Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Satsangha, Kyoto, 2013
Testimonies from Actual Practitioners
• Experience with Participating in the Jayanti Offering
January 2023, New York
• Discovering the Power of Sangha
January 2023, New York
• Let the Guru Show You the Way — Part I
January 2023, New York
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Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Translation of Satsangha
Saturday, January 08, 2011, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
This is the first Satsangha since the arrival of the new year. At the entrance of the Ashrama, a dazzling arrangement of allspice, white pine, Christmas berry and kale, welcome the visitors. On the second floor, a scroll hangs on the wall with Shri Mahayogi’s calligraphy, “無一物中無尽蔵 (Nothing whatsoever in the mind is inexhaustible emptiness and joy.)” Everyone is stunned by the beauty of the Ashrama, every part of which has been cleared and tidied up from corner to corner. Another point of focus was a new, framed miniature painting by Shaci. Everyone is taking turns looking at it.
Today, there are many first-time participants: a woman who saw a flyer, a colleague of Mr. Takahashi (Shocho), Mr. Saito, and Ms. Uemura, who has been attending asana class. Mr. Nagakawa has returned from half a year abroad and is participating after a long absence. The disciples are filled with bright expressions of joy at being able to see Shri Mahayogi after spending time with their respective families during the end of year and new year break. Shri Mahayogi comes up to the second floor, and when everyone is settled, Shaci gives a New Year’s speech representing everyone.
The Teachings for Beginners:
Meditation is Not Healing, it is to Bring the Mind
Toward the Divine, the Positive
(A woman who is participating for the first time asks about modern medicine related to her own occupation, then afterwards she asks about diet, and then about meditation, since she is taking yoga classes elsewhere now.)
Visitor: Trauma from my childhood appears; it happens when I am undergoing counseling, and in the case when I am being healed only through meditation, too. Is it natural for these sorrows to arise?
MASTER: At times, they can appear. Counseling cannot bring a fundamental solution. Nowadays, there are so many different so-called counseling and therapies, but they are completely different in depth compared to Yoga. Perhaps, they may act as a temporary release of stress or a change of mood, at least.
Visitor: When I’m looking within my own mind and pain arises, then should I just keep looking at it?
MASTER: No, not that way. Meditation is not such a negative thing. (Emphasis) It’s much more positive. Rather than looking at such negative things within yourself, shift the course towards the divine, positive things within yourself.
Visitor: I should ignore negative things when they arise?
MASTER: Right, you can eliminate them as they arise. And when they appear—they are memories, and in Yoga, these are called sanskara, relics from your past lives, and it is considered that they create [different] sorts of psychological tendencies in this lifetime; however, they are lying dormant so deeply within the realm of the mind, so much so that they may be quite difficult to find even with meditation—in Yoga, one focuses on more positive things, yet even then, if negative things do appear, they are confronted as they arise. That is the easier way to eliminate them.
Visitor: How do we confront them?
MASTER: As you are going through [the process of] learning the Truth, you check these negative issues against the Truth. So then, since negative things arise due to something called ignorance as its original cause, and since ignorance is like the clouds that hide the moon, when put in front of light, they get cleared up or disappear eventually—and that is called discrimination, and it can be done easily as you progress in Yoga. That is why there is no need to focus on the negative things.
Visitor: So, focus on positive things.
MASTER: Yes, meditation ought to be focused more on positive things. Such is meditation. Meditation has to have an object, [so what matters is] what you concentrate on. The psychological experience of grasping the object of meditation, as if assimilating the mind with that object, or becoming one with that object, is summed up in one word as “meditation.” What is summed up in one word, “meditation,” begins with concentration first. Have an object of meditation, gather the mind upon it, and concentrate upon it. Then, [as the result of that,] one will gradually enter the state where the mind becomes assimilated with that object.
Visitor: What should these objects be?
MASTER: I say one must choose one of three objects: one is the Truth—in learning the Truth, one takes these words of Truth to be the object of concentration; another is the true Self, your real Self—It is not the mind, but that which exists as Pure Consciousness, and that is your real Self, the true Self; the third is God, or a divine existence who symbolizes a God—to put it simply, Lord Shakyamuni and the like, who truly embody God; these are the objects of meditation. Choose one of the three.
Visitor: I should choose one out of the three to meditate upon?
MASTER: There is no need to concentrate on anything other than one of these.
Visitor (slowly): The words [of Truth], the true Self, and God.
Visitor (as if feeling something deeply): Thank you very much.
MASTER: To concentrate and meditate on one of these three objects is the central task at hand, or what must be done in Yoga. And you might be practicing asana, which seems to be something like an exercise, but that is a basic part that can create a foundation in which the body and breath are conditioned, and the mind is calmed. Therefore, learn the Truth, and meditate on one of the three objects that I just mentioned, and attain Satori, the realization of the Truth—that is the center of Yoga. Please proceed in that manner.
(The visitor keeps asking one question after another, starting with whether she should quit her job or not. After hearing Shri Mahayogi’s teaching about meditation, she finally softens her expression to that of being at-ease, and, as if she deeply understands something, she whispers to herself, “There is not much else I can do but to quit my job then…” Shri Mahayogi gently encourages her, saying, “A new path will surely open up.” The visitor then seems at peace, and with a calm expression, looks up towards Shri Mahayogi. Shri Mahayogi kept answering her questions, lightly yet decisively, from the beginning to the end.)
Seeing the Truth Correctly, Live Your Life Steadfastly Grounded
Without Becoming Confused by the World of Dreams and Illusions
Mr. Saito: The other day, a friend of mine fell [terminally] ill with a subarachnoid [brain] hemorrhage. When I got the call, I saw that I was quite distraught about it. When I thought about why I was so shaken up by it even though it wasn’t about me, I think it was because I encountered his family having to face the reality that what they expected of him for the future may no longer be possible. If I imagine myself in that situation, I feel fear toward having to lose what I am expecting in the future. In addition, there is also a part of me that thinks having expectations for my own future is a good thing; you know, people often say, “Set a goal, decide on an aim.”
MASTER: But then, what is that goal that people are aiming for, or what are they pointing their expectations toward?
Mr. Saito: Well, after all, I think they want to be happy…
MASTER: What is it concretely?
Mr. Saito: Concretely, it’s about spending joyful time with family in the future, having a normal ordinary life, going overseas on a vacation, buying a nice car…I think we expect to be able to lead this kind of satisfying life.
MASTER: Now, is what makes these things constitute happiness really the Truth? A hundred years ago, we didn’t have overseas vacations, did we?
Mr. Saitou (startled): Right. (as if being pierced right through with something)
MASTER: A hundred years later, it may be normal to travel in space. I can’t help but think that the sense of happiness is like an illusion that is influenced from the outside according to each era in history. In Zen, the word “dream” is used often. “Dream—everything should be truly perceived as such [illusion]”—it teaches that this world is like a dream, and that you never know when it is going to disappear for the dream is not reality; therefore, chasing after a dream within a dream is in fact not the Truth, so by taking a philosophical view on life, and seeing the Truth correctly, live your life steadfastly grounded without becoming confused by the world of dreams and illusions.
Everyone seeks happiness, yet they’re under the illusion that happiness is created by relying or depending on something; it could be the health of family, or a decent living condition, or like the sense of happiness from having a joyful time together, such as travelling overseas. Certainly, these things can provide one of the happy feelings; however, just like dreams, they last only for a fleeting moment, and when one wakes up, they disappear.
The other meaning of the word Satori is to wake up. It means to wake up to the Truth. By Truth—what is indicated is to realize the ultimate happiness, bliss, which everyone is seeking. It is not something that can be brought about by being dependent on something; it is independent to begin with. There is an independent, inherent bliss that exists within oneself. If one can find and know this and wake up to It, then what is considered to be happiness in this world will truly vanish just like a dream. And you will no longer chase this silly dream. Even for one’s own family, if each member can know the Truth, and taste that bliss, there will be an incomparable, unprecedented height of happiness. It can neither be destroyed nor will it ever disappear. True happiness (Shri Mahayogi gently smiles)—find It out.
Mr. Saitou: Yes.
MASTER: Indeed, that news about your friend was shocking, I’m sure. However, it is like the decree of the world—illness and aging, and death, are universal themes that make the mind suffer definitively. It is certainly so if it is about yourself, and [so too about your friend,] when you hear about people close to you, you may feel as if it is happening to your own self. It’s nothing bad to feel that way, but then, even more so, an unbreakable mental strength is what you want to have. I might be a bit older than you, so now I’m entering a period where my classmates are dying one by one every year. It is inevitable.
(Using simple, easy language, Shri Mahayogi explains the teachings that indicate Satori to Mr. Saitou, who is a first-time visitor.)
Kinkala: Please teach us what kind of state the state of the complete disappearance of attachment is, from the perspective of Yoga, and also, about the necessity of getting rid of all attachments before the meditation of atman vichara.
MASTER: For that you need to have an understanding of what the mind is. In a way, with having the three central pillars of the egoistic or the selfish-consciousness, called ahankara, intellect, and thoughts—various thinking and emoting—it is as if the mind holds everything, such as memory, sleep and many other things. And within memory, attachments towards various things that are called karma and pain-bearing obstacles are planted like seeds. To use an analogy, it is as if the mind is covering the soul, as the nucleus, from the outside. Therefore, the reason why the mind cannot see the soul is due to the mind being constantly active towards the external; it cannot see the internal, which transcends its own self. That is the fate of the mind itself. Because of that, inevitably, the mind just becomes attached to the objects that are of the quality of the pain-bearing-obstacles based on its memory, and even if they are transitory and erroneous, it continues to strive to seek happiness and freedom within this world, regardless of how transitory or erroneous they are. As a result, what they taste of is suffering, sadness, and hopelessness. Therefore, if you want to meditate on the true Self, then first, you must eliminate the mind, which covers the true Self, that is, for the soul to be as if it is transparent. That is discrimination—discrimination is not something that is difficult, it is about correcting the errors [of the mind] by learning what is right, the Truth, and checking the mind with the Truth. By correcting the errors, any attachments to wrong things are eliminated; and eventually, only when the mind becomes pure, meditation toward the true Self becomes possible for the first time.
As the mind is no longer affected by the karma or pain-bearing obstacles that the mind itself has created by itself, and becomes transparent, the mind transforms such that it works in each situation accordingly as a simple tool. [In other words,] if the cause that is caused by pain-bearing obstacles, attachments and actions directed toward the wrong things ceases, as a result, actions become simple instead, such that you will deal with what is necessary according to each situation. Yet, at the same time, your passion towards Satori will be heightened, and the meditation toward the true Self or God will come to be deepened. The soul is neither the body nor the mind; and in another name it is the true Self, and that is the Real “Self.” Because precisely that Existence is the Only Reality once that Truth is known, then the mind and the body take on the role of tools or servants for the true Self. Until then, the mind thinks that it is the protagonist—that is the ego-consciousness. Nevertheless, that is a mistake.
Visitor: If I recognize the true Self, will the way I live change?
MASTER: It ought to.
Visitor: It will shift towards helping others, naturally being kind to the environment…
MASTER: Yes, exactly. More than anything else, you yourself will be saved first.
Visitor: But wouldn’t I get a sense of powerlessness towards the tragic state [of the world]?
MASTER: No, there will never be any bout of powerlessness that touches you, since you will make the best effort you can exert at any given moment.
