Teachings of Shri Mahayogi:
• The Attitude of the Practitioner:
The Absolute Requirement of Having
a Burning Sense of Urgency in One’s Spirit
to Stake One’s Life
on the Realization of the Self
Testimonies from Actual Practitioners:
* * * * * * *
Teachings of Shri Mahayogi:
Translation of Satsangha
March 2, 2002
The Ashrama, Kyoto
Apply the Condition of Yoga,
Medha: When we really want to understand something and seriously want to know about it, it is inevitable that we naturally make those judgments in the standard way that we’ve been using all along; and if we keep doing that, we will be repeating the same thing over and over again. Yet I feel that the real solution to this has nothing to do with knowing something by gaining new information all over again every time we want to understand something. I would like to ask you what we should bear in mind if we want to always act as we are supposed to, speak as we are supposed to, or be what we are supposed to be. …I would like to hear more about what you taught us in the Satsangha last week. You said something like “cutting off the habitual tendency that one is inclined to fall into.” However, I suppose that when we try to really understand this we often fall more into that habitual tendency, that is to say, we focus on thinking about our faults and then fall into them with great concentration. So, I suppose that this is completely different from meditation. Is the meditation that is for the purpose of eliminating these negative aspects different in purpose or level of depth from focusing on one’s own negative aspects?
MASTER: To summarize what you have asked, are you asking how to perform the meditation of discrimination (laughs)?
Medha: Yes. Thank you very much, Shri Mahayogi.
MASTER (after laughing): Well, even in meditation, the content of the meditation is affected by the situation and the condition of the meditator’s mind. I suppose that that is what was mentioned [by Medha] just now. That is to say, the content of one’s meditation is inevitably biased by one’s sense of value and preconceived notions that are influenced by sanskara, which have been cultivated by memories, and which are the past impressions that have already been implanted in the mind. Because of that, inevitably, the universal, eternal Truth cannot be intuited, and instead, the world of your own views appears [in meditation]. So, discerning whether the realm of your own notions that arise in meditation are the Truth or not, whether they are something to be sought after or not, is discrimination. On the other hand, you may be studying the Truth, through the words of Truth. And these words may remain in your memory. However, these [words] have no reality yet. So they are merely the intellectual understandings of the words, they are the memories cultivated from actual experiences that take precedence within the mind. If the content is clearly different from the Truth, then you will get confused. In order to discern that, the practice of discrimination has to be deepened. The easy way to make progress is, first of all, to know that the Truth is not dependent on anything; it exists by Itself—It is independent and self-existent; however, the realm of the mind is based on some form of dependency, in other words, it is established in conjunction with some sorts of conditions. Therefore, [you can say that] if something exists independently without any conditions, then that is the Truth. But if not, and if it is conditional and there is a dependency in its relation, then it is not the Truth. This is the key to simplifying the process of discrimination.
For example, even if Truth might seem abstract, in order to prove the Truth, there is no need to use the mind, or present any words, or anything else for that matter. Isn’t that so? Otherwise, it cannot be considered the Truth. Because if something can be proven through words, then it is a type of truth that would be dependent upon a condition: words. Then if that word changes, in other words, if the condition changes, then that truth cannot be established. That is a simple formula.
Regardless of what it is that is meditated upon, if you use [the Truth, since it exists independently without any conditions,] as a base, you will gradually be able to practice discrimination swiftly. And, as a result, as you deepen that continuously, then you will feel that whatever it is, even a word as a particular sound, becomes something that is impure and creates conditions. And those things will eventually be eliminated as imperfections.
[The relation of] the meditator and meditator’s mind is there, too, simply due to the particular time, space and the specific condition based on its cause and effect. If any of these conditions are removed, then the rest are no longer valid either. However, the Truth, regardless of whether the conditions are there or not, is Absolute, and thus, Existent.
Medha: So this means that my earlier question about having a purpose before starting discrimination—even a purpose or an intention—is an obstacle, too, correct?
MASTER: Yes, within that meditation you will eventually come to realize that too. However, in the beginning, it is inevitable that the condition that ‘one must discriminate,’ is a given. As you continue, you will eventually notice the unseen, abstract conditions within the mind that I just mentioned, and their inner-workings will come to be unraveled.
Chetaka: Shri Mahayogi, in the process of reaching that understanding, words are still required for that unraveling, are they not?
MASTER: They are inevitable up to a point. Without words, you cannot describe anything, whether concrete or abstract. Even the word “Emptiness”, or “Nothing”, has a sort of image associated with it. In that manner, the origin of words goes way back, deep within the mind.
