Attempts to do good are counter-productive


In the Shri Dada Sanghita, this comes several times that, without an inner spiritual training, the attempts to do good in the world are very often counter-productive.

He’s withdrawn, but as Swami Rama Tirtha used to say, “You go into the roots in meditation, then you come back and the flower’s blossomed. But without the growth in the roots, the flowers won’t show their beauty. He must become calm, he must become tamed”. This word is used in the Jaina text too. It’s one of the shanta danta and it literally means tamed, as though the body were tamed, as though an animal were tamed. This word must have been a major teaching of Yajnavalkya, because it comes in this very ancient Jaina text, which just gives this short description of his teaching. “He becomes calm, tamed, withdrawn, patient and then practicing meditation”.

Some of the schools say, meditation must be practiced all the time, not just sitting in meditation. A man said to Hakuin, the Zen master, “I should be in samadhi all the time, not just sitting; so I should be practicing going about, not sitting here.” Hakuin said, “You’re quite right. Samadhi should be continuous all the time, but with you, as a matter of fact, it is not continuous all the time and until it is you must practice at the formal times as well.”

Samahita: when he’s become calm, tamed, withdrawn, patient and samahita – this means meditating in samadhi. Shankara explains it as withdrawing the senses and the antahkarana and the mind into a single one-pointedness within. Then he sees the Supreme Self as his own self and he sees all in the Self. This is the central teaching of Yajnavalkya. It’s one of the oldest verses, it’s a verse repeatedly quoted by Shri Shankara in his presentation.

Going back to the Jaina description of this sage, the main points which came up there were “He should become free from the desire for world and for wealth”. It doesn’t say freedom from them physically, necessarily, but that he should not be talking about them all the time. He should be able to walk away from them, as our teacher was able to walk away when the venom and the spite in Japan – because he was opposed to the idea of a revolution in India which the Japanese wanted and which he saw would be disastrous – finally led to their attempted assassination. He was able to walk away having fearlessly, most dangerously, proclaimed his views. Finally he was able to walk away; and again he was able to leave a very rich situation in China when the impulse came and to walk way and come to relative poverty here. So to be free from these two. Yajnavalkya says, with these qualities – being able to be calm, tamed, withdrawn, patient and practicing samadhi – “He sees the Supreme Self as his own self. He sees all in the Self.” These are the words of the Upanishad. In the declaration by Swami Rama Tirtha he describes – and it’s characteristic of him – what it is: “Realise this Spirit to such a degree that this world becomes unreal to you. Realise this planet is nothing in contrast with the Supreme Infinite Power, the Atman Self. Realise that, feel that. Light of lights you are, all glory is yours. Feel that and realise it to such an extent that the earth and name and fame, the earthly relations, criticism and flattery become meaningless to you”. We think, “Incredible, incredible” and he gives his method, which again is a characteristic teaching of Swami Rama Tirtha and which comes in hundreds of places, even in those bare books of lectures. “For one minute” he says, “throw overboard your desire, then chant OM. No attachment, perfect poise – and your whole being will be light. Assert Godhead. Fling into oblivion your little self, as if it had never existed. Burst the bubble.”


© Trevor Leggett

Talks in this series are:

Part 1: Yajnavalkya Outside the Upanishad

Part 2: Know what is the central teaching

Part 3: Shri Dada was called the Saint Universal

Part 4: Karma is waiting for you

Part 5: Free from the desire for things

Part 6: Attempts to do good are counter-productive

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