Marionettes are referred to in the Gita

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/MarionettesarereferredtointheGita.mp3   The marionettes are referred to in a verse of the Gita, verse 61 of chapter 18, and this our teacher’s translation. ‘The Lord rules the hearts of all beings dwelling therein, causing them to revolve like a machine by His Maya, magic power’. Then, the next verse is, ‘The yogi must take refuge in Him with all his heart, instead of trusting his lower self which expresses itself in ambition, material desires, attraction and aversion, and other limitations which end in despair. By His grace, the yogi will attain supreme peace, the highest state. The result of contact of the lower self with the Supreme Being is the transformation of the conditioned self into the Infinite’. Then, in these verses two things are given. One is that the Lord whirls the beings through His magic power, as if they were puppets on a machine and secondly, that through …

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We are whirled by Maya like Marionettes

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/WearewhirledbyMayalikemarionettes.mp3   The Gita tells us that we are whirled by Maya like marionettes, jerking through a series of reflexes. Shankara, in an analysis of this, in another verse of the Gita, the verse says, ‘Even the Knower, even the Jnani, acts in accordance with his nature, what will restraint avail?’  The opponent says, “Well, in that case, there’s no point in anyone making any efforts at all,” but Shankara says, “No, because we are held to our nature only through attraction and aversion. If they can be annulled, if their binding power can be annulled, then we are freed from our own nature, which makes us behave like marionettes”.  We can be dressed very beautifully as marionettes. We can have the role of a king or a very rich man. We may think that it is not so bad, but in actual fact, the Gita points out all these …

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Habitual likers and dislikers of illusion

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/Habituallikersanddislikersofillusion.mp3   We can become habitual likers and dislikers of something that is quite illusory. Now, for instance, people in this country, and in Europe generally, appreciate cheese, especially in France. I think De Gaulle made the remark, “How can you govern a country that’s got 173 different kinds of cheeses?” Well, they admire cheese and the different varieties of it, but to a traditional Japanese, the cheese is food that’s gone bad. It is rotten. They are getting used to it now, but they absolutely were revolted by these Westerners stuffing this rotten food into their mouth, food that has gone bad, putting it in and then claiming to enjoy it. Towards the beginning of the century, anything foreign used to be called ‘cheesy’ and it was claimed that foreigners tended to smell of cheese. Well, we think, “Oh, how ridiculous. Cheese is very nice.” When we, in turn, …

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Mysticism of the Heart

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/Mysticismoftheheart.mp3   There are various spiritual traditions and we should respect them. But generally, one should train on one particular line. If you’re going to do athletics, you do a lot of different things but generally you have one line on which you train and then you can get skilled and balanced and response in that line. The tradition of study, we have a book like this ‘The Heart of the Eastern Mystical Teaching’ or we have something like the New Testament. Well how do we study it? We think, “Well you just read it,” but actually that generally makes no impression at all. People who do that, they just pick out some text that they fancy and say, “That’s enough for me.” Then they avoid texts that they don’t care for. In fact, they succeed in persuading themselves that such texts don’t exist. Jesus said to the masses, “If …

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Study the nature of yourself

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/Studythenatureofyourself.mp3   I could have done a lot more harm if I hadn’t had to spend so much time studying Japanese and Sanskrit. I haven’t had the time to do all the harm that I might have done otherwise. Study has got many advantages, study of the books. But he said, “No, study not merely books but study the nature of the world. Study the nature of yourself. Pray. Pray first to an external lord but that will produce a quiver from the lord within ourselves. Then discipline ourselves. We can’t do anything unless we discipline ourselves.” There is a humorous Chinese saying; to be a really bad man you have to have many virtues. You’ve got to be brave. You’ve got to be persistent. You’ve got to be clever and you’ve got to plan very carefully otherwise you won’t be a really bad man, you’ll just be a little …

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The Cosmic Plan

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/Thecosmicplan.mp3   By my planning and by my reason and by my efforts, I can think of some very good things to do but very often they go wrong and I don’t know why. They’re not in accord with what is loosely called the cosmic plan. God has a purpose. By entering into these states we can come into conformity with that purpose and then the patterns of the contribution which is going to be made through the meditator will begin to become apparent. Not necessarily that some picture appears or a voice says, “Do this and do that,” but they will find that they are beginning to do things without a stress and they’re beginning to do things naturally and that things will become fruitful. It’s not done with a lot of internal friction. It’s as though there is an inspiration coming up. There is a calm flow of …

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Experience a flash of Immortality

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/Experienceaflashofimmortality.mp3   We have to experience a flash of immortality now and then, when death comes, I have been here before. We shall know. These practices are given. They are experimental. He said, “If you do this, the patterns of what you’re to do in the world will come before you and you will begin to feel a satisfaction and a knowledge, a completeness, a fulfilment in your actions, however small they may be from the point of view of the world. You will have visions which will take from you the terrible hankering and the longings. You will begin to see.” It would be marvellous to have £1bn, wouldn’t it? Well not if you owed £2bn like Maxwell did. By entering into this learning, to enter into these states, these connections with the Lord, the hankering and the bitterness and the desire for revenge against the world, they will …

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Mediate on the form of the Lord

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/Mediateontheformofthelord.mp3   Some years ago one of the last surviving members of the Flat Earth Society, he was from the same sports club and I talked to him once. He said, “They think they’re going round the world but actually they’re going round in a circle on the edge of the world.” I said to him, “Well radio.” He said, “Oh. I hadn’t thought of that. I’ll have to think a lot about that.” But in the end, talking to him, I realised it was a social club. They no longer spoke much about the flat earth but they met their friends. It was a pleasant enough meeting. Finally, they were saying, “Well look, we never said the earth is absolutely flat like a sheet of paper. I mean we know there are mountains.” But what we said was, “It’s flat-ish.” Now your astronomers say, don’t they, that the earth …

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Slip out of the Mind Cage

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/Slipoutofthemindcage.mp3   Reader: Broadening the mind is the first step out of this difficulty. Careful study of history, listening to recitations of the Puranas and so on all help to widen the mental horizon and should be welcomed as spiritual aids. Then, my friends, let the soul try to slip out of the quilt of Sansara by cultivating devotion and resorting to meditation. Swami Krishnanandaji used to devote some six hours a day to his self-study. My teacher recommended a study of history because he said, “You can see, in history, what happens. You have your ambitions. You can look in history and see what happens to people who fulfil those ambitions.” He often quoted the history of Napoleon which he studied carefully. He said, “When Napoleon was at the peak of his success when the final treaty with the Tsar was concluded at Tilsit, this was the peak of …

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Honesty and Religious practice

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/HonestyandReligiouspractice.mp3   In the Ramayana, the great epic of India, Rama, the incarnation of God makes friends with the ferry man, who is one of the lower class. He embraces him in thanks for the help he’s given. Shri Dada pointed to this, “Look, in our own holy text we don’t have this exclusiveness which has gradually built up.” But he was attacked for this. On one occasion he was thrown into prison on a serious charge which was engineered. I should say this, that about the so-called Caste System. Caste is a Portuguese word. It’s the same as the English word chased but it meant- well, Megasthenes, who was the Greek ambassador in India, he was there for six or seven years in 300BC. He doesn’t report any slaves in India. He doesn’t report the untouchable class at all. He reports that the people were honest. A rich man …

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Marionettes and Free Agents

  https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/MarionettesandFreeAgents.mp3   The word ‘Gita’ means sung, and the full title of the Gita is the Upanishads, the ancient spiritual text sung by the Lord. They were sung for the benefit of people still fully involved and engaged in the world; the Upanishadic seekers of truth, of calm, in a calm environment, as if they were in a scientific laboratory. The principles are discovered in a scientific laboratory, but then they have to be applied outside. We can study gravity best in an isolated environment, preferably with a vacuum. But then, once the principle is established, we can see gravity at work, even in the autumn leaves carried into the sky. Gravity is still at work there. Once the principle has been established, we’re able to recognise it, in the same way that spiritual truth is established in calmness. But it has to be recognised, also, in the tumult …

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People who can’t see the great self

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/Peoplewhocan'tseethegreatself.mp3   This yoga is given for people who can’t see, who can’t get a glimpse of the great self, which is declared first. Then, in chapter three, the teacher develops this further. He explains that, ‘For those who can catch a glimpse of the great self, then the means is to make that continuous and free from obstruction. But to those who can’t, they have to perform the actions with a mind serene. They have to practice indifference for the opposites of good and bad, as they seem to us, and pain and pleasure.’ Then he says, ‘You will not be able to do this, unless you practice yoga meditation.’ He tells Arjuna, “You will not be able to control the senses unless you practice yoga meditation. You won’t be able to control your thoughts unless you practice meditation.” This is repeated again in the 18th chapter, which says, …

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By practice the great Self can be seen

