Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Satsangha, Kyoto, 2011
• Spiritual Practice for Mastery Means to Master and Eliminate Sanskara
• Always Direct the Mind Towards the Ideal
• Shri Mahayogi’s Diet Based on the Practice of Contentment,
or Knowing the Meaning of Enough
• Coping with the Mind of Tamas and Discrimination in Daily Life
• The Tendencies of Pain-Bearing Obstacles and the Tendencies of the Truth
• The Awakening of the Aspiration and Determination [to Attain Satori
and Thus Apply Practice and Discipline for that End]
• Discrimination Practiced by Shri Mahayogi During Teenage Years
and the Ascetic Practices of Buddha
• The Role of Pranayama in the Realization of Yoga
• Kriya Yoga and the Inquiry Towards the Self
• The Deepening of the Breath in Asana, and Single-Pointed Concentration
• Images and Symbols are a Power that Go Deeper than Words
• Discrimination Means to Know the Essence of Things
• The Great Compassion of Sangha and Buddha
• The Meditation of Discrimination Performed by Shri Mahayogi
Testimonies from Actual Practitioners
• Through Yoga, One Can be Liberated from Difficult Memories
August 26th, 2022, Kyoto
(from the Mahayogi Mission Blog, Kyoto)
* * * * * * * * * *
Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Translation of Satsangha
Spiritual Practice for Mastery Means to Master and Eliminate Sanskara
Saturday, February 5, 2011, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Ms. Sawahiro (Satya): I’ve heard that the word practice [used in the context of spiritual practice or of Yoga] means to master sanskara, and that the second kanji character for this word, which is, “to go,” expresses the concept of sanskara very well. Please teach me why this is so.
MASTER: I think that the translation of sanskara is…in China the character, “going; act” is applied for [the word] sanskara, and that must have been conveyed to Japan through Buddhism. Of course, sanskara is the same in Yoga, so it is translated using that kanji character, “go,” [in Yoga] as well; it is a liberal translation, a translation of its meaning [rather than a literal translation]. Sanskara is a cause that creates a sort of tendency or result that is within the memories created in the mind; it is, so to speak, like the condition of a seed, remaining as a memory as if buried in a field, namely, the mind; one day when the time is ripe, the seed sprouts and blossoms. In other words, a result comes, indicating that if sanskara is there, a result is already there, too, and this will eventually bring about a concrete form within an experience, and that is karma. I suspect that is the reason why a kanji character, which automatically includes such a progression, that is, “going; act,” is used.
Then, in order to purify the mind and reach Satori, practice, or discipline [for mastering action,] is required, which means to acquire mastery over “going,” to eradicate “going.” It follows then that practice means “to bring to an end or eradicate sanskara.”
Nowadays, in current times, too, often as a part of the means of practice, people practice asana and pranayama, and in other religions, too, there are various forms of this; however, the means are not the original goal; the means are still only the means but not the end. Since these are various means that are applied in order to achieve the aim of eliminating sanskara, you must not confuse the means with the aim. That is to say, it is always for achieving the aim that these various means exist.
Sananda: As sanskara come to be packed full, they become vasana, and turn into one’s habitual way of thinking, or one’s habits, but are we to understand that in the actual process of disciplining oneself, we go through it by starting from approaching the gross parts of the mind, then gradually, that affects the sanskara within the subconscious, and sanskara come to disappear?
MASTER: Yes. And, when can you see them? It is difficult to see these things when you are alone. Through interactions with others, or in society, through various events, the mind reacts. That is where the tendencies manifest. For example, likes and dislikes, anger, and various reactions—these are the signs.
Sananda: When the mind becomes lighter and reacts less in various places, in various situations, is that one proof of it?
MASTER: Right. Therefore, practicing asana and meditation by yourself is important, of course, however, in actuality, you could say that within the various interactions in this world, as mentioned now, that is where the actual practice takes place. [The interactions within this world] are always a trial, and at the same time, they are exactly the place where practice and discipline can be found.
Sananda: The relationships within my family have been a place for my practice too, but my sons are going out into the world and will be on their own, so I will lose the place for practice.
MASTER: Perhaps, the place for practice, family, will now shift to another setting. (looking around at everyone) Now you have a bigger family elsewhere. (laughs)
Sananda: I see, that is what it means.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): Does that mean that if sanskara is fading away, the thoughts stop arising?
MASTER: You will not react to things every time.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): So, it means that with there being no reaction, thoughts don’t arise.
MASTER: Yes. Yet, it’s not about becoming inactive or inorganic, but when the mind is buried in only such things as the great ideal, thoughts towards it are still there, therefore, actions are brought about again, but coming from there.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): To go beyond sattva means that even positive thoughts stop arising?
MASTER: Right, that is what it means to go beyond sattva.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): Does this indicate that one is looking only at Atman?
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): It is something that cannot be done unless I, myself, become truly pure, and become void of defilements, isn’t that right?
MASTER: Yes (laughs), that’s right. However, since that defilement itself is caused by ignorance, you can finish it off as something that entered as an error, so it can be said that originally, there are no defilements to begin with.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): I see, that is why it’s important to not even verbalize such negative words as “being defiled.”
Yogadanda: Earlier, there was a discussion about sanskara and vasana. There is ignorance fundamentally, but then which comes first, vasana or sanskara? Does vasana come right after ignorance?
MASTER: Vasana is a kind of sanskara, therefore, you can understand everything as sanskara, as a whole.
Always Direct the Mind Towards the Ideal
Saturday January 21, 2012, 7 p.m. Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Ms. Sawahiro (Satya): I think that it is important to discriminate during one’s daily life and act based on that, yet it’s not good to become too sensitive, obsessing about the smallest, most minor details; rather, as Shri Mahayogi mentioned earlier, it’s important to keep looking at the ideal. Please teach me the degree to which I should do this.
MASTER: Of course, both are important, but when it comes to what should be done all the time, you should direct your mind towards the ideal, and when negative things arise on various occasions, you should apply yourself to discriminating [your own thoughts]; however, there is no need to obsess or be nervous about discrimination.
Ms. Sawahiro (Satya): What do you mean by “negative things,” is that, for example, feeling or thinking of failing at something?
MASTER: Yes, when emotional thoughts arise, discriminate right then and there.
Ms. Sawahiro (Satya): So, it’s fine to apply discrimination after there is some kind of a result?
MASTER: That’s fine. Because if you go through it, then you can prevent yourself from making the same mistakes again.
Ms. Sawahiro (Satya): I understand.
Shri Mahayogi’s Diet Based on the Practice of Contentment,
or Knowing the Meaning of Enough
Madhri: With the team for Samarasa [the way of cooking in Yoga], we are planning to publish a book that compiles recipes, and we would like to introduce the spirit of Yoga through it; we also feel that we would like to introduce Shri Mahayogi’s way of living, as an example of the way yogi live. Shantimayi-san, [Shri Mahayogi’s sister,] mentioned that when Shri Mahayogi was a teenager, during the time he was meditating on Buddha, Shri Mahayogi’s diet changed drastically, which left an impression on her. So, I’d like to ask, what was Shri Mahayogi’s frame of mind like and how did the content of his diet relate to it?
MASTER: For sustaining life, food is indispensable. Setting aside whether it is a lot or a little, it is necessary, and one inevitably has to work in order to obtain it—that is, one must have a job, or one must receive offerings from others, or even like a beggar; whatever form it takes, one must eat. When I thought about this, living in order to eat was not in my mind at all; yet, even so, in order to live I had to eat. In other words, since I had no interest whatsoever in mundane, general jobs, regarding my frame of mind, the ancient way of living alone in a mountain forest is what felt most natural to me. Yet, when it comes to whether that is possible to do here in Japan, it is nearly impossible; anyway, right there I realized what knowing the meaning of “enough” is with regard to the meals that I had been eating up until then without thinking so much, and that it is to live by eating simply, the bare minimum of food needed to sustain life; and so, right then and there I switched to a simple diet of the minimum amount possible for the meals that I had been eating without much restriction until that point. I think that it was right there that I decided to be thorough in practicing that way of thinking: contentment, or knowing the meaning of “enough.”
Madhri: Did the amount of food change drastically?
MASTER: Yes, drastically. I was not an overeater to begin with, though I may have eaten more than average, yet I shifted completely. It was the answer that resulted from thinking and meditating to the point of that which is fundamental, the ultimate.
Madhri: The ultimate?
MASTER: It means the ultimate Satori, that unless it is for Satori, it is meaningless, and that it was for that end only that I must have decided to be thorough in practicing contentment, namely, to sustain life by taking a very small amount for meals.
Madhri: Two weeks ago, Shri Mahayogi mentioned that although in the old days it was said to be, “one soup, one dish [per meal, with a bowl of rice],” nowadays, there may be an appropriate way of adapting to the present time. Right now, we’re being taught cooking in the Kitchen of Samarasa program and I acknowledge that we’ve been living fortunately with a rich and varied diet; yet I think that even so, that is because Shri Mahayogi went through his experiences [for our sake].
MASTER: Well, at the time, I narrowed down [the diet] to an extreme minimum, and the Kitchen of Samarasa program [that the Mission is offering] right now has that as a foundation with adjustments for the current times, so that anyone can follow it without difficulty. For compiling the book of Samarasa, [the foundation is] the basic philosophy of Buddhist vegetarian cooking—which means it is cooking for the sake of devoting oneself to the practice [in order to attain Satori]—and it is a good thing to introduce that concept.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): Shri Mahayogi eats only for the purpose of sustaining life truly, and he has a very strong physical body, but how much was he eating then?
MASTER: (laughing) Up until that point, the meals were centered on rice, and I was eating two or three bowls. But then I changed that to a lightly filled single bowl. The side dish would be a single dried whole sardine, or would be just pickles, and I did not use seasonings, not even soy sauce or salt.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): Did you eat miso soup?
MASTER: Occasionally, I think?
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): Was it just one meal per day?
MASTER: No, I think two meals. At times, it was only one meal.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): Perhaps, with three dried sardines?
MASTER: Just one. Three would be a feast (laughing) since it has a head. [Note: In the Japanese tradition, the “whole fish” (especially sea bream) are considered to be auspicious for the symbol of completeness, and whole sea breams are used when performing Shinto rights or for matters of congratulations.]
Shachi: I’ve heard from someone that there were times Shri Mahayogi sustained himself on grass, is that true?
MASTER: Just once, I experienced that.
Madhri: In Kyoto?
Haridas: The black pepper rice [that Shri Mahayogi said was tasty] was delicious.
MASTER: Wasn’t that delicious? It’s really the best. (with depth of feeling) It’s wonderful, there is no need for anything else but pepper.
Ms. Fukoue (Anandi): Just putting black pepper on top of rice?
MASTER: That may work but it would be more delicious if stir-fried a little bit. (Looking at Mr. Iio (Gopala)) We did that in New York, didn’t we?
Gargi (Mirabai): Some time ago when Shri Mahayogi mentioned that he used to eat only one dried whole sardine with a bowl of rice, I felt that I would still feel the sense of being so hungry after that, but did Shri Mahayogi not feel that?
MASTER: Don’t you know the sense of hunger lasts only for a single moment? (everyone groans in amazement) If you count to 10 from there, the sense of hunger will disappear already. It happens only for a moment, hunger, that is (laughing).
