Meditation – The Inner Sun
(1 August 1989)
There is the cosmic consciousness. The cosmic inspiration, the cosmic purpose is lying deep. Any person who dives deep enough, drills deep enough in meditation will catch them. Then wherever he is the inspiration will come out.
Now, people think, “Oh well, great geniuses, the Beethovens and the Newtons and the Einsteins are inspired. The ordinary people are not going to be inspired. He [the teacher] says, “No, that’s not so.” Again, one of the classical examples given is this. You can have a reservoir with a lot of water in it and everyone can see there is a lot of water. Or, you can have a very, very, small, little well, which will only just about take a bucket. Well, that’s going to be exhausted. The well is connected underground with the river. It’s true, it only holds a bucket. You pull out a bucket but then there’s another and then there’s another. It may be very small, but it’s inexhaustible.
In the same way, the teacher says that the great accomplishments, the great learning, the tremendous energy, the influential positions, the charismatic charm and appeal, power, these things correspond to the science of the reservoir. However small one’s circumstances in life, if there is a connection, then endlessly the pure water of inspiration can come forth. Life gets a new meaning.
Now, there are rare cases where one eye is colour-blind and the other eye is normal, which is very rare, but they exist and they have been studied. The curious thing is, most of us have a master eye, which is the one we use. There are people whose master eye is colour-blind. It’s the one they use. Although the other eye, the weak eye, can see colours, in fact, the colours don’t register because they are going by the master, but they can be trained to use the other one. When we see a black and white film, there is nothing missing, there are no gaps in the scenes. When we see the same thing in colour, although there is nothing extra in the things and the people, the visual aspect, something has changed. Something entirely new has come, namely, the colours.
In Yoga practice, if we practise, the time comes when the words take on an entirely new meaning. Not a slightly changed or deeper meaning, but something entirely new. Through Yoga practice, these things we do and the words we read, if the practice is done long enough and sincerely enough, the meaning will change completely. Not just a little: completely. Something quite new. This book, [The Heart of the Eastern Mystical Teaching] was written by my teacher about his teacher. I told you that my teacher was a very learned man; but his teacher was comparatively (in comparison) unlearned. He explained the holy texts and the practices, especially, in relatively simple language: ‘Every man must be able to go into voluntary nervous and mental relaxation and in that silence, concentrate on a symbol of God. When that is prolonged, there will come before him the patterns of what he is to create in the inner world and the outer world’.
This will be an inspiration. Not something that he can imagine and dream up for himself, which will generally be a cloak for one’s own passions or one’s own fears, but it will be an entirely new inspiration, what he is to do. ‘Every man must be able to do this.’ Without that, the Gita says, “Men are revolving like marionettes mounted on a machine.”
In India, they used to have these wooden dolls mounted on a platform and underneath a circular wooden drum with projections sticking out. Below the wooden figures, through holes in the platform, there were spokes, so that the revolving wheel would turn the spoke. Then one of them would lift his sword and turn around, and then bring the sword down. Then another one would fall, drop dead and so on. Then the little scene would be played out. Then it would all start again. Lift your sword, turn around, hit that one, that one passes out. We are like marionettes. We develop habits and the Indian psychology, which was a good deal older than Freud’s, is that conscious actions leave an impression. Those impressions tend to repeat, so that we can turn out to be marionettes.
We always feel furious when this is pointed out to us. When somebody says, “I knew you would say that. You always say that.” “He always does that. Oh no, he never does that.” Yet, if we are able, calmly, to examine, we find so many of our even most deeply felt things are in fact mechanical repetitions. “Couldn’t stand my father, couldn’t stand the head teacher,” and ever afterwards in life, whenever there is this situation, “It’s father. It’s the head teacher. It’s unacceptable.” Just repeating mechanically.
Buckets of inspiration
The inspiration can make us free, to some extent, on certain occasions and then more and more often. Otherwise, we become governed by repetitive illusion. Now, when a friend of ours brought in the cat flap idea, she had two cats. Black and orange. Of course, they had no idea what this was, but she had to get them used to the idea of a cat flap. So, she put the two together, then pushed the black one through and then pushed the orange one through. It just happened, purely by chance… but it took her a fair few demonstrations before they got the idea. She always put the black one through first and then the orange one. Then, to her amazement, when they became used to the cat flap, the orange one used to wait for the black one to go through. When the orange one wanted to go out itself, and the black one wasn’t there, he didn’t go. He just sat there and mewed and waited until the black one went through.
