Teachings of Shri Mahayogi:
• Meditation: Shri Yantra
• The Attitude of the Disciple: Taking Care of the Guru
• Bhakti: The Five Attitudes of Bhakti
And The Way to Find The Most Fitting Attitude For Yourself
• Bhakti: The Transformation of the Bhakta
• Attitude of Practitioners: Brahmacharya
• Biography of Shri Mahayogi: The Embodiment of Purity
• The Mind: Be Clear About Your Role
• Bhakti: The Way of The Bhakta
• Attitude of Practitioners: The Independence of Yogi
Testimonials from Actual Practitioners
MYM 20th Anniversary Words of Offering to the Master
• Searching For the Beginning of Yoga
* * * * * * *
Teachings of Shri Mahayogi:
Translation of Satsangha
October 19, 2013
The Ashrama, Kyoto
Meditation: Shri Yantra
Earlier in the day there was a meeting held in Osaka for the program called “Anyone Can Practice Yoga,”1 so satsangha started out with fewer attendees than usual. Meetings for this program are held on a monthly basis over the course of one year, and the same program also takes place in Kyoto. As the gurubhai from Tokyo, Osaka and Matsuyama who attended the program gradually began to arrive at the Ashrama, one by one they reported on their experiences of the program. They were so inspired. And, as more of them arrived, everyone’s joy—coming from being able to see Shri Mahayogi, of course—pervaded the space. The rain began to fall without anyone taking notice, and the sounds of the rain resonated within the serene atmosphere of the Ashrama.
Sarani: I’ve been taking the classes in Nagaoka-kyo. And the other day was one of the days on which we focus more on mediation, and Sananda-san gave a short lecture on a meditation practice using Shri Yantra. He taught us that we should look at Shri Yantra daily, even if it is only for 5 minutes. Since then, I can feel that my practice of meditation has gotten easier. Even after I finish meditating, the image of the bindu that I was concentrating on remains, even when my eyes are closed. I am wondering what the most beneficial way to utilize Shri Yantra within myself would be? Does it simply get carved into my visual impressions, or should I try to understand it more correctly?
MASTER: The way you are doing that is fine. That is the purpose of yantra. Since the central bindu symbolizes Shiva, every time you think of the bindu, it is directly linked to God or Atman, so just concentrate on That.
Sarani: At that moment, there was something that I could feel. I was told that Shri Yantra is a method of entering into Tantra, which is to correctly understand the manifestations of the world as the manifestation of God. I asked if it would be better to embrace even the negative thoughts within me. Then Sananda-san answered that if one understands even the negative thoughts as one of the manifestations [of God], and if one’s true essence is pure, then negative thoughts will eventually dissolve. So I tried doing that, but it gets too analytical. Will I get to the essence if I focus firmly on Shri Yantra during these times?
MASTER: Yes. The central bindu and the central triangle are the origin, the starting point, of prakriti, or Shakti. Through the merging of bindu and the triangle, an infinite number of triangles emerge. That is the manifestation of the world; therefore, it means that all things that exist have Shiva and Shakti as their essence and are the manifestation of them.
Sarani: As I continued to practice, I started to sense how simple it was. Although the mind is quite stubborn, I feel that if I continue concentrating upon the Shri Yantra, I will become simpler.
MASTER: Yes. That is good. You would never be able to end discrimination if you had to discriminate each and every thing that arises out of the mind, just like you can’t stop an infinite number of waves by trying to stop one wave at a time. Therefore, the original root has to be thoroughly discriminated. The original root is ignorance, so by eliminating ignorance itself, [the thoughts caused by] the pain-bearing obstacles that may be stored within the mind will eventually disappear. Surely, it is crucial to eliminate at its foundations the ignorance that is the original root cause. And counter to that, replace it with the Truth.
1 The one year program “Anyone Can Practice Yoga” was led by Sananda and Shachi and met once a month in Kyoto and Osaka from 2012 to 2013, and then again from 2013 to 2014. Satya served as the assistant to Sananda and Shachi during the course of the program from 2013 to 2014. The purpose of the program was to introduce the teachings of Yoga in a way that could be practicable for anyone. During the program, attendees studied the mind in order to prepare for meditation and remove the obstacles that stand in the way of realizing the true Self.
The Attitude of the Disciple: Taking Care of the Guru
Taka: During a satsangha in New York, Shri Mahayogi mentioned that, “The body of the Guru is taken care of by the disciples.” Then I thought about the opportunity I received by being allowed to cook meals for you while I was accepted to live with you there. I would guess that there is a broader, more metaphorical meaning, as well as a more literal meaning to this, but what does that statement mean?
MASTER: The essence of the Guru is Truth itself. It does not have a form, but as long as it exists in this world, it possesses a body. Therefore, the disciples take care of the needs of the Guru that have to be taken care of in this world.
Taka: Does this mean that includes making sure Shri Mahayogi does not get bored? (Everyone laughs knowing Shri Mahayogi’s personality.)
MASTER: (Laughing lightheartedly) Are you trying to say that in order to keep the physical body here as long as possible? (Everyone laughs loudly because of the way he said it.)
Taka: A month passed without me really understanding it, but I suppose that it means primarily taking care of lodging and food, in order to maintain the physical body, would that be correct?
MASTER: (Quietly) Yes.
Bhakti: The Five Attitudes of Bhakti
And The Way to Find The Most Fitting
Attitude For Yourself
Ms. Shimamura: I want to get closer to Shri Mahayogi, but it has been challenging to do so. I get embarrassed and shy, or I may be afraid. (Everyone laughs.) Today, during the “Anyone Can Practice Yoga” workshop, the theme was bhakti yoga. Shachi-san and Satya-san spoke about their experiences, and they said that they tried to emulate the senior disciples who are close to Shri Mahayogi. So I thought about trying that. In prior satsangha, Mr. Tsuru said that he was taught that each person picks his or her own attitude of bhakti. What I am thinking now is that perhaps it may be easier to get closer to Shri Mahayogi if I clarify the relationship, or my attitude toward Shri Mahayogi. Please advise me on how best to proceed.
MASTER: Hmmm. (after a little pause) There are many ways of relating, but the five attitudes in bhakti yoga symbolize them, and I’m sure one of them will be a fit. I think you can just choose one of the five… Why don’t you ask the person next to you (turning to Gargi)?
Gargi (Ms. Endo/Mirabai): Me? I have only heard half of the conversation… I am sorry. (Everybody bursts into laughter.)
MASTER: Do you have anyone else that you would like to ask?
Ms. Shimamura: Dharmini.
Dharmini: I think that you should choose any one of the five attitudes.
Ms. Shimamura: Is that something that should be decided naturally on its own?
Dharmini: It’s not about a spontaneous selection, but rather a proactive choice… I’m not saying to follow your heart, but you’ll most likely end up choosing the best fit for your character. It’s not a vague process that occurs passively. I think that you will eventually come to act on the attitude that best fits your personality.
Ms. Shimamura: So it’s already been determined for me as well?
MASTER: (sharply) Most likely.
