Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
1999, 2000, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011
Testimonies from Actual Practitioners
• Concerns Over Work Brought About a Connection to Yoga
by Ren Shimamoto
July 20th, 2022, Kyoto (from Paramahamsa, Kyoto)
• The Meditation of Discrimination While Seeking the Truth
June 20th, 2022, Kyoto (from the Mahayogi Mission Blog, Kyoto)
• Uninterrupted Concentration
By Mika Noguchi
July 28th, 2022, Kyoto (from the Mahayogi Mission Blog, Kyoto)
* * * * * * * * * *
Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Translation of Satsangha
The Precepts of Yoga Arise from the
Expression of the Awakened Ones’ Internal State—
The Entire Process of Yoga is
Approaching the Internal by Restraining the External
Saturday, January 6, 2007, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Yogadanda: In Matsuyama, I had an opportunity to bathe in the hot springs of Dogo with Shri Mahayogi, and when I said to him, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we could someday spend time together in just loincloths,” Shri Mahayogi responded, “Even loincloths are not necessary.” In that moment, I felt that actually Shri Mahayogi is not worried at all about clothing but only wears it for others—which is the origin of Contentment, knowing enough. This overlapped with the story of Buddha’s robe consisting of a dust heap, and from that perspective, yama and niyama are to regulate the practitioner’s mind step by step, and their origin is the Awakened Ones, their way of being.
MASTER: Yes, that is right. Of course, their ways of being are external manifestations of what is inside, which means you can say that it is the manifestation of the Awakened Ones’ internal nature, or their state of being. That is the very reason that even if one has just entered the path, that is the teaching that one ought to model oneself after.
Yogadanda: In that case, do the eight limbs of raja yoga set forth the ideals, [in the first two limbs] at the beginning, and then the remaining six limbs come as the way to work with what isn’t in accordance with these ideals?
MASTER: Since the entire process of Yoga is nothing but purifying karma, if you understand that, then you can see the overall composition, which is that by restraining the exterior, external actions, one gradually approaches the internal.
In Buddhism, there are three big pillars: Precepts, Meditation, and Wisdom. Precepts means purifying the gross behaviors through various restrictions. Next, Meditation, meaning samadhi, is to purify the internal sanskara. Wisdom indicates such things as Right Knowledge and Discriminative Discernment, True Wisdom, True Knowledge, or the Wisdom of Satori.
Here, there is a composition of starting with external behaviors, leading to the internal restraint of the mind, and further to the realization of the Truth. In that sense, its [composition or approach] is exactly in common with Yoga. Therefore, you can understand that yama and niyama are truly the foundational basics.
Saturday, May 22, 2010, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Yogadanda: Earlier, there was a mention of savasana. Siddhasana and padmasana especially have the strong effect of deepening the breath and bringing one closer to a state of non-breathing, but in the case of savasana, as mentioned earlier, prana automatically acts in a beneficial way—does that mean savasana does not have any sort of proactive effects?
MASTER: (thinking for a while) I always wonder how many practitioners there are who really have healthy, robust physical bodies, along with strong, flexible and tenacious inner strength. The yogi of yore, they all tackled the practice [of discipline for mastery] while being already equipped with these conditions to begin with, because if your body is weak, or if you have many conflicts in the mind, then there is no time for anything else. With that being said, given the fact that there are too many people who are like that, and given the fact that the benefits of Yoga are available to anyone, perhaps in actuality, people have to begin to tackle it from the task of overcoming weaknesses and shortcomings, so to say. Simply put, one needs to bring back one’s own condition from the minus level, go back to the zero level, then further prepare it to the plus level. Yet, even if someone begins from the minus level, since that is the starting base for that person, the person only moves in the direction of the plus level. That means, all sadhana, even savasana, does proactive work. In that, there is nothing passive, regardless of who the person who is practicing may be.
MASTER: In the entire process of Yoga, a single-pointed concentration towards the state of Satori is done. In order to heighten that concentration, one must look at all activities of daily life, and turn them into Yoga. Yoga is not something to be done in an uptight manner at all, of course. Satori is also called Freedom or Liberation, it is to liberate oneself from the original condition where one is constrained, being bound hand and foot, that is, to become Free. However, one must not forget that Satori is attained through some level of restraint. Freedom and being uninhibited without restraint have different implications. If you think and act giving free play to the mind, then that becomes the path of karma and will bring about more strengthening and firming of the bondage. Its result is suffering. However, if you apply restraint in order to eliminate them, then the errors of the mind will gradually be eliminated, and the original freedom of the soul will come.
Jayadevi: Is the restraint for eliminating those things discrimination?
MASTER: Yes, exactly. Discrimination and renunciation.
Ms. Miyazaki: Discrimination and renunciation……
MASTER: Yes. To eliminate pain-bearing obstacles and ignorance from the mind. And to discriminate them by checking them against the Truth, and to get rid of erroneous things, is called renunciation.
Saturday, April 8, 2000, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Sanatana: This is about the mental aspect of asana—when I began practicing asana, I noticed that after having done halasana or samakonasana, or the effect afterwards, differed according to the way I spent the day or my state of mind that day. Is there any relation between psychological things and asana?
MASTER: If you apply the state of that mind to the guna, when you make your mind empty and are dedicating yourself to asana alone, that is relatively the state of sattva. If the mind is obsessed with something or is heavy, then it can be seen as tamas; and during such mental states, its effect on the asana becomes like the role of putting the brakes on it; yet even so, if your feeling shifts a little after asana is done, it can be understood that the power of asana that can relieve tension brought the effect not just physically, but also mentally.
The mind always incurs changes [in being under the influence of the changes] that are likened to the guna, therefore, it is important to discipline yourself to simply continue practicing asana for quite some time, even as an obligation. Through the discipline of practicing this way, the fluctuations of changes will come to be lessened, because although the physical body might be just a lump of flesh, within it, however, the size and flow of prana will change—prana is also called “chi or ki” since ancient times, and it is called prana in India; it is the power that activates the entire cosmos, and it’s also within our microcosm, making all things alive and activated—and because it is closely connected to the mental aspects, thus, for regaining the flow of prana into that of a well-balanced one, practicing asana exercises an effect of controlling the fluctuations of psychological changes and maintaining stability in balance.
And this is a given, since food related matters, and other activities or desires, can have an effect both mentally and physically, and if the level of spiritual discrimination has not yet begun, even in a mundane sense, everyone needs to have discrimination. How do you want to live? How do you want to be? If you want to improve yourself, you need to keep making good habits.
Saturday, September 24, 2011, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Mr. Shocho Takahashi: I attended the Satsangha held by disciples while Shri Mahayogi was in New York, and I have two questions. I would like to ask if it is possible to proceed directly to meditation from asana, without doing pranayama or pratyahara.
MASTER: (immediately) It is totally possible. The means of the two practices, asana and pranayama, have their core focus in controlling not only the physical body, but especially prana. This is normally a prerequisite for the category of raja yoga. However, in the ways called bhakti yoga, jnana yoga, and karma yoga, asana and pranayama are not necessary at all. [In bhakti yoga,] one enters bhakti directly, and in jnana yoga, one goes into the inquiry of Atman directly—one can even ignore asana, the positions; no matter what the position is, or in what situation you are in, wherever and whenever, you can do it. Karma yoga is service to others, so you’ll need to put yourself in various positions to take action; therefore, asana and pranayama are both irrelevant to that.
In this Yoga we do here, we’re not limited to raja yoga. Since the aim of Yoga is singular, for achieving that aim as soon as possible, one ought to keep practicing bhakti and jnana yoga, or karma yoga, in action. For its preparation, the approach of raja yoga is introduced.
Even within raja yoga, in current times, the branch of asana has expanded greatly as hatha yoga, and it has become something different from the simple seated position explained in the Yoga Sutra of yore. And by the branch of pranayama being greatly expanded, from there it enters into mudra, which is actually the scope of pranayama,1 and through that, [meaning through kumbhaka—the controlling of prana, pranayama—in mudra,] one attempts to attain the state of samadhi—and these are not easy at all. According to the classic fundamental system of raja yoga, it proceeds from asana, to pranayama, to pratyahara, then to meditation.
Here [at the Mission], when it comes to the branch of asana, to put it in one word, we practice in a way that is groundbreaking for the practice of asana. Externally, it may appear to be the same [forms of asana], yet because of the way we practice it, it enters into the realm of pranayama. As its result, it brings about the control of prana. Because of that, even if you don’t intentionally practice pranayama, only with practicing the basic asana you can master through experience most of what pranayama aims for.
Truly, this is not an exaggeration, or anything grandiose, but there were many discoveries coming from my own experience of doing and mastering asana. These are not even written in the Yoga Sutra, and neither in hatha yoga scriptures such as the Hatha Yoga Pradipika or others, including various ones up to nowadays—the secrets of asana are not explained in them. Not being explained—that indicates that no one experienced the secrets of asana. [That is because] asana has been merely practiced as exercise. That is the same even in India. This is truly the fundamental difference. Therefore, this past summer, there were gatherings titled “The Secrets of Asana,” [which were Satsangha held by disciples], and it’s not at all an exaggeration to say that (with emphasis) literally it is as the title suggests.
(Shri Mahayogi is asserting this powerfully. We are granted an opportunity to experience through our own bodies the asana that was perfected by Shri Mahayogi, its secret, this precious asana. Surely, one of the missions of the disciples is to transmit this correctly.)
