Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Testimonies from Actual Practitioners
• The Experience of Shri Mahayogi’s Visit to NY Summer 2018:
Confronting Suffering with
Growing Faith, Love, and Devotion by Prapatti
* * * * * * *
Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
August 24, 2018
It is the first public Satsangha being offered in New York during Shri Mahayogi’s visit of Summer 2018. Two months have passed since his arrival in New York and disciples and class attendees have been anxiously anticipating this long-awaited opportunity to ask questions to Shri Mahaygoi. There are two new attendees who will be meeting Shri Mahayogi for the first time, and several attendees who are returning to meet the Master again after attending Satsangha last year. There is one attendee there who has been present for almost all of Shri Mahayogi’s Asana and Meditation classes since his arrival. His face is beaming a glowing smile as he stands in salute and waits for Shri Mahayogi to enter. Over the past two months, something in his face has changed and he has become visibly lighter and brighter.
A quiet anticipation fills the room. As attendees stand to great Shri Mahayogi, gratitude to have such a precious opportunity is felt throughout the room. All bow as Shri Mahayogi’s feet glide softly across the carpeted floor, taking the place next to Yasoda, who will translate today’s Satsangha. Anandamali invites attendees to ask questions, and a mere few moments later, this same attendee who has been visibly transforming over the past two months inquires about dhyana, and the Satsangha begins.
Man A: Would Mahayogi please say something about dhyana? And what goes on? What does one do, or what goes on in dhyana?
MASTER: Dhyana is generally translated as meditation. The content of meditation includes three elements. The first is concentration, that is, concentration towards the object [of meditation]. When that concentration has deepened, the gathered mind enters more and more into the object of meditation. In that state, you experience something that you have not yet understood through the intellect, or something you have never experienced before. In the third [stage], the mind that is meditating becomes completely one with the object. This is called samadhi: to become One with the object [of meditation]. At that point, the object of meditation is no longer what is known by the mind objectively; the mind becomes the object of meditation itself. For example, let’s say that we meditate on these flowers right here. The mind starts to concentrate upon these flowers. And then the mind that is concentrating on them becomes more saturated in the flowers. Then, you will experience a sense of unity with the flower, as if you are the flower itself.
I used the flower as an example just now, but what you must know in meditation is the Truth. The Truth can be described with three words. One [of them] is the true Self. The “self” who you normally believe to be your “self” in this world is not the true Self. It is simply “ego-consciousness.” That is not the true [Self]. The true Self is the Consciousness, the Pure Consciousness that is witnessing that ego as well as the mind. To realize that true Self is one [of the three ways]. The second one is that this true Self is something that is also called by another name, God. God is perfect, universal, and equal—It is the Truth—these three things denote the same Existence. The Truth, the true Self or God means Eternal Existence and It means Pure Consciousness. There’s only One, without second. It was never born, it never changes, and it will never disappear. This, this Existence, is everyone’s Truth. It is the essence of the universe and It is the essence of all things. To experience this, to realize this, is the biggest task in this life. Therefore, to answer the question [about dhyana], meditation can be said to be the way to realize this Truth, and also the task of discriminating against falsehood and then realizing the Truth is meditation, too.
Man A: Thank you, Mahayogi.
Nandiswara: Often when I am meditating on the Consciousness that sees, various thoughts arise, and I am wondering what would be better. Should I try to discriminate and find out where those thoughts are coming from? Oftentimes, I will just remind myself that “I am not that mind that is having those thoughts,” and I will always try to go back to my object of meditation. Which approach will be better for me?
MASTER: Your question contains two objects of meditation. One is to seek the true Self, and the other is to discriminate the thoughts arising within your own mind according to the teachings of the Truth. And in the beginning of your question you mentioned that you’re concentrating on the Consciousness that sees that mind. That is categorized under the meditation of seeking the true Self. Since all the things that your mind thinks are witnessed by that Consciousness, ignore the thoughts in your mind, and direct it towards that Consciousness that sees. That is your true Self, which is the Pure Consciousness.
Nandiswara: Right now, I usually have to go through the step of telling my mind that, “I am not that thought or that mind that is having those thoughts,” and then I bring my concentration back to the Pure Consciousness. Should I try to ignore it and just go directly into It?
MASTER: You should ignore it. See, even now, right now at this moment, why don’t you all observe your minds. Don’t you recognize that there is a consciousness that is witnessing your mind right now? (Attendees observe their mind to see, so all are quiet for a few seconds.) You should quiet your breath and concentrate in order to see, and you’ll recognize it right away. The mind is constantly changing and it makes various thoughts arise. What knows that the mind is constantly changing is that which never changes. Indeed, the Pure Consciousness never says anything.
Nandiswara: But sometimes I get a little bit scared to go there. Just like, to realize and understand that it’s possible to actually have the mind be without any thoughts. That itself can be scary. And I know that is really ignorance…and I just want to go past that.
MASTER: Indeed, and in order to remove that fear or the various anxieties, you must have discriminated beforehand [to be prepared for that]. The mind has a relationship of attachment towards this world, which has accumulated over a long span of time through many lifetimes. The mind feels a great fear towards cutting off or losing all of these relationships. That is because the mind can only become established in taking action by constantly depending on something, whatever that may be. The bigger this false relationship of dependency gets, the more the mind will come to experience the end that comes as the result of the experiences in this world, that is, suffering. This relationship of attachment can be said to be the pain-bearing obstacles, and the cause of that is ignorance, or the false view toward things coming from not knowing the Truth. Therefore, through learning the teachings of the Truth, and applying them to your mind, discrimination will finally begin to form. So then whatever there is that is false will be renounced. It is crucial to bring about the condition in which the mind is as if it were empty, in which it is not bound by anything. When I say these kinds of things, people often question: “So then how am I going to live?” “How am I going to make a living?” “What about my job?” But no such worries are necessary. (laughs) You can continue to do these things even without having any attachments.
