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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Aids in Speaking in Adhyatma Teachings

In some traditions pupils of 2 or 3 years standing are asked to give a brief talk to the public on some aspect of the teaching. Most are reluctant: they feel their progress does not merit it. However, when told this is part of training they are ready to try. Once such pupil was told to prepare by taking lessons in public speaking for 3 months. The instruction jarred on him and he complained to a senior: “To take lessons like that would make me feel like a ham actor, unnatural and insincere.” The senior looked at the vigorous young …

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Worse and Worse in Adhyatma Teachings

There are many habitual actions in life like driving a car or writing which become habitual and drop away from the surface of consciousness; we can do them without much effort and become at ease with them. Because we are at ease with them we have the illusion that they get better. We see this clearly in the case of handwriting, which steadily degenerates from the carefully formed letters we make at school through to the scrawls of student days, and then to the almost incomprehensible jottings later on in life, when we no longer form many of the letters …

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Hi-fi in Adhyatma Teachings

In the early days of Hi-fi, one would be invited, sometimes, to a little concert in a room surrounded by speakers of various kinds. Listening to the music, the host would be constantly jumping up and making some adjustment, and then sitting down and listening intently. He was disturbing the enjoyment of the music, but in fact he himself was not listening to it at all: he was listening to the hi-fi. In the same way, some scholars study texts in which they have no interest whatever in the real meaning; they simply compare the vocabulary, syntax and themes with …

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Om When Drunk in Adhyatma Teachings

A man vaguely interested in yoga, but who could not bring himself to go under a teacher, used sometimes to repeat the sacred word ‘Om’ when he was drunk. A friend who did actually practise yoga told him it was a mistake to do this. ‘Why?’ he said defiantly, ‘Surely it is better to say the sacred Name, even if one is a bit drunk, than not to say it at all.’ No, his friend told him. You would be like a man who has been told that to cure his diabetes he should avoid sweet things, and take some …

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Prayers and Answers in Adhyatma Teachings

A disciple came to a teacher and complained that though he spent hours in devotion and prayer, there was never any response. ‘When my daughter was ill I prayed the whole night that she would recover well, and, as a matter of fact, she did recover. How do I know that she would not have recovered anyway?’ This disciple was a minor official in the local administration and had a good knowledge of all the by-laws and regulations. The teacher made no reply to his question but said: ‘I want your advice on some things here, to do with this …

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Horse Hair in Adhyatma Teachings

In training for some desired result, especially when it involves an expansion of some faculty, there is a sense of joy. It is leading to what is felt to be an achievement, and so it is a sort of fulfilment in itself. Mistakes have to be avoided as much as possible, but when they happen, they are corrected without any feeling of guilt – they do not really matter. However strong the efforts that have to be made, there is at the basis a sort of carefree lightness, and this we can call “light joy”. But when it comes to …

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The Sweeper in Adhyatma Teachings

A pupil heard a teacher say that when by long training the individuality is transcended there is a cosmic effect. This effect is far greater than anything produced on the individual plain by individual words and actions. So this pupil asked the teacher: “It is clear to us sir, when we face you, that your former individuality has been transcended. So how is it that you continue giving teachings? We are grateful for them but from what you have said it seems contradictory that you go on.” The teacher told him about an incident in a nineteenth century autobiography by …

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Last Laugh in Adhyatma Teachings

In a certain dictatorship inhabitants were warned by official propaganda to beware of foreigners. If they had to talk to foreigners they were told to ask them what was their business in the country, and to report the replies to the police. A foreigner who had lived in the country before and knew the language was making another visit. He thought he would exercise his sense of humour and to a question from a restaurant owner as to his business he replied: “Well, don’t tell anyone but I am a spy.” He was gratified to see the shock on the …

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Money Attracts Money in Adhyatma Teachings

A hundred years ago a simple minded Indian peasant overheard a rich man say portentously, “Money attracts money”. He took a silver rupee from his tiny savings and went to the shop of a money lender in town with the idea of capitalising on this piece of knowledge. At one end of the counter the money lender was busy negotiating a loan. At the other end his strong-armed assistant was keeping guard over several piles of silver rupees. The peasant quietly came in and sat down in front of the money. When the assistant was momentarily distracted by a fit …

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