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Vol. 63

Teachings of Shri Mahayogi

Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto, Japan, 2011

Biography of the Master:
Insights Derived from the Discrimination and 
Fundamental Penetration of the Mind by Shri Mahayogi

The Inexhaustible Emptiness and Joy that Comes from Emptiness Itself

Biography of Shri Mahayogi:
the Discrimination Performed by Shri Mahayogi and
the Meaning of the Existence of the Relative World 

Testimonies from Actual Practitioners

The “Yoga Explained” Series by Sananda
Applying Discipline to Put the Practice of Raja Yoga into Action
Part 2: Pratyahara (Control of the Senses) 
Part 3: Concentration (Dharana)

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Teachings of Shri Mahayogi

Translation of Satsangha February 19, 2011 Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto

Biography of the Master:
Insights Derived from the Discrimination and 
Fundamental Penetration of the Mind by Shri Mahayogi

Sananda: I think that this relates to the power of the mind, the parts that Shri Mahayogi discriminated thoroughly when he was a high school student; were you also analyzing or applying discrimination to the mind itself?


Sananda: Shri Mahayogi penetrated the reasons for the various workings of the world and laws of karma, and I can understand that the world and the mind are like one body, but at that time, how was Shri Mahayogi inquiring and penetrating into the mind?

MASTER: Later on, when I read the Yoga Sutra, I understood that I went through entirely the same process. I feel that [during that time,] when I examined the structure and function of the mind, there was always a key, which was the relation between the subject and the object, the relation between independence and dependence; by using these I penetrated the things associated with the fundamental essence of the mind, such as whether the objects of discrimination, which can be the structure or workings of the mind, are complete and perfect or incomplete and imperfect, whether they are eternal or phenomenal. Obviously, I could not avoid the problem of karma. If we are to assume the condition of existence is karma, however temporary, it can only be established within time and space under specific conditions, and if anything goes off even slightly, then it can no longer be established and will take on another form, and anything that is changeable and unreliable like that is not the Truth, which is definite and complete. Through discriminating this way, I went through whatever the mind could think up, and answered it.

Sananda: Then, that means that Shri Mahayogi saw that the mind itself, regardless of its various functions, or its content, [meaning] its thoughts or ideas, cannot be independent or cannot exist on its own, and while observing his own mind, he analyzed and penetrated into the fact that the mind and the world exist interdependently with one another, and when that interdependency disappears, then the mind itself disappears.

MASTER: Yes, exactly. [In other words,] you can conclude that that is why there comes to be an Absolute Existence that is eternally imperishable, and it definitely exists. That is why, whatever isn’t in accord with That is dismissed.

Sananda: That also means that Shri Mahayogi discovered how the mind arises, in other words, the process or mechanism of how it arises from the True Existence, which is changeless as well.

MASTER: That’s right.

Sananda: Was there anything that you felt or thought when you saw that?

MASTER: …Not anything in particular. It was extremely evident, extremely obvious, and therefore, of course there was no sentimentality and I was rather indifferent beyond that.

Yogadanda: Shri Mahayogi told us about the process of discriminating on the non-existent mind and world, and [the confirmation of] the Absolute Existence he went through while he was in high school; on the other hand, I heard that Shri Mahayogi also thought that this world cannot just be completely non-existent and entirely meaningless. So then what was behind that part of the process?

MASTER: As a major premise, the Existence of Truth is a given indeed, yet even though the world that is seen by the mind, that is, this world, is certainly nothing but a temporary phenomenal world, it can still be recognized as a single morsel of Existence. Philosophically, one can conclude that it is like a world of dreams arising from karma; on the other hand, it is possible to understand this world affirmatively rather than by denying it negatively. That is to say, it is possible to understand this world affirmatively in the sense that the Existence, that is the Truth, or God, is manifesting in everything, and that even though limited, this world is wonderful and humans are filled with Joy. And needless to say, everything has to be equal without prejudice there, and everything must be filled with Joy there. However, when you look at the reality [of the world], it is full of prejudices and contradictions, and it is filled with suffering. The Truth does not attract any single piece of defilement whatsoever, so if there is even a single piece of lint, then it is no longer [qualified as] the Truth. But if there is only that negativity, then truly, [the way to understand] the world becomes nihilistic and then it is filled only with suffering and sadness. It is natural for you not to want to understand the world as being that way, isn’t it? So then, it must all depend on the way you look at it. If countless living beings develop the world from their respective pain-bearing obstacles and attachments, then confrontations arise; however, if they can eliminate these pain-bearing obstacles and attachments, then there cannot be confrontations and there ought to be a world with equality and Joy manifesting. This may merely be an optimistic hope or an ideal; yet even so, it’s more preferable than the world full of suffering that is due to karma. So then, you can’t assert that this world is this way or that way. Yet, you can live for the ideal world as lila…well, though it was much later when I found out about the word “lila” and its meaning. Even in my teens I lived while thinking like that. And so, I had absolutely no attachment toward the world. None whatsoever. Therefore, I was indifferent. That’s how it was in my teenage years (smiling towards all). Some of you have met my old classmates, and you probably all asked how I used to be (laughs). I’m sure you heard their answer was something like I didn’t really talk much.

Yogadanda: The person I met told me Shri Mahayogi was manly and handsome. (Everyone laughs.)

MASTER: Is that what they say? Really?

(Shri Mahayogi laughs wholeheartedly.)

The Inexhaustible Emptiness
and Joy that Comes from Emptiness Itself

Mr. Kenji Takahashi: I would like to ask you about ananda. I think that Shri Mahayogi has never told us to meditate upon ananda. Is that because there is no need to meditate on it?

MASTER: No need. Concentration is happening in meditation, and since that concentration is done by the mind, even if you make ananda the object of meditation, due to the mind not knowing the ananda of Sat Chit Ananda, ananda as the object becomes the diminished ananda of anandamaya kosha. If so, then there is no point in meditating upon it.

Mr. Kenji Takahashi: It means that the meditation goes astray.

MASTER: Yes, it does. Usually, we call happiness a state where the mind is content with the mind’s wishes, whatever they might be. However, [according to the Truth] that is not the original happiness, it’s fake; because the true Happiness, Ananda, which is translated as bliss, is the state that lacks both happiness and unhappiness. It seems that Buddhists from long ago called it “emptiness,” and Hindus called it Ananda using an expression of Joy. Were they different? No, they were exactly the same; the difference is only in the expression or usage of words. If you look at the content, they are the same. Therefore, it is exactly this saying, (pointing to the scroll written in calligraphy “無一物中無尽蔵” hanging next to the altar) and it too is one of these expressions. “無一物” [written in the Japanese characters of “Nothing” + “One” + “Thing”,] means there are no thoughts, no pain-bearing obstacles, nothing—not even one thing, which means being empty (smiling). Because of being empty, it is an inexhaustible [=無尽蔵] Emptiness and Joy—that is the meaning.