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/BypracticethegreatSelfcanbeseen.mp3   Well, this instruction is given to Arjuna, but he’s not able to actualise it. He says, “Frankly, it’s impossible. You can’t bring the mind to a stop.” Here, again, Shankara has pointed out that he speaks for the people, and Krishna said, “Impossible? Difficult, but by regular practice, practice at regular times, long continued, then it can be done.” But Arjuna still isn’t convinced at all. He does something which all teachers of all subjects know when there’s a sort of will to fail. He said, “Well, what happens if I don’t manage to pull it off? I’ll have wasted a lot of time, won’t I? I won’t have got that, and then there are all the things in the world I might have been doing, and I won’t have done them either.” Teachers all know this. Krishna meets it patiently, and he says, “Well, if you make …

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Teaching of devotion

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/Teachingofdevotion.mp3   After the vision, there is a teaching of devotion, and it changes again. We can think, “Well, what are all these new secrets and teachings which are given?” One example that’s given is this: that the yoga teaching is not a question of ordinary teaching, where you teach, first of all the alphabet, and then, on that, you build sentences. Then, on the sentences, you build more difficult sentences. Then you learn something about style, where each one depends on the one below.  It’s not like that, because it’s not a question of building up something, but it’s a question of removing an illusion. One of the teacher says, “It’s much easier to get rid of a burglar than a ghost, because you can call on your friends if you think there’s a burglar. They come, and they search the whole house. Then you lock and you bar …

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Bhagavad Gita 03.04.1991

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/BhagavadGita03041991.mp3   Trevor Leggett:   Well, I don’t propose to do a sort of scamper through the text with academic footnotes, but I will try and say something on a few of the main points in the Gita and some things that will actually be useful. It is very easy to read these texts like one of those sort of nodding, Chinese, Mandarins, “Yes,  It means something, I expect, yes.” There are riddles and mysteries, and Shankara says, “By concentration, and by stilling the mind, and by purifying the essence, the basis of the mind, these things will stand out clearly.” Now I propose to mention some of the practices, which are just hinted at in the text itself. But, before I start, to give you a few hints that might be useful to you about the so-called ‘Eastern mind’. Well, there is no Eastern mind. The mind or the culture …

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There is a self which is immortal

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/Thereisaselfwhichisimmortal.mp3    In another Upanishad, a great seer makes a declaration which is heard by many. “There is a self which is immortal, undecaying, unchanging. When that is attained, all is attained.” Then the King of the Gods and the King of the Demons each hear this and they come together to the sage. Putting aside their hatred of each other, they study as fellow disciples. But it is still a calm atmosphere. There was nothing for somebody who was furiously engaged in the world, in the crisis of the world. The whole tendency seems to be that you – anyway for a time – have to leave the world. The King of the Gods and the King of the Demons, it says, put aside all their royal rank and insignia and they went. They became servants, in effect, for a year. Now the Gita is translated generally as ‘the …

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Reincarnation is beautiful doctrine

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/Reincarnationisbeautifuldoctrine.mp3   “What I do in this life, and have done in past lives, will determine the circumstances in which I find myself in the next life. Then the choices I make in the next life will determine the circumstances of the one after that. So that by repeated efforts I can improve and become more free and have more choice and more vision.” Yes, it is a most beautiful doctrine. And if it is well presented one can believe it for about half an hour. And if it is extremely well presented one can believe it for half a month. And if it is brilliantly presented you can believe it for half a year. Then you start thinking, “How do they know? It does account for the unevenness and inequalities in the world. It does inspire us to make efforts. But how do they know?” Well then the Gita …

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Strong passions and fears

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/Strongpassionsandfears.mp3   The second point is that what’s called vairagya. Vai is a negative prefix and ragya means passion, roughly. It is perhaps connected with the word rage, but it is not only anger. It means a strong passion for something or strong fear of something. Now this is constantly coming up, it is said, from our past animal inclinations. It is constantly coming up and it has to be eased. Now one of the things is, again, to learn to get space in life. Especially one sees it now with the credit cards. People have no space in their life. And they don’t want a space either. “I want it now. Well, I can have it now.” Then I will be paying for it over the next six months. But when I have had it for two or three months I am fed up with it. So most people …

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Moon in the Water

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/MoonintheWater.mp3   As Shankara says, “The reverence of words and bows can always be imitated.” The real reverence is to follow the teacher’s instructions for the Yoga training – and one of our teacher’s instructions was, before the Yoga meeting, to bring the attention between the eyebrows; to touch or pinch this point and then just to sit for half a minute or so, bringing the attention there – away from the outside objects, away from the inner memories and thoughts to the centre. OM The moon in the water is a familiar illustration and it is also a Yogic practice. Swami Rama Tirtha, a fellow disciple of our own teacher, used to take a little boat at night on the river Ragi and he would meditate on the reflection of the moon in the water. Our teacher referred to this also. In the Far East, the Atman, the True …

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Shankara on the sun in the water

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/Shankaraonthesuninthewater.mp3   Shankara gives the sun in the water in Chapter 15, and he says there: “The sun shines in the pots of water.” This is the example, he says, of the Lord projecting Himself into many bodies As in the case of the moon in the water – you can capture the moon in the water. If you go out to the lake with a dipper you can capture the moon and carry it away if you hold it very steadily – but the moon is still there. So the many moons, or many suns in water pots as Shankara says – there are many, but in fact there is only one. In one of the translations that our teacher gave, Shankara said that the sun sent a part of himself into the pot, and it appears as though the sun is deep in the water. He said the …

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You will succeed in all you do

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/Youwillsucceedinallyoudo.mp3   Rama Tirtha says, “You will succeed in all you do, if you can give up completely your desire, your wish, and you can say to the Lord, “This is your work. If you let me be successful, I’m pleased, if you make me fail, I’m pleased.” When you can give it up completely then you’ll be successful and like the merchant and the warrior. Rama Tirtha says this attitude has to be cultivated – not just done at a given time. Now our teacher occasionally made a comment about this. He said, “Two men coming out of a synagogue. One says triumphantly to the other, “Twenty-three percent!”; or two men coming out of a church saying, “Do mine with onions and apricots.” One thinks, “Oh yes – we’re not very devout here are we, but you take the Sufi dancers – they dance with one hand turned up …

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An illustration of the state of man

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+talks+from+12.06.20/Anillustrationofthestateofman.mp3   This is by Leonardo and of course there’s no text with it, it’s not been explained. But from the Yogic point of view it’s an illustration of the state of man. That’s to say, there is the sun of the Lord which is reflected from the clear mirror of the buddhi held by the sage, the Yogi. In the light of that one can see the animals are fighting. Now in the case of the ordinary man the animals are raging. In the case of the ordinary man too there is still this calm observing figure, this witness Self. But he is not conscious of it. The Yogic process is to take the conscious from the fighting animals, from identity with the passions, which conflict with each other, they fight each other. For instance, the desire for revenge fights against fear, that perhaps one will not be able …

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Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawing of the sun and mirror

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Leonardo.mp3   The whole of our experience is lit by the reflection of the Self in us. It lights up all our mental movements and all our consciousness and lights up the whole of our life and thought and feeling. There is the Lord and then there is a reflection in the individual where the Lord enters the individual – and that lights up our whole internal body/mind complex. The passions and the memories and the various elements of our inner life and our outer life too are all lit. We would not be active. They would be inert, unless they were lit and vivified by the rays from this reflected consciousness. This is illustrated by this drawing. In the top left-hand corner there‘s a sort of stylised sun. It’s got these jagged rays coming from it, showing that it cannot be looked at. There are rays coming from the …

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Damascus 1977

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Damascus1977.mp3   Trevor Leggett: We have to remember two distinct things, one are methods of training and the other is the objective. They are very distinct in methods of training, Zen and Vedanta. It’s not much use giving generalisations. It’s better to take a concrete instance. When your life is fairly easy and it doesn’t matter, well then you can do what you like and it doesn’t matter. But the time comes when we have to put our weight on something. Now as an example, suppose you have an accident or a severe illness, you go to a Zen teacher. The doctor tells you you’re probably going to die. You go to a Zen teacher. I’ll give you a case. I knew the daughter of the woman this happened to. She was practicing Zen. She went to her teacher and said, “The doctor says that my illness is unlikely to …

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Meditation on the navel

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Meditationonthenavel.mp3   Female Questioner: Could you say a little more about the fact that Zen eliminates emotion and yoga tends to cultivate? Trevor Leggett: I didn’t say quite eliminates it but it doesn’t cultivate it so much. Look at the pictures of Bodhidharma. This partly is a convention that the meditation is at the navel point. Meditation on the navel brings the mouth into this. But it’s will. Look at the face of Bodhidharma for 10 minutes and you will see will. If you look very carefully, you might see something else but the main point is will. When we face death, that’s emotion. When we are strongly tempted, that’s emotion. When somebody spits in my face, that’s emotion. There was a painter of the invisible and he was asked to paint the human heart. He flicked the ink on the man’s face and then he quickly sketched these blazing …

