Knowing the Future

Sometimes we persist in a course of action although it ought to be perfectly clear that it will lead to a disaster. Afterwards in the memory of the event we unconsciously persuade ourselves that our action was not really so stupid. There are situations where both cause and effect are visible at the same time which brings out the idiocy before our very eyes. One instance would be in an aircraft where a film is being shown to passengers in one section and another copy of the same film is projected to passengers in another section. In a seat from which both screens are visible one can see the same film being run at the same time. The two films are about a minute out of sync with each other and result in us seeing the actors in one scene vigorously playing their part whilst on the other we see …

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Can mere silence can be a lie?

Lying is forbidden in the classical ethics of Buddhism, and in the Indian spiritual traditions generally. There are subtle discussions on whether mere silence can be a lie, and also whether a formally correct statement is a lie when it is known that it will be misunderstood. There is an historical incident from the period of the wars in Japan, which highlights some of these points. After a battle a fugitive fled into a Zen temple and the priest hid him under the floor boards of one of the buildings. A little later, three pursuers arrived and demanded of the priest: “Has anyone taken refuge in this temple?” Sitting in the reception room the priest answered calmly “No-one here.” “Are you lying to us? We think you are. We’ll cut off your head if you don’t tell us where he is.” “Well,” said the priest, “if I am to go, …

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The central purpose of a directed life

In the inner training, we can think of our actions as preparing and fitting together hundreds of pieces to make an elaborate cabinet, which symbolises the central purpose of a directed life. They have to be carefully shaped and fitted together, then they make a beautiful cabinet. We often do not realise clearly that all our actions are of the same nature: they are bits for the ‘cabinet’ which is being made. One piece is as important as the other; some are bigger, some are smaller, but they are all important. But what we tend to do is to paint each piece, as we take it up, with likes and dislikes, hopes and fears, so that some bits we do not like to touch, some bits we stickily hang on to, some bits we are reluctant to use at all. If we have done this, when they are put together …

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They finally react to imaginary slights and so on.

The skin loses the power of adaptation to changes in temperature, humidity etc. Practising austerity, going without a scarf sometimes, keeps these faculties in good order, and the skin healthy. So with the mind. Those who are always protecting themselves against looking foolish or against little insults, by leading very sheltered lives, become more and more sensitive, and finally react to imaginary slights and so on. One cannot learn to skate, or to speak in public, or a foreign language, or any new skill, without looking ridiculous occasionally. But it does no harm to look ridiculous, and it is a ladder to mastery. © Trevor Leggett

Old people have a significant role to play, and some of them find it.

The problem for old people in the West is not that they are regarded as junk, but they regard themselves as junk. In many countries of the East, there are not so many old people, but those there are, are often better off, not materially but in quality of life. They have a significant role to play, and some of them find it. In the East, it is expected that older people will turn to religion, which traditionally provides means to inner development. But this is not generally accepted in the West, which prides itself in its sceptical – though in fact deeply fearful – free thinking. So let us adopt provisionally some of the dogmas of this so-called free thinking. Even the doctrine of evolution at its most materialistic can give an indication to old people what to do. First, let them ask themselves, or be asked, Why do …

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The Lord says, he thinks more of his beard than of Me

The Sufi Attar relates that a certain religious man used to perfume and comb his beard for some time every day before his devotions, in order that he might appear before the Lord at his best. A saint of God had a revelation which he was to convey to that devotee: “The Lord says, he thinks more of his beard than of Me”. When that man received the message he gave a great cry of remorse. Thereafter every evening before prayer, he tore out one handful of the beard, leaving his face bleeding, that it might bear witness to his repentance. Another revelation came to the saint: “He is still thinking more about his beard than of Me”. In his Mathnavi, the Sufi poet Rumi declares that if mystical truths are investigated too methodically, so that the dialectic of question and answer becomes lengthy, then the savour of Love’s mystery …

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As Gladstone Did Not Say

William Gladstone (1809-1898) was four times British Prime Minister, and arguably the greatest statesman of the century. His policies played a big part in preventing the revolution that Marx had foreseen. Gladstone coined many memorable phrases which were in constant use; in 1888: ‘I will back the masses against the classes.’ The interest for yoga is the extraordinary control that Gladstone exercised over his own mind. There is a striking example towards the end of his life when, as an old man, he saw his progressive programme voted down in Parliament for very dubious reasons, so that his government fell. How did he spend his weekend? Not in bitter recriminations against opponents: that artful, scheming Disraeli; not in foreseeing the country going to the dogs. In other words, not an angry old man’s typical outbursts when fate has turned against him. No. He wrote a six thousand-word paper, in beautiful …

