Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Awakening From the Dream
Testimonies from Actual Practitioners
• Bhakti Yoga (Part 2 of 2) by Yogananda
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Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Awakening From the Dream
Translation of Satsangha
April 7, 2018
The celebration of Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela will be held tomorrow and many disciples, including Anandamali and Ekanta from New York, have gathered in Kyoto from various locations. Pink camellias are adorning the room where Satsangha is to take place, heralding the gorgeous arrival of spring. The room is filled with excitement at first, but as the starting time approaches, that excitement is transformed into a keen atmosphere of tranquility.
Shri Mahayogi has just returned from his third visit to Taiwan. When Shri Mahayogi enters the room and sits down, Mirabai, who accompanied him to Taiwan, gives a report about the Satsangha that were held there and the sangha in Taiwan. The sentiments of many of the attendees from Taiwan were read aloud, all expressing their fascination and how they were touched by the Existence of Shri Mahahyogi, and upon hearing these words, the disciples in the room resonated with vibrant joy, and they were moved by the grace of Shri Mahayogi and the greatness of his guidance.
Today’s questions begin with Gopala and Ramdas, who have been contemplating the Twelve Dependent Originations.1
Shri Mahayogi directs us by answering that in order to clarify the structure of the conditions created by the mind, it is beneficial to trace it back to the Twelve Dependent Originations, but [the real point is that], as the structure of this chain reaction of cause and effect is intellectually understood, and upon reaching ignorance, which is the root cause of them all, we must eliminate ignorance by applying the Truth to it.
Meditation on the Truth
Ms. Sakurai: Please teach me about how to meditate. I have been practicing meditation on God, but Shri Mahayogi often mentions that besides that, there are the meditations of asking, “Who am I?” and of focusing on the Truth—all together there are three main ways to meditate. But, I’ve heard from some senior disciples that they are meditating on fear, or on death, or in The Universal Gospel of Yoga it is written that it would be good to meditate on each of the sayings of Shri Mahayogi as well. What is a concrete, specific way to continue with meditation?
MASTER: The main object of meditation is that which is the Truth. There are three [main objects] and they are: God—the God of Truth, the true Self—the real Self, and the Truth itself. Besides these, as you just said, there is meditation on death, or on various topics. You should understand that these are included in the meditation on the Truth, in other words, the subject of the practice of discrimination. [For example,] what does the Truth teach about death? If the mind is afraid of death, [bring the teaching of Truth to it and compare the two to find out] what the difference between the teaching of Truth and the fear of death in the mind is. If you understand death as taught by the Truth, then no fear should arise. However, the mind has a variety of fears towards such things as death, aging, and sickness. This is a contradiction, isn’t it? That is why you discriminate right then and there which side is the Truth. In order to do that you need to study the Truth, and on the other hand, you need to discern the source of the fear.
Ms. Sakurai: Is meditation different from contemplating something thoroughly?
MASTER: Think of the state of meditation as something that happens after the flow of thorough and exhaustive contemplation. If you recognize that the mind has fears, something egotistical, or various attachments, or is bothered by something, then these especially are the very moments that you need to learn what the Truth teaches about such things and contemplate that thoroughly and firmly. If you do this, the thoughts deepen, then as they deepen, this becomes a state of meditation naturally, and then the deeper essence is revealed, and it is revealed more clearly. That is the meditation on the Truth. In other words, it is called discrimination.
Ms. Sakurai: (with a suddenly brightened expression) I understand it well now. Thank you very much.
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Sensing the Truth
(Ms. Sasanuma mentions that she had an opportunity to hear her high-school aged son, Fuma, and his classmates sing in a choir. She felt her heart warm up as she felt that the children truly were embracing freedom, love, and equality, and it sounded to her as if they were singing, “Truth…Truth.” Based on that experience, she began to vaguely understand what it means to deal with other people while seeing the essence within them.)
MASTER: The content of Truth, is Love, Freedom, and Equality. Those elements make up what is indubitably the Truth, however as they are sent out through a filter of the mind, they become somewhat distorted. It can be egoistic love, equality that is limited and exclusive, or freedom that is biased—distortions occur based on that influence, which is the ignorance in the mind—but in essence, the Truth is unmistakably the true Love, true Freedom, and true Equality that you mentioned. So often times, children sense and express these things straightforwardly.
