Interviewer: What must the training of the teacher consist of?
Mr Leggett: Well, meditation is a very important part of it and they have a tradition that it’ll [as 0:25:55] will be a very valuable thing. Because then he will be able to be free from prejudices, from biases, from particular things that he wants to push and others that he wants to suppress.
Interviewer: Are they trapped by biases?
Mr Leggett: Yes, and if he doesn’t meditate, he will be. If he meditates, he will become free. In the Dark Ages, you mean, they kept Roman civilisation alive, didn’t they? The remnants of Roman civilisation?
Mr Leggett: They introduced the Arabic numerals in 1080 and it was rejected by the commercial world for 200 or 300 years because it wasn’t – not British, it wasn’t Italian. These Arabic things, you know, it came from India, as a matter of fact. They couldn’t free themselves from that.
Well, anyway, the thing is, they don’t have so much faith in external organisations unless the inner training is done and if the inner training is done then those people will create a, sort of enthusiasm from which we’ll be productive, we’ll be creative in others. This is their main… this is the main contention.
Now, these things are brought up, they’re successful, then they become rich, prosperous and murderous and then they decay. There are answers, no doubt, in India and Japan, especially. Now, a lot of the people there reject, they don’t like Zen, it’s lonely and frightening and they don’t care for it.
Interviewer: Human personality will change and develop spirituality if we all become meditators? Are you able to support the case?
Mr Leggett: Oh, it depends what you meditate on. Lots of people meditate, for instance, on money. Some of them die, in a big house, in a tiny little room, lit by a single bulb and with only one that they die of cold of, because they’re frightened to spend the money. They’re rich, oh, yes. I cut out the clippings for some time. It’s not uncommon at all.
Money becomes the God and I can’t spend it, you see, I’ve got to hold onto it. So, they live on very little and then they have this one electric bar in the stove. They won’t switch on two, that would waste. Well, now, that’s meditating on money and they get it but it depends what you meditate on.
Interviewer: You seem to talk of two routes of meditation. One, dropping the thoughts and contacting a spiritual current and the other method of applying the mind with great awareness on a particular area. So, they both seem to be different ways of going about?
Mr Leggett: Yes, they are but when we’re in the world we have things to do, then we meditate on particular areas.
Interviewer: Surely, if you are contacting a spiritual current, that would transform the way people would approach anything?
Mr Leggett: Yes. It will transform the way I approach everything but it won’t necessarily give me the technique for handling it and for doing it. They say ‘When the man attains spiritual inspiration’, you see? The things of heaven take shape in his heart but unless he has the technique, the things of heaven won’t take shape under his hands.
No, the technique is a product of meditation with thought on the techniques, on the different techniques. One is the freedom to become free from the driving passions and then depending on what they’re doing, for instance, say, somebody who has got important work to do should meditate on courage and austerity and on that work.
The meditation on the milk, delivering the milk, you see? He meditated on that and he began to – there was a change. It wasn’t just a chore. “Blasted not well, anyway, only two more streets.” He began to feel he was bringing a divine gift to God’s children. It was no longer, “How long have I got do this?” And, “I can get through it now, I’m nearly halfway round,” and so on. It changed.
Now, that was meditating on the thing itself. There’s another – the other meditation, freedom. Forgetting milk, forgetting the world. You’re right, they are the two methods but they are the two elements.
Interviewer: In the unlikely event that you’re addressing a gathering of educators, would you feel it would be effective to extend a message of this kind?
Mr Leggett: It depends what they want to hear, whether they want something, or not. Quite often people come with fixed ideas which they’re damned if they’re going to change. In that case you couldn’t do much. The Buddha used to wait for people to come, for that reason. Sometimes they’ll – especially a smaller group, they can be fruitful.
There’s a sort of resistance in human nature. Why should I, you know? When it comes to a talk and you think, right, now, go on, well, once I do that mentally, I’m not learning anything at all. On the other hand, I shouldn’t just swallow like a cormorant but you can learn and, sometimes, anyway, if he can make us think – well, for instance, the opera Tosca has no overture, it’s this terrific tragedy.
There are five great chords and they take half a minute and then the curtain goes up. Now, the composer has marked the speed and takes just about half a minute. Now when Rostropovich conducts that, he makes those chords take a minute and he was challenged on this and he said, “There’s no overture. I believe that this expresses more truly the composer’s aim of throwing, with these five tragic chords, of throwing you into Tosca, when you expand it to a minute, than when you play the half.”
Well, now some musicians disagree with that. They say, “No, you have to play what the composer wrote, good or bad, for better or worse.” Others say, “No, no, we agree with him. It’s creative.” Does it come off? There’s no question that it does. If you get the record of Tosca, the Rostropovich and time them you’ll find it quite interesting and then judge for oneself.
Well, whether one agrees with him or not, it makes you think. One of the things they… one of the examples they give is this tiny little bell. It’s very small but it can be heard. They even have a huge bell. Maybe it’s to tell you the time, it’s to ring at the hour, this tiny little bell. Well, I’ve heard this example given. People feel, oh, I’m an individual, what can I do?
Well, the individual is like a tiny little bell but if the tone is very pure and clear, no mass of waste stuff inside, it will sound very pure and clear, then it will reach you and it will convey, just as well, the time as well as a big bell. So, that example is sometimes given.
© Trevor Leggett
Titles in this series are Questions and Answers to Gospel of Peace According to Lord Buddha :
Part 3: Teaching and learning Q&A
Part 4: Types of Meditation Q&A