Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Satsangha, Kyoto, 2017
Living in the Truth
Testimonies from Actual Practitioners
• My Yoga! The Yoga that Even I Can Put into Action
by Kyoko Yoshioka
July 2021, Kyoto, Japan
• The Brilliance Between the Waves
by Mika Noguchi
August 2021, Kyoto, Japan
• Unshakable Trust
by Hitomi Tamai
August 2021, Kyoto, Japan
* * * * * * * * * *
Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Translation of Satsangha
Living in the Truth
Saturday October 14, 2017, Kyoto
An autumn rain keeps falling during this hot, humid day. Shri Mahayogi will visit Taipei next week, responding to the passionate pleas of the disciples from Taiwan requesting his teaching.
For years, Satsangha has been held at Mahayogi Ashrama, but since the two connected rooms on the second floor of the Ashrama can no longer hold all the visitors, from this day on, Satsangha is being held at Kyoto Asny [Kyoto City Lifelong Learning Center].
The Way Sannyasin Live
Ms. Wakase: In one of Vivekananda’s books, there was a part where he was drawn to the life of renunciation, the life of a sannyasin, a wandering monk, bereft of earthly security and devoted to the contemplation of God. I would like you to teach us the way of living in which we practice to remove the wish for security in this life.
MASTER: In a word, it means to stake one’s life. After all, what the content is in this notion of “guaranteed security in this life” is that when you say that, you will find that it is related to how you can stay comfortable in the physical body until death comes—that is, there is a want underneath to only seek for the physical body. However, what Yoga teaches is that the physical body will die eventually, sooner or later; and also that the physical body is not the essence. Rather, the essence is what is called Atman, that is, the Eternal Existence within oneself, also called God. Once you come to know It, to live in It is precisely the core of the way sannyasin live. And of course, it would be truly ideal, not only for the sannyasin, but for every living being to awaken to these things. So then, to interpret these words of Vivekananda that you just mentioned, it means to live in the real Truth, not falsehoods.
(Ms. Wakase dabs her eyes, perhaps moved by the noble aspirations of practitioners of Yoga.)
Mr. Shubou: When I was little, I wanted to know everything—I was wondering what was at the end of the universe, what happens when I die…, but I have carried on with my life, thinking [that knowing] such things is impossible. I have begun to think that knowing everything means to know my true Self; is it possible to know my true Self?
MASTER: (immediately) Yes, it is possible! Because it’s already within you.
Mr. Shubou: (palms together) Thank you very much.
(Shri Mahayogi gently smiles and begins to speak to everyone in the audience.)
MASTER: When the true Self is found, even the consciousness of “I” disappears. The true Self does not have a first person, second person nor third person. It is there simply as Existence. However, it is known through one’s self Awakening, and that is how one understands it to be the true Self. As mentioned just now, it is the Immortal Existence, and there is (emphasizing) nothing whatsoever other than That. There is only That. It is what the ancients have called God. The ultimate of the word Truth is That. That exists everywhere. And, It exists clearly within each and every one, even now.
Continue to meditate constantly without letting up. One may come to know it not necessarily only in meditation. It may happen suddenly at an unexpected time. Since what is obstructing the manifestation of That is nothing other than the mind, always keep the mind empty throughout your daily life. Just like the phrase—Each day has enough trouble of its own—practice to finish the struggle of each and every moment right there at that moment, don’t let them linger in your mind, and keep your mind empty—that’s how you get the hang of it (laughing).
(The powerful words of the Master, the core of Truth filled with spirit, resonates in the hearts of the disciples. As Shri Mahayogi finishes speaking in a light manner, he dons a full smile.)
Dayamati: When Shri Mahayogi said that the true Self is beyond everything, does that everything include time and space?
Dayamati: I can’t imagine within myself, the mind transcending time or space. It’s impossible, isn’t it?
MASTER: Yes, it is impossible. Conversely, it can be said that time and space are within the mind, therefore, in a way, they’re conjoined with the mind. So, I mentioned earlier to make the mind empty, it means, in other words, to make the mind void, to make it disappear. It is to put an end to all activities of the mind. It’s like the famous phrase from the Yoga Sutra, the restraint of the activities, the workings of the mind—restraint here means stopping—is Yoga. At that time, the Seer abides in its original state. The “Seer” means the Existence itself that is beyond words.
