The title, ‘Raja Yoga’, is taken to refer to the yoga meditation of Patanjali, although Patanjali doesn’t use this term. It came in a good deal later, but we are following Patanjali, including a new commentary being found on him, on which I’m working now. Although, as in all these practical things, the steps and the discipline are substantially the same, sometimes a new work gives a new stimulus and they sometimes have some striking illustrations, which for some people can be a hell.
Some of the physical yoga exercises when they went to China (the Indians are intellectual, scientific, but the Chinese are literary, poetic), with the instructions in China, you’ll get something added, which can be a stimulus for some people. [For example], stretching the hand; the teacher will tell you, “Now, push the fingers through that wall”. You think ‘Hmm! It’s going right through the wall, right through the wall, right through the wall’. Then people get an extra stretch through that visualization.
Or a man sitting up: they’ll say, “You’re on horseback, and you’re passing under willows and the willows are just above your head; and sitting on the horseback you try and make your head just touch the willow”. With a lot of people that visualization will get an extra stretch, and it also gives this feeling of beauty – so these are some things which can be taught in different ways.
The Raja Yoga is connected, not with a part of life, but with the whole of life. It’s a fine thing to be healthy and in the Indian and Chinese medicine, the fundamental indication of health is the condition of the skin. It’s a fine thing, if I have a good skin but supposing I’ve just had the sack, supposing my family is breaking up, supposing I find one of my children is becoming a criminal.
Now, however physically healthy I am, it won’t remove this suffering, and they take the whole of life in which we’re born and live, creating karma, as you know. We die, then we’re born again, like an actor as he says, taking on the different clothes and the different role, and then putting it off. But for many of us, the role has become ourselves and I feel when I quit the stage I cease to exist.
While we have that feeling, yoga says, “All life will be suffering, the suffering of change, because everything will change.” Even the most favourable circumstances will change. Then anxiety, the knowledge that it’s going to change. Lastly, the karmic deposit which my actions create which will produce changes in the future. So to speak, I’m in debt because of this karmic accumulation which has got to be repaid, got to be lived through.
A man who’s in debt, yes, if he’s a very careless, happy-go-lucky man, he doesn’t care. He’ll say, “Let them worry” but anyone intelligent with clear sight, if he’s heavily in debt and getting more in debt, he can’t be happy and so one of the sutras of Patanjali is to the man who sees clearly this ordinary life is all suffering. He says, “Well, people don’t all feel it as suffering.” He says, “No, because the ordinary man is not sensitive. The ordinary man only knows the impact of suffering when it directly strikes him. Apart from that, he feels all right.”
The yogi is like an eye. If a piece of wool very, very soft is flicked on the eye, it hurts but if it’s flicked on hard skin, it doesn’t hurt at all. The yogi is sensitive to the karma that has piled up, to the changes of the world. He knows what’s going to happen, and he feels he must get out. Now, the yoga says this is a particular stage of maturity. We may not feel this. We’ll say, “Oh well, it won’t last long enough. It’s good enough”. Well, in that case, the Raja Yoga will have nothing for him.
There is a very good Japanese picture, which shows this. Again, the Indians intellectually present it in a scientific way. Chinese and Japanese – artistic, literary poetic, they present the same truth in a different way. This picture shows something that we’ve probably all seen. There’s a large ball, and there’s a kitten which has pounced on top of the ball, as they do, don’t they, and they hold on with their claws and there’s the mother and the baby watching.
Of course the kitten is just tilting over as they do, but they can’t let go with their claws so you know, it’s going to go over, and then the kitten will jump off, and it will pounce again, and the baby is laughing. Then we look, and we see the mother’s face. The mother’s got this little smile and this sadness. There’s a little smile on top of the sadness, and then in the very corner of the picture, there’s a cobweb. A Japanese wife would rather die than have a cobweb in her room.
