Echo From The Cave: 146

Saturday January 2, 2021 NYC

Happy New Year & Editor’s Note: Pranavadipa Vol. 73

“The Truth is One.
However the Seers, that means the Awakened Ones, call It variously.”


To our Revered Satguru, Shri Mahayogi:
Our hearts pour gratitude to be able to start this new year with you at our side, near or far, guiding us eternally through the immeasurable blessing of your very Existence. Your presence among us calms all fears, worries and doubts, and brings us the great strength needed to face all that life places before us.

To All:
We wish you a very Happy New Year!! We pray for the end of Covid-19 throughout the world and for true harmony and peace to come through touching the wisdom of Yoga and living based on the Universal Truth. May all of our hearts and minds be filled with sacredness and keep turning again and again, in every moment, to the one unchanging Truth!
The beginning of this year also marks the beginning of Mahayogi Yoga Mission’s 25th Anniversary year of its establishment in New York!


It is a new year and a fresh opportunity to clarify and renew our resolution towards the aim of Yoga! What better way to start off than by filling ourselves with the words of Truth that will elevate our minds and hearts? If you have not yet subscribed to our monthly online subscription publication, Pranavadipa, we highly recommend that you do so, as this is a source of inspiration for our minds, nourishment for our hearts, guidance on our paths, and study material for our learning. Pranavadipa, which is a one year subscription plan, is published on the 8th day of every month, so having a subscription sets us up to make sure that each month we are proactively bringing the teachings of Truth into our lives.

For now, we would like to take this opportunity to introduce the latest issue of Pranavadipa (Vol. 73). The primary messages throughout this volume are centered around CONCRETIZING OUR IDEAL and the IMPORTANCE OF EKAGRATA (single-pointed concentration) as the underlying foundation.

In December, there are a few dates that are quite significant. December 8th, the day that Pranavadipa (Vol. 73) was published, marks the day that is said to be the day that Buddha Awakened. December 24th, Christmas  Eve, is the night that Swami Vivekananda gathered with his brother disciples and together they declared to renounce the world, and become monks—and coincidentally, this is also the anniversary of Mahayogi Yoga Mission’s official recognition in New York from the government of the United States.   

In a reflection of  these  significant dates, the Satsangha in Pranavadipa (Vol. 73) begins with much wisdom and many teachings from Shri Mahayogi about the connection and correlation between Buddha and Vivekananda. It is awe-inspiring to read how Shri Mahayogi understood them, and therefore how Shri Mahayogi teaches us to feel and go closer to their spirit.

Through the examples of Buddha and Vivekananda, Shri Mahayogi teaches us what it means to concretize our ideal, and encourages what it is he hopes for from us: to raise our ideal to continuously work for the good of all humanity, seeing not just the limited scope of our own selves and lives, but to expand beyond that to the whole world and even beyond our limited view of time and space, which we so often confine to what is most relevant to only ourselves at any given moment. And, as an integral part of concretizing the ideal, Shri Mahayogi emphasizes the necessity and aim to transform one’s own way of thinking and being, towards that which aligns with the Truth, through each individual taking concrete and practical action in the circumstances and conditions that we find ourselves in, whatever they may be.

Going beyond that, Shri Mahayogi then teaches about the essence of religion. From Judaism, to Christianity, to Hinduism, and to Islam, Shri Mahayogi details for us the essence common to all and how that essence comes to be revived and reestablished in times when the religion itself starts to degrade into mere formalities. He teaches us about the sacred vibration of OM, and how this primordial vibration is also referenced in the Bible, and in the Shinto shrines of Japan. And he clarifies the meaning of Ramakrishna’s words—“As many faiths, so many paths”—and the importance of holding the faith of each individual in the highest respect, that each individual has their own auspicious timing when it comes to religion and the path towards its essence.