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Life Rage

There is ‘road rage’ on being passed or obstructed, on a highway. But life itself is a series of obstructions and overtaking in every field and there is a smouldering life rage in the heart of nearly everyone. We live by artificial standards which themselves are constantly changing. Emerson once wrote that for most people one of the highest pleasures is the consciousness of being really well dressed. But if someone appeared today in that well dressed look of his time, people would simply laugh. The same is true of more central things: it was rightly said that reputation lies in the breath of the people. We have to develop inner balance and inner firm footing, and become independent of outer supports. This does mean in the end an independence of life and death. When Socrates remarked that he need not pay attention to spiteful words, he was challenged: “But …

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Learning by Heart

It should be mentioned at the beginning that in Britain at least, the concept of education has been bedevilled by a false etymology. Education is thought to come from the Latin prefix e- meaning ‘out’ and the verb ducere, ‘to lead’. So it is supposed that the desire for knowledge is inherent in the child, and needs only to be ‘led out’. Give children the facilities, said Bertrand Russell, following Morris and others, and they will learn all they need spontaneously. They will learn to read naturally, because they are surrounded by writings, and will be curious to know what these say. It is further assumed that the process must be made agreeable, interesting, and amusing. If it is not, that is a failure to provide “what the child needs”. This is not borne out by experience. Westerners in the Far East, for instance, surrounded by Chinese writings, very rarely …

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Paper Belief

In one of Barrie’s plays, there is a shipwreck, and for the first night the old Earl is separated from the others. When they meet up the next day, he complains how cold he has been, and his daughter says: “But Daddy, why didn’t you make a fire by rubbing two sticks together?” He replied irritably: “Have you ever tried to make a fire by rubbing two sticks together?” She says no more. She had read and believed, like so many others, that Indians and Polynesians and perhaps Boy Scouts could make a fire by friction, but this belief would hold only so long as no weight was put on it. In the same way, exalting texts can be read and believed, but only so long as there is no risk of having to depend on them. Teachers have called this ‘paper belief’; some rate it even thinner than paper, …

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Movement, No Movement

There is an oral tradition in some schools of yoga that persistent application to a spiritual practice creates a disturbance in the higher regions where live the beings sometimes called bodhisattvas. A modern teacher remarked to a pupil that sustained sincere effort at a practice would make a sort of ripple there, and one of the great bodhisattvas would turn to look at it: “There is a movement here. Let me see whether there is an opening being created through which I can pour help and blessings.” This same teacher said, when one pupil went and asked for help for another pupil who was feeling depressed and cast aside: “Oh, there’s no movement there. It’s a sort of enjoyment of despair. There’s no real movement.” That teacher used to say, when asked about a particular project or practice undertaken by a pupil: “Does something come out of it?” Her students …

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Limitations on the Avatar

Children’s questions can embarrass even theologians: “Could Jesus have got down off the cross if he wanted to?” Or in the Old Testament: “Why does it say it say that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart every night, and then sent another plague in the morning to make him change his mind?” Similarly, in the Indian epic Ramayana, the Avatar Rama who is God incarnate lay unconscious and paralysed on the battle field, in the grip of magic snakes projected by the villainous enemy. Rama’s allies are bewildered; how can this happen, how can the incarnation of omnipotent God lie there helpless. Some of them say: “It is not for us to have doubts and questionings. This must be a voluntary act, so we should simply wait till the Lord chooses to recover, throw off the snakes, and get up in his own good time.” But this is not at all the …

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The Cure

Some people find that when they begin a yogic discipline their mind is not calmed but more agitated and distracted than before. They complain to the teacher about this and ask for some remedy. Let us suppose that patients go to a skilful doctor to cure an ailment caused by a common mistake in lifestyle. He gives each of them the same remedy with the warning some of them might experience a few untoward side effects. Suppose further that one of them comes to the doctor and says, I have been following the treatment, but my health seems to be getting worse. I now have this and this and this as well. Can you give me something more to cure the new symptoms. The doctor replies, “What you call new symptoms show that the cure is working, in a way they are the cure, and you can’t ask me for …

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The Cave

The Japanese Zen Master Fugai, though a talented artist and poet, often took to living in some cave, unknown to anyone. It has been thought that he did this partly to avoid fame and reputation which can easily gather round a noted teacher in a monastery. He once remarked, however, “Perhaps it is easy to give something up – after all it must be easier than chasing after it or vigilantly guarding it. Perhaps it’s easy to give the world up as a monk. But what is difficult to give up is the thought ‘I’ve given these things up’. Until that has been given up and forgotten there is no true renunciation.” In yoga too there is a parallel: people sometimes say a bit arrogantly that the true yoga is not “running away from the world to the peace of a cave in the Himalayas but practising yoga here and …

