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Vol. 78

Teachings of Shri Mahayogi

Satsangha, Osaka, 2006

Yoga—To Find the True “Self”


Testimonies from Actual Practitioners

Speech at the Celebration of Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela,
the Grand Ceremony of the Divine Manifestations, and
the 45th Anniversary of the Mahayogi Ashrama

by Yogadanda
April 2021, Kyoto, Japan



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Teachings of Shri Mahayogi

Translation of Satsangha

Yoga—To Find the True “Self”

At Lila Sangham Vol. 3, July 23, 2006, Osaka City Central Public Hall, Osaka


The program, Lila Sangham,1 a Gathering of Yoga, has been held since last year in order to provide an opportunity for as many people as possible to encounter true Yoga. Today is the third session, and it is being held at the Osaka City Central Public Hall, where Asana and Meditation classes are usually held. It’s a red brick building built during the Taisho era (1912-1926). The quaint hall, located on the second floor, surrounded by white walls, has been decorated simply yet beautifully by the collaborative work of all the disciples, and kirtan (devotional songs praising God) is playing in the background.

Among the new faces of the Asana and Meditation class participants and the friends and acquaintances of disciples, are Vishoka, who is leaving Japan the next day, and Sahaja, who is visiting Shri Mahayogi from the United States.


To start, Ambika, introduces the Master, Shri Mahayogi, and the Mission—this introduction is then followed by an introductory experience of Asana and Meditation and a viewing of a shortened version of the documentary DVD, “In the Cave with the Master.” Afterwards, the audience is introduced to Satsangha (Gathering of Truth) with Shri Mahayogi. Shri Mahayogi, who has been silently observing the event in the hall, sits lightly in the middle seat with a smile.


Shachi, who instructed the first part of the program, the Asana and Meditation introductory experience, asks the first question.


Shachi: Since there are people here who have just experienced Yoga for the first time, I would like to ask Shri Mahayogi to please speak about what role and position asana and meditation hold within Yoga.

MASTER: (powerfully, with a firm tone) The aim of Yoga is clear from the beginning. It is to become Free. However, as you accumulate experiences in this world, the world does not unfold in the way the mind wishes. That is to say, one experiences the bondage of non-freedom, that which is not free. Things don’t go the way the mind wants. Also, the body, at times, loses its freedom through illnesses and injuries. Even while being in these conditions that everyone experiences, to seek freedom ardently, and then to discover various things and realize Freedom, that is Yoga.

There are various layers of the body that compose a human. The outermost is the physical body, made of materials; this is mainly maintained by food. The force that supports this physiological body from the inside is called prana, or ki—that is the body of prana.

In Japanese, there are many words that combine with the word “ki,” for example “gen-ki” (full of energy, vitality or spirit; good health), “byo-ki” (sickness or illness), so you can see that various things are maintained by the energy called ki. However, deeper within this body of ki (prana) is the mental body, so to speak; it is the body of thought that feels, thinks and considers various things. This body supports the previous body of ki, the body of prana. This thought body, is also supported by the intellectual body, even deeper within, that is to say, since every thought is established upon words and their meaning, that exists deeper within. This intellectual body is underlain by the principle of joy or bliss that abides deepest within the mind.

In other words, looking deeper than the physical body, even to the internal, the invisible parts, it was then discovered that there is definitely a principle that joy must be sought there. However, in real life, there are both joys and pains, and in this world, looking at it as a whole, sadness and suffering may be much greater [than joy]. That’s where, in seeking Freedom or the Truth, one comes to learn this, and furthermore, to do some training, or in old-fashioned terms, to devote oneself to the discipline of spiritual practice.

Historical records show that Yoga has been practiced since ancient times, going back about four thousand years. In these periods, there was an extremely invaluable discovery by Yoga, which was not discovered in other religions or traditions. That was the control of prana, or ki.

However, it’s very difficult to grasp the mind or ki right away, or to control these; it is said that grasping the mind is as difficult as grasping the wind. Ki, of which the greater part is mainly absorbed through the breath, can be likened to water; it is difficult to grasp water also. However, ice is much easier to grasp, compared to water or wind.

So then, Yoga teaches that one should start from controlling the body—that is asana. By putting the body into various forms, [practicing] asana maintains a healthy body, or if one has an illness, asana heals it and restores the body back to health. Furthermore, one of the aims of asana is to remold the physical body so that one can maintain the body as a sturdy body that cannot be attacked by disease or injury—however, it’s not about building muscle at all (laughs), rather, it has more to do with the internal part, such as cells, joints, bodily fluids, various hormones and subtle physiological substances. One of the purposes of asana is to transform that body.

