Teachings of Shri Mahayogi:
Testimonies from Actual Practitioners
• Simhasana: the Lion Pose
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Teachings of Shri Mahayogi:
Translation of Satsangha
February 2, 2019
Apartment of a disciple, NY
This is the first of two Satsangha that Shri Mahayogi will offer during his visit to New York in February 2019. Attendees have gathered one by one in the warmth and orange-colored glow of the room where Satsangha will be held, in the apartment of one of the disciples.
Everyone is waiting in silence. Ekanta’s friend, Bogdan (originally from Romania) is there with Mary (from Ireland), who is on the eve of giving birth to their first child. They have come to hear the Master so that the child, still in the womb, will be blessed by the Master’s presence. Also present are Dheeraj, who has attended almost every class since Shri Mahayogi’s arrival in NY, Karuna’s co-worker, Karina (from Peru), who has been working on proofreading the Spanish translation of the Universal Gospel of Yoga, Genesis, and a friend of Yajna, Letizia.
The quietness of the room heralds Shri Mahayogi’s arrival and prepares the minds of the attendees to receive the sanctity of the Master.
Mr. W. (Taraka): I have a question about tapas. Maybe two or three questions. How does one create tapas?
MASTER: Tapas is born out of the pain of the mind. This is how it happens: as you make progress in the learning of Yoga, you may encounter [moments] when you see that what your mind is thinking is in conflict with or clashes with the teachings of Yoga. For example, you have desires in your mind, whatever they may be, and you are attached to them. But the Truth says to renounce them, because the things the mind attaches to are not eternal, therefore they are not the Truth. As you examine them closely, in other words as you discriminate between them, the mind experiences pain. Then, tapas arises. In other cases, the world is full of contradictions; oftentimes perseverance is required and you have to endure. So, that creates heat in that moment as well. This very heat becomes the power of tapas. The heat of tapas is what constitutes tapas’ power to burn away the impurity within the mind.
Mr. W. (Taraka): Thank you. When it comes to the use of the word “heat,” should we also understand this literally, just like we talk about a fire that gives off heat? Or is it a metaphor?
MASTER: Literally, both physiologically and psychologically, that heat is sometimes felt.
Mr. W. (Taraka): So, one must have the experience of heat in order to know that one has created or generated tapas.
MASTER: Right. As a result, one becomes free from the various relative dualistic constraints.
Mr. W. (Taraka): Thank you, Mahayogi.
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Yama and Niyama:
The Concrete Way of Strengthening Your Will
for the Realization of Truth
Nandiswara: Sometimes when I try to follow the teachings of Truth, it contradicts my mind’s desires. And I have tried very hard to stick to the teachings of the Truth, and I do experience the heat that we are talking about. But oftentimes my mind is too weak to go with the Truth and I feel very guilty. Can you please tell me what I should do about it?
MASTER: Regardless of what it is, there are two paths in this world. One is the path of karma, and the other is this path of Satori, which is the path that eliminates karma. The path of karma has many widths and varieties. For example, if you have done many good deeds in a previous life, then due to the receiving of these good results from the past, this lifetime will be a very happy and enjoyable life. Conversely, if you did bad things, this lifetime will be a difficult life for being punished from the past. You can see that almost all of humanity experiences something along this spectrum. And because these actions continue to change every moment, there is no rest. So, in order to eliminate the act of karma that is caused by ignorance, you must act following the teaching of Truth. This is not difficult at all. [What you must do is:] eliminate the ego and then make yourself act in the service of others as much as possible. Of course, you must observe yama and niyama from the Yoga Sutra. There are ten precepts in total. The most important one is non-violence—non-violence towards others, in other words, to all others. To speak with honesty and sincerity always; non-stealing; non-greed; and moderate behavior toward the control of sexual activity as much as possible. These are the teachings that one must practice towards others. For the practices that relate to yourself: there is keeping your body and mind pure, in other words, purified—this is not something that can be done by taking a shower or bath (laughing). (Laughter from attendees) The point here has to do with the defilement in your mind (laughing), that is to say, the attachments toward ignorance and desires—and the practice is to eliminate them. And, to be content in whatever condition you are in currently. Be fine with the minimum needs required to live. Then tapas—this is to bring upon yourself some kind of discipline or training. Asana, which uses the body, or meditation fall under this. And, there is the study of scriptures. There’s is no need to say it, but you must choose the right scriptures and learn the right teachings. And to surrender to God, that is, to meditate on God. If you practice all of these ten actions, then the issue that you mentioned will come to be dissolved. More than anything else, have the seriousness and zeal to realize Satori in this lifetime.
