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Vol. 81

Teachings of Shri Mahayogi

Satsangha, Kyoto, 2008

Atman—I am That

The Revelation of the Rishi and the Salvation of the Yogi

Rafael’s Experience of the True Self

Testimonies from Actual Practitioners

Karma Yoga 2: Inspired Works—Part 2 of 2
Karma Yoga 3: Love and Renunciation
by Shachi
Sep-Nov 2008, Kyoto, Japan

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Teachings of Shri Mahayogi

Translation of Satsangha

Atman—I am That

Saturday July 12, 2008, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto

The Revelation of the Rishi and
the Salvation of the Yogi

The heat today is making it feel like real summer has come. While many attendees are wearing MYM’s original t-shirts or the spaghetti-strap tops designed by Shri Mahayogi, the Master himself is wearing the usual long-sleeved kurta, with a cool-looking expression.

The freshly published issue of Paramahamsa, hot off the presses, is distributed. Seeing the very beautiful cover with the motif of bramanda (the egg of Brahman) on it, the disciples seem unable to hide their amazement. They all eagerly await each issue, especially these six consecutive issues, which have Shri Mahayogi’s artwork on the cover.

Sanatana begins to speak about the historical background of the Upanishad (namely Brihadaranyaka, which appeared in Paramahamsa Vol. 68, in a series of articles [called “The Secret of the Upanishad”]).

Sanatana: I feel that this was the time before sanskara (remaining latent psychological impressions) and the workings of karma (cause and effect of actions) became clear, and that it was during that era that they probably recognized the realization of Atman (true Self) and what obstructs it; and I feel that it was right after that time that Buddha and the Yogi appeared, and so within the span of less than a century, the law of karma, the concrete practice, or the way of training to transcend it, everything came to be completed to perfection.

In the Upanishad, of course, Truth is described, however, I feel that if looking at it from the perspective of an existence like Buddha, even if there were great rishi (holy sages), the Satori of [someone like Buddha] and his grace are incomparable to that of the sages, in other words, the path to the Truth opens up all at once… Do such big differences actually exist, after all?

MASTER: Yes. If we try to know the past, we can only trace and imagine what is left over from the past, as hints, so as a reference for doing that, these scriptures called the Upanishad were compiled. We simply refer to them as the Upanishad, but they’ve been passed down verbally over an extremely long period of time, perhaps hundreds of years, to the ears of disciples since the time before writing was developed, then letters were born and words came to be recorded. Only the parts referred to as the Classic Upanishad include dozens of volumes, and the compilations of teachings that flowed across centuries. Yet, of course, the content was still not systematized, and it was merely a compilation based simply on oral history, relying on memory. Even so, once the idea of reincarnation was accepted at that time, though it was based on an extremely simple cyclical idea of this natural world, and that was the ancient form of wishing for happiness in the next life by performing the virtuous deeds through carrying out the rituals of the Veda, which are in the forms of rituals to offer sacrifices and to pray—that was what was called karma at that time—so it was about performing the karma of rituals, or performing virtuous deeds [and receiving the merits gained from performing them]. Nonetheless, those who could perform rituals were limited to a very few, and of course, only those who were wealthy. Naturally, a sense of unfairness can arise in that, and also there was an issue of good and evil in the actual society, which was not an aspect that could be neglected either. Both good and evil could be offset through ritual; and that too was difficult to accept. It seems that from there, especially the understanding [of karma] shifted gradually to [being seen] as the results coming from good and bad deeds. (Shri Mahayogi speaks, while looking carefully at each and every person, and everyone is listening attentively with serious expressions.)

It was already accepted that life in general was filled with suffering; however, they still hadn’t found the cause of suffering and the way to get out of it. On the other hand, the Truth, that is Atman, or Brahman, had already been realized intuitively. Using the ideas of Buddha and of the Yogi, there is a basic structure, which is the Four Noble Truths—Suffering, the Cause of suffering, the Cessation of suffering and the Path leading to the cessation of suffering. Therefore, it seems that even though the realization of Atman by the rishi may have been an intuitive inspiration, the Cause of suffering that was just mentioned and the way to realize the Truth by removing it—that Path—was not quite established yet. Then, it seems that through the appearance of the Yogi, and also through the clear teachings of Buddha, the whole picture became clarified. Therefore, as Sanatana pointed out just now, it is a fact that there is definitely quite a distinct difference between the era of the Upanishad and that of the Yogi.

An influence from Yoga is recognized in the Classic Upanishad, [in the part] that belongs to the later period among them. The word “Yoga” appears for the first time in the Katha Upanishad, which was introduced in the previous article of Paramahamsa, therefore I think you can say that the Upanishad introduced in the current issue of Paramahamsa, Brihadarayaka Upanishad, which mentions Yajnavalkya, has the vestiges of an even older era than the Katha Upanishad. Even so, the reason why the Upanishad are brilliant even to this day is that even though they are not the system of Truth, they capture the brilliance of intuitive inspiration, and that is why they are respected.

I infer that Buddha—Shakyamuni—may have been an extremely generous person. It seems that at the time, the four Vedas were already established, but he did not forbid three of the four Vedas. When it comes to the last one, Atharva Veda, for it was mostly magic spells, he clearly forbade it; these magical practices were centered on ritual prayers for fulfilling extremely worldly desires, and at times on envy or such things that have intensely worldly benefits. Therefore, these came to be forbidden. (Shri Mahayogi gazes at Sanatana.)

Sanatana: I think about what the difference is between the complete Satori of Buddha, which he attained through deep meditation in the end, and the intuitive inspiration of the rishi. I assume that in order to find out the cause of suffering and the way to eliminate it, it is not possible unless one has the unattached, calm, considerably sharp and in-depth eyes of discrimination. What causes these differences…? After all, is that the order of the universe?

MASTER: After all, on one hand, during the time of the Upanishad, there was the authority of the Vedas, and [on the other hand] the knowledge that made the Vedas be the Vedas—that is, the words—and they were not yet quite able to thoroughly reach this point of origin. As you can see from the debate of Yajnavalkya, one of the reasons may be that because having the knowledge of the Vedas was respected more than anything else at the time, that itself might have prevented them from going beyond this knowledge and these words. I assume that because the rishi belonged to the brahmin (priest caste) society, they probably could not do that. However, the Yogi and Buddha were outside of these societies, that means that because they were able to be intent on independently meditating alone, and to thoroughly practice inquiry, they were able to go further ahead, I presume.

