Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Meditation: The Basic Level
1: The Fundamentals of Meditation
• The Two Pillars of Meditation
• Straightening the Spine in Sitting
• Posture and Concentration in Meditation
• In Order to Not Fall Asleep in Meditation
• The Lotus Flower is the Symbol of Satori
• The Form and Position of Hands in Meditation
• The Time Suited for Meditation
• Prepare the Space for Sadhana
• The Length of Time for Meditation
• Have Your Ideal for Meditation
• Choose the Object for Meditation
• A Reliable Object for Meditation
• Seek the Truth Itself as the Object of Meditation
• Concentration-Meditation-Samadhi—The Metaphor of Oil
• The State of Satori—Nirvikalpa Samadhi
Testimonies from Actual Practitioners
• Let the Guru Show You the Way—Part II
January 2023, New York
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Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
Translation of Satsangha
Meditation: The Basic Level
“You must devote all your power to concentration! This concentration will become meditation, which will culminate in Realization.”
—Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa, The Universal Gospel of Yoga
1: The Fundamentals of Meditation
What is Meditation?
MASTER: “Meditation” is a word that refers to a specific state of mind.
First, you concentrate on one particular thing. As you continue concentrating on it, a state will arise in which it is as if the object of concentration and the mind become inseparable, and it’s as if they are assimilating into one; in a narrow sense, that state is called meditation. If that assimilation goes further and that state deepens, then the essence of the object becomes clearly and intuitively grasped—that is called samadhi, which you should understand as a stage deeper than meditation. Sometimes, all of these states are referred to as meditation as a whole.
One of the practical facets of meditation—to sit, steady the breath, and calm the mind—is also one of the simple ways to meditate, and [when that happens,] you may experience that along with it there is a sense of comfort and pleasantness that differs somewhat from your everyday activities. Where does that pleasantness arise from? [Actually,] there is a state of tranquility that is already there as our essence, in the depths underneath the subconscious; yet, paradoxically, the surface activities of the mind normally prevent that state of peace from manifesting—that state is disturbed by the various things and activities in one’s daily life, and the various thoughts within the mind. Therefore, by steadying the breath, and calming the breath, the activities on the surface become stilled, and that original, calm stillness emerges. Then, as the result of meditation, the mind perceives it as “comfort, or pleasantness.”
Preparation for Meditation
Q: In order to deepen meditation, is there anything I should keep in mind in daily life?
MASTER: First, in order to maintain an optimal condition, you must unify everything, from your diet to your daily activities, through Yoga. And, constantly and thoroughly make yourself aware of the ideal that you’re seeking the Truth, and if you see remnants of anything other than that, then examine and confront them and work on eliminating them. And also, heighten your admiration and passion for the Truth. By doing all of these, meditation will succeed.
Effects of Meditation
Q: Can you please describe the state that constitutes good meditation?
MASTER: It doesn’t necessarily mean that each meditation is that effective, but after practicing for some time, if you feel like the load on your shoulders is getting lighter, if the body and mind feel as if they are getting lighter, in that case, you can consider that your practice of meditation over time has been good.
Q: Is that different from the sense that comes from the aftereffects of practicing asana?
MASTER: Yes, it is different. [Because] you’ll realize that you were actually carrying a big load, in other words, you will feel much lighter. After practicing asana, you may feel more invigorated, but after meditation, the sensation is more akin to the feeling of release or freedom.
The Two Pillars of Meditation
Q: What object do I need to meditate on?
MASTER: There are two pillars of meditation. One is to proactively become One with the Truth. Another one is to eliminate unnecessary things in the mind and calm the mind.
In the case that you don’t have a proactive object, the initial step is to solely create a condition that will make the mind calm.
Q: But that is not easy at all.
MASTER: It is commonly expressed as being free from all distracting thoughts and desires, all ideas, [but] that is an extremely difficult state to be in since [even when you try], distractions swirl around in the mind or you tend to possibly fall asleep—in most every case, you will end up in one of these two ways. For this reason, you can also make one of the initial goals be to remove the physiological or physical sense of unnaturalness in sitting like this, to become able to sit comfortably. Then, if you gradually get accustomed to sitting with the spine straight, then consequently the breath and mind are calmed.
Straightening the Spine in Sitting
MASTER: Straightening the spine eliminates the need to use one’s strength to hold the shape of the body. If it is distorted or tilted, then you will inevitably need strength to support the body and compensate for that. The state in which you don’t need such support, the natural state, is brought about when the spine is straightened. Then, you don’t need to breathe as much either. As the breathing lessens, the mind also calms down. As a matter of fact, when one sits in padmasana (lotus pose) or siddhasana (adept’s pose), and makes the spine straight, then the prana within this body naturally works to rise up by itself; this has been empirically verified. The rising up of prana, or kundalini, is as follows: counting the number of chakra starting from the bottom, there are seven—earth, water, fire, wind, ether, in which each of the [first five] are allocated to the material substance level; however, the sixth and seventh are beyond these physical substances; the sixth is mental, an internal part of the mind, and the seventh is a spiritual level, and that is how they are symbolized—this is how prana naturally rises in that direction. It works as a great aid to deepening meditation. Straightening the spine is very important in order to create such a condition as well.
Posture and Concentration in Meditation
Q: Even if I try to concentrate in between my eyebrows, I get sleepy right away, or think something different. Is there a good way to keep concentrating?
MASTER: I think that’s honest. In fact, concentrating is a difficult thing to do.
One way is through one’s posture. It is a fact that as the posture becomes stable, then concentration becomes easier. What does it mean to have correct posture? (bringing hands onto both knees, legs crossed in siddhasana) It is this sitting position, which has the condition of the legs being on the floor, as the foundation; both knees are solidly on the floor, the buttocks too are on the floor, and upon this steady foundation, the vertebrae, the spine, is straightened. And, since the head is very heavy, if the head is even slightly tilted, an effort is exerted to correct that; so, by placing the heavy head centered well on top of the straightened spine, gravity itself creates this form effortlessly, and the posture can be smoothly maintained.
In such a condition, no more attention to the body is needed. Furthermore, breathing comes to be unnecessary, that is to say, the breathing becomes very steady and composed, with fewer number of breaths, and it becomes calm; at the same time, in the mind too there are no longer activities, such as invasive distractions, and it becomes calm as well. At such a time, if one concentrates on a specific thing, meditation can be practiced smoothly.
Therefore, although we practice asana as the basic practice, it is for the sole purpose of enabling us to sit in an ideal sitting position like this, and that means that you are also conditioning your body so that you can get used to it. Make the position proper as much as possible and place your head straight; but even so, if you are not able to keep the concentration, then place an object [of concentration] in front of you, it can be a sacred symbol or an object of worship, and lightly open your eyes and stare at it—that gives you good concentration. It will be good if you can make that practice last longer, even if it is little by little. Eventually, even if there is no object of [concentration] in front of you, when you close your eyes, you can find the object in between your eyebrows, or in your heart. Practice meditation in such a way.
