Samskaras are dynamic latent impressions
In the yogic psychology, there’s the mind, and there’s what’s called samskaras These are dynamic, latent impressions, formed from the thoughts and actions of the past, which always seek to reproduce themselves. Now, until those are changed, we shall not be able to change on the surface permanently. We can change momentarily, but it’ll change back again, because the roots have not been changed. The roots are changed by meditation and by habitually thinking on those lines – that gradually changes the roots of the mind. Then the impulses which come up are impulses from inspiration, and not the impulses due to the dynamic traces of what I’ve done before. We tend to, simply repeat what we’ve done before. People don’t develop naturally – it’s a myth. If you start typing with two fingers, you don’t naturally go on and gradually type with ten, touch-type with ten. No, you get better and better at typing with two fingers – two mad hens, it’s been said. They can type very fast, some of them, but it’s a very poor way of typing, as distinct from using the whole hand on the keyboard. We don’t naturally develop, it has to be cultivated.
In the same way, devotion can be cultivated. You think, “Oh, how can it be cultivated? You can’t change your feelings.” Yes, you can, because it corresponds to something within man – devotion which we give to, for instance, the stories of an avatara. Rama is the example given here; in the west, it can be Christ. If we read those stories, and we concentrate on them, something will begin to stir within us. Then there’s a basis for belief, because it corresponds to something within us, not something external – it can be cultivated. The time is going to come when we have a terrible disappointment, or a great fear. Now’s the time, because then one’s actually prepared to do something. “One of the great enemies”, my teacher said, “is comfort.” “Oh, I’ll do it next week. I’ll do it next month. I’ll do it next year. Some year.” When there’s a great catastrophe, if we can use that energy from the catastrophe, instead of thinking, “Oh no”, we can use that energy, by plunging into one of these practices, and it will bear fruit.
This is a very important lesson. With many of us, we need something rather shattering to get us to move, but if we are intelligent enough, then even from a position of comfort, we can get moving. We feel we should practice some Yoga, and then when the time comes that we’re thrown into prison, for six or eight months, it’s a good time to practice Yoga. If the conditions aren’t too bad – we don’t have mosquitoes in this country – that’s nice. It’s not so easy to meditate with mosquitoes – bzzzz – and then the sting. Bzzzz – it’s gone away. We don’t have that. We have many advantages – now’s the time to do some Yoga. Then, if the flame is small, it can be fanned. It can be fed, and fanned. It’s much more difficult to start a flame when you’re in great difficulties, external difficulties. The time to start to learn to swim is when the water is calm. If you try to learn to swim in rough water, it’s going to be very much more difficult.
About our actions – this is not the particular chapter which we’ve been looking at – but later on we read that one of the great masters whom Shri Dada meets, is giving instruction to the public. He says, “You should try to do good, but in fact, you cannot perform good karma; nor can you earn merit, until you get rid of your intense body consciousness.” We think on our present basis that we can do good. “I can judge, I can see, isn’t it right…?” For instance, somebody who’s sick – isn’t it right to cure them? Well, supposing it’s Hitler. In India, there used to be what were called criminal tribes – they lived, but their profession was robbery, basically, and you get certain tribes in other parts of the world, whose basic trade is crime. In one area in Africa, there were two communities. One cultivated the land and cattle in the valley, and on the hill there was another tribe. Now, they practised the use of weapons, but they didn’t have any trade, or any agriculture or anything. Every year, they used to come down and raid the farms in the valley, and kill when necessary, and simply take everything they wanted, take the food back to the uplands, where they lived on it.
Then there was a great famine, and both tribes were starving. Then the United Nations came, with quite a big relief operation, and I read the report by the head of it. He said, “We fed the people in the valley, and we moved onto the uplands, but the people in the valley said, ‘Don’t feed them. They’re starving now; they’re too weak to hold their weapons. They’re starving now, but the moment they’re strong again, they’ll pick up those weapons and they’ll come down. They’ll kill any of us who resist, and they’ll simply plunder everything we’ve done. Don’t feed them.’” The United Nations man said, “What is the right thing to do? What should I do?” Well, in the end he said, “I carried out my mission, which was to feed both – but I knew”, he said, “I was feeding robbers and murders who were going to continue making raids.” Doing good contains these conflicts.
© Trevor Leggett
Talks in this series are
Part 1 : Mysticism of the heart 2
Part 2: The vibrations of Shri Rama
Part 5: How to stop a thought