Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Satsangha, Kyoto, May 18, 2013
• Devote Oneself to Spiritual Discipline,
Rely on Yourself in the Pursuit of Realizing the Truth
Testimonies from Actual Practitioners
• Living on the Words of Mother—Part 2
by Yukti (Yuri Shibasaki)
May, July, and Sept. 2013, Fukushima, Japan
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Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Translation of Satsangha
Saturday May 18, 2013, 7 p.m. Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
The schedule for Shri Mahayogi’s visit to the US was announced last week, around the time of the summer solstice. Today, there are many gurubai (brother and sister disciples) that have come from far away to participate in the program “Anyone Can Practice Yoga,” and so there are about forty people who have gathered here to see Shri Mahayogi.
Devote Oneself to Spiritual Discipline,
Rely on Yourself in the Pursuit of Realizing the Truth
Sanatana: I hear others say, “I don’t know how to meditate,” or, “I can’t discriminate.” Is this because they lack the concentration to do so? Or, I presume that perhaps there is a lack of interest toward the issue or the object [of meditation] thereof, or a lack of being obsessed with the issue or the object.
MASTER: I think that in the case of meditation, it’s the latter issue rather than a matter of methodology, and it boils down to how crucial these issues are within the mind. I suspect that they have not understood what meditation is. And I feel that because of that they may have an expectation [about what meditation should be], wanting to experience something extraordinary or something like that. What do you hear from the people who are actually coming to the meditation course that you are leading?
Jayadevi: People have come wanting to calm down their irritable minds, to make them more peaceful, to find their “center.” A person also came after watching a lecture about Buddha on national public television.
Ms. Shimamura (Tarika): I wonder about the meaning of the word “oneself” in the last words of Buddha, “Rely on oneself”—and I wonder if rather than “oneself” meaning myself, who is still in the middle of learning, the meaning of his word might be to rely on the Truth or Atman… May I ask you to teach us once more, what it means “To rely on oneself, to rely on Dharma”?
MASTER: “Oneself” in that sentence means you, yourself, and [the sentence] simply means that even if you yourself are still imperfect, through devotedly pursuing and practicing spiritual disciplines using the foundation of where you yourself are, while discriminating whether that “yourself” is the true Self or not, whether that “yourself” is exactly the same as Dharma, that which the Truth teaches, or not, you will become One with the Truth, called Dharma, or the realization of Satori will come.
Ms. Shimamura (Tarika): So, that means that checking your current self against the Truth [to see if it is one and the same or not] is an important task.
MASTER: Right. And when you do that, as he also said in other contexts, even if it is the teachings in a scripture or from whomever, there is no need to blindly believe them; however, you must put them into practice in your actions, because only by doing that will you be guided to the true answer. It implies that in order to do so, you yourself have to undergo the practice of spiritual disciplines, such as meditation.
(Ms. Shimamura states her gratitude and continues to smile.)
Sarani: How should I make [the teaching], “The complex exists for the Singular,” come alive in my daily life—does it all boil down to the importance of having faith? Or is there some kind of a hint?
MASTER: The state where that [teaching of Truth] is indubitable, where the mind is wholly subject to the Singular, can be said to be faith. And, when this “Singular” is replaced with the word “Truth” that was mentioned just now, or “God,” then it is easier to grasp since these are the only words that can be considered to be “Singular.”
Mr. Shimada (Chaitanya): I’m sure that faith too has levels. But even if I am in the level of bhakti (devotion to God), where I beg for forgiveness or want wishes to be fulfilled by the object of faith, is it true that I don’t need to be disappointed with the level where I am right now…? That even if I am not able to completely surrender the mind 100%, or immerse myself in it completely, even if I am in that low state, is it true that I don’t need to give up on bhakti?
MASTER: It is not necessary. At any rate, there is no other way but to deepen it, to proceed forth. To make such judgements along the way is needless. These are temporary and have no absolute value. You have to proceed until you reach that which is Unchangeable, that which is Absolute.
Ranjani: So that means that I shouldn’t judge it by myself.
MASTER: (immediately). Right. There may be a line about this in the Yoga Sutra. As you continue to practice Yoga, the mind will come to transform substantially. And while you continue to learn and apply the teachings of the Truth in action, and when that state has deepened, then there comes to be a realm in which Yoga itself will teach the later states, rather than the teachings and such continuing to do so. In order to reach that realm, you have to proceed to practice while relying upon yourself.
Mr. Shimada (Chaitanya): The state of the bhakta (one who devotes to God) is likened to being right in the middle of falling in love, and I have an intense yearning to be immersed in God so much so that I forget to sleep or eat. But if that happens, will my daily life be okay? (Everyone laughs.)
MASTER: (tenderly) I think it will be fine. If one reaches that level, and this too is often said, God himself will take care of you. (Everyone: Oh, really?) So you can rest assured and dive in.
Mr. Shimada (Chaitanya): Is it okay to leave my job and family up to God? (all burst into laughter)
MASTER: (cheerfully) Yes. It will be fine. (All laugh.)
(Shri Mahayogi cheerfully asks Ms. Morioka, “You took the program ‘Anyone Can Practice Yoga’? Was it good?” Ms. Morioka answers joyfully, “I felt that my realizations and learnings from the program this year were different from last year, and it was very good.”)
Takashi (Ramdas): Earlier you mentioned that Yoga itself will lead and point [the way] to the state [of the bodhisattva]—I would like to know what does that…
MASTER: At that point, even without much effort, intuitive knowledge will inevitably come through, it is the state that is full of True Knowledge.
Takashi (Ramdas): In the fourth chapter of the Yoga Sutra, it is mentioned that when one reaches that kind of state, one will be enveloped by a cloud-like thing. Does that mean that there is some kind of a barrier or a transient state [that one passes through]?
MASTER: It is not a barrier, it is dharma megha. It is translated [in Japanese] as the “dharma cloud of samadhi.” Is that what you are referring to? That is a state of samadhi that is at quite a high level, that comes at the very end. And literally, Dharma, the Truth in this case, is just like rain that pours down—actually rain in India comes as a squall, which is a very powerful rain—and it is as powerful as this intense squall. The word “cloud” here is an expression symbolizing that rain. Therefore, it is not like a barrier surrounding it, but it describes the state in which the Virtues, such as True Knowledge, Compassion, Wisdom, or Power, pour down upon you without you even anticipating it.
Sanatana: Swami Vivekananda created a small monastery together with his brother disciples after the passing of Shri Ramakrishna; at times, he practiced the ancient way, which is that of wandering monks, and devoted himself to practice severely in order to reach the perfect and complete state. However, during his wanderings, as he witnessed the miserable reality of India, he could no longer continue. So then, in this state of mind, he had already forgotten about the aim of reaching his own perfection. Yet, it seems to me that by the time he went to America, he was already almost a perfected person. So then, did the self-awareness of himself being in the state of Satori occur in him at some point during the wandering, or at the meditation in Kanyakumari where he went wandering last, or somewhere else?