Haridas: I can’t possibly say things like that (crosses his arms).
MASTER: (lightly) Such are the things called vasana, habit-forming.
Haridas: “If I don’t eat, I’ll die,” or, “my body will get sick,”—after all, such ideas are instilled in me…
MASTER: Maybe so. That is what makes maya, maya.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): Does that mean that if one is completely concentrated on God to the point where the sense of hunger can’t even enter, then one doesn’t feel it?
MASTER: During the period that I switched over to smaller portions, I didn’t feel any sense of hunger, as such.
Shachi: In any case, we get hungry because our minds move (Shri Mahayogi laughs), am I right? But in that sense, Shri Mahayogi doesn’t have a reason to get hungry.
Ms. Nii (Lalita): Did Shri Mahayogi not even drink coffee at that time?
MASTER: I was going to mention that now (laughs loudly). (Mischievously) I did drink coffee (laughs loudly). I might have survived on coffee.
Haridas: (jokingly) Coffee filled up Shri Mahayogi’s stomach, perhaps.
MASTER: Maybe, since I drank coffee even more than now.
Haridas: You reduced the meal portions, then filled that gap with coffee. (laughter from all)
MASTER: Maybe so (laughing).
Kenji Takahashi: Did Shri Mahayogi like coffee since around high school?
MASTER: I’ve had coffee since around junior high school, every day.
Shocho Takahashi: That means that if we thoroughly practice asana, meditation—sadhana—then we can even live with just one meal per day, a single bowl of rice with one dried whole sardine and pickles.
MASTER: You can. You can live that way, but you don’t need to have a diet like that. You might need a little more vegetables, and it’s better to include tofu and seaweed. That is why I think Samarasa will become useful for you.
Kinkala: What was the reason that Shri Mahayogi used almost no soy sauce or salt?
MASTER: The reason? When I switched over my diet, the taste of soy sauce became unpleasant, it became bothersome. I stopped wanting these things because soy sauce and salt are strong tastes, I immediately sensed that acutely and intensely; it was easier to eat without them.
Sarani: I saw something on TV a while back so I’m not certain of this information, but while they were introducing a line from a book called Food Life-Nourishing, tofu dishes were introduced, and in it, a concept was introduced that food is not just for living in this life, but for [nourishing] the soul, and that we must bear that in our mind. What does Shri Mahayogi think about that with regard to the principle of diet, how much is diet related to the soul or the spirit?
MASTER: If I remember correctly, it was based on a book called The Book of Life-Nourishing Principles1 written by Ekken Kaibara. I was listening to it and agreeing with all the valid arguments. Indeed, meals are understood often as a moving force, for maintaining activities by turning food into energy, yet, actually, the physical body moves by the thoughts of the mind, and whether they be good thoughts or bad ones, the body acts following the whims of the mind. However, originally, the physical body must be used for the purpose of realizing the essence, the Soul that exists deeper beyond the physical body and the mind, that is, Satori, and that is the purpose for which one eats meals; paradoxically, this indicates that the people in the old days understood it correctly. Therefore, at a glance, meals are perceived as something physical, though if you get to the core of it, just as there are the [five] layers of the sheaths, it boils down to the principle that meals exist for the sake of the main body, the soul.
Gargi (Mirabai): In The Universal Gospel of Yoga, there is a quote from Christ where Shri Mahayogi says, “Man does not live on bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” I thought that Shri Mahayogi must have sensed something about that when you reduced the food as much as possible.
MASTER: Well, I may have known these words by then. In addition, there is the form of Buddha when he was fasting during the time of his asceticism, like in the famous statue of Buddha in Gandhara where he is emaciated, and the anecdote about Mahavira of Jainism, who hesitated to take the lives of even plants for food, such that by him practicing fasting…in other words, he concluded that the physical body is itself existing in this world, and this fact alone was the opposite of ahimsa, non-violence, that it was already doing nothing but killing something…then he fasted and ended his own life. I was meditating on these things often at that time.
MASTER: (whispering) But I was still drinking coffee (laughing).
Ms. Nii (Lalita): Shri Mahayogi has mentioned that coffee is medicine—I now understand. (smiles)
MASTER: Because, since food is medicine, so is coffee (laughing).
Madhri: At that time, didn’t you feel like you had to eat more vegetables, or anything else, such as meat?
MASTER: No, I didn’t. I didn’t eat meat to begin with, since I grew up with a traditional Kyoto-style diet of rice with simple homemade small seasonal dishes; it was different from the era when you all grew up, so there were not many [dishes or ingredients] around like you have now. The issue was more about the amount.
Madhri: So that means that after Shri Mahayogi reduced the amount, you didn’t have any situation where you had to readjust and eat more again?
MASTER: Not at all. However, when people started coming to the Ashrama often, there were opportunities to eat together, so for me, through that the amount increased. [Going back to the period before that], though I was eating less like that, it felt like a very natural thing for me. As long as I had coffee.
Madhri: Thank you very much.
MASTER: More than anything, I’ve been able to live this long without any disease or injuries or any trouble. That might prove that perhaps, general knowledge [about diet] doesn’t really matter in truth.
Haridas: In society, there is so much information that is rife with detail about what vitamins and calories are necessary, and it seems that it’s turning into an obsession.
MASTER: Yet, in other cases, they say the secret to longevity is to do whatever you like. (laughs) Which is it? (laughs loudly) After all, the stress in the mind shortens the lifespan.
 Written in 1773.
Coping with the Mind of Tamas and Discrimination in Daily Life
Saturday, February 12, 2011, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Shachi: When asked about lazing around in daily life, even if one knows it’s not good to do, Shri Mahayogi taught us that one must put anything that comes to mind into immediate action. I was wondering if that means the importance is about changing the lazing around, which is the quality of tamas, into rajas, or if the importance is about immediately putting a thought into action as soon as that thought comes to mind. How should I understand this…?
MASTER: Since thoughts are considered to be the causes of actions, when a thought, which is a cause, arises, by immediately providing a result, you train yourself to not leave any sanskara that will turn into a further cause. Of course, discrimination needs to be performed always, and, at the same time, trifling everyday thoughts and actions are not something that affect karma that much. Yet, you can say that due to not acting upon them, even though thoughts keep arising, in other words, because the sluggish habits of not providing the results themselves become sanskara as a tendency, [immediately putting a thought into action and creating a result as soon as that thought comes to mind] is training for you to not leave behind any such sanskara. It is a small detail, yet very important. If you can establish good habits, then thoughts will also not arise like they did before.
Shachi: Because we accumulate these thoughts, they keep arising…
MASTER: Yes. And I think that the stress we hear so much about nowadays is this pent-up tendency from thoughts, which then becomes big, like a disease, and further develops into things such as depression. It seems that truly, psychological stress is the cause of all sorts of diseases.
Shachi: The other day, Ranjani and I were talking about how psychological issues at work often arise from relationships with others. Considering that, it’s extraordinary that Sananda-san did not complain at all during the twenty-four years that he worked at a company.
Sananda: Maybe I wasn’t all that interested in the job itself…perhaps it may be that way coincidentally, because of the job that I was given. But actually, the last year I did complain, and through that I came to understand very well the feeling of why people want to complain; that even though one does not want to complain, it is difficult to stop it, either because it has become a habit, or because it releases stress. I also understood that in order to refrain from complaining and to shift it rather to tapas requires a strong will.
Sarani: If the thought of complaint arises in the mind, it is the same as saying it, isn’t that right?
MASTER: That’s right.
Sarani: I think that when dissatisfaction, discontent and complaints arise, they snowball. In those moments, is it better to compel myself to recite Om to cut these off, or is it better to discriminate them thoroughly right then and there?
MASTER: (immediately) You must discriminate. And, by applying the words of Truth, you must truly discriminate thoroughly. Various issues may arise in the mind; however, with everything, by bringing the Truth, namely by applying the discrimination [between the thoughts in the mind and the Truth], the ignorance and the pain-bearing obstacles arising from ignorance should disappear. And, you have to do it until they disappear. (after a while) Indeed, it is certain that this world is established through the mutual support of relationships with others, associations through work and other matters, yet ultimately, since you yourself are the one who has to live your life through them, the way you are amidst it all boils down to your mind. By prioritizing the application of discrimination, you’ll be able to manage the relations and associations with others without problems.
Shachi: So that means that for anything that arises from ignorance, we should completely and thoroughly discriminate it, and for anything that is a trivial daily thing that does not affect karma, we should just put these thoughts into action immediately…
MASTER: Yes, exactly. If discrimination is done thoroughly, then obviously one can predict whether an action will produce karma or not, then one can naturally put the brakes on [that action], and those actions may be cancelled. If so, that will be fine as is.
Ms. Hitomi Mori: With regard to equanimity, of the four immeasurables, [or the Buddhist teachings of benevolence, compassion, empathetic joy and equanimity,] it is the teaching of staying disinterested in people who have bad influences, I suppose. Is it a preparatory stage to keep the mind calm and peaceful, or does the disinterest arise after one properly discriminates those issues?
MASTER: Either one is fine. It is good to practice that way as a result of discrimination, and, even if discrimination is not done, practicing to follow the teaching of the four immeasurables is also the same.
Ms. Morioka: There are people who don’t care [about others or anything else] to begin with. What is the difference between such people and people who become that way after practicing Yoga?
MASTER: Since certainly people’s nature and personality are all different according to the individual, indeed there are people who already have good qualities.
Ms. Morioka: Not necessarily having good qualities, but there are some people who should care more.
MASTER: Well, there are people who have good traits that are inborn, or due to genetics. Yet, in the case of Yoga, by learning the Truth and applying discrimination [between one’s thoughts and the Truth], one proactively aims for perfection as a human being; therefore, learning Yoga is a more assured, steady way.
Ms. Morioka: The reason I ask is because I’m starting to be unsure who I want to become…
Shachi: It’s natural to think that, but if you can proceed without being concerned about it, then that’s a better way.
MASTER: If a particular issue does not bother you, then that is fine. Yet, it is still not [the state of] perfection, so in Yoga, going further by learning what that perfection is, then the ideal becomes more concrete and solid. Then, you can become more steadfastly independent.
The Tendencies of Pain-Bearing Obstacles and the Tendencies of the Truth
Mr. Shocho Takahashi: Let’s say, for example, a desire for meat arises; logically, one can understand intellectually that since it will create new karma, one should not eat meat, yet at times, one can lose to that desire to eat. At that time, is the cause for the power of discrimination that is really forced into play coming from the state where you have made up your own mind [to attain Satori, and thereby apply practice and discipline to that end], or does it come from everyday practice of the disciplines for that end?
MASTER: From both.
Mr. Shocho Takahashi: So, even while one is in that step of starting on the path to aim for Satori, will the power be generated to leave behind certain actions, thinking that they should not be done?
MASTER: Yes, it will, and to maintain and to heighten that is exactly what practice and discipline are.
Mr. Shocho Takahashi: Last week, we were taught about vasana. Please explain the definition of vasana.
MASTER: Vasana is translated [using the combination of two kanji characters,] as “impregnate; fragrant” along with “accumulating; piling up.” The character “impregnate; fragrant” is like the smell of garlic. The second character, “accumulating; piling up” is the character that is used for “learning [from someone and practicing something repeatedly],” but vasana form a part of memory, namely, sanskara, created from what one has experienced in the past. And sanskara play the role of being something like seeds that will concretely create karma. Vasana is the power that is to play the role of leading the tendencies of the mind; even vague thoughts of one’s likes or dislikes of certain things, so to speak, are because of the tendencies called vasana, such that one will gravitate more towards what one likes and attach to it more and more—vasana is the power that gives such direction.