Ms. Noa Nagaoka: This is similar to her story, but I was just meditating on Truth as usual, and then when I went grocery shopping, the scene that I saw was different from what I used to see; as I looked at a stack of vegetables, I perceived, “Wow, it’s the force of life!!” The people lining up at the register too, I thought, “Wow, they are all the force of life!” and I remained spaced out alone, feeling overwhelmed for some time. I never thought about or felt the life force with regard to vegetables before. When it comes to equality, it was intellectually possible to understand it, but I felt like it was connected to equality in the sense of discrimination amongst humans, or the equality of humans. I was surprised that even things and food all had that same life force, and then a sense of affection towards everything arose within me. Everything felt affirmative, and I wondered about how Shri Mahayogi sees this life force. For the first time, I felt like the life force came from within me.
(Shri Mahayogi was very pleased, and he was listening with a smile.)
MASTER: The definition of the word “life force” in the normal context most of the time is used to describe the state of all things when they are born into this world. But for example, like in the bible, the same word can be used as “Eternal Life,” and there, the word refers to the Existence of the Truth itself, rather than the worldly, physical or material life. The understanding of the word “Life” itself, can also be understood, in its essence, as something that connects to the Truth, or expresses the Truth. So, your experience in the grocery store was a very good one. It seems that it was an experience in which you sensed and resonated with the Essence that was manifesting itself through the vegetables and store clerks; this [Truth] exists within (placing his hand on the chest), and you too are connected with the essence of Life, that which is the Truth, so I think that was good.
Ms. Noa Nagaoka: It went back to normal after a while… (laughs)
MASTER: (laughing and speaking tenderly) But in a way the process of reaching the Truth is like a repetition of such things, if you continue to learn and practice the teachings in action, earnestly and steadfastly, then false things will naturally fall away from you, and you will become only the Existence of Truth. You’ll feel dearness and affection towards everything.
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Discrimination—Revealing the Real Identity of the Mind
Mr. Anpo: I would like to ask about discrimination. I often like to investigate the root cause of my shortcomings and dislikes. However, towards the things that I like, which are opposed to that, should I also meditate in order to investigate why I like these things?
MASTER: Yes, you had better do that. Pain-bearing obstacles—[in Kanji, or the written characters of Japanese,] that is the word used for the things that give the mind trouble, worry or bother, and confuse the mind—and two of the five main pillars of the pain-bearing obstacles, are raga and dvesha. The first is attachment to your likes, and the other is attachment to [avoiding] things you dislike. Both are considered to be attachments. If you like something, there has to be a reason as to why you like it, and it is the same with the things you hate or dislike, there is a cause that makes you think that you dislike something, therefore both of them simply boil down to attachments. So you better trace back to the root causes of both of them thoroughly and carefully, and eliminate them.
Mr. Anpo: This is an embarrassing question, but there are certain hobbies I have that I know I will end up getting burnt if I touch them, yet I still find myself wanting them. How do I handle my mind when it’s like that…? I make an excuse for myself, “It’s not against the law.” If I can discriminate it, I can probably cut it off right away, but I can’t quite do it well. I’m at a loss as to whether I should continue pursuing the hobby while investigating the cause or choke its neck and quit right away.
MASTER: Perhaps it is common for everyone to experience this. Indeed, it is one way to let it take its resulting course as an experience. However, that’s the way that follows karma, so that’s not good. There is a risk that the result will be something irreversible, and if you can already predict such results, then sure enough you must resolve this in meditation. The meditation for this is a meditation of discrimination. [As you examine your mind in the meditation of discrimination,] you can find an expected plan, or a blueprint, within the mind—with regard to the things that it interprets as things it likes, the mind finds joy in acquiring or experiencing these things. Then next, check to see whether this joy itself is eternal or not—if it is eternal, it is changeless, and if some sort of ecstatic joy is generated through it, this joy must continue changelessly for eternity; it should not fade even one iota. Will that experience be able to meet such conditions? And then as you put a scalpel to that joy, then you’ll find that it will really be a very brief, momentary sense of ecstasy. So then, since it will be gone as soon as it’s over, and since it’s not eternal, it is not worth holding onto, because it is not the Truth. This is how discrimination is practiced.