If a vessel is remolded, then the water becomes easier to control due to that vessel. Then, after asana comes the method of breathing, which is to control prana through the breath. Because the breath and the mind are very closely connected, if one is excited, then the breath becomes faster or irregular, and when one is feeling happy, then the breath is calm and slow, for example. Also, looking at the respiratory activity during sleep, it has been discovered that during deep sleep, the breath is very stable and slow. However, during the day, the breath is in sync with the mind that is constantly reacting to various happenings—it is irregular, fast, and never knows rest. Even so, if one can calm the breath, then the mind will follow and can be calmed down. That is clearly evident from experience.

When you take a one or two-hour Yoga class, after that you might experience a small sense of relief—that is one of the immediate effects. Therefore, in order to continue that effect all the time, Yoga is to be practiced every day. This is about the mind connection seen from the perspective of the physiological body [in Yoga], and it is one of the systems of Yoga. Asana is placed as one of the parts that is at its foundation.

In addition, many people may worry about their flexibility, but that is irrelevant. Whatever a person can do sufficiently is the 100% level for that person. As one continues, naturally the body becomes flexible, thus one will be able to make the forms at a higher-level, or rather, one will be able to do variations. However, that is not the aim. It just happens naturally.

That’s about it for asana. (smiling)


Ms. Umeda (Madhri): As I have continued learning Yoga, I have felt the gradual transformation of my mind, yet I still feel bothered or worried by thinking about the future or the past. I think that if I can concentrate moment to moment at all times, then I will be able to become much lighter. So I would like to ask again about what it means to live in the now, to live every moment and what the secret tip for this is.

MASTER: Another one of the important words in Yoga is karma. Most of you may know it, but it is the law of cause and effect, of action and reaction. Especially your own actions or thoughts—even thoughts within the mind are considered actions, either they are gross actions or subtle actions—the good or evil of these actions, or actions based on ignorance or Truth, eventually produce results: if you do bad, then pain results, and if you do good, then pleasure results—it is the law that you must receive the fruits of your actions. This is a cosmic law. Not only humans, but all things follow this principle.

Just as in the place where you sow seeds, fruits will grow, and just like if the seed is grown in a good environment, it produces good fruits, and if not, then there are not good fruits—if you understand this law of karma, simply put, it is “you shall reap what you sow.” [Therefore you should understand that whether] good or bad, all causes are within you; and also the results that will come in the future must be based on the seeds you have sown as well; therefore, you should not blame others for anything, you should not shift the responsibility or the blame onto other people. In any event, since everyone must wish to be good, to be happy, to be free, then there is nothing else you can do but to improve your own actions. This is very logical. It is not valid for you to believe that even if you are doing nothing, someone can make you happy. As you make efforts, then Happiness will come as a result—proportionate to your effort, after all.

And, that action, called karma, is formed by various conditions in this world, such as time and space, and the circumstances in that moment. It is the same as in physics. Therefore, the activities or thoughts of the mind are things that only exist in a specific time and space. If one second shifts, or if 1 millimeter is different in space, then the state of the mind changes. That is the way it is.

To live in the now, viewing it from physics, or from philosophy or psychology, means to only use your mind precisely at that very moment, in that time, right now, right here; if you are at work, use the mind to work, housework is housework, it doesn’t matter what it is. However, the mind tends to give itself over to how things were in the past and lose itself in that, this way and that way, bringing various shadows brought from happy memories, or sad memories. You can see that there is a time lag. It’s not realistic, since it’s not happening in that moment.

Conversely, being concerned about the future is the same. The future hasn’t even arrived yet—an error in time is produced. Therefore, it is important to have the direction of your own mind pointing the right way at first, which is to first aim to make yourself better. Otherwise, it would become difficult to live in a stable now. Therefore, determine to make yourself better, and for this purpose, rather than relying on memories from the past or concerns about the future, such erroneous thoughts, do what you can now and act upon what is right in front of your own eyes right now—when you become accustomed to this, then truly the mind becomes released from various pressures. To put it bluntly, almost all causes that the mind feels burden from or that the mind screams about are based on memories that you experienced in the past and anxiety towards the future that accompanies these memories from the past.

Correctly understanding the law of karma and knowing that there is true Freedom that is not bound by these things is also a must. That is the Truth, which exists deep within your mind, within everyone’s heart.

Then, while having your mind directed in such a way and acting [upon that] moment by moment, you will come to live in the now. This too is something that, if you become accustomed to it, it becomes easier to do. Therefore, even if something unpleasant happens, and if you feel it, it immediately becomes the past. Even after one second, two seconds, it becomes the past more and more. “I am not attached to or bothered by these things”—in daily life, this training may rather become a serious battle, you must play for keeps; in class, practicing asana and meditation will nurture and strengthen the power needed for that training. The actual practice happens at work, or during your life. Then, truly, it can be said that all of your time is Yoga.


