Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Satsangha, Kyoto, 2018
Testimonies from Actual Practitioners
July 2006, Kyoto, Japan
• Your Name
by Mika Noguchi
December 11, 2021, Kyoto
• A Promise with Shri Ramakrishna
by Mika Noguchi
February 23, 2022, Kyoto
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Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Translation of Satsangha
Sunday December 16, 2018, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Upon request from class participants in Sasayama, Kyoto and Osaka, Satsangha is held at Mahayogi Ashrama. There are participants meeting Shri Mahayogi for the first time, and those who have not attended in a long while, and among the dozen or so participants, some have brought small children. Seeing that some children have grown since the last time, Shri Mahayogi says with a smile, “You’ve grown,” and, taking care of everyone, he says, “Feel free to sit comfortably in any way you’d like.”
As the tension in the room begins to subside, Ms. Satomi Fujiwara begins to speak.
Ms. Fujiwara: Would you please teach me about discrimination, or discernment. When it comes to issues in relationships, I realize that in thinking that I am right and others are wrong, that itself is the ego, and it is the cause of the issue, and at some point, there was a battle between wanting to let that go and not wanting to let that go. Because I could no longer handle it on my own, at that moment I thought about Shri Mahayogi and wished to let go, then I was led to consider openly accepting the words of someone I had a bad feeling towards, and since then, my animosity towards that person disappeared.
Please teach me whether I need to discriminate any further, or whether it is fine for me to remain with things as they are at the moment.
MASTER: This is something that everyone experiences in daily life. However, first you need to have understood that since everyone is born with different karma, fundamentally, when it comes to one’s character or actions, there will always be things that inevitably don’t get along. Having understood this, you should bear in mind that you ought to treat others with kindness and act kindly towards others, if possible, so that it won’t cause any further trouble with others; since it seems that you are practicing well for now, it will be good to continue practicing it, and if you catch these emotions about to rise up, practice restraining them before they come out. It comes down to perseverance; in the teachings of Yoga, there is something called tapas, which is translated as austerities—that, in ancient times, indicated the harming of the body or the practicing of severe [physical] austerities, but after Yoga and Buddha appeared, it came to be not about harming your own physical body, but about restraining the mind, that is to say, to persevere—which is internal austerity—and that is one of the practices that one should practice. Therefore, if you endure and persevere so that emotion does not vent off steam, and if you discern in your mind right there, the issue can be resolved—that is how you should proceed.
Ms. Fujiwara: Yes, thank you very much.
MASTER: Indeed, we live amongst various people in this world; therefore, in this sense, we will be in such environments or situations until we die. However, if you can restrain your own mind more and more, these kinds of issues will also be gone.
Ms. Matsuyama, who has been a healing therapist for about twenty years, reports to Shri Mahayogi that since she has been practicing the way of being with patients taught by Shri Mahayogi last year, everything has transformed for her. Shri Mahayogi is pleased to hear it. She also says that her father, who is hospitalized, is not doing well, but when she is having a difficult time, she is able to concentrate by singing kirtan, which she likes to do.
Ms. Matsuyama: I’ve heard that dying is like taking off your clothes… The dying and the ones sending them off… (shedding tears) I don’t understand what death is. Please…teach me about death.
MASTER: (with a tender tone) Why do we die?—frankly speaking, it is because we were born.
Whoever is born inevitably dies. How one dies, the timing of death, in other words, one’s longevity, the circumstances or conditions while one is living, and so on, are different for each individual, respectively. Then, where do these differences come from? Even between parent and child, or between siblings, they are all different. From a biological perspective, since the physical body is surely born, it eventually dies; but when it comes to the condition of longevity and one’s circumstances, these are considered to be karma, [in this sense,] the prior incarnations—it is not only humans, but everything can be considered to reincarnate, and everything is born with good and evil actions, various thoughts, attachments and such, from prior incarnations, in order to bring them to fruition.
Therefore, being born means you are receiving the result brought about by your own actions, which are your intentions for the next life.
