Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Satsangha, Kyoto, 2018
• The Learning and Application of the Truth
• Discrimination and Bhakti (Love Towards God)
• Finishing Karma and the Approach of Yoga
• Journey to the Unknown Place
• Removing the Cause of Suffering
Testimonies from Actual Practitioners
• Jayanti Message, 2021
by Zhao Yuan
Nov. 23, 2021, Taipei, Taiwan
Turning My Daily Life into Yoga:
• My Work on the Application of Satya
Sep. 20, 2021, Kyoto
• I am You
Jun. 26, 2021, Tokyo
• Stabilize Prana and Act Through Quietude
Sep. 26, 2021, Tokyo
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Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Translation of Satsangha
Saturday January 13, 2018, Kyoto
The temperature has been falling so drastically that by morning, ice was forming on the ground; yet, because this is the first Satsangha of the new year, and the first opportunity to meet with the Guru, many disciples are gathering from all across Japan.
The Learning and Application of the Truth
Ms. Nagaoka: During Shri Mahayogi’s direct class today, as the meditation on the Truth was approaching, suddenly a thirst for Truth arose in me and it continued throughout the class. I became consumed with the yearning to find out more! And this yearning continued throughout. Right now, I am practicing asana and meditation on the Truth, and I am reading scriptures a little at a time. Is there anything more I should do?
MASTER: That is good. Since ancient times, it’s been said, “The Truth must first be heard, then pondered, then meditated upon.” Hearing the Truth can be something like this right now, where you’re hearing It through a voice, but reading scriptures can also be considered “hearing.” In short, it is to hear the teaching of the Truth, then study and learn it. You do not need to swallow it whole from the beginning; however, you must think on it very well—then, there will be teachings that your mind will be convinced of without any objections, and there will also be cases where you are not sure about the truth of them; but if you continue to ponder them more and more, and as you think on them again and again, as the thinking deepens, then naturally, this will lead into something like the state of meditation. Or, you can also intentionally meditate, and try to sense faith [or the passion for the Truth] within the quiet mind. As you repeat this, the habits of the mind, the ignorance and the non-truth that may have been established in you, will gradually disappear, and you will be able to understand and realize the Truth more clearly. Asana and meditation, and of course, the study and learning of the scriptures, which you just mentioned now—if you do these things, it will be sufficient to be on a sure path.
The rest is, since you have a physical body like you do, as long as you have been born, you will have to perform actions with this physical body until you die; therefore, of course, with regard to your job and your tasks in various daily activities, considering that these jobs and various daily activities are not related to karma, you simply need to perform them as actions to guard yourself against creating pain-bearing obstacles. When the mind’s unnecessary intentions accompany your actions, that is when things turn into karma. That means that if the action is accompanied by various biased thoughts such as likes and dislikes, comfort and discomfort, then it becomes karma, therefore if you don’t have these types of wrong thoughts, then there is no issue in performing actions simply as actions. It is quite impossible to remain action-less, since even if you remain action-less, your cells continue to move. You cannot help but be in some kind of action in any case. Then here is where yama (abstinences) and niyama (observances) become great hints. For example, you shall not kill a mosquito if it flies towards you (laughter from all); in your interactions with various others, you should not have any violent words or thoughts; and of course, you shall not steal. By referring to what is taught by yama and niyama, you will be on the right course. Then, when your yearning for the Truth is heightened, you have a great chance, so keep going forward more and more.
(Shri Mahayogi finishes speaking on a light and cheerful note.)
Discrimination and Bhakti (Love Towards God)
Yukti: Right now, I have been working hard to practice discernment. As I continue to drive my mind into a corner, and when I sense an extreme fear that makes me want to run away, should I apply bhakti and burn up the things that are not Truth with the passion of bhakti, or should I continue driving my mind into the corner until it faces the issue and the fear gets eliminated completely—which is better?
MASTER: Either way is valid. It is fine for each individual to take the path that is easier in that moment. The content of discrimination, or the procedure, is to expose what is not the Truth, such as the pain-bearing obstacles and ignorance that may remain in the mind; then, since they are erroneous and not-needed, True Wisdom arises there and thus the unnecessary things are clarified. That is the way of driving one’s mind forward into discrimination. What is surely needed there is the teaching of the Truth.
The other way, bhakti, is to direct the mind solely towards an existence of Truth that is personified and deified. Then, since that object, which is the Existence of God, is the Truth itself, there are no pain-bearing obstacles or ignorance, naturally. In this sense, it is the same as bringing Truth to the mind, and since the more deepened bhakti becomes, the more the mind becomes occupied with the Truth alone, even if you don’t battle in discrimination, pain-bearing obstacles or ignorance fade away naturally. That is how it proceeds.
Yukti: When I drove the mind into a corner, as I thought of a holy being that I admire and thought of how I might become one with this person, then I saw the difference between myself and that holy being, and when I thought about what these differences are, it then became discrimination again. So, do you mean that if I don’t take that approach and rather, if I take the approach of bhakti, it would be better for me to raise my emotion of admiration and aiming to be like that being?
