The yoga sutras of Patanjali contain in the third book the second, the third book and the fourth book some examples of changes in the external world brought about by this what we might call this samadhi meditation this so to speak the laser beam. Now you can only get this complete identity of the thought where the new thought is identical with the previous thought where the object blazes out the object of meditation blazes out you can only get that when these irrelevant thoughts have gone. In other words when the memory has been purified when memories no longer invade. Now he makes a great deal of this the purification of the memory and he says ‘While there are passionate attachments or fears to the external world for the things in the external world the memories will inevitably come up and they will break up the samadhi sooner or later. And especially, he says ‘if a man becomes successful in samadhi and then next time it will be very difficult for him to enter meditation because he’ll be thinking what he’s going to get out of it I’ll do it again then you drop into rajas. So that unless he has’ and he says ‘the easiest way is to have a devotion to God to do these things as a worship of God and a seeking to become identical to enter the Lord. Unless he can do that unless he’s willing to try to do that then he may attain samadhi temporarily but it will lapse and sometimes there will be a reaction.’
Now I give one example of this. Not from an Indian example. This is a it’s About 160 years ago in Japan the wife of a headman of the village she was a devout Buddhist but also she followed some Shinto ceremonies as they often do in a tolerant sort of way. Well, one day she had a fell into a trance and a God announced that if she was willing He would speak through her. And she then replied that she was willing so the God began to speak through her. And the family were very very pleased at this they thought ‘Well we’re really going to get something now we have a living God’ but unfortunately the first command of the God was ‘Sell all you have and give it to the poor’. Well then they thought ‘Oh no no no we don’t want this’. So they tried various means to expel the God and frighten her. They tried starving her imprisoning her threatening her with a sword but this girl remained absolutely firm. So finally they gave in and they did sell all that they had and they gave it to the poor. And she became rather famous as a sort of seer and she in the end founded a new religion which has now about three or four million followers They built an entire city all done by voluntary labour with tremendous they’ve done tremendous amount of social good.
The religion is of God the parent who wishes his children to help each other and to be happy and to clear the dust off their minds. Now there were a number of miracles attended in her with her life and they still happen miracles of healing at this centre. But one story which I have read in the records was that a very beautiful girl so beautiful that people would stop in the street and turn round and look at her she began to lose her sight and this was a terrible tragedy because it gave her this peering look and it that spoilt her beauty. And her father had heard of this woman seer so he took his daughter to her and said ‘Now I am well off I wish to give an offering to your shrine you see to help you set up your new centre but my daughter is going blind. As you see she is very beautiful and it’s a terrible tragedy.’ So the old lady well no she wasn’t old then said to her ‘Let the girl go at the back of this house where there’s a stream and let the girl herself search in the stream and find a five coloured stone and bring it to me here’. Well the father was pretty surprised because there aren’t five coloured stones and even if there were the girl would not be able to see them. So he thought ‘Well this is some weird sort of test or putting us off or something’. So he went away and they tried various doctors and so on without success and then he brought her back again. And the seer made the same answer ‘Let the girl go back and search in the stream and bring me a five coloured stone’. Well, again they went away.
The third time the father couldn’t come himself so he sent the girl with a servant. And they made the bows and prostrations and then the servant asked the same question and the seer made the same reply. ‘Let the girl go and search in the stream and find a five coloured stone and bring it to me.’ Well then the servant blew up he was not quite so self-controlled as the father had been and he shouted at her ‘You old bitch’ you see ‘You’re making fun of people who are in real distress and you’re just mocking’. And then he said to the girl ‘Come on I’ll take you away’. They went away. And then suddenly the girl broke from him and she said ‘No I’m going to do it I’m going to do it’. And she ran to this stream which she could hear you see and knelt down and started feeling the stones though she couldn’t see them and she felt them. And then she found one that seemed to have a different sort of texture to the others and suddenly she thought ‘Perhaps this one has got five colours’. Then she found she couldn’t move it and she burst into tears and she was there a little bit and she found her eyes were beginning to clear. So she went back and prostrated herself in front of the the seer and said ‘My eyes have begun to clear’. Well I would like to say to you ‘What do you think that the seer said to her?’ but as some people are leaving this day I ought to perhaps tell you. She said ‘You were asking for your sight to be restored so that you could strut in the street as before and get all the attention from the men and they’d all turn round to look at you wouldn’t they? and the other girls wouldn’t get a look in, would they? That’s what you wanted, wasn’t it? Absolutely ridiculous. And so God the parent set you something absolutely ridiculous. But finally you did it and so God the parent although it’s ridiculous because you should accept what has happened but He has done this now what? You’ve been cured but you haven’t been healed.’ And then the account says the girl had a flash and she said ‘Now I understand. I am going to devote my life to following you and to helping the poor people round here to co-operate and to worship God the parent.’