Saturday, January 07, 2012, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Shaci introduces Mr. Suzuki from Chiba prefecture. Mr. Suzuki read Satori last year, participated in Satsangha, and has been passionately attending the Mission’s classes in Tokyo since then. Mr. Suzuki greets Shri Mahayogi with a smile, and Shri Mahayogi responds with a smile. Mr. Suzuki begins to ask a question in a calm tone.
Mr. Suzuki: Ever since I was a child, there is something I kept wondering about, and that is about consciousness. There is no way for me to verify that others have consciousness just as I do, so I wonder if others see the world just as I do. If others too have consciousness, then why can’t we simply share that one consciousness, and why does this consciousness only belong to me? In the teaching of Yoga, only that which is One exists; the true Self is the Pure Consciousness. If that is the case, then it is strange that there is a separation such as others’ consciousness and my consciousness. How should I understand this?
MASTER: First of all, the confusion around what the word “consciousness” indicates is one of the causes for creating that question. From the understanding in Yoga, consciousness is the Pure Consciousness, like light. Well, it’s something called Atman, and it has been named consciousness, and just as I mentioned that it is like light, It shines upon something, but it doesn’t say anything; it says nothing. Yet, normally, the mind thinks, feels and speaks about various things. Therefore, the Consciousness, as the essence of yourself, others and everything, is one and the same, but since the realm of the mind differs respectively from person to person—if there are ten people, there are ten different minds with ten different colorings. That’s why thoughts do not universally align. Therefore, the difference of consciousness you just mentioned can be considered to be the difference between the minds, the difference between the thoughts created by the mind. And, the reason why various aspects of the mind are shown is because it is projected by the Consciousness that is like light; so, when it comes to that Consciousness, then it is a universal, common thing. That is the way of understanding in Yoga.
Mr. Suzuki: So, the reason why I feel like I am trapped inside my own body is because I believe the physical body or the mind to be myself, rather than that Consciousness.
MASTER: Yes, yes. Since the Existence called Consciousness is not limited to the physical body or the mind, but is the universal and free Existence itself, inevitably, it feels like it is trapped within this physical body and mind.
Mr. Suzuki: When the mind reaches the ultimate state of being restrained, the feeling of being trapped in the physical body disappears?
MASTER: Yes, it will disappear.
Mr. Suzuki: At that time, where does it feel like the self is residing?
MASTER: At that time, even the concept of self and others vanishes. What is there is the Eternal Existence, shapeless and unnamable. And that is the truth of Consciousness itself. In other words, when the mind and the world, which are the objects that the light was shining upon, disappear, the act of shining itself is no longer necessary, so the state of independence and self-existence arises within the Consciousness itself. Actually, it has originally always been that way, at this very moment too. [Thus,] one will be in the state where there is only That.
Mr. Suzuki: So, even though there is no object, one can recognize the Existence itself, or become that state.
MASTER: Yes, the Existence recognizes itself. That is how it is.
Mr. Suzuki: Thank you very much.
MASTER: As long as one is born, one inevitably has to inhabit a physical body, and, through having a mind, has to do various activities. The mind cannot help but be lured by the illusion of this external world and lose sight of the Pure Consciousness that is deeper within—such is the state of this world. Then, one must return to Consciousness itself, the origin of this world, again; and to do so, one must eliminate the illusory imaginings. That is the restraint of the mind. By restraint, it means literally to eliminate the activity in its entirety. Yoga, in its long history, has made many valuable, precious discoveries. Even within the time frame of a day, there is a period of being awake, a dreaming period, a period of deep sleep, and there are differences in the world you see at these respective times. We cannot help but believe that the time while we’re awake is precisely reality; however, in fact, this too is one of the illusions. During the dream state, the world takes on a different form, and in deep sleep, even that disappears. When one completely becomes the Pure Consciousness itself, then these three worlds disappear; and more than anything, the Reality, the Existence, is there. Despite how real this world might appear…in other words, all human beings seek happiness and freedom from Reality, but one cannot find It in this world. In the end, suffering and sorrow follow you. The mind believes that only this world is the truth, but in actuality that is incorrect; in Yoga, by eliminating these attachments to incorrect things, the obsessions that the mind created, you remove these errors completely. As a result, the mind can be liberated, and the Existence, the Reality, awakens itself. That is the whole of what Yoga tries to teach and practice.
Sananda: Is there a case where one can feel the Existence itself without having the mind be completely still?
MASTER: Not in a perfect sense. However, one can feel a sliver of it, or feel it a little. It is possible to feel it.
Sananda: In meditation?
MASTER: Yes. At the same time, through eliminating pain-bearing obstacles, that is, ignorance, which are dominating the mind.
Mr. Iio (Gopala): During last year’s meditation classes at Campus Plaza, there was something that I felt in meditation; I think the root cause of my mind’s tendencies are ignorance indeed, but [during meditation] I also felt the cause was in raga (likes), one of the five pain-bearing obstacles, and further, if there is raga, then it means there is the next one, dvesa (dislikes), that means the notions of both like and dislike are brought about together in tandem—and in that moment [when I saw it], it was like something clicked that made sense in me and brought clear recognition. I felt that in order to conquer duality, there is no other way but to practice asana thoroughly, together with discrimination, as Shri Mahayogi has always been saying to practice—it all boils down to those practices. Is that the right understanding?
MASTER: Another important thing is tapas in daily life. Since, whether it is at work or elsewhere, there is always duality following you around, likes and dislikes or comfort and discomfort, and what you need to practice in action is transcending them during daily life; in other words, practically train yourself to go beyond [these dualities such as likes and dislikes, comfort and discomfort] in thoughts and actions—that is one of the important [practices of] tapas.
Mr. Iio (Gopala): So, when we practice this—if there is something I don’t like, then I need to face it and think why I don’t like it by seriously applying the Truth, and discriminating it. Then, if those are tasks that I don’t like, then I take care to do them diligently. Is this how the practice goes?
MASTER: Regardless of what it is, the very fact that an emotion of dislike or resistance is created means raga and dvesa are in action already, therefore there is no need to analyze it further. Instead, when these thoughts arise, then actually perform the tasks; even if at first, you may resist or hate it, you do them.
Mr. Iio (Gopala): I see now that I may have been thinking too much.
MASTER: Rather than think, act. Practicing it through concrete action is tapas.
Ms. Morioka (Sati): Even if I don’t want to do something that I have to do, just do it, right?
Haridas: The cosmetology school I was attending made students clean the toilet and floor of the classrooms by hand every day. At first, I hated it a lot, but as I continued, it became pleasant; and one day when a TV crew came to do a story about the school, as I mentioned that, the teachers were impressed. Eliminating likes and dislikes—[from my experience] just by simply continuing to perform tasks, I realized I neither liked nor disliked them, and I was fine. So then, I think that the key is to take the initiative to do what you don’t like.
MASTER: There was a thinker who turned that into a philosophy and practiced it. The organization still exists today called Ittoen [founded in 1904 in Kyoto]. I can’t recall the founder’s name, but he believed that in order to heighten the quality of humanity in a person, the tasks that people dislike most should be performed, so that is what they practice; and that was lavatory cleaning, in which back then, the lavatories were of the type that collect human waste. During the time when there were no flushable toilets like there are now, he went around home by home, asking permission to clean their lavatories, for he saw that it was the best means to heighten the quality of his own mind or to purify his own mind. He was quite a bit devoted to this and others started joining him, and it developed into a large organization called Ittoen, which I think still exists. Well, since nowadays, however, the toilets are clean and flushable, the architectural style of the houses [in Japan] is different, [meaning there are no longer outhouses or places where it can be easily collected from outside,] and even if they make requests to clean toilets, people may not readily let them in, that method of practice may now be more difficult to do. [As for housing,] the founder believed that in order to live, he only needed a space to sleep, and he and his wife lived their entire lives in a space that was the size of single tatami mat, [about 35 square feet total,] for each of them. They’re still based in Yamashina district in Kyoto. It comes from the same philosophy or thought that Haridas mentioned.
Sananda: Looking at it from the law of karma, then is it proper to think that that is the Truth?
MASTER: You can consider that it is one of the means of extinguishing pain-bearing obstacles or ego.
Sananda: To take the initiative to do what you don’t like—the [teaching of Shri Mahayogi] to “not do what you want to do” is the same…
MASTER: It indicates the same.
Haridas: That is why when we practice this, we actually experience firsthand that in fact the mind was the one that ultimately created all of these [likes and dislikes, and comfort and discomfort].
MASTER: That’s right. If not, just like raga and dvesha, the mind continues chasing after what one likes, more and more, and for dislikes, to avoid them more and more—such is the tendency of the mind. The founder’s name was Tenko Nishida, I think.
Sananda: The daily cycle, too, is considered to be like reincarnation. Earlier, Shri Mahayogi mentioned that Yoga discovered that [there are various states of consciousness] in waking, in dreaming, and in deep sleep. When I was introduced to that teaching, at first I didn’t quite understand it. But as I began to practice it, it started to become fascinating, especially the fact that there is a state of deep sleep. Obviously, during that time, everything is forgotten and the world ceases to exist, and I thought that that state is very interesting to think about in terms of the relationship between the mind and the world; as one wakes up, then the world continues to unfold, or in other words, be perceived—I think that is what they must have discovered. I think that we can understand that any of these three states are merely states of mind, and that the consciousness during deep sleep, dreaming, and being awake, like we are now, are simply differences in state. I’d like to ask about Shri Mahayogi’s related experiences at a very young age, or about whether he discriminated about these three states of the mind when he was doing discrimination during his teenage years, and how he perceived these three states back then.
MASTER (after a little pause): These three states are nothing philosophical or ideological; they were discovered through very practical, scientific inferences and observation, just like how Newton discovered the universal law of gravity. This was the way of thinking about how the mind goes through such states over the course of a day. It is something that anyone can experience without learning philosophy; nevertheless, what can be clearly discerned is that these three states are non-substantial and that they are not reality, and that there is a fourth consciousness, which is the state of Truth. And precisely because I knew this fact, I had no doubts and did not get caught up in them. In this sense, when I was a teenager, and with regard to discrimination, I had already grasped it. So normally, most teenagers probably want something bright in this world such as becoming famous (laughter from all), or acquiring various things, or dreaming about various wishes to be this way or that way. But without being lured at all by these dazzlements, I kept deepening meditation further and further, and I spent that time on grasping and clarifying the mechanism of it, thoroughly.
Sananda: So, for Shri Mahayogi, these three states were perceived as the same form.
Sananda: So, it wasn’t like the consciousness in waking time was a more superior consciousness, and such.
MASTER: No, not like that at all.
Sananda: So, they were all the same state but simply with differences in conditions.
MASTER: Yes, that’s right.
Sananda: In our case, the time when we are awake is when we’re protagonists, and in order to rest our bodies, we sleep—and these states are cyclical, and unbeknownst to us, they arise naturally. But, I think the way it goes is that we sleep for the sake of our activities during the time we are awake, and I think that on one hand, that is correct. Yet, viewed from the state of Yoga, does it mean that these are mere differences in state, and therefore it does not necessarily mean that only the time period when we are awake is the important time—is that so?
