Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
At the Master’s Class and Satsangha on March 9th, 2019
Kyoto Asny, Kyoto
Part 1: The Master Receives Questions at the End of the Class
Part 2: Satsangha
Testimonies from Actual Practitioners
October 2020, Kyoto, Japan
• A Story of Disarming the Mind for Freedom:
Presence of the Guru
March 2022, New York
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Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
At the Master’s Class and Satsangha on March 9th, 2019
Kyoto Asny, Kyoto
In Kyoto, the plum trees are in the peak of their bloom.
The bright, pure light is pouring over everything and the last session of the class that Shri Mahayogi directly instructed is being held at the Kyoto Asny Community Center. Many people have thronged to the class from all over Japan, and there is no space left to walk between the participants in such a tightly packed room. Shri Mahayogi has just returned from New York three days ago, yet even so, he is leading many participants to the true essence of Yoga.
After the Asana and Meditation program, Shri Mahayogi answers participants’ questions.
Part 1: The Master Receives Questions at the End of the Class
The Actualization of Satori
A man who has been participating in the regular classes in Kyoto and who is attending the Master’s Class for the first time asks a question.
Mr. A: I felt that the poses [today] were longer than how I practice them at home; is there a meaning to holding them longer?
MASTER: In the case of practicing at home, you can’t help but go easy (smiling). Consider today’s class as the basic standard and practice it at least the way we did, if possible. The amount of time required for practicing today’s asana part was about an hour. It’s ideal if you can practice this much at home.
Mr. A: Is it best to practice no less than daily?
MASTER: (smiling cheerfully) Yes! In principle, every day—once every day!
(to everyone) What one aims to realize through Yoga is the Truth, which has been called Satori since ancient times. In fact, It cannot be expressed with words; however, It can be experienced, because that Truth already exists as everyone’s essence. Nonetheless, as the mind continues to be active in the world, the mind holds onto various things; it seems as if desires, attachments, and erroneous thoughts which are not the Truth, cover the Truth that is already there, or obstruct and get in the way of it. Therefore, you must remove these obstacles.
There is a reason why people are born, and this reason is due to karma. This suggests that the mind already has some attachments and karma. However, it is possible to eliminate these as well. In order to do that, you need to learn the Truth, and put the actual discipline into action, which means to practice using the body; in other words, through training, the mind gets purified, and thus unnecessary things will be eliminated. As the outcome of that, the Truth that dwells within already, emerges on its own—that is the way it is. Studying and learning the Truth daily, which means learning the scriptures and the teachings of the Awakened Beings very well, and furthermore, there is also the practice of meditation, which is [the practice of] discernment, through which you discern whether [the thoughts of] your mind are in accordance with these teachings and if what you think is correct. Through that, the mind is swiftly becoming free, and it is becoming as if it were empty.
Whether it’s sports or any other field, only those who have worked hard, making the utmost effort, succeed; in Yoga it is no different. Because, it is precisely the great task of putting an end to the sufferings of [countless] lives—the countless incarnations and lifetimes that you’ve been through. Even just taking the fact that you became able to have this auspicious opportunity to encounter Yoga in this lifetime, as you are now, is indeed truly such a wonderful, blessed thing. To make this encounter be further fruitful, become Free—Realize Satori in this lifetime.
I will conclude the classes [in which I have directly instructed you in asana and meditation] at this time. However, do continue to practice in your respective regular classes. And of course, do not be sluggish in practicing at home (laughs). There will be a Satsangha, where we will have the opportunity for questions and answers, tonight also, and Satsangha is planned to be held once a month from now on, so attend these when your schedule allows.
(Shri Mahayogi teaches radiantly and powerfully.)
Ms. Matsuda: In this world, people try to grasp things that are created by certain conditions. Go to a good high school, a good university, marry a good person, get a good income—most people are living chasing the wrong conditions. Does this mean that God is intentionally putting them into these conditions?
MASTER: (immediately) No, since God, as the True Existence, is perfect and complete, God can never grant such errors. Now, where did these errors come from? They have come from the incorrect thoughts, called ignorance, which enter onto the scene. From there, people lose sight of the Truth, and, to the contrary, the mind begins to be misguided by various material things such as having the “wrong status, authority or wealth,” and, as a consequence, they suffer—this is how it goes. Therefore, ignorance is the root cause of that.
Ms. Matsuda: So you are saying that each individual must come to know that through experiencing it firsthand, correct?
MASTER: Yes, it is so. Being the Truth—this means that It is an unchanging True Existence, whether it be in ancient times, now, or in the future; whether it be in the West or the East. That alone exists. Truth is never abstract. The mind may perhaps view the Truth as something philosophical, in the school of thought of religion and as something abstract, however, that is not the case. It is a vivid Reality, True Existence. In truth, there is nothing more concrete than that. In that sense, the matters of this world, no matter how certain they may appear, will eventually disappear; it is such an illusory, dream-like world—it simply has a sense of existing as a temporal phenomenon and the mind is deceived by its physical presence. However, true Existence certainly exists, even though It is invisible and cannot be known by the five senses, though it can be known when the five senses and the mind are stilled.
Ms. Mitsui: Why did God create maya?
MASTER: Maya refers to this world of phenomena. It was created for God itself to transform into various forms for sport and for enjoying itself, it was never created to give suffering or in order to suffer. It overlaps with the earlier question, but suffering and errors come from ignorance, they are not creations of God. It is important for you to know this too, firmly.
Ms. Fujiwara: Shri Mahayogi always reminds us to still the physical body and focus on the exhalation during asana. Please tell us the reason why, once again.
MASTER: In order to realize the Truth, one must control the mind. However, it is very difficult to control the mind. In the scripture, Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna, the disciple of God Krishna, asks God Krishna: “Controlling the mind is precisely as difficult as trying to harness the wind; what should I do?” Then Krishna responds, “You can accomplish it through constant discipline and dispassion.” Constant discipline means to train again and again. Study and learning is included in that. “Constant discipline” applies to the whole of practice. And another one is dispassion—it means non-attachment; it indicates that you should make the mind empty as if it were transparent, or create a mind that doesn’t have any obsessions or attachments, like it is empty. Yet it is very difficult to try to restrain the mind. It is there then that the practitioners of Yoga [in ancient times], who had pragmatically mastered it through experiencing the close connection between breath and mind, realized that by controlling the breath, the mind can be controlled. They discovered that rather than trying to control the mind directly, they can first control the breath, and consequently the mind follows; since the breath too is a part of the autonomic system, for example, when emotions are disturbed—excited, angry, or crying—the breath also gets out of order according to the various fluctuations of the mind; it is difficult to always sustain a calm breath, so then, they attempted to control the physical body in order to control the breath—that is how they discovered that through this distinctive method called asana, they can change the rhythm of the breath. Therefore, asana does not merely have the purpose of maintaining health, but its purpose of transforming the breath is hidden within. In fact, if one devotes oneself to practice asana daily for many years, thoroughly and to the hilt, the breath transforms and simultaneously, the mind transforms; the mind becomes such that it does not get disturbed nor is it affected [by anything]; even if some stimuli come, the mind retains its calm, and it always remains the same. This is because the breath does not become disorderly, and simultaneously, the mind too is unaffected. This is the wisdom that has been cultivated through the actual, empirical practice of Yoga. Therefore, the purpose of asana lies in creating this foundation.
Part 2: Satsangha
(It is evening. With the heightening sense of concentration, the hall, where Satsangha is being held, falls utterly silent for more than ten minutes before the starting time arrives.
The knock on the door that signals the arrival of Shri Mahayogi, resonates in the room. After the participants bow, Shri Mahayogi sits on the chair and crosses his legs in a beautiful manner. He begins to gaze around at everyone slowly with a gentle smile.
