Not at Home in Adhyatma Teachings

A new disciple in a yoga group had some difficulties and she prayed for help. After a couple of weeks of no change, she put her case to a senior: “I pray and pray for help, but there’s no response, God never seems to be at home.” The senior said: “This is something that happens in ordinary life too, there’s a small shop near here that sells electrical goods, and repairs them. They also send an engineer if there’s a problem in a house. Well, apparently there was a request for someone to go round on quite a simple job. …

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CLACK! in Adhyatma Teachings

In the classical Zen of China a monk, called by the Japanese Kyogen, was famous as a scholar who after many years had mastered the scriptures. When the Abbot, his teacher died the new Abbot told him he could if he wished leave the monastery as he had now full knowledge of the doctrine. To the others’ protests he set Kyogen the Koan riddle: “What is your true face before your father and mother were born?” Baffled and furious Kyogen left the monastery but the riddle haunted him. He spent the next years in isolation minding the shrine of the …

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The Perfect Mimic in Adhyatma Teachings

In the 1930s when Japan was preparing for war, foreigners were regarded with great suspicion, especially by the police. Sometimes the suspicions were built on chance coincidence without any substance, but in the official mind they proved hard to shift. A young accountant employed by a foreign firm used to enliven his evenings by visits to geisha houses, where he drank and talked and laughed with the girls. He never learned any Japanese but as it happened he was a very good mimic. In the course of these evenings he learned to sing some of the little songs along with …

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The Blotch in Adhyatma Teachings

[et_pb_section bb_built=”1″ admin_label=”section” _builder_version=”3.0.51″ background_color=”#0000ff”][et_pb_row admin_label=”row” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” background_size=”initial”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text background_layout=”dark” background_color=”#0000ff” use_border_color=”off” background_position=”top_left” background_repeat=”repeat” background_size=”initial” _builder_version=”3.15″] The Zen Master Shido Bunan was once appealed to by a family of local lords at Okubo. For over twenty years they had been plagued by continuous misfortunes and they had consulted various astrologers, spirit mediums, and even some Buddhist priests, but without success. The disasters went on. When the request for help came Bunan read it and simply said: “there’s no need for me to make a special visit for this sort of thing. Give the messenger this.” He slumped down at …

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The Fee in Adhyatma Teachings

Some of the Christian missionaries who went to Japan in the mid-19th century were scholarly men, who mastered the language both spoken and Classical, and also made a study of basic Buddhism. However, one such found to his dismay that he was sometimes unable to meet the arguments of Buddhists in public debates, and decided that he must go far deeper into Buddhism to find the refutations he sought. He heard that the greatest scholar of Buddhism was a Zen abbot living in semi-retirement in a tiny monastery. He made inquiries, and found that the abbot never took any fee …

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Unforgivable in Adhyatma Teachings

A woman member of a traditional Yoga group also served on the fund-raising committee of a charity. Her written articles and her appeals at public meetings were attractive, and brought in many more donations than those of her colleagues. She began to notice a certain coolness towards her suggestions at committee meetings; they were nearly always turned down on some pretext. She mentioned this to the teacher, saying, “I wonder whether I am seen as bossy or something like that. I try not to present my suggestions in a pushy way, but still I feel I must be doing something …

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Making It Difficult in Adhyatma Teachings

If one wants to give up a bad habit, but is not prepared at first simply to break it off, then a useful strategy is just to make it difficult. I saw a Japanese man, a heavy smoker, who had got the idea that it was bad for his health, and had evolved a strategy to control it. He was an artist, and artists smoke heavily. When he was at a party and wanted a cigarette, he would take out a pouch, from which he would produce a piece of metal, a flint, some indeterminate material similar to brown cotton …

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Misunderstanding in Adhyatma Teachings

A teenage disciple asked the advice of a senior in the Yoga group he had joined. ‘My parents don’t understand me at all – we are always having rows. Why shouldn’t I have pictures of nudes on the walls of my room, like my friends do? I wanted to put one up in the hall too, but they raised hell over that. Why should I have to listen to them? I think I’m a natural rebel, and I won’t just meekly conform.’ The senior said: ‘Do you really get that much pleasure from these pictures?’ The teenager considered. Then he …

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Poetics in Adhyatma Teachings

A noted, middle-aged poet lived like a recluse in a remote area. The country had a strong tradition of poetry; for every public occasion, and some private ones, there would be a commission to write a poem. This poet had, aided by some strokes of luck, established a reputation, and many commissions came to him, so that he became comparatively wealthy. He was an eccentric man, who lived in solitude, and he never visited the capital. He wrote his poems in a little two-roomed retreat he had built in a corner of his large garden. Hardly anybody knew what he …

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Don’t Wait For Him in Adhyatma Teachings

In the first part of the 20th century, when the living Vedanta of the Gita was brought across to the West by Dr. Shastri, few of the great Sanskrit classics had been adequately translated into English. Among his early disciples was a middle-aged Scottish lady, who gave much of her time to looking after the needs of the little Sangha (spiritual group). One day he told her that he had received a spiritual impulse to translate, into English, one of these great classics, but he added that he felt quite incompetent for the task. She said: ‘But you are a …

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