Teachings of Shri Mahayogi:
Realize the Truth and Live For the Real Self
Testimonies from Actual Practitioners
• Aiming Towards the Completion of My Ideal:
Becoming Vivekananda to Understand Buddha
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Teachings of Shri Mahayogi:
Translation of Satsangha
April 6, 2013
The Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Towards the end of March, when the cherry blossoms in Kyoto were in full bloom, two visitors from New York, Amitai and Daniel (Ekanta), came along with Anandamali, on her return to Japan. They were finally able to fulfill their earnest desire to meet the Guru (Master) in Kyoto, Japan, and they spent a very solid and intense time with the gurubhai (brother and sister disciples). Amitai left a few days ago, and this is Daniel’s (Ekanta’s) second time attending Satsangha. Actually, Daniel (Ekanta) started to attend the class in NY last December, but he had not met Shri Mahayogi until this visit, at the Satsangha last week.
Since then, there have been many visitors from other parts of Japan, so the Ashrama is filled with an atmosphere of excitement and joy.
Experience and Master the Truth in Meditation
(Daniel (Ekanta) is going back to New York the next day. With a very happy expression, he is sitting right in front of Shri Mahayogi.)
Daniel (Ekanta): Please teach me the objects of meditation and how to meditate, or the process of meditation, accurately.
MASTER: First, it is necessary to make the purpose of meditation clear. The purpose of meditation is to realize the Truth, which is what everyone has been seeking.
What is the Truth? It is that which since ancient times has been called the Truth, God, Satori, etc. Everyone is born into this world, and everyone is living their lives while seeking something. However, whatever you can acquire in the world is neither perfect nor eternal. Even though you seek joy or happiness, everything most often ends in suffering. No matter how blessed you are with good fortune, you cannot wipe out the anxiety towards your eventual aging and death, or the disease that might come before them. However, deeper within the mind, you must have an urge to seek for something more reliable, the Truth. Since ancient times, the wise have taught that everything in the world is suffering. You need to sort out whether what you are seeking is real or not by examining the cause of suffering and by examining your own minds. Then you remove the ephemeral non-Truth that the mind is attached to by applying the practice of such discrimination. This is one of the objects of meditation.
On the other hand, you learn the Truth, and then practice meditating on that Truth. Concretely speaking, you inquire, “Who am I?” through meditation. These two objects are closely related. If you ask yourself, “Who am I?” the first things that people think of are their own bodies, their minds, and the situations that surround them. However, the body will change, and it will eventually die, and the mind is also constantly changing; it is not eternal, and situations change constantly at every moment too and they cannot be relied on at all. Whether you are in joy or in pain, regardless of the situation, there ought to be a consciousness that is an unchanging “I.” If we grasp these facts objectively, then the situations that surround the mind or the physical body are nothing but constantly changing facets, just like the weather in this natural world.
The one that knows change is that which does not change. Indeed! Irrespective of time, there exists an unchanging Consciousness. The Consciousness that knows all change, or is witnessing all that—that Consciousness alone is your true Self, the real identity of “I.” To experience and therefore to master this Truth in meditation is Yoga. And that Consciousness was never born and will never die, It is an Eternal Existence. It is Reality, without a second. To realize that is Satori.
That Satori exists within everyone right here and now. And That existence is called God.
(As if powerfully drawn, Daniel (Ekanta) keeps looking at Shri Mahayogi. In silence, Shri Mahayogi grants darshan (blessing) to him.)
MASTER: (after some time) I heard that you were talking until morning after the Satsangha last week.
(Daniel (Ekanta) seems to have spent very fulfilling days, discussing a lot with various gurubhai. Shri Mahayogi, with a full smile, said, “How wonderful. They’re all your siblings. Time went so fast and you are going back tomorrow, so soon.”)
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All Composite Objects Exist for Others
Daniel (Ekanta): I would like to ask whether we should constantly focus our awareness on the “I” or not.
(Anandamali adds an explanation that the other day he was saying that he wondered about whether, during conversation, he should focus on the person who is talking or the Consciousness that is witnessing it, that in meditation, it’s possible to abide in the “I,” but how about when performing other activities?)
Daniel (Ekanta): The reason for that question is that when we focus on things in front of us, we react toward these things in a way that is dictated by karma (cause and effect of actions), but if we focus on the “I” consciousness, then we will be able to remain without reaction in these situations, I think.
