Don’t depend on connections in the world
Normally, I’m clutching, I’m hanging on, arranging – perhaps very cleverly for my welfare, my benefit, my survival, my power, my satisfaction. And then there’s something independent of those things that can be glimpsed. Then we become independent. This is the first point and a glimpse of that can give us a certain freedom of action. Normally, we have to keep up an elaborate system of defences and the tax and the statuses and the connections. Now, it doesn’t mean not to have connections with the world but not to be absolutely dependent on them. When something independent has been glimpsed, we can become free from the total reliance on the things of the world.
I’ve been totally crushed when things go against me, been totally elated when things go for me, been very excited when I get a bit of power and misusing it. People think of power as misused, “Oh, no, we don’t misuse power. We have no power. This isn’t so.” The head of a great religious sect, with 10,000 temples, a very prominent man; he was asked about this. He’d said how dangerous power was.
So a reporter said to him, “Well, you are the head of this sect. Do you find power is a danger to you?” He said, “Well, of course, I have to be careful. But the fact is you see, people like you in the press are watching me like hawks. There’s not much danger I should be able to misuse my power.” He said, “I had power once. That was my first year in a temple. My mother had often been ill and so I’d learned to cook. I was made the temple cook and someone new had just come to the temple. He was made the assistant to me in the kitchen, just the two of us in the kitchen.” He said, “I gave him hell. That was power. Everybody knew. He was too frightened to tell anyone. And he got paler and paler. And finally the head monk realised something must be wrong and transferred him to the garden and he soon got better.”
He said, “That was power; and I didn’t do any good. Since then, I have been able to watch myself in situations of power.” In situations where the power can be exercised, we have to become aware of something independent in ourselves, which doesn’t have to have the continual satisfaction of bossing or bullying or fighting or competing; something independent of it. This is the first point – to find in our heart, which is so unreliable, something which is free from this being pushed.
‘Every man has his price’. Now, there’s something which doesn’t have a price, which is free from prices, can’t be manipulated; but until that’s been found and brought – even in a flash – to light, then it’s very difficult. “Oh, I can’t be bribed with that,” “This? Oh, no.” “That? No, no.”
There’s an art, which is always practised as amateur, not as a professional and the people give a lot of their young lives to mastering it; and very proud, they all are, to be amateurs. One such man, he got to the very top and then an offer was made to him to become a professional. Well, to become a professional would mean to be expelled from the whole movement. He was offered, then, a quarter of a million pounds, which now would be £4m or £5m and everybody was horrified. “Oh, really, it’s degrading, taking money for this.” But I thought, “Yes. You’d have this offer, wouldn’t you, and you’d turn it down just like that?” And then you’d be walking along one day and you’d see a very nice house and you’d think, “That’d be a place I could live, but I’m alright where I am.” Then you pass it again and you think, “Of course, if I had that £4m… oh, ridiculous.” And then you would come again and then it would come again and then, finally, you’d have to have that house because there’d be nothing, absolutely independent in the heart. They give many examples of this, and this is one of the things that before we can hope to do any real good in the world, we must identify something independent in ourselves. Otherwise, we will be swayed, perhaps, unconsciously.
The second thing was, to become aware of a cosmic purpose; that there is what in Buddhism is called the ‘Buddha nature’, what in yoga is called the ‘Movement of the Lord’, to come into touch with that and into line with that and to act on those lines. We can say, “Well, what sort of thing would this be?” There is an inspiration in a situation where you get confrontation. Well, you either give way or you win. But there’s a confrontation.
© Trevor Leggett
Titles in this series are:
Part 1: The Need of the World
Part 2: Evil in the world
Part 5: Creativity in Life
Part 6: Meditate on the cosmic purpose