Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
The Secret to Living
1: The Reason for Living
Meditation: The Basic Level
2: The Actual Practice of Meditation
Testimonies from Actual Practitioners
March 2023, New York
* * * * * * * * * *
Teachings of Shri Mahayogi
The Secret to Living
“The aim of Yoga is the harmonious and well-rounded development of a human being—human development based on the Truth. No matter what occupation or situation one is in, that ought to be the ultimate goal for everyone.”
— Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa
1: The Reason for Living
To Forge One’s Own Destiny
Destiny is something you forge and carve out by yourself.
Depending on your own mind, [your attitude], the future will be shaped accordingly into whatever it ends up looking like.
Q: When I was a student, I wanted to leave home as soon as possible, so that I could live alone and become free; when I went out into the world, I wanted to run away from my job and become free, or get married and create a happy family; when I got sick, I wanted to be healthy…such that I have always kept wanting to be free, to be happy. Why do people end up wishing for things like this?
MASTER: All people are seeking freedom and happiness; in a way, that is almost instinctive. It seems that all of these are the kinds of things that have become instinctual, such as one’s appetite, lust, the craving for life, as well as things that are dwelling deep within the mind, which are like the motivating forces behind those things. Students seek what they seek in the way that students do, and when they go out into society, once they are out in society, they seek what members of society seek in their way—this propensity that people have to inevitably seek further freedom and further happiness as the environment changes in various ways is coming from the strong smell of desires. Looking at it this way, whatever has resulted in the quest to fulfill one’s desires, the objects of these desires may differ from individual to individual, yet in principle, they must be aiming for freedom and happiness.
Certainly, human beings, who have the same physiological situation as animals, cannot live in cold times without clothing, cannot live without food, and, with their appetite and other things too, there are things that they have inevitably needed to seek. However, from these desires the mind then begins to put a cloth over that freedom and happiness and cover it up, and by putting on more layers of various thicker things, like fancy clothing or gourmet food, desires become overblown. Even so, this is endless, and ultimately, one often ends up being crushed by the dreams that the mind inflated. Physically, there is no guarantee for being able to maintain a certain standard of life, and when it comes to the mind, being anxious or worried about losing what one has acquired goes on and on without end.
This may seem like a cold, sobering perspective, but we can take the view that the direction in which we have been seeking something was not proper. When you are sick, you will desire health, and health will look like a treasure; whereas when you are healthy, you take it for granted, and not only do you not think of it as a treasure, it isn’t even on your mind at all—even though that’s when you are in fact healthy. Similarly, when it comes to freedom and happiness, from the condition in which the mind is seeking such things, then the mind may be sick, in a way. [That means that] if one refrains from seeking these things, health, that is to say, that inherent freedom and happiness, may already lie within.
Yoga, considering these things, too, attempted to find the most ideal answer to the utmost extent possible, and further, by touching the nature or the essence of the individual, like the soul that is further beyond the mind, it was realized that true freedom and happiness were already there. Thus, Yoga came to consider that the simple state that is absent of this or that worry, is precisely the natural, healthy state of mind, and therein lies freedom and happiness.
MASTER: Each person’s mind is seeking freedom and happiness. Take romance, for instance—it all boils down to seeking [freedom and happiness], for the time spent with one’s lover is filled with happiness and contentment. Nevertheless, the experiences of this world do not last, even if you wish for them to continue forever. This is inevitable. Our physical bodies have limits, and they might get sick or hurt; the mind can also change at times. Since even a single person’s mind changes over time, in a romance that must be enjoyed by two, it is very possible that both minds will change eventually. Then, our minds suffer and struggle and become hopeless. Our predecessors sought out the reason as to why this is so.
Even though it is a matter of course, there are still several things in this world that the mind does not understand. One of which is, despite the fact the world is not eternal, one sees eternity in it. This city changes moment by moment, so do the shapes of all things, and so does your own form and your own mind. Not a single thing remains the same forever. Yet the mind cannot help but be hopeful for this romantic relationship to last forever, for this happiness to never be destroyed. That is a contradiction. That is how you suffer, as a result of having your dream shattered.
[In the mind’s view,] through seeking something in this world, happiness should have been achieved; yet, ultimately, everything results in suffering. Even if you gain as much happiness as you can possibly have, then the anxiety of when that happiness will leave you or break apart causes suffering that is more than double the joy you felt. It is just like how a person who is hiding a lot of wealth at home cannot rest due to thoughts of burglars. However, it’s easy if you don’t have anything. The mind sees the understanding about such things in this world through incorrect eyes. Yoga says that this is where you can find the cause of all unhappiness and suffering.
So, is there such a thing as happiness without suffering in this world? It would be tragic if there were not. But it’s not through that way [of seeking happiness externally,] but rather when your mind ceases to be disturbed and is maintained in equilibrium, and it truly calms down and becomes still, then you can discover the inherent happiness that exists within you.
The real Self is the Eternal Existence—It is Absolute Existence, which will never change, will never break or be destroyed, will never disappear. That is the essence of each and every one of us, that is the essence of all things. Since It is sufficient in and of itself, there is nothing It lacks, and the shadow of suffering cannot come near It. Therein lies the source of the spring of bliss. In other words, since the dream of the mind that it projects onto this world is a mistake, by directing the mind inward instead, you can find the original, indestructible, immortal happiness within. Your essence is the immortal Existence, it is the Pure Consciousness, and it is Bliss. That means, perhaps, that the mind can’t help but try to see eternal existence in this world—in the scenes that are changing and unfolding in front of one’s eyes, it makes mistakes in trying to find eternal happiness there. The essence [of each and every one of us and of all things] is That.
Q: Even if I hear that everyone’s essence is actually free and happy and that it already exists within us, to me it seems very perplexing and hard to grasp, and my mind gets confused. Why is that?
MASTER: This is considered the greatest mystery for human beings. At the very moment of the beginning, when the mind is born, the mind looks towards the external. That is to say, the relative world between the self and others is born, and there the mind begins to assert what is called the “ego.” As the ego is born, [the notion of] “others” is brought about as a result. From there, that sense of freedom and happiness that the mind rapidly churns out, things that are formed dependent upon material or situations in this world, for example, money, romance, family, work…all of these things are mistakenly sought after.
Due to the mind’s difficulty of facing itself, it is constantly making mistakes, and even though things begin to not go well, the mind keeps switching to other problems and chasing after them, from one thing to the next—in this way, the root cause of all this is never confronted; it can be said to be like the original mistake the mind made in the beginning. Nevertheless, by calming down the mind, and by learning the Truth—the correct understanding about the world and about the Eternal Truth, which are facts—the mind gradually becomes educated; the mind gradually comes to understand the reason, or rather, gradually comes to gain understanding. Then, upon reflecting on the ego and repenting on the mistakes that have been cultivated up until then, the mind gradually becomes transparent, or gradually becomes cleaner. Deeper beyond that mind exists the Pure Consciousness. This has been called Satori for thousands of years. When you hear the word Satori, you may think that it is something hard to understand the meaning of, like some kind of an occurrence from a different world, but that is not the case. It is about realizing your truly simple, own true Self. It is not a big thing.
Now, I mentioned that it is Pure Consciousness. Consciousness can be likened to light. Light is just emitting light, and light itself does not know light, does it? (Directing his hand in front of the small lamp nearby) Yet, when an object is placed in front of it, the object is recognized due to the light, and the light itself, too, is recognized, since, if there is no light, then an object cannot be recognized. It is like the mind, existing between light and the world. The mind has various colorings caused by past impressions, experiences and personality, respectively, and because one sees things through the condition of these filters being in place, one is unable to understand things in their pure form.
Yoga is like the task of making the mind’s filters transparent. Then, by doing that, the light becomes self-aware that light itself is light. That is what it can be likened to.
There is a short story from India that goes like this:
One night, a very young and beautiful woman visited a house to ask to stay the night. Seeing this beautiful woman, the master of the house welcomed her, saying, “Please do stay here for the night.” Then the woman said, “I have a traveling companion, so please let both of us stay the night.” When he looked at the other woman, she was very ugly and his brow darkened.