We know they’re very poor and she’s ill. Now, the yogi says the ordinary man is often like the baby, like the kitten. Just momentarily, it’s alright. It’s tremendous fun and they can’t see any further than that, but the mother knows the true state of affairs. She’s got a tiny little smile but underneath, there’s a deep sadness. When the whole of life is faced, if we can see the whole of life, which many of us can’t see or don’t want to see, then we have to do a yoga that will cover the whole of life, our role in this life, our mask.
Now again, one of the Chinese yogis says of this, the actors there wear a mask, and we’ve become one with the mask so we must practice periodically just throwing that mask down and being what we really are just for a minute, and then pick it up again, and assume it. There are forms, there are techniques in yoga, which are what the Indians call fireworks.
That’s to say they have brilliant and striking results but actually there is no benefit or use to anyone. For instance, there are yogic exercises for making the mind brilliant and for making the memory brilliant. There are yogis who can sit in the middle of a circle and then one will say a number, one will say a line of a poem, one will ring a bell a number of times of one to 10, and so on, and this man will do something else, he’ll do something else, he’ll do something else. Then it will go around again. Then at the end of it, that man in the middle can recite the poem and the lines in their correct order. He’ll get the first line, he’ll say the bell was rung three times, the number was four, and his memory has been able to imprint it, and then he could reconstruct the poem in that order.
Now, this is an example of what they call a firework. It has no conceivable use at all, but it’s very impressive. The yoga training is not to produce fireworks, which don’t solve the riddle of life and don’t fundamentally help us. The yoga is to spiritualize everything in life, not just for great occasions, not just for uplifting and exhorting occasions. I have to peel the potatoes, a great pile of them; to scrape the moss from the steps, a lot of steps; to sweep a big area, to deliver the milk endlessly door after door after door – something which will spiritualize and bring to life those activities. Not just that I think, ‘Oh well, I’ll get through it somehow and after three hours, then I can do what I want.’ Something which will bring spiritual life and inspiration into those things. We think, ‘Well, how can you have inspiration in those things?’ This is the fundamental point of yoga: love.
People hear right and they like that. But there’s no love for the pencil. The pencil has length. It’s not a little short thing. The pencil has length. It should be balanced. If you hold it here, you have to keep moving each time. The body should be balanced. The pencil should be balanced. Then, the hand hardly has to move. An expert shorthand writer, high-speed shorthand writer does that. Someone who has love, who can see the spirit of the pencil – we think, ‘Well, how ridiculous?’ No, the spirit of the pencil. He will have an inspiration like that. The shorthand writer probably learns it from instruction, but he will have an inspiration.
People will sit and watch the sea for hours and it’s very beautiful. The waves come in, the white froth breaks on the rocks, and then it bubbles up into froth, then the wave goes out. We can sit and we can feel a spiritual inspiration from that beauty. Each time it’s the same and yet, it’s a little bit different each time. Many people can watch that for a long time. When they’re scrubbing the floor, the same thing is happening. The scrubbing brush is putting up this white foam. Each time the same, each time a little bit different but we don’t see the beauty then at all. We just think, ‘I got this blasted job to do,’ and then ‘Oh, yes, I’ll go and do something interesting.’ We miss that. What’s gone wrong?
When it’s connected with our human activity, we don’t see the beauty in it. No love. When we see it in nature then we see it. Yogic meditations are meant to bring to life, to spiritual life, and to give an inspiration which will actually affect the actions. Here, we ring out a cloth like that. We don’t get much twist. In Japan, they ring it out that way. They give more twist. Somebody who is trained or somebody who has inspiration will ring it up, one hand down and one up, like that. It seems, ‘Oh, it’s nothing, it’s trivial,’ but it’s a lot.
One of our, I suppose, minor artists, but he was a great man in some ways – Eric Gill (?) – he wanted to bring beauty into everyday things like print. He shouted once at an audience: “You can have beauty in your everyday lives if you want it, but you don’t want it”. Now, Yoga says all life, all the ordinary life is pain, is suffering. There are little gaps where the suffering is covered over. One of the striking new illustrations given in this newly discovered Sanskrit commentary, a very old one, is this.
