Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Satsangha, Kyoto, 2013
ITestimonies from Actual Practitioners
• Vivekananda as My Ideal—To Be an Instrument and to Work
March 2020, Kyoto, Japan
• What it Means to “Persist”
by Emiko Mitsui
July 2020, Sapporo, Japan
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Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Translation of Satsangha
The Power of Meditation
that Expands the Experience of the Mind
on a Cosmic Scale
Saturday January 12, 2013, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
This year is the 150th anniversary of the birth of Swami Vivekananda. Auspiciously, the first Satsangha of the year is coinciding with his holy birthday. On this day, Jayadevi opens the Satsangha with some words of appreciation to Shri Mahayogi. She powerfully speaks about our resolution for this year, that the mission for each and every one of us is to manifest Vivekananda’s work more clearly and engrave it into the current era, and that we aim to get closer to his heart, to seriously follow the example of his actions, and to begin to make a revolution within ourselves and within this era.
Towards the end of last year, Shri Mahayogi answered the question, “How do we become one with Vivekananda’s heart?” by saying, “It is by deepening Satori, and to see the world fully—which means to feel it.” This teaching from Shri Mahayogi left a vivid impression in the hearts of the disciples.
Satya: Some time ago, Shri Mahayogi mentioned that we should see the world more—but our individual experiences are very limited, and we can’t really wander around and see it like Vivekananda did. I’d like to know a little more about how to see the world more.
MASTER: Right. Individual experiences are indeed very small and limited. Yet, nowadays you can find out through various sources of information; and also, with regard to knowing [about the world], you have to further proceed to feel people’s suffering, otherwise it’s meaningless just to know without feeling. What is felt, and what kind of impulses arise from the depths of your heart—noticing this is the task that is required.
In order to do so, one must meditate. Meditation has the power to bring about a direct impulse that can match the level of that which is brought about by direct experience, without actually being accompanied by direct experience. So you must not only know, but proceed further to taste and feel, and therefore grasp the experiences in meditation; then you must work to transform your thoughts and actions according to them from that point on. By doing this, you will be able to get a glimpse of the essence of the world and the crucial, universal issues. Direct experiences contain a great power that allows one to feel them straightforwardly in the moment, yet they should not end as temporary experiences; if you have such an experience, then you must further grasp its essence firmly through meditation. That means, in other words, it will become an important factor in transforming the world referred to as the cosmos within one’s own mind, or the cosmos of the mind.
Buddha, Vivekananda, and Ramakrishna too, those who are called Awakened Beings all manifested the quality worthy of being Awakened, one after another. A single individual’s experiences are truly insignificant. However, meditation contains the power that can expand one’s experience to a cosmic scale.
Sanatana: I was discussing with Satya about this transcending of the limitations of the mind. And I think that gratefully being accepted to stay at the Cave in New York, and while spending daily life together with Shri Mahayogi there, one will eventually come to experience being cornered in the limitations of one’s own mind by coming face to face with Truth and non-truth—and it is precisely this that will become truly concentrated tapas (heat), and the discrimination between Truth and non-truth will eventually arise within anyone [in this situation]. Then, we discussed how we might situate ourselves constantly in a place where we can always transcend the conditions of the mind. When we were discussing this, I could not say more than that my feeling was that it may have to do with having a very high ideal.
MASTER: Yes. In order to do that, since what obstructs it is the mind’s habits or one’s own sanskara (latent impressions remaining in the mind), one has to demolish these. If you rely only on your experience, circling around and around in the mind that involves sanskara, the chance of [transcending the mind’s limitations] is scarce; so then, for the purpose of removing that condition, you will need a method that will expand this limited setting into one that is unconditional. That is also an important approach to discrimination, in other words, it will lead to discrimination in and of itself. Then, through that, the shell of the mind will be cracked—this would be the eventual result.
Well, it’s good that all those who stayed with me in New York have come back with decent results. (Master and some attendees laugh.)
Haridas: I perceive, for example, a sense of despair from Vivekananda in regard to the state of India, and from Ramakrishna, a sense of despair when it comes to madly seeking God during a specific period in his life. Yet, I have never felt such despair from Shri Mahayogi, and instead, always feel a sense of lightness and immovability. I think that humans are able to bring their maximum ability when unbound and relaxed, but then I wonder how much passion is necessary. Fervor is important, but we need to be careful that it not turn into needlessly spinning our wheels with excessive exertion. How might we balance this?
MASTER: I am not sure how to analyze it from what you have said, but I think passion is 100%. 100% Passion, that is to say, ekagrata, single pointed concentration! That is a necessity for Yoga. That is all you need for Satori. If you only have that, then the rest—the power to execute the actions—will follow. Then, when in that state, you don’t have to think, “What should I do, how should I do it?”; ekagrata includes ample power to put it into practice with balance. You need nothing but ekagrata, single-pointed concentration—in other words, passion.
You mentioned that you do not perceive a sense of despair from me, however, I already experienced that in my teenage years. During those teenage years, I may say, the years absorbed in meditation, that crazy period that can be viewed from the point of the earthly world, I myself also tasted what Shri Ramakrishna, Buddha and Vivekananda must have felt. (smiling) However, because it was over after my teenage years, none of you here have ever seen it.
Gargi(Mirabai): In order to arrive at that state on the path, is the sense of this despair a necessary part of the process for everyone to go through?