MASTER: Yes, keep expanding it more. When the trace of battle still remains, such as switching between discrimination and bhakti as you just mentioned, it is normal to go back and forth with them. Eventually, either one will completely overtake the other, and discrimination will be complete.
Yukti: Discrimination, or discernment, requires tremendous willpower, doesn’t it?
MASTER: Yes. An enormous power is needed. At the beginning stage, you proceed in discernment with willpower, using the mind is a part of that, but as discernment deepens, it leads to the state of meditation, or the state of your mind becomes meditation; and at that time, it can no longer be reached by the mind’s intentions, and the genuine Truth, which is Wisdom, is naturally brought about, or what you’ve studied and learned in such a way will naturally manifest in the form of acquirement. Therefore, it doesn’t mean that there is no element of bhakti. So then, if you think about how the people are who have perfected discrimination, they all may be called saints now, but they all lived their lives having the same physical body as we have, the same mind as we have; therefore, the more you deepen, the more there will be areas that you have in common with saints, or where you will be closely intersecting with them. So drive your mind more and more continuously into the corner (smiling).
Yukti: If the mind of fear is gone, then a new wisdom will come?
MASTER: Right, once the mind of fear itself has completely disappeared, then there is a state of non-fear, an absence of fear—such a feeling will spring up.
Yukti: Yes, thank you very much, I understand. (smiling with conviction)
Finishing Karma and the Approach of Yoga
Yukti: May I ask one more question? It’s about the digesting of karma, the answer that Shri Mahayogi gave about the words of Vivekananda in a past issue of Paramahamsa. It was written that for the case in which you will not be able to complete karma in meditation, if you keep applying the means, karma yoga, then you will no longer have to fear negative karma as well, since as you progress forward more and more, the negative desires will be corrected by themselves and transform into correct desires. Digesting karma by practicing meditation using the way of jnana yoga and raja yoga, means to eliminate karma toward the future, doesn’t it? (MASTER: Yes, that’s right.) If that is the case, then digesting karma within practicing karma yoga means, after all, one is digesting one’s karma while experiencing suffering, so from the standpoint of thoroughness, it seems to me that karma yoga is inferior to other types of yoga. I would like to hear about this from Shri Mahayogi.
MASTER: There is no distinction of whether one way is superior or inferior; but I feel like the karma yoga mentioned by Vivekananda is not just about the inferior level of karma yoga where you are only fulfilling your own duties, but he is using the words karma yoga to mean proactively serving others, the devoted service to others. That means that devoted service to others is something that cannot be practiced unless you have already eliminated ego and pain-bearing obstacles beforehand, at least while performing actions. That is the very reason why when you practice karma yoga, performing pragmatically with practical actions, then internal karma will fall away or be eliminated. Furthermore, the root cause, which is ignorance, and pain-bearing obstacles will also fade and disappear. I presume that the teaching is like that.
Indeed, in jnana yoga and raja yoga, you discern karma and its root cause in meditation; however, in a way, it is done within the mind. Since the mind has an extremely deep realm, ignorance and pain-bearing obstacles cannot simply be eliminated altogether. It is a fact that an extremely fierce battle is to be expected. Therefore, in order to accomplish that, the suitable quality and the right situation are required in the practice of raja yoga and jnana yoga. Whereas, on the other hand, karma yoga is easier to practice since it can be practiced by anyone in daily life. With that understanding, I infer that Vivekananda taught such teachings as a concrete approach that more people can take on.
Formless True Existence
Asanghan: This is about tranquility. I have felt tranquility when I concentrate on Buddha, and when I focus on the true Self, or the Truth, too; nevertheless, I find in myself that there is a part of me in which the mind is shaken at the thought of death, or the fact that the physical body dies, and so I realized that I don’t truly believe in True Existence after all. In this case, should I try to concentrate so that I can sense tranquility, or rather, should I try to get closer to the true Self?
MASTER: Take the way that approaches the true Self.
Asanghan: Through that approach, my mind will be clarified [and I will be able to resolve the things in my mind]…
MASTER: Right. As I always say, the true Self is neither the body nor the mind. It’s really true. The true Self is Existence itself, however that Existence does not have form, but it is True Existence. (Emphasizing) That alone Exists. It is. Everyone may think it’s strange—the mind cannot understand it; because the mind can only accept things with form as being an existence. Therefore, there is no need to listen to the mind’s opinion, for the mind doesn’t know anything since the mind is in ignorance. However, that Existence is indubitably and vividly Existing. (Intensely) Only That Exists! Only That is Reality! Reality…it’s really frustrating…as a word, really (laughing). Existing—true Existence. That is It.
Asanghan: With this approach, do I need to tell that to the mind?