He says, “Think of a father with his newly born baby son.” He picks him up and then the little boy makes a mess all over him”. He said, “But the father, he doesn’t mind at all.” I asked this of a father recently – “Does this?” He said, “Yes, it’s very funny. If it’s your own, you don’t mind. Almost you enjoy it”. If it’s your brother’s, you half – well, it’s all right but if it’s somebody else, you say, ‘Oh, disgusting’.” In this way, something that’s inherently unpleasant can be momentarily covered up.
The yoga says the only true joy is when the mind is calm. Then, there’s something different. There’s a different kind of joy like a light shining through. Not an arrangement of the things of this world but something from beyond. They call it a breath from the absolute in the Chinese poems. That reflects on the things in this world and brings them to life.
Now, we were going to do a few of these little exercises that they give. One is that in our ordinary life – well, there’s an elaborate theory behind it which doesn’t matter for the practice. Our life is going to the two sides of the body and the two sides of the head. The minister of the exterior, the minister of the interior. The exercise is to bring the attention to the central line, and it’s begun from here down to the navel point.
The exercise is done by sitting up in a position of balance but not in a strained position, a situation of balance. If a man had had a serious injury then, we might be like that but still to do it. Then, some people pinch or press the fingernail or you can just touch the tip of the finger. I’ll show it first. You touch the tip of the finger here [the point between the eyebrows] and you press lightly and you bring it down the central line of the body to the navel point. Now, when you take the finger off, there’ll be a slight after-sensation of the pressure.
Half shut your eyes or fully shut them and use that after-sensation of the pressure to bring your attention to this central line. Feel it’s a line of light. Now, if you like, we can just try. Press the finger here, bring it down slowly with a slight pressure down the central line of the body. Then, a point about an inch below the navel just push the finger in momentarily till you feel it there. Then, take the finger away and sit, feel as a line of light, feel the line of light there and when the attention wanders off, bring it back.
This has to be done for a time: 10 minutes a day. We have to become sufficiently expert that we can bring the attention at will to this point. When we’re nervous, the energy and the attention tend to run especially to the extremities – the fingers, and feet, fidgeting. Now, to bring it to the central line, withdraw, bring it to the central line of light. It has to be practised a lot, but then in a crisis, this will come to us if we’ve practised it. Something will awaken there. When we’re going to do a job: to make this practice first. That will straighten up the body.
An expert teacher will say if his pupil’s sweeping the ground and he’s doing this practice, the teacher can tell from the pupil’s movement when his attention has wandered off. If it’s kept there, the mind will gradually become calm. When the mind becomes calm then our ordinary activities will change. These are things to be practised.
It’s as though the broom that he’s sweeping with comes alive. Obviously, this is one of the things that is said. It’s not a thing to be discussed, only for those who are interested to practise. It’s worth noting all over the world this is used. This gesture is used. One of those who studied these things believes this is a hint at this practice. Bringing the consciousness from the sides of the body to the central line.
If you read the New Testament with attention carefully, you will find a reference in that. In the Chinese, it’s called [Chinese language], the Middle Way, the Middle Way. This is one of the practices. When we are subject to great disturbance, when we are subject to great temptation then one needs a physical practice.
It’s not easy just by thinking to disperse these things or to calm them down. A physical practice that’s been done again and again and again, that’s been proved over many centuries, not something that’s just been invented of which we don’t know whether it’s effective or not, and then to practice it. This is one of the main practices of yoga. At first, it’s done in the meditation posture, but it’s meant to be practised in daily life.
Now, tapas, austerity. It’s not a pleasant word these days. We feel, ‘Why should I not fulfil myself?’ But we forget the ‘myself’ that I’m talking about is something that isn’t fulfilled. For instance, if I’m good with the right hand, I should do everything with the right hand, and when I learn something like tennis, I should do all the shots forehand, right hand that way. That’s the natural way with a right hand.
