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Vol. 73

Teachings of Shri Mahayogi

Satsangha, Kyoto

The Manifestation of the Awakened Ones and Their Mission
—The actions that must be taken can be learned from their great feats

Vivekananda Understood the Incomparable Existence of Buddha

The Actualization of the Universality of Yoga

The Mission of Shri Ramakrishna and
His Beloved Disciple Vivekananda

The Essence of Religion

The Sacred Sound of Om

Training the Mind

Actual Practice

Live Based on the True Ideal

What One is Challenged with in Life, Whether the Winner or Not

Hitting the Bullseye of the Real Ideal

The Actualization of the Ideal

Resolve

 

Testimonies from Actual Practitioners

Living in Yoga: The Single-Pointed Concentration of a Yogi
by Satya
May 2014, Kyoto, Japan

* * * * * * * * * *

Teachings of Shri Mahayogi

Translation of Satsangha

The Manifestation of the Awakened Ones
and Their Mission

—The actions that must be taken can be learned from their great feats

 

Vivekananda Understood the Incomparable Existence of Buddha

October 5, 2002, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto

Sanatana: Shri Mahayogi has said before that there was no one who understood Buddha better than Vivekananda. That means, Shri Mahayogi understood both Buddha and Vivekananda, who understood Buddha. May I ask, in what sense did Vivekananda understand Buddha, and how did Vivekananda see Buddha?

MASTER: Simply stated, Buddha was the being at the highest pinnacle of perfection, who realized the Eternal Truth, which had been pursued for over a thousand years before him. There aren’t many beings that have realized the [level of] Satori that matches the level of Buddha. There might have been many holy beings in the state of Satori, however, the level of Buddha is unprecedented. You don’t find that, even amongst the disciples of Buddha, for over two thousand years afterwards either. Also, in other realms, that is to say, in the area of Hinduism, it’s also difficult to find such great figures. Awakened Ones or Holy Beings always appear for the world, however, their works can often depend upon the era and the situation in which they appear. Yet, the appearance of Buddha, or the existence of Buddha, was the indisputable embodiment of the Truth that so many practitioners and seekers had sought prior to then, even staking their lives on it. The life of Buddha after he Awakened into Satori was dedicated solely to bestowing that upon the masses and saving them from suffering.

Afterwards, for over two thousand and a few hundred years, many seekers and practitioners have sought the Truth and devoted themselves to spiritual practice and disciplines, including Yoga and various paths, however, it seems that there have been periods when their respective teachings, namely Hinduism and Buddhism, became more and more antagonistic towards one another, or various religions like Islam and Christianity, which joined the fray later on, tried to outdo one another, simply because each tried to assert itself. However, it was known before Buddha’s time that the Truth is One, and Buddha validated that. Finally, after two thousand and a few hundred years passed, Shri Ramakrishna reached the same pinnacle and clearly declared that the Truth of all religions is one and the same, however, the paths for reaching It are various.

When I went to India, there was one thing that I thought was strange. It was that Buddha and Buddhism had been forgotten there. Truly strange. Considering the historical context, it is said that during the Middle Ages, Buddhism and its forms disappeared, and the teachings traveled across China and Southeast Asia, even reaching Japan eventually. Therefore, it is very rare to see Buddhism within India.

Ramakrishna didn’t particularly mention Buddha, however, there is an anecdote. During his lifetime, Narendra, who later became his disciple Vivekananda, told his Guru, Ramakrishna, that he went as far as Tibet or Nepal on a pilgrimage and he was deeply moved by seeing the footprints of Buddha, the great Awakened Being from the past. Then, Ramakrishna asked him, “Did he look like this? Did his face look like this?” and Narendra answered, “Exactly as you have described”; so, needless to say, it seems that Ramakrishna seems to have known about Buddha.

Narendra, the beloved disciple of Ramakrishna, as you all know well, not only perfected Yoga, but also realized the one Truth in all religions. And, boldly, he declared this at the center of a Christian world. I assume that at that time, what was recurring in his heart was not the kind of holy being that remains within the confines of a small area—their own realization or teachings—but rather, Buddha, who gave himself fully to the entire universe and all things.

Often, Hinduism was criticized due to the tendency of dwelling too much on one’s own Satori or one’s own liberation, not caring about others. No matter how much you expound upon a complex philosophy, it is not salvation if it is within the realm of one’s own satisfaction. What India hopes for, nay, what the world hopes for is salvation. It is Liberation and Salvation. The one who accomplished that was Buddha himself. That means dedicating all of oneself to others. Of course, since it is based on the Truth, there is nothing feeble about it, but it is that which is most powerful, most indestructible. That is why infinite compassion and infinite love gushed out from it.

When you look across the horizon of India, you can see the emergence of the great existence of Buddha, then Ramakrishna and Vivekananda following. Of course, even Vivekananda himself often spoke about the greatness of Buddha to the people of the world. Although the way he expressed it may have been different…yet I presume that he must have awakened into the truth of Buddha and into all and everything of Buddha, which is Satori, and the mercy of Buddha, or Compassion. Through understanding it this way, I concluded that Vivekananda is the one who understands Buddha most correctly and closely after two thousand and some few hundred years later.

The Actualization of the Universality of Yoga

  February 18, 2012, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto

Sananda: Shri Mahayogi, a while back you mentioned that whether it be that of Buddha or of Shri Ramakrishna, Satori is the same for all the Awakened Ones, yet depending on when and where they were born, their work varies, and the appearances of their Satori will differ based on that—this left a deep impression on me. I thought that perhaps it is the same with us. Even though we are all in this current situation due to our respective karma (cause and effect of action), by each of us encountering Yoga in this life, we are all here to prove that Satori can be realized within our various life situations.

MASTER: Indeed, that is exactly so. It says in the bible, “Put new wine into new bottles”—these are the words of Jesus Christ that are recorded there. Back in those days, they used wineskins because there were no glass bottles; so, by putting new wine harvested after a lot of waiting and hard work into old wineskins, the old aroma and impurities could  mix in with the new wine, or perhaps the old leather bag could have weakened and burst as well. Either way, the efforts put in all the way up until the production of the new wine would all be wasted. That is why when new wine is produced, you must put it into new bottles. These words imply that even if it is the Truth, the Truth must be received according to what’s appropriate for the era, location and situation—that is the meaning of these words—in other words, we must renew the receiving vessel.

Sananda: The fact that Shri Mahayogi attained the realization of the four paths of Yoga that have been passed down from ancient times—is this because even though you had already mastered it through directly experiencing the ancient [forms of] Yoga, it was meant for you to bring about a new form of Yoga—or I should say, the Yoga that is in its original essence—for this age and for the future?

MASTER: That is so.

Sananda: Shri Mahayogi has mentioned that Vivekananda consolidated the ancient [forms of] Yoga and introduced them to the world; however, they have not taken root in the world yet. I feel strongly that in order for them to take root, rather than taking an ancient form like that of a swami order (renunciate monks), if we, each one of us who lives in this modern age, strive to validate Yoga, that in turn would mean the continuation of the work of Vivekananda, and that would be the true actualization of the universality of Yoga.

MASTER: That is exactly so. In the case of the renunciates of ancient times, practicing disciplines while remaining single throughout their entire lives and staying in an environment that was completely apart from the complexities of life was considered to be the authentic path; however, in the modern age, it is very difficult to attain that kind of an environment. Even in India it seems to be difficult. The world is becoming more urbanized throughout, or rather that is to say that societies have become organized, creating situations where each person must make a living within the society; and even the institution of marriage and other lifestyle customs have indeed changed since ancient times.

Also, as it is said that one can realize Yoga without being affected by conditions such as whether one is single or married—the mission given to all of you is to put that into practice and prove it. If not, it cannot be transmitted to many people in the future. Because the truth is that people [in the future] would not be able to say, “No, [they are different,] they were special,” or “their environment was conducive [to practicing Yoga]”; that also means conversely that we cannot look at the ancient Yogi, Buddha, practitioners and Awakened Ones, and say, “Well, it was because the ancient era was good for that.” These are only excuses and rationalizations to run away. The Truth is unchanging, and definitely the Truth always prevails in all situations; it is crucial to prove that in whatever age and era one may be living. Each and every one of you, right now, have that responsibility. Because I came to be awakened to these things even at the age of a junior high school and high school student, it can be concluded that even children can realize Satori. (everyone laughs) Because It is already within everyone, it must be unequivocally so.