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Pioneers and Scavengers

‘If you associate with dogs you have to be prepared for quite a lot of barking.’ A genuine thirteenth century Chinese saying: ‘A furious tiger rises up but is killed and then a tiny kitten comes up and laps the blood.’ This exemplifies third rate thinkers who try to sit on the body, so to speak, of the dead master and get a little of his prestige and strength. Compare the Western saying about pioneers and scavengers. Pioneers find the new tracks in the forest but sooner or later they are struck down by some wild beast and they die. Then the scavengers come afterwards and pick over the bones. In the same way great innovative thinkers or scholars die, and the scavengers come and pick holes where they can find any little scraps. But they contribute nothing original themselves. Compare Patanjali IV.3 Sutra: That cause (Samadhi) is not the …

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Falling In Love

Falling In Love In music, don’t fall in love with a particular note, however perfectly played. Don’t fall in love with any particular piece, however beautiful, with the feeling that this is enough. Don’t fall in love with a musician, however skilful. Don’t fall in love with a particular composer or composers, however wonderful. Fall in love with the source of the inspiration that is struggling to express itself through the imperfect channel; it is imperfect, however technically adept the musician or the composer may be. John Lill, the virtuoso pianist, remarked in a BBC interview in 1999: ‘After a concert, if people come to me and say: ‘What a wonderful pianist you are,’ I say: ‘Thank you very much,’ but I reckon I have failed.’ But, if they say to me: ‘What wonderful music that was – what wonderful pieces,’ then I reckon I have at least partially fulfilled …

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Samurai Poetry

When the Samurai class was established as the ruling caste in Japan at the beginning of the 18th century the warriors were required to educate themselves in practical administration. This included literary skills, culture in general and some familiarity with law. The Samurai had been, even in the early days of the 13th century, relatively literate, compared to the often unlettered Knights and even Kings of the West. It was traditional for some of them to take part in poetry competitions, though of a rather special kind. In an ordinary poetry contest there are two or three winners so to say, and some in the second rank, as judged by the expert arbiters. These last were often famous poets, but in any case critics of some standing. However, such a result would not perhaps be satisfactory in the case of Warriors intensely conscious of what they call their ‘Honour’. The …

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Free Fall

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

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Competition

The bad loser, the mentally agitated man, is always saying: ‘I am off my game today.’ I once made an enemy for life, when I was young, and even more tactless than I am today, by answering a man who said this: ‘No, this is your game. You nearly always play like this.’ And so he did. He knew from experience that he could play well, but he hardly ever did, and his idea was that he was somehow off his game that day. The fact was that his game was the same almost every time; the occasional fine performance only occurred when his mind was calm. We have a sort of myth, in competitive sports, that you have to be in a rage in order to get the necessary adrenaline going. But that is not so – people in a rage lose their judgement. In a fairly limited sphere …

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A Prince Reprimanded

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

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Wisdom for Kings from the Vishnu Purana

Shri Parashara said :— Being infatuated by their attachment to their mortal bodies, how many kings have lived blindly, thinking of conquest only ! They never pause to think that this world belongs to no human being, and that God alone is the Lord of all. They have all died in despair, filled with anxiety and often assailed by ingratitude. How many of them have come and gone, how many are dying every year, and yet the present ones do not give up their greed for conquest. O Maitreya, listen to the following verses spoken by the Earth, which in ancient times the Muni Asit gave to King Janaka :— “ These kings think they are wise and yet they are blind to Truth ! They are convinced of the immortality of their body and the permanence of their power and glory, which is comparable to the bubbles on the …

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Have mercy on yourself

Whenever you are discovering the mote in your brother’s eye, you are putting the beam in your own. In order to have mercy on yourself, you must give up this fault-finding and this denouncing of others. —Swami Rama Tirtha The kingdom of heaven is within you : and whosoever knoweth himself shall find it,—A saying of Jesus, from a Greek papyrus, discovered in 1903

Saubhari and Samnada from the Vishnu Purana

A Sage by the name of Saubhari meditated for twelve years in the water. There lived a big fish by the name of Samnada who had a large number of children and grandchildren, all obedient and affectionate to him. This fish was the sovereign of the water. Accompanied by his progeny, the king fish sported in the water of his own free will, in perfect freedom and delight. The attention of the Sage was attracted by the king fish and he began to envy his delight, freedom and sovereignty. Hegaveuphisww^A/ and began to contemplate the sportive movements of the happy fish. One day he said to himself :—“ Blessed, blessed is this king fish ! He has so many children and grandchildren, and moves about freely in complete happiness. Why should I not be like him ? ” He came forth from the water and applied to the great King …