Well, this is a humorous example, but if we examine our own conduct and our own thinking, we will find so often that it is a meaningless repetition of something which perhaps once had a point, had a meaning, and no longer has. Another example they give, in modern terms, is this. The dog is going to eat and you put its food down and as it eats, you ring a bell. When you have done that for a few weeks, the dog won’t eat without the bell. “We always have a bell”. It waits for the bell.
Well, these are examples which are given. What happens then if we try to free ourselves? In meditation, what sort of thing would it be? Does it have to be some great thing? Not necessarily. One from the very oldest Buddhist documents is this, that in order to overcome fear, the monks used to go out into a forest and meditate. If you read some of the accounts, when this first happens in an Indian jungle, especially at night, it’s a far from silent place. Well, there was one forest which was haunted, or wood which was haunted. It wasn’t any animal or threat like that – that they were prepared to endure. As a matter of fact, the experience of the monks is that if you are not moving about, the animals will not [bother you]. It was haunted by something terrible. This has a psychological meaning for us now. There is something in our lives which is terrible. There is an area we don’t want to go to. It’s sort of poisoned. We don’t want to look at that or admit it. One of the nuns went there. She said, “I’m going,” and they said, “No, even the monks can’t stand that.” She went there and then this terrifying thing, which couldn’t be specified, this fear itself manifested. She spoke one word and it vanished and it was never felt again. The story has a special point. One word.
One of the great disciples of Buddha, Asvajit of whom we only know the name, is one of the first direct disciples, he was one of the earliest four or five, before the great Sariputra had joined the order. Sariputra was the leading disciple of the great teacher. Well, the only thing recorded about Asvajit, was that one day he was walking through the street, not saying anything, just walking. The great and eloquent and brilliant Sariputra saw him. He went up immediately and he said, “It seems to me, you have solved the riddle of life. It seems to me that you know.” Asvajit simply pointed, “Here, I’ll teach you something”. So Sariputra went up and became the great disciple of the Buddha. In fact, in some of the early documents of the time, it is Sariputra who is called the Buddha.
Now that is the only thing recorded of this Asvajit. He walked in the street and from that walk, Sariputra saw it. He couldn’t explain what it was. “It seems to me that you know, that you have solved the riddle.” Well, these examples I give you as examples of inspiration. They are not great external achievements. Inspiration can be in that form, but it doesn’t have to be. This is like the little well, in which there is one bucket, but that bucket is of the same pure water as is in the great reservoir. When it is given to the man who is dying of thirst, as Sariputra was, it revivifies.
This was in a Japanese village. Two parents had died and their little son was brought up by his grandmother. She was not rich, she hadn’t much money. She was a general cleaner and help about the village. She brought up this boy in her little place. She made sure that everybody knew what a terrific job it was, but she did it with great devotion.
There was a retired master of calligraphy, of this wonderful brushwork. He had retired to the village, and he took an interest in the education of the children. One day, he told the old lady, he said, “Your boy is bright. He is doing very well in the village school and really, he ought to go on to college and university. I know the president of one of the great places in Tokyo and they give a scholarship to recommended children from the villages and I would be prepared to recommend him. Would you agree and would the boy agree?” So, she said, “ I should be, of course, terribly lonely because, this is all I have got. But for the boy’s sake…”
The master said, “Well, I will write you a letter of introduction to him and give you the tickets to go up and register.” She went round to get the letter of introduction and she saw him – this great master of calligraphy – and she thought, ‘Now I’m really going to see some calligraphy.’ She expected him to mix things and pick up the brush but instead of that, he picked up a tiny stub of a pencil, an old stub of a pencil. He looked at it and he said, “I like this old stub.” He just made two little cuts and then he scribbled something on the paper in this very loose hand which she couldn’t even read. He didn’t seal it, he didn’t sign it; he just put it in an envelope, which he addressed carefully and clearly.