Ms. Shimamura: So does that mean that one will discover this oneself?
MASTER: (smiling) Yes.
Ms. Shimamura: What if I am mistaken? (Everyone laughs.) Is it something that is unmistakable?
MASTER: It won’t be a mistake. It is taught in the scriptures, and they have been validated by past Holy Beings. So it can’t go wrong.
Ms. Shimamura: What should I do…
Gargi (Ms. Endo/Mirabai): There is an attitude of madhura (the lover). Although I have not quite understood it well, Radha was in the state of madhura. If a relationship consisting only of love is called madhura, then the purity of love, or the level of intimacy, will determine madhura. So even if the attitude is that of a mother or that of a servant, if that intimacy or purity exists, then can it be considered madhura as well?
MASTER: That is slightly different. For example, the attitude of a servant would be based on performing selfless service and devotion out of love for the Master. If that state reaches the level of madhura, then the relationship of a servant and a master would disappear. So in that sense, those categories dissolve. That state is called madhura.
Gargi (Ms. Endo/Mirabai): That means that in the beginning, even if the attitude may start out as that of a servant, as one’s purity increases more and more, then it breaks through to madhura.
MASTER: Yes, that is it. So rather than starting immediately from being a lover, placing yourself in the position of a servant towards the master will then afford a little bit of modesty in a way, or as I mentioned earlier, it may be scary. (Everyone laughs.) That subtle gap that remains means that there may still be something that needs to be eliminated there. Once that something is eliminated, then it will become the relationship of madhura, as One.
Gargi (Ms. Endo/Mirabai): So then regardless of what attitudes one may take, as one’s faith is deepened, one will reach that ultimate goal.
MASTER: (definitively) One will reach the goal, because in the first place bhakti yoga is the yoga of becoming One with God. Becoming One means, as it literally indicates, that it is equal; and also, because there is no difference between them whatsoever, it is One. In that state, there is no longer the duality of God and I, only the bliss of the One remains.
Madhavi: Is there a sense of bliss while being One?
MASTER: Rather than a sense of bliss, it will become bliss itself. The one tasting bliss, and the taste itself, become one, merge together and become indistinguishable. Radha’s story symbolizes that state, and I feel that Mirabai3 also took that path.
Kinkara: Vivekananda has said, “I may have accomplished a big task, but I am merely a child, sitting next to the Guru, listening to his words.”4 Shri Mahayogi mentioned that these words of Vivekananda are extremely symbolic. Do these words indicate a type of relationship as far as a role manifesting?
MASTER: Hmm, I don’t understand what you mean. I take these words as they are. Is there something that provokes you to think about this, Kinkara? (Everyone laughs.)
Kinkara: Thinking of what Gargi just mentioned, that ultimately the relationship ends in an equal, indistinguishable state, I thought that Vivekananda’s words indicated his relationship to his Master. So then, as you said, these words mean exactly what they say?
MASTER: Yes, I think so. Does anyone object? Yohei, I suppose that you are researching Vivekananda, aren’t you? (Everyone laughs.)
Yogadanda: When Vivekananda left for the West, it seemed to me that he had adopted the attitude of a servant on a mission from his Guru. So then does that mean that along the way, when he experienced and thereby realized Kali, it filled him with madness and he moved on to the state of madhura?
MASTER: (after a slight pause) The word “Satori,” in general, means to experience and realize the Truth. [But] the content of that realization may be various: of course, there is the awakening into the Eternal Existence of Sat-Chit-Ananda. Or, there could be a variety of tastes of realization or the experience of becoming One with God as madhura. Shri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda must have realized many different tastes through experiencing them.
Yogadanda: So, then it’s not that he started out with the attitude of a servant and such…
MASTER: (immediately) It’s not. When he set out to the West, it was more of a kshatriya (warrior)-like power, the state of a lion.
3 A great bhakti (lover of God) born in Rajasthan in 1498. She only regarded herself as the lover of Lord Krishna, even from childhood. She left many poems describing her love for Krishna (Satori: Awakening, 2010).
4 “After all, I am only the boy who used to listen with rapt wonderment to the wonderful words of Ramakrishna under the Banyan [tree] at Dakshineswar. That is my true nature; works and activities, doing good and so forth are all superimpositions.” (Vivekananda: A Biography/The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda Vol.6)
The Transformation of the Bhakta
Gargi (Ms. Endo/Mirabai): That means that the one that comes naturally to you, or actually, regardless of which attitude you take on, through deepening that attitude continuously you will eventually become One with God, is that right? There isn’t really a problem with taking on any one of these attitudes [of bhakti] is there?
MASTER: There is no problem at all, since your companion, whatever attitude you take on, is God.
Gargi (Ms. Endo/Mirabai): During the preparation meeting for the kirtan workshop5 with Jayadevi, we were discussing our understanding of a particular teaching that was also asked about by a participant during the program, so I would like to ask you about something you often say, about how every emotion should be directed towards God, including sadness and anger—all of them. But then, to the contrary, you also have said that one would prefer not to direct any negative emotions towards God. I suppose that if we attain the state of madhura, [the state] where Radha is, all our emotions will become sublimated into the state of Oneness with God, so in the states leading up to that state, should we, of course, be discriminating these negative emotions thoroughly [so that they will be erased]?
MASTER: (sternly) That goes without saying. (Laughs lightly) It is an absolute must.
Gargi (Ms. Endo/Mirabai): So then, the difference is, rather… Is it correct to think that when we reach the same state as Radha, then whatever emerges will be very different from the various ordinary ups and downs we feel?
Gargi (Ms. Endo/Mirabai): So [Radha’s emotions] are something that arise after these ordinary emotions have totally fallen away.
MASTER: Indeed. Therefore, regarding the love story of Radha and Krishna, the difference between their story and worldly love stories is that the former is not affected by any emotion, ego, or ignorance. Within such a sacred love story, various emotional ups and downs may occur. Even so, since those emotions are not based on ignorance, they will work as a force that propels her towards bhakti.
Dharmini: So that ego-less emotion is an emotion that extends towards God.
MASTER: Yes. In a way, falling in love is like being in a state of ekagrata (one-pointed concentration) towards the beloved. If your beloved becomes God, then it will be an ekagrata that is different from the other worldly [types of] ekagrata.
Dharmini: That means that, for example, if it is egoistic, then that [ekagrata] is not directed towards God, is that right?
MASTER: Right. But still, while in the process of deepening bhakti, it may be possible for these things to become more and more purified.
So today’s theme [in the program, “Anyone Can Practice Yoga,”] was bhakti yoga? That is good.
Ms. Morioka: In the end, Mr. Tsuru led us in singing kirtan, which was very impressive to me. After we finished singing, I felt like my heart was compressed (makes a fist in front of her chest). I so wished that it would continue.
Yogadanda: When Sananda-san, [who leads the program with Shachi,] said, “In any yoga other than bhakti, the drop of water melts into the grand ocean; however, in the case of bhakti, the ocean pours into a single drop of water.” And as he spoke, he entered into that mode and lost his words, overwhelmed with emotion. That was the most impressive thing in the program today. That itself was the best closing, demonstrating exactly what bhakti yoga is. (Everyone laughs.)