The Mission of Shri Ramakrishna and
His Beloved Disciple Vivekananda

          January 26, 2008, Mahayogi  Ashrama, Kyoto

Jayadevi: I am strongly drawn to and moved by the love of Shri Ramkrishna that compelled Vivekananda to accomplish great feats, and the relationship between them that was bound and sealed with love. Shri Mahayogi once mentioned that Shri Ramakrishna was a being who was indisputably an incarnation of God, and Vivekananda embodied the highest ideal of a human being—I would like to know about the difference between the way in which they appeared and their missions.

MASTER: These words, “Shri Ramakrishna is the incarnation of God himself, and Swami Vivekananda embodied the highest ideal of a human being,” were said by one of the direct disciples of Shri Ramakrishna in later years.1 I shared this simply because I recalled it. And I also agree with it.

The writer Romain Rolland who wrote their biographies, likened one to Jesus and the other to Paul, however, that’s probably merely a Christian way of looking at it. If you look at it from the view of India, Shri Ramakrishna was Atman (the true Self) or Purusha (Pure Consciousness) itself, and Swami Vivekananda had the power of Atman, shakti or maya—this maya being meant in a positive sense, that is in other words, shakti—performing the role of prakriti. In short, Shri Ramakrishna did not have the physical strength and time to perform all that we can see in the activities that Vivekananda performed later on—because he was too pure. Vivekananda took on the role of being responsible for the work towards the world. Just as shakti can only become activated because of Atman, it can be viewed that the two are One. Because Shri Ramakrishna was so pure, so is his work, indeed he worked to an extent that his accomplishments are comparable to none. Exactly as Brahman, Atman, whatever it was called, that True Existence, went all across the world; thus were planted Eternal seeds. (silence ensues) Alas…he was precisely Brahman itself, there’s no other way to describe it.                              

February 14, 2009, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto

Jayadevi: I read the book, Letters of Vivekananda, that has recorded various private correspondences and inner struggles of Vivekananda. The content is a collection of letters that address his brother disciples and the disciples of Vivekananda, in which he pours his fervor into an enormous amount of writings to encourage them. His struggles are not due to his personal suffering—and this urges me to want to know what was happening inside of him. What does Shri Mahayogi think was Vivekananda’s biggest struggle or suffering?

MASTER: (after some silence) The biggest is that this task is very tough.

I recall the words with which he expressed his true feeling later on, “People call me a great soul and praise me for having done a great feat. After all, I am only the boy who used to listen with rapt wonderment to the wonderful words of my Guru, Ramakrishna, at his feet under the banyan tree, listening to the sweet teachings of the Master.”2 These seem to be the words that he said later in his life, his heart, no matter how intensely dynamically he was working within the world, was always in the bosom of Shri Ramakrishna, in other words, he was being One with God. He must have been nostalgic for it.

It seems that it was a fact that at times his work did not go as he intended in America and Europe. For example, at first, things might have gone well, however, after a few months, a few years, the minds of people can change. Of course, Yoga is not something you can accomplish overnight, and it is work that requires perseverance, as you will have to continue taking action over the course of lifetimes. Though he understood that, it appeared as though from time to time there was a struggle with the difficulty of this great work, yet at the same time, his hope and blessings were mixed in with it. There are many letters in which he expresses himself very simply and straightforwardly.

 

Gargi (Mirabai): In re-reading Vivekananda: A Biography, I again felt that he was acting in Oneness with the Guru. I felt that when one takes an action, the state of the person has a big impact on the outcome. Can Shri Mahayogi give us a point of advice (bursts of laughter from all) on how someone who has not yet completely realized Satori can take action?

MASTER: First and foremost, it all comes down to internal fulfillment. Through this fulfillment, external actions—the movement of the hands, feet, mouth, etc.—will be propelled—such fulfillment gives that much impulse. That is the sense of Unity with the Truth, or God [on one hand], and I should say, it is the establishment of an ideal within this world full of contradictions on the other hand, and indeed that is precisely what it has boiled down to in the actions done by Shri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda. Therefore, you must learn from their examples and follow that.

Yohei (Gopala): What should we practice to become one with the heart of Vivekananda?

MASTER: Deepen your Satori. And one more thing—see the world carefully.

Yohei (Gopala): Does that mean to observe the world?

MASTER: Not only observation, but it means to feel it.

Yohei (Gopala): If the withdrawal of the senses comes to be performed, conversely and simultaneously, will we be able to feel these things more?

MASTER: It’s not about sensing things externally. Rather, it is to feel the pain and trouble much deeper within the mind—it is about feeling what is invisible. In order to feel it in a true sense, unless you assimilate with it or become one with it, it is impossible.

Sarani: Is to feel the heart of people something different than thinking from the other person’s shoes?

MASTER: That too can be included, yet by making it a little bigger, and expanding on it through the condition of time and space into a more universal sense—well even though the world is limited by these—you will be able to find an ideal that never changes, and in that there is a catalyst for compassionate actions to be born.

 

Kinkara: A while back, Shri Mahayogi listed the most pertinent aspects about Vivekananda’s life that we must learn from and follow and honor. I then thought about how we, as inhabitants of the modern world, should behave and act.

In a Satsangha over ten years ago, Shri Mahayogi spoke thus:

 “There are three things that left a deep impression in me about his life. One is the feeling in his heart right before he left for America. His heart burst to shreds as he saw and felt the suffering of the people [in India], and he set out on a journey by boldly saying, ‘I will never return to India until the world follows me.’ The second is when he was in a state where it was as if the burning in his soul became unbearable, so much so that it could no longer be contained in his little body—because he took in the pain and suffering of others so much so that he felt as if his body had burst. The third, I think it was expressed in the words that he said in the later part of his life, ‘I may have accomplished something big in the world, after all. [But] I am only the boy who used to listen falling on my knees with rapt wonderment, to the wonderful words of my master’—that pure heart. These truths of his bare feeling, leaking out of him in these three instances have left the deepest impressions. If we start listing all the great words he spoke and actions he took, it will be endless, and they’re all remarkable. However, especially with these three, I sense that because these three underlie everything as the base, his other works were accomplished.”

Kinkara: Anecdotes exist of Vivekananda strongly fighting and resisting incidences that blasphemed the Truth—was that a result of the background of India being under the oppression of Britain and losing self-confidence due to deprivation?”

MASTER: Being in Satori is nothing like being delicate or feeble; it is rather the opposite, extreme fortitude, fearlessness—as the word suggests, there is an absence of fear. No matter what demons or anything that may come, you are not even afraid—that is the fortitude that comes with it.

With that said, throughout the tradition of India which spans some millennia, Satori was rather hermetic, and [aiming for] individual liberation was the mainstream. However, where in Buddhism individual liberation was at one time looked upon as mere self-satisfaction, they then began to shift their focus onto the reformation of society through compassion, then, rather than reformation, they began to direct their focus on helping those who suffer—salvation; and this led to the concept of the path of the bodhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism. Whereas in India, unfortunately, that part was lacking or was weak. It was not that it did not exist, yet it was a very small part, and unless that tendency was broken through, India would have perished; or not only India, but the whole world would have been ruled over by the devil. The devil, or rather to say, adharma, or unlawfulness, unvirtuousness would prevail as a result. Therefore, one must be courageous and rise up. I see that Vivekananda had a role to sound the call to the world by rousing himself as its pioneering leader.

Indeed, the fact that he was able to take such action makes him an extremely rare existence looking back in history. And that is why the world only later came to know how great the mission of Shri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda was. Therefore, I demand such fortitude, such bold actions from all of you too. The various activities that you all are involved in now are filled with originality, and I think that they’re becoming more pure and more powerful, and I believe that you should keep expanding on these activities more and more. There is nothing to fear. Because you are fearless.

[1] Paraphrase from Swami Turiyananda Life and Teachings: When some young monks were gathered around Turiyananda, he told them: “Once Swamiji said: ‘You should first understand me, then you should try to understand him [the Master].’” One young man asked Turiyananda, “Maharaj, why can’t we understand Shri Ramakrishna without first understanding Swami Vivekananda?” Turiyananda replied, “Listen. Even though he may not have been God incarnate, yet Swamiji was a perfect man. How can we hope to understand a divine incarnation without first learning something of the nature of a perfect man? This is why Swamiji meant when he said: ‘First know me; then you will understand the Master.’”