MASTER: Understand that in this world the mind and the body are like tools, so to speak. The mistake happens when the mind, which is supposed to be a tool, asserts itself, that is to say, the ego asserts itself as the first person. From that point on, karma is created. As I mentioned earlier, if the mistaken concepts in the mind—ignorance—have been eliminated by practicing discrimination, then the tool no longer asserts itself. Then, the tools will perform their roles appropriately, according to the situation. To accomplish that, constantly and consistently practice discrimination and meditation for the realization of the Truth. Then, the mind and the physical body, which are the tools, will work better.
Daniel (Ekanta): (with a serious expression) Through discrimination, the Truth is understood, and through renunciation, the true Self will manifest?
Daniel (Ekanta): What we must do is see that all these various things are not the Truth, and that the only thing that remains in the end is the Truth?
MASTER: (immediately) Yes. However, in order to maintain that physical body, you need food, and you also need shelter. Even to come from New York to Kyoto, you need many things. You must look upon them as means to an end, without attachment. More importantly, you should look at them as the means or vehicles to realize the Truth.
All complex matter exists for the other. The various forms of matter and cells in this physical body are also complex matter, therefore they are active in order to support others, that is to say, Life; they are not for themselves. That pillar over there, the walls, the ceiling, the floor—they exist not for themselves, but for others, that means, for this space. Land, sea, sky, cosmos—they all consist of complex matter; they do not exist for themselves, but for others. The mind is composed of memories, thoughts, and various things, it also exists for others. As you continue to probe into the entire universe, the only thing that remains is the sole Existence. That sole Existence is not a complex matter, but the Singular. Since it is not a complex matter, it is independent and self-existing. That is Atman, the Existence called the true Self. You must realize That. And then, live in that Realization. You should remain unattached, without regrets, to the matter of this world.
(Daniel (Ekanta) puts his palms together and bows deeply.)
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The Secret of Birth and the Six Treasures
MASTER: (smiling) In the “Anyone Can Practice Yoga” workshop in Tokyo, I assume that there were similar topics that were talked about, but how did it go?
(Shri Mahayogi speaks in a friendly manner to Mr. Sakida, who attended the workshop, “Anyone Can Practice Yoga,” in Tokyo a week before, which prompted him to visit the Ashrama right away.)
Mr. Sakida: I’ve read that people are born into this world to accomplish something, and although I am not sure what that would be for me, I have played the guitar and Japanese drums for a long time and have done photography. I am seeking to express something, and so will I be able to discern whether I should do these things or not if I continue to practice Yoga? In order to find out what I must do, what should I do?
MASTER: We are all born into the world, but does anyone know the secret of why we are born? (looks around at everyone with a smile) Eventually, we will all face death… That is the plan, right? (Everyone laughs.) There is no mistake about that. But then why die? Because we’re born, right? Then, why were we born? That is, so to speak, the secret of birth.
Actually, we have all been born many times in the past. That is called reincarnation. When one has things from the past that one still has left undone, then one is born again and tries to accomplish what one regrets from the past life in the new life. That is the secret of birth. It is called karma. Karma originally means “action”—“action” means the sum total of the physical bodies’ actions and the minds’ thoughts. Some karma are good and others are bad. Either way, if you look to accomplish something in this world and seek meaning or joy in it, then these are within the realm of karma.
On the other hand, whether you have good or bad karma, you understand that the joys and pains of the world cannot be avoided. Then you begin to seek the secret of karma and what is beyond karma—that is to say, what is the Truth—that is the spiritual path, in other words, Yoga. On this spiritual path, Yoga, you will be able to understand all phenomena, including karma. In a way, people may think that they are living their own lives, however, in fact they are at the mercy of karma, where karma has actually become the protagonist, directing every action. This condition is like slavery. It is a very, very tragic thing.
As you learn and apply the teachings of Yoga in action, you will come to understand that the condition of slavery is created by karma, and the cause that created karma is entirely due to ignorance, not knowing the Truth. To explain ignorance straightforwardly, it is to see as eternal that which is not eternal. What is not eternal means the realm of this world and experiences. Isn’t that so with everyone? If you experience something really happy or joyful, don’t you hope for it to continue forever? But it doesn’t even last for three days (laughing).