Chetaka: When it comes to that type of meditation, for example, when Ramana Maharshi was asked by a disciple, “Concretely speaking about meditation on the inquiry of ‘Who am I?’ do we continue asking, ‘Who am I?’ again and again in the meditation?” His answer was, do it only once. And then, after asking, “Who am I?” trace its origin thoroughly to the root. I think that, at first, words are used as clues in discrimination or meditation. And by continuing to use words, and actually when we are struggling with something, we tend to think while trying to rationalize it, or find various causes in order to resolve those issues; I think that is different from meditation. Ｗhen we concretely process something—let’s say that there is a painful issue that one is dealing with—if we think about what makes it painful, then one still uses words to try to understand the cause. And even if the result is found, it is only a short-circuit result, jumping to a conclusion: “It’s not the True Existence.” So the next morning when we wake up, we are back in the same state of pain again—this is most likely an unavoidable result, I suppose. So, regarding the way to delve deeper—what is the concrete method to do this so that it is different from merely ‘thinking about’ something?
MASTER: Follow what I just said. That is to say, all occurrences, which you may call experiences, have their respective conditions, which were appropriate for their formation. That is the same with individuals too. People do not doubt [the Self that they identify with], but everyone mistakes the self for their cumulative past experiences that have become layered and mixed together, and, at the same time, are vague and abstract. There are several approaches to this. One is to simply delve into, “Who am I?” of course. Another approach is to once again ascertain and discern the obstacles that prevent the true Self from emerging, that is to say, discern what it is that creates the vague, false self—that is the method of discrimination. One’s own experiences, which were indubitable to oneself up until that point, have all been accumulated in one’s memory; they create one’s ideas and personality, or the characteristics that are called the mind’s world. Whether that is absolute or not—the reason why you have to examine it thoroughly is because at the present, at that time in the past or in the future, you are compelled to have experiences [and accumulate them in your memory, creating your ideas and personality] based on the power that comes from inside [the mind and that creates this false self which prevents the true Self from emerging]. That is why it is necessary to examine and analyze your mind all over again to determine whether it is acceptable for you [to continue this way or to break free]. Therefore you must look at the realm of your mind objectively. Otherwise, it is about the mind trying to look at itself, so there is no way for the mind to catch the mind itself, as expressed in the saying, “The thief disguised as a police officer chases the thief himself.” It is impossible for the mind to chase itself since it will always be trying to escape in ways that it finds most convenient. Also, if the thief is disguised as a police officer, it will conveniently let the thief escape. You will never be able to catch it in your whole entire lifetime.
Therefore, in a way, discrimination is also conditioning the mind to an objective condition, so to speak. You bring a new condition to the matters that have been unconsciously established by various [other] conditions up to that point—in other words, you apply the condition of Yoga, not the condition of karma, which is that of the mind. In doing so, you will finally come to see it objectively for the first time. You can also practice it through analyzing various things; however, ultimately, the deeper fundamental issue, regardless of what type of experience it is, has its formula, which is that the ideas and impressions that have formed there are constructed based on some type of condition. And this applies to any experience had by anyone. A condition means that when you think about something, then there is already a cause that existed that prompts one to think about it. Since you have experienced something in the past and have formed a particular impression, you think of something in a particular way. Other people may think of the same thing in a different way. But if you think about something in a particular way, then there was already an underlying cause for that. The reason you think in that way has an underlying relation of cause and effect: a particular time factor to make you think of it, having encountered that incident in space, which means that the fabric of space and time coincided precisely—and not only that, but further, you had to encounter that incident and create new impressions again. And with all of these simply being conditions—they can be summed up in one word because it does not matter what color or type they are. In short, certain conditions are imposed and they create particular colors of the mind, such as “I felt like this or that.” Such [impressions] have been layered over and over again in the course of one’s life of experiences. Therefore, when you calmly observe these incidents and situations, it may seem that they are just coincidences, that such uncertain things have created what is called your self. These unseen conditions have created nothing less than all of the person that you are now. Thus, these conditions, technically called vasana or sanskara, which have formed the mind into a particular type of tendency, are the fundamental causes and the predominant grand conditions. In addition, as such external conditions [like time and space] come into alignment, then new impressions are once again added on. You will see that [as you go further in discrimination].
