The Upanishad says God pierced the openings of the senses outwards. Extraverted people look outwards and must have interchange with the environment in order to keep awake. They seem to be very energetic, but, actually, they’re trying to keep awake. So you need constant reinforcement. It’s like talking on a bad telephone – you say something, and you have to keep saying, “Did you get that? Hello?” Then you have to keep hearing voice from the other end to make sure that you’re getting through. And an extravert needs constant reassurance and reaction from his environment in order to keep going at all. If he gets that, he can keep going.
There are some actors who are very sensitive to the audience, and they receive the reinforcement from the audience. In some theatres of the east, at certain points in the drama, which are known to experts, a member of the audience, an expert, will shout the actor’s name. In a Japanese drama, if the actor is Goro, a famous actor, then there’s a moment in the drama when suddenly the actor is faced with a terrible shock, and the actor’s face doesn’t move, but just a corner of the mouth twitches. And this is one of the masterpieces of acting there, that the face doesn’t move, the posture doesn’t change at all. The only indication of feeling is this corner of the mouth. Well, then somebody in the audience will shout, Goro, and the actor receives a tremendous stimulus and support from that.
But the same actor, if he’s put in a microphoned studio with only a mike, he’s often very poor. There’s no reaction at all, it’s just, well, just that. I can be witty, amusing, entertaining, threatening, sad, and so on. It’s the same, faceless. Very often, when extraverts are asked to broadcast, they’re very poor, and so the producer will say to them, if it’s a man, “Now look, there’s a very pretty girl sitting just opposite you, and you’re explaining it to her.” Then he wakes up. He can imagine vividly some audience that he wants to interest, then he’ll wake up. But just this thing with no reaction, he can’t manage.
But an introvert would be able to go on just the same whether they receive approbation, blame – it doesn’t matter – ridicule. They’re not dependent on it, and that’s a great advantage. Many of the most persistent and successful enterprises have been actualised by introverts, like Henry Ford. But mere introversion can lead to internal frictions – the contents of the mind and what comes up from what we now call the unconscious, but which was known 2,500 years ago as the unmanifest part of the mind – and there can be a tremendous friction.
So, mere introversion is not necessarily an advantage. It has to be controlled introversion. And the yoga of introversion is connected with the interior. In karma yoga, we have to perform our duty – we have to become independent of the outer circumstances and the outer events while taking part in them energetically. And we worship God as the friend, as the controller of the universe, and we cooperate with the cosmic purpose. But when turning within now, there has to be a light awakening within.
In one of the very oldest Upanishads (the sage who gave it is unknown) a great king – and symbolically it is said after much fighting (our teacher explained this as fighting against ignorance, fighting against the ignorance and the evil in the world) – by his virtue, and his courage, and his persistence, he came to a vision of the God, who, at that time in the very early days, was called Indra.
Then Indra says to the king, “You’ve been a really great king. Now choose what you like, and I’ll give it.” Now, this quite often happens, and people choose various things and they nearly all turn out disastrously, because when we choose, we have many unstated assumptions. If I’m asked to choose, I’ll say, “Alright, half a million,” and I get it, but immediately afterwards, I feel terribly sick. “Oh, well, no, I meant for my health to keep up, of course.”
Well, alright, I get my half million and my health keeps up, but very unsavoury rumours start getting put around about me so that all my friends leave. “Oh, well, no, my reputation’s got to hold up, as well, of course.” Well, that holds up, but then I begin to find my mental balance is going. “Oh, well, no, I’ve got to remain, of course…” Well, now I’m getting old, no longer able to enjoy these things. “Well, I’ve got to have, sort of, more or less, youth and vigour.” And, in the end, my wishes are to become a God, because there are so many unstated assumptions. Though I can say I’d like health or long life, or happiness, even. But would I like happiness if I’m demoted to being a Persian cat in a rich household? They’re happy.
The king was offered by the God a boon, and the king said, “You choose for me,” and Indra, the God, said, “No. No-one can choose for another.” So the king said, “Then my boon has not been granted.” Then the God said, “I’ll choose.” Then he says, “Know me alone, know the God alone.” Jesus said the same, “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all these things will be added unto you. Know me alone.” The search now is directed internally. After the worship has been done in the active world, then finally the search begins in the inner world.
© Trevor Leggett
(Continued in ‘Prarabdha karma wears thin’)
Titles in this series are:
Part 1: Extraverts & Introverts 2
Part 2: Prarabdha karma wears thin
Part 4: We are seeing shapes of light
Part 5: Seeds of truth
Part 6: Practices are directed inwardly