Thus, there are people whose lives are filled with happiness and others whose lives are not, and it varies; however, on the whole, what the Holy Beings teach is that everything is suffering. Suffering can be the suffering of death, or the suffering of life not going the way you imagine, thinking, or wanting—in these times you inevitably feel suffering, or you may come down with an illness that you don’t want to experience, or you age and inevitably have to be taken care of by various people and cause a bother to them. All such things, if you think calmly about them, are recognized as suffering, and these are all inevitable.
Therefore, for the aging who are getting closer to death, you must nurse and take care of them as much as possible; and the people around them should support them, without being upset or disturbed by the appearance or state of things, to lengthen their lives even if a little, and help them to have tranquility and peace of mind—I think these are the most important things when sending them off. When people get older, they might become selfish, which may have never appeared in them before, or unexpected things may happen; yet even so, tenderly watch over them as if to embrace them generously, and through such an attitude, do as much as you can for them—that is the best thing that the people who are left behind can do.
The person who is coming closer to death, which also applies to everyone, will eventually arrive at death, yet that is not the end since, through reincarnation, they will continue to the next life, and if you want your next life to be a better life, then it is required to have made this life more righteous. By “more righteous,” it doesn’t just mean morally or ethically, but it is to correctly understand reincarnation and the essence of Life, which means to learn the Truth and then educate the mind firmly and in depth, and through that, to have had the mind become tranquil. These thoughts will then become causes for what may happen in the next life that may eventually arrive. To continuously learn Yoga [more and more deeply] means to learn the Truth and master It through experiencing It with your entire being; therefore, if you have made yourself more righteous, then this is certain.
Ms. Matsuyama: Thank you very much. I will practice diligently.
MASTER: (smiling) Yes!
Ms. A: Ever since I met Shri Mahayogi, I realized I didn’t have anything I truly wanted to accomplish. I actually want to get closer to Shri Mahayogi, yet I am scared to get any closer, and I think that is because I do not have enough resolve and determination.
Since I won’t take action by myself unless I’m told by Shri Mahayogi, I would like you to teach me what I must do and what I don’t need to do. At the root of this is my lack of self-confidence; nonetheless, I can state confidently, to say the least, that ever since I met Shri Mahayogi, I am not on a wrong path.
MASTER: After living for several decades, I think that you have come to an understanding about this world and how this world is, more or less. When you were a child, then a student, then having an occupation or having a family—even though the circumstances may differ, you may come to have an understanding about the world, how the world generally is. However, if you think about it from another angle, is that really even real? Even if you continue to live without any trouble, or even if you might come to have to deal with various things, too, in any case, you most likely go to work, eat, sleep, play a little, and eventually grow old and die. Can this really be true? I think that everyone is aware of his or her own existence at least; nevertheless, perhaps that existence, unbeknownst to us, gets entangled in the occurrences of the world, or in an environment or situation, and it feels like it’s being swept away somehow, not seeing what the real thing is.
If there is anyone who has found what is Real, that would be the Yogi or Shakyamuni—those beings, referred to as Holy Beings, found what is Real. If you ask then, “what is Real?” it is That which is never destroyed, it is complete and certain; it is that which is called Existence, Reality; the occurrences of this world are such that even though it is as if they have a sense of presence, they disappear in a flash, so you cannot quite consider them to be existing for real, whereas the Real existence is referred to as that which is eternally changeless, that which exists certainly and only as Reality. Deep within the mind, you must be seeking something that is a reliable, definitive Truth. If so, it is required that you listen to the words that teach the Truth, and seek That within your own self. Since that Truth exists within everyone, it does not belong just to special beings.
Therefore, first learn the Truth. Since the Truth is a thing that is not dealt with in the various studies taught throughout the world, you must hear It directly from such an Existence. One of the ways of learning is through the scriptures. There are countless scriptures, but you must choose a scripture that is reliable. “Scriptures that are reliable” means that the words are directly spoken by such an unmistakable True Existence and have been handed down straightforwardly without any embellishment. Such scriptures are rare, but they do exist. Study and learn those, seek the Truth and find them within yourself.