Therefore, anything that is formed by conditions cannot be sustained, just as when one leg [of a table] is removed. Those conditions are formed upon such an uncertain foundation; however, if you believe that they do exist in spite of that uncertainty, it is so fleeting, foolish and false that you must keenly penetrate through that [and reject it]. That is discrimination. If discrimination is applied thoroughly, then from that moment on into the future you will not take in the experiential impressions based on the conditionalization of past errors. That is what is called the ‘removal of the pain-bearing obstacles’ in the Yoga Sutra.
Chetaka: So, as we begin Yoga, at the beginning we encounter various big concerns, small concerns, tiny concerns, or our own shortcomings—these objects [of meditation] also come from vasana and sanskara, and the standards by which we try to measure them are based on those unreliable conditions, as long as we allow ourselves to use these means that have been derived from [the mind and the world of the mind]. (Master: Right.) So then it follows that as long as we are trying to measure the big issues that arise from unreliable conditions with unreliable standards, we will never resolve them.
MASTER: Indeed, you’ll never be able to resolve them that way. What you said is exactly right.
Chetaka: I just thought of this as I was listening to Shri Mahayogi…for example, let’s say that we suppose that one month is sufficient for us to be able to read one scripture. Shri Mahayogi always mentions that one scripture is enough [for us to study]. So, if we try to understand it intellectually, I think that we can do it in one month. But then, if we are to immediately sit down in meditation and use the Truth learned from those scriptures as a standard, and reach that conclusion right away by just analyzing oneself, that is probably rushing to a conclusion too fast.
MASTER: It will be difficult [to attain the real conclusion].
Chetaka: After all, if I look at my own experience, I feel that the way I perceived things three years ago, two years ago, today, and probably even tomorrow, is probably gradually improving from day to day due to applying the practice of Yoga. In light of that, I feel that by going through and reading and understanding things, and then going through the process of noticing things again and again, more and more, within myself in my daily life like, ‘This might be incorrect,’ I am getting rid of a great deal of baggage one piece at a time along the way due to the accumulation of these small insights. That is my impression.
MASTER: Indeed. If everything were resolved by just reading scriptures, nothing could be more wonderful than that. However, the scriptures, after all, are read by the mind. Even if one calls it the intellect, it is also merely a thing that is within the realm of the mind, so thorough, steadfast meditation is a must.
Chetaka: In concrete terms, [that relates to] one of the initial teachings I learned [from Shri Mahayogi] that struck me to the core the most, “You shall reap what you sow.” After all, instead of the fact that the scale on which we weigh things is being set by the mind, such as blaming something other than our own selves, which also includes the sense of being hurt by someone, the right scale, or the teachings of Yoga, such as the fact that everything that happens to you comes about from the seeds [of karma] that are within you, or treating everybody with fairness, or much subtler matters, become the standard. So once these [right] standards are in place, since they are for certain, whatever things are not certain, and thereby do not qualify as the right standard, will be eliminated.
Chetaka: That is discrimination…
MASTER: Yes, it is indeed. On one hand, it is also about understanding what the mind is and how the mind works. To understand it means nothing other than mastering the mind; therefore, you must practice this objectively or from an objective standpoint. Otherwise, if you let the mind rule over itself, the aforementioned contradictions will arise.
Chetaka: Although when I first started Yoga, “Who am I?” was so altogether vague and elusive, I could not figure it out; nowadays, searching for the [true] subject by asking “Who am I?” is easier to grasp. To digress, it’s also become easier to grasp the concentration on ishta, with bhakti. However, [there are] some pending problems I have now, for example, the practice of discrimination. In my case, for instance, I would like to use it on an issue in my relationships with people. I think that I understand all the causes now. There are many causes, and I fall into suffering. Then I suddenly and abruptly try to practice discrimination in order to fundamentally solve the suffering. What is the right way to begin doing that concretely? In other words, is there any entryway such as, “Who am I?” There are many different issues that need to be solved.
MASTER: In the view of Yoga, it is such that the past suffering should no longer be dealt with; however, future suffering should be avoided. But, if memories from past experiences still bother you, or you are suffering from them, then it is recognized as a present suffering and therefore must be discriminated. That means that by finding out the root cause of that suffering and ruling over it [using the Truth], that suffering should be eliminated. As a simple explanation of [the cause of] suffering, the Yoga Sutra lists the pain-bearing obstacles. When these pain-bearing obstacles [such as greed (raga), hatred (dvesha) and so on] are betrayed and do not bring about desirable results, suffering or anger arises, which changes their forms. So then it can all be boiled down to: obstacles arise as suffering when, on the one hand, there is the attachment to pleasure, and on the other hand, there is the obsession with the feeling of loss.
Chetaka: I’m sorry, could you please repeat the former one? I could not follow it.
