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Yoga as the Science of Inner Transformation Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 10

Day 9: Skillfulness in Action

60 min - Talk


We begin with a body scan meditation to energize the whole temple of the spirit before moving into today's talk. In our lecture we take a deeper look at the categories of yoga as described in the Bhagavad Gita, specifically karma yoga (yoga of action) and jnana yoga (yoga of knowledge). For our homework we reflect on the difference between reacting and responding.
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Nov 02, 2018
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Chapter 1

As we begin our meditation, it is always helpful just to take a few moments to find our relaxation and the right posture, and it is helpful to have some connection with our breath. Just a reminder that I am alive, and that as long as I am alive, the breath of God or a particle of divinity is in me. Our ordinary mind is always projecting something about the aim or the destination. So we see, especially in meditation, if I can become more and more interested in the journey, rather than imagining what the end result will be, so returning again and again to connection with the breath, that I am alive and wondering why, but not sitting here desiring some particular result. Very helpful reminder from a very great mystic, Maestro Eckhart, if there were a God of whom I had any idea, it will not be worth having him as God, because a characteristic of an authentic experience is an element of surprise.

Otherwise the mind just projects something and can more or less bring that about in its own reality. So sitting here with more and more real search, more active energy, but not some kind of an imagery about what it should be or what the destination is. So to energize the body even more than usual, first of all the external limbs, I bring my attention to my right arm, and the attention is assisted if I connect it with breath, so as if I am placing my out breath in my right arm, the whole of the arm from the shoulder to the fingertips, and watching if there is a slightly different kind of experience of energy, more life, or perhaps just a negative, to rely on your own experience. Then I pay attention to the right leg, again as if I am bringing more energy to it with my breath. The whole of our body is actually breathing, not only the ordinary air, receiving vibrations, presence, so as if I wish to activate the whole of my right leg right down to the toes.

Now the left leg, not easily accepting, but actually watching if my attention actually makes a difference in the quality of life in the leg. Left arm. Away down to the fingertips. Now we move towards internal limbs, the external limbs, relatively speaking external, are the limbs of activity, the internal limbs more of preserving, maintaining life. It's interesting to be aware that external limbs in general are symmetrical, internal limbs are not symmetrical.

So I bring my attention to my head, if I can become aware that the different sides of the head even have a different kind of vibration, so more and more sensitivity to my own organism. Now I bring my attention to the back, the whole of the back, from the neck to the base of the spine. And wondering if the right side of the spine is now more active or the left side. That actually changes during the day, just as the nostril through which we breathe changes during the day. And one side generally is more active, the other much more receptive.

Traditionally called masculine feminine, but the labels don't matter very much now. Which side is more active now, more energetic. Now I bring my attention, including my breathing, into the whole of my pelvic region. Now I shift my attention and my breath to the area around the navel. Again a simple reminder, precisely when the umbilical cord is cut for the first time, one is a little independent individual, therefore much excitement as well as much fear.

All this is very much focused around the, what we call the gut feelings, chest, chest, throat, throat. throat, it is interesting to notice that the emotions are the whole front of the body acts as the distribution of emotions, the gut feeling, the heart is touched or my throat is choked between the eyes, forehead. Now again I come back to the whole of my head, the whole organism above the neck and I take a few moments on my own different parts of the body, internal limbs, as if I am visiting each limb, energizing it with my attention and breath. Then I take three breaths but as I breathe out, as if I am placing my out breath into the whole of my body from the top of the head down to the toes, energizing the whole temple of the spirit. Then we stop, thank you very much.

Chapter 2

Just to repeat a sentence or two from yesterday, Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita speaks about yoga in two very different ways. One is specific kind of categories of yoga. As I mentioned already that buddhi yoga is really the main yoga but then we have four major categories, karma yoga which is really the yoga of action. Not any action becomes yoga, one needs to be very careful about this. Similarly jnani yoga which is the yoga of knowledge or really sacred knowledge, not any information is not just the kind of jnani yoga.