MASTER: This sense, to put it another way, being unable to self-satisfy, is always underlain by some kind of a sense of discontent at its root.
Gargi(Mirabai): As we continue to practice Yoga, we come to feel this sense of contentment gradually filling us up. But Shri Mahayogi is saying that, on the other hand, we are always in a state of discontent, is that correct?
MASTER: (laughing) In a way, this [despair] is something that only those who are the pioneers may feel. That’s why you are all blessed.
Ranjani: So, if we don’t feel dissatisfied or have despair, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we don’t have enough passion?
MASTER: You are all blessed. (laughing)
Ranjani: So does that mean that it is fine to have something that rouses us into a state in which we are not satisfied with ourselves?
MASTER: Right. As I mentioned in the beginning, by looking at the world and feeling it, the various problems, like the contradictions and the dilemma of an ideal world will come to the surface. These will then connect to that sense of discontent or despair.
Sanatana: In Swami Vivekananda, that sense of despair was completely beyond individual emotion, or the impulse that drove him was extremely strong. He had Shri Ramakrishna as the perfect Guru, but even so, he also felt the same things that his Guru felt—how should we interpret this?
MASTER: It shows that Vivekananda was an exceptional existence, that he was truly superb, and that this was also due to Shri Ramakrishna’s inspirational power, which thus proves that Vivekananda was the vessel that was responsive to it. In this sense, it validates, beyond all doubt, that Vivekananda was one of the Seven Rishi (sages),1 as Shri Ramakrishna saw in him.
 There is an anecdote that Shri Ramakrishna shared about a vision he had, when he took on the form of a child and invited one of the Seven Rishi meditating in the celestial world to come down to Earth. This means that Vivekananda was a nitya siddha when he was born, an already perfected being.
Saturday January 19, 2013, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Ms. Morioka: In the book The Life of Swami Vivekananda, he wrote in a letter something like—the peaceful world is like “hot ice” and the idea itself is like an oxymoron. How should we understand this?
MASTER: The view of the Yoga Sutra is thus: even if one person’s Purusha (Pure Consciousness) awakens, the world does not change—because the world is a shared asset with others. That is to say, the “others”—the multitudes of people—have their own delusions and see the world through them. Therefore, since the world is created from these delusions, as a result, the chaotic state of this world will inevitably continue. That is the meaning.
Ms. Morioka: Then I wonder, for what purpose does Satori exist?
MASTER: Even if the world is chaotic, it’s not the world that is struggling. What is struggling, what is suffering, is each and every individual mind. Therefore, what needs to be healed is each and every person. Each and every person must be saved.
Mr. Iio (Gopala): When Swami Vivekananda wandered throughout India before going to the United States, he encountered [the conditions of] the pariahs (untouchables) and must have felt heart-wrenching pain. He also encountered and communicated with maharajas, clerics, those who wanted to reform, and many other various people, and he must have sensed the same despair towards the ignorance of the world. Hearing what Shri Mahayogi said earlier, I thought that Swami Vivekananda probably thought at that time that the ignorance of the world would continue on as well, as it is; yet even so, he still chose the direction of salvation after all. Isn’t that so?
MASTER: Of course, that is so. And the words of Vivekananda that Ms. Morioka paraphrased earlier, that that “hot ice” is impossible—(with emphasis) that is his daring, intentional critique of the utopian ideal that is widespread in the United States and Europe. In this current time, too, this ideology is advocated by various Christian sects, however, its root is derived from the Bible over 2000 years ago. According to a legend in the Old Testament, God told Noah before the destruction of the world to construct an ark and evacuate, and thus the humans and the animals [on the ark] were spared from the world’s destruction and survived. And, the same thing will happen again—the Armageddon will occur, and only the chosen ones will be able to survive after that—customarily, that has been called a Millenarian ideology. It is simply nothing short of a mere “chosen people” ideology—an ideology which is quite like a lump of ignorance—it is immature and childish. It is foolish of many religions, which even now are ruling with a sense of fear over people, and proselytizing by saying that only they can be saved, all the while trying to devour pleasures for their own sake in this life. That is not religion at all, and rather, if I may speak frankly, these are like groups of con artists. They borrow the names of various pre-established religions, such as Christianity or Buddhism or others, and operate within these titles as if they were [authentic]—it is unbearable to look at. (with strong emphasis) That is how the world is!
To sound the alarm towards these [forms of] ignorance, Swami Vivekananda dared to tell us to see the state of the world, and recognize that this is [the nature of] how the world is, even in the past, in the present, and in the future too; nonetheless, the ones who suffer are each and every individual, therefore the suffering of each and every individual has to be healed, and they each need to be saved. See the world, then see oneself without seeing the world—I would infer that that is how Swami Vivekananda made such a great roar of Yoga.
Saturday February 9, 2013, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Sanatana: A while back, Shri Mahayogi mentioned that once one prevails in the battle against one’s own ignorance, then begins the battle with the ignorance of the world, and I think Vivekananda’s battle with the world was truly bigger than the battle with his own ignorance. For us, the battle against our own ignorance is still bigger. I suppose that faith plays the biggest role in this, and perhaps, there is a hint in Vivekananda’s life. What is the most important thing that a Yoga practitioner ought to have at the core—for the future, for myself, as a human being?
