We have to do some theory, not so much that we get obsessed with theory and give up practice and take to theory instead, but we must do enough theory that we are convinced of what we’re doing. If we don’t do that amount of theory to get an inner conviction, well then we’ll always be deciding every morning, shall I go on with this or won’t I? Shall I go on with this or won’t I? Shall I go on with this or won’t I, and constantly taking decisions. It’s very exhausting and it’s futile. So we have to study, if necessary quite intensely, and it’s best to choose one or two texts and master them well, rather than read a great number, half, because if we read a great number half we never really grasp the force of any of them. So to learn one or two really well and be able to grasp the theory of those. This is told symbolically in a Japanese story, there’s a sort of bird-monster, a strange thing, which appears and terrorises the countryside. It doesn’t do any particular harm, but it’s frightening, so they employ a Samurai to kill it. So he agrees and he finds this and he shoots arrows at it, but the arrows don’t penetrate, they just stick to its side. And then he runs at it with a lance and the lance slides off and sticks to the side of it. Then he tries with a sword and the sword sticks there, and then he knows some of the Ju-jitsu methods and he tries, and his hands are stuck, his feet are stuck to it, and the weapons are all stuck to it. And it says, “Do you give in?” And he said, “No!” Well, then it turns into the God of War and gives him some secrets.
But the point is that we have to go ourselves. While we shoot arrows at Brahman or the Supreme or God, arrows of analysis, while we run at it with lances, hoping to break it open and find out its inner structure, all these things will fail. Only when we ourselves go and when we find almost that we can’t find out and it says well, “Well, will you give up?” and we say, “No!” then it’ll be found. So, meditation needs some courage and some determination, but if we practice accompanied with the theory which gives us conviction we won’t find this so very difficult, and after all, mountaineers face this sort of thing every time they climb; they face the possibility of death which they voluntarily take on. Now, we’re taking the examples of people who are enquiring, seeking to find this unknown which is within us, we’re told, but we can’t seem to get a foothold on it or hold it or grasp it anywhere, it is beyond the mind. If we think, I know it, then little indeed we know. Now, what does that mean? The text of the Upanishad [Kena II.3] says, ‘he who thinks he knows it well, he knows little of it. He who does not know it, he knows it.’ What does it mean? Well, the example I gave this afternoon, and I only gave one – perhaps typing is the best example, you learn to type, you don’t know where the letters on the keyboard are, you have to learn painfully, and you learn. Each time you want to write ‘tiny’ you think where’s the T? Oh yes, it’s this one. I is, oh, it’s the same row isn’t it? Oh yes. N? That’s the bottom row, yes. And slowly and accurately I can type, I know where the things are on the keyboard. But an expert typist simply types. Now, if you ask an expert typist or if you’re one yourself, ask yourself suddenly, where’s the J? And you find you don’t know and yet, you type perfectly. So you don’t know, and yet it’s not that you don’t know, because you type perfectly, you more than know.
Well, in the same way, he who thinks he knows Brahman because he can name it, because he can have ideas about it, and thought about it, little indeed he knows. But if he practises, he goes beyond those thoughts, and then he has an awareness, a living awareness, which he can’t explain to anyone, but which changes his whole life and brings the divine into his life. And in a way he doesn’t know it, but in another way he more than knows it. So these are, well they’re examples that are given and we’re asked to try and make the best that we can out of them. The effort clears the mind and brings the mind to an order. Now, when this happens the gleans from Brahman, from the Lord above the mind, begin to shine through into the mind, and they become creative.
© Trevor Leggett
Titles in this series are:
Part 2: Life needs a conductor
Part 3: We must study some theory