And then dhyana yoga, dhyana basically means meditation. Here it might interest you to know the usage of the word dhyana generally in Sanskrit or also in the Bhagavad Gita is not exactly the same as in Patanjali Yoga Sutras. In Patanjali Yoga Sutras, dhyana is one of the eight limbs of yoga. So it is a specific kind of quality of attention, dharana, dhyana, samadhi, three different kinds of attention. But ordinarily the word dhyana just gets translated as meditation and in the Bhagavad Gita also.

And when Buddhism went to China which was more or less around 2000 years ago, the word was not translated but was just pronounced in a Chinese way as Chan. And then it went from there to Korea where it was more pronounced as Son and from there it went to Japan where it was pronounced as Zen. So it's good to remember that Zen is the Japanese pronunciation of a Korean pronunciation of a Chinese pronunciation of dhyana, meditation. So when Krishna speaks about dhyana yoga, essentially there is nothing particularly new in the Bhagavad Gita about this. It's very much really again an emphasis on abhyas and vairagya, very much emphasized especially in the first chapter of Patanjali Yoga Sutras.

So we won't speak very much about this again now here. And then very much emphasis on bhakti yoga. Bhakti is not only love, it is actually also worship, dedication, adoration. The root of that word is from bhajati which actually literally means to participate even to eat as if I love you so much I could eat you up, that kind of idea. That is really the root word.

And it is true that ultimately Krishna very much emphasizes bhakti, love and maybe I will speak a fair amount about this in the next day. But it is important to remind ourselves that for the first six chapters, that is nearly the third of the whole of the Bhagavad Gita, there are only eighteen chapters, the word is not even mentioned because most of the religious conflicts in the world actually arise from the claim by everybody that they love God and that God loves them and their own idea of love and also their own idea of God. And therefore very much emphasis in the Bhagavad Gita in the first six chapters on right action and right knowledge, karma yoga and jnana yoga. In fact Krishna even explicitly says these are the yogas I taught in the beginning which because of the ravages of time have been lost so I am teaching them again. And only when one has understood the right action and right knowledge, then it makes some sense to speak about love.

And I will speak a little bit more about it because how does, why should God love me? Is it so obvious that I am lovable? The whole enterprise of any spiritual discipline in fact is to make oneself worthy of being loved, especially very strong comments of Christ. Just as a reminder at present, I won't dwell on it. Whenever any disciple says to him, Lord I love you, Christ almost always says, if you love me you will obey my commandments, then I will love you as the father loves me.

As far as I am aware, in none of the four canonical gospels Christ ever says there is one possible exception that I love God. He always says I will obey God. I invite you to read the Bible carefully, you'll be surprised. However, all of these various kinds of yogas are, as I said earlier also, are really aspects of buddhi yoga. They are not in contradiction to each other, they are in fact supplementary or complementary.

But it is true, some people by nature are more devoted to activity than to contemplation and vice versa. So therefore each one of us needs to find our own unique path. Our journey is unique because what we are trying to do is to move inward. Which is why any kind of religious conversion really from a Hindu point of view is regarded as just moving from one surface point to another surface point. This is not going to help.

What we are required to do is to go more inward. This is one of the reasons that Hinduism is not a missionary religion. If you ask any of the sages, Hindus, so-called Hindu sages, which is really an ethnic designation, geographical as well as an ethnic designation. But if you ask them that I wish to be a Hindu, they will say, if you are a Christian, be a good Christian, therefore be becoming a good Hindu. You can ask that the Dalai Lama would say much the same.

Because this whole business of conversion is really, if you are a little unsure about your religion, you hope that somebody else agrees, then this might help you. All conversion processes in my judgment are indications of insecurity. The other way Krishna often describes yoga is really often what is the nature of the yogi who practices yoga. And I gave some examples of this earlier, but let me take a few more examples. First of all, there are in India particularly very strong traditional idea which is accepted in the Bhagavad Gita, without much discussion actually, of Karam Bandhana, which means bondage of action.

And the suggestion is that everything that we do naturally has some consequence and then it launches us into a whole series of actions and reactions. And of course the consequences are according to the law of karma, depending on the quality of your action, quality of your attitude, then you will have some corresponding consequences. So the whole idea very much becomes as if one should not really engage in action. Because action leads you to bondage of action. So in this connection there are two or three things that are useful for me to remind you.