Kinkala: You mentioned that you discovered something that wasn’t even mentioned in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, I see that this can only be sensed through experience. Then, that means that rather than thinking of asana as one of the eight limbs in the system of the Yoga Sutra, we should think of this as something independent, like asana yoga, shouldn’t we?
MASTER: No, it’s not like that. Viewing it from the whole of Yoga, it is merely a part of it, it cannot be said to be that way. However, you might be able to say that a new mechanism of asana was found, perhaps. (after a while) That is why, though it is truly using simple words, that you see there are only a few lines of writing in the new Yoga Asana Basic [sheet] that was just published—they’re simple explanations, yet if what I just mentioned is summarized, it becomes that. And, in each of the asana diagrams, there is an arrow and a chakra of focus—those arrows are extremely important. It would be good to acquire them thoroughly [by learning and mastering through experiencing them].
Kinkala: When we go home tonight, I think all of us are going to look at them with our eyes peeled. (laughter from all)
MASTER: Truly, the writing became simple expressions, thoroughly eliminating anything unnecessary, but that’s not because of the lack of pages or space on the sheet, but because it puts succinctly and accurately only the crucial points. That is why during the workshop [in New York] at the Omega Institute, there were two Satsangha and two Asana and Meditation classes, and most of the participants had some sort of experience with Yoga, but the asana I taught them was a completely different thing, and so in that sense, I think they all experienced asana for the first time. After the second and last class, because we had a longer time, I incorporated a longer time for meditation, which was about 40 minutes, after asana. When asked how it was, many participants expressed that they tasted meditation for the first time. Then the question naturally arises, what had they been doing the whole time until then? What they did in the class at Omega were only basic asana, not any advanced asana, but they did only basic ones for about an hour, then moved into practicing meditation. Even with that, there was such a result, [and one of the reasons must be from the way they practiced asana,] the breath and mind were transformed, making it easier to enter meditation—in this sense, it was a very good workshop. I know all of you here sit at least for two hours, so 40 minutes may seem short, but over there [in New York], it felt like a sufficiently long, fulfilling time for meditation. Of course, before beginning to practice meditation, I taught them to firmly have a theme for the meditation, and to choose either the theme of inquiring into Atman, which is to inquire, “Who am I?” or the meditation of bhakti, and then they practiced meditation.
 In the Yoga Sutra, about half out of the ten mudra mentioned are actually pranayama itself, and the rest are pranayama in specific forms; in other words, mudra can be understood as more concentrated (and symbolic) pranayama. (Explanation by Shri Mahayogi)
Saturday, April 3, 1999, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Mr. Suzuki: When the state of non-breathing continues for a long time through the practice of Yoga, what is the body maintained by?
MASTER: The physical body, the material, is indeed governed by prana. Normally, the physical body requires taking in new prana in a very short cycle of a few seconds to a dozen seconds—that is the breath; prana is taken in through the breath. However, when the state of non-breathing comes, it means that the condition in which there is no need to do that is brought about, and during that time, the prana, which is the power called shakti or kundalini, that already exists within the body, the microcosm, maintains the physical body.
Mr. Suzuki: So then, continuing in a state of non-breathing for a long time without the activation of kundalini is not a possibility?
MASTER: Even if an awakening of kundalini is not such a case where it is sensed in the body, that kundalini called shakti is active. That is how you can interpret it.
Mr. Suzuki: During that time, does the heartbeat stop?
MASTER: The heartbeat will become slow, very slow, which is a condition that is as if it has stopped.
Mr. Suzuki: That must only be possible through Yoga.
MASTER: Yes, this is unique to Yoga, for [yogi] themselves experimented with this microcosm called the body, experienced it, and learned its secrets and mysteries through their own experiences.
Throughout history, countless religions, philosophies and schools of thought have been born, and will continue to be born, yet I think that the peculiarity or greatness of Yoga lies in its knowledge, technique and understanding pertaining to the breath—that is the outstanding point that makes it stand out from the rest.
Kinkala: Is that the fruit of Yoga practitioners inheriting these techniques for a very long time?
MASTER: It means that they have validated them. One more thing that I would like to add is that [that validation] is precisely why there is universality. Often, religion, not to say that it is fanaticism, but it can be a mere trend that is limited in time, or it can be something that may only apply to very specific situations, and it often seems to be biased; however, Yoga found the universality of the Truth, and at the same time found a universal approach; you can say that that is what Yoga presents.
Kinkala: Is the reason why Buddha or Christ didn’t enter into teaching about kundalini or the breath because they did not go further into these fields?
MASTER: You can’t consider Buddha and Jesus equally, meaning that relatively speaking, Buddha rather taught the way [to attain the universal Truth], and in the case of Jesus, it seems that he taught more about God and the Truth, rather than the way.
Yoga took very similar approaches to that of Buddha as well—that if you do this, then this, and then that, then the result naturally becomes this. The teaching of that approach of Buddha is meditation. Yoga is the same, it’s meditation. From around that time, the breathing technique, or the secret of the breath was already known, and even though Buddha did not get into it using mystical words, the stability of the breath is implied in his teaching of the ways of meditation, therefore, it must have been taught.
Kinkala: Does that mean that when it comes to the approach of teaching according to what is best suited for each situation and time, in Europe and Asia, each had their different basis, respectively?
MASTER: Right, there are considerable differences between the West and the East in the profoundness and breadth of religious history.
As Vivekananda said, spirituality will come from the East, even Christianity originally was located in the East. Then, what existed in what is called the West were ancient tribal religions and their respective religious [philosophies]; in a way, Christianity, as a new religion, spread there then, and therefore the religious foundation in the West is very recent. Well, in other words, it seems that the West was still practicing old religions, so to speak.
In comparison, during that time in the East, it was flooded with various religions and schools of thought, and they were in-depth, and flourishing, all competing with one another. The most outstanding of all of these was that of Buddha and that of Yoga.
Saturday, February 19, 2000, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Mr. Mohl (Vishoka): In the Yoga Sutra, there is an extremely rigorous analysis of the workings of the mind; therefore, various predicates [such as adverbs, modifiers, prepositional phrases, objects, etc.] are crucial. However, when translating them, many problems arise, and often times there is no equivalent in the language to which they are being translated.
For example, in English translations of the Yoga Sutra, even the very first line is translated in a wide variety of ways. “Chitta vritti nirodha”—the original meaning of that “vritti” is “turning round, whirling.” Is it okay to interpret this as “activities of the mind”?
MASTER: Yes, that is fine.
Mr. Mohl (Vishoka): “Chitta” is also hard to understand; in Japanese, the kanji character “mind” [that is used in “activities of the mind” in that sutra] has a very broad meaning, and it can be interpreted in various ways. I saw that one person translates it as “thought.” “Mind” is the most common translation, (MASTER: Right.) but is it more accurate to translate it as “thought”?
MASTER: Well, no. The translation for the word, “chitta,” I infer that it indicates a general term, “mind.” I think that this is completely the same usage of “chitta” both in the Yoga Sutra and in Buddhism; however, in the case of Buddhism, “chitta” is used in most cases. In the case of Yoga, while having “chitta” as one general term for “the mind,” Yoga has analyzed this “chitta” further into faculties within the mind such as buddhi, which is intellect and the faculties of judgement, ahankara and manas.
Therefore, as for the translation of the first sutra, [chitta indicates] the mind as a whole, meaning that it includes its faculties. Since “thought” is understood as the content that is brought about by the function of the mind, so to say, it can be concluded that chitta is the thing that indicates both, therefore, it is the “mind.”
Mr. Mohl (Vishoka): So then, when the translation is “to restrain the activities of the mind,” then it can be concluded that the mind itself must be eliminated. (MASTER: (laughing) That’s right.) That means either one eliminates its function or makes the mind itself dissolve…
MASTER: Right, this phrase, “chitta vritti nirodha,” is very difficult to understand, such that the next sutra comes with an explanation of the five kinds of vritti, “activities [that take various forms],” or “various conditions [or modifications],” which are grouped into those that are pain-bearing and those that are non-pain-bearing, yet what is indicated by “nirodha” is the withdrawal of these various conditions, and also chitta being in a state of stillness as its faculty.
Mr. Mohl (Vishoka): What I find difficult to understand, is in Buddhism, there is a term bodhichitta. It is a very proactive, ideal state of mind, and because it is the mind that seeks bodhi (the state of Enlightenment), I think that it may be related to the earlier conversation about whether desire is necessary or not.
MASTER: Well, I do not really know when the word “bodhichitta” appeared, but I suspect that it arose in the latter stages of Buddhism, that is to say, while the scriptures of Mahayana Buddhism were being compiled.
I sense that in the words of the direct teachings of Buddha, there are only simple expressions such as the word “chitta” and “nirvana.” Because of that, it may feel a bit inadequate in words. However, experientially speaking, the state of nirodha, where both the function and activities of the mind dissolve, exists. (definitively) It Exists.
Therefore, I infer that that one line was expressed based on experience. Because of that, the content of nirvana indicates exactly the same as that. Well, there is somewhat of a difference between the words nirvana and nirodha, yet I infer that content-wise, there is no difference at all.
Mr. Mohl (Vishoka): Does that mean that once the chitta is restrained, it revives again? Or can it be understood that something else is born?