MASTER: No, it is to make the mind empty. From the state of tranquility you just mentioned, you have to go further towards the true Self. In that sense, in order to abide in tranquility, clarifying the mind, that is, discrimination, which is like cleaning the mind, or bhakti is needed. When the mind breaks away so much so that it is no longer interested in the things of maya (illusions), then true tranquility comes. That is exactly the point in which the true Self emerges. That Existence is within everyone, or rather, everyone is That. Frankly, the mind always has its own motives, and obstructs this, just like the cloud that hides the sun; therefore, once that is removed, just like how the sun is always there to begin with, the Existence itself emerges. That is how it goes (smiling).
Whether it’s karma yoga or yoga by any other name, that is the case. Not only Yoga, but any religion that seeks the Truth must be the same. If not, it is just a small-minded imitation, merely chasing after the divine grace of blessings and favors in this world. Everyone is truly sacred Existence Itself.
(Shri Mahayogi speaks powerfully indeed. His words, filled with confirmation and brilliance, bring the disciples to arouse the Existence of Truth within themselves.)
Journey to the Unknown Place
Saturday February 10, 2018, Kyoto
(A woman who is participating for the first time is introduced. She has a few years of experience in Yoga and bought the books, Pranava Sara and The Universal Gospel of Yoga at a Bhakti Sangham class she recently participated in.)
Woman A: Because I began my practice first from Yoga, I wanted to deepen through my body and breath; but as I progressed, at a certain point I got stuck, so I began to read scriptures; but then I got confused as to whether I need to feel that I am God, and wondered if I can get there just by thinking about it, or if seeking that itself is my ego or not. I heard that a Guru who can clarify questions like this is a must; that is why I am here.
MASTER: (with a beautiful smile) So, then who do you think you are?
Woman A: Who am I?
Woman A: That is very difficult to answer… I have read the scriptures, so I know the answer intellectually, but I have never sensed it.
MASTER: So, then you are saying that you don’t know the answer.
Woman A: Right, I don’t know.
MASTER: You are saying that you yourself don’t know who you are.
Woman A: (disappointedly) Right.
MASTER: (smiling) Exactly in that sense, to seek “What God is?” “Who am I truly?” and reveal the answer to these questions is Yoga. You mentioned that you “began from Yoga” but what you mean by “Yoga” is simply asana, which is only one part of Yoga that deals with the body.
Yoga is to realize the Truth—the Truth is your true Self, or something called the true God—however, rather than just swallowing it, it is about experiencing it to pragmatically know the Truth. The scriptures are like maps. However, no matter how much you seek unknown places on a map, you can’t have an experience of going there, since the map is only on paper. What is necessary is to journey towards that unknown place step-by-step, using your own body. In order to do that, a map is important on the journey, yet what is essential indeed is a reliable guide. That is the role of the Guru. Then, if you can proceed following the teachings of a Guru, then you will surely reach that unknown place, or what you thought to be an unknown place, which is the Truth. These are like the blueprints, so to speak, of Yoga.
Removing the Cause of Suffering
Man A: As I look back at my past, I think about the things that I have lied about—these events have become traumas—and I have started to feel that I am still under their influence. I would really appreciate if you can explain how we can face our various past conduct that was based in ignorance, starting from now.
MASTER: I’m sure everyone has had similar experiences more or less, and in that sense, most past experiences are negative. Then, when looking towards the future, if you only continue to repeat the same things, then even as your life comes to an end, you will be tortured by the same remorse. In order to get rid of this pain, you must remove the things that were the causes of these sufferings. Then, what you can do, (with emphasis) is to not produce future suffering. That is, to not have the causes that will create suffering; by removing them, future suffering will no longer come to attack you. In other words, as long as there is a cause for suffering, you will be tortured by suffering, and if the cause itself is removed, then suffering ceases to exist.
Man A: Does it mean that I have to confront the suffering and ignorance that I caused in the past?
MASTER: Right. So then, perhaps there are detestable experiences as past memories, but when their cause is removed, then no matter how big the suffering of the past was, you will no longer be bothered by it. All suffering in the future, including that [which comes from the past], ceases to exist.
The mind changes. The world is changing also. Like that, since everything is changing, it boils down to transforming yourself positively by following the teachings of Yoga—that is to say, eliminating ignorance, which is the cause of all kinds of suffering. And it is best to make the way you live stick to the Truth, taking the way of action that Yoga teaches, including yama and niyama, without having any fleeting desires.
(Man A stops writing diligently in his notebook, and folds his palms towards Shri Mahayogi.)
Ms. Sakaguchi: By the grace and support of your guidance, many things have changed around me. I read your words of guidance, and the Bhagavad Gita. My surroundings are still agitated, but I feel as if I am composed, remaining aloof from these surroundings and simply witnessing things happening to other people’s affairs. But for example, if I’m doing something alone, often I hear negative voices in my mind. In order to come to the state of mauna (spiritual silence), how should I work on that?