MASTER: Right. And there is one more thing [that I was doing]; actually, it was later that I found out that it was described in the Yoga Sutra, so to speak, the Truth. On the other hand, I was trying to find out, despite the fact that in this world every single thing is born and eventually dies inevitably, what the positive or affirmative meaning of having a limited existence is. Of course, when considering it based on karma, it is born from karma, it is active throughout its life because of karma and experiences sufferings, and ends its life due to karma, and then goes through the cycle of reincarnation—that is the general understanding for sure. This is the unfolding of karma based on ignorance as its root cause. However, I was not satisfied with understanding just that. I was looking for a proactive meaning or purpose for existence, that is, being alive, even if it is limited. The answer led to lila, ultimately. Lila has neither ignorance nor karma to begin with, and the concept of it is the Atman or God itself, manifesting in this world. So, since It is formless, and It is the Only Existence, that is fine as is, however, I think that I wanted to add the positive and affirmative meaning, which is sharing Joy and Love by expanding the Self into all things in the universe in order to enjoy the Self in diverse enjoyments.
Sananda: Shri Mahayogi said he extinguished emotions…so…
Sananda: That is to say, it is because it was not for Shri Mahayogi’s own sake, I thought when hearing it. The reason why Shri Mahayogi wanted to add a proactive, affirmative meaning to this world, despite [it being limited], is because that is the Truth?
MASTER: And at the same time, to enjoy it—for joy. It cannot be enjoyed as an Only Independent Existence—I should say, for the diverse variety of enjoyment and joy.
Sananda: From the viewpoint of Shri Mahayogi, Shri Mahayogi himself does not have ignorance, therefore he does not see ignorance in this world, I think. Therefore, from Shri Mahayogi’s perspective, everything is lila, I suppose.
Sananda: In our case, seeing from our minds’ perspective, since there are parts that are originated from ignorance…in other words, for Shri Mahayogi, your actions ended up shifting towards eliminating the ignorance on our side?
MASTER: I think that was the case. That is why my ideal isn’t necessarily manifested. That is, even if one thinks of lila alone, it cannot be enjoyed thoroughly; objectively viewing it, everyone looks like they’re uniformly tormented and are struggling, bound by karma. Well, that is the reason why the same Truth, [but in different forms,] such as raja yoga or jnana yoga, are necessary, and I hope that by applying them, you awaken as soon as possible and can exist in the world as lila. (Toward Mr. Suzuki) As you mentioned in the beginning, I felt strange seeing so many people who were not the same as me. (Shri Mahayogi laughs.) The reason for that was because of karma, and even though each person is having different pain-bearing obstacles with different objects, by being dominated by pain-bearing obstacles, and by being active through them, differences arise, and they become separate and not the same. There is a sense of sadness and loneliness in that.
Sananda: There is a quote from Vivekananda which left an impression on me, and it was a teaching about who enjoys the painting1: neither the buyer nor the seller of the painting can enjoy the painting; that man who looks at the picture who is neither interested in selling nor buying it, enjoys it. And Vivekananda said, “I never read of any more beautiful conception of God than that: [‘He is the Great Poet, the Ancient Poet; the whole universe is His poem, coming in verses and rhymes and rhythms, written in infinite bliss.’]” I thought, probably we’re interested too much in buying and selling, benefit and loss in this world, and we’re not enjoying it simply.
MASTER: That’s right. Possession and non-possession—those thoughts follow you around.
Haridas: This is what I heard when I first met Shri Mahayogi—when he was about eight to ten years old, he just witnessed without any emotion as a daydream that he was going to be cremated; then, he was simply looking at the Earth from far away; and Shri Mahayogi was always in that Consciousness, and assumed that everyone else was the same as well. (Shri Mahayogi laughs.) As I heard further, it was the Consciousness, the Self, and I didn’t go, “Wow,” but rather thought, “I am absolutely confident that he is the God-man I was supposed to meet. No doubt about it.” That story, in and of itself, about the Consciousness of the Seer—Shri Mahayogi has already been in that state since then.
MASTER: Yes. Unmistakably, the experience, in other words, the self-awareness, or the realization—it was since then. Until then, I was not aware of it (laughing). I was just innocently playing around without thinking anything.
Haridas: Shri Mahayogi began to understand the difference around junior high or high school?
MASTER: Yes, around junior high.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): About the fourth consciousness that was mentioned, when one awakens to the last, fourth consciousness, then do the earlier three consciousnesses disappear?
MASTER: Yes, they disappear. When they disappear is when one awakens to the fourth consciousness for the first time.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): When awakened, there is no scattered consciousness, no dreaming, no deep sleep, is that correct to say?
MASTER: At that moment.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): But when one realizes Satori, then that state continues all the time, right?
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): Then, there is no deep sleep, is there? I wonder, what exactly is that? Does this mean that one is even awake during sleep?
MASTER: The fourth consciousness is awake [all the time]. It is the same with everyone. Yet, it doesn’t mean that just because the fourth consciousness awakens, that the other three disappear completely. It means that they continue working just as mere functions, but without being affected by ignorance or pain-bearing obstacles. They do not affect karma, but rather, they ought to do good work; to work positively.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): So then, these consciousnesses remain in a state without pain-bearing obstacles?
MASTER: Yes, when it comes to that state.
 “God in Everything” Oct 27th, 1896 London
Ms. Sawahiro (Satya): Is the origin of the word lila, sparks or flickering lights?
MASTER: Well, it is like brilliance or glittering sparkles, yes.
Ms. Sawahiro (Satya): That was unexpected when I first heard it, because sparkles shine momentarily.
MASTER: Well, rather than a sparkle, it’s about the sparkling of light. That is why light is often compared to God. Therefore, understand it as the brilliance or sparkling of God.
Ms. Sawahiro (Satya): Yes, I understand.
Mr. Iio (Gopala): In today’s conversation about likes and dislikes, Shri Mahayogi has taught us that it is important to act immediately as soon as we have a thought of [dislike or resistance]. Then I thought about the clinging to life, that if a feeling of clinging to life arises within me, it is also important to not just think about it, but to truly etch into my mind, seriously and thoroughly, how I want to live, to confirm that, and then act immediately seeing the Truth, seeing everyone as God, and by doing that, ego and self-consciousness disappear, too, and the four pain-bearing obstacles automatically disappear through acting from the Truth; of course, there will be struggles and battles that come along with that, but by being in action, ignorance is ultimately eliminated, I think. Is that the right understanding?
MASTER: There is one more. You’ve already learned the teachings of Truth, and you’ve also learned the stories or legends and biographies of the Holy Beings who have realized the Truth. So then, you have to see only That, make these your only ideal and goal, and think about them more intensely. Therefore, don’t think negatively at all. Constantly, you must have your mind filled always with proactive and lively, cheerful thoughts about these ideals.
Mr. Iio (Gopala): The mind becoming a cheerful, lively mind—for it to become sattva, does that mean it is empty, or nothingness? Is it the same state as the empty state of mind?
MASTER: It is the same.
Mr. Iio (Gopala): By becoming that, Truth naturally emerges?
Saturday, January 14, 2012, Mahayogi Ashrama, Kyoto
Madhavi: When Shri Mahayogi draws pictures or does calligraphy, since everything about Shri Mahayogi is pure, the pure manifests in form as the origin of everything; whereas, when we create something, do our creations come with our motives and intentions, for example, about how we want the image to be, or how we wish it to take form?
MASTER: That is so, yet if it is done according to its purpose, that is not a problem. It is not karma, and it is necessary to think and to innovate.
Madhavi: According to the purpose…
MASTER: Yes. Simply put, how much did Radha work to make Krishna joyous—her thoughts and actions were based solely on what would make Krishna joyous. In the same way, whenever you make or create something, why don’t you think about that idea, intending to make the Truth and God happy, then that would be good.
Sarani: I thought Radha was a very special existence, yet her position in society is as the wife of someone, a lover of God, named Krishna, and she is a regular person. Other characters that show up in kirtan are servants of God and various gods themselves, whereas Radha and Sita are normal human beings, yet they are worshipped—I was wondering about what the meaning of such an existence is. Is it the ideal of becoming one with God?
MASTER: Yes. When you look at her background, societally, she is a woman, and she is someone’s wife; however, leaving all that aside, and since what Radha sees is only Krishna, God, in that condition, [the meaning of] her so-called worldly marriage gets diluted, and because there exists only the union of God and soul, that is precisely what makes Radha special; and at the same time, Radha is considered to be the representative of all human beings. In this way, in the world, even though people may take on various roles as their roles in life, such as wife, husband, child, parent, these are issues within the realm of karma; on the other hand, since love toward Krishna is considered to be that of the transcendence of karma, it can be said that it is an ideal for all human beings and it is representative of all human beings.
Sarani: Radha gets angry often. (Shri Mahayogi and Sarani laugh.) Is that simply like when we are in romantic love, we get jealous because our expectations are not met and it ends in disappointment, and because we love the dear one, it makes us even more angry—an expression of human emotion? Ultimately, it concludes with, “There is no one else like you,” (laughter from all)—but is that just one of the emotions?
MASTER: In bhakti yoga, all five senses are to be focused toward God, and also, all five senses are used in savoring God—that is different from raja yoga or jnana yoga. Because of that, it’s a fact that the expressions of emotions are often brought to the surface quite a lot. Yet, from its beginning to its end, everything [in bhakti yoga] isn’t the mere fluctuation of the emotions of the mind with regard to human activities, but it is rather the fluctuation for the purpose of uniting with God, or I should say, it implies that, and everything—including that too—can be considered to be one of the experiences savored by the five senses. Inevitably, since such things are actually done concretely, partly in meditation of bhakti, these fluctuations of emotions that ought to be denied in raja yoga are often used. If you follow only the words, contradictions and misunderstandings may arise often; however, these are teachings that need to be penetrated into and perceived within the vessel called bhakti (cupping his palms).
Sananda: In actuality, poems and other expressions use emotional descriptions. Is it proper to understand that as we actually practice bhakti yoga in this world, these emotional fluctuations will occur, and we should understand them positively and walk on the path of bhakti?
MASTER: That is fine.
Sananda: Will that intensify as we proceed further in bhakti—meaning, will the fluctuations become stronger or more stable? Or can it even be generalized like that?
MASTER: (thinking for a little while) It cannot be generalized. The state of union is somewhat considered to be a stable state, yet something much more intense that may not be sufficiently contented by savoring it can break that stability, creating various fluctuations; though it’s still indubitably savored within that stability.
Sananda: As lila?
MASTER: Yes, it is. It becomes lila.
Sananda: I think it is possible to proceed, alternating between jnana yoga, raja yoga and bhakti yoga—is that okay?
MASTER: Yes. That is fine. Since it is not that easy to devote oneself to just one path, combining these elements, or in other words, taking turns would be the easier way to proceed.
Sananda: To explain this, the aim of Yoga is to make the mind unshakable, but on the other hand, in bhakti yoga, even the fluctuations of the mind are used positively to serve the aim of the practice, is that right?
MASTER: Yes. The bottom line is, simply, whether there is ignorance or not in the backbone, which is the background of the mind. If that is replaced with God or Truth, then it ties to God no matter how much there may be fluctuations of the mind; therefore, as long as ignorance is eliminated, there is no problem whatsoever.
Sananda: There was a question or comment from Ms. Kono, that bhakti is hard (laughter from all), that so many reactions and fluctuations of the emotions arise, so she said, “I rather admire the immovable raja yoga.” I see now that it’s okay to switch back and forth.
MASTER: Right. (laughs) The issue is the ignorance. As long as that doesn’t exist, it’s fine.
Ms. Morioka (Sati): Ignorance—does that mean selfish thoughts?
MASTER: Yes, it does. Selfish thoughts, or desires, attachments, these things; also, having incorrect ideas about the Truth.
Ms. Morioka (Sati): When we have incorrect ideas, we probably don’t know that on our own. What should we do?
MASTER: In that case, they need to be eliminated completely by applying discrimination through raja yoga.