MASTER: That is undoubtedly so. Commonly, it is said that Satori exists because pain-bearing obstacles exist; because pain-bearing obstacles are there within oneself, one feels bondage and suffers, that is why one seeks Satori. Well, it’s the same as the theory of happiness you just mentioned—when one disappears, the other disappears too—thus, the state of being completely free from change or differences, the state of not wavering, must arise as its result. I deduce that upon having that, he must have come to be aware of himself as a spiritual teacher to the world.
Sanatana: So, then that means that the reason why his own pain-bearing obstacles were eliminated and the way he did away with the pursuit of realizing Satori happened due to his being entirely governed by compassion for others…
MASTER: I deduce it to be so. It is said that dharma megha samadhi may have been influenced by Buddhist teachings. In Buddhism, there is a state called “bodhisattva” which is one step before Buddhahood, a perfect Awakened Being, and that within the level of bodhisattva, there are said to be ten states, and the tenth level is the state of dharma megha. Therefore, when one transcends that line, one becomes Awakened, a Buddha. In the step before [the state of a] Buddha, there comes a state filled only with compassion. Exactly like this [example], compassion is very close to the Truth, or you can see that compassion embodies the concrete form of Truth in the world. So, when you think about it, in Christianity it is said that God is love, and when you pursue what that real love is, then you probably arrive at something very similar to compassion.
Sanatana: Then, “…or if you cannot, dream but truer dreams”1 is its metaphorical meaning…
MASTER: I would conclude that it is.
Sanatana: For example, in the case of Brahmananda, he left on a wandering journey, saying that he would never return until he progressed from kevala (alone, sole, only, isolated) nirvikalpa samadhi (state of complete absorption without any cognition) to the state that is permanent [, or nirvikalpa samadhi]. As a reader, it is very easy to understand. However, in the case of Swami Vivekananda, I assume that he had the same intention when he began the wandering journey, but made a drastic change of course and ended up sacrificing himself for others. So, it seems to me that the initial motivation and the result is different, and I assume that through that he must have attained a level of perfection to such an extent that he even surpassed his initial goal. So, in a way, the way he realized Satori was different from the other brother disciples.
MASTER: Yes, that seems right. And, considering the state of Swami Vivekanda’s mind and the actions he took afterwards—going to America, returning to India and organizing and establishing the Ramakrishna Mission, along with all other things, and the fact that through these he looked after and guided his brother disciples and later disciples and devotees, it feels to me that he happened to lead a life exactly as Shri Ramakrishna foretold. It has been recorded that after he went to America too, he entered into nirvikalpa samadhi a few times.
Gurudas: How I interpreted “dream but truer dreams” is that I am supposed to think about the existence closest to the Truth.
MASTER: That’s simply a mere level of an ideal created by the mind. It’s not that, what this “dream” indicates is this world. As you know, this world is also said to be like the “dream world.” It’s his own peculiar poetic expression, but it means to dive into this world and serve. Truer [i.e. nearest] means within this world that everyone is in right now.
Madhavi: For each moment of the experience of the self-realization of Atman, which is the state that Shri Mahayogi abides in—the content of the experience is eternal, correct?
MASTER: Awakening into the self-realization of Atman is not an abstract thing. It is really concrete, and that is the only Existence—Reality. Where does it exist? It is everywhere. Therefore, It is within you yourself, and it is also within the various people who are suffering. Thus, It is within all, and on one hand you come to know the Truth, which is Atman, the essence, and at the same time, you also come to comprehend the actual state of the world. So then, I infer that the situation of India at that time must have been at its worst. It was the era of being under the rule of the British, and also I assume that the masses in India were utterly destitute due to the rigid caste structures and various other types of bondage—it must have unfolded a world of suffering that was really like a picture of hell. In the midst of that, it doesn’t solve anything to say that everyone’s essence is Atman and that Atman does not suffer. There is a story handed down about Swami Vivekananda encountering several gurubai during his journey, to whom he said, shaking with emotion, that he could not understand anything about the Atman or Brahman they speak of. And that it was agony for him to see with his own eyes the terrible poverty of the masses. I assume that that precisely expresses his state of mind. And that Atman and Brahman are nothing other than the suffering masses in front of his eyes.
Jayadevi: That is what Swami Vivekananda meant by “truer dream”?
MASTER: Yes. (With a compassionate gaze, Shri Mahayogi grants darshan to everyone.)
 From “To the Awakened India”, written by Swami Vivekananda, August 1898
Takashi (Ramdas): So then, does that mean that bodhisattva still require practice, more or less?
MASTER: It is almost over. In the state of the tenth level of bodhisattva, there is almost nothing left that must be done on their part, [what’s necessary to attain the Realization of the Truth] is finished, yet there is just a thin layer of skin left, just like that.
Sanatana: What is that last layer of skin?
MASTER: Well, that is something that progresses within that state, and it is truly difficult to explain it or talk about it…you see, this morning, everyone was aware upon waking up, that they have awoken from a sleeping, dreaming state. [The final Satori] comes suddenly just like that. During sleep, the mind has no intention of waking up, because during sleep, the mind recognizes that state you are in during your sleep as a state that is real. Nevertheless, only once you are awake, the difference between the sleeping state and the waking state is recognized. And in the same way, when going from waking to sleeping, nobody knows that exact moment either. But suddenly you notice that you were sleeping, and you also become aware afterwards that you’ve woken up. It is exactly like that—you never know when transcending the last thin line will come.
Sanatana: That means that when the world that is based on the continuous chain reaction of karma (cause and effect of action) ends, it is only then that we realize that it was continuous until that moment…
MASTER: In the dimension of awakening to the Truth, there is neither time nor space. No cosmos, no universe. Nothing. Yet, only Truth exists. Or it may be better to express It as True Existence, that is, It is Sat alone in Sat Chit Ananda (Existence Consciousness Bliss).
Haridas: Could it be said, in other words, intuiting that which continues to exist?
MASTER: Not intuiting. You yourself are That. Therefore, it’s not about yourself versus some kind of an object, or experience of an object. It is the Essence itself.
Haridas: The realization of That which continues to exist is I myself.
MASTER: Right, though even “myself” is no longer there [in that state]. If choosing a word that describes It at a bare minimum with no additions whatsoever, that would be like Existence, or True Existence—Reality.
Madhavi: What would be the power that breaks that last layer?
