The yoga of action

 

We have eyes. With those eyes we see. But we become a slave to the eye, if the place is – “Do not colour the walls. It depresses me. Can’t work in them. “Oh, I like the colour of the walls. This is the place.” And then after two weeks, “No, it’s a bit off”. He’s a slave of the environment and he has to practice yoga. And that yoga is karma-yoga, the yoga of action. And this is for people who are reacting with their environment, which is true of most of us. We have jobs to do. We have responsibilities. We have promises which we have made, and for the first three-quarters of life, so it’s Manu, from the Great Laws of Manu, we are normally, a normal life is interacting with the world very powerfully and such a man should practice karma-yoga.

In the fourth quarter of the life when the business has been made over to the son, when the king abdicates and the heir takes the throne, when the children have gone away from the family, the parents are left. Then the fourth quarter of the life is the time for introversion to be encouraged, and then it can lead to direct revelation and experience.

But for most of us karma-yoga. Karma-yoga consists of worship of God, but it has three main elements. One of them is to become independent of the opposites in the world, of the changes of the world. Not so easy.

For an extravert something in the world becomes everything to him. It becomes the whole world. Now, sometimes the physical example is a useful thing as distinct from these abstractions.

I study foreign languages and, at my age, you have to modify the method of study. I can no longer concentrate for three or four hours intensely. I become tired. So, a text I want to memorise or I want to study that’s particularly difficult, I hang them up and write them in great letters, hang them up in scrolls around the room.

This is an example of them. A very useful roller from which you hang the scrolls, and this seems very useful to me. Again, to write these things correctly, you need to draw these horizontal lines and this is very convenient for drawing. It’s very light, it’s very handy, and it’s important to me. Very useful. But if this becomes essential, a must-have. This applies of course – I’m giving this as an example – it can apply to many things. It can apply to a person. We must have it. Can’t live – hold on, yes, hold on tight. But when you see things go, you don’t, retain your balance. The Lord will twist if we devote ourselves solely to anything in the world.

The Lord will twist then and will let it down. We shall look and we shall see. A friend, the Gita says, “The Lord is the friend of all beings.” Why does he take this away from me? Because he doesn’t want me concentrating solely on that. But to see him. To hold it and use it. Because the end of Chapter 5 says, “The Lord is the friend of all beings.” When life takes something from you, to know that it’s a friend who’s taking it and to attain the balance, to let it go. You look across and perhaps you’ll catch a glimpse, at first you catch a glimpse. To be independent of the opposite. To practice a little bit.

Now, one of the things in this country which is much admired by some Indian teachers and by some Zen teachers especially, is what’s called the sense of humour in this country. That’s to say, the ability in a disaster to be able to laugh. Wilde who was a minor literary genius, but he did write some bad things. One play he wrote was a failure and he was asked afterwards by a friend. “How did the play go? Was it a success?” And Wilde said, “Oh, the play was a success, but the audience was a failure.”

This ability to laugh at his own disaster shows an independence, and the Zen people say it’s one of the great characteristics of the people here. That they have calculated this. In many countries humour and wit is at the expense of other people. Laughing at other people of course. But this ability to rise above his own misfortune, and to laugh is very highly prized by them.

© Trevor Leggett

Titles in this series are:

Part 1: Extroverts & Introverts 1

Part 2: The yoga of action

Part 3: Be independent of results

Part 4: Direct practice of meditation on the Lord