In Order to Not Fall Asleep in Meditation
Q: When I practice meditation after asana, I get sleepy immediately. Please teach me if there is any good advice for this.
MASTER: Certainly, the condition after asana practice is changed to something similar to sleep, both physiologically and psychologically. Thus, it’s very common that one easily falls asleep after asana. Just as sleep has the healing power to take away physical and mental fatigue and stress, it can be understood that through Yoga asana, the mind and body are in a state of relaxation.
When it comes to meditation, since the need to bring the mind to concentrate on one single point arises, you have to seek some object of meditation. When you get accustomed to it, you will be able to concentrate upon abstract objects, that is, the words of Truth, the inquiry about who your true Self is, or an Existence such as an ideal God.
However, for beginners, it would be good to bring before your eyes a concrete form that can support concentration. As long as you do not yet have an ideal God, use some kind of a divine symbol; that can be, for example, a lotus flower, which is a symbol of Satori, or a form or symbol like a yantra (a geometrical form that symbolizes Truth); or it can be a portrait or painting of a personified deity. If you place it in front of you and concentrate while keeping your eyes open, then you can prevent yourself from falling asleep.
The Lotus Flower is the Symbol of Satori
Q: Buddha is often drawn together with lotus flowers, and in the Upanishad, too, there are expressions such as, “the Atman dwelling inside the lotus of the heart,” or, “dwelling in the lotus of the heart.” I feel that it is a very important, sacred symbol; please teach us what it is symbolizing.
MASTER: Lotuses, lotus flowers, are neither grown in soil nor clean water, such as you’d find in beautiful places like rivers, oceans or lakes, rather they sprout in the muddy water [of swamps] and then blossom. And even though lotus leaves and petals come out of the [muddy] water, they bloom beautifully without being caked with even a single speck of mud.
Since lotuses inhabit a different environment from other flowers or plants—the water muddied with dirt symbolizes this world—yet even if they are in it, being neither stained nor affected by the world, resolutely, their dignified and splendid large flowers bloom, which is why the lotus came to be a symbol of Satori. It is similar to the story of the Paramahansa (Supreme Swan), which can separate water from milk [when they’re mixed together]; that’s why, since ancient times, the lotus has symbolized the Yogi and the Awakened Ones who are dashingly living in this world of both good and evil.
The Form and Position of Hands in Meditation
Q: Please teach us what the effects are of the hand positions during meditation.
MASTER: Meditation begins with bringing the mind to concentrate on a particular object. In order to fully heighten that concentration, one must not have any bodily activities that obstruct it, that is, to make the body completely still. If the sitting position is unstable, one cannot endure a lengthy meditation. Therefore, in order to create a steady foundation, cross your legs first. Then, straighten the spine and place the head, which is the heaviest part of the body, on top of the vertebrae in a well-balanced way.
Then, what is left are the hands. In order to make the hands completely still, place them in a natural state in a place where they won’t be that active. To that end, overlapping the hands in the middle at the center makes the position stable and is one of the natural forms. Another is to extend the hands and place them on top of the knees; in this position, placing the thumb and index finger together to make a circle makes the hand easier to stabilize. These two are the most typical ways of making hand positions. Through these positions, the entire body becomes fixed. This pose is called chin mudra, the wisdom pose. And the pose where the hands are overlapped in the center, which is a pose known as the meditation seal, often seen in statues of Buddha, is called dhyana mudra.
Many people in India have very long arms, and when they place their hands on their knees, there is a sense of stability due to the fingertips truly reaching almost to the floor; whereas, since many Japanese people have slightly shorter arms, this position may be awkward, in which case, you can bring your hands to the middle.
Q: Awkward—does that mean the fingers do not touch the floor?
MASTER: Rather, by extending [the arms to place the hands] on the knees, tension may be brought about, or it may take unnecessary effort or tension to create the pose. If you don’t have that, of course it’s fine.
You may remember there is a well-known aphorism in the Yoga Sutra: “Asana must be steady and comfortable.” It indicates that this sitting position must be steady, steadfast, and also comfortable.
Mudra is translated as a position or seal; that means it is a symbol. There is a position that you all use often: [the praying position of] hands being folded together in front of the chest. This position of hands in prayer is called anjali. (folding his hands together) If you do this, it is anjali mudra—the prayer position of hands being together as one, or the seal of prayer with hands being together as one.
Q: Is it proper to understand that making a mudra itself does not calm the mind, or bring the mind to a calm state, but rather, by placing the hands in a particular place, making the body still, the mind becomes calm?
MASTER: Yes, because as I mentioned now, mudra means a seal, or position. For example, in Indian dance, various hand positions are called mudra; however, in Yoga, not only does it call for a specific hand position, but the meaning extends to the whole, including where the hands are placed.
Q: What about the relationship of mudra to prana? Is there an effect of mudra making prana flow more easily?
MASTER: Yes, there is. As a matter of fact, that is exactly the substance of what makes a mudra a mudra. By creating these specific forms, concentration and a sense of unity are naturally brought about.
The Time Suited for Meditation
Q: Is there a most effective time of the day for meditation?
MASTER: Right before dawn and around dusk—these two; also, noon when the sun is right overhead, and midnight. These four times are the times of day considered [to be the most effective for meditation].
Q: I am bound by work from morning to night, what can I do about the time for meditation?
MASTER: It depends to some extent on the timing within each person’s daily schedule, their work and their lifestyle; however, generally speaking, early in the morning or late at night is ideal. Around eight in the morning, most of human society enters the time of activity. Activity time is also the time of noise. That is, the noisy hours of rajas correspond exactly with the daytime hours. If you look for the quiet times, it would be early in the morning when the sun rises, and in modern times, with the development of electricity and electric lights, the time of the night has shifted later, so you have to wait until midnight for it to be quiet. It is important to set up a suitable environment [for meditation].
Prepare the Space for Sadhana
MASTER: Since an altar or an altar space or room is for the purpose of realizing the true Self, it is the most important place, and since the time you spend there is also precious time, it is best to allocate the most comfortable location or room. If possible, it would be ideal to sit towards the east or the north, and the setup can be simple, because as long as there is something symbolizing what is the most important and sacred to you, then that becomes your altar.
That room is just like your mind, therefore, always keep it clean, free of all worldly objects and trash. To keep it constantly clean symbolizes that you keep your own mind clean as well. If you can’t do this with an entire room, then it’s fine with just a corner of the room—anyway, the point is, it is better to always keep that particular spot clean no matter what.
Q: Is it better to have flowers or incense?