Nandiswara: Will that make our work better?
MASTER: That’s right. It is better to perform tasks without any attachments. And the greatest pains are to die, to become seriously ill, or to age. However, even when it comes to death, you are required to understand it correctly. Who dies? What dies is the physical body. But the physical body is not the Self. Death is simply the case of an object that stops being active. What will happen to the mind then? The mind sets off on a journey where it heads towards the next life while having its memory, that is, karma. Then, under the circumstances that are best suited to bring that karma to fruition, one will be born and choose one’s parents accordingly. And then again, one continues to reap the results of karma: that is the repetition of it. As long as you follow karma, your suffering will continue to get bigger, like a snowball, however this cycle of reincarnation will continue endlessly because the cause of creating the karma is ignorance. That is why it is necessary to learn the Truth and realize the Truth, in order to end karma, as well as ignorance. When you recognize that and realize it in meditation, the mind dies. However, the mind is not the true Self either. Ego is simply like a tool that allows one to act in this relative world. But then ignorance adheres to the ego, and comes to create karma that is not good—more selfish karma. Therefore, these errors have to be put to an end. Now, what is left? The true Self. That never dies. What is said “to die” in this world is simply the physical body, and when it comes to the subtler part, it is the death of the mind. However, neither of them are the true Self—you must clearly and firmly recognize this. At the same time, the true Self is immortal Existence, it will never die. Whether you call it the Soul or the Pure Consciousness, it doesn’t matter which words are used—because That is everyone’s essence, the Truth, and everyone can experience It.
Nandiswara: After the mind dies and you’re still living in this physical world and in this physical body, and if there’s a situation where you need to use the mind to figure out something, how does that work? Will the mind come back and do its work?
MASTER: Yes, the mind will come back.
Nandiswara: Just like a tool?
MASTER: Yes, exactly.
Nandiswara: And you’ll never get confused that the mind is the Self?
MASTER: Right. Because you no longer have ignorance, you no longer have karma.
Nandiswara: Will the mind even think “it’s interesting,” or will that thought not even be there? Like there’s no ego there, and the mind is just like a tool—it’s a very different state that I cannot even imagine. Will the mind actually think that that is pretty interesting?
MASTER: (immediately) Not at all.
Sadhya: To follow up on that a little bit, Shri Mahayogi has said that when it comes to discrimination, prevention is best, or to discriminate preventatively. So, I would just like to clarify what that means, because if we are not responding to a situation or a reaction of the mind and discriminating upon that, then is it that, like Shri Mahayogi said, we are painting the mind with the teaching all the time? Is that the prevention?
MASTER: Yes, it can be.
Sadhya: So, it is not necessary to bring up a past experience or something, just only focus on the teaching?
Sadhya: Thank you.
Karuna: I’ve been trying to understand the concept behind non-possessiveness. And as I was trying to understand… I thought that maybe to be non-possessive is to be able to sustain the mind of sattva. The question is, whether we should try to attain non-possessiveness or if that’s something that we can do through meditation.
MASTER: [Non-possessiveness] is practiced for the purpose of making the mind [come to the state of] sattva, as well as to sustain the [quality of] sattva.
Karuna: So it’s not something that you do during meditation?
MASTER: Regarding aparigraha, to possess possessions as an actual action itself, or to receive gifts from others, in either case, these are very concrete things—to possess materials like that. So then, in order for that action to come to be, there is a working of the mind that is attaching to or desiring it. Therefore, for the internal task, you must eliminate the attachment or the thought of possessing something within your mind. And for the external task, you must concretely practice not owning things.
Karuna: I was thinking non-materially though.
MASTER: (immediately) It’s the same thing! Whatever it might be, it is possessed by the power of attachment, therefore apply discrimination, and become non-possessive.
Mihai: I’m sorry, Shri Mahayogi, but becoming non-possessive is almost against human nature. I see the true Self being something absolutely simple, perfectly simple. So, we have so many attachments. We train our mind, and our mind is capturing the body, and we have physical attachments, and emotional attachments. So, I see these human beings, the ones who are able to do this, as super humans, because they are so few. So basically, [it is] a very small part of the entire population, which is made up of billions of bodies on earth, at the same time, most are not able to ever cut all these attachments in order to get to samadhi. Am I right?
MASTER: No, it’s not like that at all. (Mihai: Oh, sorry.) (Some attendees laugh.) Because, the thing is, nobody wants to seriously face this wisdom and these ways of realizing the Truth—in ther words, how few are those who really face these things.
And, on the other hand of the teaching of “non-possessiveness,” there is another teaching that is “contentment.” That is, in order to continue living in this world—of course, even if it is for realizing the Truth too, you need to live—so even for living, you need the bare necessities, and “contentment” is to be content with few belongings. It is a very simple material plane of living. However, with this too, various differences are accepted according to the individual. For example, even though a person is born into a wealthy household and may be surrounded by many possessions, [that person] may be unattached towards these possessions. On the other hand, with a person who is born into a poor household and does not have many material things, the mind may desire a great many pleasurable things. (laughs) Most human beings are probably the latter. Despite [what is on the surface], in these cases, the former person is detached internally, that means being unattached, so you can say that the mind is actually more [in the condition of] sattva, which is a better condition. For the latter person, no matter how few the material [possessions] may be, if there are many attachments in the mind, it is not [in the condition of] sattva. And then, for those who seek to realize the Truth—among them, there are practitioners who work to acquire these [teachings of] Truth from the beginning and go straight into and only pursue the path of Yoga single-mindedly; there are practitioners who pursue it little by little while engaging in their work within society, or while having a family. Therefore, there isn’t necessarily a clear line you can draw for what things have to be. For each person, it is through each respective environment, situation or condition, which are daily living, work, or family situations, that their possessions inevitably come to be established. And that would be fine. What’s important, and what you should do is remove the relationship of possessions—“being attached to”—within the mind. And, when it comes to material things, there is also money, money is not necessary for the purpose of accumulating. (laughs) Needless to say, you do it for the purpose of obtaining some kind of ideal. However, each and every ideal in this world is transitory, and like a dream. If that is the case, it is better to instead use money to further realize the true Self, the Truth—I think.
