There is radiance when all the dreams and haze in oppressive mind-cage are thinned away.
Take scrubbing the floor as an example. Now what happens? We’re asked to examine what happens when I scrub the floor or when I have to do a lot of copy typing or I have to add up a lot of figures that sort of thing. What is actually happening? I don’t have to listen doesn’t have to involve much actual thought but I’ve got to scrub the floor of this room. I start there. Well, while I’m scrubbing there I’m thinking ‘God a whole room! Then I get to a place and I think ‘Oh it’s about a twentieth! Phew! I’ve done a bit more’.
In other words while I’m while I’m acting I’m calculating. Along with the action I’m dreaming. I’m doing the action but I’m dreaming. ‘I’ll just start at this now. Oh! I’m halfway through but I’m getting blasted tired. Still’ all the time it’s going on than ‘why am I doing this?’ Well I’m doing it because of fear! If I’m in the army I’ve been told ‘Clean that floor. Scrub that floor’ and if you don’t you know what to expect. Fear was the motive why I acted. Fear while I’m acting that I’m not making a proper job of it and fear at the end. I wonder what they’re going to say whether they’re going to pass it.
Perhaps the scenario isn’t the Army but I’m scrubbing a floor. I think “perhaps they can’t get people to scrub floors round here so I should get a decent get a better wage for this.”
Or perhaps ‘I hope people will notice what I’ve been doing unselfish service, you know faithful old dobbin, you know oh yes’. Hope while I’m doing the thing and I’m hoping. And then at times I just get absolutely fed up and then it’s drudge. ‘Good God, here we go again Oh Lord’. Now all these things I’ve got I’m carrying along with me while I’m doing the act.
Those things are running through. Now it means that there’s a tremendous amount of tiring activity taking place besides the action itself. And the one of the points of yoga is too actually to practice this. To stop the dreaming.
It is called ‘the quilt of Samsara’ and simply to have this act in this great space then it becomes shining. There’s a sort of radiance when all these dreams and haze in oppressive mind-cage are thinned away.
If I if I were to write something Well pick the thing up now I have this here no I don’t want this one I want that one now I’ve got this here then the telephone rings so I’ve got to answer the telephone here. Well put the things to be able to put the things down and then just to pick up the one I need not trying to hold everything all the time while I’m doing one thing. The ability to put things down. We know how to think but we don’t know how to stop a thought.
There’s a basic yoga exercise to try to do this. Sit reasonably upright and then feel you’re on top on a hilltop and your lap you’ve got in your lap a cloth full of little pebbles. You’re on a hilltop under the blue sky. You’ve got a cloth full of pebbles in your lap little pebbles. Now a thought comes up pick up a pebble and with that pebble throw the thought away so that the thought and the pebble go away down the hill fall away down the hill. Then another thought comes up a row I had yesterday pick it up chuck it away. Then another thought comes up ‘I think I might find a chance to’ throw it away. Another thought comes up ‘how can they say that to me?’ Throw it away. Now there’s no need to make the gesture, just sit as the thoughts come up sitting on the hilltop under the blue sky as the thoughts come up mentally throw them away with a pebble. Now you try for a minute or so.
Now the thoughts have got less, now just sit under the blue sky. ‘OM’… ‘OM’.
This is a basic practice. In throwing away these quilts and dreams with which we surround our ordinary actions and life. And what happens then is that the simplest thing begins to become radiant and it becomes energised.
The movements of the scrubbing brush or of the hand when writing or of the mind when thinking become simple and pure and they flow evenly. Even a very long and taxing intellectual job can become like a flow as though it’s carried along by itself and so with the physical the long physical job. If it doesn’t have all these accretions and all these additions and dreams and frictions and soon it becomes a flow of itself a divine flow it’s sometimes called.
All these are words taken from other people’s experience and as such they the phrases they are counting money in somebody else’s pocket now we have to earn the money for our own pocket by practising ourselves.
This is a basic practice we’ve done it’s about sitting under the blue sky so that the thoughts reduce and then to act and think without a tremendous multitude of whirling thoughts going on round the immediate one. It doesn’t mean not to plan but it means to be able to plan and then put it aside and not think ‘Oh but then supposing that happened’.
We don’t have earthquakes here do we? But to some Japanese neurotics they start thinking ‘Oh, I don’t want to go out there might be an earthquake’ and the doctor says ‘Well if you’re in there’ll be an earthquake just the same, won’t there?’ ‘OH’. These things are not based on reason at all but they can be paralysing.