These two sisters—one is the goddess of fortune, and the other is the goddess of misfortune. If you let one stay, the other will always follow. If you refuse one, the other cannot enter either.
Fortune and misfortune are like the front and back sides of the world, it is impossible to just seek one side. Yoga discriminates both fortune and misfortune, and after seeing through the fact that nothing, no matter what wealth or pleasures there may be, can bring happiness in this world, that there is always a misfortune that comes in their shadows, Yoga seeks Truth instead of happiness. That is the origin of Yoga.
MASTER: The world that each person’s mind creates is different, that is, the mind’s senses of value are different. What you call one’s sense of value—that is like each individual’s own belief, and it’s the kind of idea that has been cultivated through experience. However, these [ideas] are not absolute coordinates, and they too change from moment to moment. Regardless, the mind cannot move away from the axis of already mapped out coordinates from the past. Therefore, first, the task of loosening and disassembling them is necessary.
That is to say, today, whatever values and worldviews you have experienced are all unreliable and not absolute; they are nothing but downright biased, immature and unreliable things. There is nothing more foolish than trying to assert or establish oneself by relying upon such things. That is the situation you yourself are in, and at the same time, it is the situation of all others. That is precisely how [the importance of] seeking a reliable axis comes about. However, [even though you may recognize the importance of seeking something reliable,] you can say that seeking it through relative knowledge or techniques is also relatively unreliable, and since they too are founded based upon various conditions, if the conditions are different, the results will be different; there is nothing riskier than that.
You must seek a foundation that is unconditionally and universally reliable. The mind may not know That yet; even so, if you can hear the voice that That alone certainly exists and that That is the only Reality, you must listen to and follow that voice.
Just as one learns various subjects in elementary school and junior high, the Truth must also be learned. The Truth exists originally, therefore it is not something that is established through knowledge, which comes through learning, of course. Knowledge is simply a tool to remove the ignorance.
Q: How do I communicate to children about living while having one’s own aim in life?
MASTER: As for the aim of this life, this so called “life” has two aims.
One is to acquire happiness in this world. Another is to reach perfection as a human being. We are born as human beings and eventually die; there would be nothing more fortunate than living a wonderful life free from regret, and reaching perfection as a human being. In that sense, two aims are given.
In the first one, the aim in this world is the happiness that one acquires through schoolwork, through one’s job or family. Within this realm, each person first creates favorable goals, respectively, and then works toward that aim. Even among siblings, these aims may be different, for they may all have different respective aims and interests. That is fine, it can be anything. If you can find something that you genuinely want to do, or have interest in, aim in that direction. Yet, that alone cannot be considered perfect happiness. Because even if one establishes a happy family and their job is going well, these conditions may not last forever. In the midst of the changing world, these successes and happy circumstances may change. But, since one is shaken by the effects of such changes and then that happiness can be destroyed in an instant, you must hold back the mind that is largely permissive, and you need to grow and develop your humanity. That is how the second aim that I mentioned, the ultimate aim of the perfection of one’s own humanity, arrives at the realization of the Truth. What must be realized? The law of this world and the way of the Truth.
For the first aim, there is school and various things can be learned through experiences in society. However, there are no schools for the second aim, and even out in society, it is very difficult to encounter. Simply put, it is to realize the true Self, and to know the Essence of the entire universe. One will eventually come to know that these two things are the same—to learn about this invisible Truth, and discover It within one’s own self and realize It, is the greatest, highest purpose of having been born. In this sense, the first aim is a supporting element to achieving the second aim, or rather, it serves only for that part. The true aim is the perfection of one’s own humanity. However, since your children are yet to go out into the world, and they will eventually grow up and live their own lives, the first aim is also a necessary period, therefore, it would be good if you can direct them to both aims, and if they can learn both from now on.
Q: I still don’t understand what it means to seek the Truth. What should I do if I want to know what is most important for myself?
MASTER: Regardless of what lifestyle, way of thinking, or ideals people may have, the universal issue, or the ideal that they seek, is the realization of Existence. The realization of Existence may sound a bit abstract, but to put it in other words, it is Freedom and Joy, and I think that based on these ideals, various [life]styles are born, and each respective individual follows accordingly and constructs their own lives, and then they live those lives. Therefore, no matter what lifestyle it might be, what is being sought after all boils down to Happiness, or Freedom. Yet, is this freedom or happiness eternal? They change, that is, freedom in turn changes into bondage, relatively speaking, fortune in turn changes into misfortune, relatively speaking—one inevitably has to experience them. These are imperfect, not the original Freedom or Happiness that was sought after.
Originally, one must have been seeking an unchanging, ever-lasting freedom and happiness, and one must have wished to be continuously aware of it, to act on it, to live in such a way. People who are attending here today have also each had their own respective reasons for starting Yoga, or the cause that led them to encounter Yoga. However, within the teachings of Yoga there are answers to the fundamental issues we face as humans, the proposition of what it is “to live,” and that is what has been called Satori since ancient times. It is neither difficult nor is it anything special; It is that which is the essence of everyone—and that is exactly what is called Satori. Yet, the mind does not know that essence. As you learn and study Yoga and practice a little bit for that purpose, then you will be released from the worries you had up until that point, and you will begin to understand the mysteries and mechanisms [of the world]. Then, you will no longer be caught up in these traps, and your aim, or ideals, will become more clear.
Even if you live with a comfortable lifestyle, that is neither absolute happiness nor is it absolute freedom at all. To put it bluntly, your lifestyle is not that important, because if you are in the state of mind or have the mindset in which you are not confused by these things, then you are in the state of fearlessness, or you will be fearless—no matter what situation comes—you will be in a state that is absent of fear. That can be towards death, sickness or aging. Or you will no longer be jealous or envious toward the various happiness and freedom seen in the world, and you will come to understand that true happiness is none of these things. Gradually, one will begin to seek what is real, what is perfect. Surely, you must be seeking that too. Right now, you may be exploring, even so, deep within your heart, within your mind, you must be seeking what is reliable, what is perfect.
Q: I’m sure I have these thoughts, but I’m not quite convinced. At these times, what must I do to know what is important for me?
MASTER: Simply, you have just mentioned now, “for me.” Who is that “I”?—there is an inquiry, “Who am I?” What is the “I”? If you can answer it correctly, that’s great, but unless the identity of that “I” is clearly established, no matter what you say about the “I,” these are all without real substance. Simply, seek who that “I” is.
MASTER: All of humanity living on Earth has similar struggles. Yoga, which began in ancient times, has also attempted to answer these questions—what is the purpose of living, and who is living that life? Then, one concludes, “I am living.” Then who is that “I”? Who am I? One is born, grows up, studies various things, works various jobs, makes a living, then dies. What is the meaning of all this? Ultimately, as long as you don’t know what you are, you cannot answer it.
The answer that Yoga found is that the essence, “I,” is neither the body nor the mind, but the soul that abides beyond them. This soul has empirically been taught as the Eternal Existence. And the souls of those who have experienced it and those [who have not], the substance, which dwells as the essence of this entire universe, is exactly the same, they are One and the same; One without a second. This Eternal Existence, within the world limited by time and space, is just repeating birth and death, birth and death. By knowing the substance of that, one will not get involved in the fleeting happiness, pain, sadness and such that come from the experiences in the world. These things are like inevitable conditions that refer to this world, so you can just deal with them accordingly. What is more important than that is to know that even within that limited time, everyone has the sparkle of Existence, which is precious and sacred life, and so do you yourself. By knowing that, by knowing the most important thing, you become less involved in anything else, that is to say, less involved in the experiences of this world—that is what Satori is, because that is the very essence of everyone. Drill that into your mind, because the mind does not know It. That should be the one and only, absolute salvation.
Q: I brought my daughter to see you. She is seventeen. For someone who is just beginning to inquire into what life is, and what life is about, I wonder if you could please speak about a direction to follow, what purpose it has or what problems may arise?
MASTER: Do you have ideals or hopes for your future?