 

(Ms. Nakajima, who has been staying for a month in Kyoto at the house where gurubai (brother and sister disciples) live, begins to speak with a serious expression.)

Ms. Nakajima: We talked about a part that Shri Mahayogi taught in a previous issue of Paramahamsa, something like “When you are in a difficult situation, the way of making the mind believe it is not painful is self-hypnotism, and it is not effective at all.”

A long time ago, Shri Mahayogi told me, “You better become a bit more easy-going and expand your mind”; but I don’t understand the difference between seeing it as lila (divine play), planting the Truth in the mind by telling my mind that in fact suffering doesn’t exist, and that it’s created by the mind—versus, seeing it as tapas, accepting suffering and burning it up. When a concrete problem arises, for example, when illness befalls me, what should I do then? There is an understanding of “even the worst suffering is the will of God”—actually this too is in Paramahamsa, in the writing of the previous article by Gurudas—and there is another approach to the matter in which we might need to accept firmly that very practically, suffering is suffering, and [it must be] burnt within one’s own self internally through endurance. I do not know how to discriminate these, or what approach to take for what.

MASTER: (powerfully) Regardless, you yourself must resolve the problems that befall you by yourself. The more acute and bigger the problem, the bigger the suffering you may feel, however, you must conquer it yourself. While dealing with it, the heat called tapas arises, and the power to resolve that difficult problem comes into effect. Whether that comes from karma or God, regardless.

However, it’s difficult to fight alone as a feeble individual person. When that happens, seek a truly reliable helper—that which is the Truth itself.

(Shri Mahayogi gently gazes at Ms. Nakajima, who is shedding tears and nodding.)

 

(A woman who is attending the Satsangha for the first time today asks a question.)

Visitor: When I read the part about the four consciousnesses (waking consciousness, dreaming consciousness, dreamless sleep consciousness, and the Consciousness that sees the other three consciousnesses) in the book, Satori, I felt that this is exactly what I always thought—there was that fourth Consciousness that was described—and I felt I found the answer. I asked everyone—my husband and my friends. Then they all said something like, “Oh, now that you mention it, it is true that there is such a Consciousness.”

MASTER: (joyfully) It’s exactly so.

Visitor: Regarding meditation, I am still struggling; the moon reflected on the lake…doesn’t quite become a beautiful circle.

MASTER: In this world, inevitably, the five senses and the mind are in the midst of experiences; because of that, they are subjectively mistaken. However, the fact is, the Consciousness that simply knows all, that fourth Consciousness that is further within, is the Consciousness of the Truth, and that is one’s own Existence itself.

Visitor: I would like to work on myself so that I can have that experience of being still, soon.

MASTER: Right. Truly that will be good. Because, That is the Pure Consciousness itself that abides within everyone, truly and clearly, even now.

Rafael’s Experience of the True Self

(Shri Mahayogi picks up the previous issue of Paramahamsa and a few sheets of paper.)

MASTER: Last week, I received two wonderful emails, which I would like to introduce a little bit about. They are from Anandamali in New York.

 

First Step: Last week, as Rafael was walking near his office, suddenly a sense or intuition that he doesn’t exist in this world arose within him, and a very clear awakening occurred in which even though he sensed that the body was the body, it was not him, and that the scene in front of his eyes, people walking, even the mind, in reality, doesn’t exist, does not have any reality, and it is all an illusion. The eyes just simply and mechanically project what is in front of them, and nothing whatsoever has any reality. Something like light that expands into vastness is the origin of everything. The Self is independently existing from what was previously believed to be real until that point. Our true identity is nothing like what we believe in, but we believe in it. We truly do not know our true Self. Rafael was astonished, at the same time, he became a bit confused, wondering if he had gone mad, or whether he needed to go to the hospital, nay, he didn’t need to do that; then the next day came without him telling his family anything about it at all.

Second Step: The next day, during his commute on the subway, he was recalling the previous day’s clear sensation (experience) and began to meditate on the true Self, and out of nowhere, he heard a clear answer: “I am that which is One.” In other words, “I am that which is One, God. It was a definite awareness that whatever he thought was himself, was clearly not his Self. The true Self is neither this body nor the mind. The true Self always exists without changing.

Third Step: Then suddenly, he saw the petty battles we fight based on various mistakes, and he asked, “How can we help one another?” Then, the answer came, “Only God’s Love exists.” He realized that the only thing he can do is to spread God’s Love to the people of the world. It was a little sad; because it felt as if the attachments toward his mother, wife, daughter, family and relatives disappeared, and it was as if he said goodbye to them. Then, it looked like whatever he had referred to previously as “love” was fake, just like everything that is of this world, and he came to realize it was not love.

 

As Rafael spoke about this, tears kept welling up in his eyes again and again. And it seemed like he wanted confirmation that he had gone crazy. He said, “I am also confused.” He said, “If what I realized was in error, then I think I can force myself to deny it and somehow deal with it,” so I [Anandamali] replied, “What happened to you is clearly an experience, not intellectual understanding, so no matter how much you deny it, it’s undeniable. If you try to deny it, it will become suffering. You have no choice anymore but to go all the way to the end.” Then he said, “There is nothing else I can do but that. I can’t deny it. Because That is the only Truth, and that is the true Self. I realized that money and work doesn’t really matter. Anyway, I don’t want to be apart from that true Self, that One Existence. I simply want to abide in the true Self, the Truth. God does not exist externally, That Itself is God.”

Even at his office, as this sensation wells up in him from time to time, he can’t help but cry—a colleague or an assistant who suddenly opened the door to enter his office to ask him something was surprised by this and asked him what was going on, worrying about him, but he felt that he would be considered as having gone crazy and would be kicked out of the office if he honestly told them the truth, so he could not tell anyone. He said, “Besides you, I only told this to Karuna and Farida (my wife).”

