There is radiance when all the dreams and haze in the 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, it 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 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, then ‘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 the 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, 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 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 so on 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 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’.
© Trevor Leggett