To give one more example – and this was something that actually happened – an extremely orthodox Englishman who’d been brought up to restrain any expression of emotion, he became a Yogi. The teacher approved of his reserve but said that there should be some creative expression. He got him to act in amateur theatricals and to do some public speaking.
This disciple had a mother who was very sceptical, and the subject of religion came up. Though she’d been, of course, baptised a Christian, but she used to dismiss it with a few sarcastic remarks. She’d got some vague idea he was connected with some weird Oriental cult, although he never spoke of it, but she recognised he was a good son to her, so she didn’t pursue it.
Then, when she was… She became very ill, and she was dying, and he took her into his home just for those final stages. The teacher one day asked after the mother, and the son said, “She’s very weak now.” The teacher said to him, “If you are there when your mother actually dies, now the Gita tells us the last thought of the dying person may be very important, but if you are there when your mother actually dies, say into her ear softly: ‘Jesus loves you.’”
He gulped and he thought, “Supposing mother didn’t die and she recovered. I can imagine her reaction.” Then he thought, “But, after all, the teacher’s given me this instruction.” Then he thought, “After all, no, the teacher only said, ‘If you become aware that your mother is actually dying.’ I can never be actually certain of that until she’s…”
Then he thought, “No, it was an instruction,” so he made up his mind to do it, but he was there at the actual moment and he said afterwards, he said, “I’d made up my mind to do it, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t do it. I just stood and I prayed. I couldn’t let mother go over with her last thought being not, ‘Jesus loves you,’ but, ‘Harold’s gone barmy.’” (Laughter)
This worried him. This worried him a tremendous lot. He felt he’d failed badly. He sometimes spoke of it to a close friend. The time came when he, himself, died. He died at night. The teacher had told him a little time before that he was a Christian and in yoga he’s not to leave his religion. He’d no sign of a struggle, but he’d evidently woken up and become aware because he was found holding the crucifix. His face was quite peaceful.
After he’d died, his friends discussed with a senior pupil about this and said, “You know, I think our teacher must have made a slight miscalculation there when he told him to say to his mother, ‘Jesus loves you,’ because he must have known, for an Englishman brought up like that, he couldn’t possibly say it.” The senior said, “Nothing is actually impossible, you know. The Gita says, ‘The Lord is in the heart of every living being,’ so nothing is actually impossible, but I agree the teacher must have known it would be very unlikely.”
So, the friend said, “It was a bit cruel because he worried about it a lot.” The senior said, “Yes, he worried about it, but he was thinking about it. When he woke up in the night and he just had the strength to reach for that crucifix, what do you think were the words that came to his mind then? He’d failed to say them before, but they didn’t fail him now.”
The last element, these elements: to be able to act, simply to perform the action by the body alone, as it says, ‘Without fever, but out of love of the movement itself,’ and to see the Lord and to feel the Lord in the movement and in the object itself. To learn to empty the mind and to take advantage of the disappointments, and betrayals, and unhappiness of life; to empty the mind, to practice detachment, to become independent of the ups and downs, and the praise and blame from other people.
The last one is the practice of Samadhi. This is the formal meditation practice, and people are given some form of the Lord on which to meditate. Some forms are easier for some people than others, but if they read through things like the New Testament, or the Gita, or the Upanishads, one of the stories, one of the forms, one of the incidents will strike them in some way. When that strikes, this is like an invitation then to begin to concentrate on this. There’s a message in this. “You can read it. You can understand the meaning. How can there be a message in it?” but there is.
Musicians know this. Young musicians are told that ‘The Late Bagatelles’ of Beethoven – tiny little pieces – “He just wrote them for the money.” That’s what the critics said at the time, but a great critic now says, “With extreme simplicity of means, there’s as much profundity as in any of the great compositions.” But when we are told that, we begin to play those ‘Bagatelles’ differently because we know it’s there. There is something there. In the same way, there is a sort of charm, a sort of attraction in these holy texts. We feel that, and, if we can enter into it more and more deeply, it’ll open up before us.
This is the Samadhi. You’re practising meditation and you know that there are these stages first where the meditation has to be supported. You have to hold the meditation up. Then you forget about it and it drops. Then you have to hold it up again. You forget about it and it drops. Then you have to hold it up again. Then you forget all about it and you think…
But the time comes when you go deeper into that. Then you begin to have a stream of thoughts about it. You won’t then need to make an effort. You’ll have a stream of similar thoughts about it, like pouring oil unbrokenly, after a long time of practice.
Then the time will come when the movement of the thought – these similar thoughts – will stop, and the object will blaze out, will become radiant. Not that he’s creating it anymore, but the object itself, the mental object, will become radiant. When that happens, there will be inspiration.
This was from Bhagavad Gita – Zen & Gita – T.Leggett – 1-8-1984
© Trevor Leggett
Titles in this series are:
Part 1: Yogas of the Gita are Yogas for when life is in crisis
Part2: What does non-attachment to the results mean?
Part 3: The first element in the Karma Yoga
Part 4: There should be some creative expression
Part 5: Inspiration in science
Part 6: Zen & Gita Q&A 1 01.08.1984
Part 7: Zen & Gita Q&A 2 01.08.1984