MASTER (smiles): Actually, I didn’t either when I was around seventeen. I thought that might be the case, so that’s why I asked.
Back then, I thought that there was nothing in this world that I could aspire to, that there was nothing in this world that I could use as a reference. But, what was undeniable was that right now I am living in this flesh—this one fact. So, I then determined that I’d make a decision about myself—whatever may become of me. That means that whatever happens, whether good or bad, it is completely my responsibility. Of course, I didn’t want to have bad results, because I didn’t want to suffer. That doesn’t mean that I couldn’t do anything. So, then I put effort into doing things that were good for me. Of course, it was all my responsibility whatever happened next as a result of my actions. If it didn’t go well, then my efforts were not enough—then I tried to find ways to improve and make further efforts. You can never escape from yourself. Nobody but you can save yourself! Therefore, heightening yourself, improving yourself, becoming independent—set these as your ideals first.
It doesn’t matter much what career you will have or what lifestyle you will lead, because they will all manifest as the result of your own actions. So then, trust that that true Sacred Existence is deep within yourself. God is neither above the clouds nor at the end of the universe. God is within your heart. It is the Immortal Existence, which is the Pure Consciousness. That is the Essence of everyone. People are suffering because they do not know that. If you have any interest at all, at least realize this simple thing.
Meditation: The Basic Level
2: The Actual Practice of Meditation
Q: I have been concentrating on the point between the eyebrows [during meditation], but when I tried concentrating on the center of the chest, entering meditation felt different.
MASTER: This is a conclusion derived from experience—when it comes to which point is easier to concentrate on, surely, the point between the eyebrows is easier. The reason is that concentration is the task of gathering the mind; so, in the beginning, it is the task of adhering the mind to a specific place so that the mind will not separate from it; for example, if the point of concentration is between the eyebrows, then place the mind there and concentrate so that it does not move away from there; that means that, at that time, the prana is gathered there—and the nerves corresponding to the five senses such as those of the eyes, nose, and ears, all of them are concentrated on the face—therefore, even the workings of prana related to the nerves and sensory organs that are normally not of much concern to us are tightly confined through concentration, and that comes along with a very strong sense of concentration. That is the reason why the point between the eyebrows feels easier to concentrate on. It can be said that physiologically and psychologically, it is a much easier point to concentrate on.
Regarding the chest on the other hand, even in the smallness of the human body it is considered that there is a void in the center of the chest, yet it is difficult to grasp as a point to which one-pointed focus is brought. This point may be just like the void, or the universe. [It might be hard to grasp,] yet you see, for example, that there are many occasions when you are unexpectedly moved, touched, or burned by something, and so on, and in these cases, all of that is happening within the chest—they come from the depths of the heart. They come forth from deep within, like a spring, and that is what moves emotions. There must be something that is a fundamental impetus, beyond logic, which is closely related to vibration. That is why, especially in bhakti, it’s the chest, and it can be the same in romantic love between humans—one’s chest hurts, or one’s chest burns, or there are many expressions related to the chest and heart. And, that is the location of Atman, which is not a personified deity, but rather the non-personified Existence; [in fact,] Atman exists everywhere and is not limited to the chest; however, just like with the bhakti just mentioned now, it has been derived from experiences that the chest is the point that is easier to experience the feeling of Atman—and this can’t be expressed in any other way but as empirical corroboration. That is why, since ancient times, it’s been taught that the golden, shining Atman, the personified deity, or God, sits in the thousand petaled lotus at the center of the chest, and It should therefore be meditated upon.
This testimony—actually, Ramana Maharishi, too, mentioned a similar thing, that the seat of Atman is the place where everyone puts their hands when they’re referring to themselves. Unconsciously, when we indicate ourselves, we do this (points to his own chest). This is not some kind of logic; but rather experience has proven this word—this is what the Yogi believe.
Shooting an Arrow Through the Target
Q: I concentrate, but I can’t go any further. What is necessary to get closer to the One?
MASTER: The task of concentration is done by the mind. In the process of concentration, in reaching the object and becoming One with it, the mind will seem to become One with the object and be buried in it. Therefore, where you are now is recognized as still being at the level of concentration. [When concentrating,] you should relax the strain or forcefulness of the concentration a bit, yet do not interrupt the concentration. It is equivalent to the situation of hitting the mark with a bow and arrow. If you want to hit the mark, you’ll have to pull the bow as hard as you can, and fix the arrow with all your strength. But once you train yourself to be able to do that well, then what is necessary is to see the target, that is, to concentrate on the target. And as you concentrate on the target, at times, it looks larger; no matter how far and small the target is, it can look big. That is the right time to release the arrow. Therefore, when it comes to concentration, if you strain too much, then the arrow won’t reach the mark.
Q: I think that when concentration is done automatically, that is the state of meditation but what is the threshold where it turns into the moment of knowing the essence?
MASTER: The object of concentration is like a mark on the target. Shooting an arrow is like when the mind releases the arrow towards the object, which is the target. When it happens, obviously, unless you have trained yourself to handle the tension and strength of the bow and arrow, you won’t be able to hit the mark, so you need to have prepared yourself beforehand; that means the preparation of the mind, the preparation of the body, and the preparation of breath. Once that is done, then you have to clearly see only the target, which is the object [of meditation]. Then, bring everything under control so that the arrow will shoot through the center of the target, and then release it—that is the stage of entering from concentration to meditation. When the arrow hits the mark, that is the transition from meditation to samadhi. Because the mind of the archer itself is ahead of the arrow, when the arrow strikes through the target, the object [of meditation] and the arrow become one. Then, the object itself, which is the target itself, becomes clear. Looking at it from afar, you can’t tell what it is, however, once the arrow has pierced it, then you can even see the back side of that mark.
Q: You have mentioned that when it comes to meditation, we should not make the mind too tense, and that meditation should be done with a light mind. Please teach us what that means.
MASTER: The mind of meditation is often explained as follows: “it is like pouring oil from one pot into another, it is a continuous stream, smooth and unbroken.”1 That is what the mind of meditation is likened to. If you are too strenuous, forcefully and quickly gushing out the oil with too much momentum, most likely the oil will spill out from the container, and you need to stop at once. Conversely, if it’s too weak, then it will be interrupted, dripping little drops of oil, so it would not be smooth. Meditation is the quiet, smooth working of the mind, just like pulling a thread.
1 Meditation is the continuous stream of concentration toward that place. (Yoga Sutra 3.2)
Q: When I am full of drive to meditate, “I will meditate now!” I can’t actually meditate, but when I try to meditate a little due to time constraints, at times, I suddenly enter meditation smoothly.
MASTER: That is how it is. Too much tension and intention can become an obstacle. Although it is difficult to have an empty mind, if you resolve to practice asana, or pranayama, and meditation daily, and your practice becomes habitual, then even if you don’t think about it, the body and mind will be able to get into the flow; you can say that that means that even without the mind having intentions, such a condition poises the mind [to be able to smoothly enter meditation]. That is the very reason it is necessary to practice them every day. Otherwise, you would think, “I will do it today!” or “It’s been a while so I must really do it today!” then, on the contrary, you can’t do it well, and end up just getting stiff shoulders. Your condition is not always the same each day; there are days when you may be able to do it well, and other days when you may not be able to. Still, as you do it over and over every day, gradually, the deepening of meditation will be created. Continue to practice this way.
Q: When exhaling during meditation, it feels that the mind will go deeper, but when I inhale, the mind comes back again. Please give me advice on how to prevent it from coming back.
MASTER: In meditation, the breath has a very important link. The yogi discovered that there is a fourth breath, which is not part of the normal respiratory workings. Simply put, it is the state of non-breathing, or something close to it. For example, you may have had experiences when you were concentrating on something and you noticed that you were not breathing at that moment. As soon as you noticed that, the breath comes back in, then the concentration is broken. You can say that our practice of yoga asana and pranayama, and also meditation, are all transforming the condition of the respiratory workings. When these conditions are balanced overall, then meditation goes well. Another way is that through intense concentration, such a condition is created forcefully. Therefore, when you are meditating, if the breath comes back and your concentration seems to get broken, then do it again from concentration.