Ms. Uchiyama: I thought to myself, “Its taste must be so profound, but what does it feel like to have the whole great ocean pour into a drop of water…”?
MASTER: Limitless, inexhaustible (mujinzou)—you might say that. Wonderful. [During the “Anyone Can Practice Yoga” program in Kyoto] last week, the subject ended up being Buddha, and this week, about the state of bhakti. (Shri Mahayogi laughs gently and lightly. And then everyone laughs with joy.)
Taka: Going back to the five attitudes of a bhakta. No matter what the ancient scriptures say, because we love Shri Mahayogi so much, and thus act through our love, if we continuously act out of adoration for you, and practice this constantly, then eventually, will our being and our actions land in one of the attitudes mentioned in the scriptures of the past?
MASTER: It must lead to that.
5 “Bhakti Sangam” by Mirabai and Jayadevi, started in 2012. In 2015 Jayadevi moved to Tokyo, so since then Mirabai and Jayadevi have been conducting this program separately at their respective locations.
6 See Pranavadipa Vol. 22
Attitude of Practitioners: Brahmacharya
Ms. Ryoko Hirokawa: In the “Yoga Talks”7 held at our sangha practice in Matsuyama, we have been learning about yama and niyama. When we were learning about brahmacharya, the question a participant asked triggered me to realize that my understanding of lust had only been partial. Then when I started to think about it, I began to see that every word and action seems to be based on lust, that lust is what underlies and is at the base of everything. Then I got stuck trying to figure out what to think about this and I could not find an answer. I have been involved as a staff member for “Yoga Talks,” but I must confess that it was too difficult and therefore I had an evasive attitude. I have been this way, not being fully prepared, and not bracing myself for seriously learning and practicing Yoga… But I thought that I should hope that I can help eliminate suffering in people…(becoming overwhelmed with emotion), … and when all is said and done, I want to be able to do this without escaping from myself.
MASTER: Yes. (Nods quietly)
Ms. Ryoko Hirokawa: As I was thinking about these things, Shri Mahayogi appeared in my dream and firmly held my hand. At that moment, I felt that the lust in me would resolve amiably, or rather, I concretely felt that it would be resolved. May I ask if this is the correct understanding?
MASTER: (tenderly) Yes, that is fine.
Ms. Ryoko Hirokawa: About tapas, in the Yoga Sutra it is written, “One must accept pain.” Is that the same as Mother Theresa’s words, “Love until it hurts.”?
MASTER: It is the same.
Asangan: Referring to the previous question, if Mother Theresa’s words, to love until one feels pain, are the same as tapas, then does that mean that to perform something for others until it hurts oneself, becomes the purification of oneself?
MASTER: That is so.
Asangan: Does that mean that the more that purification progresses, the more one’s actions become pure?
MASTER: Yes, I think so.
Asangan: Earlier, Ryoko (Ms. Hirokawa) mentioned something about Shri Mahayogi holding her by the hand, and she felt she was able to let go of her attachment. That means, I believe, that she has some kind of firm belief. I would like to ask you what happened within her mind, and what it symbolizes?
MASTER: Generally speaking, we are taught that lust and hunger are considered powerful instinctual drives in this world. However, they are merely biological issues, and the mind gets brainwashed by this. And it is a fact that with these at the foundation one’s karma gets bigger and bigger. That is how they become great causal forces in this world. However, in the pure state, Yoga, free of karma and ignorance, there were originally none of these things to begin with. In the case of Ryoko’s experience, it indicates that it was that pure power that was at work, so purification then occurred.
7 “Yoga Talks” was held between June 2012 and Dec 2014. The group in Matsuyama, Ehime prefecture, gathered twice a month in the morning for the purpose of learning the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Toward the end they added once a month gathering in the evening. Anandi, Asanghan, and Amiti led the gathering.
Biography of Shri Mahayogi: The Embodiment of Purity
Yohei: I think that when one practices thoroughgoing brahmacharya, one becomes purified. When that occurs, will one begin to feel unable to touch others?
Yohei: How does that feel, what is that like?
MASTER: It includes literally touching others, even one’s own body… Even with one’s own body—attachment toward it disappears. (After thinking a little) It feels like it becomes a foreign object…
Yohei: The body feels like something impure?
MASTER: Well, once one’s state reaches the point of complete purity, it becomes impossible to come into contact with anything besides that purity.
Yohei: That was the same with Buddha?
Yohei: Even so, purposefully, he went back out into the world. As earlier, you mentioned that Vivekananda went to the West with the determination of a kshatriya. Did Buddha feel the same way when he went out into the world?
MASTER: That is different from the mind of Vivekananda. The state of mind of Vivekananda was that of a kshatriya, which is the name of the warrior class. So that indicates that he foresaw that it would be a battle. In this sense, it was a battle between his mind of compassion—with which he wanted salvation for his fellows, meaning the suffering masses of India—and the wealthy of the West. I think that there was a greater emphasis on this element of waging a battle against the chaotic discrimination that existed in the world. That is why I likened it to kshatriya. In the case of Buddha, he truly must have been filled with something that could only be called Grand Compassion. His work was the great work of a Savior.
Dharmini: In an earlier conversation about being repelled and unable to touch even one’s own body, feeling dirty once the heart has become more purified, I feel like you would actually get even dirtier without washing your face or brushing your teeth. (Everyone laughs.) But then will your inner brilliance become so great that it will cover even that, meaning that it will be able to take care of that?
MASTER: You should not worry about unnecessary things (laughing lightly). (Roaring laughter from everyone.) Well, it’s been about forty years since then, but there were about ten students who first came to my place to learn Yoga, which is how it began. At that time, too, I was unable to touch anyone. So a student pointed that out and requested that I guide them with some touching.
Dharmini: You mean when you were guiding them in asana?
MASTER: Yes. So I understand these kinds of states very well. To explain it even more, it was even further back in time, when there arose a sense of dislike towards even leaving a trace of the existence of this body in this world that is related to it. Name, uttering a word, leaving pieces of writing—not only could I not bring myself to do these things, but further, I could not even accept having anything arise at all, because even if it was not tangible or material and did not leave a material trace—meaning that as soon as it would arise it might seem to evaporate transparently—it actually existed temporarily from a subtle standpoint… Naturally, as a consequence, any conversation with others ceased, and I felt that a single act of contact—I mean, not [on the level of] physical contact, but even verbal contact, or whatever it might be—was incongruous, or something to be avoided. Those were the days. (Shri Mahayogi laughs lightly.)
Yohei: When did that happen?
MASTER: Approximately…toward the end of my teenage years.
Yohei: After the completion of your discrimination?
MASTER: Well, even during that process these things occurred.
Dharmini: Was that coming from abiding in the Truth, by which I mean acting with integrity towards the Truth?
MASTER: Yes. When I read the Yoga Sutra at a later time, [I understood what was happening within me]. One of the sutra states that as a result of purification one will be unable to touch others.8 The word used is “others” but it is something like what I just mentioned that occurs when one is in that state.