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The Third Don’t Know

Uesugi Kenshin was the Galahad of mediaeval Japanese chivalry, and like the Galahad of the Western Arthurian legend was somewhat tactless and even arrogant in his youth. Kenshin was keenly interested in Buddhism and came to hear of the discourses on Zen given at a certain temple by a great Zen abbot, also as it happened with the same Buddhist name Kenshin. The young Uesugi decided to go to one of the sermons and engage the abbot in debate afterward, so he rode up one day without announcing his coming and went in to hear the sermon. That day the abbot was speaking on a case from the Zen classic Hekiganroku: Bodhidharma’s “Vastness, No Holiness!” The Ryo Emperor Bu asked the teacher Bodhidharma: “What is the first principle of the holy truth?” Bodhidharma said: “Vastness, no holiness!” Quoth the emperor: “Who is it that confronts Us?” Bodhidharma said: “Don’t know.” …

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Thrust From The Classics

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

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He was regarded as the embodiment of justice

One wing of the palace abutted on a rubbish heap; there was the outline of a door faintly to be seen on the wall. It was rumoured that each year the King stood for an hour behind the door, and if anyone asked for admittance, he took him in. It was not said what the king would do then. A merchant was wronged by a minister, but could not prove his case. He abandoned the rest of his property, and stood day and night in front of the outline of the door, every hour asking for admission in the hope that some time the King would be there. At first he nearly died of hardship. Then a passing horseman threw him an old straw coat, and a beggar brought him some scraps. The city people heard of him, and came to see the man standing in front of the wall. …

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Truce and Peace

In some traditions, the spiritual stages are presented in terms of warfare. In a remote province of a kingdom well and justly governed, there is a local warlord who from his walled city makes continual raids. The kings small standing forces goes out to meet the raiders. They are professional soldiers, and though few in number can nearly always defeat the raiders quickly so that they run back to their remote stronghold. But the raids have generally done a certain amount of damage to local towns and villages before they are repulsed. This situation is compared to the ordinary life of a yogi. Periodically, it is broken up by raids from the instinctive desires located below the surface of the mind. The yogi may have quite a battle with them but by the yogic means of devotion, analysis and meditation he can finally repulse the attacks, though often not before …

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Two Hooks

Man’s bondage to circumstances and his dependence on them can be thought of in terms of two interlocking hooks. One is within his own personality and one is the form of external objects or the ideas of external objects. When the internal hook, so as to speak, catches the external hook man is drawn outwards; or perhaps he tries to use the connection to draw the outer thing into himself. In either case he is bound and in the end he is drawn outwards. The external hook is conceived of in the form of objects or of events and so on. The internal hook is what is called the yogya vasana, the desire associated with that external object or that mental fixed conception. And it is the interlocking of the two which creates the bondage. Suppose for instance one sees an attractive meal full of sugar and fat; the mind …

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First order or last order

In armies, the chains of command have to be settled. One problems is: conflict of orders. Suppose a soldier is ordered by an officer to take a small box to HQ, and on the way officer asks where he is going, and then says: `Oh, so you can take this packet and hand it in at the radio station – it’s almost on your way.’ Now should the soldier take the packet, or should he refuse and say: `Sir, I’ve got to deliver this box straight away’? In history, some armies have opted for the First Order, and some for the Second Order. But let us look at the application in inner spiritual training. The rule for here is: First Order. When even a little inner practice is being done, the buddhi – the fraction of the cosmic mind which is located in the personality – is beginning to waken. …

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Money and fame

Real virtue is to feel  from the heart at all right actions. And the sin is not just a question of not doing right actions oneself, but being envious of them in others and wanting to spoil them, ending up as a mere tool of the passions arising from narrow selfishness, a mere slave to name and profit. The illustrious Emperor Kiso of the T‘ang Dynasty in China once made a visit to the Kinzanji temple on the Yangtze River. At the temple the scenery is exceptionally fme, and the throne was set at the top of the temple tower, giving the best view of the river. The emperor was conducted to his seat. He saw on the great river countless boats, some going up and some going down, some to the right and some to the left, so that it might almost have been mistaken for the sea. He …