One is Krishna's remark that yagya karma, remember yag is sacrifice but also engagement or involvement of a deeper level or of a deva, yagya karma does not lead to bondage of action. That it is undertaken then as a service to a subtler level. Secondly, then Krishna says that nobody can be without action, even just the maintenance of the body requires action. And then he gives his own example as a matter of fact, very strongly, that I have nothing to gain but I am constantly engaged in action. If I were to stop working, all these worlds will perish.

So then essentially what happens is really the question is shifted, not whether I should act or not act to avoid karma bandhana. Question is how to act so that I don't lead to bondage of action. So the problem changes. And this is where very strong whole idea of karma yoga really is essentially around these kinds of issues. Now here I should mention another one or two things.

One is the suggestion is or if you like almost the aim is and this word is used several times in the Bhagavad Gita, the Sanskrit word is nashkarmaya which is difficult to completely to describe or to translate but it will be actionlessness or one might actually say it's like action but without the actor. If you recall the other day when I was describing Patanjali's definition of samadhi, that if I am looking at some object, only the object is there. So it's seeing without the seer. That is the idea. So action but I am not the initiator of the action.

This is where you would see one very important definition of a yogi twice or thrice it's repeated in different ways. A yogi sees that I do nothing at all. That one is so much in harmony with the cosmological forces that the action is being done by me or through me or in me but I am not doing it. Other way of saying this is can I become an instrument of Krishna's will? That is Krishna doing it but I am an instrument.

That is the state that is being called for. A yogi sees that actually another way is also described much the same but that the forces of nature are acting upon forces of nature and that I do nothing at all. Now I'll give you a classical example. In fact one of my very favorite examples is this is the remarks of Christ in the Gospel of John. I am not the author of the words I say.

I do nothing on my own. I simply say what my father in heaven tells me to say. Now here is a perfect yogi who is completely clear that even the words he is using are not his own. So this therefore is the aim of the Karma Yoga, is really Nash Karma. So one can define it as I said literally it means actionlessness but it will be actor less action or action less action however we want to describe it.

I use several different ways of trying to describe it because it is rather difficult subtle idea because purely rationally to say seeing without the seer, acting without the actor, it sounds cute but it doesn't people they what the hell does that mean. But unless you sometimes experience it that can I be in such harmony with the cosmological forces that the action is being done. We have very great sages and mystic saying this actually. So I mentioned half is the other day. We have within Christianity of this female mystic from the 7th century.

Some of these names are keeping escaping me now. No I think she was in the 16th century. This is very much earlier than that. It will come to me later on. She also regards herself as an empty reed through which God can play his song.

This is very interesting expression. Hildegard. Hildegard. Hildegard. Hildegard.

Hildegard of Bingen. That's right. Thank you. We are just escaping the name. No actually if we look at the people who have actually experienced something not those who are theologians talking about this or that arguing.

Then you see that their descriptions are always trying to indicate sometimes we say as a sense of grace. That's another way of saying it. But it's not let me make this as a general statement. You can read any scripture. You would find this.

Without God it cannot be done without human beings it will not be done. Certainly in the Bhagavad Gita this is absolutely obvious Arjuna needs Krishna but Krishna also needs Arjuna in this battle. So both sides are needed. It's not that the human being can walk away. They are also needed.

But are they the initiator of the action or are they the instrument of the action. That is really the question. So therefore in order to encourage or to assist Nash Karmaya Krishna has many things to suggest. Very much emphasis on well the Sanskrit word is Karmatyag renouncing the attachment to the fruits of your action. This is repeated several times and even purely ordinary psychology will show you that if I am engaged in some action now and if I am thinking of oh whether it will succeed or it won't succeed already my attention then cannot be on the action.

It shifts into the future which is the ordinary mind is always doing this. I have a personal example of this. This was at least 40 years ago. Some friends and myself we had gone to an art teacher because we wanted to do some painting. But the first day in that painting class really more or less a class I think I spent much less time painting and more wondering when this will hang in the National Art Gallery.

That's the problem. Now you guys are maybe more spiritual. I'm just giving you an ordinary example. The mind is always projecting something else anywhere but here any other time but now. And that attitude or that tendency is very much strengthened by worrying about or thinking about or imagining the attachment to the fruits of action.