How about naming the next coming bestseller (referring to a book Sanatana is currently writing) (laughing) on the Yoga Sutra “Empty”? (Everyone laughs.)

Madhri: Is this the same as what Shri Mahayogi mentioned a while back about being “empty” yet “brimming.”

MASTER: Yes, you can say it that way.

Madhri: Not only is it empty, but it is also replete.

Haridas: Why don’t we name the book “Empty yet Replete”? (Everyone laughs.)

MASTER: That is a very Upanishad-like expression.

Biography of Shri Mahayogi:
the Discrimination Performed by Shri Mahayogi and
the Meaning of the Existence of the Relative World

Sanatana: I understand that during the process of discrimination during Shri Mahayogi’s teenage years, the meaning of the existence of individual consciousness and the mind, or understanding them as the lila that you spoke about, or separating them in order to enjoy them [was revealed]; however, I would assume that when Shri Mahayogi was discriminating, it must have been entirely the way of discrimination of raja yoga, or jnana yoga—I am not sure if there were any elements of bhakti or karma yoga.

At that time, how did you come to the understanding of the answer as to why this world became so complicated with ignorance entering in it and gave rise to the existence of the mind and the individual ego?

MASTER: The conclusion arrived at was simply about the consciousness separating “self” and “others,” which is a physical relationship; it is not a consciousness that segregates but rather distinguishes; therefore, since the content was jnana or raja yoga at that time, there wasn’t any more inquiry. I understood them as temporary constructs originally.

Sanatana: I think that the reason why such things happen is based on this system of, say, Atman getting restricted into a form of ahankara (ego), or in other words, it is happening by mistakenly seeing the real in the fake; and that is very strange as a system. Why did the mind not stay in its original state?

MASTER: Indeed.

Sanatana: The question is how it came to be in the condition in which the mind finds itself as if it is possessed by material, physical things, isn’t it ?

MASTER: Exactly. If that relationship is too tight, then Atman becomes defiled; yet at the same time, if its relationship is completely unrelated, then the meaning of the world disappears—it’s either one of them. Well, you may call this conclusion a very jnana yoga-like conclusion. Therefore, if you are to proceed further, once again into vijnana, in other words, proceed further from jnana to vijnana, then a bhakti or lila-like meaning becomes necessary.

Sanatana: Then, that means that there is a limit to making logical conclusions, in other words, the situation is to go one way or the other; but if you need to understand the current realistic state, then that leads to [the necessity of] inquiring into it through a different approach.

MASTER: Right. But one thing that can be said, is that even if it is conclusively true that Atman is completely unrelated to the mind or the world, this world and living beings exist; therefore, I wanted to find some kind of meaning, or something affirmative there.

Sanatana: At least it’s unthinkable that there is no rhyme or reason, no basis for existence.

MASTER: Exactly. If it is completely meaningless, then there is no need to exist to begin with. Therefore, even if it is temporarily so, if we exist, then there should have been a reason for it. The explanation that can be added is that it’s due to karma, or that it is an escape mechanism to get out of suffering since one experiences suffering due to karma; however, that reason won’t work for those without karma. Then, as mentioned earlier about child’s play, this world must simply be innocent play. I think that at least for such souls [without karma], the world is that way. Therefore, if we develop the logic based on karma and suffering, then inevitably, it becomes pessimistic; but on the contrary, if you begin from a place where karma and suffering don’t exist, then it never becomes pessimistic. I think I was rather the latter. I was never attacked by pessimism much.

Mr. Kenji Takahashi: Was the way in which Shri Mahayogi thought based on observing his surroundings?

MASTER: Of course, it was by observing what was around and finding out more about the world and the surroundings, or during the process of thinking about what I had come to understand. Naturally, what senses and thinks these things is the mind, so in this way you could say that my own mind was directly put on the table.

Mr. Kenji Takahashi: But being able to discriminate like that takes place only after reaching a state where Atman is completely independent?

MASTER: No, I didn’t derive conclusions one by one based on, “Atman is this way, so that way is wrong.” It was an intellectual approach, seeing through the essence itself and penetrating into it for insights from the approaches of jnana yoga or raja yoga.

Mr. Kenji Takahashi: So penetrating into the objects themselves?

MASTER: Yes, I think that that was the process. Therefore, the approach was not just simplistically thinking this is not it or that is not it by comparing things to Atman.

Mr. Kenji Takahashi: So, it was a scientific approach, or analytically thinking like in modern science…or different from that?

MASTER: Well, I think that up to a certain point, it is the same. In a way, it is a very logical and intellectual process. Even so, in order to proceed further, you cannot derive any conclusions unless you penetrate the essence itself regardless of anything else. Looking back, I see that the various meditations in raja yoga are equivalent to what I went through. And, the same thing can be said for jnana yoga too. Well, these kinds of things were what I was doing back then (smiling).

Haridas: During your high school age?

MASTER: In my teens, during my high school years was the time I did most of this.

Mr. Shocho Takahashi: Shri Mahayogi did that even though you didn’t have any knowledge of Sankya, that is, any idea of Purusha, prakriti or ahankara

MASTER: I didn’t even know these words at all.

Mr. Shocho Takahashi: You did this work…

MASTER: Sankya is not really related to them in particular. Rather, it is more about concentrating and meditating upon the essence of all kinds of things.

Mr. Shocho Takahashi: At that time, you did not have any thoughts on dualism but just became immersed in concentration…

MASTER: No, it wasn’t even related to dualism or monism; in that sense, it was very much a method of scientific inquiry.

Sananda: I suppose that Shri Mahayogi accepted the world as it is.


Sanatana: I suppose that Shri Mahayogi himself just wanted to be a yogi and simply that was all…

MASTER: Right.

Sanatana: But then, Shri Mahayogi transitioned into salvation [of the people]—I think it was not by his own intention but rather, truly it is the order of the universe. From Shri Mahayogi’s perspective, everything is fine as is—so then I wonder how you see it fine as it is while at the same time, there is also Emptiness?

MASTER: Indeed—that is the state of this world.

Sananda: But, should the fact that Shri Mahayogi himself, after going through many different processes, has dedicated himself to salvation in this world, be considered as the dharma, or the work [of the Universe]?

MASTER: Well, as I reflected later, I recognized that that was the case. If it was just as it is and there were no suffering, then there wouldn’t even be a stage for me to appear on. (Shri Mahayogi and everyone laugh.) Actually, that would be preferable, and I wish for it to be that way.

Jayadevi: Generally, Shri Mahayogi does not say he wants to do this or that from his own volition, and that Shri Mahayogi graciously is using words to speak for us about the Truth that he simply sees. (Holding back tears) But today, I heard Shri Mahayogi mention the fact that he wanted to seek out the meaning—I am extremely grateful to hear this… All you have done to seek and [all you have] found out about the meaning of the world, of our existence…I am really so grateful.