[2] Shri Mahayogi paraphrased the letter that Swami Vivekananda wrote to Miss MacLeod, April 18, 1900: “After all I am only the boy who used to listen with rapt wonderment to the wonderful words of Ramakrishna under the banyan at Dakshineswar. That is my true nature; works and activities, doing good and so forth are all superimpositions. Now I again hear his voice, the same old voice thrilling my soul. Bonds are breaking—love dying, work becoming tasteless—the glamour is off life. Only the voice of the Master calling—‘I come, Lord,  I come.’ ‘Let the dead bury the dead, follow thou Me’—‘I come, my beloved Lord, I come.’”   ‑from Vivekananda: A Biography:

The Essence of Religion

November 16, 2013, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto

Today, there are many disciples in attendance including Anandamali from New York, Yukti from Fukushima, Ms. Mitsui from Sapporo, and participants from the “Anyone Can Practice Yoga” workshop. As soon as Shri Mahayogi is seated, he asks Yukti about Fukushima. Yukti answers in an energetic voice, “The locals are very concerned about the large amount of contaminated water that has been leaked. However, I am enjoying working there.” Everyone is relieved to hear it.

Yukti: Until recently, although I struggled to sympathize with the Christian interpretations of [the teachings of Jesus], even though I intellectually understood them, I became clear and felt relieved to hear Shri Mahayogi’s answer when I asked about not understanding why Jesus shouted to God at the end of his life, “why have you forsaken me?”—Shri Mahayogi taught me, “Jesus left a message about the ignorance of humanity.” Then I deeply sensed how much Jesus loved humanity, and how much we have wasted the blood he shed on top of the cross, and I felt closer to Jesus. At the same time, I felt the love that is in the fact that Shri Mahayogi has graciously been born for the sake of our ignorance, and it made me cry under the covers while I was in bed. But if I think about it, Mother Teresa had that much faith towards Jesus through the teachings of Christianity, but [in my case], I felt that it was not through the teachings of Christianity, but through the words of Shri Mahayogi, through the teachings of Yoga, that I came to understand Jesus and began to sense him. Now, when I thought about why it happened this way for me, I recalled the words of Shri Ramakrishna, “As many faiths, so many paths.” Does that indicate the differences between religions, or does it indicate that there are individual paths to walk on, or the way individuals think about God or the way to walk towards God? I would like to know the true meaning of Shri Ramakrishna’s words.

MASTER: The true meaning is the latter one. When you refer to the word “religion” it very often indicates an ambiguous, intangible whole, for example, Christianity and Christians or Buddhism and Buddhists; however, you can’t see the essence within them. Each respective religion has a collection of humans, [various] individuals within it. Then, whether a person belongs to a particular religion or not, if you look at an individual as one human being, the faith of each individual human should be respected. “As many faiths, so many paths,” comes from that view. Therefore, I infer that is why Shri Ramakrishna spoke such a teaching to each person.

Yukti: How does each respective person’s path come to be determined?

MASTER: Well, there is a word “en,” [which is a Japanese word for a connection due to karma]; it’s basically timing. Looking at it from the perspective of Yoga, there is a reason why one is born; one is born due to karma (cause and effect of actions). In karma, there is good karma and bad karma that are intermingled; and one is born in order to spend this lifetime bringing them to fruition. If one has good karma, then one advances towards dissolving karma rapidly, and this further brings one to connect with the aim of liberation—bringing one to study the Truth. To have all these timings coincide is customarily called “en.”

For example, plum or cherry trees have the flowering factors inside the trunks or within the buds; and as the “en” of the season comes around and various conditions align, then they blossom—it is similar to that. Therefore, everything in the world has these latent factors. However, it is said that in order for them to manifest, timing and “en” are necessary. Especially in the world of spirituality, what type of “en” an individual encounters will result in differences in an individual’s respective faith and spiritual state. Of course, some will have an “en” with old, established religions, some will have it with new cults, or in some cases it can be that, without having “en” with big religious organizations, one will have an auspicious “en” with a place like this here. It all depends on each respective person’s specific “en.”

Yukti: Since then, I wanted to find out more about the person Mother loved the most, so I read the Bible that a sister in Fukushima gave me, and I researched Christianity. When I read the words of Jesus in the Bible, there were so many sayings that are the same as what Shri Mahayogi says, (Shri Mahayogi: Really? (laughs)) and I thought Jesus was amazing (laugher from all). Since they’re often symbolic, it is so joyful to feel deep emotion when I decipher a symbol in the Bible or find out about how the symbolism worked in that case. I am involved in the work of the Mother, which comes from a Christian tradition, but I felt that even in Judaism or Islam, the essence must be the same, even if expressions are different. Shri Mahayogi says the path of Yoga is much faster [for attaining Satori] in comparison with the other religions, but what aspect of it makes it that way?

MASTER: Many religions continue to exist even to this day, but when Christ appeared, he was considered a maverick. During that time in that region, Judaism, an old religion, seems to have been the central religion. However, as is common with any old religion, Judaism had been reduced to a formality, and the essence of the religion was getting lost from sight—that’s when he appeared and said thus: “I did not come to destroy religion, but to complete it.”1 These words can be said about the time of Buddha as well. During Buddha’s appearance too, in the old religion of the Brahmin during that time, sacrificial rituals were practiced as the central practice, therefore Buddha performed a role in reforming this, or in other words, to heighten the essence of religion to its utmost core, to establish it.

In the case of Islam, its origin is in Mohammed; and because in his case, he was still incomplete, the content of the religion overall was still incomplete. However, afterwards, rather than from the bigger, organized Islam, it was from outside of it that a few holy beings appeared—which was considered to be from the mystical form of Islam, and at that same time these mystics of Islam seemed to have had an exchange with or received influence from Yoga in India, that is to say, from the yogi. There are several holy beings who Awakened to the true Essence of the religion from there. They are the founding masters of the various sects of Islam nowadays. If you look at it that way, history has been repeating, when old religions come more and more to be formalities and lose sight of the essence after many eras pass, then some holy beings appear to re-inspire a new spirit, and revive them.

On the other hand, Yoga is not caught up in any of these things, and has been transmitted quietly in mountains and forests; therefore, in this sense, it seems that it has been maintaining its extreme purity. And, the following words too are one of the very ancient teachings in India: “The Truth is One. However the Seers, that means the Awakened Ones, call It variously”—this phrase is recorded in its oldest scripture, the Veda.

Therefore, we tend to see the larger object, saying this religion and that religion, but actually it’s not about that. Truly, it is one human being, such as Jesus Christ, Buddha, Shri Ramakrishna, a single human being clarifies the ultimate Truth, and at the same time, leaves teachings to cover all of it. More than anything else, Yoga clarifies the deepest psychology that modern psychology hasn’t been able to clarify or reveal yet, therefore it is precious, revealing something which may not be easily found in other teachings. (Yukti nods again and again with a serious expression, and has placed her palms together in prayer.)

 

Ms. Mitsui: I cannot attend class [since I don’t live in Kyoto]. Please teach me what I should keep in my mind and aim to do, or what I should really take care of as I continue to practice Yoga alone in Sapporo City.2

MASTER: What I’ve been telling everyone in Kyoto lately is about ekagrata (single-pointed concentration). The period of initial enthusiasm in Yoga is a process in which, while there is much karma and many habits of the mind still remaining, you are gradually awakening to sacred things that are in opposition to them. And as you continue the practice, attachments and karma caused by ignorance gradually and visibly disappear, leaving only the Truth. The state of mind that is fixed solely towards the Truth is called ekagrata. Now, about advice—concretely, in order to make the state of ekagrata steady, have strong faith, and always, every day, think about sacred things. That is sufficient.

You may have already received the announcement, but we no longer hold regular Satsangha on Saturdays, for which we have gathered for many years, and instead, it has been decided that it be done in accordance with the request of the individual. This just started this month, and we haven’t had this many people gather since we started. (Shri Mahayogi and everyone laugh.) Thanks to the weekly gatherings, or not, I think I have already said everything I had to say, and I suppose that the teachings have saturated everyone sufficiently. Therefore, the situation is now the same between Hokkaido prefecture [where Sapporo is the capitol] and Kyoto. (Shri Mahayogi answers with a smile.)

