One of the three main elements of Karma Yoga is samadhi practice5 min read

The great point is, not to rule ourselves out but to follow the instructions and make the experiments. The sceptic may say, “There is no Rama, no such God in reality. What is the proof? Rama and Krishna were simply mythological dark-skinned South Indian divinities taken up by the Aryans after they found they could no longer believe in the old Vedic gods such as Indra.’

They support their view by inferences from texts, always with the absolute conviction of materialist pre-conceptions. But these texts are to be tested by experiment, not ruled out from the beginning by what Shankara calls `forceful assertion’.

In the Brahma Sutras, one of the great text books of yoga, it says (3.1.5), “By meditation, that which is hidden becomes manifest.”
His commentary explains that there is divine inspiration and power within every one and, if there is resolute meditation and resolute inner purification, the divine within begins to show itself.

Such manifestations are not personal powers, but movements of the God within. Our teacher often said that nobody is without inspiration. It is raining on everyone all the time, and through meditation they can come into touch with it.
Here someone may interrupt; “They always quote Beethoven or Michelangelo for these things; it might be all right for people who are musical or artistic; how is it going to be expressed through ordinary people?”

Our teacher had lived in Japan and spoke the language; sometimes he quoted the tiny Japanese poems called Haiku. One was by a poetess, Komachi, one of the Eight Poetic Geniuses of It puts into seventeen syllables of Japanese what Chekhov expressed in many more words in his play Three Sisters”.

`What has happened to us? We were so full of life and so interests in life, but now we have become so bored and boring?’

Komachi’s poem is, in Dr. Shastri’s translation, which is very literal:

Alas, it is the flower of the heart
that fades with no outward sign

Though the poem is tiny and is in simple Japanese, it is a masterpiece. All Japanese know these words and there is nothing difficult about the arrangement of them. Our teacher used to say that in everyone there are such inspirations seeking to come, even perhaps in the form of a single sentence, and when they come they can change someone’s life.
One such sentence was, “God will speak to us when we stop shouting at Him”.
Another is by St Francis: “Short prayer pierces heaven”.

Words may not be needed. There are people who, when you visit them, say almost nothing so that you think perhaps you’ve wasted your time going to see them. But when you get home, you find something you’ve been frightened of doing is now not so frightening after all, in fact it is easy. You have received the holy gift of courage.
Classically there are three kinds of gift: the gift of things, the gift of courage, and the gift of wisdom. You can be given money, which would be the gift of a thing, but that soon goes. There is another gift, not given necessarily through anything physical, and that is the gift of courage. Instances of it were often cited by our teacher. He recalled how Japanese would seek an interview with the great Saigo, and sit silently in the same room with him but without a word exchanged. They returned peaceful, free from their anxieties, and invigorated..

And the third gift is the gift of wisdom. Swami Mangalnath, a great yogin in our tradition at the turn of the century, lived mostly in solitude as a monk. But he did sometimes come down from mountains. His talks had strong effect on the hearers, amongst whom was Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya, famous as the founder of the university at Benares. Later, one of these meetings was the scene of an example of inspiration from samadhi, the peak of meditation. From that very university, a learned man, young and arrogant but with a genuine desire to know truth, came to challenge Swami Mangalnath. He posed two difficult questions with some idea of trapping the mahatma. (A brief account of what happened is in the introduction to Triumph of a Hero, by Swami Mangalnath, translated by Dr. Shastri.) The Mahatma made no reply but went into samadhi, and by grace the inquirer found the answers arising in himself. He prostrated himself and asked to be taken as a disciple. He thus received the gift of wisdom and it was given in complete silence.

The ancient Brahma Sutra classic says:
“By intense meditation, that which is hidden becomes manifest”.

The commentator explains that what is hidden is the divine potentiality in the individual.
Meditations on objects are performed by Karma Yogis, to whom the world is real.

Meditations such as `God is the light of the sun and moon’ and `God sends the rain’ are on the pure divine attributes which upheld the world; they exalt, purify and clarify the mind of the meditator, to whom they are as real if not more real than his own body.

How real that is to him is soon made obvious by events of daily life. Suppose a splash of boiling water falls on to the hand: if its owner feels `I am burned’, then this world is real to him. So when Instructions are given to Arjuna to do his duty in the world, its reality and importance are taken for granted. In the present state, things are real and we are to respond properly to events. For Karma Yogis, the world consists of separate things. God too is apart, to be worshipped and obeyed; from his side, he helps and blesses us.

One of the three main elements of Karma Yoga is samadhi practice, which means penetrating meditation. It has grades.

Teachers give as an example the meditation described above, on the form of Rama. The Karma Yogi feels that the Lord is apart. The time comes, however, when the Rama-meditation begins to lose its own character of `I am meditating on Lord Rama’. Patanjali, who wrote the classic on meditation, says, `It is when the meditation loses its own nature, as it were…., the separation into subject and object, (I am meditating on this) begins to disappear and there is only the object, blazing forth in its own light.

© Trevor Leggett