Mihai: But, I understand the attachments, the material attachments—the problem is, the mind has a lot of attachments which are not really material, like a good book, music, or nature. So, the mind is the biggest enemy. It’s working with this piece of dirt, to make it feel good, not necessarily by accumulating material things, even when you read a good book or drink a good coffee or a glass of wine or… All of these are attachments, they give you a good state of mind, they make you feel good. It’s very hard to separate these attachments. That’s the problem! So, I see this as a big pyramid and a lot of people…
MASTER: (interrupting him) The mind is completely under self-hypnosis. (Mihai: Oh.)(Attendees laugh and Shri Mahayogi smiles.) All such things that you just mentioned, the way you enjoy this world, are not the problem, they are fine. It is fine to do them without attachment. Nature is beautiful. Nevertheless, on the other hand, it can bring hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes—big disasters. This world is based in duality. Therefore, you cannot only just enjoy one side of it. There is a shadow side to everything that inevitably comes with it. So, whether your liking is wine or whatever it may be, enjoy the things you like. But, if there is no tasty wine [this year] like the one in the last year, then you must endure this year even at this level. (laughs) That’s good. You just enjoy the moment-by-moment. Even with that, to enjoy these things without attachment is more fun.
Mihai: How? (Shri Mahayogi and everyone laugh.) How?
MASTER: As I said earlier, get out of your own self-hypnosis. You have mistakenly convinced yourself that “I like it,” and “No matter what, I need these things.” If you get rid of such thoughts, even water tastes more delicious than wine. (Shri Mahayogi laughs. Everyone bursts into laughter.)
Mihai: That’s what Jesus did.
MASTER: (immediately with smile) Yes, you can do it too.
Elena: I have a question about meditation. A lot of times I find myself experiencing anxiety during meditation. And I think a lot of this anxiety comes from the fact that I feel that I have to go all in, that it’s either all or nothing. And I would like if Shri Mahayogi would kindly tell me what is the best way for me personally to move past that and how to meditate, because I know there are different methods and I’ve meditated in different ways and I don’t know what to do to move past that.
MASTER: It is best to continue with one of the objects of meditation that I mentioned earlier: to seek the true Self. It’s not necessarily to experience Awakening in one jump, however if you continue to practice, then you will eventually and definitely experience it, as if you wake up all of a sudden, the awakening of you yourself into the Self. So, don’t rush, be patient, and continue.
Elena: Thank you.
Badhra: An obstacle I think I have is that my mind sees the Truth like a possession; so, it desires it just like a car or any of those other things. But the mind can’t know the Truth. Is that correct?
MASTER: Yes, it is.
Badhra: So, how can I get a deeper desire? I’ve been trying to cultivate bhakti. Is that a good way for me personally?
MASTER: That is fine.
Badhra: Is there anything else that I…?
MASTER: As was also mentioned earlier, based on the experience of the mind it is correct to say that your mind is seeing the Truth as if it were an object. However, you must recognize that there is a Consciousness that is objectively seeing the whole picture of that itself happening. That is the Truth. Therefore, whatever the mind thinks, whether it is of desires or of the Truth, ignore it. And then aim towards that Consciousness that sees, or that knows the mind. Truth be told, that Pure Consciousness is always awake. That’s why It knows what the mind is thinking or what the mind is feeling. Yet, because the mind is so heavily active, it feels like that Consciousness of Truth is hidden within the activities of the mind. That is why in the Yoga Sutra it is said that, “To restrain the activities of the mind,” that is to say, to put an end to the activities of the mind, “is Yoga.” And following that, “At that time, the Seer abides in its own nature.” It is very simple.
Karuna: If we are practicing bhakti, this state that you mentioned, of “the Seer [abiding] in itself,” from the Yoga Sutra, is that then the completion of bhakti?
MASTER: To translate the Yoga Sutra using the words of bhakti, the Seer is Atman, and it is also God.
Karuna: I was practicing trying to see Atman in others in the world around me, as a type of antidote I would say, for the mind to see not my obstacles but to look for Atman…rather than what is not Atman. But it felt like a physical activity, like from my eyes out. I felt like that was very superficial, because I was looking out. And I felt like I was excluding myself. So, in an attempt to deepen that, I thought that when I look out I need to look in a way that also includes myself.
Karuna: I would like to know why that changes it, because I’m not so clear about this.
MASTER: If you have made the mind completely the quality of sattva and experience God or Atman, all you can see in everything is nothing else but Atman. However, if rajas or tamas, in other words, if karma still remains, then even though you have been taught that the essence of everything is Atman, you feel and see various external things. In any case, the world you see externally is a mere reflection of the world of your mind.
Karuna: So, that means I should…when I’m doing this in daily life, I feel like my eyes are not really helping, my vision or what I see. So, should I look at things with a different way of looking? I feel like my eyes really don’t function to help this process.
MASTER: Right, use the spiritual eye. (smiling) (Naturally smiles come to the faces of many.)
Roxana: Since we are talking about discrimination and not having attachments, for example, during meditation is it possible to sense connections with the other people meditating around us when we are in a class, like a conscious mind or soul that connects us? Or, if we sense during meditation that we are having a recalibration of the aura or of the energy, should we just ignore all these things, all these sensations?
MASTER: It’s better not to think of those other things [during meditation]. If you want to realize the Truth, first you must learn the Truth. You can learn It in opportunities like this, Satsangha, or by reading the scriptures. Then, as it is revealed to your mind what the Truth is, you will discern whether your mind is in opposition to It or in correspondence with It. This is [the practice of] discrimination. In this way, train the mind to become transparent and light. And, at the same time, concentrate upon the true Existence, Atman, the true Self or God.