The content of these teachings, on the other hand, also contains concrete teachings on what to do, how to do it, and what not to do; so follow them as much as possible. For example, one of the pinnacles of what one must not do is called ahimsa, which means non-violence. The pinnacle of violence is the destruction of life, that is, taking the lives of other beings, and it is not good; [so the teaching of ahimsa] is to establish not taking part in the destruction of life through one’s actions. Also, if you expand the sphere [of the teaching] of non-violence, [it teaches that] you cannot hurt people or other beings in any way; whether through action or words or even thoughts—you must not have harmful thoughts. These are what you must not do. And, on the other hand, what you must do, simply put, is purify yourself—since negative things, which have a pain-bearing quality, will lead to karma, you must firmly restrain your own actions to prevent such things. Furthermore, through applying yourself devotedly to practicing some trainings and practices, the path can be shortened. In Yoga, asana and meditation are the core of devoted training and practice; and on the other hand, you should eliminate karma and pain-bearing obstacles that may be held in the mind. The ultimate form of pain-bearing obstacle is the ego or the attachment to desire; therefore, proactively introspect within your own mind and eliminate these—that is discernment. By proactively practicing meditation and discernment, the mind becomes purified more and more, and actions will be led to become actions toward Satori instead of karma. At its end, an experience of awakening to the Truth, which is the true Existence, occurs. It is said that one can only experience this while being alive, therefore, I think that the best way to live is to achieve It, to practice It with this very precious lifetime.
Ms. A: You’ve always told us it’s like waking up…
MASTER: Indeed. It is exactly so, it is like waking up.
Ms. A: Will we know?
MASTER: Yes, you will. You’ll be able to know it by yourself.
Indeed, it is just like that. Just like how in the morning, when anyone wakes up, you know immediately that all the joys, fears, and various events in the dream were dreams, you will be able to recognize the awareness of the Awakening, or such a consciousness, for yourself.
Ms. A: When Shri Mahayogi realized Satori at the age of eight, it wasn’t like things changed from that moment, but rather, you just thought that you were awakened?
MASTER: I think that the surrounding conditions were the same; however, the reaction of the mind towards them, and the disturbance of the mind or various thoughts as the time passed since then, did not occur at all; so in that sense, there must’ve been a big change.
Ms. A: Nowadays, regardless of what kind of task I’m asked to do at work, I am able to accept them all without any unnecessary thoughts. Since they reward me based on the tasks I complete, I do the tasks I am asked to do simply without attachment, and with gratitude.
MASTER: That is fine. It is most ideal if you can practice the daily tasks in life or work simply, without attachments.
MASTER: In the beginning, you mentioned that you don’t have anything you’d like to accomplish specifically; yet if you describe it another way, you can say that you don’t have the karma of wishing to do something or wanting something. So that is a good thing.
The rest is, go straight towards Satori, the realization of Truth, that is your real mission in life.
Ms. A: Yes. How may I proceed in order to do that?
MASTER: As I mentioned earlier, to learn.
Ms. A: …That’s not something I can do alone.
MASTER: You cannot do that by yourself.
The reason why you can’t learn It by yourself is because if you try to learn It and proceed by yourself, that means that you are relying on your own mind alone. [The thing is that,] that mind itself is unreliable. That is why you need the teachings, which are a reliable guide, and then there comes the need of a Guru.
Ms. A: Would you accept for me to think of Shri Mahayogi as my Master?
Ms. A: Thank you very much.
Ms. B, who was born into a family that is the successor of a Buddhist temple, speaks about her concerns and asks Shri Mahayogi a question.
Ms. B: I am the successor of my family occupation and somehow have dealt with it to this day, but I feel like I am not fit for such a capacity as the successor.
Even though I have studied the teachings of Lord Buddha pretty much, I have been struggling daily with the gap between my ego and those teachings. I have been struggling with how to narrow the gap, even a little, and how I should move forward with that.
MASTER: I see, that’s an important issue. What sect is your temple?
Ms. B: It is the Soto sect.