MASTER: By that point, almost all pain-bearing obstacles and ignorance are supposed to have been eliminated. So, once you reach such a state, the rest automatically breaks through. On the contrary, in the case of that state, even making an effort, which would be concentration, becomes an interference and gets in the way of it.
Ms. Hara (Nandini): I was asked what the benefit of meditation is, and so I have been thinking about the answer. Is it that in getting closer to the Pure by bringing back the memory of the impression we get during meditation, our various gross tendencies and other things are reduced?
MASTER: Right. The benefit of meditation is large. (everyone laughing) Of course, the benefit of asana (way of positioning the body) is large too, yet still the benefit of meditation is even much bigger. More than anything else, it makes the mind be at ease. There is a phrase: “[Life is] full of feelings” (written in Japanese as Delight + Anger + Sorrow + Pleasure), yet after all experiences in life itself are boiled down to “everything is suffering,” in the end happiness or pleasure are transient and usually suffering and sadness, or anxiety, are the things that rule one’s life. However, it is possible to make these sufferings come to be completely eliminated, and that goes from small problems to core issues. And you can say that this is the benefit of meditation. Of course, if you want to meditate correctly, then it goes without saying, it has to be practiced according to the right teachings.
Ms. Hara (Nandini): In order to communicate that to others more effectively, it may not be possible without having gone through repeated practice of meditation and its deepening over and over again, is that right?
MASTER: Certainly, it is imperative for an instructor to evolve in his or her practice of meditation.
(Then Sananda, Shaci and Satya arrive to attend the Satsangha after having finished the program “Everyone Can Practice Yoga.” They greet Shri Mahayogi.)
MASTER: Thanks for your work. Ms. Morioka reported very briefly that it was a good gathering. (everyone laughs)
(Shaci reports, “Thank you very much. We were able to smoothly complete the first session. Satya is newly participating from this time, and we also had 7 or 8 new participants, so it felt fresh and good to have new members.”)
Sanatana: Going back to transcending the last state, that which is after dharma megha samadhi—is there a possibility that one is unable to transcend it, or does one definitely and automatically transcend it?
MASTER: Once you get there, I think you can transcend it. (all laugh) However, to reach that point is considerably difficult, practically speaking.
Sanatana: So, you are almost awake, but it’s unlikely that you will not wake up…
MASTER: In the worldly way of expressing it, you may say that it’s truly just a matter of time.
(Sanatana replies with earnestness, “I understand.”)
Kinkala: I think that a while back, Shri Mahayogi mentioned something like, there is a big gap between the last step [and the state of Satori], and one can often fall down [from the last stage]. Was that referring to a different story?
MASTER: Once you can advance to that stage, there is no falling. (everyone laughs) It is mentioned in the teachings of the Yoga Sutra too, that in that stage, meaning around the stage where samadhi is one step before reaching the complete Satori, all the guna (elements that compose all things) fall away. Because of that there is no longer any reason or cause to come back, there is no way to fall down.
Madhavi: I understand logically. (All laugh.) The real issue is whether I can do it or not.
MASTER: Exactly. Of course, that is so. That is why [the condition in which] all sanskara (remaining psychological impressions, latent in the mind), ignorance and pain-bearing obstacles cease to exist there and all the guna fall away, which is the way the Yoga Sutra describes it, saying the same thing.
Madhavi: It’s a matter of time—you mentioned, from the perspective of eternity, is one lifetime’s worth of time enough, looking from the perspective of eternity?
MASTER: Well, I don’t know. I don’t know, yet, one or two lifetimes is not that much from that perspective. (everyone looks baffled and overwhelmed)
Madhavi: But this relates to how precious this moment, right now, this life is, when we are able to spend this moment with Shri Mahayogi. In other words, we cannot let this opportunity escape.
MASTER: Indeed, I wonder how much you all are aware of this.
Sanatana: What is the meaning of nitya siddha?
MASTER: I understand that nitya siddha means the level of a person who had one more thin layer left from the previous lifetime. Since nitya means eternal and siddha is a perfected one, it means an eternally perfected one. You may say that even so, the person couldn’t reach the state of Buddha, or of perfect Satori, in the previous lifetime.
Gargi (Ms. Endo/Mirabai): Shri Mahayogi, so then, though I have been thinking that the tenth level is a very, very high level, for example, if progress after the tenth level is automatic, and if that tenth level is the nearer, “truer dream,” then does that mean that it’s closer or truer to aim for that.
MASTER: Right. (All laugh.)
Sanatana: That is why, “Awake, arise! [Let the visions cease,] or, if you cannot, dream but truer dreams.”—I see.
MASTER: Although even that is a considerably difficult thing to do.
Sanatana: What is needed is only to expand into the state like that of Swami Vivekananda, that which he completely solely penetrated with the compassion coming from such agony, as much as if his heart ripped apart—or I should say, empathy to the extent of equating oneself with others. So, what we can do at any rate is to truly go close to and feel what that person’s heart is feeling, to stay present and truly feel his or her pain together—to really incorporate these efforts into one’s practice?
MASTER: I deduce that probably the state of Swami Vivekananda indicates him having the experience of dharma megha samadhi, that the intense rain of compassion showered down upon him. Thus, it must be the state of mind that even without having the intention to incorporate that practice, compassion consumed him—he was completely overwhelmed.
Sanatana: I think that probably in our case, we need to make efforts to practice this [in order to arrive at that place,] or else it does not happen automatically, even though in the case of Swami Vivekananda he found himself in that state. So in our case, is what we should do to try to really feel others’ suffering, or to try and sense the state of mind of Holy Beings; or at times, also going beyond intellectual understanding and to something different from the emotional level of a mere surface sympathy—is it about making an effort to get closer to it at any rate?
MASTER: Yes, exactly that. [What is needed is] only that.
Ms. Fujino (Harshani): In order to involve oneself in alleviating people’s suffering, is it better to strengthen the mind of compassion and concentrate on that aim, rather than praying?
MASTER: It is better to do so as much as possible. And also it would be good to make it concrete, in other words, combine that with action in the sense of making concrete actions. Yet, you can say that praying, sympathizing or empathizing or sharing too is a part of action, of course.
Ms. Fujino (Harshani): The important thing is to embark on making concrete actions.
MASTER: Yes. And, if possible, you should do that proactively.
Ms. Okuda: Very often, I am asked to listen to the complaints of others. How should I associate with them?
MASTER: You should think that if you hear someone grumbling a complaint, these are the clues for eliminating these complaints. Therefore, when you see the right timing and opportunity, you should point out the attitude of the mind that creates such habits and complaining. That is necessary. Otherwise, people can really engage in complaining all the time—that doesn’t solve anything.