If I am to take a job of packing chocolates into a box I should do it with the right hand. This is what I’m good at. Now the teacher or the trainer says, “Use your left hand now. Put the right hand in your pocket. Use the left hand.” “Oh, you can’t expect me to do that. I’m no good with the left hand. I can do it with the right hand.” “No, do it with the left hand.” “But that’s against my nature. I’m not like that. I’d only do it badly and I do do it badly. He says, “That doesn’t matter.” “I’m not fulfilling myself if I do it badly. Don’t like it, feel awkward.” He says, “That doesn’t matter.”
After some weeks, then I’m using both hands. Then for the first time, I’m doing the job efficiently because now I’m fulfilled and what the teacher sees in the man, namely, the ability to use both hands has been fulfilled, but the man doesn’t feel that himself. At the beginning, he feels it as a frustration. To practise this is to throw away once a month or once a week, something which we regard as part of ourselves and to be independent of it, not to throw it away and think, ‘Blast, it’s my day at the cafe and now I’m having no sugar in my tea’ or ‘I’ve got to have a cold bath this morning.’ ‘Oh, well, I suppose I’ll get through it.’ No, this is of very little value. The essence of it is to assert the independence of the spirit. ‘Well, what does it mean, what does it mean?’ Well, with the cold bath I’m not recommending that anyone should take cold baths, of course, because if I do, somebody will take a cold bath and then perhaps the next day they’ll have a little snuffle and they’ll say, “Oh, you told me to have a cold bath and now I’ve got a cold!” But those who do do it in the middle of the winter in a much colder country than this, they go under the cold shower and sometimes it’s a waterfall from the mountains, there’s snow, and the chap hunches up. The teacher says, “No, drop your shoulders.” He goes, he drops his shoulders and he goes ‘Hrrggg!’ “Well, come out again, drop your shoulders.” Well finally, yes, just for a second or two. The essence of it is the independence of the spirit must be asserted in a calm mind.
We think, ‘Oh, you can’t keep calm.’ Yes, we can. Because these things are not really part of us. The spirit is independent. This is something that has to be practised. We should choose. If we can’t, if we can find the teacher, it’s much better because the teacher will tell us something that’s really useful to us. Otherwise, we will tend to do the things that we fancy we can do.
However, even that if we can keep the mind calm and the second form of this practice, which is emphasized very much in yoga, is that without seeking for austerities, for extra austerities, we must do one every month or week. Without seeking for them, the time will come in every week or every day when something’s going to happen to us. When we’re going to be out and it’s raining, I haven’t got a coat, or I’ve got to wait a long time for a bus.
Now, these times, these are very important times for calming the spirit, asserting the independence of the spirit. This is something I expected, that I’m looking forward to, that I must have, it’s just going to come, and then it doesn’t. Now he says, “Throw it away. Throw it away. Make the spirit independent.’ They attach a lot of importance to this and in one case which I have known and it’s done, the teacher came forward and the people were listening, as they do. He said, “I have something very important to tell you today.” He went up, then he said, “I’ve forgotten what it was,” and he went away. Now everybody is in there, “Oh!” But that was the moment. The attention is brought up. You’re going to hear something very important now, and then it’s knocked away. There’s a very favourable moment there. The attention’s been concentrated and then that thing has been removed.
Then there’s like a vacuum and instead of thinking, ‘Well, damn it all, he might have written it down or something,’ if in that vacuum, in that emptiness, the spirit is asserted, then it’s a valuable step forward. This is one of the steps – tapas. It’s called austerity and it doesn’t mean flogging oneself in a damp and a dark cell, but it means practising, asserting the independence of the spirit in the ups and downs of everyday life and regularly taking something which we regard as part of ourselves and momentarily throwing it away.
