Mysticism of the Heart
There are various spiritual traditions, and we should respect them, but generally, one should train on one particular line. Just as if you’re going to do athletics, you do a bit of lots of different things, but generally, you have one line in how much you train, and then you can get skill and balance and response in that line. I’m presenting for you one particular line. Now, in the tradition of study, we have a book like this, The Heart of the Eastern Mystical Teaching, or we have something like the New Testament. Well, how do we study it? You think, ‘Oh, you just read it.’ Actually, that generally makes no impression at all. People who do that, they just pick out some text that they happen to fancy and say, “Well, that’s enough for me.” Then they avoid texts they don’t care for. In fact, they succeed in persuading themselves that such texts don’t exist.
Jesus said to the masses, “If one comes to me, and does not hate his father, and his mother, and his brothers, yay, and even his life, he cannot be a disciple of mine.” Not many Christians recognize that text because it’s an uncomfortable one. This is not the way to study – to pick up some texts that one fancies, or to shun and avoid and pretend the text one doesn’t like, doesn’t exist.
Well, what are we to do then? When we have a spiritual text like the Lotus of the Law, Saddharma Pundarika Sutra, or the New Testament or for instance, this book, The Heart of the Eastern Mystical Teaching, we read through it. Now, the thing is to notice where the author of the text says, “Now I’m giving you my main teaching.” These are the places to notice very carefully, because here he says, “These are my main teachings.” Otherwise, one will get lost in contradictions.
In this book, in one place, he says, “Wrestle with the mind.” In another place, he says, “Don’t wrestle with the mind.” Jesus said, “He who is not with us, is against us.” It means the world is full of enemies, but he also said, “He who is not against us, is with us.” It means the world is full of friends. Now, one could pick one of these texts and say, “Oh, that’s it,” and then forget the other ones.
The thing is to find out, where does the teacher say, “These are my main teachings,” or here he’ll say in some places, “I have told you today a very important part of my teaching.” In another place he’ll say, “The special point of the teaching of my own teacher, Swami Krishnanandaji, was this.” These are the places to notice. Make them the central part of our study, and then see how they will come up. They provide a sort of framework. Then, when we read the book and the other incidents and the other teachings in the book, we have a framework in which we can put them, a framework which is provided not by me, but by the teacher. Not something that I’ve selected, but something that the teacher himself says, “This is the central part of my teaching.”
When we find that place or those places where he says, “These are my main teachings,” we should go into those as deeply as we can. If you say, “Well, what was the centre of Jesus Christ’s teachings?” People say, ” The Sermon on the Mount, that’s enough for me.” If you say, “What does the Sermon on the Mount say?” “Well, something about the Good Samaritan, I think.” No, it’s not in the Sermon on the Mount unfortunately. That’s much too vague.
Now, he was asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” Then he made two quotations from the Old Testament. “Hear, Oh Israel, Thy God is one. Thou shall love the Lord with all thy heart, and soul, and might.” The second commandment, which is like it, again, quoting from the Old Testament, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
These, he’s giving as the greatest commandments. This is a central part of his teachings, and this we should concentrate on. If we concentrate on it, we shall find something very surprising. The first phrase, “Hear, Oh Israel, your God is one. You shall love the Lord with all your heart and soul, and might, or strength.” This is probably the most famous phrase in the Old Testament. Every pious Jew had to repeat it, or did repeat it twice or three times every single day.
If we look at the text, we shall see that Jesus changed it. The Old Testament version has gone into our language, “Do a thing, put your heart and soul into it. Do it with all your might.” Jesus changed it. Well, it’s best actually to leave us to find out how he changed it, isn’t it? If this was a lecture on Christianity, that would be the thing to do. However, he changed it and he put in ‘mind’: “You shall love the Lord with all your heart and soul and mind.” That is not in the Old Testament. Why did he do that? If we examine, we’ll see he doesn’t reproach his disciples with their sins, but he repeatedly says, “How dull you are.” He says to Peter, “Are you as dull as the rest?”
After the parable of the sower, they say to him, “What does it mean?” He says, “How dull you are, if you don’t understand this parable, how will you understand any parable?” He didn’t mean learned. It meant that they weren’t going deeply into these simple words. If you think of it, the parable of the sower is pretty extraordinary. What’s this sower doing? Sowing so the seed falls on the wayside or on rocks. What’s he doing? You make a furrow in the ground, you put the seed in, and you cover it over. You don’t chuck it on the road. He expected them to think and to go deeply into it, not to be learned, but to think about what he was saying.