MASTER: If possible, find the cause of that voice, and discriminate it. There must be a thought that is the cause of that voice, discern whether that thought is the Truth, in other words, if that is correct, or if that is simply something relative, arising merely from experience, in other words, something that is not an absolute Truth—that is discrimination.
Ms. Sakaguchi: I think these are relative…
MASTER: (smiling gently) Then, you must be able to find a deeper cause, a cause that is creating that cause. For example, wanting others to perceive you in a certain way, or you want to be this way or that way; then, is that a correct thought if you check it against the Truth? Thoroughly discerning the causes that are deep within the mind in this way is discrimination, and that is what you must practice. If you can do that, and then if you can eliminate the root cause, then as a result, these voices will no longer arise.
Ms. Sakaguchi: If I pursue that cause further, for example, will I be able to forgive the person that I am currently displeased with?
MASTER: (lightly) You will be able to. First of all, isn’t it silly that you are even troubled by being in some kind of contact with someone that you are displeased by? (laughs)
Ms. Sakaguchi: (smiling hesitantly) I think so.
MASTER: Then, proceed saying to yourself: “I don’t need to associate with these thoughts. I’m discarding them.”
Ms. Sakaguchi: I understand. (laughing joyfully with Shri Mahayogi)
Man A: Even the trauma I mentioned earlier, if I use the same way to cope with it, then will I be able to forgive myself in turn?
MASTER: (with a light smile) You can. That’s right.
Man A: (happily) I understand. I will work hard on it.
MASTER: Right! Truth is neither changing nor limited—that means, It is the eternally unchanging Reality. Whereas experiences are mere trivial things produced by mere temporal, specific conditions. Even so, these trivial things remain in the mind as memories that are like scars, expanding into bigger suffering—that is the state of the mind. And this state of the mind grows the more these experiences are repeated, making it seem as if they are fixed, however, they’re actually not. They can be eliminated with thought alone. That is why you can say that Yoga has a great hope—because there exists the Truth itself. Therefore, you must surely rely on the teaching of Truth. If you do so, the mind will be liberated.
The Completion of Yoga
Ms. Hattori: I am reading Seeking God by Turiyananda.1 In this book, there are parts that make me think about my strengths and shortcomings. I have motivation for Yoga, so I can overcome the asana that are my weak points, but when it comes to my job (art teacher at an elementary school), my view of the concrete object of something I can aspire to is so vague and unclear, therefore my attitude towards Yoga and towards my daily work are not in harmony.
I want to establish fortitude within me, but may I ask, what do I need to work on for this?
MASTER: I think that the ideal for your current job is about providing something positive for children, that is not simply about making them get better at drawing, but rather, about cultivating their character and humanity, hoping them to be good human beings in their futures, and you are entrusted with them now during this period for that purpose; therefore it will be good that you devote to that.
(Shri Mahayogi speaks towards everyone.)
And the Truth that must be realized in Yoga is the Immortal Existence called Sat Chit Ananda—it is the One Existence, without a second, it is Consciousness, and it is the Joy that is Bliss. Many of you understand Yoga as divided roughly into four categories. What are the completed states of Yoga? In Bhakti, it is Prema, which is the true, real Love. What is not true love? It is what we call man’s love—the temporal love that is seen often in this world. In its shadow lurks things such as hatred and various imperfections, therefore it is not the Truth. However, the love in bhakti yoga is true Love. It is, in other words, devoted service. It is the devoted service that is common in love towards others, [as taught in the teaching] “Love thy neighbor”—that is also the goal of karma yoga. And at the same time, that is also the state of Freedom, which is the goal of raja yoga. That alone Exists—that also is the goal of jnana yoga. “That alone Exists” means that only the Truth alone Exists and everything else is like an illusion. You see, I would like you all to remember that the true Love, the real Love, is devoted service, Independent Freedom and Truth, and in the true Love, the real Love, all exists without anything being in contradiction with anything else.
Chaitanya: Can the same be said for the way to make progress in any yoga we begin?
MASTER: It is the same. At the beginning, your practice might be imperfect, that is because there are imbalances due to things such as ego; and since ignorance is obstructing it, it might not be perfect. However, as your Yoga progresses, and once it is perfected, then, since there won’t be any contradiction and it is Independent, it is Independent Freedom, it exists as It is.
Ms. Wakase: Please teach us the meaning of Independent Freedom.
MASTER: It’s easier to understand if you bring the antonym to it. The opposite of freedom is bondage. That is to say, the mind and actions in this world, inevitably, are limited by karma, pain-bearing obstacles and ignorance—they are limited and bound by them (smiling)… Non-freedom! That is why, escaping from it is liberation from the bondage of this world. That state of liberation is freedom. That is Independence, therefore, it does not depend on anything.
Mr. Matsunaga: When one arrives at the ultimate level, is there no longer a sense of even doing devoted service?
MASTER: Right, devoted service will be natural, it will just be.
Mr. Matsunaga: Anything one does becomes for others.
MASTER: Right, that is the way it goes. Furthermore, it would be about working for all living beings, for everything in this universe.