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Yaza is real devotion

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Yazaisrealdevotion.mp3   In Japan especially but in the Chinese tradition too, they have what’s called hidden virtue. This is the only virtue that counts according to some of the Zen masters. The virtue that anybody knows about is nothing. It just doesn’t count. One of the stories is Honen. He was one of the great leaders of the movement for singing the mantra of the Buddha of Light. They went through the villages of Japan and a great wave of devotion came over the people. Now, he came to a village and they used to chant in the street, the mantra of light. There was a thief and one of his underlings watching. The young apprentice thief was rather impressed with these people. The thief said, “I don’t like it. They say this is devotion to Buddha, don’t they? But it isn’t. Supposing I fell in love with a woman, …

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Not in Samadhi all the time

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/NotinSamadhiallthetime.mp3   Male Questioner: Can I ask for comments, Mr. Leggett, on a question which very frequently occurs, what are the differences between individual meditation and group meditation? You did just briefly touch on that. Trevor Leggett: Well again, it depends on people and it also depends on the stage that people are at. It’s a bit like physical exercise. When people do anything at the beginning, they are full of, “Oh well of course my arms have always been…,” and, “Of course I can’t do that. This movement doesn’t suit me.” Well that takes months or years to die down. Some people never get over it. But if they do train, well then in the end they find they can all do what’s to be done. When they do that, then the teacher looks at them with quite a different eye and then you can see in them, then …

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The glories of Zen in Japan

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/ThegloriesofZeninJapan.mp3   Male Questioner: Have you read one of the Lives of Ramana? Trevor Leggett: Well I have read one but actually I don’t want to discuss him because my teacher didn’t. He based it on the Gita, which his teacher was a follower. That was what he taught us. Male Questioner: Could we ask you how you view sport as a form of life training, if it’s-? Trevor Leggett: Well on this point, it trains will and it trains non-attachment. If we learn those two things, we’ve learnt two very valuable lessons for yoga, very, very valuable. Male Questioner: How is it, in your own personal experience, when you’re suppressing emotion? How does the person cope with that? A normal person has emotion and if you eliminate it, does it find itself another form? Is it channelled in another way or is it completely cut dead? Trevor Leggett: In …

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Disillusionment in society

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Disillusionmentinsociety.mp3   Male Questioner: You’ve told us, Mr. Leggett, that it is very customary in Zen to involve oneself in various creative techniques and perhaps sporting techniques as part of one’s training so that the body and various aspects of the self are cultivated and coordinated. You’ve worked with a distinguished Vedantist, Adhyatma yogi. Now, from time to time one does come across a Vedantist who will affirm, “Do not waste your time on Hatha yoga. Do not waste your time on working with the body. Do not waste your time on physical considerations. The only thing that matters is liberation which is attained through meditation. Therefore abnegate everything else, concentrate solely upon meditation.” That attitude will leave no room say for the assiduous practice of judo. Have you ever reflected on those two viewpoints? Trevor Leggett: Yes, some people can do this but not very many. No scope for …

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Yoga and Zen in Christianity

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/YogaandZeninChristianity.mp3   Germany, before the war with Hitler, was in the front rank of science. Now they knew perfectly well that this Aryan myth of Aryan superiority was scientifically nonsense. They’d got the best scientists perhaps in Europe but the people didn’t want to listen to them and didn’t listen to them. It’s like music, you can’t make people like Beethoven. You can play it. If people go on listening to music, in the end they will come to Beethoven but they’ll start with Johann Strauss. We must study these elements in yoga and Zen which poor people can do. We mustn’t have magnificent services or huge buildings or own a lot of property. When Buddhism was very strong in China, the emperors wanted to smash it periodically. Now all the sects had big temples and the relics of the Indian founders were in those temples. To be ordained a …

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Universal Law

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/UniversalLaw.mp3   Trevor Leggett: Our teacher sometimes quoted the last lines of verses by a 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 gait, 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, provided we are reasonably comfortable, there is a tendency to sit back in the stall, so to speak, and go, “Bravo. Magnificent defiance of death.” But of course we don’t take it as real. He has long been dead. And the cynics say, “It was a puppy barking bravely in front of a steamroller. Was he master of his fate?” But our teacher quoted them. These were not to be word clouds, sometimes magnificent …

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Theories cannot actually be lived through

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Theoriescannotactuallybelivedthrough.mp3   P.G Woodhouse used to write little 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 Wooster is talking to Jeeves. He says, “[A man is a man , Jeeves, happy, sad, in spite of everything.” And Jeeves coughs. Bertie says, “What is it, Jeeves?” And Jeeves said, “Well, Sir. It is only that the poet, Burns…” And Bertie says, “Forget Burns, Jeeves. Clear the tablet of your mind of the poet Burns, Jeeves.” And Jeeves says, “Very good, Sir.” Now, in a little bit the same way we are told, “Oh, yes,” and then we negate the whole superimposition of the world. All its pain. All its changes. We just negate it. “Very good, Sir.” But it does not happen. Jeeves does not forget the poet Burns. But he says, …

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Teach me Brahman

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/TeachmeBrahman.mp3   In the Upanishad, a boy goes to his father, who is a sage, and he says, “Revered sir, father, teach me Brahman.” He has also done considerable study. He knows about Brahman, and the desire for liberation, for freedom, has arisen in him. Well, the father gives him five doors. The body made of food, vital energy, ear, eye, mind. “These are doors,” he said. “We have to go through a door. Not stand in front of it but go through it.” Then he says to him, “That from which the whole universe has come forth, by which it is sustained, into whom it is finally dissolved. This is the definition of brahman.” But he does not say, “Now you know.” He says, “Seek to know that. Try to know that.” Then the boy, the young disciple, sits down and practices tapas. Which literally means austerity, but in …

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Ananda spoke to the Buddha

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/AnandaspoketotheBuddha.mp3   Ananda, who was Buddha’s attendant, and it was always popularly supposed that because he was the Buddha’s attendant he must be full of the wisdom of the Buddha. Actually, it was not so. He was the only disciple who did not attain realisation in the Buddha’s lifetime but only afterwards. Ananda said to the Buddha, “What did he get? You did not tell him anything.” And the Buddha is said to have replied, “A good horse goes at even the shadow of the whip.” Now, the Gita has a definite programme of Karma Yoga, which is the lower form of tapas. Then it says, ‘He 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 …

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Rainbow worlds of Swami Mangalnath

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/RainbowworldsofSwamiMangalnath.mp3 The ‘rainbow world’ is a phrase used by a great modern Yogi, Swami Mangalnath. He said we must not merely think of it, but experience the world as a beautiful rainbow. These are analogies, but they’re not to be dismissed as simply poetry. They can be gone into a little bit. No analogy can be pursued too far. Think what it means. A rainbow is an appearance. When the sun is low and it has been raining, or is raining, the sky is full of water and then the rays of the sun are refracted and reflected in the raindrops and they come to our eye, standing on the ground, in bands. The bands are always in a fixed order – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. Always the red is at the top. There is a definite reason for this. The raindrop can be analysed (it’s not …

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Quantum reality and Yoga analysis

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/QuantumrealityandYogaanalysis.mp3 Physics had another earthquake in 1982 and this ‘Quantum Reality’ book was written in 1986. We’ll read this single sentence from it: “Bell’s theorem shows that although the world’s phenomena seem strictly local, the reality beneath this phenomenal surface must be beyond the speed of light. The world’s deep reality is maintained by invisible quantum connection whose alternating interval is unmediated, unmitigated and immediate.” It’s just worth noting – it proves nothing yogic. Scientists conduct their own experiments and it is they who should interpret these experiments, but they’re worth reading to show that the Yoga analysis is not ridiculous in modern terms. On the contrary it is seriously considered today by physicists, especially since 1982. The world has a phenomenal reality which is not the deep reality and, in the same way, name and form appear to us and they’re based on something which is much deeper. Now …

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The basis of physics burst wide open

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Thebasisofphysicsburstwideopen.mp3 Every hundred years materialism shouts ‘I’ve got it!’ And it does seem – it seemed a hundred years ago that almost everything was known. They believed that – and then there was a great burst of the quantum theory by Plank in 1900, then Einstein, the photo-electrical effect and relativity (which he got his Nobel prize for). The whole basis of physics burst wide open and this has now happened again, though the echoes are still going round. But the reasoning should be noted very carefully. Now this is by a famous philosopher of science, Dr Karl Popper. He pointed out in one of the things he said in his famous book, Conjectures and Refutations, that this idea of inspiration revealing truth is completely false. “For instance, the marvellous theory of Bohr and Kramers in 1924 was almost immediately refuted by the experiment conducted by Geiger and others. This …

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World as an illusion

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Worldasanillusion.mp3   There’s a hospital in Tokyo which treats cases, which are becoming more and more numerous, of a sort of nervous collapse from over-work. Some of them in, for instance, broadcasting, they go on the air at three in the morning and come off duty at nine o’clock that evening. They snatch five hours sleep and then they’re on again. That can go on for three or four days running. So some of them collapse and there have been some cases of death. Everybody gets very nervy in Japanese companies, and there’s a hospital which specialises in treating these things. The director is not at all interested in spiritual things, in Zen, or anything like that. But he said that one of the things that he does for the patients who come in for two or three months (he has a long style of treatment) is that he teaches …