Dharmini: Shri Mahayogi touches people nowadays.
MASTER: Yes. (Everyone laughs.)
Dharmini: How does that work? You got a little more used to the world? (Everyone bursts out laughing.)
MASTER: Maybe. (Shri Mahayogi laughs lightly.)
Dharmini: But the quality or the level of purity is always the same.
Madhavi: When you began teaching and the students requested it, did you feel much resistance to doing so?
MASTER: Yes. (Laughing lightly) But I made an effort. For example, in hala-asana, pressing the back slightly more upright, or in pashchimottana-asana, touching [the point for this asana on the body] lightly.
Dharmini: Shri Mahayogi graciously has gone through such hardship.
MASTER: Yes. (Everyone laughs.)
Gargi (Ms. Endo/Mirabai): [Dislike] arises especially as a reaction toward the physical body, rather than material things?
MASTER: To sum it up, [it includes] everything in the world. That is to say, the manifestation of prakriti is, after all, different from Purusha—it is at that kind of level. So it is not only at the level of disliking something that is impure, but rather, purusha and prakriti are separate in their essence. I think that’s what caused it. So the root source of purity is Atman, Purusha. Brahman has the literal meaning of “purity,” so I suspect that that is what it was.
Taka: So then, towards the end of your teenage years up until the time you began instructing others in Yoga in your late twenties, you spent your daily life continuously in that sort of state, feeling some kind of incongruity.
MASTER: Starting from [the very end of my teenage years], there came a time to perform karma yoga without having to think about these things…so I touched a lot of rugs (laughing lightly) as part of my job. (Everyone laughs loudly because of the way he says it.)
Kinkara: (being filled with deep feeling) There is something that has always been a mystery to me and I know that there is no way to understand until I reach it, so it’s useless to make assumptions. Once the truth about the mechanism of the world is understood completely, and there is no more interest in the physical body, one continues to sit until the body withers away and then can leave the body within a few weeks. On the other hand, regardless of what happens to oneself, one remains in this world for the salvation of all the souls in the world. Both of these are in the same state yet they are not the same—this boundary between these two is a big mystery to me. And just now Shri Mahayogi mentioned something in between—to perform things that had to be done and taken care of without having to think about these things….
MASTER: Yes, truly, I have been through so many different experiences.
Madhavi: What was the intention or the change that allowed you to touch others during asana instruction, going from the condition that Shri Mahayogi disliked touching others for about ten years?
MASTER: Well, my thought was solely for them to get better at Yoga as soon as possible. That was all.
Anandi: As I was advised during the “Siddha Marga” program, during meditation recently I have been thinking of Shri Mahayogi directly residing here in my heart. When I do that, my mind goes, “Shri Mahayogi, please possess me.” Is that OK to do?
MASTER: (immediately) That is fine.
Anandi: (overcome with emotion) Thank you very much. Truly, I would like to be reigned over from within continuously. Thank you very much. (Bows deeply with palms together.)
7 “As a result of purification, one dislikes one’s own body and does not have contact with others.” (Yoga Sutra 2.40)
The Mind: Be Clear About Your Role
Yohei: I just felt this very acutely today too—I get nervous when I talk in front of people. May I ask what I should do?
MASTER: In what types of situations? For example, during your regular work, or are there perhaps times when you talk in front of a group casually, or other times when you have an audience?
Yohei: Yes, the latter.
MASTER: It is very general advice, but one way can be to breathe deeply three times. (smiles.) But if that doesn’t work, then when a situation arises, you must become fully aware of your role: the role of a speaker, [that is,] the role of understanding what needs to be spoken. Be responsible to yourself to fulfill your role by objectively observing it. This sense of responsibility [about your role] will enable you to overcome being nervous.
Bhakti: The Way of The Bhakta
(Yogadanda begins by speaking about the talks by Shachi and Satya, who has been serving as the assistant to the program, during today’s “Anyone Can Practice Yoga” program. He says that he felt the way of bhakti, or the attitude needed to become a bhakta, from them. He then asked Shri Mahayogi some questions.)
Yogadanda: The commonality I felt from what they shared with us was how they both emulated the way the senior disciples expressed bhakti as a hint for getting into bhakti themselves. My question is, unless you are naturally endowed with bhakti and can have bhakti towards your ishta [easily and naturally], can it be a shortcut to emulate a bhakta?
MASTER: Right. As Shri Krishna says in the Bhagavad Gita, “In this world, there is no work prescribed for Me. Yet still, I act. So that people follow my example.”9 He is showing an example. So follow the good examples of your senior disciples, and even if they are not the nearest senior disciples, Buddha, Shri Ramakrishna, and Vivekananda—the ways in which these Holy Beings lived can be your examples. And it goes without saying that you should follow their examples.
Ms. Hara: In the “Anyone Can Practice Yoga” program, the words that Shachi-san said to us about the words of Vivekananda were memorable: “The person who aspires to be a bhakta must be cheerful.”10 Though it is easy for me to be tearful when I am moved, or sympathize and get dragged down when I think of people in pitiful conditions, the power of love can blow all of this away, I thought. Is that correct?
MASTER: Right. Not only bhakti, but other types [of yoga] are actually the same. Cheerfulness and lightness are the nature of sattva, so as one progresses in any yoga, the mind becomes the quality of sattva. So it is natural that one becomes cheerful and light.
Ms. Hara: The senior practitioners are cheerful and joyous, and it was like that when I met them, back when I did not even know the word sattva. And I feel that my habit of getting depressed was alleviated as I spent more time with everyone, and as I see everyone and see Shri Mahayogi in satsangha. Now I feel that it is my turn to become the example myself, proactively.
MASTER: Yes, that is true.
(Dharmini, who is not a participant in the “Anyone Can Practice Yoga” program in Osaka because she is a participant in Kyoto, requested that she would like to hear Shachi and Satya’s stories. Shri Mahayogi supported the idea and asked them to speak about it.)
Shachi: At first, I could not understand the existence of God, and I had an impression that bhakti yoga was difficult. But seeing the beauty of bhakti in a gurubai, who was my senior disciple, I began to practice by emulating her.
Satya: I repeated exactly the same words that the senior disciples said. (Everyone laughs.) Even if the words were said by someone else, by saying them to myself and listening to myself, I tried to touch, and thus feel, the depth, the origin that these thoughts and emotions were coming from when they spoke. I observed how they revered objects belonging to Shri Mahayogi, so I also mimicked them.
Shachi: At first, I was very compelled by Anandamali’s bhakti, her way of being a bhakta, and I wanted to become like that. When I thought about how to go about it, as I began reading The Gospel of Shri Ramakrishna and books on Ramakrishna’s disciples, there were so many words and stories that were practical and useful examples to apply in daily life—so where I am now is largely the accumulation of my daily efforts to practice constantly as much as I can, performing the actions that were being presented [in the book]. By having the experience of coming into contact with the Holy Beings and holy affairs [in the book], confidence in them grows. Even if I did not understand what God was, one can feel its existence. Tasting it little by little more tangibly, I gradually was able to believe it. That was how it was in my case.