MASTER: Well, it is still all about boldly awakening… As mentioned just now, there is no end to digging up and prying into the details of the ignorance and pain-bearing obstacles within oneself. Rather, “to devote yourself wholeheartedly to the teaching—the essence of Truth or true Existence, which is referred to as Atman or God—this itself is the true Self, as well as the Truth of the entire universe”—to boldly awaken to such a determination will be reflected in the extent to which you get into action from then on. If you understand that you yourself are Divine Existence, and that others and the world, everything is That—even if it is an intellectual or emotional understanding!—then you can just leave the details of ignorance and pain-bearing obstacles alone! That is, in other words, faith. Then surely, practice to make that faith more pure, practice to make yourself be unconcerned about whether you’re perfect or imperfect, and simply practice to fill your mind, heart and actions with such things as God, which is the Truth, or with Love, with Compassion. For that, if you have that bold determination, then for the rest, you simply need to deepen your faith more and more. The world, by default, comes with abuses and slanders. Therefore, there is no value in worrying about any of that.
Gurudas: Was Vivekananda able to take such immense actions because of his big faith?
MASTER: Vivekananda had already perfected Yoga. Therefore, it’s nothing like having only faith. Yoga is its synthesis. In the dawn of the perfection of Yoga, everything comes with it—faith, wisdom, and action! That is why, in order to attain the completion of Yoga, in other words, to cultivate faith, then to acquire right Wisdom, which is true Knowledge, and to boldly take action, is to proceed toward the completion of Yoga—and the more deepened these processes become, the greater their strength becomes.
Kinkala: I guess that there are Holy Beings or many people who have attained liberation and relinquished the body rather than maintaining it, and because of that I interpreted that there may be differences to each particular soul’s mission, but is it not so?
MASTER: In a broad sense, yes, but it may easily fall into how the Buddhism of Hinayana [or of the “smaller, lesser vehicle”] approaches arhat (“perfected one” in Buddhism; “one who is worthy” in Sanskrit), taking it as being content with one’s own liberation. And of course, that was also one of the old traditions in India. However, if the world in front of you is expanding, filled with suffering and agony, but you ignore others and think it is fine to seek to attain freedom alone—that is not yet perfected. That is why, or to borrow the words that Vivekananda left, “May I be born again and again, as long as there is a single suffering person in this world, until I save the last person.”1 That was precisely the teaching that Shri Ramakrishna taught to young Narendra, and Vivekananda correctly realized it, lived up to it, and left these thoughts reflecting exactly that before he left the body.
Kinkala: I guess that to realize the true Self means to become Love itself within any circumstance, without any differentiation between oneself and others. Even so, Shri Mahayogi just said “not perfected”—it’s perplexing to me to see why such big differences arise. Is there something unbeknownst to me that causes it?
MASTER: No, it is what I just mentioned and nothing more. It is the fact that your physical body exists in this world, so that also means that there are beings living in relativity; therefore, it’s not a matter of just one person disappearing [due to having attained the goal]. Perhaps it is considered as the liberation of that one individual soul, nonetheless, it is merely self-satisfaction—which sounds a little negative. If you understand the true Self correctly, it is all things, not an individual existence, nor the existence of a body as one single human being.
There is only One true Self, and none other, therefore, as long as [you] exist in this world, it can be concluded that It is all things, the universe, and the world. Because of that, it is imperfect to leave from there at that point. That means it is not perfect yet. The existences called Avatara—Avatara means God itself—are already wholly perfect, so there is no need for them to come to Earth. Then, what is the reason that they come? It is because, just as Krishna mentioned in Bhagavad Gita that “whenever adharma prevails and dharma subsides, I manifest. To destroy the adharma—the lack of virtue, injustice, atheism, delusion—these various errors, and to establish the dharma, which is the right Truth, religion, or virtue.” In a broad sense, all bound souls may be considered to have come to completion upon [attaining] liberation as a goal, however, the true Essence—that which can be called the true Self, Atman, Brahman, God, or Truth—Exists within all things here and now.
 Paraphrase of: “May I be born again and again and suffer a thousand miseries, if only I may worship the only God in whom I believe, the sum total of all souls, and above all, my God the wicked, my God the afflicted, my God the poor of all races.”
Saturday March 2, 2013, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Yogadanda: I feel that when performing actions, I am trying to simply listen to others with sincerity and openness, but at the same time, I feel like my own subjectivity disappears. I would like to ask how I should think about this and work on it.
MASTER: The base has to be nothing but ekagrata, therefore, regardless of whether it is your opinion or others’ opinions, it all boils down to only one point: whether it is in accordance with It, [the object of ekagrata,] or not. As long as that central axis is not skewed, then no matter what others’ opinions are, you do not take them in if they go against ekagrata.
Madhavi: Shri Mahayogi declares that the aim of life is to realize the Truth. In what was just mentioned, where is the single-pointed concentration—ekagrata—directed towards?
MASTER: It is towards perfection as a human being.
Sanatana: Is that about feeling more deeply, or feeling much more closely the emotion or suffering of [others], good and bad, all of it, or love?
MASTER: Those are included. Because, it is about what the basis of the perfection as a human being is—siddha—which is the grand aim of everyone’s lives, which has been set as the most important.
