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Vol. 77

Teachings of Shri Mahayogi

Satsangha, Kyoto, 2019

Sanatana Dharma—Eternal, Universal Truth

Acting for the Sake of Atman

Equip Oneself with Eternal Time

Surrendering in Bhakti (Devotion to God)
and the Restraint of the Mind

True Existence, or God, Alone Exists

Sanatana Dharma and the Manifestation of Avatara

The Universality of Yoga

Satsangha, Kyoto, 2006

Spiritual Discipline and Prayer

Spiritual Discipline and Prayer


Testimonies from Actual Practitioners

The Secret of the Upanishads
The Teaching of Uddalaka Aruni
Chandogya Upanishad, Chapter 6

by Yogadanda  2007, Kyoto

* * * * * * * * * *

Teachings of Shri Mahayogi

Translation of Satsangha

Sanatana Dharma—Eternal, Universal Truth

April 6, 2019, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto

The cherry blossoms are in full bloom, as if they wanted to coincide with the great festival of spring, Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela, which is taking place tomorrow. It is still bright outside in the evening [as the days have lengthened with the arrival of spring], and among the disciples gathering in the hall, Anandamali and Prapatti from the New York Mission can be seen.

Right on time, Shri Mahayogi enters the hall. After the worship, Shri Mahayogi, with a gentle smile, slowly gazes at each and every person gathered, from the front row to the back row. The hall is brimming with the prana of joy.

Acting for the Sake of Atman

Gopala: Today, I was discussing karma yoga with Prapatti. She was saying that the image she has about karma yoga is the story from the previous life of Buddha, where he cut off his own flesh to give to a [hungry] animal—the self-sacrifice of this story. When I heard this, I thought that it should not just remain a fable but should actually be practiced in daily life. I would like to ask exactly how to perform self-sacrifice in daily life.

MASTER: This parable of King Shibi is quite a symbolic story; it can be understood as symbolizing the ultimate level of karma yoga, which is self-sacrifice. Now, if you think about it and try to understand how you can make practical use of this metaphor and apply it to the current situation, then [the answer lies in] the reason why karma yoga is practiced—and it comes down to this: for those who are in pain and sorrow, for people, animals, living beings in such difficulty, try to remove that suffering and thereby give comfort and consolation, even if it’s only a little. To be more realistic, the job that Gopala is doing currently is to care for people with disabilities; therefore, the concrete action is to practice what you can do to the maximum extent possible and to the best of your ability through your job—that becomes concrete action. Furthermore, if there are people close to you who are suffering, then you can also take action there. It is about practicing by putting whatever you can into action in whatever way it needs to be done, according to the situation.

Gopala: If I deepen Yoga, then will the “the maximum extent to the best of my ability” gradually expand?

MASTER: Exactly.

Gopala: So, for my practice, I should put into action what I can do right where I am at each moment?

MASTER: (immediately) If you think about it, ordinarily most people in the world live for themselves. Whether it’s a job or daily life, everything is “for me,” “for me”… However, if you continue to learn Yoga, then you learn that your self is not the ego, but Atman (true Self), therefore, as you deepen [the state of Yoga,] “for me” fades away, that is to say, everything becomes for the sake of Atman, that is, in other words, [for the sake of] Atman, which exists within everything. That is to say, everything will be for others.

Gopala: Even if that other person is not suffering, I will be able to act [accordingly].

MASTER: Right.

Gopala: But, ultimately speaking, or seeing from Buddha’s perspective, is it that everyone is suffering?

MASTER: Well, yes…whether they are aware of it or not.

Ms. Sasanuma: I want to serve, and because I would like to spend all of my hours each day in Yoga, I am trying to offer myself up; nevertheless, I can’t help but to end up acting for myself in one way or another. Even though the more I act, the more I end up receiving much more [than what I am offering], I think that it’s important to continue to act to shave off the ego. Is that the correct way?

MASTER: Yes, that is fine. Whatever it might be, you can’t suddenly jump to perfection in a single leap. Therefore, it’s appropriate to continue taking steps forward surely and steadily.

Ms. Sasanuma: Yes, thank you so very much.


(Ms. Ai Yamaguchi, a daughter of Ms. Yamaguchi sitting in the front row, raises her hand.)

Ms. Ai Yamaguchi: I am working at a hospital, and there are people who are in a coma or who are just there, existing… (holding back tears) My work is to make the medical procedures go more smoothly, and in a way I’m only helping them to keep their lives going. There are times when I think about what I ought to do for the patient I am attending, I feel like perhaps what I’m doing might be quite a bad thing. Would you guide me, how should I think about this?

(Shri Mahayogi listens empathically while nodding.)

MASTER: I see, there may be issues with the modern medical system, however, in your present situation, you can only follow their policies; that, in and of itself, is inevitable. Well, for the physical part that is the case, however, for the spiritual part, even if a person does not have consciousness or is in a comatose condition, the soul, the essence of that person, is sacred and the same One; so steadfastly bear that in your mind and attend to them—it is fine if you can work with this attitude; in other words, see only their essence. (Smiles and looks at Ai as if to express appreciation for her hard work.) It may be very difficult work, but please do your best.

(Ai, with tears in her eyes, keeps listening intently and seriously.)


Maitrei: Could we consider that even if we are attending to people who are unconscious or in similar conditions, and if we continue to serve them with the mind absent of ego, will it be a help to that person’s soul in walking forward towards Satori?

MASTER: Yes, that will help.

Maitrei: Is that because the soul is eternal and everyone has the same essence regardless of the person, whoever or whatever their condition might be?

MASTER: (as if whispering) Yes, indeed.

(The hall is enveloped in the holy vibration of Shri Mahayogi. Shri Mahayogi conspicuously is taking deep breaths, and a sublime tranquility continues as if the hall and Shri Mahayogi’s breath become one.)


Equip Oneself with Eternal Time

Sarani: In preparation for the celebration, I am learning about the Truth and about the Existence of the Avatara (incarnations of God); since ancient times, God is taking on the form of a human being and showing the Truth for the salvation of this world, and through that the world is filled with love. On the other hand, as this sense grows stronger, it feels to me that my daily life is as if I am in a battle held inside a factory, me being like a part of a machine, and this battle is against an illusion called time. I battle inside the factory and my mind is confused and disturbed; then when the factory is closed, suddenly, my mind regains its composure and awakens from a dream—it feels as if I am being moved about inside a theatrical play. I would very much like to have guidance on how I should understand this battle against time, in other words, how I should understand this contradiction where I hope to live within eternity, yet I get thrown into the factory as soon as it opens.

MASTER: Time, space, and causality arise within the mind—these three elements bind the mind. If you want to liberate the mind, there is nothing else you can do other than to remove these conditions; to that end, there is no solution but that you thoroughly acquire the eternal time of Yoga; because that is the mechanism of this world. As Yoga deepens, Eternal Bliss will permeate you more, so that even if time, space and causality are still in place, you will not be affected by them—there will definitely be a point where it shifts like this. Therefore, it is important to practice gradually reducing the habitual way of working that’s like being forced to be in a whirlwind of work non-stop.