Sanatana: I think that part of the actual practice of bhakti is to savor God, enjoy and deepen it, but I also think that there is a practice of bhakti in the direction in which one makes others savor and enjoy God. Bhakti is a part of emotion; I think that it can be expressed in various concrete ways, and it is also easy for people watching and hearing about it to grasp it and be affected by it—however, at the same time, that is exactly the part that can be easily seen as religious zealotry, which makes it difficult to convey accurately. In light of that, it is also difficult to figure out how to express it; having said that, I would like to know whether it is most important just to simply devote one’s own thoughts purely and whether we should think that it will manifest in form eventually? Or, in the case of the people like Chaitanya, Mira Bai or Vivekananda, who probably belong to this—is there a pathway specific to people like them?
MASTER: In bhakti, there is no orderly pathway like in raja yoga or jnana yoga. Even expressions in bhakti, there are many that are completely different in meaning from mundane, worldly expressions. For example, take one of the characteristics of bhakti, it often says, “mad, or crazy for God.” “Mad for God”—it is about being “mad for love,” in other words, “mad for Truth.” The word use of “mad” might be similar to the condition that is deviating from normal reason or intelligence in the mundane, worldly realm; however, it also includes a meaning of being absorbed in that object such that one cannot see anything else. The deeper this madness, the deeper the state of bhakti, and from within such a state, things are overflowing naturally, and influencing those around us as a result of that. In that sense, you can’t find a common-sense pathway for it. Even if emotions are shared, the center of those thoughts is occupied by pure things, and also, when bhakti is deepened to that extent, inevitably, the state that jnana yoga or raja yoga explains can also be present. Therefore, according to their respective needs, if there are people who seek it, it is possible to express it along that line. This is evident from the example of Chaitanya or Shri Ramakrishna. I think that it is also the same with Kabir and Mira Bai.
Even among all of you here, I’ve heard that in your kirtan activities, strangers folded their palms together or shed tears listening to it—I think that such Truth in bhakti, which was just mentioned, was overflowing abundantly there. Truly, it is the same with raja yoga or jnana yoga—the deeper the Yoga becomes, the more estranged from the mundane world one becomes. It may look as if one is a mad man through the eyes of the world. Yet, in fact, to be precise, those [who become that way] are indubitably the True Humans, the real people.
Sanatana: I myself think I can do much much more, and I think the current level is surely not all there is, but I feel that everything will be fine if I reach the point of becoming unhinged, then something may naturally manifest there.
MASTER (smiling): Yes, surely that is so. From now on, I want Shakti and Lila Players, [Shri Mahayogi’s names for the kirtan and theatrical activities, respectively,] to explode more and more—much more. (laughs) Really, that would be—I am super looking forward to that. (joyfully laughs)
Jayadevi: There are various attitudes of becoming mad for God or mad for love, aren’t there? The attitude of a servant, the attitude of a friend, or the attitude of a lover—do they all have the same intensity, or is madhura the most intense after all?
MASTER: Basically, they are the same, yet madhura is the most intense. That is because, compared to the other four, the role of Radha, or her own situation, is, as I mentioned earlier, that of a wife of someone, so societally speaking, it is a forbidden love, or an adulterous love. (laughs) It is not socially acceptable; nevertheless, she sticks to her love even though she has to go beyond a taboo, and it is there that it expresses or symbolizes the purity of love—that is how it is regarded; therefore, in the depth and the intensity of that love, madhura is considered to be the very zenith of (bhakti), its ultimate state. For the sake of love, for the sake of the lover, a societal common sense, which is logic, is no longer needed; it is not valid.
Jayadevi: Recently, we had a discussion about taking up the topic of Mira Bai in kirtan or the Lila Players. The state of Mira Bai is that of madhura, yet her poems are very servant-like, and very humble.
MASTER (smiling): I see.
Jayadevi: Her humbleness goes on without limit—and in that sense, too, for her, the only thing she sees is God; but, I cannot understand her state at all. I was wondering how Shri Mahayogi or anyone else thought about this.
MASTER: That is quite a natural thing for such a bhakta. There is nothing strange about it. (laughter from all) Is there something strange about that?
Jayadevi: I am amazed by the level of her humbleness. I’m still unable to understand her poems or her situation, which I understand that she is someone who sticks to it in a forbidden, most difficult situation—but I think the depth of understanding is according to the depth in the state of Yoga in each respective person.
MASTER: Right. Deepen yourself.
Shachi: Is the state of madhura only for when one is devoting one’s love towards a personified deity, or is madhura possible when loving a formless Existence?
MASTER: Do you mean, for example, Atman? (Shachi: Yes.) Or Brahman? No, that’s impossible. It is possible for you to feel or know that Atman through a personified deity, but since neither Atman nor Brahman has form, it is quite difficult to have them as an object of bhakti. Atman and personified deities are completely the same, so there is no superiority or inferiority or differences; however, that is the mysterious thing about Yoga—they merge.
MASTER: [They and you] merge, or unify—[they and you] become One, and will be known to be One. Although in theory, and philosophically, it can be said that a change occurs, in which the formless has taken on form, philosophy will be blown away if one is in that state; therefore, there is no feeling of strangeness. Since even these words truly disappear, the only word that comes out naturally is humility.
Shachi: My impression is that the attitude of servant and madhura are different in the level of intimacy, but does that mean that there are people who become One with the Truth solely through the attitude of a servant, and there are those who do not reach madhura even if they want to, because it depends on an individual’s nature and their characteristics?
MASTER: That is not an issue in particular. You see, as it is often said, even if you don’t touch all the water in the Ganges, if you touch it at one location, you have touched the Ganges; if you feel the connection with God, that means that you will know God.
Sananda: Ramana Maharishi, even though he realized Atman, he was still extremely drawn to Arunachala. Does that mean that it is because, as Shri Mahayogi mentioned now, in the place beyond logic, Arunachala is Atman itself, is God Shiva Himself?
MASTER: Yes. That is exactly the point of what I mentioned.
Sananda: In that moment, was he in such a state beyond words like bhakti or jnana, which is unexplainable?
MASTER: Yes, I think so. That’s why there is no contradiction whatsoever.
Ms. Morioka (Sati): When Vivekananda got angry when a Christian missionary said disrespectful things about Hinduism—does that mean that that was in bhakti, too?
MASTER: More than that, for Vivekananda, [he couldn’t stand] the sense of discrimination in religions; especially with Christianity in the 19th century, and perhaps it may be there even to this day, that with having a sense of superiority, Christianity despised other races’ religions. He expressed his anger toward such ignorance.
Gargi (Mirabai): In Bhakti Yoga there is a mention of the triangle of love that “we may represent love as a triangle,” and, “there can be no true Love without its three following characteristics. The first angle of our triangle of love is that love knows no bargaining.” “The second angle of the triangle of love is that love knows no fear.” “The third angle of the triangle of love is that love knows no rival.” In that book he says the reason was, “for in it is always embodied the lover’s highest ideal.” I don’t quite understand the third one.
MASTER (perplexed): Why? It is exactly as it is written (laughing). Love that is other than for God, that is other than that pure love, has rivals, one after another. Just as one romance ends and the next one starts, just as when one thing is gained, something else is then desired again, the rivals appear one after another. However, God, or the Truth, does not have anything comparable, and since It has a perfect form and content as the ultimate ideal, it is satisfactory as is. Therefore, there are no rivals (laughing)—this is exactly as it is spelled out. (laughs) No? Should I have read more deeply into it? (laughter from all)
Gargi (Mirabai): Does that mean that when one loves someone other than God, rivals appear, but when one loves God, there is no rivalry?
MASTER: Yes. Because in that there is already the perfection of the ideal of the sum total of everything.
Gargi (Mirabai): That means that when one competes with another, that means we are still not able to see the perfect ideal in it.
MASTER: Even if you try to see it [in your romantic love], you will be betrayed or the mind will shift, which lets that object [of your love] itself change; that is, you see various rivals there. However, in God, that is unlikely to happen; no disturbance can arise. Have I won you over? (laughter from all)
Gargi (Mirabai) (seemingly without confidence): I understand.
MASTER (smiling): Did you really understand? Are you sure?
Gargi (Mirabai): As Sarani mentioned earlier about Radha getting angry, why does Radha get angry?
Sarani: This is as far as I know, but Radha became angry because she could not see Krishna. (laughter from all)
MASTER: It’s a simple story (laughing). There is no need to complicate it. It simply just is.
Jayadevi: It means that there are no rivals for God, doesn’t it?
Gargi (Mirabai): So, there isn’t anyone at the same level as God.
Gargi (Mirabai) (finally seeming to understand): Ahhh, uh-huh, I see, I see. (laughter from all) Now, I understand!
MASTER: Now you understand. Thanks to Jayadevi (laughing). (All burst into laughter.)
Jayadevi:It was difficult for me too at first.
MASTER: The explanation by Vivekananda is truly clear, or it is incredibly insightful. I think it is well stated. (Towards Gargi) Don’t you agree?
(Gargi is laughing shyly.)
Shachi: Perhaps because Gargi’s bhakti has been deepening lately, she has been a bit strange, somewhat different from before.
MASTER: That’s a good sign for her (laughing).
Mr. Takashi Kunitomo (Ramdas): I still don’t get it. So, there is no other object of bhakti other than God?
MASTER: See, it is talking about love using an analogy. Love is likened to a triangle; just as there can be no triangle without all its three points, so does love require these three elements. One of these points is what I just mentioned now. (laughter from all)
Ms. Morioka (Sati): That love towards God…
MASTER (immediately): What we talked about was not about love towards God, but rather defining love itself.
Ms. Morioka (Sati): When it comes to love—there is the act of loving, but also there is the desire to be loved, I think.
MASTER (immediately): That is the human mind. That’s not what we’re talking about now. We are talking about Love itself, about what Pure Love is. Therefore, what you said too is from a different perspective. You just said, the act of loving, or wanting to be loved, but this has nothing to do with such things at all; those things are insignificant and of no concern. (Intensely) If you become Love itself, then where can the mind that says I want to love or be loved, possibly arise? If one is full of Love Itself and content with Love Itself, then what more is there to say? There are no words like loving and being loved any more. Loving and wanting to be loved are simply words that arise from the weakness of the human mind. What is real is to become Love Itself—because as its essence, Atman Itself is Love Itself. It is just that the mind that doesn’t know this says it wants to love or be loved—that is ignorance. (Looking around at everyone) In Truth, everyone is the Existence of Pure Love Itself. Therefore, there is no need to say anything more. (Tenderly) Indeed, the triangle of love exists within everyone.
(Tears well up in Ms. Morioka’s eyes after receiving Shri Mahayogi’s teaching, delivered with sternness yet full of Love.)
Sanatana: Buddha and Ramana Maharishi do not use words like love, but I feel the most Love from them, and I think humility absolutely exists where there is Love, and that in fact It exists already [within all], and it is a very intuitive thing that when one loves, one does things without even noticing that oneself is doing them.
MASTER: Yes, it’s exactly so. (nods quietly and gently)
Mr. Shocho Takahashi: In daily life, too, Shri Mahayogi dwells always in the white lotus, like a compass in my chest, giving me a sense of deep comfort and ease, but will that connect to the feeling of a bhakta eventually?
MASTER: Yes, in that sense, the pilot light is firmly on. So, then make it more intense and bigger, make it burn.
Mr. Shocho Takahashi: I don’t want the flame to go out, especially with just the pilot light (laughter from all)—thank you very much.
MASTER: Making the flame larger is possible through intimacy.
