Pioneers and Scavengers in Adhyatma Teachings

  ‘If you associate with dogs you have to be prepared for quite a lot of barking.’ A genuine thirteenth century Chinese saying: ‘A furious tiger rises up but is killed and then a tiny kitten comes up and laps the blood.’ This exemplifies third rate thinkers who try to sit on the body, so to speak, of the dead master and get a little of his prestige and strength. Compare the Western saying about pioneers and scavengers. Pioneers find the new tracks in the forest but sooner or later they are struck down by some wild beast and they …

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Falling In Love in Adhyatma Teachings

In music, don’t fall in love with a particular note, however perfectly played. Don’t fall in love with any particular piece, however beautiful, with the feeling that this is enough. Don’t fall in love with a musician, however skilful. Don’t fall in love with a particular composer or composers, however wonderful. Fall in love with the source of the inspiration that is struggling to express itself through the imperfect channel; it is imperfect, however technically adept the musician or the composer may be. John Lill, the virtuoso pianist, remarked in a BBC interview in 1999: ‘After a concert, if people …

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Competition in Adhyatma Teachings

  The bad loser, the mentally agitated man, is always saying: ‘I am off my game today.’ I once made an enemy for life, when I was young, and even more tactless than I am today, by answering a man who said this: ‘No, this is your game. You nearly always play like this.’ And so he did. He knew from experience that he could play well, but he hardly ever did, and his idea was that he was somehow off his game that day. The fact was that his game was the same almost every time; the occasional fine …

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Thrust From The Classics in Adhyatma Teachings

  ‘If you think I know it well, then little indeed you know.’   (Kena Upanishad) With these words, the teacher gives the mind of a pupil a shake. The words are a thrust at self-satisfaction. The pupil has an intellectual grasp of Brahman, Truth, and some experience of it, but he thinks that this shining intellectual experience is the true Knowledge which gives liberation from confinement in body-mind individuality – a succession of birth and death. The teacher gives a thrust: ‘If you think that this is knowing it, you know almost nothing about it.’ Badly shaken, the pupil …

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Movement, No Movement in Adhyatma Teachings

There is an oral tradition in some schools of yoga that persistent application to a spiritual practice creates a disturbance in the higher regions where live the beings sometimes called bodhisattvas. A modern teacher remarked to a pupil that sustained sincere effort at a practice would make a sort of ripple there, and one of the great bodhisattvas would turn to look at it: “There is a movement here. Let me see whether there is an opening being created through which I can pour help and blessings.” This same teacher said, when one pupil went and asked for help for …

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Two Hooks in Adhyatma Teachings

Man’s bondage to circumstances and his dependence on them can be thought of in terms of two interlocking hooks. One is within his own personality and one is the form of external objects or the ideas of external objects. When the internal hook, so as to speak, catches the external hook man is drawn outwards; or perhaps he tries to use the connection to draw the outer thing into himself. In either case he is bound and in the end he is drawn outwards. The external hook is conceived of in the form of objects or of events and so …

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Satan in Adhyatma Teachings

Quite often in our lives we are going to meet Satan, either in other people or in ourselves. We don’t realize it because we often fail to recognise him. Here is an example from a time when smoking was just a social habit and not yet known to be a killer: A certain heavy smoker did find some adverse symptoms and he recognised quickly that it was due to smoking. He resolved to give it up and managed to maintain this for several months. His cigarette-smoking colleagues at first tried to break his resolution; failing to do so they began …

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Moon and Lake in Adhyatma Teachings

  Moon in the Water The moon in the water is a familiar illustration and it is also a yoga practice. Swami Rama Tirtha, a fellow disciple of my teacher Hari Prasad Shastri, used to take a little boat on the river Ravi at night and meditate on the reflection of the moon in the water. And our teacher referred to this also. In the far east the true Self is often represented by the full moon, in India it is usually the sun. There is a Chinese poem: The shadow of the bamboo sweeps the steps, But the dust …

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Cured but not Healed in Adhyatma Teachings

The Koan Riddle of Illness It is often supposed that good health means never to be ill. But in fact no-one can be always in good condition. There are little accidents, if nothing worse. Good health is simply a vigorous response to an adverse condition. Again, some people think health is manifested by ceaseless activity, like lambs frisking. But this sort of energy is not useful, because it is not available for any definite purpose as the occasion arises; to implement a purpose also requires that the body can be alert in relaxation at certain times. Good health means to …

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Learning by Heart in Adhyatma Teachings

It should be mentioned at the beginning that in Britain at least, the concept of education has been bedevilled by a false etymology. Education is thought to come from the Latin prefix e- meaning ‘out’ and the verb ducere, ‘to lead’. So it is supposed that the desire for knowledge is inherent in the child, and needs only to be ‘led out’. Give children the facilities, said Bertrand Russell, following Morris and others, and they will learn all they need spontaneously. They will learn to read naturally, because they are surrounded by writings, and will be curious to know what …

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