Ms. Okuda: I understand. Then I thought about what is left to do can be for myself to root out my pain-bearing obstacles and thoughts…
MASTER: Of course, that too is very important.
Asangan: Regarding the subject of “What is my own Existence?”: I think that it’s probably too difficult to ask beginners to think about it suddenly without preparation, and even if someone understands intellectually about the concept of whether something is eternal or not, the problem in front of their eyes would still often not be resolved. So, do we need to think about them separately?
MASTER: The approach you can take can be said to be in phases. And it is necessary to learn the Truth. I see that the teachings of Buddha, Shakyamuni are simple in a way, yet his teachings are truly impartially given to the people in this world who are suffering greatly, to all people—reason being the first teaching he preached: The Four Noble Truths—“Everything is suffering”; it is the fact that everyone is struggling hard one way or another, [which in Japanese refers to “the four principle and four additional kinds of suffering, for a total of eight kinds of suffering”]. I assume that you all know the content of these four and [the total of the] eight sufferings, and that every suffering can be categorized as one of these kinds. Therefore, regardless of who you are, if you are suffering, you need to acknowledge the reality of suffering—inevitably you have to. Of course, you may want to do something about your trouble perhaps, but [before that] there is that reality of suffering to begin with. First you must recognize it. Then, the next [step] is, what is the cause of that suffering? It inevitably arrives at the reality of karma, and the pain-bearing obstacles and ignorance that created that karma. He preached that, on the other hand, there is Nirvana—that is to say, the Essence that is not that. Yet, one cannot understand It unless one experiences It. Nevertheless, Nirvana is the state where all suffering has ceased. It is the state of freedom that is unfettered by anything. That is precisely your true Essence. Up to this point it should be easy to understand. Then, he preached that in order to experience it, or to eradicate suffering and reach the state of Truth, there is the path, the way of learning and the application of practice and discipline, doing this and that. That is how the Four Noble Truths are structured. You can see the well-founded structure that is very logical, very understandable and practicable by anyone. The content of Yoga is the same; however, it can be said that its concise expression is precisely the Four Noble Truths. Thus, I presume that the Yoga Circle2 in Matsuyama has been introducing more than just a bit of this, therefore, it would be good for you to introduce it in a step by step manner. Nowadays, even if you go to a Buddhist temple, they don’t teach you this. (everyone laughs) Even though this is the most essential, fundamental principle.
(This year marks Swami Vivekananda’s 150th birthday. The way he lived came alive through Shri Mahayogi’s words, inspired the depth of our hearts, and powerfully guided us to the way of applying the practice in action. True Awakening is realized by thoroughly practicing “dreaming but truer dreams.”)
 Yoga Circle is the name under which the various activities run by disciples of Shri Mahayogi in Matsuyama, Ehime, Japan to disseminate the teachings of Shri Mahayogi was operating, before Shri Mahayogi bestowed the current name of Yoga Sara Studio.
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The following Testimony is a translation of the articles written by Yukti, a disciple of Shri Mahayogi in Japan, which were published in Paramahamsa (Mahayogi Mission’s bi-monthly magazine in Japanese) between Sept. 2012 and Jan. 2014. This is the second of three parts. The first of three parts is in Pranavadipa Vol. 67, and her writings will continue in Pranavadipa Vol. 69. Please refer to “Searching for God’s Love” in the Recommended Reading, Teachings, Mahayogi Yoga Mission website.
Living on the Words of Mother
by Yukti (Yuri Shibasaki)
May, July, and Sept. 2013, Fukushima, Japan
IV. “Our [particular] mission is to labor at the salvation [and sanctification of the poorest of] the poor, [not only in the slums, but also] all over the world wherever they may be.”
On June 1, 2012, I was running toward an auditorium at a women’s college in Kyoto after work. There was a lecture I wanted to attend, “Love Until It Hurts: Learning from ‘the Internal Darkness’ of Mother Teresa” by Father K, whom I had met a year earlier in Kolkata at the Mother House. There were only 30 minutes left of the one and a half hour lecture, but I was desperate to know anything, even the smallest detail. In these remaining 30 minutes, the Father spoke about the two types of pain Mother experienced.
The first one was after she received the “calling within a call” from Christ while she was riding on the train, to serve in the slums—she started hearing the voice again and again and it caused a great conflict to arise within her mind. The other one was from around the time she began serving in the slums—she could not feel the presence of God at all, which she used to feel in abundance, and that period was what later came to be called her “dark night” of the soul. It strongly impacted me to find out that Mother, who seemed to be brimming with joy, had unimaginable pain. But, when it came to the “dark night,” there were only a few words of hers about that darkness provided in the lecture materials, and the explanation from the Father, too, was not more than that she had had such a period, so I could not decipher exactly what that meant. Actually, later on I inquired further into the “dark night,” which will be mentioned in later articles, but at that time, upon finding out that she was not immediately able to obey the calling from God to “serve in the slums,” and that in fact she had a conflict due to her fear of accepting poverty and its many difficulties, I realized that her mind was not that different from ours, and sensing her so close to me [in this way], made me want to know more about it. And I came to find the details of the conversations between Jesus and Mother recorded in a book of a collection of letters by Mother Teresa, which the Father gave me later on.
“‘Wouldst Thou not help?’ How can I? I have been and I am very happy as a Loreto Nun. To leave that which I love and expose myself to new labors and suffering which will be great, to be the laughing stock of so many, especially religious, to cling and choose deliberately the hard things of Indian life, to loneliness and ignominy, to uncertainty—and all because Jesus wants it, because something is calling me to leave all and gather the few to live His life, to do His work in India. These thoughts were a cause of much suffering, but the voice kept on saying, ‘Wilt Thou refuse?’ Then I responded, ‘My own Jesus, why can’t I be a perfect Loreto nun, a real victim of your love here? Why can’t I be like everybody else? Look at the hundreds of Loreto Nuns—who have saved You perfectly, who are now with You. Why can’t I walk the same path and come to you?’”
Jesus replied, “I want Indian Missionary Sisters of Charity, … the Sisters that would offer their lives as victims of my love, …Who would be so very united to me as to radiate my love on souls. I want free nuns covered with the poverty of the cross… Wilt thou refuse to do this for me?” “Are you afraid now to take one more step for Your Spouse, for Me, for souls? Has your generosity grown cold? Am I a second to you? You did not die for souls. That is why you don’t care what happens to them. You are afraid that you will lose your vocation, you will become a secular, you will be wanting in perseverance. No—your vocation is to love and suffer and save souls, and by taking this step you will fulfill My Heart’s desire for you.”
