Inspiration is attained through meditation, and classically in Patañjali, the most important road to meditation is the repetition of this syllable OM, one of the names of God. OM! , O..mM! , O..mmM! , and feeling the vibration. This is something which people will take to for an hour, two hours, a week, a month and then give up.
Goethe was perhaps the finest mind there has ever been in Europe and in his Faust classics, the two parts, there are many secrets he discovered by himself, many of the secrets of Yoga. Now in the second part, if we look carefully, Faust is looking for inspiration of a particular kind. And he asks Mephistopheles, who represents the discursive intellect, who can’t himself go into meditation but can read books or find out about it. “What do I do, how do I enter inspiration, and Mephistopheles says you have to leave everything. He says “Imagine you have to go to the ends of the Earth, there will still be something, but in that region there is nothing”. Faust says “how do I go”.
Do I go up, do I go down”?
Mephistopheles says “no, it’s not a direction”. So Faust says: “how can I get there” and then because Mephistopheles has to do what Faust says, he produces a little key. He says “this this is the key. This will take you down to the realm or up to the realm of inspiration.” And Faust says “what that little thing”! And Mephistopheles says “don’t despise it, hold it firmly”.
He holds it firmly, and he says “it’s changing, it’s shining, it’s shining, it’s flashing, it’s flashing”.
We can see this is a clear reference, the object becoming radiant as Patañjali says, a little key, which looks so small and trivial like a repetition of a name or of OM. Don’t despise it, hold it firmly.
Imitation is a good thing but it’s not inspiration.
When we learn art or the piano, for a time we have to imitate the technique and the interpretation, but the time comes when the teacher will say “no! Find your own tempo. He says “what’s the proper tempo for this piece?” “No! Find your own”! Then he goes out and buys some gramophone records and plays it like Arrau (Claudio Arrau León) plays it plays it. “No! Not like that. Now find your own”, then he has to find something from within, not by imitation, but something new.
Now the last story of the children. This is a famous story from Chinese history. The next sage after Confucius was Mencius, perhaps an even greater man, a great scholar and a great hero who said to a prince “I hate the princes in their silks and furs when the common people are starving”. That might have cost him his life.
His mother was a sage and she brought him up. The father was dead. When he was five he was to go to school. The mother was a weaver and a good one, but they were not rich. She got the money to send him to school. She sent him off and she was working in the summer in the garden on a beautiful piece of embroidery that she’d just begun with the gold threads. It was going to be a beautiful picture. So she took him to school and left him there and came back, and was working. Then she looked up and she saw the boy at the gate. She picked up a knife which they used to cut the threads and she slashed the embroidery that she done, the bit she’d done and she looked at him and said “I have done the same as you have”.
He turned round and went back to school. He became the greatest scholar, of his century. Now, when he was in difficulties, and the Chinese language is not a very easy one, when he was in difficulties, when he felt like abandoning it, when he took on some very difficult task and seemed overwhelmed it. That picture of his mother would have come into his mind “I have done the same as you have” and he would have been able to go back.
This is an example of inspiration in daily life, and our teacher told us that these cases, there are many of them, which are hardly known, but that people who practice, who do spiritual practices, will give an inspiration and a courage to the people whom they meet, even unconsciously. This is one of the, not exactly tests, but one of the marks of spiritually advanced people, that after we see them, when we come away, we are able to do things that we been frightened of, or that we’ve had a revulsion against doing, although they ought to be done. There is a new strength and a new courage. They say in the classics there are three gifts and the lowest is the gift of food and money, because, although it’s necessary sometimes, but when the men’s has eaten it or spent it he is as he was before.
The second one is the gift of courage which is a much higher gift, because that will last.
And the third gift is the gift of wisdom, not imitating’s others conduct, but a living inspiration from within himself, but we are told in these ways inspiration must be created in ordinary life.
© Trevor Leggett