[1] “Don’t think that I came to destroy the law or the prophets. I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17)

[2] Sapporo is the fifth largest city in Japan located on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. It is the capital city of Hokkaido Prefecture. The distance between Kyoto and Sapporo is 1016 kilometers (631 miles).

The Sacred Sound of Om

Ms. Mitsui: In Pranava Sara (the Satsangha section) of Paramahamsa (Mahayogi Mission’s bi-monthly magazine for members), it is mentioned in every issue that “Pranava,” that is to say, the Sacred Sound of Om, symbolizes Ishvara, the Supreme Existence (God) and the Primordial Guru (Master). How can we hear this sacred sound?

MASTER: It is namely Om itself. Therefore, it will be fine if you repeat it by chanting Om in your heart.

Ms. Mitsui: So it does not necessarily mean that it cannot be heard with our ears?

MASTER: Yes, it can be heard. It’s not coming from the external world, but rather, the experience will be that of hearing it from within.

Ms. Mitsui: Does that mean that experience would be in deep meditation?

MASTER: Yes. And, by chanting Om, one can enter into such meditation. That is why it would be better to repeat it within your heart, rather than voicing or sounding it out.

It might become a bit like astronomical philosophy, but to begin with, before the universe began, whether it is called Atman, Brahman, or God, since this true Existence is not material, it is formless and nameless. However, as true Existence, it Exists! That Existence evolves and manifests itself into that which is material—the universe and all things; you can consider that this current form is presented as the result of the natural process of having gone through this. From this formless Existence, [everything is] manifesting into this formed existence of the universe and all things with form—that beginning element is Om, which is actually a vibration.

The easiest example is the Buddhist temple bell called bonsho [in Japanese], which is translated as the bell of Brahman; and you can hear the bell as sound on one hand, however, looking at it from the view of physics, it is vibration. That is to say, only by its vibration, and with the various elements of that vibration, light and heat come together and at last the formless develops into that which has form. Therefore, it can be concluded that all the current things that have developed, have the primordial vibration Om as their essence.

Also, the alphabet from India was introduced into Japan, thus becoming the “A I U E O” with its 50 sounds; the first sound is “A” and the last is “M”. Between them are 47 or 48 sounds. From this, it is considered that by symbolizing the first sound and the last sound [in Om or Aum], everything within it is symbolized. And, because everything in the mind is thought using words, these words themselves are composed of these 50-sound combinations of the alphabet; that means that each and every word, even though they are different, in essence have the Om, the beginning and the end, as the core—that is how it is viewed.

In the Bible, there is a phrase: “I am the alpha and the omega.” Alpha is the first letter of the alphabet, omega is the last. Therefore, it states the same thing. Also, there is another phrase: “In the beginning, there was the word.” That means, I believe the expression, which is something like, “the Word was God” is in the Bible somewhere as well.1

If you look at vocalization from the physiological point of view, “A” is the sound that is produced in the back most part of the throat, at the root of the tongue. Om is also at times spelled Aum. That “A” is, as was just mentioned, the sound coming from the root of the tongue. “U” is the sound produced from the space in the air of the mouth. “M” is the last sound as the lips close. Therefore, all words have their origin in Om, and that is how Om comes to be the most sacred mantra. It’s not just a theory, but of course, it has also been confirmed through experience.

Sarani: If this is in fact proven through the structure of the mouth, can it also mean that the macrocosm and the microcosm are linked?

MASTER: Right, that is exactly so.

Dharmini: From the vibration of Om already existing within us, then, does it mean that chanting Om and the names of God themselves touch our Essence, and that is why we feel peace?

MASTER: Indeed, that is so. Even in Japan, before the main shrine in the Shinto shrines, or at the torii gates [commonly built at the entrance of a Shinto shrine], two lion statues are placed [on the right and the left sides]; one usually has the mouth open, and the other has the mouth closed, symbolizing “A-Um” (everyone is nodding with conviction) as in a commonly used Japanese phrase, “the breath of A-Um” [meaning that two people are able to act in sync with each other without explanation] and “the form of A,” and “the form of Um”—they also symbolize Om. Therefore, because the mantra of Om is understood as the expression of its origin, God, it has the power that, through repeating it again and again, will make one come nearer to one’s origin.

[1] “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)

Training the Mind

Mr. Tsuru: As I read the teachings of Shri Mahayogi, I see very often that training the mind is mentioned. Would you teach us what that means, and how we should practice that?

MASTER: You can say that that is precisely the sum total of all the teachings and practices of Yoga. The mind has karma, tendencies or habits that come with birth. Also, in this world, the mind tends to be affected by various stimuli, and it can further bring about more disturbance and confusion. Because the result of that is pain and sorrow, in Yoga one comes to understand the habits of the mind, and then must learn good habits and work to create them. And that is precisely everything that the teaching and practice of Yoga is. That work itself is training. Concretely, it is to read scriptures, to meditate, to develop one’s bhakti (devotion towards God), or to practice asana (method of physical positions)—these are all training for the mind.

Mr. Tsuru: At times, emotions of aversion come up. But with bhakti, it feels like it lessens. Does the mind resist like that?

MASTER: (smiling) Yes, that is the very reason why training is necessary. The mind, so to speak, is like a horse that tries to run in the direction of various stimuli. Therefore, you must control the reins so that the horse does not go in that direction, but rather, goes towards sacred things.

Mr. Matsuno: Does that mean that by controlling the mind, it is possible to prevent new karma from arising and even burn it up completely?

MASTER: Yes, indeed. That is exactly so.

Mr. Matsuno: You have taught us to look towards the Truth in order to control the mind; what is the Truth concretely?

MASTER: In the absolute sense, one’s own essence is neither the body nor the mind, but the Existence called Atman. [Yoga is] to realize That, which means Satori—and there are various teachings to attain It.

For example, within the world, we must not hurt other people or things, or we must not lie, etc.—these can be said to be the teachings of Truth. Therefore, the Truth indicates the absolute Existence itself; however, it can be said that the Truth can also be something that teaches how one ought to think, or how one ought to act in the world. As you familiarize yourself with various scriptures, you will see that teachings are all something you can agree and comply with; do continue to learn.

Mr. Kazuyuki Yamamoto: I would like to become a person who can take other people’s feelings into consideration, to understand and help people; and I think that in order to do that, it is important for me to experience it firsthand. But a while back, I think I remember that Shri Mahayogi said that the experience is not that necessary.

MASTER: By experience, you mean various experiences in the world such as jobs and life experiences, however there is something more important.

In order to understand others’ hearts and to feel many things, you must have prepared your own mind to be empty. Then, the mind is just like a mirror, so to speak; then, through reflecting various things, it can find various issues, or it can intuit them. If you wish for what you have just said, then you must have your mind prepared by transforming it into a state as if it is empty, the state that is free of attachment, through Yoga. That will become the power for you to find the issues and other things within others as well. Therefore, there is no need to go beyond experiencing the world in moderation. Just get a part-time simple job to make ends meet. There is no need to go further.

Mr. Kazuyuki Yamamoto: Can experiences become obstacles?

MASTER: Yes, they can. Experiences and memories of experiences create impressions in the mind, and one can get attached to them. Or, they can create and fix ideas. Since these can become obstacles, by placing the teachings of the Truth at the forefront, and accumulating such experiences, then, you won’t make a mistake.

Ms. Uchiyama (Sarvani): Regarding making the mind empty—if I’m in the condition of still learning and my mind is not empty yet, in order to approach [the needs] of others, what do I need to be aware of?

MASTER: For that, you need concentration, so it is best to heighten your concentration. Then, what can be practiced to heighten concentration? (Shri Mahayogi and everyone laugh.) As I just mentioned now, the more you can make your mind empty, the more you can heighten your power of concentration. Well, you can say that various concepts and attachments in your mind obstruct that power of concentration, so to speak. In this sense, through meditation in Yoga, and discrimination—through learning the Truth, the obstacles that prevent you from concentrating will disappear. As a result, the power of concentration is heightened, and you will come to naturally be able to truly feel others.

Ms. Uchiyama (Sarvani): In meditation, by heightening the power of concentration, will I naturally be able to enter much more deeply?

MASTER: Yes, you will! Definitely, you will.

(Shri Mahayogi powerfully reveals the path for everyone.)

Ms. Morioka: During the meditation class in Osaka, I tried meditating on “benevolence, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity” [the four Buddhist virtues]. During this meditation, when I looked back at my daily actions and introspected, I noticed that I was fixated on the thought that “I am right.” I thought that I would be able to get closer to the teaching of Truth if I didn’t have that attachment. Please teach me how to proceed from there.