 

I received an e-mail from Karuna, and regarding what’s going on in Rafael, she wrote that “He asked me not to tell anyone, but I think I should tell Anandamali and am writing you for this reason. How should I advise him?” So I replied to her that, “He has not gone crazy. This must be reported to Shri Mahayogi, so please advise him to contact Anandamali.” This is how I came to receive this contact from him.

 

MASTER: This person, his name is Rafael (later on given the spiritual name Gauranga by Shri Mahayogi)…is probably in his fifties. He is a petite gentleman, originally a Puerto Rican, the same as Karuna. He began to learn from me about four years ago. The description of his first attendance, and his name are in the book, Satori, that was just published [in Japanese].1 He also came to Satsangha around two years ago in 2006, and he asked me many questions at that time too, and as I spoke about Atman and the maya (illusion) of the mind, just as I always do, he said thus, for reference:

(The Master introduces parts of the question and answer that are recorded in Paramahamsa Vol. 56. This was a question asked after the Master spoke about the four consciousnesses and Atman.)

 

Rafael: Most of what you have just said confuses me. If I believe you, then right now, I am not sure who I am. Does anyone know? You say, we are neither mind nor body, and, we are not the one who has established this through our past experiences up until now, we are the One, who cannot be known unless we continue to practice Yoga, the One who is called Atman, that which is something we have not seen or experienced yet. Frankly speaking, I am very confused. Because, I cannot understand most of what you have spoken about. Please help. If I believe you, then who am I?

MASTER: …Every day we repeat the cycle of this state of waking that we are in right now, the state of dreaming and the state of dreamless sleep. What exists throughout these cycles, without changing, is the Consciousness of “I.” However, when you wake up in the morning, you recognize the dream for the first time, as if the dream vanished. Until then, you must have thought that the dream-world was real. Just like that, if your eyes of Truth, or the realization of Atman is born, then these three conditions disappear, just like a dream…

—from Paramahamsa, Vol. 56

 

MASTER: When I first received the report and question about Rafael, the first thing that I recalled was his question from two years ago that was just shared now. Last year, my stay in New York was short so I did not see him, but he also has not attended class much lately, so Anandamali and Karuna became concerned and called him. So that means that this experience happened about ten days after that. It was last month. He is a very earnest person, and works as a lawyer. He may be very busy, but he has been inquiring seriously towards the Truth, towards the real Self. Since this was the experience that happened on the street during his commute, I suppose that the samadhi may not have been long lasting, yet even so, it is sufficient—because he directly understood Atman through experiencing It. At the same time, it seems that the maya of this world also disappeared like a dream.

Another thing that might become a good reference is that, for about three months before this experience happened, he was repeating the words of Truth, which are, “I am Existence, I am Wisdom, I am Absolute Bliss,” the words said by myself, Vivekananda and others.

As you can see from this experience of Rafael, I presume that probably he entered a state of no mind during his commute. In other words, the mind does not stop talking for a single moment. Even if the mouth is closed, the mind is constantly moving around due to some kind of thought. The cause of that is none other than the mind being attached to something. That is exactly why you must learn the Truth, meditate on It, and thoroughly practice discrimination [between the Truth and non-truth], to create a state where the mind does not chatter, so that the mind does not make noise—mauna. Once the complete state of mauna comes, even for an instant, if it is during a commute, or no matter what you might be doing, samadhi will come suddenly like lightening.

(The attendees seem to be so drawn in, hearing these recent updates about their gurubai, the story of the sudden experience of samadhi by Rafael that was brought about by his inquiry into Atman.)

(The atmosphere of heightened concentration is so intense, as to leave one nearly breathless. Mr. Matsunaga, sitting right in front of the Master, begins to speak with intent eyes.)

Mr. Matsunaga: So during the meditation too, should I aim to come to the state of mauna?

MASTER: Yes. By concentrating on a single thing, and then as you become immersed in it, eventually it will become such a state.

Mr. Matsunaga: Is it correct to understand that if visions arise or words come up in meditation, then the mind is still depending on something?

MASTER: Right, it can be said to be so. This is [within the field of practice] called jnana yoga or raja yoga. Bhakti (devotion to God) is the exact opposite, and in the practice of bhakti you do not make the mind become zero, but you concentrate completely, 100% on God, or divine Existence. Even though it is 100%, since the object is God, the mind will break through its limits and expand into the infinite. Zero and infinity become One. In that sense, it is important to eliminate the percentage of the mind that is occupied by relative thoughts.

Mr. Matsunaga: So does that mean that when you are in “the state of no mind” that was mentioned earlier, that too is when it is infinite?

MASTER: It becomes infinite.

Sanatana: The way things are and the matters one experiences at that time, whatever is being experienced in the former case, whether it’s the mind or something that is visible, it is perceived as illusion, but is the result in the case of bhakti different, or the same?

MASTER: In bhakti, too, the same thing happens. However, it is not just a recognition through denial because of it being an illusion, but rather it is the recognition of it as the Truth—of the One Existence, manifesting into various forms—as lila. Therefore, one perceives the external activities as an illusion. However, only their essence, which is God, or the reality of Atman will remain; the same thing can be said for the result of bhakti.

Mr. Shocho Takahashi: In the first step of the experience of Rafael, that is, the experience of realizing that there is no reality or substance in any phenomena—there is no Joy or such a sense of euphoric emotion?

MASTER: There is none.

Mr. Shocho Takahashi: Is it a bit scary, the feeling of being extremely alone?

MASTER: No, there is no aloneness either. (picking up the documents introduced earlier) At this time, there is a realization that everything is an illusion. Who is the one knowing that? Something that is not an illusion. In other words, it only becomes possible to know this after having experienced this consciousness, the Reality—just as in the first step there was an awakening into the consciousness of Atman, and in the second step, the realization that one’s self is That occurred.

(The Master mentions that the document introduced earlier was a note that Anandamali had written from what she heard from Rafael. Then, Shri Mahayogi introduces Rafael’s own new writing from his memory and experience. The end of the letter wrapped up as follows:

“Today, I am struck with awe that Shri Mahayogi is presuming I have reached the true Self. I must stay there. From now on, I have to stay in the true Self. However, I sense that I am easily being separated from it by the workings of the mind. What should I do about that?”