Mr. Shocho Takahashi: So there are right vasana and wrong vasana…
MASTER: Yes, and of course, in short, there are tendencies of karma that have pain-bearing obstacles as their causes, and those of Yoga that have Truth at their roots. By learning Yoga and by actually applying discipline in practice continuously, you will make the tendencies of Truth win over the tendencies of pain-bearing obstacles.
Mr. Shocho Takahashi: So then, concretely, it is important for one to accumulate the fragrance of Truth by having the mindset to direct oneself towards the tendencies of the Truth in daily life…
MASTER: Yes, exactly. In order to do so, it has to be cultivated through learning and continuous application of practice in action.
Mr. Shocho Takahashi: Application of practice in action means sadhana…
MASTER: Not only that, but the entirety of one’s actions.
The Awakening of the Aspiration and Determination [to Attain Satori
and Thus Apply Practice and Discipline for that End]
Ms. Hitomi Mori: I’m starting to feel unclear about the meaning of the awakening of aspiration and determination towards Satori. Would you please explain what it means?
MASTER: Everyone, at times, experiences suffering. In most cases, one will try to alleviate that suffering with something else, even a little, by distracting oneself with something to divert one’s [attention], by deceiving oneself about it, or by escaping it. Rather than having a makeshift solution, when one aspires to absolutely escape from that suffering, and makes the determination [to work toward] an ultimate solution, that state of mind is what’s called “the state of having made up one’s own mind [to attain Satori and thus apply the practice and discipline to that end]. What one sees on the other shore is Satori, and to have one’s eyes on that ideal, and to have the determination to proceed toward that destination, is called by that name. Since Yoga is open widely to all, often people seek Yoga in order to solve trivial issues in their lives; however, as one learns Yoga, such an aspiration and determination will surely arise. Therefore, the timing of that aspiration and determination is different for each person; there are people who encounter Yoga after already having this aspiration and determination, and there are people whose aspiration and determination arises after encountering Yoga; either way, the aspiration towards the completion of Yoga, or admiration and longing toward an Awakened being who has perfected it—such feelings lead to that aspiration and determination.
Ms. Hitomi Mori: Wanting to get closer to Shri Mahayogi, or wanting to become one with Shri Mahayogi can lead to aspiration and determination…
MASTER: That’s right.
Ms. Hitomi Mori: As long as I maintain the bond with Shri Mahayogi continuously, by intensifying the growth of this feeling, it will eventually turn into…
MASTER: Yes, that’s right.
Ms. Hitomi Mori: Thank you very much. (shedding tears as she folds her hands together)
Shachi: I have been disciplining myself in Yoga for many years, and there are times when I feel that I am released from my own thoughts that I have been holding onto, on the other hand, I sense that there are seeds, sanskara, still dormant deep within my mind. In order to truly get rid of them, I think I must go into perfect meditation where they are completely extinguished. Is it correct to think that by continuing the effort all the time in daily life to not have these thoughts arise, even if the thoughts may not be completely eliminated, that they will gradually get smaller?
MASTER: Thoughts can be likened to seeds. The thoughts are the seeds that are buried in the field called the mind, and the seeds eventually sprout and produce fruits, that is, results. Then, what caused these seeds to get created? Attachments, that is, attachments to particular desires confined these thoughts into the forms of seeds. Now, where did that desire come from? It came from the pain-bearing obstacles, and fundamentally, it is created by ignorance, which is an illusion based on erroneous views. Yoga does not take the method of digging up these seeds one by one, and of course, it is possible to dig up big ones, however, it is impossible to dig up every seed; even so, you can eliminate pain-bearing obstacles and ignorance—that is done through discrimination. Once pain-bearing obstacles and ignorance are weakened, or almost come to be eliminated, then even if there are seeds remaining as memories, these seeds will no longer bring about results. This is called “fruit ripening differently” (vipaka hetu). That is, as mentioned earlier, the seeds produce specific results, however, the results manifest differently. In this way, if ignorance is gone, then even if seeds still remain, they are either burned away, or manifest in a different form. Therefore, what must be done boils down to eliminating the causes themselves, which are the pain-bearing obstacles and ignorance—the root causes.
Shachi: That is why Shri Mahayogi says that it is most important to concentrate on the three objects of the Truth…
MASTER: Yes, exactly.
Discrimination Practiced by Shri Mahayogi During Teenage Years
and the Ascetic Practices of Buddha
Haridas: Doesn’t Shri Mahayogi ever have thoughts like, “That looks delicious”?
MASTER: They don’t arise at all…
Haridas: (in amazement) Wow… That is what I wanted to hear.
MASTER: Well, as mentioned some time before, during my teenage years, I intentionally gave myself these themes, and clarified and digested them by thoroughly discriminating all of them in meditation—about everything. It was not really because I experienced suffering, but rather, I gave myself all the issues of the world like a riddle, and solved them leaving nothing undone.
Haridas: That means, if I can discriminate in such a way myself, then I’ll become like Shri Mahayogi?
MASTER: Sure, it’s easy!
(Shri Mahayogi says it so casually, and there is laughter from all.)
Haridas: Relatively easy?
MASTER: Well, in order to be extremely thorough, it can’t simply be considered easy, though it is not difficult.
Haridas: When things keep happening that I didn’t think about or expect, then I start to get to the point of disgust, about the degree to which thinking doesn’t make any sense. Then, in that moment, I stop thinking. Is it something like that?
MASTER: No, no, that is not what I did. When I found out about the Yoga Sutra and the Hindu philosophy, it was right after I turned twenty. Then, during that period, I found out for the first time that there were various teachings that still remain, and at the same time, actually, the various types of meditation and discrimination that I did in my teenage years are expressed in these teachings using the same words, in which they were philosophical or psychological. So, it was a different process from what Haridas just mentioned.
Kinkala: I am wondering what the purpose was of Shri Mahayogi discriminating about food at that time. Since he found out about everything fundamentally by then, he could have been zoned out, not thinking about such things any longer. And I suppose that at that time there was nothing like thinking about intending to teach disciples who would eventually gather…
MASTER: Well, the time I realized the Truth was when I was around eight to ten years old, so I did not know anything about the world. Afterwards, I normally entered adolescence, my teenage years. During these years, I began to experience the world little by little, however, I couldn’t understand the mechanism of the world. Neither could I adapt to it easily. So, I looked around at the various issues, and began to discriminate these issues. As I always mention, by the time I was nineteen, there were no longer any issues that I could think about. Until that point, I truly, exhaustively, did that; so…well, that is all there is to it.
Mr. Shocho Takahashi: Will you please use other words to describe “thorough”?
MASTER: Hmm, in other words, it was like [doing it] desperately, or staking my own life on it, and such expressions, perhaps.
Kinkala: I suppose that it is so extremely difficult that even Buddha took six years for his last meditation…
MASTER: No, the content of Buddha’s six years of ascetism is not revealed in detail, however, according to all the anecdotes of what he said, he thoroughly practiced all the ascetic practices that were common during that era, and by “thorough,” there is a description that remains about what he said, that no one else in the past, present or future was able or will be able to do that extent of ascetism that he performed; even though such was the thoroughness of his ascetic practice, it didn’t work at all, in the end. So he was emaciated, and it’s a simple thing, but he realized that without a healthy body and mind, the right wisdom does not work, nor can one reach Satori; therefore, he took the milk porridge that the girl, Sujata, offered him, he recovered, and then he sat down to meditate. Then he awakened to Satori there. That is how the legend goes. Therefore, the six years of ascetic practices done by Buddha were incomplete practices of a bygone era, which he clearly rejected. He even warns everyone not to practice them. So I don’t know what kind of discrimination he practiced in those six years either, yet I infer that it must have been incomplete.
Mr. Iio (Gopala): It’s been almost one year since I graduated from graduate school, and since then, I entered the path of Yoga and I have been learning under Shri Mahayogi, and my aspiration for Yoga has heightened. Last week, Shri Mahayogi mentioned that asana and meditation are just means to an end, and one should not lose sight of the aim. Upon hearing that, it startled me, and I recognized that my focus had shifted to the means and I had lost sight of the aim. I want to heighten my aspiration for Satori more and more; may I ask what is necessary for that?
MASTER: Practice the meditation I have been teaching you, thoroughly! These are the words of Buddha that even Vivekananda quoted: “It is better to live one day in the Truth than to live a hundred years in ignorance.” Whether it is a hundred years or a lifetime, it means the accumulation of every single day, since the only place where we can consciously take action is during every single day, even from one moment to the next moment. Therefore, simply, do so with seriousness, and exhaustively, and that is all there is to it.
Mr. Harada: I am very interested in how, during his teenage years, Shri Mahayogi concretely set up which issues would be themes and discriminated them in meditation, as Haridas-san mentioned about Shri Mahayogi’s practice of discrimination on the issue of whether meat was worth eating or not, for example.
MASTER: At that time, it was not just limited to food, however, if I may speak about food, it is easier to understand. Food is necessary to support and sustain the body. Even so, what is the significance of supporting the body, of sustaining a life? As I mentioned now, even if the body lasts for a hundred years, what is the point? Just like that—even from discriminating on food, to various jobs and pleasures, including everything else, the conclusion will be reached that everything is meaningless. At the same time, the Eternal Existence that I had already previously realized, which is the Existence without name or form and the only thing that exists—being the only thing that was worthwhile, I could not tolerate anything that was inadequate [by comparison], not even a minuscule thing. So, take, for example, the words that are spoken like this now, these words disappear as soon as they are uttered. Yet, these sounds leave a residual mark in this world, even if they only lasted for an instant. Even if they don’t have form, there are subtle traces that are left to remain. I was relentless with these [traces], not accepting them either. Then, obviously, the thoughts in the mind didn’t arise any longer. I naturally entered the state of mauna. Well, in such a way I entered deeply into the fundamental things, such as the meaning of living, the meaning of existence; then, all these issues were resolved.
Mr. Harada: Shri Mahayogi realized that compared to the experience of Existence, everything else was meaningless, and that led to mauna. Then what happened afterwards when returning to the mundane world? In the case of Ramana Maharishi, he remained in such a state for seven, eight years…
MASTER: Well, as this went on, I turned twenty, or to be precise, it was the end of the teenage years. Since the physical body was still here, I had to become independent somehow; because I was good at drawing, I began a job related to design in order to survive. However, my family circumstances got worse, and I had no choice but to help my father’s business. Well, it was probably the case that I was made to experience that as karma yoga. In the meantime, gradually, people began to come due to the spread of Yoga, and here we are to this day.
Sarani: Earlier, Shri Mahayogi spoke about how a Yogi’s existence is solely for the sake of others, whether sitting or walking. I don’t quite understand how if such a precious holy grace is supposed to be brought into the world, why did Shri Mahayogi not even leave a footprint during that time?