(Sitting right in front of Shri Mahayogi in the front row, there is a young couple, Mr. and Mrs. Yamaguchi. Mrs. Yamaguchi is taking notes, and both of them seem to be listening intently.)

Mr. Yamaguchi: As previously mentioned, when it comes to good actions—there are cases that even if I do something, despite thinking that it’s a good action, it may hurt others sometimes. Let’s say, at work my boss tells me something and I find that from looking at the whole picture, what he said is clearly wrong, but if I reject it, I may rather hurt him… There are many things that are like that as we go through life. Please teach us what is a good action when it comes to interacting with others?

MASTER: (with a powerful tone) The issue of good and bad has continued to be quite a delicate issue since ancient times; oftentimes, viewed from one facet, some things may be good, yet viewed from another facet, that same something may become bad. However, let’s not get into that now, and let me explain a way to discern easily between good and bad. That is, the action that seeks selfish results is bad; the altruistic action or the action that seeks good for others’ benefit, is good—something that can make others happy—that can generally be categorized as good.

However, as you have just mentioned in the situation at your work, there are times when seen from one side, it looks good, but seen from another side, it can hurt someone. That is inevitable. You have to understand that this world combines both good and bad, purity and impurity.

That means that a world with solely and entirely good, or its opposite, a world with solely and entirely bad, is impossible. Therefore, even though you may feel various things while being in the space between good and bad, you should consider that such a situation is a tool for you to aim for being better and better, and you should use that situation as sustenance or take it as a kind of lesson. If there are such relations with others at work, then this is something that everyone is experiencing respectively in the same way, in a similar situation to each other. However, it is advisable for you to notice this, which means improving your actions such that they do not harm others, and act to bring joy to others as much as possible. Please practice in this way.

By the way, there is a passage in an ancient, authoritative scripture of Yoga called the Yoga Sutra: “The karma of Yoga practitioners is neither black nor white, whereas the karma of others is either white or black, or a mix of these.”2 White here indicates good, black indicates bad. Thus it denotes that as one practices Yoga, one will transcend karma.

This, too, is logical. In other words, karma is born of ego, which is the protagonist, the key figure, or the axle of karma or its action, and returns to the ego. Then, as one practices and deepens [the practice and state of] Yoga, and as the ego becomes lighter and is eventually eliminated, then karma no longer arises. No matter what actions, or karma, which is another name for action, are performed, one no longer receives the results of one’s actions. You can say that this is due to transcending both good and bad.

(after some silence, lightly) That is the best way.

(Shri Mahayogi gazes tenderly at Mr. Yamaguchi and nods many times.)


Sanatana: Then, what if I have acted based on what would be good for the benefit of others rather than my own ego…for example, in the case of my parents, regardless of whether I say something I think would benefit them, it often ends up in a fight, or it does not bring about a result that can be considered good. How should I consider this or improve my practice around this?

MASTER: That is simply due to the difference of perspective between what your parents picture to be good and what you picture to be good. And, even between parent and child, spouses and siblings, each individual person’s karma is different. Therefore, it means that the views seen by each can be slightly different.

Therefore, when you do good towards your parents, you need to have researched the view that your parents picture to be good before you do anything. (laughter from all)

Sanatana: So in these cases, even if I do something based on thinking that it would be good for that person, I’m only doing that based on what I believe to be good within my own mind.

MASTER: Yes…unfortunately. (laughter from all)


Ambika: When a friend of mine asked me, “Why do you do Yoga?” and I answered by explaining that, “I want to eliminate my ego more,” she clearly told me, “I really wouldn’t like to lose my own individuality.” We have received an education that has taught us to value our own individuality, so I can also understand that what she says is natural, but I felt disappointed in myself that I could not explain it to her well with my own words. May I ask how I should have explained it at such a time like that?

MASTER: (as if asking everyone) Individuality…what is that? (laughs) Individuality, that is, the quality that an individual has in order to recognize itself as an individual. People say that this person is a person of this kind, that person is a person of that kind—and you yourself do not want to lose what you think makes you feel unique or believe yourself to be unique, in other words, that sense of individuality called “me.” That is that. Now, think about it—this body, these cells, and also the mind are changing moment by moment. So, then what can be said to be the base concept of individuality? If you locate the answer through rigorously investigating it, since things are constantly changing, you cannot help but answer that individuality is something that is always changing. Yet, you do not call it individuality, since it changes from moment to moment. Individuality—when it has the quality of being truly unchangeable and universal, then for the first time, it will be worthy of the name, “individuality.”