MASTER: Which one? (laughs)
Masa (Haridas): Attachment to pleasure?
MASTER: Attachment to pleasure?
MASTER: Yes, the mind being obsessed with pleasure.
Chetaka: And dvesha?
MASTER: They are referred to as raga and dvesha.
Chetaka: It all comes down to these.
MASTER: Yes. That is the cause in most cases. However, it is, again, one condition. It can be recognized as an internal condition. Another thing is that experience is simply due to the external condition having been prepared or met, regardless of whether it is a person or a thing, it has been experienced as a particular experience; and as a result you have retained the taste of that experience as suffering. So you can say that this is also a conditionalized experience. Now, if you look at it calmly, you can recognize how unreliable these conditions that they are based on are—well, you can also see that it could have been the golden opportunity of a lifetime, but it is not necessary to perceive it this way—it just so happens that such an opportunity for connecting occurred. The latent aspects are connected and involved with one another, which turns into a cause of suffering. The answer you can derive from this is that, on one hand, there is an internal cause of conditionalization, which is, as I mentioned earlier, the power of the pain-bearing obstacles. On the other hand, there is the condition that made it concrete, or the condition that is made concrete as an experience. These are the root causes of the formation of suffering. If any of these conditions were missing even a little bit, then those things would not have happened.
Chetaka: In fact, rather than it being the golden opportunity, I think regret is often involved.
MASTER: Well, that means that these conditions are very vague and uncertain. Therefore you cannot rely on them—you will eventually understand it as such. If different conditions are met there instead, then it might have left a joyful, pleasurable experience. It is simply that a particular incident by chance sprouted suffering instead. Whether something creates suffering or joy, these are merely incidents caused due to conditions, that is, the opportunity is rooted in the causes and effects which have been prepared or met. Today’s weather is like that, too. Based on the earth’s rotation and the movement of the atmosphere, the change of seasons occurs, and based on various conditions coming together, the weather reflects changes such as rainy, snowy, or fair accordingly. It’s no different from that. You see, the human mind inevitably makes one’s own experiences all too real.
Chetaka: So my experience is only one of the points of the threads of various conditions that weave a pattern, and since I cling onto that one point, it seems like it’s everything to me.
MASTER: Right. And it creates an illusory sense of self. And if that illusion is that kind of experience, then that experience is colored by suffering [through the impression that it leaves].
Chetaka: That standard of judgment—everyone is thinking that one’s own view is absolutely right.
MASTER: Yes. That comes from asmita, one of the pain-bearing obstacles, which forms the realm of the mind into the ego.
* * *
Discrimination: Deepen Your Discrimination
Until Conditions Shift to the Unconditional
Masa (Haridas): Shri Mahayogi, both citta and manas are translated as the mind, but what are their differences?
MASTER: Citta is the generic term for the mind. If you analyze the mind, then you can see various elements, and they are categorized as the following: The intellectual part is buddhi—the categorizing of various things, and decision-making; ahankara—the ego consciousness, is the consciousness of thinking of oneself as being different from others; manas—the workings that entail thinking about things, desiring or intending. Furthermore, there is also memory: memory contains sanskara and karma ashaya (the storage of karma). Sanskara contains pain-bearing obstacles and ignorance.
Masa (Haridas): All of that together is called citta.
MASTER: Yes. The generic name for all of these is citta. Are you reading Raja Yoga [by Swami Vivekananda] now?
Masa (Haridas): Yes. Going back to an earlier conversation about words and intellectual understanding, I have experienced time and time again that when reading the scriptures, even though the words that are written are the same, depending on the state of consciousness, my own condition, and the depth of discrimination, the way I understand the content changes completely. So that is why, even if I read them again and again, the content [of the scriptures] is alive and vibrant. From that I can see that it is not about the words, but it is about my own transformation, and that ultimately, even that transformation, too, settles down, and even the scriptures disappear… Up until then, based on discrimination in our daily experiences, our intellectual or partial understanding of those same words can be so different from day to day… The desire to satisfy our intellectual understanding can become an obstacle… Unless we shift [the desire] to a larger wave [instead of one with a small self]…where one false step can turn into a big sanskara… I feel that up until now, the pitfall was huge, yet it was still shallow, whereas now I feel that the pit is getting smaller, but deeper.