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Powerful effects of the unreal

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Powerfulaffectsoftheunreal.mp3   We can say, “Oh, surely, intelligent people are not affected by these things – but they are. We can see, if we look at history, a novel like Goethe’s Sorrows of Young Werther was followed by a wave of suicide and there was pre-war a popular song called ‘Gloomy Sunday’, an extremely powerful piece of music. It was forbidden to be played on the continent, whether it was forbidden here, I don’t know – but it was also followed by suicide. People knew it was unreal, but nevertheless they were powerfully affected by it. And we can say “Well, see the world as a beautiful rainbow.” We know the rainbow’s unreal, but we enjoy it. Our teacher said adapting it to the play – still to take part in the play but to know that it’s unreal, that one is an actor in it. One can say, “Well, …

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Yogas of the Gita are Yogas for when life is in crisis

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/YogasoftheGitaareYogasforwhenlifeisincrisis.mp3   Yogas of the Gita are Yogas for when life is in crisis. We can think, “My life isn’t in crisis,” but perhaps it is. One of the illustrations that are given in one of the Japanese texts is this: you can get a forest of trees, and the branches interlace with each other, so they hold each other up – the trees – and the whole thing looks very stable. Many of the roots become very weak, but the trees still look very firm. It’s like a table: a lot of legs. The trees are almost dead. It still looks very firm. They hold each other up. Suddenly, there’s a storm and the whole lot goes down. Our society can be like that, and our lives can be like that. Each part holds the other part up, and yet nowhere is there any actual root. There’s no root …

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What does ‘non-attachment to the results’ mean?

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Whatdoesnon-attachmenttotheresultsmean.mp3 What does this actually mean in practice? People feel, “Well, I’ve got to sweep the room. If I don’t have a catchment to the fruits, I won’t care whether I sweep it properly or not. I’ll leave some mud there. What does it matter? I’m not attached to the results.” No, that’s not sweeping. To be able to do it very carefully, sweep it up beautifully. What does ‘non-attachment to the results’ mean? A Jesuit father of novices, the teacher of the novices, he told me one of the final tests is that the novice is given a floor and he’s told to… Stone floor. He’s told to swab it, scrub it absolutely spotless. It takes him two or three hours and it’s gleaming. Then the master of novices comes in and looks at it. “Ah,” he says. He puts his hand outside, and he’s got a bucket of …

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The first element in Karma Yoga

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/ThefirstelementintheKarmaYoga.mp3 We go to the country. What a beautiful scene, marvellous, but people who live there, they just look. What’s happened? If we stay there for a week, we don’t see it anymore. Something’s coming between, a perception: “Yes, I know about that. That’s of no interest.” All the zest and the life has gone out of that experience, but yoga will bring it back if we practise it. The first element in the Karma Yoga is to become independent of the success, or failure, or what they call the ‘fruits’. That doesn’t mean the effect, the immediate effect, but it means the ultimate fruits, like people thanking you. Fruit takes time. If you plant a tree, the effect is that the tree is standing up, but the fruits come much later, don’t they? I’m thinking about the fruits that will make my planting of the tree much less efficient …

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There should be some creative expression

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Thereshouldbesomecreativeexpression.mp3 To give one more example – and this was something that actually happened – an extremely orthodox Englishman who’d been brought up to restrain any expression of emotion, he became a Yogi. The teacher approved of his reserve but said that there should be some creative expression. He got him to act in amateur theatricals and to do some public speaking. This disciple had a mother who was very sceptical, and the subject of religion came up. Though she’d been, of course, baptised a Christian, but she used to dismiss it with a few sarcastic remarks. She’d got some vague idea he was connected with some weird Oriental cult, although he never spoke of it, but she recognised he was a good son to her, so she didn’t pursue it. Then, when she was… She became very ill, and she was dying, and he took her into his home …

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Inspiration in Science

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Inspiration+in+science.mp3 We’re more impressed in this part of the world with inspiration in science. We think, “Artistic inspiration, well, who’s to say if a thing is good or bad? But in the Far East they’re more likely to say, “In science, scientific inspiration, you might guess, mightn’t you? But no-one can fake a masterpiece of calligraphy.” Well, however it might be. If we take an example… There’s a new biography of Rutherford, who confirmed the so-called ‘solar system structure’ of the atom. It has just come out. He was a man who had many of these qualities of a Yogi. He worshipped science as a god. A foreign visitor to his laboratory pointed out to him, said, “You know you could patent some of these discoveries you’re making, and make a fortune?” He said, “Rutherford jumped to his feet and the visitor escaped.” He said, “I thought I was going …

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Zen & Gita Q&A 1 01.08.1984

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Q%26A/Zen+%26+Gita+Q%26A+1+01.08.1984.mp3 Trevor Leggett : The main thing from a yogic point of view is to practice ourselves, and without attempting to teach, or anything like that. There will be a communication if we really try. If you drive a car well, people with either imitate you or not, but the main thing is to drive the car well. And a good driver does have an effect on, I suppose on the road traffic in general. And the main point of the yoga is not a deliberate idea of communicating so much as himself to bring to life these texts in his own behaviour and his own vision. Question: I have some relatives who are clergymen, and I had in mind very much the fate of clergymen’s families, so often stay away from the living “The bishop’s daughter is the actress, you know.” Trevor Leggett: So that happens all over the …

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Zen & Gita Q&A 2 01.08.1984

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Q%26A/Zen+%26+Gita+Q%26A+2+01.08.1984.mp3 Question: I wonder, Mr Leggett, when someone who is fervently religious wishes to cut off the head of someone whose religious views differ from his own, what is active within him? Is it religion? Or is it something other than religion? Trevor Leggett It’s generally a sort of herd instinct, isn’t it? I mean, it just happens to have a religious name to it. But it’s like the tribe instinct, or something like that. With some of the very fanatical religious people, if you ask them about what they actually do believe, they’re pretty vague. But they know the slogans. The story is one of a usurping king, who, by a trick, claimed the whole kingdom, and ruled extremely badly. Well the righteous king had been tricked out of the kingdom, you see? So in the end, after many peace negotiations that they tried to get back by legitimate …

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The Spur is addressed to a samurai who has faith

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/TheSpurisaddressedtoasamuraiwhohasfaith.mp3   “The Spur” is the title of an essay by Torei who was a disciple of Hakuin in Japan in the eighteenth century. He wrote the essay “The Spur” in about 1755 and it is addressed to a samurai who has faith. Torei got it approved by Hakuin and then it was published. The samurai by this time had become the administrators of the country. They weren’t just warriors although they still carried the two swords. The word, the Chinese character for ‘samurai’ which is used by him, also means a scholar and the character, for instance, is used today as the last character of an academic distinction, like a doctorate, a hakusei, and ‘sei’ is this word for what originally meant a samurai, a warrior and came to mean a man of culture and learning. It’s called “The Spur for the good horse”, and this is the fundamental …

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The doctrine that everything is transient

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Thedoctrinethateverythingistransient.mp3   One of the Buddhist doctrines to enable this to be done is the doctrine that everything is transient, everything is passing, and he says we suffer from things because they simply pass away. If you hang on to the things you find while the karma is favourable they look solid enough and then when it turns they’ve gone and there’s nothing there. You can learn something from the people of the world of this. For instance, one man that I knew was an athlete and clever and took great trouble over his personal appearance. He was very  attractive to women. He was always falling in love but he used to say, “And, it’ll only last three months and then I’ll get bored and fed up with her but,” he said, “even in those three months, I always have another one or another two.” I said “What?” “Well, you …

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The facing inward of the Buddhas

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/ThefacinginwardoftheBuddhas.mp3   (Torei:) “However clingingly attached we are to this temporary abode, we cannot expect it to last forever. To realise the four noble truths, that all is passing, painful, empty and without a self and to seek the way of Bodhi intelligence is what is called the Dharma. Then the third point is purely its effort. That you have to make strong efforts. How to search? You have to search. You must make clear and then enlighten the root in you. How is it to be made clear? You must search after your true nature. How to search? In seeing, in hearing sounds, in the distinctions of heat and cold, in the consciousness of right and wrong. This seeing, hearing and knowing are the root of the practice. The ordinary man sees colours and is deluded by colours, hears voices and is deluded by voices, feels heat and cold …

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Keep up the right line of the meditation

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Keepuptherightlineofthemeditation.mp3   It’s been said, Western music tends to be a prelude to the presto at the end and everything else is leading up to the last variation of the set of variations where there’s going to be an athletic performance by the pianist and I’m afraid it’s true that in a lot of our compositions, there is an athletic performance at the very end, but this is a wrong view. The piece is a whole. At the end of the Beethoven’s 7th are these waves of bliss. It’s a wonderful experience to hear them, but if we sit throughout the symphony waiting, thinking ‘well, soon now we will be coming to these great waves of bliss’, then we miss the second movement which is one of Beethoven’s greatest works of genius. This is the one where at the first rehearsal, the players stood up and cheered when they first …

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You practise with courage and sincerity