The disciples make a statement of gratitude towards Shri Mahayogi, about his teaching activities in New York and his guidance in the classes over the last two and a half years. A new participant from the classes in Tokyo is introduced. “Ah, from Tokyo. You came all that way”—Shri Mahayogi welcomes Mr. Kosuge with a smile. Mr. Kosuge greets Shri Mahayogi, “I am so delighted to be able to meet you today.”)
Ms. Tamai: Lately, when I am practicing discernment, I am starting to see that I have been very dependent on others in the way that I live. At the same time, I began to think about what mental independence means. In order to become mentally independent, what should I work on concretely, and how?
MASTER: In order to become independent, you must have something you can rely upon; you must have that belief. Now, what do you need to have belief in? Nothing else but the Truth. The world is constantly changing, and regardless, it is difficult to be independent while being in association with others, being dependent on others, or being swayed by others, and at times you get hurt by something or somebody—various incidents happen. However, leave these things alone, since these are things of the world. Rather, [what’s important is] to find what the Truth is, and to realize It. Precisely, Yoga gives the answer, becoming the signpost for that; as you deepen your state of Yoga and deepen your study and learning, then that belief becomes more steadfast, and as a result, mental independence will be established.
Ms. Tamai: There are times I don’t go to class according to my mood, but is it better if I work on staying away from that habit?
MASTER: Right. If you are aware of such things, then even if it’s very difficult, it is best that you go to class as much as possible.
Ms. Tamai: I understand. Thank you very much.
Mr. A: It’s a very trivial matter, but I feel like I lost curiosity or interest in many things. And I am not sure if something that I naturally had when I was younger, or when I was a child, is not there in me anymore, or if it is covered by something and no longer visible to me. Will I be able to restore this sense through Yoga?
MASTER: It boils down to the question of what you’re curious about. Worldly curiosity means that you are drawn to interests or attractions towards something rare, mysterious or unknown, which turns into curiosity. However, in [the view of] Yoga, when it comes to mundane things, no matter how new things may appear, or whether there’s a new discovery, they are not anything worth getting excited about, nor do they have any appeal worthy of curiosity. Rather, what is truly fascinating is Existence, the Truth. I think that there is nothing else that piques curiosity as much as That; because it is your very own, true nature; and also it has to do with the origin of the entire universe. Therefore, have a big curiosity towards that which is Great.
Mr. Kosuge: People have an accumulation of decisions and discretions, large and small, [that come about] while living; looking back, I think that I have had a tendency to make decisions based on how others see me, on not being embarrassed, being approved of, or what is in accordance with the common sense of society. I don’t think that is good, so lately, I have been trying to think as much as possible about what I want to do. What is the bare minimum standard when we judge or make decisions while living the way of Yoga?
MASTER: Depending on the situation and the various conditions, the standard of judgement may vary, but in general, you should judge according to the Truth as the standard. Yet, in various incidents in the world, oftentimes you may have to choose one or the other. In these moments, I think that it will be fine to follow your intuition. And with regard to intuition, through deepening the state of Yoga, a better intuition, keener intuition will arise. Be indifferent to the result, such things as whether you succeed or fail. In this way, regarding the things of the world, don’t get attached in the mind towards them, but just make the necessary decisions at the necessary times. What is more important is, just as you mentioned, your own way of living life, deepen that. (Smiling towards him) [In other words,] who is the “Self?”—which enters into the core of Yoga—is the most crucial question and point.
Mr. Kosuge: Yes, thank you very much.
Ms. KA: Right now, I am raising a two-year old son. I am learning a lot from the purity of a child, but at the same time, I fret when I can’t do asana or meditation as I wish. What is child-rearing in the practice of Yoga?
MASTER: In Yoga, meditation is a very important part of it. However, the practice of meditation is not necessarily limited to doing so while sitting. You can meditate anytime. For example, as you just mentioned, in child-rearing, or when you’re doing housework or living your daily life, meditation can be done in the midst of it. Even if your hands are performing tasks, the mind can think about the Truth or God, and that is considered to be a legitimate meditation. A parent continues to practice that dharma, which is Truth—that is the best gift you can give to your child.
Ms. Funase: Regarding the relationship of Guru and disciple, the book Satori makes the reference, “Guru and disciples are connected only through True Love,” would you please teach us what that state is like?
MASTER: What is True Love? There is no calculation or bargaining whatsoever, nor is there any fear—what exists there is only purity. That is the ultimate form and the content of the word “love” that is often used in this world. Such love is established between a Guru and a disciple.
Ms. Funase: If I want to feel it, what should I do?
MASTER: Well, even between men and women, there are ones that fall in love at first sight and become a couple, and there are others that take a while. (laughs) It varies. So, if you cannot feel it yourself, then bear with me a little more. (Everyone roars with laughter.)
(Ms. Funase, who had a serious expression, laughs hard, and shyly gazes at Shri Mahayogi.)
(Ms. Mitsui, who has been diligently practicing in Hokkaido (the northernmost island in Japan) is visiting Kyoto after a long absence. She speaks about how she was moved by the article about the self-sacrifice of Buddha, in a Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela celebration message featured in Paramahamsa.)
Ms. Mitsui: In the bible, it mentions that, “There is no greater love than sacrificing one’s own life for a friend.” I would like you to teach me what I need to work on so that I can cultivate such love, what is at the root of it, and about true self-sacrifice.
MASTER: The biggest thing that the mind attaches to, perhaps, is life. And that life means what this tiny body indicates—ego. That is to say, as long as one cherishes the ego, true Love can never be born. That is to say, you cannot serve others. Serving others is the concrete form of true Love. It emerges naturally when ego is gone. In Yoga too, that teaching exists within karma yoga, and also, as you can see, in various religions. If you aspire towards that as your ideal and aim towards it, then it is best to deepen the state of Yoga more and more; that means to proactively put it into action in these kinds of scenes or situations. Through practicing this way, you will gradually come to be able to act through the true service of true Love.
Ms. Mitsui: I think that if I can feel myself as a precious existence, only then can I also feel others as a precious existence; in true self-sacrifice, is it a pre-condition that one loves oneself?
MASTER: The question is, what is indicated by that “self”? As mentioned now, if you say that the ego is your “self,” that self is tiny, and oftentimes you end up forcing others to serve you, let alone act through self-sacrifice. Only after that ego has vanished, is the true Self born for the first time, then actions result in self-sacrifice in the true sense. Similarly, there are the words of Jesus, “Whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life shall find eternal life.” The first life refers to the life where ego is the protagonist. The latter life refers to that without ego, the universal, eternal Life of God. In actuality, That is the Essence of you all.
Gopala: During today’s class, the word “Veda” popped into my mind, so I meditated on it. When I was meditating on it, the words “Existence was not then, nor non-existence,” appeared and the Hiranyagarbha came to my mind; and as I thought about it, I had a sense that I became the egg, and became rock-hard, being trapped inside the shell. Is that a good result?
MASTER: …You became the egg shell, or you became the golden fetus inside—which one? (everyone bursts into laughter)
Gopala: (surprised) There is a golden fetus inside?!
MASTER: That’s right!
Gopala: …I was sort of the shell. (everyone breaks into roaring laughter)
MASTER: Then you need to deepen it a little more (laughing).
Gopala: Would you please teach us about that Hiranyagarbha?