In tandem with these teachings about the greater Awakened Beings and their mission, and the essence of religion, which truly have the power to raise our minds to an ever-heightening ideal, Shri Mahayogi also provides many practical teachings for daily life that each individual can act on. From teaching about how the whole of Yoga is simply for the purpose of training the mind, to a clear example of discrimination of the mind’s attachments, to the way one can and should feel the hearts, both joys and sufferings, of others, to the way in which one can approach karma yoga and deepen in its practice, to the transformation of the mind through simple and daily actions, to improving one’s health, to acting in humbleness and more. Even Shri Mahayogi teaches a young high school-age captain of the swim team about the meaning and purpose of life as well as what the true meaning of being a leader is—to cultivate the minds and hearts of humanity. Truly there is so much for us to learn and try out for ourselves without a moment to lose, be it in our families, in our jobs, with friends, or alone—the opportunities to put Yoga into action are in every moment of our day!

This is certainly a time of year that calls for deep reflection on what the immense value and blessing that such Awakened Beings bring to each of us and to the world and how we can continue the work they have begun.

*

The Satsangha in Pranavadipa (Vol. 73) is quite a long one, with a number of subtitles. Below are listed the main titles and subtitles of the Satsangha:

The Manifestation of the Awakened Ones and Their Mission
—The actions that must be taken can be learned from their great feats

      • Vivekananda Understood the Incomparable Existence of Buddha
      • The Actualization of the Universality of Yoga
      • The Mission of Shri Ramakrishna and His Beloved Disciple Vivekananda
      • The Essence of Religion
      • The Sacred Sound of Om
      • Training the Mind
      • Actual Practice

Live Based on the True Ideal

      • What One is Challenged with in Life, Whether the Winner or Not
      • Hitting the Bullseye of the Real Ideal
      • The Actualization of the Ideal
      • Resolve

Indeed, it is evident that Shri Mahayogi is impressing upon us the importance of elevating our ideal to the highest level, to the level of humanity itself, in the present and for the future, as the responsibility and duty of one who has encountered the teaching of Yoga, and the teachings of the Awakened Beings. Through the examples of Buddha, Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, Shri Mahayogi teaches us the importance of working with our utmost effort and strength for the good of humanity, to take all action and means to ensure that as many people as possible have the invaluable opportunity to come in contact with the Truth. At the same time, hand in hand, with this elevated ideal is the individual work that each must do, concretely, with whatever is in front of us at the moment so as to be best prepared to participate in the work of the higher ideal. These two, the individual practice and transformation each must do, along with the aim towards salvation and liberation for all, seem to go hand in hand. In a way, Shri Mahayogi is showing us that these two are inseparable from one another, as focusing only on one’s own practice towards liberation is mere self-satisfaction, yet focusing only on a high ideal, without the cultivation of one’s own self, too, is in vain.

As we read, it may seem that at times Shri Mahayogi is talking about separate topics, but truly these two themes are woven together in each moment, no matter the angle from which Shri Mahayogi is teaching or the topic he is speaking about. Shri Mahayogi’s vision however expansive it may be, is all contained in even the smallest detail of what he says or does. If we want to understand him, or any of the Awakened Beings, surely we must strive to remember this and bring our own minds and views to expand more and more, without limitation.

Like Shri Mahayogi always says, it is important to first hear the Truth, then ponder upon it, and then meditate on it. Using the content of this Satsangha, surely we can continue to expand more and more what falls within the scope of our view and what we understand to be the work that the Awakened Ones are pointing out to us.

As this new year begins, the year of the 25th Anniversary of Mahayogi Yoga Mission in New York, let’s bring our minds to focus on sacred things, whatever our life circumstances are, and let’s raise ourselves up together in the footsteps of the great Awakened Beings and make concrete and real action towards the highest ideal of Yoga!!

“The following words too are one of the very ancient teachings in India: “The Truth is One. However the Seers, that means the Awakened Ones, call It variously”—this phrase is recorded in its oldest scripture, the Veda.
Therefore, we tend to see the larger object, saying this religion and that religion, but actually it’s not about that. Truly, it is one human being, such as Jesus Christ, Buddha, Shri Ramakrishna, a single human being clarifies the ultimate Truth, and at the same time, leaves teachings to cover all of it. More than anything else, Yoga clarifies the deepest psychology that modern psychology hasn’t been able to clarify or reveal yet, therefore it is precious, revealing something which may not be easily found in other teachings.”

—Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahamsa

*

Q: I cannot attend class [since I don’t live in Kyoto]. Please teach me what I should keep in my mind and aim to do, or what I should really take care of as I continue to practice Yoga alone.

MASTER: What I’ve been telling everyone in Kyoto lately is about ekagrata (single-pointed concentration). The period of initial enthusiasm in Yoga is a process in which, while there is much karma and many habits of the mind still remaining, you are gradually awakening to sacred things that are in opposition to them. And as you continue the practice, attachments and karma caused by ignorance gradually and visibly disappear, leaving only the Truth. The state of mind that is fixed solely towards the Truth is called ekagrata. Now, about advice—concretely, in order to make the state of ekagrata steady, have strong faith, and always, every day, think about sacred things. That is sufficient.

Above are Shri Mahayogi’s words from Pranavadipa (Vol. 73). The Testimony in this month’s volume, “Living in Yoga: The Single-Pointed Concentration of a Yogi”, is written by Satya, a disciple of Shri Mahayogi living in Kyoto, and is centered around ekagrata (single-pointed concentration).

“100% Passion—that is Ekagrata, single-pointed concentration!
It is crucial for Yoga. For Satori, it is all you need.
If you have that, then the rest, the power to put it into action will naturally follow.”

—Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa

While taking in Shri Mahayogi’s words, in Satya’s Testimony, we have the opportunity to glimpse the strong yearning she has and the way in which she strives to discover and understand what ekagrata really is, along with her discrimination process, which shows up all along the way as she searches to learn and understand ekagrata, as well as bring her own state to it.

It is so inspiring to see Satya’s mind of learning in this Testimony. Rather than set out with a specific idea of what ekagrata is and then try to make this a reality in her life, she willingly and actively digs deeper into her own understanding, her own experience, then shifts and tries new ways of developing that understanding and her own state in a way that is concrete and detailed. When she realizes that she has a lack of concentration, then she does not let this drag her down, but she thinks about what she can work on in herself, setting a concrete goal in front of her, thinking and analyzing deeply about the way to work on it in a very concrete manner so that she can actually achieve it. For example, she doesn’t just focus on practicing asana daily, but rather, her focus is more specific, and detailed to what she needs to put her attention on during the time that she practices, as well as the quality of the practice itself—then she brings this same practice to her daily life, tests it using her actions and trains herself—then through that experience, she analyzes what is lacking or what may be needed to accomplish the goal, learning from the experience and then going to whatever is next…continuing in this way to whatever then comes after that, and so on.

So then, what is the definition of “single point” in the “single-pointedness of a practitioner of Yoga”? Depending on the person, it might be expressed with the words “God”, “Truth”, “Brahman (true Existence)” or “Shri Mahayogi”; but I thought that was still vague. I felt that because the object was vague, single-pointedly concentrating was not happening in me. Then a thought started to arise in me, if the target of concentration is clear, then I should be able to concentrate focusing on a single point. …How do I bring all of my focus down to a single point…I felt that it comes down to, “seriously asking myself what I want to become.” Because, I felt that this single point has to be something that is more important than anything else, it has to be something I want to know so much as to exchange my own life for it, it has to be something I want to become—I felt that unless it was such a single point, I wouldn’t be able to stake my life on concentrating on it.

Because of this mind of learning, coupled with her yearning, her thoughts are naturally drawn to continuously fix themselves towards the Truth. We can see her continuous aiming towards the Truth as we read, and in the end, discover where this leads her.

Her example demonstrates to us the importance of having a strong yearning to seek out what we really want to know, and the willingness to learn through concrete details in the process. We can learn and take much from her example, and cultivate the willingness in ourselves to move forward through the mind of learning, being ready to leave behind whatever ideas and thoughts we have already formed, so that we can open ourselves to experience ekagrata and a continuous alignment of ourselves to the Truth.

