This talk is called ‘The Main Teachings of Shri Dada’. It has a special meaning, this phrase, ‘the main teachings’ in the spiritual traditions. For instance in the Gita, in chapter XI, the last verse runs like this, the Lord is speaking: “He who does works for me, who holds Me as his Supreme, devoted to Me, free from attachment, without hatred for any beings, he comes to Me, O Pandava”. Shankara commenting on that verse says, “This verse contains the main teaching of the Gita, which applies to everyone, which everyone should practice”: “He who does works for me, who holds Me as his Supreme, devoted to Me, free from attachment, without hatred, he comes to Me”.
In the book on our teacher’s teacher, which was written by our teacher, ‘The Heart of the Eastern Mystical Teaching’ there are certain places where it is said, either by him or our own teacher, that in this place the main teaching is summed up; or it will say in another place, “My children I’ve given you simple instructions today, they are the fundamentals of the Holy Yoga”; or it will say, “The most important points of the Holy Yoga have been put before you today.”
Now this is a special point to help pupils. If this is not done, then people can choose some individual phrase – they often twist it, but hang on to that. Now, for instance, there is a phrase in the Gita where the Lord is speaking, he says “I am victory, I am splendour”, and in one place he says, “I am the gambling of the cheat”. The whole universe is described as a projection from the Lord into which the Lord has entered. “I am the gambling of the cheat”. The habitual gambler is now able to say, “O, then my gambling is a manifestation of God. I should not give it up. These are the very words of the Gita. ‘I am the gambling of the cheat’. It’s true – I do cheat, but this is supported by the Gita”. Somebody will say, “Well, you have to read the whole book”. In another place in the book it says, “The man of tamas – darkness which is to be avoided – he is deceptive and tricky. This is a sin”. So we have two texts, ‘I am the gambling of the cheat’. The counter text says that although the Lord has projected the whole world, nevertheless there are things against which we are to struggle. The Lord in human beings struggles against these things of tamas. The other one is given, to struggle against tamas. ‘I am the gambling of the cheat’, but tamas, trickiness, deception, is to be struggled against.
But then by a sort of conjuring trick, this text gets covered up and you only have that one, ‘I am the gambling of the cheat’. He says, “No, I’ll hold on to that, I’ll hold on to that!” That is why it is one of the methods of teaching in the Holy Yoga, in various places, to give the main teachings, so that we can see that all the other subsidiary teachings must be interpreted to accord with the body of the main teachings. People are liable to bring in sentences from other religious or mystical traditions, because nobody knows what the main teachings of those other traditions are, and if they just bring in a phrase who’s to say whether this is a main teaching or not. We know it may not be a main teaching in Yoga, but who’s to say – and the mere fact that these other traditions are relatively unknown only makes it more impressive. There are certain phrases in Zen in which, when a man becomes very attached to a particular Buddha image, he might be told, “This is nothing but clay. This is not a Buddha. You must be prepared to spit.” A certain westerner went to Japan and he was somewhat surprised and upset to see the abbot in one of the great Zen temples coming before the Buddha images and making a most reverential bow. He said, “Master, I’ve heard that in Zen one has to be ready to spit at the buddhas, and I am ready to spit at the buddhas”. So the teacher said, “You spits, I bows!” We’re given the main teachings so that all these individual phrases can be interpreted in the light of the main teachings.
In one place Shri Dada says, “Some will ask you: ‘What does this old pundit (himself) teach you, that he merits so much of your kindness and affection?’ Tell them in reply, ‘He teaches us how to live, without complaints, without fear and without regret… His main teachings are: study, pray, discipline thyself and meditate.’” These are four internal processes. These are his main teachings: ‘study, pray, discipline thyself and meditate’. “Study the character of the world – which is shadowy, uncertain and hard to transcend. Study the nature of your mind… Study the nature of your soul which is infinite and immortal. Pray (the second teaching); that is, allow your controlled heart to be aware of the Divine ray enshrined in it. By devotion to the holy Name of God, it is easier to effect a prayer.
“Discipline yourself in disinterested indifference to the attraction of sense objects. Discipline yourself to take the incidents of daily life as leaves in the book of lessons to be learned… Discipline means perpetual exercise of the mind in obedience to the code of dharma (righteousness) and patience, infinite patience. Meditate on the name of Hari, on His Divine Form, then on His Divine Attributes, then on vacuity.” and then he gives some other meditations.
© Trevor Leggett
Titles in this series are:
Part 1: The Main Teachings of Shri Dada
Part 3: Verily all this is Brahman
Part 5: Flowers showered upon you
Part 6: The torch of Eternal Truth