MASTER: Indeed. That is why you must not loosen your grip on observation and rule over these things until they give out. Regardless of what type of bliss you may experience, true Wisdom, wisdom from discrimination, arises. Or whether you start acquiring special powers, whatever they might be, they are still mere conditions that are limited by something. What is important is to observe them thoroughly and firmly, then it boils down to the fact that they too must be renounced, that is to say, Truth is not dependent on anything. You must persistently bear in mind the admonition that as long as any conditions exist, you have not reached the end.
In other words, as long as there is an owner and an object of ownership, whether it is abilities, wisdom, love, or whatever it might be, and a relationship of possession of that, a condition exists there. So you must deepen your discrimination on it until conditions shift to the unconditional. When conditions are gone, meaning when they are renounced, then truly, the state of Oneness, Unlimited and Eternally One, emerges. It really emerges! It’s already there! (laughs)
(Turning towards Ms. Tokuoka (Murali) who attended the Satsangha for the first time) It’s not something you acquire. It is inherent as the essence, the substance in us and all beings and things from the beginning. It is not about ‘having,’ but rather, That is the substance itself.
Ms. Tokuoka (Murali): Within myself?
MASTER: Yes. Therefore, the practice of Yoga is the task of getting closer to It, or in other words, gradually peeling off the unnecessary covering that is there and then eliminating [that covering].
Ms. Tokuoka (Murali): The other day on the way back home, Medha-san mentioned something like that.
MASTER: Oh, really? (smiles)
Ms. Tokuoka (Murali): I heard her say, “Keep peeling it, peeling it, then one becomes stronger, or one returns to the original Self,” and I thought, how amazing!
MASTER: That is right.
Ms. Tokuoka (Murali): So it’s not about acquiring it, right?
MASTER: Right. To get to that last destination, manas is required: the power of will. To firmly have a strong will, and to pull oneself by oneself.
* * *
The Attitude of the Practitioner:
The Absolute Requirement of Having
a Burning Sense of Urgency in One’s Spirit
to Stake One’s Life on the
Realization of the Self
Masa (Haridas): Is it best to have the will or fighting spirit of, “I must attain Satori in this lifetime”? There is a story about it that there was someone who meditated so much that an anthill was built around him and he asked someone to find out when he will attain Satori. In another scene, there is a dancing person, and he also wants to find out when he will attain Satori. The first person was told that he needs a few more lifetimes, and got very disappointed thinking how much he had been meditating. The dancing person, upon hearing that he has to be born again as many times as the number of leaves on a tree, became so happy and said he was so grateful that he would soon be able to attain Satori. So I wonder whether it is better to aim for Satori in Yoga, having a sense of urgency to attain Satori in this lifetime, or without having that kind of feeling…but in reality, manas and such, is needed to get there, and working hard to shift everything into one big wave…what I mean by that is that I feel that we are practicing, wishing to attain Satori in this lifetime. What is the best attitude to have towards Satori?
MASTER: Having a strong will toward it is crucial, because that will become the passion you need in this lifetime to propel you forward in disciplining yourself to practice persistently.
Masa (Haridas): Indeed, because if not, then our minds can fall into laziness, where we would feel, ‘Oh well, if I can’t attain Satori in this lifetime, it can wait until the next.’
MASTER: That attitude is not acceptable; because that will dilute the passion. If you look at the example of the spirit of Buddha and of Ramakrishna, they didn’t want to live if they couldn’t attain Satori in their lifetimes. They weren’t even thinking about the remaining longevity. They were ready to exchange their lives for Satori—you can sense that great level of intensity of spirit.
Masa (Haridas): Indeed, Ramakrishna was about to slit his throat.
MASTER: That is right. Buddha, too; he was said to be someone who had that intensity of determination when he entered into the state of Yoga.
Masa (Haridas): So, in a way, conversely, if a lazy attitude arises, then we should think of the intense spirit of these great ones.
MASTER: In fact, unless you have that intensity and spirit, you cannot walk the path to Satori; because it is not about killing time or satisfying your curiosity.
I always say this, but Satori is not about acquiring some special abilities or wisdom. It is to know one’s naked true Self, or to know the Truth of this universe. And it cannot be known through words or knowledge. It can only be known in the depths of meditation or Yoga. That is why there is no need for complicated words. Whether you are young, old, male, female, animal, it is simply about waking up to the Truth within all beings and things. That’s why it’s possible for anyone. (Shri Mahayogi declares this sternly, and gazes at everyone, one by one.)
* * *
Testimonies from Actual Practitioners:
Raja Yoga (The Second Part)
Translation of the article by Yohei Iio
July 2016 Kyoto, Japan
Two of us can live forever in memory
I can still hear your voice echoing in my heart
It’s a wandering shadow of love
Did you cry a little?