Well, in the same way with this, we can look through this and we shall find one place where he says that his main teachings are four. He says, “Perhaps they will ask you, ‘what does this old bandit teach you that you spend so much time with listening to him and give so much attention to him?’ My main teachings are these, study, pray, discipline yourself, and meditate.”
Now, study doesn’t just mean studying in the books – that’s a very limited value. Shri Dada himself was not a learned man. His teacher was very learned and his disciple, my own teacher, was a very learned man, but Shri Dada himself was not learned. If you have a very active mind and an enquiring personality, then you need to study. There’s one humorous saying: “Bad people ought to study a lot. It keeps them out of mischief,” which it does. I should have done a lot more harm if I hadn’t had to spend so much time studying Japanese and Sanskrit. I hadn’t the time to do all the harm I might have done otherwise. Study has got many advantages, study of the books.
He said study not merely books, but study the nature of the world. Study the nature of yourself. Pray. Pray first to an external Lord, but that will produce a quiver from the Lord within ourselves. Then discipline ourselves. We can’t do anything unless we discipline ourselves. There’s a humorous Chinese saying, “To be a really bad man, you have to have many virtues.” You’ve got to be brave, you’ve got to be persistent, you’ve got to be clever, and you’ve got to plan very carefully, otherwise you won’t be a really bad man. You will just be a little petty thief or something like that, but to be a real villain, you’ve got to have a lot of these virtues of strength of will and courage and so on.
Well, now, all the more, if we’re aiming to attain spiritual freedom, we have to discipline ourselves so that we can persist when we begin with something. We can carry it through. The last thing, to meditate. These are his main teachings. Study, which means to go deeply into things, not just to master books. Pray, discipline ourselves, and then meditate. We can say, “Well, what are these teachings going to bring?” Well now, I’m not able to read ordinary text now myself. The servants are leaving me, as the Vedanta phrase is, so will you read for me then? “Every man…” [The Heart of the Eastern Mystical Teaching, Chapter 5, Chandausi, p49].
Reader: “My son, life is a sacred trust and you cannot squander it on trivialities by devoting yourself to that which is not of permanent good to human society. Every man must be able to go into voluntary, mental, and nervous relaxation, and concentrate his mind on a symbol of God, whether it be a word, a concept, or an image. It is this prolonged silence of the soul which brings before man the patterns of what he is to create, the archetypes of his contribution to the inner and outer world. Everyone has an infinite world of beauty and goodness in his mind. The few who have recognized it call it Ilaham, or inspiration. The Lord is all-pervasive and any mind can create for itself beauty and goodness by coming into contact with Him through prayer.”
TPL: “Every man must be able to go into voluntary nervous mental relaxation,” and this means the meditation posture. It should be reasonably upright and balanced. If you’re young, to sit on the ground on a cushion, cross the legs, and put one foot up on the opposite thigh so it makes a triangle. That’s very stable, and it enables you to feel an inner balance, but in any case, the posture should be balanced so that it can be held for a long time without effort and the body can be forgotten. This has to be practised, but to use the same posture at the same time in the same place every day has got enormous advantages. This seated posture in fact is more relaxed than these. [Imitates an everyday shifting posture]. They’re always shifting – the people. They seem to be relaxed, but actually they’re not. They’re constantly shifting. The thing is to master one posture, Jitasana, the conquest of a posture and be able to sit in that.
There is a sizable hospital in Tokyo which deals with these cases of what we used to call nervous breakdown. The people work and they get this terrible sense of guilt that they’re not doing well enough, and they work themselves into a sort of breakdown. The system is called Morita therapy, and I’ve visited the hospital and had quite a long interview with the director, the present director (Morita’s dead). He’s very successful in treating these cases, but he told me quite an interesting point. He’s not a religious man, but he knows about Zen, and he said with the young ones, he gets them when they come in, if they’re willing, to learn to sit in this style with one foot up. A lot of Japanese, even the young ones can do this because quite often some of their life is spent on the floor. Suzuki told me, when they learned it, when they’ve mastered it, which they can do quite quickly in two or three weeks, then it becomes comfortable.