If you look at history, it is very clear at a glance, you can see that the state of Satori is achieved as precisely the most complete form of human perfection.
Sanatana: I think that many people who practice Yoga have a strong sense of wanting to do the right thing and take action towards their beliefs. However, along the way, it may be difficult to keenly distinguish whether that belief is ego or true faith. It’s difficult to see it objectively in ourselves, so we may have to grope for it in the dark through trial and error.
MASTER: Right. When you study scriptures, what do you actually learn? Are you merely learning about philosophy and ideology? Or do you learn about the very way of living from those Holy Beings who left these words? The way of living—does that mean you study about their thoughts, actions and their souls themselves? The purpose of learning scriptures may differ in each individual case. Even then, your study and learning from the great lives of the Holy Beings in the state of Satori, especially Buddha or Shri Ramakrishna or Vivekananda, and then the impulses you feel from their spirits, can become supports and goals for your own actions when you take action. The power to feel the joys and sufferings of all beings, which Sanatana just mentioned, is that too. And also, as a result, you will come to think and act concretely in accordance with your response to these feelings. Whether that task will go well or not is a different matter, because it is about striving through using your will to act better and better.
Sananda: As we continue to practice Yoga, eventually the mind becomes empty and our desires will eventually disappear, and in that kind of empty state, the ekagrata of focusing on the Truth that goes even further is necessary. Is it okay to think that the actions performed in the world, whether it’s a general action or an activity of Yoga, will eventually be performed naturally and spontaneously in ekagrata?
MASTER: Yes, that insight is necessary to begin with. Then, guidance and grace are also indispensable.
Saturday March 9, 2013, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
(Yukti has landed a job in Fukushima, and she will be departing in three weeks. She said that during this week, she has been reflecting on what she has learned in the past 15 years in Kyoto under Shri Mahayogi, and she would like to ask a question related to an answer she received from Shri Mahayogi that struck her.)
Yukti: Ramakrishna told his disciples, “There is a higher state than Nirvana (Enlightenment). You must all go there.” Until that point I thought Nirvana was the highest state, so I asked Shri Mahayogi in that moment, “What is the state higher than Nirvana?” and Shri Mahayogi answered, “That is lila (divine play).” At that time, I only knew that the meaning of the word is “divine play.” Could you please teach me these two points: why is lila a higher state, and if lila is higher than Nirvana, then is it only those who have reached Nirvana that can get to the state of lila?
MASTER: It’s been said that the word Nirvana was used to express the state of Satori that Buddha entered. In Yoga, [it is written] at the very beginning of the Yoga Sutra, “Chitta vritti nirodha,” which is translated as—Yoga is “the restraint of the activity of the mind”—and that condition or state of restraint is called nirodha, which is derived from a similar or perhaps the same root as the word Nirvana, and in Yoga, it is the state that is called Nirodha. This state is likened to the condition in which the flame of a candle has been blown out. The candle here symbolizes…or, the way in which humans are living in this world is symbolically called the flame of a candle. The condition of it is that, so to speak, by one’s own karma (operation of cause and effect of actions), the candle becomes shorter and shorter while burning up one’s karma, and when the old candle is used up a new candle will be provided again, thus repeating throughout reincarnations. However, Nirvana is compared, so to say, to when there is still the form of a candle remaining, but the flame is already blown out, in other words, all karma has been extinguished, and, that is considered to be Satori, the state of having realized the Truth. In Vedanta, It is equivalent to the state of realizing Atman, or knowing God, the union with God.
However, this state is experienced within oneself, therefore, as it is often mentioned in Vedanta, then it will come to be concluded that only Atman is the Truth, and the world is maya—since this world is like a dream, an illusion, the Reality, its Truth is the only thing that must be realized. The realization of this is called Satori; however, that is a matter of one single soul, so to speak, and indeed it is Satori, [and] it is fine to reach on one’s own, yet still, on the other hand, all living things are still moving about in the world. Whether they know it or not, they are living in a suffering that is called “Everything is Suffering” [from one of the first teachings of Buddha]. Regardless of the fact that all of their essence is Atman and God, they themselves don’t know that and are inevitably immersed in suffering. In viewing the state of the world through the eyes of God, then there is only God, so then perhaps regardless of what the face of it looks like, it may be interpreted as something play-like.
Yet, the ones that have attained Nirvana shouldn’t just individually become complacent and take that as their own completion, but rather take this lila as lila, and dive into it once more; then, even if it is lila, the play of God, eradicate the suffering [of living beings], and play amongst an enjoyable world filled with Joy—that is the Truth of God, the Essence.
From that point, he was pointing to a deeper state than jnana (knowledge), called vijnana. Vijnana is a state that is much further than the state of jnana. That is why Shri Ramakrishna often said, “Jnana is boring.” (laughs) Only Atman is the Truth, and the world is maya—indeed, that is so, but it’s not fun at all to just keep stating it. But instead, through vijnana, one sports within that world of lila—and that is vijnana. I conclude that this is how he pointed out a state that is even higher or deeper than jnana. Perhaps that is what I meant by that back then.
Yukti: So, does that mean that in order to arrive at that state, one must pass through Nirvana—unless one passes through Nirvana one cannot go there in the true sense?
MASTER: In the true sense, that is so, however, since you know the right meaning of lila by learning here, you can go straight from the world of jnana to vijnana.