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Youpractisewithcourageandsincerity.mp3   He (Torei) says that you must practise, not avoiding confrontations and not deliberately creating them either, but taking them on when they come. “You practise with courage and sincerity. It is when things are disturbed, you must realise that now is the time to go to the field of battle and then you will be able to decide things”, and he says if you defeat your greed and your fear and your power love and your pride at these times, then you have actually conquered them. You have actually won, but while you remain in a state of safety from them, you don’t know whether you have conquered them or not. Now, this text was for Samurai scholars. He doesn’t talk so much about the training for Zen monks, but he says little enlightenment, in fact, obstructs great enlightenment. If you give up the little enlightenments and don’t …

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The Cat and the Krait

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/The+Cat+and+the+Krait.mp3   It is very difficult with our ordinary mind, and Torei makes this point, which is covered with this grease and slimy and sticky attachment to be able to see things clearly and to act clearly. As an example, this is a personal experience I had which quite impressed me. I lived in India for some years and at one time, well over a year, on the outskirts of Old Delhi and there was a place called Cavalry Line. There were stables, fields all around, but there weren’t any horses anymore but there were still the stables and next door there was a big nature reserve on which no shooting was allowed, so it was semi-wild. There were cats there and they wouldn’t come in the house but they would sometimes show up for food occasionally when the tenant of the house was well-disposed to them. Well, we had …

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The Confucian and Bertrand Russell

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/The+Confucian+and+Bertrand+Russell+.mp3   The Chinese Confucian would have thought that somebody like Bertrand Russell was an absolute fool because he deliberately chopped away at the basis of what he called false superstitious beliefs and left the ordinary man with nothing to guide him. Russell had his own ideals; they were highly abstract. The Confucian would have regarded Russell as very foolish. Russell says, “Well, they’re unhelpful and often destructive superstitions. Of course, you can have the sight of the worship of God. You could have other forms of worship. For instance: this – I think I have always felt that there were two levels. One, that of science and common sense and another: terrifying, subterranean and periodic, which in some sense held more truth than the everyday view. You might call this Satanic mysticism. I’ve never been convinced of its truth but at moments of intense emotion it overwhelms me”. Well, …

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Picture of Bodhidharma

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Picture+of+Bodhidharma.mp3   It’s very unusual. It’s got long black hair and there are some Taoist terms in this. I’ve told you about the dark and the bright circle and on the extreme right it says, “Nine years he cultivated, he turned, he revolved the Tan, elixir energy. Well, this refers to the mysterious Taoist practice in the text that I’ve got. It’s got many of the same phrases in it and this is Bodhidharma as a monk in much more traditional guise but you can still see a bulb at the navel and the power comes up and you can see the dark circle of ‘I don’t know’ and within that the bright circle of realisation. You’ll notice that the figure is very bent forward and this, as a matter of fact, is characteristic of Hakuin’s paintings and also Torei’s drawings. If you look at his pictures of Daito or …

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Judo Experience – Zen & More Stories

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/JudoExperience-Zen%26MoreStories.mp3   The judo teacher. He says, “You may get technical excellence, but it will be of no use to you as a training for life” . When we move from judo to life we have to be able to extend this. In a judo club it’s very important for all the members to take part. Not to have the accounts done by a chartered accountant who is a member, so that he takes over and does them marvellously and the ordinary members don’t do anything. No. The ordinary members too must take part in that, under his supervision, but they must take part in that. And you’ll get somebody who’s more or less fearless. For when it comes to accounts he says, “Oh I’ve never done that. Oh no I don’t think I could do that ! ” You say, “Come on, where’s that fighting spirit you’re always talking …

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Finding inspiration in everyday things

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Findinginspirationineverydaythings.mp3   I’m a typist, what beauty and art is there in the white of the paper as it comes up? The miracle that when you press the key, the black on the paper. When you first see this , oh it’s wonderful. But after a few weeks you think, “Oh this blasted typewriter. I don’t like the touch” . What’s happened? We miss , something’s gone , we miss something. We think ‘well yes all right perhaps we’ve missed a bit of beauty, but what art is there in typing?’ There is an art. Typists can be artists. Before the days of Xerox’s, in a lawyer’s office sometimes it was necessary to make a copy of a carbon copy. An extra copy of a letter. And it had to be absolutely accurate in a lawyer’s office so every letter when it’s copied is then checked over verbally by two …

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Go into the peace of your practices

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Gointothepeaceofyourpractises.mp3   Supposing I want to learn French. Right. I find a teacher, but I don’t like him. “Oh. Well, or, we’ll find you another teacher. Yes, we’ve found a very good one. Now, he could give you an hour on Tuesday, and another one on Thursday. But we always go round to the Grimsdalls on Tuesday and they come round to us on Thursday.” “Well, we’ll find you another teacher.” “Oh yes, I like him and we’ve got a free day. But he’s much too expensive’.” And in that way it all cancels itself out. But when the personality is brought together, those different elements will fit in. “Yes, a teacher I don’t like. Great mistake to think I can’t learn from a teacher I don’t like. Why not? And I’ll change my appointment on Tuesday and I’ll saw up a bit of my money that I waste on …

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The doctrine of the void

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Thedoctrineofthevoid.mp3   In a Chinese family, the small boys, when they meet Grandpa, stand like this,  in front of him for his inspection. And one of the traditional things about a Chinese Grandfather is he, well some, a small boy comes up and stands like that, and the Grandfather gives him a piercing look, then he clouts him! A Westerner who saw this, he says that he said, “What’s he done?” So the Grandfather said, “I don’t know” . So the Westerner said, “What? You hit him and you don’t know what he’s done?” The Grandfather said, “No. I don’t know. But he knows.” Well, in the same way, some things happen to us in the world, absolutely unjustified. Our friends turn against us. Things that we’ve built up with great unselfishness and devotion are viciously kicked to pieces out of sheer jealousy and spite. Why has this happened? “I …

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From emptiness inspiration will come

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Fromemptinessinspirationwillcome.mp3   The teacher told his pupils, “From emptiness, inspiration will come “. And they forgot it, except one who said, “What on earth does he mean?” He kept on asking the teacher. He said, “Well. All right. As you’re so persistent, prepare yourself.” He gave him a difficult ritual preparation to do for three weeks, then fast for two days, then come at dawn to the main hall which he did. The teacher was in full robes with a staff, and he came in  as a priest. The teacher drew himself up to what seemed more than possible height, and he crashed his staff down . He said, “I’ve something very important to tell you. Such an opportunity is very rare.” Well the disciple waited, then he realised, he thought, “Why doesn’t he tell me? What’s going on? Must mean something I suppose” . Then he realised all his …

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Karma – Kill Not the Self

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Karma-KillNottheSelf.mp3   A verse in the 13th chapter of the Gita, there’s a description of what is within man, the overseer, the approver, the experiencer, the supporter, the great Lord and also called the supreme self in the body. This is the great Purusha the great Lord. He says here, there’s an overseer of one who witnesses, who sees. There is also bhoktr, one who experiences. There’s one who supports and this is the great Lord, yet within the body. Shankara explains these as a riddle, in a sense. How could the great Lord be confined within the body? Now, one of the short answers is by karma, by the operation of a chain of causes and effects which are imagined, but, nevertheless, completely binding and they extend through many lives, as in this life, there’s childhood, maturity and old age, even so there is in the life to come. …

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Cohesion of the universe

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Cohesionoftheuniverse.mp3   Recently, now, it has been discovered that classical physics does not account for the cohesion of the universe, the benzene ring, classical physics can’t account for its stability. So, the gaps, although God has been driven into the gaps there, but gaps now are appearing in the middle of the explanation. If the new physics is right, these explanations are only tentative and transparent, in a way, because they are based on indeterminism. Now, the doctrine, of course, is a cause and effect applied to karma, is a little bit similar to the doctrine of cause and effect as applied in the world, in physics, for instance. We have an absolute flood of effects, causes and effects coming down here. There’s a flood coming down here. Now, most of these causal effects, these karmic effects don’t affect the present life. The present life has been put in these …

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Within man there is the great Lord

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/WithinmanthereisthegreatLord.mp3   Our teacher repeatedly says in the opening verse, “Within man, there’s not only the experience of suffering, and joy and change, but there is the great Lord.” He says, “Oh, this is impossible. Oh, this could never be done. There is the great Lord.” You are saying the great Lord cannot do this, you are saying the great Lord cannot do that. He says, “It’s to awaken the great Lord within the man. So, the causes, then, although the karmic tendencies are general, they’re not absolute and determined as sometimes is thought, but they can be changed and they’re not compulsory in that sense. Well, one can argue that this is rational and missionaries always used to complain, “We’re tired of hearing that reincarnation is much more fair than Christianity, we’re weary of this.” Yes, but they had no answer. There’s a life of pure suffering, it may …