MASTER: In India, since ancient times, various theories about the beginning of the universe have been considered. One of them is named Hiranyagarbha, which was just mentioned now, which is literally translated as “golden fetus.” It is called Brahmanda, which is thought to exist inside the egg of Brahman. Before this universe began, that is to say, before, when there was neither existence nor non-existence, there was simply this Hiranyagarbha. Then, the story goes that this Hiranyagarbha itself evolved and manifested into the universe. Therefore, all and everything in the universe is a derivative of this sacred Existence called Hiranyagarbha.
Gopala: (pointing to the T-shirt he’s wearing) I sensed that it was the same as this Kali Yantra. Is that so?
MASTER: In the center of this triangle is the fundamental principle called Purusha. The triangle is prakriti, the root origin of all and everything in the universe. Through the union of Purusha and prakriti, it evolved into all and everything in the universe—therefore, their logic is slightly different, but whether the origin is Hiranyagarbha or Purusha, its root origin is the sacred One and Only. Throughout the long history of India, various philosophical schools of thought have emerged. We may call it Veda, yet the scripture of the Veda is sprinkled with snatches of Truth that have been intuited over thousands of years. Therefore, the terms may differ more or less, but when you carefully look at them, the same thing is illuminated.
Chaitanya: Hiranyagarbha is the concretization of the beginning of the universe, and in modern science, it is probably the equivalent of the Big Bang. In order to conceptualize the non-existence that was before that—because it is non-existence, it can’t even turn into a concept. The ancient Saints and Awakened Ones—did they try to symbolize what they experienced in some form or another, and is that how these stories were created, or did they actually directly intuit the existence of something like a golden egg, and because of that it became a legend? How should we interpret this?
MASTER: From an Indian perspective, it is very scientific—something cannot arise from nothing. It is a contradiction for something to arise from nothing. Although the idea of non-existence may include elements of invisibility or intangibility, it is a way of thinking that, even though invisible, there is some kind of cause that already exists there. Therefore, they consider that from that state of non-existence, existence is born, that is, the entire universe, is born. It repeats again and again. That means, even if this big cosmos had a Big Bang, before then, it can be inferred that there was an era of existence, perhaps even another Big Bang. That is to say, the perspective is that even the universe itself reincarnates, repeats.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna clearly states, “No one can know the beginning or the end. What can be known is only the middle.”1 It means that, the “middle” referred to here is the cycle of repetition. In this sense, no one can know the primordial beginning; yet, the rishi (holy sages), tried to grasp this somehow, and intuited the existence of Hiranyagarbha there; there is no other way to interpret it but this way.
 Paraphrase of Bhagavad Gita 2:28 “Of created beings before birth is unknown, between birth and death is known, and after death is again unknown; therefore, what is the cause for lamentation?” or “All beings are unmanifest in their beginning, manifest in their middle state, and unmanifest again in their end. Why, then, lament for them?”
Ms. Yamamoto: I would like to see things correctly, however, I see various occurrences from a confused perspective. Shri Mahayogi mentioned a while back about the point being whether things make sense [from beginning to end] or not, but I do not quite understand what it means, to make sense [from beginning to end]. Would you please teach me?
MASTER: To make sense [from beginning to end] means there is no contradiction.
Ms. Yamamoto: I am confused about that contradiction; the fact that I don’t think it is contradictory, is itself the big contradiction, or a mistake.
MASTER: (with sternness) No, why is your mind obsessed with such trifling things to begin with? Such things are irrelevant. Rather, dedicate your mind towards more important things.
Ms. Yamamoto: …
MASTER: Such things are unimportant.
(Shri Mahayogi spoke in a stern tone, but perhaps, there is a profound guidance being given that only those who have received it directly can perceive. Ms. Yamamoto is holding still, her eyes are fixed on Shri Mahayogi.)
Ms. Sasanuma: (choked-up with emotion) Thank you so very much for the two years of “Shri Mahayogi’s Direct Instruction” classes. Shri Mahayogi has been saying that there is only One, Reality. Until now, I could only hear it as something like a dream, but today, for the first time, I thought it must really exist. I felt that if I can believe in these words of Shri Mahayogi and rely upon them, and work on truly feeling them, then there is nothing else I need, am I right?
MASTER: (firmly) Yes, that is good.
Ms. Sasanuma: I think I understand what I must work on for the present time.
MASTER: Yes, that’s right. Indeed.
Ms. Sasanuma: Thank you very much.
MASTER: (Towards everyone) The events of this world, both good and bad, are all like waves of the ocean, appearing and disappearing without a trace. It is just like the dream world disappearing when you wake up in the morning. However, the true Self, your real Self—you can call it the Soul or the Pure Consciousness—there is an Existence, that is absolutely the True Existence. It is Immortal. It is the Eternal Existence, that was never born and will never die. You must experience It through your being. You can experience It, for it is the Truth of everyone. You will experience It as the true Reality. Therefore, the things of this world, you just have to deal with them reasonably—which also means appropriately—according to the situation, and get through them. There is no need to be obsessed about them more than that. Rather, realize True Existence, that is, your real Self, and soon. There is nothing more important than that.
Yogadanda: Since Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela is coming up soon, I meditated on Ramakrishna and then went right to sleep; then, for some reason, in a dream, Shri Mahayogi appeared, and said, “It is True Existence.” [In fact,] there is an image of Ramakrishna as a bhakta who worshipped Ma (Great Divine Mother; goddess) all his life, yet what Ramakrishna wanted to communicate was also the True Existence, which is the same as what Shri Mahayogi spoke about today—is it correct to think this way?
MASTER: Of course that is so. At times, he spoke about the greatness of Sat Chit Ananda, (True Existence, Consciousness, Bliss); there is no element of bhakti there. However, the people who he was always speaking to… Of course, it’s difficult to take everyone to the level of advaita (non-duality) right away. There are steps, like with stairs, thereby the emphasis is often on bhakti.
Yogadanda: If anything, please answer in my dream again. (everyone laughs)
(Sarvani, who lives in Tokyo and is extremely busy at work, comes to Kyoto just in time for Satsangha every month and leaves right afterwards to go back to Tokyo.)
Sarvani: Whenever I come to see Shri Mahayogi, I am very much fulfilled, but then it gradually fades away during the time when I cannot see you—this has been a continuous repetition, but I’d like to realize That within myself, for real, and steadfastly. What should I do?
(Shri Mahayogi is silent, and some time passes in silence.)
MASTER: (smiling) Strengthen that thought and feeling, more and more. By doing that, such fading away will come to an end, and your feeling will surely be deepened further.
Sarvani: With the fading away, I often feel only loneliness, but I shouldn’t mind this….
MASTER: But, what you said you feel, in other words, is the flip side of wanting to see me more. So then don’t focus on the loneliness, but heighten the feeling that you want to see me more.
Sarvani: If I do so, will I be able to feel the same thing that I feel when I see you?
MASTER: (smiling) Right, yes.
(Receiving Shri Mahayogi’s blessing, Sarvani’s tearful expression now shines with her smile.)
(Satsangha ends with an announcement that there will be Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela next month, and from April 16th to 24th, Shri Mahayogi will visit Taiwan to preach.)
(Shri Mahayogi’s prana has permeated the entire room fully; and the intense concentration and vortex of heat that comes from the class that Shri Mahayogi directly instructed has been flowing continuously throughout the day.)
(Etching the words of Shri Mahayogi that encourage the disciples towards the realization of True Existence in their hearts, the disciples worship with gratitude.)
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Specialized Meditation Course, 2020
—Exposing the Actual Practice of Meditation!:
Anecdotes from the Experience of Real Practice
October 10, 2020, Kyoto, Japan
There are three objects in meditation, but in this session I will go over one of them: discrimination. In Part 1, I will introduce what discrimination is, and I will share why I chose the meditation of discrimination; then, I will share the concrete way that I practiced discrimination and what outcomes resulted from the way I practiced discrimination.
