King Ashwapati

(… continued from ‘An example of spiritual inspiration’)

Sit reasonably upright, in a balanced position. Take a long breath in, not unreasonably long, and feel that there is a current coming in with the breath, at the navel point, coming up to this point between the eyebrows we concentrated on before. The breath doesn’t actually come up, but there is a current, and by feeling with the breath, we can most easily come to feel that.  If you would like to try – touch the navel.  Now take an inbreath and feel that the breath is coming up like a column at the centre of the body up to this point at the end of the full breath.  There is no visualisation as the breath is released easily.  We do this for twenty-one in this way. If you get out of breath, just stop for a moment and breathe in a natural rhythm for two or three times, then begin again.  

Our teacher said this practice opens up the centre to the whole Universe. We can say, “Oh, I can’t be expected to believe that”.  But we are not asked to believe that – we are given an experiment by which we can confirm, at first, small things.  Then it seems reasonable to ask, if small things are confirmed, the greater things can be confirmed also.

You can say, “Well, if they are going to be confirmed (later), why put it in at the beginning?” Because if they are not put in and we do these practices and some small result happens we will begin to think, “Oh, something is happening which isn’t known about.” Then we may become confused or may feel that we are on a path which is not known. On this path of Yoga, everything – all the stages – are known.  Hints are given so that when there is some small confirmation, we can recognise it and we shall not be confused.

The ancients do not concentrate on learning principles of nature which they could conquer to make life more comfortable and longer. They thought of life as a school in which we were to learn purity, straightforwardness, cooperation and, finally, an enlightenment which would show us that this world is not absolutely real but is a magic show put on by the Lord. They concentrated on those things.

In about 600 BC a king, Ashwapati, who feels he must justify some criticisms of his kingdom, says, “Well, there are no thieves in my kingdom”, and one can feel, “Well, anybody could say that”.  But we know that in 300 BC the Greek ambassador to the Court of King, Emperor Chandragupta, was there for 5 years.  He reported that he never saw or heard of a single case of theft in all the time he was there.  He also says there were no records of contracts – people kept their word. If a man didn’t keep his word, there was no penalty – but everybody knew that this was one who didn’t keep his word.  People would not do business with him or make any agreements with him at all.  So in those ways we can say the standard was perhaps a little bit advanced with what we have today.

Now, the main meditation after this breathing practice, which gives steadiness and a clearness to the mind, is the Self, my Self, my real Self – as a blazing fire.  Thoughts, emotions, all feelings, they are like sparks thrown out by the fire. Nothing is coming to me; it is all thrown up into the sky. Sparks remain brilliant for a moment, and then they vanish.

So there is a spirit within us, like a blazing fire throwing out sparks, and as we meditate on it, it becomes steadier.  He suggests that in the beginning we should just form this picture.  If you like, for about a minute, form this picture of a Self, a true Self, as a flame with a blazing flame or fire within. Om.

Then he says, when this picture has been made, for a few breaths, feel as the breath comes in that it is fanning the flame and it becomes bright. The next inbreath fans the flame again and it becomes bright.  We do this for three or four breaths and then sit as the flame is burning steadily in freedom, complete freedom. If you would like to try again for three or four breaths.  Feel the breath is fanning the flame, brighter and brighter. Then it is burning brightly in space and freedom. Om.

© Trevor Leggett

Titles in this series are:

Part 1: Meditation 2

Part 2: An example of spiritual inspiration

Part 3: King Ashwapati