MASTER: It would be better. The reason is that our sensory organs tend to always be influenced by sounds, smells, sight, touch and various other things from the outside world. Burning incense has the effect of blocking those influences. Therefore, it would be preferable to burn incense.
The Length of Time for Meditation
Q: Is there a reference for the length of time for meditation?
MASTER: It can be said that it is better to concentrate for ten minutes than to spend two hours struggling with distracting thoughts. Whatever it is, meditation is all about what you meditate on, your motivation, and your passion. If that is strong, then you will not obsess over the limitations of time and space.
Have Your Ideal for Meditation
Q: It’s so difficult for me to concentrate, my mind is always getting filled with distracting thoughts. Please teach me what would make it easier to concentrate.
MASTER: Indeed, concentration is difficult, and it is also the nature of the mind that distractions arise constantly. Yet, the first thing is for you to get your heart into it. For example, when your mind is obsessed about something or someone you like, then even if you don’t like to do it, all of your thinking becomes about that. If you can unintentionally like something that much, in other words, you must find that thing in Yoga, that thing your heart is inevitably attracted to it.
Yoga, certainly, is about seeking the true Self, and it is also to master the Truth through experiencing it through all of your being. However, as far as the way you go about doing that, because your search may still be too abstract, distracting thoughts can obstruct it. Therefore, you should make it more concrete, heighten your will to experience and to master that Truth, and find your ideal from that intention. Ideal means a concrete form such as an Existence that has realized the Truth, or God. Find your ideal, then, it is relatively easier for the mind to enter a state of concentration.
Three Objects of Meditation
MASTER: The objects of meditation can be divided into three main categories.
The first is centered around discrimination: to examine whether your own daily thoughts and actions are aligned with the Truth or not, whether they contradict each other or not. By learning scriptures and listening to the right words of Truth, the thoughts in your own mind are discerned to determine whether they are correct or not. That is one.
Another one—to seek out what the “I” is, though [in Truth] everyone must have awakened to It yet still not be absolutely clear about it, what the real “I” is, the true “Self,” your own “Self”—that is the meditation of self-inquiry. Simply put, normally, you think your own experiences or career, your abilities, or your physical body and mind, the things that have been acquired through various social lives, are what identify you as yourself. However, these are merely temporal states that are formed in the midst of changing circumstances. At one point, you were a child, at another time, a youth, and eventually, you will be elderly. Whether you are a man or a woman, no matter what age, the same consciousness of “I” ought to be there ceaselessly. However, due to identifying yourself with these temporary circumstances, the true Self is often lost and imperceptible. That also results in the taste of happiness or unhappiness toward one’s own circumstances. The true Self is the Consciousness that simply knows and witnesses these, always neutral and extremely objective, no matter how much the circumstances change. In this Consciousness, there is no personal discrimination or distinctions, such as species or kind, and it is perceived that It is the only, universal Consciousness. To realize that true Self is one of the great purposes of meditation.
Another object of meditation is to concentrate and meditate on God, or a god-like, divine, Existence, a perfect Existence. When we think about something, just as we have a physical body, we can’t help but look at various things through our material eyes. Abstract concepts, or even the words of philosophy and of Truth, are quite difficult to realize, for they are elusive and have nothing that can be tangibly grasped. However, even so, if there is a perfect Figure who has the same body as us, who walked upon this earth, it ought to be easier to grasp that object. Even if that image is that of the same human figure and form like us, at Its essence, that Figure is the Truth Itself, and that Figure must be a perfect manifestation without a single defilement at all. You should understand that [the object of meditation] should be the Figure that embodies the divine Existence, God or Buddha concretely. Rely on and devote yourself to that Figure—while having intense admiration and longing, surrender towards that form, or rather than submission, the word love might be closer to it, love that Figure intensely, and approach It in order to get closer to It, as if to become One. Then, you will be dyed by the perfect Truth held by that Existence, and the impurities [in you] will disappear.
Choose the Object for Meditation
Q: I try to meditate when I have things to think about, but rather than concentrating on a single point, I end up thinking. I still don’t understand anything about meditation at all, so please teach me about the concrete objects of meditation.
MASTER: There are three main contents of meditation. The first is, “Who am I?”—to seek Atman, the true Self, to concentrate only on That. In this way, the word and the concept of “I” is the initial clue for this. Another is God, or divine Existence—to think of an ideal form of God. Another is to concentrate on the Truth, which is abstract. Various other thoughts and ideas fall under this third category. No matter what thoughts arise, you work on realizing in meditation whether these thoughts are the Truth or not.
Therefore, you need to narrow the object of your meditation down to one of these three pillars; it has to be one of these three. If you are confused about that, it’s hard to grasp the sense of concentration.
Q: So, does that mean that I have to choose one out of these three by myself?
MASTER: Yes, it does.
Q: Is it a matter of choosing what is easiest for me to do?
MASTER: It is about what you’re seeking. It’s not a matter of ease, but what you’re earnestly and seriously seeking. Out of that, you’ll naturally connect to what feels closest to you.
Q: Is the destination the same for all of them?
[If there are any differences,] differences are due to the manifestation of various aspects of Truth. To inquire into the Self is jnana yoga, to meditate on the divine existence is bhakti yoga, and to examine and verify the Truth in practice is raja yoga. Thus, according to the object of concentration and its content, the names are different, yet the destination is the same, and whether it is jnana yoga or bhakti yoga, discrimination is required to increase the degree of their purity. Discrimination is the task of eliminating the things that are of the quality of pain-bearing obstacles that may still remain in the mind—it is by confronting them with the Truth that these obstacles come to be renounced. Therefore, remember these three well, and choose the object that is the most compelling object that you seek with your whole being.
Q: Should the object [of meditation] be just one?
MASTER: No, not necessarily. You can’t meditate on all three during a single meditation practice, but it is common that one practitioner can typically practice all three [at different times].
A Reliable Object for Meditation
Q: It has been three months since I have started to meditate, but I can’t concentrate well, and I don’t know how to choose the object. Please advise.
MASTER: Everyone, deep within their hearts, must be seeking that which is true, that which is reliable, that which is certain as the Real. This world and one’s life experiences are constantly changing—there is joy, but there is also sadness and suffering. However, in that Existence, the Truth, there is no change whatsoever, and it certainly is there, vividly existing—and that is what everyone is yearning for from deep within their hearts, that must be what your souls desire and what your souls are searching for. At times, it is called God. God exists in various religions, however, due to the veil of religion, you cannot see a reliable form of God. What is the real God? And, what is that True Existence? To experience That is the central point in the long history of Yoga.