Gopala: Shri Mahayogi began the meditation of discrimination in his teenage years, but please teach us what you used as the object and how you performed it.
MASTER: What triggered the inquiry is to know where the various complexities in this world originate, that is, I think that the first start was the cause of these. And as discrimination progressed, on one hand, these individually have various causes such as karma (cause and effect of actions) and sanskara (psychological latent remaining impressions); on the other hand, you can ultimately see singularity at the origin of where these things are born, which causes the diversity in manifestation of the external world. The approach I took was like that, that is, to go in reverse order, back to the origin of where the world and mind manifested.
Gopala: Does that mean that Shri Mahayogi began from observing the world?
MASTER: The world and the mind.
Gopala: Both simultaneously?
Gopala: And untangled these knot-like things, in a way?
MASTER: Yes, that’s right.
Gopala: How did Shri Mahayogi discover karma and sanskara?
MASTER: Normally, the parts that can be grasped through the five senses are the parts after this physical body is born. However, even in countless lives that are born in the same era, same age, you can see wide variations in personalities and tendencies. If you seek the reason why, these can’t simply be resolved through the environments and situations that arise after one has been born, we can’t help but acknowledge the presence of past lives after all. Then, the cause of karma is inevitably concluded to be the sanskara that was already created in past lives. That is how I began to discover them.
Dharmini: To Shri Mahayogi, everyone’s Atman (true Self) is visible?
MASTER: There can’t be anything else other than Atman. There is nothing that exists but Atman. (smiles)
Dharmini: How do they or does it appear to you? (laughs)
MASTER: It’s not something that has shape. So, it can’t be described with physical vision, saying it has this shape or that shape. However, I thoroughly see that only the Existence that is called Atman, exists. (Attendees exclaim in amazement.)
Ms. Sakurai: Is Shri Mahayogi seeing this with his spiritual eyes?
MASTER: It can be said as such, and of course, I recognize the various shapes through the mind, therefore I am seeing that through the mind as well.
Tarika: Then, Shri Mahayogi is seeing without filtering through the mind as well.
Tarika: At work, I have been trying to not be bothered by peoples’ words and actions; rather, is the way in daily life also to stop the mind, in other words, to simply spend every day, simply recognizing things, doing what I ought to do, without having the mind involved with them?
MASTER: (immediately) I think so. Especially in the workplace, many people are engaged in it, but then what is performed is some sort of task. It is not about the person [who is doing it]. You see, people have various personalities; there might be some who are likable and some who might not be. But you must not look at that. You must stick to the task, and focus on how to proceed, or the way how to do so, and that is all you need to do.
Mr. Matsunaga: Earlier, Shri Mahayogi mentioned that he sees all existence as Atman, and that It is called Atman, and it is called God as well. So then, the way everything appears depends on how you want to see it?
MASTER: When you see things through the mind, relative concepts arise there. Therefore, you can see something as either God or the devil. Therefore, if you remove the intentions of the mind, and if you can see things, making the mind transparent, then you will come to see only the Truth there.
Mr. Matsunaga: At that time, there is not even the word God anymore?
MASTER: Indeed, in truth it’s not necessary.
Mr. Matsunaga: Does it mean that as long as the word God is in the mind, then that is still at the level of having the mind’s intentions?
MASTER: Yes, it does. However, in this relative world, it too is also necessary.
Ms. Yamaguchi: You have taught us to keep the mind empty. The more I become able to feel God close to me, the more I can see my mind, well in other words, I find myself bound by the mind again (tears well up in her eyes)… In the course that Sananda-san is conducting, he taught us, “The mind does not have substance,” and at that time, I truly felt it with my being that it’s true, but the moment I saw the mind, it shifted so that it was as if the mind had substance, making myself suffer by itself. Please teach me when I find my mind’s constraints, what sways it or its attachments, how to turn away from that and go straight back into living in God, in other words, how do I remain in a state of not paying attention to the mind.