Echo From The Cave: 145

Thursday Nov 26, 2020 NYC

Announcement & Report:
Online Program Disarming the Mind for Freedom

Part 2  Friday Dec. 4th, 7-8pm
Part 1 Friday Nov. 20th, 7-8pm

Mahayogi Yoga Mission presents Part 2 of its online program “Disarming the Mind for Freedom”, from its series Positive Transformation in Times of Change. Part 1 was held on Nov. 20th (see the report below for more details).

Program Description:
With our eyes fixed on the external world, internal observation of the mind is more challenging than ever before. Glimpse just beyond the realm of our immediate perception, to the battle waging constantly within our own minds that keeps us in an un-free state, and seek together with us to disarm its factions in a step towards Freedom.

All are welcome to attend. No prior experience or knowledge of Yoga is necessary. Attendance in Part 1 is not required to participate in Part 2.

SPEAKERS: Karuna and Sadhya

Register HERE.

* Tickets will be available for purchase for up to 24 hours in advance.
* Please note that using Zoom is required for attending this program.
* You will be emailed a Zoom link on the day of the program.
* We will be happy to provide technical assistance to anyone who may need it.
* We will open the Zoom space at 6:15 for attendees to enter and test that zoom is working properly.
* We highly encourage you to connect early to troubleshoot any unexpected issues and then return just before 7pm.
* On the day of the event, we will post a contact number here for any technical issues that may arise.

Please reach out to info@mahayogiyogamission.org for inquiries about this event.

*

Report: Disarming the Mind for Freedom Part 1

What might “disarming the mind” mean?
What might it mean to have a “mind that is armed”?

Each and every one of us perceives and experiences this world through our own veil, a veil that colors that perception and often leads to our own limitation and our own struggle. But due to the nature of the veil, it is incredibly difficult to even see that there is a veil that we are always looking through, to examine its coloring, to step aside and try to see something else, to test what we hold in our mind to be certain and true.

Rather, it is commonplace that we hold a certain ideal—an ideal of who we are, an ideal way of being, an ideal way of thinking, an ideal way of acting in the world. But just because we have that ideal, even if it’s based in Yoga, it doesn’t mean that that ideal is what actually is the foundation upon which we live our day to day lives, no matter how much we believe it, speak about it, or try to live by it.

Between the veil through which we see and the contradictions that lie ever-so subtly hiding under the surface of the ideals about ourselves or the world that we hold, it seems that we stay tied up, intertwined and bound by the mind itself. A state that does not allow us to actually transform ourselves, to align with the ideals we strive for, or to open ourselves up to learn a new way, something that might possibly be unknown, and rather keeps us going around and round through an endless cycle of nothing but the same things in varying appearances.

Part 1 of MYM’s “Disarming the Mind for Freedom” program attempted to reveal the workings of the mind, its structure, the way in which it arms itself, and the state of being un-free that comes as its fruit. Through the personal examples of Karuna and Sadhya, along with the help of some visual diagrams (Echo From the Cave: 141), attendees explored and tried to glimpse the nature of the “armed mind” and were encouraged to look within themselves to reflect deeply upon what and how this “armed mind” looks in the details of their own lives and experiences.

The recognition of this “armed mind” within oneself may perhaps be very challenging, as Karuna spoke about from her own experience of coming to face this, yet this frank and honest recognition is an essential first step and the preparation that attendees were asked to take on before Part 2, which will be more focused on the “what’s next” aspect of actually disarming this “armed mind”.

Taking that first step of recognition, is in and of itself the start of one’s own transformation, and we look forward to seeing how that transformation can begin to grow in Disarming the Mind for Freedom Part 2!