Sarani: Does that mean that I begin by proactively finding a way to improve the environment around me?

MASTER: Right. That is an important part as well.

Sarani: Every year, various technology such as email and internet are developing, and the exchange of information is so ridiculously fast, but to such an extent that the situation is one where I can no longer say that I can keep up with it.

MASTER: Oh, that sounds tough. (laughs) Indeed, that is hard.

Sarani: Yet, those who are doing this, [creating and working under these conditions,] are human beings too…so I will do my best somehow. (laughs)

MASTER: Yes. (laughs) (Sarani laughs with a bright expression.)


Amara: There was mention of a moment when a shift to Eternal Bliss comes—are we able to work normally while being immersed in Eternal Bliss?

MASTER: Yes, that is possible.

Dharmini: Shri Mahayogi, because I really want to be happy, I dream monstrously towards that Absolute Bliss or Eternal Bliss. And, I do feel that I am receiving It a tiny bit too.

MASTER: Only a tiny bit? (Everyone bursts into laughter.)

Dharmini: When that moment comes, does it feel like something is rising rapidly from inside, all of sudden? (laughter from all)

MASTER: That is the elementary level. If you proceed further, it won’t be like that; rather, or in opposition to that, quite simply, whatever it is that obstructs the Bliss will disappear. (gasps of amazement from everyone) That is why, it is unfazed.


Surrendering in Bhakti (Devotion to God)
and the Restraint of the Mind

Mirabai: Is renunciation through discriminating the same as “opening up and letting go” (surrendering)?

MASTER: (after some pause) There are slight differences. The step of renouncing through discrimination indicates that the activity of the mind still remains. Discrimination is practiced by using the concentration of the mind. Then, it becomes meditation, and the discriminative knowledge—called viveka—is sensed, and through it renunciation is done. On the other hand, “opening up and letting go ” is translated as “surrender” in English, and if you compare this concept to another example [that may be more familiar], it is said that when Japan lost the war, Japan made a complete capitulation and therefore surrendered. That is to say, it is a full and complete surrender—in this state the mind doesn’t have any leeway even to discriminate, and it means giving in from the very first moment, and leaving it [to the opponent]. These kinds of subtle differences are there. Of course, when it comes to surrender in Yoga, since the object of surrender is God or the Truth, naturally it involves faith, and it amounts to something similar to what is considered in bhakti yoga as para-bhakti, which is the ultimate state of bhakti.

Mirabai: What propels it forward?

MASTER: Initially, that too is the intention, after all.

Mirabai: Is that different from faith?

MASTER: No, it is the same. It includes faith too.


Mr. Matsunaga: What should we do to continue cultivating intense yearning and passion towards Satori?

MASTER: You should have pure and enthusiastic admiration towards your ideal, in other words, towards the Avatara, the existence called Avatara. (turning his expression into a smile)

Mr. Matsunaga: So I should not think, “I can’t become that way.”

MASTER: No, (laughter) you shouldn’t think that way.

Mr. Matsunaga: I should try to get closer to it even if a little at a time.

MASTER: Right.


Asangan: There is a sensation of becoming empty in “opening up and letting go” [or surrendering], but in bhakti, there is a sense of directing the thoughts toward God. Is there a difference in these things?

MASTER: What becomes empty is the mind and its activities; as they become empty, conversely, [a condition of the mind] arises in which it is getting filled with thoughts toward God, or with God’s existence.

Asangan: So does that mean that by becoming empty, this happens?

MASTER: Correct.


Satya: I think that the stopping or restraint of the mind happens in raja yoga (the Royal Path of yoga) and jnana yoga (the wisdom or knowledge of yoga), but in the case of bhakti yoga, it begins with thinking about, or loving God. We are using the mind in this process [of bhakti yoga]; but then in bhakti yoga, what does it mean to restrain or stop the mind?

MASTER: Ultimately, it indicates the absence of ignorance, pain-bearing obstacles and attachments in the mind. As Shri Ramakrishna often says, he pled to keep his mind intact so that he could sense God, in other words, he wanted to taste God—this is sort of… the earnest wish of a bhakta (the ones who have devotion and who love God), and that is not a pain-bearing obstacle. Rather, it shows that one yearns to taste the Existence called God itself 100%; the mind eventually becomes dyed in It and dissolves into God, therefore there is no problem.

Satya: So that means that in bhakti yoga, this is the same as the restraint of the mind in raja yoga.

MASTER: It indicates the same condition. Yes, that is correct.

Satya: Then, I wonder—is it different from what is generally considered to be [the state in which] the mind still remains?

MASTER: It is different. There are slight differences between the understanding of the mind in raja yoga, and the state of the mind that is explained as the ultimate state in bhakti yoga.

Satya: On the other hand, there is a teaching that everything is God. I suppose that the desire of the gopi (cow herding girls) was not about seeing God in everything, but about seeing only Krishna. So, I wonder, if the mind naturally turns into perceiving everything as God as a waypoint; where is the threshold between wanting the most to see the figure or form of Krishna and that…?

MASTER: In that sense, to bhakta these things are intermingled; it is like slightly different thoughts are intervening and shifting one after another, in and out, yet even so the condition that raja yoga refers to as the restraint of the mind is occurring; in this sense, or in Yoga in a broader sense, it can be considered as being complete.


True Existence, or God, Alone Exists

Ms. Yoshinaga: So, God is Consciousness, and God Itself does not become joyful, is that correct to say?

MASTER: There are no emotions.

Ms. Yoshinaga: In the concept that relates to the enjoyment of this world—lila—is the Consciousness enjoying it? What is enjoying it?

MASTER: The Existence of God is referred to in different words as Sat Chit Ananda. Sat means Existence, Chit means Consciousness, Ananda means Bliss. That is how it indicates that the Bliss exists as the essence of the Existence of God Itself.

Ms. Yoshinaga: For the sake of having joy, God created the world…

MASTER: Yes, that is Bliss. The word “enjoyment” does not precisely convey the true meaning of it; it is not the enjoyment that is referred to as one of the emotions of the human world, but rather, it is a state that is absent of emotion, yet it is a state of Bliss, that is filled with Joy.

Ms. Yoshinaga: So that means that this world itself is God and it is Bliss; it’s not about someone enjoying it.

MASTER: Indeed, that is exactly as in the expression that all lila is really enjoyment.

(after a while) With regard to Existence, Reality—which is the True Existence, though I just mentioned It with words just now, it is fairly difficult to express in words; in fact, it’s impossible; yet, we knowingly use these words [even though it can’t be expressed]. However, only True Existence, which is God, exists, and every single thing other than that is like a dream, like an illusion. Yet, as long as the mind is active, it is in the exact opposite state, and the mind cannot perceive God, so the mind thinks that only the manifestations of this world, or only the phenomena, are the facts. Well, that is the state in which the mind is mistaken, being in an illusion. Therefore, [the mind is taught] the original, the true way of how things are, which is, only God, only Truth exists, and therefore no matter what happens in the realm of phenomena, since they’re like illusions or dreams, it is unnecessary to make a fuss about it.

