God will not do by miracles what we can do for ourselves. And we can see this in ordinary life. A Japanese student whom I knew well was a wonderful Judo man and was the captain of his university. In Japan at that time, not now of course, the athletics champions were pushed through the exams fairly easily. He told me, that his English had been weak. In his exam, there would be a question from the sixty page English reader. The examiners would choose one paragraph and this would have to be translated into Japanese. That was the main test; it was a sizeable book which had to be studied. Now which paragraph would come? The book was about foreign countries and one of these was Britain.
One day, as he was gloomily leafing through this book, one of the professors came up and put his hand on his shoulder and said, “Well I see you are reading the book. Interesting isn’t it? I see you go running on your training in the mornings, but in Tokyo the air is not so good. They have it much better in London, it seems you can walk through parks from one edge of London into the middle of London, as it says in the book.”
The student rightly understood this to be a hint that the paragraph on the London parks would be the one which would come in the exam. So he learnt the Japanese translation of that paragraph by heart. It did indeed come in the examination. But the examiners had cut off the last sentence which had a couple of unusual words in it. The student told me that when he had the oral examination one of the examiners said to him “You have given a perfect translation of the paragraph which was set but you also gave the Japanese for two extra lines which did not come into the paper.” The student told me how he looked down in embarrassment and said nothing. But they passed him just the same. That was a miracle but it did not improve his English at all.
When he later came to London I insisted he study English which he did, and as I provided no miracles he had to work. Then he showed his ability and he became good at English. He was the leader and interpreter of several groups of Japanese Judo men who went to Australia and Canada. So his hard work brought out this ability which the miracles had not. He did the hard work with me standing over him. But the miracle did his English no good whatever.
Miracles can also be concealed. If we observe carefully we may see something of them but they do not interfere with what we can do ourselves. We are left with the responsibility for our own actions and results. We can say, “Well, what about the sufferings in the world?” The sufferings in the world are due partly to my own failings and we have to recognise, if we are Yogis, we can by meditation change the cosmic causal basis of the world. On the physical plain we are tiny, but on the causal plain we are much larger, much greater, and the essence in us, if it is concentrated and focused, can make great changes.
Going Beyond Practice
We can practise and practise but the time comes when we have to go beyond practice. Patanjali says meditation has to be concentrated and when it becomes familiar to us, it reaches a point when the memories drop away, when the associations drop away, and there is a sudden calmness of the mind. There is only the object of meditation brilliantly shining out and the meditation gives up its own nature – I am meditating – as it were. As an example, suppose I decide to meditate on endurance because there is a difficulty in life I do not know how to meet. The present position is: “I can’t stand it!” The theme of the meditation is that there is something in me which is not affected by circumstances. I try to find that inner thing which is not moved, not changed. I have to keep bringing the mind back, keep bringing the mind back. But a time comes when the mind will remain on this consciousness of something which isn’t moving, isn’t changing, isn’t affected when the mind and body are affected, isn’t dying when the mind and the body are dying.
It comes and at first it’s steady for only a time. But there is a stage beyond that when in the ordinary hurly-burly of life when I’m in circumstances that normally upset me, suddenly there is a calm and I am not disturbed by them, not frightened by them, not made triumphant by success in them. There is something calm and peaceful.
© Trevor Leggett