(The Master smiles and gazes at everyone’s faces one by one. As darshan continues, there are sobbing sounds from the disciples who are filled with emotion. All the attendees’ gazes are fixed upon the Master.)

Sanatana: Regarding the last part, the question, that is—what should he do about the mind trying to pull itself back—is the answer to continue practicing simply and diligently without attachment as he has been, focusing on Atman more and more, and to keep applying the practice of Yoga for the purpose of realizing the Truth?

MASTER: For Rafael, his mind has not necessarily concluded all its activities. Therefore, subliminal power, or rather the power of the mind still has momentum to gain back power and attempts to throw himself, which is Atman, into the world. Therefore, I advised him to meditate alone, either very late at night or early morning, and abide in Atman.

I think that he lives with a person who was mentioned earlier, someone named Farida, of Indian heritage. However, Farida is not Hindu but [she, or her family, have] converted to Christianity, therefore they go to church very frequently. When I go to New York, they both come to class. One of the concerns he has is that he himself no longer has any interest in church or Christianity at all, he just goes to the church to accompany his wife, Farida. So, he asked me what he should do since he now knows God is not in a church, but rather within one’s own self. And also, speaking to her in detail about this experience, too, can be beyond her comprehension, so he hesitates to do so. Therefore, I thought, one thing is—it is important that Rafael himself abides more and more in Atman, and through that, he will be able to explain to Farida the teaching of Truth. That would be as much as he can do at the moment.

(The Master adds that the first time Rafael was introduced in Paramahamsa was in Vol. 48, in the “Anandamala” article.)

Dayamati: In the earlier advice of Shri Mahayogi, I heard the words, “Continue to meditate alone early in the morning or later at night, to abide in Atman.” Is it correct to understand that abiding in Atman means the same as having no thoughts arise whatsoever?

MASTER: Yes, it is.

Dayamati: If thoughts come up there at that point—that means there are subconscious thoughts in one’s own self, right—judging or thinking according to the situation?

MASTER: Yes.

Dayamati: That is something that we must eliminate, correct?

MASTER: Even though his experience seems to be not that long, he surely realized the Truth. However, as he himself confessed, various thoughts come to obstruct it—in a way, there are two forces within the body of Rafael. Unless he makes the Truth of the consciousness of Atman predominate, the mind will continue to cause obstacles. In order to define it such that it predominates, one must have more experiences of awakening into Atman. For this, one needs to meditate during the time one can be alone and without being disturbed.

Sanatana: Atman becomes more predominant—is this related to the shifting from savikalpa samadhi (conditioned absorption) to nirvikalpa samadhi (complete, unconditional absorption without any cognition)?

MASTER: Yes, it is related. Viewing it objectively, this experience itself is the Truth, yet it comes with a condition. The experience of this state must be deepened until it becomes unconditional. Just as the causes of the creation of karma are bad conditions, what brings about samadhi are good conditions. However, the Ever-Lasting, Absolute Truth, has no relation to any conditions whatsoever.

Madhri: I don’t quite understand what is meant by having conditions for experiencing the Truth.  

MASTER: [In the case of Rafael,] as I mentioned a little earlier, for the past three months, he was thoroughly and steadfastly concentrating on the words of Truth—that was the good condition he put himself in.

It is said that learning the scriptures is a hard and fast rule in Yoga, but it’s neither about simply reading or filling oneself up with knowledge. It is about transformation of the mind itself by the words of Truth. In other words, it is about ignorance and pain-bearing obstacles such as karma and sanskara coming to disappear. That is the meaning and significance of “learning the scriptures.”

(Sarani begins to talk, wiping away the tears pouring from her eyes.)

Sarani: I am so very moved. A gurubai just like us… Thank you very much.

MASTER: Truly so.

Sarani: I kept thinking constantly that I am not good or have not been progressing much or things like that every day, but now, after hearing this story, I am simply moved, and see that none of my concerns really matter… Simply, a gurubai manifests the Love of Shri Mahayogi truly, and to hear about it from Shri Mahayogi’s mouth, I am truly grateful. Thank you so very much…

(Sarani puts her palms together and expresses her gratitude as fully as she can.)

MASTER: There is a similar story in an article2 in the series called “Sattvic Stories” (Paramahamsa Vol. 68). (looking at Sanatana) By the way, I heard that the phrase, “scales fall from the eyes” comes from the Bible?

(Sanatana introduces the biblical story where the source of the phrase “scales fall from the eyes” comes from.3 He adds that many people in Japan may think the phrase, “casting pearls to swine” is from ancient Japanese words, but actually it is also of biblical origin.)

MASTER: It’s a small anecdote, however with this too, [it is the case that] the mind completely transformed at once. She got a sense as if the fog that was covering the mind suddenly lifted—this fog expresses those “scales.” The eyes are certainly tools to see things like physical objects, however that recognition can be established by the mind. [That means that] everything is seen by the mind. If the mind puts a filter on something, then you are seeing it through that filter. Such obstructions suddenly are cleared up at once—such an experience must have been referred to as “scales falling from the eyes.” How many scales do you think there are? (Everyone laughs loudly.)

Haridas: Maybe 108? (loud laughter from all) (Note: in Buddhism, it is considered that there are 108 pain-bearing obstacles.)

 

Mr. Matsunaga: There is the Eight-Fold Right Path. The first is to view the right way. Even if we just live normal lives, we can see and understand that “all of life’s components are impermanent,” that “all these components are devoid of a self-entity,” and that “all is suffering.” Yet, the state of Nirvana that leads to serenity may not be possible to realize in daily, normal life…I understand this intellectually. Does that mean that I can only say that I have Right View, when I come to recognize that such a state exists? Or unless I come to realize it completely, is it that the practice can’t even begin? Is it okay if I gradually come to realize it more and more, not only on an intellectual level, as the practice progresses?

(Mr. Matsunaga intensely gazes at the Master.)

MASTER: Indeed, the experience of Nirvana that leads to serenity is not something that you can experience in everyday life. And that is an absolute state. However, since the mind and the world are in action within a relative world, then the Nirvana that leads to serenity, too, can only be understood in relative terms. That state is the complete opposite state to “all is suffering”; it is peace of mind and happiness… Even so, there is no other way to understand that eternal peace, in which suffering cannot come, in contrast to “all is suffering.” However, by having that as an ideal, one is guided to the experience of Absolute Truth. Therefore, in the beginning, in Right View, understand the Four Noble Truths more or less, but correctly. Even if it’s a relative understanding, that is fine.