Because of that, the object of meditation is Existence—True Existence. If you ask where It is, It is omnipresent, yet it cannot be found by the five senses. It cannot be found by the intellect either. However, it exists always within everyone’s heart. As I mentioned, It is omnipresent; it exists within everything in the entire universe. Therefore, it is, of course, within each and every human being, within insects, within animals, within plants. That is the true Self—the real “I.” In truth, that Existence Itself does not have the consciousness of “I,” yet, since It can discover It within Itself, it is commonly referred to as the true Self.
In this way, that true Self, the existence referred to as the real “I,” or the Existence referred to as God—these two are the most reliable, certain objects of meditation. Besides them, there are various teachings of the Truth, and you can also meditate on these. Through practicing this, whatever is not the Truth within the mind will come to disappear. And what happens as a result is that there comes a state where the mind is as if it is transparent, where it is not attached to anything. The teachings of Truth are only necessary until the Truth is realized; once the Truth is realized, such teachings are no longer necessary. That is the extent to which the Truth, or the True Existence, is existing definitively as that which is reliable and True. Therefore, meditate on It.
Seek the Truth Itself as the Object of Meditation
Q: If I want to realize Satori, then I can’t go wrong picking one of the three objects?
MASTER: They are infallible. Everything else is a mere exercise to get to these three. You can’t afford to do such things, time-wise, physical strength-wise, or intellectually. Of course, since ancient times, to realize Satori, which is to realize the Eternal Truth, has been the original purpose of meditation. There can’t possibly be anything else. However, nowadays, so-called meditation as a culture [i.e. as a hobby] is rampant, and this is totally materialistic and meaningless to Satori in every way. For Satori is to realize the Truth that is originally deep within oneself, and It can neither be obtained through knowledge nor technique.
However, though it may be contradictory, what actually is covering the Truth is the activities of the mind, that is, by stilling the mind to make it transparent, the Truth is realized naturally. Therefore, that is precisely why one must seek the object of meditation that is the Truth Itself. Even if you keep practicing only the exercise of focusing on the physical, with that too, you might gain power or some kind of abilities; however, that is like creating a covering for the mind that hides the Truth, which in turn becomes an obstacle or a disturbance instead. Certainly, in part three of the classic scripture, the Yoga Sutra, the procedures of the meditations that concentrate on various physical objects are described; however, these must be progressed step-by-step, and of course, one needs to proceed with it under the guidance of an infallible Guru. Without that, it won’t be anything more than mere physical concentration.
Buddha taught, “Meditate only on that which is the Truth.” And, Ramakrishna taught, “Meditate on God.” Ramana Maharishi said, “Seek the true Self, ‘Who am I?’ alone.” What I always say are these three objects.
The State of Meditation
Q: What is it like when one is meditating?
MASTER: In the state of meditation, one is not able to recognize that one is meditating. When it comes to concentration, since the mind does it intentionally, there is a recognition that one is concentrating sufficiently. However, when that concentration is deepened, it feels like the power that was gathering the mind with effort on the object is loosened and it is like entering the object easily, the feeling of the assimilation of the mind and the object—that state is called meditation; and “concentration” and “meditation” are words that distinguish between these states. So, meditation consists of the mind being released from its tension and then assimilating into the object [of meditation] and expanding. Therefore, during the state of meditation, the meditator cannot notice or be aware of meditating, since in order to become aware, a step is taken back toward concentration. However, when one comes out of that meditation, the mind returns with a clear impression etched in the mind, which is from the experience and impressions from during the meditation. This creates the recognition that one was meditating. Furthermore, there will be some kind of comfort that comes along with that.
The Mind of Nothingness
Q: Does the mind have a state of nothingness?
MASTER: Viewed from the perspective of the psychology of Yoga, due to the guna (qualities), the mind never ceases its activities, not even for an instant. If you think about it this way, it can be understood that the state of nothingness is also a state of activity called “nothingness” that is created; concretely speaking, it is a state in which, as the result of concentration, the mind becomes one with the object of concentration and meditation deepens, as if the activities of the mind have become completely restrained—that state can be described as “nothingness.” However, in actuality, it is a state in which the object and the mind are unified into one, so it is not nothingness in the sense of “zero.”
Often, in a state of sleep—when in deep sleep at night, or when one intends to meditate but falls asleep instead—that can be mistakenly perceived as the state of nothingness. However, both are simply a state of being merged with sleep, it is not nothingness.
Looking at it from the psychology of Yoga and from empirical practice, as I mentioned in the beginning, since the mind does not stop its activities due to the guna, stopping the activities of the guna themselves can make the mind become nothingness. Stopping the activities of the guna indicates the state in which those parts that constitute the mind, such as ego or buddhi (intellect), ahankara (egocentric-conceit or arrogance [asmi-mana in Buddhism], or the consciousness of “I”), and manas (intention or thought), no longer have any reasons to remain active, and the activities of the guna themselves vanish and become void. In that moment, for the first time, nothingness, in the true sense of the word, arises.
Concentration-Meditation-Samadhi—The Metaphor of Oil
MASTER: The states of mind during what is called “meditation” are categorized as concentration, meditation, and samadhi, which can also be referred to as absorption. These are explained very clearly in the Yoga Sutra.
Concentration is about binding the mind to a specific object. It requires action, the mental strength to nail the mind to that object, no matter whether it’s a location or an object. Very proactive and positive strength of mind is needed.
Meditation, the state that comes next, is a condition that is like oil being poured from one vessel into another without interruption. The vessel here, which symbolizes the thoughts of the mind, the thoughts of concentration, is a thought itself, and the other vessel symbolizes the object of concentration; therefore, this condition illustrates the intention of the mind, the power of concentration that is pouring in without interruption, like oil. At that time, the condition is such that since the power of the mind flows automatically, there is no longer an active effort.
Then, when it goes to the state in which it is as if everything has been poured in, that state is what is called samadhi, and at that time, the mind reflects the object itself, just like a crystal reflects the objects around it as they are; that is, the mind becomes one with the object. Naturally, here also, there is no longer involvement of the mind’s power. Based on the quality of concentration, which requires the effort of the mind, meditation and samadhi, which are the following states, are realized.
The Wisdom of Samadhi
Q: Are the intuition that arises in meditation and the sense of wisdom experienced in samadhi different?
MASTER: Yes, they are different. Various insights and intuitions in meditation are not True Existence as Truth, as that which is Pure, and still have worldly colorings to them. Samadhi also has a number of stages, yet even if the object [of meditation] was of this world, since you’ll be able to penetrate and know the substance that is its essence, the purity is far higher than that of meditation. At the ultimate samadhi, that is, at the samadhi experienced when sanskara are gone, one comes to awaken to the True Existence, the substance of Purity Itself. It exists already within yourself.
Therefore, deepen your meditation. In order to deepen your meditation, purify your mind. Purification means to eliminate pain-bearing obstacles and ignorance; the most powerful force for that is faith. Pure faith brings exponential power. Then, awaken yourself to the Truth that is already within you. That is the supreme command of Yoga.
