There are the yoga practices given. It says, “Try to get rid of your own intense body consciousness, and then you will have an influence, which will be different from the influence of doing the physical good.” But one of the things Mother Theresa says about social work; she says that it’s very good, of course, as done by the ordinary social workers, who are secularists. But she said, “It’s not the work of Christ. They’re bringing relief to the suffering bodies, but they don’t know how to feed the souls.” And she said that, “In Calcutta, yes, we are indeed starving”, but she comes to the west – she is herself from Yugoslavia – but she comes to the west, and she says, “I see people there who are in a much worse state than we are in Calcutta. Although they are nourished, but they are starving, spiritually.”
Shri Dada makes this point; that the main thing should be to pacify and to purify ourselves first, and then to try to give relief. Not to wait until it’s completely pure. But if I feel I am going to do some good to you, it will quite often infect the gift. It will be resented.
One of the things St Vincent de Paul remarked to his, said to his workers; he said, “Please, when you serve, give the soup, when you give the food, when you give the clothes to the poor and the starving, do it”, he said, “with great humility. And then perhaps they will forgive you.” You think, “What? What is this saint saying?” Now, he knew, to be helped is to be in an inferior position. It’s to be insulted. Very, very difficult to give without giving from a height, so to speak. But the fact is, some of us are lucky. We’re not lucky forever, but when we’re lucky then we’re in a position to help and give. But we will not always be lucky.
And Shri Dada deliberately chose poverty. He had rich disciples, but he wouldn’t take money from them, because he wanted to show that this could be carried out, these ideals could be carried out independently of the facilities and the wealth. He didn’t have a spiritual centre. He wouldn’t let them build him a centre where he could preach and teach. They did build a very small temple, his disciples, which I’ve seen, but it’s a tiny little place. And he gave his teachings in a garden, or in the house of the carpenter, or in the mango grove; something like that.
And he says, “If a spiritual movement gets too much property to defend, it will infallibly become worldly minded.” Which we have to remember. Shanti Sadan now has a centre, but we have to remember this always; that it doesn’t, the property doesn’t become more important that the teaching.
One of the points about the action is this: there’s an act, and it’s best for this sort of point of view to choose some very, very simple, simple act, like sweeping out the leaves, or something like that. So, we’ll take scrubbing the floor as an example. We’re asked to examine what happens when I scrub the floor, or when I do a lot of, 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 be much actual thought. But I’ve got this, say this room to scrub. “I’ll start there.” While I’m scrubbing there, I’m thinking, “God”. Then I get to here, and I think, “Argh. It’s about a 20th.” 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’ve just started this. Oh, I’m half way through, but I’m getting tired.” 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?” Or hope. “I’m going to get quite a dec- they can’t get people to scrub these floors round here, so I should get a decent, get a better wage for this.” Or, “I hope people will notice what I’ve been doing; unselfish service, you know. Faithful old dobbin, you know…” Hope, 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. “Oh, God, here we go again. Oh.”
Now, all these things I’ve got, I’m carrying along with me while I’m doing the act. They’re all running through. Those things are running through. Now, it means that there’s a tremendous amount of tiring activity taking place besides the action itself. And one of the points of yoga is actually to practice this. To stop the dreaming; the quilt, he called it, the quilt of Sansara, and simply to have this act in this great space. Then it becomes shining. There’s a sort of radiance. When all this dreams and haze and oppressive cage-like, the mind cage, he calls it…
© Trevor Leggett
Talks in this series are
Part 1 : Mysticism of the heart 2
Part 2: The vibrations of Shri Rama
Part 5: How to stop a thought