If I’m a very good, most amusing conversationalist – alright – well then, to make a rule for a day, not to speak. ‘That’s part of myself, that’s a frustration of myself.’ No, it isn’t. The spirit is not part of that. The spirit is independent.
The second one is svadhyaya. This is means studying the holy texts.
The holy texts have in them a special charm, a special attraction, which when we’re reading them, if we read them with calm attention, not thinking, ‘What the devil does this mean?’ Not when we come to a difficult part saying, “Oh, I bet it means something – it’s in the Bible, it probably means something.” With calm attention. Now, if you would like to enter into one of these exercises, we could do one now. It’ll take four or five minutes. If you’re not interested, well, you could just think of something else – your summer holidays next year – while I’m reading it. I’ve chosen one from the New Testament because it’s a story that’s familiar to us, to nearly everybody.
If it’s a new story, if it’s one of the traditional ones, well then, it’s from the East: that’s new to us and now our minds are all disturbed, but this is a very familiar story. I’ll read the story first to bring it back to your mind. Then the method is to go through the story sentence by sentence, and oneself to live through the various roles in the story.
Then the second time I’ll read it sentence by sentence and then pause while we live through the character in that sentence, and then at the very end, I’ll ask a question. This is from – it comes in various places in the gospels – but it’s in John generally, chapter seven.
They went each to his home and Jesus to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak, he appeared again in the temple and all the people gathered around him. He had taken his seat and was engaged in teaching them when the doctors of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman, detected in adultery. Making her stand out in the middle they said to him, “Master, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery. In the law, Moses has laid down that such women are to be stoned. What do you say about it?” They put the question as a test, hoping to frame a charge against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they continued to press their question, he sat up straight and said, “That one of you who is faultless shall throw the first stone.” Then once again, he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard what he said, one by one, they went away, the eldest first and Jesus was left alone with the woman still standing there. Jesus again sat up and said to the woman, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said, Jesus replied, “No more do I. You may go. Do not sin again.”
When we read the story, after each sentence, for instance, making her stand out in the middle, then we have to live through what it would be like to have been caught in the very act, to be brought out in the temple, before a famous teacher of the law and knowing that the penalty would be to be stoned. We have to feel that.
Then in the next sentence, they said to him, “Master, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery, and the law of Moses, it says she should be stoned.” We have to identify with the accusers not to think, ‘Oh, well, they were….’ No, they were very strict. They were undoubtedly right on the letter of the law, if we look it up, in Leviticus, we should see, but there was something else.
Then Jesus bent down and wrote on the ground. We have to bend down, we have to be Jesus, bend down, and write on the ground. What would we write? Then they continued to press the charge, then he sits up. Then he bends down again and he writes. Now, there’s a riddle in this story, there are several but there’s a main riddle. When we read the story, try to live through it, I’ll pause between each sentence or pair of sentences, and close the eyes and try to feel oneself into each character including the elders who went away.
Why did they go away? Well, now if you’d like to try it, I’ll read the story and make the pauses when we’re to make the visualization and identification for a few seconds each time.
He had taken his seat and was engaged in teaching them when the doctors of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman detected in adultery and made her stand out in the middle. pause They said to him, “Master, this woman was caught in the very act of adultery and the law of Moses has laid down that such women are to be stoned. What do you say about it?” pause Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. pause When they continue to press their question, he sat up straight and said, “That one of you who is faultless shall throw the first stone.” pause Then once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. pause When they heard what he said, one by one they went away, the eldest first. pause Jesus was left alone with the woman still standing there, Jesus again sat up and said to her, “Where are they? Has no one condemned you?” pause “No one, sir,” she said. Jesus replied, “No more do I. You may go. Do not sin again.” Pause
This is one of the ways in which it’s recommended that the holy texts should be read, very slowly, and when we come across a story like this, which has an attraction or a charm for us, then to read it in this way, and try to find the hidden point in it. There are many hidden points in these stories. We can just think, ‘Oh, it’s the Bible, it’s the Bible.’