(Shri Mahayogi listens while nodding many times as Jayadevi expresses her gratitude, welling up with tears as she is struggling to speak.)

MASTER: As Sananda mentioned, when I was young, I was OK with just being a yogi—I interpreted the word yogi as another name to describe the Buddha and the sages. And I was wishing that yogi, many yogi (emphasis) would appear. I am very pleased to see many yogi and yogini gathered here now.


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Testimonials from a Practitioner

The “Yoga Explained” Series
Applying Discipline to Put the Practice of Raja Yoga into Action
Part 2: Pratyahara (Control of the Senses)

by Sananda
July, 1998 Kyoto

Through the ceaseless discipline of practicing yama, niyama, asana and pranayama, the body and mind become extremely sturdy and stable. Then, it becomes possible to proceed to the fifth limb, “pratyahara” (control of the senses).

This article will describe the discipline of practicing “pratyahara” in action. But before we go into pratyahara, let us go over the “Twenty-Four Cosmic Principles” and the “three guna (characteristics),” which are both crucial to understanding the way of thinking in Yoga.

The Twenty-Four Cosmic Principles

The Yoga Sutra has Sankhya philosphy1 as its background, and it is also known as sankhya yoga. In Sankhya philosphy, “Purusha (true Self)” and “prakriti” are considered to be the ultimate existences.2 Purusha refers to “Atman (true Self),” and it is the principle of Pure Spirit. On the other hand, prakriti is simply the principle of non-spirit. Purusha is the Seer, and prakriti is the seen. Purusha does not do anything, but prakriti transforms itself into everything in the universe (the Twenty-Four Principles), using itself as the ingredient. (see the chart below)

Purusha (true Self) Prakriti (Nature)→ Buddhi (Intellect)→ Ahankara (ego or ego-principle)→ Manas (mind)→ Indriya (faculty)  (the Five Sensory Organs—eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin—and the Five Organs of Action—speech, hands, legs, excretory and reproductive organs)  		 		 Tanmatra (five subtle elements)—visible form, sound, smell, taste, touch the Five Gross Elements—earth, water, fire, wind, air or ether) *  buddhi (intellect), ahankara (ego), and manas (mind) together are called citta (the mind-stuff).

Through contact with Purusha (true Self), buddhi (intellect) arises from the un-manifested prakriti (nature), and further changes into ahankara (ego or ego-principle). Ahankara then develops into two aspects, and one manifests into manas (mind) and indriya (faculty), and the other manifests into tanmatra (five subtle elements) and the five gross elements, and then these changes are finalized. Chitta (mind-stuff)—buddhi (intellect), ahankara (ego or ego-principle) and manas (mind)—are psychological internal organs, and they’re also the principle that applies to the entire universe. All of these are not the Spirit and they don’t have consciousness in and of themselves. The only Spirit—Consciousness—is Purusha (true Self). Due to the reflection of Purusha, we see it is as if chitta (mind-stuff) has its own consciousness.

Let me attempt to explain this in a way that relates more to us. The cosmos that is visible to us is made up of the five material elements (five gross elements) of “earth,” “water,” “fire,” “wind,” “air or ether”; and they contain the characteristics of the five subtle elements (tanmatra) of “visibile form,” “sound,” “fragrance or smell,” “taste,” and “touch.” These are received by the indriya (various organs)—the five sensory organs, which are the “eyes,” “ears,” “nose,” “tongue,” “skin,” and the five organs of action, which are “speech,” “hands,” “feet,” “eliminatory organs,” and “reproductive organs”—and carried to the chitta (mind-stuff). Then further, Purusha (the Self) receives it, and then recognizes it. Ahankara (ego or ego-principle), of which the mind consists, is the sense of “I.” It can be felt by everyone. It can be called “self or ego.” Buddhi (intellect) can be translated as the intellect also, and it has the function of recognizing, judging and determining. It makes some kind of judgement based on all the information that enters into the chitta (mind-stuff). Manas (mind) is the function that thinks about something. Stimuli (information) that enter through the various organs are received by manas. Then, buddhi (intellect) makes a judgement and determination on what it is, and ahankara (ego or ego-principle) judges what that is and decides whether it is beneficial or detrimental to one’s own self. This process is done in an instant. 

“Know that Atman is the Lord of the chariot. The body is the chariot itself, buddhi ([discriminating] intellect) is the charioteer, manas (the mind) is the reins. The senses, say the wise, are the horses; and the objects one’s self desires are the roads that they travel.” 

Katha Upanishad

Yoga attempts to return these various internal organs back to the primordial, prakriti. The mechanism is that through restraining the activities of the various organs and the mind (chitta) and stopping them, Purusha sees itself reflected in the mirror of buddhi, which has become pure and pristine, and awakens into its own nature. At that time, prakriti, which has been given the role of having Purusha realize its true nature, will complete its role and go back to the primordial form. The role of prakriti, the primordial nature, is to make Purusha awaken. Actually, within these Twenty-Four Principles, there is no suffering. The cause of suffering is due to Purusha losing sight of its form and mistaking the colored form of itself that is being reflected in buddhi as its own form. Simply put, the cause is in believing that the individual self, which is going through various experiences, is the true Self. That is called the fundamental ignorance. Satori is to clearly distinguish the difference between Purusha and buddhi.

All of this comes to be realized from the experience of Yoga. What consists of our microcosm (body and mind) is developed from prakriti, and we can understand all through Yoga. We must understand the mechanism of prakriti, which we are going to combat. Unless we know the object, we cannot restrain it. First we need to begin by observing our own bodies and the mechanism of the mind very thoroughly.


The Three Guna (Qualities)

Next, it is necessary to go over the three guna. Prakriti consists of three qualities. Sattva, rajas, and tamas. Sattva means “purity, stability,” rajas means “activity, instability,” and tamas means “inertia, inactivity or being dormant.” Through the imbalance of these guna, un-manifested prakriti develops into various forms.

In fact, our bodies and minds are constantly tormented by the incessant changing of the three guna. If you look at a body as just one example, it’s not always in the same state. There are times when it’s healthy, and other times when it gets sick. Though it varies by degree, everyone has experienced this. When the body is healthy and it feels so light as if it doesn’t even exist, then that is a state of “sattva.” When the body is not still and constantly moving, it is the state of “rajas.” If one feels lazy, sedentary or sick, then that is “tamas.” It is the same with the mind. When it is cheerful, unattached and free, it is in the condition of “sattva.” When one is constantly trying to gain something, or there is a desire to act for something, that is the condition of “rajas.” The completely inactive condition is “tamas.” Normally, these three guna are in a condition of intermingling and constantly changing. In Yoga, one tries to constantly maintain the state of sattva. The state in which the activities of the mind-stuff are restrained is a perfectly pure state, and that is perfect sattva.