He said that the patients there, though he doesn’t give any religious background at all to this, he’s not a particularly religious man himself, but he said the mere posture produces a calm and he told me the patients find this out. He’s provided in the hospital a corridor, and along one side of the corridor in a little, set-back booth, is a round meditation cushion. He told me the patients are encouraged when they feel stressed or they get this tension coming over them, to sit there. He said a lot of them take to it. When they find this tension coming, they go and they sit on the cushion. They’re not asked to do anything special in the way of any meditation exercise, but just to sit in that posture. They find it calms them down, so they spend a certain amount of time there, and Dr. Suzuki told me, he said, “It’s very good for the nurses, you know. They know where the patients are and they know they’re not up to anything.”
Well, this is a physical effect. This is reported in the Sutras of Patanjali, that when the posture is mastered, there’s an inner pacification, and a relative indifference to the pairs of opposites like anxiety. “Every man must be able to go into voluntary mental and nervous relaxation,” and the posture and then this very simple, bringing the attention here. [Points to the spot between the eyebrows]. We should learn how to do this. In the daytime, when we’ve had an anxious time or a tense time, physically if one’s bent over something, it’s a relief to stretch. This method is a means of spiritual stretching, so to say, to break off just for two or three minutes what we are doing and go apart if we can, and sit and then take a big breath, bring the attention here, [point between the eyebrows] and sit in this posture.
If you would like to just try, imagine you’re very tense, and then sit comfortably up. Just touch here if you can, and then take a deep breath and put the attention here. Now, if this is prolonged, in this relaxation, to concentrate the mind on a symbol of God and then to remain. Then he [Shri Dada] says, in this prolonged silence, there will come before him, there will be presented before him, the patterns of what he is to create, the archetypes of what he’s to contribute to the world. By my planning and by my reason and by my efforts, I can think of some very good things to do, but very often they go wrong and I don’t know why.
They’re not in accord with what is loosely called the cosmic plan. God has a purpose. By entering into these states, we can come into conformity with that purpose and then the patterns of the contribution which is going to be made through the meditator will begin to become apparent. Not necessarily that some picture appears or voice says, “Do this and do that,” but they will find that they are beginning to do things without a stress and they’re beginning to do things naturally and the things will become fruitful. It’s not done with a lot of internal friction and it’s as though there’s an inspiration coming up. There’s a calm flow of energy coming up of which he’s not necessarily fully aware, nothing like, “I’m inspired, this is wonderful,” but he finds the body and mind are moving in this direction and that it’s fruitful. “By their fruits, you will know them,” said Jesus. The actions are not necessarily the ones that my reason would tell me, ‘This would probably be the best thing to do.’
There are people, you can go and meet them, they don’t say a word or they hardly say a word or perhaps they just say, “Good morning,” but you sit with them for a few minutes and then you go away. They don’t say anything and you think, ’I’m wasting my time there’ but when you get home, you find that something one’s been afraid of doing or too lazy to do or too confused to do begins to become clear. The thing I was afraid of, now I’m able to do it without a lot of friction, without screwing myself up when I must, but it begins to happen naturally. The planning of ‘supposing that happened.’ Yes, but then that might happen. That begins to go away and as if a way was opening up, he comes into touch with the cosmic purpose, the patterns of what he or she has to do. It may not be something dramatic. It may be again simply to sit there and somebody else will come, then when they go away, they’ll have received an inner strength. This is one of his main teachings. Now, you will see, he gave there: my main teachings are to discipline yourself, to pray, study, to meditate.
This one would come mostly under prayer: to concentrate on a symbol of God, and then you’ll receive that inspiration. We see where that comes under the main teaching, but we also see that it will affect our discipline. It will enable us naturally to discipline ourselves without having to fight all the time and win precarious victories and then the next day, not be able to carry them on.
Now, again, we go to 49, [The Heart of the Eastern Mystical Teaching, Chapter 5, Chandausi] something in deeper.
Reader: If you are animated by goodwill towards every creature, if you are not harassed by desires for pleasure and comfort, if you open your being to Rama, the ruler of the inner world hidden in you, you will see visions of truth and beauty and you’ll realize how futile are your efforts for pleasure in the world of relativity.