Mr. Sakida: So it’s not like escaping from what I’m seeking now, but to become neutral is what Yoga is…
MASTER: Exactly. You can continue with guitar or whatever else, after having removed attachment. And you can enjoy them. Yet don’t even get attached to that enjoyment. The real task for which you were born into this world is to realize the Truth. It is nothing other than a matter of your own Soul. This is the highest, the greatest task. You can only realize this Satori while you are alive in this world. If the physical body dies in the midst of the process, then you will be born again to continue it.
The most intuitive, easily understood thing is that that Consciousness that everyone thinks is nothing other than themselves is [proof of the] fact that [they] “Exist”. “Existence” means something is existing. However, it is just as if that Consciousness gets tangled up in the things of the world and loses sight of itself. So, [what you do is] revive your soul through Yoga…and at the same time, get rid of the attachments that directed your attention towards the things of this world—that’s how simple it is. I said simple, but since the mind has been constructed over countless incarnations, you will need some time to progress in Yoga, and it will become your “life’s work” to some extent.
Daniel (Ekanta): Why does reincarnation begin? Why does it occur?
MASTER: In order to understand that, you will need to correctly know why this world and all things exist.
Daniel (Ekanta): (forcing a smile) So regardless of what we hear or think, it ultimately all boils down to finding the Truth.
MASTER: Exactly so. (Shri Mahayogi and everyone laugh.) In actuality, the Existence of Truth has neither form nor name. But only That Exists. I said earlier that That existence is called God. God became this world and all things for the sake of the enjoyment of playing. Nevertheless, all things have forgotten that fact, and from that incorrect ignorance, the chaos in the world has ensued. From that arose karma. And because karma creates a chain reaction that follows one after another, reincarnation continues. All the tragic things that we see with our own eyes in the world are karma brought on by human ignorance. In Christianity, that ignorance may have been referred to as “original sin.” If you learn Yoga and realize It, then you will know that Eden is right here right now. In Buddhism, it is called the Pure Land.
Sananda: Earlier, you mentioned “life’s work.” As we walk on this long path with ceaseless dedication, I’m sure there are uphill moments. Is there any special advice or tips for this?
MASTER: As you begin on the path, you may not see what a wonderful treasure Satori is. Therefore, you must not have any delusions towards that treasure. Rather, you must scrutinize and verify carefully and thoroughly how many treasures actually exist in this world!
It is considered that there are six treasures in this world. Wealth—being rich, but only in this world. (Everyone laughs.) Having unparalleled beauty, like Cleopatra. Having fame that resounds across the world. Or having a champion-like limitless power in a particular field. Or someone who is given exceptional intellect—like with Nobel prize winners that we might see. The sixth treasure is someone who has renounced everything. People whose names remain in the world’s history, most likely fit one of these six categories. However, there is no guarantee that this was correlated to happiness. They may have led very fortunate lives in some respects, yet no one knows how they felt internally.
So, looking into the world means verifying what on earth the real treasure is, throughout its history and all of its realms, in a spiritual sense. As you reflect and look upon yourself, how much have you been flustered by trifles no larger than the tears of a sparrow. The sparrows actually think it’s odd looking at you from the sky. This will be a good hint for discriminating what the attachments are within your mind and what they are worth. If one is choosing one of these as one’s life’s goal, then that means that one has become a slave to these goals. And, if the object changes, gets damaged and disappears, then that person will suffer too. The mind cannot stand on its own. Without constantly depending on something, the mind cannot stand. Whether it is a love relationship with a partner, wealth, power, whatever it might be, the mind is inevitably attracted to one of these six treasures, but in actuality, what it means is that one is enslaved. That is the life based on karma.
People are born due to karma, but if you don’t want to live a life lacking in self-determination, you must take the path of getting out of karma. That means that instead of obeying karma, you must make karma obey you. Karma is action and thought. If you follow that path, then karma will no longer keep you bound, and you will be freed. That is liberation—freedom. That is your original state.
Mr. Sakida: We are here by coincidence actually, though there are often times when it does not feel like a coincidence. That is karma, right? I feel like there have been many people whom I feel I was with long ago. (laughs)
MASTER: Yes. The fact that you are here right now, what brought you here is good karma. If I add more, there is only the Soul, the Existence without a second, deep within us—we are all One Existence.
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The Power of Actually Applying the Disciplines of Yoga
in Changing Your Habits
(Ms. Hamada, who has been studying Yoga in Matsuyama, begins to speak with urgency, while seeming a bit puzzled.)