We must not forget that the appearance of not only ourselves but everything in this world differs according to the condition of the three guna, and that this is also constantly changing. For example, if we look at food, foods that are the quality of sattva are vegetables, and they are easier to digest. However, even vegetables can become not fresh, and they then become the quality of tamas. So, Yoga practitioners eat a diet of seasonal, fresh foods, centered around vegetables. Our minds are also not in the same state all the time. Chitta and the various sense organs, too, are constantly having their condition changed due to the effects of the three guna. It is very important to understand this concept. Through a mind that has the quality of sattva, one can for the first time actualize correct discrimination. The more we continue to practice [the disciplines of] Yoga in action, the more we will feel the many doors of knowledge open, one after another. In order to attain the mind of sattva, one is required to be pure and truthful with all of the body (action), with the mouth (word), and in (thought). The mind of sattva cannot be attained through only having intellectual understanding. It is a requirement for a practitioner to actually practice (train and learn) renunciation.3


The Necessity of Pratyahara (Sense Control)

Now, since you have an understanding of the Twenty-Four Cosmic Principles and the three guna above, pratyahara can be explained.

As pratyahara is translated into “control of the senses,” it has the meaning of “controlling the senses” or “withdrawing the sensory organs from the objects that are being perceived by them.”

The withdrawal of the senses is, that the sense organs do not join with their respective objects, and seem to imitate the mind itself.” 

Yoga Sutra 2.54

“The mind constantly changes from being agitated, in turn, by the constantly changing objects, and the gateway for that, the six roots—the five sensory organs and manas—are completely defenseless and so easily attracted to the objects. Pratyahara is to ‘withdraw the various sensory organs from their objects.’ It is the task of shifting the mechanism of the mind from being obedient to the senses and enslaved by objects, just as in the case of a drunkard being drowned [and drunk] by the liquor, to that of the opposite, where the mind has authority, conquering the senses.” 

—Shri Mahayogi

In Pranavadipa Vol. 61 (The Yoga Explained Series: Mind—The Psychology of the Subconscious and Its Effects), we saw the cause that leads to the ripples in the mind. The mind is agitated by the attachment towards external objects that arise from ignorance. In one word, klesha (pain-bearing obstacles). And, the impressions generated from ignorant activities accumulate as sanskara in the mind, constantly trying to disturb the focus of the mind. I mentioned earlier that in order to cut through this bondage, the power of intense concentration is essential. By concentrating all of the energy on “God” or “Truth,” all impressions from past experiences come to be eliminated. “Bhakti yoga” and “jnana yoga,” which will be covered later, are all about that. However, it may be difficult to gain this kind of concentration from the beginning. That is why the path of raja yoga, known as the science of the mind, takes a step-by-step approach in order to actualize ekagrata (one-pointed concentration).

First, we attempt to control the sensory organs, which is the biggest cause of agitation of the mind, along with the klesha (pain-bearing obstacles) and sanskara. That is because the experiences of joy and sorrow happen through the sensory organs. No matter how one tries to control the pain-bearing obstacles, if the sensory organs are let loose into the wild, our various senses continue to wander around the world seeking pleasurable experiences, contrary to our intentions. As the teaching of Shri Mahayogi (above) mentions, the six senses—the five sensory organs and manas—will so easily be attracted to the objects without any resistance. Thus, here it is essential to actually put into practice the discipline of pratyahara (sense control)—“withdrawing the sensory organs from their objects”—in action in order to actualize the concentration of the mind.

This [mastery of] pratyahara is not something that can be reached in one or two days. It is a sacred power bestowed upon a person who practices the disciplines of Yoga ceaselessly and ardently. A practitioner of Yoga wants this power. If this is realized, then there is nothing one fears in this world anymore. Nothing can pass through the gateway of the senses without his or her permission. The actualization of pratyahara gives us so much joy that it is incomparable to the pleasures gained from objects. The renunciation of objects has nothing to do with losing these objects, it is about understanding the essence of the objects and thereby gaining the power to control them. This means freedom from the bondage of objects. Since ancient times, this great science was sought after by Buddha and by the many practitioners of Yoga—that is pratyahara. From this point on, the control of the mind begins.


 “When the five senses are stilled, when the manas (the mind) and buddhi (intellect) are also stilled, that is called the ultimate state by the wise. They say Yoga is being this complete stillness, never to become separate again.”                          

Katha Upanishad


“Thence arises supreme obedience of the organs.”4

Yoga Sutra 2.55


The Practice of the Discipline of Sense Control in Action

“Only through strengthening the mind with the support of the prior four limbs and having as one’s underlying motivation the driving force of “passion towards Satori” can the neutral state of having the various sensory organs uninvolved, insensitive or indifferent, be established. At that time, if the psychological power is superior, the physiological effects are overpowered and suppressed, yet in the beginning stages we prevent “contact” by controlling the material environment, thus restricting the invasion of psychological impressions. Pratyahara is a negative, subtractive method, so at the same time, having tapas as a proactive method is indispensable. Furthermore, as dharana (concentration) deepens, pratyahara consequently comes to be perfected. Psychologically, pratyahara is about weakening the latent power of sanskara and klesha, and it plays a part in controlling the mind. ‘Receiving’ and ‘Contacting’ are reflections of sanskara, [within which there are the seeds of] pain-bearing obstacles, therefore the method of sense control is closely related to sanskara. Thus, you must discipline the mind and make the power to control the senses predominant.” 

Shri Mahayogi

As we learned in the study of the Twenty-Four Cosmic Principles, the un-manifested prakriti developed from an imbalance between the three guna. And ultimately, the world we see now as the five elements emerged. Therefore, the higher psychological functions of buddhi, ahankara and manas have a nature that is constantly attracted to the world through the various senses. The eyes seek out familiar, comfortable objects, the ears want to hear entertaining conversations, and the tongue wants delicious cooking. These are nothing other than the actions that arise due to the mind seeking pleasures in the external world. As long as the sensory organs are there, the mind is attracted to the external world.

The sensory organs have been likened to an unruly horse, with manas being enslaved by them. This relationship has to be reversed. In order to do that, manas, that is, the mind, must be firmly tied to the goal of Yoga. In fact, when you actually observe it a little, you can see that when the mind is focused on Yoga, at that time the sensory organs stop chasing after objects in the external world. The senses are obedient to the mind (they imitate the mind), just as when you are in deep thought single-mindedly you may not notice if a friend comes in front of you, or won’t hear someone speak to you. That is to say, the objects of the external world can only be recognized when the sensory organs and the mind are being connected to each other. We do not see with the eyes, nor do we hear with the ears; we see and hear with the mind. Thus, the more the mind becomes concentrated on Yoga, in other words, Shri Mahayogi’s teachings, the more intense the psychological motivation—the passion towards Satori—the more physical and mental energy is spent on it, and as a result the various sensory organs stop acting toward the world. The senses follow manas, the mind, no matter what. And manas follows buddhi. If buddhi has the right power of discrimination and discernment and it is focused on Yoga, then manas thinks the right way, and the various sense organs lose interest in the ever-changing world. That is the reason why “Passion towards Satori” is the most important thing to have.