Q: There are times during meditation when the sensations of the body change, and as I try to go deeper, I start to feel the body becoming gross. When that happens, is it better to discern this, or ignore it?
MASTER: Ignore the body. There are such things as the body feeling as if it’s on pins and needles, becoming numb and going to sleep, becoming cold, or hot, ordinarily such experiences can occur, but in the state of meditation, there are also cases that are experienced, for example, as having the sensation of electric shocks, or when it comes to heat, it’s not like normal body heat but like the sensation of heat itself, like burning, or conversely, when it comes to cold, it’s not like feeling cold and steely, but like having the sensation of the essence of cold itself. However, no matter what kinds of sensations may arise during meditation, the bodily sensations, the state of the mind, and the power of concentration will all come to be separated; consequently, things related to the body can be left alone as they are. That means that you know this, objectively, but you nullify any relationship to it. Then, the body that is complaining about these sensations is left alone, and it will not complain any more. A sensation will come that is as if the body is entirely a physical vessel, or a container.
Q: I’ve heard that when concentration turns into meditation, [when one comes out of meditation,] one comes back with some kind of an impression from it. Is that something that one will be able to be aware of?
MASTER: The level of awareness may be different depending on the phase of the mind; even in these cases the word satori is sometimes used, but there are cases in which something is known or recognized, where a realization that is like a new, fresh discovery comes that seems as if it transcends the mind’s habitual tendencies up until that point, and it often appears as awareness. And, there are also realizations in which even if they do not reach to one’s awareness, one may have grasped something from sensing them, without being aware of it—but nevertheless, a transformation of the mind must have definitely happened.
Q: Whether one is aware of it or not, regardless, if the mind transforms, does that mean that one’s daily way of living will also change?
MASTER: It will change. Because the actions of the body, mouth and the mind (deed, word, and thought) in daily life are a reflection of the mind, so if the mind transforms, it must reflect a certain amount of change.
In a nutshell, whether it is Yoga or meditation, as you continue to apply the teachings and practice, your diet will change. You may have been eating anything and everything, eating unconsciously and without being aware, but you will change, selecting what you eat to a certain extent, and centering it on a vegetarian diet—your style of diet will come to change. Also, it could be something like making and keeping your room tidy—your ways in daily life, too, will come under control to some extent. [This means that] one’s conduct will come to change in a way that will not create more karma; rather, you will reduce it—that is how it will be shifted.
Q: I understand that it is sufficient to practice asana, pranayama and meditation once a day, but would practicing twice or three times a day or continuing for a much longer time necessarily cause any particular problem? Or, is it not an issue to do that, yet it will not particularly yield any effects?
MASTER: There is no need for that. What is important is Satori. What’s obstructing it are the various thoughts and impressions in the mind. Therefore, concentrating towards That [along with discriminating anything that is not That,] should be practiced 24/7. If one is seriously seeking Satori, then not only during the time you sit for meditation, but all of your time will become meditation. Minor daily activities, such as cooking and cleaning—even your conduct in these activities will become something very important that should be paid attention to. All the time, all of one’s actions will be practiced for one’s purification. As a result of that, unconditional acts, which are intention-and-effort-free, toward anything, are born. At that time, the mind is purified, and the thoughts and actions will come to manifest in love for others and service towards others.
Q: During meditation, what should I do to proceed, if images continue to appear as if I’m dreaming?
MASTER: I think that when coming back from that meditation, you can judge whether it was real meditation or you were in dream sleep if it’s understood that it was not a dream but meditation—then you can leave that as is. However, if it feels like these were dreams during sleep, even if you thought that you were concentrating, then you must make your concentration stronger, then you’ll have to start over so that your mind does not separate from the object of concentration.
People use the word “meditation” to sum up everything—however, before the state of meditation, there is the state of concentration. The task of concentration is to concentrate upon something, it is the task of adhering the mind to something that is sacred as the object [of meditation] in such a way that the mind does not let go of it. The reason why it is better to concentrate on the point between the eyebrows or the chest is that it is about the mind’s adhesion to a [particular] location, or like a training for fixing the mind to a physiological point, in order for the concentration of the mind not to shift elsewhere.
In the case of real meditation, the focus is not only on a [physical] location, but also on the content, bringing your mind to something absolute and divine and keeping it there, for example, Atman, God or Truth. At this level of meditation, a relationship is formed in which the consciousness of the mind is directed towards the object with a very strong force. As this process progresses further, then the state arises in which the mind is getting assimilated into the object. Then, particular things like visions arise, such as additional things that are associated with that object, or things that are around [that object]. The mind tries to bury itself in it. In the process of trying to become one with the object, the consciousness of the mind, as it is usually called, is fading, and it will show up as a kind of state that is very similar to the meditative vision and the realm of dreams. Yet, the difference comes in whether the object of concentration and the object of meditation are the same, or whether different worlds unfold, as in the case of dreams. It will not be known until you come back from meditation. Just like with a dream, you can’t tell until you wake up, since at that time, the mind is getting buried in the object.
When that becomes even deeper, then things that are associated with the objects surrounding it will be dispelled, and the mind gets assimilated into that which is the essence thereof, the essence itself, in which form or name are removed. That is the deepest realm of meditation, and then the dimension of samadhi is experienced. In such a state of meditation or samadhi, the mind will no longer have subjective relationships. Because the mind becomes one, naturally the mind cannot analyze what the mind is doing. Only after coming back [from that state], the subjective situation is recalled from what has then become memory, and then you become able to judge it—that is how it goes. That is why, as I mentioned earlier, to examine the content is important, and one must always strongly hold onto the object of concentration.
What is truly most important? What must be known, and what is necessary? If we can’t just make animal-like things such as sleeping and eating be the activities of our lives throughout, what is it that we have to find there? What must be clearly realized is what the Truth is, the Essence of the Universe, the Truth of the Self. Once that discrimination is done, then one will be free of disturbance, and meditation will no longer be a part-time practice, or that of a few hours a day, but it will inevitably become a situation in which meditation is ongoing 24/7. On the one hand, dispel the dust-like things stuck to the mind, and on the other hand, direct the mind constantly towards Reality, towards the Truth—through practicing that, the apparent activities of the mind will gradually cease. At that time, for the first time, meditation of the quality of Yoga, a state of mind that is sort of rhythmical in a way, is brought about.
Q: When meditating on an object, do I need to have an understanding of that object already?
MASTER: Since name and form are identified, that is already sufficient content. Truth is by no means something that can be explained logically through words, nor can it be expressed with form; yet, you can learn it through experiencing It with all of your being, or you can sense it. The mind trying to explain or understand It using words, backfires and instead it often becomes an obstacle—for Truth is that which is much more simple, truly naked. And more than anything, that Truth itself already exists deep within your own self—That is the most reliable thing, the best refuge.
Q: I want to understand the essence through words, through reasoning and intellect, but does that mean that, on the contrary, that will become an obstacle instead?
MASTER: Right. Rather, it can become an obstacle, and it can interfere with the Truth, even now.
Q: Is it better to directly concentrate on It?
MASTER: When in meditation, you can keep the various words you have understood up to that point through to the time of concentration, but beyond that, you do not need them.
Q: Does it become an obstacle because this is not something that is possible for the mind to understand, yet the mind tries to understand it anyway?
MASTER: Right. Another reason is that, the Truth exists already, but since the relationship is one in which the mind is covering It, if the mind remains active, it will inevitably become an obstacle. If the mind remains inactive, you can then approach the essence much more.
Q: Where does direct intuitive knowledge derive from?
MASTER: Since direct intuitive knowledge is literally intuition, it is similar to sensory knowledge. There is a similarity to the power of intuitively feeling “bright” or “dark,” “hot” or “cold,” intuition is the power to immediately grasp, sense, and understand the hidden essence of things, just like with sensory perception.
Q: I think that sensory knowledge is based on experience, but intuitive knowledge is different from that?