MASTER: (definitively) Something else is born—the skeleton-like chitta, which is neither filtered nor colored, so to say, is born there. Proactively expressed, it may be said to be the bodhichitta.
(After some pause, Shri Mahayogi begins to speak again.)
Probably that word derives from “chit”—chit as in Sat Chit Ananda—or it is said that these words are very closely approximated. In addition, [the word] Chit in Japanese has an equivalent word [in Japanese Buddhism] that indicates discriminative knowledge, which, using one of the kanji, means “knowledge [that comes from cognizance or experience,]” that is, “to know, or to realize.”
At the same time, the concepts that the Yoga Sutra has at its base are those of the Sankya philosophy. In it, there are the principles of Purusha and prakriti, and from the principle of prakriti, the rest of the 23 elements are derived. This prakriti itself contains the three guna, categorized as sattva, rajas, and tamas. Because this prakriti, which contains the guna, is compelled to be in action at all times, nature, which consists of various destructions and changes, occurs as phenomena. This is the way of viewing it [in Sankya philosophy].
The initial principle that emerges or evolves from prakriti has components of ahankara, buddhi, and manas, which extend to various motor organs. And it can be understood that the more the guna of tamas or of rajas become predominant, the more pain-bearing it is; therefore, you can also understand that working on eliminating the pain-bearing obstacles through the practice of Yoga is bringing one closer to the quality of sattva.
The state of nirodha itself indicates that the activities of the guna come to an end, so to speak, viewed from the perspective of the guna. That is the state of nirodha or nirvana. Once pain-bearing obstacles and avidya, which is the fundamental cause, are gone, then chitta ceases to be under the influence of the guna, and chitta will come to be under its own influence, or it will reflect itself, which is how you can understand what’s in the Yoga Sutra; that is the phenomenal body of “chitta,” its own original state—I infer that that is what that sutra teaches.
Saturday, February 12, 2005, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Sananda: There are ways to unravel the pains and struggles of the various scenes in daily life through Yoga, for example, philosophically or psychologically, and there are ways to do that through sublimating them in the form of bhakti as well; can hatha yoga eliminate the suffering through the practice that begins with asana and proceeds to pranayama?
MASTER: That alone will not do. After all, hatha yoga is merely a part of raja yoga. Therefore, regardless of what type of yoga it is, learning the Truth is indispensable. Learning the Truth means to, at the same time, check whether one’s own mind is in accordance with the Truth or not—it is there that conflict inevitably arises. This cannot be resolved but by thinking deeper on it and further, meditating on it. The main purpose of asana practice is simply to make the physical body healthy and strong, and further, to bring about the quality of sattva by promoting purifying effects.
Sananda: In the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, there is a process of entering samadhi [in the context of raja yoga1] through pranayama, or in other words, mudra, [which is the control or retention of breath;] does this mean that you cannot reach Satori with these processes alone? Or does it mean that people who are more advanced, or rather, who specialize in that path, can realize it through these processes?
MASTER: That scripture lacks philosophy. Because it is predominantly compiled only with aspects of physiological techniques,2 and these alone will not do. The essential sutra in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika is the line that says, “Yoga should be practiced in the way instructed by the guru,”3 but it implies that the essential part of that scripture beyond all the words in it, [which are samadhi and Satori,] must be taught directly by a Guru, [in other words, the grace of the guru is indispensable].
(Ms. Okunishi says that, when she began to study Yoga, as she was doing asana, she felt an overwhelming gratitude and emotion towards the yogi who have passed this down since ancient times, and towards Shri Mahayogi. Sananda also says that once while practicing asana, during a very busy workday, he felt that something exploded inside his chest, and he intuitively felt, “Everything exists here.”)
That is the proof that Yoga may appear to be asana, simply about mere movement of the physical body, but that is within Yoga, the system to reach Satori.
 Hatha Yoga Pradipika 3:126 “The earth without raja yoga, night without raja yoga, even the various mudras without raja yoga are useless, i.e. not beautiful.”
 Meaning that it involves [only] the gross and subtle body in asana, pranayama and mudra. (Explanation by Shri Mahayogi)
 Hatha Yoga Pradipika 1:14
Saturday, February 12, 2005, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Ms. Nakamura (Sarani): Will you please explain the phrase, “principle of joy,” from the phrase, “in the depths within the mind, there is intelligence, and that intelligence is supported by the principle of joy”—I think it is in the Yoga Sutra.
MASTER: This phrase comes from the theory of the Five Sheaths in the Upanishad.1 The physical body is kept going by the internal prana, or the chi or ki. That prana sheath is sustained by thoughts. These thoughts2 are supported by intelligence.3 That intelligence is supported by joy, called bliss, or that is its cause. That is to say, when they approached the human body from the external to the internal and traced back its structural causes, that is what was discovered.
Ms. Nakamura (Sarani): So, it’s different from the flow of how Atman is explained?
MASTER: It’s different. Further inward from the principle of bliss, there exists Atman. Atman is often also referred to as Bliss. There was also a question like that in New York a while back too, and I explained that the fifth bliss in the theory of the Five Sheaths is called ananda, but it’s a lowercase letter “joy,” whereas Ananda in the Joy of Atman is the uppercase “A” Ananda.
Ms. Nakamura (Sarani): I see. Thank you very much.
Dayamati: Regarding the difference between the mental sheath and the intellectual sheath, can we say that when thoughts circle around in the head, the mental sheath is mainly active?
MASTER: Yes. In the theory of the Five Sheaths, that third sheath is that; actually, most of it is that. However, what supports that thought or mental [sheath] is the knowledge that has already been memorized—that is the intellectual sheath.
Dayamati: So, when one is repeating the mantra within, is it like the mental sheath is being in a state of rest, and the intellectual sheath is appearing on the surface?
MASTER: The mental sheath is where it begins. Then gradually, it goes to the intellectual sheath, then if it goes deeper within, the blissful sheath.
Dayamati: When a small ananda is starting to be sensed, does it mean the blissful sheath is starting to become active?
MASTER: Rather than active, it can be said that one has dived deeper into its realm.
Dayamati: Does the state of no words, no joy, and almost no breathing, exist between the blissful sheath and the true Self?
(Shri Mahayogi remains silent for a while.)
MASTER: Well, the way of thinking of the theory of the Five Sheaths is as a very ancient anatomy. Therefore, it is impossible to match that as is, with things that came later, such as the 24 Principles, and the various psychological states of Yoga.
Dayamati: I see. I thought that they were just expressing the same things differently, but that’s not the case?
MASTER: They don’t match perfectly. The general structures are similar, and there are many that overlap, yet each has its own respective way of thinking. Therefore, it’s difficult to align everything. It may be a stretch but one could venture to say that because the 24 Principles came afterwards, you can find more psychological observations in them. There, it dissects the mind like in psychology, and you can find mainly the things that constitute the mind: intellectual discernment, ego-consciousness, the mental function of controlling thoughts and emotions, and further, memory and such. However, if you check these with the theory of the Five Sheaths, you can see that the mental sheath, the intellectual sheath, and the blissful sheath, are all arising from the mind as their base. And if I may add, you can see that from the surface of the mind to the deeper part within, that’s what constitutes the mental sheath, the intellectual sheath, and the blissful sheath. Yet, regardless of which sheath, there is the material of the components of the mind, that I mentioned in the beginning.
 Taittiriya Upanishad 3:5 and 3:6.
 The aspects of the mind related to volition and perception.
 The intelligence that defines the object of cognizance to our consciousness.
Saturday, October 28, 2006, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Mr. Hiraoka (Gurudas): Sorry but I still do not quite understand the difference between the death of the physical body and the death of the mind.
MASTER: Do you remember the five sheaths that make up a human being?
Mr. Hiraoka (Gurudas): The physical sheath, the prana sheath, the mental sheath, the intellectual sheath, and the blissful sheath.
MASTER: Yes. Just as they are called “sheaths,” as if being enveloped in order, each within the next sheath, these are the contents of the analysis of the human body from the external to the internal. The outermost layer is the physical sheath, as the gross body. The prana sheath exists within the physical sheath, supporting the physical sheath from inside, and just as if it were put in a sheath, it supports the physical sheath, which is the outermost sheath, from inside. And further inward, there are the fine, subtle sheaths called the mental sheath, the intellectual sheath, and the blissful sheath.
Mr. Hiraoka (Gurudas): So then, the death of the body just means the [death of] the outermost sheath?
MASTER: Right. For an average Japanese person, it is said that that happens at eighty something? Well, either way, it is within a timeframe of decades that a person lives and dies. The mental sheath, the intellectual sheath and the blissful sheath are the subtle parts, which are the mind, therefore, they do not die at the same time as the physical sheath, but reincarnate.
Ms. Tahara (Saranya): I see… It’s not only Atman.
MASTER: That’s right, it is as if they are enveloping Atman.
Ms. Tahara (Saranya): That is why it continues on and on.
MASTER: Yes. (laughs) Within this mind, there are also memories, and within memories, buried there are sanskara, which cause the creation of karma.
Ms. Tahara (Saranya): Then, these get transferred to the next life?
MASTER: Yes. That is how it is.
Mr. Hiraoka (Gurudas): Within the mental sheath?
MASTER: It’s included in what has aggregated into one, as the mind.