Ms. Hamada: I get nervous very easily. Even when I am simply hanging out with people, I sometimes get nausea, or become temporarily blinded, or I get confused and lose my train of thought and panic, and I don’t know what to do.
MASTER: (after some silence) These conditions have been built up by habit. In order to remove the habit—you can recover by creating an opposite habit. The effective opposite habit can include practicing asana (poses) and meditation—which means practicing the teachings of Yoga by putting them into action. Since these conditions are very closely related to the breath, even though you might try to correct them using just the mind, it isn’t that easy. So then make the breath change through using the physical body, which is asana. Through doing that, the mind will transform positively along with it. I assume that these conditions must have manifested after having been created over many years, so try to continue practicing Yoga with a little more perseverance and grit. (Emphasizing) It won’t take long. It will be less than a year, that’s for sure. I think that you will see a positive transformation within a few months.
Ms. Hamada: (tears flowing as if she is relieved) Thank you.
MASTER: Really, the power of Yoga is great! The karma that you have created through countless lifetimes and ignorance itself can be eliminated completely! It is truly so. (Everyone laughs.)
But you will have to study correctly and practice for real, in a concrete way. Nothing can be completed or perfected without actually putting the practice into action. It is the same even with worldly accomplishments.
(Shri Mahayogi ends his talk lightly with a smile. It was as if a ray of light shone into the darkness in an instant.)
(The content of the Satsangha on this day was as if the Master was guiding people toward abandoning the path of karma and entering the spiritual path of realizing the Truth, toward the core of Yoga.)
(Then, in the Satsangha below, which took place two weeks later, Shri Mahayogi spoke with gravitas about the seriousness that is imperative in order to move towards perfection in Yoga, and with a powerful tone, he emphasized the need to directly confront the fundamental issues.)
How Much Are You Willing to Struggle for Self-Existence?
Translation of Satsangha
April 20, 2013
The Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Sanatana: I feel like serious inquiry or serious, earnest seeking can’t happen unless there is tapas (heat). There are some anecdotes that remain from long ago particularly about teaching this seriousness at the level of risking your own life, such as a guru kicking a disciple down a precipice, or submerging their faces into a lake or an ocean. Shri Mahayogi also has always said that seriousness is the only thing that is important, yet it too is left up to each individual. Our situation is that we may hear about many situations in Fukushima or India, but we only hear it, and we are still comfortable and far removed. In light of that, if we don’t have the strong and earnest determination to become a “real and true human” or a “yogi,” situations don’t force us to confront this. After all, if left to our own devices, we will just continue walking, following along on the path of karma even if we say we do practice Yoga, so I think that we need to create some kind of tapas, even if it is through artificial means. There may be individuals who will jump into tapas of their own volition, but in general, due to karma, most people may want to avoid hardship. So how we handle this is a crucial point, I feel.
MASTER: Truly, that is exactly right. After all, the starting point is how urgently you struggle through thinking about self-existence.
Everyone is aware of one’s self after being born. And one can also deduce that one will die after some years or decades. Then, what happens to this self-existence? If you understand the self to be the physical body and the mind, then through death, that existence will be gone. You can assume that too. Realizing that, how urgently would you think about the disappearance of this self-existence?
No matter how wealthy you become during your life, the wealth disappears in an instant; your beloved, you yourself, everything disappears. Unless you have this tremendous urgency that is maddening, or you become consumed with madness over this problem, or you cannot find the answer, then in most cases you will then be in denial about this difficult problem, or you will intentionally try to forget about it. But still, if you continue to struggle, and as that struggle becomes deeper and deeper, the seriousness required to find the answer arises.
Ultimately, what is indicated by “self” in [the word] self-existence? What is the truth of existence? Since the physical body is born, it will eventually disappear. Although the mind also mistakenly appears as if it exists, due to the fact that it maintains an active state through the various kinds of thoughts that arise, once the essence of the mind is revealed, and the ignorance and sanskara (remaining subconscious impressions) adhered to the mind are disappearing, the [egoistic] self and the [illusory] existence of the mind, will be understood in detail. And more than anything, Satori will come about, [this realization] that the Self is neither the mind nor the physical body, It is the Pure Consciousness that exists as the essence, the Eternal Existence. Rather than bringing It about, you will see that Satori already inherently Exists, the mind is simply covering and obstructing That.