MASTER: Sensory knowledge is that which is grasped through the senses, through the five sense organs, even if it happens in an instant that is almost invisible in terms of time. However, when it comes to direct intuitive knowledge, it is something that you can do without going through the sensory organs.
Q: When I meditate, I try to intend to get closer to the inner essence of Shri Mahayogi, and at times I sense something like light, and at times I am very moved. Either of them are abstract, yet I think Shri Mahayogi has something that is more certain. How should I approach this?
MASTER: When you say something is certain—it is something solid, and it is likened to something in this world that is sturdy, unbreakable, like diamonds; however, since, when it comes to the Truth, that which is certain, is formless, it can’t help but feel abstract. Yet, even so, that is because the mind is still accustomed to material things, the mind still lingers on the impression of what is certain, of what is something solid in the material world. However, when it comes to what is truly certain—the Soul, Atman, or the True Existence—It is formless, yet It alone is that which is truly reliable. For the mind that is used to the material world, that may feel like a contradiction, but it is a fact. On the contrary, even diamonds in the material world, they came to be formed over time and will eventually decay over time.
MASTER: Although it may seem to be abstract, since it is certain that exactly the same thing dwells within your own self, you should keep going. Surely, there in the depths, there will be a time, even if it is abstract in some way, that it can feel very concrete; it will be intuited from the soul, like an impulse. Therefore, there is no need to worry about it.
Q: Does it resonate?
MASTER: It is intuition. You said resonate, but it’s not like a vibration from a drum, it is nothing like that. Intuitively, the scene will change. What I mean by scene, is one’s view; when you wake up from a dream, the scene changes, doesn’t it? You were inside the situation of the story of a dream world, but the scene instantly changes at the very moment you wake up in the morning—it is just like that. There is that sense of an impulse. More than anything, that True Existence is everyone’s Essence, and It is here even now. Wake up as soon as possible.
Q: When I was doing the asana during class, I felt like I was able to concentrate effortlessly, without intention, and it felt to me like I was seeing everything that I normally don’t see, as if I went beyond my normal ability. To me, it gave a positive impression; it was a mysterious experience—I wonder why and how my mind seemed to expand in such a way.
MASTER: Truly, that is the state of meditation. In the state of concentration, that is where the mind’s power is still active, trying to merge into the object [of meditation], in other words, it is the state where there is an effort being made to not separate from the object. At that time, you are making an effort to not allow distractions to come, and to not allow concentration to be interrupted. Then, when the mind flows smoothly towards the object of concentration, just like when oil is flowing smoothly and uninterruptedly, and turns into the state of meditation, then, with regard to the object, conversely, the object itself becomes expansive, and then it’s as if a very broad view of the universe arises. It is said that in concentration, there is pinpoint focus, but in the state of meditation, as opposed to that, it is expansive. Therefore, it can be said that that experience you mentioned now is that you’ve entered a state of meditation.
Q: Shri Mahayogi says that as the result of meditation one knows the essence of the object of meditation, but what is the essence of the object?
MASTER: Because the objects [of meditation] are varied, the essence will be reached after going through various pathways. In short, our minds, [that is, the minds of each and every individual,] are facing and getting a sense of things through our own colored filters of our own respective subjectivity towards approaching things. The understandings and impressions toward various things may be different, since they are brought about by no more than the individual mind’s reactions to superficial things, these are not universal. If one removes that subjectivity and begins to grasp things objectively, then the much deeper part of those things, the elements that comprise those things, are gradually revealed. In this world, things are just manifestations of certain phenomena intertwined within time, space and the mechanism of cause and effect.
Therefore, as you go towards penetrating into the essence, then the conditions that I just mentioned expand gradually, and there are times that you may be able to sense through a birds-eye view how the characteristics and elements of things were in the past, or what things will be like in the future. And, the conditions under which the mind’s subjectivity ideates may also come to change. Whether this mind in the past would have thought this way, or how this mind will think in the future—as you concentrate on one thing as an object, then you’ll be led to realize that you only see the elements of a very narrow, single-faceted, single phenomena. Then, as deeper insights arise in meditation, the mind itself will shift from the mind that was obsessed by its subjectivity over things such as its own fixed view or assumptions, or ideas towards that object, to the mind that is able to remain unoccupied—that will lead to knowing the essence of the object.
That is where the mind itself will realize that actually the mind has been running about in confusion only over superficial things, and when you acknowledge that, then your perspective will expand, seeing that you don’t have to be obsessed by these things, and the mind itself will become more at ease and freer. That is truly the dynamic appeal of meditation.
Q: You have mentioned that in order for us to become one with Vivekananda’s heart, we should see the world more, but our individual experiences are very limited, and we can’t really wander around and see it like Vivekananda did. I’d like to know a little more about what it means to see the world more.
MASTER: One individual’s experiences are indeed very small and limited. Yet, nowadays, you can find things out through various sources of information, and also, when it comes to knowing [about the world], you have to proceed further, that is, you have “to feel” [people’s suffering], otherwise it’s meaningless just to know [without feeling]. What is felt, and what kinds of impulses arise from the depths of your heart—noticing this is the task that is required. In order to do so, you must meditate. Meditation has the power to bring about a direct impulse that can match the level of that which is brought about by direct experience, without actually being accompanied by direct experience. So, it is not only to know, but the task that is required is that of proceeding further to taste and feel, and therefore grasp it in meditation, then to translate that into your thoughts and actions, accordingly, from that point on. By doing that, you will be able to get a glimpse of the essence of this world and the crucial, universal issues.
Direct experience contains a great power that allows one to feel it straightforwardly in the moment, yet it should not end as a temporary experience; if you have such an experience, then you must further grasp its essence firmly through meditation; that means, in other words, that it will become an important factor in transforming the world referred to as the cosmos within one’s own mind, or the cosmos of the mind. Buddha, Vivekananda, and Ramakrishna, too, those who are called Awakened Beings, all manifested the qualities worthy of being Awakened. A single individual’s experiences are truly insignificant. However, meditation contains the power that can expand one’s experience to the size of a cosmic scale.
Q: While I am trying to become one with Shri Mahayogi’s essence—envisioning Shri Mahayogi’s form in my mind, going deeper into concentration—when the concentration is going well, at times I have felt as if I was floating in cosmic space, where it is raining shooting stars. Then I get sucked into that cosmic space with extreme velocity, and the scenery seems to be limitless and go on forever. What should I do to go in deeper, to go further?
MASTER: Concretely speaking, there is a point, in which the shooting star-like light waves and the cosmic space, that is, the “void” in the background [and one’s recognition of it], become one and disappear. So, if you try to penetrate further into the cosmic space, and if you become one with it and continue to go further still while floating in that space, further in the depths, there arises a phase in which the void itself, which I just mentioned, will be sensed. Then, even in that phase, too, if you go further, then next, even that disappears in the state that opens up. Anyway, continue in that manner. If you do so, you will definitely be able to awaken to the pure essence that is there, further within the depths.
Q: I wonder if this scene is a world created by my mind. Is this fine the way it is?
MASTER: It is fine. That is what the scenery of meditation looks like. So, make the object that is seen, and the consciousness that is seeing, further unite as one.
Q: What does it mean to become one with the void during meditation?
MASTER: The “void” indicates this cosmic space, so it is difficult to use as an object of concentration. However, when the mind stops its activity and becomes pure, one might come to notice oneself within something like a cosmic space, which at times has been called cosmic consciousness; such experiences can happen. And, therefore, in meditation it may at times feel as if you yourself are void, and that it is you yourself that is permeating everything, or you may sense that it is your consciousness that is abiding in everything. This mind can really only understand the tiny, tiny world that is trapped in this body, but that cosmic consciousness, is the universal consciousness, in which it is as if the mind has disappeared. Either way, as one pursues meditation, concentrating upon God, Truth or Atman, then at times such experiences of samadhi may come.
Q: Is cosmic consciousness the same as the consciousness called Existence?
MASTER: Strictly speaking, it is still some steps before. Truth, being the state in which even that sense disappears, which is purely the only Existence that there is, lies beyond that.
