Zen & Gita Q&A 1 01.08.1984
Trevor Leggett :
The main thing from a yogic point of view is to practice ourselves, and without attempting to teach, or anything like that. There will be a communication if we really try.
If you drive a car well, people with either imitate you or not, but the main thing is to drive the car well. And a good driver does have an effect on, I suppose on the road traffic in general. And the main point of the yoga is not a deliberate idea of communicating so much as himself to bring to life these texts in his own behaviour and his own vision.
Question: I have some relatives who are clergymen, and I had in mind very much the fate of clergymen’s families, so often stay away from the living “The bishop’s daughter is the actress, you know.”
So that happens all over the world. But sometimes the actress’s son becomes the bishop, yes. Bertrand Russell’s children became devout Christian.
One can end up in all sorts of odd situations by thinking. One teacher; he wouldn’t let his pupils take notes at all. He said, “I don’t want you to take notes of what I say in the official sermons.” He says, “You think, ‘oh, I’ll take notes, and the I’ll take them away, and then I’ll read up the notes sometimes, and then I’ll get an enlightenment.’” But he said, “That’s like going to a good restaurant, wrapping up the food and taking it home, after a week, putting it in the oven, and thinking, ‘I’ll have a good meal’.” No, a time to eat it. “If you’re going to have an enlightenment,” he said, “Have an enlightenment here, now.” Well, anyway, they were rather impressed with it. One of them took it all down, and they all learned it by heart.
My teacher told us, he said, “I want people to practice.” So he wanted the members to practice, and put down deep roots of practice. He said, “I forget, in one of the Eastern countries – maybe it was Japan”, he said – “You can get a wonderful tree, with beautiful, shining things on it”, he said. “Just wonderful. But it’s a Christmas tree. It’s all been decorated up, but it’s got no roots at all.” He said, “In the same way, spiritual truth can be decorated and made marvellously attractive and brilliant. It does. But unless it’s got very deep roots, it won’t last long.”
So, he, well, he told us once, of course, in the Gita, it says, “Out of 1000 people, one will be seriously interested. And out of 1000 of those, one will finally attain.” So I worked that out; that would be one in a million will attain. There were 55 million people in Britain at that time, so I thought, “Well, there’ll be 55 people, then.” But my teacher said, “No, it just means a large number.”
He said, “We’ll have to become independent.” And he used to give actual lessons in this. I was keen on Chinese art, and I saw rather a rare book. Well, my teacher had lived in China for six, seven years, and I knew he appreciated Chinese art. I saw this book, and I was able to get it. I was a rare book, and I wanted that very much. I thought, “Well, my teacher appreciates Chinese art; I’ll give it to him.”
So I gave it to him. And I felt pretty pleased with myself. And that evening, I saw it going out under the arse of someone who I knew hadn’t got the faintest interest in Chinese art at all. And that made me realise that although I’d given it, I hadn’t really given it. I’d expected he would show it to people, and say, “You know, he gave it to me.” When you analyse, you think, “Yes, that’s not really what I was expecting.” People would think, “Oh, how unselfish he is.” Just like their men polishing the temple floors. But anyway, we can get over this.
He wrote a little book on the Gita, teachings, teachings from the Gita. These are they. So a very small book. And a small book has got certain advantages; that you can know a small book well. He told us, a few of us, once, to learn a chapter of the Gita by heart. So I immediately looked at the shortest chapter of the Gita. It’s chapter 12 and chapter 15; those are the short ones. But in the end, it was another chapter.
He was a very learned man. He knew Japanese well. But he didn’t play great emphasis on learning as such. That was quite a surprise. He said, “Learning should be for a definite end, not just learn. It can become sort of a refuge, learning.” I’m thinking, “Oh well, of course I can’t really practice yoga until I’ve finished studying Sureshvara’s Naishkarmya Siddhi; you can’t progress without that, can you?” Well, you never finish it. It’s a huge thing. You think, “Oh, it would be lovely to finish that, wouldn’t it?”
Question: Don’t you think of learning as a means of developing the mind?
Trevor Leggett : Yes, it is a means of developing the mind, but it can also be a sort of refuge against developing the mind in its full capacity. It can become a, you know, I tend to get a barricade of books, and peer at you under thick, from thick pebble spectacles, you know? “Go away, go away.” Yes, it can easily become that. And one can get very ambitious.
Of course, the same thing applies to all the other partial – they’re all clothes, aren’t they? And as they get tattier and tattier, one can hold onto them more and more and more; think, “Well, this is all I’ve got.” But it isn’t, or it doesn’t have to be.
Until there’s some sort of independence in ordinary life, this is the main practice; to practice independence. Not to be upset if there’s a draught, or if it’s cold, or too hot, or there’s enough sugar in the tea, or something like that. To be able to become independent.
No, he wasn’t… He himself, in Japan, he studied Zen. No, he didn’t have any narrowness of… There are many points of similarity. But in Zen, there’s no substantial devotion to God. So when we’re in real trouble, we have to find resources within ourselves. If somebody’s in really great trouble, a yoga teacher will say, “Now, the Lord is compassionate. Don’t pray for a particular thing, but pray to the Lord, and the Lord is compassionate.” But a Zen teacher will say, “In this crisis, you have to find a strength in yourself.”
Well now, some people respond to one thing, and some people respond to another. Or at a different time in life, we can respond differently. A lot of us aren’t nearly as tough as we think we are, or sometimes think we are. In general, you can say that, on this point of view, the Eastern traditions are much more tolerant. I’m afraid our Western traditions of how to treat heretics is rather a bloodstained tradition. But in the East, there’s, I wouldn’t say there was nothing like that, but there’s hardly any.
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