Mother wrote thus, “The thought of eating, sleeping, living like the Indians filled me with fear. I prayed long—I prayed so much. The more I prayed, the clearer grew the voice in my heart and so I prayed that He would do with me whatever He wanted. He asked again and again.” After the exchange with Jesus, she had several visions of Jesus and Mary, and herself in the midst of a crowd that was covered in darkness, crying out to her. Afterwards, she accepted the mission from Jesus by saying, “You know, Jesus, I am ready to go at a moment’s notice.” But she said that since then, the voice of Jesus nor the visions of him she had seen never appeared again.
Kolkata at the time was incomparably destitute compared to the modern city now. In a book it was mentioned, “the Bengal Famine caused over 2 million deaths. There was intense strife between the Hindus and Muslims. The slum had the worst population density in the world, with over 77,000 living within a single square kilometer, not a single tree existed per 3,000 people, and there were no flowers nor butterflies, just vultures and ravens. During the monsoon, streets and shacks were inundated with a swamp of mud and excrement; due to severe infectious diseases and malnutrition, they had the worst life expectancy rate until recently. Nine out of ten people lacked the necessary one rupee to buy a half pound (250g) of rice per day. The slum was considered dangerous, where untouchables and rejected people lived; it was the place where they lived being segregated from the rest of the world.”
If she was not a perfect holy person from the beginning, but had a mind that suffered just like ours, how much conflict must she have had to overcome to go alone into the slums? My mind went blank as I tried to fathom it. At the same time, my desire to know how she overcame these struggles grew in me so much. As I kept rereading the dialogue between Jesus and Mother again and again, I suddenly realized its answer: the mission that was given to her from Jesus was something that was permitted only to her, she gradually convinced herself that there was no way out of it, and this conviction became firmly solidified through fervent prayers, through her wish to answer the call of Jesus. I’ve wanted to sense her pain as if it were my own pain, but it felt as if it were impossible to feel the same pain since I am not in the same circumstance that she was granted. Rather, I felt that what was important was, through living seriously by following her example, to confirm my own mission, and no matter what struggles may occur in attempting to complete the mission, to face them without escaping and thus overcome them.
As I was thinking these things, the photo exhibit in Ishinomaki was quickly approaching. I began to think how I ought to face the victims there with this photo exhibit. That’s when I noticed the words of Mother, which, according to the Father who introduced them to me, came forth after Mother had experienced various struggles.
“Our [particular] mission is to labor at the salvation [and sanctification of the poorest of] the poor, [not only in the slums, but also] all over the world, wherever they may be.”
“Jesus wanted us to help by sharing our life, our loneliness, our agony and death… Only by being one with us has He redeemed us. We are allowed to do the same.”
She is saying that the mission of Mother and the Sisters is not about solving material needs, but to share in the sufferings. And these words imply that only by being one with them, one can help them and bring them salvation. Then a question arose in me, I wondered what kind of state “salvation” is and what would happen as a result of sharing in their suffering? So when I met the Father later on, I asked him what salvation in Christianity is. Then he said, “Humans have a way that should be original, and that is to be in communion with God. To guide them in that direction is salvation.”
To be in communion with God—I thought that it would mean becoming One with God, and being released from all suffering. And, through Mother’s words, I realized that by feeling others’ suffering myself, not only does that reduce the suffering faced by this person at the moment, but it will direct them toward becoming One with God, and save them from their soul’s lifetimes of suffering.
“Without our suffering, our work would just be social work, very good and helpful, but it would not be the work of Jesus Christ, not part of the redemption.”
When the Father introduced me to these words of Mother, he explained about this “suffering”: “Not only being with those who suffer for a few hours, but even when we are alone, we must face our own suffering, that is to say, to suffer 24/7, for one’s entire life. You cannot work for God otherwise, thereby Mother and the Sisters take a vow to live in poverty. The poverty of the poor is ceaseless, across 24 hours of the day. Poverty, filth, cold, heat—by sharing in the suffering of the poor, only by being one with them, they must have their share in that same suffering. If you spend a few hours serving the poor, and then go home to a comfortable, convenient life—that is social service, but it would not be the work for God. That is what Mother said.” At that very moment, I finally realized that I wanted to work for God like Mother did—but in order to do so I too must wholeheartedly resolve to live in poverty myself, in earnest. Detachment, renunciation—the words I had learned from Yoga kept ringing in my head. In realizing that I must get out of just thinking about it, and firmly resolve myself and get into action—I felt anxious and impatient, as if I was cornered by something.
In mid-June, I went to Ishinomaki to take a look at the gallery where the photo exhibition was going be held a month later. The gallery was run by a female owner, Ms. M, who operated it alone. Because the gallery was by the bank of a large river, it had been damaged by the tsunami, however, an art university student, Ms. K, slept in the gallery working as a volunteer and restored it by hand, piece by piece, taking several months in the process. The gallery was rebuilt, but the area was deemed a danger zone and the gallery would be forced to move out, Ms. M sadly explained. However, she was very delighted to host the photo exhibit of Mother. I asked Ms. M as I was showing the photographs to her, “The photos that will be exhibited capture people in poverty and people dying—by looking at these photos will the victims recall the deceased bodies of their families and friends from the earthquake disaster?” Ms. M said, “They may recall this, but nothing can be done. Rather, we must all remember what it is to live in poverty just like that. Right after the disaster, we were humbled and grateful just to be alive; and we felt that we were humbled and grateful to have any kind of roof over our heads. Yet, as time passes, we began to want this and that, and life started getting more and more luxurious again. We forgot to be grateful. It is meaningful to look at people living in poverty like this.” I felt that these words were directed at me. And I was grateful to have encountered Ms. M and thought that the exhibition would be something wonderful.
Ms. M showed me the picture of Ms. K, who volunteered to restore the gallery, the photo of her was a view from the back while she was working hard at painting a wall, while living amidst so much debris. Her figure overlapped with Mother. From her figure in the picture, I felt that the most precious thing I can do for the local people here might not be about bringing something new here, no matter how wonderful it may be, but rather to first become a person of this area myself, to feel the various things while living here, and to work here using the mind and body. In that moment, I saw myself just suddenly coming to Ishinomaki, showing pictures of Mother, communicating a little with the victims, then when I was about to be leaving—I couldn’t help but to feel that this was all wrong. Then I thought, before I show the pictures of Mother, I have to know about this land more, and feel what people here are feeling together with them, and think together with them about what we could do from that point on. So, I began to hesitate to go forward with the photo exhibit of Mother. Nonetheless, I couldn’t do much to stop what was already in progress, so I began to contemplate on what I could do beyond having the photo exhibit here, and to also feel the pain of the people who live here and engage in working together with them, in the way that God would want it to be.