The beginning stages of pratyahara require disciplining yourself to not let the various sensory organs be touched by worldly things. Make the eyes constantly see sacred images, make the ears hear sacred teachings, and make the tongue taste foods that are the quality of sattva. Through disciplining yourself this way, the various senses gradually become the quality of sattva, and thus easier to control. Normally, when the senses come into contact with something that one is interested in (likes or dislikes), then without even having a moment to think, the various senses attract the object and manas receives the object. Regardless of whether the object is good or bad, generally the effects of this are unbeknownst to the person. That is the result of the collaboration of various senses and sanskara. Pratyahara is to prevent the senses from connecting to the objects, but first, it is important to tie the various senses constantly to sacred things in the physical environment. Otherwise, the senses will just act by following past habits. At the very least, the determination to change the past habits is necessary. In this way, by choosing a good object, the movement away from unpleasant actions connected to past sanskara becomes possible, and as a result, this weakens the power of sanskara and klesha.

On the other hand, it is necessary to have purified the various sensory organs through practicing the disciplines of the previous four limbs—yama, niyama, asana, and pranayama—in action. The sensory organs and prana (ki) are closely related, and by prana becoming purified, the sensory organs too come to be purified. You may have noticed yourself in a comfortable condition after practicing asana; it is because during that time, the various senses are in a neutral condition and not connected to the external world. Therefore, putting these sadhana into action leads to having the power to practice the discipline of pratyahara in action.

And, in actuality, pratyahara will come to be perfected as one practices dharana (concentration), the sixth limb. Pratyahara becomes perfected through the proactive action of concentrating upon the goal.


Concrete Examples of Practicing the Discipline of Sense Control in Action

Allow me to share some concrete examples from my own experience.

  • As mentioned before, the passion towards Yoga, more than anything else, will remove the obstacles. By receiving the teachings from a master and from the scriptures, and then by understanding Yoga correctly and putting this into action continuously, that passion will gradually heighten. There is no hurry. Extreme control of the senses results in a backlash, inviting a reaction. Just like taming an unruly horse, we should take time to get the senses tamed little by little. There may be a conflict between your interest towards Yoga and the world, but that will gradually subside and come to settle. Do not ever think that you don’t have the strength to continue Yoga.
  • We must discipline ourselves to practice the first four limbs—yama, niyama, asana, pranayama—consistently without neglecting them. The continuous application of practice of these four limbs in action purifies the body and mind and weakens the power of the various sensory organs to move outward.
  • In accordance with our discipline toward practicing Yoga in action, the body and mind will consequently be purified, and then we will have the ability to catch the movement of the various sensory organs and manas. Then, we gradually become less and less impulsively swept away by them. With this clear mind, we observe various habitual actions, words and thoughts in daily life. Then we truly come to understand how habitual our actions can be.
  • We discipline ourselves to practice controlling habitual actions, words and thoughts that obstruct the practice of Yoga, gradually, little by little. An example which we can all relate to is that the habit of eating food and snacks continuously makes the mind the quality of tamas. We control that by not leaving food where the eyes can see it, resisting the manas or the mind if it thinks about eating so that it does not flow in that direction, and not moving in a direction that leads to these actions. Even if the tongue demands a snack, we must not allow it. If manas brings up the memory of “that food was delicious,” do not dwell on it. However, that does not mean that you should never snack no matter what. Depending on the situation, you may enjoy a snack with friends, or occasionally, you may need to entertain your sensory organs. The point here is to not get attached. Acting not out of habit but from intention is what is important.
  • As a result of gaining control of the various sensory organs little by little, we will taste the joy of controlling the various senses. This will become a catalyst, and promote the practice of pratyahara more and more.
  • Parallel to that, we also practice dharana (concentration). By practicing the discipline of pratyahara, the mind becomes easier to concentrate, and that concentration will further promote pratyahara. Yoga progresses synergistically.
  • For external conditions, if you have a room where you can practice sadhana only, you create an atmosphere [in your room] that will connect the five senses with sacred things by hanging up pictures of Holy Beings and burning incense. And, an attitude of learning from Holy Beings and scriptures is also important. That will remind us of the goal, and fill the manas with sacred thoughts.
  • And, what promotes the practice of pratyahara most powerfully is the encounter with Holy Beings. Since Holy Beings have completely controlled the senses, there is nothing that attracts the senses surrounding them, and their great prana affects the surrounding people’s senses. In reality, when we are in the presence of Shri Mahayogi, our senses become obedient as if a horse has come across its master. By making the various sensory organs remember this obedience, they will gradually distance themselves from impermanent objects and will follow the mind that passionately yearns for Satori.


Through such practice, we purify the senses little by little. From my own experience, I can say that the control of the various sensory organs is a “battle.” Even if for a moment you can concentrate on Yoga, the next moment, the waves of the senses attack and wipe it out. It happens again and again; it is like the waves coming and going. We are tossed about in the changes of the guna. When we are able to just stand, without getting swallowed in the waves, the desires simply return to their origin. The sensory organs will tell us to grasp the desires. However, the sensory organs whose reins are held by the buddhi with the quality of sattva can do nothing but let the waves pass. The world will simply come and go. However, we don’t go anywhere. The tasks in the world keep coming, but they will just simply pass by in front of our eyes. They will no longer have any effect on us whatsoever. Various thoughts may come; then they disappear. However, we will not follow these thoughts, just like not being caught in the waves and swept away in the flow. See the big ocean—the original source! Be humble! If we always keep our head low, remain attentive and humble, then the ignorant ego will never have a chance to go outside the gate, and the mind will not be swept away by the waves of the senses. Then, the sensory organs and manas will be under control, and our focus will be brought to the goal.


From Sense Control to Concentration (Dharana)

As described above, pratyahara comes to be realized through concentrating upon Yoga, which means through taking action with one’s entire body and soul. There is no textbook. Our minds are the textbooks. We can learn much from the mind, which is closest to us. Just as the astronomer observes the sky while holding his breath, let us observe the play of manas and the sensory organs with objects. And then, just as children go home when the sun goes down, some day when the time comes, this child of God—the mind and sensory organs—grow bored of a plaything called the world and go back to the loving, dear mother (prakriti) and are quietly tucked into bed.

In order to completely control the senses, which have been habituated to face outward for countless lifetimes, we need an invincible fighting spirit and faith. With unshakable passion towards Yoga, and a strong spirit that will never give up no matter what challenges may arise along the way, the great unruly horses—the senses—will finally yield to the master. The waves that were raging in the storm will gradually subside and be swallowed by the ocean of bliss. At that time, for the first time, true concentration—dharana (the sixth limb)—succeeds. There is nothing in the world that can pull us backwards anymore. We will return straight to the true Self.