9 Bhagavad Gita 3.22-23
10 The Complete work of Swami Vivekananda Vol3; Bhakti Yoga
Attitude of Practitioners:
The Independence of Yogi
Mr. Matsunaga: I envision “equality” as something that applies to people, but does that include things such as places and jobs as well? I mean not discriminating anything.
MASTER: One must acknowledge the various differences between jobs and places, but one does not have any sense of judgment between them—in that sense, there is equality.
Mr. Matsunaga: As we become more equanimous, will we stop depending on the things, places, people, etc that we like?
Mr. Matsunaga: Not being dependent means that one can become independent?
Mr. Matshunaga: When we say independence, it includes many psychological or financial things. Since the program “Siddha Marga” began, I have been thinking about my given theme, independence as a yogi. Of course, it would be better to become independent both financially and psychologically, yet that can also be achieved when you are walking the path of karma. So considering it further, I started to think that independence as a yogi, seems to go even beyond any of these concepts.
MASTER: (immediately) That is exactly so. A dependent relationship underlies the object of the thought regardless of what the mind thinks. So then, what is independent, and completely free of all dependency? The answer is Atman, only the True Existence. The true meaning of independence is to awaken to That, and abide in That.
Mr. Matshunaga: That means that until then, one is not independent.
MASTER: Strictly speaking, one would not be independent until then.
Ms. Yamamoto: I have been following the examples of senior gurubhai on the practice of decluttering. I understand why I hoarded things, but when I see old letters, memories and emotions get in the way and I cannot move my feelings away from them. I get stuck. Is that because my discrimination is weak?
MASTER: (laughs lightly) Well, take your time. It is not easy to do anything all at once. It is fine to do it gradually.
Ms. Yamamoto: I get stuck—it means that there should be a thought upon which I am dependent.
Ms. Yamamoto: So I must dig deeper into that dependency and remove it.
MASTER: Yes. Since these things are from the past, they are therefore non-existent in the present. To obsess over them is to grasp at illusions.
Ms. Yamamoto: So I am grasping at illusions and allowing myself to do that.
Ms. Yamamoto: I must get away from that… Indeed.
Yohei: Why does the mind want to look back at the past?
MASTER: It must be a habit. Everyone has memories, but some people have characteristics where they don’t look back in the past. Some always just think about progressing forward. So these are issues of habit, really.
Yohei: Rather than issues of the mind…
MASTER: They are issues of the habitualness of the mind. Everyone has memories, but it is about the mind’s habit to attach to them. That is what leads to dragging the past on.
Yohei: So, as we concentrate on Truth, something beyond the mind, they get resolved?
MASTER: Yes. Even if you do not have the habit of looking back at the past, you can see that past, present, and future are a progression through the mind’s tendencies. Nevertheless, they all belong to the realm of karma. But if you are practicing Yoga, you must proactively break away from this progression. If one is fettered by the past, that is contrary to Yoga. You must discriminate and understand that it leads to karma, and stop these customs and habits.
Yohei: So then if they arise, I should ignore them.
MASTER: (immediately) You must discriminate them. It is imperative to thoroughly discriminate them. Regardless of what you have experienced in the past, they are mere experiences that have been conditioned in a specific way. There must have been many possibilities, undoubtedly; however, within these possibilities, that incident was called unto you by your earlier past tendencies. So that is why they are conditional. If you trace back the thread of these conditions to their ultimate cause, it all leads back to ignorance. Since ignorance is not Truth, and it is something that entered as a mistake, you must discriminate ignorance itself. Upon doing that, proactively proceed to practice Yoga and renunciation. By doing so, the mind will transform.
Ms. Yamamoto: Working on decluttering created an opportunity to recall my memories. I thought my forgetfulness was bad, but in order to let go, it may be better to have forgotten them. By seeing these things, these past memories are recalled and I might be bringing up an attachment—so if I had forgotten them, I would think about them more positively and get rid of them quickly. Thinking that I have to remember things, I keep warming up my old memories—I understand now that that itself is ignorance.
MASTER: All you need to remember is God, the teachings and the words of Truth. (Everyone bursts out laughing.)
Ms. Yamamoto: I see. Then I will change the channel. (Everyone laughs explosively.)
* * *
Testimonies from Actual Practitioners:
MYM 20TH ANNIVERSARY
Words of Offering to the Master
Sept 3, 2016 New York
What is Sangha?
It is said that the “Three Jewels,” the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, are cornerstones, as treasures along the path, as a place for practitioners to take refuge. I never really understood or cared much for this teaching. I did not believe they all held equal weight.
My thoughts on the topic were, the Buddha (Shri Mahayogi – absolutely) the Dharma – (the teachings – unquestionably), but how on earth could the sangha, an assembly of disciples and seekers, ordinary humans, filled with egos, myself included, be equal in glorious divinity to the other two parts?
I felt that groups were a hindrance to my spirit because they restricted my freedom. I felt pressured by my perception of what people expected of me, and I fought the urge to march to my own drum. I did not conform to the prevailing ideas easily, and felt better when I was not around people and could do things my way. I didn’t like being told what and how to do things. I didn’t feel in sync with group members and would at times end up feeling emotional. Everything I had accomplished in my life was done by my own volition, so I tolerated groups in the workplace, but where I had a choice, I opted out. Especially for spiritual practice, it was my personal path and journey, no one could walk it but me, so who needed a group to progress along the path? We could meditate together, and that was nice, but working together?
Why? Who needs a Sangha?
Last year, I was asked to participate with the sangha in the production of The Universal Gospel of Yoga as a proofreader, and also to work with sangha when the published book was presented to the public. I was told that in order to participate, I would need to commit my mind, body, heart and soul to these tasks. I think what triggered the commitment to work with sangha might have been my attendance at a satsangha where I sat quivering and weeping. I felt a lot of fear as I sat there. I think the feeling arose from committing and failing in the past to sustain an ongoing daily practice, the fear of being seen through my eyes and the eyes of others as a failure. This, I believe, directly relates to my comfort with being on my own, as opposed to being with sangha, where I might feel judged. If I am on my own, who will judge me?
I asked Shri Mahayogi ‘what to do with the fearful mind’? and he smiled with such compassion and love; it opened my heart. He said I should give it over to God, and do Karma Yoga—work with the Mission, and do Bhakti Yoga. I then thought, I must do this work with the Mission—it is time to grow, to transform, even if it is uncomfortable, it is past time to move forward.
So, I decided to make myself available to work as much as possible. The work stretched me by having me push past the limiting beliefs of what I was capable of doing. It meant pushing past sleepiness and concentrating, even when I believed I could go no further.
What I have learned, and am still learning through working with the sangha, is that I have to constantly get my ‘small’ self out of the way, so that it does not interfere with the purity of your teachings. Even as I worked with the sangha to present this 20th Anniversary offering, I realize that some of the old discomforts and over sensitivities that arise when I am working with groups have come to the foreground. Freedom comes from controlling the mind, and knowing that, as you have said, ‘Freedom does not come by always getting what the mind desires.’ For me, my desire might mean ‘doing it my way,’ but I am reminded by gurubhai that each time disturbances appear, there is an opportunity to dig in and discriminate with these patterns of thinking.