Yajna: When I meditate…when I try to meditate…my mind is so active that I get very discouraged, and I find myself not meditating very much because it is such a discouraging experience. And I realize the answer is to just keep at it, keep meditating. But I find myself in this trap where I get myself to meditate as much as I should and I feel stuck there. Can you say something about that?
MASTER: That is the normal state of the mind. The mind is spouting off all kinds of thoughts one after another, like a fountain. That is why, as I said earlier, there must be that Consciousness that knows what the mind is thinking and [that knows] all of these thoughts in the mind, and so you must run towards that instead. For that, quiet down the breath and heighten concentration, and if you sense that the concentration is about to go towards the mind, then bring it back again, and remain in that Consciousness. Attempt this again and again.
Alex: What is the relationship between asana and meditation? Can you meditate without asana or…?
MASTER: The fact is that the introduction of the system of asana into this spiritual system is a characteristic of Yoga. The purpose of asana is to create a healthy and strong body. Yet asana has a role that goes much further than that.
This physical body is nurtured by prana. This prana flows inside pathways that are just like veins. Among them, the main ones are the three tubes within the spine. And within that spine there are seven chakra. And these chakra relate to various physiological and psychological functions [within the body]. That means that asana affects not only the gross part, which is the physical body, but goes into the subtle part, into the prana. And the practice of asana purifies the paths through which the prana flows. We take prana from various sources, for example from food or from things we see, things we hear, and even through all five of the senses we take in prana. This prana has a very close relation with the mind. Wherever the mind goes, prana follows. Wherever prana goes, the mind follows. That is to say, it is one body.
Now, three elements were mentioned: the physical body, the prana and the mind. As I just said, the mind and the prana are like the same. However, it is difficult to suddenly control the mind. The mind is likened to the wind. It is hard to catch the wind. Prana is likened to water. If you have a container, you can somehow grasp water. The container is the path through which the prana flows, and this is this body. Yet, something that is much easier to grasp than water is ice. Indeed, the body is likened to ice. In this way, for the purpose of gaining control, the content is to start from the easiest thing to control and eventually control the mind, which is this system of Yoga. But if you are already healthy and have a strong body, asana is not necessary. It is fine to go right into meditation.
Nandiswara: Can you clarify what a strong, healthy body is?
MASTER: [One] that does not become sick. It means to always be comfortable. And, it is being supple and light. That is sufficient. (gentle laughter)
Annirudha: My question is about the fact that my mind has a slight confusion: I have a deep affection for someone, but at the same time, my mind is also full of guilt and disappointment in myself, because I feel I am following my karma. So that leaves me very confused, and I would like to ask if you can just guide me.
MASTER: Well, indeed, perhaps you are stepping towards the path of karma. So then take two steps towards the path of Yoga. (gentle laughter) (Attendees laugh as well.) And then, it would be fortunate if your love-relationship can go along the way that is not the way of karma, but of Yoga, in other words, if both of you can go towards the realization of Truth. (some silence)
The Yoga Sutra, the scripture that has been taught since ancient times, has a very well-developed psychology, even for this modern time. It says that the activities of the mind obstruct the Truth, but at the same time it says that the activity of the mind is of two kinds. One is the activity colored by pain-bearing obstacles. The other is the activity with non-pain-bearing obstacles. Indeed, so if you then make the mind be with non-pain-bearing obstacles, then these do not become karma. The activities that are not pain-bearing obstacles are the ones that are based on the Truth and the activities that follow it. Well, the reason why couples in this world, whether they’re married or not, often do not go well together and are not able to live together all their lives, is because, after all, they have different karma, so they separate. If both members of the couple act through non-pain-bearing obstacles, then the relationship will surely succeed forever.
Sahaja: I love hearing the story of your moment of clarity, and I brought a friend tonight who hasn’t heard it, so I wonder if you would share the story of your coming to realize.
MASTER: (joyfully and with a full smile) When I was very young, I spent my youth with a very healthy body and a light mind. And I spent every single day looking forward to the various visions that would come almost every night. One of those nights, at the age when one might start to understand about the workings of this world little by little, well probably around eight years old, the word “death” entered my mind. Then, suddenly, I saw my dead body in front of me. It was just the moment around about when the figure was going to be carried away for cremation in front of my house. I was probably looking at it from the air, somewhere far away. Then my consciousness suddenly got farther and farther away, and the scene that I saw quickly became smaller and smaller. And the earth looked like it was the size of a tennis ball. I was existing somewhere across the universe. That vision ended there. Since then, I no longer had any doubt or fear towards “death.” And another time, suddenly, I realized “Existence.” At that moment, there was no body, no mind, not even the world or the universe. But “the Existence” was there, vividly. Only That is Reality. All the words that I’m using right now to describe It are things that were put there later on. At that moment, there was simply, “Be”—Consciousness of Reality. Because, who is the one who knows “the Existence”? That is the “Existence” itself. Therefore, “Existence” is “Consciousness” as well. Of course, the words “Consciousness” and “Existence” came a little later. That was the ultimate experience that I had at the age of eight (smiling). So many other visions I saw besides those, but compared to the episode of “Existence,” such stories are also like mere dreams. Afterwards, what I found out was, everything is only That: friends in elementary school, the teachers [in the elementary school], this world, the universe, all of them, their external forms are various, yet their substance or the internal core is That. Because It is formless, therefore there’s only One and there is no second. Because It is nameless—in various countries, since ancient times, It has been called by different names: Atman, Brahman, God; it is various. However, That is the only Truth (smiling).
Sahaja: Shri Mahayogi, then, you must have known you had nothing to do.
Sahaja: And yet, you continued to work with your father. And you continued to study, and you are now the teacher. Why? Why did you do that?