In a Japanese monastery if there’s an earthquake you have to sit and the monks sit and stay there. You get two or three minor earthquakes before the big one. Well it’s very unusual for a building to collapse. As a matter of fact you’re often safer in the building. People often run into the street and that means the tiles come right down on them and kill them. The cats stay in they’re better off generally. But the point is to become free of the all the unnecessary thoughts. And one of the slogans is ‘Give up the unnecessary thoughts’.
Well, now do you have any question on this? It’s something for practise really, but I’ll take questions:
The practice. May I ask about the practice? The practice seems to me to be layered. You get rid of the thoughts that are immediately close to your consciousness but you are aware that there are there’s another layer of thoughts going on below the surface. I mean it didn’t seem to me to be quite as simple as you described it. I seemed to be going through layers of thoughts getting more remote in my consciousness but I was still aware of movement in the mind.
Yes. These things take quite a long time. The depths of the mind are not changed by what we do on the surface. And we can indeed …as you say calm the surface of the mind but there can still be turmoil below. But by habitual practice the impressions of calm begin to descend too and then they begin to calm down the lower depths of the mind. And because they’re based on truth of what were really are they will overcome in principle always the turmoil which is based on what we’re not on illusion. But it’s a good point thank you.
Nearly all the yogic things it’s. If you think of gardening. If you want to change the direction of a young tree and you do that you’ll break it. You have to have steady pressure steady pressure and then the tree can be grow and still. On the other hand if you’re so afraid of breaking it that you won’t apply any pressure at all well then of course you won’t get the curve you want so it has to be a steady pressure not too violent but steady continuous. So steady and continuous practice for at least six weeks and then the effect is there. It will be noticeable after three months and they say after three years a lot of other people will notice it too.
Although what you described is a form of yoga. This is essentially the same thing as mindfulness in the Buddhist tradition, isn’t it?
Well, it has a devotional element which the mindfulness doesn’t have in Buddhism.
QUESTION TWO continued:
Can you say a little more about that?
TPL: In Buddhism they don’t like to postulate unknown entities like such as a self. The Buddha had the doctrine of no self, or perhaps he had a doctrine of no doctrine of the self but he didn’t like postulating. The doctrine of no self is one of the keys of Buddhism. In Adhyatma Yoga the Self is one of the key concepts. The Buddhists, probably Buddha himself, didn’t like using the word Self because people immediately stick at the individual personal self when the word is used, and that’s what he wanted to loosen and get rid of. But there are marked techniques which are in many respects is identical in Zen and Yoga. In Adhyatma Yoga the basis is devotion to the Lord, and so the stress is different.
Trevor does the effect of the pacifying of the surface of the mind carry on? Possibly that eventually the posture is of no more importance? I’m thinking of when one can’t go to sleep at night for example when the thoughts breathing it just don’t help. Can you say if you think that that would apply in the same way as you said before… practice a person in the right position like that.
No. The best thing the best thing with inability to sleep is to say ‘Alright I’m not going to sleep’. And get up in the case of a man anyway put on a track suit and get out something one’s always meant to study or do and be prepared to have some coffee or tea and think ‘Right, I’m going to sit up and get on with it’. Have the bed there and think ‘Well if I’m tired I can lie down if I like but I’m going to get on with this’. And quite often it’s better than thinking ‘I must go to sleep’.
I often scrub floors. And I never think about what you were saying the drudgery you think how lovely it will be when I’ve finished. Also I think I often hear music and think of poetry. Therefore I wouldn’t agree with you that it’s a good thing to get rid of the surrounding as you are suggesting.
Well if you’re surrounding is favourable you won’t want to get rid of it. No.
QUESTION FOUR continued:
You’re saying it’s not necessary then?
QUESTION FOUR continued:
To get rid of the dream it’s often very pleasant.
It makes the action more efficient. If you’re doing an action that you’re familiar with and like and you’ve got the chance to have internal poetry and so on that’s alright for you at the time. But the time’s going to come when it’s an action that one doesn’t like doing.
QUESTION FOUR continued:
Well, that’s right. You don’t like doing it but you’re thinking about the end product.
Well then that’s impairing the action. The action should become radiant in itself if it’s bear of these dreams. If it’s dependent on pleasant associations or thinking of a good result at the end or fear of a bad result at the other end, then it’s not so efficient and it’s not inspired.
A Jesuit father told me that one of the final examinations you’re given to scrub a big floor a stone floor. And he told me he said he did it he said ‘I left it absolutely spotless’. And then the master of novices came in with a bucket of sludge and threw it all over the floor and said’ Scrub that floor’. However, thank you for the point.
This was taken from a public talk by Trevor Leggett.