TPL: This is the important point on discipline. I won’t, in fact, be able to give up things unless there’s something better. One can’t simply say no to oneself, and this is something better. What he’s saying is that through meditation, you can have visions of God or one of the forms of God, and then, in comparison with that, the efforts to get advantage in the world and petty pleasures in the world will become trivial. This is the only way, in fact, one will be able to control oneself. As the Gita says, if you control your actions, but you sit thinking inside, ‘Oh, I’d like to do this,’ he says no, that’s not the way for self-control.
Only when he sees the Supreme will his longings cease. Otherwise, they’ll always be something inside which is crying, the voice from the cellar as it’s been called, crying, “Let me out, let me out, let me out.” When he sees the Supreme, the longing, the hankering will cease. Well, these things which we’re told. We may believe them or not believe them, but they rest on experiment. It’s nice to think, ‘Oh, there’s a cosmic purpose and everything will turn out all right, it is all for the best.’ Then it doesn’t seem to and we think, ‘Oh, well, probably in the long run.’ As the Archbishop of Canterbury said, “Of course, God’s got infinite ages.” We think, ‘Well, we haven’t.’
To practise. Now, some schools, this is not true of Vedanta or not all together true of Vedanta, say that, in fact, one won’t do anything until one has a tragedy and the first chapter of the Gita is called the Vishada Yoga, which is the Yoga of not exactly despair, but desperation. He’s caught in a situation, I believe it’s called Catch 22, where whichever way you’d be, it’ll turn out badly. He’s desperate. In one of the schools, it says, “Unless you’re desperate actually you won’t do a thing. However, that’s not the view in Yoga: “Even a little of this Yoga frees one from great fear.” To do some, to practise meditation, and to begin to become familiar with the idea of sitting regularly in the posture, producing the inner relaxation and then concentrating on the symbol of God – if we become familiar with that, then when the crisis comes, we should be able to intensify it.
One teacher said, “When the ship is sinking, it’s too late to start to learn to swim. You should have done that long ago.” In the same way, when the crisis is upon us, it’s probably too late to begin yoga. The thing is to begin now while the circumstances are relatively good, while the water is relatively calm. Then if necessary, or when it becomes necessary, we can intensify the practice until we come into touch momentarily, at least, with one of these impulses from the beyond. It’s experimental. It’s not a question of entering meditation and thinking, ‘Oh, well, I felt so exalted after that.’ It’s something definite. We must experience immortality now. We can believe, ‘Oh, there’s immortality after death. Oh, yes.’ Then somebody says, “Well, they don’t come back and tell you, do they?” We have to experience a flash of immortality now. Then when death comes, “I have been here before.” We shall know.
These practices are given, they’re experimental. He says, “If you do this, the patterns of what you are to do in the world will come before you” and you will begin to feel a satisfaction and a knowledge, a completeness, a fulfilment in your actions, however small they may be from the point of view of the world, and you will have visions, which would take from you the terrible hankering and the longings. You will begin to see.
It’d be marvellous to have a billion pounds, wouldn’t it? Well, not if you owe 2 billion, like (Robert) Maxwell did. By learning to enter into these states, these connections with the Lord, the hankering and the bitterness, and the desire for revenge against the world, they begin to settle down and become less urgent. Then they stop plaguing us as my teacher said. Only when he sees the Supreme, will his longing altogether cease. You notice in the book that he lives a very ascetic life and he takes the instrument to the very limit. In the early parts of 49 and 50, the passages we’ve read, they were given when he just recovered from a very severe illness, but he could use the body efficiently. Then when it became absolutely exhausted, he stopped the teaching, but he was not dominated by the condition of the body.
That’s to say he was not demoralised. When Confucius and his disciples were held as hostages, and there was a little harp there and Confucius played the harp skilfully. They had no food for two or three days and his disciple, Lu, who was the sort of Peter, an impulsive disciple, went up and took the harp away and said, “Doesn’t the superior man feel hunger?” Confucius said, “The superior man feels hunger, but he’s not demoralised by hunger.” Well, in the same way, the events of the world do affect the outer form of the teacher, but he’s not dominated or demoralised by them.
Now, we ask about a discipline. What is the first thing to do in this on a spiritual path? Some people say when you were called to do service for a long time, humble service as a slave disciple of a teacher. Other people say, “No. The main thing is to study and clear up the misconceptions of the mind, get rid of all your mental lumber.”
