A talk on the line of light practice (given in 1989). The practice is given here
Meditation in action means spreading out the meditation from the experience and insight of the meditation period into, first of all, simple repetitive tasks like cleaning and sweeping and so on and later on into ordinary life. Now, we can say, ‘Oh, we can’t do this’. It was recommended that we should practise the line of light. For instance, if we are waiting in a queue at a bus stop we may have to wait about ten minutes on a little step with other people so we think, ‘Oh alright, I’ll do the line of light. I’ll try it while I’m waiting’. Then from the back some kid’s ball has hit the top of the metal stop. ‘Oh, what was that? Line of light…’ Then a fire engine goes by, bells clanging. ‘Oh, line of light’. Then a parked bicycle falls over with a tremendous clatter. Well, by that time it’s all gone. After three, it’s all gone and that’s the fact of the matter. Well, now, our teacher has said that when some facility has been attained in this practice – we must be able to locate these points -– when there is some facility, it can be extended. So, by repeated practise, not necessarily for long periods, but just for short times of the day, bring it back, go apart for a moment, look out of the window for a moment, come back to it. Now, let us try repeating this for a very short period of time, for two or three minutes and try to bring the attention back to the line of light.
The finger at the top of the forehead helps as it does generally, bring it down the central line. Close the eyes, think of the central line of light. Bring the attention back to the central line of light. A clapping noise: bring the attention to the central line of light. A bell rings: bring the attention back to the central line of light. A chair or stool falls over: bring the attention back to the central line of light. (Practice begins and ends with OM).
The Gita says: ‘He who renounces actions in the Lord, free from selfishness, from hopes, from fever, he is a wise man’. Our actions are not pure; they are full of selfish purposes. If our actions are pure, they are efficient but they are not pure so they have become distorted and they become inefficient. Now, as an example, we can perform an action for a completely different purpose than the action. A good time ago a parliamentary reporter, a short-hand reporter, had to achieve one hundred and sixty words a minute, at least, and the check was not writing with the hand but the check was hearing the word and getting the image, the short-hand image in writing. So they practised – this was before radio was popular – visualising or thinking of a word and then the outline. Well, there was a club and they were recommended to cultivate compulsive bores and the parliamentary reporter would talk to the bore, a compulsive speaker, whom no-one else wanted to talk to, and he would just listen: ‘Oh, do go on’ and all the time he is talking the stream of words the short-hand reporter is visualising the short-hand outline. ‘Oh, very interesting…’ They were using him to practise. This is action for a purpose entirely different from the action of sympathetic listening and of course sooner or later it becomes exposed.
The human body is not symmetrical and all actors, or nearly all, have a good side and a bad side and they battle on the stage who will be facing the good side to the audience. If one’s right side is good and the other left side is good that is fine but if both actors have a good right side then they manoeuvre to share that side. Now, sometimes these manoeuvres are very effective dramatically. One famous actress, when there was a moment when she had to take a decision, she would suddenly walk across the stage as she took it and that was dramatically very effective –‘No!’ – but the purpose was so that she could turn round and show the good side. In this way the actions, although they may seem very effective, they are impure and they are not perfectly effective and the time comes when they are simply disastrous.
© Trevor Leggett
Titles in this series are:
Part 1: Meditation in Action
Part 2: The Lord is a companion
Part 4: The beginning of a new spring