There is a story about Bilvamangala, the blind saint. When he was young, this saint used to be deeply attached to a prostitute named Cintamani; so, one night, he swam across the river holding onto a dead corpse that was floating, then climbed a high wall clinging onto a snake, and in the end jumped off the wall almost breaking his leg, and reached Cintamani’s backyard. But then, she criticized him and said, “If you can direct even a little bit of the love you have toward me to ‘God,’ you will become a saint.” These words caused a remarkable transformation within Bilvamangala, and afterwards he became a man who was drunk with “God.” Later on, when he had become a saint, when he felt attraction to a woman again, he gouged out both of his own eyes so that external shape and color would no longer seduce him. 

The legend of the blind saint Bilvamangala depicts a story about intense bhakti, and at the same time, demonstrates how difficult it is to control the senses and the mind—that is, to control sanskara. It is said that a monk who practiced [spiritual disciplines for Enlightenment] named Mi-yōe at a temple called Jingo-ji in Takao, Kyoto, cut off his ear in order to [intensify his resolution] for meditation. Also, the state of another monk, Kaisen Osho from Erin-ji temple in Kai province, who is known to have said, “When the mind is extinguished, even fire is cool,” in the midst of the temple being burnt down by Nobunaga Oda’s forces [which had accused the temple of sheltering enemies in 1582], demonstrates the utmost obedience of the senses.

These predecessors’ noble passion towards Satori, simultaneously teaches about tremendous control of the senses.”

Shri Mahayogi



(References) Along with Shri Mahayogi’s teachings, the following books are used as reference:

  • Swami Vivekananda, Raja Yoga, Japan Vedanta Society, 1997
  • N. Dasgupta, Yoga and Hindu Spiritualism, Selica Shobo, 1991
  • Tsuruji Sahoda, Yoga Fundamental Scripture, Hirakawa Shuppan, 1987
  • Tsuruji Sahoda, Yoga Sutra, Hirakawa Shuppan, 1987
  • Mircea Eliade, Yoga (1), Selica Shobo, 1987

[1] Sankya philosophy is considered to have been formed around or before the 4th or 5th century based on Yoga psychology. The scripture of raja yoga, the Yoga Sutra, is passed down from the “ancient Yoga” based on Sankya philosophy. For example, it’s characteristically different from bhakti yoga and kundalini yoga. However, in fact, over a very long time, they actually have influenced each other, and in the current times, while they continue to have specific characteristics, they have come closer to one another such that it has come to be understood that any yoga is a comprehensive yoga within which you can see the other types of yoga.  

[2] In Sankya philosophy, the terms that are used are: the true Self, referred to as Purusha, and the fundamental nature, referred to as prakriti. You can understand them to be the same principles as in bhakti yoga and jnana yoga, in which they are called “Atman, that is, Brahman (Purusha),” and “Shakti (prakriti).” Though there are slight differences in meanings, they do not affect how one practices Yoga in action. What these words indicate will be covered later.

[3] See Pranavadipa Vol. 62: The Yoga Explained Series: The Path of Yoga.

[4] Obedience of the senses means to not rush toward the objects in the external world even if the sensory organs point toward them; it is also the state in which one no longer feels comfort or discomfort at all, regardless of coming into contact with [external] objects such as voices, as the result of the subject no longer containing pain-bearing obstacles such as attachments. Especially when we refer to the ultimate obedience, it means that when the mind is in a singularly focused state, the senses too do not receive external sensations. When the mind’s activities are completely controlled, the activities of the senses will also obey it and cease. These are the explanations from the annotators.


The “Yoga Explained” Series
Applying Discipline to Put the Practice of Raja Yoga into Action
 Part 3: Concentration (Dharana)

by Sananda
September, 1998 Kyoto


“You must concentrate with all of your body and soul!
Because that will become meditation and eventually, Satori.

                                                   Shri Mahayogi


Sanyama (Complete Restraint)

Finally, we will now go over the main component of raja yoga, and that is the realm of meditation, which we’re most interested in. The primary subject of the last three limbs of ashtanga yoga (raja yoga) is about controlling the mind, and that is the internal sadhana.

Dharana (concentration) –> Dhyana (meditation) –>  Samadhi (complete absorption)

These three can be defined by the degree of the state of concentration of the mind, but they cannot be clearly distinguished; they are continuous in their content. As concentration deepens, each respective step enters into the next automatically. In the last step, samadhi, the mind is completely absorbed into the object of concentration and truly becomes one with the object. To perform these three steps towards the same singular object is called sanyama (complete restraint).

The word “meditation,” which is commonly used, is not strictly defined, but it seems that it indicates the actions that include these three [steps].

We should understand dhyana (meditation) as a state of “meditation” in the strict sense within raja yoga. People may tend to have a strong image of meditation in general as being “to sit down and calm the mind.” That [stage], however, should be understood as a preliminary stage of training for realizing sanyama. The continuous, robust, and pure quality of concentration in Yoga has such a level of content that it cannot be accomplished through the normal framework of psychological experiences. That is something that is acquired through sadhana in Yoga. Raja yoga, especially, contains greatly detailed analyses of the state of concentration of the mind, and that is the reason why it is called the Science of the Mind. Through learning raja yoga, we are able to understand a psychological, spiritual approach to Satori, which is different from a mystical approach.

Let me introduce the content that each of the words indicate by quoting from the Yoga Sutra.

Dharana (Concentration) is to affix the mind onto one place or object or concept.”

Yoga Sutra 3.1

Dhyana (Meditation) is the continuous stream of the cognitive activity toward this object.”

Yoga Sutra 3.2

Samadhi (Complete Absorption) is when this [subject of] meditation itself loses shape, [becomes void,] and the object shines forth alone.”

Yoga Sutra 3.3

These three (dharana, dhyana, samadhi) performed towards one object is known as Sanyama (Complete Restraint).”

Yoga Sutra 2.55

Dharana is translated as concentration or the act of holding steady, and it is expressed as “the state of the mind that is fastened to a single point.” It is the state of firmly grasping hold of an object, that is to say, it is a state where the mind has a single object alone. For example, you gather the mind to concentrate on the teachings of the Guru (Master), or the seat of Atman that dwells in the center of the chest, and then maintain that focused concentration so that the mind is not distracted by other thoughts, and at the same time you deepen that concentration.

When dharana deepens, it naturally shifts into dhyana. In dharana, the concentration is maintained through the efforts of the mind, whereas in dhyana, the effort of concentrating is not necessary anymore and concentration is performed by the flow of the mind itself. It is expressed as this: “Just as oil is poured from one vessel into another without a break, in the state of dhyana, the concentration of the mind is performed toward one object, like ceaselessly flowing oil.” The expression that is oftentimes used to distinguish between dharana and dhyana is that when in dharana, five minutes feels long, as if it were one hour, whereas conversely, in dhyana, one hour feels short as though it were five minutes. Time is related to the frequency of the activities of the mind; when the mind is agitated, you may feel that the time seems longer, and when it’s concentrated on one thing, it seems shorter.

