Quite often in the East a small temple or shrine is looked after by some local business man who voluntarily himself cleans the place, puts it tidy and looks after it. It is a well-known fact that after some ten years or so or twenty years these temple cleaners nearly always have a very bad temper.
The exaltation of serving the god, of tidying up the temple, of cleaning it, perhaps early in the morning before he goes to his shop; that gives a sense of service of God, of holiness – but it wears off. After about ten years all he is thinking of is, ‘These worshippers who come. Of course, there are slippers but some of them don’t bother with that, no, they just walk into the temple with their dirty feet. I’ve got to clean up afterwards, they leave everything all over the place, I’ve got to put it right afterwards and then they just chuck a copper in – that’s for the cleaning.’ And this happens with so many religious practices. For a year or two it is very devotional, it is very intense, it is very beautiful then gradually it wears off, then it becomes mechanical and then it can become resentful.
It was one such temple cleaner who put this point to Shri Dada. ‘This is holy service. What’s gone wrong? My heart is not calm’. Our teacher collected such cases. If one simply gives an answer now it would be of no use to us. We should think ‘What is the problem?’, find the parallel problem in our own lives, try to see what the answer would be and then to look. In that book, or in other books, we should find it. Very often it is one sentence or two sentences which can give us our answer. Then in these ways meditation and meditation experience spreads out into ordinary life. We can say, ‘You can’t do it – the line of light. How can you do that? Admittedly, you might do it waiting at a bus stop. You might do it just when you’re sweeping or cleaning. How can you do it when you’re adding figures? How can you do it when you’re answering the telephone? How can you do it at a parent-teacher meeting? It is impossible. You bring your mind back to it and you miss what they’re saying. You attend to what they’re saying and it’s all gone. It’s impossible, clearly, isn’t it?’
But if we just think, we can see that every day that it is completely possible. One of the most dramatic examples is of a chain-smoker. They are puffing away all the time, while they are telephoning, while they are copy-typing, while they are adding figures, while they are at a parent-teacher’s meeting. They have no difficulty. They take out the cigarette, tap it down, put it back, get out the packet, still listening and answering, too – very sharply, coughing; they are still listening. They are running through their routines all day; no difficulty there.
Well, instead of chain-smoking we can replace it with one of these yoga practices and this is one of the central points: in bringing yoga into daily life: the realisation that we do not have to throw it away when we leave the meditation room but it can fill our lives and it can bring inspiration, just in glimpses, just in little flashes, just in a little bit of calmness in the middle of a storm and that will be the beginning of a new spring, it is called by the Japanese poets the spring-time, in the heart. Well, thank you for your kind attention.
© Trevor Leggett
Titles in this series are:
Part 1: Meditation in Action
Part 2: The Lord is a companion
Part 4: The beginning of a new spring