Ms. Yoshinaga: So, does that mean that even though in essence we are God, since we each individually have a body with egos attached to them, if there are wars that we see, we feel sad upon hearing of someone’s death—however that too is caused by the ego that is making us see it that way; but in actuality, the essence of everything is the same, so no matter what happens or what is felt, what exists is only Consciousness, Existence and Bliss?

MASTER: Yes, yes, that is correct. Therefore, it depends on the standpoint of the perception, whether you see it from the Truth, or you see it from the mind, the exact opposite results arrive.

Ms. Yoshinaga: (seemingly understanding and accepting) Thank you very much.


Sanatana Dharma and the Manifestation of Avatara

Ms. Nagaoka: Would Shri Mahayogi teach us about Sanatana Dharma in the celebration [of Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela], that will be tomorrow?

MASTER: Sanatana means eternal. Dharma here refers to the teaching of Truth. Truth, of course, is eternal. It is not swayed or affected by the characteristics of an era or a culture, or any condition whatsoever. It is the Truth that continues to exist without change, transcending time. This Truth abides as the essence within all living beings and the entire universe. However, the human mind—due to not knowing this, and rather to the contrary, having a mistaken concept—comes into contact with this world and chases after transitory freedom or fake, vain happiness in the world. The result is miserable suffering.

However, when people are about to forget this Eternal Truth, then that Truth Itself incarnates, and appears on this Earth to remind people once again. For such Beings their Existences are beyond time and space, unbounded by it, yet, no matter which of these Beings it is that performs this work within this world limited by time and space—that Being is called the Avatara, translated as an incarnation of God—for such an Existence needs to manifest from time to time. That was Buddha, and in the modern era, Shri Ramakrishna; and for this truly important, precious and sacred Truth and Existence, let us [recall and] renew [our thoughts and gratitude toward them, along with] our intention [of aiming toward the state of Truth which the Avatara demonstrate through their life and live accordingly] once again—and therefore we are going to do that in the form of a celebration tomorrow.


Harshani: Do Avatara only appear during Kali Yuga?

MASTER: No, the principle is that Avatara descend by the necessity of the universe; during the age of darkness, called Kali Yuga, that is, during an era that has a great deal of suffering, the Avatara is sought after more; and in fact, it is said that looking from the perspective of a historical timeline, the era of Buddha was already Kali Yuga. That means, most of what we know in the timeline of [recorded] history comes to be in the era of Kali Yuga. Then it feels like the exact opposite era, Krita Yuga, which is called the golden age, the most righteous era, is unimaginably far away and will be. Yet, even then, if the necessity arises, Avatara will appear; therefore it boils down to the fact that Avatara are more requested during Kali Yuga.

Harshani: So, then is the frequency of the appearance of Avatara more in Kali Yuga than in other eras?

MASTER: I think so.

Harshani: Do the Avatara appear at the necessary time in a particular era of their own accord, or do the Avatara appear as if being called by souls who seek the Truth? How does this work?

MASTER: It is the result of the aggregation of all these factors. That is why it can’t be described other than to say that it occurs at the request of the universe. That is the only way to understand it.

For example, it is said that when Buddha appeared, India at the time had an extremely rich spiritual culture, flooded with various philosophies emerging; they were so exuberant and out of control to the point that it was difficult to discern what was the Truth; thus, with the necessity to clearly point out what the Truth is, “Truth is this!,” Buddha appeared. In short, it was for the characteristic of the era, or rather preventing the confusion at the time from getting worse, and to properly, thoroughly and firmly provide a singular guiding principle.

Jesus too said the same thing. According to his words, at the time there was something that seemed to be like Judaism, however, the religion was already corrupted and in chaos. There, Jesus appeared with quite a revolutionary teaching, yet he said that he did not come to destroy religion, but to perfect it.1 The same thing can be said about the appearance of Buddha.

Then, in the 19th century, during the time of Shri Ramakrishna, too, India was under British rule, and it seems that Christianity and various foreign cultures came in and India was led into chaos—and their own great wisdom, called the Vedas, which had been passed down for millennia, began to be neglected, and the situation became uncontrollably chaotic. Shri Ramakrishna appeared exactly during this era with this historical backdrop. What he did was to teach harmony—that the Truth across all religions is One, therefore it is not right to dispute between religions of course, and rather, each religion respectively should aim towards the single One Truth. That too played a crucial role in bringing the chaos of the era to a settled state. The effects are not limited only to their era, but they transcend time, and they transcend space—just as the teachings of Buddha are still understood even now, Shri Ramakrishna’s teachings, are like that too—they are alive, transcending time and space. You may consider that that is the essence of the Avatara.

 (After a while, Anandamali, who is dedicating herself to interpreting for Prapatti, asks a question.)

Anandamali: Then, what is Shri Mahayogi’s mission to restate in this year, 2019?

(Shri Mahayogi makes a surprised expression, as if to say, “Huh?”)

Anandamali: A while ago, Shri Mahayogi spoke about his mission in this era, in which he appeared as Avatara; but the era keeps progressing forward. If we can receive some words about this again, what would they be?

MASTER: (smiling) Nowadays, Yoga has spread beyond the land of India, that is to say, for example, it’s gone to the West and across the East beyond India. However, at the same time, the Truth or the essence of Yoga has been forgotten and it has been understood as something banal. In that sense, this era we live in now is the era of making the confusion grow too. …For this reason, therefore, (laughter from Shri Mahayogi and everyone) I wish to eliminate this confusion. (Shri Mahayogi and Anandamali smile at each other.)


[1] “Do not think I have come to get rid of what is written in the Law or in the Prophets. I have not come to do this. Instead, I have come to fulfill what is written.” Matthew 5:17-20


The Universality of Yoga

(Ms. Hattori, who is an elementary school teacher in Nagoya City, asks a question.)

Ms. Hattori: When Shri Mahayogi was young, post-war Japan no longer had religious education in the curriculum in schools, is that correct?

MASTER: Right, there was none.

Mr. Hattori: Currently, there is a shift in the attempt to teach ethics and morality as a subject. Content-wise, in the class there is no talk of religion, but rather, we have started to have discussions that emphasize what everyone feels and what comes out of each person, respecting each respective person’s ways of thinking and their opinions. But I feel like, how can we have a discussion when no one teaches the essence? (MASTER: That is true.) And I am not sure what we can do when the teachers can’t even be role models. Unless one has faith toward an Existence like an Avatara or God, one can neither teach it nor convey it. I think that is the most important part when it comes to education.

MASTER: Right. In general, it seems that the term “religion” includes mostly dualistic religions, which is a dualistic situation where there is an opposed relationship of humans and God. That is quite a significant element in Christianity as well. Same in Islam. Buddhism is actually not that way originally, yet you can’t say there are no such tendencies either. That is to say, pre-existing religions have ended up as mostly dualistic religions. The consequence of that is that there are various religions in the world, but oppositional relationships arise among them and against one another, just like in the case of the current Christianity and Islam. Then, what about the case of India? There is a religious form called Hinduism, which is translated as India-ism in a broader sense; most of the content naturally has a dualistic structure; for instance, because this world is filled with suffering—to wish for a happier afterlife, and to be born again next time and become happy—indeed this can be seen in every religion.