MASTER: That is a Zen sect. Zen is the sect that arrived last among the Buddhist teachings, and it has at its base a movement of renaissance for returning to the origin, back to Lord Buddha, in the midst of a process in which Buddhism was becoming a mere shell of itself after about a thousand years had passed from the time of Lord Buddha. I think that in this sense, it is the sect in which the teaching of Lord Buddha, which is the foundation of Buddhism, is very robust. The Truth that was realized by Lord Buddha has aspects that are completely in common with those found in Yoga. In fact, although Japan is an island and therefore isolated in a way, there is some misunderstanding, and that is that, unlike in Japan, when looking at Lord Buddha and Buddhism in India and the rest of the world, there is an objective understanding that Lord Buddha realized Satori through Yoga, and that Buddhism has come to be developed largely into one of the pillars of Hinduism. However, since Japan does not recognize views from other areas in relation to this, there has been a longstanding trend that is such that only Buddhism has a valid claim. It is a fact too that Japan has not been able to free itself from such an idea, which actually leads to the loss of substance.
That aside, there is a reason for birth. That is karma. Regardless of where you are born, even if you’re born into a family of a temple, it can be understood that each person is respectively born due to the cause of karma. Based on the fact that you have been born into the family of a temple, it can be said that you have accumulated good karma and were born into a good environment; nevertheless, there may be considerable ego, desires, or attachments and various other things, which are karma.
If you unravel the legend of Lord Buddha himself, even though he was born as a prince and lived a life without any deprivation, he too questioned whether these things were real—what the meaning is of people’s happiness, whether a privileged and wealthy environment determines that happiness, whether fulfillment of whatever your mind wishes determines that happiness. After much deliberation about these various things, he realized that these conditions do not bring happiness, that these things are like an illusion in this world, so to speak, and the Truth is not that; Truth is something that must exist distinctly, vividly, and with certainty; yet people are so busy with the occurrences of the world that they get absorbed into them and thus this causes people to be unable to see the Truth. Therefore, he teaches that we must think deeply about [the reality of the mind and of the things in the world,] and discern between one’s own mind and the teaching of the Truth.
It is simply that various thoughts in the mind, too, happen to be born due to specific conditions, and it is nothing more than that; unnoticeably, one just becomes attached to them, and when asking whether they have substance or not, then they do not, and yet they are something that the mind holds onto, like mere illusions, so to speak. If you can uncover this falsehood, then the mind becomes much lighter and it can remain free, without becoming fixated on anything. Therefore, in any case, you must learn the Truth—that is the starting point of the Eightfold Noble Path, the very first step, Right View. Right View means to see things correctly; it is to observe reality and the mind simply but steadfastly, no matter what, and there is no need to either accept or deny them. And on the other hand, it is to apply the teaching of the Truth to them. If you discern the thoughts in the mind and the Truth, in other words, think deeply and meditate on them, then you will arrive at the right answer. Through practicing this, the matters you thought the mind was clinging on to or attaching to up until that point will come to lose the power of attachment, too, and you will see that they are no big deal, they are unnecessary things, and whatever you thought was ego didn’t actually exist either—things will change and become like that. The mind is something that changes, whether good or bad. It is the same with the world; it is always changing. Therefore, give the mind a positive change. By doing that, the mind will continue to change rapidly.
Ms. B: Does that mean that I have not been able to face my mind and the Truth head on?
MASTER: Right, it is something that you need to practice by practically applying your mind to the Truth. That is the first step. Through practicing this, the mind will come not to be caught up in pain-bearing obstacles, which are like a dream or an illusion, and then it will be able to think in the right way. Right Thought—right thinking. Once the mind is prepared, then the words that are generated from it will be right too, and so will actions as well. “Right” in this context means not creating any karma. By proceeding in this way, you can proceed to practice the Eightfold Noble Path smoothly. As you know, the teaching of Lord Buddha has this as its foundation.
Ms. B: Yes, I understand.
MASTER: Yoga is exactly the same as that, so whether you practice Zen or Christianity, it can be practiced in parallel with that. There is no problem in that.
Ms. B: These words have sunk into me. Thank you very much.
MASTER: (smiling) Yes, that’s great.
Ms. C: Some time ago, I heard somewhere that people who are in underprivileged circumstances arrive more quickly to Satori, may I ask which Holy Beings can be such examples?
MASTER: For example, in the Middle Ages, in Varanasi, India, there was someone named Kabir. He was apparently a foundling. He was adopted by a family, and actually that family was a family of weavers, who made sarees and other silk textiles, so he too followed that. Even so, it seems that he was a person that had a mind of quite strong spiritual faith and thirst—the mind of faith and thirst means that he had extraordinary aspiration and fire for seeking spiritual Truth—and he went through practice and acted as much as possible on his own and reached quite close to Satori. However, there was one thing in him that he was not content with—that was the Guru, in other words, receiving a blessing from an unmistakable Holy Being.