[What you do in] meditation isn’t some imaginary process at all. Rather, it must be the most realistic practice. Why? Because various thoughts and desires created within the mind are the most immediate, illusory sorts of existence, and viewing these as your opponent, you are trying to reveal their hidden identity—that is the work [and process of] discrimination. That is why it has to be most realistic. Meditation is never some make-believe [mental exercise].
Haridas: But, if you constantly sustain your moments of joy forever… (laughs)
MASTER: (laughing) Right, but the question is whether you can truly take it that far or not.
Haridas: I should be joyful no matter what, shouldn’t I (laughing)?
MASTER: Indeed, only if you are able to continue with that even after your body dies. (Everyone laughs hard.) So, even after adding all the various conditions such as, “what should happen when this condition arises?” “What would happen in this case?”—even after applying all the conditions you can think of, if the answer is immortality, it’s no problem. (Everyone breaks into roaring laughter.)
Haridas: That means, to sum it all up, that if the relative likes and dislikes are eliminated, then the relative joy and sadness will also be gone, so it’s not like we shouldn’t do this, or if we do this something will happen in this kind of way, but actually we’ll be able to escape from all of that.
MASTER: That is so. Once these thoughts disappear, no matter what you do, you are unaffected.
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The Path of the Middle Way
It’s been a while since Mr. Nakashiro visited Kyoto. From the back of the room, he could faintly be heard calling out, “Shri Mahayogi,” yet Shri Mahayogi responded with a clear voice and a smile, “Yes!”
Mr. Nakashiro: Please teach us about how we can grasp the “middle way” [or “moderation”]. I am anxious about material objects, money—about everything.
MASTER: The origin of this word “middle way” [or “moderation”], I suspect probably derives from Buddha’s use of it. If you look at the religious context at that time in the history of India, on one hand severe ascetic practices—the type that hurt the physical body—were popular, and on the other hand there was ritualism in which they practiced sacrificial offerings. By using these two methods, people put their trust in them in the hopes of escaping from the suffering of the current life and becoming happy in the next life. However, even if you are to be born into the next life, nothing guarantees happiness, and there is no predicting what will happen after that. Then, the Yoga [that you are practicing] and Buddha appeared. Buddha taught that such methods don’t solve the problem at all; instead, you need to earnestly and seriously learn the Truth, and control the mind through the means of meditation to reach Nirvana, the [state of] Truth—that is the most certain and conclusive method. And so he taught that this was the middle way—neither practicing austerity on the path of asceticism nor the path of making sacrificial rites, which is the easier path, have any use, but that there is a path in between—the middle way. So, then what is the substance of that middle way? That is the part that completely overlaps with the teachings of Yoga—that means it is about cleaning up the mind, or in other words, it is essential to get rid of the pain-bearing obstacles and ignorance that may be lurking within the mind. In short, it is about getting rid of things such as likes and dislikes, as mentioned earlier—attachment—then making the mind become as if it were completely transparent. The mind is essentially like that [to begin with]. To get rid of such ignorance, which is the root cause [of suffering], is the main substance of the middle way.
Mr. Nakashiro’s personal problem, that he just mentioned, is not an exception either; we are all surrounded by various objects in daily life and that is inevitable. All you have to do is get rid of the attachments. Well, even in the case of money, when you have it, you have it, when you don’t, you don’t, so [take the attitude of] “never mind about that, no matter what, it is as it is.” (Shri Mahayogi and everyone laugh.) Because you never even know when this physical body will be gone, and that’s just the way this world is; however, by getting rid of our attachments to all of these, they can all come to life as they are being put to better use. Whether it’s money, abilities, intelligence, or physical strength, whatever it is it comes to life as something sacred for the first time only when better use is made of it. How great it would be if they were put to use in that way, [free from attachment]. In this sense, because it’s impossible for this to happen unless you get rid of the ego and anything that is selfish, such as [the idea of] “mine,” this is what the path of the middle way boils down to.
Mr. Nakashiro: How about doing things that I want to do?
MASTER: Also when it comes to doing things that you want to do, if there is a selfish motivation or pursuit behind it, then that is in the realm of karma, so it moves away from bounds of the middle way. So you should discriminate [in order to find out] the real identity of the things that you want to do, in other words, the real reason behind the things you want to do and why you’re hung up on them, then make yourself practice staying within the middle way.