Mr. Matsunaga: So the Nirvana that leads to serenity is the exact opposite of “all is suffering”…

MASTER: Yes.

Mr. Matsunaga: Does that mean I have to make a shift in the way I perceive, 180 degrees from what I’m currently experiencing?

MASTER: Yes, it does. That state, which has never been hurt by anything, never been destroyed, is always, eternally peaceful—that is how you should understand it.

Mr. Matsunaga: Thank you very much.

MASTER: That is your true Self.

(Mr. Matsunaga puts his palms together and worships the Master by deeply bowing. The Master bestows a long darshan, as if to embrace the disciple’s mind of seeking. The spirited silence transcends words, and inspires the disciples’ hearts deeply.)

(With much reluctance, the time to end Satsangha approaches nearer.)

MASTER: The brahmanda on the cover of Paramahamsa is originally a golden egg, therefore it’s fine for each one of you to color it gold. (As if the tension in the room is released, the atmosphere becomes softened at once.)

(The Satsangha was fully inspiring from the beginning to the end. The state of a gurubai living in a faraway land, living steadfastly in Yoga, that was shown by the Master, and the omnipresence of the grace of the Guru shining there—this must be giving every single attendee new insights and confidence towards the path on which to proceed.)

_________________
[1] Satori, Chapter VI, Ignorance and the Mind

[2]Sattvic Stories”, anecdotes from Mahayogi Yoga Mission and gurubai:
Anandamali thought that she should give a copy of the book, Satori, to her long-time friend as a birthday gift, so she visited her friend, who she had not seen for sometime, bringing the book and a homemade dinner. While visiting her friend, who is interested in spiritual matters by nature, she shared with Anandamali that currently she is in a serious turning point of her life, both in her personal life and in her profession, and that she is in the midst of the struggle to somehow get over these for her own growth as well as for her future.
The next day, Anandamali received an e-mail from her friend:

“When I woke up this morning, I was a bit depressed, which wasn’t surprising; and I got on the subway while concerning over a matter that was making me feel down. Then I opened and started to read the book, Satori, that I had put in my bag. Suddenly, not tears but scales fell from my eyes.

What was hurt is your mind, not your Self.—

I understood it intellectually, but when I read about the mind and the true Self, the fog that dampened my mind raised up toward the sky at once. I couldn’t even believe it myself.”

[3] Acts 9:18.

 

* * *

Testimonies from a Practitioner

Karma Yoga 2:
Inspired Works—Part 2 of 2

by Shachi
September 2008, Kyoto, Japan

“Yoga is the devoted service towards all humanity, the entire world.”

—Shri Mahayogi

When Shri Mahayogi said these words, I thought that I had received a clear answer. Within these words, there is no action whatsoever that is for one’s own self. I felt that Shri Mahayogi sees only that single point, and even when he sees us, he does not pay attention to the various little things we cause, but does the best for us to be able to walk on the true path from the place we’re standing now.

Practicing asana (postures of Yoga) and meditation helped tremendously in walking the correct path. Also, as the time I spent during the day on contemplating The One increased, I could sense that the more time I spent that way, the more the confusion within me disappeared. However, as soon as I relaxed the effort, my mind immediately tried to return to old habits, resulting in the repetition of having to ask the following questions again: What am I learning? What is my aim? What is the Truth? Actually, I could not even imagine what the goal was, but at least I was able to know the direction in which I was walking.

 

“In order to notice what others seek, one must have eliminated one’s own desires beforehand.”

—Shri Mahayogi

Karma yoga—it is the work of non-attachment, it is to renounce the little “I” called ego.

I thought that in order to proactively practice service to others, too, as originally meant by karma yoga, controlling emotions was necessary first. I thought of that because I recognized that whenever I am performing a task, if I deal with it with emotion, emotion dulls appropriate decision making, and suffering arises because I attach to my desires. I learned and recognized that, conversely, if I discern what must be done in each moment, without letting unnecessary thoughts enter, things go smoothly.

I looked and introspected within the mind. Among all the emotions, the most difficult one to control was anger. During my high school years, I had such a temper that I was called an “instantly boiling kettle.” Anger was an emotion that was always triggered by someone when something happened that was in opposition to my thoughts. Then, I attempted to control my anger; that is, the moment anger arose, I resisted and held it hard, so that this emotion would not be released externally. At first, it felt to me exactly like stepping suddenly on the brakes, it took a lot of force. But the thing is that no matter how much I was careful about it, as long as an ember of anger still remained, even a little, people around me noticed and it made them uncomfortable.

There is a record of a question that I asked Shri Mahayogi around the third year after I started practicing Yoga. It was about a sutra in Bhagavad Gita, which I was reading at the time at the Cave in New York when I stayed during Shri Mahayogi’s visit.

“Those who perform all their duties for my sake, who depend upon me and are devoted to me, who are free from attachment, and are without malice toward all beings, such devotees certainly come to me.”

—Bhagavad Gita, 11:55

Shri Mahayogi explained that this “malice” refers to anger and envy.

Shachi: So, after all, out of all emotions, anger is the most difficult to control?

MASTER: It can be said to be so. Especially anger and envy are such obstructions. You can understand the root causes of anger as the pain-bearing obstacles and ego, and that the end of every emotion is expressed through anger.

This is some text in a paragraph. Anger and envy—on the other side of them, they imply that there is a view of discrimination, such as a sense of superiority or inferiority in comparing oneself to others, within the mind. When comparing one’s own self to others, it isn’t necessarily true that others are inferior or superior. By restraining anger and other emotions as much as possible, your ideas that you have established are shaken, and you will come to know that everyone is equal in essence. That is how it boils down to the importance of the practice of yama (abstinences) and niyama (observances).

Also in a Satsangha, Shri Mahayogi answered about anger in this way:

MASTER: That is an idea created by the mind. These are fiction to begin with. When such things emerge, immediately say, “Be gone!”