Then, what is unchanging? It is neither the mind nor the body. It is the Eternal Truth, God, the Soul. Therefore, many people misunderstand the word “individuality.”

(stroking his own beard) You have a beard now, so you consider that part of your individuality; (everyone laughs) you say if the beard is shaved off, then you lose your individuality (everyone breaks into roaring laughter)—really, in so many cases, simple words, even words like that, are misunderstood. Indeed, various things change, however, the core of what makes them change is ego—egoism. That is quite difficult to eliminate. Although eventually, it will vanish.

Therefore, temporarily, this ego can be said to be individuality. But since the ego is based on egotism, it is not admirable. (laughs)

Ms. Nakamura (Sarani): When we confront that ego, when we find our own ego through meditation, sometimes the recognition of our ego becomes pain and pierces our mind. And it takes much courage to face our own ego or give the ego up knowing it is very painful and a tough thing to tackle and work through. Would you please teach us how to have courage, or give us a hint for overcoming it?

MASTER: Indeed, the same issue existed in ancient times as well. Using a metaphor, it is just like a thief disguised as a policeman chasing a thief. There is no way a thief can be caught like this. (laughs)

No matter how theoretically or logically one says, “Ego is wrong,” since that is still in the realm of the mind, something like what I just said happens; it easily slips through.

Therefore, in this situation, it is necessary to be helped by another great help, or rather, a great power. That is the God-like, Divine Existence, or the words of Truth; since these are true Existence, they contain the power that the mind cannot help but be convinced by after all. Intuitively, the mind ought to surrender in front of the Truth with finality.

Therefore, again and again, repeatedly, through recalling the words of Truth, or of the Divine Existence, within your mind, the ego will eventually fade away. At that time, True Individuality will emerge—in a sense, that is something that is unchanging.

(Ms. Nakamura (Sarani) silently folds her palms together, seated in the rows in the back.)


Vishoka: There is something that I would like to ask about the mind. Here in Japan, Buddhism is mainstream, so from a Buddhist understanding, there is a tendency to deny anything beyond the mind. Then, please teach us the correct way to understand the mind. And also, Buddhism contains the teachings that originally were derived from Buddha, but please teach us the deviation in development of the later era that has come to form as Buddhism and that moved away from the existence of Buddha.

(Shri Mahayogi begins to speak slowly, being considerate of Vishoka who is translating for Sahaja, a visitor from New York.)

MASTER: The analysis of the mind in Yoga has to have three main states. First is the consciousness during the daytime, while one is awake. Second, is the consciousness during dreaming; here, memories, which remain latent in the mind in the subconscious—memories include various thoughts—combine together and create a type of world—that is dreaming. Third, is the consciousness during deep sleep, when one is not even dreaming. We repeat these three states again and again, day after day. The experiences during the day—the various thoughts and ways of feeling leave memories in the mind, and at night, a new world is created based on these memories. Then when it is tired, the mind goes into deep sleep, and the body and mind are healed somewhat and wake up the next day, and then they chase after the dream’s continuation from the day before—it is the repetition of all this.

Here then, karma intervenes, and so things don’t go the way the mind wishes; because of karma, one’s actions and even one’s entire lifetime are affected or influenced by karma. That is like you giving priority to less important things, putting the cart before the horse. It is as if karma is the protagonist, and the mind has no choice but to obey it. That is why Buddha and the Yogi (those who have perfected Yoga) left behind words such as, “Everything is suffering.”

Indeed, even if you want things to be eternal, this world has a limit. Even if you want things to be good, everything is imperfect and full of defects. And that pain attacks one’s own self. What is the cause of this?—the cause can be found entirely in the point of not knowing the Truth, and instead, on the contrary, seeking the opposite of the Truth. Even though, in fact, this world is not eternal, you try to see it as eternal. Even though there is a big, eventual suffering hidden in it, you try to seek happiness in it. You mistakenly believe that that which is not the self, meaning the mind, also called the ego, is the self.

These mistaken thoughts, called ignorance—because they are the opposite of the Truth, they are called ignorance—with this incorrect knowledge as the root cause, you become attached to various desires, which are commonly called pain-bearing obstacles. Even though it may seem like you have autonomy with regard to attachments, if you observe carefully, you are bound by the objects of attachment, and this is like being in bondage, so to speak. The mind goes through various experiences in this world—that is its function. The mind there can think up wonderful things and find a way [to obtain them], or it can act on ugly, evil deeds. Just as a kitchen knife can cook delicious meals, it can also hurt people, the mind is just like a tool.