MASTER: Maybe it was such a role that was given to me. I can’t think of any other reason. Because, everything in this world is a result of karma and is activated by karma. Yet, I have neither karma, nor ignorance. There’s no reason for me to be in this world! However, if there was one sole purpose or meaning for my life, it is to initiate the disciples into this Truth and work for the salvation of people and the universe. Later on, I found out that in India, there were actual cases like this, and also, Jesus Christ too seemed to be such a case. So, probably, there’s a necessity for these rare cases (laughing) to appear from time to time (smiling).
It’s good to see Sahaja’s face after a while. (laughing delightedly)
Sahaja: It’s been one year. In this room? (Shri Mahayogi is joyously laughing.) It’s good to see you.
Limassol (Prapatti): I have a question. As a follow-up to Karuna’s question about “looking with the spiritual eye.” How can you use the spiritual eye when you’re awake, because in meditation you have the eyes closed? So how does that work?
MASTER: If you quiet the activities of the mind and control them, then the spiritual eye comes into effect.
Sadhya: My question is about chanting the name of God. I notice that after spending some time practicing, that this creates the condition of a very still breath, almost like what may happen in asana or after practicing pranayama. At the same time, it feels like everything starts to take on the quality of “vibrancy.” So, I am wondering if Shri Mahayogi can speak a little bit about that, why that is. What is it that is happening?
MASTER: Chanting the name of God is also a component of bhakti yoga, but it also belongs to mantra yoga. Mantra is to chant simple words repeatedly, again and again and again. Now, there are many paths in Yoga, however, they can be categorized into four main yoga. One is bhakti yoga, which is to love God and concentrate on God. Another is jnana yoga, which is to seek and concentrate only on the realization of the true Self, and to renounce everything else. And, karma yoga is to devote yourself solely to service for others in order to get rid of ego, or, as its ultimate level, to serve for the sake of others through self-sacrificial acts. Fourth is raja yoga, in which you restrain the mind, breath and prana. Besides these, there are mantra yoga, and hatha yoga, which is the means of centralizing asana. And kundalini yoga. This too is to concentrate on the subtle energy called kundalini. And then, laya yoga—laya means to bring the mind to dissolution [by its absorption into the source], so it is entirely the practice to train to stop the breath and the mind. What is the commonality amongst these? It is the control of prana. If one can control prana, then the mind follows it. That is to say, the mind also comes to be controlled. Therefore, what Sadhya mentioned—it felt as if the mind and breath became restrained—was because the control of prana by the means of raja yoga, as I just said, was happening. Therefore, if you add bhakti yoga there—to chant the name of God repeatedly, think of God much more and love God, then you can practice both.
Sadhya: Another question I have is that, sometimes if I’m thinking about God or suddenly I feel devotion come, then I may start to feel so joyous and then maybe tears come or maybe laughter comes, and I don’t know if I should just let that be or try to increase it. Or if that is almost like a distraction, and I should try to remove it.
MASTER: No, it is better to heighten it.
Nick: I have a long meditation practice for many years and I love (laughing) being in meditation. Over the years I’ve become more aware of my energy, my own subtle energy, and also other people’s energies around me. And sometimes it’s very difficult for me to be in my own body, it’s difficult to be in life, to relate to other people. I sometimes feel the more I’m in this spiritual place, the more distant I become from other people and the more I can sense everything. That makes it difficult to be in the body sometimes. Do you have any advice?
MASTER: Yes. Indeed, as one eagerly continues with meditation or spiritual practice, purification happens within the body, the mind and the prana. Because of that, there arises this tendency for one to not really want to have contact with what is called “the mundane world” or various things that are being defiled by karma. So, you should create an environment and place that is more clean and comfortable for you, to some extent, and deepen your practice more and more. Through doing this, eventually the barrier of that duality will come to be removed. Then, you will no longer be affected even if you associate with the mundane world, and rather, conversely, you will affect it positively as the result.
Sadhya: Along those lines, I feel like for some time I have done that, pulling-back from the world, and that’s helpful, and almost a comfortable place. But then, I started to feel that I should not stay, or keep staying, only to myself, that I should try to put myself out to the world. But I don’t know if it’s going so well (laughing) because I notice…
MATER: This too, let us quote from the wisdom of our predecessors, the Yoga Sutra. That is because the Yoga Sutra conveys the Truth and its teachings that are discovered through the actual practice and disciplines of the Yogi. Among the many teachings in the sutra, there is a list of what one must be disciplined in to practice daily: the study of sacred scriptures, tapas, which is austerity, and meditation on God. It tells you to practice these three regularly without fail. Specifically, these three are called kriya yoga. Kriya means “to do.” So then what is contained in the tapas among these three? In the ancient times, tapas referred to the extreme practice of ascetic mortifications, such as some sort of physical discipline, bringing pain to the body or putting it to its extreme limits. However, when the era of Yoga came, the implication of tapas changed. In Yoga, tapas means to conquer various forms of duality, that means, in order to conquer duality one has to conquer and to control various things such as hot and cold, likes and dislikes, etcetera. Concretely, in Yoga, asana and pranayama are [the content of] tapas. And tapas also includes mentally enduring and conquering pressures and the sense of discomfort that comes from various situations, conditions and environments. Human relationships especially bring great amounts of pressure. But then the mind inevitably reacts to them. [Yoga says,] in order to not allow the mind to react, one must endure and conquer that [tendency of the mind], because this eventually will become a great strength [within you]. What will happen as the result of tapas? The mastering of duality: both physiologically and psychologically. So, in her case too, (looking at Nick) not only through meditation, but if you practice asana more firmly, your time needed to conquer this duality might be shortened. (smiling)
Today, I have spoken on many good topics. Take them home fully within your heart, and meditate. Alright then.