Mr. Nakashiro: I understand. I am still not able to meditate, so I cannot do more than think intellectually…
MASTER: No, no, that is fine. You can start from thinking. It will be good if you deepen it more and more, and grasp the essence.
Mr. Nakashiro: I’ll do my best.
MASTER: Good. I’m glad to see you’re getting much better!
Mr. Nakashiro: Thank you very much. This, too, I should surrender [to Shri Mahayogi or to God].
MASTER: Yes! Good, good!
(Shri Mahayogi is very joyfully smiling.)
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The Yogic Concept of Time and the Illusion of the Mind
(Ms. Hattori gives an update about her life, and Shri Mahayogi listens empathetically. She mentions that she is at times withered by holding onto the memories of difficulties from the past while living a new life and having a new job.)
Ms. Hattori: I want to let go of these attachments and memories. In daily life—this is about practicing the meditation of discrimination that you mentioned earlier—what should I do concretely when I feel anxiety and discomfort?
MASTER: This too is an important point in deepening Yoga, in other words, progressing; there is a concept of time contained within Yoga. Time normally seems as if it is streaming and continuous, but actually it’s not. That’s an illusion of the mind. The only thing there is, (emphasizing) is the moment-to-moment. It’s not continuous. Because what occurred and passed a moment ago is synchronizing with, so to say, or in other words, is related to this moment, which is the moment next to it, and they only look like they are connected. So the eventual future moment too can be said to be the same thing, and because we are under the illusion [that the current moment is so similar to the eventual future moment,] that the current moment and the eventual future moment are so similarly nuanced, they only appear to be connected. When in fact, they’re entirely independent. Each moment is independent. That is the way Yoga views it. Therefore there is no such thing as time, time is merely an illusion created by the mind—this is the way I take it. That is to say, my idea [of the concept of time] is that of Yoga. (Some participants grunt in amazement.)
You know about the concept of guna in Yoga. All things, everything in the world, and even the cosmos, are all acting through the guna: sattva (the characteristic of purity), rajas (the characteristic of activity) and tamas (the characteristic of darkness). The way in which these three guna behave is as if they are interlocked and constantly shifting in an effort to balance out, moving dynamically at each moment through the power of rajas. So they’re merely a continuation of intense change. Take one moment—this single moment and the moment right before and right after, you can say that the aspects of the guna within them are completely different. Now that is a huge hint. (With emphasis) That means that there is no past, because, since there is no connection, it does not exist. And also, if you are concerned about the future, you may be suffering needlessly by trying to cross bridges before you come to them, or from anxiety or depression, and then eventually these conditions will be diagnosed as such; but these too are all illusions. The only thing there is is this current moment. When this current moment has passed, the next to come is this very moment. That is to say that the only opportunity to fight it out is this very moment alone, moment by moment, in the moment that is right in front of you. That means that in this very moment, you can actually change the mind’s attitude completely! [But in order to do that,] you have no choice but to train for it because it does not work otherwise. As I just explained, the past does not exist if you look at the concept of time; neither do memories. Memory is nothing more than simply “memories” nurtured by a device called time (laughing). Therefore there is no need to become sentimental or emotional about such things. Good or bad, all there is is now. Therefore make the now better—that’s all. In the Yoga Sutra, there is a superb line: “What must be prevented, is future suffering.” In order to prevent future suffering, the only way to do so is to make the present better. [This is] because the present creates the future. That is why you can do this! You can create change.
(Shri Mahayogi while remaining smiling the entire time, spoke while raising his voice from time to time.)
Ms. Hattori: I will remember what Shri Mahayogi just said and make an effort to do so.
MASTER: Yes, do that! No worries, if you practice it, you can conquer it.
(Ms. Hattori has an expression of relief after hearing Shri Mahayogi’s confident encouragement.)
(Next, Ms. Noa Nagaoka asks a question with a serious and piercing gaze.)
Ms. Noa Nagaoka: You have mentioned that there is no such thing as the past, but what about karma and past lives—how does that fit into the [yogic concept of] time?
MASTER: Karma is at work when the mind is active whilst being covered by ignorance, and an illusory sense of time is set up there as well. That means that karma too is composed of time, space and their causation.
Ms. Sasanuma: That means that karma is also created by the mind, correct?