Mr. Hiraoka (Gurudas): So, there is no division within [the mind].
MASTER: There is no way to divide them. If I had to say, take memories: the bliss, the intelligence, the thought, these all can only be established for the first time through the mechanism of memory, right?
Let’s say for instance, “I’m thinking about something.” If you continue to forget what you are indicating as “I” and “something,” then there will not be a connection in the mind. Precisely because something that indicates the “I” is established accompanied by the intelligence within a memory, only then, “I think something,” or, “I like,” and, “I dislike,” various things can….
Mr. Hiraoka (Gurudas): By “intelligence,” do you mean the ideas from the intellectual sheath?
MASTER: Yes, it means that that too is established by the power of memory. These relate to one another like a triskelion; they are mutually supported. Memories are actually based on ideas, and ideas are based on memory, and behind all that, is the principle of bliss in action.
Mr. Hiraoka (Gurudas): The blissful sheath is not Atman?
MASTER: It’s not. That is why, simply put, the mind is born from ignorance and dies in Satori. Until then, one reincarnates many tens of times, just like changing clothing.
Mr. Hiraoka (Gurudas): So, just transcending the death of the physical body will not bring one to Atman.
MASTER: The mind is still further within, right?
Mr. Hiraoka (Gurudas): So then, I will only realize it after all three sheaths are gone…?
Mr. Hiraoka (Gurudas): Then, the meditation on death burns away all three of these…?
MASTER: Of course, that is so. It is not merely about the death of the physical body.
Saturday, May 23, 2009, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Ms. Sawahiro (Satya): I am reading The Universal Gospel of Yoga, and there was a mention of the five sheaths. I understand that the outermost layer is the physical sheath, then the next is prana, but as for the next ones, I don’t understand the difference between the mental sheath and the intellectual sheath, and the last one, the blissful sheath. Please teach me about these.
MASTER: These are considered to be ancient anatomy, and obviously, the physical sheath is the component of the body. What supports the physical sheath is the energy called prana, which can be called life energy—the physical sheath is enabled to be active by the power of ki or chi, or prana. Therefore, it is said that there is a prana sheath within the physical sheath. Prana goes around the entire body, and there are 72,000 vessels or paths for prana to flow, just like blood vessels. It is through them that prana is able to move to the extremities of the body.
What supports that prana sheath then comes to be the mental part. Within the mental part, the outermost activities of the mind constitute the mental body or the mental sheath, that includes thoughts, emotions, and such, and that is what gives cause for the power of prana to act.
What is the cause of the thought or mental [sheath]? It is the various things that the mind has already memorized, something like a view of the world that each respective mind holds onto, that includes characteristics, tendencies and such—and that is formed by memories called intellect, or intelligence [and cognition]. Therefore, various intellectual concepts, views of the world and such, that have been cultivated by each respective person, are reflected into the thought or mental [sheath], and that means that intellect and cognition are hiding even further within.
Then, going further, what causes the intellect? It is the principle of joy—because the motivation that everyone has to seek joy and happiness is there, and because of that, one experiences and absorbs various things and memorizes them. Ananda is translated as the blissful sheath, and this principle of joy is the cause that gives food for the intellect to thrive on.
In ancient anatomy, as they dissected from the outer layer to the inner layer, they considered there to be an enveloping structure of five layers constituting the human body.
Ms. Sawahiro (Satya): Are thoughts and the intelligence [held by the intellect] related to sanskara?
MASTER: Exactly. The intellectual sheath mainly indicates sanskara. The working of thoughts and emotions according to memory is the surface consciousness of the mind called the mental sheath.
Ranjani: After Satori, is sanskara reduced?
MASTER: The structure itself does not change, but one will no longer be occupied by them. When it comes to karma, the direction is set by sanskara, so inevitably, it appears as karma and creates new karma as well. Yet, after attaining Satori, even if there is a presence of sanskara, which are merely [forms of] knowledge, one is no longer caught up by them, and they become merely ineffective knowledge.
Ranjani: Then, this means that there is a core, and we are pulled by the second and third sheath from the core, is that right?
MASTER: It can be said to be that way.
Ranjani: When realizing Satori, we’re pulled into the deepest layer, and the second and third layers become thin?
MASTER: It can be said that there will be no bondage. The first [layer], the principle of joy, starts out from the quality of the Joy and the Bliss in the Existence itself called Sat Chit Ananda, as Atman; however, as soon as it enters the vessel of the mind, it becomes quite a down-played, or a confined joy, and being affected by ego and ignorance, the joy becomes minimized and limited.
Ranjani: So then, the core is affected as well?
MASTER: The core too is affected. The five-layered body or sheath in the theory of the Five Sheaths is simply a dissection, not related to ignorance, sanskara or karma yet, but later on, as the cause of karma, as sanskara being the place where karma is coming from, and as ignorance came to be found—these were also found to be especially related to the first and second layers. That is why it is said that the theory of the Five Sheaths is a very old discovery.
Ms. Sawahiro (Satya): So that ananda is different from pure Ananda.
MASTER: As mentioned in the book, Satori, there is a difference in nuance, like between the small letter “ananda” and the capital letter “Ananda.”
Ms. Sawahiro (Satya): So then, does the transformation go—as we learn the Truth and shift that ananda, then the intellectual [sheath] changes and then thoughts, [or the mental sheath], change…in that way?
MASTER: Yes, exactly.
(Shri Mahayogi explains carefully and slowly in an easy-to-understand manner to Ms. Sawahiro who asks each question slowly.)
Kripal: I don’t quite understand the explanation about the theory of the Five Sheaths, where the innermost blissful sheath becomes the cause for, and supports the intellectual sheath.
MASTER: That is one of the elements that is inherent in the mind. In the beginning, as one is born into the world and begins to activate the mind, the fundamental element in it is that every living being seeks the joy of living. From there, each individual’s view of the world or experiences go differently, respectively, even so, each and every person, no matter what they seek or what they’re interested in, what it is that they are seeking or what it is that they are interested in, is actually happiness; hidden there is that principle of joy. (gently looking at Kripal) Do you understand?
Kripal: (immediately) I understand.
Shaci: Is that part considered to be the beginning of lila?
MASTER: Lila further comes from the bigger root cause, the capital letter Ananda. It can be said that, concretely, in the case of the activities of lila within the world, or when it is in action, it is the blissful sheath, the lowercase ananda, which is the first cause, that receives a positive influence from the capital letter Ananda—then everything transforms.
Kripal: Then, at the very end of the book, Pranava Sara, Shri Mahayogi’s writing is there and it says something like, “The mind seeks to construct some kind of world within this world.”1 Applying this to the earlier explanation, does this mean that because of the cause of wanting to be happy, which is intrinsic to living beings, this kind of nature [of the mind] inevitably arises?
MASTER: Exactly. After that, the rest differs, respectively, in manifestation, for each individual mind is trying to realize the world-view that each respective mind possesses. Good and bad, that is where various incidents arise.
 It is now in “Yoga Sara” in The Universal Gospel of Yoga. The actual phrase is: “…the ego (the mind) seeks to construct its own world within the realm of experience.”
Saturday, December 12, 2009, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Haridas: About the five sheaths, first, there is the physical sheath, then the prana sheath, then the mental sheath, then the intellectual sheath. The mind consists of the mental and intellectual sheaths, is my understanding correct?
MASTER: [The mind is] all of it. All five sheaths are the layers of the mind, from the surface consciousness to the deep consciousness.
Haridas: Even the blissful sheath?
MASTER: Yes. That is the deepest, fundamental, deep psyche, using modern words. That becomes the root cause, and absorbs, or in other words, owns various ideas as knowledge, or intelligence. Through that, thoughts, which are the mental [sheath], turn over in one’s mind.
Haridas: Out of all that, the substance of the blissful sheath is joy, since it has the word bliss in it?
MASTER: [Not quite,] although it uses the same word ananda.
Haridas: So even though it is ananda, this joy is not Pure Joy.
MASTER: It’s not quite pure yet; as mentioned in the book, Satori, there was a similar question asked in New York (laughs), and I mentioned that you can only distinguish it as the lowercase ananda and the uppercase Ananda.
In other words, when it comes to the activities of the mind, namely, to be born and go through one’s life, everyone is in action to seek joy and happiness, having their origin as joy. That is how daily living is done, however, the result may not necessarily only be the happiness that the mind imagines it to be. It is natural that various happy and sad results occur. Whatever it is, purely seeking joy must be there at the origin; it is in the background of the simple instinct of animals and plants to propagate, and even of the force of the cosmos, and even in the joy that relates to various desires—all originate from joy. However, that is still within the realm of the mind. The fact of the matter is that, True Joy exists where all of these things are transcended.
Haridas: We close our eyes when we meditate, so in a way, relativity is created inside and outside, inevitably. For example, is it incorrect to imagine in meditation, when closing the eyes, as we turn inward to pitch black darkness, that we go further within the five sheaths, towards the utmost center of the bliss body, (pointing to his body) that this [physical body] is actually “inside,” or is it correct?