No, there’s something which will open up and which will reveal itself. This is one of the ways of attracting inspiration, and one of the sayings on it is, “First you will talk to God, then God will talk to you.” First, you will talk to God; this is the visualization by the individual. After a time as it goes deeper, there will be a communication in this form, from the beyond. Ishvarapranidhana: offering of actions to the Lord.
We think, ‘Oh, that’s easy enough, I’m going to do some gardening but I’ll offer the actions to the Lord. Right, now I’ll get on with it’. Not like that. You’re going to say, “Well, what would it be then?” Some teachers leave it there and say you must find out, and every day you have to answer what would it be to offer the actions to the Lord but we could go on a little bit.
Supposing I very, very carefully prepare something. I’ll give a personal experience. I found a rare book on Chinese art, and I very much wanted that and I got it. I bought it, I was very lucky to find it. Then the thought came, as it comes to nearly everybody, ‘Now, wouldn’t this be a very good thing to do, a spiritual thing to do to give this to my teacher? I know he’s interested in Chinese art.’ He lived in China, six years. I could sacrifice what I really want and I could give it to the teacher, so I did that. That evening, I saw it going out under the arm of someone whom I knew had no interest whatever in Chinese art. As one naturally does, you feel a wave of real fury. You think, ‘Well, I don’t mind if he has it. That really has a meaning of sacrifice, but it’s gone to someone who doesn’t [appreciate it].’ Now if we analyze that position, we find I haven’t given it at all. I’ve invested it.
I thought, yes, every time he opens it and looks, he’ll think, ‘Oh, that was given to me. It’s a very rare book.’ You know, what else? That was an investment. Now, in Japan, Ryōkan, a great Zen master and poet, he was also a great calligrapher. He did some paintings and calligraphy at the court of a noble. He himself looked like a beggar, but the noble invited him, gave him wonderful pay. Then the next morning saw him off, and he offered him many things. Finally, he persuaded him to take a beautiful ornament, a silver cat. It had been done by a master artist and finally Ryōkan said, “Well, alright”. This man in his rags went off down what would correspond to the drive with the court and the others on the steps, seeing him go. At the gate, there’s a little boy playing in the dust. As Ryōkan goes out, he gives the silver cat to the little one. Then he just looks round at them and goes on. They realized that they hadn’t given it at all. If you give, you have to be able to give, and this is a very, very difficult thing to do. It’s this third Ishvarapranidhana to do something with great devotion, with great care to dedicate it to God and then it’s all obliterated. Have somebody spitefully destroy it. Then whether he can accept that. If he can’t, he hasn’t given it to God. If he has really given it, then he can accept it. He can say, “This was the Lord’s will.”
Well, now the final phases of yoga are meditation itself, and this is more something to practise rather than to talk about. The talks can only do three things. They can make us feel there is perhaps something there. They can encourage us when we’re not quite sure whether we’re going to keep up the practice or it can be an encouragement from the stimulus.
The most valuable thing a talk can do is to make us examine our own experience. If we look very carefully, sometimes we’ll notice something which we hadn’t noticed before. There has to be meditation, and it has to go unselfishly on to an object. That object as Shankara says is either one of the stories or one of the traditional forms of the Lord, or it can be an ideal although that’s more difficult like wisdom or truth or compassion.
Finally, it is possible for some people at the beginning to meditate on the Absolute, although most of us are not nearly so good at it as we tend to think we are. If that meditation is done unselfishly with a desire to know, the visualization or the thought is held up by our own efforts. We can be thinking, for instance, say of that story in the New Testament, and then something happens, and my attention wanders off and the whole scene has to be recreated again. This is called dharna. It means to grip and support.
