Our thoughts become controlled

There were no guards in the field


Some of the others came up and, “Yes, yes, yes, let’s do that. He’s a good chap.” Well, there were no guards in the field and, as they were all shouting, if he had shouted for help it would have been just one more shout. The guards wouldn’t necessarily have responded to that.  So he said (and I quote his words), “I said to them, “My friends, I agree – but will you give me a good send-off? Will you all give me a good three times ‘Pundit Hara Prasad Shastri ki Jai’?” (Jai is something like ‘bravo’ or ‘hurrah’.)  “Hurrah for Pundit Hara Prasad Shastri” – but then drown me. Do give me a send-off.” They said, “Oh, yes – of course!” They came around to see and then the leader said, “Now we’re giving him this and then we drown him. Come on altogether. Pundit Hari Prasad Shastri ki Jai.” Then all shouted together and then they shouted again, and the guards came running. While they were just shouting in the field, yelling, muttering, singing, disorganized, the guards knew that was just the people.  Once it was organized shouting, they knew there was something up. They were all shouting together so the guards knew immediately something had happened, something was up and they came running.

He gave that as a hint. When our minds are in confusion, full of resentment, fear, hatred, clinging affection, disappointment, excitement, anticipation, they’re jumbled.  They’re like those lunatics, each one shouting.  But if they become ordered, they say something different. While they’re all jumbled about then the Self is going to be drowned; but when they become ordered, then help will come. Now in the same way, when we begin to control our thoughts and they become ordered, then it’s said, ‘a bodhisattva in the highest heaven’.  When this ordered thought comes, he turns his head, and he goes down and he helps.  So the doctrine is that when attempts are made to control the thought, there is also help from the spiritual beings. Mainly it’s a search within ourselves and not a reliance on something external.

These are inner lines to a situation; and, by practising making the thoughts calm and few, the thoughts that remain have a clear field.  They become much more efficient and they become much more joyful, to be free from unnecessary anticipations and worries.  To be able to do it and set it free like shooting an arrow. Not shooting the arrow and thinking, “Oh, why isn’t it a little bit more that way”. No. Shoot it and then drop it.

We must do some study, otherwise it’s impossible to keep up with the practice. My mother was a diabetic in 1946 when it was quite a serious business. It wasn’t diagnosed when I came back from abroad but anyway, she was put on emergency. She was rushed into Kings College Hospital and then they got her balanced.  Then we had every day to test the urine and you made the injections in those days. She had to keep to the rules, the discipline of diabetes. When she was young, she was brought up in rather privileged circumstances, but she had a very strong and independent character. She thought it was wrong for girls to be brought up just as ornaments, as she put it; and so she left home. She was very young and took her three years’ nurses’ training at one of the main London hospitals. She told me a little bit about it – it was blood everywhere then. It was a really severe experience; but anyway, she qualified, although she never practised of course.

She came back home and that was on a different basis. It meant that she could understand the diabetic discipline, how it worked and why. Now, as a matter of fact, it’s a very carefully controlled diet. We had to weigh every slice of bread first and calculate everything exactly and it’s an extremely healthy diet. Although she remained a diabetic for the next 25 years, her general health was extremely good because of this is controlled diet.  Most people with diabetes are not living in a controlled way.

She could understand this, and she could accept the discipline. One of the things she told me was, in those days, not so much was known about diabetes. Banting had discovered it not long before, but she was under a Dr. Lawrence who was himself a diabetic. She said that listening to somebody who himself was following these disciplines, made it much more convincing. He wasn’t just recommending it to her. He was saying, “This is what I do.”  She followed this discipline, and she lived another, something like, 25 years – because she studied it just enough to fully understand what the purpose was and why and how.

She had a friend who was a historian, a brilliant woman, who also was diabetic.  She never studied it really. She knew the recommendations and the diet, but she didn’t study enough to be fully convinced. Like my mother, she had a sweet tooth, but my mother was able to put that aside completely. The other lady, she didn’t. I can remember she had a corner cupboard in one of her rooms and in that corner cupboard there was a box of chocolates. She’d be talking and then she’d get up and go across quietly to this corner cupboard. She’d just open the door a little fraction, and put a hand in, as though ‘Nobody saw me do that, so it won’t count’ – just like a small child stealing sweets. She’d stand there and drop it in her mouth, but it was too comical, really. We all knew but it was a sort of return to childhood.  It was because she had not done enough of the theory to be fully convinced about it.

Now in the same way with the theory of Yoga, we should read one small text really thoroughly, and almost learn it by heart so that it’s always with us. Find some text that appeals to one strongly, a small one, and then learn it. If you have that and you know it by heart, in a time of difficulty or crisis, the verses will come back of themselves. You won’t have to think, “Now what was it? Should I do this, or should I do that?” They will come back of themselves.

The method is great learning does keep you out of mischief, and I can say that.  But it isn’t necessarily an advantage for practice and it can even be a disadvantage. You can think, “Oh, I better learn a bit more before I start practising”. Well, then a whole lifetime goes by and you never really learn enough. We should just learn enough theory to become convinced.  We can say, “Well, how can you be convinced?” Because there’s an echo – these verses create an echo in us from what is beyond the mind.  There’s a resonance and we feel, “Yes”. Then that has to be cultivated by practice and then reading again; and to get the echo again and then to practise again.

Well, it’s essential to do just enough theory to be convinced.  If we’ve got to keep saying, “Oh, I don’t think I’ll practise today, I feel a bit off. I’ll leave it till tomorrow.” – no.  It’s like a musician or a ballet dancer. They must practise every day; and if they do practise every day, they should practise in the same place and at the same time.  Then the body and the mind begin to prepare themselves. Let’s suppose an athlete’s going to train at five o’clock every day.  Normally, they have to go down and do what are called warming-up exercises, before doing these strenuous and perhaps dangerous things that they go in for. If they warm up for eight or ten minutes regularly at exactly the same time, say five o’clock every day, then at a quarter to five, their body’s beginning to warm up of itself. The pulse rate is telling the muscles to get into tone. You don’t have to do so much warming up. You don’t have that chore of warming the body. It anticipates.

In the same way, if the meditation is done every day at the same place and time, then for about a quarter an hour beforehand, the mind will begin to calm down.  Then, when we sit in meditation, it can reach calmness almost at once. If we haven’t done it every day at the same time, it may take ten minutes or so – just about the same time as it takes an athlete.  But this is not warming up – this is calming down.  The echoes of what one’s been doing in the world keep on going back and forth in the mind; and it takes around ten minutes to calm them down, especially if one’s just had a row or somebody else is having a row, or if there’s been some crisis or anticipation. It takes a little time to drop those off.

There’s an advantage in having a rhythm and, in the same way, some recommend, and it’s a good recommendation, to have a little corner of a room kept with a round meditation cushion just in that corner.  Keep that corner clean. Don’t use it for anything else. Then even the sight of that in passing can produce a calming of the mind. Well, these are hints for the training. One has to become convinced. Then one has to pursue the thing with regularity and also with interest. Not to think, “Oh, well, I don’t know if this is going to come off or not.” If we’ve done the theory, then we know that it will. It’s a question of making the awakening to the power beyond the mind.  Then it will come into our lives.

Talks in this series are:

1. Bringing the mind to steadiness

2. Making our thoughts fewer 

3. Finding God in ourselves

4. Our thoughts become controlled

The full talk is The direction of the quest

© Trevor Leggett



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