MASTER: Oh, that. I became that way naturally; however, later when I saw the Yoga Sutra—actually, there is an item about purity (saucha) in yama and niyama, and it is written something like when one exhaustively practices purity, then one will not be able to touch others bodies, and such. Thinking back on it, that this Satori is Brahman—the strongest meaning is purity, having the implication of pristine, pure, unadulterated—and Atman; therefore, perhaps the realization of That made me be that way, and I began to acutely sense physical bodies and words, everything in the world, as impure. Then, I think that I began to conduct myself in a way such that no such trace would be left behind.
Haridas: Usually, people in the world are struggling with how much to leave their mark in the world, which is the exact opposite of the way Shri Mahayogi lives. But, because Shri Mahayogi realized that the true Reality exists within one’s self, without having to search for it elsewhere, we are allowed to use Shri Mahayogi’s state as a clue to progress towards that state ourselves, much faster.
MASTER: (nods) Yes, I think that’s how it is.
The Role of Pranayama in the Realization of Yoga
Saturday, September 24, 2011, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Sananda: I feel that the twenty or so basic asana taught by Shri Mahayogi are truly precious and innovative, like a rare crystal, and that we must acquire their true meaning, or the essence that is at the heart of them, which is kept secret, through experiencing them with our whole being.
Shri Mahayogi has said that when pursuing Shri Mahayogi’s asana to the ultimate, we will be led to the state that is close to mudra, so then, that would fulfill the role of pranayama; yet, perhaps it is not necessary to put much importance on focusing on what is written in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika [about pranayama], but rather proceed with bhakti or jnana instead?
MASTER: (immediately) No, [it is not about if you should rather proceed with bhakti or jnana instead,] but you just have to. Because, the fact is that bhakti and jnana are directly connected to the realization of Yoga—in the eight limbs of raja yoga, samadhi is about making the mind become zero, or empty, and the explanation of the work needed for this process is centered around [raja yoga], and [that process naturally] results in discrimination and renunciation; but, on the other hand, if you bring in the proactive jnana and bhakti, then you can reach the goal faster.
Regarding pranayama, in hatha yoga, there are many types of pranayama explained, yet the scriptures of hatha yoga only describe the methodology, and the most important parts are often missing. The most important parts are surely explained there in the Yoga Sutra, that the result of pranayama is the fourth breath, the fourth pranayama, that is, what the state of the fourth pranayama consists of. This indicates the kumbhaka that occurs naturally. It is neither puraka nor rechaka, but the kumbhaka that occurs naturally, brought about effortlessly, called sahaja kumbhaka, and that is the final result of pranayama. And the parts that make up the wide realm of pranayama, which came about as a result of attempting to obtain that final result, are actually hatha yoga. Through the practice of asana, too, a kind of state similar to the fourth pranayama can occur at times, and you can say that it is due to entering the realm of mudra. Therefore, it is difficult to separate, “this is asana,” and, “that is mudra,” based only on external appearances. Depending on how the internal part has transformed, it can either be asana or mudra.
Sananda: So, is it proper to understand that while proactively proceeding with bhakti or jnana, too, such states also arise?
Sananda: It is said that relying on practicing solely pranayama to get to such a state takes a very long time.
MASTER: It takes a long time.
Sananda: I see, that is how we should understand it.
MASTER: Yes. But the thing is that, since from the beginning, the practice of pranayama is only about the technique of controlling the breath, such as the ratio of 1:4:2 [inhalation, holding and exhalation], and its focus throughout is solely about practicing the technique, it is difficult for the natural state [of kumbhaka] to occur. But whatever it is, the practitioner must really have the aim of Yoga steadfast and clear from the beginning, and as in English, the aim is translated as “Self-Realization,” it is the realization of Truth, the true Self, or it is the Awakening into the true Self, as well as the sense of Oneness with God in bhakti, and so forth.
Therefore, to sum it up roughly, in the end the means do not matter; if you can achieve the goal, you’ve won. It’s over (loud laughter from all), and yet, it’s not that easy. Since there are obstacles that prevent you from reaching that goal, such as karma, sanskara and ignorance, it won’t go so smoothly in a picture-perfect way. Therefore, while you work on eliminating these [obstacles], you must also draw the goal towards yourself faster. If you focus solely on getting rid of them, then you will lose sight of the goal. That is why it is best to make meditation the main practice as soon as possible.
Mr. Takahashi: May I ask what situation in asana brings about a great flow of prana into the sushumna, which happens in pranayama?
MASTER: It happens in a condition when the spine is straight. Therefore, of course, the sitting position like this, in padmasana or siddhasana, and samakonasana, too, the spine in these positions is in the straight condition. Matsyendrasana is also one of them. Well, for you all, it may be challenging due to it feeling painful for the hip joints, etc; however, if you can perfect the pose, or even if it’s not fully perfected, by spreading the legs apart, prana will be concentrated in the center all at once, and it will automatically rise up.
Mr. Takahashi: May I ask…I would like to confirm something again, can the task of merging the flows of prana into one at samana during pranayama also happen in asana as well?
MASTER: The part you are describing is a partial, sequential thing. That is, the task of merging prana and apana into one at samana is a way to awaken kundalini. Therefore, as far as that goes, it is partial, in other words, it is still in the process; it is not the final goal of pranayama.
Mr. Takahashi: Can the rise of kundalini happen even during asana?
MASTER: Yes, it happens. That is why, borrowing the words from the Yoga Sutra, asana must be steady and comfortable. Then, in the event that it is not, meaning, in the state where the breathing in asana is neither steady nor comfortable, the inhalation and exhalation become heavy and intense due to the effort exerted in order to form the asana. However, once one can form the asana in a steady and comfortable way, in that state, the inhalation and exhalation will not have much utility, and oftentimes, the breath stops automatically, or breathing will be paused as it is unnecessary. You can say that that is the view regarding the breath in asana indicated in the Yoga Sutra.
Mr. Shocho Takahashi: I’ve struggled to understand this for a while.
MASTER: (interrupting) Well, scriptures are merely scriptures; they’re like maps. However, even in the world, a map from one year ago may no longer be valid because the landscape may change; since nature is always changing, and even if it is a scripture of Yoga, things may not go exactly the way the scriptures mention them. After all, actual experience is everything. Well, in that sense, you can find basic guidelines in the scriptures more or less, however, when it comes to concrete, practical aspects, therein lies the reason for the necessity of a reliable Guru.
Yogadanda: Earlier, you spoke about how kevala kumbhaka occurs during asana.
MASTER: Not kevala, but sahaja kumbhaka.
Yogadanda: I am sorry, it is sahaja, and that one is about how there is no longer any breathing in or out. I think that while in an advanced asana, such states tend to happen, but even so, should we still bring the awareness to exhaling completely?
MASTER: At that level, it’s not there yet. After getting to the point where you become completely adept in advanced asana, in other words, if you reach the state where you can also practice advanced asana steadily and comfortably as mentioned earlier, then that means that the breath should no longer be disturbed; only then, automatically, does it enter the realm of mudra.
Yogadanda: So, the state where one is conscious of one’s own breathing, whether one is breathing or not, is still premature?
MASTER: (lightly) If you are aware of that, it’s not quite there yet.
Ms. Koshikawa (Maitrei): In those cases in which I sense that I am not breathing during asana, or even in shavasana, would it be better to continue in that state, or would it be better to bring my mind back towards continuing with the asana practice?
MASTER: If you intended to practice a certain set of asana when you started to practice, and something like that happens in the middle, then it is better to complete the asana until the end of the set. However, if the thought of bhakti becomes stronger, then shift to [bhakti meditation]. Doing it only at the level of the operation of breathing is not sufficient.
Kriya Yoga and the Inquiry Towards the Self
Saturday, October 1, 2011, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
During Shri Mahayogi’s visit to the US, several senior disciples, with Shantimayi, Sananda and Haridas being the main leaders, conducted a series of classes during the usual time of Satsangha, entitled “Secrets of Yoga and Asana,” in order to transmit Yoga and asana as they were directly taught by Shri Mahayogi. Not many disciples in Japan learned asana directly from Shri Mahayogi due to the time they arrived at the Mission, though these senior disciples leading the classes did have the opportunity to learn directly from Shri Mahayogi. Many gurubai participated ardently every week, and shared in the learnings. One of the participants, Ms. Morioka, asks a question.
Ms. Morioka: I attended the Satsangha while Shri Mahayogi was away in New York, and I continued to attend because I found it enjoyable to be able to start doing asana I couldn’t do before. However, I began to think that asana would be pointless if the goal of why we practice asana was not clear in me. Yet, I do not know what should be made into the goal. By words, I can understand that the ultimate aim is Satori, to know the Truth, however, I then don’t know why asana is necessary for that aim, and whether it is truly necessary for me or not. What can I do to find that out?
MASTER: The yearning towards the goal of Yoga, which is Satori, may differ from person to person. For instance, there are cases in which, because the experiences in this world are very painful, in order to escape from them, some people may start Yoga, and as that suffering gradually goes away, and by looking at things more religiously, or looking at the nature of the mind, Yoga deepens, and as a result, they get closer to Satori. And, there are cases that even though some people may not have experienced that much suffering, when looking at this world and at themselves, they might enter into it contemplatively, philosophically, asking what the Truth is and such; in addition, Yoga itself has the answer within, it’s already there for you, so through continuous application of practice and discipline in Yoga, this enables one to begin to experience and understand it, rather than just intellectualizing it. And there are cases in which some people might be interested only in God and Truth by nature. In this way, there are various doors by which to enter. It doesn’t matter which door it is, just enter it, and by deepening the practice, which means continuous application of practice and discipline, through deepening that, eventually, one should be able to get closer to Satori.
Ms. Morioka: What if I have no idea where my doors are?
MASTER: For that, it is important for you to learn. That is why, through coming to a place like this, or reading the recommended books, you need to think about the words of Truth. Through doing that, eventually, you’ll be able to see the pathway. What is most clear is that if you don’t think at all about these things and just put them aside, then what exactly does it mean to live? Just to be born, age over the years, and die? What you do in between is eat, drink, sleep, work a little—is that all? (smiles at Ms. Morioka) Therefore, [if you think about it deeply,] regardless what entrance you take to enter Yoga, as long as you are already born here, you must be looking for definitive validation with regard to the existence of the self. Although happiness and freedom may well be brought about through the experiences in this world, they have limits, and suffering and sadness come again; therefore, these things are not the answer. And, when saying, “the existence of the self,” what do you mean by “self”? If you think that the mind is the Self, then you will only end up whirling around with the ups and downs of the emotions that come along with experiences, the objects; after that, one ends up in suffering. Because death is inevitable and definitive, the mind cannot overcome death; therefore, suffering inevitably comes to everyone. So, even if you think about existence, including the physical body, it arrives conclusively at the fact that it is imperfect, and no one can know the future, “it doesn’t matter, whatever happens, happens.” That is why, again, you must inquire into what that Self is. Satori, the Self, is neither the mind nor the body; the Soul deeper within, the Pure Consciousness, is the true Self, your Self, and if you realize that, then the various occurrences in the world no longer matter, whether they give joy or suffering. You will be able to keep yourself from being entangled by them.