MASTER: That is fine. As you carefully observe the five sheaths, it goes from the outside, towards the inside, starting from annamaya kosha, which is the physical sheath made up of food, then within that is the prana sheath, and furthermore, the subtle realm of the mind of the mental sheath, the intellectual sheath, and the blissful sheath. It’s going inwards, at the same time, it is reaching towards the cause. This body that is sustained by food is actually animated by the power of prana, therefore the outermost sheath, called annamaya kosha, is sustained by the prana sheath—the prana sheath is its cause; the prana is activated due to the mental sheath of the mind. When it’s called the mental sheath, you may think it only pertains to thinking and feeling, but [within that,] it also indicates karma, sanskara, or all the causes that make a person be born again into a physical body, so to say—that is, the mental body, intellectual body and blissful body—and since it can be said that the reason why these karma were created is because everyone seeks the happiness that they hope to obtain, gaining knowledge and intelligence, and [continuing] to think about it again and again, if this matter is not resolved, then one reincarnates, and keeps repeating it over and over again. In a way, these sheaths are moving further inwards, at the same time, getting closer to the causal body. Then, you find the mechanism of all of it, in other words, the cause must be found, and through Truth, that is, Wisdom, you work to have it be eliminated and dissolved.
Ranjani: For the causes—is each layer affected by only the one layer that is further within it?
MASTER: The more the layers go further inward, the more each layer affects all the layers before it.
Ranjani: So, the blissful sheath affects everything.
MASTER: Yes. If you see it as a reverse pyramid, the blissful sheath is at the bottom, and affects all the way up to the most external annamaya kosha.
Ranjani: So then, conversely, the prana sheath only affects the physical body, which is the exterior.
Ranjani: The innermost layer affects everything.
MASTER: Right. It means that it is hidden, but active. What is noticeable are the causes of the layer before it. It is a very ancient view, however, it includes hints that can be adapted to modern psychology as well. (looking at Ms. Mori) That is why the issue of death is also tangled up in here.
Ms. Mori: In the end, does the mind disappear?
Madhavi: But at that time, will the mind not be aware that it’s not there?
MASTER: It will not be aware. If it notices, then the mind is still active, which is a contradiction.
Then, in actuality, what ruled the mind—the ego, ignorance, and derivatives of ignorance, which are pain-bearing obstacles, desires and attachments—will all be wiped out completely, and the mind will become a simple tool. So, with the mind having disappeared, it means the false ruler and its resulting influence will lose effect. Normally, it is described with words such as “the mind disappears.”
Haridas: I think it’s possible to discriminate with the form of the five sheaths through the way of meditation you just mentioned. Does that mean that once the blissful sheath has been discriminated, then at that point its object will then fall away?
MASTER: (powerfully) Yes. When discerning, it is a given that it has to progress being accompanied by the Truth, the words of Truth. If you proceed with that, as its result, it will be discerned that these words of Truth, or the Truth itself, is right, and everything else is imperfect, is incorrect, looking from the view of the Truth. If you arrive there, then the rest will be gone.
Haridas: In meditation up until now, I would ponder on a particular object in a vague manner, but this five sheaths way of meditation is easier to imagine, in other words, I can see the direction for discernment, and this reverse pyramid relationship is very easy to understand. So, when I practice that way of meditation as one guide, is it okay to think I am going from the external toward bhakti yoga, towards the Truth?
MASTER: Yes. This is the central means of practice in jnana yoga and raja yoga. However, as Shri Ramakrishna always mentioned, whether it’s bhakti yoga or karma yoga, first you must practice discrimination [on the Truth], and renunciation [will be its result]. Unless you go through that, the real bhakti yoga or karma yoga can never begin. That is to say, discernment and renunciation are the fundamentals in Yoga. This applies to what was mentioned at the beginning today.
Saturday, October 23, 2010, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Haridas: In the theory of the Five Sheaths, the outermost physical sheath is maintained by food, and the prana sheath supports it from within. So then, concentration and meditation are positioned going from the mental sheath to the intellectual sheath, and the last one, the blissful sheath goes under [the field of deeper] meditation, and it is the lowercase atman. As one concentrates and meditates on that blissful sheath, and the concentration becomes ceaseless, then there is joy, which is the true character of the blissful sheath.
MASTER: The original word [for it] is ananda. It’s called anandamaya kosha.
Haridas: When the meaning of anandamaya kosha is introduced as the essence of everything being joy, in general, “joy” is often understood to be the opposite of the relative pain and sadness, but this is a different quality from that joy, am I correct?
MASTER: [Right,] because it is a joy of a very different [quality], a fundamental principle.
Haridas: Is that something that is impossible to express logically with words, because I must experience it myself firsthand? Or if the realm of the mind contains all of the sheaths up until the blissful sheath, then is it something that in meditating upon that blissful sheath, anandamaya kosha, and becoming one with it, then a sense of a completely different quality [than ananda], as in the uppercase, “The Self is Brahman,” will arise? …I’m a bit frustrated, not being clear about all of this.
MASTER: That is something that can be said not only about human beings, but it applies to animals, plants and all things, even if there are some differences in degree. If we use human beings as an example in order to make it easier to understand, this physical body as matter is at the outermost layer, and it is sustained by [taking in] food; what sustains the physical body within is the power of prana, and inside the physical body there is the prana body, just like a nesting doll. Then why does prana move? There must be something further within the prana body that is sustaining it. Those are the workings of the mind called thoughts. Then, what supports the thoughts of the mental [sheath]? They are sustained by intellect and knowledge. Knowledge here doesn’t mean only something philosophical, but rather, just like when there is a word, there is a meaning, that is to say, this is the form of intelligence that, no matter what the object is, as a sound occurs, a meaning results and becomes knowledge. Therefore, each individual mind’s knowledge may be different; yet, you can understand that thoughts are established following the lead of such knowledge, in which the words and what is indicated by the meaning thereof, arise uniformly. What kind of principle supports that knowledge? It is the principle of joy. No one is interested in things that do not please one’s own self. Because gaining knowledge makes one happy or joyful, one holds onto knowledge, then thoughts arise from having it, and that activates the prana, which then causes the physical body to move—everyone has this behavioral pattern. That is why the intelligence [of the intellectual sheath] relies upon joy as its principle. If pain or sadness were at its origin, then no one would even wish for such knowledge. Therefore, the intellectual sheath, or knowledge, is joy-based, regardless, it is joy, and that joy is a simple joy; something that is joyful—that lies at the deepest part of the mind. That is how it has been understood.
Ms. Tahara (Saranya): So, regarding joy, there is a joy that is not the true Self but a dualistic one?
MASTER: Yes, [this one is] not quite there yet.
Ms. Tahara (Saranya): I think I heard a while back that karma exists in the mental sheath?
MASTER: Karma is—you see, the intellectual sheath, the joy thereof, too, is not pure joy yet. It’s a simple one, but not pure. In other words, that is why it is said to be the lowercase ananda, not the uppercase Ananda.
Ms. Tahara (Saranya): So, Ananda exists much further within?
MASTER: Yes, the real Ananda is [further].
Ms. Tahara (Saranya): Does the true Self not exist in the theory of the Five Sheaths?
MASTER: It does not. It exists even further within.
Ms. Tahara (Saranya): So then, is ananda different between individuals? Is that correct?
MASTER: Between individuals, the intellectual and the mental sheaths are different, yet the principle of joy is the same. Even if thoughts of good and evil arise there, for that mind, it is joy; no matter whether there is skewed or correct knowledge, to each person, it is joy, respectively. That is why it can be said to be karma.
Haridas: I get it now. Then, we must fully mobilize all of the five sheaths, and try to reach towards Atman, so to speak, the real Ananda.
MASTER: Rather than mobilizing, you pass through them. That is what it means. Therefore, asana has the role of conditioning this body and also the path of prana. Pranayama regulates the flow of prana and promotes further purification. It is closely connected to the stability of the mind, so it creates a psychological condition that makes it easier for the next one, the mental sheath, to concentrate. Then meditation—by concentrating and meditating on the object, True Wisdom is born. Then, the skewed knowledge, notions and ideas that have been simply formed by the mind from experience are dissolved by True Wisdom. Concretely said, pain-bearing obstacles and ignorance disappear.
Mr. Miyatake: That joy, does it have sound and color? Not just words?
MASTER: It depends on the sensibility of the receiver of the manifestation, but either way, it is joyful because there is joy; because the principle of joy is already there, one reacts to it.
Mr. Takahashi: So, in the blissful sheath, sanskara still remains there—but does that sanskara have a quality of extreme sattva?
Mr. Takahashi: Is it like a kind of sanskara that doesn’t have potential, yet can guide one to the next step, Atman?
MASTER: Since it is still in the realm of relativity, it can go in any direction; it can work in the direction of sattva, or of tamas, or of rajas.
Mr. Takahashi: Do you mean within the blissful sheath?
MASTER: Yes. Depending on what one is eagerly desiring, or how one reacts to joy, it can either go towards the quality of sattva, rajas or tamas. That means, the guna are still active there. However, Satori is the task that goes in the opposite direction of that. So, by getting rid of rajas and tamas, and pushing towards the pure, the quality of sattva, one goes in the opposite direction, further inward; in other words, one goes towards the true Ananda, Atman.
Mr. Takahashi: Is the power to make it go in that direction one’s highest aspiration?
MASTER: Exactly, yes.
Jayadevi: Does it mean that there is no lowercase ananda in the incarnations of God since they are uppercase Ananda themselves?
MASTER: There is none.
(Seemingly perplexed about what is being said, Shri Mahayogi and she look at one another and laugh.)