In this situation, Yoga is exceptional, or rather, Yoga transcends dualism and teaches non-dualism—that everything is God’s Existence, that only Truth exists—Yoga has its essence in such monism. Therefore, there is no need to call Yoga a religion, yet to realize that Truth, one without a second is at its center. Everyone starts out from a dualistic condition. Because you are in pain, you want to be healed from pain, to be happy because of misfortunes—everyone begins from such starting points. These are dualistic conditions. However, as one studies and puts the teachings into action, then gradually one transcends that duality and arrives at non-duality. Then, it will be unnecessary to use the word “religion” since that enclosure is not needed, because only the simple Truth Exists there—indeed, it has nothing to do with differences in religion or era.

Yoga is based on eternity and universality, transcending dualism—the practice to begin [aiming for it] is contained in teachings such as yama and niyama (abstinences and observances) that teach what you need to do to get started from there. Other religions too have almost exactly the same precepts. Taking the ten commandments in Buddhism, or the ten commandments in Christianity, they have close similarities; they are means to control and discipline the ego and to respect others, equality, or in the modern world, the preciousness or dignity of life—these things are there. Regardless of the differences in forms or mental states, life has equally the same value and is equally precious, and if you take this principle, not only for humans, but expanding to animals, plants, and even the issues of the environment, everything has preciousness as a being with a life and a soul. There is no way for us to say that only humans are superior or more precious; since everyone and everything has equal preciousness living in this world. Therefore, it is not necessary to use religious words, because if you think about where discriminations arise—such environmental issues, issues of valuing life, various prejudices in rich and poor, they come from ego and ignorance and such; therefore, work on correcting these errors that are being produced by the mind, it does not necessarily need to be called religion. Unless you grasp these areas, even if you debate and discuss, you’ll go around in circles (laughing). Basic human rights—well, that’s a term that sounds a bit too much like legalese—but you can study about the universal fundamentals of human beings through learning Yoga, and introduce it to them.

Mr. Hattori: (happily smiling) Thank you very much.


(As 8:30pm passes, the time comes to end the Satsangha. Shri Mahayogi, with a beautiful smile says, “Well, see you again tomorrow!” and with light footsteps, leaves the hall with an atmosphere like glorious spring air.)

(In preparation for the festival, this Satsangha heightened the feelings towards Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Truth.)

(After closing, a rehearsal is held for Shri Ramakrishna’s hymn to be offered at the celebration tomorrow right there with everyone present. Surrounding the sheepskin Shri Mahayogi was sitting on, the disciples, with joyous hearts, praise and sing for the Existence of the Avatara, the great man of God.)



Spiritual Discipline and Prayer

December 9, 2006, Kyoto

It has been raining all day since morning, but by the time everyone gathers for Satsangha, the rain has turned into a drizzle.

The mala (flower garland) that was offered to Shri Mahayogi during Jayanti is hanging on the wall on the second floor of the Ashrama, right next to the landing of the stairs, holding the reverberation of that day. Among the weekly regulars, there are new participants—a friend of Mr. Takahashi, Mr. Imai, who lives in Ehime prefecture, and Simon, a tall young man from Canada who found out about the Mission through the internet. He plans to stay in Japan for a while, and said, “I am very happy to be visiting a place that seems to be what I have been seeking.”

In the beginning, Simon asks about sanskara (latent impressions in the subconscious). He says that due to the repeated endless reactions of habitual thoughts and actions, it is difficult at times to find faith due to being influenced by these.

Simon: How should I deal with these tendencies? I have been practicing hard because I feel that it is necessary to transform myself, but I am not confident about my practice…

I don’t understand the meaning of devoted service very well either, and I feel that it is lacking in me. Would Shri Mahayogi please speak about this?

(After a long silence, Shri Mahayogi quietly begins to speak.)

MASTER: The [level of] devoted service that can eradicate all karma (cause and effect of actions) and sanskara, requires the level of intention where one is willing to exchange one’s own life for it. That intention is the beginning of the search for the Truth.

And what must be done next is to find the right Master and the right teachings. Then one has to ardently apply the teachings in action and apply the practice of disciplines given by the Guru (Master). This, of course, requires not only learning the Truth from the scriptures or the mouth of the Guru, but the application of the disciplines of practice using one’s body is also indispensable. In Yoga, asana and pranayama (the method to control the breath or energy) fall under the category of the discipline of practicing through the body. Furthermore, one must work to carefully and watchfully control one’s daily actions.

In this current age, no matter what kind of occupation you have while living in society, you can realize Yoga. The more you continue, the more purified the mind becomes, and devoted service will be heightened more and more.

(Then, the teaching shifts to sitting positions.)

(Shri Mahayogi asks Dayamati, who is sitting next to Simon, to demonstrate siddhasana (adept’s seated pose), padmasana (lotus seated pose), and vajrasana ([diamond seated pose]). Simon looks on with seriousness while nodding.)

MASTER: The purpose of all groups of asana, which have many variations, are all for the purpose of making these asana for sitting comfortable. And in these simple seated forms, pranayama and meditation are practiced.

The reason why siddhasana and padmasana are excellent, is because as one becomes accustomed to these asana, the nadi—the paths where prana passes within the body—automatically become purified, the breath becomes calm, then the mind becomes calm. This results in weakening the pain-bearing obstacles, that is, sanskara, and in heightening concentration.

Simon: How are sanskara removed? Do they become purified by prana? Or is it necessary to consciously practice something myself, for example, find and get rid of something unnecessary, or find unnecessary judgements and stop making them, or love a particular person more? Or is it better to simply accept?

MASTER: (immediately) It is done through the Truth.

Simon: Do you mean by continuing to recognize sanskara myself?

MASTER: No. By focusing entirely on the Truth alone, then the power of attachment from sanskara can be removed. Sanskara are formed by pain-bearing obstacles.

Simon: So in other words, not seeing the Truth?

MASTER: Right, it is called ignorance.


Ms. Matsukawa (Amara): During the Jayanti (2006), the message from Anandamali-san to Shri Mahayogi (Paramahamsa, Vol. 59)1 left a very strong impression on me. The word “solitude” was used in the message; and I have been thinking about what “solitude” means since then… I feel that when I use, or hear or read this word, emotions like “loneliness” or “longing” tend to cling to this word often. May I ask how does Shri Mahayogi grasp the word “solitude”? 

MASTER: Normally, that is how this word is understood. However, to me, the word “solitude” is literally (sticking up his index finger)—it simply means “One.” It indicates that there is only Atman. For Atman, it cannot mingle or play with what is not Atman.

Therefore, both absolutely and relatively, it is Alone. I have been living in this way, all this time. (towards the end, as if whispering)

That is what was meant and expressed by Anandamali.