In Part 2, I will share another concrete way, which is the meditation of discrimination, and what outcomes resulted from its continuous practice.
What is Discrimination?
I think that whenever one takes an action, or utters something, or chooses something, everyone naturally has a standard way of thinking upon which all those decisions are based. Most of that is knowledge gained from one’s own experience up until that point, what is common sense in society, or things taught by parents and teachers, in which although it may be done unconsciously, we are choosing our actions and words based on things like this. Now, did you know that in fact the ways of thinking that are at the base of these things, are very narrow and limited?!
For twenty some years, I lived in such a way. Not all the actions I chose were necessarily wrong, of course. However, oftentimes even if there was joy, as time passed, its color gradually changed, problems began to arise, and that joy would transform into a heavy burden.
In Yoga, there is something called the “Teachings of Truth,” which have been taught as everyone’s Truth since thousands of years ago. The teachings include broad topics, starting from grand themes such as what our Life is, to the mechanism of the mind that we struggle with, and to more every day teachings such as how to get along with others amicably and what to eat on a daily basis.
Among these, there are teachings in which you can easily and simply be open to a new way of thinking, or things that frankly are along the lines of what you feel like you kind of already knew to be true, as well as teachings that are completely incomprehensible.
Discrimination is the task of comparing or contrasting your prior thinking with the “Teachings of Truth” that Yoga teaches. Furthermore, the task of observing and discerning whether your thoughts or the “Teachings of Truth” are truly right, leads toward and then turns into the meditation of discrimination.
Therefore, if you would like to do the meditation of discrimination, inevitably, it is a prerequisite to know the “Teachings of Truth.” Anyone can find out about the “Teachings of Truth” through participating in the classes or reading the scriptures.
From here on, I will refer to the teachings of “Truth” as the teachings of “Yoga.”
The Reason Why I Chose the Meditation of Discrimination
from Among the Three Objects of Meditation
For the first few years since I began practicing Yoga, I was doing the meditation of discrimination. There are three objects in meditation. To seek the “Real I” and meditate on it, that is the meditation on the true Self. To feel affinity toward God or a Divine Existence, and to get closer to That, is the meditation of devotion (bhakti meditation). And, the meditation on the teachings of Yoga, is the meditation of discrimination.
The reason why I chose the meditation of discrimination is simple. I just didn’t understand the meaning of the other two. In the meditation on the true Self, you meditate using the question of “Who am I?” but I didn’t understand the meaning of the question itself to begin with. Next, in bhakti meditation, this existence, God, was vague and ungraspable to me, and I thought that it would be impossible to feel a closeness to something I can’t grasp. For this reason, naturally what was left for me was the meditation of discrimination. With regard to the teachings of Yoga, it’s not that I was able to understand all of them, of course, but for example, take the teaching of “being honest”—although my understanding, apart from whether I could do it or not, was simply at the level of understanding it literally—it was also interesting for me to find out new ways of thinking, so again, whether I could do it or not, I felt closest to the meditation of discrimination.
The Concrete Way I Practiced
I will introduce two concrete ways that I was using. The first one is a “Practical Type” and the second is a “Meditation Type.” I named them based on my own discretion. Now, I will first introduce the concrete way of the “Practical Type.”
Let’s say that there is a type of emotion within your mind that makes you suffer. For example, “I dislike that person” or “I’m not good at this job”—everyone has experienced this. These thoughts, even if you have left the scene, for example, even if you’re not physically in the presence of the person you dislike, or even if you finished working, the emotions of “dislike” and “not good at it” will continue, and as a result, you become exhausted.
When such strong, persistent thoughts occupy your mind, then recall or seek out what Yoga teaches about that particular issue. Not long after I started Yoga, I didn’t know many teachings of Yoga, so I could not remember immediately what Yoga taught about my issues. Because of that, I would take out The Universal Gospel of Yoga or Satori and look hard for the answers. And once I found a teaching that I was convinced was “it,” then I would keep thinking about that teaching.
Thinking about the teachings—actually, I think that at first, at the point in which you first encounter the teaching, you have your opinion about it. In my case, most of my reactions were, “That is impossible!” For example, if you’re struggling with an interpersonal relationship, in Yoga, there is a teaching called ahimsa, which is the teaching of not conducting violence towards others. Of course, I understand that violence is something that we must not do. However, in Yoga, violence also includes words and thoughts. Let’s say if someone is very mean to you, and if you hear that it is forbidden to talk behind their backs or think about them badly within your own mind, then your mind desperately resists. “Why do I have to endure this for something that is not my fault?” “What is the benefit of holding my feelings back?” Beginning with these thoughts, in most cases, the complaints that are suppressed and lying just below the surface, come blasting out. At times, we express it through words, or we shout within the mind. Anyhow, we just let them out, as much as they come out; then the mind calms down for the time being.
However, it is meaningless to just end there. Actually, from this point on is the important part of discrimination. Soothe your mind by telling it, “Okay, okay, if it’s impossible for me to practice it that much, then there is no need to follow the teachings of Yoga. No one is forcing me”; then you don’t have to follow the teachings of Yoga, but begin by thinking on how you can resolve this issue on your own.
Think about all kinds of situations, adding and subtracting, and think about the steps ahead for what if this happens, what if they say that…anyway think through the ways how to get out of this emotion of obsessing over “dislike” all day and all night. As you proceed with it, in most cases, you will come to realize that it is not you, but unless something other than you, which can be others or the conditions outside of yourself, changes, this suffering will not end. Of course, it does not mean that things outside of you cannot change; in extreme cases, the person you are not fond of may move away, or the job you’re not good at, can be assigned suddenly to someone else tomorrow. There is no guarantee, so this can happen tomorrow, at the same time, it can also be possible that the situation remains the same for the next ten years. Indeed, one way to deal with this can be to keep waiting it out until change happens.
Yet, gradually, you might come to feel insecure about your saving grace being solely a change in circumstances. Then the teachings of Yoga that you first rejected outright come to haunt you. Even though you refused them so much, you begin to feel, “So then, why not do Yoga!”
Then, the first thing you must do this time, is to set aside your own opinion, and think about what would happen if you try what Yoga teaches instead, while adding and subtracting various conditions, the same as what you did earlier. “What if someone says this,” “What if someone does that”…
Then, gradually, you will begin to notice that if you act according to the teachings of Yoga, you will not get hurt yourself, and things will proceed amicably.
However, at this phase, the resolution to actually act according to the teachings of Yoga has not yet been reached.
Meanwhile, there is no time to continue just thinking about it, you still have to meet the person you dislike, and you still have to go to do tiring work. Then, as you come face to face with these situations, the crossroads comes: “Which action do I choose?!” Whether you continue to act the same as before, or you act following what the teachings of Yoga say—that is the practical beginning of the empirical practice of discrimination.
This opportunity to choose will come quickly. Regardless of what you choose, the next opportunity to make a choice invariably comes again. Because your work will continue for hours on end, and your situation with the person you dislike does not necessarily end after a single conversation. There will be a continuous repetition of choosing; and especially in the beginning stages, each time is a serious battle. So in my experience, it took a lot of energy to decide which path to choose in this duel. Needless to say, early on, there were times when the emotion ran ahead before arriving to the fork in the road, and I couldn’t even get to a point of choosing. I then reflected and learned from these incidents, and started to train myself by suppressing any emotions whatsoever that may arise, and thinking immediately about whether to choose to express that emotion or to choose to take an action according to Yoga. It goes without saying that there were times when it went well, and other times, it was a complete loss for not being able to control my emotions. Yet, as I continued diligently, and only little by little, there was a shift, so I began to be able to actually get a sense that when I choose the teachings of Yoga things turn out better.
