intent is the tale recounted by a modern Zen master in commenting on a verse of the celebrated Zen Teacher Hakuin. ” Lions and Tigers ” is satirical and symbolic and the finer points of the illustration will need to be dived for. Even so, the greatest challenge to readers is likely to be the …

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Two Stories

The King of a small state in the south of India used to meditate every day on himself as a servant of God. He limited the satisfaction of his desires to what he thought appropriate to a servant, and practised a servant’s simplicity of life. After some years, this practice produced in him extraordinary energy and clear-sightedness; his kingdom was a success internally, and the neighbouring kings soon found it did not pay to venture to extend their territory. The king’s spiritual adviser (though not his Teacher) was one of his ministers, to whom the king owed, and knew that he owed, a good deal of his success. This minister was an advanced practicant of meditation. One day the king learned, by chance, that the minister’s own form of meditation was on the self as infinite shining space. He told the minister that he would like to go on to …

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The Lord is in the heart of every being

Last Words A teacher of the Gita Yoga had as a disciple an Englishman brought up to restrain expression of feeling. The teacher approved of this as a basis, but got him to take part in amateur theatricals and public speaking so that there should be some creative expression. The Englishman’s mother was sceptical, (though she had been baptized) and often sarcastic about religion. They lived far apart, and when they did meet he never talked about his beliefs and practice. She had a vague idea that he was inclined to some strange Oriental cult, but she would dismiss the subject of religion in a few sharp words if ever it appeared on the conversational horizon. She recognised that he was a good son to her. When finally she fell very ill, he took her into his home to look after her in the final stages. Now the teacher had …

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One of the great means of instruction is telling stories.

Stories One of the great means of instruction is telling tales. The Sufi classic Mathnavi, and the Zen writings, are full of them. The stories are not fully explained; we are expected to find the inner meaning by our own efforts. Pondering on a story is compared to churning milk; it has to be turned and revolved again and again without interruption for a good time till quite suddenly butter begins to appear. Sometimes disciples try to insulate themselves by simply naming some of the characters-this one represents the lower mind` and that one the teacher, and so on. Such facile identifications can be made in hundreds of ways, and they do not help in finding the secret. They are attempts to seek safety` to avoid the implication of the story. “The world”, says the Mathnavi, “resembles the great big city which you may hear of from children’s tales. In …

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The Magistrate in Lotus lake

The Magistrate A Teacher of the Yoga of the Bhagavad-Gita came to the district and set up a school in a village there. When this was reported to the local magistrate (the chief administrative officer for the district), he was displeased. He was a follower of a Western philosopher who held that traditional religion and its compulsive morality was the cause of many of the ills of man. The magistrate had a great love for the people of the district, and worked night and day to bring them to what he saw as modern and progressive views. He therefore put many obstacles in the way of the yoga teacher, and for a time was successful in turning public opinion against him. When he heard that the school was also teaching secular subjects to the local children (admittedly poorly served by the present arrangements, because of the poverty of the district), …

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Do Good in Lotus Lake

Do Good “Not much thanks in this world when you do a kindly action,” grumbled a disciple. “They at once try to find something wrong with it, and if they can’t find something wrong with it, they find something wrong with you. Seems to make them feel better somehow.” “I heard a good saying in one of the devotional schools,” remarked a senior. “Apparently their teacher used to say: ‘Do good, and be abused.’ But he told them that the resistance and abuse against good deeds was like the bow-wave when a ship is moving forward strongly; in a way it is a confirmation, and should not be resented too much.” “Yes, I know, I know. It’s all very clever and elevating, but the fact is that when spiteful things are actually being said, when a well-meant action is deliberately twisted to seem self-seeking—it’s a bit different then. I haven’t …

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Self-Examination in Lotus lake

Self-Examination Two friends who belonged to a group practising interior training were given the practise of self-examination. “At the end of the day, sit down for a few minutes and try to see where you have gone wrong: make attempts to correct the faults.” One of them, a desperately conscientious man, raised the point when they next had a meeting with the teacher. “I find myself overwhelmed when I do self-examination,” he said. “I feel absolutely crushed. It seems to have been all blunders and meanness and weakness. I can’t get rid of the thought of them afterwards, either. Sometimes I can’t sleep.” The teacher said, “There is another way for people like you. You need not do formal self-examination. Whenever you think of your mistakes, turn your mind on to the Lord. Create vividly in your mind the scenes from the life of His incarnations. This will free you. …