He said, “Give him that,” and she was terribly embarrassed. She thought, ‘This is just a scrawl. It’s not sealed or signed. How can I give him this? I can’t even read it’. She was too embarrassed to say anything, but she took the tickets and they went up to the president’s office and she handed it over. The president saw them immediately. He was looking at this. He said, “Isn’t that wonderful? Wonderful. He’s using just a blunt pencil, but he has got such control of the pressures that he can imitate the brush strokes perfectly. Who else could have done that but he?” He said, “Of course I’ll take the boy.”
She came back. Well, it turned out that she wasn’t so lonely as she had expected to be because people began to get the habit of dropping in and they would bring a little something. One day, one of them said to her, “Do you know why people like me come to see you? You used to complain rather a lot and it was a bit tiring. Now you never complain. In fact, you hardly talk at all. When we come here, and we have been with you for 20 minutes, when we go away again, we find we have got a sort of courage to face life and a sort of joy in facing our difficulties in life. Now, I’m only telling you this to ask you, what made the change in you?”
So the old lady told her about the calligraphy master who had written with the pencil stub and she said, “Do you know, the president, he said, ‘This is a masterpiece;’ he said he was going to keep it. I kept thinking, ‘Why did he do it?’ He had got all of those wonderful brushes there. Some of them come from a special place in China. He didn’t use any of those. He just picked up that old stub of a pencil and made those two little cuts and just did a cut away and then he wrote this.” She said, “I kept thinking, ‘Why did he do it?’ The pencil stub. The pencil stub.” She said, “One morning when I woke up, suddenly I realised. I am the pencil stub. My life is worn out. My mind is dull and blunt, but with just two little cuts, cutting away my selfishness, the Buddha can write a masterpiece. That’s the thought that came to me then. With this dull, blunt instrument the Buddha can write. Since then, I have felt strength holding me and peace in my heart.”
Well, this is one of the illustrations about inspiration. One of the traditional stories. Not from any combination of brilliance of intellect or refined and pure emotions and timeliness and compassion. None of that. It’s going through something. Peering through a gap and finally that was communicated to her. She used to just sit there, almost silent, but when the people left, there was a change. In fact, we can find this, that if we visit such people, they may not necessarily say anything overtly spiritual or give instruction. But when we come away, we find with some things which have worried us or obsessed us, the grip has been loosened. Sometimes we are able to do things, which we have been frightened of doing for a long time, or reluctant to do. There has been something come out of it.
When Japan was defeated, there were many extremists in Japan at that time, who were unwilling to acknowledge the defeat and they said they would kill anyone who signed an acknowledgement of defeat and allow the occupying forces to come in. The Prime Minister at that time was brought from out of retirement. He was a former admiral, Suzuki Kantaro, a remarkable man. He had been a Cabinet Minister in one of the Cabinets before the war, who had been opposed to the war. For that, an attempt had been made on his life. The maid servant, who was there, said what happened. The assassin had got into his residence and into the old boy’s bedroom. He was asleep. Woke him up, said, “I’m going to shoot you, Admiral, but I’m going to explain why I have got to do this. I admire you, I admired your career and I’m going to explain.” So, he started to explain and the maid said that the admiral simply just said, “Well, if that’s all you have got to say, you had better shoot,” so the assassin did. He shot him. He shot him twice. Here and one through the side of the head and left him. Well, he recovered.
At the very end of the war, he was asked to become Prime Minister again, just to see this surrender. This was an extremely risky position to be in. Now, the Cabinet Secretary, at the time, was a brilliant young man named Sakomizu, whom I knew. He told me, “I used to go through all the papers, sometimes from very early in the morning. I would have been working on them and I had them all ready for the Prime Minister to see them.” He said, “The old boy never looked at them. He just said, ‘Well, this is what you think is best.’ And I thought to myself, he does nothing. I’m running the country.” Of course, they both knew they could be assassinated at any moment. But he calmly thought, ‘Well, I’m running the country. The old boy just isn’t.’ Then one morning, he said, the admiral wasn’t there. He had to make a report. He said, “I was alone,” and he had left the seal, so all I had to do was seal the papers.” He said, “My hands were shaking. I couldn’t seal it. I couldn’t control my hands because of fear. Then he came back, and he just said, ‘It’s a hot day, isn’t it?’ I began to be calm again. Then I was able to carry on.” He said the admiral never said anything to him, just these ordinary remarks, but his presence had brought complete fearlessness and also the operation was carried through successfully. Well, he gave that example to me.