Madhavi: The ultimate form of that intimacy is Radha. So then, whatever Radha does or thinks or says, will that become the same as what Krishna does, or will it remain Radha’s?
MASTER: No, it will become Krishna’s.
Madavi: So, it means that it becomes the same as what Krishna does.
Mr. Takashi Kunitomo (Ramdas): We have been taught three things as the objects of meditation, and apart from that, we’ve been recommended to meditate on death, in which we need to focus directly on it. Is there another object, where we focus on what the word “ignorance” actually indicates and drive out the things within our own mind, in other words, discriminate those things?
MASTER: Yes, there is. Simply, even if you work on practicing meditation on the Truth, God or Atman, as your main practice of meditation, it doesn’t go very well. Not going well means that when the realization of samadhi has not yet come, there is something that is obstructing it—that something is ignorance. Therefore, on the other hand, it is essential to remove those obstacles. In that sense, discrimination, meditation, or the meditation on death have an important role in eliminating ignorance.
(after a while) There is a scene in the legend of Hanuman in which he is cutting open his own chest; then, within his chest, there exists Rama—within his chest, there is only Rama. Why don’t you all try it once (gesturing with both his hands as if to cut open the chest) and see what kind of things will come out of your heart? (Everyone breaks into roaring laughter) In that moment, what will come out (laughing)? This is about a temple in the Uji area of Kyoto, whose sect is one of the sects of Zen Buddhism, called Oubaku-shu—there are three sects of Zen: Rinzai, Soto, and Oubaku—the philosophy of the Oubaku sect originated from a monk who came here from China. At that temple, there are many statues of Buddha worshipped there, and one of them, a statue of an arhat, [one who has advanced far along the path of Enlightenment,] is depicting a similar scene. Just like this (gesturing with both hands as if to cut open the chest), it has an open chest, and Buddha sits inside—you can see that it is exactly the same as the Hanuman legend. Therefore, this shows that even in Buddhism, the same thing exists.
* * *
Experience with Participating in the Jayanti Offering
January 2023, New York
“What Yoga seeks is the Truth; that is, what is called Atman, God or the Truth. If you aim to learn and aim to realize Yoga, then you must fix your eyes solely on that. What you mentioned now is merely an experience of the body and mind, therefore it is insignificant. No matter what happened, no matter what happens, do not spare any interest in the body or mind. Then you must see the Truth and solely meditate only on That. Even if conflict in the mind still remains, to overcome it is itself the training, and it is the discipline of practicing through action, therefore fix your eyes only on the Truth.”
—From Shri Mahayogi’s response to a seeker in
“Conquering the Mind,” Pranavadipa Vol. 91
The Mind—Concentration & Devotion
I was given a precious gift, that of participating in the Jayanti offering for 2022, by providing musical support for one of Shri Mahayogi’s favorite songs “Cry me a River” as rendered by Julie London. I was to support Sadhya, and Prajna musically. My role, with Anandamali as the director, would take on many transitions throughout this project. They had already started practicing for this project when I was suddenly asked to learn and sing basslines using no words, just syllables. From the very beginning, I was aware of this mind’s myriad imaginings and contortions towards the strong tendency for self-consciousness. This mind rarely ever remained steady and focused. I worried if my behavior would be good, or if I would get it right, or how I would learn, or if I looked awkward. I would sit back and listen to Sadhya repeat the song over and over, she would motion for me to join, and I would join, however, I would sit and listen then take a break whenever I could—the words Anandamali said to me at that time were—“Devotion must be very deep for this project,” which means that what was necessary was for me to be ever-present in offering the song. I realized I had to dedicate my whole being to this process, I was to give all or don’t bother. I stood up and tried to sing continuously without pause—repeat, repeat, repeat. What I noticed in singing with Sadhya was that in the past, when I practiced in order to learn something, I’d find numerous ways to distract myself. This mind’s tendency in repeating a phrase was to repeat, then take a trip down memory lane or criticize a mistake and then discuss it, but this practice and learning was different, it felt like a training. As Sadhya was doing it, she played the recording non-stop for 2-3 hours. There was no time allotted to waste. Concentrate—I needed to keep the mind quiet, the aim clear, and focus on Shri Mahayogi’s offering, every thought, word and deed.
I am Not the Body—I am Not the Mind
We practiced as many days as possible. I practiced by standing on my feet as I realized sitting would trigger within this mind a passive stance. At the time, I was having some ankle pain, I was able to ignore it and kept going. I continued to learn the bass line, I knew I would learn it as it was all music, and it didn’t involve words or lyrics, so with time I could learn it. It was then that Anandamali decided we needed to change the approach, and I was asked to be a background singer for the main song. I stepped up and harmonized with Sadhya and as she sang the melody, I would then take a part of the lyrics she just sang and insert a soulful embellishment to it, I would create new jazzy trills or gospel counter melodies as she sang. I experienced pure joy. This type of background singing is what I had always done with other singers and so it required very little effort for me to play and revel in the sounds of the music.
But what was the purpose of participating in this offering—it was to bring joy to Shri Mahayogi, especially on the day of his Jayanti.
At that time, we were reading Pranavadipa Vol. 96 in the Study in Practice group (SIP), and one reading about Radha and the gopi struck me. Radha cried because Krishna was distracted by the gopi—when asked why she cried she said that the gopi did not really know how to please Krishna, they indulged in pleasure they felt for themselves—the pleasure was theirs. It was not really done for Krishna’s joy.
But what was the purpose of participating in this offering? Was it for my sense enjoyment? Everything was to be done for Shri Mahayogi’s joy. I didn’t see that then, I was so focused on “me”—I thought that my joy must certainly be his joy, I understand now that this is the mind tricking itself. This was a lesson to be learned.
Anandamali asked Sadhya to develop lyrics befitting the rich meaning for the occasion of Shri Mahayogi’s Jayanti. For singing, she asked Sadhya to explore, experiment, go beyond her confined personality and that I become her muse. Then, at a certain point, suddenly Anandamali showed Sadhya to look at the words of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda to use as inspiration. From there, a song with lyrics took shape. As Sadhya practiced the song, once again, roles were changed. Anandamali asked suddenly that I sing the lyrics on the paper that had started to be composed, instead of her, (it means that the role of the main singer was switched), once again, from there—I sang with thorough enjoyment—BUT ALSO—from there the tapas, the fire began for me… Anandamali touched into my deepest fear, no more comfort and ease—I was to memorize the lyrics to the song, to lead the song, I was to be out front—no paper to read from. Out in front—
From the time I was a child, in the 4th grade, memorizing and performing in front of others was my greatest downfall. Even when playing classical piano at a concert, I would freeze and struggle through the performance. I felt shame, humiliation and much embarrassment—I just gave up. People came to see me, and I messed up. Even when I had to learn a poem for a play—memorizing anything verbatim was an extreme struggle for this mind. It was a trial indeed for all—I needed to depend on the paper. The mind said—I can’t do it… I was in deep muddy-water and had to learn how to swim by my own volition to shore. Knowing my difficulties, Anandamali said to me that my only task and focus for the Jayanti was to concentrate on, learn and internalize the lyrics and memorize them—I was to lead the song.
How would I do it?—REPEAT, REPEAT, REPEAT and study, and contemplate on the song.
Sadhya had memorized the lyrics to the song. She and I would alternate singing the lines. Some of it was sticking in my brain a little. I stuck with the lyrics I learned and really didn’t pay attention to the lyrics Sadhya sang; I was so focused on getting my part correct. I did whatever I could to memorize the words, I wrote each line out by long hand—over and over, I played the song, recited the words without the music. I noticed how the mind would sometimes engage and sometimes hide. It would pay attention to what everyone else was engaged in instead of focusing on what I needed to focus on. Restraining this mind was akin to tackling a wild bull.
I have a long-time issue with my ankle, so in the meantime, the ankle that had pain got worse and I began to limp, I had some pain, but the mind had enough going on with trying to learn the lyrics. I thought of Anandi, a disciple in Japan who Anandamali had invited to join the SIP group online for a few sessions a few months ago. She had shared with our sangha about how she worked with the pain she experienced when she had to teach asana class or work for the mission, how she fought the mind and dove deep into the aim of serving the other; she continued to do what needed to be done—I determined to not speak of my pain at all. I wanted my fellow gurubai to concentrate on what was most important for their own parts and for us to work together for Shri Mahayogi. There was no time allotted for attention to this body. How would I conquer this mind—to sing the lyrics with passion for Shri Mahayogi? Our offering had to be powerful, and I had to lead. I had to learn the lyrics well!
Sangha’s Devotion to Each Other Towards Seeking the Truth
How appropriate was the teaching for this mind—a line of the words of the song was “Oh mind give up, let yourself be drowned…” each time either Sadhya or I would sing it, Sadhya would look deep into my eyes. My mind reacted strongly with a bit of annoyance. What I realize now is that this mind wanted to hold on to itself and its beliefs very much. It said—“I know already.”
The ongoing love and devotion of the sangha team embraced me—they were working on what part they had to perform and also putting out so much effort in support for me learning the lyrics—but I would see how much was given even more as events continued to unfold. Ekanta, who was a part of the production team, a sangha brother with much passion, said to me—“For Shri Mahayogi, you will do it—You will do it!” At one point Anandamali said, “Do not bring the limit of the mind—you can do it!”, “When will you break through this Kamalakshi? This is an opportunity now, if not now—when will you do it?” My small mind whispered, “Next lifetime.” There was another part of me that screamed—”IT MUST BE NOW, no time to waste!!!” When I went home, I thought of how painful it was for me as a little girl to cry so much and have such strong internal pain (self-shaming), yes there were external voices that had appeared harsh, but the day in and day out crying that I would do to myself was excruciating. I did not want to repeat that in my soul ever again. I asked myself—”Who am I? Is this who I am? How long can I blame these memories?”
“When will you do it Kamalakshi?”—I took those words to heart and I knew I had to try my very best. As I tried to learn, I tried every memory trick possible. I read and repeated the lyrics over and over, then took to handwriting them many times—line by line… Sadhya had memorized the lines and was doing all she could to support me—she kept emphasizing to me that all my ploys I utilized might not do as much for my learning—much better was probably to really understand and learn the meaning of the words. In the meantime, Prajna played the guitar unceasingly over and over and over. Everyone practiced and practiced.
As the mind appeared to be learning a little more of the song—then suddenly there was a surprise, once again a change of plans…I received the message… “Prepare the mind, mostly all of what was learned for lyrics needed to be deleted.” There were new lyrics to be learned and there would be only 2 days to learn the new ones. My first thought was—“Can I have a button to push so that I can escape in a rocket ship to the moon?”… The second thought was—“Prepare yourself, you must do this!”
Sadhya had written new lines, and these lyrics were more cohesive and passionate. Once again, we alternated lines and I sang the ones that I was more familiar with. As Sadhya sang, I was impressed with how willing she was to explore and experiment musically with improvisation and different areas of her voice. It was not easy for her at all, this appeared to be a new area for her. I however had my focused task of learning the lyrics, and as Anandamali listened to us sing, she assigned me to sing some verses which were more unfamiliar to me. Very slowly I was somewhat learning them, but my biggest challenge however was the last four lines of the song. I subtly let Sadhya sing these lines as I embellished them—Anandamali was quick to pick up on the fact that I was hiding and depending on Sadhya to lead that last verse. Anandamali insisted I learn it well and lead all—even to the very end. I realize now that is the mindset that I need to have in order to carry the mission of Shri Mahayogi, that of independence, each person must depend on themselves, we must know our part thoroughly, then we can truly give from the heart to the other. I tried to memorize the words by learning the first word to each line, however I saw that they were just beautiful words to me—they were words. Then as I quieted myself and did as Sadhya suggested, think of why each particular word was there in that sentence—why was it in the order it was placed, what was the meaning and how did it pertain to Shri Mahayogi, the lines started to come together a little bit more.
