Paper Belief in Adhyatma Teachings

In one of Barrie’s plays, there is a shipwreck, and for the first night the old Earl is separated from the others. When they meet up the next day, he complains how cold he has been, and his daughter says: “But Daddy, why didn’t you make a fire by rubbing two sticks together?” He replied irritably: “Have you ever tried to make a fire by rubbing two sticks together?” She says no more. She had read and believed, like so many others, that Indians and Polynesians and perhaps Boy Scouts could make a fire by friction, but this belief would …

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Cabinet Making in Adhyatma Teachings

In the inner training, we can think of our actions as preparing and fitting together hundreds of pieces to make an elaborate cabinet, which symbolises the central purpose of a directed life. They have to be carefully shaped and fitted together, then they make a beautiful cabinet. We often do not realise clearly that all our actions are of the same nature: they are bits for the ‘cabinet’ which is being made. One piece is as important as the other; some are bigger, some are smaller, but they are all important. But what we tend to do is to paint …

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The Saving Lie, No Lie in Adhyatma Teachings

Lying is forbidden in the classical ethics of Buddhism, and in the Indian spiritual traditions generally. There are subtle discussions on whether mere silence can be a lie, and also whether a formally correct statement is a lie when it is known that it will be misunderstood. There is an historical incident from the period of the wars in Japan, which highlights some of these points. After a battle a fugitive fled into a Zen temple and the priest hid him under the floor boards of one of the buildings. A little later, three pursuers arrived and demanded of the …

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All the Keys in Adhyatma Teachings

In the great house of the personality, with it’s attics and lofts and cellars there are some rooms which are habitually used, some which are seldom used, some which are avoided, and some which are locked with no access at all. Yoga training at first includes getting used to some of the less frequented rooms and learning to use what is in them. As it progresses the house owner finds he is able to go somewhere that he has avoided, and he will occasionally find some little treasure there. As enlightenment is approached keys to the locked rooms become available. …

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Balance in Adhyatma Teachings

In Judo there are hundreds of different throwing techniques and manoeuvres and students in the early months of training hope to learn a new one every week or so. Some teachers refuse, and tell then to keep practising away at just a couple. Other teachers do in fact demonstrate many different tricks. The fact is that however many tricks a student may have in his repertoire, he will not be able to do any of them, because he has no balance. While he is making the moves which are designed to upset the opponent he begins to be upset himself. …

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The Anti-Sermon of No Words in Adhyatma Teachings

In Mahayana Buddhism, emphasis is laid on what is called the Sermon of No Words. This is a sermon preached by mere behaviour, by demonstration of one pointed spiritual effort in calmness, by the absence of instinctive reactions to events, and by what is called a spiritual atmosphere generated by the presence. It is a sermon not by exhortation, reasoning or threats but by example. There is also the reverse of The Sermon of No Words: one might call it the Anti-Sermon of No Words. People become irritated when warned about the evils of drugs, of promiscuous sex or malicious …

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Clothes and Moods in Adhyatma Teachings

We are asked not to become identified with passing moods, which are to be treated like clothes. Whether we are wearing bright clothes or dark clothes we have still to do what is before us, unaffected by the clothes we happen to be wearing at the time. In the same way, we must become independent of moods; although moods of depression or elation may come over us from time to time the important thing is to be entirely independent of them. We can help ourselves to do so by realising their artificial character, using the same example of clothes. The …

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Bristles in Adhyatma Teachings

When someone who has a hope of getting some advantage lavishes praise and compliments on us, we feel quite unaffected, because we know that it’s simply turned on like a tap, to get something from us. It might as well be a tape recording. We think “Words, words, what do words matter? Nothing at all.” But then when his request is refused perhaps he becomes furious. He begins calling us all the bad names he can think of, and we know that all of this abuse is just out of his disappointment and anger. Nothing in it – turned on …

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Translating Behaviour in Adhyatma Teachings

Learning a Language When we begin to learn a foreign language, we may learn a few words by the so-called Direct Method. But for anything more than simple meanings, we have to construct an English sentence in our heads, and then search for equivalents and structures in the foreign language. This can go on for a very long time, even when there is a good knowledge of the new language. It takes courage to bring out a foreign sentence without checking it first. Shaw’s remark, that it is impossible to learn to skate without looking ridiculous, can be useful here. …

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Soaked Up in Adhyatma Teachings

A Japanese poem – Shizukasa ya Iwa ni shimiiru Semi no koe The translation could be – ‘Oh, the quietness. The shrill voice of the cicada Is soaked up by the stones.’ This is a temple scene. Suddenly in the quiet there is the bursting force of the shrill note of the cicada. It’s ear piercing while it lasts then it stops, and there is the moment when that shrillness is soaked up, soaks away into the stillness of the rocks, the stones, of the temple. We can find some hints for yoga practice in certain arts which require a …

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