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Last Words in Lotus Lake

Last Words A teacher of the Gita Yoga had as a disciple an Englishman brought up to restrain expression of feeling. The teacher approved of this as a basis, but got him to take part in amateur theatricals and public speaking so that there should be some creative expression. The Englishman’s mother was sceptical (though she had been baptized) and often sarcastic about religion. They lived far apart, and when they did meet he never talked about his beliefs and practise. She had a vague idea that he was inclined to some strange Oriental cult, but she would dismiss the subject of religion in a few sharp words if ever it appeared on the conversational horizon. She recognized that he was a good son to her. When finally she fell very ill, he took her into his home to look after in the final stages. Now the teacher had told …

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Anger in Lotus Lake

Anger In the sermon it was remarked in passing that in the Eastern traditions it was generally held that the worst sin was anger leading to injury to others, whereas in Christianity it seemed that sexual license was worse; in English, for instance, the very word immorality had overtones of sexual transgressions. This part of the sermon was reported to a Christian who lived in the neighbourhood, and he later tackled the preacher on the point, adding, “I get angry myself, but only with good reason, so I don’t regard it as particularly sinful. After all, when Christ drove the money-changers from the Temple, he showed anger, and he was unquestionably right. When I get angry, it’s the same thing.” The preacher took him outside onto the grass and gave him a big stone. He told him, “Throw this stone on the ground with all your force.” He flung it …

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Habits in Lotus Lake

Habits “I don’t see why we are asked to come to meditation and devotion practise classes. Surely the whole point of yoga is to develop the consciousness in the ordinary affairs of life, so we ought to practise them in that field. If we don’t do that, they are basically useless for life.” This sort of objection is very common, especially among ambitious or property-loving disciples. A teacher once answered in this way: “If you practise only in the ordinary life, your practice will be affected by the associations of that life. You may be unconscious of the distortion, but it will still be there. It used to be said among forgers of signatures that it is relatively easy to make a near imitation of someone else’s signature. The really difficult thing is to prevent some of one’s own characteristic letter-formations from subtly influencing the movement of the pen. To …

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Honour in Lotus Lake

Honour A great scholar, a devout man, was suddenly offered a very high position in the political field. It would be largely prestige, but he thought that he would be able to do a good deal to encourage and support scholarship and religion from that eminence. He would, however, have to spend a good bit of his time in official ceremonial, and to that extent his own work would suffer. After some hesitation, he accepted the honour and duly received many telegrams of congratulation, and also a large number of small presents in accordance with the custom of the country. A friend of his, a spiritual teacher, sent him a little packet. When he opened it, he found that it contained chocolates wrapped up in gold paper to look like coins.

Prayers Answered in Lotus Lake

Prayers Answered Before one enters a yogic path, it is natural to pray to the Lord for legitimate accessories to a natural life, with a view to share them also with others. The prayers are answered, unless they would be fatal to that person’s spiritual growth. When he has entered on a path, however, the yogin is expected to rely on his own Great Self, and not to pray for anything at all, either for himself or others. An idealistic schoolmaster in a small village complained to his teacher that if only he had a larger place, he could do much more for the children of the neighbourhood. “Surely I may pray for that?” he said. “I do not understand our rule which forbids praying for things. Surely it cannot be wrong to pray for that?” “Devote yourself to realization of your self in God,” said the teacher, “and you …

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Proclaimed Wisdom in Lotus Lake

Proclaimed Wisdom A King heard about a special thirty days’ discipline by which he could be blessed with the gift of Proclaimed Wisdom—namely wisdom and the ability to declare it. The discipline was harsh, but the king was delighted to discover that it contained no requirement as to mental control, which would have ruled him out. The only necessity was endurance. He managed to follow the drastic reduction in his diet, the total abstinence from alcohol and opium, the limitation of sleep to three hours, but he found it increasingly difficult to keep himself away from his queen and concubines. On the twenty-seventh day he realized that he was not going to be able to do so by his will alone. He had himself dressed in poor clothes, and then the chief minister locked him in a deep dungeon underneath the palace. A stupid and fanatical pair of guards were …

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The Judge in Lotus lake

The Judge (There is a hint of this story, though not the main point, in Kipling’s short “On the Gate.” He calls his main human character St. Peter; as this has the necessary associations for most Western readers, it is followed here to save explanations.) An Angel was appointed to judge one whole generation of humans. He had been given a limited omniscience and omnipresence, so that he could live through their lives with those whom he would afterwards judge. When the last member of the generation had died, he was told to get ready for his task. But he was instructed to pay his respects to St. Peter first. In a clear voice, the angel explained to St. Peter, “I shall not judge these humans from the outside. I was given the grace to be with them, in fact in them, every moment of their lives. I have known …

