After the vision, there is a teaching of devotion, and it changes again. We can think, “Well, what are all these new secrets and teachings which are given?” One example that’s given is this: that the yoga teaching is not a question of ordinary teaching, where you teach, first of all the alphabet, and then, on that, you build sentences. Then, on the sentences, you build more difficult sentences. Then you learn something about style, where each one depends on the one below.
It’s not like that, because it’s not a question of building up something, but it’s a question of removing an illusion. One of the teacher says, “It’s much easier to get rid of a burglar than a ghost, because you can call on your friends if you think there’s a burglar. They come, and they search the whole house. Then you lock and you bar it, and you know there’s no burglar there. But if it’s a ghost, they come in and they search the whole house, but there’s no ghost there. They go away, and there
The removal of the illusion is more difficult than the removal of an actual fact, and it’s done in various ways. Now, one example that’s given is somebody who has been brought up under a tyranny, where if you speak your mind, you’re liable to be put in prison. The cults in Eastern Europe are an example. Anyone who spoke out against the destruction that was going on, anyone who refused to stand up and cheer when President Ceausescu announced the latest absolutely disastrous figure, was put in prison or shot.
Now, if you come from that to a free country- Now, some of them came out, especially if they were very young and rather nervous, and especially if nothing had ever actually happened to them, but they’d heard of awful things happening to other people, then coming to a free country, sometimes- Well, there was a case I came to know of a girl. She had difficulty in expressing a free opinion about anything political at all, or local government, or even the desirability of a zebra crossing or something there.
She knew she was absolutely free, but she couldn’t help feeling that if she were to say anything, something awful might happen. But she knew it wouldn’t. Well, now, they tried to get her out of this, and they tried in various ways. One of them said, “Well, look, we’ll go for a walk in the park. There are no microphones hidden there, are there? You can speak your mind frankly there. Say it just to me. There will be only me there, but you’ll get the idea of being able to say, ‘It’s a scandal that they haven’t put a zebra crossing in.'”
She went there and she did it, but she was in a terrible state of tension. So then they tried something else. They got a newspaper article, critical of a similar point. They said, “Now, look, you read this aloud. It won’t be your opinion, you see, so you won’t be responsible for that. You’re just reading what is in the newspaper.” Well, she managed to get through that.
And they tried in various other ways, and gradually, she became free of this illusion which was obstructing her power of speech. Now, the things weren’t building up on each other, but they were different methods that they tried. So the methods of the Gita are not building up on each other, but they’re trying different methods to see which one will register, so to speak, with Arjuna, and begin to set him free.
At the very end of the Gita, the Lord says, “Now, I’ll tell you the highest secret of all.” Shankara said, “This is the one who momentarily is prepared to be completely free, and said, ‘Give up even your virtuous deeds, and go to me alone.'” Shankara says, “It means come into me. The praise is my being.” Our teacher repeatedly cited this.
It comes in the Gita five times in key places: 4.10, 8.5. Our teacher translated it as, ‘You will become what I am. The individual self, the essence of that self will be revealed, will experience self as the Lord.’ It says, ‘Give up everything, even virtue, even the consciousness of doing good. Just momentarily give it up and jump.’ We can say, “Well, one would like to.”
There’s one teacher who used to use this phrase: “Give it up.” Somebody with a persistent illness was one of his disciples, or came to him occasionally. They were going to do a period of a few days of rather severe discipline. This man said, “Well, I don’t know whether I’ll be able to go through with this, because of my…” The teacher said, “Oh, give it up.” The man blazed up and he said, “I wish I could give it up. I can’t give it up.” The teacher said, “Yes, you can give it up.”
He said, “What do you mean? This is a terrible burden for me.” The teacher said, “No, you can take sensible measures. But the point is this: it’s your dearest treasure. People talk about their dearest treasure all the time, and you’re talking about that all the time. It’s your dearest treasure. You feel, ‘It’s me,’ don’t you? Now, give it up.”
Well, our teacher used to put it in a story which he told with great enthusiasm of a poor Brahmin poet who presented some poems to one of the richest Muslim princes of India. The Muslim prince, who was a very cultured man, realised these poems were masterpieces, and he ordered the chamberlain to pile up some silver in front of the Brahmin, and then take it away.
But the Brahmin said, “No, it is our custom that when a gift is made, the donor – the giver himself – should present it.” So the Muslim prince said, “Well, I’m Muslim. I can’t possibly come down there and present these piles of silver to you.” The Brahmin said, “Then I won’t take it.” The prince said, “Think well, Brahmin. Where will you find another patron as generous as this?”
The Brahmin looked at these piles of silver and he said, “And where will you find the man as independent as this?” He gave a great kick and walked out. Well, our teacher gave the example, and one of the things he said was that even the most spiritual people, at the end of their lives, are disappointed. Their inner self is free, but they have made plans for the good of the people, and those plans have been at least temporarily frustrated. He said, “This is a chance for them to make a final gesture of complete independence and to give the world and its values a great kick.”
The Gita ends with that. Giving up even your righteous dealings, not to say an unrighteous one. ‘Go to me alone. I will free you from all these things. Do not grieve.’
© Trevor Leggett
Talks in this series are:
Part 1: Marionettes and Free Agents
Part 4: Teaching of devotion