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Kill Not the Self – Karma

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/KillNottheSelf-Karma.mp3 This talk is Karma – Kill Not the Self Disc2 The verse from the Gita is: ‘He who sees the Lord, standing equally everywhere, kills not the self by the self. Thus, he attains the highest goal.’ This phrase, ‘Self by the self,’ comes often in the Gita: ‘Let him raise himself by himself. Let him not degrade himself by himself. Let him find himself in himself, by himself. Let him not harm himself by himself.’ There are two selves: a full self, which is a reflection of the true self, associated with what are called ‘upadhi’, or ‘accidental conjunctions’, ‘accidental associations’, and there is the true self, which is not connected with any of these things by nature. An example of upadhi, of the accidental connection – a quite dramatic one – is that there’s a tomb in Westminster Abbey of Edward I. He was a famous conqueror …

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The true self is unseen

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Thetrueselfisunseen.mp3   At a particular university, a very famous lawyer, he said to his students, “You’re only a lawyer if, when you’re walking on the street, there’s an accident.” It’s being looked after, you can’t help, but you’re only a lawyer if you immediately think, “Has there been contributory negligence?” and you’re only a doctor if you immediately think, “What’s the nature of the injuries?” You’re only a politician if you think, “What’s going to be the effect of these constant traffic accidents? Shall we have to…? Can our political party make something out of this, of government stupidity?” Those remarks by him succeeded in putting off some of his students from studying the law afterwards. It meant to be totally swallowed up by your subject and to become nothing more than simply a carrier for that. It can happen in all sorts of ways. In Singapore, if there’s a …

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Having a theory and confirming it

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Havingatheoryandconfirmingit.mp3   The process in Yoga is of having a theory and confirming it. It is not having a theory and then performing experiments which may then upset the theory completely, but the steps are known. Our teacher often mentioned that the upadhis – so to speak, the associations – affect what we think we are, and affect the results of our life and our efforts. He often said that, for instance, if one becomes obsessed with something, it will affect the world and it will affect oneself. The Japanese researchers say, “The blind spot in medicine is what we call now the ‘placebo effect’” – namely that, if you give some remedy with sufficiently impressive background, even if it’s simply a sugar pill, it will have, very often, a marked beneficial effect. How can it possibly work? It’s rather difficult to perform research on it, but there can be …

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The wise man should act, but unattached

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Thewisemanshouldact%2Cbutunattached.mp3    Two verses from Chapter 3 of the Bhagavad Gita Reader: ‘Fools, attached to action, as they act, son of Bharat, so the wise man should act, but unattached, seeking to effect a control of the world. Let him not cause confusion of mind in ignorant folk who are attached to action. He should let them enjoy all actions, a wise man himself acting-‘. We notice here that it says, ‘He acts with the same intensity as the man who is strongly attracted to action, but he, himself, is independent of the results, but he acts with that same intensity.’ Shankara, in commenting on this, he says… The word ‘disciplined’ is used. Edgerton translates ‘yuktha’. It means ‘yoked in Yoga’, with the mind calm and even, steady, but he says it’s… Shankara says, ‘He is efficient in the actions,’ so that he’s like one who is very eager to …

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Realisation of the Supreme Self talk

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/RealisationoftheSupremeSelftalk.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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Life needs a conductor

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Lifeneedsaconductor.mp3   Now what the yoga teaches is that life needs a conductor and the laws of nature need a conductor, they won’t work, click, click, click, click, click like a machine. As Einstein pointed out, the mechanical view of the universe as a huge piece of clockwork went out, well he sent it out, in the early part of the last century. But it still persists in the minds of the public that on the contrary, there has to be a controller. The basis of physics now is uncertainty, there is an unknown physics by which the uncertainty, the base becomes the relative certainty of our ordinary world. That physics is unknown but it is a form of control and the yoga says, this is the control, exercise by the Lord. And we can become aware of this, first of all in our own selves. There is something in …

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We must study some theory

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Wemuststudysometheory.mp3   We have to do some theory, not so much that we get obsessed with theory and give up practice and take to theory instead, but we must do enough theory that we are convinced of what we’re doing. If we don’t do that amount of theory to get an inner conviction, well then we’ll always be deciding every morning, shall I go on with this or won’t I? Shall I go on with this or won’t I? Shall I go on with this or won’t I, and constantly taking decisions. It’s very exhausting and it’s futile. So we have to study, if necessary quite intensely, and it’s best to choose one or two texts and master them well, rather than read a great number, half, because if we read a great number half we never really grasp the force of any of them. So to learn one or …

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Half-Gods and Gods

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Half-GodsandGods.mp3   This is from the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter IX, verse 23. Those who are devoted, bhakta, to other gods, who worship them, full of faith, they too are worshipping me alone. But not directly. They are in ignorance. It is I who receive and am the Lord of all sacrifices, but they do not recognise me as I am. Therefore they fall. The votaries of the gods go to the gods. The votaries of the ancestors go to them. Worshippers of elemental spirits go to them. My worshippers go to me. Our teacher referred to this verse by saying ‘The other gods referred to are ‘gods of power and pleasure’, and he called them ‘half-gods’, and he quoted Emerson’s line ‘When the half-gods go, the gods arrive.’ In verse 11 they are confused. They despise me who have taken on human form, not knowing my higher being, the great …

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Worshipping lesser gods

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Worshippinglessergods.mp3   Chesterton remarked that when they don’t worship the traditional gods and religion, it’s not that they worship nothing, they worship anything, and as an example, Djilas, who was Vice-President of Yugoslavia and knew Stalin well, he said, Stalin knows everything, Stalin can do anything. No problem he cannot solve. And when the interviewer said ‘But these are attributes of God, knows everything and can do anything’, he said, he was a militant atheist, he said, ‘Yes, I think then I did worship Stalin’. They are worshipping lesser gods with faith and devotion. Lesser gods – another example given by Shankara of the lesser gods worship – the god of property. The temple in Jerusalem was a mass of gold when the Romans finally captured it and despoiled it. The price of gold in the Middle East went down by half. There was so much gold suddenly on the …

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Remove illusions by study

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Removeillusionsbystudy.mp3   If we go into a Zen school – and then we find that we have to sit in meditation, and when there’s an earthquake, and there’s one every day in Japan, you mustn’t move. Well, it may get worse, you know, and the building will come down – go out in the garden – no. You mustn’t. So we think, Oh well, I won’t stay this school. This is fanatical, fanatical. Go on to something else. And then we can invent our own system, and think poor old Mammon, he’s had such a bad press, but really, one should allow a certain place, give him his due, and gradually Mammon begins to take over. We can begin to revere learning. And an account which our teacher quoted also of a great temple in China, about 600 AD, where what corresponds to an archbishop was preaching. The place was …

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Yoga is described

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Yogaisdescribed.mp3   Yoga is described in a number of verses in chapter II.43. Set in yoga, do your actions, unattached, the same in success or failure. That sameness is called yoga. So yoga is to be able to be the same in success and failure. Not simply to say, Oh, well, of course I’m indifferent to the results, and then be disappointed or elated or defiant about those results. The next definition of yoga is in II.50. The Buddhi of yoga leaves behind good and bad deeds, so practise yoga. Then he says, yoga is skill in action. Nothing about devotion. Skill in action. Then in II. 53, the third definition is ‘When your buddhi, your higher mind, stands unmoving, motionless, in samadhi, you will have yoga. So there have been three definitions of yoga there. One is sameness in success and failure; and in regard to the opposites, which …

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The yogi casts off good and bad deeds

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Theyogicastsoffgoodandbaddeeds.mp3   In chapter II verse 50 ( of the Bhagavad Gita) ‘The yogi casts off good and bad deeds, so apply yourself to yoga. Yoga is skill in action’. And Shankara says on this, ‘This even-mindedness attains purity, then knowledge. He does his duty with his mind offered to God’. And again it’s Shankara who puts in this phrase from the later part of the Gita, offering it to God. Then in III, IV, there are many such examples where the text says Perform action for yajna , for sacrifice, and you will nourish the gods, and the gods will nourish you. This is a fair trading, as Swami Rama Tirtha called it. But Shankara says these are selfish cravings, sacrifice not to the gods, but to Ishwara, to the Lord. Then in chapter III.19, where the Gita says ‘Perform without attachment what is to be done, acting without …

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Tradition and Inspiration

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/TraditionandInspiration.mp3   Our teacher sometimes used to begin a talk by asking us to touch the point between the eyebrows with the finger nail and use the after-sensation to sit in silence and bring the mind to this point. These are verses from the Gita about how to regulate our actions in ordinary life. “He who neglects the scriptural injunctions and lives by his pleasure desires does not attain perfection, nor happiness, nor the highest goal.” The word for scriptural is Shastra. “Therefore let scripture be your guide. And you should not do what is not prescribed by scripture and you should do what is prescribed by scripture. When such required action is done simply because it ought to be done, abandoning attachment and fruit – that abandonment is of sattva, is of light. He does not hate a disagreeable action when righteousness demands it, nor does he cling to …

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Bhagavad Gita morality is self-training