Nandiswara: Shri Mahayogi, when I visited you in Japan about three years ago, Shantimayi told me that I need to follow all the yama and niyama. And I heard you many times either directly tell me or others that these are not that difficult at all. But I have found in my experience, that it is not as easy as I would think. So, what’s wrong with my practice? (Shri Mahayogi laughs lightly.)
MASTER: Don’t think of doing everything perfectly from the beginning. Practice them little by little, having the attitude of taking action to train yourself.
Nandiswara: But I don’t see that this is the beginning because I have been practicing for quite some time now. It has been a few years, so I have an expectation of what my improvement or level should be at this point in my practice, but I don’t feel like I am fulfilling that. And I am feeling bad.
MASTER: There is no need to have any impression about it. What you must do is moment by moment action.
Nandiswara: Meaning that, let’s say that in the past moment I tried to perfect something but I failed, then at this moment, I should just focus on this moment and forget about the past?
Nandiswara: Thank you.
Prapatti: Some of the yama and niyama are easy, and some of them are hard. So, for example, having minimum things is a little bit easier to apply because it’s something you see. But for example, purifying the body and the mind, that alone is very big. And also, for example, do not steal and do not injure are, from the obvious external view, easy, but with the mind it is hard to know how to go deeper. Can Shri Mahayogi maybe help me understand how in the mind…“do not steal”—what does it mean beyond the object? And also for “not injure.”
MASTER: Action, that is, the cause of external actions that you make through your physical body, is within the mind. Therefore, the important point is to control the mind. Now, regarding the way to maintain this, or the way to practice it, there are different levels depending on the person. If you are aiming to become a perfect yogi, then you must practice thoroughly and accomplish it perfectly as much as you possibly can. However, if you are still in the training period or if you are a householder, then the content of them may be a bit loosened. Regardless, it is better to practice non-violence, not taking the life of other living things, and not stealing anything.
Prapatti: So, in a sense, stealing and killing, these are physical—is there something mental toward other people that should be applied, for example, stealing a word or a feeling, I don’t know, maybe something like that, or is it just about the object? Do not steal or do not injure—is it just literally for something visible? Or is it also something in the mind, maybe in relation to communication with people?
MASTER: How for what?
Prapatti: What’s the training when it comes to communicating with people?
MASTER: The practice for that is satya. It is to speak as honestly and as sincerely as possible.
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“Life is Suffering”
Karuna: Shri Mahayogi, when Aniruddha offered a welcome speech after you arrived in New York, he said something that stood out to me. So, he was thanking you for being among us, and he said “thank you for making us aware of our suffering.” Maybe I am not saying his exact words, but those words hit me hard. Of course, this is spoken by Buddha as a part of the Four Noble Truths. But when Aniruddha said it, I was thinking, “why should we be thankful to realize that we suffer?” And I have to think about it. In my case, I feel that not realizing my own suffering is a huge obstacle. I can see the suffering of others, but it’s harder for me to see in particular the suffering that I can stop causing. I could be sick and that makes me suffer, but there is a deeper suffering that is basically based on the impurity of my mind, to put that as an example. And because this was Buddha’s first statement then I feel that I really need to understand it, this statement, “Life is suffering,” and the reason—we need to understand that. Could you please explain it?
MASTER: I mentioned earlier that you can find that there are many happy lives and many unhappy lives due to karma. However, there are sufferings that are unavoidable for all: death, sickness, aging, and the reason why those sufferings arose—having been born. If you had not been born, suffering could not arise. Even so, it is inevitable for everyone to be born and to experience these sufferings. There are other sufferings: the suffering of being separated from loved ones and loved things; and conversely, the suffering of having to be with the ones that you hate no matter what, which you may have experienced in various situations such as your family or at work; the suffering that the world is not at your disposal or that it is not how you wish it to be; the suffering that the various causes within the mind, which are what create these sufferings, and the body, both of which are filled with impurity. If you calmly observe the world in this way, then you will recall the words of the Holy Beings: “Everything is suffering.” What is the cause thereof, that is, what is the cause that brought about this suffering? It is to believe that this physical body and the ego are your Self, and to believe that this world, this ever-changing world, is ever-lasting, and to then chase after happiness here. However, the truth of this world is that things change, and even a moment of happiness immediately turns into suffering in the next instant.