During the state of dhyana the practitioner is still aware that he or she is meditating, and the three things—“the meditator,” “the act of meditation,” and “the object of meditation”—are separated. But as concentration deepens further, “the meditator,” “the act of meditation,” and “the object of meditation” unite into One, which is the state of Samadhi. Only the object shines in the mind, and the meditator and the act of meditation melt into the object [of meditation]. This is truly an amazing occurrence in which the practitioner becomes one with the object entirely. At that time, this practitioner of Yoga directly intuits the essence of the object.

Through the application of sanyama, a practitioner of Yoga clearly penetrates the essence of things. To know the essence of a thing means to master the impermanence of that thing through experiencing [its essence], and that means obtaining the power to renounce. The mind can transform into a subtle state, and further, through using that mind, it becomes possible for us to directly intuit the essence of this universe or the essence of life—and the immortal Truth that dwells deeper within. Raja yogi see through the impermanence of the world and awaken to True Knowledge.    

It is important to hear and understand various teachings; however, that does not mean that we have realized them if we remain only in that stage. Just because we understand that pain-bearing obstacles must be renounced, does not mean we can renounce them right then and there. We must experience the essence of the pain-bearing obstacles. Through sanyama, a practitioner of Yoga comprehends [the essence of] the pain-bearing obstacles themselves and obtains the power to renounce them, rather than spending a long time experiencing the pain-bearing obstacles through tasting joy and pain in a normal life. And ultimately, all pain-bearing obstacles vanish and the supreme Samadhi—Nirbija Samadhi (non-seed bearing Samadhi)that is, Satori, is realized.

In the following issue, we will go into the practice of dharana in action.


Preparing for Concentration (Dharana)

When we try to gather the mind to concentrate on one point, the concentration is disturbed and scattered due to memory, sanskara (impressions [from past experiences]), and the effects brought about by the senses. An incredible number of thoughts arise and disappear and the mind exhibits unruly behavior. Dharana is the task of affixing this scattered mind onto one single object; it is a battle against the activities of the mind, constantly going out of control.

For example, the biggest obstacle when we start to practice is pain in the “body.” As we keep sitting to meditate, our concentration may easily be broken due to the pain of the body. Also, if there are things that leave impressions (experiences of joy and pain) during daily life, then their memories are revived during the practice of meditation and they interrupt the concentration. These memories fade as time passes, however, as soon as conditions align at any given moment, they will again be recalled by the mind. Normally these activities of the mind are not under control and they become an obstacle to concentration.

The removal of such obstacles first begins with seriously and earnestly learning the teachings of the Guru and bringing order to the mind. Through [learning and applying] the teachings of the Truth, incorrect ideas and habits get corrected, and thus we do not leave unnecessary sanskara in the mind any more. Also, the sadhana of the first five limbs [of ashtangha yoga] must be earnestly put into action. First, through the continuous application of yama and niyama in action, the condition of non-attachment and stability of the mind when faced with the various incidents of daily life gradually comes to be realized. Also, through the discipline of practicing asana, the agitation of the mind due to physical imbalances will be resolved. Furthermore, through the discipline of practicing pranayama, the energy (prana) that can enable dharana to succeed is accumulated, and thereby concentration is increased; while simultaneously, pranayama works to weaken the power of sanskara and pain-bearing obstacles. Then, through pratyahara (sense control), we practice to control the sensory organs, which are the biggest factors that cause agitation to the mind. In this way, we must first remove the external obstacles that disturb the concentration of the mind to prepare for dharana. Of course, in the beginning, the practice of dharana may mainly consist of battling these obstacles. Even so, through these battles, we can find out the true identity of these obstacles and therefore we can remove them. If you cannot concentrate, then you must inquire into the cause, and you must remove it.


The Key to Success

I’ve mentioned from time to time the main points that can make dharana successful, but [the crucial key that is underneath] is your own ideal—meaning, your passion and enthusiasm towards the goal of Yoga. This passion will drive away all obstacles, and gather the power of the mind to concentrate onto a single point. Without having this, no matter how much we practice asana or pranayama and remove the obstacles while accumulating prana, that power will only point in the worldly direction. You have to grasp your own ideal, your own goal, very clearly. The goal will become clearer and purer as your sadhana progresses. We have to break apart the preconceived ideas that we have been hoarding for a very long time. We must transcend the wall of space, time and causality.1 In order to do that, it is necessary to gather all your energy in its entirety and concentrate it on one single point. That will lead to the success of dharana.


The Object of Concentration (Dharana)

The Yoga Sutra lists various objects of meditation. For example, the breath (Yoga Sutra 1.34), chakra (Yoga Sutra 1.35), the mind of a Holy Being (Yoga Sutra 1.37), etc. And then, it ends with, “anything that enhances the mind” (Yoga Sutra 1.39). Of course, that “anything” has to be something that is good and proper, that is, something connected to the goal of Yoga that attracts the mind and heightens spirituality.

Shri Mahayogi teaches to directly perform dharana on God. And, he says that we can replace the word “God” with “true Self,” “Truth,” “true Love,” or “Pure Consciousness,” according to what suits each person.2 By focusing on the breath or chakra, we can temporarily calm the mind, but remember that we must use that calm mind we have achieved to proceed further. Therefore, the most important method is to directly focus on God while never forgetting the goal, and that is actually the shortcut.

“By meditating on the cherry blossom tree, it is possible to perceive the cherry tree in your mind, as if it were truly right in front of you. Even so, what is the point of this ability even if you acquire it? If you want to see cherry blossoms, just see the real cherry blossoms made by God, with your own eyes—that would do.

 We must meditate on God directly. That is the only thing that is necessary.” 

Shri Mahayogi

Now, how do we concentrate on God or Truth, which we can’t even imagine? The method of concentration can differ based on the temperament of the practitioner of Yoga, and this temperament is what leads to bhakti yoga or jnana yoga; and in fact, it will be revealed through the guidance of the Guru (Master). Here, the content that is common to all temperaments will be explained.

First, you go through learning the teachings of the Guru and the scriptures, think deeply about them, and perform dharana toward them. You compare your own mind against the teaching of the Truth, and practice to discriminate what within it is not the Truth.

This requirement is indispensable for removing the obstacles, which are ignorance and pain-bearing obstacles. In the case of having pain-bearing obstacles or attachments, or various problems that cause anxiety in the mind, we must clear these things away first. While bearing in mind the words of Truth from Holy Beings, and then by presenting problems towards these words to compare against them and performing sanyama, understanding will be gained. When the obstacles are removed, only Truth remains.