This is some text in a paragraph.The poisons of the mind that Buddha taught are of three categories. They are “anger,” “greed,” and “ignorance.” Do not let them nest in your mind.

Question: What if the nest is in the mind already?

MASTER: To eliminate that is precisely what [the practice of] Yoga is. Yoga—are you really practicing Yoga?   

These words of Shri Mahayogi are very simple. We just have to say “Be gone!” Nonetheless, we believe that “It’s there.” and “It won’t leave.” Through learning and clearly recognizing this root cause, which is not knowing the Truth—ignorance—and through discriminating [the cause], we begin to renounce the small “I.”

At the same time, the simplest way is to direct the thoughts toward God. No matter how much we tell ourselves that it is ignorance, emotions are difficult to control. But then I came to think that if they are false, then I don’t want to waste my time by being disturbed and tossed around by them. Shri Ramakrishna says to first make God pleased. Indeed, if we can conduct every action as worship of God, then there is only Joy.

In this third year after embarking on the practice of Yoga, I had these thoughts as I was involved with the work of the Mission.

 

From the end of 1997, Shri Mahayogi visited the United States for the third time and stayed in New York for ten months. For the disciples in Japan, it was the first time he had stayed away from Kyoto for such a long time. Anandamali was considerate of the feelings of the disciples left in Japan and wrote down a daily record of Shri Mahayogi’s stay in New York, and she sent it to us [every week]. The computer work was completely new and we were unaccustomed to using it, so it was strenuous, but she wrote out not only what happened during the Satsangha at the Cave, but the words he spoke during the day, even if it was some simple utterances or casual conversations—she was devoted to capturing and recording everything, without missing a single word. Surprisingly, it was all written from memory, and it was written together with Shri Mahayogi. At times, the writing took until very late at night, past midnight, and each completed manuscript was checked again and again after that, to the smallest detail. These original writings totaled over a thousand pages. Out of these teachings, the parts that Shri Mahayogi carefully selected, especially the clearest questions and answers that he considered beneficial for everyone, was to then be edited and compiled, as the publication, Pranava Sara (320 pages) [in Japanese].

Also, parts of the most essential teachings were excerpted and categorized under themes, and then edited, and are now The Universal Gospel of Yoga.1 This book not only contains what was in the original manuscript, but also words that Shri Mahayogi spoke at the beginning of a Satsangha [at Sufi Books] when he first visited New York in 1996. On this occasion, I heard that Shri Mahayogi himself spoke in English.

I recall the considerable amount of time Shri Mahayogi spent on editing The Universal Gospel of Yoga. At the time, I was living in Seva Kutira (three gurubai started living together spontaneously, and then Shri Mahayogi bestowed the name of this sangha house as “Seva Kutira,” or “small house of service”), which was about a 15-minute bus ride away from the Ashrama. Shri Mahayogi stopped by often, and I continued to work on putting the structure and layout into the computer. Very often, after he returned to the Ashrama, already a few hours after, I would receive a call from Shri Mahayogi to instruct us on some changes. And that continued until the very moment we were ready to begin printing. Around that time, I heard Shri Mahayogi mention that he hadn’t slept much the night before. Without thinking much, I asked, “Shri Mahayogi, what are you doing [during the night]?” He answered, “What am I doing?… I was thinking of the structure and layout.” How immature and shallow of me to have asked such a question. I have seen that from around that time, [which was as early as I could know], and even to this day, his way of working has not changed at all—Shri Mahayogi, regardless of what task it is, works truly with all his body, heart and soul, until everything is fully complete.

Around then (1998), I drew a miniature painting for Jayanti. After Shri Mahayogi saw it, he suggested making it into the cover of Paramahamsa, the bi-monthly magazine [for members, in Japanese]. That is how I was led to continue drawing these miniatures.2 And, these miniatures also adorned the covers of the momentous publications of Pranava Sara and The Universal Gospel of Yoga.

From the book cover, to the typesetting and layout, to selecting which paper to use for the book, all design decisions were based on directions we sought after and were given by Shri Mahayogi. Shri Mahayogi looked at large volumes of all the paper samples and picked one out. We outsourced the book binding, but we used the small printer at Seva Kutira to print out the pages. I can clearly recall the scenery to this day. It was a very time-consuming, strenuous task to go through this intensive process, where every step was carefully taken one by one in order not to make any mistakes—regardless, everyone proactively participated in the operation. The impression left within me from everyone was the image of children, innocently playing. All there was, was the joy of materializing a book by our beloved Master, the enlivened spirit by the thought of us together making it happen, and the passion to single-mindedly proceed forward.

 

From October 1997, Asana and Meditation Classes began at a public community center in Kyoto, thereby starting to increase the number of people who came to visit Shri Mahayogi. Naturally, the work of the Mission began to increase, led by those who had already been involved from much earlier on. If you read the past issues of Paramahamsa, you can get a sense of how full of vigor the activities were at the time, and I think that while each individual disciple was deepening internal sadhana (spiritual training for mastery), there was, at the same time, a powerful energy that was being sent out externally, in a positive sense.

Even so, there were still times when we got stuck in the difficulties of continuing these activities.

Paramahamsa was published as a medium to disseminate the teachings of Shri Mahayogi to more and more people in an easy-to-understand format. It seemed that there were a limited number of people who could write such articles at that time, and also those same members were the ones doing the editing and proofreading. There were Satsangha every week, and we constantly received fresh teachings from Shri Mahayogi, so the core of the newsletter was unshakable. However, after five or six years, we felt that it was unreasonable for the same people to continue writing articles about personal experiences for all these years. So, we then attempted many things with the goal of increasing the number of writers, like devising new segments and features, but it didn’t quite go well [due to difficulties in finding new participants, or if a participant was asked to revise, they couldn’t do it]. This continued for a while, and then, finally, after a discussion among these members, someone proposed that there was no point in continuing with such inertia, therefore, we should either take a break from publishing or change the publication schedule from every other month to quarterly.