So one day, he heard a rumor that a very renowned Holy Being named Ramananda was coming to Varanasi; he wished to receive darshan (blessing) no matter what, so he awaited Ramananda’s arrival, hiding behind a building; precisely in the moment that Ramananda was about to pass by, Kabir threw his body and lay down in front of the body of Ramananda, to make sure that Ramananda would pay attention to him, that is, to receive darshan (laughs)—regardless of the means, receiving a single glance from a Holy Being is the meaning of darshan, so he went out of his way to receive darshan. Because of that, he was completely fulfilled, no longer having anything in his mind, and without taking disciples even after that, he continued on with his life, weaving textiles—that is how the story is told. However, the people around him began to be convinced that he was someone distinguished, and that even though he was a simple weaver, he must have had some amazing spiritual wisdom; so gradually, people began to visit him, and in the latter half of his life, he guided many people—it is said that he became such an existence. It is said that his disciples not only included Hindus but also many Muslims.
There is an interesting anecdote that remains. When he passed away, there was a heated argument about whether he should have a Hindu funeral or a Muslim funeral. He was already dead, and so it seems that the disciples argued while not being able to receive the teachings on this. Hearing this, Kabir suddenly came back to life (laughs), from being a corpse, and told them they could conduct a half Hindu, half Muslim ceremony, and then returned to being a corpse again. Even to this day, Kabir is an existence who is respected as a Holy Being among both Hindus and Muslims. That is to say, since the Truth does not belong to one single religion or sect, but transcends all and is universal, no matter what sect or religion, the Truth must be the same, it is one without second—he taught this steadfastly, and such is this Holy Being.
Ms. C: For Kabir, who was a foundling and had no choice but to follow a weaver, what was his drive towards spiritual practice?
MASTER: Perhaps it was something he was born with, and India is a country having its roots in religious culture. So it is fundamentally established that the great purpose of life is Satori, to realize the Truth, which is the most important thing, beyond all else. In the case of Kabir, he didn’t have any other desires, that is, he had no karma, that is why he kept progressing further and further towards spirituality.
Ms. C: As a person who has been raised and told to aim for something more fit for the mundane world rather than spiritual, and to keep one’s own feet more on the ground in a material sense, how can I direct my consciousness towards spirituality, even a little?
MASTER: After all, even if you take earning money, I think that it has an end—happiness. Then, the question is, is happiness gained through large amounts of money? How much money do you need for happiness? Do you need to accumulate wealth until you are marked in history as a magnate (laugh)? Or do you compromise when you are well-off at an adequate level? It is very ambiguous. Either way, you cannot buy happiness with money. After all, what happiness can be measured in is the richness of the heart, peace of mind, sense of bliss, or the state of Joy, in which joy permeates much more than happiness, and in which there is no shadow. You cannot gain that with money. Rather, if you have some amount of money, only anxiety comes like fear—about losing some or losing all of it one day. If that is the case, the mind cannot be calm.
What is true happiness—you must discern thoroughly whether the truth of things, what’s taught in the society now, such as degrees and money, whether various such circumstances can guarantee happiness. These are all lies. There is a phrase in the famous words of Lord Buddha, “Better to live one day in Truth, rather than a hundred days in pain-bearing obstacles.” The hundred days here refer to living continuously, but instead, how truly significant it is to realize the Truth! It is unrelated to the length of one’s life span, one’s longevity. Even if one’s life is short, if one can live in Truth, then that soul is fortunate. Therefore, to learn the Truth means, conversely, to find the lies and errors spreading in this world. And thus, it is important to grasp this within yourself more and more. That is called discernment.
Ms. C: I think it takes time to reach that state, and you cannot realize Satori in one day, right? In order to continue living, one needs money too, so then does it mean that we need to think about balance?
MASTER: That depends on the intenseness of your yearning. If you have extraordinary fire, then you can realize Satori in one day; on average, it is true that it takes some time.
(After some silence, powerfully) Regardless, it boils down to this pure fire, to one’s fervor.