So Krishna very strongly recommends this. And it therefore almost becomes a definition of yoga. That a yogi is free of attachment to fruits of action. But maybe I should have mentioned this even earlier when he says that one is always engaged in action that is necessary. One cannot be without action.

Therefore one definition of yoga is Yoga Karamasu costume. Yoga is skillfulness in action. There is no suggestion that one should not act. In fact this was written right on the entrance of our Institute of Technology in Kharagpur in India. Right on the main entrance both in English and in Sanskrit.

Yoga Karamasu Kaushalam. Yoga is skillfulness in action. It also has a slightly different translation which is skillfulness in action is yoga. Slightly different emphasis. But there it is.

So it's not that you should not act. There is no such suggestion. You must act and act skillfully. That's yoga. So you see gradually how many different way yoga gets described.

Then yoga is equanimity whether you are being praised or being criticized. This is not so easy. None of this is so easy. It can each one of them sound very simple. But this is all part of Karam Yoga of action.

But the aim is not that I am doing but can Krishna be doing it through me or with me. We use varieties of expression or in me depending on the nature of the action. In fact in that connection let me mention to you something which can be a homework for you. When the Buddha is sitting under the Bodhi tree in meditation is he acting or he is just falling asleep? How do we understand action?

So take this as a question to think about. You can apply it to yourself when you are in meditation. Are you acting? But coming back to continuing with the whole Karam Yoga idea, there are again a very strong emphasis that in order to be free of my past conditioning I need to undergo a transformation. Which was also the reason, one definition I mentioned yesterday, yoga is breaking the bond with suffering because suffering keeps us more attached to our past than almost anything else.

So the idea is that in general everything in me is actually not acting, it is reacting because I am what I am and now actually it may be useful for me to mention to you the law of karma. You have all come across this, unfortunately sometimes it is described as if every action has a result. Well that's obvious enough, that's not really the law of karma. It has very much to do with the possibility of transformation. So think of this as two sentences, two clauses if you like, as one is so one acts.

Whatever I am, correspondingly I act and that what I now am is the end result of my entire past, species past, cultural past, religious past, language past, everything. That is what I am, so correspondingly I act. Then you can put a semicolon and the reason I am saying that is because the whole magic is in the semicolon. As I act, so I become. If I am simply reacting, no transformation can take place because I am conditioned to act in a certain way, which is what I call reaction, so I keep repeating it.

So therefore the law of karma then becomes only a complete law of bondage. I am stuck, I keep repeating the way I am. But it is also the law of freedom. If in that semicolon, which is why I say the whole magic is in that semicolon, if I can become aware, importance of buddhi yoga, if I can become aware why I am acting the way I am acting like that, then I don't have to act, I can respond, I don't have to react. In fact I would suggest to you that the whole spiritual development can actually be expressed in these two words, to move from reaction to response.

Absolutely classical example of this, again we can imagine, even remotely imagine anybody on the cross, a person will be wishing to get off, wishing to blame somebody, to find some fault here, there, what does Christ say, Father forgive them, for they know not what they do. That's not a reaction, if anything is a reaction, this is not a reaction. So one needs to really see that it is possible to respond, but only if one can be free. So the whole purpose of saying that action leads to bondage of action is really partly to say, how can I act freely, otherwise I am condemned to keep repeating something because I did something so it has its consequences and I am now stuck, I am going to repeat this. So the whole idea of the law of karma, in fact now I can rephrase that, as one is so one reacts, then semicolon, as one can respond, so one is transformed.

So in fact it is both the law of bondage, but also the possibility of freedom, the possibility of transformation. And which is the reason why it then in ordinary culture it becomes, well if you do good acts then you will have better results, etc. But it still remains within the kind of a bondage, you see, it's not speaking about responding rather than just nice acts. This is always a little bit of a, I should maybe take a moment here. Only speaking, actually even in the contemporary academic world, especially in the western world, some more and more interest in the study of consciousness.

But when they speak about transformation of consciousness, in general they are talking about change of the contents of consciousness. By which I mean, if I have bad thoughts, if I can acquire good thoughts, that's a good idea. Nobody is against that. But that is not what Pandanjali is talking about in the Yaga Sutras. That is not what Krishnamurti is talking in his talks, or the Bhagavad Gita.