I couldn’t see your tears back then
Do you know this song? It is the hook from the well-known lyrics of a song that was very popular when I was in fifth grade: “Hello Again, From a Place That Has Existed Since Long Ago,” by a group called My Little Lover. A few years back, Juju, a musician, covered the song and it became a hit again, so you may heard of it. You may be thinking, “Why are you quoting a pop-song in such a sacred publication as Paramahamsa?” but of course, my intention is not to talk about the song. The reason I introduce this song is because the song represents exactly “how my mind is,” and to go even further, I feel that it symbolizes “my sanskara.”
About three years ago, my senior brother disciple Sanatana-san told me in a severe tone, “Yohei, you must get out of the tiny, sentimental room of your mind.” I thought, “Me? Sentimental??” I could admit that I was a narcissist, but it was shocking to me to be told that I was a sentimentalist, I had really never thought of myself that way.
Around that time, when I was meditating on Vivekananda, it felt like I was being absorbed into something like a light, and along the way I saw something. It caught my attention, so I went back, and there was a gigantic wall. As I inspected it carefully, the wall was filled with an infinite number of “tiny, box-like drawers.” Only one of them was extremely worn out from friction. Sometime later during Satsangha, there was a talk about karma-ashaya (the storage in which karma is kept), so I mentioned this experience to Shri Mahayogi and asked, “Was this a karma-ashaya?” and Shri Mahayogi answered, “Yes, it can be likened to sanskara.”
There was a particular “past memory” that I kept recalling at the slightest of triggers, even after I had started practicing Yoga. I kept pulling it out of the drawers of my mind and dwelling on it. Indeed, that was my unresolved attachment to “bhoga” (worldly pleasures), the opposite of “Yoga.” That was the tiny, sentimental “room” of my mind that I had to get out of—or even smaller, the little box of the mind.
The band My Little Lover sang about memories as being “wandering shadows of love,” and memories are shadows, that is to say, they are after-images but nothing of substance. Although I could understand this intellectually, the power compelling me to pull them out was still deeply rooted within me. However, I wanted to move forward in my life proactively. Just like Vivekananda, I wanted to confidently declare, “I am a yogi!” I knew that I had to “discriminate” and bid farewell to this part of my past. Otherwise, I knew that, my life would be like the repetition of a regret-filled, unfinished song.
Discrimination is one of the pinnacles of raja yoga. In that process, satya (truthfulness, integrity) plays a big role. I have noted the steps of discrimination below.
Buddha is one of the most exemplary raja yogi. Buddha’s meditation process is the Four Noble Truths.
When I began the practice of discrimination, Shri Mahayogi said, “You should attend Sanatana’s Specialized Program on Meditation.” In that class, Sanatana-san explained the meditation of the Four Noble Truths in a simple manner.
STEP 1: Suffering — Stop making judgments of good or bad, and observe the reactions of the mind.
STEP 2: Cause [of Suffering] — Discern the direct cause of the reactions in the mind.
STEP 3: Elimination [of Suffering] — Recognition, resolution, and determination will arise in accordance with the level or the depth of the practitioner.
STEP 4: Path [to End Suffering] — Non-Attachment; Taking action and living one’s life based on [true] Freedom.
Let’s take a look at STEP 1: Suffering. I learned that the pain-bearing obstacles, expressed [in Japanese] as ‘trouble, or things that will cause annoyance or worry,’ which are desires of the mind, are “Suffering”; nevertheless, the mind does not recognize these as suffering, or even if they are recognized as suffering, one cannot give them up—that is the view of Buddha. The first step in discrimination begins by firmly grasping the desires and pain-bearing obstacles, which are the mind’s reactions. So then, what one must do is “Observe.” The mind inevitably makes judgments based on one’s own value system, determining what is good and what is bad; however, it is the same as a parent just telling a child, “This is good, that is bad,” without any explanation or reasoning. In that manner, a child has no opportunity to express the intention behind their actions and he or she will rebel against it sooner or later. Therefore, it is important to have a dialogue with the mind first, asking, “Why do you think that way?” By doing so, you will be able to observe the “honest, straightforward reaction of the mind.”