(Heated questions are continuously asked and the ending time arrives so quickly. Shri Mahayogi speaks immediately to the child present, “You were a good boy.”)
(Shri Mahayogi, while unwinding the minds of participants, explains the truth of this world and the Truth that we must realize in this lifetime, using simple words that everyone can understand. The expression of participants, who have received steadfast answers, are fresh, and they were brimming with smiles.)
(The Ashrama is warmly wrapped in Shri Mahayogi’s kind look and gentle voice, and we can hear the chirping of birds outside, as if spring has arrived.)
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July 2006, Kyoto, Japan
In India, which is referred to as the Land of Prayers, puja is a foundation of daily life for people who follow the customs of Hinduism. Puja is the worship in which one offers one’s reverence to God, one’s wishes for the manifestation of God and for serving God. Puja indicates everything from the worship that each individual practices on a daily basis, to the very big festivals called maha puja, where people from all over India go on pilgrimage, to those offerings and worship executed daily by monks at temples. The conduct of worship, which is to beautify God (in the form of statues of deities) and to offer the offerings of light, flowers, incense, water, and foods that are considered to be the favorites of God, is as if one is hosting and entertaining a very important, precious person in a way. In that, God and the people feel very close. I myself, when I had a fortunate opportunity to learn classical performance art in India, experienced that at the beginning of the lessons, the teacher who I learned from would ring bells for Gods placed on altars set up in all four directions of the room, offering light and worshipping—and with this I felt a sense of tranquility and veneration, as if the entire space was under the protection of God.
In puja, in addition to worshipping God and an idol, there is worship of the Masters. People in India have Masters who bestow religious guidance. They have close relationships to their Masters, and receive guidance from them from time to time at important moments in life. Also, I learned that in India there are many excellent classical arts, and one trains under a master on such a path, at the same time, one learns the path of Truth from a religious Master. There are seekers who search for their Master throughout their entire lifetimes, seeking Satori. The Master of Truth is worshipped as God itself.
From 2001, at the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Ashrama, a puja for Shri Mahayogi began to be conducted for the occasion of the ceremony. One day, Shri Mahayogi spoke thus:
The light that appears in the darkness symbolizes God manifesting in this world.
The meaning of receiving the light is what is behind the light.
With the manifestation of God, the heavens swarm with joy, flower petals are scattered gracefully, and the celestial gods play music in delight.
The offering of a mala (garland of flowers) and the stotram symbolize that.
Hearing these words, every single one of the movements of worship, light, scent, and sound that were taught and granted by the Master came back to life within me, each with vivid colors. I was made to realize that there are profound meanings beyond comprehension, permeating through all corners of the worship. To worship the Master is to worship a Holy Being, God, who transcends space and time. What can I offer in this auspicious worship? I am not sure if I am worthy, but I want to offer the purest soul possible, exerting myself to the utmost. In order to do that, I have to spend my life making every action become an offering to God. Then, I finally came to see the link between puja and the application of actual daily training and practice.
Being silent in darkness, bowing down, and raising the light that has been bestowed from the Master—then the Truth emerges, and emits Light. Darkness is dispersed, and souls are illuminated by strong, dazzling Light. Shri Mahayogi, who is the Truth and God himself, beyond time and space, the Eternal Guru, is guiding us right here and now, in the flesh. I am speechless at the depth of affection of the Master, who offers himself. Puja towards the Master is not a mere ritual, it is the grace granted in order to guide the disciples, and that bright Light is pouring down toward all existence. Being there, we can feel it with intense joy.
May the soul melt into the Light, having embraced completely, and become One with the Truth.
Om Tat Sat
by Mika Noguch
December 11, 2021, Kyoto
As Christmas gets closer, the streets are filled with love songs. “You,” “She,” “He”… I overlap the Divine Existence with words in the lyrics, and I become overwhelmed. I’m digressing a little from writing in the direction of Yoga, but long ago, when I used to listen often to a song entitled, “Looking Up at the Nameless Sky,” I realized the power contained within names:
If I get lost tomorrow, I want to call your name…
Find a nameless star and I want to name your name, tenderly
Until I close my eyes to sleep, I want to call your name
Yes, I always call your name, your beautiful name
“I want to call your beautiful name”—this thought, which is to call the name of someone who is dear to you, is just a simple act—yet, how enormously it can stir people’s hearts, penetrate deeply into the heart, or transform the mind in an instant; this was the song that made me feel that way. I have experienced that even with the small love I have, depending on the object of my thoughts, the state of the mind, or its color, can transform; but, Yoga taught me that because the power of the mind is mighty, it can be sublimated towards a correct power, such as a universal, great love and compassion.