Now, can you say… [the reading from The Heart of the Mystical Teaching, Chapter 5, Chandausi, p50]
Reader: “My children, I have heard from your Paramguru and read in the scriptures that buddhi, the intellect, is nearest to Atman. As the peaks of snowy mountains are the first to be illumined at sunrise, so the buddhi first receives the impression of the holy knowledge from the invisible region. The chief functions of buddhi are to distinguish between what is real and what is unreal, to understand and interpret the experience, to resolve and to direct the course of the force of emotions. You have first to purify your buddhi, which is like a lamp in a dark house. Some people recommend the prior purification of thoughts and emotions, but emotions are blind and thought is without fire. Purification of emotions is very difficult. Our desires may be sacred or profane, and without an enlightened buddhi, who is going to guide them? How should one purify the buddhi you will ask. By tranquillizing the whole mental process and by charging it with the holy dicta. Good company, prayer, and devotion, self-analysis, and self-study have a great effect on the intellect; listening to the holy Truth with faith purifies it; simplicity of life is indispensable. A purified intellect is not misled and gives birth to the holy flame of faith.”
TPL: So, the first thing is a general pacification. If you’ve ever tried to argue with excited drunken people, you know the feeling, you simply can’t get through. You will say to him, “Well, Oh, come on, you better get back. See, you’ve got all that stuff to do tomorrow morning, haven’t you?” “Oh. To hell with that. Oh, man. That’s all right.” “Look, the boss will be furious if you turn up in a bad condition.” “To hell with him. I don’t care.” You can’t reason with them. It’s no good. There’s got to be a general pacification. It’s done partly by the study of the holy texts but mainly by these meditation practices.
The study of the holy texts and good company as he says, spiritual company, are generally necessary because otherwise, one can’t keep up the meditation. Reading the holy texts is an inspiration, but by itself, it doesn’t really satisfy because you’re reading about somebody else’s state. The only advantage of it is that it gives you the confidence to practise oneself. The feeling that other people have done it, so I can do it. The point is to practise pacification, a calming down of the nervous and the mental excitement. Then in that calm, you can see clearly.
My teacher used to say, “If you try to look through a telescope, but the telescope keeps moving, you can’t get a clear image.” In the same way, the body and the mind have to be brought [to pacification] then we can begin to see clearly. This is the first thing. It’s not in the states of excitement or aggressiveness or the sword of the Lord sort of feeling, but it’s in calm and peace and then looking very steadily and clearly through to see.
Now, there’s an example in this. There’s a man, he comes to Shri Dada, and he says, “Look, I’m the local grocer. I’ve been cleaning this little temple of Shiva for 20 years faithfully, but it’s all quite dry and empty.” You do find this sometimes. People join a spiritual group and they do service to the group, but gradually it all becomes thinner and arid somehow. In the end, it just keeps going by its own momentum and people do give loyal service to something, but they no longer do the main thing. The main purpose has been lost. It’s been taken over by the social activity.
I knew some years ago, one of the last surviving members of the Flat Earth Society. He was met at the same sports club and I talked to him once. He said, “Oh, they think they’re going around the world, but actually they’re going round in a circle on the edge of the world, you see.” I said to him, “Well, radio, you know…” He said, “Oh, oh, I haven’t thought about that. I’ll have to think a lot about that.” In the end, talking to him, I realized it was a social club. They no longer spoke much about the flat earth, but they met their friends. It was a pleasant enough meeting. Finally, they were saying, “Well, look, you see we never said the earth is absolutely flat like a sheet of paper. I mean we know there are mountains, but what we said was it’s flattish. Now your astronomers say, don’t they, that the earth is not a sphere but it’s an oblique spheroid, which means a flattened sphere. It’s a question of degree, really between us, there’s no real dispute. You see you say flattened, we say, well flattish.” The main point of their society had gone. It was a social affair. They were nice people. Well, he was quite a nice chap, too, but a bit – well… I read then it’s since been wound up. Even they couldn’t keep going.