Gargi (Mirabai): What do you mean by, “know the right meaning”?
MASTER: (laughing) It is as it is. I say it every week again and again. Do you want to make me say it even more? (Everyone laughs.)
(After some silence) Sometimes, I say, that in order to actualize Satori, one must stake one’s life on it. Unless you have the determination to exchange it with your life entirely, you cannot realize this great Satori. In other words, that state can be revealed to you only after ultimately transcending death or life itself for the first time. But then what happens if that Satori has not been perfectly realized? Pure faith becomes the bridge connecting the route to Satori. Once faith deepens, it will eventually become pure faith, then a state that is such that it transcends death and life arises. That state is nearest to Satori. That pure faith already dwells in all of your hearts, that is why I say everything is fine.
Sananda: Would you please teach us what pure faith is once again?
MASTER: It is probably best to borrow the words of the ancients, “Better is it to live one day seeing the Supreme Truth, than to live a hundred years without ever seeing the Supreme Truth,”—this is attributed to Buddha. This is one of the quotes that Swami Vivekananda uses from time to time. If you understand this thoroughly and exhaustively, then there is a progression in the purification of faith that comes to appear. If you have been seeking Satori with a considerably great deal of seriousness, diligently and ardently studying, learning and disciplining yourself to practice putting the teaching of Yoga into action, then I am sure that you are able to understand these words very well. That means whether one knows it or not, that individual has sprouted pure faith.
(Each and every word that flows out of the Guru—what do we feel from it, and how might we make it into our impetus for action? Let us expand the vessel of our minds infinitely! Until the impetus can no longer be contained within our chests, and we are compelled to take action! The world in front of us is what we must dive into.)
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Vivekananda as My Ideal—To Be an Instrument and to Work
March 2020, Kyoto, Japan
“I am the machine and He is the Operator.”
These are the words from Vivekananda’s later years. But his direct disciple, Virajananda said, “The only person who can say this is a supreme believer.” I knew about these words of Vivekananda, but I was surprised that these words came from that much of an extraordinary state.
“Machine” refers to a “tool” and the statement means, “I am Ramakrishna’s tool.”
Eleven years ago, when I participated in the Satguru Jayanti for the first time, seeing many senior disciples declare in their congratulatory speech, “I would like to be a tool for the Master,” my mind internally muttered, “A tool… We should see more importance in ourselves than that.” But as I continued to practice Yoga, I myself began to think, “I want to become a tool for my Master.” By making Vivekananda my ideal, and through my Master’s guidance, my mind gradually transformed little by little.
In this article, I’d like to reflect on that transformation, and reconsider again what it means to be a “tool” and to “work.”
“My Brothers and Sisters of America!”
These are the very first words that Vivekananda uttered at the First Parliament of the World’s Religions in 1893, hosted in Chicago. Swami Vivekananda, who was entrusted by his Master Shri Ramakrishna with the restoration of India, his heart being broken with the agony of seeing the miserable plight and condition of India suffering from the abject poverty due to the country’s loss of self-confidence under British rule, had gone to America with the plan of saving it. This salvation did not belong to his motherland of India alone, but was a global undertaking of striving to connect the spirituality of the East with the scientific materialism of the West through Yoga; and in order to fulfill this, he went to the Western world alone. Initially extremely nervous and with the following feeling—A sannyasin whose motto is to live in solitude in the forest, give a lecture in front of an audience of over a thousand people in a foreign land—Vivekananda stood and uttered these words.
When I came across these words, I was impressed by Vivekananda’s courage, action and strength of will. Looking back, it probably felt to me like a teenager being captivated by a rock star. Simply, the shock that I received from Vivekananda at that time was enormous. The Life of Vivekananda became my favorite book, and my object of meditation became Vivekananda. And before I could even notice it, Vivekananda had become my ideal.
Around that time, the calendar turned to the year 2013, which marked the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Vivekananda’s birth, so I decided to visit the headquarters of Ramakrishna Mission, Belur Math in India, for about five days. Before taking the trip, I told my Master about it, and he sent me out with a smile, saying “Meditate a lot there!” During this trip, not only did I get to visit Belur Math, but also Dakshineswar Temple, and the birth homes of Shri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda; during my stay, I spent very fulfilling days, meditating at the Belur Math morning, day and night. However, after I returned to Japan from India and reported about my trip to the Master during the Satsangha, his manner was completely different from how it was before my trip—he was exuding a very stern atmosphere… (Internally I felt, “Well then what was the Master’s smile about, before I left?!”) Towards the end of the Satsangha, the question and answer centered around the topic of Vivekananda, and the Master powerfully expounded upon the central core of a practitioner of Yoga.
“Make yourself be unconcerned about whether you are perfect or imperfect, and simply practice to fill your mind, heart and actions with such things as God, which is the Truth, with Love, with Compassion. For that, if you have bold determination, then for the rest, you simply need to deepen your faith more and more.”
That year, I went to go volunteer in Fukushima, where there was grave devastation from the earthquake and nuclear meltdown. I took action based on what I felt. I helped clear the debris and weeds, and considered moving there too. However, these actions and thoughts were very superficial, not down to earth at all. I felt it myself somewhat faintly while taking various actions, but it became clear after I returned to Kyoto and when I was talking with the other two gurubai, Yukti and Mirabai. Yukti straightforwardly said, “The caretaking work you do as your base here in Kyoto also definitely has a role that itself has been given.” Mirabai, as we were casually conversing and she was reflecting on her life so far, spoke about her own realization, “I thought—‘I have to live my life while keeping my feet firmly grounded on the earth’.”
