Trevor Leggett: In Buddhism, they don’t like to postulate unknown entities, such as the Self. The Buddha had the doctrine of ‘no Self’. Perhaps he had a doctrine of ‘no doctrine of the Self’, but he doesn’t like postulating and ‘ no Self’ is one of the keys to Buddhism. In the Yoga, they have the Self as one of the key concepts. Probably Buddha himself didn’t like using the word ‘self’ because people immediately stick at the individual personal self when the word is used, and that is what he wants to loosen and get rid of. Well, the technique, in many respects, is identical but in some of the basis in devotion to the Lord and so on, the stress is different.
Now, the best thing with inability to sleep is to say, “Alright, I’m not going to sleep,” and to get up and, in the case of a man anyway, put on a tracksuit and get out something one has always meant to study or do – and be prepared to have some coffee or tea and think, “Ah, I’m going to sit up and get on with it”. Have the bed there and think, “Well, if I’m tired, I can lie down if I like; but I’m going to get on this.” That’s quite often better than thinking, “I must go to sleep.”
Well, if your surrounding is favourable, you might want to change it – it makes the action more efficient. If you are doing an action that you are familiar with and like and you’ve got the chance to have internal poetry and so on, that is alright for you at the time. But the time is going to come when there is an action that one doesn’t like doing – then that will impair the action. The action should become radiant in itself – if it is dependent on pleasant associations, or thinking of a good result at the end, or fear of a bad result at the other end, then it is not so efficient and it is not inspired – that is their teaching. A Jesuit father told me that one of the final examinations you are given is to scrub a big floor. He told me he did it, he said, “I left it absolutely spotless.” Then the master of novices came in with a bucket full of sludge and threw it all over the floor and said, “Scrub that floor”.
Question about the chanting of ‘OM’ [lost]
TPL: Swami Rama Tirtha, he was a great mahatma and he used to recite it [OM] day and night so, evidently, there are different opinions about it – but the tradition that I was taught in was that it is [to be chanted] at all times. This is the best means to dispel darkness.
Question: By chanting?
TPL: Yes. It is the same if I’m told by the doctor, “You must get fit.” I’m in very bad condition so I go to an expert and say, “What do I do?” He says, “Well, you do so and so and this exercise and that exercise. Considering your build, you better do this and this”. Now, I believe him but only as a basis to act. If I do what he says and it doesn’t confirm [my expectations], then I go back to him and I say, “Now, what is wrong?” Then, if he is able to tell me, “Ah, yes, but I told you, didn’t I, to put your toes under the… didn’t I? You didn’t do it?” “Well, no.” “Well, do exactly what I say, and then you’ll…” We rely on them to that extent and not that they will do it for us.
TPL: No, he [Shri Dada] didn’t say six hours of chanting. He said six hours of meditation, self-study.
Questioner: Oh, sorry.
TPL: But in any case, you are right about the chanting, yes. If it is done correctly, it will change the pranic energy of the body – and the body, though it may be crippled, it will be energised. If you see here how often, when he [Shri Dada] was ill, he was still able to teach – and teach clearly. The chanting especially is [to be done] when people are at a disadvantage – if they are ill they can recite the mantra very quietly. Sometimes if they are ill, they can’t think very consecutively, but they can chant the mantra. If they chant it correctly, they’ll begin to feel a movement of the pranic energies within them. We don’t want to go into it in theory, because if you dip much in theory, it will get tense. The thing is to practice it. It should be the name of God in some form, and if we begin to practice it, we should try to find – to get a sort of echo. Then there will be an energising effect, and there will be a calming effect – calming and energising.
My teacher, for instance, had remarkable physical co-ordination – quite extraordinary, and I’ve done a lot of physical activity in my life. He could pick up a pad and with a pencil, he could write beautifully holding the pencil there [in the middle]. It is extremely difficult to do, there is a way of holding the pencil. In this part of the world, we hold a pencil right at the end there, here. You can often see the white [on the fingers] gripping the pencil as though it were an enemy and they have to keep moving their hand. The pencil should be held here, balanced, and then you don’t have to keep on moving the hand. Now, he held it like that – an expert shorthand writer, writing 160 words a minute. You can’t keep on moving the whole hand, you’ve got to be able to do it like that. But he didn’t hold out this as a sort of goal – it is a side effect of chanting the mantra.
Reciting the mantra energises, but it calms, and then it makes it easier to see things. It’s quite a good thing to have a teacher, but the fact is that one should practice and get in reasonable spiritual shape. Otherwise, it is like a Burmese turning up at Oxford saying, “I want to study Shakespeare.” They say, “Well, what is your English level?” “Oh, I don’t know English yet.” The thing is to get the basics, get some basic control then, when we meet the teacher, it can be quite short. But it is a waste of the teacher’s time, in a way, teaching us things we can easily do ourselves. We should try to establish a rhythm, regular practice. Then, if we go to a teacher, he can look and see at once, “Oh, you practice?” “Yes.” “Well, if you practice, yes, that is one thing.” Otherwise, it is a continuous, “Oh, I find this rather awkward. I can’t keep my mind steady”.
People can keep their mind steady when it is a question of spying on the neighbours – no difficulty at all, absolutely none. “What are they up to now?” It is perfect concentration then – but, “Oh, I can’t keep my mind steady.” There is a karmic coming together – once yoga exercises are seriously done, the karmic current is set in train.
Question about the buddhi [lost]
TPL: The word ‘buddhi’ is to learn by heart, you see. I suppose you would say that was an affair of the mind. The word ‘heart’ has a very wide meaning and perhaps the title, which I think I must have chosen or approved anyway, it has got this wide meaning. I did say it was not just intellectual. Meditation is through feeling, feeling – not just thinking about it. You have to go in – but it is not an emotional excitement, no. It is a tranquillisation.
The word ‘devotion’ has got different meanings. It can mean a personal attachment or it can mean he is devoted to gardening – devotion in the sense of steady and complete application. Liszt used to practice the piano 16 hours a day sometimes. He was devoted to it, but that was through hearing Paganini. Before that, as a pianist, he only practised about 4 hours a day – he says so himself. Then he heard Paganini play the violin and he was absolutely overwhelmed – and then he practised 10, 12, 14, 16 hours.
Meditation: You are sitting with a glass in your lap with pebbles. As the thoughts come up, pick each thought up with the pebble and throw it away – sitting without thoughts under the blue sky. OM
The depths of the mind are not changed by what we do on the surface and we can, indeed, calm the surface of the mind – but there can still be turmoil below. By habitual practice the impressions of calm begin to descend too. Then they begin to calm down the lower depths of the mind – and, because they are based on truth of what we really are, they will overcome, in principle always, the turmoil which is based on what we are not.
If you think of gardening, say you want to change the direction of a young tree, you have to have steady pressure, and then the tree grows. On the other hand, if you are so afraid of breaking it that you won’t apply any pressure at all, well then, of course, you won’t get the curve you want. So it has to be a steady pressure, not too violent, but steady and continuous. So steady and continuous practice for at least six weeks and then the effect is there. It should be noticeable after three months and they say, after three years, a lot of other people will notice it too.