Q: What is the clear difference between meditation and samadhi?
MASTER: You can say that these are the most subtle realms. The state of mind after experiencing samadhi might be different based on the object of meditation; this leads to the differences in samadhi of various objects, and as a result, it is inevitable that the degree of shock to the mind or the transformation of the mind when coming out of meditation, also differs. However, bringing back well each respective essence, depending on the differences between objects, from gross to subtle objects, and the Truth, proves that that meditation was successful. Since correctly becoming One with the object is the state of samadhi, if the object is Truth, God or Atman, then you will bring it back exactly as is. These are the objects of Truth. Since other objects, whether gross or subtle, are relative objects, compare them to the Truth that I mentioned, for the impressions from them are not that big—even if they are the direct intuited knowledge that can be referred to as True Wisdom, or various powers and experiences.
Q: For example, it was said that Ramakrishna cried out for Ma (Divine Mother) as if the top of his jaw touched the ceiling, and the bottom of his chin touched the floor—can it be said that the ability to keenly sense and understand the mindset that he had, struggling to seek Ma every day to such an extent, or to sense this ceaseless thirst of a yogi, is an aspect of samadhi?
MASTER: Yes, it can be said to be just like that. And, you can say that it is indispensable for Yoga; it is the most important part. Yoga is in no way some half-baked activity, nor does it lie in the realm of hobbies. This is the kind of desperate thing that one puts one’s own life itself on the line for. Otherwise, it won’t be fulfilled.
Q: In order to thoroughly recognize and acknowledge that my perspective is incomplete, what kind of meditation or application of practice is necessary?
MASTER: Thoroughly suffer and struggle.
When it comes to meditation, it must be accompanied by such pain and anguish in order to produce a living answer. You have to be involved in the problem to such an extent that you suffer. Then, it will truly come home to your bosom and your bones, to your entire being, exactly how it has been said from long ago that, “All fabricated things are impermanent,” and “All dharma (phenomena) are not-self,” that there is no Truth in phenomena themselves, not to mention in this mind that reckons with these things. You have to instill it in your mind that you understand it from the bottom of your heart, from your gut; that is precisely what the process of discrimination is, and unless that’s done thoroughly, the true sense of renunciation does not come. Renunciation as an idea means nothing. Once everything is wiped out of your mind, it will slip away no matter what things try to cling on—that is true renunciation. Renunciation is not something forcibly done, but it is a possible result brought about by the Truth, as a matter of course, as dharma (reason; law). Therefore, discernment, meditation and renunciation are necessary.
Q: Please teach us the significance of imagining a positive outcome, the significance of the realization of Satori, as well as the significance of the activity of the mind.
MASTER: The image of this world is the result of thoughts in the mind, formed over time. Even if you think about the life of one person, you can see the result there according to the object and strength of that person’s thoughts. What goes on in this world is the result of the thoughts of the mind.
Meditation in Yoga must be practiced with such enormous vigor that it will annihilate not only what was formed in this lifetime, but over hundreds and thousands of lifetimes. That too is still a thought, yet meditation requires enthusiasm and power to run through thousands of lives, not just the span of one lifetime. By doing so, you can destroy the karma and sanskara that you have accumulated over thousands of past lives. Simply put, the thoughts of the mind hide the True Existence. That is why you burn or pluck away the seeds of karma that may lie latently dormant in the depths of the mind. That is what meditation in Yoga is.
Q: Please teach us the difference between straining and concentrating with all one’s strength in meditation.
MASTER: It’s simple. For example, when you are told to do something you don’t like, take school work, even when you are told to do it, you don’t want to. Even so, if there is a test coming up for a school entrance exam, you strain yourself too tensely. That is forceful.
What it means to do it with all one’s strength—you do it just because you like it, there is no reason behind it at all. You do it because you want to. For this is a keen matter of urgency that you have to put all your body and heart, and your entire life on the line for. That is why you do it, to seek God, to seek the Truth. Only that is important—all other things don’t matter; take making a living and having a job: these things can be managed and just done in a way that is adequate, and when it comes to even this physical body, it is inevitable that anything that is born, will eventually die, but still, as long as you are alive, you don’t have to worry about that, your heart is always beating for you. Then, what must you do while your heart is beating?—if you are afraid of the coming death, nothing can begin. It is not that, but, “It is Satori, taught by the great predecessors, this Truth is the very thing that I am aiming for”—if you can truly see it in this way, then you will be able to naturally enter meditation without having strain or tension, but instead, with all your strength, really staking your life on it, you will be immersed without even thinking of entering it.
* * *
A Glimpse of the Foundation Underlying
the Mission of Sanatana Dharma
March 2023, New York
All works and activities of the Mahayogi Yoga Mission (“the Mission”) are for the sole purpose of re-establishing Sanatana Dharma, Eternal Truth, in this modern era, as it is being taught and expressed through the existence of Shri Mahayogi, and to preserve it in its most pristine form so that seekers well into the future, for generations to come, will be able to encounter it and be directed towards and led to realize for themselves that One True Essence behind all, the nature of who we really are, the state of true Freedom. The works and activities, as well as those involved in them, must be like the arms and legs of Shri Mahayogi, reaching out ever-further, in all forms and fashions, to every corner of the world, without a single limit.
And then, within that, all works and activities of the Mission, no matter how big or small, also serve the purpose of bringing each individual, whether as a participant or as someone who receives the result of that work or activity, to grow in their understanding of Truth, and to establish that Truth more and more deeply within, removing all coverings and obstacles, to go ever closer to becoming and living according to the Truth. This, of course, is absolutely essential for moving towards being able to re-establish the Eternal Truth expressed by Shri Mahayogi in the first place. For without it becoming established in the life and being of each individual, conveying the teaching and its essence may be very well next to impossible.
So then, how does it become possible for this Mission to become established and move forward? There may be endless forms and shapes it can take, especially considering what that may look like at the level of an individual person and at the level of working together in a larger group or as an organization. Shri Mahayogi has said “by any means possible,” which I think, in part, simply means that there is no limit, anything and everything can be used as a tool for that purpose under the right circumstances. But whatever the case, whatever the form, there must be a foundation that it would have to be based on.
There is Always a Foundation
Everything has a foundation. Whether visible or invisible, there is always a foundation.
Taking the example of a house. Without a foundation, there is nothing to hold up anything…there is no house. But with a foundation, no matter what is built on top of it, as long as it is in accordance with that foundation, how many stories, the number of rooms, the design, the use of the space, the finishing materials, the decor, the people who come and go, etc…there can be so many combinations and such a great variety!
However, if at any point changes need to be made, they must be done according to what the foundation provides. If a new addition on a home does not align with the foundation, whether sooner or later, that addition is going to have problems and its structure, whatever usefulness it may have seemed to have will wane and eventually it will collapse.
Building up or renovating a house in accordance with its foundation is pretty straight forward and simple to understand, theoretically speaking. Yet, there is a big challenge. Most of the time the foundation may be completely covered over and not visible to our eyes. The pillars are all there, the structure is all there, but we may only see the finished walls, the furniture, the décor, etc. And our eye may be so caught and attracted by the décor, that we may hardly remember that there’s a foundation that is giving all the strength, structure and support, without which all the finished materials that our eye gets caught by wouldn’t have any reason or way to be there for us to enjoy or use in the first place. And because we can’t see it, we may not even think about it, we may not be aware of it, we may easily forget how important it is, and we may have a hard time figuring out where the most important pillars of the foundation are within the home. And, if we go and try to make renovations, build on top of it, etc., it’s possible we may have some luck and things will hold and work out, at least for a while, but more likely than not, mistakes will be made without having awareness and knowledge of the foundation, and whatever we do will not last.
Because of my job these are things that I am being led to learn about and build awareness of. However, I have to admit that before being introduced to this work I really didn’t put much thought to “foundation” at all. And even though I have certainly started to become more aware and learned much more because of the nature of my job, it is one of the areas that has been more challenging for me and is taking me longer to grasp, especially when I may need to assess the condition of the foundation only by using the signs that show up on the surface, since the actual foundation is most often not visible to see.