Perhaps, is it that the work that is invisible yet right in front of your eyes, or ordinary tasks, precisely what is important? These words made me realize that because I dreamt of a heroism like Vivekananda’s, I was actually neglecting the tasks in front of me. I lacked the approach and attitude to thoroughly perform the work of my mundane, worldly job or the work of the Mission.
First, I made a determination to reform my attitude around my work as a caretaker. I firmly bore the words, “Keep making every effort to make the client and their parents feel safe and secure,” in my mind—the attitude for working as a caretaker that the Master had taught me when I first began the job as a caretaker—it’s very basic and ordinary but I made sure that I would be prompt, working quickly, briskly and proactively in response to the client, and taking whatever action to complete any instruction, direction or request I received during the caretaking. This was because I wanted to acquire the lightness of sattva. As I continued practicing this way, a wish sprouted in my mind—that my hands and feet become the hands and feet of the person I serve in the wheelchair.
I also kept in my mind to make every effort to have a conversation with the person I was serving in the wheelchair, keeping them at the center. Because I sensed in myself a tendency to pursue my own opinions and thoughts and I negatively perceived the opinions and hobbies of others. During at-home care, other than during the time of helping with eating and bathing, time was spent listening to music, watching anime or drama, and karaoke; so I participated in watching and listening with the person I was serving, staying right next to him. When I spent many hours together in this way, negative thoughts arose such as, “Why is he watching or listening to these things?” However, this was an important time for the person indeed. So if I am spewing such prana next to him, this itself becomes a toxic air pollution.
“To make the joy of others your own joy.”
Since senior gurubai have taught me about this teaching of our Master, rather than outright rejecting the content of these activities for being against my preference or because it was entertainment, I began to discipline myself to practice making myself get in sync with the other person’s joy.
With the work for the Mission too, I made the determination to do the work given to me, honestly and sincerely, in good faith and with attentiveness and thoroughness. Then, in the midst of practicing these matters consciously, various support roles were assigned to me, naturally. For example, in Jayanti, it would not be the role of a celebratory speaker or an actor for the divine play, but rather, being in charge of setting the lighting and maintaining the switches. Honestly, I had no interest in these roles, but when I began to work on them with the determination of doing my tasks carefully and thoroughly, it strangely became fun—preparing the light and thinking about electrical connections, then attending the project meetings and practicing being involved in the construction of it all. And, making arrangements for the day of the event—timing the switches and the staffing accordingly—so that the event would go smoothly. A few days before Jayanti, it was so incredibly busy that there was hardly any time to sleep. But when I worked in cooperation with the gurubai, a sense of solidarity was born, and I could feel with my own hands the joy of team play and completing the tasks together. A senior disciple saw me in such a state and spoke to me, “You feel alive for real, don’t you?” Of course, my answer was “Yes!”
In addition, I had not been able to write for the blog or articles for Paramahamsa,1 which I had been asked to participate in. I had kept thinking deeply within my mind how to break through this situation of mine. I was struggling day after day, brooding over this issue, but by going through these processes, my attitude about that gradually shifted to, “If I get asked to write a post next time, I will absolutely complete it!”
Well, I wrote a lot about my own work, but simply put, it is all about “doing the task that I can do to the fullest, making every possible effort.”
This is something that I’ve heard from the Master dozens of times during the Satsangha, however, as I began to engage in actually disciplining myself to practice it, I sensed the profoundness in the Master’s simple words.
After disciplining myself this way for some years though, gradually I began to be able to do things I wasn’t able to do before or was not good at doing. However, it was about nothing more than correcting my own actions. Actually, I came to realize that three years ago, when I was gratefully spending one month living with the Master in New York. The Master observed my daily conduct and said thus: “There are too many unnecessary thoughts,” and “Though it is the same with work, with regard to serving the Guru, you must feel what the Guru wants in advance, and act upon it.” The situation at the Cave, where Shri Mahayogi stays, was nothing different, but for example, during my work of caretaking, I would routinely make myself clean every time I would go to work or take care of my client. Cleaning is an obvious task for a helper who is caretaking, and I believed that it was a task that was of the quality of sattva, and good conduct. However, I realized that, for a specific person in a wheelchair that I had been serving, cleaning was not what he was seeking from me. What he wanted was to chat with me about mundane things and enjoy various entertainment together with me. I noticed this only after returning from New York, through the process of starting to increase the time I would spend together with him, while minimizing the time I spent on cleaning.
I realized that sattva was not simply about moving promptly and proactively, it was about eliminating unnecessary thoughts and making the mind light and transparent. Unless I am to acquire this, I cannot sense the true intention of the Guru or respond to it. That means I cannot become a real and true tool, the hands or feet of the Guru.
From then on, I began to think about how to become a real and true tool, and I meditated on that. The answer I concluded was, “I myself have to realize Atman.” Unless I eliminate my own mind’s thoughts, and realize Atman myself, I cannot be One with others, in the truest sense. To realize Atman, Satori is what the Master wants from us, and that is the most important thing in work as well—I thought.