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Tail, No Tail in Lotus Lake

Tail, No Tail A foreigner visiting a Himalayan region for the first time was impressed by the sight of troops of langur monkeys, dropping fearlessly down almost vertical cliff faces by catching on projecting branches of trees. He noticed the use they could make of their prehensile tails, often much longer than their bodies. Some of them would hang by their tails. He happened to meet an English-speaking yogin, and mentioned it to him. The yogin said, “These monkeys are sacred because of the association with Hanuman, but their physical form itself teaches a lesson. Their name comes from a Sanskrit word meaning ‘tailed one,’ and it is one of their central attributes. If that tail were strapped to the body, so that the monkey could not free it, it would become atrophied, its owner would feel pain and probably soon die. If the monkey does not use the tail, …

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Powers in Lotus Lake

Powers In a remote area of an undeveloped country, a river came rushing out from the mountains, dividing just afterwards. Still further on, the two streams joined up again. So there were two huge arcs of flowing water enclosing a long, wide island. The surrounding terrain was mostly desert, but the villages beside the river could live reasonably well. No general irrigation schemes had ever been developed. Once a small landslide blocked one of the branches of the river just below the division; all the villagers living on that arc of the river cooperated to clear it, thus rescuing their water supply. The village situated at the spot where the river divided realized that they could dam up one branch of the river by felling trees into it, thus starving the villages on that arc of water. They trained themselves in the use of weapons. When they were an efficient …

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Obedience in Lotus Lake

Obedience “Your disciples treat you with great reverence,” remarked a visitor to a teacher. “I suppose they follow literally what you tell them, and you have to be careful. They are always saying, ‘The teacher wants this,’ or ‘The teacher doesn’t like that.’” “They do follow literally what I tell them,” replied the teacher, “so long as they agree with it. If they don’t agree with it, they interpret it as a joke, or a sort of riddle which they have to interpret. Then they interpret it into what they want, which is sometimes the very reverse of what I have said.” “How could they do that?” marveled the visitor. “Oh, quite easily,” said the teacher. “For instance, I tell them not to swallow the teachings I give without examining them. I ask them to think for themselves; if they have a sensible objection, I tell them to raise it. …

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Holy Ceremony in Lotus Lake

Holy Ceremony A student who came to the lectures of a teacher, but had not become a disciple, was sometimes invited to stay on a little. On one occasion he asked about a Tantrik ceremony he had heard about. A pair, male and female, perform a rite on the night of the full moon, by which their sexual conjugation is sanctified and made uplifting. “I and my girlfriend have heard about this and we should like to try it. It seems a beautiful idea.” The teacher replied, “These things are not recognized in the classical tradition; they very rarely lead to any lessening of bondage to the world, with its consequent suffering.” But the student persisted that it was surely wrong to rule out any aspect of the divine current. He had been impressed with the phrase that in the ceremony, heaven and earth were made one. Finally the teacher …

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Handshake in Lotus Lake

Handshake “I think it’s wrong to avoid situations of temptation,” declared a pupil somewhat positively. “If you do, it means you’re afraid of them, and to fear them gives them power over you. It’s neurotic. Of course one shouldn’t seek them out, but if they come—well, let them come.” Others demurred. “We are told not to go voluntarily into places where we shall be tempted; in the Lord’s Prayer too we pray not to be brought into temptation.” There was no agreement, and they decided to put the point to a senior of long experience. She said, “When one is still weak after an illness, it’s a mistake to go out into a gale. It’s not a question of being afraid; it’s recognizing that one may not be able to keep one’s footing in a sudden blast. Now we here are in the process of recovering from the illness of …

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Prescriptions in Lotus Lake

Prescriptions A tough elderly pupil, once a well-known athlete in his youth, remarked on the calm rationality of the spiritual directions given by Vedanta, as against the fanatical emotionalism of some devotional sects. “The instructions given us are like a doctor’s prescriptions. I think Sankara says that somewhere. The suffering is analyzed, the cause is shown, and the patient is shown how to avoid it. Only if he fails to follow the preventive advice does treatment have to be applied. “It’s a very fine way to tackle spiritual illness to treat it on the same lines as physical illness. My own doctor, as a matter of fact, sometimes comes out with things which just fit both cases. Only the other day he said to me, ‘Look, do you want to get ill? No? Then take my advice now. Don’t wait till you get ill and then come and ask me …