Karina: Shri Mahayogi, two years ago my mother passed away. And I am still dealing with the grief of her death. And now that you are talking about the loss of a loved one, it makes me wonder: how can we stop the suffering of death? How can we stop the memories of, “I lost my mother”? Also, what can you tell me about death?
MASTER: Everyone goes through reincarnation. When one body is gone, then the next life is already prepared. (Karina’s face brightens up.) So, your mom, she is not just remaining underground forever (all laugh), she must be continuing on her soul’s journey.
[To answer to your question,] if you look from the long-term perspective, learning this Truth is the way to emancipate oneself from the suffering of reincarnation. So, even if the death of your mom might become the thing that propels you to seek the Truth, if you continue to learn this Truth, I am sure that peace of mind will come to you.
Karina: Thank you.
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What is Ego? What is the Self?
Genesis: Can you tell me what the ego is?
MASTER: The ego is the false self-consciousness. It has created one pillar within the mind. Another pillar is knowledge or judgment, in other words, decision making; and the other is something that creates the various thoughts. Within the entirety of the activities of the mind, the ego intensifies each individual person’s characteristic colors more and more. Simply said, originally the ego only [served the function of] distinguishing “self” and “others” in this relative world; yet the ego unknowingly kept putting on many layers of clothing, more and more, and it has now become completely dressed up in various fake things and falsehoods. However, originally it is simply a consciousness or a sense that distinguishes between “self” and “others” in this world. Therefore, as much as possible, it is better for you not to nourish your ego, and you must instead tell yourself that the ego is just a tool for the true Self, or a servant for the true Master. The true Master is neither the mind nor, of course, the body. However, it is already there, it is the Pure Consciousness that is witnessing and is there already. To know the true Self—that is the true aim of Yoga.
Genesis: Thank you.
Karuna: Shri Mahayogi, you say very often: “You are That.” But I have been interpreting this wrong. I didn’t realize that I was thinking, “You are That,” like “Karuna” is That. So, I have been thinking that Shri Mahayogi is telling me, “You are That,” but I didn’t realize that he is telling everyone, “You are That.” So, when I hear, “You are That,” my mind takes it as I am That, but the realization that everyone is That is missing. So, I tried to understand what is That in terms of That being the true Self. But it is very difficult to see That in myself and see it as something that exists in everything. Actually, this thought shakes me a lot. This idea shakes me quite a bit. Because if everybody is That then what I think I am does not exist. So, for me it is a very intense thought, and I want to know how to handle it, how to use it. So, I would like to know how to temper that intensity that I feel when I try to…not limit the sense of “I” to my individual self, but allow the Self that exists within everything, to be there—this feeling is overwhelming.
MASTER: Regarding that, no matter how much explanation or elucidation can be given through words—it is meaningless! This is something that you must intuitively experience for yourself.
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The Mind and Ego are to be Used as the Tools of the Self
Sadhya: Shri Mahayogi, would you please speak more about how to use the ego as a tool. What does it look like, what does it sound like?
MASTER: This body performs various actions just like a tool. So you should also make the mind work as a tool. When you do that, making efforts through training your mind to do better in your work and in various other things in this world leads to improving the tool. The ego plays a kind of central role in the varieties of tools. Therefore, once the ego is transformed to work as a tool or a servant, it becomes a very useful and beneficial tool. Training is everything.
Ekanta: In this case, training means constantly trying to serve others or to think of others?
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Have Urgency to Realize the Truth
Yajna: Given that Truth or Divinity are the true Nature of everything, why is it that so very, very few people have recognized It or realized It?
MASTER: Indeed, you are right. In the famous Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says, “Amongst thousands of men, hardly one strives for the Truth. And amongst those who have strived, hardly one succeeds.” It describes how unusual and difficult it is to realize the Truth and at the same time it shows how big and strong the karma and the attachments lodged within people’s mind’s really are. Even if it is the Truth, as you have encountered the teaching of the Truth and the way of practicing the teaching like this, then you just have to simply and straightforwardly continue practicing devotedly. Why? Think about it, how many more years can you possibly live? (All laugh.) At that moment, what do you want to have in reserve? (Smiling) (Changing to a very soft tone) You need nothing. If you have Truth, the True Existence, or God, there is nothing else you need beyond that. (Some attendees laugh.) Even for an instant, even for a moment, taste It. For that purpose, meditation in the class and daily training in the disciplines exist. Also, in ordinary times, when the condition of the mind is light and clear, as if it were empty, awakening into the Truth can on occasion happen naturally. Why? Because the Truth is already within. Indeed, the activity of the mind is covering It up and obstructing It from emerging. (smiling)
Nandiswara: Shri Mahayogi, if I die right now, what will happen to me? Will I meet a guru again in my next life?