MASTER: This can be said about the spiritual path on the whole, but once you understand the real identity of the mind, then practice acquiring a habit to not pay any attention to the mind.
Ms. Yamaguchi: To not pay attention…what does that feel like… (seeming to be deeply struggling and contemplating)
MASTER: It may be not that easy to make the mind void, to make it zero. If so, then you can take the opposite approach and make it 100%. That is to say, fill up the mind with 100% thoughts of Truth, or God. If you do so, then you will no longer be bothered by the mind, not even one iota.
Ms. Yamaguchi: In these moments, I think that I have to think of God, again and again, I have to think of Shri Mahayogi, I have to think of Shiva, but then it turns into a bit of a fierce competition, turning it into a see-saw game (sobbing)… At times I can win over the mind, but is it fine to go through playing see-saw with the mind and win?
MASTER: No, you have a bad habit.
Ms. Yamaguchi: (opening up her eyes as if startled) I have a bad habit! (laughter from all)
MASTER: You are paying too much attention to the mind.
Ms. Yamaguchi: (as if getting an insight) That is what you mean by, “paying attention to it.”
MASTER: Right, you look towards the mind unintentionally (other disciples too let out words of concurrence and conviction about their own self)—that is a bad habit of you entertaining the mind. Rather than that, you must entertain God.
Ms. Yamaguchi: (as if awakening from a dream) It was only a habit… (roaring laughter from everyone) I was bound so tightly by the mind.
MASTER: That’s the habit. (Everyone laughs.)
Ms. Yamaguchi: That is a habit. Then I can just quit it.
MASTER: Right. (Everyone laughs.)
Ms. Yamaguchi: That’s all there was too it. How silly of me. (She seems to be convinced and laughing with good spirit.)
Tarika: Today, gratefully, I thought again that after all that, what I must really do is to not grumble, not think and then become empty. But let me confirm that even if there is still karma or sanskara in us, if we pay no attention to the mind and take it 100% towards the Truth, then the mind can become empty, is that correct?
MASTER: Yes, since the Truth has the power to eliminate the cause of sanskara which is ignorance itself, if you heighten that direction, then naturally, ignorance and those mutterings will be eliminated.
Gopala: I want as many people as possible to find out about Shri Mahayogi and the Truth; however, when it comes to Shri Mahayogi himself, he said that it doesn’t matter whether he is in some corner of the town, so from that I think that it’s irrelevant to him whether people find out about him or not. Please, I would like to hear about this.
MASTER: (after some silence) The Truth is only One, without a second, however the person of the embodiment of that Truth will come to play various roles. Therefore, this body may have the role of this body, that body may have the role of that body—it is simply that you can just find the roles of each respective [being there as well].
Gopala: When did Shri Mahayogi clearly understand his role?
MASTER: Around the time I was twenty.
Gopala: Does that mean that that was when the meditation of discrimination was finished?
MASTER: Yes. (after some pause) To me, at that time, when thinking about whether or not to propagate this Yoga, or the Truth, or when considering whether to work for that or not while It was not really known out there, I felt like even if it was the work of the Truth, it would lead to having some kind of intentions; so I concluded that it was most appropriate for me to not take on that work either, and just leave it be. But even so, as time progressed little by little, there was an increase of people who were interested in Yoga in Japan little by little as well, which resulted in establishing the Ashrama a few years after that. Twenty years after the establishment of the Ashrama, people appeared who would take on its work, and consequently, that brought about the way it is in these Western Japan and New York locations today.
Next week, I will go to Taiwan, too. That also arose due to all of your work and efforts. The role is just like that; I think that various, diverse works are within all of you, too. And I, too, work and will work according to it, as they come.
Ranjani: Thinking about how Shri Mahayogi himself is going to Taiwan, everyone here is thinking about what he or she can do. How should we think about our own roles?
MASTER: Well, I want everyone to find it by themselves—there is something for sure.
Ranjani: It’s not that I’m asking about advice for each and every person here, but how should we know what we should do in order to find it?