• Helped me to practice concentration and silencing the mind
• Offered consistent periods for practice
and most of all-
• Helped me to realize that I cannot do it on my own, and that I need help NOW. Through my experience, I am just beginning to understand why the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha are considered equal!
• The Sangha’s foundation is based on the Dharma! AND we, the Sangha, have You as a living example that we can achieve THAT!
So, what good is it for me to work in a yogic-like manner when I am with the Sangha, and then not sustain it in my day-to-day life? Doing things my way when I am not with Sangha might feel good, but there is no progress. If my own personal practice, on all levels, is so sketchy and inconsistent, I cannot hold my own weight and – it is a weakened link….and because I am a link in the Sangha chain, then I have a responsibility to make myself as strong as possible.
So – I have made up my mind to continue to consistently work with the Mahayogi Yoga Mission, do daily practice – asana, meditation, and work at developing the will, battling the mind, and clarifying my goal.
This project is really different because I am speaking directly to you, dear Shri Mahayogi, and there is no hiding out. The Sangha is pushing me to come clean, and the Dharma is the tool.
Searching For the Beginning of Yoga
Sept 3, 2016 New York
Shri Mahayogi, on the auspicious occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Mahayogi Yoga Mission in New York, we are blessed to gather in the most precious company of our Beloved Guru and sangha, Shri Mahayogi’s sangha. Because Shri Mahayogi came to New York, we have the opportunity to find out that Enlightenment actually exists and that we can actually experience It. That is the reason we are here today. During these 20 years, many have received Shri Mahayogi’s teachings, learned from him and tried to get closer to the Truth that he represents. I hope that one day many, many more will come to recognize the incredible auspiciousness of Shri Mahayogi’s Enlightenment, as well as his presence in New York City during this time, and that we, his disciples, may carry forth his message through our very Essence, which is the same as that of our Beloved Master.
When I met Shri Mahayogi, 18 years ago, I was carrying Satyakama in my womb and had no interest in yoga, no understanding at all of yoga, and much less of the idea of a Guru or of Enlightenment. Though I had ended up living a life of sensual pleasures and indulgence, and perhaps because of that, I was internally searching for a deeper meaning in life and for true love. My deep wish was to wipe out my past and start all over. At that time, I had encountered Buddha’s Heart Sutra and I had come to treasure it and hold it very dear to my heart. As Shri Mahayogi knows, it says:
Form is not different from emptiness,
emptiness is not different from form.
Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.
So it is with feeling, conception, volition, and consciousness.
Sariputra! All dharma are empty in character;
neither arising nor ceasing,
neither impure nor pure,
neither increasing nor decreasing.
Therefore, in emptiness, there is no form;
there is no feeling, conception, volition, or consciousness;
no eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, or mind;
no form, sound, smell, taste, touch, or dharma;
no realm of vision, and so forth, up to no realm of mind-consciousness;
no ignorance or ending of ignorance, and so forth,
up to no aging and death or ending of aging and death.
There is no suffering, no cause, no extinction, no path.
There is no wisdom and no attainment.
There is nothing to be attained.
By way of prajna paramita,
the bodhisattva’s mind is free from hindrances.
With no hindrances, there is no fear;
freed from all distortion and delusion,
ultimate nirvana is reached.
The joy that I would derive from reading and pondering the meaning of this sutra was immense. But I did not know how to find this formlessness in form. Little did I know that in that same temple where I recited that beautiful sutra, I would meet my Guru and that He could show me the meaning of this sutra through his own existence and breath.
On the evening that I met Shri Mahayogi, he spoke of the parable of a salt doll. Actually, the story goes that when a salt doll jumps into the ocean, the salt doll cannot come back and tell us about the depths of the ocean because it dissolves into the sea of Oneness. Now I realize that after hearing this parable I must have created a different story in my mind without realizing it and changed its focus, because I imagined the salt doll standing on the edge of the shore pondering whether or not she should jump into the vast Ocean of Bliss and become One with It. I probably thought that the story went like that because I so strongly identified with the salt doll that I imagined and felt that I was like her, wanting to experience real love but not ready to give up my false identity and habits, in other words, my form. Although I had no idea what it meant to have met him, or how it would affect the next 18 years of my life, looking back, that day changed everything because I could not completely forget about the salt doll and the Ocean of Bliss. But, my mind was so far removed from Yoga that even though I was drowning in the world of the senses and wanted to change my life, I continued to live and cope with it as it presented itself.
Some months later, after recovering from giving birth, I began to attend asana classes with two disciples who lived in Chicago, not really knowing why, or where it would lead; I just did it. Those asana classes were physically and mentally healing for me, but I did not ask any questions about how that practice connected to the Enlightened Master that I had met before. Unexpectedly, circumstances led me to move to New York City in the year 2000. A few days after arriving in New York City, I contacted one of the disciples who led the asana class that I attended in Chicago to ask her to recommend an asana class here. Her answer was, “Yes, this Saturday go to a place called Sufi Books and you can attend Shri Mahayogi’s class. He is in New York now.” Without hesitation or much questioning, I went.
When I look back at that first year in New York City, I have little recollection of the details of my life. I took on asana as a regular practice. At the beginning, it was the power of asana, the study of sacred scriptures and meditation that began to change me from inside out so quickly that I could not keep up with it. I did not know how Shri Mahayogi was already affecting me then, and I did not know for a long time. What I remember is feeling that I was like a child, learning to walk again and praying for the strength to do so. Physical obstacles began to disappear and a veil of heavy darkness began to lighten up. Shri Mahayogi’s asana nourished me and gradually it strengthened and appeased my mind enough to clear it from a constant sense of helplessness, a need to be rescued or supported by others. Very slowly, and with a great amount of help from Anandamali, Shri Mahayogi’s teachings began to make a little more sense to me, but learning to apply them to daily situations, and to understand them at a deeper level has always been a very gradual process for me.
The Mission in New York was a baby still, but a group of disciples practiced together and worked on projects led by Anandamali. I wanted to be there among them and to participate in whatever way I could. When I told Anandamali that I was an industrial designer, she asked me to show her my works. She reviewed it thoroughly and asked me if I would like to work on a pamphlet of simple teachings of Yoga. She decided to give me the opportunity to do some design work under her close supervision. She guided me through the design of the pamphlet and a postcard-size flyer and I was amazed at how meticulous and careful her process was, how she considered every little decision and led every step, not intellectually, but through what I can explain now as a profound intuition of the Truth. My hand was following her guidance and sometimes she would ask me for an opinion and an idea. I felt that I was experiencing a way of looking and thinking that I had never experienced before in my work as a designer. During another project, some time later, I commented once to Anandamali, “We worked for long hours and I was not tired at all! Why is that?” She mentioned this is the work of the Truth, work without karma that we are not doing for personal benefit or gain. Even though I had the full life of a single working mother, I wanted to practice that way more and more because I realized that I would only be able to fulfill my duties and remain calm if I was living the practice of Yoga every day. Shri Mahayogi’s teachings became a necessity of life for me. I was not aware then, and still not fully aware now of how this work for the Guru purifies the mind gradually.