MASTER: In accordance with your seriousness and passion, the encounter will arise.
Nandiswara: So, I need to really make good use of this moment.
Nandiswara: Thank you.
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The Work of the Mission Leads to Meditation
Sadhya: I would like to ask about practice, and daily practice. During the summer, Shri Mahayogi left us with the teaching about discrimination—that we should discriminate each and every attachment within our mind. I am concerned because I feel that there are so many things to do, that I am just acting on one thing after the next thing, so, in the past I thought for discrimination, I should look at myself and find the tendency or habit to address, but I feel now it is even difficult to think about myself. …But I just keep taking action. (laughs) So, my question is, should I just keep taking action and forget about myself (laughing) or should I try to do both?
MASTER: Forget about yourself and intensify your concentration on the Truth or God.
Sadhya: Okay, thank you. And one more. This has to do with meditation. I have heard other people say that the work of the Mission is even more important than meditation. At the moment, I find it difficult to even practice sitting meditation on a daily basis. Again, my concern is, will I lose some discipline, or become undisciplined by not regularly doing that? Or should I just focus on the work of the Mission and not worry about the rest?
MASTER: The works of the Mission themselves are already that on their own, they are actions for others, so the purpose and the result are the same.
Sadhya: Does that itself become meditation?
Sadhya: Will Shri Mahayogi explain why that is better than meditation?
MASTER: When you meditate sitting, who is meditating? It’s the mind that is concentrating and meditating. And through it you are attempting to eliminate that mind. Compared to that, the works for the Mission are already actions that are devoted to others through and through, removing any kind of selfish intention to begin with. By actually putting this into practice, the ego and ignorance within the mind come to be weakened or lessened.
Sadhya: I am very, very, very grateful. Shri Mahayogi, thank you. (Sadhya places her hands together and bows in gratitude.)
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Bringing the Mind to Solitude Results in Fortitude
Badhra: Shri Mahayogi, I understand from the teaching that solitude is very important for seeking the Truth. Can you explain to me the difference between solitude and isolation?
MASTER: Okay. (After some pause, with powerful tone of voice) The mind is active through being dependent upon something, whatever it might be. It could be desires, attachments, ignorance, or various other things. To make the mind solitary, is to eliminate the object that the mind is depending upon. The mind is weak, therefore it cannot overcome that solitude easily. Regardless, if you continue to practice discrimination, then you can achieve solitude of mind, that is, fortitude.
Badhra: So, it doesn’t have anything to do with physically being alone. When I mentioned about isolation, it was in a negative context, like you don’t want to be around people or…
MASTER: It’s not like that. You are living in a big city, New York City, it is inevitable that you can’t live alone, completely isolated, (laughing). However, you can just break off trifling social conventions and activities.
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Practice Simply, Without Attachments to the Result
Aniruddha: Shri Mahayogi, I want to ask you more about discrimination. Because ever since you have arrived in New York, it feels like the awareness of how many attachments I have around me is so great. And I realized, as Karuna said before, how much suffering, how much I really do suffer from these stains. Simply it comes down to the fact that I feel the mind is always wanting something, always wanting some results—from work, from others, just constantly wanting something. And as I have tried to discriminate more and more, I guess I began to realize that it feels like the mind becomes a bit numb, because even with the words I say, like “love,” this attraction also becomes numbed. I guess because I am realizing that the mind is trying to reach out to grab something. So it seems like the deeper I discriminate, it stops reaching out. But then that also creates the feeling of numbness. I guess a part me is wondering when will I begin to feel, I guess, not this numbness but rather feel some kind of Joy.
MASTER: Such an experience of Joy may occur.
Aniruddha: (After some pause) So, I shouldn’t think about it too much.
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Testimonies from Actual Practitioners:
Simhasana: the Lion Pose
The first time I experienced someone else having to practice simhasana during the class, I admit that I was thankful that I was not the one being asked to practice that. I had heard of lion pose before and from being around a different yoga school I had witnessed that people would often take pictures “in lion,” which I had a really hard time understanding why that was something that anyone would want to do.
Simhasana seemed strange and I didn’t really want to have to make that face…it did not seem very pleasant or appealing to me.
But of course, sooner or later, I was instructed to practice simhasana. The first time I was directed to watch Kamalakshi, a long-time practitioner. Shri Mahayogi had mentioned that she had the fiercest simhasana in New York!
