This isn’t meant to be an academic presentation of the texts, but it’s more to do with the practice. And the instruction and practice is more like a series of thrusts which we receive from a teacher or somebody who’s experienced, and one or two of them may register on us and then we’re expected to react constructively to it.
So it’s making a few points with vivid examples, what’s called in Sanskrit, drishtanta, the visible example. When you present in the Indian logic, which is very old, when you present something you present the principle and you present the conclusion, and then you present an instance of it from daily life. For instance, where there is smoke there is fire. To demonstrate that you’d say well, fiery things, smoke. Then the drishtanta is as in a kitchen, that’s to say you’re given something definite from daily life, it anchors the reasoning to daily life by showing that such things occur and they’re accepted in our ordinary life and it’s not simply an abstract situation which doesn’t occur.
One of the first things is this, the Supreme Self is to be meditated upon and realised as the Self, not the God which the people worship. We tend to worship something which is distant from ourselves and that’s because we’re not really sure whether it’s there or not. As my teacher once said, people say God, but it’s only a name that they use when they happen to drop something – oh God! – and then it’s forgotten. Now people feel, well if there’s God one ought to be able to see a tiny little finger now and then intervening in affairs shouldn’t one, if there’s a God who is interested and takes part in our world as we’re told. And one has to think carefully about this: where is this God?
Whenever we look at something and we analyse it carefully in detail we don’t find a God. It’s true that people like Einstein were, well, semi mystical, but in his book on relativity, which of course no one would actually read, Einstein’s own book, there’s nothing about God in that. What is the evidence that there is a God? Oh, we can say well, there’s design in the universe. Oh, but whether there’s a design or not it’s a question of opinion.
Now, in completely materialistic books like Dawkins’, The Selfish Gene and The River of Time, he uses phrases like in the embryo the development is orchestrated. And they use these words unwittingly without realising what they’re saying. Orchestrated. Now, if we hear an orchestra. (music: Ride of the Valkyries) Now, this is the Valkyries. The conductor is Tennstedt. But if you listen to this music, minutely, you will never hear Tennstedt, you will hear the violins, all of whom can be named, in that, especially the violins, and there are harps there, the harpists can all be named. They all have a specific sound which they’re making, which is on the score, but you will never hear the conductor, and yet, it’s the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, every one of them could be named, listed, and if you look at the score you could find out exactly what the man, if he’s a flute, well Wagner has a bass flute even, you can hear what the bass flute is playing and identify it, and the man, but you cannot hear the conductor.
Now, lots of people think that an orchestra could play without a conductor, he does nothing after all, he just gives the tempo and if you had Böhm playing the same music it would be a bit slower I suppose but there wouldn’t be much difference. What does the conductor do? You never find him here in the music, you can’t hear him. But if you’ve ever played in an orchestra you know what a conductor does. Supposing you’re playing a glockenspiel or something like that, you’ve got 28 bars rest and you’re counting them, one, two, three, four, then the music slips or something and you, oh, was I four or five? Oh, six, seven? You listen to what the others are playing but you can’t remember what corresponded to bar seven. Supposing I come in a bar too soon, or a bar too late, what am I going to do? You try to listen to the music thinking, where do I come in, where do I come in?
And if you’re about 15 you start sweating like mad, and then well, you’re still counting but you’re not sure whether you’re one out. You’re coming in after 28 bars rest, and about bar 26 the conductor looks at you and then he brings you in. That’s what the conductor’s for, he holds the orchestra together and if he wasn’t holding the orchestra together it would soon run wild, people would miss their cues. Well, the glockenspiel might not matter so much, but if some of the others, the trumpets, start making a false entry, well then, they’ll collapse.
Now, people think, oh no it wouldn’t. Yes, it would. There’s a very famous case in 1912 when Debussy, who was a rotten conductor, used to come over from France and conduct his set of three pieces, Images, with one of the London orchestras, and Sir Henry Wood had rehearsed these pieces. Now, the first one is Clouds, it’s very quiet and harmless, the second one is called Fêtes and it’s meant to be a festival at night and the torches suddenly break through the trees, the brilliance of the torches and then they’re gone again. So there are very quick changes of tempo and this brilliant thing and then it stops.
Now, Henry Wood had rehearsed the orchestra again and again and again, and then Debussy came over. But he was a very poor conductor and he failed to give one of the entries and then failed to give another one, and the result was that half the orchestra ended a bar before the other half and the audience sat absolutely stunned at the end of it, it was awful. Well now, this is in the history books, you can look it up, somebody shouted, “encore!” and then others took it up, “encore, encore!” and Debussy shaking, looked at the orchestra and they played it through again and this time he held them together and it was a great success.
