There’s a very famous case in 1912 when Debussy, who was a rotten conductor, used to come over from France and conduct his set of three pieces, Images, with one of the London orchestras, and Sir Henry Wood had rehearsed these pieces. Now, the first one is Clouds, it’s very quiet and harmless, the second one is called Fêtes and it’s meant to be a festival at night and the torches suddenly break through the trees, the brilliance of the torches and then they’re gone again. So there are very quick changes of tempo and this brilliant thing and then it stops.
Now, Henry Wood had rehearsed the orchestra again and again and again, and then Debussy came over. But he was a very poor conductor and he failed to give one of the entries and then failed to give another one, and the result was that half the orchestra ended a bar before the other half and the audience sat absolutely stunned at the end of it, it was awful. Well now, this is in the history books, you can look it up, somebody shouted, “encore!” and then others took it up, “encore, encore!” and Debussy shaking, looked at the orchestra and they played it through again and this time he held them together and it was a great success.
Now, that cry of “encore.” My father was the leader of that orchestra and he told me Sir Henry Wood was conducting the little group of singers who were to come in the third piece and it was Henry Wood who shouted, “encore, encore!” and then the orchestra took it up. But it was a vivid example of how necessary the conductor is. Now what the yoga teaches is that life needs a conductor and the laws of nature need a conductor, they won’t work, click, click, click, click, click like a machine. As Einstein pointed out, the mechanical view of the universe as a huge piece of clockwork went out, well he sent it out, in the early part of the last century.
But it still persists in the minds of the public that on the contrary, there has to be a controller. The basis of physics now is uncertainty, there is an unknown physics by which the uncertainty, the base becomes the relative certainty of our ordinary world. That physics is unknown but it is a form of control and the yoga says, this is the control, exercise by the Lord. And we can become aware of this, first of all in our own selves. There is something in ourselves which is greater than the limits of the body and the mind, which can reflect something from above the body and the mind. Well, this is an example that’s given, the universe, the world, that we must not regard it as mechanical and God as a sort of witness on the sidelines, but He is pervading everywhere and He controls the movements and the laws of nature from within.
Now, we’re asked to try to identify that God who controls the universe and if we look we can see the signs, the design of the universe, what’s called the anthropic principle now, but all these are just guesses and inferences. We can find Him directly in our own selves. And to do that we have to bring minds and bodies into a state of relative calm and clarity, clearness. While there’s a jumble going on in the mind we’re not able to see what is beyond the mind. The mind is, so to speak, a tangle of thoughts, hopes, wishes. Now, I can’t see through that at all. But if the tangle begins to be loosened then just through little chinks I can begin to see what is beyond. And if it’s brought to order in Samadhi then I have quite a view of what’s beyond and the very experienced yogi can lay the mind down and become aware of the cosmic consciousness. And then he can take up the mind again, but this time with order, not in a jumble.
Now the practices are given to reduce our dependence on the events of the world and the events on the internal world.
And if you’d like to just practice. The point here, between the brows, if we just touch it and press the fingernail here or even pinch. Now, after doing that, feel the after sensation.
You can press quite hard, or press the fingernails in, pinch, and just sit and feel the after sensation.
Now, the practice is to sit reasonably upright and then to disregard the things on the outside which come into this, what is called the minister of the exterior, the left point side.
Disregard that. This is called the minister of the interior. But take the consciousness away from external events, from internal events, and bring it to this point. Now if you’d just like to try, I’ll say OM and then if you’d like to touch your finger here and then for two minutes try to bring the attention, the feeling, to this point and disregard external sounds and disregard internal memories. OM.
When we do this practice, if an external sound comes it shifts our concentration, but then we come back to it. When we practice Judo we learn balance by being pushed and then we recover balance, and it’s by being pushed that your body learns balance, it recovers it immediately.
And in the same way we can treat this practice, and when doing it, say there’s a sudden sound or there’s a sudden memory, a troubling memory come up, not to think, oh I’ve lost concentration, no, think of this as a push and now I’ve come back. In this way by bringing the attention back to the central point we practice the inner balance and then the time will come when the Judo man, and I’ve seen it, on the top of icy steps which are all iced over, stone steps, and the other students were coming down holding on the rail and he walked down and he slipped and he was going down like that, but he didn’t fall over, because the balance came to him – he was not thinking now I’ve got to balance myself – he’d practised so much that the balance came to him.
And in the same way we practice these things consciously and if we do them regularly and every day then the time will come when we have a shattering disappointment and we find we’re not so upset as we thought we would be if that happened. If we have a sudden temptation to swindle somebody we find somehow there’s a resistance there which can keep a balance.
So it’s recommended to practice it regularly, and we can do this in the open air when we’re waiting for a bus or something like that, just to bring the mind back.
© Trevor Leggett
Titles in this series are:
Part 3: Brahman makes the mind creative