One other example is given in modern times. If you listen to the cassette tape of a great symphony which is conducted by, say, Bohm, or one of the great conductors. The name of the orchestra is given and then the conductor. If you listen to the cassette, you never find the conductor. He is simply not there. You can hear all the other instruments, but not the conductor. As a matter of fact, if you investigate, you find that all the notes are written on scores and put in front of the players and the players play them. The rhythm and the beats are all given. The notes are all specified, the fortissimo, the piano and the crescendo and so on. They are all written there, but the conductor does nothing. In the same way, in the universe, ‘Where is God? Where is the finger of God? We can’t find Him. Where will we look?’
Something else. It’s a complete thing in itself. There are no gaps. Just as in the orchestral performance, there is no gap where the conductor comes in. The conductor, in fact, is controlling this. You think, ‘Well, no, you don’t need the conductor. The musicians just play the notes’. A lot of people think that, and some scientists think this too – that things could go on because their various resultants and so on can be combined together and the course of events can be predicted. We know the laws that govern them. The particles and their force can be predicted. You don’t need any God. But as a matter of fact, if you have ever played in an orchestra, you know what the conductor does. You are sitting there, you have got 15 bars rest and you start counting them: 1, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 2, 4 and the music slips a bit and you just adjust it. ‘Oh, was I at 4 or 5? 5’. You don’t know. You have lost count. You think, ‘Shall I come in? I might come in early. Is it better to come in early or late? Which chance shall I take?’ and you begin to sweat if you are very young. Then, as the conductor is conducting away, suddenly he looks at you and he brings you in. Then you realise, without a conductor, I would lose count. Somebody over there would lose count. Then somebody over there would lose count. Quite soon, the whole piece would be completely in a shambles.
You would think, ‘Oh, no’. No, it happens. It happened in, I think, 1912. Debussy came across to conduct one of his own pieces, ‘Fêtes’, which has got many difficult changes of rhythm. It had been completely rehearsed by Sir Henry Wood, but Debussy was a rotten conductor. They wanted the composer to be the conductor. He lost control of the orchestra, and it was a complete shambles. The audience sat there bewildered at the end of the piece. Then Sir Henry Wood, with a remarkable flash of inspiration, shouted, “Encore, encore,” and started clapping. Then the orchestra took it up, “Encore, encore.” Finally, the audience took it up, got the idea and then they played it through and this time it was completely effective. Well, these examples are given. They are only examples.
Orchestra of life
There is something which doesn’t appear directly in the world, but which is controlling, to some extent, the players of the orchestra and will control them perfectly. But as some conductors say, “People in the orchestra are like some of those old organs. Some of the old organs, just a flick on the note, make a sound and with some of them, you have to take a mallet and hit it.” In the same way, the orchestra is not equally responsive. Well, we are, so to speak, members of the orchestra.
Through meditation, we become clear and we become aware of the conductor and then we can play our part perfectly. In a certain sense, it’s more difficult to follow, but it’s worth saying. This here, [pointing to the heart chakra] which is where inspiration comes, in fact, it’s the [turning to the blackboard] whole of the blackboard [meaning the whole background of life] and it’s the real ‘I’. The real Self in man is universal. We think, ‘Oh no.’ The real Self in man is universal and these barriers can be thinned and finally, in this sense, if we consider the events of our life, in our Yoga practice, we worship God and we dedicate our actions to God. We accept the changes in life as from God. In the highest sense, if we meditate, we will get flashes that it is the ‘I’ that is universal.
As a personal example – our teacher didn’t recommend personalities, but he allowed it occasionally – I had a stroke just after the war, from which I was very fortunate to recover. It cost me most of my sight and I recovered a good deal of it. Only one in five of these cases, in fact, survives for any length of time. Every year I used to make an attempt to do a translation from the Japanese, which is what I wanted to do. I used to get such terrible headaches and I had been warned against any sort of strain because you may get another one. After two or three days of quite a lot of pain, I used to put it down. This went on for year after year.
Then, I had a terrible disappointment. I had built a plan for something very carefully and I had helped somebody who was going to take charge of it. Helped them a lot. Trained them a lot. Then, at the last minute, they got a better offer from abroad and left and went. It was a great disappointment to me because I used to think, ‘Well, I’ll be dead very soon, but I will anyway [have to] leave this now’. Even then feeling angry and disheartened really. ‘That’s human nature.’ You lose your faith in human nature. I got on; I thought, ‘I’ll do this damn translation if I drop dead.’ So, I did it and I went through the pain barrier, as they say. It didn’t kill me, and I did get the first book out there.