(Anandamali leads the singing of Wahe Guru, joined by gurubai. The vibration of devotion towards our Guru from the hearts of the gurubai, echos the room that is filled with devotion for our beloved Shri Mahayogi.)
back to top
* * *
Testimonies from Actual Practitioners:
The Experience of Shri Mahayogi’s Visit to NY Summer 2018:
Confronting Suffering with
Growing Faith, Love, and Devotion
“I am tired of all this. Please take it all!” That is what my inner voice impulsively said as I bowed down towards Shri Mahayogi after offering the flower mala on Day 1 of his visit to New York this summer.
Every time I sense my mind is getting entangled in its surroundings, I recall the feeling I had behind these words and I feel a sense of ease. Take it all!
What is it in this world that we want? What is it that really benefits us? When jobs come and go, countries build and fall, and families are born and die, what is it that is here for me, my inner soul? Nothing! It is all going away. Please take it away as soon as possible for I no longer want to live through it again. This cycle is endless, vicious and expected. It runs and runs like a hamster in a wheel with no real outcome of value.
Indeed, Shri Mahayogi’s visit changed me on the inside, and I feel that there is so much more that I want to learn, to give, and to grow towards. “Who am I?” keeps coming up in my mind every now and then, and even as I type now. Who is it that is writing these words and experiencing these feelings and passing through the journey of Enlightenment? Why do I feel so much weight, and how can I stop it right away, right now, swiftly, abruptly, fiercely and intentionally? Help me end this. The mind cries, and as soon as the crying comes up I sense the grace and peaceful silence of Shri Mahayogi that I experienced during his visit and I settle down, knowing that I am not that mind.
Ever since I was young I’ve always had a very strong intuition, a very strong connection to something beyond what people were showing me. I never named it or shaped it, but I knew deep down I was supported through the many harsh circumstances that happened around me, that had caused pain and suffering, as perceived by my mind. I felt that people were hiding something from me, they all speak and do, but underneath and between the wrinkles of their eyes and the gestures of their bodies there is something that I need to uncover. When I used to close my eyes at night, I used to see moving patterns that looked like animations. I suspect now that those are related to the illusions that stem from the third eye. I had no explanation for them back then, but I felt there was something there that I wanted to know. Now I am starting to understand that this third eye is the portal through which to enter the world or to exit from it. It is just a matter of direction, whether one directs externally or internally.
This strong sense of intuition and a vast yearning for artistic expression and understanding of this world formed my design skills and career. I studied visual design and have come to work in the field. My dreams at night were always wild, adventurous, and daring. It was as if my feelings were intensified in these visions and my experiences were strong. Although I did not ask myself back then what dreams are, I now know for sure that dreams, the world, and all visions past and present are but one thing—a dream I am having, a vision that my mind is manifesting, springing from its delusion of existence. How beautiful, divine and wild, yet so silly and unnecessary. How did I come to know this? Shri Mahayogi showed me, and has been showing me all this time! Now I recognize it.
When I bowed down to Shri Mahayogi in the first class this year during his visit to New York I silently asked him: “Please teach me, and please be firm. I want to know it all. Please show me. I need to see in order to know and understand.” I had been reading books and scriptures, and although I lacked much knowledge, I felt that I understood the theory and got the point. But I felt that my own life needed to show me the way, which I later learnt it had always been doing without me realizing it. How did I learn that? With the help and safe support of Shri Mahayogi, I experienced many visions that felt so real that they clarified some of the teachings in a tangible and experiential way.
Shri Mahayogi has shown me so much. Where do I even begin?
During the first week of his visit, my actual eyesight changed drastically. I remember standing up firmly in the kitchen as if transfixed by seeing something for a good 20 seconds, feeling my eyes stretch up and out. The sensation was so strong I had to take my glasses off and try to read writings on the fridge. “What is happening? Am I going to be healed from those glasses?” My mind humorously teased me with a wish for a Jesus-miracle. I felt the whole apartment was lighting up. I got a strong intuition to clean the apartment and reorganize a few things into a better order, as if welcoming Shri Mahayogi’s light into the apartment. I placed a small figurine of Buddha and some incense at the far edge of the stove, lined up the plants in a specific tall to short order, and lined up the drawers with the couch giving a sense of much more space in the room. I spent a good hour or two cleaning everything and organizing everything, making sure to not miss a single detail because God is here. God is entering my place!
During the first few weeks, my feelings were indeed intensified. Almost every night was accompanied with crying. Every day brought a different lesson, a lesson which marked an end of a habit or a thought pattern or a belief. My pain and suffering were so deep; many emotional problems that I had accumulated over time in regards to family conflict, fear of change, and cultural belonging, rose to the surface and came to be clarified through the intensity that Shri Mahayogi’s presence triggered and fired up within me. Acceptance was the only way out.
Up until Shri Mahayogi’s visit, my meditation practice had been so sad. I was unable to focus on anything. My mind would race into a whirlpool of thoughts, pretending it was meditating, but not truly doing so. I started feeling that as long as this voice is on, it is not really meditation. What a sad year I had spent prior to knowing this. “Where do I focus? What do I think of? How do I meditate?” My yearning was strong and my soul was in pain. “Please teach me.”
During the first day, as I meditated in front of Shri Mahayogi in class, I asked him silently to show me where to focus my eyes. I felt like I was looking in a dark room for a clue or a point when suddenly a strong flash of light directed me to raise my attention to the forehead. I had thought that that was where I was directing them, but alas, I was not. The light felt like someone flipped the switch and turned on the light in the room for a split second. Later after class I asked Ekanta, one of the disciples in New York: “Did someone turn on the light during class?” He said no. I knew it was Shri Mahayogi but my mind still had doubts. What a silly mind it is that doubts God and keeps going around in loud circles. I later asked Shri Mahayogi in a Satsangha if it was him and indeed he confirmed that (it was). “Wow, God hears everything I say,” I thought. So it became clear to me that what I need to do with that voice, if it really insists on speaking, is to direct it to Shri Mahayogi and the Truth. Speak to Him. Confess, ask, be truthful, apologize, and be as open and transparent and honest as possible.