Ms. Matsukawa (Amara): At the end of Jayanti, Shri Mahayogi said, “I am looking for partners,”2 which means Shri Mahayogi wants us to realize Satori as soon as possible…

MASTER: That’s right (laughing), exactly.

Ms. Matsukawa (Amara): (in a small voice) I understand.

MASTER: And, it goes further—let’s then play together. (Shri Mahayogi smiles joyfully.)


Mr. Imai: I would like to ask about how to relate to others. When I visit the sangha (the gathering of disciples) here, I feel that everyone is very much filled with considerate kindness and thoughtfulness, which are very natural, must-have qualities for a human being. However, I think that I lack them. And, the things that I try after thinking very hard in my own way in order to compensate for this lack become too exaggerated, or give discomfort to others at times, I think.

Though it may not be easy for me to reform due to the kind of upbringing I had, the atmosphere of my family, or my own character, in order to live the rest of my life, please teach me what kinds of things I can work on to raise my awareness so that I will be able to develop and act in ways that that are considerate and kind, which are such natural qualities for a human being.

MASTER: The common reason why human interactions often fail, is because you see differences in others; it’s this sense of differentiating oneself from others. A person who is favorable to you, or not favorable to you, a person you love, a person you hate, a person beneficial to you, a person of no benefit to you…various differentiations make your relations to others increasingly uneasy, troubled and confused.

What Yoga teaches (with a stern tone) is to remove these kinds of differentiations. The people and situations in front of you are inevitably in these conditions or situations, whether it’s family, colleagues or friends. Therefore, without making differentiations, you proactively act on what you think will be best for them—simply, that is what you can do. Then, do not be attached to the results, whether your actions go well or not. [When it comes to action,] the action has the other person as its object, but in actuality, there is only One—this can become possible by seeing the Atman within each and every one, whether it be strangers or children.

Mr. Imai: (while thinking) What Shri Mahayogi has mentioned now—does it mean that the right action for me to take is to perform my actions while having that perspective? The reason I say that is because it seems to me that there are people who are not necessarily religious, or who are even atheistic, who naturally conduct themselves that way due to their family environment or their upbringing.

MASTER: Right. People who act with such exemplary conduct, they do so due to their good karma. And what I have just mentioned now is the conduct caused by Yoga.

(After some silence, Shri Mahayogi continues.)

Either way, it is up to you to make your life good or bad. If you know this natural, obvious fact, then how can anyone ever avoid making an effort? How wonderful it would be if each individual, and all people in the world could make such efforts.

(Shri Mahayogi ends speaking as if he is questioning everyone. The gentle, yet robust and compassionate words of the Master penetrate and dissolve deep within everyone’s hearts.)


Shachi: Sarada Devi,3 probably for demonstrating it to all of us, prayed all the time not to see faults in others, because I suppose that when one sees everything as One, whether it’s not seeing any faults in others, or praising and thinking others are amazing or wonderful, both belong to the activities of the mind. When having contact with or dealing with others in daily life, while we are unable to see others as One, should we practice to see only the good in others?

MASTER: (firmly) That is a teaching for general devotees. For you, who have been practicing Yoga, you must ignore even that, and see only Atman.

—No praise, no faults, just pure and pristine Atman.

(Shachi puts her palms together in front of her chest.)


Simon: Please teach me about prayer. I try to change my mind, and try to have right thoughts towards others, but I get stuck trying because the mind gets even more nervous.

MASTER: The mind and the world are constantly changing. The ideal wished for in prayer should be sought in something that is changeless. What is changeless is none other than Atman, or God. You must direct your prayer there.


Ms. Matsukawa (Amara): Did the word Atman come from the word “art” [like in fine arts]? (Everyone bursts into laughter.)

MASTER: Probably not. (roaring laughter from everyone) Sanatana is knowledgeable about word origins, so why don’t we listen to Sanatana’s explanation.

(Everyone’s cheerful laughter reverberates and fills the room with a genial mood.)

Sanatana: In German, there is a word “atmen” which means to breathe.

(He explains that in the time of the ancient Upanishads, the essence of life was considered to be the breath. And there was an inquiry into what is the power that makes the breath move, or what is the power that is at the root of prana; then it was eventually called the true Self, Atman.)

Sanatana: There is also a meaning of “one’s own self”; when used in a philosophical, deeper meaning, it indicates a deeper self, that is beyond the breath, the body or the mind. Originally, it came from a verb, “to breathe.”

MASTER: More than one hundred or so years ago when Swami Vivekananda4 went to America, I learned that the most difficult word to translate was Atman. So, he mainly used the Sanskrit word Atman as it is. There seems to not be an appropriate equivalent in English for It.

As Sanatana just mentioned now, on one hand, the essence of a human being lies in the breath, and there is a power behind it that moves to work that breath, which is the law that says that this universe, too, moves all by this providence; on the other hand, there is this “I,” one’s self—and it is [described with] the word Atman. But it’s just that the nuance has changed [over the years].

From a vague, first-person pronoun that indicates “I” or “one’s self,” if one seeks further into what exactly this “self” is—is it the body? The mind? The breath? And as the result of this investigation, the essence of that “I,” one’s own self, the first-person, was revealed to be Immortal Existence, Eternal Existence—this is nothing other than the great principle of the universe, Atman, that has been sought after since ancient times and that continues on to this day. That is how the word Atman became the word that indicates the meaning of the true Self.

In English, the uppercase “Self,” which is “self” when you say “myself” or “yourself”—when it’s a lowercase “self,” it refers to the common understanding of the word “self,” however—by making it uppercase, it expresses God or something that is absolute.

Ms. Matsukawa (Amara): There is no “my” added in “self.”

MASTER: It is not added. It is called “true Self”; “my” or “your” are gone. But when you look at the word origin or trace back the word’s transitions and evolution, as that is one of the approaches, it serves the purpose of enhancing one’s understanding.

In ancient Buddhism, the older form of “I” in Japanese is used in translation.


(Ms. Umeda (Madhri) talks about a woman who came to the class in Osaka. She was interested in Zen, and when she was researching the origin of Yoga, she came across the the Mahayogi Mission website.)

Ms. Umeda (Madhri): The beginning of Yoga is something I consider to be what Shri Mahayogi mentioned earlier about this inquiry since ancient times. But, when it comes to the origin…

MASTER: To be precise, I infer that it may have already been established by about 3000 years ago. And, when Buddha, Shakyamuni, appeared 2500-2600 years ago, it took shape in its complete form. 3000 years ago suggests that there was also a preparation period before that, so very roughly, Yoga must have existed at least since 3000-4000 years ago, which is what can be said about it without any issue.

Of course, the reason why Yoga was deepened was to solve the mystery of the world and of the human mind, and at the same time to seek the absolute Reality and realize it.

Zazen (sitting meditation in Zen) is especially well-known as one of the main methods of practice in Zen sects, but that goes back to the form of Buddha’s Satori, and if that is the case, then it boils down to nothing other than Yoga—because, Buddha realized Satori within Yoga, through Yoga.