MASTER: Well, that too boils down to deepening Yoga, again. I think that within all of you, the pure faith towards Yoga, or towards God, which is the Truth, has been grown, therefore whatever radiates out of that naturally will become your roles. There are various roles, so I would like you to enjoy and carry them on.
(Due to the time limitation of the auditorium, the ending time arrives very quickly. In Taiwan, so many people are awaiting the arrival of Shri Mahayogi eagerly, with their hearts full. Facing the departure of the Master, many disciples must be thinking about following in the footsteps of Shri Mahayogi and his work, and thinking deeply about what each one must do.)
* * *
My Yoga! The Yoga that Even I Can Put into Action
by Kyoko Yoshioka
July 2021, Kyoto, Japan
At the beginning of this year, I had to look for a new job. For a very long time, I’d had a job that I was accustomed to, but due to a situation at the company where I work, my working hours were reduced. I looked for a new job, wishing that the new position would be a place where I would be able to deepen my Yoga practice by putting it into action. As I considered my age, my salary, including thoughts of how long I can practically continue to work, as well as other factors, nursing care came up as one of the occupations that offered the right conditions. In order to care for my parents, I had already acquired a qualification for nursing care; however, nursing care was a job that I had actually been avoiding until that point.
The main reason I avoided it was because I felt that when it came to my parents, since they are my own parents, I was able to be entirely responsible no matter what happened (for example, even if they got injured because of me), but when it came to people other than my parents, though it might be a bit exaggerated, I felt that being responsible for someone’s life was too heavy a burden on me.
While I was feeling that way, at the same time I found out from past blog posts about a senior gurubai, whom I haven’t even met, living precisely in such a way, dedicated to service, working in the medical field, and when I heard that from time to time she continues to live this way even now, I admired the way she lived very much and aspired to live like that. Meanwhile, one day when I heard another senior gurubai in an online meeting mentioning that he himself is a nursing-care worker, my mind immediately shouted, “How cool is that!” I could visualize the senior gurubai on a motorcycle, like the Masked Rider (a super hero series that began in the 70’s in Japan), with his scarf fluttering behind him. [Sorry, perhaps the reference might be too outdated?!] Actually, I was surprised at my own mind which shouted, “Cool!”
In Yoga, it is taught that one’s occupation can be anything. I thought again deeply about the fact that even though this is what Yoga teaches us, why there was still a feeling of hesitation in me to work in nursing care. Then I realized that I was afraid of being judged. I was afraid of failure. And, I also saw that I could not value strangers as much as my parents. I realized that these thoughts are contrary to the Truth.
Now that I realized it, what should I do? There are so many places to work in nursing care; it can be a second job or a full-time job; and I don’t have to obsess on just nursing care, for the occupation could actually be anything.
“Dear God, please bestow on me an occupation that is suited to me.” I prayed and went to sleep. The next morning, a postcard invitation to a job fair from the place where I had gotten my nursing-care certificate was in my mail box. Right away I naturally thought that this was divine guidance, and afterwards, one thing led to another; and from April I began to work as a nursing-care worker twice a week.
I began to tackle my new job seriously, but after a while I noticed that I was very exhausted. When I observed my own mind, I saw in myself that I didn’t want to let go of the good evaluations that I had happened to receive. In order to not make any mistakes, I was constantly so anxious and strained that I was exhausted. I’ve always been like that. Even though I have studied the teachings of Truth and intellectually understood them, the habits of my mind that have been there for a long time do not correct course so easily.
Even so, my head understands more than enough that this is not the Truth. If the mind turns into what you think, then I must continue to tell the mind again and again until the mind understands it. In a course called “Everyone Can Practice Yoga,” which it just so happens I am taking at the moment, we get homework every class for the purpose of applying the teachings to ourselves and practicing them in action. I had kept telling and reminding my mind again and again of the teachings I’d learned up until now, and I continued to apply them in practice in daily life, repeatedly.
It doesn’t matter if I succeed or fail, if I can or cannot. What is important in life is to realize the Truth, and there is nothing in the world worth attaching to. There is no value in whatever the mind thinks! Rather than looking at the results, just use the mind to make better each and every moment in front of my eyes!!