Little by little I was allowed to become involved in administrative tasks, and to work on the publication of the DVD, Satori and The Universal Gospel of Yoga—and each brought the increasing joy of breathing Yoga at every moment. At that time, a new group of disciples began to form and to strengthen the Mission through their devotion and thirst for receiving Shri Mahayogi’s teachings, practicing them, and serving the Mission. Though we were still only a small number of devoted disciples, the work held us together and nourished us with the very essence of the Master’s love. This discovery did not come immediately to me, but after many of Shri Mahayogi’s visits to New York I began to realize that Shri Mahayogi was the source of the liberation emanating from the work. Anybody who has participated in the work of the Mission has been elated and uplifted by it. I have come to consider it as drinking directly from the source of Love and Truth. Despite my personal struggles, I recognize that the purifying power of Shri Mahayogi’s asana, his sangha and the work that comes about through his Enlightenment, sustained my life for many years. In fact, I believe that they literally kept me alive and able to fulfill the duties in my life as a mother, a professional and as a human being living a full and demanding modern life.
“The path of Yoga or the path of karma?” Shri Mahayogi often reminds us that at every moment there is a fork in the road. I listened to these words many times and felt that I understood the meaning of them, but evidently, I was not really aware of the intense and serious meaning behind these simple words. I mentioned earlier that I wanted to wipe my past away and start over. Even though I was able to recover from the most visible wounds that my past had inflicted upon me, the underlying cause of my problems was still there, a gigantic iceberg under the surface of the water. I will now speak about it, though I have managed to cover it up or pretend that it is not a real obstacle for a very long time.
The word I choose is “sensuality” to explain a habit of craving sensual attention. This means that behind every word, gesture, decision, and thought, there is a sexual intention. This tendency, though it does not have to manifest in a sexual act, alludes to it and misleads my mind and the minds of those around me. It is a desperate attempt at being loved under the assumption that sexual attention is love—that being desired is being loved. But this false love corrodes every relationship. It undermines others as much as it undermines me. And, it leads to a deep sense of distrust and a constant sense of lovelessness that can never be cured through the means that it employs. Whether I act upon my desires or not, this tendency permeates my mind. Whenever I acknowledge it, I feel ashamed and unprepared to confront the pain of all the karm that it has brought me. So, I have always stopped short of thinking too deeply about it, and allowed it to continue to constantly lurk behind, waiting to manifest again.
Still, every few years, I would again get carried away by it, involving myself in a romantic relationship, and ending up feeling dissatisfied and disappointed—and again, ashamed, I would plunge into darkness and confusion. Those times were draining and painful for me and for others. This pattern repeated itself for several rounds over the last eighteen years and would abruptly strip me of my practice and my stability. In every case, Anandamali helped me to pull myself up again, sometimes without asking many questions about the situation. Although I understood intellectually what was happening and I knew what I needed to do, I could not do it because I was not confronting the problem head on, in order to remove it. I was ignorantly deriving pleasure from the suffering, “seeing pain as pleasure,” or negating the destructive pain and perpetuating my ignorance. Anandamali said to me on several occasions, “How many times do you need to experience this to realize it that enough is enough?” And then she would add, “You must have learned enough this time.” Hearing this made me embarrassed, but it did not make me confront it. Every time I went through that, I realized that my pain also came from being aware deep inside that all that I was clinging on to was actually false, but that I could not completely let it go simply by being aware of it mentally. So, after another 3-5 years, it would happen again because I still refused to confront the cause of it, or to notice the cycle of causality behind my pattern of behavior and thinking. And once again I would end up following my senses.
In 2014, I put myself in a situation that challenged me emotionally in such an extreme way that it became a threat to my very life. Fantasizing once again that I could actually reach true love following sensual desires, I chose to pass up the opportunity of living with gurubhai and purposefully removed myself from the sangha that had nourished me spiritually in order to try to make a romantic relationship work, only to experience the deepest sadness and desolation that I have ever felt. Not only that, this time I was plagued with illnesses and situations that challenged my every day living. I felt that I was paying for all my karma at once this time and I did not know if I had the will to even live through it. In the middle of the illnesses, I considered that leaving this body was possibly easier than living like that, and I experienced my mind giving up on life itself and being quite content to leave the world of suffering behind.
During that time, Anandamali continued to ask me to translate the UGY into Spanish and, although it was not the most that I could do, I worked on that with Febronio from time to time. Sometime later, I was also able to become involved in the editing of Pranavadipa a little bit. The words that I was confronting while doing those projects started to have a stronger effect than any teachings that I had read before. They felt like arrows piercing the ignorance in my mind—not pleasant at all. I could see the ignorance in my mind being stirred up by the words, targeted and uncovered. Actually it was unbearable, because for the first time, I could see and feel clearly that I had caused all the pain by acting based on that ignorance. Though the iceberg of sanskara seemed big and indestructible, I had no choice but to chip away at it in whatever way possible and I knew that the teachings were there just for that purpose. Finally, I was able to confess my situation, and, in an apology, I asked Shri Mahayogi for his guidance. I received a message from Shri Mahayogi, “The first thing you need to do is to move out and clean up your situation.” In a way he pushed me with the specific instruction of living with sangha, something that I had suggested to other practitioners, but was then hesitant to do in fear of having to confront myself. I received Shri Mahayogi’s strong push toward the Truth at a critical moment. The message was clear: it was me who had to act and decide once and for all or not even my blessed Guru would be able to help me any more.
I had to have a conversation with myself: “Who knows best, your ignorant mind or Shri Mahayogi? Has your mind not led you to suffering every time?” The response was easy: “Shri Mahayogi knows best.” So I suggested to my mind, “This is the only opportunity left to listen and follow little by little. Every day, place Shri Mahayogi’s words in your heart, as many times as necessary and don’t give up. Believe the words of the Master by acting upon them, not by ignoring them.” I asked myself to trust your words, and to hold your hand even if I was being pulled to go back to confusion. I could then see how all the impulses coming from sanskara had constantly taken me away from the path of Truth, from Shri Mahayogi. But also, I had not accepted one important thing: that I am the one who causes my own misery by not acknowledging my ignorance. Actually, I came to see that my real obstacle was not the sensual tendencies, but the inability to recognize them as the result of ignorance (the seed that sprouted from pain-bearing obstacles) and to see their direct connection to the suffering (the fruit) that would manifest as lust and sensuality.