The State of Satori—Nirvikalpa Samadhi
MASTER: Since the content or the state of the mind is constantly distracted and scattered, it cannot quite enter samadhi, yet by directing it to a single object, the distracted state will be stilled and it starts to have the single work of concentration. At that time, one experiences a unique state of meditation, and then samadhi, which is the experience that is like becoming one with the object. However, that is still in the realm of the mind.
Through these processes, the mind becomes more and more trained and also gains more and more strength, and the Truth of various things becomes clear; yet, the ultimate Satori, called Nirvikalpa Samadhi (samadhi without any cognition), does not necessarily arise within this sequence. Rather, it more likely comes suddenly in a tranquil state, when the mind is completely not thinking of anything, yet the body is awake while the mind is as if it is asleep, that is, a state where the activity ceases for a moment—at such a time, it more likely comes suddenly.
Since That, the Truth, rather than being something to gain, is already within us as our own Truth, when you experience Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the true Self becomes manifest, or becomes aware of It. Who is awakened to It? It is the true Self. The true Self recognizes the true Self. There is no involvement or interference from the mind at all. That means that It is realized at a moment when there is an opening, when the mind is as if it has stopped its activity. For this reason, too, you must declutter, organize and clean the mind so that you constantly create a mind that is empty, without being obsessed or attached to various things, and have your mind prepared for a state of no thought. That means that in order to do that, by learning the Truth of things well, and meditating, you must actually create a state that is free of any obsession.
Samadhi Will Certainly Come
MASTER: When you emerge from meditation, which you entered from concentration, you can sense how deep in meditation you were based on your perception of time. For example, you may feel that you meditated deeply for a long time when it was actually only for ten minutes. On the other hand, you may sometimes think that even though you already awoke from the meditation, in which you thought that you had just started concentrating, an hour has already passed. The former is concentration and the latter is meditation. In such a way, when you are meditating, time loses its relevance almost completely. Eventually, your meditation will enter the state of samadhi, and at that point, the idea of time completely vanishes. When you emerge from samadhi, you don’t even think about how long you were meditating because samadhi itself gives the mind an indisputably great gift.
Samadhi will definitely come. Do not think that the experience of samadhi only happens in scriptures. You have to be diligent and enthusiastic. That is all you need. To prepare yourself well, you have to learn the Truth and seek only the Truth. If you focus on the search for who the Self is, who the I is, or God as complete and perfect Existence, any other concept within the mind that is not That will come to be removed.
Learn and penetrate through to the very Soul, to the Life and the Spirit behind the words of the Awakened Ones. And do not forget that the Awakened Ones had exactly the same human body as we do. As concrete examples, they are the strongest company and the greatest weapons for winning the battle against your enemies: ignorance and ego. Learn, reflect, then meditate. Then you will realize the Truth.
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Testimonies from a Practitioner
Let the Guru Show You the Way—Part II
January 2023, New York
The Challenge of Real Expression From the Heart
I once had a dream in which I was frantically searching for the paper where I had prepared a message to speak to Shri Mahayogi. It was for an important occasion, and while I was searching for this paper, not being able to find it, I was making Shri Mahayogi and everyone wait. Time was running out and my feeling of lacking the preparation and materials I thought I needed was overwhelmingly stressful.
I don’t recall how it ended, but at the time, I casually mentioned to Anandamali about this dream, to which she responded simply that perhaps this was a sign that I needed to prepare myself to speak purely from the heart, and spontaneously, with trust, and not rely on these preparation materials. When I heard it, I recall that something in me recognized the difficulty or lack I had in myself for that, and at the same time I knew that this was something I would need to develop in myself.
That was years ago now, but I still remember clearly the message that Anandamali gave me in that moment, and it comes to my mind often. For me, this is an important background to the preparations for this year’s Jayanti because what was required of me was exactly related to this area of lack within myself that over quite some time I have been helped to start to see and recognize more clearly. It all has to do with what I am basing on moment to moment, and where my thoughts, words and actions come from.
Indeed, during the preparations for Jayanti this year, as we were preparing to offer a song, and one of my main roles was singing, every moment seemed to call for this kind of expression that needs to come from some essential aspect deep within my core, and not according to any specific external form or conforming to some already prepared way. In other words, I needed to allow something to come out of myself that was purely from the heart, and full of uninhibited feeling as the base. This was my challenge. And I needed the presence and support of other gurubai to even begin.
What is Lacking in Me?
When Prajna and I first started practicing the song, which originally, before we changed the lyrics, was Julie London’s Cry Me a River, Anandamali gave me various suggestions of things to try, just as exercise to try to open up some part of myself that I am having a hard time to allow to come out, and I am sure Anandamali is well aware of that part. At these suggestions, I first sang as loud as I could many times, and then as if I were a completely different woman each time. This was not easy, because quickly I noticed my lack of creativity in coming up with different women…how they would be, would feel, would react, would interact, and etc. As if lacking in experience in connecting with the feeling of others and where it comes from. I felt that certainly this may be from my own disconnect in some way from feeling, from connection, from being with others, from understanding the heart of others. Again, understanding from some core place was needed, not from any surface or external appearances.
Next, I was asked to forget about the original lyrics and not sing those at all, but to just freely sing about Shri Mahayogi. STUCK! Improvising was absolutely difficult for me, and I had that feeling from my dream years ago of searching frantically for my paper of prepared words only to find nothing. So there was no preparation to rely on, and there was no time to think. For many trials, I think I mostly just hummed or made noises for notes, but not actually any words. It took a long time before I could start conjuring up words on the spot, and even then it was partial.
Why is This so Difficult?
Even though I was told it doesn’t even matter what it is, if it makes sense or not, or anything like that—“just be free”—and in some sense I understand that, I think I still felt like I should at least be able to come up with something, but that expectation of myself kept me stuck because my mind stayed in a slight state of panic and worry, which made it tight. At the same time, I wondered, if the challenge with this was also that I was not connecting with some true feeling or some essential core within myself, and because I wasn’t connecting with that, I was having a hard time to let anything come out. I started to feel that this was actually a big problem, because it is not so easy to just instantly connect and feel, but that’s actually something that needs constant attention and development, throughout daily life in order to be able to do that, like creating a habit of it. This came to mind from seeing the example of Anandi, another senior gurubai, who shared with the New York sangha not too long ago about her way of practice, cultivating within herself the single-minded focus towards God, and seeing that precious existence everywhere. Her constant and continuous cultivation over time, as well as the result of those efforts, was evident. It is like how Shri Mahayogi says, the mind needs to be prepared already, through one’s proactive cultivation of one’s self.