This man – he had been serving in the temple and he felt he was doing good and keeping it clean for the worshippers and so on but he said, “In my heart, it’s dry.” Shri Dada then said to him, “Well, you’re a grocer. You can’t expect to think abstract thoughts when you’re weighing rice and turmeric, whatever there is, all day, but you should meditate on the form of the Lord Shiva, and to read about him and think of incidents very vividly, and then you will gradually find the Shiva in you is beginning to stir.” This had an effect on the grocer, Chidda. He became a devotee and he did begin to experience life within himself.
One of the points that you’ll notice is that quite often the profession of the disciples is given, and he’s a grocer. There’s the carpenter, who actually would have been a much more important man than today because the houses then in the villages were of wood. He would have been a builder, a man of some substance. Then the wife of a soldier and the oil man who takes around the oil for the lamps, and there was the water carrier and so on. There were a few very rich men – one was the owner of a very big estate in Gharwal – so it was a cross section; and there was a famous lawyer. He makes the point repeatedly. These things are like makeup. On the stage if you take part in amateur theatricals, if you’ve got the tinsel crown and the robe, you are the king. You’re quite someone. If you got the rags, you’ll wear the rags, you’re a beggar, and you behave like one before the king. But these are makeup, and afterwards, the makeup comes off. Shri Dada makes this point that the great achievements in the world, or the very humble situation, they’re all makeup. They’re simply a role which we enter through our karma and which we are to play, and if we meditate we shall find a pattern that we’re to exemplify, to give. He was a great teacher but he lived in extreme simplicity.
The archbishopric – it would correspond to that – in one of the great Buddhist sects, became vacant. Those who appointed or wanted to get the new archbishop wanted to get a really good man. They asked this teacher if one his disciples could become the new archbishop. The teacher asked his best disciple. He said, “Would you do it? He said, “Well, if you think so. If you think that will be a good role?” The teacher said, “Yes, I think it would. You’ve got this ability to speak and you’re a good analyst and you’re a good theologian. You could do it well.” He said, “Alright, I’ll take it on.” He took it on.
The robes they wear are like the robes that the people wear: the marvellous embroidery and gold and silk. The teacher went to the enthronement ceremony. Afterwards, he had a few words with the new archbishop who was still in his finery. The teacher said to him, “Look, you don’t need all this stuff to spread the holy truth. The holy truth doesn’t need all this at all. Try to give it simply. It’s intoxication. They’re intoxicated to see you in these beautiful robes and you’re getting intoxicated wearing them. Then, give it up.” After that the new archbishop, he dressed as simply as he could but occasionally, on a great ceremony, he had to wear these wonderful robes.
The account is that he was on his way in the robes in a gorgeous litter to a big ceremony where he had to preside, and then they passed on the road a man very poorly dressed. Then the archbishop jumped out of the litter and prostrated himself in front of this – almost like a beggar – who was his teacher. The teacher picked him up and he looked at him and then he muttered affectionately, “Drunk again?”
These are makeup. There’s splendid achievements or the extreme humility of position – they’re makeup. Shri Dada makes this point. Again, a teacher was living in the mountains, and the Prime Minister used to go and see him every fortnight and sit in meditation. He kept his secret, but finally, of course, and this was in Japan, and the press got onto it. The pressman went to see the hermit. He said, “Is the Prime Minister getting any benefit from these sessions with you?” The hermit teacher – I read the report – blew him up, and he said, “The Prime Minister doesn’t come here to get benefit as Prime Minister. The Prime Minister comes here to find out what he really is.”
The reporter found that the hermit teacher had one or two disciples in the nearby village. One of them was the greengrocer’s wife. He’d found that out, so he said to the hermit teacher, “Wouldn’t it be better if you went to the city, then you could have more disciples who really matter like the Prime Minister instead of this woman?” The teacher terrified him – he shouted and he said, “I teach archery, so the Prime Minister comes here to shoot himself out of being Prime Minister into the Buddha nature which he really is, and the greengrocer’s wife comes here to shoot herself out of being the greengrocer’s wife into the Buddha nature which she really is.” He said to him, “Maybe it will be a lot easier for her to shoot herself out of being only the greengrocer’s wife, than it will be for him to shoot himself out of being His Excellency the Prime Minister.” These things are makeup. The process of Yoga is to shoot out of the makeup into reality.