The meditation has to be gripped and supported and held in front of us. We get bored. We think, ‘Oh, I can’t do this. Well, I’ve done some.’ A table tennis champion asked their spiritual teacher. He said, “You know, I do these spiritual practices quite often, but the fact is, I get bored and I start thinking ‘Well, I don’t know, if there’s anything there or not.’ How long does it take before you really get drawn into it so it isn’t a constant discipline and effort?” The teacher looked at him and he said, “How long did it take before your table tennis practice was no longer something imposed?”
The champion said, “Well, not long.” The teacher said, “That’s because you were interested, wasn’t it?” The teacher said, “Now this is your own Self. These things, these pictures, these stories of Rama, they are your own Self. This is something going on in your own Self.” Now meditate like that. Very often if it takes some time, then the meditation goes like this: some days very good, some days bad, but just like an athlete, he must practise every day.
It’s no use him saying, “Blow to that.” What would a pianist be like if he started thinking, ‘Well, today it’s a bit cold, the fingers are a bit [stiff]. Feel better tomorrow.’ No, he has to practise. I’ve seen a ballet dancer on the ship, on a liner. She was seasick, but she was doing her exercises against the rail. Being sick, but she had to do them every day. If it’s maintained then the day comes – now the sutras are quite technical – “when the memory becomes purified” – it’s not easy to understand – “the memory becomes purified”, he no longer thinks, ‘I am so-and-so, I’m sitting here, I’ve got another 20 minutes to do, and then I’ve got to have breakfast.’ All that vanishes. He no longer thinks in terms of words. The scene becomes vivid. It has its reality now, doesn’t have to be supported. Now, this is called “the object blazes out in its own light.” That’s a literal translation of the Sanskrit. “The object blazes out in its own light.”
Lastly, the meditation “becomes empty of itself”, as it were. He’s no longer thinking, ‘I’m meditating.’ He’s now having an experience, but no words, but a living experience. We are told that if we practise, we can have such an experience. Now, on the worldly level, people who practise hard at anything will have a limited experience which will give them inspiration in a little field. When that happens and it’s successful, and in the West we are convinced mostly by examples from the history of science, when that happens, it’s what the sutra calls truth-bearing.
He has an insight and inspiration of truth, and that is successful within its sphere of worldly truth. The Nobel prize winner, Yukawa, the Japanese who predicted the meson, which was one of the most fruitful predictions in physics, this century, he said that he was sitting late at night and he was thinking, and then the thought from one of the very old Chinese scriptures came to his mind. It seems like a tale from mythology. He said suddenly he saw those characters in that story, which he’d known and thought about a lot from childhood, they became the particles. Well, he wrote an account of it, and that gave him the idea. What very often happens in science is that we don’t have this concept of divine inspiration.
As a result, nearly all scientists make one big discovery when they’re young and after that, not again. One of the greatest of them said, “We tend to become very arrogant and we start to think, I have a special way of looking at things.” One of them even quoted Einstein. He said he did all his best work before 40, after that, he cut himself off from the main current of science, quantum theory. He had no developments and insight after it.
He quoted Einstein’s remark, “God does not play dice with the universe” and the scientist said, “How does he know?” When there’s a success, and the yoga sutra refers to this, the mind becomes very arrogant because it attributes the success to the individual. Then the mind can’t be purified easily. The memory can’t be purified, much more difficult now. There’s a big imprint, but as an artist, it’s much easier. We have in the West, this tradition of the Muse, something divine. It’s easier, not easy but easier for many artists to open themselves to inspiration in that way. They’re not so likely to become arrogant. In the East, the case of the artist is thought to be much more conclusive than that the scientist. Here we think, ‘If these inspirations are genuine, they must give a scientific truth because with art who’s to say what’s good or bad but with science you know right or wrong.’ In the East, they say, “No, with science you might guess, but nobody can fake a masterpiece.” It’s a masterpiece: that’s the real test of inspiration. Yoga tells us, inspiration must come into our daily life. These dramatic examples are only given to convince us that there’s something there. It must come into our everyday life.