I didn’t know what direction to go, and was stuck most of the time. Even though I didn’t know what to do, and was having a hard time, I just kept telling myself to simply try again and not allow my mind to go in any direction of feeling incapable or like giving up. I halted and put to the side many times that little notion of “I can’t” that tried to keep creeping into the scene.
And all the while, Anandamali stayed observing this whole scene, watching over everything from a distance, not saying or interjecting much, just being there as I tried and tried again.
Staying Soft and Flexible Through Trust
Eventually, however, Anandamali straightforwardly told me that whatever I sing and the way that I sing is too uninteresting, and my voice, or rather something about myself, doesn’t work for this role and we would not be able to offer to Shri Mahayogi this way. I was too serious and too boring. It’s not the first time I’ve heard feedback in this same vein, just in different types of projects, so it’s not like it was any kind of extraordinarily shocking news, but I felt badly for not knowing what to do and not being able to change it. I didn’t want to not be able to offer something appropriate for Shri Mahayogi, and I didn’t want to lose this opportunity to break out of some part of myself either, I know how precious and rare that opportunity is, but I felt like I did lose it, and a part of me concluded that perhaps it means it’s not possible for me to do anything to change that part of myself.
Probably, around that time there was something that gave up internally. Not necessarily like a giving up to say “I’m through” or deciding I didn’t want to participate anymore—nothing like that. But, thinking back now, maybe it was like the inflated “me” part of some notion within myself of being capable or thinking myself able to do something, suddenly didn’t really have anywhere to hold on anymore. I was brought fully to the ground from thinking well of myself—though I wasn’t necessarily conscious that I was having that coloring of an attitude, I think I certainly must have been having it without really realizing or recognizing it.
In this state of being brought down, I didn’t exactly take things negatively, which could have been my reaction. But I had gone down the path of taking that direction in the past, which once you start going that way it’s hard to turn around and come back again, so I knew I didn’t want to repeat that, it’s far too unproductive, difficult, unnecessary and self-absorbed. Instead, I tried to just keep myself in a softened state, listen and take in the feedback, and remember that this whole thing is about Shri Mahayogi, the joy of his existence, and about Jayanti, offering the best of what we can, and uplifting the Truth. So I simply needed to try to keep myself soft as things developed—“soft,” meaning something like trying to not allow myself to go the direction of getting tensed up in various internal reactions, but to create the internal state as if to be something that is prepared to be pliable and flexible—so that I would be able to support the overall project in whatever way that I can, recognizing that that is not necessarily something I have much vision to see, so there’s not much else to do but trust Anandamali, who does have that.
And I know Anandamali has that, because as both the chef in the kitchen, and as the chef of the various ingredients of gurubai (see “Let the Guru Show You the Way—Part I”, Pranavadipa Vol. 98) I have had the repeated experience that her clarity, sensitivity and creativity, which must arise from the very place within that I would like to find within myself too, along with her attention and care for each “ingredient,” that is both sharp and nuanced, gives rise to end products that certainly bring out the best of each ingredient and their combination under whatever the given circumstances are. It’s quite something!
Now, Let Go…
By that time, Kamalakshi had already been brought in to join the performing team and was then placed in the role of the main singer.
At first, with Kamalakshi as the main singer, it was a challenge to try to follow her lead, in part because to try to stay soft, I needed to keep neutralizing myself from feeling the disappointment in myself for not being able to contribute in the role I was originally given, and then also I was having a hard time to figure out what following her lead actually means in this context of singing a song. Again, in that sense it comes back to the same challenge within myself, that there is something I need to let go of, which is the notion of the external surface of things, and at the same time, something I need to connect to within myself to base on and let come out. In this case, there was nothing settled about the performance and nothing external to use as a steady ground, everything was shifting and that required an ability to be free, playful and flexible, rather than stick to something on the surface, and that was not easy for me because of this area of lack.
However, once the lyrics had been created, which was only two days before Jayanti, it was a great help and was like the start of a turning point, at least in my case. The reason is that, the lyrics themselves came to embody a message of Truth, and they became like a call to my own mind and heart, because they represent what I truly want. And interestingly, no matter how Kamalakshi and I tried to split up the lyrics, who would sing which line, etc., I ended up with one line that was always the same: “Let go, plunge down into the utmost depths, and there you will find the gem of pure Love.” It is a line that is originally from a poem that Shri Ramakrishna and Vivekananda used to sing, though somehow I had found the way to add the words “let go,” which were not part of the original line. But looking at myself, I felt it was impossible to plunge down without simultaneously letting go. And in my case, I feel I sometimes need to straightforwardly encourage my mind to not be afraid, or become fearful or too hesitant over what it doesn’t know or where it hasn’t gone, that it’s ok to “let go.” So this line, which I sang over and over and over again as we prepared, really stands out as an absolutely important highlight.
This “let go,” along with the attempt to plunge, started to become like the guiding light of each moment, as if there was a very condensed practice of facing my mind with the Truth in these few days using this line. No matter what challenge my mind was having, concerning over myself from time to time in various ways, each moment became the opportunity to “let go, plunge down” again, repeatedly, and aim towards that place where pure Love can be found. Yes! That’s something that I want…but I have to let go of everything, otherwise I may not reach far enough into the depths to find that pure Love. And even more importantly, I want to let go and plunge deeper and deeper for and because of Shri Mahayogi!
I needed to let go of any feeling badly about myself or what I could or couldn’t do, expectations of myself, what I thought I should be able to contribute, any comparison to others, worry of judgement, and I also had to let go of the lyrics, let go of having a clear idea of what my role is, let go of trying to have any clear preparation of what or how I would sing during the performance, and let go of the hope that I would have any clarity about a finalized performance at all. My role was as a supporting person, so I had to be ready to see what support was needed and act on it in the moment, without any delay, because in order to support, I would need to understand what was happening to others, and improvise or do whatever I could to support or improve the overall situation on the spot. And this was constantly changing, there was no predicting what would happen with each try.
But with the repetition of this line, each “let go” came so quickly one after another, so whatever came up in my mind, it was for such a short time, because the “let go” was right there waiting, almost comically so, with not a moment to lose. With this line, my mind was made to keep making itself soft over and over again. And more important than any concern that came up in my mind, was that what we were working on was for offering to Shri Mahayogi, and for the joy of Shri Mahayogi. And with the combination of remembering what we are doing and why, along with this letting go, something started to feel so joyous. How perfect this scenario was! As if the repetition and opportunity to face my mind so many times and so quickly was really like a divine gift, such that I thought, this itself is a manifestation of “God’s beauty and pure Love.” And it is certainly the grace of the Guru, because I can’t imagine any other scenario in which such conditions would be created for this kind of intensified opportunity to arise. I tried to keep heightening these feelings of gratitude and joy that were being conjured up, sensing that that is the spirit from which I need to bring myself, no matter how the final form of the performance takes shape in the end, I should try to let that be what shines out of me and accept whatever comes.