In The Gospel of Shri Ramakrishna, there was a scene that Ramakrishna speaks about the faith of Hanuman (the monkey god) in a story called the Ramanayana from India. It’s a scene where Hanuman tries to stake his life on his beloved Rama and jumps across the ocean. Hanuman’s faith was such that he said, “I am the servant of Rama; I have repeated the holy name of Rama. Is there anything impossible for me?”
Ramakrishna says that “it was through the power of his mind that Hanuman leaped over the sea.” I was so moved by this faith of Hanuman. It was because there was a time when I was internally devastated, feeling that I had no confidence at all, but it was precisely because of that that I have come to think that only God, who I have faith in, is reliable, and that which is moving me is that God; therefore, I was certain that the origin of believing in my self is not the thought of believing in this “me,” but rather it comes from belief, which is having faith in God; so, that overlaps with the emotional state of Hanuman. Faith—I thought that it must be the only thing that can correctly deliver the maximum power of the mind.
The reason I was in such a state of mind was because I began to hear about the “Holy name of God” in the meditation classes often. In fact, when I heard “chant the Holy name of God,” it felt to me for a long time that it referred to a state of some very sublime, other world, and I had thought that it was a way of practice that was not yet relevant to me. While having this thought, I heard about concrete, empirical practices of it; for example, when waking up in the morning, start chanting in the mind; when eating, often we may forget, but begin chanting again…etc. By hearing about others practicing from a very casual, simple and real voice, the hesitation to enter into this practice suddenly became much less, and my image of the practice shifted drastically to something close that is rooted in daily life. As I listened more, I began to think that my preconceived image was incorrect, and I simply wanted to give it a try. I had always been yearning towards God, but I never concretely chanted God’s name, so I consciously chanted the name of God in my heart. Then, I realized that it was a very natural unique way for humans to harbor the thought of something dear, as if directly connecting to the Existence that is dear to each one. It was not something that was only written about in the sacred scriptures, but it was something that we, who are living in this modern world, can commonly practice.
Then one day, a teaching of the Master about the names of Holy Beings and Awakened Beings was introduced in a class.
“If their names are known in this modern world, then the way each Awakened Being lived, or His or Her teaching, must have been left behind in some anecdotes. It is impossible to just have their names remaining without any substance, so by only chanting their names or only thinking their names, the substance of the realization and teaching of that Awakened Being is included in their names; therefore, even if it is just [chanting] their names, that is fine.”
I became convinced, and I wholly trusted in the name of God, because I had been feeling that by thinking about only the name, simultaneously the impressions and something like the condensed personality [of God], which are God’s essence, vividly manifested and I was suddenly painted in that. With the help of the name, which is one concrete word, the Existence of God filled the space within my mind to the brim, and there was no space in the mind for other thoughts. If I chanted the name of God inside an extremely crowded train, that space became a one-on-one space for only God and me, and when I chanted in these tiny moments between tasks at work, I felt a sense of ease from knowing that actually God is always by my side, whether I call God’s name or not.
It was like having a secret passage that I could access directly anytime, from anywhere that I called the name of God. It was a little different from thinking about the name of a partner from a romantic relationship. When thinking about a human partner in a romantic relationship during the time we were unable to see each other, there was a sense of something that was one-way, like the thought didn’t reach that person right away, and then I tended to enter a world of delusional thoughts. However, in the case of the name being the Existence of God, then it is never one-way, nor does it fall into delusional thought; that is because I have felt that God never lets me be alone and never allows me to go toward a delusional world, God never leaves me alone, but God always receives every single utterance of mine, without leaving aside any one thing.