On the day when I was leaving Ishinomaki, I decided to stop by my acquaintance K’s house on a whim. When I told K about the photo exhibition, she said again and again, “During the photo exhibition, I’d really like you to stay here. Please be sure to do that.” I considered the fact that I might be able to feel what sort of pain and suffering they are currently feeling in living here by staying with them, so I arranged to stay there for five days.
On July 5th, for the purpose of holding the photo exhibition, I left for Ishinomaki with my gurubai (brother or sister disciple), Ms. Nakajima, who had been preparing the exhibition with me all this time.
V. “Quench the Thirst of Jesus” —Mother Teresa
On July 5, 2012, with the aim of striving to put into action the words of Mother that I had had in my mind, “To labor at the salvation of sufferers wherever they may be,” I was on my way to the disaster area of Ishinomaki to hold the photo exhibition of Mother Teresa. Shortly before I left, I began to think about the suffering of Jesus. When Jesus was crucified, there are some words that he left expressing his pain, before breathing his last breath: “I THIRST.” In the sanctuary of the Missionaries of Charity, a crucifix is displayed at the center of the altar, and these words are written right next to it. What was Jesus, an incarnation of God, thirsting for?
Mother speaks about Jesus’ thirst, “Why does Jesus say ‘I THIRST?’ What does it mean? Something so hard to explain in words—if you remember anything from Mother’s letter, remember this—‘I THIRST’ is something much deeper than [Jesus] just saying ‘I love you’.”
These words of Jesus have always been spoken from Mother’s mouth, so they’re famous words, but actually I had been feeling that not only these words of Jesus, but all the words of Jesus themselves are symbolic, and it is quite difficult to fathom what they actually mean. Yet, at least I recognized that these words were very deeply connected to the activities of Mother, so this was actually always on my mind, and I vaguely felt that eventually the day would come when I would be able to understand them.
The catalyst for Mother to serve in the slums occurred on September 10, 1946—during a train ride to Darjeeling she heard the call from Jesus to go into the slums, however, for a very long time she resisted speaking about it. This was due to the fact that it was “something so intimate” between her and Jesus, and it was impossible to express in words, or it was incomprehensible to hear in words. However, she said later on that it was a calling, yet it was “…not just an experience [that was felt]…,” also mentioning that it was “the strong grace of Divine Light and Love that Mother received.” And at times she recapitulated this experience as the words of Jesus—“I THIRST”—therefore this [life-changing] incident on September 10th is referred to as the experience of “I THIRST,” in which she deeply sensed the thirst of Jesus.
Mother said that these words “are not from the past only, but alive here and now, spoken to you. Do you believe it? If so, you will hear, you will feel His presence. Let it become as intimate for each of you, just as for Mother...”
“I THIRST”—Here is what I understand about these words, based on Mother’s words and the explanation from the Father. What caused Jesus to thirst to the point of dying on the cross, was for us human beings to long to find Jesus, to long to find God. Jesus thirsts for us to love Jesus. Like when a person stranded in a desert thirsts for a single drop of water, “Thirst” is something that is much more intense than seeking, it is an intense desire. Even though humans were originally at One with God when we were born, we have forgotten this. And when we come into contact with something sacred, gradually, we remember our own true nature and begin to seek God. Jesus wants to rouse our desire to love God. To love God and become One with God—that is the only way in which we human beings can become liberated from all suffering. That is why Jesus said, “I THIRST.” He said “I want your love”—all because of us.
Mother said, “Satiating the living Jesus in our midst is the Society’s only purpose for existing.”
There is another phrase that connects to the words of Jesus, “I THIRST”: “You did it to me.” As we go closer to Jesus and feel His thirst, then we have to quench this thirst of Jesus. The only way to satiate the thirst of Jesus, the invisible God, is to labor for the poorest of the poor, the Jesus in disguise. The thirst of the poor dying in the streets, thirsting for people’s love is nothing but the thirst of Jesus longing for our love, and to quench the thirst of the poor is exactly the same as quenching the thirst of Jesus. Faith and action are unified as one, solidly connected, and Mother explains about these words thus:
“[‘I THIRST’ and ‘You did it to me’—] Remember always to connect the two, the means with the Aim. What God has joined together let no one split apart. Do not underestimate our practical means—the work for the poor; no matter how small or humble—that makes our life something beautiful for God.” Taking action built on faith is precisely [what it means] to work for God. However, it seemed very difficult for me to sense the aliveness of the thirst of Jesus in the people in front of me.
The day I arrived in Ishinomaki, the K family, who willingly hosted me, was anticipating our arrival, with all the members of the family preparing dinner together. From the day of our arrival, it was feast after feast, and we ate what they served us until it was as if our stomachs were about to burst. Mr. K said, “While you are here, don’t hesitate, and feel at home as if this is your own home.” Upon hearing this, we started to call Mr. and Mrs. K “Dad” and “Mom.” Mom, from early in the morning on the first day of the exhibit, made many different dishes, and made calls to her friends to invite them—she came daily to the exhibit, always with someone, and always bringing home-made refreshments. Every day, from the moment we left the house in the morning to right before going to bed, there was always some new food being served to us. Dad grilled fish and nori-seaweed, and their daughter Y, made many side dishes and baked cakes. After meals, we always talked for a long time. What I felt as I listened to the K family is that they really wanted to return the favor of the support they had received from people across the country and the world after the disaster, in any way and no matter what. As for the suffering caused by the disaster, I was not able to feel it as my own, no matter how many times we heard about it, since I didn’t experience it firsthand.
I felt from the many people who came to the photo exhibition the desire to return the favor of support they received. Ms. C, who runs an imported goods shop, and whom I had met the first time I came to Ishinomaki, informed her customers about the photo exhibition, so many people came through her. And, some time ago she heard me saying that Mother’s facility uses a Japanese ointment, “Oronine,” and that my acquaintance delivers a box of it there every year, so Ms. C collected many jars of “Oronine” to donate, in collaboration with her customers. “We too want to do something that we can [in order to give back], but didn’t know what to do. So we’re truly happy to find out something we can do”—I heard this many times from Ms. C and her customers.
Mrs. T, who came to the photo exhibition, requested to collect various things needed at Mother’s facility from her daughter’s elementary school and a local junior high school, and their faculty, students and PTA members responded by gathering these items. “We suffered from this disaster, but there are people who have an even more dire need in the world. I believe that it is very important for the children to live life from now on with this understanding,” Mrs. T said. Later, the vice principal of the junior high school also called me to tell me, “It’s a very small thing, but we wanted to do something…”
I was overwhelmed by the passion of the people I met. I was feeling that passion within them coming towards me. They all eagerly expressed to us how much they wanted to be useful for something, as if they would lose something very important if they missed the opportunity of this moment. The suffering of having everything swept away in a tsunami or of having your loved ones and your hometown taken away, no matter how many times I heard about it, I could not really understand it. So I was not able to share in the suffering together with the survivors I met.