(Shri Mahayogi’s guidance is like the sun, shining upon all life, giving constantly and equally. The new participants who encountered the existence of the Guru, that is the light that shines upon the path to the goal, have very bright expressions by the end of Satsangha.)
 A disciple of Shri Ramakrishna. Swami Vivekananda brought Swami Turiyananda to the United States during his second visit.
* * *
Testimonies from a Practitioner
Jayanti Message, 2021
by Zhao Yuan
Nov. 23, 2021, Taipei, Taiwan
Why did I come to this world? The old me would have come up with various answers, but after meeting Shri Mahayogi, there is only one feeling. That is, whatever skills I have acquired in this lifetime have all been in preparation for Shri Mahayogi, to meet him and to serve him.
When Shri Mahayogi visited Taiwan for the first time, Anandamali-san told me, “When the Guru appears, the disciples who are scattered across the world will come and gather around; just as if finding the original source of light, we go towards the Guru.” Yes, I truly feel that it is exactly like that. Since encountering Yoga, my heart is keenly drawn to Shri Mahayogi, and I began to constantly think that I want to know more about the Truth, to get closer to It. The Truth is like a mysterious key, it unravels many of my questions, and shows me the ideal future, which transcends the mundane, worldly view of values.
In 2017, I participated in Jayanti for the first time. The few days I stayed in Kyoto, I witnessed with my own eyes, how the teachings of Shri Mahayogi shine the light of Truth through the senior disciples. I admired it as the ideal way of living, and I became absolutely certain that Yoga is my ideal life. I was originally very interested in art, and now, Shri Mahayogi is demonstrating to us the art of living—the ultimate art.
A few months after returning from Kyoto, I had a dream. In this dream, while in the drizzling rain, as I had just left with my fellow gurubai from the location where Satsangha was held, Prasadini called me from behind, so I stopped. As she appeared in front of my eyes and stared at me, suddenly, her voice changed to Shri Mahayogi’s voice, and said, “The following message is from Shri Mahayogi: ‘From tomorrow, you will be mine.’” It was as if Shri Mahayogi was speaking to me through Prasadini’s body. I was completely overwhelmed by the power of these words, and my body became unable to move. The rain became stronger and stronger, and was falling on my body. My heart was completely washed to become pure and transparent, and then it began to beat vigorously. I sensed that I am truly living. Since then, I have cherished this dream—because, I understand it as a direct blessing from the Guru.
I began Yoga not because I wanted to remove suffering, but simply because the teaching of the Truth resonated deeply with me. The worldview of Yoga is the same as an ideal world or the way of Life that was already within me, yet it is even more tender and delicate. I was drawn to this simple, light and free worldview of Yoga, from the depth of my heart, and I began to admire it.
However, within the past few years of learning, I began to see my limitations. The deeper I enter into my mind, the more various attachments and sanskara that were covered in darkness come up to the surface, and with my ability alone, I am not able to confront these imperfections and overcome them. Without the support that is Yoga, how much more would I have fallen and gotten hurt. Many times, as I saw my small-ness, being fragile and weak, and losing sight of the future, then as I was about to be swallowed into the vortex of darkness, I directed my mind to think about Shri Mahayogi with all my might, as if I was trying to grasp a piece of driftwood in the waves of the ocean. As I kept doing it, as if a lamp was lit in the darkness of the bottom of my heart, Shri Mahayogi suddenly appeared in front of my eyes, smiling, and gently said, “Because you are mine, be not afraid.” The one who has guided me to the light is You. Even if I am far away, I strongly sense that Light, your blessing and guidance transcends even languages, time and space.
There is a phrase in one of the Buddhist scriptures called Flower Garland Sutra: “When a light is lit, even a hundred thousand years of darkness are eliminated.” I don’t know how many times I have reincarnated so far, but I am truly fortunate and happy to have been able to meet Shri Mahayogi in this lifetime. Your glory destroyed my ignorance, and gave me a clear direction, leading my Life.
On this holy day, in response to the dream I mentioned earlier, I would like to tell You my resolution. Dear Shri Mahayogi, from now on, I am Yours. I will make an effort to prove that even an imperfect person like me, can purify the defilements of the mind through study, learning and application of practice, and move forward to the Truth step by step. I will make an effort to convey Your teachings to lost souls. I will make an effort to remove my own obstacles to get closer to You. I will completely surrender to You and the Truth. May I be with the Truth, eternally. I will bear You in my heart and will continue to follow You always.
Turning My Daily Life into Yoga:
My Work on the Application of Satya
Sep. 20, 2021, Kyoto
“…to be honest. This means, of course, to not lie, but to do everything with all sincerity and to speak with true consideration for others. At times, you could harm others by being honest. When that is the case, then one remains silent. Thus, do not harm others and be honest [at the same time].”