When I look back now, I approve of that disappointment – that shattering disappointment – because that got me to do the book, which otherwise, I would have kept on trying and then stopping. Now, when I look back and I go into his [my younger self’s] situation, “Why has this shocking disappointment happened to me? Why do people behave like this? Why can’t they keep their word?” “I approve of this”, I’m saying from now. He’s saying from then, “How can you approve of this?” “No, I do approve of it. Without it, I would never take the risk.” “Yes, I would.” “No, you wouldn’t.” That young me is saying, “You old bastard.” This old me is saying, “You young idiot.” When something happens to me now, I have to think, “I am a person. What am I to learn?” Well, it’s not so easy. I know other examples from other people’s lives, but sometimes from one’s own life, well, you are more in touch with what has been happening.
We are expected to know that in some sense what happens to us has a meaning, is approved of by ourselves and there is something which we have to make from it. “What! I’m thrown into prison? What do I make from that?” There is something. I approve of it. “How could you?” “I approve.” Find out now, what are you to make from this. The teachers tell us this. Generally, for our Yoga practice, we accept this as coming from God. It’s the events that come from God and we are meant to react to them and find out what the purpose is.
A pilgrim in India said that they were going along and then there was a landslip, so the road was blocked. Then there was the most terrible storm and he said, “We sheltered as best we could, under a little bit of rock, at the peril of our lives, to see what heaven intended by this.” When I first read that, I thought, “Good heavens. To see what heaven intended by this!” But, later on, if we practise Yoga, these words begin to come to have a new meaning. Something new arises in ourselves.
Most of our outer activities are based on illusions, and conflict is caused by those illusions. The purpose of the inner journey is to find a cosmic purpose. Now, if I have my individual purposes, which are based on illusions, yes, they conflict with the cosmic purpose sometimes, but they are illusory. So, the purpose of the Yoga discipline will be to reduce those illusions, so that we know that they are illusory, and we are not bound by them. We may follow them, but we are not bound by them.
Playing the game
When I play a game, I am meant to be trying very hard, but afterwards, when I lose, “Good, you did well then. That was a good one.” But if I get caught in the illusion of the game, I’m furious, absolutely furious. Even today, we can see people get pretty angry when they lose, but there have been cases in history where somebody who lost at chess killed the opponent because they couldn’t get out of the illusion.
Anyway, the conflict is between reality and illusion. So the illusions have to be lessened and dissolved and then there isn’t this conflict. When some practice is done, there are flashes of awareness. Then the question is, as that gets more and more, can you say there’s anyone really there at all? ‘Yes’, so to speak, from these few remaining points, you can still mentally reconstruct, that there is an individual there, a personality there. But, in fact, it is not acting through the body and the mind directly. These things are now expressing God, directing without being concerned with self-preservation or with my dignity. It is more giving up than working. It’s replacing our small ego with the cosmic stream. If the stream is touched, it will carry away. The cosmic stream is not afraid of anything because this is both the attacker and the attacked.
Judo is helpful from this point of view, sometimes we do injure each other, but there is no conflict. We are there voluntarily. Nobody need go, but when one’s young it’s great fun. Sometimes you get tremendous bash and you fight to prevent it. But afterwards, ‘Ah, well [satisfied sigh] yes…’ There is something above, but things may still go on. People watching you, think, ‘This man hates that one!’ Smash. But they are friends. It is not so easy [to explain]. These are only hints.
Again, if we can see this at one time and then at another time, it can be covered over. One teacher, one very experienced teacher, told me this. He said, “Always remember that something, which to you, might be absolutely nothing, can be a crucifixion for somebody else. Remember that.” A teacher will be attracted when people make strong efforts for at least three years. There is a sort of rhythm and the Buddhists put it in this way. Their bodhisattva is sitting there, and they see a little ripple [of resolve]and they look and then it [the practice and effort] stops. “Oh no, he’s gone off, he’s got a good job. He is about to make a success in the world.” When it goes on for three years, “Oh, oh!” But then the bodhisattva comes down. He will teach through a human teacher or, in some of the accounts it says, “The things will speak to him.” When he is polishing the wood, as the reflection becomes clear, as the nature of the wood begins to shine forth.