And the thing is, the aforementioned three states of consciousness in the course of a day are all known [by something]. There is something called the fourth consciousness; actually, now, you are all aware of what your mind is thinking or feeling, aren’t you? That is because in the depths of that mind, there is the fourth consciousness that is fully aware of it. The daytime consciousness, dream consciousness, and deep sleep consciousness—all states of the mind are known by the fourth consciousness.

This is the consciousness that never thinks nor feels but simply sees and knows—the Pure Consciousness. The one that thinks this and that, this is all the mind. And, the true Self is not the ego within the mind, but it is this fourth [consciousness], which is exactly like light, not feeling or thinking anything, yet knowing everything, or seeing everything—It is That; that is the true Self…

In the language of India, this is called by the name, “Atman.” The word Atman was simply a word that indicated the first-person existence in ancient times. However, the result of thorough and rigorous inquiry into, “What is the essence of this Existence?”—that is to say, through inquiry into who “the I” is, whether this “I” is the body, or whether it is the mind, or what Atman truly means—these inquiries arrived at this fourth consciousness. Of course, it was validated not merely theologically, but empirically. Since ancient times, this has been called Satori; [it is Satori] because it means to empirically experience the Truth.

And, the state of that experience, samadhi—even though you say “samadhi,” it is a generic term and there are various categories due to the content [and level], so here we mean nirvikalpa samadhi, which especially refers to the ultimate samadhi, translated as the state of complete absorption without any cognition, which may be a little complicated to follow (laughs)—this experience of samadhi without any cognition, this state is what reveals That, the Truth.

Around the same time, Buddha awoke to That too. Buddha called it “Nirvana.” It is not that Buddha newly created the term, it existed as a noun, but it began to be called Nirvana. It is synonymous with Samadhi. In Japan, Nirvana should be phonetically transliterated as Nehan [introduced] through Buddhism. Either way, it means the consciousness that awoke to the Truth.

And, Buddha taught the way to reach Nirvana: as mentioned earlier, “Everything is suffering”; the cause of it, if sought thoroughly, is the ignorance within the mind, that is to say, not knowing the Truth; and contrary to this, there is the state of Truth, and that is Nirvana—everyone’s essence is That. He showed the path to reach It, to get to It—the concrete methods to enter Nirvana.

To put it simply—suffering, its cause—there is suffering, and suffering has a cause. Then, cessation or ending, which is the translation of Nirvana, and it means the extinguishment, the cessation of desire. Then, the path—the path to reach It. You may have heard this somewhere—Suffering, Cause, Cessation, and the Path—these are the fundamental teachings of Buddhism. These are called the Four Noble Truths, or the four sacred teachings.

In this way Buddha taught the path to Nirvana, and the karma and ignorance that are preventing people from reaching It, as well as the ways to eliminate them. However, it is said that he did not use words such as Atman or God, which is another way to express the state of Truth. Thus, one time, a disciple asked, “Master, does God exist?” and Buddha replied, “Did I ever say that God exists?” Then the disciple asked, “Then, does God not exist?” then Buddha replied, “Did I ever say that God doesn’t exist?” He responded as if using Agnosticism (laughs), a way of answering that is neither here nor there.

God, Truth or Atman should not remain satisfactory at the level of intellectual understanding. It must be experienced. It seems that Buddha was extremely careful. That is why he taught the pathway to It well—scrupulously and thoroughly.

Compared to Buddha, there is evidence that Yoga used the word Atman slightly more positively. However, Yoga during that time seemed to have also taken the way of teaching that had almost the same methods as that of Buddha. Both were very meticulous. They must have known full well that the mind can easily be misled. However, the Buddhists that came later denied Atman based only on the consideration of this aspect of Buddha not explaining or teaching about Atman or God. It is referred to as the Theory of Anatman (Non-Self). Self here means Atman; it is not ego as the self. The Self here refers to Atman, which is the Consciousness of Truth. Nonetheless, they denied this Atman. Also, they similarly denied the name God and Its existence. That is the confusion and dilemma of the latter-day Buddhism that has been going on for more than two thousand years.

To a certain point, it completely makes sense. In order to reach the state of Truth, Nirvana, one must definitely purify the mind, one must get rid of karma, and one must eliminate ignorance—indeed, that is exactly right.

If one can truly, seriously and conscientiously accomplish these practices and disciplines, then naturally, the Truth of Atman, or the Truth of God, will become clear on its own. However, the fact that they denied Atman or God, itself reveals that the later Buddhists did not reach that state. In that aspect, the teachings of the Buddhists after Buddha, created a limitation. And, Buddhism, as it came to be called a religion, became extinct in India.

