Gospel of Peace According to Lord Buddha
(Questions and Answers)
Mr Leggett: When the natural instincts are not overruled but diverted, freedom comes. This sort of example is given: people think their yacht can only go as fast as the wind, but actually it can go faster than the wind if it goes across and uses the inclined plane, for instance. In the same way, if we travel before the instincts, this doesn’t give as much power as if we travel across them – not directly opposing them, travelling across them, what Freud used to call sublimations.
People fight and hate each other. Chivalry, to some extent, was able to change that hatred into a fight, just the same – but then with the respect for the defeated. That was still a fight. The knights couldn’t stop fighting, but they managed to come across it, so that they fought at the time and then could give respect to the defeated. This came partly from the church. It was only partially successful, but there were quite a lot of cases in which there was a modification of the primitive behaviour where you kill your enemy.
In real sport, you’re trained, as most of us can remember, when you win to say, “I was lucky”, when you lose to say, “Oh Bravo”. Those of us think back to our time know how difficult it was to do that.
Interviewer: Will wisdom arise automatically through meditation?
Mr Leggett: It depends what we meditate on – not automatically no. The passions clash. I want to get up in the morning in order to get a good one in but, on the other hand, it’s nice and warm in bed. So there’s a clash. Those who study these things say that the ordinary man’s actions consist in the strongest desire overpowering the lesser desire. Sixty overpowers forty, but the net result is only twenty because there’s this resistance. In somebody who’s trained in meditation, if there’s sixty it (the forty) can be discarded, because this can be controlled. We can find beauty and we can find spiritual exultation in things if we are free.
“I don’t want to take round the milk in the morning, you do it.” There are some devotees whose job it is to take round the milk. Now, perhaps he is taking a degree and he thinks, “What? I’m a graduate, taking round the milk? No, let them do it.” If he can get over that, then there’s a change. One reported it actually – resentfully taking round the milk. He was a religious man and he was given this job, for a long time, resentfully taking round the milk. Finally he meditated on this and then something came up inside him. I am bringing the milk from God, the parent, to his children. I’m not doing a menial and humiliating job. I’m bringing the milk from God, the parent, to his children.
Then he said that he began to find that – instead of just slinging these cartons down on the doorsteps, early in the morning, he was arranging them, so that on each doorstep, they were there. There was no-one to see it but it made regular lots along the street. He was creating beauty. Then there was another stage – I don’t want to go into it now – but something happened and then he got offered quite a good job, a responsible job. He realised, “The same thing which I found with delivering the milk, now I’ve got to find in this job. Answering all these queries and making all these estimates and these plans, I’ve got to find the same thing.” He said it was a great inspiration to him.
Interviewer: You’ve mentioned that sport can be a means of re-orientating training, developing poise. You’ve mentioned that there are training processes by which warriors can be made more developed in their personalities and concerned for others. Has this presupposed that there is a way of looking at social administration so that a training process is in fact engendered in various areas which has the objective of assisting spiritual unfolding?
Mr Leggett: The Buddhists say so. They say it must come out in every activity of life. It’s easiest in the simple activities – like polishing the floor. This is easier to practice spiritual development. But it has to go on to the complicated ones, when you have to think and anticipate all sorts of eventualities. Then something will come up which is not just these factors, balancing these factors.
Interviewer: Is there a regime anywhere in the world? I know you mentioned Ashoka who, from a position of power, renounced war as an instrument of policy. Would you feel that that was an instance where social organisation was being creatively developed?
Mr Leggett: Yes. It was a development of things that existed already. What the great man does, says the Gita, the others will tend to imitate. He was able to show this in a creative way. He didn’t try to stamp out the sceptics who laughed at him. Now, normally, one would think, “Well, I’d better get rid of them. They’re just hampering the thing and they’re going to be grit in the machine, aren’t they? Surely, it’s sensible to get rid of them?” No.
If one wants examples of this – people who do these sort of things, successfully, and who don’t seek for publicity – if we look, carefully, we can sometimes see them. Sometimes you can go and see a man or a woman who has developed along these lines. You can see them and you can talk about just some quite small point of everyday life and come away. But when you get home, you find that, somehow, you’ve got the courage to do things that you’ve always been putting off doing, that you’ve been frightened of doing. You begin to see it clearly – something one has been hesitating about. Nothing has been said – it was a sermon without words and this certainly can have quite a marked effect.
© Trevor Leggett
Titles in this series are Questions and Answers to Gospel of Peace According to Lord Buddha :
Part 3: Teaching and learning Q&A
Part 4: Types of Meditation Q&A