Self-Existence is what is called Atman. Well, historically, the word “atman” simply meant “self.” But then through the experience of Satori, the essence of the self is revealed, and what was meant initially as the “self,” or the first person through the physical body and the mind, no longer meant that, but rather the meaning shifted to Existence itself, Sat Chit Ananda; That is Atman; That is called Brahman. In short, what is required of you is to awaken into That, and until you reach it, serious learning and practicing the disciplines are a must—and in order to trigger this, a sense of preoccupation [about what existence is] will be a big determining factor in the level of your seriousness.
Indeed, in this modern world, Kyoto and many other places allow people to live comfortably, and you may not often be in [the situation or] the environment where you have to face your troubles and struggles, nevertheless, the Self-Existence that was just mentioned is something that follows in everyone’s minds, regardless of the situation. So stop making excuses like, “This is not Fukushima,” or, “This is not India or other places where there are extremely challenging situations”—whether you are in Kyoto, New York or elsewhere, it boils down to seriously facing the very core, the Self-Existence, the Essence, and then struggling with this issue.
Sanatana: There are people who automatically have this struggle with Self-Existence, and there are times when it occurs naturally. And many might quite often feel at a loss of what to do in order to practice meditation on Atman or meditation on death, or are having a hard time seriously tackling them. That means that people are struggling with the fact that they can’t struggle with the Existence of their own Self. In other words, they struggle with the fact that they’re just laid back or that they are living an idle life. Practically speaking, death is approaching ever nearer, day by day.
MASTER: Oh no, enough of that please, I ask you to graduate from the level where you are struggling with being unable to struggle [with it]. Just like now, you are actually hearing the straightforward Truth and are aspiring to realize It, so once again, struggle with the root cause, with utmost seriousness.
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Testimonies from Actual Practitioners:
Aiming Towards the Completion of My Ideal:
Becoming Vivekananda to Understand Buddha
Last December, I had a premonition of death.
For the past year or two, there was a thought that wouldn’t leave my mind, “Is this all there is to life?” I have no idea how long I’ll live. But I’m pretty sure half of it is already gone. At least half of the time in which I still have clear cognition and physical strength is definitely over. If some unforeseen circumstances bring me death, then that remaining time is shortened even more.
However, I still haven’t accomplished a single thing.
Is it a mistake in and of itself to even think that life is for accomplishing something? Is it all right just to be satisfied painting my picture on a canvas that fits my size? Or have I given myself too much credit?
Regardless, I have thoughts that I still can’t get rid of. Come to think of it, these thoughts have always made me suffer. I have taken for granted that aiming towards a high ideal is a given, an ideal I am aware is too high for me, or rather, I could not forgive myself for not being able to attain my ideal. Yet, all I had was this purity to simply pursue such an ideal, and although it tortured me greatly, it also allowed me to walk the path without any regrets.
The kind of life I envisioned since I began Yoga was to live like the disciples of Shri Ramakrishna. They, who went on a journey of wandering propelled by an intense yearning for God, with a determination never to return until they themselves had realized the Truth, eventually fulfilled their most cherished ambition and embodied their Guru’s Satori within themselves. And it wasn’t just they themselves, but they even had the capacity to take and guide others towards Satori, others who gathered in admiration of the legacy of the great Paramahansa, and those youths who staked their lives on Satori and offered their lives in exchange for becoming disciples. When you see the records of their later years, they seem to be so joyous. When this close fellowship of brother disciples, all holy beings, sat together at dusk upon the banks of the Ganges and spoke to their disciples about their memories of the infinitely beloved Master, they faced these youths genuinely, and at times, they even entered straight into samadhi. Without any sound evidence, I simply believed that I would eventually be just like them.
But the truth is that in order to become a great person, one must make a great effort. When I had the premonition of death, it felt like the continuation of my current state, and the passing of time as it is seemed more likely and more real than my being in the same state as the disciples of Shri Ramakrishna in their later years. This intuited future state is indubitably death—the authentic one. The death of life, in the sense of meaninglessness, was approaching rapidly along with the terror that comes with it. The thought that has been stuck in my mind for the past few years shot up at once as a sudden emotional shock. Ramakrishna’s disciples did not automatically become holy—thoughts about this utterly obvious fact suddenly confronted me again as if to just then reveal the secret of life. The Belur Math on the bank of Ganges, the pure youth who resided there, and the state attained and the feats accomplished by the disciples of the Paramahansa were all built on top of steadfast effort and substance. All of it was especially built upon the foundation of the devotion shown by the leading disciple, Swami Vivekananda.