I think that because I have been studying and learning Yoga, why my mind was suffering as I worked at the new job came to light. First of all, I had not been able to let go of the thought that the evaluations were equal to my own value. That is why I was so incredibly tired.
Also, I recognized that I was awfully attached, especially to positive evaluations and others’ approval in relationships, and I found myself dwelling on these positive relationships and attaching to them so much. When I became an adult, I didn’t have a particular occupation that I wanted to take on, but I wanted to do a job that would be useful to others. Even now, it makes me happy when others say, “Thank you,” to me, so when someone reacts in a positive manner toward my actions, I continue to “do more and more” for that person out of happiness, and when that elicits more positive responses, then I continue to “do more and more and more,” and I continue to repeat this. And before I know it, I come to think that I do not want to let go of that comfortable relationship.
On the other hand, for those whose response to my first action is just ordinary, then I simply continue to repeat the “action.” I thought that this meant that I was reacting to external stimuli without any defense whatsoever. I am careful not to react to bad evaluations, but I thought that it was unexpectedly difficult not to react to positive evaluations, and goodwill too. I ought to simply act sincerely towards everyone in the same way, without paying attention to the reactions of others, whatever they might be.
What’s important is to get rid of both good and bad in my own decision-making standards and to not be attached to my likes and dislikes.
One day, I was working and bearing that in mind. I had a favorable feeling towards the couple I was visiting that day. But, I was thinking that I wanted to set aside such feelings and wanted to simply perform my tasks and go home, rather than “doing more and more.” At the moment when I thought, “Once I finish all this, let’s call it a day,” a thought arose in me, “Can I offer this to God?”
I thought that if I make all my actions become offerings to God, I can’t end them half-way. And that to abandon “attachments” means I give up my own likes and dislikes, and no matter when, where I am, or with whom, I “act more and more and more,” putting 100% of my heart into it.
And, though I could not easily escape from the thought that the evaluations equaled my own value, I came to understand, not through logic or words but by being with clients, that as one gets older the things that one can’t do increase, but that doesn’t mean that one loses value—the value of a human being has nothing to do with what one can or one cannot do or what one knows or does not know. Everyone is the same, sacred Existence—I now have come to understand that.
One time, my supervisor said something that left an impression on me. “When you work with humans as the object, things don’t exactly go in predetermined steps. It all boils down to how you devise things and do what must be done in a certain situation.”
I felt that I was lacking in that.
Indeed, when I visit the clients for work, many different situations arise: sometimes things that are supposed to be there are missing, or they refuse to be taken care of, and at times, they are not even home. In the past, whenever I had a task at work, I would visualize it first, and then prepare what was necessary. Most things went well by doing that. On the contrary, when unexpected things happened, I ended up not knowing what to do, and because I was afraid of making mistakes, I relied on the decision-making of others. However, in fact, life itself never goes in the way you expect, so every time that happens, one must shift one’s mind right then and there and focus on what must be done at that very moment in order to go through the situation. The nursing-care worker often has to figure out everything alone. I felt that for someone like me who was not good at that, the new workplace was exactly the most appropriate place for training.
I discovered later that my senior gurubai, Gopala-san, and I had gotten the nursing-care certificate from the same agency. I have no doubt that this was absolutely the guidance of Krishna! I wished for the new workplace to be a place of further Yoga practice in action, and that is what it became. God is always guiding us. So all I need to do is to continue to practice in action. In order to wake up as soon as possible so that I can make Shri Mahayogi rejoice!! More and more!! And more and more!!!
by Mika Noguchi
August 2021, Kyoto, Japan
“I can’t move my body the way I want to, and I’ve arrived at the place where I can’t do anything anymore. I can’t believe what I have become. How did I end up this way…”
I had no words to readily reply to this person who is over 90 years old.
“I rely on others’ care for everything, I am no longer able to do anything, I’m just like a baby…”
The old lady, as she laid on the futon, said this in a somber voice.