We mustered up enough courage to ask Shri Mahayogi for advice. Shri Mahayogi said, “Once you take a break from publishing, you will never publish again.” Then he asked us, if we were to switch to a seasonal publication, what would be our proposal for leveling up the content, such as increasing the number of pages or adding color, for instance. (Otherwise, switching from six times per year to four times per year would entail a reduction in content.) Right there, I sensed that the work of the Mission never ends once it has begun, and it can never diminish in quality.

 

That being said, the teaching of Shri Mahayogi, at times, is expressed in entirely different words.

This is an anecdote about creating the Mission’s website. I had no experience in that field, so it was very difficult even to create a simple webpage [and this was before the time Madhri, who later started to join the practice of Yoga in MYM, and who had knowledge of web design, was around]. Even in this condition, those involved with the editing of Paramahamsa thought about the structure of the site, selected the content, and finally managed to publish a bare minimum of information on the site. However, that was just the beginning, and we needed to keep improving everything. Shri Mahayogi also indicated to us the need to make the content richer and more organized, but for many years, we were not able to proceed well. I was anxious. I had a sense of guilt for not being able to do to the level that Shri Mahayogi might expect or the way I thought I should, and I felt as if I was in a tight corner from the thought that no one would help me. I knew that I should not give up, but I was also overwhelmed with personal issues, and finally I could no longer contain it beneath the surface. I spoke to Shri Mahayogi about the things I could not tell him for a long time. [A note of explanation added later by request: The situation was that Sananda and Sanatana, disciples who came before me, and who have excellent abilities and capabilities in many areas, sharp minds and in-depth understanding of the teachings, had not been involved in the work of the Mission at that time, and therefore I alone was doing the majority of the work for the website and for Paramahamsa. Regardless, the deadlines for the publications came without pause and I was overwhelmed; however, I had not said any of these things for all this time because I was firmly disciplining myself not to make excuses or to complain]. Shri Mahayogi listened to the situation and saw my condition, and said gently, consoling me, “It’s fine not to have a website, and it’s fine not to have Paramahamsa.”3 I think that for all these years, Shri Mahayogi truly had been patiently watching us in relation to everything. He never blamed us for not being able to have the quality that Shri Mahayogi would expect; he was patiently waiting for us to use our own will to work, to proceed and to complete it.

Quite easily, these words from Shri Mahayogi brought a shift in the state of my mind. I felt relieved. There is no such thing as “I must do. Everything is done by my own will. This time period was a very precious time for me. In a way, the personal concerns and the emotions that I felt in doing the work of the Mission were the same. That is, rather than blaming someone, understand the root cause, discriminate it and renounce it—that was all. And, I realized that in order to practice and reach that, it was very important to know what the aim was, and to have a firm ideal.

When I was staying in New York, I once asked Shri Mahayogi, “No matter how much one serves others, while one has not yet reached Satori, then after all, it results in one’s own benefit, so then the only thing one can do is to make one’s self smaller. Is that so?”

Shri Mahayogi: If there is ignorance and if there are pain-bearing obstacles, then there is karma, of course. If ignorance or pain-bearing obstacles are gone, then karma vanishes. Therefore, in truth, it is not appropriate for you to verbalize that you are or are not in Satori always. Originally, everyone is in the Pure, Pristine, state of Nirvana. Given that this is a fact, believing, “No, I am not in that state,” is ignorance itself.

Within various experiences in samadhi, one experiences many small Satori to reach Satori; however, Buddha expresses that those who listen to the Truth, then understand, react positively to the truth of It exactly as it is, and actually act on It accordingly, as “someone in the state of Satori.” To make oneself small means to simplify oneself. To practice to eliminate everything that is unnecessary. That is, to perform actions dispassionately, without attachment, throughout every aspect of one’s entire life, and make these actions simple. Eliminate what’s unnecessary. That is Satori

Actually, Shri Mahayogi had told me these words in my very early stages, but finally I came to understand what he meant, so I made the following resolution: “I determine to live by the teaching.”

Also, an event, “Amrita—Immortality”4 in which we all gathered up our hearts, and poured everything we had into it, was in 2005, not far from that day.

________________
[1] Both publications were published in 1999. The English translation of The Universal Gospel was published in 2000.

[2] The miniatures adorned the cover of Paramahamsa Volumes 11- 64, for nine years, and became the yearly calendars.

[3] Shachi expressed that Shri Mahayogi only said these words “It’s fine not to have a website, and it’s fine not to have Paramahamsa,” only to console her, perceiving what she would then think. Shachi herself thought that if she acted on what he had just said, then that would mean the end of these works, and that should not come to pass. Also, when looking back now, she thinks that if Shri Mahayogi would have answered her that someone other than her should take on this task, then her feelings about it all would have led to a different result. Shri Mahayogi guides us from seeing a much larger and longer span of results, and in accordance with the need of each disciple and situation.

[4] An event composed of a divine play based on the Upanishad, a demonstration of asana—“Essence of Yoga,” and Q & A.

 

Karma Yoga 3: Love and Renunciation

by Shachi
November 2008, Kyoto, Japan

 

“The lover’s love for God escalates endlessly, even to the point of madness.
The lover of God longs to give herself entirely to the One,
and not only does she no longer desire Realization for herself,
quite the contrary, she willingly takes on the suffering of others with joy.
What is illustrated here is the devotional act performed out of love—the ultimate, ideal state of supreme love (prema), bhakti yoga, and of the sublime self-sacrifice, karma yoga.”
1

—Shri Mahayogi

Devoted service because of Love—that is the state I admire most.

As I encountered Yoga, and began to learn the Truth, I began to want to know for the first time what true Love is. I thought that rather than loving others for myself, I want to be able to love only wishing for the happiness of others. And I came to find out that true Love is not found in such limited things as male/female relationships, parent/child relationships, or friendships, and that as long as I still desire to be loved, then I will never arrive at true Love. What Shri Mahayogi says and demonstrates—that is Love itself. I feel that Shri Mahayogi is always existing solely for our sake. I have never met anyone like Shri Mahayogi, who doesn’t wish anything for his own sake, and who solely works for others.