They are talking about going beyond thought, good or bad. So what they are talking about is not that shifting, nobody is against shifting from bad thoughts to good thought, that's a good idea. But what they are more talking about is, can one have a structural change in consciousness? What is sometimes called going beyond good and evil, which generally in the Abrahamic tradition is really considered a bad idea. Nietzsche actually wrote a book with that title, Beyond Good and Evil, and he was very much criticized for it.

People said he'd gone crazy and this and that. Because here ultimately the idea is, even we say actually, or it's part of the teaching in Christianity, that at the end of the days only the good will remain, evil will be destroyed. Nobody in India would possibly agree with this, because both sides are always required for the manifested universe. So there the idea of consciousness transformation is a structural change, it's almost like a species change. One needs to actually understand it's a much, much stronger idea.

So this is the reason why when Krishna says that a yogi, now this is another definition I mentioned this yesterday also, that a yogi sees that all there is is Krishna. But that doesn't mean that therefore everything is just good from my point of view. For example, Krishna even explicitly says, this is in the 10th chapter of the Bhagavad Gita, I am the cunning of the cheats, as well as the wisdom of the wise, why the cheats have been created by somebody else, except by God, the devil is also created by God. One should not forget this, if everything is Krishna, if everything is divine, if everything is God, why not the devil? But you see here in a way this will more focus the problem that I am raising, it becomes very difficult for us if we are in this dualistic thinking of good and evil then we can't include the devil.

Whereas I think if you recall now four or five days ago when I was speaking about the Buddha, one of his, before his complete enlightenment, one of his realization was, Mara, you are a part and parcel of myself. So when Krishna says I am the cunning of the cheats, as well as the wisdom of the wise, it sometimes surprises people, but why should, who creates the devil? He is not creating himself any more than I am creating myself. So very strong suggestion in the, actually the whole mystical literature, I can give you examples from the Islamic tradition or from the Christian tradition, but staying largely now with the Bhagavad Gita. So for Krishna, the emphasis of Karma Yoga is first of all to move from reaction to response and then actually, as I said, basically the whole spiritual development can be expressed in these two words, but that's not completely true.

There is the next level which I actually mentioned earlier, namely I am not doing anything, neither reacting nor responding. I am simply an instrument of Krishna. That will be the third or the highest stage, which is why I gave the example of Christ there. You can read many expressions of the Buddha. They are a little less familiar to the people here, so I am therefore giving examples from the Christian tradition, but similar remarks to be found everywhere, because the great sages are not saying something or doing something which is their shtick.

They are not promoting themselves, they will be very egotistic. They actually become so empty of themselves that they can be filled by God. That's the project. Remember, I quoted earlier from Christ, unless you leave yourself behind, you cannot be a follower of mine. So if you think if Christ had not left himself behind, how could he be the son of God?

So one has to keep these things not only applying to us, but also applying to the teachers. They are free of their me, me, me. They become instruments. So the whole project of Karma Yoga really is to be in a state that I am not doing anything, but that sounds easy to express, but much harder to practice. Therefore practice part is initially to be aware of one's conditioning and to a little bit more and more freedom from reacting towards responding.

And that is assisted by not getting so attached to what needs to do, what one regards at any given moment, the right action or the best action, then whether it succeeds or does not succeed is not entirely up to me, depends on many forces. This is the reason I sometime ago, a few days back I had given this suggestion as a homework, think of three or four more important things in your own life. How much did you bring them about? There are many forces at play. But keeping this in mind, I am now just trying to summarize this, nobody can be without action.

Even the survival requires action, but to undertake that skillfully is also yoga. And then how to be free of the attachment to the fruits of action, along with these two things often go together, how to be free of whether people approve of me or disapprove of me, because that approval-disapproval depends on the kind of action I am undertaking. And so that becomes another definition of yoga. But finally that a yogi does nothing at all, and sees that all there is is Krishna. But as he said, such a person is a great soul, but very rare, that is also true.