With regard to this practice of training, continuing without giving up is the key. The point of how long you should continue with this practice of training is that you continue until the moment when the sense of practicing itself is no longer there.
The Outcome of the Continuation of this Practice
Next, I’ll share based on what the result of continuing this was. It is sober, as the practice continues steadily, every day, or rather I should say every second, the choice, being the teachings of Yoga, you made forcefully until this point, gradually loses tension, and you come to be able to choose it naturally. Then, the teachings of Yoga naturally penetrate into you, and come to take root as your new personality. And one more thing, my mind transformed so much that I couldn’t even understand what was so problematic or distasteful about the things such as, “I don’t like this job,” or, “I don’t like this person.” It is wonderful to no longer have your weakness be a weakness, and the mind truly becomes free. With having this recognition, then, you realize that if you act according to the teachings of Yoga, no troubles arise, and you can live with a peaceful mind. The trust and faith towards Yoga increases, and the central core from where you live your life develops. That is really a wonderful thing. This concludes the way to practice the “Practical Type,” which is the way in which you keep discerning while taking action. Next, I will share about the “Meditation Type.”
Now, I will share about the practice of the “Meditation Type.” The Meditation Type, as its name suggests, is the way of practicing in which you resolve things in meditation before moving into action. Again, this is something I named based on my own discretion, and the following are empirical examples from my individual practice.
For the first few years after starting to practice Yoga, I was practicing only the “Practical Type.” I have the impression that through continuing to practice the Practical Type, I absorbed the teachings of Yoga to some extent, and naturally moved into practicing the “Meditation Type.” In order to practice the Meditation Type, perhaps the teachings of Yoga being ingrained within you to a certain extent is a prerequisite.
The Concrete Way to Practice Discrimination in the Meditation Type Method
The Meditation Type begins the same as the Practical Type, in that it begins when a persistent issue arises in your mind. However, by the time I moved to the Meditation Type, the capacity of my mind had expanded through continuous practice of the Practical Type, and things that bothered me were significantly lessened; thus my issues were not as clear as they used to be, such as “a difficult person to me,” or, “I have an aversion to this job,” and rather, the issues became more intangible and subtle, such as something that bothered me slightly in daily life, where it felt like the mind had been moved somewhat and disturbed.
Well, because the issue is not concrete, even though you know that you should bring a teaching of Yoga to it, it is hard to figure out what teaching to apply. Then, the process begins with recalling the situation of that moment when it seems that the mind was slightly disturbed, catching that single moment, and simply looking at it.
It is as if one is holding one’s breath and looking it over at a distance. In my experience, it felt like that concentration continued ceaselessly within the bottom of my mind, even if I was working, eating or having a conversation with others.
That concentration continues for a few days or a few weeks, but there comes a moment when you and the situation of that issue become considerably close. The distant view means that you’re still looking at it from a distance, but the moment when you and the issue become considerably close means it is like the moment when you enter into the issue and become united with it. Afterwards, there will be a few days that continue where it is as if that issue is forgotten suddenly, or is erased from memory. And further, a few days later, like a flash of lightening, suddenly, you will be shown the root cause of why you became disturbed. For example, it is like a cloudy sky that suddenly clears up into a blue sky with tremendous brilliant rays of light shining through, and one becomes overwhelmed by them; and there is a sense that at that moment, the root cause of that disturbance is grasped, while simultaneously, the thing you were grasping so hard suddenly slips away very easily from your hand; yet it feels like these things that were bothering you honestly no longer matter anymore, but rather, you are overwhelmed by that Light, and your mind is captivated by It. It happens almost simultaneously, and the mind instantly transforms its color. It is utterly clear, empty, and the state feels like it is as if the mind no longer exists.
I recall that such experiences often came the moment the mind loosened up a little, such as when I was on my way home or the moment I laid down to rest a little. There were times I could not move for a while, and just stood on the subway platform absent-mindedly.
The condition of the mind being clear continued usually from a few days to a few weeks. During this period when the mind is very clear, it felt that the essence of things were grasped really well. Because the mind does not have any thoughts, the mind is buoyant and doubt-free, and I felt like even physical objects looked more vivid. Ultimately, the mind will gradually go back to the condition of activity, but as I experienced these states from time to time over several years, I began to crave to be in that state all the time, and to think about why I can’t remain in that state.
I am explaining these concrete ways, but the Meditation Type may seem very abstract. One of the reasons can be that since it is something that is going on in my mind, it is difficult to explain. To summarize, the Meditation Type is different from discerning during action, but rather, while directly concentrating on things that caused a disturbance, this condition of concentration gradually shifts into meditation, then, the root cause of your attachment is revealed and removed—and then, the mind’s aspiration for the Truth increases. What is important at that point comes down to how much the teachings of Yoga have penetrated into you. I say this because I must have been fighting against the ignorance of the mind, using, if not a concrete teaching, the overall teachings of Yoga, or the shapeless Truth within them, as a shield. I think that to learn the teachings of Yoga, to contemplate them, and to meditate upon them is very important; and it is not by memorizing them, but through educating the mind with those teachings, that the mind transforms, and becomes able to display them entirely in times of need, to fight the ignorance of the mind.
The Outcome of the Continuation of Ceaseless Practice
The title of this session is terrifying, Being Combat-Ready Every Minute of the Day. However, that was precisely my impression for the time period in which I was practicing discrimination. Especially in the beginning, the choices I faced and had to make every second were constant until the moment I fell asleep, and I thought that I could only escape it all by sleeping. Even after moving to the Meditation Type, I continued to battle my frustration and feel pathetic, due to the fact that the mind continued to move, regardless of how much effort I spent during the practice of the Practical Type. Yet, the number one reason I could actually continue practicing these was due to the existence of Shri Mahayogi.
Not so long after I began to practice Yoga, I was organizing a bookshelf of scriptures alone with Shri Mahayogi. Suddenly, Shri Mahayogi asked me, “Do you understand what Yoga is?” I was at a loss for words, then Shri Mahayogi taught me, “It’s about disciplining the mind.” The mind is indeed undisciplined and moves around uncontrollably on its own. It gets irritated, recalling things I don’t even want to recall, it can get depressed or run amok. We are at its mercy, let alone able to discipline it. Yet, even trying to discipline it takes time. Seeing that I was down from not being able to train my mind well, Shri Mahayogi said, “It sure is easy if you’re free from obsession!” When I saw him say it, I genuinely believed, “That must really be true.” I thought that this needs no explanation, for his form itself is validation enough. I understood that through it he was teaching me that it was possible to become that way. I believe that precisely because of that living proof, I was able to continue the practice. There was always my ideal, Shri Mahayogi’s existence in front of me.
As I continued with the practice of discrimination, my mind’s disturbances lessened, the issues were clarified and resolved, and gradually, tranquil days ensued continuously. Then, I began to have a blank space within my mind. And there is something that has started to enter into that space. I will share about it another time.
A Story of Disarming the Mind for Freedom:
Presence of the Guru
To Write: The Invisible Impetus
It was shortly after last November of 2021, when we had offered a song to and about Shri Mahayogi, and sung it during the Satguru Jayanti celebration (also the 45th Anniversary of the Mahayogi Mission in Japan, and the 25th Anniversary of the Mission in New York), that Anandamali—since I had participated as the main singer for this offering made by the Sangha in New York—requested that I write about my experience of what I learned or felt throughout the preparations and the moment of the offering. My mind, however, immediately resisted looking back at the experience and what had happened. I wanted to move forward and forget the discomfort that I had been through for those months. But, to comply with her request, I tried and tried writing something as quickly as possible. What I wrote were several narratives with uplifting endings, that followed the sequence of what had taken place on the surface throughout the whole process, but Anandamali, who most likely perceived that those drafts were superficially written, not really by looking honestly at what had happened within me, responded always the same, “Try again.”