—Shri Mahayogi (Pranavadipa 42: Special Satsangha in Taiwan)
I found out that satya (honesty, sincerity) includes speaking for others’ sake, and so I made a strong determination to thoroughly examine my own thoughts, words and deeds, and speak for others’ sake. This means that I am always thinking of others, no matter what time or place, and no matter who it is, whether it is family, colleagues, students I teach, or gurubai. Every morning, I wrote on my left palm with a ball point pen, “Yama • Niyama,” and no matter how busy I thought I was, I tried to never forget to put this practice into action.
As I continued in this way, my awareness towards Yoga in daily life started to transform. Until then, in the big framework of daily life, there were separate, parallel times to do work, spend time with family, and time to do Yoga; but my entire daily life became the time to apply the teachings of Yoga in action, and it has shifted to be as if all is on top of that foundation, and from that various things manifest, such as time for work and time for family.
Through this change in awareness, there were two additional things that I feel concretely changed within me. First, I have become more able to concentrate during asana and meditation than before. Second, when I speak, what arises from unnecessary thoughts has started to become less. Acting simply for the sake of others without having unnecessary thoughts has increased, and as a result I have come to feel less negative feelings towards people or things in my mind. This then has further affected concentration in asana and meditation, which has resulted in gaining strength for applying practice in action in my daily life, and thus a positive cycle has been created.
However, in order to completely reform my actions that had become habitual, I felt that more and further careful attention and concentration was necessary. For example, I tended to unconsciously say harsh words to my mother, whom I’ve lived together with for a long time, creating a heavy atmosphere. It was because I felt that the conversations and thoughts arose from the mutual life experiences that had been repeated countless times until then, and were constantly present as a heavy, hard-to-catch enemy. At the same time, I started to feel that because she was really someone that I interacted with often and closely, I must consciously apply my practice in action as I interact with her.
Around that time, I found a breakthrough hint in the words of Swami Vivekananda, in Raja Yoga:
“Yoga is the restraining of the mind-stuff from taking various forms.”
“At that time the Seer rests in His own state.”
—Yoga Sutra 1.2-3
In explaining these phrases from the Yoga Sutra, Vivekananda said, “…all that we know is our mental reaction from the outer suggestions.” It means that each respective difference we see outside of ourselves is all created by the mind, yet they can be changed instantly from just a single thought. When I thought about the application of this teaching to my own practice, I thought that I should not consider my mother as “my mother,” a special existence, but rather, consider that “even a parent is also an individual human being.” I began to practice by thinking to myself before I spoke back to my mother, “In this same situation, would I respond the same way as I always do, respectfully and courteously, to the senior gurubai? What if it was Shri Mahayogi? Would I say it the same way?” And then I started to correct myself. I also made an effort to treat the children I support at my workplace, regardless of their age or situation, in such a way, and to have a fresh perspective every time, treating everyone as if I am meeting them for the first time.
Furthermore, I applied myself to devotedly and continuously practice “to simply witness” calmly. This means that no matter what thoughts arise, what words I utter or what actions I perform, I “simply witness them” objectively without getting entangled in them. As I practiced this consciously, my awareness gradually shifted towards the internal, rather than being on the other person. Then, I began to be intently conscious of “the Existence that simply witnesses,” and I became able to sense It always deep within my chest, even while on the surface I may have been performing actions. When I was in that state, regardless of when or with whom or where I was, there was always Joy alone existing. Not only myself, but the people I am communicating with, all surroundings, the entire space itself, all around was saturated with Joy.
Constant application of practice in action made me realize that satya is about bringing the mind, which is unconsciously distorted or colored, back to its original state by removing the habitual thinking and preconceived notions—that when the mind returns to its original state, I am able to perform sincere actions, which are simple and filled with Joy, which is the original nature. With Joy, I actually see and truly realize the importance of bringing my awareness fully and steadily to each single thing that is happening constantly in front of my eyes, and to keep practicing sincere actions, and through continuously applying these practices in action, the actual pragmatic practice of Yoga deepens further. I firmly believe that by continuing to further apply the practice of satya, then, if doing more sincere and better actions becomes a new habit, I will surely be able to awaken to the only and the highest goal, the Truth.
Turning My Daily Life into Yoga:
I am You
Jun. 26, 2021, Tokyo
There is an eighty-year old patient who has been coming to my acupuncture practice for the past nine years. She is very talkative and is full of curiosity. I always enjoyed listening to interesting stories from her about things I didn’t know, but at times, she was a bit irritable so I was very careful about my choice of language around her.
After about five years of treating her, she began to exhibit emotional fluctuations that were different from the usual irritability. Her forgetfulness and misunderstandings increased, and I began to treat her more carefully, assuming her cognitive functions had begun to weaken. However, there were times that she showed up at the wrong appointment time, and became enraged, insisting in front of the other patients, who showed up at the correct time, that she had the right appointment time; and, she suddenly became angry for no reason while having a conversation during treatment—as these episodes increased, I began to brace for the impact before coming in contact with her.