And jnana yoga, yoga of knowledge, two or three things here to mention. One is, if what I know does not in any sense change the kind of person I am, then that is not the sort of knowledge Krishna is interested in. So therefore it is, in fact, especially in the thirteenth chapter Arjuna, asks Krishna, what is this right knowledge or the sacred knowledge? And it's very interesting that the response that Krishna gives is really describing the characteristics of the knower rather than of knowledge. So already the idea is that if I am engaged in any kind of what I am now calling it sacred knowledge, simply to make a distinction, essentially what is jnana or vidya, that it will bring about some change in me, which is the reason for emphasizing again and again that self-knowing and self-transformation are not two things.

That there is a kind of a spiral movement here. I see something about myself without making excuses, without blaming somebody else, even suffering the fact that that's the way I am. That brings about a shift in the way I am. In fact, really staying with watching, I have been trying to emphasize that, the fact that I see is much more important than what I see. Because then I can strengthen the seer or the seeing, and that has then the possibility of assisting or energy coming from a slightly higher level, higher, deeper, subtler level.

Can get occupied with the geographical imagery, geometrical imagery, but a level which is subtler has more energy, more consciousness. So then it can bring about a change in the way I actually act or behave or function. So therefore, allowing oneself to be assisted by higher level forces inside myself, therefore real knowledge almost always turns around self-knowledge. In many words, self-inquiry, self-observation, self-study, self-knowledge, different emphasis is used in the language for slightly different kind of sentences, but they are all connected. Central is what is Swadhyaya, self-study.

And again, it is true that generally in the culture, I should keep reminding you this, you don't have to just buy it, but you can look around, everywhere, general cultural understanding of the very subtle ideas from the great sages, for example, the sayings of Christ or of the Buddha or of Krishna, general cultural understanding which is often brought by religious organizations, ends up essentially trying to appeal to the masses. And the whole project of any serious education, even ordinary education, but I am now speaking more of the spiritual education, is to assist us to actually be educated, which literally means to allow something to appear from inside. By the way, you should look up this word in Latin. It doesn't mean to pour something into me, it actually means to release something from inside. That's the root of the word, educare.

And so to allow something to emerge from deeper and deeper within me, that's the purpose of any spiritual training or teaching. So therefore, of necessity, whatever is the general idea about something, you need to really question it. I actually often say, if one billion Hindus believe something, you can be sure that that's not what Krishna taught. If one billion Christians believe something, you can be sure that's not what Christ actually taught. I really mean to suggest that.

You seriously consider this. Because in general, and I can look at myself, this is not blaming somebody else, in general, we all want maximum reward with minimum work. But so do the others. And the churches and the temples and the gurus manage to give that. Just do X, Y, Z, then you have a place in heaven, so it's all set.

So let's have another beer, right? Because we have a place already set in heaven. So I'm actually inviting you seriously. Whatever the majority of the masses believe, that is the one thing you should certainly not easily accept. Otherwise, why should spiritual teaching beâ?¦ why should Krishna say, such a person is a great soul but very rare?

How many people do we call great sages in the history of humanity? If you can find all this right on the internet, and Google can tell you this, and soâ?¦ so be very careful. Whatever the masses do or believe is almost certainly likely to be very low level. And the purpose of any serious education is to elevate one's understanding, to bring a different kind of understanding. So let me return to the whole question of Gyan Yoga, that very much emphasis on self-inquiry but the kind of inquiry that actually brings about a change, otherwise, show my name is this, my father's name was that, this is what my father did, etc., etc., that's also in a way self-knowledge, and that's what youâ?¦ when you apply to a college, that's what you have to say, but that doesn't change anything, right?

But serious self-study, again, I'm repeating something I said four or five days ago, can lead to despair or to fantasy. It is actually assisted very much by the company of fellow searchers, because otherwise we have a bit of a tendency to take everything too personally. So in this context, let me remind you of a remark of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, it's in the second chapter, which I must confess surprises me that the official keepers of the Hindu tradition have allowed it to stay in the Bhagavad Gita, and I'm now quoting from the Bhagavad Gita, as long as you don't become free of the tangles of the scriptures, what they have said or what they may say, you cannot come to steady wisdom. This is right in the Bhagavad Gita, second chapter, and Krishna is very clear that even the scriptures, he actually especially speaks for the Vedas, which are regarded as the highest scriptures in the Hindu tradition, that just the very fact of expressing something already, if you like, brings it to a certain level of understanding, and then it becomes dualistic thinking, good, bad, or making a bargain with God, if I do X, Y, Z, then I'll have a place in heaven, etc. And so from Krishna's point of view, to come to steady wisdom requires being free of the tangles of what the scriptures have said, or what they may say, even the future scriptures, unless you become free, you cannot come to steady wisdom.