The time for Jayanti was coming, only 1 day left….
I studied and practiced.
The day of Jayanti came—I walked in with a cane. As I limped on the right ankle, the left knee had overcompensated and swollen to more than double its size, I brought my ice packs and kept putting ice on it. I didn’t pay much attention to the body however, only to the lyrics. Sometimes the mind wanted a break and wanted to nap—I had to keep moving with action. When we rehearsed 1 hour prior to the actual program, sometimes I would sing the song alright with a few starter hints for lyrics being fed to me by Sadhya, at times it would be somewhat ok. It wasn’t solely what the words were as written on the paper. I understood that in the past, the mind would not want to learn exactly what was on the page and would say it was improvising. I wanted the mind to learn exactly what was in the lyrics of this song.
The mind was agitated, and as I looked around into the eyes of members in the sangha group, I imagined that I would see within their eyes resentment: “you are going to mess this up for us” or “how could you be so slow at learning these words?” or “oh Gosh—she messed up again!”. While others worked on setting up for the program and even during the program as members of the international sangha came on screen to speak, my music group gathered me into a circle in a corner and reviewed the lyrics with me—even as the actual program went on—they gathered me close and especially reviewed the last four lines with me. What I saw in their eyes was pure compassion—the earnest look said in silence: “How can we help you to remember these words?” They did all they could, they suggested… Say it as a poem, stand up and act it out… It was a good prep because we were next on camera.
It was time for MYMNY to go on to present the offering to Shri Mahayogi. As we stood in place before the cameras were to roll, I shook like a leaf, from the insides of my stomach to the tip of my fingers. Anandamali looked into my eyes and said with strong conviction, kindness and with the sweetest smile: “Kamalakshi—You Are Perfect,” (smile)……. “Camera!…Action”
Those words were like a lightning bolt that shot through my core and braced me to give all I had.
With the very first lyrics that came out of my mouth, the wording got reversed. The line made logical sense, but it was not how the lyrics were written. I did not let it throw me—I remembered in that moment that I was singing and offering to Shri Mahayogi everything I had, everything to him, he who accepts us warts and all—unconditionally. He has given us so much……
I focused and went on to sing, concentrating only on him, the rest of the words were delivered decently. We made it to the end without any other flubs.
Jayanti Offering Complete!!
Two days later, I received a call from Anandamali saying that the audio wasn’t clear in the performance we offered at the Jayanti, and she wants to re-record again, and am I up for it. I said, “Yes, absolutely.” I took this to mean that we were given a blessing. I was given an opportunity to go even deeper and I was given a second chance. Anandamali said, however, we cannot do the same thing again, as there is not such a thing as a second chance; this time everything would change except the song and we would make a video of the song, change of setting, clothes, movements, everything. I realized I needed to go mad to live on faith and truth alone—as the words to the song said. I continued to study the words especially the last four lines, even deeper. The words started to feel like a mantra to keep me steady. They were a vow and not just to repeat by rote, but really looking at each line and applying it to my life. Was I truly heightening my devotion? I don’t know how it happened, but I started to feel the words inside my body at some point and not as an external item.
We started this project right away. I still had the swollen knee, and there was some pain, but as we rehearsed and shot footage, I was not paying it much attention—I still applied ice to it, but for me, following the directives to make the video come together as one united front, and working with gurubai was all important and giving all I could, there was just not much room for the ego to criticize. When it did, I learned to smack it away immediately.
Anandamali’s role throughout this was astounding. She operated the video camera without mechanical stands or instruments. She had to keep her hands perfectly still and move the camera smoothly throughout each take. (Eighty-eight times we recorded, which we found out on a later day!) At times her body was contorted for a long period of time in order for her to get the best shot. I was inspired by her ability to remain fully focused and how much she concentrated her full attention on each one of us. There were times I lost concentration and forgot directives especially if there were many at once, but following her lead and her level of attentiveness, I tried to make every thought, movement and action totally for Shri Mahayogi. That is when I realized, this was not for my titillation at all, every note sung was to be for Shri Mahayogi’s absolute joy.
We worked overnight, and we met the next day to continue. There were many takes—if there was even a hint of complaint in my mind, I shut it down. (Let hands and feet work tirelessly for the sake of love.) I took care of the body and gave attention to it so that it would not be abused, but for the most part—I continued—the goal was for our team to become one…
Anandamali said—“Last take—Camera – Action!”
My mind said “This is the very last take in this particular setting, with this song, in which you will have the opportunity to express your love and devotion in this special way to Shri Mahayogi”—GO!!
I gave all I could!!!!
What would it be like to live life with this type of depth and spirit—giving all I can? I will keep these lessons close in my daily life, and try to develop myself so that each moment in life will have the energy and passion of this last take and in that way I will be able to fully carry out my small role in the dissemination of Shri Mahayogi’s Mission with deep love and devotion as much as possible.
Truly Kamalakshi …. Go ……Dive Deep!
Discovering the Power of Sangha
January 2023, New York
When Anandamali first asked me to participate in this year’s Jayanti offering for Shri Mahayogi, the first thing that became clear to me was that I could not approach this work with the same attitude that I had during last year’s Jayanti preparations. At that time, even though I worked with my fellow gurubai to learn to sing the Jayanti song, my heart was not in it and I felt disconnected from the others. So I felt that my first goal had to be to sincerely try to apply myself fully to whatever task or role was given. As the project developed, those roles and tasks changed and multiplied, and I tried to apply myself to prioritizing, shifting and problem solving like never before.
But ultimately this proved much harder to do than I expected. Despite my best intentions, and even though the process of rehearsing and preparing made me feel much closer to my fellow gurubai than ever before, I struggled with concentration and really being able to focus my entire attention, heart and being on the work that we were trying to do.
Just like for the previous Jayanti, the centerpiece of the Jayanti offering was to be an adapted song, one that Shri Mahayogi loves, but with new lyrics that were appropriate for the occasion and suitable to offer to Shri Mahayogi, and my role in this performance was to play the guitar part that would make it clear what the original song was.
Initially I felt intimidated by the style of the music and very skeptical of my ability to learn the part correctly, and in fact I tried to avoid doing so. I practiced a simplified version for a few weeks and convinced myself that I didn’t have to accomplish the impossible. Without even trying, I had already placed the music into a category of “I can’t” or “I’m not good at this.” In other words, I tried to get by on “good enough.” It sounds completely ridiculous now, but I somehow sincerely thought that “good enough” would satisfy Anandamali. Of course, I was wrong. I was falling back on my usual way of trying to find a quick and easy path to the outcome I thought I was supposed to aim for, instead of aiming for the true goal and purpose: to offer something with my whole being that could give joy to Shri Mahayogi.
But even before arriving at that point, I recognized something else that was new to me: Anandamali had called me in August to suggest this idea for Jayanti—to learn this song and offer it. But as I started to practice and August turned into September, and September started threatening to turn into autumn, I realized that I would have to take the initiative to make it happen. No one was going to call me to ask whether I was working on it or still was interested in trying it. That energy (and the courage to try when I felt that the results were very uncertain) had to come from me in no uncertain terms. And my mind being what it is, I came very close to just letting the opportunity pass me by. Picking up the phone to call the Cave to say “Yes! Let’s do it!” felt like the very first lesson: Be proactive and bring yourself to the task. No one is making you do this, and you are not doing anyone a favor by participating. This is an opportunity for YOU to learn and grow, and if the desire to do that is not there sincerely, you will not be able to do that in any way.
Anandamali made it very clear that in order to create something that was worthy of being offered to Shri Mahayogi, we had to put aside all other thoughts and intentions. Without fierce concentration, we would not be able to rouse the spirit of devotion and service that would truly have value and make Shri Mahayogi feel glad.
As we continued to practice as much as possible, I tried to think only of Shri Mahayogi: I pictured his face and eyes in my mind before we began every time, and tried to empty my mind of thoughts of myself, which would normally dominate me in situations like this. In the past, working on music projects would often bring up a lot of self-consciousness and self-doubt. I tried to focus as much as possible on letting go of those thoughts and directing my heart towards the Master.
But this still involved a lot of focus on myself and my role. Meanwhile, all around me the other gurubai were demonstrating an incredible commitment and focus. Anandamali, leading the way for all of us, was working on a mind-boggling array of considerations and details, from multiple translations from Japanese to English and English to Japanese for presentation at Jayanti, and for sangha in New York on the day of Jayanti, while also attending to the details of lighting, set decoration, costuming, subtitles, the ways of singing, technical issues related to sound quality and streaming, and even cooking meals for everyone. Her concentration on whatever task she was focused on was total; if we were practicing the song while she was working on a translation, she didn’t hear what we were doing at all. This presented a big contrast to my own state of concentration, which could be broken so easily by almost anything, from the dog who was in the apartment for much of the rehearsal time, to snippets of conversation around me, to physical discomfort in my fingers or back from continuing to play the song over and over for many hours.
On the day of Jayanti, there were still final adjustments being made up until the last moments before the celebration began. As we got closer and closer to the moment of the performance, rather than being in a state of concentration and tranquility, I started to feel nervous. Anandamali had stressed the importance of the very first note; that means it needed to be full of feeling, to sound beautiful and to evoke the familiar feeling of the original song. Despite the many times I had practiced, I still wasn’t confident about playing that all-important note. At the same time, right before the performance, the video of my Jayanti speech was to be played, and that contributed to my self-consciousness. Listening to the speeches of other gurubai, many expressing such uninhibited joy, made me even more conscious of my own struggle to embody and express that joy that seemed so natural in them. And in the end, my nervousness and lack of confidence affected my playing. I had walked myself into the very outcome that I had been trying to avoid. My fingers stumbled over the notes, and a wave of embarrassment and regret washed over me. As I found my place again, and Kamalakshi began to sing the opening lines of the song in her rich voice, I let go of those feelings and tried to reconnect my heart to my playing as much as possible, focusing on each note and trying to connect deeply to the meaning of the lyrics: dive deep, give up, let go. And when the song finished, I tried to let go of any feelings about the results of the performance or expectations about how it should have come out, and I felt that I was perhaps being given another lesson in why not holding on to expectations and results is something that has been mentioned to me more than once.
At the same time, seeing and hearing Shri Mahayogi’s face and voice, being together with sangha from all over the world, albeit virtually, and watching the footage of the work that had been done to complete the book, Shri Mahayogi’s Words of Truth, had a strong effect on me. More than ever, I wanted to follow through on breaking out of my shell and leaving all these unnecessary things behind.
Yet, even as we launched into recording the song in the days after Jayanti (technical issues during the streaming made this necessary), I continued to struggle to apply myself with consistent focus and devotion.
After the Jayanti performance and the recording project concluded, having seen such qualities as seriousness, consideration for others, willingness, eagerness, speed in taking action, cheerfulness in the gurubai around me, and comparing my own attitudes and behavior with that, has really helped me become aware of some of the areas I have to work on—in addition to removing the shell of self-protection that I have finally been able to start to recognize clearly, as time goes on and I continue to reflect on the feedback I received. Some of these observations were happening in the moment, but some required time and reflection for me to recognize and compare, as well as hearing from others about their own perspectives on the experience.