For about a year after these episodes, there was an increase in mutually stressful interactions. She lives alone and does not have relatives nearby, and does not regularly go to a hospital, so I made an assumption based on the symptoms she was exhibiting, that she perhaps has dementia. Still, even though I understood her particular behaviors as a symptom, whenever she yelled at me outright, the emotion of fear prevailed, and I began to interact with her as if I was touching a painful boil.
After a period of trial and error to get out of this vicious cycle, I began to recall these words from the scriptures: “I am You.”
Both “I” and “You” are equally sacred, One Existence. Each have different bodies respectively but the essence is the same. Due to illness, this patient is no longer able to do things she was able to do before, and she can’t remember things well anymore, so she is filled with anxiety. This is something that can easily happen to me. As I get older, I might also become like her.
Many times, I came to this conclusion in my thoughts—but then I realized the reason for why I could not overcome it; that was because I kept thinking about it intellectually, I didn’t seriously consider the patient. I said to myself: I give up thinking. Whenever I spend time with this patient, no matter what she says or does, I will believe that there is a changeless Essence within her. Even if I cannot see It, It is there—because that is the Truth. Since then, no matter how many times I failed, I kept trying to pay no mind, and making an effort to see only the Truth.
After sometime, one day, while assisting her as she struggled with a certain movement that she used to be able to do but became unable to do, I intuitively felt, “This person is me.” I didn’t intentionally think that, but I could only feel the patient in front of my eyes, as myself. Whatever scenery I was seeing, changed instantly, and there was no longer any anxiety or fear.
I can’t quite say that after this experience I have constantly remained in that state, but I became as solid as a rock—I became almost immovable by whatever she said to me.
People with dementia have a narrower field of vision than the average senior, therefore in order to be seen within the range of their vision, there is a need to face them directly in front of the face and speak; however, previously, due to the fear coming from my preconceptions, there were times that I just couldn’t do anything but avoid making eye contact with her. But after this experience, if I had anything that I wanted to communicate, I became able to look her directly in the eyes, and I feel like, as a result, the communication level improved much more than what just words could do. Even if she seems to be disquieting, by focusing solely on the present moment, and paying attention to interacting with her closely and very carefully, as a result, I myself am no longer shaken, and so I am able to calmly observe her and do what is needed in the moment.
Now, it’s been a year since then. Her symptoms of dementia have advanced further and the sudden rages are completely gone. She was a very expressive person, but her expression now has become increasingly dim, and even though she gets angry less, it seems that her anxiety has increased. Before, she spoke eloquently, but her speech has become less smooth and more challenging for her; it has become difficult for her to speak in sequence, so I am not able to understand the content of her speech at times. When I call her, sometimes she does not recognize my name. She can no longer communicate what she wants to communicate about, like she used to be able to do. I suppose that the temporary period of sudden rage must have come from an intense anxiety, caused by not being able to keep up with all the changes happening to her. The peak has passed, but it does not mean that the sense of anxiety that comes along with the lowering of cognitive abilities has disappeared. Rather, I feel that because her emotions and thoughts are reflecting less in her expression, I have to observe her even more carefully and closely. From seeing her struggle in the little time I spend with her, I can easily imagine how much more she’s struggling in daily life while living alone. Frustration arose from the urgent feeling that I must do something for her, and sometimes I felt that I would be overwhelmed by a situation out of my control; yet, if I was confused by every thought, then I would forget the most important thing: “I am You.” I decided to make the time we spend together as enjoyable as possible for her, so I decided to have a great time myself too. In this one year, I made an effort to carry this out, little by little.
Looking back now, in my actions up until a year ago, I felt, “This person is me,” was all for my own sake. Even if it seemed as if I was being considerate of the other, I had an attitude of escape, where I made sure that I didn’t suffer, and it was broadly egotistical action, such that as long as I could get through the moment, it was okay. However, the sensation I intuited while working with this patient, “This person is me,” has continued to exist in my chest, and gave me a clear aim: to perform even one action that would make her happy. I can’t tell what she is thinking, feeling or sensing. Yet, as I saw her expression, that upon arrival seemed to be tight with anxiety, become one of relief and peace by the time she went home, then I think that is one answer.
I love the words she says with a smile when she finishes treatment and leaves, which are:
“Ah, I am reborn!” The moment I hear these words, everything is back to a blank slate. There is no me or you—everything is purity itself. It is an indescribable Joy. Thank you so much for letting me sense this wonderful feeling. I fill my smile up with as much of this feeling of gratitude and Joy as possible, and send her out.
To lose one’s memory—I think that it can also be said that it is about living every moment. That is the ideal state of Yoga. At each moment, for the sake of the person in front of my eyes, perform actions that make that person happy. Repeat actions moment by moment. Today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, may I live always in this moment.