Then I looked back upon myself. It’s been almost twenty years since I began Yoga. It may be an overstatement, but I got rid of everything and bet all of my life on Yoga. At this point, I don’t think there could have been any other way. Even then, did I do everything I could on the path that I chose? What a contradiction it is to complain about life’s insignificance, while not even taking the actions that can be taken! What duties have I still left undone? What can I do? Isn’t my life at one with Yoga? Isn’t the Yoga Mission myself? What’s been done there is what I’ve done, isn’t it? Yet on the other hand, there is a lingering thought that I have not accomplished anything… The answer came so fast, I didn’t even take the time to write it down. As I reflected on myself, the answer came immediately: giving of myself. And the long-term objective arose: take action.
The correctness of discrimination is validated by action. I must begin with what’s right in front of my eyes.
At the end of this year, Shri Mahayogi pointed out and admonished the present state of the editing and publication of the teachings, which has been on the back burner for a long time, and that the progress of these tasks is discouragingly very slow. We immediately reorganized a taskforce, and with an enormous amount of determination, each of us immersed ourselves in the tasks of editing and categorizing content. Even though it was during the New Year’s holiday, I could not let myself rest or relax at all. Rather, I was filled with the thought of challenging myself to see how much I could act upon my own decisions, and how sincere my thoughts were. If these tasks were my Yoga, and as Shri Mahayogi says, if karma yoga (the practice of putting selfless service into action) for the activities of the Mission is even superior to meditating, then I must immerse myself in this activity in exactly the same way as in meditation, or even more so, and continue without a pause, endlessly, until there are no more words and I reach mauna, spiritual silence. I worked without stopping. At the same time, I also deeply contemplated the publication editing policy, which had been pointed out as the major issue at hand.
To think of what type of teaching books to create is to think of what types of teachings—that means salvation and gospel—should remain in this world.
For a long time I had been thinking about why Buddha’s teachings spread across vast areas and beyond eras as much as they have. Buddha wandered around India and taught across various regions, yet the physical reach of his activities was not that broad. Compared to the global information age of today, his influence was extremely limited. In reality, it was routine for him to go between two places in the North of India, Jetavana-vihara in Shravasti and Venuvana-vihara in Rajagriha. Even so, in the era of King Ashoka, which was about a century and a few decades later, Buddhism became one of the three religions protected by the King. And further, one of the other two religions did not spread beyond India and it is unclear nowadays what the other one was, whereas only Buddha’s teachings went across half of the world, beyond countries and races, for over two thousand five hundred years.
Of course, this is all due to both the depth and purity of Buddha’s own Satori. At the same time, I believe that none surpassed the logical thinking of Buddha. The way in which he did everything was logical and also quite radical. Even if things look normal from a modern perspective, he actually originally made such things into the norm based on definitive, concrete evidence. It must not be a coincidence that Buddha’s teachings spread so far and wide. What was the cause of that? The conclusion I have reached based on having thoroughly thought about this since long ago, is that the establishment of Buddha-Dharma-Sangha (Awakened Being-teachings-monks) is what made it possible. There is the existence of an Awakened Being who realized Satori (Buddha), and the teachings of Truth (Dharma) that are realized, are compiled, and then further there is the training and organizing of the practitioners who aim for Satori (Sangha)—the combination of all of this caused the dissemination of the Buddha’s blessing and teachings over a long period time and across a wide region.
As I contemplated the compiling of the teachings of Shri Mahayogi, a strong urge and determination to establish Buddha-Dharma-Sangha amongst ourselves was born within me, and I felt that I, and we, ought to sacrifice everything and serve selflessly for the sake of perfecting and completing this. Not only is it about laying a solid establishment of the Dharma, but it also means the completion of Buddha and Sangha. It means to construct an organization where not only I myself perfect Yoga, but to make it possible for all practitioners to also head toward perfection. It means to cultivate human resources, and to complete the Mahayogi Mission as a monastery and the mothership for all of our activities. As the word “organization” suggests, this organization has to be a living organism, an organic entity, in which the living Truth alone is what activates the people. While still following the ancient path shown by Buddha, this novel system that is based on solid evidence has to be embodied as the ideal, as the manifestation of the revolutionary spirit that our Guru, the Paramahansa always shows us. Thus, the completion of Buddha-Dharma-Sangha has become my tangible and clear ideal.