Meanwhile, we directly perform dharana towards our own ideal—Self-Realization, God, true Love, Self-Sacrifice, etc. We need to heighten the strong longing, admiration, and enthusiasm toward our ideal. At first, you might find that it is difficult to meditate on God. That is inevitable since there is no way to concentrate on God in the condition where there are no hints whatsoever. In places like India, where paintings or sculptures of God are present in daily settings, you can meditate on God supported by them. As Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said, meditating on those [images] will lead us to attain the essence of God someday. Unfortunately, in Japan, since it is uncommon to see pictures of God or sculptures of God in daily settings, it may be difficult to imagine God; yet through training it is possible.

In this case, Shri Mahayogi mentions that the best object of concentration is a “Holy Being.”3 For the reason that we inhabit a human body as a part of nature, it is difficult for us to meditate on a formless God from the beginning. Therefore, it is natural and easier to take the method of meditating on a Holy Being, who is an existence that most embodies God, that is, Truth, in this world, yet inhabits a physical body just like we do. And, it is even better if that Holy Being is actually living during the same time as we are—in other words, a Holy Being that we can talk with right now. Therefore, I consider that it is ideal to directly concentrate on living Holy Beings, such as Shri Mahayogi. Since we can hear his teachings in actual daily life, feel his presence and the spirit of his breath, his expression, words, and actions—through our five senses we can feel that existence close to us, we can easily concentrate, and the content of that concentration becomes deep. Holy Beings are ultimately the existence of Truth itself, or God itself. Meditation on Holy Beings will connect directly to intuiting Truth or God, and bring about union in Samadhi. Union with a Holy Being is, in other words, a union with Divinity—it is the realization of Satori itself.


The Practice of Concentration (Dharana) in Action

You should sit with the spine straight in a steady asana (sitting posture), and calm the breath. After bowing to the Guru, you concentrate the mind on the object. Shri Mahayogi says that practicing meditation after practicing pranayama is easier since the mind’s activities are calmer.4

When we first begin [to practice], even if we try to concentrate the mind on the object, the mind will easily and quickly wander towards various other objects. That’s the way the mind is. Even though the number of external obstacles will have been reduced due to disciplining the mind through practicing the sadhana of the prior five limbs, countless memories and sanskara lay dormant within the mind. These sanskara and memories immediately try to disturb the concentration of the mind. The more you concentrate, the stronger the power of sanskara becomes, just as molecules become more active under increased pressure. There is no need to be discouraged; because finally you will be able to arrive at the point where you are able to understand the subtle movements of the mind. You must know your enemy first.

These disordered thoughts occur according to the whims of sanskara and the sensory organs. The mind immediately comes up with excuses to stop, such as, “I’m not feeling well today so let me do it tomorrow,” or “Today I’m hungry, so I’m going to stop now.” You should not be impatient about it. Do not rush. You have let them run loose for a long time until now, so it takes some time to tame them. For these disordered thoughts that arise incessantly, you can just leave them alone and observe them for a while instead of trying to control them forcefully. Eventually, the mind gets tired and becomes quiet, and then a state comes to be created in which it is easier to concentrate.

Dharana begins with thinking about the teachings of the Guru. For example, there is a teaching: “The true nature of humans is neither the body nor the mind; it is the Eternal, Immortal, Pure Consciousness.” Then, you begin from thinking about this teaching through using the intellect. If you contemplate it, and concentration becomes deeper, it will lead to dharana. Various thoughts will arise from the mind towards this teaching, so then we examine whether these thoughts are the Truth or not. As we do that, whatever we take for granted as common sense, after undergoing examination, we can start to recognize that its underlying logic or foundation is vague, and that we have been under the influence of the habits and customs that come from the past or from the opinions of others. [In this way,] we correct the erroneous concepts by shining the light of Truth on them. By doing this, [your confirmation of] the Truth will become clearer.

At the same time, we directly concentrate upon a Holy Being, God or the true Self as the Ultimate Existence that expresses the Universal Truth. This is not done with the intellect, but rather, through the senses—it is performed at the seat of emotions [in other words, through manas or the mind]. At first, just imagining it would be fine. With the deepening of concentration, the essence of the Truth emerges. The reason why meditating on Holy Beings is effective is due to the fact that since Holy Beings have a physical body, it is easier for us to concentrate upon them, and also, because the tranquility felt when we come into contact with Holy Beings causes the mind to recall that. Since this tranquility is not imaginary, but actually experienced, deep concentration is achieved.

We should make a habit of sitting to meditate with zeal. Eventually, this flow becomes continuous, and even if we you are not meditating while sitting, the flow continues during daily life in our subconscious. Sitting in meditation is not the only meditation. No matter where you are or what you are doing, meditation is possible. In short, it all boils down to how seriously you want to accomplish Yoga. It’s not sufficient to just allot a few hours to the practices of Yoga per day. Your entire life has to be concentrated on Yoga—just as your lover becomes the center of the world when you fall in love. Only when Yoga becomes the center of your life, then for the first time you are able to make the mind single-pointedly focus on God.

Thoughts that are much, much more intense than the workings of countless sanskara, which cause the mind to function, are precisely what leads to the success of dharana. To figure out how to create that intense thought is the main subject of all of Yoga as well as the subject of religion. As the words of Shri Mahayogi introduced in the beginning of the article state, dharana means to concentrate with your heart and soul entirely, and not until you apply that degree of power of concentration, can you realize the next limb, dhyana (meditation) for the first time.


[1] We went over the Twenty-Four Cosmic Principles of the Sankya philosophy, and [according to that] our essence is the 25th principle, Purusha (true Self). In order to transcend the bondage of the Twenty-Four Principles and awaken into the true Self, the task is nothing but to transcend time, space, and causation, which is what governs over the Twenty-Four Principles. All pain-bearing obstacles, sanskara, and karma, work within the laws of time, space and causation. Practitioners of Yoga work toward the aim of transcending this in Samadhi, realizing it, and awakening into the true Self.

[2] God, the true Self, Truth, Satori, or true Love, Pure Consciousness, Liberation, Brahman, Nirvana—there are various words that can appear, however, they all refer to the Ultimate Existence, which is the goal of Yoga. The ideas one has about these words may differ from person to person, yet it is considered that these words can’t possibly express the Ultimate Truth in any case. However, in the beginning, we have to pick up these words as hints, and practice meditation. To put it simply, each person should choose the object that he or she is most attracted to.

[3] The types of meditation that are most often taught by Shri Mahayogi are the following:

・Meditation on the Ultimate Existence, such as Holy Beings, God, Atman, Brahman. This is the meditation that leads to bhakti yoga.

・Inquiring (vicharya) into the true Self, “Who am I?” This leads to the path of Self-Realization in jnana yoga.

・Meditation on the issues or obstacles that have currently taken hold of the mind. By discriminating against ignorance, one is led to True Knowledge.

・Meditation on Death. This will lead to the renunciation of the strongest attachments within yourself.

[4] The power of pranayama can temporarily weaken the power of the senses, sanskara and karma, and lead the mind to a calm state. The workings of the sensory organs, sanskara and karma also occur through [the workings of] prana.


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