Sometime later, I had the opportunity to ask the Master about how I should work on becoming One with the Atman of others while working. He said the following:
“Tune yourself to others. Then you can become One with Atman.”
Realizing Atman myself is very important. However, while working, it meant “synchronizing with the thoughts of others.” As I practiced disciplining myself in this teaching, it felt to me that I returned to the teaching, “Make the joy of other’s your own joy.” It made me realize that what it means comes down to how thoroughly, yet naturally, I can perform this teaching. There you go again, I was made to recognize the profoundness in the Master’s simple words.
As I mentioned in the very beginning, when I visited Belur Math for the 150th anniversary of Vivekananda’s birth, I meditated a lot every day. At that time, the object of my meditation was Vivekananda, however, when I closed my eyes to meditate, curiously only Ramakrishna’s form appeared. It continued for five days.
“Vivekananda’s heart is filled only with Shri Ramakrishna!”—I could not help but think so.
Vivekananda, in order to fulfill the role he was given from his Master, pondered, meditated upon it and took action. That means he was synchronizing himself with the true intention of the Master, and he worked through becoming One with it.
Seven years after visiting Belur Math, I now feel that the true Work, the supreme tool, is to truly understand the teachings of the Master in the truest sense, and practice them in action. I myself strongly want to practice synchronizing with others and with the Master, tirelessly, in order to become like Vivekananda—I intensely yearn for this!!!
Last but not least, I confessed that I was shaken by the gap between the fact of how the Master sent me out with a smile and said, “Meditate a lot!!!” before I went to Belur Math, and the stern demeanor he had when I returned from India, which made me feel, “What was that smile about?!”—but nowadays, indeed, I am humbly and extremely grateful.
 A bimonthly publication by Mahayogi Mission Japan for its members.
What it Means to “Persist”
by Emiko Mitsui
July 2020, Sapporo, Japan
Last summer, I traveled to Nagasaki and the Amakusa region. Ever since I read Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence,1 I was deeply moved by it and always wanted to visit the region.
Nagasaki, which flourished from being one of the only ports open to Portuguese and Spanish traders [from 1543 to the early 16th century] (Nanban Trade Port), was the place that came to blossom with a glorious Christian culture. However, because the Sakoku policy (an isolationist foreign policy)2 was enacted, a policy that forbade Christianity also came to be enacted sometime afterwards, and for over 250 years those who became Christians lived as Buddhists on the surface while internally practicing their faith as covert Christians, secretly passing down the faith to their descendants. Nagasaki and the Amakusa region was the center of missionary activities, and there are many churches, which can be viewed as the symbols of their faith and footprints that have been left in many places in the region by those who refused to give up their beliefs despite severe oppression.
There were martyrs who refused to step on the image of Christ [when asked to do so as a test] and carried out their faith regardless—they did not break away from their faith, even after cruel torture or threat of execution. I learned that there was a boy of only twelve years old who sternly refused to abandon his faith when he was asked to do so, saying, “I cannot exchange my eternal life for my short life in this world.”
On the other hand, there were those who could not withstand the physical terror and stepped on the image of Christ, having no choice but to live as a covert Christian afterwards. They escaped from physical torture and were able to live longer—what distress and pangs of guilt they must have endured.
If I was born during that era,
would I have been able to endure unbearable torture in order to uphold my faith?
No, I can’t. It’s impossible.
But then, can I step on the beautiful face of the one I believe in?
No, I can’t do that either.
While repeating these unanswerable questions in my mind, I walked around visiting the churches decorated with majestic stained-glass windows, and I began to recall the days my daughter was severely sick and hospitalized. I am not a Christian, but I kept stopping by a church on the way back from the hospital and seriously praying to God for her recovery.
However, I felt that my prayers did not seem to reach God. I wondered how to make prayer be answered.
I first met Shri Mahayogi about two years after that time. As I began to learn Yoga under Shri Mahayogi, I, who had only known about praying until then, began to learn about meditation, the method through which one can find God and then be able to become One with God.
I asked Shri Mahayogi during a Satsangha:
“I think it was also the case with Mother Teresa, a devotee of Christianity, that she practiced the act of praying to God with deep faith in her daily life. Saints in India tell us about the importance of meditation. Is there a difference between the act of praying to God, and meditation?”
Shri Mahayogi answered the following:
“There is a slight difference. In prayer, you see there is always a picture of a praying person and a being that is being offered a prayer, that is, God. In meditation, in the beginning, you picture similarly the same composition of a meditator and the object of meditation, God; however, as you deepen meditation, these dual parts become one. In prayer, this dual relationship continues without end—that is the difference from meditation.”
“In order to know God, it is required to become One with God. Then, everything about God is revealed, or in another way, meditation is nothing like that of knowledge or a technique, but rather, the existence of God itself, which is a mystery, will be sensed. What you will come to know is not only that which is within this tiny realm—the heart—inside the chest, but truly, it’s as if the heart jumps into the entire universe, and the mind expands—maybe it’s a bit of an exaggeration to say ‘the full picture of God,’ but you will come to sense everything in relation to God. Anyway, think about God, get at the truth of God, and become One.”
God exists not somewhere far, far away, but within me—I said to myself.
There was no distance between God and myself.
