A learned scholar of Indian thought, both Buddhist and Vedanta, thought he would like to get some insights into the actual methods of practice. After some search he discovered that there was a man reputed to be an expert in the practice as well as the philosophy of one of the main schools.
His further enquiries took him to a member of the group who was studying and practising under this teacher who was of the line founded by a great 19th century Mahatma named Balram Udasin. That Mahatma had been a famous adept in the yoga of Patanjali, and had written a masterly tika gloss on the Yoga Sutras.
The yoga is the basis for the meditation and other practices of main sects in both Buddhism and Vedanta.
The Western Scholar therefore applied for an interview but the assistant to the teacher told him that he would not be acceptable.
“Why not, why not?” he asked indignantly “I have been told that your teacher has dedicated his life to Yoga in the service of men and in my own way as a scholar I am helping to spread the awareness of Yoga whose aim is surely to relieve the sufferings of the world. I want to make my knowledge complete with this in mind, so why should he not answer my questions?”
The assistant looked at him and said, “I will tell you why. Suppose you were a highly trained lawyer who has retired early and now gives free advice to anyone in need of legal help as a service to the community. People would come to you with their problems and you would help them with your expert advice – you would tell them what to do. But now a man comes with some questions about the calculation of damages where there has been contributory negligence and with some questions about the validity of a will scribbled by a soldier on active service with no witnesses.
“As a lawyer you would say ‘Do you have these problems?’ and you get the reply,’ Oh no I just want to know about them’ then you will say to him, ‘well if you have an actual problem I will do my best to answer. But if you don’t have an actual problem and you’re just asking these things out of the blue, I’m not going to waste time on you.’
It is the same with our teacher: he will help those who are in genuine need and want to practise but not those who simply want to know about practice.”
In the same way, however learned you may be, if you come to our teacher but you are not practising Yoga yourself to meet a real need, then he’s not going to answer random questions. He teaches practice; he does not teach about practising practice.”