I could do nothing—neither sympathize nor agree by saying, “Yes, that’s true,” nor could I deny it, saying, “It’s not like that at all!” I thought about what words I could offer, thinking about how she might alleviate this feeling, even a little. However, I thought what she said was true, practically speaking, so I said, “Is that so?” and fell silent. This created a dark atmosphere. I am never able to say something nice. In the crucial moment, the words just wouldn’t come out.
When she checked her health at the hospital, they could not find anything wrong with her. Even as she heard people around her saying, “You’re amazing to not have anything wrong after age 90!” she didn’t seem happy. I heard that when her body was well, she used to be in a position to support other seniors. She was sad saying that she is now in the position of receiving that support. As I listened to her, I found myself as if I had actually become this old lady in front of me, and I understood a little bit of her loneliness and her struggle as if it was my own.
In the process of the physical body growing after birth, I think that at some point there is a turning point and the changes in the physical body shift from “growth” to “aging.” That was a mystery to me. The subject, one’s self, has not changed at all, and simply nothing but time has passed; yet when you realize that you have become an adult, and when you realize that the physical body has already surpassed its peak growth, then at some point you will come to know that the physical body has shifted to the process of aging. I can’t help but think that time is cruel. Yet, that was only up until I came to know about Yoga.
Digressing a bit, recently during the online course, “Everyone Can Do Yoga,” we learned about “Time, Space and the Law of Causation.” I still don’t understand it well, but since I never had a good impression of “Time,” I wanted to know the truth of “Time.” The most impressionable thing from the teaching in the course was, “Time is not continuous or connected; it only feels as if each moment is connected consecutively. The truth is that in reality, neither the past nor the future exists. There is only the moment of Now. That is exactly how the possibility to change in an instant comes!” This is a real fact that the Yogi from ancient times, continuing up to the present day, have gotten to the bottom of and revealed. When I think about that, gratefulness arises in me, with reverence for the Yogi and the joy of having been granted the Path of Yoga.
And, regarding the manner in which to understand “time,” the following is what was written on the handout I received in class:
In the general perspective:
“Past and future exist, and they follow the law of causation and are continuously changing.”
“Just like at one point, the waves arise, and with the passing of time they disappear, so does whatever arises in this world eventually disappear with the passing of time—that is the inevitable law.
…Thinking about that, I realized that even when a beautiful rainbow appears in the sky, it will disappear gradually; a beautiful flower, too, blossoms and it will die little by little; a well-designed building, too, is built, and it will one day become a ruin. Life that is born will inevitably reach its lifespan. Human physical bodies are of no exception, just like plants they die and gradually disintegrate. There is not a single thing that is immortal, that eternally never changes form. I am sure that this is something that even I can understand, and anyone can understand it.
However, from the perspective of Yoga:
“What truly exists is solely the Now, this moment only. Past and future exist within the ideas of the mind.”
“Whatever changes cannot be construed as existence—those things are phenomena.”
…Then in this case, in this world there is nothing that is certain, nothing that exists eternally in this world. I came to understand that from the general perspective, everything changes, so then that leads to the conclusion that everything is changeable, which means that everything is merely a phenomenon. That means that I am being captivated or disturbed by phenomena. “Phenomena” are likened to “waves.”
The body that changes with time—birth, growth, aging, death, they’re all phenomena. Only one thing exists deeper within these changing phenomena, that is, True Existence.
When I write this, it seems to me somewhat of a wordplay, and I feel like it is not something that I can write lightly. Even so, that is exactly why it is important for someone like me to organize these thoughts into words first, then meditate and go deeper from that point on. Once, when I had to moan about not making any progress in meditation, the Master said thus:
“It is inevitable that everything disappears and continues to change. You must inquire into what is truly the Immortal Existence much more thoroughly. You have not examined it seriously enough.”
The Master says that Satori already exists. We’re taught that what is covering Satori is ignorance. With regard to that ignorance, it is written in the handout that, “The power that inevitably sees the phenomena as True Existence.” “Without looking at the ocean, attaching to the waves”—“The waves are phenomena, the ocean is the subject.”