A few classes into his visit to New York, I remember being very much stuck in my mind during one of the asana classes. My mind was so impure and my thoughts were all over the place. I do not recall what they specifically were, probably critical and doubtful thoughts of my practice and my purpose and hence doubt of God, although deep down, my yearning was so very strong. At the end of class, Shri Mahayogi looked up at me and his gaze made me feel so ashamed and sad. It felt as if he was saying “Stop it.” It was so direct and strong, that it went deep down and made me feel right then and there all the heaviness that my mind was creating. His gaze demolished it and demolished the “me” that I had built up from these thoughts. I later spent the night crying, followed by two long days lying down sick in bed with no appetite or energy to do anything. I could not go to work and I had to just cry out all the impurities for a few days, until I could get to a more grounded state in my practice. My shame was so deep that I could not look up at Him in the following few classes, but I knew he was gently and lovingly supporting me all throughout with sharp wisdom and strength. So I continued to deepen my faith and inner resilience. My appetite for the following month went down drastically. I was having one meal a day and a banana. We think our thoughts are not seen, but everything is seen by God, because God simply identifies with the true Self in me and not the thoughts covering It. I felt after that experience that Shri Mahayogi really just wants others to see in him what he sees in them. I assume that when those two pure gazes meet or those two selves merge, that it is the most beautiful union in the world. I also assume that this is what couples really strive to get from each other, however fail to see that the most grand union is the one with God. I seek only that.
It also seems that God sees everything I do as well.
Around a month after Shri Mahayogi arrived to New York and while I was intensifying my practice and love towards him, I remember going crazy one weekend while looking for apartments and thinking with madness: “Shri Mahayogi, why are you doing this to me? Can you not see I love you so deeply! What other proof do you need? Please help me out of this mess!” I was so tired, going from one apartment to another, trying to find a clue that any of them is the one I should move into, but the city is expensive and finding a decent place close to a subway that gets me to work was getting overwhelming, especially with the many available options in the city. Perhaps someone else might have settled for the first one they saw but something kept me running around in circles chasing my tail and not knowing what to do! So I came back home so tired and laid on my bed crying (indeed my dramatic mind was shaken and at a loss at the beginning of his visit).
At that very moment, Anandamali, the director of Mahayogi Yoga Mission in New York, texted me saying that Shri Mahayogi accepts a Satsangha with me. My heart was dancing in joy and love and I was crying and smiling at the same time. What perfect timing. Does Shri Mahayogi see what I am doing? I jumped up and got my notebook, quickly going through the questions I had previously written, and then I quickly started writing new ones while thinking: “which ones should I remove? There are so many.” The questions had been pouring out of my mind during the day. As I was writing them down with mad speed, I suddenly received another text. Her text now read: “He says bring all of your questions!” “Oh my! Shri Mahayogi, you see everything and you are giving me such clear signs!! How could I have not been aware of your presence in my life before? How could I have not trusted you?” I went to the Satsangha that week with a red rose in my hand and offered it with my full heart and mad mind and ignorant attitude to the only one whom I knew could save me out of this mess! I had to be patient, trusting, and let go of it all step-by-step by myself, with his support.
My search for an apartment was indeed a search for God disguised in another appearance, like everything else in this world. Perhaps that is what is meant by “everything is Divine,” because every action is an attempt to get closer to God, except the mind misdirects the body and accepts to pay the price of suffering to enjoy its own illusive presence. But God sees the good in everyone and has infinite compassion and love for everyone because God is wise and knows we are all heading in His direction. The teachings were becoming more clear in my own life experiences.
Soon after my search for an apartment, a realtor arranged a few apartment viewings for me to visit during the weekend. The Friday night before that weekend, the sangha met at one of the disciples’ apartments for our weekly study practice. While our meeting was primarily to study Pranavadipa and other material, we were guided to a specific chapter in the orange-colored book, Teachings of Buddha, that we had been reading. After a few readings, Sadhya, one of the disciples, read a message directed to the sangha from Shri Mahayogi, which Anandamali had written down after asking him what he thinks is necessary for the sangha in New York to deepen their practice.
The message was so powerful. It talked about the importance of cutting the rope that connects each one of us to this world. It made me further feel my purpose deeply. I had initially gotten to the Mission by way of my loss of hope in this world, my loss of finding any value or meaning in this world, and this message was further strengthening me to cut the connection with no hesitation. Going back home that night, I contemplated Buddha’s life. Buddha went from being a prince to a wandering seeker of the Truth. He did not care about his life and he did not care about food, until he was offered a meal by someone. So I thought, if God is always with me and if I really trust God then God should be able to take care of me no matter what. Why do I run around in the city from one meal to another fearing death, when death itself is an illusion? So I further cut down my meals to the bare minimum and decided to live Buddha’s way. I thought, I am willing to die to find God. I had no dinner and no breakfast, but a small lunch and controlled very firmly my mind’s desire to choose the type of meal it wanted.
The universe sent help. The next day, as soon as I met the realtor, he suggested that we have food in a Thai restaurant, offered to pay for my meal, and even ended up coming to class that Sunday after I had talked to him about the Mission, which followed his unexpected initiation of a conversation about meditation. With this odd encounter, I feel that Shri Mahayogi was answering my question through an actual life experience. He was giving me a clear sign for what should be done at that moment in time, regarding food. I felt that in a way, the meal offered by the realtor was a message to not go to the opposite extreme of completely not eating, but to maintain the middle way without tripping to the other side of duality.
Shri Mahayogi was very generous this trip, and offered various Satsangha and there was a very specific moment I remember that changed my asana practice. In the first group Satsangha at Ekanta’s house, we all gathered in that cozy blue-green room, waiting for Shri Mahayogi’s arrival. Upon arriving at the stairs outside, my heart cried: “Daddy! Daddy!” I just wanted to rest my head down on his chest and rest in peace. I knew that he was coming up the stairs, I felt his light in my body and my tears started falling down. I needed a tissue but could not even hold my head up to call for one. I felt like a mess, a mess that was in love and in pain at once.