MASTER: Regardless of what attachments persist in the mind, there is an object of attachment. It’s a relationship of the mind being adhered to some object. This relationship occurs only when a condition of a specific mind and a condition of an object that is suitable to it coincide, therefore it is not an absolute condition. If it is not an absolute condition, then it is imperfect, and it is not the Truth. Whatever it is that the mind thinks, there is the relationship I just mentioned, therefore, as the conditions change, so does the mind; whatever changes is neither eternal nor the Truth. By discriminating this way, if you clarify what the origin of the mind is—in other words, even if you try to find out about the “mind,” when it comes to “who,” since the “I” is working, assimilating into the mind, the “I” has identified itself as the mind, however, that is different from what the Truth teaches, the Truth teaches that I am not the mind but the Pure Consciousness that witnesses the mind—by discriminating in this way, the issues will disappear.

Ms. Morioka: (tears in her eyes) I will try it. (gazing straight at Shri Mahayogi)

MASTER: (smiling) Yes. If you discriminate it thoroughly, then you will come to see the habits of the mind, and where it always wants to try to depend on some kind of an object; and as you see through this, the mind may increasingly resist at times; however, the mind is originally merely a tool. Therefore, you must teach the mind its own nature, or in other words, its essence, so that through doing that the mind will stop seeking objects, and will instead be content with the way things are. And conversely, deepen meditation such that Atman, which was just mentioned, is not the mind but the Pure Consciousness that sees that mind—It is the Existence, It is the true Self. Deepen your meditation like that.

Ms. Shimamura (Tarika): I would like to proactively be humble in daily life, but various thoughts and habits emerge. Will the arising of these thoughts stop as I continue to meditate?

MASTER: Yes. After all, various happenings in front of you are tiny and inconsequential anyway. Therefore, if you always keep your mind fastened to the sacred, eternal home of this entire universe, which is your own Essence, that which is Great, then the little things will no longer even catch your eye. Then, naturally, kindness and humbleness towards all things will arise from within you.

(Ms. Shimamura is gazing at Shri Mahayogi with a bright expression.)

Mr. Suzuki: What is humility?

MASTER: Fundamentally, to be thorough in one’s establishment of the Truth that everything is equal. Because difference in age, gender, appearance, or condition of the mind varies no matter who the other person is—the essence is the same. If it is the same, then it means there is no superiority or inferiority. Therefore, to act without becoming arrogant or self-deprecating, and to simply respond to each situation straightforwardly—these practices will manifest in humility as their result. 

Mr. Suzuki: When I am intentionally watchful of myself to be humble in daily life, I arrive to the place where I cannot help but to face my own failures and immaturity head-on. Then I feel like I’m a powerless, weak existence. Is that self-deprecation?

MASTER: (smiling) Yes, that is. Those too are unneeded. Certainly, the quality of completion, and the results too, create differences; and that is inevitable in this world. Even so, leave it at that; if you fail, when the next opportunity comes, make an effort and get better next time; if you succeed, without getting into arrogance or conceit, take on and tackle something even harder. You must not create any opinions or impressions about it whatsoever. If you can work and live in this way, then you will be able to truly perform simply [as tasks arise], and in this condition, there are no further attachments or obsessions. It will lead from everything being equal and the same, as mentioned at the beginning, to seeing Atman, the Existence, that is, the Truth, in all. Then, your actions including words and thoughts, ought to become humble.

Mr. Suzuki: Does that mean that, rather than trying consciously to act humble, practice to try to see that which is equal?

MASTER: That direction is more important. By practicing that, thoughts, words and actions will manifest accordingly. First, you must thoroughly taste the Truth within your heart—that is important.

Shaci: We often keep saying that “I’m incapable,” or “I’m not good enough,” but I realize that if we keep saying only about our own self—we are actually arrogant.

MASTER: Indeed. But as you study Yoga, you will truly come to realize many things, and the mind ought to transform in a positive direction. It’s frightening to think what would happen without having this “en.” (Everyone laughs.)

Actual Practice

Mr. Noriyasu Takahashi: I would like to deepen my understanding of Karma Yoga by Swami Vivekananda, but I am struggling with the teachings.

MASTER: Particularly when it comes to karma yoga, intellectual understanding is completely meaningless. Exactly as the meaning of the words karma yoga—the yoga of action—suggest, it is something you must come to understand through actually doing it. As I always say, in karma yoga, there is a passive form of karma yoga, such as performing duties assigned to you in your job or in your circumstances, and this type of karma yoga is not even close to the dedication of oneself to serving others, it is still about digesting your own karma. That means that it is karma yoga in a passive sense, which you do without complaining because it’s your duty to fulfill the result of the karma that you created yourself. However, as attachments such as ego and ignorance are lessened and come to be eliminated, the causes that will result in having to fulfill karma will also not be created; then, your actions will inevitably be directed towards the action of dedicated service for others. That is the original form of karma yoga.

Anyhow, right now, you’re working at a company, therefore, simply perform that work as a duty. You don’t really have to refer to it as the practice of Yoga; however, as you interact with others at work and in other settings, you can act in such a way that Yoga can be performed. It is nothing different from what was mentioned earlier, but it is to see Atman in others with equanimity and interact with them humbly. And then, if you see or feel that others are struggling or suffering, serve them in the way that you can. That will lead to proactive karma yoga. Therefore, you too have plenty of opportunities to practice karma yoga in your current environment and condition as well. Eventually, when the time comes that you are able to feel that the work of liberation is more important than your work in the world—you will then be fully performing the karma yoga of devoted service towards others. In order for that to happen, start practicing karma yoga by bearing in your mind that you ought to apply it as much as possible from where you are now. (Mr. Noriyasu Takahashi makes a perplexed expression with his face.)

(with a sterner tone) You have to get more serious about yourself, and face yourself and introspect. It is useless to theorize about this karma yoga and that other yoga, etc. Simply, it is truly for your own sake and will benefit your own life. In that sense, persisting in your own thinking itself is not a good thing, and in order to break through this, you have to apply it in practice—action is crucial. Even if it’s only a little, you have to turn it into action little by little; because that is what will break through your own shell eventually, and your ideas and beliefs will gradually transform in turn. Then, at that time you will understand, “Oh, this is the teaching of karma yoga.” There is no use debating about karma yoga now [without applying it into practice through action].

Shri Mahayogi admonishes Mr. Noriyasu Takahashi, then gives him darshan (blessing).

 

Ms. Ryoko Hirokawa: It’s been two months since I began cleaning up the yoga studio and managing flyers, to the extent that I can help. However, I came to see that my mind didn’t like it and various thoughts came up; is it important to endure through them?

MASTER: Yes, it is—what must change is your own mind. (Shri Mahayogi and everyone laugh.) Therefore, continue. Do not be conquered by the mind; instead, conquer the mind.

Anandi: There is a participant in Matsuyama Yoga Circle who has mental illness and is taking over a dozen medications. I have been telling her the importance of daily asana practice and diet, but various side-effects arise when she tries to reduce the intake of medication. Please offer some guidance as to how I should support her.

Ms. Tahara (Sharanya): It is true that medicines are often over-prescribed in current medical practices. There is a person in a similar condition who has been attending asana class for over three years in our organization (NPO Japan—Ladies Happy Life Support Association—founded by Ms. Tahara1); and she told me joyfully at last that since around two months ago, “I am able to practice asana for one hour now. Asana is the best!”

MASTER: If that person’s emotion begins to become positive and uplifted, that power will work within that person so that his or her intake of medication can be reduced; so in order for this person to be uplifted, even if it’s just a little bit, it will be good to try to help them in some way. This can apply to anything, but it’s important for the mind to find out and know what the mind does not know. Certainly, this can be said of Yoga, of the Truth. Therefore, I think that if that person can correctly understand the current medical condition, and then discern using their will what it is that is not necessary, then perhaps this will lead to a place where taking medication will eventually become unnecessary.

Mr. Kazuyuki Yamamoto: Shri Mahayogi…

MASTER: Here comes an egg that will hatch into a doctor. (Everyone laughs.)