The actual performance on the day of Jayanti came and went, and it was as it was. There were many uncertainties, even during the performance itself. A note went off on the guitar, Kamalakshi hesitated, and before my first line to sing even came in, I wasn’t sure what would happen… Was everyone going to stop? … Would everyone continue? … In such a short moment, it felt as if the song, the energy together, everything was teetering on a tiny point, and at any moment could fall apart. I think my mind must have already gone somewhat blank…just trying to be ready for anything needed…I don’t remember much, but just the feeling that was as if we needed to heighten immediately, there is only this one chance and everything in our hearts must be given. With everything I could gather, with the wanting to come together united in this moment for Shri Mahayogi and for this special occasion, for the message of the lyrics, the gratitude of that “letting go” and for the unending grace of the Guru—the first line came out of me from that place. And from there I don’t have much memory.
There were many things that I know I could have done better and ways that I could have supported better the group as a whole, too. And after that, I remained with the feeling that there’s still something that I’m lacking in with making the connection between my internal feeling and my outward expression, and I felt that I needed to go much further with working on this lack in myself, because I feel this holds a key for not only developing my quality as a person, but to also be as a better “ingredient” in whatever works we do, and ultimately to be better able to learn and understand the Truth, and take part in using myself in whatever way possible to express and share what Shri Mahayogi is teaching us.
Sangha: When Heightening Oneself, the Ground is Laid for Others to Heighten Too
The opportunity for continuation, at least in an intensified manner, came swiftly as we embarked several days later on creating a recording of the song. As it turns out, on the day of Jayanti, our sound did not come through, so in an effort to make sure Shri Mahayogi had the opportunity to hear, we decided to attempt the creation of a recording.
As we gathered again, one of the first things Anandamali requested of me was to not sing like I had been, but to try singing in a completely different way. Casually, “You know, like a gospel singer for example!”—meaning I should immerse myself more and allow my expression to come out from that.
Oh boy, so quickly I was back in the place of not knowing what to do! In what I can say now was my way of making an excuse, I said, “I’ll need Kamalakshi for that,” which is what Anandamali had been telling me from the beginning…that I needed Kamalakshi. In fact, that is the very reason that she brought Kamalakshi in to participate in the performance in the first place. For me though, it wasn’t until later on that I started to realize for myself how much I truly did need Kamalakshi!
In fact, as we prepared for making the recording, and as we started attempting the recording, Kamalakshi became more and more settled and confident with the lyrics. This had really been a challenge for her leading up to the Jayanti performance and she was having to face her own challenges and obstacles within herself. But as she continued to bring herself to do that again and again, the lyrics started being more established, and that brought out a completely different quality from Kamalakshi, which in turn gave the foundation and stimulation for me to try and allow something different to come out of and develop in myself too. And all the while, Prajna continued to play for us again and again and again.
Seeing and feeling from Kamalakshi her ability to be playful and go here and there outside of the box, or the way we had already been doing or practicing, helped me be able to get the sense of how I needn’t let myself get stuck in something that then ultimately ends up in making myself be rigid.
Many, many times we recorded and many times we concluded that we needed to try again. There were many considerations as to why, which Anandamali, as the director, tried to help us become aware of over time. The quality of each performer, the facial expressions, the movements, the direction of the eyes, the camera angle, the sound, the visual image, the dog that was there, the lighting, the energy behind everything, the togetherness of the performers, the engagement with the listener or watcher, and the list can keep going on. These details, in a way are just like the example of tasting the coffee—I probably didn’t notice very much until these things started to be pointed out or spoken about, then I started to see and become more aware of them and the impact of all these details. Originally, I thought getting the recording would be short and sweet, but as it turns out, it was like we were working with all new ingredients, all new environmental conditions, and the occasion too was different—so too, the dish that was being cooked up became absolutely different.
As we worked for this recording, I think what was most strongly present in my mind, is that I wanted the song to bring joy to Shri Mahayogi, and I wanted it to really be felt. The lyrics naturally become heightened in meaning and the sentiment towards one cultivating and raising the spirit of a yogi within oneself, as the song progresses, and I hoped for that determination, that passion, that devotion, that spirit of turning one’s base into faith and Truth, of truly letting oneself go, diving in and then following the Guru, one action at a time, to really come out in the performance itself. That was the great spirit so many of us saw and felt in our brother Sananda, who also helped to point us in this direction through his example. And I hope for each of us to become solidly like that too.
And even though the song is an offering to Shri Mahayogi, if it were to ever be heard by other people, I truly hope for it to be a strong call to that listener’s heart and mind, for the spirit of a yogi to be felt and to give inspiration or impact to heighten towards that. I didn’t think we were able to capture these things well on the day of Jayanti, and at the time, there was nothing to do but accept that how it happened was how it happened, but now, this was like having the opportunity to make sure we do that the best we can this time.
While these feelings were really brewing and bubbling up in me, much more so than what they were during the time leading up to the Jayanti performance, I was also remembering so many things Anandamali had said along the way that were like clues for bringing that quality. The importance of the first sound, of where we sing from, of what is in our mind, of how fully and wholeheartedly we bring ourselves every single time, of being together as if one…the list can go on…and her request for me to try singing completely differently. Anandamali has been in the presence of Shri Mahayogi for much longer, has experienced much more on the path of Yoga, and been witness to much more history of the mission, so as she suggests, mentions or emphasizes importance on different things, there is always an important reason behind it, that is what I am learning over time. And I know without a doubt that, whatever the detail of the reason may be, it is coming from her true devotion to Yoga, to Shri Mahayogi, and to her role in carrying forward the mission that arises from Shri Mahayogi’s existence in this world, and that I trust, and that I also want to learn from.
With this all as the background, and as we went one try after another, I tried to let myself sing in different ways. It’s not that I really planned on trying to sing this way or that way to make it different, but I rather tried to focus on this mission of heightening and bringing to life the song and the joy surrounding Shri Mahayogi, and through trying to bring that out, let myself be a little more playful and spontaneous in letting anything come out of me that might support that.
Certainly, I think the sound, the quality, the energy, many things probably developed along the way, though I wasn’t really assessing that in the moment. However, I don’t feel that personally I gained much ground in being able to be more free, or playful and spontaneous, even though I wanted to. As I reflect back, I can see that through the example of this experience, clearly the mind wants and is strongly habituated to grasp onto and cling to something it knows or has done before, which of course ultimately limits freeness. For example, as I was trying to let myself sing in some different way, perhaps some small change might come out of me. But then I probably repeated that change in the same way many times before I was able to let another small change come out. Then I would get stuck repeating that way for some good time just not knowing how yet to let the next small change come. Reflecting on it later, I felt as if this was really like a clear example of how strongly grasping onto form can manifest, and how in order to break out of it, a lot of repetition, even if there seems to be no apparent progress, may be needed. Over time the small adjustments made through repetition add up, and somehow, something new develops. This must be symbolic for just about any practice in Yoga!