Although what is meant by the “honest, straightforward reaction of the mind” at this point is different from satya, which is honesty and integrity with respect to the Truth, I found in fact that the act of having a “heart-to-hart talk” with Mr. Mind was unexpectedly difficult. It had been a few years since I began practicing Yoga, so I confessed that it was very difficult for me because my pride did not want to simply accept my thoughts that were in conflict with Yoga. Even though I wanted to become a yogi, I could not face any opposing thoughts that existed within my mind, and rather, I could only make judgments based on what was occurring on the surface without going deeper. How complicated the mind is! Yet, my intention to end this limbo-like situation was superior, so I had a serious conversation with Mr. Mind without holding back. As a result, Mr. Mind revealed so much to me, to the point where I was flabbergasted. I was truly amazed, but at least I was able to successfully have a straight talk with him.
The next is STEP 2: The Cause [of Suffering]. In a way, it is from this point on that the actual discrimination begins. This is about discerning “the direct cause of the reactions in the mind.” I learned that this “Cause” means, “the essence of a bundle of things being gathered to the point where all strands come together.” So, in this process you must confront the essence that these reactions of the mind are putting together, in other words, the cause of all of these, with the teachings of Truth, then discern whether they are the Truth or not. The standard here, of course, is “the Truth.” If you apply your own value standards based on your own emotions or experiences, then you will never get out of the realm of your own mind. Therefore, you must apply the teaching about “[ignorance is] seeing the non-permanent as permanent, the impure as pure, pain as pleasure, and the non-self as the Self,” as an objective standard and an absolute measuring stick:
Permanence: Whether it is eternal or not?
Purity: Whether it is pure or not?
Pleasure: Whether it is bliss or not?
Self: Whether it is the true Self or not?
I was able to grasp my mind’s reactions in STEP 1. Then, as I looked at where they came from, I recognized that they all came from the same memory. Actually, based on the same memory, my various repeated demands came up, such as: “I want to see it again, hear it again, taste it again.” Back then in my practice of discrimination, I was applying the Truth to memories themselves. However, my senior brother disciple Sananda-san advised me that “rather than using a vague memory, you should discriminate on the reactions of the mind in daily life, which is the concrete appearance of the memories.” So I practiced applying discrimination to the objects of attachment that the mind reacted to.
However, when I began to actually apply it, I was so confused. And even if I applied the teaching of “[ignorance means] seeing the non-permanent as permanent, the impure as pure, pain as pleasure, and the non-self as the Self,” to the objects of attachment, I felt that they had no effect whatsoever. It felt as if I was continually swinging the bat but I kept missing the ball. However, at one point, I recalled Shri Mahayogi mentioning the word, “Reality.” I do not remember in what context Shri Mahayogi said this word, but somehow my mind was reminded of this word quite strongly, so I applied the word “Reality” to those objects—“Is there Reality in this thing or not?” Then the response came back that, “There is no Reality in it,”—the mind understood it without any trouble. It felt as if my bat hit the ball for the first time! I was really surprised by this. Just by changing the wording, the difference was so drastic!
As I continued with this meditation for some days, an object of attachment came into view as I was riding a bus and looking out the window. Normally, I would have gotten dragged into a sentimental direction, but that day, it was different. The object seemed to fly away like a thin sheet of paper. I could recognize that it had “no reality.”
Also, when I applied “Is this the true Self” to the object, it did not seem to have an effect, so I added the concrete concept of ‘growth,’ as in the question, “Will this benefit my growth and development?” And then I strangely became convinced that, ‘it had no effect on my growth and development.’ In the same way, through changing from, “Is this bliss or not?” to something easier to grasp—“Is this happiness or not?” the mind started to understand that, “It is not happiness.”
And then I applied the teachings of “[ignorance means] seeing the non-permanent as permanent, the impure as pure, pain as pleasure, and the non-self as the Self,” to the objects of my attachment all over again. In meditation, I progressed from one question to another in the following manner: “Is it eternal or not?” I recognized and deeply accepted that, “No, it is not.” Then, next, “Is it pure or not?…” and in the end, “Is this the true Self or not?” Then I recognized and deeply accepted that, “No, it’s not.” When that meditation on discrimination [toward the objects of my attachment] ended, I saw a vision of a candle and its flame suddenly going out. At that time I thought, “What? Is that Nirvana (the condition in which the candle light is extinguished)? Did I attain Enlightenment?” Unfortunately though, since these thoughts arose, I realized that it was not Nirvana.
As I continued to practice discrimination in this manner, I attained “Recognition”: STEP 3 (Elimination [of Suffering]), and my mind’s troubles and worries were reduced, even though I haven’t reached STEP 4 (Non-attachment; Taking action and living one’s life based on [true] Freedom). Nevertheless, it was not a perfect “Elimination [of Suffering] (Nirvana).” I still had desires towards objects coming from the memories in the mind. However, since Shri Mahayogi has mentioned that ‘the mind must be poked from various angles’ in discrimination, I persisted and continued to practice without getting discouraged.
