Inspiration comes with its own energy


If you live in a town near a desert, when the wind blows from a certain quarter in the dry month, everything gets loaded with sand. All the leaves, the trees, and the bushes are full of sand. Then the wind passes, and it leaves everything. There was a man in the town who had undertaken an important job which was endless. It would take a very long time to do. He began to find that his perseverance was failing. He worked very hard for a week, but he didn’t seem to make any difference. There was still some vast amount to be done. Then he’d get fed up and he’d do nothing for a week and then it was still the same.  He was still in the middle of this huge task, and he was getting depressed and beginning to think that he’d give up.

Now, one day after a sandstorm he was walking, and he passed the saint’s little house. He saw the small gardens where all the bushes were laden with sand. Everything was covered with sand, and he saw the saint with a little tray and a little brush. He was sweeping sand from the leaves. He thought, ‘Good Lord, it’s going to take him weeks to clean his garden like that.’ He looked at the house next door and saw a little boy who was playing with the sand. He was building it up into a tower and then it would all collapse when it got to a certain height, and he would laugh. Then he’d build it up again. When he looked at the two of them, the little boy playing and the saint with the little tray and brush, he could see they were both playing. They were both enjoying it. This made a picture in his mind: that little tray, that little brush sweeping. Gradually he found he could go back to his enormous task and simply do the piece for that day without thinking of the vast amount that remained to be done. Simply to do it in the spirit as it were of joy or of play. That again was proclaimed wisdom, this is one of the traditional stories.

There is a split between what I want and what I know I should do. People think, “Well, yes, you may get inspirations – but can you do them? The composer Berlioz who specialized, as you know, in these marvellous orchestral tone poems or pieces, he woke up one morning and in his head there was blazing, in full orchestral colour, a wonderful piece. He knew this was an inspiration, a great inspiration. Then he thought of all the labour of getting it down, of orchestrating it. Suddenly, he felt, ‘Oh no!’ and he turned over and went back to sleep again. He said it came once more and again he turned his back on it. He thought, “No, I can’t face it. It’ll take months,” and he turned his back on it, and it never came again.

In the Yoga, the inspiration comes with its own energy – not that it’s an ‘ought’ and a ‘must’ because then there’s a split, there’s a duality. The inspiration and the energy come together as a form of joy and play. When people play, they’re able to go on. One fellow disciple of my teacher, he records this. He lived as a beggar, but he was often invited to the courts of kings and he never stayed more than a day. He said, “The atmosphere in the palaces is terrible.” On one occasion he saw the royal princes playing tennis in the heat and they were absolutely pouring sweat and they were obviously very tired. Evidently it was a close match, and they were going on. At the other end of that little park there were some workmen who were digging the ground to perhaps lay a new tennis court or something like that. They were covered with sweat too, but not so much as the princes. They were obviously fed up, tired and bored and just wanted to complete the day so they could get off home. He compared those two cases of fatigue. He said, “The princes were actually more tired, they were rocking on their feet, but it was joy and play to them, so they didn’t feel the fatigue.  But for the workmen, it wasn’t their own purpose, they were simply doing it for the money,  so they felt the fatigue much more intensely.”

The presentation by Patanjali is that this world is something like a theatre in which a play is being put on. The extension by Shankara is that the audience gets drawn into the play, so to speak.  It’s as if we were actors in the play who didn’t realize any more that it was a play but took it as real. We can say ridiculous, ridiculous, ridiculous; but if you look back through history you find cases of it. There was an actor, whose name was Macready.  He was a very talented and popular actor, but he did sometimes get drunk and this had a deteriorating effect on his mind. He was Macbeth on one occasion, and they had stout wooden swords and when the actor playing Macduff challenges him in the final duel combat, Macready, got the idea that Macduff was actually trying to kill him. He leapt at him and actually drove Macduff down into the stalls; that’s to say, he forgot the part he was playing – although that part was a life and death match, he took it that it was actually life and death and he entered too much into the part.

Our teacher said we must be able to play the part well, but remember it’s a divine play and that we should play this part without passion but play it well – without being individually identified with the character, and yet having sympathy with the character and being able to play in that sense. There’s a divine purpose in the world which those of us in the ordinary state don’t see. We have our own purposes, and our own purposes clash. There’s another hidden purpose. Our teacher used to say, “Search history for examples.”

An example is this, after Atatürk Kemal, Mustafa Kemal, had established a ruthless dictatorship in Turkey by substantially eliminating opponents, he must have been a very enlightened man, finally – because then he founded a parliament and he followed the model of parliaments. He discovered that there’s an official opposition. There had been no opposition when he was establishing his rule – any opposition was eliminated.  How was he going to establish the idea of an opposition? It’s on the records – he got one of his closest friends and supporters to join with him without saying a word to anybody.  Then Kemal made a speech advocating certain proposals and everyone assumed that this was what would go through, of course. But, to everyone’s amazement, this close supporter and loyal friend of Atatürk got up and began to oppose and criticize what had been said. There began to be cries of anger, “This man’s a traitor.” Kemal quieted them down, said, “No. He must finish his speech.” The opposition critical speech was finished and then everyone sat back to wait for this man to be arrested and, finally, executed. Kemal walked forward, shook hands with his friend, and said to the house, “Here’s what we need, constructive criticism,” and they walked out arm in arm. On the surface, this was opposition.  Opposition was not expected at that time and it was thought to be a treachery if there were any opposition. He had an inner purpose, which was shared by both of them, to get the people used to the idea that there could be opposition without deadly enmity between them. So, he carried that out.

We can say, “Well, where will we get these inspirations from?” The answer is always it’s through purity of our worldly attachments, and then concentration and devotion. The example of the radio is very good, which our teacher gave. The radio must be purified. The connection must be good otherwise there will be crackling, continuous crackling which will come from the radio, not from the station. In the same way, if I meditate and pray and my mind is too ambitious or selfish, there will be a crackling inside. I may think the Lord is angry with me, but it’s from myself. Attempts should be made, to some extent, to purify. Then concentration. Then, faintly, through the crackling we can hear.


Well, thank you for your kind attention.

Talks in this series are:

1. Radiance at the back of the mind

2. Radiance at the heart of every atom

3. St Francis and Ōta Dōkan

4. Inspiration comes with its own energy

The long talk is Inspiration & Energy from Yoga Practice

© Trevor Leggett


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