Jayadevi: Even if they appear to be in the form of a person, they are totally different from what sustains us.
MASTER: Yes, that is so. The structure of the mind is the same, but the way it works may be different.
Shaci: Is that because the blissful sheath has ignorance as its foundation?
Haridas: Oh, I get it. I misunderstood it. I had such a half-baked feeling. Now I get it. I was not understanding the last blissful sheath part well enough. I thought that I logically understood the blissful sheath to be a part of the realm of the mind, but I get that that is what it was.
Saturday, November 5, 2011, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Ms. Morioka: I was reading a past issue of Paramahamsa and there was something I didn’t understand. It is the difference between prana and the prana sheath. Last Wednesday in class, I asked Shaci-san about it, and she taught me that they’re different. Yet, I didn’t quite understand why it’s different when the names are similar.
Shaci: I mentioned to her that since the word prana is used for both the prana of the vayu, and the prana of the prana sheath, it is confusing.
MASTER: There is this theory of the Five Sheaths; considering the physical body as the outermost sheath, what is the power that sustains it from within? It is prana. Prana is hidden in the air and in everything else, that is to say, all things are activated by the power of prana. Therefore, it is invisible, yet it is considered that anything that has life is alive because of prana. It is absorbed inside the body, and there are pathways for prana to flow through; these pathways are called nadi. Nadi are the tubes or paths in which prana flows, like blood vessels. Well, according to the accepted notion, it is considered to be the case that there are 72,000 of them going all over the body, reaching to every part of the body just like capillaries; within this physical body, there are parts made by nadi where prana is working. It cannot be found by dissecting the physical body, but it is considered to be the reason why the heart beats and the blood flows. And the body of prana inside the physical body is called the prana body. Therefore, the physical body is gross, and it is a material, gross form, but it is said that the prana is an invisible, subtle body as well. The prana, just mentioned now, once taken inside the body, works mainly in five different types of activities: from the nose to the heart is the power that moves the respiratory function or operational action of breathing; from the heart to around the navel is the power for digestion; below the navel down is for excretory power; above the nose, as well as all throughout the body, there are five total. You can find that there are a total of five main functions within the physical body. Especially the function that relates to breathing, between the nose and the heart, is called by the same name, prana; and in fact, it means vayu, wind, so it is called prana vayu, wind of prana—well, that is its function. Wind is a very ancient literary expression. [The function] between the heart and around the navel is called samana, digestion, the vayu of fire, called samana vayu. That is how each of these respective vayu work. That is why even though they use the same name [of prana], it is required that you have an understanding according to the workings of prana or the specific aspects in which prana works.
Ms. Morioka: When it is a vayu, it indicates the workings of prana.
Ms. Morioka: This may be a different topic, but is there something that differentiates what defines a human being, an animal, or a plant…? Maybe this is unrelated…
MASTER: Well, there is something like that in evolutionary theory, there are many forms on this earth, from humans to animals, to plants, to minerals. The theory of the Five Sheaths goes: there is the physical body; prana sustains it from within it, and what sustains that prana from further within is the mental sheath, the thoughts of the mind; that mental sheath, too, [is in the same system] since thoughts are founded on the existence of intelligence or cognition, called the intellectual, or the cognitive sheath—knowledge and intelligence, or cognition, are hidden behind the thoughts initially; that knowledge, too, is founded on the principle of joy, in other words, knowledge and intelligence are founded upon bliss and joy as their base. These constitute the five sheaths. Humans can make full use of the five sheaths, but in the case of animals, their expression of the intellectual sheath or the cause thereof, the blissful sheath, is weak compared to that of a human; so, the difference is only in degree of expression, and it is considered that this is the line that divides humans from animals. In the same way, animals and plants, plants and minerals, can also be categorized in such a way. That is what it means.
Ms. Morioka: Reading into what you’ve just spoken about, what I sense somewhat is that the reason why in the diet of Yoga meat is not really eaten, or animals are not eaten, is perhaps because thoughts enter through them?
MASTER: If you take the understanding through the view of karma, that is so. There is a case that says that eating animals means absorbing the karma of the animal; that is the case of viewing it from the perspective of karma. Well, from a physiological perspective, if checking to see how it applies in modern science, when one eats animal products, the blood becomes clouded or impurities are taken in, and this can cause various diseases—that is the modern scientific viewpoint as well.
(After some pause) Isn’t it impactful reading Paramahamsa? (Asking Shaci) How many volumes has it been?
Shachi: Next is Volume 88.
MASTER: That’s a good amount that’s accumulated.
Kinkala: Every time I hear about the theory of the Five Sheaths, I wonder how useful that knowledge is, (laughter from all) because I am totally uninterested in the theory of the Five Sheaths. And actually no matter how many times I hear it, I feel like it is fine that I don’t understand it. Do I have to thoroughly understand this theory of the Five Sheaths?
MASTER: (immediately) No way, you must. In Buddhism, or in the teaching of Buddha, it is also taught as the Twelve Dependent Originations but with different words and content. In short, everyone, when referring to one’s own self, perceives that the self includes this body. In actuality, it is one’s own body, however, when one does not understand it yet, one believes the “self” refers entirely to the body. Now, what is this body sustained by? Of course, indeed it is a fact that it is sustained by food, but then what part of food? It’s the prana taken from the food, or the prana taken through breathing. In short, the physical body is alive because of prana. Yet, that prana does not have any faculty of intelligence [of its own], it’s utterly energy. Then what is prana working by? The psychological cause is found there. Applying the Twelve Dependent Originations, you can find that the reason why birth takes place, or in order to be born, the form or condition of being born as a person is prepared. Then, why does it come to be prepared? It’s not simply about a sperm meeting an egg, but if it is regarding the cause of birth as being self-directed, the meaning of it being prepared is because karma is qualified as being ready; therefore birth must take place. Being born means karma is gathered and prepared, birth takes place as its result; but also, because of the fact of birth, death comes as the result thereof. That is how reincarnation continues. Therefore, in a similar way, though the theory of the Five Sheaths does not enter into reincarnation, but in short, the result of inquiring about what exists there that sustains human existence from the outermost to the innermost [layer], has as its conclusion the thoughts. By thoughts being prepared, prana is activated, and it is the prana that sustains this physical body. As mentioned now, thoughts require intellect, or knowledge, such as name and form, before they can form; [in other words,] thoughts always turn into words, so words are something that can predict the knowledge that proceeds them. That is why thoughts are formed only if there are words and the faculty of intelligence. The object of cognition may be different between people, yet, even so, they can all be generalized as intellect, or knowledge. But then what is the reason as to why cognition is generated? It is generated by being kindled by the impetus of joy. Isn’t that right? Because, no one is seeking knowledge in order to gain suffering. Because there is joy, and in wanting that joy to be more concrete, that is what leads to the generation of cognition, and that cognition becomes thoughts, and these thoughts become energy or the power called prana, and that sustains this physical body. It is a very old science, but it makes sense in its own way.
Kinkala: So then, the theory of the Five Sheaths is the systematic expression as the result of discriminating on the cause and effect of the existence of this body.
MASTER: That’s right. So, just like how modern science also takes the approach of starting out from the gross, then going further into the causes within, finding cells, and various other things, the approach was the same. (To Kinkala) Are you interested now? (laughter from all)
Kinkala: Somehow, I had an image that, as discrimination in the way of jnana yoga is deepened in meditation, this understanding would naturally follow later on.
MASTER: No, no, it’s nothing like that. It’s irrelevant to jnana yoga, in that sense, it is more like general knowledge; it’s the general knowledge of the Science of Yoga, and its discrimination will be something like psychological content, like in the Yoga Sutra.
Kinkala: So rather as logic.
MASTER: Yes, that is fine.
Kinkala: I thought that as meditation deepens, one would be able to sense the prana sheath and such, so then, one would naturally be able to understand the truth of the self not being the body, in coming to understand the physical body and subtle things.
MASTER: No, no, this is nothing like that. Inevitably, the five senses can only recognize gross things, but if you go further within, this is how the structure is—that is what it teaches.
Ranjani: So then, in the way that Sananda-san was sharing in the beginning, how after he saw the photo of Belur Math, he sensed Swami Vivekananda’s reverence to his Guru, Shri Ramakrishna and his emotion was brimming over—would that be because there was something that touches the deepest part?
MASTER: It’s even beyond that; because in the theory of the Five Sheaths, the bliss is, just as mentioned in the book, Satori, prakriti, the lowercase ananda, whereas what Sananda received through sensing was from the uppercase Ananda, I think. That is because the object was related to Shri Ramakrishna, or Vivekananda—it was Belur Math, therefore, holy things.
Shachi: The innermost, the blissful sheath mentioned now, or if that bliss that seeks joy, and knowledge, are brought about, then I thought, that would indeed be desire; is that karma?
MASTER: Yes. Here, there is no ignorance or pain-bearing obstacles, because this is [the teaching that came forth] way before that. Still, that joy, however it is, is joy nonetheless. Although the object can be divided simply between either the quality of pain-bearing or non-pain-bearing, these are indubitably from the principle of joy, regardless. Well, it’s been said often that evil-doers get joy from doing evil, even though that’s an error. Yet, the principle of joy is in common.
Ms. Sawahiro (Satya): I still don’t get the relation between the small case ananda and ignorance. Does it mean that it is simply the principle of joy, which is irrelevant to whether ignorance is there or not?