[Reading: The Heart of the Mystical Teaching, Chapter5, Chandausi, p54:]
Reader: “Broadening the mind is the first step out of this difficultly. Careful study of history, listening to recitations of the Puranas and so on, all help to widen the mental horizon and should be welcomed as spiritual aids. Then, my friends, let the soul try to slip out of the quilt of sansara by cultivating devotion and resorting to meditation. Swami Krishnanandaji used to devote some six hours a day to his self-study.”
TPL: My teacher recommended a study of history because he said you can see in history what happens. You have your ambitions, you can look in history and see what happens to people who fulfil those ambitions. He often quoted the history of Napoleon, which he studied carefully. He said when Napoleon was at the peak of his success, when the final treaty with the Tsar was concluded at Tilsit, this was the peak of Napoleon’s glory. He quoted from a letter Napoleon wrote: “I’ve never felt more disturbed and anxious and disquieted than on that night.” He [Shri Dada] said. “Try to learn.”
If you look at the history of somebody like Casanova – he was a success in his line – but if you look at his memoirs he says at the beginning, “I’m writing this only to stop myself from going mad.” Our teacher said, in these ways, [widening the mental horizons as spiritual aid] you can begin to free yourself from some of the illusions. They will become less intense, but only when you see the Supreme will the longing altogether cease. Then he says, “To broaden the mind and then by meditation to slip out of the quilt of sansara.” Sansara is this shifting world of illusions and we are under a sort of quilt, covered over. Now, in places elsewhere in this book he’ll call it the mind cage. Sometimes he’ll say. “Slip out of the mind cage.” Sometimes he’ll say, “Break out of the mind cage.” We can’t see anything except these thoughts and impressions and memories and in the same way when we’re in activity. When we’re in our normal activities we’re dreaming all the time. I may talk in a very friendly way, but I’m thinking, ‘Just wait. Just wait a couple of weeks now.’ ’Full of hatred. I’m dreaming hatred, but I’m very friendly on the surface or I’m very, very humble, but secretly I’m what used to be said – backing into the limelight. I’m making arrangements that my humility is well-known to everybody. I’m famous for my love of obscurity. We’re dreaming all the time. We’re not just doing actions, but we’re dreaming. When I’m scrubbing the floor, I’m thinking, ‘These lazy b***s, leaving it all to me. What thanks do I get?’ That man who was cleaning the Shiva temple – he was thinking thoughts of resentment all the time. ‘It’s always left to me.’ We’re dreaming.
Now, in meditation the thoughts can become fewer. Through those gaps we can begin to catch a glimpse of the Divine beyond. If the meditation can be taken even further, the mind cage can be removed. It can see clearly. Even a glimpse can make a great difference, but if we practise regularly, if we broaden the mind, so as it doesn’t become my tribe against your tribe then we have a chance. I’m doing a job. I’m getting quite a good wage for it. I’m satisfied. Then I hear you’re doing the same job and you’re getting more. Immediately, I’m dissatisfied. It makes a mockery of my salary. No, it doesn’t. No, it doesn’t. I’m no longer able to look clearly on my position. I was satisfied with it. Something has come in. I’m dreaming about something out there. Slip out of the quilt of sansara. It’s like a quilt that covers. The quilt of dreams that’s covering us and they’re nearly all illusions. The things which don’t really exist at all. I would be happy if I could have this if I could have the other. If I could do this I could do the other. If we look at the people who have these things which we long for we shall find they’re not at all happy. Sometimes people have a professional, external cheerfulness, but we find not at all.
Now, there’s a riot. In India at the time there used to be friction on the festival days between Hindus and Moslems, but, by and large, they lived together in reasonable amity. It was possible for them to live together. Ranjit Singh and his army, which defeated the British, had Moslems, Hindus, Sikhs all together. He never had trouble, a remarkable man. (Some of the British were able to achieve this). At times they would have a procession, and this was one of the Moslem processions, which commemorate the killing of Hassan and Hussein at Karbala. It’s a Moslem occasion.
What happens is, you have a genuine religious feeling to celebrate it, but then this feeling comes up, those who are not with us are against us. On this occasion those who were celebrating the Moslem procession began throwing stones at the Hindus, who began throwing them back. Shri Dada ran out into the middle of them and he called to the Hindus, “I’m a priest. I’m a Brahmin. If you want to throw stones throw them at me.” Then he went to the leader of the Moslem procession and he said, “Hassan and Hussein are as sacred to me as they are to you. I beg you, don’t let the memory of this sacred day be defiled by violence.” The leader of that procession immediately paid his respects and he restored order.