Some time had passed after the event when, in talking with Anandamali, who has known me for many years and expresses herself candidly with me, she said in a straightforward manner that she felt I was not confident in myself during the months of preparation for the song performance for Jayanti. I reacted, “Confidence?” in a cheeky way, and I said silently to myself: “Confidence in what?” “Confidence in who?” “Didn’t Anandamali realize that I was too busy trying to get through the whole thing?”
According to me, there was nothing else that I could see at all, but according to Anandamali, there was something to be written about. I asked Anandamali to give me more time, not wanting to give up on the writing. And somewhere within, in spite of my initial reaction and thinking that there was nothing else to write about, there was a part of me that wanted to find out what it was that I could not see.
To Sing: The Secret Motivator
This experience had started some months before Jayanti when Anandamali—my dear sister who is a disciple of Shri Mahayogi, the person who originally invited Shri Mahayogi to New York City, and has since directed the Mission in New York—expressed her eager determination to use the tune of a song that she heard one day many years ago when she visited me in Puerto Rico during the Christmas Holiday, as the inspiration for a song to offer to Shri Mahayogi during the celebration of Jayanti. Since the moment she had heard this Puerto Rican song, though it was in Spanish, she spoke about her impression of it and love toward its special vibration and the joy and sacredness that she felt from this song. And throughout the years she had occasionally asked me to sing it. I have always had a special place in my heart for this song too, since to me it represents my free-spirited and lively upbringings, yet it is something I normally keep in my memory from the past and only share openly with family or friends from the Island.
Anandamali seemed to have a clear vision from the beginning and before any work on this project even began, she seemed to have unshakable faith in the idea. But for me, I simply could not fathom how the popular Puerto Rican rhythm that Anandamali so passionately connected to could be the inspiration and base for a song to honor Shri Mahayogi! Even less was I able to conceive how the tune of this song could carry Shri Mahayogi’s message of Truth forward for future generations, as Anandamali had envisioned and expressed confidently, to convey the existence of Shri Mahayogi and his message of Sanatana Dharma, and to uplift the spirit of anyone who would sing or listen to it. How could Anandamali believe—I seriously questioned—that the gurubai could accomplish singing this song to Shri Mahayogi live??! And, if all of this was not unbelievable enough to me, to top it all off, Anandamali communicated with certainty that I would be singing the main verses and leading others to learn to sing the new song!! The shock and awe made me explode silently, but not wanting to show my reaction, “cool me” tried to look cool on the outside. Since I was most familiar with the song, it made sense for me to be the lead singer, but aware of my fear of performing publicly, I was truly intimidated and quietly panicked about this role. My internal voices began to scream: “But…, none of us are singers!” “But…, the song is not an easy song to learn to sing!” “But…, the lyrics and rhyme are going to be very difficult to rewrite!” “But…, we have never done anything like that!” My mind began to drown in the impossibility of this idea.
Of course, I would have never admitted these thoughts and insecurities outwardly, and I knew that there was no way that I could say “no” to making this offering to Shri Mahayogi, so I did not think twice about it, and decided to get through the task one moment at a time, in whatever way I could. As I look back, during the preparation for Jayanti, even though the focus was and had to be solely Shri Mahayogi, I was constantly distracted and shaken by the fact that my way of thinking about my own person was being intensely stirred and questioned. Even though I was aware of my own discomfort around being put in the spotlight, I was not expecting that to happen so strongly and was rattled to the core because my insecurities flared up and did not let up any single moment of the preparations for Jayanti.
Peeping into the World of “Me”
Before my mind was able to think back and reflect on what had been transpiring underneath the surface, I had to come to terms with how truly uncomfortable my experience had been.
When I was asked to reflect on my experience, my mind simply refused to let me look within and instead kept distracting me with superfluous thoughts as it tried to paint a nice and attractive picture. The song was based on a tune that had brought me much happiness all my life; we were celebrating the Blessed Jayanti of our Beloved Guru, Shri Mahayogi; we worked together continuously and devotedly for many days; and we were together in the joy of this event… I asked myself: “Alright, so how can it be that it was so uncomfortable? What was it that made me feel uncomfortable?” This was when I began to admit that regardless of all the wonderful moments and the intention of honoring Shri Mahayogi, I had been frightened of the others’ gaze, and felt vulnerable that someone would see something that I wanted to cover up, the unlikeable and unagreeable “me.” While wanting to appear “perfect” and “likeable” to others, I was constantly struggling to figure out what “perfect” and “likeable” were, and kept feeling defenseless in front of everybody, with no shield to protect me from the presumed judgements or opinions of others. The reality was that day after day, I had sung in front of the gurubai and helped them learn the song, but while I was doing that externally, inside I was consumed by the fear of being judged, hoping every second that this situation would magically come to an end.
As I start to ponder these things and begin to recognize the vanity and futility behind my own way of functioning, I am quite appalled by it. I see that during all the preparations for Jayanti, I was desperately trying to find a “me” who could fulfill a role, but the role required being completely naked, not hiding at all behind any false “me’s,” something that I was unaccustomed to.
Then, when I thought it was all said and done, my dear sister’s words about the lack of confidence she perceived in me, touched an open wound…and that filled my cup of desperation and discomfort to the very brim. Out of that desperation and discomfort, day after day, night after night, I began to rummage deep within my memories. “What was really going on? What am I not letting myself see? What was I thinking and feeling?” And without knowing it, I ended up digging past my resistant mind towards the thoughts and feelings that I was having during these few months, and digging into the past in search of the possible causes for those thoughts and feelings.
Many Masks of “Me”
The first piece that stood out to me was this incessant habit of fabricating a sense of “me.” First I started thinking that this “me” was connected to my cultural identity, the “me” that was shaped by my experiences as a Puerto Rican. I suppose that this was a logical place to start looking because of the strong insecurities that I have around my cultural identity. I realized that from as far back as I could go, I wanted to hide being Puerto Rican. This became more accentuated after moving to the United States as a young adult and being exposed to many more kinds of people and ways of living. In an attempt to become someone new, someone better and greater than what I thought I was, and to fit into the variety of situations and people that I encountered, I began to disguise myself with the characteristics of others. That is how the habit of projecting different “me’s” started to become more established.
However, gradually, the “me’s” continued to multiply and become my regular way of coping. There are “me’s” for different situations and company, for example, there is the “me” that wants to fit in, the “me” that wants to feel special and unique, the “me” that wants to be bold and daring, and the “me” that wants to be safe and comfortable, and even coy and reserved. And there are many more… All of the “me’s” have in common however, that they are never comfortable in the way they act and can never stop thinking of another “me” to transform into, much like a chameleon keeps camouflaging itself as a form of protection. Interestingly, among all the versions of “me,” there has always been one who occasionally peeks quietly from deeper within, longing to stop disguising itself once and for all and wants to rest from the tiring and never-ending parade of “me’s.” Despite wanting this, this hidden “me” also ends up diluted and impotent against the pretense. Is there any way to feel authentic and to live unconcealed? Is there a way to stop this addiction of re-inventing myself? The hidden “me” often pondered in bewilderment.