MASTER: Right. Simply, it was an answer found from inquiring within about how the body is structured.
Ms. Sawahiro (Satya): So, it means that people with ignorance go towards their desire, and those without ignorance go towards non-desire.
MASTER: Right, since that, as a separate manifestation, can result in suffering, or can result in joy. In the later eras, tasks to concretize the content were embarked on. That was the discrimination of Buddha, and the discoveries of the Yogi.
Ms. Morioka: Does this mean that if one has a lot of ignorance, one does not feel happy towards even seeing sacred things?
MASTER: Yes, that can happen.
Ms. Morioka: So, for example, by weakening ignorance through the practice of Yoga, one can feel more joy towards sacred things?
MASTER: Yes, exactly.
Gargi (Mirabai): I’m a bit confused. Even knowledge seeks the blissful sheath, as Shaci-san mentioned earlier…?
MASTER: The principal cause of knowledge is what’s at its base. Then, in the next level, it becomes more concretized.
Gargi (Mirabai): In it, does prana not exist there?
MASTER: Do you mean, is prana working there? It is working there.
Gargi (Mirabai): Working? From going from the exterior, in order, there is the physical body, then prana, but then what about prana?
MASTER: What I meant by “working” is that in the concrete activities of human beings, it is working, concretely. However, when viewing it simply as the structure of the five layers, or as a logical, five-fold structure, it doesn’t matter whether there is prana or not. As a principle, there is joy, and the intellectual [body], the mental [body], and the prana body and the physical body, but these are just merely categorized as theory. When they are concretely expressed as human activity, it is undeniable that prana is working throughout the whole of it, do you understand? Well, you might indeed get confused. There are various aspects, in other words, depending on the perspective, you may feel many contradictions in understanding, indeed. The biggest contradiction can be that only Atman is the true Reality, and this world and everything is like a dream, an illusion—these are the words of Truth, very big [concepts]. From the mind’s perspective, conversely, Atman cannot be seen or understood, and rather this material world seems to be the only thing that has reality—that is the exact opposite, it is a contradiction. Yet these are just differences in perspectives, and from Atman’s point of view, there is surely only Atman as Existence. However, from the mind’s perspective, the mind insists that this material world is everything, that it is reality, and that is a true existence. These are completely different perspectives.
Yogadanda: The nervous system in Western medicine, and the nadi in Yoga, how are they related? Are they similar things?
MASTER: This has yet to have a definitive established theory. That is why there is a theory that nadi are the pathway of the nerves. From the way of thinking in Yoga, you can say that what activates even these nerves is prana. These scientific viewpoints might continue to be researched, but for practitioners of Yoga, that is not of importance, because through the continuous application of practice, if there are troubles, one conquers them, and simply, diligently, continues to proceed toward the big goal, Satori, and that goes without saying.
* * *
Concerns Over Work Brought About a Connection to Yoga
by Ren Shimamoto
July 20th, 2022, Kyoto (from Paramahamsa, Kyoto)
The Struggles with My Work
I am currently doing research into RNA and iPS cells while teaching students as a faculty member at a graduate school. My father, a botanical researcher, inspired me to pursue a career in research science. One model for aspiring biological researchers is to obtain a master’s or doctoral degree in graduate school, then form your own group after going through a period of training called a postdoctoral fellowship. I did my post-doc research from 2015 to 2018 at a university lab in Basel, Switzerland. The following incident happened during that time.
I was living a fulfilling life in Switzerland, surrounded by beautiful nature and warm people. I was getting good results in my research, and it seemed like smooth sailing. However, after my third year in Switzerland, my professor suddenly asked me to complete my research within a year and leave the country. I was very shocked because I wanted to conduct my research to the point where I was satisfied with it, publish my thesis, then return to my home country. I felt that I had no choice but to work hard so that I could submit my paper as soon as possible. Thanks to my efforts, I finished my thesis in one year and was about to submit it for publication. During that time, I also looked for a job and serendipitously found a position at my current graduate school. I returned to Japan with a plan to submit the paper after the professor conducted the final review of the paper.
However, after returning to Japan, the professor was very slow in responding to my request, and my paper’s final review did not proceed. I contacted him several times to urge him to proceed, but he only replied, “I am very busy with other papers, and I will do it as soon as time allows”—yet nothing progressed. I was left waiting, and the time just kept passing.
It is the nature of researchers to want to publish their research results, and it is difficult to have that desire obstructed. In addition, if you don’t publish papers, your reputation as a researcher will suffer; and furthermore, it will become difficult to obtain research funding, making it impossible to continue your research. Under these circumstances, negative feelings such as anger toward the professor and frustration with my own inadequacy continued to build up. I found myself stuck in a position where I could not move. I consulted with various people but could not find a fundamental solution. I had relied on “positive thinking” from self-help books and jogging to relieve stress, but they were no longer effective.
Around that time, a friend I was connected to through dance, got a certificate as a yoga instructor and started a class combining yoga and dance. When I attended his class, I learned halasana (plow pose) for the first time. It was tough to breathe and very painful, but after the pose was over, I felt a sense of calm and clarity that I had never felt before. It was temporary, yet I felt like I was completely liberated from stress.
Right around the same time, I organized a dance party with some dance-related friends for the first time in a while. One legendary dancer1 came to the party. That legendary dancer was Yogadanda-san of the Mahayogi Mission! From there, my communication with Yogadanda-san began. He told me that he has been living in Kyoto for a long time and is practicing disciplines [to master] Yoga. After that, we all had the opportunity to meet Yogadanda-san several times, and he shared with us how he started Yoga and the story of his master [Guru] in Yoga. Through the introduction of Yogadanda-san, I attended a Satsangha.
The guru I met at the Satsangha answered each question sincerely with care and in a cordial and respectful manner. I could sense from his facial expression that there was no falsehood in his words. His kindness moved me very much, and I was in awe to find out that there is such a kind person in the world—my bruised heart was healed. He was affectionately called “Yogi-san” by everyone. Later, I attended Satsangha again and had the opportunity to ask him questions about my troubles at work. His answer was, “The world of research is tough. However, the most important thing in life is to know your true Self. You should never forget that.” Until that point, I had been bound by the idea that I had to succeed in my research, but the words of Shri Mahayogi saved me tremendously. Also, I attended Asana classes and Meditation classes and learned about the nature of the mind in these classes—that was very helpful as well. I became able to observe my mind more objectively, and I came to realize that the cause of the problem was not only in the professor but also within me. My stress was reduced significantly through these experiences.
Practicing Yoga at the Cave in New York
As I studied Yoga through classes and scriptures, I became more and more drawn to the world of Yoga. In February 2020, I had the opportunity to live with Shri Mahayogi at the Cave in New York City and study Yoga there. At the Cave, he taught me the basics of Yoga carefully. Shri Mahayogi was a living textbook of Yoga himself, whose actions, words, and thoughts were always in perfect harmony. In addition, he was artistically talented, friendly, and very charming. It was unquestionable that his teachings of Yoga were authentic. This valuable experience made me determined to continue on the path of Yoga.
My encounter with Yoga liberated me from the idea that I had to succeed as a researcher. It resulted in me not worrying so much about my papers, and thus my stress was reduced. This was all very good, however, the loss of my goals made me less motivated to work. Seeing that I was no longer working late every day as I used to, my family began to worry that I was using my Yoga practice as an excuse to run away from my research. I was baffled about being viewed by my family in such a way, whereas I thought that I was doing my best in my Yoga practice. I tried to explain Yoga to my family, but it didn’t go well; they neither understood nor could I explain to them what it is. Eventually, I spent less and less time with my family and more and more time alone in my room. But then the book, Karma Yoga by Swami Vivekananda, saved me from this situation. This book described the way of working as a Yoga practitioner; and what affected me was the teaching about how people like me, who have families and work in society, can learn selflessness through work and come to know God through that.
Swami Vivekananda said this:
“The householder should be devoted to God; the knowledge of God should be his goal of life. Yet he must work constantly, perform all his duties; he must give up the fruits of his actions to God.”
“The householder must struggle hard to acquire these things—firstly, knowledge, and secondly, wealth. It is his duty, and if he does not do his duty, he is nobody.”
When I heard these words, they hit me hard, as if I was scolded by Swami Vivekananda, because I had not fulfilled my household duties thoroughly. But at the same time, the path I must follow was clearly shown to me, and I felt better. It didn’t take me long to modify my thinking.
“If I discover something through my research, it may eventually be useful to others; I will work hard to achieve that. Even if we don’t get the results we want, that happens often in the research world. Instead of dwelling on it, I should learn from the results and go for the next opportunity. I should never forget to be grateful for the opportunity to contribute to society as a researcher. Let me focus on the work we have here and now.”
This is how I think and work nowadays. It has been a while since I started thinking this way; and I think my research is progressing well, perhaps because I no longer have unnecessary attachments. And also, I am now able to dedicate myself more proactively than before to the education of students, which I had been avoiding for a while because it seemed to take up too much of my time. I now consider being able to help students learn, as one of the joys of my job.
For me, the experience of being troubled at work was quite a painful one. However, through this experience, I was able to discover Yoga, and I learned that true work is to work for the sake of people while restraining the attachment toward oneself, and that the most important work is to know the true Self, which is what Shri Mahayogi has taught me.