Mr. Kazuyuki Yamamoto: Listening to this conversation, I regret to say that I am very frustrated with myself, because I realize that only my ideal—my desire to be a specific idealistic model of a doctor—has been advanced; and that if I ask myself whether or not I have been doing my best every day, my answer is—“not at all.” I have slacked off much more compared to a year ago when I was doing the practice of asana and meditation every day. I am grateful that this has made me recognize that I was neglecting to do the most important thing.

MASTER: (with a full smile) Make a fresh start and resume.

Ms. Hara (Nandini): I would like to ask about the power of the immune system; because sometimes we have people who have illnesses come to take the class. Is it correct to say that through filling oneself up with good prana (ki) and by changing one’s breathing habits, one’s system transforms at the cellular level, and that this leads to an increase in the power of immunity, thus resulting in a state of better health?

MASTER: Yes, that is so. Yet, on the other hand, even if you’re doing beneficial practice, such as through practicing asana, it will not bring about sufficient results if there are still bad habits that remain. Bad habits can be, for example, dietary style, an unhealthy way of life, and also, the thoughts in the mind, which are invisible yet worth mentioning, because in fact these are deeply connected [to what causes one’s condition]. Therefore, if one can consciously improve the whole picture, then one’s condition will noticeably improve.

Yukti: There is a result from a study conducted somewhere in the U.S. or in England in which they gathered flu patients and others with lowered immunity and showed them Mother Teresa’s documentary, for the purpose of studying how after viewing their immunity substances might change in their bodies; and the results were distinctly better. They concluded that when one thinks about God and love, immunity improves. (Everyone gasps in amazement.)

MASTER: (joyfully) After all, you all should practice bhakti yoga—then everything will be resolved by it. (laughs) I can understand that very well.

 

Yukti: Regarding the method of meditation, for example, once you mentioned that if we want to know about what Vivekananda realized in the moment at Vivekananda Rock, then we should meditate on that, or if we want to meditate on the words of Buddha, then we should try to feel his warmth. I very much like the image of Mother Teresa gazing at Jesus on the cross, right in front of her; so, hearing Shri Mahayogi I felt that I wanted to meditate on what she is thinking; but when I tried, even though I penetrated through to her and became her while still having my own thoughts—it felt to me that it was like I was still seeing [Jesus] from my perspective in the end. Then thinking that perhaps I should use my five senses fully, when I traced myself onto her entirely using all my hearing and sense of smell, such as hearing her low voice, the sound of the fabric of her sari rubbing together, her gaze, her figure of the moment when she is touching the cheeks of the poor with both hands, I had a sense that I was able to touch her a little. Is this way of entering fine?

MASTER: (nodding many times) That’s good, that’s good. If you deepen that more and more, in other words, as you continue to concentrate, you’ll be led to enter the essence more, therefore continue the way you are doing. Then, in a true sense, you will be able to sense as much as that incredibly raw and realistic temperature, breath, thoughts, feeling and sensibility, or you can experience unity with it.

Yukti: (joyfully with a smile) I’m looking forward to it.

MASTER: Continue to deepen… It’s been a while since we went this much overtime, and [we should end for today since] it’s late for the visitors coming from afar with a long way to go.

 

Shri Mahayogi is taking everyone into consideration, and Satsangha ends.

Next week is the celebration of Shri Mahayogi’s Jayanti, which is the extremely rare and auspicious occasion of his birth. The disciples wish to offer gratitude with their whole heart and soul, with supreme joy.

[1] Ms. Tahara, a disciple of Shri Mahayogi, has introduced asana and meditation as taught by Shri Mahayogi in her organization.

 

Live Based on the True Ideal

January 11, 2014, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto

What One is Challenged with in Life,
Whether the Winner or Not

(Ms. Matsuda’s son, Kenji, begins to ask a question. He is a high school student and an accomplished swimmer, having set great records in various swim meets.)

Mr. Kenji Matsuda: Shri Mahayogi, may I begin? I began swimming when I was a year and a half old, and even though the path is different from Yoga, I’ve met many different people, and sometimes it hasn’t been easy. And every time that happened, I would spend time going through conflict, asking myself every day whether there is anything that I can improve in myself or that I should change in my ways—in a sense, I probably spend more time thinking about myself than other people do. Please listen to this as someone who is still immature, but I aspire to become the number one swimmer in Japan, to get stronger, faster, to lead others, to make others happy, and to return the favor to everyone who has supported me in swimming.

This is my junior year of high school, and the timing is such that next season will be the last season, and that means that in the midst of working hard towards perfecting myself, I have been appointed as the captain of the team. Since I was able to get to where I am because of the support of the people around me, and because I would like to repay their favor and show my gratitude with the results at the end [of my high school career], I would like to express myself by winning a gold medal—that is my wish now. And one more thing [that I would like to say is that], I came here today curious to see what advice Shri Mahayogi might respond to me with about the preparedness and the attitude of mind in the role and presence of a captain, who is the one who has to lead the entire team, and [the preparedness and the attitude of mind] as a leader, both as a human being and as a swimmer. At first, I was just following my mother’s orders, but then I thought that if there is anything that makes me to grow even a little I should take it as what will give me an edge in my own growth and development, that is why I came here today. May I ask what does Shri Mahayogi think about all of this?

MASTER: Truly, you began swimming at a year and a half and it seems that currently too you have had quite good records, and you are doing very well. And your present condition is the manifestation of the result of you making diligent and ardent efforts in training and practice. That is wonderful and it is something commendable [that can’t be denied]—in the realm of swimming.

Perhaps it’s a little too early to think about these things, however, when you will come to be able to see yourself and your life from a wider view, such as life, human existence, and life in society, then what would surely present itself as a huge question would be “What is my true self?” “What is life about?” “Is life about living proudly with self-satisfaction for earning a few medals? Or, what is Truth?” And eventually you will inevitably come to think about these questions. It is fine that your quest for these things be postponed until a little later; in other words, you should focus on swimming diligently and enthusiastically, indeed, since that will bring joy to those around you, allowing you to give back to them—so it is fine for you to do that right now; however, it is inevitable that you will have to face these issues mentioned eventually. Even if you become a coach in the field of swimming, and even if your position of training and developing the next generation will keep changing more and more, I am sure that you will come to think that life is not just about teaching swimming techniques, but rather, it is about cultivating the hearts and minds of humanity—which is not only a matter of winning or losing, but about living life to the fullest in its truest sense, and for each and every one to find the Essence of being human—you’ll eventually conclude that life exists for this purpose.

Now that you’re the captain of the team, keep that in mind a little. Naturally, swimming is a type of sport where the ranking is immediately revealed, so there are young men and woman who are excellent, and those who are not. However, that doesn’t mean their humanity is inferior. Then it may become necessary to select the type of stroke or the category of the event or race to be most suited for each team member to participate in, and you may have to find or come up with the practice methods—making various mutual efforts a necessity. Probably, to lead your team members with having that wider perspective for them will strengthen your ability as a captain. With having that understanding—true humanity—that is, in its true sense, is to do with what one is challenged with in life whether you are a winner or not.

Mr. Kenji Matsuda: I do think about these things always, but… (MASTER: Yes, I suppose so.) I have started to think little by little about what would be left of me if the swimming, my weapon, were to be taken away, or when I retire from it; and thankfully my teachers at school have put a great deal of attention on the humanity of educating us, so I think I have grown a little in that regard. Currently I think it would be good when I have my own kids if I can teach them from what I have experienced.

I don’t think there is such a thing as perfection as a team or as a human being, yet we’re all aiming for something close to it, regardless. And as we encounter ultimate situations where there is no turning back, I have started to perceive the ugly parts of human beings, such as weakness and fear, starting to appear more often—what is the most important thing in communication with people?

MASTER: (after a little pause) I think it is being honest and accepting; and having sincerity or heartiness—through such purity of heart, speaking and interacting with others will be good because there will not be an ulterior motive.

Mr. Kenji Matsuda: (with a smile) I will do my best.

 (Shri Mahayogi asks him in a friendly manner, “What is your best stroke?” “Have you tried Yoga yet?” Kenji says he’s done asana once.)

MASTER: You may be busy with training, but if you can set aside some time, you can practice [asana] at home too, of course, and it might be good to include it in your training regimen. For example, there was a man named Jacques Mayol, who had world records in free diving. He was able to break world records because he learned the method of breathing in Yoga. I think that swimming is especially a battle against breathing, for example, having a stuffy nose could affect your result. So conditioning oneself into a comfortable condition through Yoga may be useful for that.