MASTER: Yes. Because of that, from the perspective of the Truth, karma is also an illusion! Such a thing as karma doesn’t actually exist. Neither karma nor ignorance exist to begin with. From the perspective of the Truth, that is absolutely how it is! It’s just that because the mind cannot see the Truth and it is covered by ignorance, it is thrown into an illusory realm, and you’re moving in confusion within that space—it is such a very comical situation.
Ms. Sasanuma: So, then the mind creates space, time, causation, and in addition, karma… [In a way,] although we are studying the laws of karma and thinking them over, we’re working and struggling very hard to understand something that we ourselves created.
MASTER: Right! A one-person theater [monologue]! It is the ultimate theatrical [monologue]! (laughs)
(Shri Mahayogi laughs lightly, and pureness spreads across the room.)
Ms. Kouno: Is it like this: since the mind created it, the mind asserts it?
MASTER: Right, you are possessed and get hung up on it.
Ms. Sasanuma: Even though we don’t want to be possessed and get hung up on it.
MASTER: Right, right. You don’t want it, but as I mentioned earlier about likes and dislikes, the hatred toward the things that you don’t like, which is the power of trying to push away what you hate, is there, and for what you like, conversely, the activity of trying to stick to those likes more and more inevitably arises—that is the mind.
Ms. Noa Nagaoka: We cannot prevent memories of what we have lived through. How do we interpret the fact that we have memories?
MASTER: Memories are records of impressions from past experiences. However, pulling the memory back, or recollecting, is what establishes memory. You can’t simply find a buried memory [unless you retrieve it]. In order to recall a memory, there needs to be things like pleasant things, scary things or things that you don’t like in the mind; and these various shades and hues are different depending on the different minds. Where do these differences arise? They arise from personal experiences, and these are also coming from memory—and depending on how strong or weak the impression was, or in accordance with the level of attachment, the memory is also brought back.
Ms. Sakurai: Then, does that mean that the obligation I thought I had, to bring karma to fruition, is based on illusion?
MASTER: Yes. Once you understand the Truth, then you clearly realize that it’s an illusion (laughing); but as long as it’s not fully established, that is to say, while the mind is still active with a false sense of subjectivity, then eliminating that and correcting it is the way you will be able to get closer to the Truth. This too is only a means to an end, and it is inevitable. Of course, if you can realize immediately in the moment that, “All of this is an illusion!” then there is nothing better than that.
Mr. Anpo: There is a common expression [in Japan] that says, “the arrow has already struck.” I think that unless we recognize for ourselves that the arrow has already struck, we cannot see it. Does that mean that the work of digging back into our own experiences to search for it comes to take on more importance?
MASTER: No, the arrow that has struck a person will give pain to that physical body, and that person cannot help but notice it.
Mr. Anpo: So, does that mean that one will come to notice it when the time comes?
MASTER: Yes. If the way in which it struck was unnoticeable or painless, then there is no need for concern about that kind of piercing wound. (laughs)
(As the ending time approaches, Ekanta speaks up.)
Ekanta: Shri Mahayogi, first I want to thank you for welcoming me here again in Kyoto, and I also want to thank the sangha here for such a beautiful time so far. I also want to say that the sangha in New York sends love to Shri Mahayogi and to everybody here.
(Ekanta is gazing at Shri Mahayogi with wide sparkling eyes, and expressing respect with his entire body. Shri Mahayogi nods with a full smile.)
Ekanta: Now I have a question. So, if I am to look and to think objectively, my body is not aware of itself, am I right?
MASTER: It is not.
Ekanta: So then, my mind, if I imagine something—like I picture, I imagine a bicycle for example—that picture that I imagine, that is the mind, am I right?
MASTER: Yes, it is.
Ekanta: So, that image—it’s not alive either—doesn’t have awareness of itself.
MASTER: Right, it doesn’t.
Ekanta: So, Sri Mahayogi was saying that the mind is afraid of dying, so how is it that something that doesn’t have awareness of itself can be afraid of dying?
MASTER: That is because the mind identifies the mind and the physical body as the true Self. Therefore the mind is afraid of death, which is the disappearance of the existence of the physical body. (Ekanta sighs and starts contemplating.)
Another one is the clinging to life, which is named as one of the pain-bearing obstacles, in other words, although it actually has the same content as what I just said, it is the thought of wanting to continue living in this physical body and mind, or of wanting to continue to exist forever—attachment. In any case, these are the thoughts and attachments that arise out of ignorance, which is not the Truth, as the cause.