However, what I felt in their passion was precisely that, “Thirst.” They were truly thirsty. Their thirst was the thirst of wanting to respond to the genuine concern of others who had helped them when they were in the midst of suffering. I was sensing this so acutely. Yet, I did not know how to respond to them. But I could not help but to think I wanted to respond to them. As for the passion of the K family, I thought that the way to respond to it was just simply to eat regardless, so I kept eating, even while feeling my stomach badly expanding. It may sound like a strange thing to do, but I couldn’t find any other way to respond to their earnest passion but this. Because I just could not respond to their earnest passion by only smiling and saying, “I understand, thank you.” I wanted to demonstrate it through my actions, whatever they may be—this was how I felt.
Regarding the photo exhibition, I have virtually no impressions of it. A local newspaper reporter came and asked me, “What do you want to appeal to most through this photo exhibition?” But, in fact I never thought about what I wanted to appeal to, so I barely managed to thread together some words and mumble an answer. The exhibition was over before I knew it. I was also not really clear what this exhibition brought to the disaster area.
On the day of the return to Kyoto, as Mr. and Mrs. K were sending us off, the words of Sister Christi that I heard in India were revived within me. I was only feeling—Kolkata was here.
The disaster left big scars on people’s minds and hearts. On the very day of the disaster, there were 400 people evacuated to the school gym where I went to provide assistance. Due to the sewer being broken and backed up, toilets could not be used, we all used a drawer from a plastic wardrobe as a toilet. Four hundred people had to share one single shopping basket of pastry rolls. First, the elderly received half a roll, and children received one quarter of a roll from the remaining rolls. No one complained. But in evacuation locations where food supplies were almost not provided, people began to scramble for food, and they all had to live in a very tense, nerve-racking atmosphere. Many people spent sleepless nights, with hearts aching over memories of watching helplessly as people got swept away in the water, or of losing their children yet having survived themselves. Everyone was just struggling and trying to press on.
Two years after the disaster, the victims are finally starting to step forward. There is still no hope. The only thing they have in front of them is a harsh reality. They are in the midst of a situation that they have no choice but to move forward in, while they are each left with large wounds. And, those of us in the periphery are already forgetting the incident as time goes on, nonetheless, they are still feeling ineffable gratitude towards the people who assisted them during the time they were in such agony; and even though they had nowhere to direct this feeling, as there were no opportunities to demonstrate it, they just held onto that obligation—but truth be told, they want to offer it to someone. Their thirst fired me up. Something within me awoke. I realized that it was something that was unreachable no matter how much I looked for it, yet something that I couldn’t help but love so very dearly—it was the seeking that I myself had for that which is Holy—it was none other than my own thirst.
“Ask for the grace, He is longing to give it. Until you can hear Jesus in the silence of your own heart, you will not be able to hear Him saying ‘I THIRST’ in the hearts of the poor. Never give up this intimate contact with Jesus as the real living person—not just the idea.”
“Even when Mother leaves you, Jesus’s thirst will never leave you. Jesus thirsting in the poor you will have with you always.”
The thirst of Jesus—in truth it ought to be felt no matter where I am. Yet right now, I am not able to feel that. Therefore, I want to bring myself to come nearer to it so that I can feel it. And I want to quench that thirst. I sensed that there is an eager desire, like thirst, within me, and so I embarked on a search for the place in which that thirst could be realized.
VI. “A Saint of Darkness”
“If I ever become a Saint—I will surely be one of ‘darkness.’ I will continually be absent from Heaven—to light the light of those in darkness on earth.”
After returning from Ishinomaki, I wanted to think about how to live from now on, at the same time, I wanted to delve into and pursue a very specific thing. It was something that I had heard about in the lecture by the Father in June. It was about what the meaning was of [this internal state] that Mother Teresa continuously experienced, from the time she began to work in the slums until she passed away 50 years later, [referred to by others as] the “Dark Night”—[the state that she herself described as] the internal condition in which she was completely unable to feel the presence of God. I heard in the lecture that there was only one book in English that was written about her darkness, so I immediately bought the book and struggled to read through it using the dictionary. But what was written there in the book were actually all her painful words about this darkness, and upon reading it, I was simply feeling terrified. I felt so disheartened by it, thinking—wasn’t the path of God filled with love and joy? Why does this person walking on the path of God feel so much darkness and pain?—and in the end I had to stop opening the book at all. It was then that I actually left for Ishinomaki, without having understood much about this darkness.
However, I knew that this darkness played a very important role in her life, so it was on my mind when I was in Ishinomaki, that upon returning to Kyoto, I would try more thoroughly to find out about it. So, I decided to attend the lecture that the Father held every Friday night in Kobe [around 45 miles from Kyoto], which was about knowing Christ from the words of Mother. I learned much from this lecture.
The world only came to know about her internal darkness after her death. The letters she confided to the Fathers, who were her spiritual advisors, began to be published in theological magazines in India and the United States; then after that, her letters were collected one after another, compiled into one book and published by a priest of the Missionaries of Charity, and that was the book I bought: Come Be My Light. The only people who knew about her darkness while she was alive were these few priests who had had a deeper connection with her.
In 1946, Mother heard the calling from God in the train, but when she started to frequently confess about it to a Father, suspicions arose concerning the nature of her relationship with him, and half a year later, she was sent to Asansol. However, what awaited her there were dream-like days, with an intense degree of union with God. She wrote about this, “There [in Asansol, as if Our Lord just gave Himself to me—to the full. The sweetness & consolation & union of those six months passed but too soon.” In 1947, when she began her service in the slums of Kolkata, is when the internal darkness of the soul came to her. Mother confessed to a priest in a letter:
“… for there is such terrible darkness within me, as if everything was dead. It has been like this more or less from the time I started ‘the work.’”
“Now Jesus, I go the wrong way. They say people in hell suffer eternal pain because of the loss of God… In my soul I feel just that terrible pain of loss—of God not wanting me—of God not being God—of God not really existing.”
“Because the pain of loss is so great, and my admiration so deep for He who has disappeared, I can only pray to the sacred heart of Jesus, ‘I believe you.’”
“… for within me everything is icy cold—It is only that blind faith that Carries me through for in reality [to me all is darkness].”
After about eleven years passed since her internal darkness began, a big transformation took place in Mother, who was undergoing the suffering of the pain of loss, and of loneliness in deep darkness. A German missionary counselled her that her darkness was in itself the vocation, the spiritual side of her work that God gave to Mother, and through Mother recognizing it, she began to willingly accept the darkness. It is said that then the love that was brimming over came all the more brightly through her presence.