Mr. Kenji Matsuda: Yes, my mother has told me. (Everyone laughs.)

Ms. Matsuda: I told him to do the three [asana poses] that Shri Mahayogi suggested, but he told me he can already do them. (laughs)

MASTER: I think you can surely do them. However, Yoga is the same as swimming practice—by practicing every day, its results keep getting better; it’s not about whether you can do the pose or not. On the contrary, I tell people that if you practice Yoga, there is no need to do sports, but swimming is best if you do—because it is a sport where you move the entire body and it is balanced. Therefore, I do recommend swimming.

How is your breathing? Doesn’t it hurt?

(Kenji says his ear and nose are not in the best condition. Shri Mahayogi seems to have already suspected this condition.)

If your nasal issue is resolved, it will lead to better results.

(Then Shri Mahayogi recommends he practice Yoga and participate in class. Kenji sincerely thanks Shri Mahayogi.)

Hitting the Bullseye of the Real Ideal

May 11, 2013, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto

Mr. Kazuyuki Yamamoto: When I perform actions to make others joyful or happy, and they become joyful or happy, an indescribable happiness and joy wells up within me; and I then feel like I want to experience it again and continue to take actions that make others happy more and more. Is it okay to take actions having such a feeling as the motivation?

MASTER: That’s fine. However, it’s not the goal, yet it has the power to pull you towards the goal.

Mr. Yamamoto: Goal? Will you teach me about the goal?

MASTER: The goal is the experience itself of Awakening to one’s true Self. That is the goal.

Mr. Yamamoto: So then, it is more about going within one’s own self, rather than acting for others?

MASTER: Yes, exactly.

Satya: About that goal, the Truth or Atman [the true Self] cannot be grasped with the mind, even so, at first we have no choice but to use the mind to discriminate…but the mind can’t grasp it, so it’s a goal, but since the mind can’t grasp it… (Shri Mahayogi and everyone laugh.)

MASTER: Indeed, truly, it is really frustrating, and it is something that cannot be resolved with words. (emphasizing) However, experience happens beyond words. Therefore, there is nothing you can do other than to continue to put the teachings into practice with an ideal in your mind, in order to experience it.

Satya: I think that the ideal that the mind has is something different from the real one, however, when I try to have an ideal, it’s often vague.

MASTER: Well, although it might not be able to be helped, at times, that ideal, which is the Truth, is called God—It is the absolute, Pure Existence; however, since the mind can only work inside of a relative world, the mind cannot understand or grasp it with certainty. That is why it is an ideal—indeed, as long as you have not experienced it yet. Therefore, you can leave the ideal at that. As you progress forward, the obstacles that block the Truth such as the mind’s activities and karma (cause and effect of action) will gradually go away, so you may also feel that you are getting closer to the ideal little by little. You don’t know when you will be able to sense It. That is why it is crucial to have meditated without neglect.

Suddenly it will come. (lightly) Truly, it will come suddenly. In this world, the plan usually goes that you take it one step at a time, then reach a goal eventually, however, it is a fact that the experience [of Satori] can come suddenly like a bolt of lightning from a clear blue sky.

You can also look at it in another way. In this relative world, if you have more or less a few decades of life experience, you may think or have thought of what really there is in the world worth seeking for the rest of your life. Even if you draw up a huge ideal, as long as that ideal is something that belongs to the world, then it is ephemeral; that is, not eternal. Through going through the things in this world carefully and thoroughly, discriminating in this way, eliminate all illusory ideals. If you do that, then you may be able to put a real aim, a true ideal, at the center as the target.

The Actualization of the Ideal

December 7, 2013, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto

Shaci: We, everyone here, has determined to walk the path of Yoga, and we understand that Yoga goes beyond just asana and meditation; however, I feel that it is a necessity for each one of us to specify and concretize what the grounds are for what makes us say that we live our lives in Yoga.

If I speak of myself, I too have my own ideals, but they’re very broad ones. Do we need to have something more concrete, such as aiming for a specific characteristic of a specific holy being?

MASTER: As long as you live in this world in a physical body, it naturally comes with concreteness as its manifestation; in short, the core ideal of Yoga is of course Satori; then that Satori primarily means to experience Awakening into oneself as Atman, God, however, if you’re slacking around, sleeping all day, then it is questionable whether your ideal truly is Satori. If that central idea of Yoga is realized, and the physical body is still in existence, what ought you do then?—concretizing this specific way of being will lead to shaping the form of your ideal.

[The idea of Yoga is] to internalize the actualization of the realization of the Truth, at the same time, to see the same in others—then, because there are so many others who may not be aware of it, and because they are living their lives in struggle and suffering due to not knowing the Truth yet, you actively put yourself to work, having the aim that these people come in contact with Yoga. And by doing that, your work of helping will become more concretized. Considering that, the various activities you are doing right now, like the [asana and meditation] class and kirtan (songs of love to connect the soul with God), Samarasa [the way of cooking in Yoga],1 and various other works—these are all parts of a concretized ideal. They all have been presently progressing; so continue to develop them more, to make them firm. From there, further ambitious ideals will arise.

Shaci: That means that through deepening our activities, and continuing to develop them more, then the ideal will gradually become firm…

MASTER: Right. We all have been experiencing Yoga for many years now, which means we’re getting older. (laughs) To put it bluntly, we’re also getting closer to our deaths. It comes not only to the people just mentioned who suffer, but it comes to all, whether it’s in one year, ten years, twenty years, nobody knows, but it’s sure to come sooner or later; to nurture the new young disciples who can continue transmitting it even if we’re not around will also become one of the ideals. Then it would be preferable to leave a vessel for that purpose, concretely, an ashrama. The ideal will continue to develop to that level.

Gurudas: I unintentionally think of an ideal as my liking a particular aspect of a holy being.

MASTER: But rather, you have to look at how this holy being lived his or her life. From that observation [in other words, trying to understand the spirit behind that holy being], contemplate what makes this holy being your ideal, what aspect of this holy being captivates you so much to make it your ideal? I would guess that everyone thinks of Vivekananda as one of your ideals, but then, he left his physical body at the young age of 39—but in these nine years before he left, indeed it was only nine years, [the point that you need to see is] what he really accomplished in this period.

Gurudas: He disseminated Yoga throughout the world, and not only that, he did the work of the next 1,500 years, so that Yoga would continue for the sake of people.

MASTER: He did that concretely. He nurtured gurubai (brother disciples), developed the junior disciples to follow, built the Belur Math monastery, established the foundation that makes firm the organization, the Ramakrishna Mission—he did all and everything he could have done.

That is why it’s absolutely unacceptable, without looking at the concrete content of his work, to just admire him as if he is simply a hero, saying “He’s my ideal, he’s my ideal.” The various specific things he accomplished—you must make these your own and our ideal. He, a true hero, truly left the work of a genius. His actions are concrete evidence of that.

[1] Mahayogi Mission in Kyoto has developed cooking classes as time goes on.

 

Resolve

 January18, 2014, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto

(Kinkara, who is sitting right next to Shri Mahayogi, begins to speak with a serious expression seemingly under pressure.)

Kinkara: After I read Yukti’s article, “Living on the Words of Mother” in Paramahamsa1 I felt that because Yukti was able to have firm resolve, similar to that of Mother Teresa when she heard the voice of God in the mountains of the Himalaya, she was able to connect to the heart of Mother Teresa. As I think about the purpose and aim of life in Siddha Marga (a three year program for long-time disciples), I do have the yearning to complete Shri Mahayogi’s mission as his disciple at all costs. I feel the necessity to know what kind of resolve and spirit Shri Mahayogi has in order to accomplish that mission. How should I trace it back to get closer to it?

(After some silence, Shri Mahayogi speaks calmly and with composure.)

MASTER: Vivekananda once said, “If there were another Vivekananda, then he would have understood what Vivekananda has done.”2

In order to understand me, you must become me. And, I wish for you to become so, to be so. In other words, it is nothing but to realize the true Atman, the true Existence, which is without second, which exists within each and every one of you—that is it.

And, within this limited life with a physical body, to devote yourself to helping the works that are for the benefit of as many people as possible to come in contact with the correct Yoga, and realize the Truth, just the same as you do; it can be through the work of leaving words in scriptures [for future generations], and in consideration of the far future, a landmark, a monastery will be a necessity. All work is solely to realize the Truth that exists within each and every one. You are all doing some temporary work to make ends meet for daily living, and having different livelihoods, however the real and true work lies in [what I mentioned].