But, with time, experience, repetition, and learning from more experienced co-workers, I am starting to grasp little by little a somewhat better understanding of “the foundation.”
Just like a house or a building, everything has a foundation! That foundation is mostly not readily visible to our eyes, and what clads or appears on top of that foundation can vary widely. So probably, the various foundations are hidden and disguised from us, such that we may give little thought to them at all, even though the foundation is so essential!
Three Foundational Pillars
Now, coming back to the activities, works and projects of the Mission, as I learn more and more about foundations in the context of my job, that learning seems to naturally come to reflect and make me ponder more about where there may be similar foundations in all kinds of things. And what I am starting to see, at least as I recognize it at the moment, is what lives in and gives shape to any work or project related to the Mission. A foundation. And what comes on top of that foundation, always seems to manifest differently, yet after having repeated experiences of being involved with the work, projects and activities of the Mission over time, no matter how much they may vary in form and detail, there is a structure, nature, and importance of a particular foundation that seems to be revealing itself.
This is far from being anything of a novel recognition, and may even seem obvious, but to me it feels more real, more clear, and like something that I need to become continually more aware of and established in. This foundation has three pillars, and these three pillars can give rise to different forms according to the nature of each and every project, work or activity that is undertaken. These three pillars are as follows:
The First Foundational Pillar:
First, there is always Shri Mahayogi. Shri Mahayogi is the first cause. Our Guru, Shri Mahayogi touches our hearts and awakens something within us that is beyond compare, something innate that is at our very essence, something that is bright and shining more brilliantly than anything else we can find in worldly things and experiences. Because of Shri Mahayogi, because of our hearts being stirred as the first cause, everything else, including any projects, works or activities, can thus arise as a result. Without this first pillar, nothing can be built or done.
The Second Foundational Pillar:
What must guide anything that is done for or inspired by that first cause, is the teaching of Truth. Otherwise, whatever is done becomes rather meaningless in terms of the original intention. In order for the teaching of Truth to be what guides and gives the foundation for all other action, learning is a necessity. The Truth must be learned. This second foundational pillar can be added only because of the first foundational pillar being there—without the first, the second has no meaning and no purpose.
The Third Foundational Pillar:
Then there is the coming together with others and working towards a common aim, with all the above being at the base of the various people involved. In the togetherness, this is precisely where the learning of that second foundational pillar takes place. And for that, attention to both the individual level and the group levels are important. The third pillar can be added only because of the first and second foundational pillars being there already, without those pillars, the third has no meaning and no purpose.
All three of these foundational pillars are needed together to be as the base. They all seem to be necessary and constantly at play, informing the movement and development of any project, work or activity of the Mission. Yes, in other words, it is exactly “Buddha Dharma Sangha.”
It seems to me, from the various experiences I have been having, that I am being shown that these three are inseparable, meaning Sangha does not come without Buddha and Dharma, Dharma does not reveal and establish without Buddha and Sangha, and Buddha cannot help but to express Dharma and attract Sangha. Where there is one, surely all three must be there. Seemingly separate or distinct perhaps, but at the same time integral to one another, and perhaps even all the same One.
The Foundation Behind the Surface
Like with the foundation of a house, with the foundation being “Buddha Dharma Sangha,” whatever is done in terms of works or activities in the name of Yoga, in the name of Truth, it must be done in alignment with the foundation so that it will last and not eventually collapse. I think this is true of the entire Mission. The disciples of Shri Mahayogi have the responsibility to align constantly with this foundation so that Yoga, as Shri Mahayogi is reestablishing it in our modern-day world, Sanatana Dharma, can be carried forth to future generations.
One of the challenges, however, is that like with the foundation of a house, those pillars can be hidden behind finishing materials…they may be completely unseen or at least very difficult to recognize. Yet, of course those pillars are there always, giving all the strength, structure, support, and reason for coming into being in the first place, for what is seen on the outside, for all the finishing touches, and for how those works can be used in various ways and by various people.
When we experience what comes as a result of the works and activities of the Mission—that could be an interaction with a practitioner, a publication, a class, seeing a page on the website, attending a gathering; or that could be actually participating in putting together a program, participating in a project, in the preparations of a special event like Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela or Jayanti, introducing a class or publication to someone for the first time, sharing one’s own experience of Shri Mahayogi or the application of the teachings of Yoga—just like when we enter a home, and we may be immediately and most readily caught and attracted by the thoughtful décor, in those encounters with the works and activities of the Mission, or the results of them, it is likely that we may first notice and get caught up by what is most catching to the eye, what we see on the surface. And because of that, consequently, we may start to think that whatever that condition, quality or action is, is part of what defines the Mission, or defines the “way we need to be” or the “way things are done”—which ultimately, when taken at face value and only from the surface view, can lead to a mistaken understanding.
The First Pillar, the First Cause
“From pure Joy springs all creation, by Joy it is sustained, toward Joy it proceeds, and to Joy it returns.”
Because of Shri Mahayogi, I have been introduced to the above saying from the Upanishad. These words, or rather, something that is there behind these words, seems to be surrounding Shri Mahayogi and everything around him, as if making everything move, even without us necessarily being aware of it. Shri Mahayogi’s existence in this world, being in his presence, the teaching we receive from him, the lightening up of our minds and hearts, and the steps our feet take on the path of Yoga—all of these things surely open the door for us to start to experience the taste of a new kind of joy that has probably been unknown to us up until having met Shri Mahayogi. That joy, which is opened up by the existence of Shri Mahayogi, may very well be the gate to that joy that is being indicated in this saying of the Upanishad. This is perhaps such a precious gift that, naturally, something within our being may recognize its immeasurable value, perhaps beyond what can be understood or consciously thought about through thought and word—and that gives impact.
As I mentioned, with these foundational pillars of “Buddha Dharma Sangha,” I think everything starts with Shri Mahayogi. I hear Anandamali point this out often too, and in various ways, and I see her center her thinking around that constantly, which actually has helped me to also build awareness of that. Shri Mahayogi is the first and foremost pillar that is the cause that gives rise to all else. I am starting to feel that it is crucial to remember this and continuously build a crystal clear awareness of that connection. Shri Mahayogi’s existence in this world, the essence and teaching of Sanatana Dharma, Eternal Truth, that he expresses in every aspect of his being, is the sole impetus. In fact, when I think about it, Shri Mahayogi teaches us that the encounter with Truth can create some kind of direct impulse within ourselves that then becomes like an impetus or driving force that can then propel movement and action, and this may be something like that—from that, there may arise within us an unspoken sense of gratitude that then wants to find the way to express from our being.
Because that gate towards joy is opened for us, it seems that the natural course for that sense of joy and where it comes from be proliferated, returned, and made to live and spread more and more. That must be the establishment of Sanatana Dharma, the establishment of Shri Mahayogi’s teaching, within ourselves and, consequently, within this world.
Shri Mahayogi teaches us that there is nothing he wants from us, only our spiritual growth, that is all. To see and feel our growth towards Truth, our growth in Yoga—I am learning that that is perhaps how we can most express that natural sense of gratitude that wells up from the depths of our being, that that is what we can offer back to Shri Mahayogi for receiving such a precious gift. And I think that, as Shri Mahayogi teaches, our growth towards Truth, our growth in Yoga, is also what must be at the core of anything we are able to offer to others, and as such, be what inspires and proliferates joy in those around us and in ourselves too.
The Second Pillar: How Can We Grow Towards Truth? How Can We Grow in Yoga?
To grow towards Truth, for ourselves to grow in Yoga, we have to first learn the Truth—the Dharma. As Shri Mahayogi teaches us, it is not enough to simply read scriptures, or know what the words of Truth say. But we really have to learn and continuously deepen our understanding in order for this second pillar to come to be firmly set at the foundation.
Yoga is something that must be learned. Shri Mahayogi always starts from this absolute basic—learn the Truth. “Learn the Truth”—Anandamali emphasizes this teaching and reminds us often that these simple words are indeed so simple, they can be taken for granted. Yet they are precisely the key to everything, even to unlocking the gate that allows us to place our feet at the very beginning of the path of Yoga, or the ancient straight road, as Buddha referred to it.