For example, I need to train myself to recognize how I can take responsibility for a task or a need of others thoroughly and promptly, and not hang back waiting for others to do it or not feeling a sense of personal involvement. “Responsibility” was a word that my sister Sadhya used in several of the conversations that we had after Jayanti, and it made a big impression on me. Also, it was pointed out to me that it was an area where I was not proactive or involved enough. As I have reflected on this more, the word “boldness” keeps coming up; pushing myself to take risks and “get my hands dirty” by being fully involved in whatever is going on, whether with sangha, or at work, or with friends or family—to crack through my armor, I need to develop some of the boldness and cheerfulness that I see in the actions of my senior gurubai.
Another type of resistance that came up for me was toward the need for constant repetition in practicing for the performance. As soon as we finished playing it through, we would start again, usually with only a very short pause. This really became obvious after Jayanti, as the project continued in the days that followed, because technical difficulties had marred the original performance for the Master and the sangha on the actual day of Satguru Jayanti, and therefore Anandamali decided that we should try to change the setting and record the performance again to offer to Shri Mahayogi. This meant restaging the song and recording a take in which everyone was at their best and unified in spirit and intention. And this turned out to be extremely difficult to do. Take after take, long into the night, we performed the song again and again, and at a certain point, after many dozens of tries, I started to doubt the effectiveness of the “Again! Again!” way of working on the performance. In a way, my mind was only seeing from the view that I have been involved in studio recording projects since I was a small child, and in my experience of that, constant repetition isn’t always the best way to keep the energy up and improve the performance; sometimes a break can bring a freshness and new energy that can help when a musical performance just isn’t coming together. But when we discussed the issues we had to face as a group after the project was finished, others had different views about it, and even pointed out that at times it was my own tired, upset or sad facial expressions that were affecting the takes and contributing to the repetition being necessary in the first place! And of course this was a hard thing to hear and accept, when in my mind, the intention to express joy was there. But hiding behind what I wanted to feel was something persistent and negative, based on these ideas of how to proceed, what I think I know or how I was interpreting my own feelings. The more I reflect on this, the more I can see that these kinds of contradictions in my mind, where the difference between what I may want to feel and what I actually do, or where there may be suppressed or unconscious ideas or motivations, are the very things that are holding me back from stabilizing my mind and seeing situations, and even other people, clearly.
As I’ve thought about it more, and considering what I had heard from the other members of the group about their own experiences and learning, I think that judging this process and this offering by a previous standard is not correct. Because in the end, I realized that it was not about music performance but about joining in the spirit of devotion and worship together to offer something that would truly make Shri Mahayogi glad: seeing us working together with a common aim, on something that was helping us expand our experience and our understanding of Yoga. And in this, I was truly not fully aligned with everyone else, precisely because I was using that worldly standard for how to obtain a particular kind of result…which may not even have been fully appropriate to the situation. I should not have been focusing on what I thought I needed. I should have been focusing on bringing the spirit needed each and every time, no matter how many times it took.
In addition to bringing my concentration to developing and expressing a true spirit of devotion through this work, I also became much more aware, through hearing from the others in the group about their own struggles and challenges, of what the others were going through. Although it may not have been clear to me at the time we were working so intently, and even though I was being encouraged repeatedly to think less about myself, I still continued to keep my self-concern at the forefront of my mind. This is an area that I need to deeply consider how to work on and improve as much as possible.
As the weeks have passed since Satguru Jayanti, one of the things that has stayed with me most is the power of sangha to help each other to learn and grow…even though that growth can feel uncomfortable or even painful! And it may take many repeated lessons for the stubborn mind, so set in its ways, to really change. Seeing the examples of the others and being observed by them in turn can show me things that words alone might never deeply impart, and having contradictions in my own thinking and acting pointed out to me gives me an opportunity to better understand myself and directs me to where my issues lie, so that I can try to discriminate and eliminate them permanently, for real. Left to its own devices, it’s clear that my mind will always gravitate toward what makes it feel confident and comfortable, while ignoring the aspects where I show weakness or incomplete understanding. Sometimes hearing criticism, no matter how constructive, can make me want to run away or give up, but of course avoidance is no solution. I have tried many times, in many ways and for many years, to avoid confronting myself directly and committing to doing the work that I recognize is needed if I want to transform myself. Despite my issues, my lack of clarity and my frequent struggles with consistency, and even though my mind still tries to get me to give up on Yoga, somehow I have summoned enough determination to keep trying. I believe that this determination has sprouted in me because I am starting to understand that, no matter how much I may try to escape, the only way out of my mind’s labyrinth is through Yoga. And I believe that the reason I have become convinced of that is because of Shri Mahayogi’s Existence and the grace he constantly exudes with every breath. I feel I need to reflect on this more and more every day, because the more I can feel connected to it and to the Guru and the sangha, the more I will be able to develop true gratitude for and joy in doing the work of the Mission, no matter how that manifests or what is needed.
If I truly wish to clear up my mind, understand it and ultimately become free of it, I need to trust my fellow gurubai and know in the depths of my heart that we are all working towards the same goal together under the same light of Shri Mahayogi. This Jayanti experience has served as a tangible, practical lesson in how the gift of Shri Mahayogi’s sangha uplifts and strengthens every single one, and I hope I can continue to confront myself and deepen alongside my sisters and brothers endlessly, until all of us are free.
Let the Guru Show You the Way — Part I
January 2023, New York
Starting with “Experience”
“To provide the experience first, that is important. Just because someone tells or explains to you how something is done, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have either learned or understood anything about it.”
Recently, in casual conversation about making coffee, I overheard Anandamali speak this message. Instantly, I felt that: yes, this is so true and is exactly what I am being given all the time—experiences—and an essential part in the process of learning anything, including Yoga, which must unfold into the scenes of our daily lives.
Starting from an experience, we then have opportunity to develop eyes to see what is behind it, what goes into it, what makes it be a certain way, and how many subtle things have the power to make big ripples on how things develop and come about and are then experienced.
Let’s take coffee as an example—now, I’m no expert in tasting or making coffee, so I’m saying this from being in the process of experiencing and learning myself—but from one view, it’s a simple thing, there are pretty much two ingredients, it’s just that the quality and amounts of those ingredients and way of preparing them can drastically change the outcome of that cup of coffee. I think everyone can probably agree on that.
If someone gives me a beautiful, delicious cup of coffee, I may think that it’s good coffee. But can I reproduce the beauty and deliciousness of that cup of coffee? I may think that I can if someone tells me the ingredients and method, and I may very well try. However, in actuality, it’s unlikely that I can do that. I may think I have done it, because it tastes like coffee when I’m done. But I will have only done it based on the surface, and with limited sensitivity and understanding. Because even in a simple cup of coffee, if we experience the same cup again and again, it may take a very long time, but we may start to become more sensitive and gain more nuance in recognizing its flavor, its temperature, its amount, its aroma, the effect of the cup used for drinking it, and much more. Only because of experiencing can we first start to even have the opportunity to recognize its subtleties, and then start to learn what it takes to create that. And even then, for most of us, me included, without someone graciously speaking about or pointing out these details and the impact on the bigger picture of the cup of coffee, the experience of drinking it, and beyond that, which could even be the moment that is shared in drinking, and us actually listening to that, can we start to see what we didn’t see before and how much those things we didn’t see before can actually have a big impact.
This is a skill that ideally we can develop in ourselves, to be able to think beyond the surface, notice, and learn through seeing, hearing, experiencing and thinking for ourselves. But, at least I can say for myself, that truly the reason I am starting to get a sense of all this, the reason this example of the mention of experience in learning caught my attention when it was said, is because of the various things that have been and are pointed out to me, shared in conversation in different ways, at different times, in different scenarios and in different experiences, whether they are once in a while things or very mundane everyday things, like the coffee, all helping me to expand my view and see the things that I didn’t have eye to see before, little by little.
I feel that my experience of participating in Jayanti this year, in a way, shares much in common with the example of the coffee. It is an experience that sits atop many previous experiences of participating in Mission works and activities, and having the opportunity to be in close company with senior gurubai. Of course, in these previous experiences, there is much variety, more so perhaps than what may seemingly be present in a cup of coffee, and the details can vary greatly from one occasion to another. However, I feel that in spite of that, there are things I am seeing that are at the core, at the base, which are always there, like the ingredients and the method. And I’m starting to slowly gather more of a sense, or at least an awareness of some of the most important things needed, and the great rippling impact of even our smallest actions and most invisible aspects of ourselves that we bring.
The Microcosm and Macrocosm are Endlessly Reflecting One Another
When gurubai come together to prepare something for the occasion of Jayanti, or to do any type of work, project or activity, each person needs to be used like an ingredient, with all ingredients coming together in just the right combination and under the right conditions to create the best possible dish. But like food ingredients, at times some “ingredients” are more ripened than others, some ingredients enhance other ingredients, some complement, some become invisible in the final product but without them the dish would never be able to come to completion or reach its best. And then of course, not every dish is appropriate for a certain occasion, not every dish is appropriate for the season, and a host of other conditions, not always known when first gathering the ingredients, come up along the way, sometimes giving rise to new developments in the dish, the need for adjustments along the way, and sometimes the dish may transform into something entirely not imagined when at first gathering the ingredients.
Any work or activity is just like this, I keep seeing and experiencing it again and again, like tasting that beautiful and delicious cup of coffee again and again, and as we prepared for Jayanti this year, it was just the same way. Now please let me be clear, I am not saying these things because I have any experience of being a real cook, whether that’s in the kitchen or in the Jayanti preparations, but I am saying it because I have been given the opportunities to both experience the dishes and hear from the cook in the kitchen, as well as experience the works, projects and Jayanti preparations in the past, and hear from the one who has eye to see the “ingredients” of gurubai gathered, and is able to help us enhance one another to create or perform the actions needed that will bring about the best end product we can create, yes, that is our dear sister and senior disciple, Anandamali.
Perhaps I am using these coffee and cooking analogies here because I seem to be being shown repeatedly that, it doesn’t matter what it is, there is always a reflection that is happening, like two mirrors that are reflecting one another’s same patterns and shapes, endlessly expanding bigger and bigger while at the same time endlessly going smaller and smaller. Our task is to bring Yoga to bear throughout all of these, from the most macro to the most micro. These reflections can be like the tools for helping us to understand and grasp a little better what Yoga can look like and how it can be always placed at the center, as well as where application of the teachings of Yoga is lacking—either way, if we are aiming for anything related to Yoga, I am learning and being shown through the examples of senior disciples that our minds need to expand in both directions and our attention to Yoga and the practices that will cultivate Yoga need to be heightened through and throughout these reflections.
And indeed, it is through these reflections that a lot of learning is taking place for me, and the learning that I am being opened up to through Jayanti is also characterized by these reflections. There are learnings coming through the little microcosm of myself, and those coming through the bigger picture of being together with others in this experience, and going beyond that, those coming through this Jayanti experience being layered on top of other experiences that bring a bigger picture of Yoga. But none are independent of one another, and all are merely varying reflections of the same patterns and shapes. I hope to be able to convey a taste of this, by sharing some of the experiences, reflections and learnings coming from this year’s Jayanti experience.
Let me start with the development of lyrics.
The original song chosen to be offered at Jayanti was Julie London’s “Cry Me a River,” a song Shri Mahayogi is very fond of. Anandamali had introduced and chosen this song, thinking we could just change the lyrics minimally, just a few words, to bring the meaning towards the Truth in a simple way. When we first started practicing, however, we practiced using the original song lyrics. In case you’re not familiar, the original lyrics have more the flavor of telling a lover that has done you wrong and now wants you back, that they can just go ahead and go through all the pain that you already went through, as if saying, “well, that’s what you deserve for doing me wrong.”