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Excuses in Lotus Lake

Excuses “I can’t be expected to practise yoga much,” complained a pupil, “because I am now so busy with the final structure of my business. If I don’t do that, it might begin to decline, and if that set in, it might even collapse. This is an exceptional time for me. Once the business is completely, firmly established, I’ll be able to concentrate on yoga.” “It will never be completely, firmly established,” replied the teacher. “Nothing in the world can be. Your present time of life is not exceptional, it’s typical. “After all, when one is a child, one can’t practise yoga because one has never heard of it. Then at school or as an apprentice, or learning from mother about running a home—those are full-time, aren’t they? Because one’s learning new things all the time. Then in the romantic tides of youth, there’s hardly the inclination to practise yoga. …

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Test Not in Lotus Lake

Test Not In a country where several religions were practised, including Christianity and Buddhism, a spiritual group existed which taught methods of mind-control and meditation without restrictions of belief. Believers found their own faith intensified by the practises, and were not asked to convert to a new faith. They began to prosper, and undertook small charitable works where they saw a need. But these were to be occasions for practise of universality and serenity, not ends in themselves. They were near a small school. Some of the children came from a distance on bicycles, which they had nowhere to put against the rain. It was proposed that the group offer to provide a little shed for them. The school, short of funds, gladly accepted. Two of the Outer Activities Committee, one a Buddhist and one a Christian, were appointed to see it done. There was an elderly professional carpenter in …

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Giving Up Illusion in Lotus Lake

Giving Up Illusion A young student was considering becoming a brahmacharin celibate for three years. The teacher told him that when combined with the yoga practises, it would give increased intelligence, energy, happiness, and inner serenity. “You cannot just say no: it must be part of the system of disciplined practise.” It happened that the class was reading the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, and they came to a passage picturing temptations that the brahmacharin has to be able to face. “Here is a girl so beautiful that she seems to have been carved out of the moon, whose glances light up the world wherever she looks, whose lips are honey,” and so on. Afterwards he sought the teacher. “I doubt if I could give up a girl like that,” he confessed. “You are not asked to,” replied the teacher. “This is a fantasy. Girls do not seem carved out of …

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Fire Stages in Lotus lake

Fire Stages An Indian tradition says that training is usually like setting fire to wood that is a bit damp in places. It is difficult to get a flame at all, and it keeps going out. When it does catch hold a bit, great clouds of dense smoke arise, nearly choking the fire-raisers. Then it begins to burn briskly, and people can benefit from the light and heat. Then it roars in triumph as the whole pile blazes. Finally it dies down into the peace of the ashes

In the Courtyard in Lotus Lake

In the Courtyard The carpenter was poor, and one day asked his spiritual teacher whether it was right to pray for a better living. “I too am poor,” said the teacher, “but after all I have a place to sleep and some food to eat, which some people have not. I am ashamed to ask the Lord for more when there are so many worse off than I am.” The carpenter thought resentfully, “But you have some rich disciples; why shouldn’t they be asked to do something for me?” But he managed to remain silent. As the years went by, his reputation as a conscientious workman grew, and things improved, though only a little. He began to feel, however, a sort of peace in his heart, and no longer resented the better circumstances of others. A new king came to the throne, energetic and efficient, and interested in spiritual things. …

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Dream-Fair in Lotus Lake

Dream-Fair In the dream I was in an old-style fair, like the fairs of my childhood: dazzling lights, blaring music, obscure comings and goings in the dark alleys between the stalls. The booths were selling Unhappiness, Failure, Disease, Disaster, Despair—all at high prices. I wandered around, and noticed a stall a little apart, with its shutters up. An inconspicuous notice read: “The Kingdom of the Universe: First Customer Only.” I smiled and went on. I lost my way, and later found myself before the little stall again. The front shutter was being taken down from inside, revealing a counter and dimly behind it a stalwart, fierce-looking old man in a patched cloak. He looked at me, and on impulse I put my little handful of money on the counter, but keeping back three coins which I knew I would need to get back home. “You are the first customer!” cried …

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Fireworks in Lotus Lake

Fireworks A yoga pupil in Calcutta knew the manager of a theatre, and was sometimes presented with a free seat. On one such occasion he saw a demonstration of thought-reading; the manager said as he handed over the ticket, “This is in your line.” The central part of the show was that the performer came to the front of the stage, opened his arms wide, and asked the audience each to think some question strongly. After a short time, he announced, “There is a lady in the fifth row, worrying about her mother, who has had a road accident. Her leg is broken. If this is correct, will the lady please stand up and acknowledge it? I can tell her that her mother will recover well.” A middle-aged woman stood up and said, “That is right. Thank you.” The pupil assumed that she was a confederate of the thought-reader. However, …