Now, that cry of “encore.” My father was the leader of that orchestra and he told me Sir Henry Wood was conducting the little group of singers who were to come in the third piece and it was Henry Wood who shouted, “encore, encore!” and then the orchestra took it up. But it was a vivid example of how necessary the conductor is. Now what the yoga teaches is that life needs a conductor and the laws of nature need a conductor, they won’t work, click, click, click, click, click like a machine. As Einstein pointed out, the mechanical view of the universe as a huge piece of clockwork went out, well he sent it out, in the early part of the last century.
But it still persists in the minds of the public that on the contrary, there has to be a controller. The basis of physics now is uncertainty, there is an unknown physics by which the uncertainty, the base becomes the relative certainty of our ordinary world. That physics is unknown but it is a form of control and the yoga says, this is the control, exercise by the Lord. And we can become aware of this, first of all in our own selves. There is something in ourselves which is greater than the limits of the body and the mind, which can reflect something from above the body and the mind. Well, this is an example that’s given, the universe, the world, that we must not regard it as mechanical and God as a sort of witness on the sidelines, but He is pervading everywhere and He controls the movements and the laws of nature from within.
Now, we’re asked to try to identify that God who controls the universe and if we look we can see the signs, the design of the universe, what’s called the anthropic principle now, but all these are just guesses and inferences. We can find Him directly in our own selves. And to do that we have to bring minds and bodies into a state of relative calm and clarity, clearness. While there’s a jumble going on in the mind we’re not able to see what is beyond the mind. The mind is, so to speak, a tangle of thoughts, hopes, wishes. Now, I can’t see through that at all. But if the tangle begins to be loosened then just through little chinks I can begin to see what is beyond. And if it’s brought to order in Samadhi then I have quite a view of what’s beyond and the very experienced yogi can lay the mind down and become aware of the cosmic consciousness. And then he can take up the mind again, but this time with order, not in a jumble.
Now the practices are given to reduce our dependence on the events of the world and the events on the internal world.
And if you’d like to just practice. The point here, between the brows, if we just touch it and press the fingernail here or even pinch. Now, after doing that, feel the after sensation.
You can press quite hard, or press the fingernails in, pinch, and just sit and feel the after sensation.
Now, the practice is to sit reasonably upright and then to disregard the things on the outside which come into this, what is called the minister of the exterior, the left point side.
Disregard that. This is called the minister of the interior. But take the consciousness away from external events, from internal events, and bring it to this point. Now if you’d just like to try, I’ll say OM and then if you’d like to touch your finger here and then for two minutes try to bring the attention, the feeling, to this point and disregard external sounds and disregard internal memories. OM.
When we do this practice, if an external sound comes it shifts our concentration, but then we come back to it. When we practice Judo we learn balance by being pushed and then we recover balance, and it’s by being pushed that your body learns balance, it recovers it immediately.
And in the same way we can treat this practice, and when doing it, say there’s a sudden sound or there’s a sudden memory, a troubling memory come up, not to think, oh I’ve lost concentration, no, think of this as a push and now I’ve come back. In this way by bringing the attention back to the central point we practice the inner balance and then the time will come when the Judo man, and I’ve seen it, on the top of icy steps which are all iced over, stone steps, and the other students were coming down holding on the rail and he walked down and he slipped and he was going down like that, but he didn’t fall over, because the balance came to him – he was not thinking now I’ve got to balance myself – he’d practised so much that the balance came to him.
And in the same way we practice these things consciously and if we do them regularly and every day then the time will come when we have a shattering disappointment and we find we’re not so upset as we thought we would be if that happened. If we have a sudden temptation to swindle somebody we find somehow there’s a resistance there which can keep a balance.
So it’s recommended to practice it regularly, and we can do this in the open air when we’re waiting for a bus or something like that, just to bring the mind back.
Now, the world is taught to be a projection by the Lord, and it is like a play, we’re told. We have to think of a play. A play has its causality: Casca stabs Caesar and the blood comes out. And then a few others have a go and finally Brutus, and then Caesar makes his remark and falls dead. Well, all that happens because the conspirators have stabbed Caesar. You see the blood and he falls dead, and that’s a satisfactory chain of causality isn’t it? Because they’ve done this, therefore this has happened, but we in the audience know that although this is a chain of causality there is another chain of causality which is the real one, namely that these are actors, a troop, who are being paid their money and who have rehearsed this scene and Caesar has to practice falling down; it’s quite an art to fall. So there’s another causality. Well now, you only see that other causality in very small things.