So, even though to get ourselves started we were using the original lyrics for practice, it was just a matter of time before they would change, the question was how, what would be a good direction?
At the Jayanti prior, the song that was created was all about Shri Mahayogi and who he is, so we couldn’t go that direction again, it was simply not an option. Anandamali said it from the beginning, and I also had it in my mind. Past experience has already been helping me to see that we always need to go for the new and fresh, starting from where we are now, which is never quite the same, since “now” is always changing, and not repeat the same. It makes sense. Like with the cooking, the occasion changes, the season changes, the ingredients change…and even if you still have some of the ingredients that seem the same, as I mentioned before, their ripeness may be different, the quantity, the flavor…so lyric development also has to be in consideration of these constant variations.
At first, Anandamali was saying that one way could be like a conversation with the mind, and another way could be with the spirit of Mary Magdalene, who Jesus showed great compassion to when all others wanted to stone her to death—Anandamali pointed out how pure, deep and unbreakable her devotion must have been, possibly knowing Jesus more closely than anyone else. I tried the conversation with the mind angle—honestly I couldn’t really catch the feeling or understanding of the Mary Magdalene angle—but either way, whatever I tried seemed to fall flat.
For a long while, I really couldn’t come up with much for the lyrics. Time was passing and the day of Jayanti was getting closer and closer.
Then, one day while we were practicing, and I was struggling along, trying to improvise some lyrics, but kind of just stuck in the same rut, Anandamali gave a big sigh. Then she reached for a book on Prajna’s book shelf, which happened to be filled with the works of Swami Vivekananda and started thumbing through pages. After a short while she handed me the open book and with a big smile said: Try singing this to the melody.
It was a poem written by Swami Vivekananda. I had never read it before, but like all of his writing, it was chocked full of soul-stirring and Truth-inspiring content, so absolutely bold, pure, impassioned and clear as crystal. I was astounded, and, as if having a cold bucket of water thrown on me on a swelteringly hot day, these words, or rather I should say the spirit behind them, seemed to wake me up and shake me up out of that rut I was stuck in. And space opened up in the mind.
Anandamali’s intention in introducing this poem was to direct me to the angle of Truth, and get out of this rut, which as it turns out was like the rut of ignorance. Because of being stuck in that rut, and because what Anandamali threw to me as a rope was the Truth, that’s probably why it felt so refreshing in that moment. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but it was later on mentioned to me that with whatever lyrics I had been trying or experimenting with, the angle had remained with the focus on the small self, not the true Self, not from the angle of Truth.
I think it might have been the next morning that Anandamali sent to me a little more inspiration – some short wordings from poems originally by Ramprasad, which were sung by Shri Ramakrishna and Swami Vivekananda.
Dive deep. O mind in the Ocean of God’s beauty
If you can plunge to the uttermost depths,
There you will find the gem of Love.
Seek out, O mind and find Vrindavan in your heart
Light up, O mind light up true wisdom’s shining lamp,
And it will burn with a steady flame
Unceasingly within your heart
Make me mad with Thy love.
What need have I of knowledge or reason?
Make me drunk with Thy love’s wine;
O Thou who stealest Thy bhakta’s hearts,
Drown me deep in the sea of Thy love!
Here in this world, this madhouse of Thine,
Some laugh, some weep, some dance for joy;
All are drunk with the wine of Thy love.
When shall I be blessed
By joining your beautiful company?
These wordings strongly grabbed my attention…particularly the one about God’s love…make me drunk with thy love’s wine, drown me deep in the sea of thy love. Dive deep into the ocean of God’s beauty……
Somehow, this kind of expression about God’s love felt so distant to me, or rather I should say that I recognized how disconnected I felt from this “God’s love.” As if, it is clear that I am not actively seeking out the connection to that in daily life, and it is not in my active and continuous consciousness. I thought: I don’t know if I really even know anything about love. There was a time that wanting to find out what God’s love is was quite present in me, but I feel in a way I grew distant from that. I was having to face this recognition in myself and naturally my mind was being drawn to dwell and dwell on this topic. And I am very grateful for that direction.
I used these two excerpts of poems to put together some drafts of lyrics, trying to find a way to combine them together. Anandamali had already mentioned when she sent me these for inspiration, that I should be careful not to change them too much, since even a small subtle change in a word that may not seem problematic from a language perspective, could greatly change the meaning. She showed me an example from one adjustment that I had already made, and pointed out how the meaning is not the same. I saw what she meant—these wordings that she sent me are not just words, they are indicating something that happens beyond words, something that is invisible, so the subtle details of how it happens, where these words come from and why they are the way they are, are very important. I kept holding this in my mind.
I knew the drafts I had created were not perfect. From what Anandamali had already mentioned about the subtle meanings, I was aware that these two poems were quite different in angle, yet even so I kept trying to find a way to meld them together. On top of that, I had also turned to Swami Vivekananda’s poem “Song of a Sannyasin”—the reason being that during this time we also learned of the passing of our dear brother and senior disciple, Sananda, and Anandamali had also mentioned that however the lyrics develop, they should also have this as a consideration. It is a part of the background of the whole situation this year. Thinking of Sananda, what I know of him, what I felt from meeting and speaking with him when I had those opportunities, what I know of him from his writings, what I know of him of his contributions to the Mission, and what I have heard about him through the observations and experiences of other disciples, that’s why I started to search for inspiration in “Song of a Sannyasin” and from there I extracted a few lyric ideas and tried to find the way to fit them in with the other two poem excerpts.
With these few drafts, Kamalakshi and I started to practice singing using these new lyrics and started to settle in with one of the drafts. As we sang and practiced, Anandamali asked Kamalakshi to sing alone by herself and was so enthusiastic about the way Kamalakshi sang, I started to think: well maybe these lyrics are good enough, maybe they do work…they are a little disjointed but maybe that’s how they need to be to bring in all these different angles and ideas. However, as I found out later, Anandamali’s enthusiasm was only coming from the feeling coming through Kamalakshi’s way of singing!
In fact, as Anandamali started to translate the draft of lyrics to Japanese for the day of Jayanti, she quickly recognized what was off and told me: there’s a problem! There was too much of a jump in the lyrics, the meanings were too separate and from angles that were not the same. From one angle, there was a very proactive direction of oneself diving deep and taking that initiative to do so. From another angle, there was a direction of asking of God. These are not the same. I knew it, I knew the disconnect, but I hadn’t found the way to address or resolve it. I had been waiting for Anandamali’s help or guidance, but actually I should have been more bold and determined to persevere on my own in clarifying the meaning of the lyrics and making sure to follow through, from beginning to end, on what was given to me to take care of.
Honestly though, I was very glad to start over again with the lyrics. I really did want there to be a strong, tight and deep message in them, that really makes sense. That part feels important. The wake-up call I had felt when Anandamali had given me Swami Vivekananda’s poem to sing to the melody, and the way the poem often sung by Shri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda drew my mind to dwell upon this quest for God’s Love—these were showing me what the words with a strong message of Truth and call from the heart can do. They can draw the mind out of a stupor, they can bring our mind to something important and precious, they can make us remember about the Truth, they can give us a clue when our mind needs a direction to turn. I am certainly not in the place to develop lyrics that have the power and clarity like those coming from Vivekananda, but I can at least try wholeheartedly to improve the lyrics to the best I can and try to take care as much as I can of the meaning.
As much as I was still dwelling on this question of what love is and what God’s love is, and kind of wanted to go in that direction, when I thought about Sananda, and wanting to bring the inspiration I feel from him, and at the same time wanting to bring the feeling of devotion to the path of Yoga on this special day of Shri Mahayogi’s Jayanti, it naturally felt more appropriate and smoother to move in the direction of the message behind the lyrics being a bit more proactive. This direction was also later confirmed by Anandamali. I developed a couple of drafts, and then looked at them with Kamalakshi. In working with Kamalakshi, as she contributed various ideas, I probably went against a lot of them. Not because they weren’t good ideas or nice wordings, but as Kamalakshi mentioned various things, as I heard them and thought about the meaning and direction, I naturally had to think more and more sharply and discerningly about the meaning, the message, and what words support that and capture a lot of meaning behind them, symbolically speaking, and how everything connects and develops, from the small subtle details to the overall picture. As I have been helped to see by being involved in the past Jayanti’s lyric development of Shri Mahayogi’s song, no word can be used just because it’s beautiful, no word can be used just because it sounds good, no word can be used just because it’s a nice idea. It has to be full of meaning from beginning to end, and now on this occasion and with this chance to work again on the lyrics, I felt more clear and more responsible for this aspect.
I think it was important to go through this process with Kamalakshi—even though in the end I’m not sure how much of what we had worked on together actually got used and I think I kept saying “no, not that, not that”—the reason I feel it so important is because I really do feel like it brought the circumstance that required heightened clarity, within my own mind. And after that, I felt ready to go back, concentrate on my own and complete and finalize the parts that were not fully developed yet.
Thinking back on that now, I can see how sometimes in doing various works, I may try to bring or put various ideas, yet in the end none of those ideas may seem to have been useful. In times like these, there is a thought that may sneak into the mind that says: what was the point of all that? Of course, I also have the sense that there is value in it, whether that’s for my own self to go through a process of thinking and trying, regardless of the outcome, for learning, or to contribute material that then gets other ideas developing, but I have had to remind myself of that to overcome that “what was the point of all that” thought. But now, this was perhaps the most strongly I have directly felt from a different angle the value in this process, and the important role it can contribute in bringing about a situation that gives impetus for more clarity to develop. That’s a new angle for me and an important learning—like a new subtlety of what brings about the deliciousness of the coffee was revealed, through tasting it again, and it’s something I wouldn’t have expected and wasn’t so aware of at first.
Once the lyrics were just about finalized, still a few adjustments were made. For example, Anandamali reminded me that this was a poem and a song, so it should have form.
Form?! How could I possibly be thinking of that level of refinery when I was just trying to keep the meaning contained?!
Oh how the push to go a little farther and improve a little more is certainly always right there waiting for us! Anandamali had to guide me a little with adjusting for form, but later on I saw that that form really made a difference. It was such a small adjustment that was made, but it really brought a completely different quality that only started to reveal to me the more the lyrics were sung and practiced. Another subtlety of the coffee!
To me, the lyrics, with all the inspiration of Shri Mahayogi, Shri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda, and Sananda, feel so close and personal to my heart. They truly became like a plea to the mind. A plea to the mind to give up completely, putting full faith in God, in the Truth. They became like a call going out to all minds, for surely all minds need this message, and specifically they became like my own heart’s call and plea to my own mind.
In the end, the change to the lyrics was nothing simple at all, and definitely not just a few words. In order to have purely simple lyrics, Anandamali knew that much emotion would need to be expressed through voice, and the singer, like Julie London, would need to have the level of ability to be able to capture the audience immediately. Ultimately, after hearing the rehearsal many times, and thinking about the melody, Anandamali saw that this would not be possible. The “Dive Deep” poem however was in her mind as another option. As she mentioned later on, much after the fact, this poem already had contained within it these important elements of the conversation with the mind, seeing only God, and pure and deep devotion, that were the ideas from the beginning. The possibility was there!
Though there are many layers of learning interwoven into the experience of the lyric writing for the Jayanti song offering, it is only one shape and form of reflection in the mirrors.
To be continued…