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The Swimmer in Lotus Lake

The Swimmer An anxious man, always trying to foresee every possible eventuality so that he could prepare countermeasures, came to a yoga group. There he took to reading up historical and legendary incidents in the scriptures, so that he would get to know how spiritual people behave. “You’ve no need to do that,” an experienced disciple told him. “Our teacher tells us to try to become enlightened ourselves, rather than just reading about the enlightenment and enlightened actions of others.” “But then how is one to know what to do?” replied the new disciple, and he went on as before. He happened to be an expert swimmer, and the senior one day asked him whether he could demonstrate the racing dive he had heard about. The swimmer readily agreed, pleased to be able to show his skill, and they went together to the swimming baths. The expert changed into swimming …

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Mistakes in Lotus Lake

Mistakes A pupil who lived rather carelessly remarked, “Mistakes are a necessary part of the path of training. If you read the biographies of even the greatest, they all say that they made many mistakes. Some of them say that mistakes are a necessary part of the training—one learns from them. So I don’t worry about my own conduct: Let the mistakes come, I think, let ‘em all come. I’ll go through them and come out the other side. It is all part of the path.” This was put to a senior pupil, a businesswoman, for her opinion. She remarked, “You need not tell him I said this, but I don’t think our teacher would rate the idea very high in terms of clear thinking. It’s easy to get woolly about spiritual things. I remember when I learned to type. It was in a class. Of course we made mistakes, …

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Too Good in Lotus Lake

Too Good In a thick grove some way outside the town was a small temple, looked after by a widowed retired businessman, who was a devotee of the divinity of the shrine. It was traditionally said, and widely believed, that anyone who came on foot to worship there, with a pure heart, every day for forty days, would receive blessings. Few undertook the forty days, but many people made occasional visits, and some of them experienced great relief from anxieties after the visit. They used to make a small donation according to their means to the temple each time they visited. The temple keeper spent a good deal of his time washing it spotlessly clean, and polishing the surfaces to get them to shine. This was no easy matter, owing to the nature of the stone. He felt that the work he did was not appreciated by the worshippers who …

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Turtle in Lotus lake

Turtle Disciples nearly always pass through a phase when they feel that it is no use doing any service to the spiritual group or to fellow men, no use in fact doing anything with a purpose, because all these things will reinforce egoity, the feeling “I am doing it.” They may drop for quite a long time into a sort of inertia, thinking, “Well now, at any rate I am not being egoistic.” To a pupil in this state a teacher told a parable: “It is a tradition in ancient China that the turtle smoothes out its footsteps in the mud by wiping them out with its tail as it goes along. It leaves no footmarks, and therefore its enemies cannot follow its footsteps. “But the enemies follow the marks left by the tail.” “Then what is one to do?” wondered the pupil. “You cannot stamp out your egoity, but …

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One Step, Twenty Steps in Lotus lake

One Step, Twenty Steps “When someone takes one step toward the Lord, the Lord takes twenty steps toward him.” It is a striking phrase which has vivified and energized the devotion of many yogis. Nevertheless, it can be interpreted, disregarding the plain meaning of the words, into something quite different. In a lazy period, one who believes himself a devotee can reason something like this: What this says is that when I take a step toward him, the Lord takes twenty steps toward me. In fact he is doing the same as I do, namely taking one step, and then he adds nineteen more of his own. So if I take no step at all, then admittedly the Lord will not take that step either; but then he will add nineteen steps of his own to it. Adding nineteen to nothing gives nineteen, so he will still move nineteen steps …

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Warning in Lotus Lake

Warning There was a discussion about whether it is necessary, or even right, to give a warning on a spiritual matter when it is clear that it will not be heeded at all. One view was that in such cases it is meaningless, and the instance was given of a saintly man who had given a warning about the sin of using violence to a crowd of self-styled patriots. Their response was to beat him, and then go on with their program, which in the event led to the calamities for others and themselves which he had predicted. A member of the sangha asked for an explanation. “Did that saintly man know they wouldn’t listen? Or did he simply miscalculate?” “Nothing is absolutely impossible, and he would have been following a spiritual impulse to speak out,” said a senior, “but, yes, he would have known that in the ordinary course …