[Here] I will digress a little from the story. As a part of my participation in the works of the Mahayogi Yoga Mission, I am honored to be tasked with transcribing the recordings of Satsangha. When I was checking over the quality of the work of the transcriptions, the words Shri Mahayogi had spoken in response to someone who was seeking “True Love,” pierced my heart. The excerpt is below:
“The world is inundated with false love [masquerading as true love]. No one notices one’s true Self. That is the false self. So then, what is the false self? Ego, that is, a part of the mind, or the ego-consciousness, asserts itself; therefore it hurts others and performs wrong actions. So, ultimately, love ends. In fact, that egoist, ultimately, is loving itself; loving only itself and treating others poorly as if they were slaves, so to speak. However, True Love is the opposite. It is self-sacrificing, it is sacrificing oneself for others—that is what True Love should be. The incorrect ego-consciousness in the mind, or incorrect thoughts revolving around happiness—these un-truths are called ignorance, which are the opposite of the Truth, not knowing the Truth, and as the result of being fixed on these mistaken thoughts and entrapped by them, karma grows more and more and one ends up suffering. So by learning the Truth, which means the right, the real eternal, unchanging Truth of the universe, then you follow it to bring yourself to coincide with the Truth. Thinking of the Truth as the aim of your belief, and then acting based upon it—that is all you need.”
I looked this transcript over a few times. But reading it all over again, the words “false love,” “false self,” and, “the egoist is loving only itself and treating others poorly as if they were slaves, so to speak,” pierced into my mind. I applied these words to my mind in meditation. Then I realized the truth of the workings behind those desires. It was my “ego” attempting to become happy, using others in order to fulfill its desires, which are a replay of memories: “I want to see it, hear it, taste it again.” I even felt that the ego wanted to step on others in order to grasp at pleasures. If I chose the life of pleasures, even though I recognized that it is false love, then not only would it be against brahmacharya, of course, but it would also be against ahimsa, asteya, aparigraha, and satya—that would be “a false life.” When I saw that, I truly detested that kind of life from the bottom of my heart. And then for the first time, I felt that the “ignorant” mind, unaware of the Truth before, touched the “Truth” for the first time.
Afterwards, I meditated on “[ignorance is] seeing the non-permanent as permanent, the impure as pure, pain as pleasure, and the non-self as the Self,” once more. Then again, mysteriously, I saw the vision of a candle and its flame going out instantly.
Later on, I told Shri Mahayogi about this vision, and the following was Shri Mahayogi’s answer:
“What do you think remains when the flame of a candle goes out? It becomes darkness and there is nothing left. The flame of the candle symbolizes the workings of the mind and the world in which they manifest. Shri Ramakrishna said the same thing using the analogy, ‘As soon as the curtain rises in a theater, all talk stops at once.’ That is to say, from the perspective of the [worldly] side of it, there is a threshold, a discontinuity. Well, you can’t know it intellectually. Just keep practicing.”
I attempted to look back at my path through the actual process of raja yoga. As I have walked on the path, there has been a power to follow in accordance with satya, and the words of Shri Mahayogi underlying this power are always there. His words constantly helped me at every moment and guided me towards the Truth.
The power that comes from the words of Awakened Beings is unfathomable.
Recently, I was again plagued by memories, but in meditation, when the words, “That is suffering,” arose, I also heard the resounding “Om” from somewhere. Though I thought I was just imagining it, when I told myself in my mind again that that memory is suffering, strangely, I began to hear the sound of “Om” again.
I felt the greatness of Buddha. I experienced that by confronting the mind with, ‘this is suffering,’ there is a totally different impact on the mind than from telling the mind that it’s not happiness.
Nevertheless, the desires are difficult to eliminate. So I kept discriminating, using the words of Shri Mahayogi from Satsangha as guideposts. Then, at one point, it felt like the mind started to reverse, to go in the direction of the Truth after meditation. Afterwards, for some time I could no longer discriminate. It was because naturally I got into the state of mind where I wanted to direct the mind to the Truth rather than directing my mind to the practice of discrimination. So then I was finally able to meditate on Vivekananda, after not being able to do so for about two years.
Nonetheless, desire still persists. It is tough. Yet the fire of desire is definitely getting smaller!
I will not allow myself to be defeated anymore!! Now, I can declare, “I am a yogi!” !!!
And I wish to become a true yogi!!!
“Be a true yogi!!!” (Am I a narcissist, after all?!)