A middle-aged energetic business-man, member of a yoga group, began to think that he was not making proper progress. He practised regularly and did a good deal of service, but he felt that he was getting no new insights or experience.
He asked the teacher, who told him: “It is good that you have become aware of this. Ask yourself whether at the end of your yogic practices or service you think: I have finished with that, now I will get on with my ordinary affairs; and whether at the end of an engagement in worldly affairs, you think, I have finished with that, now let me do my yoga. If so, perhaps the time has come to bring the two worlds together.”
Next time they met, the pupil said: “You are right, that is what happens. What can I do?”
The teacher told him: “I understand that as a director you work mostly alone in your own office, so you are well placed for a certain practice. Every hour-and-a-half or so, turn for a moment from what you are doing, sit upright; but reasonably at ease, and draw three slow deep breaths. On the in-breath, feel you are breathing in freedom and making an inner space, and with the out-breath, that you are throwing away or the moment all your worldly concerns. After the three breaths, go back to your work.”
This went on well for a few months. Then the business required that he should share a room and work with a fellow director, a friend who had no interest in Yoga, though he had a certain respect for the teacher. The friend began to notice the breaks, and at first thought it was a good idea to have a stretch. But after a bit he found himself getting irritated and he began to disrupt the little interval.
The Yogi asked the teacher: “Should I persist with the practice against this opposition, or can you give me something else? You told me not to be fanatical about it.”
The teacher asked if the friend would come to see him, who told him: “I don’t know why I’m finding it so irritating, but I do. It’s annoying somehow to be shut out and anyway the whole thing is quite pointless. How can he do any serious Yoga practice in just that minute? It will be like an aspiring pianist doing a five finger exercise on the table every hour or so. It’s pointless. I suppose you’re going to tell me to analyse why I find it irritating, but I do and that’s it.”
The teacher said: “Analysis might do no good. But does it affect the work?”
“Oh no, Bob’s a good man in the job, and he is a help in a crisis – I’m impulsive but he keeps his head very well.”
The teacher said: “Have you ever made an important gamble?”
“I don’t approve of gambling in general but when I was young a technical friend of mine told me of an invention which he thought would take off.
Together we borrowed as much money as we possibly could to invest in the little company that had been floated, and we had an anxious six months to see whether it would catch on. We knew that if it failed we would be encumbered with heavy debts for a long time. I used to ring up frequently to see how the shares were doing.”
The teacher said: “But your ringing up couldn’t affect how the shares would do, still, was it pointless? Now your friend has invested in – well, you said he was good in a crisis, so let us call it inner calm. Now he is having a look each time to see how his investment is doing. It’s not pointless.”
The other man stared at him for a bit and then nodded slowly. “You’re right, and thank you.”
He got up to go and grinned as he went out, saying: “Perhaps I’ll try a little inner calm myself.”
© 1999 Trevor Leggett