Reading: “Broadening the mind is the first step out of this difficulty. Careful study of history, listening to recitations of the Puranas and so on all help to widen the mental horizon and should be welcomed as spiritual aids. Then, my friends, let the soul try to slip out of the quilt of Sansara by cultivating devotion and resorting to meditation. Swami Krishnanandaji used to devote some six hours a day to his self-study.”
My teacher recommended a study of history because he said, “You can see, in history, what happens. You have your ambitions. You can look in history and see what happens to people who fulfil those ambitions.” He often quoted the history of Napoleon which he studied carefully. He said, “When Napoleon was at the peak of his success, when the final treaty with the Tsar was concluded at Tilsit, this was the peak of Napoleon’s glory.” He quoted from a letter Napoleon wrote: “I have never felt more disturbed and anxious and disquieted than on that night.” He said, “Try to learn.” If you look at the history of somebody like Casanova. He was a success in his life, but if you look at his memoires, he says at the beginning, “I am writing this only to stop myself from going mad.” Our teacher said, “In these ways you can begin to free yourself from some of the illusions. They will become less intense but only when you see the Supreme will the longing altogether cease.” Then he said, “To broaden the mind and then, by meditation, to slip out of the quilt of sansara.”
Sansara is this shifting world of illusions – we are under a sort of quilt. In places elsewhere in this book he’ll call it the mind cage and sometimes he’ll say, “Slip out of the mind cage.” Sometimes he’ll say, “Break out of the mind cage.” In meditation, our thoughts fit together, we can’t see anything except these thoughts and impressions and memories. In the same way when we’re in activity, when we’re in our normal activities, we’re dreaming all the time. I may be talking in a very friendly way but I’m thinking, “Just wait. Just wait a couple of weeks and I’ll be full of hatred.” I’m dreaming hatred but I’m very friendly on the surface – or I’m very, very, humble; but secretly I’m, what used to be said, backing into the limelight. “I’m making arrangements that my humility is well-known to everybody.” “I’m famous for my love of obscurity.” We’re dreaming all the time, we’re not just doing actions but we’re dreaming. When I’m scrubbing the floor I’m thinking, “Those lazy bastards leaving it all to me. What thanks do I get?”
That man who was cleaning the Shiva temple, was thinking all sorts of resentments all the time, “It’s always left to me.” We’re dreaming, but in meditation the thoughts can become fewer. Then through those gaps we can begin to catch a glimpse of the Lord beyond, of the Divine beyond. If the meditation can be taken even further, the mind cage can be removed and you can see clearly – even a glimpse can make a great difference. If we practice regularly, if we broaden the mind so that it doesn’t become my tribe against your tribe, then we have a chance.
“I am doing a job. I’m getting quite a good wage for it. I’m satisfied.” Then I hear you’re doing the same job and you’re getting more. Immediately I’m dissatisfied. “It makes a mockery of my salary.” No it doesn’t – but I’m no longer able to look clearly from my position. I was satisfied with that, but because something has come in I’m dreaming about something out there. Slip out of the quilt of Sansara. It’s like a quilt that covers, the quilt of dreams that’s covering us. They’re nearly all illusions, things which don’t really exist at all. “I would be happy if I could have this, if I could have the other, if I could do this, if I could do the other.” But if we look at the people who have these things which we long for, we shall find them not at all happy. Sometimes people have a professional external cheerfulness, but we find nothing at all.
Then there is a riot. In India at the time there used to be friction on the festival days between Hindus and Muslims but, by and large, they lived together in reasonable amity. It was possible for them to live together. Ranjit Singh and his army, which defeated the British, he had Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs all together. He never had trouble. He was a remarkable man. Some of the British were able to achieve this. But at times they used to have processions which commemorate the killing of Hassan and Hussain at Karbala – it’s a Muslim occasion. What happens is that you have a genuine religious feeling to celebrate it, but then this feeling comes up – ‘those who are not with us are against us’. Those who were celebrating the Muslim procession began throwing stones at the Hindus, who began throwing them back. Shri Dada ran out into the middle of them and called to the Hindus, “I am a priest. I am a Brahmin. If you want to throw stones, throw them at me.” Then he went to the leader of the Muslim procession and he said, “Hassan and Hussain are as sacred to me as they are to you. I beg you, don’t let the memory of this sacred day be defiled by violence.” The leader of the procession immediately paid his respects and he restored order. These things are done as an impulse, a spiritual impulse – it’s not that they had to screw themselves up to do it. It was a spiritual impulse and because it derived from a spiritual impulse in Shri Dada, the spiritual impulse in the leader of the Muslim procession also responded.
The stone throwing produced stones back, but this appeal – especially from a Brahmin saying, “The memory of Hassan and Hussain,” these two Muslim saints, “are as sacred to me as they are to you.” – immediately produced this response. Well, it’s an example that’s given. Shri Dada’s life was not one of entire sweetness and light. He was attacked because of his broad views – because, for instance, he treated women exactly the same as men and he treated the lower castes in the same way as Brahmins.
© Trevor Leggett
Talks in this series are:
Part 1: Mysticism of the heart
Part 2: Study the nature of yourself
Part 3: The cosmic plan
Part 5: Mediate on the form of the lord
Part 6: Slip out of the mind cage
Part 7: Honesty and Religious practice