Unless roots of spiritual conviction have been put down, the whole structure is hollow and falls to pieces

INTERLACED BRANCHES When there is a grove of trees growing closely together, their branches can get interlaced, so that they seem to support one another. Because they are so close, their individual roots are often very shallow, but the whole thing looks like a stable structure, a sort of table with many legs. But when …

Read moreUnless roots of spiritual conviction have been put down, the whole structure is hollow and falls to pieces

Reasons for quoting a verse in Sanskrit first, and then giving the English translation.

When I first went to Dr Shastri’s lectures on Vedanta and Yoga, one of the things that irritated me, as it puzzled me, was his habit of quoting a verse in Sanskrit first, and then giving the English translation. He would say, for instance: “The Gita says, in Chapter 13 Verse 30, Prakrityaiva ca karmani…..” …

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It is not a crime to be spiritually only two or three years old. But we are expected to grow up

A teenage disciple asked the advice of a senior in the Yoga group he had joined. ‘My parents don’t understand me at all – we are always having rows. Why shouldn’t I have pictures of nudes on the walls of my room, like my friends do? I wanted to put one up in the hall …

Read moreIt is not a crime to be spiritually only two or three years old. But we are expected to grow up

Put yourself vividly in the presence of the spiritual figure you are worshipping and hold yourself there.

Conscious tensions can be relaxed when attention is paid to them. But unconscious tensions are not so easily resolved, because to resolve them is itself attention. Over some fifty years ago there was a record by an American band, in which each line ended with the shouted chorus Relax, Relax, RELAX !!! and this against …

Read morePut yourself vividly in the presence of the spiritual figure you are worshipping and hold yourself there.

Rational thinking cannot easily overturn unconscious attitudes

Freud and Adler and their followers were able to show that in some cases what we regard as rational decisions are in fact expressions of unconscious tendencies. A young man who went to join the Indian civil service found that he cold not sleep because of the howling of pariah dogs near his official residence. …

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My general rule has been to declare frankly my own self interest and then be prepared to negotiate

“If I were you, I wouldn’t do that.” “I think if you were me you would do that because if you were me you’d do as I’d do and I am going to do that.” “Oh well, I meant that if I were in your shoes, in your situation…” It sounds a fine thing to …

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Most spiritual training schools stress the importance of a sangha or community

Most spiritual training schools stress the importance of a sangha or community.  In Buddhism there are the Three Refuges:  I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dharma, I take refuge in the Sangha.  To many people, the Buddha and Dharma are somewhat abstract supports, and the physical association with a community …

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Should they do their first training with the sword or with the spear?

A doubt comes up in the mind: ‘Scientists actively refute mysticism and yoga. They have created all these modern marvels – surely they must be right?’ It is met: ‘Some of the greatest of them like Pasteur and Einstein and today Davies, say the weight of evidence is for a cosmic intelligence.’ The doubt subsides, …

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If the flint of the heart can be struck skilfully, it may produce a flash of inspiration

When steel is struck skilfully against a flint, a spark can be produced. If you have ever tried this, or seen it being done, you will know that you do not get a spark every time you strike the flint. But if you keep trying, you get some. If you want fire, you have to …

Read moreIf the flint of the heart can be struck skilfully, it may produce a flash of inspiration

In Sojiji temple there is a picture of Nansen killing a cat

In Sojiji temple near Tokyo, there is a picture of the Chinese patriarch Nansen killing a cat. It illustrates a famous koan riddle. With his right hand he is holding aloft the glaring spitting cat, while his other hand grasps the sword. The Japanese master Dogen, founder of the Soto Zen line of which Sojiji …

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When individuality is transcended there is a cosmic effect

A pupil heard a teacher say that when by long training the individuality is transcended there is a cosmic effect. This effect is far greater than anything produced on the individual plain by individual words and actions. So this pupil asked the teacher: “It is clear to us sir, when we face you, that your …

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They do not have the support to stand on and enjoy the last laugh

In a certain dictatorship inhabitants were warned by official propaganda to beware of foreigners. If they had to talk to foreigners they were told to ask them what was their business in the country, and to report the replies to the police. A foreigner who had lived in the country before and knew the language …

Read moreThey do not have the support to stand on and enjoy the last laugh

Personal success is swallowed up by the gradually revealed greatness of what they are practising

A hundred years ago a simple minded Indian peasant overheard a rich man say portentously, “Money attracts money”. He took a silver rupee from his tiny savings and went to the shop of a money lender in town with the idea of capitalising on this piece of knowledge. At one end of the counter the …

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It takes a long time before Life forgives us for our own imitations

In the 1930s when Japan was preparing for war, foreigners were regarded with great suspicion, especially by the police. Sometimes the suspicions were built on chance coincidence without any substance, but in the official mind they proved hard to shift. A young accountant employed by a foreign firm used to enliven his evenings by visits …

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There is something, not a sin, which often can’t be forgiven

A woman member of a traditional Yoga group also served on the fund-raising committee of a charity. Her written articles and her appeals at public meetings were attractive, and brought in many more donations than those of her colleagues. She began to notice a certain coolness towards her suggestions at committee meetings; they were nearly …

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On the in-breath breathe in freedom and with the out-breath throw away worldly concerns.

A middle-aged energetic business-man, member of a yoga group, began to think that he was not making proper progress. He practised regularly and did a good deal of service, but he felt that he was getting no new insights or experience. He asked the teacher, who told him: “It is good that you have become …

Read moreOn the in-breath breathe in freedom and with the out-breath throw away worldly concerns.

Satan

Quite often in our lives we are going to meet Satan, either in other people or in ourselves. We don’t realize it because we often fail to recognise him. Here is an example from a time when smoking was just a social habit and not yet known to be a killer: A certain heavy smoker …

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Help, No Help

SOMETIMES a new idea can change the whole landscape of endeavour, so to say: everything appears in quite a different light. This applies to most fields of human activity, but in the case of spiritual endeavours it has some special overtones. Take the case of doing certain jobs for the spiritual group. Naturally everyone would …

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Leaves and Moss

Leaves and Moss by Trevor Leggett In some Japanese Temples, moss is cultivated as a symbol of inner realization. Its progress cannot be forced, and the cultivation in fact amounts to removing the obstacles to the natural growth. If they are patiently and continuously got rid of, however, it makes a surprisingly rapid advance. Moss, …

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Stories

One of the great means of instruction is telling tales. The Sufi classic Mathnavi, and the Zen writings, are full of them. The stories are not fully explained; we are expected to find the inner meaning by our own efforts. Pondering on a story is compared to churning milk; it has to be turned and …

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