Stages in Trevor Leggett’s life


 Trevor Pryce Leggett was born in 1914.  By the age of 14 his heart was set on a career as a concert pianist. His father, Ernest Leggett, first violinist for the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Sir Thomas Beecham, had provided first class tuition for him up till this point but refused allow this on the basis that it was a terrible way to earn a living. Dutifully Trevor took a Law degree at London School of Economics but it was Judo, which he took up secretly, that he transferred his passion to

 Following his law degree he took courses in book keeping, pitman shorthand (he had predicted that English would eventually be redundant and replaced by shorthand) and typing. Pitman may not have taken over the English Language but all these skills were put to good use later on.

Yoga and Buddhism: A Man of the Way

 Leggett was a pragmatist. He had come across meditation at 14 and practised it with one thing in mind – to get results. In Judo he trained “like a madman” transforming a flabby and weak physique into an athletes and believed this could not have been done without meditation. He was 24 when, following up an advertisement on meditation, he met Dr Shastri and told him of this. Dr Shastri admonished him with words from the Bible: “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven”. Leggett was to take these words to heart placing the spiritual path the heart of his life and all his activities. His motivations were mixed in his earlier years with more worldly and personal ambition. But he would say we all have to start somewhere, the fact is we are not generally aware of our motivations to begin with and the important thing is to get moving.

Dr Hari Prasad Shastri came

The Writer and the Linguist

    Before setting out to Japan in 1939 Leggett began teaching himself Japanese. He was to become expert in the both the spoken and written language and a good calligrapher studying under a master in the art for three years. His knowledge of the Japanese language set him up to work for the British Embassy in Japan, an intelligence officer in the second world war and Head of the BBC world service to Japan were he broadcast twice daily in Japanese to Japan. The most enduring and perhaps most important use of his Japanese were in translating old and modern Zen Buddhist texts for his books The First Zen Reader, The Tiger’s Cave, Zen and the Ways, The Three Ages of Zen, The Warrior Koans. All of these are considered classics in Zen literature.

Leggett produced a treasure house of his own stories often based in on his own experience, all designed to catch the imagination and perhaps spark off a deeper insight in the reader. His books Encounters in Yoga and Zen and Lotus Lake, Dragon Pool exemplify these. Some of his stories are adaptations from old traditional stories of Yoga and Zen but none lose the underlying spiritual point.

The Spirit of Budo and Dragon Mask use his story telling ability to talk about what he considered the most important aspect of Judo – a training for life.

Leggett did not begin studying Sanskrit until he was 55 years old and so it was in later years that he produced his important works related to the Indian Yogic religion he followed.

The Complete Commentary by Sankara on the Yoga Sutra’s  was a massive undertaking and he completed the translation over a period of fifteen years. Realization of the Supreme Self and Chapter of the Self both comprise his translations of Sanskrit texts and his own commentaries for putting these teachings into practice. Again it was his talent for bringing out the points of these sacred texts by combining real insight with unusual and often humorous allegories that make these works so special.


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