Simon: For example, what do you think about pursuing two spiritual practices, both Buddhism and Yoga? Or is it better to concentrate on one path?

MASTER: To be blunt, the Satori and the teaching of Buddha, Shakyamuni, is different from the content of Buddhism.

In my view, if you ask where Satori and the teachings of Buddha are, they are in Yoga. In comparison, the teachings that widely spread across the East as Buddhism have gotten a bit confused. Therefore, it is wise to seek the path in its original form.

(Shri Mahayogi gazes at Simon with a smile. Simon nods and seems to be convinced, saying “Okay.”)

Simon: So then, does that mean that I should follow my own intuition?

MASTER: Yes, that is a very important thing. Always seek only what is pure, what is real.

Mr. Takahashi: Compared to the original Yoga, what is the confusion around the zazen practice in Zen?

MASTER: It would have been nice to have Vishoka here (laughing).

The word zazen comes from jyana, in Chinese. That is a sound alteration of Sanskrit dhyana, that means, meditation. It is translated as zenjo [in Japanese]. So when it comes to zazen, it is none other than meditation.

The problem is the teaching; what is being taught through meditation, and what must be realized? This is where the clarity of Yoga and the confusion of Buddhism become apparent. Obviously, these parts—to realize Satori by eliminating karma, sanskara, and ignorance—are the same. In Yoga, this is mastered through actually experiencing it in the solidified depths called Samadhi.

The zazen that is passed on in Japan in the current time has forgotten that original content, and it appears that it is apt to become conceptual. One cannot expect transformation of the mind in that way at all. That is the only simple difference. It’s simple, yet quite a critical matter.

(after some silence) As you know, there are many temples in Kyoto. Zen sects have many of their headquarters located here. However, how many Awakened Beings have these places produced? Nearby here, we have Myoshin-ji, Daitoku-ji, Ryoan-ji, many headquarters like that. Nowadays, unfortunately, they’ve all become tourist attractions. (Shri Mahayogi and everyone laugh.)


Ms. Hotta (Jayadevi): I recently read a story that moved me. (She starts to share the story about the apprentice monk serving Swami Akandanana, Shri Ramakrishna’s5 direct disciple.)

—A devotee who was seeking a Guru was staying at Akandananda’s ashrama. One time, around midnight, the apprentice monk heard the loud voice of Akandananda, and went to see what’s going on; when he arrived, Akandananda was giving this devotee a spiritual blessing. When the apprentice monk saw the scene, he felt a deep sorrow, because he had never been given such a blessing from Akandananda before. He thought and struggled, “I am not worthy to be given a blessing from the Guru because I am not endowed with spiritual qualities.”

As if understanding the feeling of the apprentice monk, one day when Akandananda and the apprentice monk were walking together, Akandananda said, “One who prays for something receives it. But one who does not seek anything, receives something even higher.” Upon hearing that, the apprentice monk then had a big realization.—

Ms. Hotta (Jayadevi): When I read this story, I thought that I was unknowingly seeking something from Shri Mahayogi. (bitter smile)

(with a quivering voice) To not even seek a blessing—how can I have that kind of attitude? And if it is possible to verbalize—will Shri Mahayogi please teach us what is “something even higher”?

MASTER: Even if a prayer is sublime, it is done through words and thoughts; thus, it is creating a limitation through that. True prayer is something that cannot be reached even with words; it exists where it is unreachable even with thoughts. For that, simply and solely in silence, you must continue to keep devoting yourself to practice disciplines and make efforts. That is all.

Blessings are always full and brimming. If you continue to keep devoting yourself earnestly to practice and keep making effort, then you will surely feel it from time to time. There is really no better teaching that is more blessed, than silence. (Shri Mahayogi smiles gently, and concludes his talk.)

(An overwhelming silence falls upon the room. No one utters a word. The space in the Ashrama is as if time has stopped, and it its enveloped with the endless darshan (blessing) of the Master.)


[1] [Message from Anandamali – Jayanti 2006]

My Dearest Beloved,

We are truly CRAZY.
We are filled with the Joy of knowing YOU and being together with YOU.
Savoring the nectar, and forgetting ourselves,
We jump into the Ocean of Glorious Bliss.
O Shri Mahayogi! My Dearest Beloved!
I Yearn for Thee.

When I think about Solitude,
I sense that there is no one else who is as alone as Shri Mahayogi.
For Buddha, it must have been the same.
Of course, in Satori, there is no such thing as solitude.
Yet, Shri Mahayogi was born in this land, Japan,
Where Yoga was unknown,
And simply and steadfastly practiced Yoga alone;
Of course, Because Shri Mahayogi abides always in the state of Yoga,
There is no other way of Being,
But still,
Carefully making sure not to leave a single footprint of your own life,
Not even an intention,
You practiced quietly, yet firmly and undauntedly.
When I think of the words of Buddha—
“The world is beautiful,”
Your irresistibly glorious form overlaps with Him.
O, the Supreme Sublime Being,
I Worship Thee!

For You having descended with a physical body,
And again,
For me having arrived at Your Lotus Feet in Blessings,
and again,
For being together with You. 
I am Eternally Grateful.

My Dearest Beloved,
I am with You endlessly.

— Anandamali (New York)

[2] [Message from Shri Mahayogi – Jayanti 2006]

Thank you very much for many moments of enjoyment and joy.

And today, I’d like to say to all of you, “Congratulations.” This is because [you being here] means [you have a] second birth in this world, which indicates something very auspicious. In India, it has been said, “The ordinary person dies once. However, a holy person dies twice. When one dies twice, one no longer dies.”

Truly congratulations. And from now on, or rather especially from now on, more and more, [realize and] be in Prema, which is the Lila of true Love—which means to live in Love with Love, to play, all and everything. In reality, there is really nothing other than that; therefore, don’t say, “there are so many things [like difficulties] in life,” for that is also included as one of [the types of play in] Prema, or Lila.

I am always seeking partners, so that we can perform a richer love scene. There is no need to hold back. No need for shyness. Be Pure, be Free, be Bohemian. I have a premonition we will be immersed in Love.

Always, always, wherever you are, I am always with you.


[3] Sarada Devi (1853-1920)
The holy companion of Shri Ramakrishna. Since childhood, she had a pure mind, and spent her entire life dedicated to the service of others, such as to her family, to her husband, who was her Master, and to the disciples and devotees of the Master. She had peerless spirituality hidden within and was said to have never revealed it; however, the ones that were able to be touched by her divinity and brimming affection, felt supreme blessings. She, who saw everyone as her own child and loved them as such, was looked up to, respected and loved by many disciples of the Master and by many people as the Holy Mother—the incarnation of the Motherly God, the Mother.


[4] Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902)
A beloved disciple of Shri Ramakrishna, and the great saint who brought the universal Truth of Yoga to the world. After the Master’s passing, he became a monk, and while he was wandering across all of India, he realized the teaching of Truth that was bestowed upon him by the Master—“All and everything is the manifestation of God.” In order to save the suffering masses he witnessed closely during his wandering, and in order to transmit the wisdom of India to the world, he attended the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893. His powerful gospel inspired many people in spite of differences in countries, races, and religions, and aroused them towards the awakening of the Truth.