When I tried it, I remember Karuna, who was leading the class, telling me that I looked like a cute baby lion, and that I needed to instead look like a fierce lion. When I heard Karuna’s comment I knew that this meant that I needed to lose self-consciousness. If I was self-conscious about how silly I might look practicing simhasana, then I would never be that fierce lion. It was this self-consciousness that was causing me to hold back and to not fully bring myself to this asana.
I needed to put out of my mind altogether what I might look like from the outside. After all, I was not practicing asana for anyone to see, I was practicing asana to find what I was really looking for…so there was no reason I should hold back in anyway. The teaching of Yoga says that I am not this body and I am not this mind, so why should I be concerned about what I look like?
So I brought to my mind the image of a lion out in the wild. In the wild, the lion may need to hunt and kill, or may need to defend its pride, or may need to fight off dangerous intruders from its territory. Whatever the case may be, the lion needs to be incredibly fierce and strong. From then on I tried my best to practice with as much fierceness as I could muster, as if I were a real lion and my survival depended on this fierceness.
At first, and very simply and swiftly, simhasana brought me to confront the fact that I wanted to keep a certain image of myself. I had never much developed an idea of myself as fierce or strong, I wanted to be nice and pretty—but I didn’t want to admit that that was the ideal I had of myself, and I didn’t want anyone to know (not even myself!) that I was that vain either! So immediately the practice of simhasana made me look at this and gave me a concrete method to confront it.
From the beginning simhasana was an intense asana. One day, when practicing at home, I had the experience of almost blacking out during simhasana. I don’t remember much of exactly what happened, but I remember I lost control of the body and fell to the ground. I felt full of fear, and with my mind I tried to cling to the world around me and whatever notion of the senses that I could. I made my way to savasana and rested for some time, not knowing what had happened or what I was doing wrong. When I overcame the initial shock of the experience I went to the other room and I called Anandamali. I explained to her what had happened and waited for her to tell me what I had done incorrectly or perhaps to tell me I should no longer practice simhasana, or to tell me she would consult with Shri Mahayogi about it. But instead of responding in any of these ways she was next to reactionless, simply saying, “Oh yeah, that may happen, but it will go away.” And then she changed the subject completely. At first I was shocked that she seemed so unconcerned and even began to talk about something else when I felt like this was a totally concerning event and I couldn’t think about anything else. Perhaps sensing this, she then began to tell me that I should not be concerned about any experiences that may happen in simhasana, they are normal. She explained that in simhasana the energy (prana) circulates very rapidly, so things might happen when beginning to practice it, but as one continues such reactions will stabilize. She then told me that there was another practitioner who often experiences strong, uncontrollable movements of energy in this asana and then, as she broke out into laughter, that even one time when showing an attendee for the first time, during the demonstration her mind and everything around her suddenly stopped, without being aware of it her body started to fall, and as it was slowly falling she came to again with the sound of the practitioner’s voice asking if passing out was the way the asana was supposed to be practiced.
Laughing as I imagined this whole scenario, I realized that I had taken this experience in simhasana very seriously, when now it didn’t seem so serious after all. It made me stop and think. What is it that I am so afraid of? What was all this fear that came up inside of me? What was I truly afraid of happening? Was it fear of death? Was I lacking in trust? I proceeded cautiously the next time I practiced simhasana, but I soon accepted that whatever experience should come, I would simply take it, just like that.
Now, I don’t recall for exactly how long I had been practicing simhasana when this experience first happened, but it was less than one year. And shortly after, I came across the following quote from Swami Vivekananda:
“If the suns come down, and the moons crumble into dust, and systems after systems are hurled into annihilation, what is that to you? Stand as a rock; you are indestructible. You are the Self, the God of the universe. Say—“I am Existence Absolute, Bliss Absolute, Knowledge Absolute, I am He,” and like a lion breaking its cage, break your chain and be free forever. What frightens you, what holds you down? Only ignorance and delusion; nothing else can bind you. You are the Pure One, the Ever-blessed.”
– Swami Vivekananda
Upon reading this quote, my approach to simhasana intensified even more, thinking that I should practice with the mindset of not caring if even death itself should come. Often as I would prepare to practice simhasana, I would gather in my mind whatever issue or situation seemed to be agitating it most, that I knew was based on ignorance but that I was having difficulty to actually discriminate to the point of being free of this agitation, and then with that issue before me I would practice with such intensity imagining that by doing so, that the sheer terror of the fierceness of the lion was truly breaking each and every link of these chains that my mind had bound itself with. Perhaps it was because of that mindset that rather than dissipate as the asana purified the prana, these strange and interesting experiences continued to take place in simhasana. They were certainly not consistently the same, and from day to day I never knew what might come once I got to this part of the practice.