Viewing it from the perspective of the mind, Satori means that each and every suffering is dissolved, and it also means that the various desires and attachments that arose from incorrect thoughts have fallen away altogether. From the perspective of the Truth, Truth exists here and now as the immortal Existence, unrelated to the experiences of this world. And asana is a preparatory process to realize that Truth. Although there is a benefit to always keeping the body healthy, strong and comfortable, of course, it can even proactively change the respiratory system, which is [normally] functioning through autonomic operation, and when that happens, that calm breath will, at the same time, bring about a state of mind that is stable and calm, or neutral. The mind is often confused by emotions when receiving stimuli from various occurrences, and when that happens, the breath is also simultaneously disturbed. By stabilizing the breath, one calms the mind as well. Once you acquire this conditioning within yourself, then no matter what kind of stimuli come your way, you no longer react; the tranquil, immovable mind comes to be established. When you concentrate on the Truth with such a state of mind, it will directly connect with Satori. That is why you can say that asana is an area where the foundation is conditioned and prepared [for Satori].
Shachi: I think that learning and studying is a necessity in Yoga inevitably, but even if one is not doing it, by practicing asana deeply, will one be able to sense the entrance to the Truth?
MASTER: (thinking for a while) Most likely that won’t be possible. Learning and studying is absolutely indispensable.
Ms. Morioka: Is it possible for the learning to deepen by practicing asana?
MASTER: Yes, very much so. Learning boils down to how deeply the mind can understand. The effect and transformation caused by practicing asana is that, as mentioned just now, the mind becomes calm. As a consequence of that, the level of understanding must be deepened, whereas, if you haven’t practiced asana, it will only remain [at the level of] intellectual understanding, without any actual substance whatsoever.
Sananda: When it comes to kriya yoga, the three things that are necessary are: tapas, svadyaya, and ishvarapranidhana. But will the final state, which is the aim of Yoga or the passion towards Satori, arise through tapas and the deepening of learning?
Sananda: Is it like a triad relationship?
MASTER: Yes. Since the ancient times of the Upanishad, it’s been said, “The Truth should be heard, thought about, and meditated upon.” Just like how [the Truth] must be heard through my voice like this, that is the first one; it also means to learn and study the scriptures, which is another form [for the Truth] to be heard, through books and such. Then, one should reflect on It deeply within the mind. Here, the mind’s habits and the subjectivity of the person still remain; therefore, the mind may not be able to judge what is correct or what to do. Even if the mind thinks one way is better, the mind’s habits may prefer another way, and it may become a contradiction. Therefore, in order to clarify and ensure the thinking [is correct], one should meditate. Meditation is done by concentrating upon an object, but when that concentration becomes the state of meditation and is deepened further, one can penetrate intuitively into the essence of the object that one is meditating on. That happens because meditation brings about the lasting result of becoming one with the object. Therefore, through meditation one can grasp the essence of things and understand them through becoming one with them. So, the mind, in other words, all the ideas and value systems shaped by experiences in the past, are no exception; these various perspectives and ideas are actually entirely unreliable, because the entirety of everyone’s experiences are biased, and from these experiences, subjectivity arises. That is why the worlds within each individual’s mind are different, as if ten people have ten colors just because the experiences are different. However, meditation has the power to directly grasp the object, discarding that subjectivity. Here, such imperfect notions as intellect are not even remotely useful, because it is such a completely different dimension of understanding.
Ms. Morioka: When meditating, I feel like my mind is talking, so then, does that mean that that is not meditation?
MASTER: If you deepen it more and more, and once these things are gone, then it will get to [the point] as if you have become one with the object.
Ms. Morioka: So, that doesn’t have anything to do with words; although as long as I am thinking using the intellect, I feel that it just turns into subjectivity.
Ms. Morioka: But then, if that is not the case…then it’s not with words, is it? (laughs)
MASTER: Right, [it’s not with words]. For example, if one is to concentrate on the object, God, there is a kind of concept that shapes what God is within the mind, in a way that God should be this or that. However, it is so imperfect, and it cannot be said that the mind understands God itself correctly. However, if you become one with God, then you will clearly know what God is right then and there. As the mind comes back from meditation, it returns with impressions from that meditation, and there will be an entirely different concept of God in comparison to what the mind was holding onto up until that point.
Ms. Morioka: Is it the desire to be one [with God] that makes one get to that point?
MASTER: You can refer to it as desire, but originally, everything comes from there if you trace it back [to the origin]; that is the original core, and from there, the universe and everything was born—thus we have these activities as human beings available to us now. It’s about returning to the origin, that is the sense of it.
Ms. Morioka: It’s difficult… (laughs bitterly)
MASTER: (lightly and gently) It is not difficult.
Haridas: There was something I tangibly sensed in the program, “Secrets of Yoga and Asana.” I actually sensed that the most important thing in asana is the breath; completely exhaling in asana, exhaustively exhaling, and putting vigor into the state of non-breath after completely exhaling—that is a very important point, and unless tapas is applied there in that moment, even if you practiced asana for ten years, it would be meaningless. That is what I thought.
MASTER: That is exactly so. The true asana practice is that way, however it isn’t like that in what is referred to as yoga out there in the world; that is why it is meaningless whether you do it for ten years or fifty years. Conversely, if what you practice is only a simple, basic asana, it’s fine, and even if you cannot perform the [form of] the asana sufficiently or perfectly, it doesn’t matter [as long as the breathing is practiced correctly], because the control of the breath practiced in asana can bring about the same effect, without being at all inferior to the practice of people who have flexibility.
The Deepening of the Breath in Asana, and Single-Pointed Concentration
Mr. Iio (Gopala): Shri Mahayogi taught us that kumbhaka occurs naturally, so the next day I practiced while keeping the intention to exhale all the way to the limit as the only thing in my mind, but perhaps because I just started to practice to this extent, it didn’t feel complete, as if there was still some breath left, and I didn’t know what to do about it. Kinkala-san told me that since I was just starting out, not to worry too much about that and suggested that I just focus only on the complete exhalation. I felt that his advice really hit the mark.
Kinkala: I told him that the issue of not being able to exhale completely, even if you intend to do so, will naturally be resolved as asana deepens, perhaps. Then, we all discussed how if one simply continues deepening asana for now, then later, the complete exhalation will be deeper, and the time that one remains in kumbhaka will increase naturally.
MASTER: If one concentrates on the complete exhalation in asana, then after all the breath is exhaled, a state of non-breathing arises. But not only that, you must continue to deepen asana every time. What is meant by deepening is that [during the practice of asana] you should keep holding the position that is at the limit [of your ability] for the form of each one of the asana. The limit must be deepened continuously if you practice daily. As a result, you’ll gain flexibility and you’ll perhaps be able to practice difficult asana, but these are just bonuses, anyhow; for example, while doing halasana, then deepen halasana right there, holding it at the limit. I can say that it is about the breath during that practice.
Mr. Shocho Takahashi: Rather than deepening the limit [of the form] after exhaling completely, or remaining in that state of completed exhalation, we should hold at the limit of the form after the exhalation is complete?
MASTER: It actually becomes easier to deepen [the form] when the exhalation is complete. The reason is that when there is air inside, it acts as resistance, and you won’t be able to go further because of hardness. However, when it is empty, then it’s easier to go deeper, and stimuli, which is more or less pain, will be numbed [to an extent], or actually you become desensitized.
Mr. Shocho Takahashi: I practice samakonasana every day, and I maintain the pose in the state in which I’ve exhaled completely.
MASTER: That is fine. Of course, what is needed is to deepen just to the limits of your ability; this is not about having some third party forcefully pushing you, but you make yourself deepen. What is really fascinating about Yoga is, well, it may sound like a joke, but it’s as if one is doing the opposite of what is experienced in the world (laughs), though it’s a bit of an extreme way of saying it; as for the breath, because one is breathing, there is suffering, if the breathing is gone, there is ease. Indeed, it is a Yoga-like discovery. Therefore, if you want to live joyously in this world, then live without breathing. (laughter from all) Truly, I think this phrase perfectly describes the true essence of Yoga. (laughter from Shri Mahayogi and everyone) The reason is that, indeed, the respiratory function inevitably maintains the body as required, and it is indispensable for staying alive, which is obvious, and we are equipped with it as one of the autonomic functions. At the same time, it is intimately connected with the mind. But as its result, what one tastes in the experiences of this world is suffering. Even if it’s not the state of non-breathing, if you can transform your breathing into a very calm, still breath, a stable breath that is unable to be disturbed, then you will be exempt from the various changes and stimuli in the world, or suffering and joy, which are the disturbances of ups and downs.
Mr. Iio (Gopala): In the Yoga Sutra it says that asana must be steady and comfortable, but is there nothing else in it written about asana?
MASTER: No, it is written that through asana, one can transcend duality.
Mr. Iio (Gopala): There, neither in the Yoga Sutra nor in the scripture of hatha yoga, is it mentioned about the breath. But Shri Mahayogi mentioned that he discovered it. When Shri Mahayogi entered samadhi at age eight, I’m sure his breath also stopped in that state, of course, and then, when he was around fourteen, he began to spontaneously practice asana by himself—that is how I understand his path. When he began to perform asana, was the relationship between asana and the breath already perfectly grasped?
MASTER: No, I didn’t do anything in particular.
Mr. Iio (Gopala): Was there a discovery as he performed asana?
MASTER: I’ve never thought about these things, just that I did keep practicing asana intensely and exhaustively. What I mentioned just now—I experienced it with [this] body; however, I never particularly thought about it, and rather, it was something I intuited by experiencing it [through this body].
Mr. Iio (Gopala): It was since you began?
MASTER: Yes, it was.
Jayadevi: With regard to asana, as one deepens one’s limit [in the form] while controlling [the breath], kumbhaka occurs, but I thought that single-pointed concentration is not something that happens when one intends to concentrate, but rather, it is the concentration that transcends the intention, and it occurs spontaneously.
MASTER: The single-pointed concentration called ekagrata is truly exactly like that. And, if the entire process of Yoga is summed up, it can be rephrased as: how single-pointed concentration is practiced from the beginning to the final destination. In the beginning, there are still various mundane experiences and attachments mixed up in [one’s mind], and even if you may think that you are concentrating while you are in each asana or in meditation every time you practice, it does not have the purity of single-pointed concentration yet; there are many impurities. However, as the depth of Yoga increases more and more, and at the same time, as the mind is directed only to the aim of Yoga, Satori, which is precisely the state of Yoga, the completion of Yoga, only then, for the first time, the words “single-pointed concentration” become appropriate. In that sense, it can be rephrased such that all of sadhana leads toward single-pointed concentration.
About Nadi and Prana
Jayadevi: What is the sushumna nadi made of?
MASTER: Vessels of prana. It is made of prana.
Jayadevi: After today’s class, there was a talk about the sushumna nadi. I think that the sushumna nadi is so subtle that as long as there are pain-bearing obstacles, it cannot be grasped by the mind.
MASTER: It is said that the subtle body is a body made of prana, and that is why it is also called the prana body, and it also indicates the nadi which run throughout the physical body, where prana flows. And, it is considered to be a vessel, and these paths themselves are made of prana, and prana flows through them. I hadn’t confirmed myself what they were made of at that time (laughter from all), but I agree with it (laughing).
Sananda: Did someone count the 72,000 nadi?
MASTER: Most likely, the number itself is symbolic.
Sananda: It symbolizes that there are a lot?
MASTER: Yes, I think so.
Sananda: I see, that makes sense.
Haridas: (laughing) If there were only about 500, then someone may try to count, but when it’s 72,000, then there is no way to count them.