Please have the resolve to realize Satori, the Truth, to become the same as me. Then, everything will be carried through to the furthest extent.

 

We are constantly learning from Shri Mahayogi about the importance of having an ideal. In order to envision an ideal in the beginning, things right in front of us may offer hints. Even if that is not perfect, as we learn the Truth, and confront this life seriously looking into our own inner selves, then eventually this will deepen and we will surely be guided to the ultimate ideal.

Looking at Shri Mahayogi’s actions and the great works of Holy Beings, what must we follow and make our way of life?—rousing ourselves to make concrete and real action itself will result in a living proof of the ideal of Yoga.

[1] A bimonthly publication by Mahayogi Mission Japan for its members.

[2] “If there were another Vivekananda, then he would have understood what Vivekananda has done! And yet—how many Vivekanandas shall be born in time!” —from Vivekananda: A Biography

 

* * *

Testimonies from a Practitioner

Living in Yoga: The Single-Pointed Concentration of a Yogi

by Satya
May 2014, Kyoto, Japan

“100% Passion—that is Ekagrata, single-pointed concentration!
It is crucial for Yoga. For Satori, it is all you need.
If you have that, then the rest, the power to put it into action will naturally follow.”

—Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa

 

I have an admiration for the state of ekagrata. If that is all that is necessary for Satori, then I yearn to be in that state no matter what it costs, no matter what it takes.

When I’m working, when I am doing asana (method of physical postures) or when I am meditating, I always feel that I am lacking in concentration. I say this because I have felt that regardless of what I do, the results differed due to the degree of my concentration. There were days that I was able to concentrate on work at my job, or, because I was able to concentrate while practicing asana it was easier to enter meditation. However, that is very far from ekagrata. In order to go closer toward my ideal state, first I thought I needed to increase the power of my concentration, so I set a goal to put a lot more effort into practicing asana and meditation; in practice I especially focused on intentionally bringing my awareness to the prana (ki) while doing asana.

During asana, in order to keep the prana from escaping [from the beginning to the end] while in one pose, I practiced having the image of my concentration being fixed, fastened to the form [of the asana], so that the mind wouldn’t move, that is, nailing it down firmly, and not letting it off. I couldn’t do it all the time, but when I was able to, at the end of the practice I would experience that the prana that had been scattered all over the body, gathered into a single cluster, and it would automatically continue drawing the concentration towards the inner center, without nailing it down. As a result of these experiences, I understood that concentration means prana being gathered in a single point.

In daily life, I embarked on training myself in such a way that if there was an object that I needed to concentrate on, such as tasks and people, first I gather prana within myself with all my strength, then direct it towards the object. Even so, that was still at the level of just being about the way of concentration. In order to pursue ekagrata, it required me to direct my focus on the object of concentration.

So then, what is the definition of “single point” in the “single-pointedness of a practitioner of Yoga”? Depending on the person, it might be expressed with the words “God”, “Truth”, “Brahman (true Existence)” or “Shri Mahayogi”; but I thought that was still vague. I felt that because the object was vague, single-pointedly concentrating was not happening in me. Then a thought started to arise in me, if the target of concentration is clear, then I should be able to concentrate focusing on a single point.

If it is a “single point,” then it has to be “a single point,” not double-points—and it cannot be other multiple numerals either. How do I bring all of my focus down to a single point…I felt that it comes down to, “seriously asking myself what I want to become.” Because, I felt that this single point has to be something that is more important than anything else, it has to be something I want to know so much as to exchange my own life for it, it has to be something I want to become—I felt that unless it was such a single point, I wouldn’t be able to stake my life on concentrating on it.

Day after day, I was possessed by thinking about how I want to become, and why my object kept being vague.

Before I began practicing Yoga, from around the age of 20, I spent my life in a vague sense of anxiety, not knowing what I was living for. I had a job, I had friends, I went where I wanted, and lived the life I wanted to live; yet, I couldn’t find anything that made me content—if my life ends up continuing on like this…life seems too long… One day, while thinking of this, I felt like I fell into complete pitch darkness, and then I thought—Am I alive living in this condition? Perhaps, this is nothing different from being dead. During that time, I encountered Yoga, and by meeting Shri Mahayogi and the senior disciples practicing Yoga, I found the direction for my life, I felt that “I finally found living, breathing people”—I found a direction for my life, and I was so, so happy, I felt like I was practicing Yoga while hopping and skipping. Six years have passed like this, and recently, with regard to myself, as I began to cut off things that my mind connected to one by one, for example, being a woman, my age, my job, my family—when I cut off whatever I could think of, and I saw what was left within me, there was only “Shri Mahayogi” and “the words of Truth that poured out of Shri Mahayogi’s mouth.” And one day, I started to feel that I do not live by food, but by the existence of Shri Mahayogi and by taking his words of Truth. Conversely, besides that, even if I were to be eating food, I might as well be dead. The fact that I’m breathing, the fact that my body is moving daily, working, is only because Shri Mahayogi infused the breath of life within me. The condition I was in before practicing Yoga, was not similar to death, I was dead. Who or what brought me back to life is the Truth, that is Shri Mahayogi. Therefore, my ideal is to use up this life, given to me by Shri Mahayogi—use it up completely for his work. That is one and the same as living. I felt one day that there was no need to hold up a big banner of “ideals,” I just felt that it was obvious.

After I thought about this, the next wave came. I was able to gain life through Shri Mahayogi; however that was merely finding out about Shri Mahayogi and finding out about the Truth; yet in actuality, the truth is that only by becoming That, can it be qualified that I “lived.” Strictly speaking, I have not arrived at “Living” in its truest sense yet. When I realized that, I thought, “It’s the same as being dead still,” I was so astonished I became depressed, I could not stand up again for days. But, a new mind of spiritual awakening sprouted from me, for me to live a True Life, to become a True practitioner of Yoga.

Then, as I went through the trial of one-pointed concentration towards this ideal, my heart was ablaze, and I had to make strenuous efforts and struggle through trying to get closer to the Truth, using the fighting warrior’s various thoughts—the passionate intense thoughts towards Yoga, those of feeling shameful at how slowly I was progressing, feeling frustrated, feeling intense admiration and yearning towards the ideal, etc. etc. Day after day, I kept only thinking about that, and then I did not understand how to go any further; so I went to Shri Mahayogi. That day there was a public Satsangha, but there weren’t too many people there; so I sat right in front of Shri Mahayogi, and I waited for an opportunity to ask about how I should go about my yearning. However, the more I tried to speak up, the more I couldn’t find the opportunity to do so. It felt to me that Shri Mahayogi was telling me that it was unnecessary to speak about it. After all, I ended up not being able to say anything, I remained being confused on my way home from Satsangha, not knowing what to do even more than before, and the unsettledness continued.

“Even though I don’t know what to do, Shri Mahayogi rejected me”—this thought, with its heavy pressure, was mixed up with the thoughts of the further confusion of still not knowing what to do, and when it reached the peak, I had an intuition, “Even this thought too may be unneeded.” I don’t need to possess the thoughts that Shri Mahayogi didn’t accept! In that moment, I shouted out loud, “It doesn’t matter what my thoughts are!! I couldn’t care less!!” Right then, the thoughts, which I possessed so much that they were filling me up about to burst my heart, blew away in an instant and were gone.

I don’t know how much time passed then, but by the time I came to, I don’t know why but I was in a peaceful state of mind, such that I was perplexed why I had struggled so much.

Since then, I always think: “My thoughts are not of importance. I couldn’t care less.” In a way, it was exactly the same as what Shri Mahayogi told me so many times with these words, “Anyway, don’t be caught up by anything at all.” Until then, I had thought that having passionate thoughts about everything was a good thing. But even that is merely a thought. Whether it’s a passionate thought or a cooled off thought, thoughts are thoughts—neither are needed. Whatever the thoughts may be, I will abandon them, because they’re things that are not needed—because they are not the Truth. And the Truth, regardless of what condition I’m in, always continues to exist within me. The Truth cannot be reached by the mind, nor can it be small enough to be contained within the realm of the mind. Perhaps when I surrender everything to something much greater, to the Eternal Truth existing within everyone, to Yoga, all to Shri Mahayogi, then the “Single-Pointed Concentration of a Yogi” may begin.

 

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