“… For the first time in these 11 years—I have come to love the darkness. —For I believe now that it is a part, a very, very small part of Jesus’ darkness and pain on earth.”
“Today, really I felt a deep joy—that Jesus can’t go anymore through the agony, but that He wants to go through it in me. More than ever I surrender myself to Him. Yes, more than ever I will be at His disposal.”
“The physical situation of my poor left in the streets unwanted, unloved, unclaimed—are the true picture of my own spiritual life, of my love for Jesus, and yet this terrible pain has never made me desire to have it different. —What’s more, I want it to be like this for as long as He wants it.”
Once a Japanese priest asked Sister Nirmala, Mother’s successor and the second Superior General of the Missionaries of Charity, about Mother’s darkness. Sister Nirmala answered:
“Indeed, it is true that I too had no idea that Mother was in the darkness of the soul. It is a very difficult subject. I have been living like this in this Missionary for decades but I never experienced the darkness like Mother did. However, as you said, there is no mistake that Jesus was present in her. It was just that, due to some internal reason, Mother could not feel it. She could not feel the presence of Jesus within her.”
The darkness of Mother—it was unknown even to the confidante who was closest to her. Even though everyone around her all felt the love of Jesus brimming from her—why did she stop feeling it? For Mother, who had no attachments, love of God was everything—why was it taken away from her? Wasn’t a saint supposed to renounce everything material, and believe only in God? I kept thinking about all this every day at all times.
In this state, I had an opportunity to ask Shri Mahayogi about Mother’s darkness during one of the Satsangha. I told Shri Mahayogi that I had been inquiring into what this darkness means, and then, due to the fact that the expression Shri Mahayogi had once used for Mother’s love was the ultimate Love, prema, which had captured my attention, I asked Shri Mahayogi about the state of prema. Shri Mahayogi answered with the words I had heard many times—“it is Pure Love without seeking anything in return.” But, for the first time ever, I thought about what this “in return” could mean. Then I thought that perhaps even the thoughts of “I want to feel the love of God,” or “I want God to love me” can be [about gaining something] in return. Ultimate love is not to love because God loves you, but the loving itself is everything, and loving itself is joy. When I realized this, I was speechless with the true meaning of the word “pure.” After that, using prema as a hint, I began to recognize many things about her darkness.
God suddenly disappeared from within Mother. It was like hell for her. She kept roaming in the darkness, longing for the God that had stopped responding to her no matter how much she kept longing. She must have suffered terribly due to the absence of God, and she must have longed for Him like a madwoman. Yet, longing is much more intense in darkness, than when one is brimming with the feeling of God’s love. Just as we long for God much more when we are in helpless agony than while living a fulfilling life. The more intensified the pain becomes, the more pure the Love becomes. And Mother Teresa—by transcending even the mind that itself can feel love, she became solidly unified as One with God. Once one feels supreme joy in loving, rather than being loved, that love sublimates into its highest purity—thus it can be called prema. And at that moment, one becomes completely at One with God. Previously, Shri Mahayogi said that Mother Teresa played a role like that of a guru (master), but at the same time she was also a practitioner. Her love still needed to be purified into the supremely pure love. At the same time, God chose her as an instrument—for teaching us what it is to love God, and so that those of us who recognize that can follow in her footsteps to live. Mother became a great instrument of God.
“Father, I am not alone. —I have His darkness—I have His pain—I have the terrible longing for God—to love and not to be loved. I know that I have Jesus—in that unbroken union—for my mind is fixed on Him and in Him alone, in my will.”
“If this [suffering] brings you glory, if you get a drop of joy from this [suffering]—if these souls are brought to You—if my suffering satiates Your thirst—here I am Lord, with joy I accept all [suffering] to the end of life—& I will smile at Your hidden face—always.”
Until her last breath, she had Jesus, and she kept loving God with supreme love.
Having gone through my experience in Ishinomaki, I thought that I wanted to dedicate my life for the sake of feeling, and then quenching the thirst of Jesus. And the thirst I felt deep within the victims there felt like something nostalgic, like something I’ve felt somewhere some time ago. I recognized that it was exactly the same as what I was feeling from the patients in the hospital. Within the people who are dying, they were simply hankering for tomorrow to come, yearning to be embraced by a great existence like God if death were to arrive at the next moment, in the patients who find themselves in a hospital room where everyone has already left for the night, they are facing solitude and longing desperately to escape somehow from that pain—I was actually feeling the thirst of Jesus, I thought. I want to live amongst these patients in darkness one more time, longing for God, until I thirst. I overlapped the life of Mother with mine. Then, I began to think about embarking on working at a hospital again.
As I kept researching hospitals to work in, I learned through many news sources about the great shortage of medical personnel in the disaster areas. It was written that in Fukushima prefecture especially the situation was that young nurses or nurses with children had evacuated to outside of the prefecture, so victims could not go back home there even if they wanted to. However, there were patients, especially many elderly patients, who remained. I was reminded of the words of the woman I met in Biei, Hokkaido again and again. I began to consider working at a hospital in Fukushima.
However, there was one and one thing alone that I was concerned about before finalizing my decision. It was my own spirituality. Will I be all right alone, away from my Guru, and not stray away from the spiritual path? Had I not encountered Yoga, perhaps I would have simply moved out of Kyoto much more easily. However, I was not born to become a great nurse, but to become holy. My progress in spirituality is unknown to me. The Guru is the only person in the world who knows this. Yet, as days passed, I came to know that there is no need to hesitate or to have a particular resolution. Because I felt that working in the disaster area is what God was calling me to do, was asking me to do, so it was a very natural thing.
One day after a Satsangha, I had an opportunity to speak to Shri Mahayogi and I told him that I had a desire to work in Fukushima, but was wondering if that would become an interference in my spiritual progress, and if so, then I was willing to give it up. Shri Mahayogi listened while nodding, and said joyfully, “I see. Well then, go ahead. Vivekananda, Ramakrishna, Mother Teresa, they all threw themselves into the midst of those who suffer and served them. That is the meaning of living in Yoga itself. I am very glad to hear it.” Shri Mahayogi’s whole body was gleaming and sparkling, my eyes were taken away by this brilliance and I forgot everything else he told me. I was amazed at how pleased God was with me going to work in Fukushima. And I understood that this path was a reliable path that God was granting me, a path to become holy. That being said, the reality is that that did not completely eliminate my worry. Nonetheless, because I was determined to become holy, I had to embark on taking the first step.
Thus, that is how I ended up working in a hospital in Fukushima, 26 kilometers (16 miles) from the nuclear reactors, in the spring that followed.
(To be continued…)