Echo From The Cave: 144

Tuesday Nov 24, 2020 NYC

Editor’s Note: Pranavadipa Volume 72
“Eternal Life”

Satguru Jayanti, the day that we honor the holy birth of Shri Mahayogi, was yesterday. On the occasion of Satguru Jayanti, recognizing the profound significance of Shri Mahayogi’s birth into this world, disciples take this precious opportunity to offer messages of gratitude, devotion, and determination to the Master. (See Blog 142 for the message offered by Karuna on behalf of the Sangha of NY.)

This month’s issue of Pranavadipa (Vol. 72) contains the Satsangha with Shri Mahayogi that was held last year (2019) in Kyoto, just one week after Satguru Jayanti and, actually, a mere few days before Shri Mahayogi’s visit to New York. This time spent with Shri Mahayogi, along with the messages of disciples imbued with a strong desire to establish Shri Mahayogi’s mission of Sanatana Dharma, left many inspired and reflecting strongly on the aim and purpose of life.

In this Satsangha, Shri Mahayogi resolutely teaches about the purpose and aim of life. The questions from practitioners that bring about this topic arise from the sincerity with which they clearly observe that there is a discrepancy between the ideal aim of life, according to Yoga, and the actuality of what is happening in daily life. In answering, Shri Mahayogi leads everyone’s minds to come face to face with the process of discrimination using Buddha’s teaching of the Fourfold Noble Truth, he details the state of Nirvana, and speaks about his own intensity of concentration during his teenage years when he was meticulously resolving all his own questions about why people suffer and the nature of existence—all throughout imparting upon us the great seriousness that is required by each of us as we seek the true aim of life.

Though Shri Mahayogi’s teaching about the aim and purpose of life is full of vigor and inspiration, there is also much inspiration to be found in the question and answer between Yogadanada, a disciple who practices the mantra of Om, and Shri Mahayogi. (See Blog 141 for “Following the Way of Life of the Guru” by Yogadanda.) In this exchange, Shri Mahayogi confirms and clarifies Yogadanda’s experience of this practice and teaches about the significance of the arati that is performed during Satguru Jayanti. And following that, at the request of another disciple, Shri Mahayogi speaks about his remarkable experience of Nada Brahman, which itself is very precious to learn about, but he then goes on to detail the vibration of Om as the primordial beginning of the cosmos, and weaves this together synonymously with the Buddha-nature often represented in all of existence. It is absolutely awe-inspiring to know more and more about Shri Mahayogi’s experience, the spirit of which is tangibly infused in the way of he explains everything—and we can feel that his explanation is nothing intellectual, but rather is coming from what he has confirmed through experience, speaking in a way that is in accordance with each seeker’s interest yet always going towards the Universal Truth:

SHRI MAHAYOGI: “When you unravel the philosophy of India, the Truth, which is formless and nameless, or the true Existence that evolves into all things—even all of the cosmos is born out of this—and its beginning, the primordial beginning, is the vibration of Om. Probably, even from the [perspective of] physical process, science is currently trying to gradually decipher from the most gross to the subtle, and then to the super-subtle. However, that original sound Om, indicates the primordial, the earliest occurrence which lies at the root. Therefore, there are various concrete forms in this practical world after that, yet that too is the same, they have evolved and become the mind, prana, bones, flesh—all came to be from that primordial Om at the center—thus, the primordial Om dwells within each and every cell, without a doubt.

(after a while, gazing at Ms. Y who studies Buddhism in Japan) Buddhism has the same view towards it; there is a well-known giant statue of Lord Buddha in Nara [Japan], and that form is of Shakyamuni. [It is the statue of Lord Buddha] yet at the same time, it expresses the Truth itself. The essence of Buddha is the dharma-kaya—body of dharma—it is the word that expresses the true Existence, the Truth itself. And a divine incarnation, an incarnation of Truth, as a form appearing in this world is called nirmana-kaya or sambogha-kaya. The form of this big Buddha statue in Nara is sitting on top of a lotus flower, and each flower has the same Buddha drawn on it. What that symbolizes is that all and everything has Buddha’s essence, that is, true Existence, within it; all is a manifestation of true Existence. You can view that it is expressed in such ways in order to symbolize that.”