So it's a good reminder. That is by no means to say that one needs to be against the scriptures, that would be quite silly. In fact, we have a very classical, very great Sanskrit poet in the fifth century, Bharat Rihari, made a very remarkable statement. He said, those who know for them the scriptures are useless, and for those who do not know for them scriptures are useless, therefore scriptures are useless. He was a very great poet.

My suggestion is that we are actually in between these two. We clearly don't know, we are hardly at the level of any of these great sages. On the other hand, the moment you become even a little bit interested in actually searching for truth, then you wish and need assistance, guidance. So the sacred sayings, whether it comes from the scriptures or some wise people, or even wise doesn't have to be always at the level of Christ or the Buddha. Even somebody who is one step ahead of you can assist you.

So that can then be a great help, actually, because you begin to then feel the need for that. But keeping in mind an analogy that I quoted earlier, four or five days back, frequently said in India, that if you are going towards a lamp post, it puts light on your path. When you go past it, it begins to throw your own shadow on the path. So scriptures or the sayings of the great sages, et cetera, can throw light on our path. But if we get so stuck with them, attached to them, another analogy that I occasionally use that at best any teaching, absolutely any teaching, is a finger pointing to the moon.

If I get so attached to the finger, I can never get to the moon, I am stuck to the finger. So we need teachings, we need traditions, we need scriptures, but the tradition most succeeds when it transcends itself, when it frees a person. You look at the teachings of Christ, all the official keepers of the tradition are criticizing him, they say to him, you're destroying the tradition. What does he say? I have not come to destroy the tradition, but to fulfill it.

And I'm now reminding you, and then I will stop, anybody who wishes to fulfill the tradition is always at somewhat at odds with those who are the official keepers of the tradition. Official keepers at best, at best, are museum keepers. No need to be against the museums, they can keep great works of art, show them, but nobody ever became a great artist by visiting museums. So we'll continue, thank you.

Chapter 3

The homework I actually mentioned slightly in passing, but let me actually now draw your attention to it.

First of all, the one part I mentioned actually in passing, is the Buddha sitting under the Bodhi tree in meditation, is he undertaking action, or what would you say? Is that action? Secondly, think in your own life, maybe two or three occasions, when you felt that you ended up reacting, rather than responding. What would you now feel is the difference, would have been the difference between the two. Being difference, but sometimes one has an intellectual clarity also.

What is the difference in, but a specific event in which you reacted, otherwise it becomes completely theoretical, but think of one or two events in which you later said, oh my goodness, I shouldn't have said that, or I shouldn't have done that. So something reacted, why? You know, ask yourself, difference between reacting and responding. Thank you.


5 people like this.
This is such a treasure. So much to ponder deeply in this talk. I wish to come back to this (to the whole series, in fact) many, many times. Thank you again for making this available to us.
Not difficult to recall times when I have REACTED rather than RESPONDED. I NEVER feel good about myself thinking of those times! Anger feels like an explosion that hurts those around me and myself too. Like a nuclear bomb! Yoga practice on my mat, or sitting, or chanting: that's EASY!! But when faced with a real life situation that challenges me: that's the real deal. Not so easy. Deep yoga.
2 people like this.
Very grateful for this class and the Universality in all the Traditions. The analysts go of the relationship between the finger pointing at the moon is brilliant. Thank you.
I hope I find more of your classes in this forum.
1 person likes this.
This is the best education I am going through.  Thank you for supporting me with this remarkable series.
1 person likes this.
Like other people have commented - thank you for another brilliant talk - I particularly appreciate the many definitions of yoga, they are all needed, even though a while back I was resistant to that.  And education - educare, is to allow something to appear from inside, is the best difinition of education I have heard.  With gratitude !

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