Even so, Buddha is alive; because even in India Buddha is still worshipped by the people as the incarnation of God that appeared next after the famed God called Shri Krishna. Nonetheless, Buddhism, what is so-called Buddhism, is gone [from India]. Conversely, it has spread to Tibet, China, Southeast Asia, and Japan. That happened about a thousand years after the passing of Buddha.

Therefore, Buddhism faced difficulty—obviously because it denied the Truth. That is why, at times, Buddhism is criticized for being nihilistic. So then, compelled by the necessity to have something that can become a core of the Truth, they added a term such as Buddha-Nature, the qualities of Buddha [in later scriptures]. Yet, it is not clear in this analysis of where that is in the mind. Obviously, this is because it was not brought by empirical experience, but rather a fabricated concept by Buddhist philosophers.

Everything in the world must be [established] in the same way, religion is no exception—everything is established by empirical experience. Otherwise, it is mere empty theory. In this world, the role of the mind is quite large. Good and bad, wise and ignorant—the mind holds and experiences various things, everything. For what purpose…?

The mind is like a tool, which has functions synthesized from various things such as ego, knowledge, memories, thoughts and feelings. Therefore, this means that it can change in any way, depending on the master who uses it. If the ego becomes the master, then the mind will attach to many different things following its desires, and consequently, it gets hurt, and to top it all off, it makes itself suffer. On the other hand, however, if the mind can stick to following the true Master, called Atman, and to keep its role, then it will no longer possess empty attachments, and it will perform and accomplish its role and function with more ease and more freely even for the mind itself. That is the original way the mind ought to be. This whole system can be called the purification of the mind.

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

The mind is an enemy, at the same time it is an ally. Taking you to suffering or taking you to that freedom called Nirvana—it all depends on the mind alone. Now, suffering has no limit and the mind can fall deeper into it more and more; yet if the mind can be taken to freedom, then at that time, the mind itself will be liberated—because the role of the mind ends there. Then, Atman, that is, the true Consciousness, the true I, the true Self, awakens.

Often, Buddha is referred to as Awakened. A buddha means a person who is Awakened. It truly is that way. The occurrence of Awakening is something that is beyond the reach of words, it is impossible to express with words, but if I may try to describe it, that is the closest expression. To realize It is the ultimate aim of Yoga. It is to return to your true Self.

   Now, this is a bit of a digression, but in Japanese, so many of the words that are in general usage are originally derived from Buddhism. It’s almost surprisingly so. For example, we say “danna-san,” which is a synonym for the head of the family or one’s husband. This “danna” comes from “dana” which connotes generosity, benevolence, or someone who is benevolent in the language of India. (Everyone bursts into laughter.)

(Because there are many householders in the audience today, there seems to be an exclamation of surprise and laughter.)

MASTER: (laughing) It would be better if husbands realized the original meaning, and you better make sure that they do. (Everyone bursts into roaring laughter.)

Closer to September, we have a big Buddhist event, the Higan.3Higan” means the other shore. “Shi-gan” is this shore, “hi-gan” is the other shore. The other side, or higan, means the realm of Satori; in comparison, this shigan, this shore is the realm of confusion. And in between them, there is a large river, almost like an ocean. That is how they have come to be called differently, such as this shore or that shore, expressing the difference in the realms.

Originally, the Higan is considered to be the time for people to recall the world of Satori, not your deceased physical relatives and ancestors. Because your ancestors don’t remain underground forever, (bursting laughter from everyone) rather they have been born into another life. That is to say, they reincarnated; they must be continuing their spiritual training, somewhere else. The terminal station for that journey is the realm of Satori. Until arriving there, everyone is on a journey.

Sahaja: Yogi-san, if one cannot know anything unless one experiences the Truth, then why does a Master, or those who teach, have to teach?

MASTER: (immediately) That is right. A Master must have experienced it—that [Master] is a Master of Truth. The others, who self-proclaim to be a master, only play a temporary role until one encounters a True Master.

And also, a disciple must be serious and sincere in seeking Satori.

(Ms. Hayashima, who is sitting in the front row, has been a regular attendee at the Osaka classes for a few years, and has participated in the previous Lila Sangham, asks a question.)

Ms. Hayashima: Did Shri Mahayogi have a Master?

MASTER: As I mentioned a little about this earlier, (speaking slowly) I myself awoke to that True Consciousness around the time I was eight to ten years old. I was in elementary school. Then, I realized the Self, or rather, that only that Truth exists, and the entire universe vanished, and That alone was Real—“Real” meaning that it is the Eternal Existence, and It is that Reality itself which cannot be destroyed and will never change. Therefore, if I was to say it, that Truth itself is the Master, the Guru.

