Before traffic lights were introduced, two or three strong-willed car drivers could get locked in a crossing, because no one would give way. The traffic piled up behind them, and often it was impossible to relieve the tangle by driving on to the pavement. In a busy part of the town, at a busy time, the block could extend for a quarter of a mile. Finally the police had to divert all traffic and slowly get the locked cars free.
In the mind when there is no control, two or three obstinate thought-feelings can become locked in a struggle, and paralyse all sensible activity. New traffic of ideas has to be stopped, in meditation or devotion, and slowly the block can be resolved.
But with traffic lights, these things happen only rarely. It is essential that we become able to control one line of ideas: check it when necessary, and wave it on when desirable. This can be practised during the day by periodically setting the body and mind to come to calmness, preferably in isolation. The ideas of the world that have been occupying the mind are cut short, and a yogic idea – say a picture of some revered figure, or simply the calm of being under a blue sky – are brought through in a stream. Then after five minutes, this can be left, and the affairs of the world taken up again. But the five-minute pauses, when they become familiar, produce a sort of fragrance as a background to even very active involvements in the world.
© 1998 Trevor Leggett