Around the time I first began practicing Yoga, I was suffering, being tossed around at the mercy of the pain-bearing obstacles. Until I could understand their root issues [and the way to work on them], Shri Mahayogi always listened to my words and truly thought about it with me so kindly. Every time, Shri Mahayogi listened to the same things from me again and again, and every time I was healed and given courage to proceed forward. Looking back now, my worries must have been minor struggles. However, regardless of how big or small they were, Shri Mahayogi always seriously looked at them, and encouraged me with kind words that suited my understanding and advised me so that I could live in accordance with the Truth. When I went to visit and seek advice from Shri Mahayogi, even though most of the time I might have been swayed by emotions at first, by the time I left, the cause of the problems and the hint to fundamentally resolve them were revealed to me. I think that through this, gradually and unbeknownst to me, I started to develop a habit of thinking about things according to the Truth. This lifted me up a lot.

 

“Our duty is to encourage everyone in his struggle to live up to his own highest ideal, and strive at the same time to make the ideal as near as possible to the Truth.”2

—from Karma Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

This teaching was always within my mind. Vivekananda teaches that helping others physically, by removing their physical needs, is great indeed; but the only thing that can destroy our miseries forever is spiritual knowledge; so helping man spiritually is the highest help that can be given to him.3

Then, what should we do in order to serve concretely?

Around the second or third year after embarking on the practice of Yoga, the word “service” was mentioned often amongst gurubai. I think that it was because we were all feeling that we should not keep what we have been given to ourselves. So we each individually set about doing whatever we could begin with, respectively. Needless to say, it would be the very best for us to be able to transmit spiritual knowledge. However, until we realize and actualize the Truth through experiencing It, what we can do is only to continue to perform things that we consider are good for others, while making an effort to heighten our own spirituality.

Through some serendipitous connections, I met a boy on the autism spectrum. Then that led me to spend a few hours with him to support him once a week. At the time, he was in first grade and very young, and because of his congenital condition, communication with others was difficult for him, and his way of perceiving things was different from mine. I kept trying to figure out what would make him comfortable, and for me, it was a succession of trial and error. I began to approach him, a little at a time, and walk closer towards him. Just as I understood him, he would understand me. Yet, no matter how careful I was, at times I caused him suffering due to my impatience, or my preconceived notions. It seemed to happen when I was desiring a particular result to meet my own expectation. The prioritization of my own wishes is itself nothing different from merely prioritizing my desires, and there is no love in that. I thought that what I want is to love him more. Of course, I was aware that such an artificial manner is not love at all. Yet, through continuing to think and act as if the beloved Lord Krishna is within him, I ended up liking him very much. Then, thoughts like, “I want to do this or that for him,” disappeared naturally, and I began to gradually sense what he needed in the moment.

 

“Love is giving, sacrificing yourself for the happiness of others.”4

—Shri Mahayogi

By seeing God in everything, and acting through wishing for the joy of others, my mind became naturally filled with gentle, peaceful feelings, and things proceeded smoothly. And, I thought that as unnecessary thoughts disappeared and the mind became more still, that original Love started to brim over. After all, even if we think we’re helping others, that action is actually nothing but purifying our own selves, and helping our own selves. And I recognized that when we give ourselves for others, then we, in turn, are given love as well.

To love—it is also about letting go of our own selfish thoughts. Vivekananda explained that in every aspect of Yoga, renunciation is necessary, and that the renunciation of the karma yogi is to not be attached to the result of work. So then, what does it mean to work without having any selfish thoughts, but rather to work with an unattached attitude? For the secret of work, Vivekananda indicates the following:

“Let the end and the means be joined into one.” When you are doing any work, do not think of anything beyond. Do it as worship, as the highest worship, and devote your whole life to it for the time being. …Let us take on, doing as we go whatever happens to be our duty and being ever ready to put our shoulders to the wheel.”5

—from Karma Yoga by Swami Vivekananda

I think that many people unconsciously categorize things into types, such as “my work or task,” “his or her work or task,” “this is my duty” or “my hobby,” and differentiate the amount of effort or energy we bring into each according to the category. I feel like it seems that when one is helping others work, then there is an awareness that “I am helping,” and conversely, when one thinks that it is “my” work or task, then the sense of responsibility increases. However, I’ve never felt Shri Mahayogi distinguishing tasks in such a way. I have been witnessing the way Shri Mahayogi works on providing advice for a variety of things through a serious and earnest attitude, many times.

When it comes to any work, the fact that action takes place is the same. Even so, why do we differentiate how we feel about them? When thinking about it, I realized that there was a thought of “I am doing this.” 

Indeed, when looking at the root cause of all problems, this “I,” this consciousness, is exactly where it begins. Joy and suffering, both are brought about by “I.” Long ago, I was constantly comparing myself to others, and being turned joyful or sad from it. There are various people in this diverse world, and it is natural that there are differences in the abilities of each person, respectively. These are mere temporary phenomena. Even so, I was shaken by the results, and I continued to find the incompetent parts of myself and arbitrarily create suffering.

How did I become able to let go of this, even if gradually, and bit by bit? Before I knew it, I began to believe that when Shri Mahayogi sees us, he is not seeing the surface, but sees something within us, that which is pure. No matter how wonderful the work we do is, and, even if we were not able to do anything, Shri Mahayogi will love us without any change—believing that became the power to overcome everything. Furthermore, through proactively making myself consciously keep practicing to do everything as worship to God, I became able to concentrate on the tasks in front of me and conduct each one carefully and meticulously. That resulted in eliminating selfish thoughts and actions for my own happiness.

I have heard that the Awakened Ones, when something occurs in front of them, take it on and take action; however, when these things are about to pass, then they can simply let go. That is why they must be able to concentrate on what is in front of them, and truly enjoy it. Shri Mahayogi’s conduct is truly and precisely like that.

If I am able to do everything without any attachment whatsoever, exactly like an Awakened One, then perhaps I will be able to offer my entire life at each and every moment.

I hope and want to continue to keep practicing action, with passion—until the day I become a true karma yogi.

_____________
[1] Excerpted from “Yoga Sara” in The Universal Gospel of Yoga.

[2] “Each is Great in His Own Place”, Karma Yoga, Swami Vivekananda.

[3] “The Secret of Work”, Karma Yoga, Swami Vivekananda.

[4] “Love”, The Universal Gospel Of Yoga.

[5] “What is Duty?”, Karma Yoga, Swami Vivekananda.

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