Turning My Daily Life into Yoga:
Stabilize Prana and Act Through Quietude
Sep. 26, 2021, Tokyo
Around the time when I began attending class, I heard that asana (poses) are easier to do at night due to the body being more flexible, so I tried, but I fell asleep during savasana and caught a cold—so I decided to practice in the morning. It felt good given that even if the body is stiff in the morning, if I concentrated on the exhalation in asana, then gradually the breath deepened, and the body became more flexible, little by little; so naturally, practicing asana in the morning became a daily habit.
For the past few years, I have been practicing asana before work or during a break. I thought that the body is more flexible during midday than morning, but I noticed that when I practice in a condition where the mind is not calm, the body continues to be stiff and the breath does not deepen, whereas when I practice in the condition where the mind is stable, I am able to form asana without strain and can also exhale completely. I pragmatically sense and understand how much even a single asana is affected by the state of mind.
By the way, I wrote a blog article back in June about a patient with dementia. After getting a heat stroke in August, her general physical ability suddenly became lower, then her dementia worsened. Every week, I call my patients to check on their condition, and her voice changed to that of having no energy. Even so, her will to continue with treatment remained the same, so the weekly appointment was kept as is. Yet, at times, she would forget the appointment, or would call me to tell me that she was not able to walk the entire way, so she gave up and returned home; the situation of her not being able to come continued. I kept communicating with her care manager and heard about her current state often, and found out that it seemed that she probably no longer has the physical strength to come to the office by herself. Even though I wanted to prioritize her wishes, I began to consider whether to cancel the treatment, since commuting to the office itself became a higher risk.
The day of the appointment arrived in this type of situation. The patient called me. She sounded energetic like before, and told me that she seems to be able to come that day, but has no money in her wallet. The reason for her calling was that she wanted to confirm if it would be better to make a stop by the bank before coming to the treatment. Actually, I had already heard from the care manager that she was not able to manage the task of withdrawing money any more, yet, her will to come for treatment was solid, so I told her to go get the money and call me immediately if she needed assistance on the way. Since similar things have happened many times before too, I always made sure to book her before a break; but even then, I also presumed there could be an outcome where she would not make it even by the time my break was over and the next patient would be coming, so I decided to wait.
It was hard for me to decide whether to have lunch or to practice asana during my break time, but thinking about the importance of conditioning the prana in order to deal with unexpected circumstances calmly, I decided to practice asana with concentration, even for a short period of time. It was the first time I practiced asana under such strain; I said to myself that the body must be stiff also, so it would not be a smooth practice, but this is the very moment that I must focus on the asana, so I then began.
Unlike my expectation, the sense of concentration in the practice was such that it was like I was in class. I was able to raise the back fully in halasana (plow pose), and when I went right into sarvangasana (shoulder stand), it felt like I was able to keep my body more straight than usual. It felt as if a switch turned on with a click to get into concentration; and as I continued with asana, I experienced a sense that I could keep on exhaling. The state of being completely still, where after exhalation, inhalation didn’t happen, occurred many times. It felt like the highest concentration I’ve ever had. The time I did asana was not even 30 minutes—I was surprised such sensation arose even I didn’t do all the usual asana. I wanted to go right into meditation if it was possible, but time did not allow me, so I did what must be done during the break time. However, interestingly, the breath continued to be still—it was a strange sensation that even though I was moving my body, the activity of the mind had stopped.
I was in the state of blank-mindedness and remained in this after-asana effect, but when I looked at the clock, an hour and a half had passed since the phone call. Previously, it only took less than one hour even if she made a stop at an ATM, so I started to worry about her. I went to go look for her, thinking that she might be at a nearest ATM if she had the energy to walk and come nearby. There was a long line at the ATM—I saw her back, working the machine up front. I called her care manager to report this first, then as I went towards the ATM to assist her, she was already walking towards me. It seemed that someone helped her while I was on the phone, and she was able to withdraw money safely. By then, it was already such that there was only a little time left before the next patient, and I had a flash of thought that I couldn’t treat her—but I said to myself “I will manage it!” and I decided to treat her.
Even though the condition was such that the time was so tight, I felt that I was able to attend to her and to treat her as usual. Her body, which I was seeing after some interval, had lost muscle and was swelling—I was amazed and impressed that she was able to walk to treatment in this condition. Even though she seemed to want to talk, the words were hard to come by, so there really wasn’t any real conversation. However, by the end of the treatment, her complexion had improved, and the previously expressionless face had a little smile. Before she left, even though there was no strength in her voice, as it was before, she said just as she always does, “I am reborn,” and I felt relieved. I sent her off, praying that she would get home safely.
I suppose that her difficulties will most likely continue, but I felt that I was able to give her the best treatment possible. I don’t know if she will be able to come to the treatment next time either, and I am not even sure if it’s best for her to keep coming here. When I think about what’s to come, I get worried and anxious, but I renewed my determination to work with sincerity on the things happening in front of my eyes.
One of the things I can do for that patient is to interact with her calmly and unmovably, whenever and in whatever situation. For this reason too, I want to cherish my daily sadhana and continue to put it into action.