A system of training the mind



We have a bad habit, smoking. But one cure that I came across that was fairly successful was quite a good one. And in this course- it was something that you paid… I have forgotten- £2 or £3 for, and you got the little booklet, and you got an egg timer. And they said, “You can have a cigarette, but put the egg timer there and have your cigarette when the sand has run out.”

So, some people told me- some people who had done this said, “Well, you think, God, I might have a cigarette. You put the sand on. Four minutes, it is a hell of a long time, isn’t it?”

And, finally… Now, that check of four minutes was a very useful thing, and after some weeks of it, they could feel the automatic grip of the habit was beginning to be loosened.

Then, his next one- which was for the final stage, you know, that it was, you can have a cigarette after you have waited your four minutes, but when you have your cigarette, you mustn’t do anything else, just smoke and enjoy it.

Now, most smokers, they light up and then they get on with something, they are cooking, or they are talking. Having a cigarette that you have got to sit there and just smoke it.

Well, then they reported that half-way through the cigarette, it had become first of all controllable, even just for four minutes.

And then it had become conscious. You had to smoke conscientiously. Not as an unconscious…

Now, I only give this western example of the system of training the mind to bring out the things which we do unconsciously or semi-consciously, to learn to check them. Once in the habit of making irritable responses, wait four minutes, then make your irritable response. That can be done. Sometimes there is a good reason for one’s irritable response. But, after four minutes, it does get more in proportion.

So, this is one example of the training of the mind to try to free oneself from these automatic habits and prejudices. And, again, mentally, the line of life practices used in the central line of the body. And then when the thoughts come, to feel one’s throwing.

One of the practices is to feel you are on top of a hill and you have got a lap full of pebbles- and it is not a bad idea to do this physically. Get up early in the morning, drive, or walk to the top of a hill and collect some pebbles and sit there comfortably. When a thought comes, through the pebble and throw the thought. And another thought comes, throw it. And then an ambition comes.

Now, annoyance comes at what happened. Anticipation comes and we are going to… This is practised continuously, again, for ten minutes a day, and continued, and kept up. Then it is possible to shed some of these- dresses they are called, redundant dresses. Filthy rags which we always walk about it. Just take them off and… To be free of them. Afterwards we can put them on again, but we will have been freed for just a little bit. The central line of light. Throwing the body away, throwing the thoughts away.

Then if you practise it- meditation, you can go beyond the mind. By these practices, the mind begins to become objective. Not, “I am like that. Oh, that is me, yes. Oh, no. You can’t expect me to do that. I would never do that.”

People will come to you and they will say, “I am absolutely desperate. Tell me what to do.” And if you tell them, they will say, “Well, I wanted to do that.” Desperate, hey? “You can’t expect me to do that.”

If I need to begin to become a little bit separate from these things, then by meditation, intelligence, he will begin to feel the divine intelligence stirring within, the thought of the body and the mind.

And Shankara says he lives in the body. “There is a man that lives in the house. I live in the house, but I am not the house.”

If somebody throws a stone through my window, I will jump up, I will get it repaired. The house begins to crumble, yes, I get that repaired. Sometimes I put up new curtains. And the house is getting older and older, but if it is looked after well, it can be preserved and it can fulfil its function for a very long time. He lives in his body as in a house. He takes care of it, but he doesn’t feel, “I am the body. I am crumbling. I am sick. I am ill. I am triumphant. I have been humiliated. I am dying.”

He doesn’t feel that. The house has been newly painted. The house is crumbling. Not the owner. Even when the house is old, it can be looked after very well.

I live in a house that is 120 years old. It is still very effective. And I live in another house that is 73 years old.

“The body,” he says- again, another example, “…is like a horse. When we ride a horse, we are fond of the horse and we know it. If the horse stumbles, we feel that, too.

The horse is frightened, too. We immediately react to it, but I don’t feel I am the horse. And, yet, in a sense, I feel a certain unity with it.

I knew a man who, when he was a boy, was on a farm. He was very fond of animals. And, in those days, they branded sheep. And when he was a boy, he told me his job was to hold the rear legs of the sheep. He would hold the front leg and then they branded, and the sheep, of course, would give a terrific yell. And then they would let it go and then the next one.

Well, he said, “After a few of this, he began to feel a pain in his own body, and he had to stop.” Then the farmer said, “Alright. You stop. But just look at the sheep.”

And he saw that after they had been released, they would bleat and cry a few times. Then they would start cropping the grass. Then one would bleat and cry again. But after just, he said, “Four, or five, or six minutes, it would be cropping away, and it would stop crying and it would be going around like the others.”

And when he saw that, he was able then to go back and hold the rear legs again. He saw it was just a passing. A severe hurt, but it was just passing and it didn’t go on in the sheep, and then the pain disappeared from his side.

© Trevor Leggett

Titles in this series are

Part 1: Progressive Meditation. The Riddle

Part 2: Practise meditation every morning

Part 3: Purify and organise the mind body

Part 4: A system of training the mind

Part 5: Overcoming pain of body and mind

Part 6: Independence of outer things