At first, the old lady was talking to me facing me, but gradually she rolled over with her back towards me, and I could no longer see her facial expression. Perhaps, this condition of not being able to see her expression, her painful feeling, started to fill me up so much that it was as if I could see it. Outside the window with open curtains, there expands a blue sky with white cumulonimbus clouds, just like kids draw in their summer journals. I wondered how she would be feeling when she looked at that sky as she laid here like this.
Outside it was sweltering hot, and the air conditioner was on in the room. Arriving from outside not that long ago, it felt to me as if the room was still hot. As I kept looking at her tiny round back, she said, covering herself with a thick quilt, “Please excuse me for appearing so inappropriate like this…” A long, pale arm was out from the quilt, and looking at her shoulder and thinking that it might be cold, my hand reacted naturally and tried to pull up her quilt to cover her shoulder. As soon as I extended my hand, her voice revived within me, “I’m the same as a baby,” so I instantly withdrew my hand, thinking that it would be rude. I didn’t want her to feel sad, feeling as if she were a baby. Again, I could not do anything, silently watching her back. “It’s hot outside”—I said something completely out of place, feeling that I had to say something. “Did you bring a hat?”— regardless of my awkwardness, she kindly was concerned about me.
Perhaps being considerate of my awkwardness, she began to talk about her memories from the past, little by little, from time to time. When she smiled nostalgically, instantly I too became happy and laughed with her. Then she would return to the present moment and say, “Now, I can no longer do anything,” expressing her pain. I too became pained and felt so low together with her.
Then soon, I thought that perhaps I, who was sitting without saying much and being still, might be causing her to use up her strength by making an effort to carry on a conversation with me; and more than anything, I may be causing her to feel even more pain, so it might be better to not be next to her. Just in that moment, someone from outside called me, saying “Please come to help me,” so I left the room. I was feeling joy, simply because of finding myself being given the place where I could be active in helping someone and be useful, under the blazing sun, I silently kept on going with removing the weeds in the garden and doing physical labor. I was happy to be able to do something. At the same time, I thought of the pain of the old lady who feels she can no longer do anything. Suddenly, I realized that my clothing was so damp that I could probably wring out the sweat. I should have brought a hat at least—I thought what the old lady said was exactly right.
After a while, when I returned to the old lady, she was dozing off. I felt relieved. I may have gotten her tired. Then time passed and the time came to go home.
As I was leaving, the old lady woke up; she had a clear, refreshed expression as if she had forgotten about us altogether, as if to say, “Oh, did you all just arrive?” While remaining at her side, she looked at us, and suddenly made a wrinkly, sublime smile that filled her face. It was like the loving gaze of a mother tenderly looking at her dear newborn. I was amazed. Earlier, she was in so much pain; normally, it would be impossible to have such a smile. It was a smile that transcended gender and age, like a Goddess embracing everything. That smile reminds me of someone…
I thought that humans, even as their bodies age with the passing of time, perhaps their true nature, which is the true internal reality, or spirituality, deepens. I felt that she understood all the confused thoughts of my mind, and that they were completely embraced as a whole by her.
The true essence, the real essence of the old lady was manifested through that smile. The changes of her physical body, the struggles of her mind, as well as her smile, they may all be phenomena. However, it was the moment I felt through these phenomena, without any reasoning or logical analysis, that the true nature of a human being is not the physical body that inevitably changes. I felt like I was allowed to see for a tiny moment the truth of the waves called phenomena. Waves are not necessarily all bad—I thought. If there weren’t any waves, we may not even notice that there is an ocean. The Creator of the Universe is truly great.
“I can’t do anything anymore…”—after I returned home, her sad voice kept echoing in my head. The next day, I suddenly thought, “Oh, the smile!” It’s not true that she can no longer do anything. The ultimate thing that only humans can do is smile like that, I thought. In addition, although I really wanted the old lady to feel better and well, I feel like the reality was that she kept my company patiently, bearing with me. The person who couldn’t do anything, practically speaking, was actually me. What an enormous gift she has given me! People are saved by a single smile. I’ve always felt this from the smile of the Master. After I encountered Yoga, I started to feel and think how beautiful people’s smiles can be. I didn’t have a mind that could feel such things before. The smile of the Master and the smile of the old lady overlapped.