I found out that the gurubai in Kyoto began a study group called “Siddha Marga (Path to the Completed One)” in order to proceed on the path to becoming a perfected being, and that they were working on an assignment given by Shri Mahayogi, which was to “meditate on an ideal saint.” I thought to myself that Shri Mahayogi never says, “See only me, or believe only in my teachings.” I could not participate in Siddha Marga since I live far away, but I thought that I should try to work on the assignment, since it was given by Shri Mahayogi, so I picked Paramahamsa Yogananda, my favorite saint, without hesitation.
“God made Jesus Christ an Oriental in order to bring East and West together. Christ came to awaken the divine consciousness of brotherhood in the East and West. It is true that Christ lived in India during most of the eighteen unaccounted-for years of his life, studying with India’s great masters. That doesn’t take away from his divinity or uniqueness; it shows the unity and brotherhood of all great saints and avatar.
Someday you will have to leave the body. No matter how powerful you are, the body will eventually have to be buried beneath the sod. There is no time to be wasted. The Yoga method taught by my beloved Christ and my beloved do destroy ignorance and suffering, by enabling man to attain his own Self-realization and union with God.”
—from Paramahamsa Yogananda’s lectures in Man’s Eternal Quest
I thought—So Jesus Christ also learned Yoga….
My faith towards Yoga became unshakeable.
Within a few years since I began to learn Yoga, my mother-in-law passed away, then my father-in-law, then my mother, and then my father, who loved all his children and was very kind-natured, passed away too. Goodbyes are inevitable. Even though many people experience it, having your parents pass away is a truly lonesome feeling. On the night before his passing, my father grasped my hand with his left hand and my sister’s hand with his right, with all his remaining strength, and with a very faint voice, said “Thank you,” then, fell into deep slumber—the next morning, he quietly passed away. I was able to tell him, “I was glad to be born as your daughter—thank you for being so tender to me,” before he lost consciousness, but I was not the most filially pious or devoted daughter, because I always made him worry about me.
Shri Mahayogi’s words touched my aching heart.
“Ever since childhood, perhaps I might not really have been the child that my parents expected me to be, however, at one point, suddenly a thought arose in me—what is the ultimate way of filial piety?—and I thought about it. Perhaps, following everything your parents say might be one way. Not causing trouble in the world or becoming successful, might be another way. However, I didn’t take notice of any of these, but the ultimate way to demonstrate filial piety must be to realize Satori—I had no doubt about it. Because of that, no matter how much my parents lectured me, or how I wasn’t the way they expected me to be, it didn’t bother me. Not only for parents, but the ultimate gift for others must be to realize Satori—this is my belief. Therefore, I believe that you can say the same for your spouses or your children.”
I aspire to practice the ultimate way of filial piety toward my parents.
On September 6, 2018, at dawn, a little after 3AM, I jumped out of sleep from a strong shaking I had never experienced before. Immediately after the earthquake, the street lights went dark and I knew we had a blackout. My husband drove to his workplace right away, due to the role he has there. Early in the morning, I rode my bicycle to the train station in order to get to the hospital where my father was hospitalized. Traffic lights were not working, there was a long line of cars at the gas station, and people were lined up in front of the convenience stores. When I arrived at the station, the trains, buses, and subways were all stopped. Some areas seemed to experience water main outages as well; as I gave a bottle of water that I had put in my bag to a woman who was in trouble and not able to find any water to purchase, she was overjoyed. I went home thinking, “We must feel contentment, for at least we have water. I’m sure we’ll figure something out about food.” The house, without the sounds of electric goods was so intensely quiet. When the night came, both house and streetlights were off, all around was pitch black. Only the stars were sparkling.
In a dark room, I applied all my energy to practice asana alone in the silence. After practicing asana, I sat down to meditate as I always do. As I continued to concentrate, a high-pitched, pleasant sound like the reverberation of a bell, resonated within me internally, and an infinite universe expanded. The world without any worries. The chaos outside was as if it was all a lie.
Deep within the silence, I spoke to God with the voice of my heart.
I continued to listen very carefully for the voice of God, single-mindedly and earnestly.
Entering deeper and deeper, seeking the presence of God.
It hasn’t even been two years since then, but now in 2020, an unknown virus is rampant throughout and the world has fallen into chaos. I feel the preciousness of being able to freely go where we want to go, and meet whomever we want, hit home with me. At times I become anxious because of an ambiguous future of eradication of this virus, yet what is important is to continue walking forward on the path of Yoga, no matter what the situation is. Whether it rains or whether the wind blows, whether it was a down day or an up day, day after day, simply, calmly and unaffectedly, until the day I reach the true Self.
 Endo is a famous Japanese author, who wrote from the rare perspective of being a Japanese Roman Catholic. There are a few movies that have been made of his novel called Silence.
 This isolationist foreign policy was imposed and enforced by the Tokugawa shogunate in order to remove the colonial and religious influence of primarily Spain and Portugal. It seems that this came about because the Tokugawa shogunate feared the possible threat to stability coming from the rise of Christianity, which had originated with the traders and was strongly associated with these two colonial powers. All contact with the outside world became strictly regulated by the shogunate, or by those assigned to the task, though Dutch traders were permitted to continue commerce in Japan only by agreeing not to engage in missionary activities. This policy lasted until 1854.