Jayadevi: Actually, I was impressed that Yogi were able to sense the 72,000 of them.
MASTER: Indeed (laughter). But in the next sutra, it goes on to say that the main nadi are only three, (roaring laughter from all) and out of those three, only the sushumna is important! [It ended up being] only one! So, it doesn’t matter if it’s 72k or 100k. (roaring laughter from all)
You see, the [Yoga Sutra] aptly teaches nothing but the most important things, but at the same time, it shows that it grasps the whole picture. That is how it goes! (laughter from all)
Sananda: But maybe in India, someone actually counted?
(Shri Mahayogi tilts his head, and asks Sanatana for his opinion.)
Sanatana: I wonder if it is something to do with the number, 72,000. If it’s 84,000, then I can understand it, because like with the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, the Eight Limbs—there is a rule to use either eight or four, normally, how it was thought.
MASTER: It’s like a saying, “eight hundred lies” [in Japan] or 999 in China, 8 is the symbolic number for expressing “many” or “numerous” [in Japan].
Haridas: When I first heard from Shri Mahayogi that [normally in people] the sushumna is packed with pain-bearing obstacles, it hit me so hard I felt that I needed to clean them up.
MASTER: From one viewpoint, hatha yoga is different from raja yoga, that is, raja yoga is the psychological technique of the mind that takes the approach of meditating and discriminating on the mind; and it can be considered that that means of meditation in the mind, can be replaced with prana. Therefore, in order to purify the pain-bearing obstacles that are in the mind, or in other words, in order to purify the defilements in the mind, if using the hatha yoga expression, you can replace “the purification of prana” with “the purification of the mind.” Therefore, it can be considered that this is the way of hatha yoga. So, it’s not that important if it’s 72,000 or not.
Images and Symbols are a Power that Go Deeper than Words
Haridas: Another thing that was impactful for me was hearing about a snake called kundalini that is coiled and sleeping.
MASTER: It goes around a lingam three and a half times, and it is holding a lingam.
Haridas: Then, one has to awaken it; by purifying the sushumna, the snake rises up through it. That expression was so cool, I thought, “I have got to do this.” In a way, it symbolizes objectifying the more subtle parts of the body. It is about how much one can objectify oneself—there are many metaphors in India for that. Lately, I’ve been thinking about how truly important it is to make something into a metaphor—for example, likening the body to a microcosm—by doing that, objectifying one’s essence and such, then one imagines the true Self; by making the mind imagine in these ways, one’s own self shifts from a subject to an object. In a way, I think that is a very important element in sadhana. Isn’t that so?
MASTER: Exactly. The thoughts, which are a large part of what the mind normally does, thinking and feeling this and that, when you look at where these thoughts are born, they come from images. During the process of [creating] an image, which is vague yet symbolic and like an essence, that is gradually formed concretely into words, and then the words are uttered or go out as actions—therefore, images and symbols can be seen as the power that is deeper behind the words. So, controlling the thoughts through these images and symbols is quite a reasonable step. In that sense, even more so, it is very intuitive. That is why—the hatha yoga of Tantra belongs to Tantra—particularly within Tantra, there is an emphasis on the necessity of a Guru. Of course, it is said that the Guru must be the one who correctly knows the secrets, and the one who also has the power to transmit them. One who simply recites some perfunctory textbooks is not qualified to be a Guru. Therefore, even the scriptures tell only one of the facets, and in the images and symbols hidden behind each word from a scripture, there is hidden something much richer. For next year’s calendar, I wanted to create such a symbolic calendar, so we’ve begun production on that. (everyone cheers.) I’m sure it will be useful. I want to make such a thing.
Discrimination Means to Know the Essence of Things
Saturday, October 29, 2011, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): I would like to be taught about discrimination. I have been practicing discrimination in daily life, for example, in such a way that if there is an incident and thoughts arise, I check them against the Truth and then get rid of them if they aren’t the Truth. However, I don’t think I’m catching all of the thoughts that have the quality of pain-bearing obstacles. That means that I think the discrimination is not done thoroughly. I would like you to teach me whether I must catch all of these thoughts, and whether or not that is possible, and I would also like to know how far I need to reach for that condition to be enough to be considered thorough discrimination.
MASTER: Discrimination is to know the essence of the thing that you are discriminating. To check the Truth against your own mind’s thoughts is the surface action, and in order to thoroughly know it, you must know the essence of both.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): What do you mean by both?
MASTER: One’s understanding of the teachings of Truth must not simply be an intellectual understanding, and whether these teachings are the Truth or not is revealed by knowing the essence. At the same time, you must investigate the source of your own thoughts, their deep psychological causes, such as, why you have these thoughts in the first place, and what these thoughts are based on—by tracing them back upstream to these invisible causes and clarifying their essence, then it will be revealed whether that essence has any content that can be considered the Truth or not.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): So, just recognizing that something is ego is still too shallow [and not thorough enough].
MASTER: Simply seeing or recognizing that something is ego is not sufficient, since unless you know what ego is, and know the essence of ego, it will arise again. Therefore, whether the ego is the true Self or not, and if not, what its cause is—and at the same time, you’ve been taught what the true Self is—yet even so, in order to understand its essence sufficiently, you must also realize the essence of the teaching of the Truth itself; to experience the essence at the origin, the cause, and to reveal it, that is what thorough discrimination is.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): That can only be done in meditation?
MASTER: That will become meditation. The mere realm of thoughts does not reach far enough, but if you concentrate on [what was just mentioned], then concentration will inevitably shift to the realm of meditation. You confront the main teachings with the pain-bearing thoughts created by your mind, and by thoroughly practicing that and pursuing it to the level of depth I mentioned, then the causes of the pain-bearing obstacles and thoughts get discriminated, and once they’re discriminated, they’re renounced, which ought to happen automatically—and further, you must carry it out until that point. That is precisely the meaning of renunciation, or the burning up of the seeds of the pain-bearing obstacles. By practicing thoroughly in this way, thoughts based on pain-bearing obstacles will gradually cease to arise. Conversely, the faith that proportionally corresponds to the Truth, which has the Truth as its base, will grow bigger. And through that, you can verify that discrimination and renunciation are progressing.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): Shri Mahayogi taught us to bind the words of Truth to sanskara, and he said that it does not mean to recall them all the time, but rather, to acquire them to the point that this occurs naturally. So that means I have to keep repeating them.
MASTER: In order for the words of Truth not to remain as a mere memory, and not to remain as intellectual understanding or rote memorization, but instead, as mentioned just now, in order for them to be burned into the mind’s sanskara, it is indeed important for you to concentrate and meditate on the teachings of the Truth, and grasp their essence.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): So, it’s not about recalling it all the time, but rather, is it about binding it to sanskara in meditation?
MASTER: Right. That is why rather than practicing it loosely or scatter-mindedly, sharply concentrate on that single point: [the object of meditation].
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): Shri Mahayogi refers to it as words of Truth…
MASTER: They are the teachings of the Truth, so that is the same.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): So, I should decide on one and sharply meditate on it.
MASTER: Yes, that’s right.
Jayadevi: I think that when we practice the meditation of discrimination, we discriminate [the thoughts in our minds, or the object that we meditate on, and] whether that object of meditation is eternal or not. So, from what I’m hearing from Shri Mahayogi, it means that we have to meditate on what the quality of eternity really is, what eternal truly is, what perfect is, what the Self is, and so on, respectively.
MASTER: That’s right.
Jayadevi: And, if we can completely grasp even one of them, then that inquiry arrives at the confirmation of the essence of all four aspects [of ignorance] such as [seeing impermanence as] permanence, [seeing the impure as] pure, [seeing non-pleasure as] pleasure and [seeing the non-self as] the Self?
MASTER: Exactly. The great cause of every pain-bearing obstacle is pointed out as ignorance. The Yoga Sutra, too, explains clearly that it is made up of these four pillars. Certainly, all pain-bearing obstacles are born from these four categories, and at the same time, by eliminating these four ignorances, one is able to solidly absorb the Truth. Because of that, this teaching that is explained in the Yoga Sutra, too, and actually jnana yoga, too, is the same, yet since the teaching of jnana yoga points straightforwardly and exclusively only to Atman being the Truth and everything else being maya, that process [regarding ignorance] is omitted; however, that process can be found in the area of raja yoga, which is basically the Yoga Sutra.
Shachi: Does that mean discrimination and renunciation?
MASTER: Right. To grasp their essence; therefore, even for the many kinds of samadhi, realizing the essence of each within the experience of each, respectively, and to grasp the essence of various things, is the concrete content.
(Mr. Yamanouchi, who is participating for the first time, and who was a co-worker of Sananda, looks straight at Shri Mahayogi’s eyes and asks a question in a calm manner.)
Mr. Yamanouchi: I am interested in meditation. The purpose of my interest is that because I have a hard time concentrating at work, I thought meditation might be useful; I’ve been asking around to various people about how to proceed with it, but I have not been able to proceed. So, I would very much appreciate if Shri Mahaoygi could teach me, for example, what it feels like if it progresses, or how one’s lifestyle changes, or anything that Shri Mahayogi has as an image of that I can understand.
MASTER: Yes. Our five senses and the mind are working outwardly and reacting as they are constantly being influenced by situations and environments. Yet, as far as that goes, both the natural phenomena of the world and the mind are merely proceeding together, as phenomena; yet, on the other hand, you wish to grab ahold of something solid, namely your own existence. It is like a voluntary urge that arises from the farthest depths of the mind. However, nothing in this world, for example, success at work or success at life, ever provides satisfaction eternally. Then, by shifting that search inward, and then, by knowing and realizing that the Existence is already there existing within you, your life and work, the way you live in this world, so to speak, will be put into second place, rather than remaining as the main subject. Then, you will always be undisturbed and you will have an unshakable, calm mind. Situations will always change, nevertheless, you must respond to these changes, including, obviously, work, but that is it and nothing more, and once you can steadfastly grasp the Existence as its essence, then your mind will be totally at peace. In order to make that certain, you must learn the teachings of Truth, think and reflect deeply upon them, and meditate on them; then, by practicing this way, [the teachings of Truth] will come to be established [within you]. I think your colleague, Sananda, most likely did that as well.
（Mr. Yamanouchi seems a little perplexed, perhaps by an unexpected answer from Shri Mahayogi. Shri Mahayogi urges Sananda to speak, as someone who used to have the same job as Mr. Yamanouchi, and to provide some advice for his beloved junior colleague.）
Sananda: (hesitantly) I have nothing to add to what Shri Mahayogi said (laughter from all).
Lately, Mr. Yamanouchi hasn’t been attending the club that I’ve been organizing at the company in Yasu city where I used to work, but in the club meeting, I’ve been talking often about this lately. Because, indeed, when we are being entangled in work, it’s difficult to calm down the mind at the same time, so unless we think thoroughly about what the purpose of life truly is, who the Self really is, or what true happiness is, as our base, Yoga does not progress and stays incomplete, or half-baked; so does the work, which, as Shri Mahayogi just mentioned now, we can’t avoid being disturbed by. (To Shri Mahayogi) What Shri Mahayogi said is a very useful reference, thank you very much (laughter from all).
MASTER: (lightly) Do you understand now?
Mr. Yamanouchi: (weakly) Yes. May I ask, in proceeding concretely in meditation, what would the sensation of that be?