The play causality holds the field, but if you look very carefully you will see. I can remember when I was about four or five, I was completely taken in by the scenery, painted scenery, and there were some pillars, it was some palace I suppose, and then I noticed that an actor happened to brush against one of the pillars, and to my amazement the pillar went whoa, and I realised it was painted. Now, the actors are very careful to avoid painted pillars and touching them.
The play has a causality, and that causality is only rough and in the very small details it doesn’t hold up, and it may be, and it’s been suggested, that this is why in the very small details of physics, and now in the very small details of biology, this apparent surface causality doesn’t hold up. These are theoretical points, we have to do some theory, not so much that we get obsessed with theory and give up practice and take to theory instead, but we must do enough theory that we are convinced of what we’re doing. If we don’t do that amount of theory to get an inner conviction, well then we’ll always be deciding every morning, shall I go on with this or won’t I? Shall I go on with this or won’t I? Shall I go on with this or won’t I, and constantly taking decisions. It’s very exhausting and it’s futile. So we have to study, if necessary quite intensely, and it’s best to choose one or two texts and master them well, rather than read a great number, half, because if we read a great number half we never really grasp the force of any of them.
So to learn one or two really well and be able to grasp the theory of those. This is told symbolically in a Japanese story, there’s a sort of bird-monster, a strange thing, which appears and terrorises the countryside. It doesn’t do any particular harm, but it’s frightening, so they employ a Samurai to kill it. So he agrees and he finds this and he shoots arrows at it, but the arrows don’t penetrate, they just stick to its side. And then he runs at it with a lance and the lance slides off and sticks to the side of it. Then he tries with a sword and the sword sticks there, and then he knows some of the Ju-jitsu methods and he tries, and his hands are stuck, his feet are stuck to it, and the weapons are all stuck to it. And it says, “Do you give in?” And he said, “No!” Well, then it turns into the God of War and gives him some secrets.
But the point is that we have to go ourselves. While we shoot arrows at Brahman or the Supreme or God, arrows of analysis, while we run at it with lances, hoping to break it open and find out its inner structure, all these things will fail. Only when we ourselves go and when we find almost that we can’t find out and it says well, “Well, will you give up?” and we say, “No!” then it’ll be found. So, meditation needs some courage and some determination, but if we practice accompanied with the theory which gives us conviction we won’t find this so very difficult, and after all, mountaineers face this sort of thing every time they climb; they face the possibility of death which they voluntarily take on. Now, we’re taking the examples of people who are enquiring, seeking to find this unknown which is within us, we’re told, but we can’t seem to get a foothold on it or hold it or grasp it anywhere, it is beyond the mind. If we think, I know it, then little indeed we know.
Now, what does that mean? The text of the Upanishad [Kena II.3] says,
‘he who thinks he knows it well, he knows little of it. He who does not know it, he knows it.’
What does it mean? Well, the example I gave this afternoon, and I only gave one – perhaps typing is the best example, you learn to type, you don’t know where the letters on the keyboard are, you have to learn painfully, and you learn. Each time you want to write ‘tiny’ you think where’s the T? Oh yes, it’s this one. I is, oh, it’s the same row isn’t it? Oh yes. N? That’s the bottom row, yes. And slowly and accurately I can type, I know where the things are on the keyboard.
But an expert typist simply types. Now, if you ask an expert typist or if you’re one yourself, ask yourself suddenly, where’s the J? And you find you don’t know and yet, you type perfectly. So you don’t know, and yet it’s not that you don’t know, because you type perfectly, you more than know. Well, in the same way, he who thinks he knows Brahman because he can name it, because he can have ideas about it, and thought about it, little indeed he knows.
But if he practises, he goes beyond those thoughts, and then he has an awareness, a living awareness, which he can’t explain to anyone, but which changes his whole life and brings the divine into his life. And in a way he doesn’t know it, but in another way he more than knows it. So these are, well they’re examples that are given and we’re asked to try and make the best that we can out of them. The effort clears the mind and brings the mind to an order. Now, when this happens the gleans from Brahman, from the Lord above the mind, begin to shine through into the mind, and they become creative.
© Trevor Leggett