If I reflect on myself, I have most likely often brushed over these words quickly and left them behind, forgotten, as if in search of the “bigger and better teachings,” as if to say “ok, let’s get to it and learn it then,” not stopping to consider whether or not I even understand what “to learn” might mean, or in other words, making the assumption that I already do understand what it means to learn, without even putting a thought to it. But backing up to this point, “to learn,” it is actually an active topic of consideration amongst gurubai, and it is something that Anandamali has been bringing up in discussion with me and amongst other gurubai over the past few years.
With the mind being brought to contemplate on this topic in various ways, in reflecting on different experiences, I can’t help but start to see and think: The way of learning in Yoga is unlike anything else…and it is really something!
The Third Pillar: The Continuum of Learning
What I am recognizing about learning, and the way of learning in Yoga, which has started to concretize and become more crystallized and clear, leads to the third foundational pillar—Sangha. The learning of Truth happens because of Sangha, the learning of Truth is passed through, in, and because of Sangha.
Sangha cannot exist without Shri Mahayogi (Buddha) and the teaching of Yoga (Dharma). Yet, through Sangha and because of Sangha, it becomes possible to learn the Truth that is being bestowed upon us by Shri Mahayogi. This is what I am recognizing in my own experience more and more concretely. And in the Mission activities that we do, regardless of what the details of the activity may be, this foundational pillar of Sangha, along with the learning of Truth, given because of the existence of Shri Mahayogi, is absolutely present, and is the essential ground for all the learning that takes place.
To learn the teaching of Truth, we need guidance. There is no doubt about it. I am learning through Shri Mahayogi that up until meeting with the Truth, we live 100% in the world of our mind. And all the standards that come to be set are according to our own mind. We are taught that Truth is beyond that. But without the encounter with, and example of those who have already been learning the Truth and forming their lives accordingly to it, it may be almost impossible to go beyond our own mind’s interpretations, views, and standards. And furthermore, even though we may hear Shri Mahayogi or senior gurubai say that Dharma, the teaching of Truth, must live in action, it must be alive through our being and in our ways of being, in all actuality it may be very difficult for us to fathom or know where to begin and how to translate teachings into our actions and our lives, yet, because we may not easily recognize that, we may remain in the trap of the mind and the opportunity for learning slims down incredibly.
Similarly, even with encountering Shri Mahayogi, encountering the teaching, and encountering those who are following and living accordingly, which all open the gate for us to walk through, without humbling ourselves, putting to the side our own ways, ideas, beliefs, etc. and following for ourselves, we cannot even lift our foot to take one step. The importance of humbling oneself, this is something I hear from Shri Mahayogi, and from senior disciples often. And in fact, recently, our brother disciple in New York, Aniruddha, spoke about precisely this topic, that in order for Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Truth, to manifest within the individual, it requires the humble surrender of oneself, including one’s own ideas, beliefs and ways, to the Guru. In other words, I think it is the surrender of oneself to Buddha, which also must mean it is the surrender of oneself to Dharma and Sangha, since these are constantly intertwined.
Within Sangha, it seems that there is an entire continuum of learning that is happening, all tracing back to Shri Mahayogi as the ultimate example and standard. The Truth needs that. We learn that for something to be Truth, it must be true no matter what, there is no truth according to this person or that person, there is only one Truth, and that is precisely what makes it the Truth. Nowadays, almost anything can be searched for and looked up online, and then each mind can interpret that accordingly through its own view and what makes sense or is convenient for that mind to understand. But no matter how much we may feel we have gained in some knowledge or understanding through these methods, I am seeing more and more that that has nothing to do with learning. It is only like the illusion of learning and gain in information, which is like surface knowledge with no foundation.
I am starting to see that real learning requires the existence, maintenance and continuity of a strong foundation. How is that foundation maintained and continued in order to provide the base of learning? It is precisely through each individual who enters that learning process, humbling themselves and making themselves be molded according to that foundation.
Here too is where the importance of Sangha lies. Through the interaction with Sangha, and the learning in the context of Sangha that is creating this continuum, we can start to begin to discover more, little by little, about the foundation underneath. In this continuum, the opportunities for learning may come in the most unexpected ways, meaning it doesn’t necessarily come straightforwardly, like through the form of a class, for example. But rather it comes in the most simple of interactions and moments spent together, in shared experience.
What I mean by shared experience is that, within a continuum, it is like experience itself is being passed along and shared, and there is something unseen, something invisible in that experience that becomes like the essence for us to discover, regardless of whatever the physical details of an experience may be. Oftentimes a senior gurubai naturally, and sometimes very intentionally, gives us many clues as to how to go towards that essence, however those clues can be delivered in some of the most simple and casual ways, such that they may be very easy to overlook and take for granted. This has happened to me many times and a good example is something that is a seemingly simple and everyday matter—a cup of coffee. Actually, a few months ago, there was a guest at the Cave, and Anandamali served coffee. After drinking the coffee, the guest asked Anandamali if she had taught me how to make it. Then she said, “Sadhya has experienced it.” As I repeated what the guest said, not catching the meaning of the answer and thinking perhaps she had not understood the question, Anandamali then said again, “She has experienced it.” Then she proceeded to explain what she meant. (See Pranavadipa Vol. 98, Let the Guru Show You the Way—Part 1)
Anandamali often mentions that, how much each person can observe varies depending on the person. It is clear in my case, that I am struggling with that and need a lot pointed out or explained. After hearing Anandamali answer the way she did, and reflecting on it I started to recognize a bigger picture of the scene that I had been experiencing. Having the opportunity to be in the company of Anandamali, I have been repeatedly experiencing a cup of coffee. Having the experience of drinking the cup of coffee is the opening of the door. As the daily drinking of that cup of coffee continues over time, Anandamali has spoken on various occasions about some of the subtle details and considerations that go into making that cup of coffee. Would I have been able to notice the subtle details without them being pointed out? Very likely, the answer is no. But because these details are being introduced through conversation and in the context of the repeated experience itself, I can begin to open up to see them and learn the considerations that go into making that cup of coffee and the experience of drinking it. And perhaps more importantly, I can also begin to open up to the fact that even those things have a foundation and base from where they come, and how important it is to seek out what that foundation is that gives rise to the subtle details in the first place. And this is also something that has been pointed out to me to consider and direct towards.
What Anandamali is introducing about the coffee all comes from what she observed and studied from what Shri Mahayogi was doing during his stays in New York. In a way, this example of the coffee is very much like a perfect symbol of how so many things go, and it can apply to just about everything. This is the continuum and there is great generosity in the senior gurubai who pass forward their own learning, even when it may fall on ears that aren’t listening well. And perhaps one day, if I can open up to listen better and learn well, and each one of us can do that, no matter what the circumstance or content, then it will also be important to share that learning forward.
I am seeing now that this is a very important way of learning in Yoga. And in this continuum, what I am learning by having it being pointed out to me, is that as I am given by my seniors, who have already been receiving from their seniors and Shri Mahayogi himself, I need to first humble myself in order to be able to receive in the first place. Then as I receive and start to learn through that, shifting my own way of being to be molded in that direction while at the same time listening and watching closely, trying to always understand further the essence underlying it and where it comes from, I also then have more responsibility to pay forward what I receive and learn, to pass on and give the experience that I was given, so that someone else too has the opportunity to receive. And then in moving along that continuum, I feel and suspect that more space and capacity opens up within each one and then new dimensions of learnings can begin to take place.
I think this may actually be exactly how the teachings of Truth come to life and come to be alive within our being. And again, it is in the context of Sangha that this takes place, with its base being the teaching of Truth, Dharma, and behind it all as the sole impetus and cause, the Buddha, Shri Mahayogi.
Through this means, through the attention to, the seeking out and the aligning oneself to the foundational pillars, surely through that, Sanatana Dharma can heighten, and the great Mission of Shri Mahayogi and of all the Avatara can come to establish one little step at a time.