That being said, I truly think that it was only because I would keep focusing on the joy of Shri Mahayogi, of this song, of raising up its meaning, bringing life and energy to it, that I could make any small break from the previous form and allow the next small change to eventually come out. Things developed in this way, with time and repetition and the company and support of sangha, but not because of any planning or thinking, or trying to match, repeat or produce a certain form.
Even though we just couldn’t seem to get a take that was quite right, it felt joyous to me as we tried again and again, and I felt as if I could have just kept going, no matter how many times we needed to do it again, if we could only bring out something just a little better from each one of ourselves and then jointly as one sangha working on this project.
Our recording time eventually came to an end though, and regardless of the outcome of all these takes and the difficulty of finding one that truly captured all that we had hoped for it to capture, I can’t help but feel that the whole experience surrounding Jayanti was graciously given to us for our learning. The intensified conditions give everyone a chance to take a few steps forward in a direction that may be absolutely difficult, or near impossible, for us to do on our own. We are given the possibility to experience.
I see that as the case for really everyone involved, no matter in what capacity that involvement was, the opportunity was there. And to the extent that each individual can take steps forward, it paves the way for everyone together to be able to take further steps. But everyone, and their own personal efforts to learn and improve themselves, is needed for that, I can’t stress that enough, as this experience paints the picture so clearly.
I have heard Anandamali say in the past that the growth in Yoga of even one person can give the stimulation that allows for others to grow too. Now I have a much more tangible understanding of that through experiencing it so directly and evidently myself. Though it happened in a variety of ways, the most clearly felt way, for me, was from Kamalakshi’s facing herself and working to overcome her own obstacles, I was so directly impacted by her growth. And then through various combinations, things developed in ways that I, at least, never expected. And that helps me to see that this is exactly how our learning in Yoga needs to grow and that is exactly what can facilitate it to grow for everyone much more quickly, to much greater depths, and in ways that are yet unknown to us, but will definitely unfold before us.
Peering into the Reflecting Reflections of the Mirrors
The experience of Jayanti was given, now the contemplation and learning continue on.
I see how quickly my mind tries to hold onto some form and rely on that, and in doing so remains somewhat distant from this internal part that I want to find within myself. The attraction to and grasping onto form—how powerful this is, it comes up in probably just about all aspects of life, tightly integrated into the mind, yet becoming such an obstacle. I see others getting stuck in the same thing too. To become free of the confines and limits of adherence to forms and ways, probably that’s where real expression can take shape, or expression that captures the real essence of that which is behind and trying to shine forth.
One day, during the period when we were working on the recording, while sitting for a bit of practice of meditation, I started to get the sense that perhaps the most pure and free expression must come out from the space of silence and stillness that is at the core. It’s like when Anandamali has talked about in the past the importance of space—and often during our practice for Jayanti she mentioned about how the first sound, which comes out of the space, is the most important—without the space, without the silence and stillness, the expression, no matter the form, cannot be expressed. The form cannot become visible. But the space…that may be much more important than the concretization of any form coming out of it.
The problem though, for me anyway, is that I see I often want to keep repeating and recreating forms, rather than trying to keep going back to what’s in that space, that stillness, and that silence, some essential, internal and invisible part, from which the form can rise up in the first place. And here, confusion can easily come, since just because a form emerges from the space I might think it means that that is the only form and that that form should be reproduced and recreated, like for example with a certain sound or way of singing. But here’s where I have been mistaken: whatever that form is is simply the form that is most appropriate for all other given circumstances. But because all other given circumstances are constantly in flux, I cannot assume or predict a form. If I do, then immediately I am making limitations and stifling or even losing the real essence that is at the base and trying to shine outwardly through the means of form. Surely this must have something to do with where uninterestingness and boringness come from!!! And surely, these free and various forms that can arise out of that space, each appropriate for the momentary conditions, are just like the various dishes that the chef cooks, reading the ingredients, the ripeness, the combinations, the circumstances, etc. It’s exactly the same type of thing. And if I think about it, Shri Mahayogi shows us this way through his example in many ways, he takes great consideration of all things, from tiny details to entire scenes, and senior gurubai follow that and mold themselves in this way too. It’s lively, it’s vibrant, and it is felt.
As I contemplate further, what comes to mind is nivritti, which Shri Mahayogi has said indicates going against the flow of the direction of activity and evolution. The focus of the mind towards a form, which is only the surface, seems to be the common flow of how things evolve…we look towards the result, what is most visible, the form. However, Shri Mahayogi has also said that nivritti used to be another name for yoga practitioners. I understand that to mean, the path of Yoga is actually in the opposite direction of the form, the opposite of what’s most visible, the opposite of what ends up as the result. For nivritti, we must have to go back to these invisible, subtle things that are behind the result, that lead up to it. And those invisible, subtle things are behind and affecting everything and every aspect of life, even the most ordinary, taken for granted things.
I have often heard that the practice of Yoga lives in daily life, in the most mundane things; it is nothing grandiose, it is simple and right in front of our eyes. This message is emphasized to us by Shri Mahayogi, and this message has been emphasized to me from senior disciples as well.
Coming back again to the example of the coffee, that I mentioned previously in “Let the Guru Show You the Way—Part I” (Pranavadipa Vol. 98), following the ingredients and method on the surface may produce a cup of coffee, but the increasing awareness of the subtleties of that cup of coffee and what goes into making it that affects these subtleties, is a completely different direction than just recreating the form, even it may appear successful at first glance.
I need to remember and work to train myself in this direction, increasingly. I’m still in the stage of experiencing and being helped to expand the awareness of these subtle details and seemingly invisible aspects, and am still coming up against this area of lack within myself, with this underdeveloped internal quality and the boldness to allow it be at the base of what is expressed outwardly.
Any steps that I was able to take experimentally during this project, though they were such very baby steps, were only because of the support of the gurubai in being together to create the circumstance, and ultimately because of Shri Mahayogi, without whom there would be no occasion and no gurubai to come together. I want to eventually completely break this part of myself that is lacking, so that truly my thoughts, words and actions can be brimming with real feeling, real understanding, real unity with others, and with a real foundation of Truth with nothing hindering in between. But like with the song preparations and the recording, I see that small steps need to be taken, with lots of repetition, and for the joy of simply improving oneself and going closer to the Truth. Perhaps this is the action that Shri Mahayogi always emphasizes and the continuous effort over a long period of time that is indicated in the Yoga Sutra!
 Yoga Sutra 1.14: That practice however becomes firmly grounded when it is continued accurately for a long time.