He is the closest existence, the origin that is most directly connected to me, an absolute sense of trust—after realizing that trust, I was naturally led to a state of mind that is “Everything is as You will.” Like the lyrics at the beginning of this article, if I get lost tomorrow, I will call your name…I called the name of God. If God is moving me, then there is no need for me to be lost. What I want to do is to accomplish Your will. Even if something becomes a failure for me, from the perspective of the Truth, it is not a failure.
“The name of God is God itself”—it seems that this phrase that I have been learning has started to become more factual for me, where I feel it may be true. To think about the name, through that action, the thought expands like a balloon more and more. It feels to me as if the benevolent God himself has filled my tiny balloon fully. No matter what condition I am in, the balloon keeps expanding, and there is no case for it to stop.
That balloon will absolutely fill, and eventually burst, and there will not be any sense of me, nor will there even be any sense of God, and only your Name will remain. How exquisite is that!
A Promise with Shri Ramakrishna
by Mika Noguchi
February 23, 2022, Kyoto
Towards the end of autumn, moving into winter, I began to read The Gospel of Shri Ramakrishna as homework for the Specialized Meditation Classes: Bhakti Yoga. There is a new habit that has started to form in my mind, just like a hint of sprouts appearing in the spring. The meditation classes have already ended, but looking back, I realized that such a seed was graciously planted by the Master, God.
Up until then, I had been reading scriptures whenever and however I wanted. But after I made the determination to read scriptures every day no matter what, even though it sounds like an exaggeration, by intentionally reading them it began to seem like a ritual somehow, and reading scriptures began to gain the same position as daily practice of asana and meditation.
At first, my single intention was: “Reading daily is a prerequisite for us to join the class,” and “because it’s a promise, I don’t want to break it.” However, it gradually transformed into a promise between Shri Ramakrishna and myself. Before, the book was preciously placed inside a bookcase, but after I began to think of it as a promise between Shri Ramakrishna and myself, and in order for me not to forget the promise, I put the book on top of an altar-like space where I often gaze. When I place the book facing up, it is very noticeable. When I begin reading, it starts out with the image of Shri Ramakrishna’s face, and when I finish reading, it ends with the image of his face. At first I doubted if it was proper to leave a very important book off the shelf, but since I can see the image of his face all the time, I now accept it, and actually, I prefer it.
I have learned that kriya yoga is to do the following three things every day: asana, meditation and study of scriptures. To be honest, I took it as meaning that I didn’t have to put much importance on the “daily” study of scriptures, since I am learning the Truth directly from the Master.
Yet, when I began to read every day, just like how we can’t actually know how good it is to take the classes just by hearing about it from someone else, and rather, only understand once we’ve experienced it for ourselves, reading scriptures, too, is no exception—only after me reading every single day did I begin to gradually understand why it has to be every day.
I felt that it was meaningful to try to listen to the words of Truth. Even though I am reading with my eyes, in my head I get a sense that I’m listening. I want to actually hear the voice of Shri Ramakrishna, but now, I believe that I am graciously hearing his voice through the book. I think that the words of Truth, even if they are written in words, are precisely the Truth themselves. I sensed that to touch the Truth, to listen to the Truth everyday—nothing can begin without that, and that this is something that I must consciously practice, because the Master has told us, “The Truth must be heard, thought about, and meditated upon.” Also, by trying to manage my time to read, my feelings also naturally began to be directed towards sacred things.
Every day, through this promise, I felt that I was able to be connected to Shri Ramakrishna. It was as if, through the act of promising, he was guiding me to initiate the mind of faith. “I will read the scriptures every day”—with this tiny, tiny oath I made, I feel that Shri Ramakrishna has taken good care of this oath, and is waiting for me, watching over me quietly. I felt that this act of resolution and making an oath, was a subtle beginning.
Without the existence of the Master, I wouldn’t have been able to sense the scriptures to be this real, and not anything more than just a book, but now rather, I can sense them as scriptures. The teachings of the scriptures help me to understand the existence of the Master and his teachings, and make my bond to the Truth stronger. I am guided and supported by them like two wheels that work in cooperation to run. As I read every day, various things begin to link up naturally to my daily living, and it’s intriguing.
The promise with Shri Ramakrishna continues today and tomorrow. Whenever I open the book, Shri Ramakrishna graciously awaits me.