[5] Shri Ramakrishna (1836-1886)
He is a Great Awakened Being in modern India. Since childhood, he had a fervor towards God, and often entered into Samadhi. In Dakshineswar temple, north of Kolkota (formerly Calcutta), he immersed himself in worship of God and devoted to the practice of severe austerities. After seeing Goddess Kali, through his intense and earnest desire and his staking his life on this, he practiced all kinds of yoga and realized the Truth, the One without a second. He further realized the Truth of Islam and Christianity, and taught that “All religions are various paths toward the One, single Truth.”

* * *

Testimonies from a Practitioner

The Secret of the Upanishads


by Yogadanda
March and May, 2007, Kyoto, Japan

“Where do people go after death?”

When I first encountered a person’s death and witnessed the consciousness leave the body, this was the question that arose within me. For a brief moment, the mind became still and tried to go inward. However, the trivial matters of the world easily made me forget this essential question.


“People get sick. And eventually die. There is no one who can escape death.”

These words of the Buddha were very obvious facts, yet still so shocking. Because up until that moment, my mind had been devoted only to the happiness I can get in this world and the actual results I can achieve, I had tried not to look at the significant fact that death is inevitable to all. But by facing death head-on, whatever I had been chasing up until then crumbled so easily. No matter how much wealth or how many accomplishments I gain in this world, no matter how happy my life is, death will surely put an end to all of it.


“Then, what is the meaning of this life?”

“Am I this body that will eventually die, or will I continue to exist after death?”

Here again, this essential question came up. Yet this time, it wasn’t about others’ deaths, but the urgent matter of my own death. If I see myself as being so important, then I must answer this question. There is nothing more pointless than simply living day to day without finding a purpose to live for.

In this world, various religions preach about Heaven and Paradise, which is the world in which there is an easy life after death. Nevertheless, even if one can reach such a paradise after death, the issue of whether it is endless, whether death will arrive again, will continue to follow you like a shadow. This will get me nowhere, for this is simply replacing the issue with something else.

On the other hand, the existence of the Awakened Beings—their way of living and the teachings of Immortality that emanate from their mouths—brilliantly shine forth. A straight path that has continued endlessly since ancient times is open right in front of our eyes.

Rishi (holy sages) have been handing down the Truth with simple words, even before the dawn of writing. The profound secrets, the mysteries of Life and the riddles of the mind, are hidden within the Upanishads. The rishi, while keeping their feet on the ground, let their minds soar from the microcosm to the end of the universe, from the origin of time to beyond eternity—their great expansive vibration is imbued in the Upanishads.

Those pure souls, who for the sake of hearing the secret of death from the God of Death, gladly buried their own bodies, those wise, sagacious souls who knew about the essence of rituals, yet when climbing to the apex of knowledge, renounced everything (sannyasa)—the heartbeats of these souls pulsate within the Upanishads.

They were courageous enough to tackle death head-on. Then, they uncovered the true nature of death, and realized the Truth of Immortality.

The rishi clearly declared—Death is an illusion that the mind creates; the true Self within, in the depths of the mind, Atman, is never born and will never die, It is the eternal Existence. That true Self, Atman, is the same as Brahman, which is the great Existence behind the macrocosm, and it is One.


“I am Brahman.”
“You are That.”


Since 2004, we have been working on producing “sacred plays”—making the Upanishads into stage plays—and through offering these plays to the Master, creating opportunities for many people to touch the truth of the Upanishads; and we have performed a total of four times up until now (2007).

In 2005, an event called “Amrita—Immortality” was performed for the public, and through it Shri Mahayogi bestowed on us an opportunity to manifest these secrets from millennia ago, for the world. It was a great and joyful occasion for those of us who are living in the modern world, and it must have been great and joyful as well for the rishi who have been transmitting these Truths uninterruptedly since ancient times.


Through these activities, the disciples have benefited from immeasurable grace.

The secret hidden in the scriptures—especially the Upanishad, is the compilation of words from the intuition of the rishi; their expressions are mystical and symbolic. Through Shri Mahayogi clearly decoding the parts that are difficult to decipher, the essence of the teachings and the personalities of the characters have been resurrected vividly. Also, when we play the role of these rishi as actors, we need to thoroughly imbue our own flesh and blood with the spirits of the rishi. It is quite obvious to the eyes of the audience whether we’re saying these lines from the bottom of our hearts or not. I couldn’t ask for anything better, as it became an opportunity to practice the teachings of the Upanishads in action.

Fortunately, I have been able to be involved with the sacred plays of the Upanishads throughout.

In this segment, “The Secret of the Upanishads,” I would like to introduce various teachings that became the material for the stage, and share the learnings and the joy via these articles. And, I would like to express gratitude towards Shri Mahayogi, who has given us this opportunity, the gurubai, and the ancient rishi.


It is generally considered that the books that are categorized under the name of the Upanishads total 108, a traditionally sacred number, however, it is said that there are at least 200 of them. Normally, when the Upanishads are referred to, it indicates about ten of the Upanishads that are oldest ones and these are the ones regarded as having the most important content. It depends slightly on various different theories, but they’re classified generally into three periods.1 The titles mentioned below are parts of the stories from the Upanishads that we made into plays, and the order of their performances. Each of the titles are as follows:

  1. Uddalaka Aruni and the Teaching of Atman—Jayanti, 2004
  2. Yajnavalkya and Maitreyi’s Dialogue—Jayanti, 2004
  3. Nachiketa’s Soul Journey—“Amrita—Immortality,” 2005
  4. Creator Prajapati’s Teaching of the Four Consciousnesses—Jayanti, 2005
  5. Debate on Brahman at the Palace of King Janaka—Jayanti, 2006


The early period (around 600 BC)

  • Chandogya Upanishad (1 and 4)
  • Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (2 and 5)
  • Aitareya Upanishad
  • Taittiriya Upanishad
  • Kaushiki Upanishad
  • Kena Upanishad

The middle period (around 400~200 BC)

  • Isha Upanishad
  • Katha Upanishad (3)
  • Svetasvatara Upanishad
  • Mundaka Upanishad
  • Mahanarayana Upanishad

The later period (around 200 BC~200 AC)

  • Isha Upanishad
  • Prashna Upanishad
  • Maitreya Upanishad
  • Mandukya Upanishad


The Teaching of Uddalaka Aruni
Chandogya Upanishad, Chapter 6

Offered at Jayanti, 2004

Uddalaka Aruni was a brahmin from the Kuru Panchala tribe. His father, Aruna, rejected the ritualistic view [that a certain result is produced because a certain ritual is performed in a certain manner], believing instead that speaking the Truth was the true offering. Uddalaka Aruni (a son of Uddalaka), who inherited this spirit, had an extraordinary faith towards satya (truth, honesty), and he had an unpretentious and rather humble personality. Even though he was a brahmin, the priest caste that had absolute authority, whenever he heard that a king somewhere knew about the Truth that he had not heard about yet, then he immediately went straight to that king and asked to be made his disciple. Also, when his own disciple, Yajnavalkya, spoke about a deeper Truth, then he accepted it simply without hesitation. (This story was later made into a sacred play for Jayanti1 in 2006.)