Now I am seeing that the fundamental belief beneath all the “me’s” is that “I am unworthy and unappreciated by others” and sometimes its flip side, “I am worthy but misjudged by others.” No matter which of these thoughts is stronger at any given moment, I have continued putting forth false “me’s,” to cover my fears and hopes of what others see as “me.” Though what I have always wanted deep within has been to feel authentic and free of pretense, I have continued to cover myself and create layer upon layer to cover up any possible real me. But now, I am beginning to realize that my insecurity had nothing to do with the judgements of others or with any feelings about my culture either. It is a product of my own fears and hopes around a fabricated idea of “me.”
The Product of “Me”
This past November however, the role of singing, leading others and performing the song for Jayanti in front of others, including Shri Mahayogi, brought out the discomfort of being around people in general and made it more evident to me that the habit of creating “me’s” is an exhausting and endless effort. In seeing this, and in finally forcing myself to review my thoughts and feelings throughout the work for Jayanti, I started to realize that the big obstacle, the cause of all that distress was the same strife that I had experienced throughout my entire life.
Having gotten a glance of the way my mind fabricates layer upon layer of identities, I became more clear about the situation. And being able to see this much more, offered me a thin thread to grasp onto, to pull myself in and look deeper within to see how the many tangles in my mind could be uncovered and hopefully pulled apart. What I can see from the work for Jayanti is that certain negative reactions arise in me when I am involved in the business of covering myself up or projecting various “me’s.” During the preparations, for example, I became inflexible and uncooperative. I did not want to change too much of the original song that was so familiar to me because that was going to make me look and feel like I was failing at my task and incapable. And, because the new lyrics were much more difficult than the original ones, given that Anandamali was so determined to express through them Shri Mahayogi’s Satori in a manner that did not skew any aspect of the story, I continued to feel very challenged and incompetent. The “me” that could sing the original song was intimidated by the many changes that were being made to my familiar and habitual way of singing the Puerto Rican song. That “me” did not want to fail or be seen as inept, so that “me” felt threatened and insecure—lacking in confidence.
The assertion of “me” also brought the reaction of feeling defeated and lost. If I could not do things the way that guaranteed success in my view, I decided that it was better to think that I did not know how to do it at all. This fostered the thought of “I cannot,” which was fueled by “I do not want to fail.” And, although a part of me knew from experience that whatever Anandamali sets her mind to, can happen, instead of following her example and learning from her, I used this as an excuse for taking a back seat, and not contributing proactively to the process or accepting my responsibility of leading others. These attitudes would secretly go to an extreme level: “Since this is not my idea, I am not the one who knows how to make it happen, so I wash my hands from the responsibility.” And this attitude also showed up when I was asked to participate in the writing of the new lyrics for the song. I felt attached to the lyrics and style of the original song and could not get myself to let go of them. No matter how much I tried—counting syllables and lines or creating what were “perfect” rhymes in my view—I kept reverting to the original structure of the song, not allowing the new song to evolve, or finding ways for it to express the Truth of Shri Mahayogi most effectively. However, Anandamali believed that not only was it fine to adapt the original structure of the song to truly reflect who Shri Mahayogi is, but in her view, “Anything is possible!”; “Be out-of-the-box!”; and “We are free!”
I also adhered to misconceptions and had reactions with respect to others. Day after day, all gurubai put a great deal of effort into learning the beat and the notes of the song, and into memorizing the lyrics. Having sang the original song since I was a young child, I was given the task of teaching others the unique beat of this song. But, since I had never tried to teach anybody how to feel this beat—the up and down scales of this song—and since nobody ever officially taught me either, I did not think I knew how to teach it to others. In other words, the thought of “I can’t!” kicked in. My mind categorized others into two groups: one, those who could catch the beat and hit the notes quickly and automatically, and two, those who couldn’t—as if it was genetically dictated and learning was impossible! Meanwhile, guided first and foremost by her unwavering faith and devotion, Anandamali stuck to the plan for all of us to sing together, regardless of our ability, experience, or musical training. “How does Anandamali think that this is possible????!!!”—with this kind of complaint and resistance still alive in my mind, I continued to lead additional online practices multiple times per week because I understood that they were necessary in order for all of us to do well on the day of Jayanti. Yet, all along, there was a part of me that focused on the improbability of success and caved into the negativity and unwillingness.
In hindsight, I recognize a very fixed and inflexible mind, not only for what I and others can and can’t do, but also for what I am and what others are. I see how it is a form of selfishness, not to try to put myself on the line to discover something new and more real, and to help others discover it too. Thinking about this obstacle has opened my eyes to see other areas in which I limit myself or others to learn and grow. After all, in Yoga, we learn that what is most important, the Truth, is already within each one of us, and that the Truth is the only unchangeable and real thing. I think this must mean that the rest is changeable and malleable so it can be formed into the tools of the true Self, of the Truth or God. This must mean that God’s tools must have infinite forms and names! What makes us each good tools for God’s work? During singing practices, I remember that Anandamali was trying to point to me that what mattered was “to feel.” I think she was trying to say that the intention and sincere devotion for Shri Mahayogi and his teachings behind our singing is what matters the most. That is what I should have focused on, our loving feelings of gratefulness and the devotion expressed in a spontaneous and unpretentious way from each of us.
Anandamali’s comment about my “lack of confidence” initially made me feel that somebody caught on to my cover-up scheme. And additionally, having to write honestly about “my experience of Jayanti” pushed my mind against the wall. In that moment, in a way, I would have preferred not to reflect at all and just move on instead. Frankly, it has not been easy at all to even try to break through my resistance to look within. With the slightest attempt, it has been as if a big thick concrete wall would rise and block me. But I am thankful for having been cornered because otherwise, I would not have seen anything about how my mind has been keeping me trapped, or I would have looked for a way out and never looked back.
The Master, Myself, and “Me”
Though much of what I have come to recognize in myself has come about as a result of being pushed to write and reflect about the experience again and again after the actual event, there is a part of this saga that was playing out directly between myself and the Master during the preparations and song offering on the day of Jayanti, as if foreshadowing that it’s time for something within myself to shift.
It was not long after the Jayanti practices began, that I began to notice that my idea of Shri Mahayogi was still very abstract and distant, as someone and something far away. Perhaps too, this generalized image of Shri Mahayogi also affected my ability to contribute more proactively and confidently to the writing of the lyrics, even if I really wanted to. This distance manifested in many ways, and it brought deep sadness inside of me, and gradually, it evolved into an unending longing to know and be close to Shri Mahayogi. It was not so easy to sense the Master close to me. The sadness of not sensing him near cast a dark cloud over me, and the sadness was all I could feel, rather than the loving presence of the Master. As I worked on learning the song, I found it difficult to embrace and feel the meaning of the words. Unable to feel the meaning of the words within me, I felt disconnected from Shri Mahayogi within my heart. This inability made me stumble quite a bit during rehearsals. I worried, “If I am supposed to sing to Shri Mahayogi, standing face to face with his Blessedness, I need to know who I am directing these words to. I need to feel that these words are real to me! I cannot be fake in front of Shri Mahayogi!” And without planning it, I found myself searching high and low for “Shri Mahayogi” at all times of the day and anywhere, outside and inside of me. I mean, in the sky, in the faces of people, in my own heart… “Where are you?” “Who are you?” “How can I find you?” “I want to know you!” I was desperately wanting to feel Shri Mahayogi’s existence so that I could sing to Him without hesitation, with all my heart, expressing my true feeling of devotion and gratitude without any barriers.