Ekanta: The mind is not aware of itself—so that means it doesn’t make choices for itself, it doesn’t create anything by itself; suddenly somebody gives the mind power to move and make these [choices]?
MASTER: The mind itself consists of these pillars or functionalities: buddhi (intellect), ahankara (ego-consciousness), and manas (thought). Its power is already dwelling here (pointing to his own chest) within as these functionalities. By ignorance entering into it, which is the power that gives [the mind] influence, the mind mistakenly identifies this power as the self and creates a self-induced illusion. Therefore, once the ignorance is gone, then it is no longer a problem even if these functionalities are actively working. For example, even myself, right now I am using the mind, hearing you all speak, and I am also speaking to you. Even so, there is no ignorance. (Shri Mahayogi and everyone laugh.)
Ekanta: Thank you.
MASTER: Were you able to see many beautiful cherry blossoms?
Ekanta mentions that he went to Kurama with Anandamali and Gopala.
MASTER: Good, good. It is the best season. One more time, in the autumn, the other best season comes. That one is the red-tinted season.
(Shri Mahayogi and Ekanta smile at each other.)
MASTER: (on a light note) Well, see you tomorrow [at Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela]!
(Shri Mahayogi stands and walks toward the entrance. Everyone continues bowing until Shri Mahayogi leaves and they can’t see him anymore.)
(Shri Mahayogi swept away everyone’s delusions and ignorance in one fell swoop, like a spring storm. Participants who started asking questions with anxious expressions, gradually lightened up. Shri Mahayogi listened to people’s voices, and spoke Truth with fortitude—he was reminiscent of the Buddha.)
(Everyone left with an expression of joy and anticipation for the festival the next day.)
1 The Twelvefold Dependent Originations is a teaching of Buddha: Twelve elements are mentioned that trace back to ignorance, which is the cause of all suffering. That is, all suffering (Old Age and Death), such as old age and death, originates in being born (Birth); being born has its cause in existence with pain-bearing obstacles (Existence) that is reincarnating due to karma; existence that is reincarnated has its cause in being attached, trying to grasp and take various possessions (Grasping and Taking Possessions); attachment has its cause in craving (Craving); craving has its cause in perceiving sensory input (Input and Perception); perceiving sensory input has its cause in sensory contact with the external (Contact); sensory contact has its cause in the six sensory functions—sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch, and thought (The Six Senses); the six sensory functions have their cause in the subtle cognition, which are name and form (Name and Form); name and form have their cause in the recognition of outside world by separating the self and others (Recognition), and yet meanwhile the name and form and their consciousness to recognize the outside world stand interdependently; this consciousness that distinguishes the self and others and faces externally has its cause in sanskara, which are the subliminal tendencies (Subliminal Tendencies); subliminal tendencies have their cause in ignorance, which is seeing the non-eternal as eternal and seeing the non-self as the Self (Ignorance). The following is a summary of these twelve causes and effects shown in their causal relationships:
Old Age and Death→ Birth→ Existence→ Grasping and Taking Possession→ Craving→ Input and Perception→ Contact→ The Six Senses→ Name and Form→ ←Recognition→ Subliminal Tendencies→ Ignorance
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Testimonies from Actual Practitioners:
Bhakti Yoga (Part 2 of 2)
My mind was not aware of the conceit that had arisen in me about my bhakti. However, the initial symptom was that I was no longer able to concentrate and meditate on Shri Mahayogi as I used to. I thought something was not right, so I asked Shri Mahayogi why I could no longer meditate. He said, “It seems like there is a writing in the current issue of Paramahamsa with some hints, perhaps in Sananda’s article. Sananda, could you speak about it?” and passed the baton to Sananda-san, a senior disciple.
Sananda-san spoke as if he was squeezing out his thoughts, all the while getting choked up.
“I previously thought that I could realize Yoga by my own efforts. But one day I felt that the only way to be able to eliminate my ego and conceit was to ‘take the brilliant dust of the Guru’s feet upon my bowing head.’ I have had this feeling from then on…that I must continue to bear this in my heart, so that I will never forget that thought.”