The subtle psychology related to karma or sanskara is not seen in his teachings, but instead it contains the simple teaching of Truth realized intuitively that has been passed down for thousands of years as the central pillar of the Upanishads. The story which will be introduced here is the teaching that, “Brahman, the great principle of the universe, and the true Self, Atman, are One,” and it is discussed in a serene, broad-minded dialogue between father and son.

Let us now set the stage to 2,500 years ago in India, where the reunion scene between the rishi and his son occurs after an interval of twelve years.


Uddalaka Aruni sent his son, by the name Svetaketu, at the age of twelve, to the house of a master to live there in order to study and learn the Vedas under the master during the period of time that ought to be dedicated to the study of the Vedas (brahmacharya).

One day, after learning all the Vedas throughout those twelve years, Svetaketu, now twenty-four years of age, returned home in high spirits, filled with the belief that he was consummately well-educated: “I now know everything about the scriptures. There remains little else for me to know.”

Uddalaka, following the tradition of India and wishing for his beloved son to be learned [in the Vedas as a family member of brahmin], then sent him away to the ashrama of a guru to study the Vedas, to train and discipline accordingly under a guru for twelve years. However, when his son returned, he was swollen with pride and conceit.

“Svetaketu, it seems that you are so full of your learning and so censorious; have you really learned those teachings properly? That is to say, the teachings by which we can hear what is not heard; perceive what cannot be perceived, and know what cannot be known?

For instance, as by knowing one lump of clay, all that is made of clay is known. Vases and plates—the different forms of clay are simply nothing more than a literal understanding, but in fact, only the clay exists. This is the knowledge I am talking about.

 “Sir, my venerable masters did not perhaps know it. But surely these teachers of mine must be ignorant of this knowledge; for if they possessed it they would have imparted it to me. Would you, Father, therefore please tell me about it?”

It must have been a surprise to Svetaketu, who believed it was good conduct to acquire as much knowledge as possible, to hear that there is such a teaching, where if one understands that one teaching, then one understands everything. And furthermore, finding out the fact that his own father knew that Truth that could not be learned from teachers in general, nor from scriptures, he may have had to regard his father with a new sense of reverence—for who knew such a Truth that could not be learned from general teachers or from scriptures. Svetaketu began to beg his father for this knowledge.

“In the beginning of creation, the True Existence = Brahman alone existed; it had neither an equal nor a second. This True Existence, as Atman, entered into heat, water, food, and created various names and forms.”

That which allows us to know everything if we know it, is the “True Existence.” However, Svetaketu was not fully convinced, whether this invisible, subtle “True Existence” really exists. Uddalaka instructed him to put a lump of salt into a vessel filled with water, and bring it the next morning.

“Good, then will you take the salt out of the vessel in which you put the salt in water?”

—“Not only can I not take the salt out, I am unable to find it.”

“Good. Then take a sip of that water from the front edge. How is it?”

—“It’s salty, sir.”

“Then, take a sip from the right edge. How is it?”

—“It’s salty, sir.”

“Then, take a sip from the far edge. How is it?”

—“It’s salty, sir.”

“Now, put it down, and sit down near me.”

Svetaketu did as he was bidden.

“My son, though you could not see the salt existing within the water; the salt indeed is certainly there. So, my son, believe this: everything in this universe, has this invisible True Existence as its essence. That is the Truth; that is Atman. Svetaketu, you are That!”

Just like this scene, the Upanishads must be quietly handed down in secret by words, as a qualified disciple sits next to a Guru. The meaning of Upanishad, is “upa (near)” and “nishad (sit).”

Uddalaka explained how the invisible “True Existence” exists through using a very easy-to-understand metaphor. Then, he explained how this Satori (realization) is actualized.

“For instance, as when a person is brought blindfolded from Gandhara and left in a deserted place, he turns sometimes to the east, sometimes to the north, sometimes to the south, and sometimes to the west. …However, as someone may remove his blindfold and say, “Gandhara is this way; go this way,” then the intelligent man goes from one village to another, asking his way and relying on information people give, until he reaches Gandhara; similarly, a person who gets a guru attains knowledge. ‘No matter how long it will take, I will accomplish my goal.’”

As mentioned earlier, the fact that Uddalaka put the guidance of the guru above all else, is indeed shown through his actions. No matter how much one studies the scriptures, or how grand the rituals are that are performed, these are all within the realm of the mind; yet, in order to realize the Truth beyond the mind, an existence beyond that realm is necessary. Only by sitting near the guru and receiving darshan (blessing), then the invisible Truth can be transmitted for the first time. Uddalaka, who was an ardent seeker, had known this well.

Then, the teaching that was explained last was related to satya [(honesty)].

“My son, suppose a man is brought with his hands tied, and they say: ‘this man has stolen something. He has committed robbery.’ ‘Heat up an axe red hot for him [in order to test whether he stole something or not].’ If he has committed the offence, then surely he will prove himself to be a liar. Being dishonest and trying to hide under the cover of falsehood, he will be burned when he grasps the hot axe, and then he will be killed.

However, if he has not committed the offence, then surely he will prove himself to be truthful. Being honest, he will be protected by the cover of truth and will not be burned when he grasps the hot axe. [As a result,] he will then be set free.

That man, being honest, was not affected by the hot axe—That verily is the True Existence, which is the essence of all and everything in the universe. That is the Truth; it is Atman. Svetaketu, you are That!”

In this moment, Svetaketu learned and understood this from his father, Uddalaka.

A person covered in the Truth, will never be burnt even if he grabs a scorching axe. In the Yoga Sutra, it is explained that the words uttered by a person who is thoroughly established in satya will absolutely come to fruition; for that kind of person has no contradictions between body (action), mouth (words), and mind (intention).

Through this, Uddalaka thoroughly transmitted the faith towards satya following his father, Aruna, and the Truth of “Brahman and Atman are One” to his son Svetaketu.

“You are That!”—the words that succinctly express “Brahman and Atman are One” is repeated again and again in their dialogue. That is why this may have been what Uddalaka wanted to tell his beloved son the most.

What an emboldening teaching! When the words “You are Atman” are uttered from Shri Mahayogi’s mouth, our self-confidence seems to be awakened from within ourselves. It is not the self-confidence towards one’s knowledge or talent, but the confidence towards the impeccable, immaculate Atman, which is the true Self, that is the essence of all things in the universe. Its power blows away any sense of discrimination such as arrogance or self-deprecation and pours life into all of our actions.

The more a person understands the Truth that all is One and equal, the actions of that person will be more humble naturally and filled with love; just like Uddalaka Aruni, a great rishi and a loving father.

[1] The celebration of the sacred birth of Shri Mahayogi.

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