After around two years of practicing simhasana, during the time when we were regularly performing asana in the park as a part of Project Sahasrara, I clearly remember having a unique experience while practicing simhasana during our regular class, which at that time was held at the Three Jewels. After holding and then releasing the asana, the breath stopped completely for some time and the mind became extremely still and quiet. Perception was very heightened and I felt as if I could perceive the minds of all the attendees in the class…it was that I could feel the movement of the minds coming from all around the classroom. This was really the first time that I realized that the movement of the mind is what causes the mind to exist. Perceiving and feeling so much mind movement felt as if it was in stark contrast to the state of stillness that was allowing me to perceive it.
When I spoke about this to Shri Mahayogi he explained that simhasana is not a regular asana. “Symbolically, the lion is the king of animals, but the meaning of that is that the lion is the king who devours pain-bearing obstacles and ignorance. So, when you are doing simhasana, you are actually doing bhandatraya, which is pranayama-kumbhaka. And, that is a mudra. That is why it is so powerful.”
[Shri Mahayogi teaches that “by practicing mudra, the breath immediately stops, and then one enters into deep meditation, samadhi.”]
Often, when practicing simhasana, after holding as long as possible, I would release and then remain in a breathless state for some time. The best way I can describe this state, is “still” and a state in which perceptions are heightened, although it is difficult to say exactly in what way, but breathing comes to seem completely unnecessary as it involves far too much movement. Eventually, as the mind takes hold again to the outer world, the breath comes in slowly. Sometimes the body would collapse down to the floor, overtaken by what I think must be massive upheavals of prana. The eyes would not blink, visual perception would change and it would almost feel impossible to even dare to move the eye gaze at all. It would fix—not on anything external, just in one direction, and there it would stay until savasana.
Then there was one occasion that stands out strongly. It was the first or second class with Shri Mahayogi, after his arrival to New York. It was during the time that I was still practicing full asana daily, though it was not long after that I was told that asana practice would no longer be necessary for me. As I practiced simhasana during Shri Mahayogi’s class, everything disappeared, Shri Mahayogi, the class, and all awareness I had of anything. Surely, this was just a momentary experience, but in the midst of it there was nothing—I only became aware when I felt my mind trying to grasp on to external things around me. However, it was quite puzzling, and it was hard for me to figure out where I was, who I was, or what was going on around me. Part of me didn’t care and felt no need to do anything about it, yet another part tried to ground itself in the “tangible” things around me. I can only imagine that this was the mind’s fear of its own non-existence and its response to that.
One thing is for sure: over the course of the time I practiced simhasana, as I began to see Shri Mahayogi in my mind’s eye, especially right before I would do the asana, as if he were showing me and putting himself into it with me, I began to feel Shri Mahayogi himself as the lion. And actually that Shri Mahayogi is the one who is breaking our bonds and our chains with incomparable and unfathomable strength. There is nothing that can be as fierce and as strong as Shri Mahayogi! Impurities flee before him, and only the pureness of Truth can withstand Him.
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Later on, towards the end of the time that I practiced asana, or perhaps it was even when I had already stopped practicing daily asana regularly but still practicing pranayama and a few asana here and there—and this is true even now if I practice simhasana (which I may do if for example I have an illness in the body)—there is a new experience. When I release simhasana and am in that moment of rest afterwards, when I am feeling the effect of the asana, I feel the prana move strongly and spontaneously, while the breath is out—and that prana moves me into lion pose again. It pulls the tongue out, makes the face fierce and then holds it. It feels as if something is being pulled out of me. And when this happens I feel the overwhelming presence of Kali, as if it is she who is moving me into position and bringing into me the same fierceness with which she liberates her children from their bonds.
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How sadly misunderstood lion pose has come to be in the modern world of yoga—a caricature of sorts used for yoga teacher training group photos and things of that nature. To pose in a picture with a half semblance of an attempt at lion pose feels like a demonstration of great disrespect to such a profound asana.
Of course, there is no-one to blame for this. Who can truly understand and teach simhasana in a way that the practitioner experiences its power??! I imagine, very, very few indeed! But this asana, which according to Shri Mahayogi is actually a mudra, is one that I have very high respect for, because I have experienced enough of its power to know that indeed it demands such respect.