In order to purify my mental condition, I have tried to learn to work on identifying pain as pain, and on tracking it back to its source. I have also tried to prevent myself from embellishing non-truth as Truth, or pain as pleasure, or as a bearable and normal state. When I think about it, the strongest pain that I felt came from being away from the Truth, the sangha, the teachings, and feeling that I was betraying my Guru, Shri Mahayogi, and my dear sister Anandamali. This pain led me to feel powerless against my sanskara and the power of ignorance in myself or others. Seeing myself impotent against the suffering that I had chosen for myself was debilitating. Still, I have to constantly push myself to remember that suffering—how it arises and what its effects are—so that I will not fall prey to sensuality again. As a medicine to improve my condition and move forward with practice, Anandamali also recommended that I be very careful with men in particular. Being aware of all this, remembering the cause, I try to hold on to Shri Mahayogi’s hand every moment and to continue to let go of the hand of ignorance. I may have entered a new stage of practice; perhaps this is the beginning of Yoga for me. I would like to ask Shri Mahayogi’s guidance again, with the hope and faith that I will not let go of my Guru’s hand, of the hand of Anandamali and of this beautiful sangha.
During meditation, I am working on facing the fact that I enjoy the sensual pleasure that comes from my body and my mind. Thinking of this as a fact leads me to realize that the fundamental ignorance behind my suffering is thinking of the changing body and the mind as the true self, as the ones that make me feel alive and real. I can recognize how I think of this body, its pleasures, pains and conditions as indications of being, “me.” I also think of my mind’s functions—the senses, pleasures, pains and conditions—as indicators of “me.” In this way, this “me” which I perceive through my body, contains this mind, and this mind is constantly reacting to the external experiences and stimulation, which enter through my senses and become activated by memories of the past. This, I can see now, is an on-going cycle connecting my body and the mind through the senses (perceptions).
In daily life, I started to notice the power of perceptions when they are activated by some content in my mind, triggering reactions, either pleasurable or painful ones, liking or rejecting. I see, smell, hear, taste, or touch and a mental response is automatically triggered and, in my case, there is usually a sensual component in this process. In this condition, my mind is kept in a constant state of push and pull. There is truly no rest. In Satori, it is recorded that Shri Mahayogi said that, “the sensual mind which indulges in emotions is called a slave.” Realizing my own slavery is a big punch to the heart, because it has been my reality for a long time. In my case, I have established a sense of self that relies on the power of sensuality to relate to others and to itself. These relationships based on sensuality do not develop in a healthy way because there is no stability in the senses, the emotions aroused by them, or the body either. So, pain is the inevitable result. I have come to be certain of that.
I am aware that my mind prefers to stay in the cycle of ignorance and swirl around incessantly without interruption. I have to intercept it intentionally. So, I ask myself, “What is real? If the body is not real, and the mind with its many ideas and emotions is not real, then what is real?” “Do I exist at all?” When I reach this point, my mind goes crazy; it has nowhere to turn. It bounces like a trapped bird from one side to the other, looking for the opening and escape from this Truth. Looking desperately for the false “me” it turns toward the emotions and sensations, but I do not want to let it do that. It is so difficult to turn it away from indulging in that cycle again. It knows not where to go. Then, I remember that Shri Mahayogi recommends that we focus on a physical point in the body, like the center of the chest. I bring my attention there, and it appeases my mind, turns it in, folds it in to a place where the senses and mental activity cannot reach, but I have to continue directing it into this space in my chest that feels like a cave. This takes a great amount of effort—perhaps this is what Shri Mahayogi calls “concentration,” the part of the eight limbs of Yoga prior to meditation. In that cave there is space, but what is there to hold my mind still and not let it escape again? I feel that I need a target or some sort of magnet to keep my mind there, and in desperation, I remember that Shri Mahayogi teaches us about the objects of meditation: God, “Who am I?”, and “What is Truth?” I am searching for the true Self, the Self that simply “is,” so I use it as the magnet to keep me there. What is this “Self” though? What is Truth? What is God? What is true Love? I do not really know yet. But I feel that the answer is in that cave where the mind cannot move. I think this is where I need to enter and return to in meditation.
This is the entrance. I know that I have to enter and be there as long as possible so that my mind gets to know and obey the real “Self,” which Shri Mahayogi calls the “true Master.” What I hope now is that I can bring myself to this every day, so that my mind can give up the false and embrace the real. I want to break free from the cycle of ignorance that leads me to think that the body and the mind and their experiences are real, that indulges in sensuality to relate to others. I want to reverse the cycle so that my mind will be impervious to the senses and their sensual ways, and instead, will obey the true Self and live according to It.
Shri Mahayogi has told me all this, but it is not until now that I am able to try it. Why did it take me so long? I was not brave enough perhaps to fight the fight, or to use the weapons that Shri Mahayogi had put in my hands already. I have begun to realize that if I die and return to this world in another life, my Guru may not be here to guide me out of the hellish state that I can immerse myself in, which also means that I would continue being reborn in this state for an indefinite while. If coming to this point has been so challenging even when Shri Mahayogi is present and guiding me, it seems very unlikely that I could escape my ignorance on my own without my Guru. But besides the precariousness of many future lives without Shri Mahayogi, is this the way I want to live now? Unable to relate to others in a truthful way, not living in accordance with anything that is real, filled with instability and confusion? Is this really living? What good would this life be? Whether or not I attain the ultimate goal of Yoga, my mind is made up that I must fight the fight every day, and that makes it already better and more purposeful.
I am ready. As a symbol of this new beginning, on the auspicious occasion of the Mission’s anniversary, I was going to shave my head, because I want to begin again. But because I have a new job working with young children in a school, I did not feel it was appropriate. Instead today Anandamali cut my hair very short to symbolize my intention of beginning again. It has been too long, but I feel blessed to still be with my Guru and also with my brothers and sisters who inspire me and walk alongside me. I also hope that my story will alert others not to wait 18 years to begin to fight the fight, because it is not necessary, especially for those of us who have known that the Truth is real because we have met it in the flesh through Shri Mahayogi. Shri Mahayogi has assured me that I can practice living in Yoga and fulfill my duties as a mother, I can practice living in Yoga and have a professional job, and I believe that this is possible. However, now I know that it is impossible to practice living in Yoga without fighting the battle with the ignorance in my mind.
Shri Mahayogi, I interpreted the story of the salt doll according to how I felt and what I imagined that salt doll was thinking while standing on the shore of the Ocean of Bliss. My salt doll had not realized that in order to jump in, she had to push herself in, be bold, change the course of her mind and let her form go. For me, this anniversary is not insignificant; there is a difference today: I know where my ignorance can lead, I know that it is my choice to walk the path of Yoga and I know that I have the most perfect Teacher, my Beloved Guru. Shri Mahayogi, I would like to begin again, start to walk the path of Yoga with full awareness of why, what and how. During these 18 years, Shri Mahayogi has remained in perfect stillness, and this small group of devoted disciples has continued the work of gathering his teachings, trying to understand and live them, so they can be passed on to others intact. This beautiful gift from Shri Mahayogi that we are asked to nourish and care for is still small and it needs much attention from each one of us. I want to express today, “I am ready.” I know that by accepting Shri Mahayogi’s love pouring straight into my soul, being daring and watchful, I can jump in. May the Mahayogi Yoga Mission reach many more of us and lead us to walk the path toward Truth.