Vivekananda, 2,300 years later, caught the message that Buddha had thrown. I saw it as if they were playing catch beyond the grandeur of time.
It is considered to be the case that when Vivekananda organized this unprecedented service organization, which consisted of sannyasin (seekers beyond worldliness), he drew on the way in which Buddha organized. He not only profoundly realized and therefore awakened into the mind of compassion of Buddha, but he must have studied his thoroughly realistic and concrete methodology.
Vivekananda recalls the meditation he had when he visited the Buddha Gaya in his youth, and it is said that “he keenly felt the presence of Buddha and saw vividly how the history of India had been changed by his noble teachings; pondering all this he could not control his emotion.” What did he see? To Vivekananda, what was the actual teaching that transformed India? After returning from Buddha Gaya, his Master, Ramakrishna, asked him, “What did the Buddha preach?” Vivekananda replied, “He did not discuss the existence or non-existence of God. But he showed compassion for others all his life. A hawk pounced upon a bird and was about to devour it. In order to save the bird, Buddha gave the hawk his own flesh.”1 He had perceived that the fact that Buddha showed compassion through his actions throughout his whole life, this itself was his teaching, and that concrete action was so powerful that it changed the historical course of India.
When Vivekananda himself, as Buddha did, felt heart-wrenching compassion towards the people and declared that he would go to hell to save them, he must have had the same action plan as Buddha in his mind. This was very obvious from the action he took first and foremost as soon as he returned to India from the West, which was to organize his brother disciples, that is to say, to establish the Ramakrishna Mission. At that time, according to his biographer, Nikhilananda, Swami Vivekananda “recalled how Buddhism had spread both in India and abroad through Buddhist organizations.”
I have been taught by Shri Mahayogi that there is no one else who understood Buddha better than Vivekananda. And on July 4th, the day Vivekananda passed out of this world, he left these words, “If there were another Vivekananda, only he would know what this Vivekananda has done!”
I aspire to become Vivekananda so I can understand him. Then, by becoming Vivekananda, I aspire to understand Buddha. Without thinking about the consequences, if I boldly declare, right now I feel that Vivekananda’s soul is starting to overlap with my own.
When he came back from the tour of the West and gave his first lecture, “My Plan of Campaign” and spoke thus: “Men, men, these are wanted: everything else will be ready, but strong, vigorous, believing young men, sincere to the backbone, are wanted. A hundred such and the world becomes revolutionized. The will is stronger than anything else. Everything must go down before the will, for that comes from God and God Himself; a pure and a strong will is omnipotent. …It is a man-making religion that we want. It is man-making theories that we want. It is a man-making education all around that we want.”2
Vivekananda’s love towards humanity was Buddha’s Great Compassion, and his “Campaign” was the successor to Buddha’s legacy of thorough and radical logicalness. In the center of that radical logicalness was nothing more than the injection of the spirit of the bodhisattva and of karma yoga throughout all the organizational activities of the disciples, contrary to the prevailing tradition of Indian religion, which prioritizes individual salvation. Sangha, sangha, sannyasin that work ceaselessly and complete their work are wanted—the soul of the ancient Buddha, through the lion’s roar of Vivekananda from 120 years ago, is about to start howling inside of me. And this voice powerfully lured me to join the sangha. See only God in humans. See only people in God. It is calling to me that if I reach that state, then every step I take, every action I do, will all become Yoga.
“Arise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached. Arise, awake! Awake from this hypnotism of weakness. None is really weak; the soul is infinite, omnipotent, and omniscient. Stand up, assert yourself, proclaim the God within you, do not deny Him!”3
1 The story of Buddha giving his flesh to the hawk is, more accurately, a story from his past life. When Buddha was a king named Shibi, Gods visited him and disguised themselves as a hawk and a pigeon in order to test whether he was a true bodhisattva or not. The hawk came chasing the game, the pigeon, to the king. But to protect the pigeon, King Shibi tore the same weight of flesh from his thigh to give to the hawk. But strangely, the scale never balanced. He kept giving away physical body parts and finally he gave away every part and died. The Gods were satisfied that he was a true bodhisattva and so revived him. This is a story that teaches how Buddha already completed the state of bodhisattva in his past life, and how honorable such self-sacrificial action is.
2 The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol. 3, “From Colombo to Almora: My Plan of Campaign”.
3 The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda, Vol. 3, “The Mission of Vedanta”.
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