The doctrine of karma teaches that all voluntary actions produce an effect on the doer in this or future lives

The teacher in his sermon was explaining the doctrine of karma, which teaches that all voluntary actions produce an effect on the doer in this or future lives. ‘If you want to know what you have done in the past he said, ‘look at your present circumstances, which are the result of what you did; if you want to know what your future will be, look at what you are doing now, which will shape it. In the Christian Bible too the same doctrine is hinted at in the words, “As you sow, so shall you reap.” ‘ Afterwards one of the pupils said to the teacher, ‘In the Christian Bible there is a story of the man who was attacked and left for dead by robbers. Two people passed by on the other side of the road, and then a third man picked him up and looked after him. It must have been that man’s karma to be rescued; so the ones who passed by did not do him any harm. Nor did the third man do him any good which he would not have had anyway – it was his karma to be rescued.’ ‘That is right,’ replied …

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We named it and now it’s known and is correspondingly supposed to be understood

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  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 things that no one else can do. I know the things no one else knows’. In that way he gets out of pretty well everything! Then the time comes – the castle is near the coast – when the fishermen catch, as it’s described, a round slimy thing that doesn’t seem to have any mouth or eyes. …

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The old woman and the pencil stub

A Japanese master of calligraphy retired to the country and he took an interest in the schoolchildren in their education and there was one boy there who was being brought up by his grandmother because both his parents had died and the teacher of calligraphy saw this boy and saw his schoolwork and he told the grandmother, he said: ‘when the time comes he ought to go to college in the capital and sure enough the grandmother made great sacrifices for bringing up the boy and made it clear that she was making great sacrifices and that she did not have very many friends. People complain a lot if they don’t have many friends. When the time came, the teacher said: well now, he should go to the capital to study, and the president of one of the main universities is a friend of mine and I can write you a letter of introduction and he has a special hostel for students from the country who don’t have any money and I believe that with my recommendation he will accept the boy. So the grandmother said: well, I shall be very lonely of course but for the boy’s sake I …

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Meditation on the colour blue calms the mind

Sometimes in a spiritual group a dispute develops over practically nothing. Although it is so trivial, people feel strongly about it. No one seems to know the cause of what is happening, or what to do. When the teacher first founded the group they were poor, and had only a cheap brown cloth over the altar on which was the form of the god. They worshipped with prayers and mantras for the first half of the meeting, and then, when the minds were to some extent pacified, they meditated on the Upanishadic text: ‘O holy divinity, I am what thou art, and thou, O holy divinity, art what I am.’ The teacher had once mentioned that to see or meditate on the colour blue has a calming effect on the mind, and added that blue was the best colour for an altar cloth. This remark was taken down, but nothing was done at the time because they were so poor. Then it was forgotten. Many years later, a new member reading over the old records came across it. He bought a blue silk cloth, and had it beautifully embroidered with the mantra of the divinity. He presented it to the …

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You can’t expect a man in chains to do anything

A man said to his teacher, ‘I have tried to break my habit of going to wine-shops and brothels, but I can’t do it. I am in chains to my nature. You can’t expect a man in chains to do anything.’ The teacher met him going to the town one evening. He was smartly dressed and walking briskly in anticipation. The teacher said, ‘You don’t look like a man in chains.’   © Trevor Leggett – Chains

These people will never understand the spirit of Tea

Not long ago, a Japanese Tea Ceremony master made a visit to a certain foreign country to give demonstrations. His hosts found a beautiful garden, with two pavilions in it. In one the guests were to assemble, and then a group of fifty would go to the other pavilion, where the master was to demonstrate the ceremony. After about forty minutes, the audience would change; those who had witnessed it went back, and a new group walked the hundred yards to the master’s pavilion to see a new performance. He commented when he returned to Japan, Tn that country the men shout and the women scream. When I heard the very first group coming across, shouting and screaming, I thought, “These people will never understand the spirit of Tea.” But to my amazement, they sat very still and attentive, and there was a good atmosphere. I thought, “They have understood the spirit of Tea after all.” They left quietly, but as they re-crossed to the first pavilion, they burst out, shouting and screaming just as before. I felt quite discouraged, and that my time had been wasted. ‘But then I thought, “No, that is wrong. They will never be the …

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The doctrine of the will of God

Allied to the doctrine of the grace of God is the doctrine of the will of God, and this too can be a stumbling block to those who use it as an excuse. A famous judge in India, at the end of the last century, was well-known as a devotee of God, and once a thief who was brought before him tried to make use of the fact. The charge was completely proved and the thief made no attempt to deny it, but said instead, ‘Your Honour, I only wish to say this. When the opportunity came to steal that, I felt an irresistible impulse to do it, and I thought to myself that it must be the will of God that I should steal it. And it was the will of God, surely, Your Honour, because otherwise it couldn’t have happened.’ ‘Are you denying that you had any responsibility ?’ asked the judge. ‘All I’m saying, Your Honour, is that it must have been the will of God or it couldn’t have happened. When I felt that impulse coming up in me, surely I was right to bow my head before the will of God?’ ‘God gives us many …

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