MASTER: As I mentioned earlier, regardless of what it is, there is an essence hidden behind it. To reveal and know that essence is the actual content of meditation. Therefore, if you concentrate on the words or the teachings of Truth and such things as the object [of meditation,] then through meditation, you will be able to know their essence. Conversely, if you concentrate and meditate on thoughts that are of a pain-bearing quality, you will be able to know the cause, the essence of them. Meditation is, so to speak, to know the essence.
Meditation is done by the mind. At first, concentrate on one thing, that can be a word, which is something abstract. In a way, the state in which the object that is being meditated on and the mind are in a dualistic relationship—that is called concentration. To bring the mind to continuously pour its focus towards the object is like the mind is gradually entering into the object. The stage of meditation is much more concentrated than the state of concentration; it is the condition when the mind is entering into the object [of meditation] and becoming one with it. Then, after that meditation, is samadhi, which is the state where the mind is completely one [with the object]. The mind becoming one with the object means that the essence of that object has been understood. Since, in the earlier stage of concentration, the mind is still external, the mind can’t see this essence. Therefore, through meditation, the mind penetrates into the internal part of the object, that is, the mind goes closer to its essence.
Ms. Morioka: Is samadhi to understand something when we are concentrating on something?
MASTER: Yes, it is. The week after next, there will be a lecture [on the Yoga Sutra by Sanatana where this will be explained]. (laughter from all) The Yoga Sutra indeed truly has a brilliant expression of what that samadhi is. It uses an expression to explain it: that it is just like how if there is an object around a transparent crystal, it turns the color of that object, so too the mind becomes one with the object. This means that, just as mentioned now, the essence and the object come to be assimilated.
So then, what about simple thoughts other than samadhi? In a way, thoughts are different between each and every person, right? That is because everyone puts impressions into memory from what one has experienced, and based on that everyone creates various sorts of ideas. Even when looking at the same thing, ten people will have ten different reactions—that is because the different experiences of ten people are forming different ideas in each respective mind, consequently, different things are expressed there. However, these are not the pure expressions of the objects as they are. That is, they indicate that the object is seen through these ten different individuals’ colorings, through the added colorings of these ten different individuals’ ideas. That understanding is contrary to that which comes from samadhi. In the case of samadhi, by concentrating [on the object] just like a transparent crystal, as mentioned earlier, without any ideas, you approach the object directly only using the workings of the mind, separate from ideas, thus the essence of that object itself is grasped.
Ms. Mori: With regard to meditation, there was a mention that one can discriminate through grasping the object’s essence. It is written in Shri Mahayogi’s book that the difference between meditation and concentration can be known through feeling the sense of time, so does that mean that unless we reach the place where time feels very short, regardless of how long we sit, we cannot grasp the essence?
MASTER: Yes. And, this is not a matter of length of time, but it boils down to the experience of knowing the essence of things—since what you grasp through this experience, the essence of the object you meditated on, leaves an impression in the mind even after coming out of meditation, it has the quality of sattva. If you are not able to enter meditation, and [your practice of meditation] ends just with concentration, then there is still a quality of rajas that remains. In a way, you can know it based on the state or condition of the mind after coming out of meditation or concentration.
Haridas: Long ago, there was a conversation about not understanding what exactly meditation is. Then, Shri Mahayogi answered with an expression that it is contemplation. Contemplating on a particular object—could that be expressed as being a state before meditation?
MASTER: Yes. It is the state of concentration.
Haridas: For instance, thinking about pain and pleasure—people in the world say life has both pain and pleasure, but is there truly pain and pleasure? What is pain, and what is pleasure? Since, based on the perception of the person, things either become pain or pleasure, there actually is no such thing as pain and pleasure in the relative word—is the process like this contemplation or concentration?
MASTER: Well, that is still contemplation, however, from there, as you go further in your pursuit into the essence of suffering, the essence of pleasure, and who the subject is that is experiencing them, then you will gradually enter the realm of meditation, I think. That is why, the stage of contemplation has a limit, which comes from one’s notions. Or, no matter how much imagination and such that you use, since they have their limitations, it is [only] once you transcend these limitations that you enter meditation, which is to enter the essence of the object, to grasp that essence.
Haridas: Then, we enter from questioning what suffering is, then, using words, we inquire into the essence of suffering exhaustively, and by the time we reach the core through words, we get to a point where that actually doesn’t exist, or rather, it is something I made up, but actually “who am I, the one who creates it?”—ultimately we will arrive at self-inquiry, so then we begin meditating towards our own Self. So, this is how the process goes.
MASTER: Yes, it is.
Haridas: Does that mean we can say that there is no meaning in a mundane life in this world?
MASTER: Well, essentially, indeed, it can be concluded that it is lila; however, if you seek a limited meaning, then it is the task of eliminating karma and ignorance, which ultimately is the path towards Satori.
Haridas: I think that that is why in the path of Satori, we arrive at the conclusion that as long as one is living within the deceit created by the mind, life is meaningless, but once that is fully understood, only then for the first time will life have meaning. Is that the proper way to take it?
MASTER: That is good.
Ms. Mori: I feel like when contemplating, I am using words to proceed constantly, but when we enter meditation, do the words stop?
MASTER: No, they will still linger in the stage of meditation.
Mr. Kawazoe (Asanghan): Does that mean that by going through the words of Truth and the various discriminations, as we deepen these, then ultimately, we arrive at the True Existence, so that everything leads to meditation on True Existence?
MASTER: Yes, that’s right.
Mr. Kawazoe (Asanghan): So, does that mean that we concentrate on That single-pointedly, going beyond words, going beyond understanding?
MASTER: Yes, it does.
The Great Compassion of Sangha and Buddha
Kenji Takahashi: I heard in a lecture [at my university] that the sangha of Buddha was an extremely peculiar format for that era, when most people practiced alone. What intention did Buddha have in creating sangha?
MASTER: Well, when it comes to this, Sanatana is the expert (laughter from all). So I, too, want to hear [his answer].
Sanatana: I wonder how that was. On the other hand, he does say things like walk alone and that the practice of mastery is an individual effort, but it seems that to a certain extent, probably there were times when Buddha himself preached, and other times, there are cases that the disciples, like Shariputta and others, preached on his behalf, so I suppose that he had thought about these situations. But ultimately, because there were many people who came to hear Buddha’s talks and receive his guidance, that must have been why sangha was formed.
Kenji Takahashi: Is it not possible to read into Buddha’s intentions through these [activities]?
MASTER: In the Yoga Sutra, I’m suddenly blanking on this, but there is a phrase, “For a wise being, everything is suffering.” (to Sanatana) Can you accurately quote it?
Sanatana: “All is nothing but pain for one who has discrimination”1—I think that was chapter 2, verse 15.
MASTER: All is nothing but pain—that is saying exactly the same thing as what Buddha taught: Everything is suffering. Yet, the expression in the Yoga Sutra is that for the wise who have discrimination, for those wise, all is nothing but pain—which is a relatively calm, objective viewpoint. Buddha felt it the same.
However, I infer that for Buddha, salvation—since all is nothing but pain, to save the people who are experiencing that pain, such a proactive undertaking can be expressed as compassion or salvation—this force was at play to a great extent. The story that describes it is almost mythological: it is said that Brahma and Indra pleaded with Buddha to not keep the state of Satori to himself, but to save as many people as possible from pain instead; and through this persuasion, Buddha was moved and went in the direction of saving the masses. It has a very mythological hue, but I infer that the mind of Buddha was filled with compassion, a Great Compassion; that is why he took on saving not only the practitioners who discriminated and recognized that all is nothing but pain, but also the many people and living beings who are right in the midst of pain, raising an alarm and saving them. That must have developed into a group called sangha.
Kenji Takahashi: So, this is one of the manifestations of his feeling towards salvation.
MASTER: Yes, I think so. That is why it is Great Compassion.
Sanatana: When Vivekananda created the Ramakrishna Mission, I read that he saw that India was biased towards individual salvation, yet only Buddha was different, and that that was why when he formed the Ramakrishna Mission, he used Buddha’s way as a reference; and I think that he was able to obtain that reference completely while he was in samadhi. I think that that is exactly the reason why Vivekananda himself is said to be the person who came to know Buddha the most. And I think that if we understand that point well, then we can understand Buddha well, and also we can understand Vivekananda well, and we can understand that the order [that is established around that] was like a form of that compassion.
MASTER: If you go to India, [you can see that] Buddhism is in a state where it is included within Hinduism. Viewing it from Japan, the Buddhists here say that Hinduism and Buddhism are different, but these are mere opinions of Japanese monks who do not know the outside world, just like frogs in a well know nothing of the great ocean; it is incorrect. Regardless, within the large system that is the modern Hinduism of India, when it comes to Buddha’s existence, it is considered that he was truly the avatara who appeared after Krishna. Yet, the teaching of Buddha was so strict, it was not so easy for anyone to jump into, unlike the karma yoga taught by Krishna, and its content required more seriousness and ardor. Buddha was quite severe to that degree, in a very positive sense, and he taught the thorough path to Satori. That is why Buddha’s right teaching was not so much understood in India for over two thousand years. Within that, Swami Vivekananda may have been the first person from India who was able to understand Buddha, I think.
Kenji Takahashi: I think that in the Mahayana Buddhism movement by Nagarjuna, compassion is emphasized, but does that mean that it’s meaningless unless such strictness is combined with it?
MASTER: Not only strictness, but, I should say, the all-encompassing power of compassion itself—that did not quite connect to this practical undertaking of salvation [in the case of Nagarjuna]. I’m sure he must have been a philosopher and an authority on Buddhist philosophy, and he must have attained quite an advanced level; and it’s meaningless to compare him to Buddha, but if we must compare, the brilliance of Buddha indeed—must have been the existence that was described as if a thousand suns all rose at the same time.
(Shri Mahayogi seems to have come into contact with the ancient Buddha and touched his mind, and has tears in his eyes.)
 All is nothing but pain for one who has discrimination, because of the pains of change, suffering, and sanskara (potential impressions), and because the activities of the guna (qualities) conflict with each other.
The Meditation of Discrimination Performed by Shri Mahayogi
Jayadevi: In the Yoga Sutra study group the day before, [the sutra] that samadhi is nearer to those who have a sense of departing from this world out of disdain for it or who have a strong zeal to leave from the impermanent and ephemeral transience of this world,1 rather than those who have enthusiasm towards faith or completion—left an impression on me. In the study group, the example of Nachiketas was brought up, but I also thought Buddha and Ramakrishna had similar backgrounds. I wondered how Shri Mahayogi was in this case.
MASTER: Yes, I did have such [experiences]. Indeed, during my teenage years, especially towards the last part, I was filled with such thoughts. That’s why I skipped school and as I described often, I was just sitting in a café, doing nothing—that’s a fact. While I was sitting around doing nothing, I had these thoughts, and at the same time, I was continuously in a state of meditation on their essence, their causes—it was like that. And by the time I was nineteen, truly, nothing, nothing came up anymore, or everything was resolved. So, during that time, these thoughts were intense.
Ms. Fukoue (Anandi): Is that feeling of departing from the world in disdain akin to an intense thirst for Reality?