I hope that I too can smile back to the old lady, conveying through a smile that “I came to see your smile again.” And as she taught me, next time, I’ll bring a hat.
by Hitomi Tamai
August 2021, Kyoto, Japan
It’s still relentlessly hot outside, and as soon as we open our mouths, we tend to say unintentionally how hot it is. Even then, there are ways to enjoy this season. In the midst of this broiling heat, as I am walking on the street, when I hear the refreshing sound of wind chimes coming from a house somewhere, when I drink iced coffee on a summer afternoon, when I see the beautiful gradation of colors in the sky as the sun sets, when I hear cicadas in the evening—my mind feels soothed and settled, forgetting the heat from a moment ago.
How wonderful it would be if I could spend my daily life with such a tranquil mind. Then why is my mind so agitated at work, where I spend most of my day, tossed about by various situations?
There was one day that was no exception. I overheard the conversations from people around me during work. These words—they felt so oppressive, listening to them from the sidelines—I questioned whether these words were truly said thinking of the other person. Isn’t this a hurtful act toward the person? My mind latched on tightly to the person who said these words, became greatly agitated, and an uncontrollable frustration towards that person swelled up within me.
Such uneasy days continued day after day as I was dwelling on this, but one day during the lunch break, as I opened a book called The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence, which was introduced previously in Gopala-san’s blog article, a phrase came to my eyes—I gasped and was startled by it.
One day, I (Abbot Joseph de Beaufort [who collected the letters and interviews with Brother Lawrence]) spoke to him (Brother Lawrence) about a very important matter, without much thought. It was about something that he deeply cared about and labored on for a very long time. However, this matter was voted against, and it never came to fruition. Towards this incident, he answered simply and plainly, “Whoever made this decision must have a certain reason to decide against it, therefore I must accept it. Afterwards, I simply need to proceed with it. I must have nothing more to say about it.” And in actuality, he did exactly that, so perfectly. Afterwards, there were many opportunities to revisit the matter again, but he never mentioned it ever again.
—From Practice of the Presence of God (Japanese edition)
In my case, I never thought anything about the certain reason behind the person’s words; even so, what does it matter what I feel if there is nothing that can be done about this emotion?… In this particular situation, what I can do is pray that we all will proceed in a positive direction—that was the only thing I could find, so I tried to reset my emotion. At the same time, I felt that I wanted to get closer to Brother Lawrence’s strong will of carrying out the final decision without being affected by emotions.
At work, each respective person’s position and viewpoint are different. Because of that, my thoughts or opinions are not necessarily justified or correct. So, I attempted to stop perceiving things from myself—from my own unreliable, shaky perspective. I also tried to detach my mind from my own perspective.
Every time the mind reacts to the words or attitudes of someone and tries to stick to them, restrain it—I am still continuing to practice this now, but I feel like I am starting to get the hang of remaining unaffected, as I separate the mind from what it is attached to. There are days when the attempt to change the habits the mind has had until now goes well and days when it doesn’t go well, yet when I think about how best to use my time at work, I begin to strongly wish to see only the sacred Existence within everyone, no matter what situation I’m in, just like how our Master sees us always.
The Master said this at the Special Satsangha in Matsuyama:
“Practicing asana and meditation alone in a room is still merely rehearsal. Indeed, Yoga is put to the test when you get to see how much your mind can remain calm in various settings in the natural world within the incidences [that occur] amongst people.”
—Shri Mahayogi Paramahamsa
When there are struggles, when the practice of applying the teachings does not progress as we desire and gets stuck, the Master’s words and teachings in the scriptures guide us such that the struggles are immediately removed. In the ten years since I began to learn Yoga, I’ve experienced this again and again. I feel that every time that happened, the unshakable trust towards Yoga was cultivated.
Without being afraid of being tossed around by the disturbances of the mind, by thinking that daily life is the real testing ground, by remaining calm no matter what the situation is, I would like to continue and to deepen Yoga!