I had begun to feel that reaching for Shri Mahayogi was the only way that I would be able to let go of the anguish that was occupying my mind, this self-concern. Even though I may not have fully recognized yet the issue with these different “me’s,” I think that, in the end, what I was seeking from the Master was to lead me away from the “me” that is so afraid to fail, the “me” that wants to portray that she can do things well, the “me” that wants to appear as fun and clever, the “me” that wants to show others that she is helpful, efficient, fearless, expressive, and caring, the “me” that has some sort of all-encompassing perfection. In the end, all these attempts to portray “me” one way or another, were preventing me from focusing on Shri Mahayogi, and from accepting the immense Love that I had known to constantly emanate from Him in all directions, at all times without ceasing. This inability was the hardest of all to bear.
Though I was panicking, this constant and desperate seeking and longing was also opening and pushing my heart to seek and feel Shri Mahayogi, convinced that He must always be there, within me, within all, everywhere. One of the days, for example, while going to work, with this feeling in my heart, I began to fondly imagine that Baby Krishna was in everyone, playing with me. That led me to think that if Shri Mahayogi is just like the precious Baby Krishna, who is absolutely pure and from whom no harm can possibly come, then Shri Mahayogi must also be in everyone and everything playing with me! I enjoyed these imaginings and this way of seeking very much because my days and activities became joyful and light! I felt surrounded and loved by the company of Shri Mahayogi those days! But to sustain that level of intimacy with my Beloved Shri Mahayogi, I learned that I had to focus strongly and without pause on Him, seek Him with all my heart and most of all…believe with my whole being beyond what my eyes could see.
On the day of the online live performance, singing and practicing was still difficult, even if I had started to embrace and enjoy the idea of feeling that Shri Mahayogi is everywhere and in everyone. My lack of confidence when singing did not ever go away. Even during the actual Jayanti presentation, I felt that fear. But I combatted it by looking at Shri Mahayogi’s eyes on a photo that was placed right within my line of vision. Curiously, Anandamali requested for the photo to be placed there! Once the photo of Shri Mahayogi appeared, it was the only way for me to sing, without it I felt completely lost and extremely self-conscious. Though I could not see Shri Mahayogi’s live image, I was able to gaze directly at the photograph of my Beloved Master and sing directly to Him.
It was not until after the day of the Jayanti, away from the limelight, that I was able to ponder more calmly on the words of the song. I began to understand that the words that we had sung represented the Truth that had been sustaining me all through the process of preparing for Jayanti, actually, since long before, since I met Shri Mahayogi and for the entire span of time that I have been exposed to Yoga through Mahayogi Yoga Mission. Throughout all my struggles and joys, doubts and each little step up to this present day, his words of Truth have continued to lift me up and guide me. In fact, if I had listened to the lyrics carefully from the moment that they were given to me, I would have known that they represent the triumph of Sanatana Dharma and how it sustains the whole world and EVERY SINGLE LIFE within it.
It seems that sometimes the most challenging of situations are the ones that allow small opportunities to present themselves to us, opportunities that make us stop and reconsider how to live, opportunities that sooner or later, can lead us to positive change.
Back in 1998, my life went down an unexpected and challenging road when I found myself expecting a child, unprepared, scared and confused. This moment pushed me to stop and ponder more seriously about how I was living life. My own struggle in the world was one thing, but I could not bear the thought of bringing a child into such a harrowing reality. What would I say to that child? How could I justify bringing a child into a world in which I myself could not figure out how to fit or how to find happiness? I remember whispering to the baby in my womb to give me time to figure out something that could help him or her be able to find some happiness in this world.
Such was the shaken and disillusioned state I was in at the time I heard a woman say the name, “a great Master.” Her unusual conviction about her “Master” was enough to make me want to attend a one-time Satsangha (that I conceived as a meeting with a Holy person) with a man who was called Shri Mahayogi, in a small tucked-away Vietnamese Buddhist Temple in Chicago, Illinois. I still see the image of that Satsangha in my mind as a blurry, warm-colored painting. That evening, I did not know or understand much about what was transpiring or being said, but I remember being impressed by the seriousness and high level of respect that filled the environment. I also remember that I could not place the person of Shri Mahayogi in any category. Whatever he was saying, I could not understand much beyond the surface, but it rang truer and more convincing than anything I had ever heard before. That experience was extremely uncommon and difficult to describe, even to this day.
I was fortunate enough to move to New York City for work, where for over twenty years, I have been able to experience the presence of the Holy person I met in Chicago, Shri Mahayogi, many more times. I have been able to participate in activities with his Sangha (group of disciples bonded in devotion to their Teacher), study Yoga with Mahayogi Yoga Mission, and I have even had the privilege of being given responsibility for the organization’s activities.
Still, my understanding of Yoga has been slow to develop, and similarly, it has taken almost all my adult life to begin to grow and deepen a little bit of my sense of who Shri Mahayogi is. He has continued to be a great mystery to me through these years. Yet, I know that I always come back to Shri Mahayogi and to Yoga as the one thing that can lift me out of suffering. And, for all these years, Shri Mahayogi has inspired me through his teachings and presence beyond my limited understanding, over and over, without reservations.
More recently, this past November, this new experience led me to desperately want to know more intimately who Shri Mahayogi is, and to understand more why I want to be close to Him. Interestingly however, at the time I also began to get the strong sense that in order to know Shri Mahayogi, I must begin by knowing who I am.
Thinking of this, I remember that for more than twenty years I have witnessed the quiet yet unshakeable and uncommon calmness and lovingness that Shri Mahayogi and my senior disciples display at all times. Using them as a point of reference is leading me to see with wide open eyes that my problem and its solution have everything to do with the Yoga that Shri Mahayogi speaks about. Both have been staring me in the eyes for over twenty years, but because I have been holding on so tightly to my own self-conscious preoccupations, I have been incapable of applying the teachings of Yoga, neither to identify nor address the constant unease that I have experienced all my life.
Finally, I can say that I am so grateful for being asked to write about my experience! If I had not gone through this entire experience, including this writing; I would not have been able to look more deeply at all the parts that have been at play for so long. Instead, I would have been stuck again feeling badly even after the beautiful event, lacking the courage to even think back on the experience. But having to write and to clarify the situation, the heavy cloud, the big error in my mind that I have carried for so long finally came to the light. I have much to work on if I want to transform the way my mind has been functioning, so this is an invaluable chance to shed habits that have kept me from getting closer to knowing the true and authentic “me” and the Essence of my Guru. Now I am able to end this part of the story feeling so blessed for the opportunity to receive this song, and to sing it with my gurubai in Shri Mahayogi’s honor, remembering that Shri Mahayogi’s Jayanti is a blessing for all of us!
During our Jayanti presentation, I was not able to find the perfect moment to express to Shri Mahayogi my gratitude for blessing us with our sister, Anandamali, in New York, who had the vision to create a song to say the message that the whole world longs to and needs to hear. But not only that, she has guided us in New York for 25 years with her own life in Shri Mahayogi’s name, day and night, non-stop, and never gives up on any of us! We are humbly grateful for our Sister!
Shri Mahayogi, my experience in all parts of the Jayanti this last year made me recognize that absolutely every single second we spend together as your disciples is a blessing directly from your Existence, and that the very purpose of anything we do in your name, is to allow that Existence to be poured into the hearts and minds of everyone, to deliver Joy and Freedom! You have done the most important part already. Our part is to work constantly on catching and correcting our mind’s errors and filling ourselves solely with the Truth, You, Shri Mahayogi!!
May each one of us who are blessed with the opportunity to serve and know you, rejoice and embrace the gift of Pure Joy that you bring! As for myself, I intend to continue working with the strong intention of clearing up the errors that my mind has accumulated so that I can finally live with confidence in the true Self, the Eternal One that you have come to reveal.
Bowing at my Beloved’s Holy Feet.
Jai, Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa, Ki!! Jai!!!