Well this is, roughly, what Patanjali says about such events. ‘They can happen but if they happen to confirm our pride our conceit our personal advantage then they’re absolutely worthless’. And he says that anyone who practises meditation seriously on the Lord some of these powers will occasionally come and they must be when they come they may be used but they must not be held onto they must be given up.They came from the Lord and they go back to the Lord. He makes a great point of this he says that people will be tempted people who practise meditation sincerely will be tempted into with power and prestige and fame and brilliance of various kinds and they must be able to find out what is really important and not these personal glories as he calls them like that girl who said ‘Now I’m going to give my whole life to following you and helping the people here and joining with you’. Well there are two things in this yoga. There’s the technique of living changing our ordinary passion rajas and our inertia of tamas into sattva of clear-sightedness Being able to use stillness tamas or energy rajas at will. And secondly the technique of meditation of bringing the thoughts first of all discarding these irrelevant thoughts practising meditation where they’re all of one kind and then the day will come when the crests will beat together samadhi. There’s a technique in it but also there’s something more. In all these techniques people can get rather good at meditation and can sit for quite long periods without moving they don’t necessarily find truth through it though they may be very impressive in the world.
And one I give a Western form of it but this is an example that’s given in the East. A musician has to practise very hard to get his technique and when you’re young quite often the technique is rather like an athletic competition You want to see if you can play Chopin’s Minute Waltz in a minute .. and that means playing about sixteen notes to the second so you’ve done very well if you’ve got anywhere near that. And it’s a sort of athletic competition people time students time each other. Well this is alright for technique but it’s got nothing to do with the music itself. It’s necessary a certain amount of technique is necessary but it doesn’t give you the music itself. And you get musicians and some used to come to Lizst the great teacher of the last century with wonderful technique and he’d refuse to teach them he’d say ‘No you’re not interested in music, are you? You’re interested in showing off your technique, aren’t you?’ and he wouldn’t teach them. Now there’s a Chopin study which is not necessarily so easy that Clara Schumann used to play every day for twenty years. Well she could play it but she found something new in it every day she said. Well in the same way with the yoga study and the meditation there’s something new something quite different just as in music there’s technique and then there’s something quite different entirely different which is the beauty of the music. Paganini wrote pieces that were extremely difficult technically and you can play them if you spend some years on them but at the end of it it’s not music you can just play the notes very very fast and accurately. Paganini thought they were very good. He didn’t think Beethoven’s sonatas were worth playing in public but his own work he thought ‘Well, I’ve written a lot more than Beethoven’. Technique a way of living but then there must be this search for something new in it.
We were told my teacher said that that the spirit of search of going deeper and deeper meditation can give a sort of calm it can give an independence it can give strength of character it can make the mind brilliant but these are not the objects of meditation and if they’re pursued it’ll detract from the meditation and we shall miss the point. And he said ‘Go deeper and deeper and deeper and you’ll find something quite different’. Well you can read some of his words in the little book. He was a very learned man. Apart from he’s done the official translation of the great epic Ramayana which is used in all the Universities all over the world but he was also two years in Japan six years in China and he is a most learned man .. but his teacher was not illiterate but he didn’t know more than a few words of Sanskrit. And this shows us that although learning can be a help it’s not the essential thing and that too can be a distraction. So while my teacher recommended a certain amount of study he said if we become caught up in the study then that too can stop our search and he said to go deeper and deeper. He wrote this biography of his own teacher which gives you an idea of life at the end of the last century in India of a mahatma a fully realised man. He was a poor man. He had rich disciples but he wouldn’t take anything from them. He held a minor job in the Indian railways and his life was a demonstration that you don’t have to be famous in the world you don’t have to be rich you don’t have to be highly educated or brilliant in eloquence in order to carry out the yoga path. Well this was the talk on meditation. It’s not an easy subject because it’s meant to be practised and to some extent it’s a bit like talking about well about music It can be an encouragement but it can’t actually play for us we still have to practise ourselves and if it’s been an encouragement to anybody to increase their practice then it’ll have achieved its object.
© Trevor Leggett