[Shri Mahayogi:] “Yes. That is what is called pure faith. The word ‘faith’ is used in many different ways. People may have faith towards health or beauty, even various material gains in this lifetime. Even on a spiritual path, people have faith towards Satori, realization of Yoga—however these are still not pure yet. Only when everything falls away from the mind, and only the form and words of the Existence, which is the Truth, remains, only then does faith become pure for the first time. And, unless this pure faith is born in its true sense, spiritual realization cannot take place. Even Shri Ramakrishna pled with the Goddess Kali, ‘I can throw away everything else, but please leave pure faith.’1”
After hearing the senior disciples’ experiences and still, even though I had heard the teachings of Shri Mahayogi, it was not an easy thing to find out about my conceit and remove it. Just as Krishna disappeared from the eyes of the gopi, I completely lost the sense [I had had until then] that was as if Shri Mahayogi was coming close to me immediately upon calling out to him in meditation; then the mind that was organized and purified began to be led into disorder, and the world that was colored with the sweetness of God, changed to a world colored with suffering. There was a time when I was practicing meditation while struggling desperately with the feeling that I had to do or change something, I saw a vision of Shri Mahayogi’s feet, in siddhasana. In that moment, I recalled what Sananda said—“the only thing I have to do is take the brilliant dust of the Guru’s feet upon my bowing head”—so [one day] I asked Shri Mahayogi again with freshness about the meaning of “taking the dust of the Guru’s feet.”
“There is an easy-to-understand example of this. Just like the [Zen] parable of the cup of water, or cup of tea, if your cup is full of water or tea, then even if [someone] tries, no more delicious liquid can be poured in. Everything spills out. The water that is already in the cup is the symbol of the mind. First, one has to empty out the mind. Then, the new delicious water is poured in. Once the mind is regulated with humility, it is inevitably only filled with the teaching of Truth, so bowing your forehead onto the feet of a holy being, that is, to ‘take the dust of his feet,’ comes naturally. The holy being may appear to have just the same form as the practitioner. The holy being has a human body and lives in this world, however the internal substance is entirely different. The more strongly the intention of the practitioner to seek the Truth intensifies, the more attachments and pain-bearing obstacles come to be eliminated. Then, the water in the cup is discarded completely. One is actually reborn—this can happen.”
For me, in order for my cup to get rid of this water called conceit and be reborn, it took many more years. The prejudiced thought that, “I am capable,” is something that the ego desperately clings onto in order to establish the sense of self, so the ego will not want to relinquish it on its own. Even to get rid of that water in the cup, one might not be able to do that unless one gets a kick from the Guru. At least, that was the case with me. Some years later, I was allowed to go to New York and stay with Shri Mahayogi during his visit there, but what happed during that stay was the total opposite of the sweet experience in Ehime and Fukuoka previously. I went to New York to observe and learn Shri Mahayogi’s way of being and his way of conduct in action, but to try to guess about Shri Mahayogi, who is infinite, with my own limited and biased mind, was a mistake to begin with. From cooking, to daily unconscious general behavior, to the content of the words that came out of my mouth, all my actions felt like they were lambasted—the ego had no place to escape and it was driven into a corner. It turned out that even the asana that I’d worked on for a decade was nowhere near good either, and it only proved to me that there is nothing that I can think that I am doing well or that I have achieved, that I did not have a single competency or strength, and I am not capable of anything—then I went home with this recognition. As the old saying goes, “A lion pushes its cub down a deep precipice.” I was plunged into the depths of despair. The various works in the Mission that I had led myself based on the thought that, “I am capable,” came to be no longer doable; and to top it off in the end, I took a tumble on my bicycle on a road that had no obstacles whatsoever and broke a bone; and I sank into depression, both physically and mentally. Through this, for the first time ever, my thoughts of, “I can do this. I own that,” were taken away by force.