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Hypnosis in Lotus lake

Hypnosis Question: Is there any benefit to be gained from using methods like self-hypnosis as an aid to meditation? Answer: None at all. In self-hypnosis some elements of the personality are put to sleep, so to say. But they are not changed. Suppose there is a family whose house needs painting but we cannot agree on what colour it should be painted. We all feel strongly about it, so it does not get painted at all. Now I think, “I should like the house painted green, but they will not agree.” I give my relatives a drug which sends them to sleep, and while they are snoring I paint the house green. I have, in a sense, hypnotized them, and got my idea through. But when they wake up …

The Procession in Lotus Lake

The Procession A great mahatma (Rama Tirtha) after his realization found he could no longer continue a home life in society, as professor of mathematics (at Lahore University). He went to live at great heights in the Himalayas, occasionally coming down to give talks and publish articles. On one such occasion his former teacher sent a young disciple to look after him. One day the mahatma gave a four-hour-long discourse to an audience of thousands; he danced on the sands of the Ganges, and many of the audience saw a god there dancing. Afterwards he went back with the young brahmachari to the small room where he was staying. The mahatma’s lack of interest in food, and his solitary life in the mountains, had upset his digestive system, and he sometimes suffered from attacks of colic. When the spasms came on, his body twisted and turned. The disciple watched this …

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The Well in Lotus lake

The Well Some students discourage themselves by looking at themselves each day. After trying hard for a session, they feel that as there has been no result they have failed. Next day they try again, and again they fail. Gradually this builds up into a conviction of continuous failure, and they begin to think, “Oh, what’s the use of trying?” For such occasions there is an ancient Indian example, that of the well-digger. The Indian tradition was that beneath the desert there is water, however deeply hidden. This has recently been confirmed in the case of the vast Rajasthan desert in northwest India, beneath which a legendary river was supposed to flow. It has been established that the river is actually there though deep underground. The maxim of the well-digger is this: Each day when he digs but finds no water, he does not think, “I have failed.” Next day …

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Remembering in Dragon Pool

Remembering A woman disciple had been told—as all the disciples were told—to choose one verse from a holy text each week, and learn it by heart. She protested to a senior, for whom she had a great respect, “That would be quite impossible for me. Even as a child I have never been able to memorize things.” “How do you know?” asked the senior. “Why, at one of my first classes in infant school, we were set to learn a little list by heart: it was six dates, and the others learned them quite quickly. But I just couldn’t. I couldn’t. And at the end of the lesson, the school mistress (I can see her now, in her black bombazine and jet bracelets, all sweetness on the surface but hard as nails underneath) said that the others could go home but I was to sit there till I had learned …

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Reverence in Dragon Pool

Reverence A devout pupil attended a spiritual meeting in another part of the country, at which holy texts were intoned by individual men and women. On his return he told his teacher that he had been shocked by the lack of reverence shown by those reciting the texts. “I had heard that they were a very good group, but they did not seem to show respect for what they were reading. You have told us that we should always read holy texts with great reverence.” The teacher, who was well known for deep insight, asked, “And did you feel the truth of the texts when they were being recited as you say?” “Why, yes. It was very clear and firm. But no reverence—that put me off.” The teacher said, “When we recite the holy texts, we must always do it with great reverence. But if it should come to pass …

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Humble in Dragon Pool

Humble The temple had a good number of rare manuscripts, and the librarian, an excellent scholar, catalogued them efficiently and arranged for their publication. Scholars came to consult him from distant centres of learning, and the temple and its librarian became famous. One day a visitor was congratulating him on his great contributions to learning, and the priest looked out of the window and pointed to an old man sweeping up the leaves in the garden. “That is a humble task,” he said with a very kindly smile. “And people sometimes forget that the library, and the whole temple in fact, is supported on humble work like that, humble work like that. In their own way, he and others like him make a great contribution.” The visitor was impressed, and when he said farewell to the abbot he mentioned the incident. “When I saw that humble man sweeping up the …

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Racing Dive in Dragon Pool

Racing Dive A well – known modern Zen master, on tour with his attendant, visited a Zen centre for lay folk founded by a pupil of his. In addition to their sitting practise, they were encouraged to undertake joint social work to help the local school and so on, but not so much that it became an overriding concern. When he was introduced to the members, the master seemed to have an immediate understanding with one of the women, a longtime member of the group. She was known as a good quiet worker, but not otherwise remarkable. He did not give her special attention, though he asked her opinion on several points. When the time came for the individual farewells, the two of them stood for a few seconds looking into each other’s eyes. The head of the group took the opportunity to thank the master for his “kindness, to …

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