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Memory: exercise not burden

It is thought to be axiomatic today that to require students to memorise many things will produce robots and “stifle creativity”. No evidence is usually produced for this assumption; it is somehow regarded as self-evident. Let us look at a definite case. In the English educational system we have to learn 26 letters of the alphabet, some of which have differing block capital forms. But in addition we have to learn the number digits 1-9, and how to read them. The digits are international, on the page but sound quite different when spoken in the various languages. For instance, 92 is read by us as ninety-two, but in French it is read quartre-vingt-douze. Then we have symbols such as ‘=’ equals, ‘=’ is-not–equal-to and so on. There are 30 or 40 of these that have to be learnt. Furthermore some of the digits 1,2,3…, are read differently when they are …

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Cured but not Healed

It is often supposed that good health means never to be ill. But in fact no-one can be always in good condition. There are little accidents, if nothing worse. Good health is simply a vigorous response to an adverse condition. Again, some people think health is manifested by ceaseless activity, like lambs frisking. But this sort of energy is not useful, because it is not available for any definite purpose as the occasion arises; to implement a purpose also requires that the body can be alert in relaxation at certain times. Good health means to be able to organise the available energy, not simply having plenty of it. The Yogic view of illness and health differs considerably from the commonplace idea of individual health as an absolute good in itself. It looks much wider: the health of a tiger is bad news for sheep, as the return to health of …

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Reduce your mistakes

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

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A Zen Story

Why does Christ provoke the authorities to make away with him, and utter on the cross the first line of Psalm 22, “Lord, Lord, why hast Thou forsaken me”? (This becomes a song of triumph only at the end.) Why does Krishna, an earlier incarnation, born as a warrior and a matchlessly skilled fighter, take on himself the role of an unarmed charioteer in the great battle, so that his body is riddled with arrows? Why did Buddha, born to inherit the leadership of his people, become a wandering beggar to spread his teaching? One answer is that many of those who come for spiritual teaching are in suffering, and it has to be demonstrated by example that spiritual realization can be tried for, and attained, in states of suffering. Instruction from someone who has the same difficulties and overcomes them is more effective than that given from the heights. …

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Last Words

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

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Gift No Gift

All spiritual schools lay stress on giving. But to know how to give is a great spiritual virtue, and there are many gifts which are no gifts at all. A grandfather came to visit his son’s family in another part of the country` and when he left` gave to the little grandson some special sweet cakes. That evening the manager of the company where the father worked came to see him for an emergency business consultation. It was the custom to put a display of cakes in front of a guest` who however by the same custom never took more than one. The mother had no cakes in the house, and asked the child to give his cakes to entertain the ” uncle “. The boy refused` but the mother pointed out that though the cakes must be given` the visitor would only take one and leave the rest. ” …

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The Blue Cloth

When the teacher first founded the group they were poor, and had only a cheap undyed cloth over the altar on which was the form of the god. They worshipped with prayers and mantras for the first half of the meeting, and then when the minds were to some extent pacified, they meditated: “O holy divinity, I am what thou art, and thou, O holy divinity, art what I am.” The teacher had once mentioned that to see or meditate on the colour blue has a calming effect on the mind, and added that blue was the best colour for an altar cloth. This remark was taken down, but not noticed at the time because they were so poor. Then it was forgotten. Many years later, a new member reading over the old records came across it. He bought a blue silk cloth, and had it beautifully embroidered with the …

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The Magistrate

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

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One Step, Twenty Steps

WHEN someone takes one step towards the Lord, the Lord takes twenty steps towards him.’ It is a striking phrase which has vivified and energized the devotion of many yogis. Nevertheless, it can be interpreted, disregarding the plain meaning of the words, into something quite different. In an off-guard period, one who believes himself a devotee can reason something like this: `What this says is, that when I take a step towards Him, the Lord takes twenty steps towards me. In fact He is doing the same as I do, and then He is adding nineteen more steps of his own. So if I take no step at all, then admittedly the Lord will not take that step either; but then He will add nineteen steps of his own to it. He won’t arrive quite so quickly, perhaps, but the difference will soon be made up.’ Someone who heard of …

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The Seller of Pears

An Abbot of the Buddha-Heart sect was preaching in the open air to a large crowd. The Abbot spoke of making life harmonious by mutual aid and concession, but added that the aim of life is to realize the Buddha-Heart within man, without which life has no real meaning. A seller of pears, pushing his cart by its two long wooden handles, drew near and interrupted: `What will it bring us? These are only words!’ The Abbot explained that realization would bring an end of all sufferings and a new life beyond life-and-death, but the pearseller shouted: `Big talk! Big talk! But you have to show us something!’ The Abbot said that gains in the world of dreams were themselves illusory; they were no true gains but had to be paid for somehow. The pear-seller only shouted again and again: `Show us something! You have to show us something!’ Others …

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