There are quite a lot of examples. Especially in the zen there are many examples of this. A man sees peach blossoms often and one morning, suddenly, he sees the peach blossom and his whole life is changed. There are many such examples in the Zen accounts. So yes, people try hard; anybody tries hard. Conversely, people can have all the teachers in the world but if they don’t try hard… I did find in teaching Judo – I used to have a class every weekend – people used to come from all over the country to go to these classes. Now, the boys from London, they could come and practise anytime, so they weren’t so keen. But the ones who had to save up their money, come from the north of Scotland, come down all night, then they would practise furiously all day Saturday. Absolutely exhausted, they would sleep on the mats on Saturday night, practise furiously – I wonder how they ever did it – and study all day Sunday and then go back Sunday night. Now, they were the ones who really got it. They listened to what I said. The ones who were with me all the time said, ‘Yes, old Leggett, he says some good things, but I don’t think they’re all that…’ but the ones from Scotland, they made very quick progress.
We feel identified with our thoughts. ‘That’s me.’ A golfer, once he has played for a few years, he has got a swing. It’s absolutely terrible, but it’s ‘my’ swing. When he goes to a pro for a lesson, the pro tells him a few things. The chap does one or two of the things, but he thinks, ‘No, he’s interfering with my swing.’ Well, my swing is not even a collection of thoughts, but it’s ‘me’. One very experienced golf pro told me, he said, “You know, most of the people who come here, they have no intention of changing anything really.” So, I said, “Well, why do they pay you all that for the lesson?” He said, “Well, I suppose it is that they want to feel that for half an hour, somebody cares.” These terrible golfers, they paid him money.
Until we can calm by these methods, until we can become a little bit sober, then we are either going to be in the jocular stage of drunkenness or the aggressive stage of drunkenness or the tearful stage of drunkenness or the sleepy stage. So, by Yoga practice, we can become calm, then we begin to see things clearly. Well, we let go of the ego every night in deep sleep. But the latent impressions are still there. So we come out of that state, which is a state of bliss, as you can see. When you see an animal going to sleep, you can see that animal isn’t fearing destruction or extinction. It’s going to joy. We can see that, but we have to come out of that because the sanskaras, the unsatisfied impressions, pull us out of it and construct us again.
Well, there are different forms of yoga practice. The first essential before we practise meditation is to calm the instruments. So, we have to come out of drunkenness to some extent. Otherwise, when I sit down to meditation, I shall be just meditating, ‘Blast it, I forgot to say that in the row yesterday, but I’ll say it tomorrow.’ Or, when Francis Xavier went to Japan, he saw some Zen monks sitting there in a beautiful posture and he asked the abbot, “What are they thinking about?” and the abbot said, “They’re thinking about what they are going to get for breakfast.” Now, there must be calming, then there must be an aspiration to come into touch with the cosmic mind. The calming is important.
These things can take on a new meaning. Christ said, “Come as little children,” and generally, people take that to mean unquestioning, sort of, blind acceptance. But if you think of little children, one of their main characteristics is enquiry. “Mum, how high is the sky?” or, “Mum, why is the moon up there? Why does it come out?” Enquiry. These are the real questions. The questions that the small children are asking. Then they get no answer, then they stop asking. A Zen master would say, “Now you. Why? Why are you doing this?” He won’t let us ask these things of the universe in general. “You.” “Why am I doing this?”
A man went to a teacher, he said, “This doctrine of the ‘all-powerful’, all loving God. Compassionate, omnipotent Buddha.” He said, “Look around. Look what’s happening. All this evil and suffering!” So the teacher said, “Do you yourself contribute to this evil and suffering?” So, he thought. “Yes, I’m ashamed to say that I have done vicious and spiteful things.” The teacher said, “You are God, you are Buddha, why do you do these things?” “Now, why do I do these things? Why do I?” People say, “Oh, it’s society. We’re socially conditioned, aren’t we?” “No, not at all. The venomous and spiteful and destructive things I have done.” “You weren’t responsible. In a certain sense, we are all guilty.” “No, not at all. I did them. I needn’t have done, but I did.”