From now on, using what I have learned from this experience, I would like to work hard at practicing Yoga, not only in asana and meditation, but also at work. And if, someday, someone is struggling at work like I was before, I would like to be of help to them.
 Yogadanda-san is a pioneer of Japanese house dancers. He lived in New York in the 1990’s and contributed to the creation of a foundation of house dance alongside the originators of house dance. House dance is a form of street dance that is widely performed around the world.
June 20th, 2022, Kyoto (from the Mahayogi Mission Blog, Kyoto)
In May, the sessions of “Specialized Meditation Course—Actual Practice of Meditation: Learning from Shri Mahayogi’s Teachings and the Way He Lives” began. As the days and months passed by while not being able to see our Master, it became a precious opportunity to be in touch with the Master’s teachings, together with the gurubai.
The theme the other day was “The Existence of the Truth and the Meditation of Discrimination.” During that course, Yogadanda-san spoke about his own experience of the meditation of discrimination.
Yogadanda-san told us that there was a time when he was in a condition where, due to a particular event, the face of a person he was not fond of kept on showing up regardless of what he was doing, as if it got stuck to his chest, and it didn’t go away even when he desperately practiced asana, and even in meditation, that person’s face kept emerging [from within his heart]. Even then, he persevered in concentrating on the object of meditation, and suddenly, an intuition came, in which that person he was not fond of or would like to avoid, and he himself, were understood to be permeating one into the other as essentially the same existence; then, light began to shine from the object of meditation, and the face of the person he disliked faded away. After that, the awareness of not being fond of that person or of liking to avoid that person was gone, and conflict also no longer arose with this person. He also mentioned that it was because he had a very strong desire to be without agitation continuously during daily life, as much as possible, and to immerse himself in meditation as much as possible, that it came to be such that he started to be thinking about this person—and it was because he had a strong desire towards the Truth, that he was able to find what the obstacle within this issue was, which then led into what he battled against from the bottom of his heart.
Actually, I’ve heard about this story from him several times before, and because the story not only inspires me, but with him telling it in such a lighthearted, witty way, it has always been fun to listen to, and I felt admiration and hoped to eventually stop being bothered by people I would like to avoid or that I am not fond of. However, this time, I had a different feeling. I had worked on practicing discrimination and gotten some results in my own way, but after hearing Yogadanda-san’s story anew, I recognized that my practice was done only at the superficial level of the mind. In order to dive deep into the bottom of the mind, the only way is for me to apply it continuously in action again and again without giving up, not “someday” but right in this moment, now.
In fact, the more I practice, the more I feel the difficulty of it, and at times I feel discouraged, but seeing the application of practice from my senior disciple’s attitude firmly turned on the switch of motivation for me. I will continue to seek only the Truth, more and more assiduously.
Yogadanda-san said in the class, referring to the words of Shri Mahayogi:
“The mind can be likened to the surface of a lake;
the Truth can be likened to the moon.
When the waves of the lake become still,
then the moon will be reflected clearly and shine just the same.
When the mind stills, only the Truth will shine forth.”
By Mika Noguchi
July 28th, 2022, Kyoto (from the Mahayogi Mission Blog, Kyoto)
It was in June, and it happened around noon, when an acquaintance and I went into the middle of Kyoto City. We had been avoiding eating out due to covid, so we sat side by side by the river bank of the Kamogawa, munching bread… Suddenly, we heard, “Swooosh!!!”—the pressure of wind and shock, as if a baseball or something had been thrown between us and hit something. “What?!” Not knowing what had happened, we were stunned. Wait a moment…nothing is hurt at all, and we are okay. What?… The bread that was in my acquaintance’s hand had suddenly disappeared. Magic…it was not. No, it was a hawk. In one-tenth of a second, it swooped down from high above and stole the bread, and at the same time, soared right back up at seemingly full-speed. Because it all happened in an instant, to us humans, it looked like the bread alone disappeared like magic—indeed it was a fascinating feat.
Incidentally, when I began eating the bread, I was already fixing my eyes on the hawks’ leisurely movement of flying like kites in the big blue sky, and I kept looking up, so much so that my neck hurt. Even so [that was what happened]. I wondered, while the hawk kept circling really high up in the sky, if in fact while he was gradually and steadily narrowing down his target, he was increasing to maximize the state of his concentration, and when it hit the peak, he acted in a make or break moment, “Now [get it]!!” Such skillful single-pointed focus and accuracy was so captivating. Not only that, he didn’t even attack from the side, but came from right behind us, exactly in between us. We were neither absent-minded nor staying still at all. Even then, he only hit the bread without even scratching a human body, not even by a millimeter—that was too cool. We kept gawking up at the hawk, way up in the sky, and we could not forget the wind we felt from its mass of concentration.
Time passed after this shocking incident (LOL), and the theme of “Specialized Meditation Course” in this month was, “The way Buddha lived.” Yogadanda-san, who was the lecturer, spoke about Buddha, and first, for about 10 minutes or so, we meditated based on our own respective individual image of Buddha. Afterwards, Yogadanda-san posed a simple question: “Why was Buddha, who was so calm and soft, able to do the great work of leading so many people?” He also mentioned that as we think about Awakened or Holy Beings, if a sense of recognition arises, feeling “why was he or she this way [when this was done or when that was said or when he or she lived this way]?”, for example, then that very moment can become an opportunity, it can become exactly the point to meditate on, such that as you dig deeper and concentrate on it, there may be something that can get closer to Buddha’s frame of mind. Hearing it, I realized that the questions like “Why?” and “How come?” can lead to big insights—what he said left an impression on me.
After that too, from the talk of Yogadanda-san about when the Master meditated on Buddha and became one with him, about the anecdotes of Buddha, and the various stories, which were full of presence, many impressions of Buddha were imprinted in our hearts.
When we did the second meditation, for around 30 minutes, he said that this time he would like us to meditate on whatever aspect of the image of Buddha that we individually hold, to approach openly and straightforwardly without any prejudice or filter of the mind and get close to the frame of mind of Buddha and his essence. He also gave us a hint by saying, “For example, think about what Buddha felt in this particular moment.”
Prior to this class, we were told to have read the chapter “Truth” from The Universal Gospel of Yoga beforehand. A line of the Master’s words caught the attention of my mind. That was: “One of the characteristics of his teachings is that, ‘all creatures, from tiny insects to human beings, are sacred and have Buddha-nature within them—everything is equal by nature.’” Because I felt that it would be utterly amazing if only I could really see insects and humans as equal, and see the same sacredness within…and if only I could perfectly realize the teaching, “All and everything is equal”—it really hit home for me. Because that is a state that I aspire to.
So, for the second meditation, following the advice of Yogadanda-san, I thought to meditate on this teaching of Buddha without any reservation. Then, a particular form of Buddha appeared in my mind.
In front of Buddha, there is a dove. Behind the dove, there is a hawk targeting it. At the exact moment when the hawk chases the dove at a blistering speed to attack it, Buddha cuts off a piece of flesh from his own thigh and gives it to the hawk, in order to save the dove. (Note: Later when I checked this story, I had thought that it was a story about Buddha, but it was about King Shibi, who was a prior incarnation of Buddha.) Because of that shocking incident from last month, the amazing hunting ability of that hawk, its instantaneous force, concentration, with the wind, was revived in me at once, and I thought—“There is no way to escape once being targeted by a hawk! How reckless of Buddha to try to save a dove from such a hawk.” Why was he able to perform such a reckless act? How was he able to perform such a painful act, cutting his own flesh? I can’t, I absolutely cannot do such a thing, I want to do it but I can’t—the more I thought about it, the more I could not escape from this thought, this inquiry, “How was Buddha able to do that?”
Maybe this cannot be considered to be meditation, but as I sat still and kept observing that scene, I began to feel the sense that Buddha saw the dove and the hawk completely equally, and I thought, actually Buddha did not just try to save the dove, he was only thinking about saving all, and that that was precisely an instantaneous decision to feed a hawk, who was starving. He was focused fully only on how to save all the sacred lives in front of his eyes, that is why no thought whatsoever of the pain or fear of cutting off flesh from his thigh ever came to his mind, there was a single-pointed concentration only on the aim, thereby there wasn’t even a thought of sacrifice, and that is why he was able to perform such an act—I felt that I sensed the fierce concentration within Buddha. I felt that he was just like Shri Mahayogi, my Master.
I thought I was thinking about Buddha, but his form then transformed to that of the Master, then I was overwhelmed by the Master, by Buddha, by the hawk—their uninterrupted concentration. I was filled with the thought that Buddha saved the dove and hawk by cutting off the flesh of his thigh, but the Master, though it is invisible yet as exactly the same way as Buddha, is cutting down his own body for the sake of the salvation of all living beings, and how much we are quickened by the uninterrupted concentration of our Master. One’s intention, one’s purpose of life—only with the uninterrupted concentration towards that object will the impossible become possible. I thought that faith, too, is the state of uninterrupted concentration towards the object. As soon as that concentration is interrupted, we get deluded by fear, anxiety and unnecessary things.
“In order to hit the target, you must see only the target”—the Master once said. What will I concentrate on? What will drive me? For what purpose and aim will I act?
I felt that I want to live by single-pointedly concentrating on the Truth, just like that hawk. This was what Buddha and the hawk taught me.