Ms. Hayashima: That, suddenly…

MASTER: Yes. It happened naturally without any preparation. And the time I began concretely practicing Yoga was in junior high school. Thus, during my teenage years, most issues were resolved, (laughing) and so I am sharing all of this based on my own experience.

Ms. Hayashima: [In that state] would we be able to know what kind of lives we’ve lived, including past lives?

MASTER: That is not a required condition. However, if the time and the situation require it, then it can be known. By the way, I do not have past lives.*

(Silence ensues, as if everyone is at a loss for words.)

It seems that we are shifting the topic of conversation to something that provides endless curiosity… (Everyone bursts into roaring laughter.)

Ambika (MC of the event of the day): (announcing the end of the event) This realm has a limitation of time. (laughs) Our reservation to use this space is until nine o’clock. (Everyone laughs hard.)

(The time spent with Shri Mahayogi passed in a flashing moment, and it is now time to end the event.)

MASTER: I would be happy to have this kind of opportunity again. I live in Kyoto, so it would be great if you come to Kyoto also.

Everyone, thank you for staying for this long time.

(Everyone puts their palms together at once. Shri Mahayogi responds with a smile.)

Ambika: We will now conclude today’s Lila Sangham with a prayer that all of us will continue to have this flame lit within our hearts.

(Afterwards, until the event hall is taken down by disciples, many people who wanted to speak directly to Shri Mahayogi gathered around him one after another.)


(Lila Sangham was filled from beginning to end with joy. The Eternal Truth, the essence of Yoga spoken by Shri Mahayogi, resonates deeply within the depths of everyone’s hearts. Later, many people sent testimonies that they were moved by the event.)


*During a Satsangha at a later date, Ambika asks Shri Mahayogi:

Ambika: The true meaning of what Shri Mahayogi said is that Shri Mahayogi doesn’t have past lives based on karma, is that correct?

(Shri Mahayogi answers with a smile,)

MASTER: Exactly.


[1] Lila means Divine Play, Sangham means colleagues, gathering or a delta (where three rivers merge into one)—a sacred land.

[2] Shri Mahayogi’s free translation of Yoga Sutra 4.7: “The karma of a Yoga practitioner is neither black nor white, whereas the karma of others is of three kinds.”

[3] A Buddhist holiday exclusively celebrated by Japanese sects for seven days; three days before and after both the Spring and Autumnal equinox. Japanese people will often return to their hometowns during the holiday season to pay respects to their ancestors.



* * *

Testimonies from a Practitioner

Speech at the Celebration of
Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela,
the Grand Ceremony of the Divine Manifestations, and
the 45th Anniversary of the Mahayogi Ashrama
April 2021, Kyoto, Japan


by Yogadanda


Shri Mahayogi, truly, thank you very much for opening the Mahayogi Yoga Ashrama and ceaselessly guiding us for 45 years! I would like to offer this ceremonial speech with gratitude.

About 20 years ago, I was gratefully granted an opportunity to go on an outing with Shri Mahayogi, along with a few gurubai; and coincidentally, it happened that we ran into Shri Mahayogi’s high school classmate. When describing Shri Mahayogi during his teenage years, the classmate said, “He was silent, so much so that I almost never saw him speak.” I learned that at that time, Shri Mahayogi practiced rigorously and thoroughly not to leave any trace of his utterances, photos or even his own shadow as everything other than Absolute Truth is ephemeral. Also, even after completely realizing and perfecting all the paths of Yoga, no intention whatsoever arose in him that he ought to teach Yoga to others. He said that he realized that Brahman, which is without a single speck of defilement, is he himself, and that the state of his mind was so pure that he couldn’t even conceive of words such as “guiding others.”

That same Shri Mahayogi, opened up Mahayogi Yoga Ashrama forty five years ago from now, and began to teach Yoga. What caused such a turning point [to make him move in that direction]?—surely an immense power, beyond the reach of our imagination, must have come into play.

It is said that when Lord Buddha realized Satori, he remained in samadhi as he perceived that no one would understand this Truth, yet God Brahma and God Indra implored him to teach, and that is when he began to teach.

It is said that Shri Ramakrishna too remained in nirvikalpa samadhi similarly, but receiving the request from the Mother of the Universe, he came down to the threshold between the absolute and the relative and began to guide people.

I deduce that Shri Mahayogi may also have been supplicated by the entire universe unanimously and had to respond, creating a turning point.

Yet, when we ask Shri Mahayogi about what caused the Ashrama to start, he nonchalantly explains that an acquaintance requested him to teach Yoga, so then when he tried to refer the acquaintance to another place, he was told he was stingy, and therefore was compelled to begin the class.