About one year after that, a transition came. It was the time of Shri Mahayogi’s Jayanti, and for a few years I had been given the role of chanting the mantra for the puja at this occasion. During this puja, in pitch-black darkness, a bell is rung, “Om” is chanted, and then, Shri Mahayogi’s form is lit up by a lantern. It is done in a very solemn atmosphere, so in years past, I was simply desperate to perform the actions of the ritual correctly [as if my life depended on it]. But probably during the puja that year, I did not feel such eager pressure, therefore when I was chanting the mantra, my mind, words, and actions aligned with the mantra, I entered the essence of the puja. At that moment, I definitely sensed that the Lord himself, who developed this universe through the vibration of Om, was born into this earth and had taken the form of Shri Mahayogi. Truly, through being allowed to perform the puja at the feet of the Guru, perhaps I might be able to receive that sacred dust. Because I had kept practicing that mantra for many months beforehand, even after Jayanti, the mantra kept resonating within my mind. As I walked down the street in such a condition, the ground, various trees and flowers along the side of the road, the cars driving by—I sensed Shri Mahayogi’s Existence manifest in absolutely everything. The boundary between my physical body and the world, which is evolving outside of it, began to fade, and I felt like only my consciousness is everlasting beyond it all. It had been the impurities within my mind preventing me from seeing the greatness of Shri Mahayogi, but then, the water in the cup was thrown out, and perhaps finally, the new water was being poured in.
Since that experience, I began to be released from the suffering I had had up to that point little by little. Then I also started to be able to simply meditate on Shri Mahayogi without distractions [and without any obstacles or pretense]. One time, when I was meditating on Shri Mahayogi, I sensed that my body, even my mind, is the manifestation of One Existence. And I sensed that not a single thing was in vain, and not only myself, but everything was Joy!—just by existing. The next instant, the teaching of Shri Mahayogi came to me intuitively, “We are all born in order to enjoy.” I have read and heard this teaching again and again, yet for the first time I could agree with it wholeheartedly. And I thought that if it was so enjoyable, I wanted to be reborn again and again. What was causing me, or people in general, pain was the ego-consciousness, comparing ourselves with others, fooling ourselves into thinking “I am capable, good,” or “incapable, not good.” But, the ego-consciousness that exists only and simply to distinguish one from the other was rather interesting and enjoyable for the diversity and variety in manifestations. It is rather joyful. Perhaps bhakta continue to hold onto this ego-consciousness, and are and will be reborn again and again to taste various types of joy.
As I learn about the lives of bhakta or the way they live, I see that my bhakti yoga is in a state where I have entered just a few steps, and it is still at the very beginning. However, I think that bhakti yoga is what teaches us the Truth about the types of questions I mentioned at the very beginning of the first part of this article—For what purpose are we born? What is the purpose of the existence of this world and of the mind? And the answers can only be established through the relationship you have with the Lord who developed this universe himself.
“The scriptures say too that, “in the beginning, there was only Atman. He was not able to enjoy, so he divided himself into two. Then humans were created, and other species and all things were born.” Originally, this world, manifesting in a variety of forms, is itself enjoyment. If there was only One, then there wouldn’t be a subject to enjoy, nor the object, therefore enjoyment itself doesn’t exist either. Yet one cannot deny that this world is visible [and tangible] through the five senses. It is too pitiful if one ends up spending one’s entire life in darkness, just practicing grimly only for the purpose of eliminating karma. Because whatever it is that creates karma, or even karma itself—such things don’t exist to begin with. What creates karma is the sanskara in the mind, and sanskara is like a chain reaction of memories caused by the pain-bearing obstacles, which are ignorance. Karma is something that was made in error to begin with. Having to spend an entire lifetime eliminating such a thing (laughs) [is too ridiculous]—we have to eliminate it as soon as possible. Eliminate it swiftly, even now, replace your entire mind, and return to the Truth. If you become aware of your Self, the Truth, and remain no longer caught up by anything, then that in and of itself is enjoyment. [In Truth, there are] various faces, various forms, various animals, plants, seasons—everything is beautiful and enjoyable. The world turns for the sake of enjoyment. As Krishna also said, ‘I do not have any duties in the world. However, the universe ends if I do not remain in action.’2 And Krishna cannot enjoy only by himself. For that, there is Radha, the gopi, and various people in various roles, cows, flowers, a variety of things. So we must truly cherish our precious lives and enable them to shine… Never lament in pessimism. Yoga is not nihilism. Yet it is not optimism either. Yoga knows the joy of the Truth as it is. Of course, this joy is not at the relative level of enjoyment or sadness. Enjoyment is beauty, greatness, Life itself, Truth itself… That’s why there are many faces. There are many forms.”
—Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa
1 Paraphrase from The Gospel of Shri Ramakrishna.
2 Paraphrase of Bhagavad Gita, Ch. 3, Verse 22-23.
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