We are seeing shapes of light

(… continued from ‘Spiritual truth is being poured into you’)

When we look at a film, some of them are very convincing, especially on the Cinerama.  We can see the poison sword in Hamlet. It’s run into the man, and then the man dies. We see this happening, there’s clear cause and effect. The poison sword is prepared, it’s run into the man, and he dies from the poison. Well, that’s straightforward enough, you can’t get round that. But, actually, what we’re seeing is shapes of light which we call a man, a sword, poison, a man falling down. All these are movements of light.

Well, these are examples. They don’t prove anything, they only show that it’s not so ridiculous to talk about the universe as being experienced as light.  It’s not quite so impossible, and ridiculous, and out of date, and exploded, and so on. The teacher says there is an inner light which will begin to be perceived more and more clearly as the mind is purified and ordered.  And then finally it can be, for the time being, dispersed.

The ordinary mind (this is one of the examples that’s given) is like a tangle – our passions, prejudices, fears, hopes, anger – and we can’t see through it. But if the mind is ordered, now we can catch glimpses through it.  And, finally, in meditation, the veil of the mind can be removed temporarily, and we can see beyond the mind – not seeing with the mind. There’s an awareness which is beyond the mind, then this [veil] comes back again.  But the skilled yogi can still see through enough to tell him how the world is and what he’s to do in it. And this takes the form of inspiration. We say, “Oh, inspiration?  The fact is that science provides us with a satisfactory account of the world and will explain everything.”  People who think like this should examine the history of science, of the great advances in science. They’re not in logical steps, they are in illogical leaps.

One of the most fruitful discoveries of the century has been the structure of the atom.  Rutherford discovered this at the very beginning of the century. Now, if you read the account of how it was discovered in the biographies of Rutherford, the writers are clearly very embarrassed by what happened. They were shooting alpha particles through tin foil and Rutherford described it as like shooting 15-inch shells through tissue paper.  Then he gave the most extraordinary order to the laboratory assistant. One of them was the famous Geiger of the Geiger counter, and the other was a young one, Ernest Marsden.  He said, “Check whether any of these so-called 15-inch shells are bouncing back from the tissue paper.” Well, what an extraordinary order to give. That’s not science, is it? The man’s a lunatic. But when they checked, they found some of them were – just a few.

This was one of the great advances in scientific knowledge, and it was based on an order which was so absurd that, to this day, if you read a modern biography of Rutherford, the biographer said, “Well, of course, Rutherford did say that this was the most amazing thing that was conceivable.”  And then he says, “Well, perhaps Rutherford wasn’t really quite so much surprised as he pretended.”  Great advances are made by this inspiration, and it’s an inspiration which is an action, it’s not just a lucky accident.  It gives an order completely against the logic of the situation, and yet that order is fruitful. It’s as though an intelligence was directing which knew what was going to happen, and was leading the discoverer to it.

Now, if we look at Rutherford’s life with yoga in mind, we find that it was an extraordinarily, what the yogis would call, pure life. He refused to make a penny out of his discoveries.  One worldly-wise temporary colleague suggested to him to patent one of these things – not that one, of course, but one of the things.  He said Rutherford sprang to his feet and, he said, “I thought he was going to attack me and I ran out.”  Rutherford lived a life of extraordinary purity, simplicity and devotion to scientific knowledge.  For that reason, he could receive (as his mind was ordered) inspiration in his field.

But in yoga, it’s not a question of receiving inspiration in a particular local field of the world, because the world is not a world of truth. These are only relative truths, not absolute truths.  It’s a question of directing the meditation within – and that meditation has to be directed to ‘I’.  We can feel we know what ‘I’ is.  Hume, in an often-quoted passage, says, “There isn’t a self. When I look within, I see nothing but changing flux of thoughts, motion, memories, feelings – nothing permanently there at all. I can say ‘I’, but the ‘I  that wants to get up early in the morning the night before is not the same ‘I’ as the ‘I’ that says, “Well, I think I’ll stay in bed, I don’t fancy getting up.”  No, it’s just what happens to be on top at the moment.”

But that corresponds to the people who say it. When Pasteur was making his discoveries of bacteria and people said, “ The mind has to be made into a lens by meditation. It has to be clean and it has to be held very, very steady.  Then that inner light can be momentarily touched, and when it’s touched, it will come out in the form of inspiration.

Now, we can say, “Oh, well, I’ve tried this.  You may get a temporary experience, but it goes off. And just the same with purification of the mind. You make resolutions and they go off and disappear.”  Now, the yoga psychology separates the manifest, basically, the events in our minds of which we’re aware, and the unmanifest, the inner life.

© Trevor Leggett

(Continued in ‘Seeds of truth’)

Titles in this series are:

Part 1: Extraverts & Introverts 2

Part 2: Prarabdha karma wears thin

Part 3: Spiritual truth is being poured into you

Part 4: We are seeing shapes of light

Part 5: Seeds of truth

Part 6: Practices are directed inwardly