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/BhagavadGitamoralityisself-training.mp3   Now the surprise is that nearly all of these relate to self-training. There’s hardly anything about doing things for society and for other people. And the Gita morality is criticised for this purpose – but the purpose is self-training, and it’s not about doing good to other people. This is a very important point in the Gita. The fundamental basis of its morality is a sentence in the modern times in the Shri Dada Sanghita (the Heart of the Indian Mystical Teaching): “You cannot do good action, you will not be able to do good action, until you begin to rise above the body consciousness.” We can say, “Well that remains to be seen, surely that’s not so.” But one modern example – well from the last century – was given. Before Pasteur the doctors didn’t understand the need to disinfect their hands. They used to come to …

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Seeking for something to worship

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Seekingforsomethingtoworship.mp3   J B S Haldane and many others in the 1920s and 30s were furious communists and they knew quite well what was going on in Russia under Stalin. They were not objective at all, but they hung on to it. They were seeking for something to worship. There was no objectivity; their objectivity – as Einstein said – was confined to the units with which they were familiar, of their work. We can say, “Oh well, that’s gone now.” But if we take today, about ten years ago, in the conclusion of the Reith lectures, Colin Blakemore, a brilliant young physiologist, was saying how reason and knowledge could solve all our problems. He concluded his Reith lectures, “I began my talk about revolution – revolution and science. I end on the same note, revolution – social as well as scientific. It will grow. When the choice for action …

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Arguments for good and bad are endless

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Argumentsforgoodandbadareendless.mp3   You can say, “Well, we don’t want peasants; we don’t want the door open to peasants into the church. It’s better to have people like St Anselm, Saint Thomas Aquinas, who were small property owners and so they could have lived on their property. They weren’t desperate. You don’t want great landowners in the church because they’ll simply look after their interests, but you want people just from the middle who if they go into the church will go in with conviction. Not the peasants.” But one of the greatest Christians who ever lived – and our teacher was a great admirer of him – was Pope Sylvester the Second. He was of peasant stock. So as the Chinese say, the arguments for and against what is good and what is bad are endless, like the river turning and twisting. And by one’s reason you can find the …

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What is good and what is bad

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Whatisgoodandwhatisbad.mp3   So what is good and what is bad? How are we to decide? Even the scriptures can contradict each other. There is a scriptural injunction to loyalty which Bhishma, the general, followed. But supposing the king has become a villain. There’s another scriptural injunction not to take part in adharma, unrighteousness. Now should he fulfil his loyal part, his pledge of loyalty to the king or should he walk out? It can only be solved, Shri Dada says, by inspiration, when there’s a rise above the limitations of the body consciousness. He says, “Every man must be able to go into voluntary nervous and mental relaxation and in that silence concentrate on a symbol of God. It is this prolonged silence of the soul which will bring before him the architypes of what he is to create both within and externally.” So that finally these virtues given by …

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Yajnavalkya Outside the Upanishad

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/YajnavalkyaOutsidetheUpanishad.mp3   The title of the talk this evening is ‘Yajnavalkya Outside the Upanishad’. He was the first great teacher of Yoga in the Upanishads, the first to teach the doctrine of karma. One of the two oldest Upanishads is thought to be about 600 B.C., so Yajnavalkya would have been at least that far back. There’s an extensive record of his teachings in the Upanishad. But there is also a reference to him in the literature outside the Upanishad and this is in the Jaina literature which is thought to be very early, about at least 300 B.C. There’s a passing reference to some of the great sages of the time who were not of the Jaina school, but they were extremely prolific in what they wrote and they did record with respect and reverence the teachings of some of the great sages of the other schools of the …

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Know what is the central teaching

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Knowwhatisthecentralteaching.mp3   Various examples are given from that time, but an example from our time is that recently, at the beginning of this year, there is a television serial, which I admit I don’t know, called Coronation Street which has run for about thirty years. At the beginning of this year a popular actress who has been in it twenty-three years was shown in the programme as intending to leave Coronation Street and go and retire in the country. She’s very popular it seems. The television company made a mistake in that they named an actual village, Hartingdon. And in Coronation Street she said farewell to her friends, “Now I’m getting on, I’m going to retire to Hartingdon”. And that weekend, there were not one or two, but a large number of fans of the programme in the village of Hartingdon, asking for her address, for the address of this …

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Shri Dada was called the Saint Universal

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/ShriDadawascalledtheSaintUniversal.mp3   Shri Dada was called the Saint Universal, but it doesn’t mean that he subscribed to all the fundamental background of those schools or necessarily to their practice. For instance, in the Shri Dada Sanghita – the Heart of the Indian Mystical Teachings – a Sufi teacher is given a speech in which he declares the tenets of his school and Shri Dada hears him, and reveres him as a great devotee. But Shri Dada did not agree with what he calls the ‘shallow concept’ of the Sufis by which the romantic attachment, if it’s unselfishly held for twelve years, will turn into love of God. Shri Dada says, “This is raga, passion, and how can raga change into vairagya”. He calls it the ‘shallow doctrine’. The Sufi is not criticised there, but Shri Dada is silent – he doesn’t repeat it. In the same way with the Christian …

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Karma is waiting for you

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Karmaiswaitingforyou.mp3   In Samuel in the Old Testament, it says, “At that time, the voice of the Lord was rarely heard, and the vision of the Lord was never had.” When there’s a sort of check in the spiritual experience, then it’s liable to happen that the secondary things, the spiritual home, the spiritual wealth and then the wealth belonging to a spiritual community begin to assume more and more importance. In the temple of Jerusalem in the time of Jesus there were eighty two maidens working on two huge curtains every year, 40 foot wide, 80 foot long. There were six colours, twenty threads and seventy-two strands. And we know the name of the man who was responsible for it, the senior official named Eleazar. This would be a tremendous undertaking, a tremendous feat of organisation – and it was done. But it did mean that the body of …

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Free from the desire for things

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Freefromthedesireforthings.mp3   The teacher says, Shankara, points out that it’s a question of being free from the desire for these things, the hankering desire for these things; not necessarily from the things themselves but he must be able to walk away from them, when it’s necessary to do so. In the Upanishadic passage we read, one of Yajnavalkya’s main teachings said that the knower of the Self, he knows about learning, he masters the texts, then he enters the childlike state. This is explained by Shankara as, the same as what the Gita gives as, what’s translated as ‘straightforwardness’. It means literally, straight and it’s contrasted with twisted. This virtue comes four times in the Gita, hardly in the Upanishads at all, but it comes four times in the Gita in very important places. In 13:7 there’s a list of the qualities: humility, modesty, harmlessness, patience, straightforwardness, service, purity, steadiness, …

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Attempts to do good are counter-productive

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Attemptstodogoodarecounter-productive.mp3   In the Shri Dada Sanghita, this comes several times that, without an inner spiritual training, the attempts to do good in the world are very often counter-productive. He’s withdrawn, but as Swami Rama Tirtha used to say, “You go into the roots in meditation, then you come back and the flower’s blossomed. But without the growth in the roots, the flowers won’t show their beauty. He must become calm, he must become tamed”. This word is used in the Jaina text too. It’s one of the shanta danta and it literally means tamed, as though the body were tamed, as though an animal were tamed. This word must have been a major teaching of Yajnavalkya, because it comes in this very ancient Jaina text, which just gives this short description of his teaching. “He becomes calm, tamed, withdrawn, patient and then practicing meditation”. Some of the schools say, …

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Christianity and Yoga

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/ChristianityandYoga.mp3   The New Testament is not a systematic exposition. The earliest documents we have are letters of St. Paul that happened to survive. So in this talk some of the parallels and yogic readings will be brought out … but not as systematic exposition of the whole of New Testament thought and the whole of Yogic thought as compared and parallel with it. The first one is the narrow gate. This is a passage which has never been explained. In Matthew … ‘Enter by the narrow gate. The gate is wide but leads to perdition, there is plenty of room on the road and many go that way , but the gate that leads to life is small and the road is narrow , and those who find it are few’. Why does he say this? Why does he say the gate is narrow? He says ‘I will draw …

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The Gospel to the Hebrews

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/TheGospeltotheHebrews.mp3   The Gospel to the Hebrews was written in Hebrew not in Greek. The gospel has been lost but a few fragments are quoted by the early church fathers such as Jerome. We know also that gospel went to India. The church historian, the early church historian Eusebius reports that when a Christian missionary went to India he found this gospel was already there. The phrase is from Christ … ‘He who is near me is near the fire’. Now this has occasioned some puzzlement among Christian commentators. Perhaps it means those who come to Christ are in special danger of being tempted by the Devil and falling into Hell. But this is a rather desperate interpretation. Shankara quoting on the Gita almost seems to be quoting this phrase from the gospel … ‘I, The Lord, am like fire, Just as fire does not protect from cold those who …

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You see me in yourselves as in a clear mirror