These things are done as a spiritual impulse. It’s not that they had to screw themselves up to do it. It was a spiritual impulse and because it derived from a spiritual impulse in Shri Dada, the spiritual impulse in the leader of the Moslem procession also responded. The stone throwing produced stones back, but this appeal, especially from a Brahmin saying, “The memory of Hassan and Hussein,” these two Moslem saints, “are as sacred to me as they are to you,” immediately produced this response. Shri Dada’s life was not one of entire sweetness and light. He was attacked because of his broad views. For instance, he treated women exactly the same as men and he treated the lower castes in the same way as Brahmins. Now, he was able to point in the Ramayana, the great epic of India. Rama, the incarnation of God makes friends with the ferry man who is one of the lower castes and he embraces him in thanks for the help he’s given. Shri Dada pointed to this and said, “Look, in our own holy texts we don’t have this exclusiveness, which has gradually built up.” He was attacked for this and on one occasion he was thrown into prison on a serious charge which was engineered.
I should say this about the so-called caste system. A caste is a Portuguese word. It’s the same as the English word chaste. Well, Megasthenes who was the Greek ambassador in India, was there for six or seven years in 300 BC. He doesn’t report any slaves in India. He doesn’t report untouchable class at all. He reports that the people were honest, that a rich man could go out and leave the doors of the house open and nobody inside, but perfect confidence that nobody would go in and steal anything. There were no formal contracts. People gave their word and that was enough. People kept their word. Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador said, “If a man doesn’t keep his word, he’s branded. Everybody knows about it and nobody would have anything to do with him.” In these ways, they were far ahead of what we can produce now. Megasthenes says in his six years odd – and he travelled around, not only in the capital but he travelled around – he says he never came across or heard of a case of theft.
There’s a trader’s manual of about 100 AD. It’s written in Greek. It was written either by a Greek or an Egyptian trader. It gives an account of the ports on the Indian coast, what they sell and buy. India at that time was one of the richest countries in the world. They produced this fine lace and some of the carpentry and woodwork carving couldn’t be reproduced anywhere else. Pliny says that every year a million gold pieces went from the Roman Empire abroad, mostly to India, to buy these rare goods from India.
Now, one of the precious things was cinnamon, which is a herb, which was very widely used in medicine and also embalming the dead in Egypt and so on. It was said to be worth more than gold. Now, the trader’s manual which I’ve seen, reports that the cinnamon was grown in fields in a particular area. The trading manual tells you roughly how to come in, how the currents run and what the prices are and where to go. It says that it’s grown in fields which are next to each other but with different owners. It said there’s no inspection at all, but the owner of the field can reap the field any time. Although there’s no guard, nobody would ever steal from a neighbouring field. Now, this honesty was a result of their religious practise which was based not on theology but on actual experiment. Megasthenes reports on some of these. Yogis would sit motionless for several hours. They don’t change their posture. When Alexander went, he interviewed them and there’s an account of that.
Four castes: the Brahmin, the warrior, the businessmen, the Vaishya, and the Shudra, men of service. They are referred to in the Gita, but it nowhere says that the Brahmin is one whose parents were Brahmin. If your parents were Vaishyas, businessmen, then you were a Vaishya. It doesn’t say that. It says you are what your innate qualities are, and it lists them. The innate qualities of the Brahmins are, they search the desire for transcendental things and an ability to speak the truth fearlessly and independence of riches. The warrior has a natural authority, a natural generosity, an instinct to protect the weak. The businessman is good at organizing. The Shudra didn’t mean necessarily the man who brings around the milk. It meant somebody who gives their lives to service. We have the saying, don’t we, a public servant, and there are people whose instinct is to serve society and they want to be in a position where they can serve and make a profession of that.
This is the account in the Gita, and you will see that Shri Dada supports this. He says the woman who wants to practise the Brahman realization or the worship of God in this particular way is entitled to do so because this is her innate birth. Whereas the narrowness which had grown up said, “Oh no, women shouldn’t learn the Gayatri. They shouldn’t.” There was nearly a riot when he gave initiation to two women. He had no distinction, no discrimination at all. This is something, again, one can notice carefully. It’s makeup as he says.