Yet, the acceptance to take action and start the Ashrama for the salvation of humanity, which is greatly beyond what is expressible with words, is marked in the work of these 45 years.

I’ve only known Shri Mahayogi about half of this time, 20 years, yet still, I have witnessed that for the sake of awakening the people to the Truth, Shri Mahayogi has been working ceaselessly without stopping for a second. At every Satsangha, with powerful words like a clap of thunder, or at times with sweet, tender words, he has wiped away people’s suffering. In the place beyond words, he pours Sanatana Dharma into our hearts. How many times have we shouted, “The Truth is here!” within our hearts! He lives with the bare minimum things to maintain his physical body; and every time he goes to New York to preach, he has always flown economy. How many hundreds, nay thousands of people have been touched by Shri Mahayogi’s teachings? Some didn’t even show any interest at all and didn’t practice either. And others practiced, but after acquiring what they wanted to gain, left satisfied. Even so, Shri Mahayogi remains the same, has continued to offer his compassionate smile, and has devoted himself without asking for anything in return at all. Shri Mahayogi has nurtured the disciples using whatever means necessary. Whether things were going well in a disciple or not, he has guided his disciples doing the best he could, even to the extent of taking on the karma of his disciples into his own body at times. I believe that he demonstrates to us in a tangible invisible form, what it means to live the Truth, and to live in Sanatana Dharma.

Even then, what we can perceive to be the works of Shri Mahayogi is just the tip of the iceberg. I’m ashamed to admit that around the time when I began Yoga, there was a time that I assumed that Shri Mahayogi too must have some supernatural powers that yogi are equipped with, for example, walking on water like Jesus, and I was expecting in wonder when he would show the miracle to me. While attending Satsangha, with anticipation, I kept my eyes watchful to see if Shri Mahayogi would transform suddenly to some unimaginable form, or show some sort of miracle. However, as I have kept attending Satsangha and any other activities with Shri Mahayogi, for some time, I have begun to realize that Shri Mahayogi is working from a realm that is from an incomparably greater, further height than any kind of supernatural power. Because, whosoever enters Shri Mahayogi’s field of sight and keeps putting Yoga into practice, (fighting back tears) without exception, their suffering has gradually lessened, and they have gotten out from this hellish world filled with karma, and begun to head towards the realization of Sanatana Dharma. (fighting very hard to hold back tears) What other miracles can surpass this!? (pausing, overwhelmed with emotions) I believe that Shri Mahayogi, unbeknownst to us, is raising the soul of each and every disciple. If we can deepen our Yoga and truly come to know the works of Shri Mahayogi, we are sure to be astounded.

Shri Mahayogi, who was practicing thoroughgoingly during his teenage years not to leave any trace in the world, from the point of starting the Ashrama, to this day, has been thoroughly and rigorously devoting himself to pouring Sanatana Dharma into the people, to nurturing the disciples, and to leaving the trace, the living proof of Sanatana Dharma. (pausing from the overwhelming emotions)

It is said that Buddha spent 45 years, from the time he realized the Truth at age 35, until the moment he passed away at age 80, for the salvation of humanity. Shri Mahayogi has already spent exactly the same number of years for people’s salvation, and still intends to work more.

And actually, Shri Mahayogi has been skillfully hiding his works for these past 45 years, and not only that but his own greatness as well. What would happen if the whole world began to notice, just like us here today, that Shri Mahayogi is the Avatara, not different from Buddha or Christ? Suddenly, TV stations will want coverage, the Internet will be abuzz, and it will cause waves in the world that contain both purity and impurity; we, the disciples around him, may be pressed with responding to mass media and likewise the masses of people who express interest, such that our own discipline of the practice of Yoga may be hard to keep going. I think that using the power of maya, Shri Mahayogi is skillfully hiding, and quietly and surely, pouring this Sanatana Dharma only into those who have eyes to see and ears to hear.

The ones to prove this Sanatana Dharma is us—it is for us to prove that the Truth exists within everyone; to prove that no matter what country one lives in, what race you might be, whether you are a man or a woman, whatever the environment you are in, whatever the occupation you have—one can practice Yoga and realize It.

Then, each and every one of us can become a child of Shri Mahayogi, who now has his own greatness hidden, and prove the Existence of Shri Mahayogi.

That such an extent of pure and perfect Existence is here, continuing to hide his greatness, yet blessing the entire world!

And, just like Shri Mahayogi, we want to take on the work to leave Sanatana Dharma in the world!

The Mission of Shri Mahayogi is the machine operated by Shri Mahayogi. This machine will continue to work eternally. May each and every one of us, become its gears, its belts and its chains, to work eternally!


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