MASTER: It is like two sides of a coin, on one side is the essence of this world, the essence of maya, and on the other side is Reality, the essence of Satori—these are two sides of the same coin.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): So, during the time of having the sense of departing from the world in disdain, there was meditation to seek the essence of maya.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): It means that once that was revealed, then things shifted into lila, doesn’t it?
MASTER: Yes. (after a while) Strictly speaking, the lila was a little later. So, after this, there wasn’t particularly anything, nothing at all…
Sananda: Since Shri Mahayogi discriminated the essence of maya, then, after that, does a state arrive where one is no longer worried by the world, or has any questions [unanswered] about the world whatsoever?
Sananda: Is it considered to be a different Satori from awakening into Atman, in terms of meaning?
MASTER: It is.
Sananda: These don’t come together in tandem?
MASTER: As mentioned earlier about two sides of a coin, you may say that it is as if in tandem.
Sananda: Yet, do the depths of realization differ naturally? I suppose that the process of the awakening to Atman may be different according to each individual.
MASTER: They do differ. Therefore, probably the Buddhists may have gone that far, however, it seems that they have not been able to arrive at Atman, as the actual substance.
Haridas: The earlier words of Shri Mahayogi caught my attention. When Shri Mahayogi was nineteen, everything was resolved through discrimination, and lila, which follows it, came a little afterwards. Was the sense of when you saw through the truth of everything, like a sense of impermanence, or lightness, like the wind, or filled with joy? What kind of sense did it have, if you have an analogy?
MASTER: To liken it to something, it was emptiness, or nothingness—such a feeling. There was neither joy nor impermanence; it was just nothing there, emptiness.
Haridas: How do you describe lila arriving a little later?
MASTER: That was Joy or Bliss.
Haridas: Why did a time lag occur?
MASTER: Because between them, I was doing karma yoga. That [experience I mentioned] was the brief time between when I was nineteen into my early twenties.
Takashi Kunitomo (Ramdas): I thought when it became lila was when the disciples started coming, but rather, does that mean that it became that way because you were actually practicing karma yoga?
MASTER: I did karma yoga, then I did bhakti—that is how it was.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): Is that because karma yoga was necessary?
MASTER: It was necessary.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): In order to meditate on lila?
MASTER: No, it wasn’t related to lila. It was because karma yoga is one of the big pillars of Yoga, and in order to experience it, that was why it went in that direction.
Sananda: But it wasn’t for Shri Mahayogi himself, was it?
MASTER: That’s right, of course.
Sananda: It was for us, who arrived later.
MASTER: Of course, yes.
Gargi (Mirabai): At that time, was Shri Mahayogi aware of the words, karma yoga?
MASTER: I probably did not know the words karma yoga at that time, in an accurate sense. Actually, I read Bhagavad Gita and Vivekananda’s Karma Yoga some time later, and by the time I read them, I had already completed it. In this way, it was all the things I already practiced, without having reference books, and as I read these scriptures, I felt often, “Oh, I completed this.”
Haridas: There was a mention of the state of emptiness earlier. In Japan, there were a few people, like Ikkyu or Dogen or Hakuin (Buddhist monks), who are said to have realized Satori, yet I don’t know about the content of their Satori at all. The expression used is emptiness and such, but ultimately, if words and minds are discriminated, their main cause, which is words, then names and forms disappear, and because they disappear, it cannot be expressed—is that the reason that it is expressed as emptiness?
MASTER: Hmm, I don’t think it was that way. You can see that there were indeed steps. That is, make the mind transparent by a subtractive process, once you’ve done that, then the mind becomes transparent, in other words, ignorance itself is gone, so therefore, it is emptiness and nothingness—in which there is a state that is an indescribable state; however, on the other side, the Awakening to Atman is yet again different from emptiness—it is not emptiness but rather it is “being,” Existence. Therefore, it is completely different from it being emptiness because there is no substance, but the Reality is vividly there, that is why it cannot really be called emptiness. Therefore, by saying that emptiness [is used] only and simply because it cannot be expressed, falls into an interpretation that is too literature-like, I think. Because Yogi only speak from actual experience, naturally, there are times when words are not sufficient; however, as I mentioned now, the disappearance of the mind, and “the restraint of the activities of the mind,” if I refer to the Yoga Sutra, then “the Seer remains in Its own natural state”2—that is so. What is requisite is Its Awakening. Whether you have that Awakening of It or not, creates the difference I just mentioned now.
Sananda: Is that Awakening born spontaneously by itself?
MASTER: Yes, it is born spontaneously. Since the mind is stopped, the mind’s intention does not reach there, therefore it is born spontaneously right then.
Sananda: Does not reach there—does that mean that that state of emptiness is insufficient?
Haridas: How do we know this?
MASTER: That is, it is whether that state of emptiness is permanent and eternal, or whether it is temporary, called the state of kevala.
Haridas: Then, does that mean that even if one has attained the Great Satori, one still has to continue to practice?
MASTER: Yes. There is a possibility of going backwards, of being dragged down…
Haridas: So then, it means that the practitioner only reached that level.
MASTER: Yes. I’m sure Sanatana will explain it in the Yoga Sutra [study group] the week after next, but the samadhi explained in the Yoga Sutra describes about these areas in detail. There are eight or nine levels of samadhi, and the samadhi with seed is what I just mentioned, and then further, there is samadhi without seed afterwards. In the samadhi with seed, it indicates that the pain-bearing obstacles and the defilements in the mind are basically gone, yet there may be a possibility that seeds remain there. Once these seeds are gone completely, it becomes seedless samadhi, nirvikalpa samadhi.
Haridas: That is the ultimate one.
MASTER: Yes, correct.
Sananda: In samadhi with seed, Awakening into Atman does not occur?
MASTER: No, strictly speaking.
Mr. Shocho Takahashi: The word “spontaneously” means it arises naturally?
MASTER: Yes. It means, by itself. Atman itself manifests, Awakening into the Self.
Mr. Shocho Takahashi: So, it’s not about the “I” or “me” but about Atman itself.
Kenji Takahashi: So that is why samadhi with seed but without cognition and samadhi without seed…
MASTER: Samadhi with seed but without cognition is still one with seed, so the one in which these are all gone is the samadhi without seed.
Haridas: I feel like, it seems that if we try to approach Atman from the mind, it’s daunting because of the image we hold that we won’t be able to transcend the last thin barrier, but rather, if we have the image that Atman wants to get out of it as soon as possible, and there is but only one thin layer before reaching the Pure, this would make it easier for everyone to feel that it’s possible—what do you think?
MASTER: (definitively) Right, that is exactly so. The scriptures and the Holy Beings teach in that way, that actually everyone, no matter who it is, they are all Eternal Existence, Atman; therefore, pain-bearing obstacles and ignorance are merely maya—that is what they teach. Nonetheless, the mind makes such a haze-like or illusion-like maya, concretizing it more, and adding further illusions. Therefore, [be bold and say and believe] that “I am Atman, therefore, the illusion-like ignorance and pain-bearing obstacles that are covering It, such things don’t exist;” and have them be swiftly broken through. Therefore, once these things are thoroughly and exhaustively discriminated, then there will be seedless samadhi.
 Yoga Sutra 1.21: It is near to those who have intense zeal.
 Yoga Sutra 1:2 and 1:3.
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Testimonies from a Practitioner
Through Yoga, One Can be Liberated from Difficult Memories
August 26th, 2022, Kyoto (from the Mahayogi Mission Blog, Kyoto)
Sanskara: Latent Impressions in the Subconscious
Only true wisdom can eliminate sanskara. That is why you need to focus on Reality alone.
Sanskara are dependent upon something: the mind’s memories, prana and conditions. What is meant by conditions are the pain-bearing obstacles and ignorance. The true wisdom that arises in meditation leaves “zero-sanskara” behind in the mind’s memory, [thereby neutralizing other sanskara].
For example, let’s say that there are many images (memories of sanskara) printed on the film of the mind’s memory. True wisdom erases these images. That is why there is no need to focus on the sanskara, since they are born out of pain-bearing obstacles and ignorance. As fervent meditation on the Truth deepens, discrimination between Truth and ignorance takes place within the mind. Since sanskara are dependent upon ignorance, they vanish.
All that is left is to actually practice this.
—Shri Mahayogi (From The Universal Gospel of Yoga)
Experiences, along with emotions such as joy and sadness, remain as memories. The memories with intense impressions are especially recalled repeatedly, and we experience the emotion from that moment many times over.
I have had the experience of no longer being affected by memories that made me suffer every time I recalled them.
The first one is the memory of when I was being bullied in elementary and junior high school.
At the time, I was anxious every day, and every time when especially difficult incidents happened, I was subject to despair. Even when I became an adult, I would suddenly have flashbacks and suffer, my legs would shake if I passed by a place where I used to spend time during that period, and if I saw people who were involved in bullying me, my chest would tighten, and my body would shake.
When I moved away from the area where I used to live, where all this happened, I began to have fewer of these experiences, but I would recall it on some chance occasions and the pain would repeat again.
When I began Yoga and learned of the teaching about sanskara, I felt a faint hope that if I can embed zero-sanskara in the mind’s memory, then these painful memories would be completely cleaned up and gone. Since the practice of meditation was difficult to do, I decided that I would continue the practice of asana first, so I disciplined myself to practice them every day, even if only a little.
Two or three years after that, when I went back to the place where I used to live, I only felt nostalgia. The pain I felt every time I recalled something, was no longer there. I assume that probably, through the application of the practice of asana, prana (ki) was conditioned into something cleaner, and with my mind and body being fulfilled, the force that was attached to the memory became inactive.
Another one is a memory from an incident that happened with my family.
Ever since I can remember, this was something that bound me all the time, and whenever I thought about it, I got shaken up, so years went by without being able to have the courage to face it. But last year, something happened which put me in a state where I couldn’t get that out of my mind at all, no matter what I was doing; I made the determination to face it once and for all and took on this challenge.
Facing it was much more difficult than I thought, and I almost gave up many times, but I believed that the cause was definitely within me, so I struggled out of the desire to reach it.
It was one night, a while later, when I was doing the meditation of discrimination in a state of complete exhaustion, that suddenly thoughts began to erupt. The emotions strongly tied to these memories gushed out one after another, and although I was almost dragged down by a negative energy unlike anything I’ve experienced before, without resisting, I stuck to only witnessing them. In agony, to the extent that I could hardly breathe, naturally, my consciousness began to concentrate on the Master. Before I could even notice, the emotions that were erupting completely disappeared, and the mind became calm. When I opened my eyes, the picture of the Master entered my range of vision, and I was filled with an exquisite feeling of tranquility.
Later, even if I recalled the various incidents and emotions from back then, I no longer got shaken up and disturbed by them. They still exist as memory, but the sensation is that of looking at a moving image.
I think that even though I challenged them in the meditation of discrimination, it was only when I was cornered in the place where I was in so much pain, the only thing I could do was cling to the Master, then naturally, that led me to enter a state of concentration on the Existence of the Master, and to become dyed in the purity of the Master, and through that, the emotions entangled with the memories vanished.
“Leaving “zero-sanskara” behind in the mind’s memory [thereby neutralizing other sanskara].”
It all began when I became curious and amazed about this “zero,” but through these two firsthand experiences, I understood that through the continuous application of the practice of Yoga, the Truth really becomes real.
Through practicing and training in Yoga, we can eradicate the cause of pain totally from its root.
There is nothing else that could be more certain and assuring than this.