In this Satsangha, Shri Mahayogi spoke to us about his life. He told us his story and how his only reason to be in this world is for us, his disciples, to awaken! Something about that story went very deeply into my heart. “I must fulfill His desire,” I thought. I must make him happy, I must give him what would make him most satisfied. He gives me all the love in the world. And I must pay him back!
Before recounting his story to us, one sentence he said rang through me like a wake-up call. Shri Mahayogi said something along the lines of: You must know this: You are not the mind and you are not the body. The body is an object and the mind is a tool. You are That which is in everyone. As he was saying these words, I was focusing on his essence. What is his essence? Who is saying the words? My back started to straighten as I was sitting cross-legged. I noticed that I had been bending down a little, and now I was gaining slight confidence and bravery. I focused my eyes on him as much as possible, with deep inquiry searching for clues, for ways to join Him in his holy presence. “Please teach me. I want to be You. I accept your words. I am You. I am You.” I kept saying in silence. My soul was yearning for his teachings so much, I could sense what he said going into my body and reshaping my mind.
The following few sentences I do not specifically recall, but that sentence stayed with me overnight and as a result, my following Sunday practice was completely different from the Sundays before it. During asana, my mind started focusing on: I am not this body and this mind is just a tool. Those two phrases kept ringing in me for the entire 2 hours, and with that my body bent more leniently and I received more attention and light from Shri Mahayogi. I felt that I was slightly joining his light, accepting it asana after asana, and that I was putting all my effort into being That which is in Shri Mahayogi, That which is in all of us. I continued the same focus on the essence of this idea for the next month until Shri Mahayogi departed to Japan and for a week or two after that—it helped me feel and truly understand a little of what Shri Mahayogi teaches us.
My passion towards Shri Mahayogi was so intense, wild, and deep, during his visit to New York. I felt like I was going crazy. All I could think of was Shri Mahayogi. Perhaps that’s what they mean by God becomes your lover, your father, or friend. I was so grateful to have received a photo of Shri Mahayogi from Nandiswara, another disciple here in New York, which I then kept glancing at several times during the day: while at work, while at home, and even before going to bed. I felt obsessed to the point that I asked Shri Mahayogi in a Satsangha if it is okay to do so, and he displayed a most beautiful smile that reflected a gentle “Yes.” Indeed God is love!
What Shri Mahayogi said at the last Satsangha before he left shook some darkness out of me. I asked Shri Mahayogi out of curiosity mixed with ignorance: “Where does Shri Mahayogi’s desire to help us come from? I understand that desire comes from the mind.” He answered: “There have always been charlatans or fake forms of yoga that have appeared, which I sense have prevailed in the modern world. Therefore, my wish is to establish Yoga correctly.” Although his words stated a fact for the intellect, I felt that the power accompanying them completely dismissed the ignorance that my question carried, and instead, addressed an entity within me that was acting through me with mal-intention. It was causing my mind to stir up my own peace and the peace of those around me. It was a darkness that was embodied in my doubtful question. It was simply a doubt of God’s love for his people. Later that night, when I meditated on these words and tried to understand their essence and where they were coming from—trying to understand Shri Mahayogi’s power and intention—I felt that he was addressing that darkness with: I see you and you are not needed here. I am bigger than you and it is time that you leave her in peace.
Later, during our last training session for the stotram (hymn for Shri Mahayogi), which the sangha would later offer to Shri Mahayogi in the last Asana and Meditation class before his return to Japan, I finally received the light accompanying his words. After weeks of stotram training and after trying to find the right place to sing from (trying various approaches: from the mind, the heart, or the lower abdomen), I finally found the answer when I surrendered my mind’s attempts to control the mechanics of the singing process. With this feeling of surrender, which was graced by Shri Mahayogi’s words in the Satsangha, I found myself naturally singing words of Truth. The words started to roll out of the mouth with a natural flow out of the lower abdomen, and then I realized that some clutter had somehow been cleared up from that area and only goodness and kindness remained. It was a natural innocent singing process with no mental control. Who is it that is singing after all, and who is it singing to? May only the goodness and truth in me sing and speak! That is the transformative power of Shri Mahayogi and his words!
During the last class with Shri Mahayogi this year, I received a paper which had a spiritual name on it. For me. It was handed to me during the last shavasana. At the sight of the envelope and the idea of approaching Shri Mahayogi and sitting next to his holiness, my heart was dancing and I was so nervous. I had been dreading nervously that moment. I approached and sat down, bowing. The most beautiful deepest authentic voice came out of his body, saying: “Prapatti, your spiritual name.” At hearing this, my inside was melting. But still, of course, the mind reacted: “For me? Why?! Do I deserve this? I haven’t done anything!” I was joyous and humbled by this offering. Mixed feelings of happiness and sadness came up. Milliseconds filled with many thoughts were lining up like a necklace, one bead after another. But I stood this confused body up and walked to the end of the classroom where Sadhya was waiting to hand me the offering of flowers from our sangha to Shri Mahayogi. I received it and walked towards Shri Mahayogi on trembling and nervous knees. I offered a few words, which were the most simple truthful words I had said in a long, long time to anyone. Although I forgot half of what I had rehearsed to say, I offered the flowers, and in the last minutes of stotram singing, my face was filled with deep tears at the idea of his departure. Various other disciples were tearing up too, and even Shri Mahayogi teared up during the moments he was walking out.
When God visits, how holy life is! How divine existence is! How precious and lucky I am, how lucky we are!!!
My mind and all of our minds must realize the Truth as soon as possible, for there is no more urgent quest in this world. This is a MUST.
back to top