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Youseemeinyourselvesasinaclearmirror.mp3   There is a saying of Jesus in a newly found gospel, the Gospel of St. Thomas, which is just a short collection of saying, there’s no narrative. ‘You see me in yourselves as in a clear mirror’. St. Paul in his Letter to the Corinthians expands on this saying. It’s found in the Mahabharata … about 300 BC … about 300 years Before Christ. ‘Knowledge springs up in man on the destruction of their sins. When the divine self is seen in the self as in a clear mirror.’ Christ says ‘You see me in yourselves as in a clear mirror’ … a mirror without a veil . And the man’s face is without a veil … as in a clear … clearly … as in a mirror. Paul … there are number of passages in Paul on this. ‘To this very day, every time the Law of …

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The parable contains a riddle

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Theparablecontainsariddle.mp3   The parable was a well-known method of teaching in the Jewish tradition, which Christ continued. The rabbis … there were thousands of parables known. And the essence of the parable was that it contained a sort of riddle. And the riddle was solved by thinking deeply about the meaning and then applying it to ones own self. For instance, a classical riddle in the Old Testament refers to King David, in the days when kings had to be literally the fathers of their people … most children died and the king had several queens. And in spite of his several queens, King David fell in love with a young wife and sent her husband … who was a brave … known to be a brave soldier, to a very dangerous battle where as he expected the husband was killed and David then married the widow. The prophet Nathan …

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The Woman caught committing adultery

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/TheWomancaughtcommittingadultery.mp3   The Bhagavad Gita comments: ‘The firmness by which a dull man does not give up sleep, fear, grief, depression and lust … that firmness is of darkness’. They are referring to something which is consciously held to and protected … not simply an ability to understand … but there’s a firmness … with which he won’t give up … even fear and grief and depression and ignorance … people hold to them. This is the doctrine of neurosis in these days … but it was well known to the Gita. There’s a firmness and that firmness is of darkness. Now, finally, one of the exercises in the parables. This is one which again has never been explained … and we could try it now . The yogic method of meditating on such a thing.. It’s to listen to the story carefully, then to think about the meaning, and …

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Yoga in Troubled Times

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/YogainTroubledTimes.mp3   Chapter XVIII, verse 61 of the Gita (and this is our teacher’s translation) says: “The Lord rules the hearts of all beings dwelling therein, causing them to revolve like a machine by Maya, His magic power.” Then the next verse is: “The yogi must take refuge in Him with all his heart, instead of trusting his lower self which expresses itself in ambition, material desires, attraction and aversion, and other limitations which end in despair. By His grace the yogi will attain supreme peace, the highest state. The result of contact of the lower self with the Supreme Being is the transformation of the conditioned self into the Infinite.” In these verses two things are given. One is that the Lord whirls the beings through His magic power, as if they were puppets on a machine. And secondly that through devotion to the Lord – the yoga of …

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We are whirled by Maya

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/WearewhirledbyMaya.mp3   In India they had a habit, as a ‘thank you’ present of telling the other party to ask for a boon – and that meant anything. Well that would not be common here for people to be prepared to risk allowing somebody to demand anything, even the life of the one who’s granting the boon. Great emphasis was laid on keeping the exact words of the boon, and that’s why King Dasharatha who had offered Queen Kaikeyi a boon, when she reserved that boon and later on claimed it, which was to disinherit the heir to the throne, that word had to be kept and Prince Rama, though he could have easily avoided it, insisted on following up the words of his father. So the Gita tells us we are whirled by Maya like marionettes, jerking through a series of reflexes. Shankara in an analysis of this, in …

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We are controlled by our illusions

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Wearecontrolledbyourillusions.mp3   Shankara says that we’re controlled by our illusions and that even with the man of knowledge who knows that it’s an illusion, for a time the memories can still go on and affect him. He makes this point in a number of places in his Gita commentary. But you think, “Well how can that be so?” I saw a dog once who had been tethered in a country where they don’t know how to treat the animals very well. They tethered the dog to a post in the garden for three or four months – and he nearly goes mad, barking with excitement, trying to get loose, but finally he becomes apathetic. Then he doesn’t go outside that circle even when the rope is taken away. He comes to the edge of it, then he stops. I made friends with him and although his legs were weak I …

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Indulgence in the objects of the senses is the enemy

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Indulgenceintheobjectsofthesensesistheenemy.mp3   Shankara makes the point about the world, he says, “The achievements and the gains of the world and the successes of the world are like food mixed with poison. You eat the food and it’s sweet (the word is for an Indian sweet, it’s mostly honey) – it’s a sweet, but there is poison in it. So you enjoy the sweetness but then later on the poison hits you. Now he says, quoting the verse from the Gita, that desire for an indulgence in the objects of the senses is the enemy, the constant enemy of the wise man; but it’s only the final enemy of the ignorant man. The ignorant man first thinks, “This is a friend” and he gulps down the sweet food. Later on, he knows it was an enemy. But the wise man – the man who knows rather – although eating the food, …

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Shankara says we are puppets

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Shankarasayswearepuppets.mp3   We’re marionettes, Shankara says, but we can free ourselves from being marionettes, from being whirled by the Maya of the Lord by a method that the Lord himself gives us. And what happens then? The actions of the marionette that are fixed and determined and repetitive so that our lives become simply a repetition – again and again and again, the same thing – they can become free and creative and reflect the will of God, instead of reflecting our personal will. Nobody likes to be told they’re marionettes. When after a meeting someone says, “Oh well, once he said that, you were bound to do that. Every time he puts something up, you always oppose it, don’t you? We all know that, we had bets on it!” And he said, “What? No!” “Yes. There was this and this and this, wasn’t there?” And that’s always vigorously opposed …

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The highest service

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Thehighestservice.mp3   From the worldly point of view, apart from the spiritual point of view, a man like that probably has never actually done anything in his life. Because, as a matter of fact, when you take up something, for instance, like learning to drive a car or learning Chinese or embroidery or French cuisine, you don’t think, “I am a car driver.” You know that you’re absolutely hopeless and you need all your attention to become even passable. You don’t think, “I am an orientalist” after the first week of Chinese, when you realise there are two languages, not one, that you have to learn. Our teacher used to say that our ignorance increases as our knowledge increases. Well, that’s an example – the ordinary man thinks, “I don’t know Chinese”. The man who’s studied a little bit knows, “I don’t know the spoken Chinese, and I don’t know …

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Stone Sermon

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/StoneSermon.mp3   In the Lotus Sutra, one of the old ones, there is a sort of Buddhist prodigal son. He is not prodigal. He wanders away from the king’s palace when he’s small and forgets, and wanders back again when he’s much older – as a beggar. The king recognises him, when he sees him from the palace, sends out a guard to bring him in, but the beggar, when he sees the guard, runs away, and the king then has to gradually take him on in the humblest capacity in the farthest corner of the kingdom and gradually promote him up and then finally he declares, ’You’re my son, you’re the heir and everything here is yours!” The son is really the heir to this vast power and wealth, but because he’s a beggar, and has forgotten his inheritance, and who he is, he’s afraid. Although invited to come …

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Jizo, the stone child

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Jizothestonechild.mp3   The stone, what is the stone telling us? Our western gardens are like our western minds. I say western minds – of course, it doesn’t include anyone here! We tend to see things in terms of triumph or defeat or disaster and our gardens are like this. They are a riot of splendour and colour in the spring and summer, then they become depressing in autumn when everything falls, and in the winter they’re just sad. If you read an account of a garden like Sissinghurst, you will see that. It says in the winter, Sissinghurst, alas, is sad. But the purpose of the Japanese garden is quite different. It’s not to create exaltation with a mass of flowers and brilliant colours and splendid design patterns, Italian garden, symmetrical lake. A Japanese garden is not symmetrical. A Japanese once said to me, ‘Your Italian gardens are completely symmetrical, …

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We sweep up the leaves

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/Wesweepuptheleaves.mp3   One of the phrases is when you do a right action don’t cough. When I put a gold piece, don’t cough, when we do a good deed, to call attention to it. And the other phrase related to this – success not triumph. Now a concrete example. In the temples, some of the temples, the ground is covered with moss. Moss is taken as a symbol of spiritual progress, because its growth can’t be forced but if the weeds are removed then it grows surprisingly quickly. But it needs shade and so there are always trees and those trees are chosen. They’re not big ones, they are small trees, but they are chosen so that they have leaves most of the year round. The moss needs a certain amount of shade and that means the leaves are falling different times from different trees. In the temples one of …

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Brahma Viharas

https://s3.us-east-2.amazonaws.com/tlayt.bucket1/Short+Talks/BrahmaViharas.mp3   We tend to get carried away by irrelevancies. I’ll tell you one personal story here. I knew a very learned Sanskrit and Pali scholar who had studied the languages from the philological point of view and gradually he became interested in what was in these languages, as distinct from the grammar and the borrowings of the vocabulary from the Dravidian and other sources. And he asked me whether I could suggest any teacher, or place to go, to study the Indian Buddhism or the Vedanta. He didn’t much care which it was, so long as he did some of this training that he’d been reading about. Looking at him, I advised him, I said, ‘On no account, study Indian Buddhism or Indian Vedanta’. And he was very surprised at this, ‘What, what, what then?’ I said, ‘Study the Japanese or the Chinese Buddhism’. He said, ‘I already know …

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