Meditation can help far more than physical gifts
He (Shri Dada) said that when we want to do good, we should conjoin it always with a spiritual practice, and not think, “Oh well, I will do this good. I will give this, I will do that.” It will say here, “He sympathised with people”, and when there’s a cholera outbreak, he says, “My children, don’t think hardly of your maker, because of these deaths in cholera.” He used to go round himself; he trained as an amateur doctor, because some of the areas were very poor, and the orthodox doctors wouldn’t visit them. He brought some relief, but some did die; of course, many did die. But he said, “Don’t think hardly of your maker. These souls will be born again and you do not know, they have lived out this karma, but they will be born again. You do not know the future of these souls. By your meditation and by your yoga, you can help far more than by the mere physical gifts that you make, although you should make them too.”
Our teacher used to compare it to a place which is infected with, say, malaria. To look after the sick people, you can do something for them – that’s one thing. Another thing is a student who simply leaves the place and you think, “Well, there’s no compassion or help there, or loyalty to his village.” No, but he’s gone to the capital to become a medical student and when he’s graduated, he’ll be able to come back. Then he’ll be able to look, and he’ll say, “Drain the marshes. The mosquitoes will die out. They need the water to breed in, and they’ll die out.”
So, he said, “The people who really want to, have a great urge to, help should do more and more of the yogic practice, and they can help to change the consciousness. We bring our humanitarian aid and we contribute to it, but we know the gangsters get most of it. In some of these countries where law and order has broken down, the gangsters get most of it and the situation goes on. There will have to be a change in consciousness and there can be a change in consciousness, the more people practice Yoga. He made quite a big point of this. We think, “Well, how do we know it’s true?” – only by experiment. So, we’re asked to experiment. We’re not asked to take anything in Yoga as a dogma, but only to make an experiment. As in science, we make one experiment, and we confirm it. We confirm one thing, and then it seems reasonable to think that the other things can be confirmed also.
If we are living under a tyranny, we can build or somehow smuggle in a little radio set. You’ve got a short-wave radio set. It takes a lot of patience, because you’ve got to keep it secret. You want to get a good foreign station, which will tell you what’s happening in your own country. If you listen to the local station, it won’t tell you. It’ll tell you the government propaganda. It won’t tell you what’s really happening, so you won’t know what to do. In the same way, when we turn our attention within and we plan and we think, we’re getting, so to speak, the local station, with all my prejudices and my special strong points and my weak points. We’re getting those. But, with practice, I can learn how to tune to receive the station from the cosmic mind, which will tell me the patterns of what I ought to do, and tell me what is really the case, what is really the truth.
When we turn within in our mental life, we should try at least every day, for some time – half an hour, an hour – to tune into that distant station, which will tell truth. It’s quite exciting, but it takes a long time to find the station, and you have to do it very regularly. You have to know that, first of all, before your set is properly calibrated and set up, you’ll get a lot of crackles. In the same way, when we first sit down in meditation, we get a lot of random thoughts, and the mind seems to be activated – but if we persist, finally we can find a very fine tuning of the distant station. The next night, we’ll have lost it again; but finally we’ll get used to it, and we’ll know the exact thing that we can mark on the dial, and then we can tune into it immediately.
Well, these are examples – they didn’t have the short-wave radio in Shri Dada’s time – but my own teacher used to give some of these examples from modern life. He always makes the point that you have to do it yourself. Yoga practice, like the actions in the world; they can be mixed up with upadhis. “I can do yoga practice because I think it’s going to give me good health.” Perhaps it will – but if I do it for that, it will be a pollution of the practice and it won’t lead to spiritual truth. The mind can be made brilliant by meditation. Doctor Goebbels had a brilliant mind, but he was completely taken in – and how many scientists were taken in by Josef Stalin? JBS Haldane, one of the most brilliant minds of the century, was completely taken in by Stalin, though not forever.
So, it has to be a motive to find out Truth, to find the true Self and to find inspiration from the Self. I’m familiar with some of the Japanese stories – they had a devotional sect. I think you’ve seen in London, there’s a sect who go around dancing in the streets, singing “Hare Rāma, Hare Rāma, Rāma Rāma, Hare Hare, Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare”. Perhaps you’ve seen them; they call themselves the Hare Krishna movement. Well, these devotional movements singing mantras spring up all over the world. Some of the early Quakers did this sort of thing. Some of them ran naked through the streets, crying, “We are the naked truth. We are witness. We are witnesses.” You see, they were witnessing really just high spirits and a desire to shock – there is this impulse.
© Trevor Leggett
Formerly “Conjoin doing good with spiritual practice”
Titles in this series are:
Part 1: Mysticism of the Heart 3
Part 4: Honen worshiped Amida Buddha