There are multiple occasions in this Satsangha when Shri Mahayogi seamlessly links the teachings of Buddha, Yoga and even the words of a holy man of Nazareth, showing us from different angles that the paths to the Truth are various, yet they are one.

But perhaps the highlight of the whole Satsangha is a brief exchange towards the end between a disciple, Gopala, and the Master. In his question to Shri Mahayogi, it is clear that Gopala has been following precisely and continuously the guidance of Shri Mahayogi, and it is amazing to see that through consistently following this simple guidance, he has reached a place where the mind has become conditioned to be no longer disturbed and is beginning to grasp what is beyond that mind itself. In hearing the progress made by Gopala, Shri Mahayogi teaches with great enthusiasm what it is to dismantle the mind, how it truly can be done, and the state that is born out of it—serenity. It is awe-inspiring to see how the simple and consistent practicing of Shri Mahayogi’s suggestion has led to such transformation in the mind of a disciple, and this is sure to bring even more motivation and inspiration to us all.

*

The Testimony in this month’s Pranavadipa (Vol. 72) is written by Mr. Fukami, a practitioner from Matsuyama, Japan. His article begins by his soul-felt questions of “For what purpose am I living?” “What is the aim of this life?”, his actual meeting with Shri Mahayogi, and how he began practicing Yoga.

He then goes onto detail what he realized about his mind’s mistake in its approach to life and practice of Yoga, and how he is beginning to address the obstacle identified in his own mind, taking action to adjust his way of viewing and way of living.

Mr. Fukami is very honest about the simple challenges he has faced, created by his own mind—simple challenges, that surely we all face at one point or another and in one form or another, that can cause us, too, much suffering. Truly Mr. Fukami’s honesty in recognizing the ideas and beliefs of his own mind that were causing trouble is heartening. Though it is a simple thing, it is not always easy for many of us to recognize or be honest with ourselves about the ways in which our own mind might hold fast to beliefs that ultimately bring us pain. But through his example, Mr. Fukami gives strength to all of us as practitioners, and reminds us intently of the preciousness of the guru-disciple relationship.

Echo From The Cave: 143

Monday Nov 23, 2020

Celebration:
Satguru Jayanti November 23, 2020

Pranam to our most revered and honored Master,
Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahamsa!!!!

~ we bow down at your beautiful lotus feet ~

Today is the day that we hold most sacred, most holy and most dear—the day that Shri Mahayogi took on a physical existence in this world, materializing the bestowal of his eternal grace upon us. There is no greater blessing than to encounter your Existence, to be touched by the pristineness of your being, the brilliant Truth that shines forth from you—and there is no greater responsibility that we have other than to transform ourselves to align everything about our being with the Truth, with You.

To honor this holy day, we would like to share the message to Shri Mahayogi written by Karuna for this special occasion, Guru Jayanti, on behalf of the sangha in New York.

*

Dear Master and Beloved Guru Shri Mahayogi,

On your blessed Jayanti this year, I wish more than ever to express my deep felt gratitude to you my Beloved Guru Shri Mahayogi. So much of what you have been telling us is finally becoming more real to me, to the point that I am moved and shaken! Your words have finally begun to feel, sound and speak to me what I could not perceive before so strongly at all, even if I thought I did. Now I realize that it is not your words that I feel closer to, but YOU! That which you are!

The way that I am beginning to understand it is that you have dedicated your entire life to bestowing Yoga perfectly unto us, your disciples, and everyone in the world now and in the future. This is so because it is already perfect in you, and naturally, this makes your very life the path of Yoga itself. And, I believe that as you emanate this Yoga, we may receive it in some form that at first may seem fuzzy and unrecognizable to us. But, with your continued generosity and pouring out of that purifying Yoga, I know now that it is possible for us to see and recognize what you are here to tell us more and more, and be able to receive it more and more. If and when we do, we can then become more able to use our own will to carve more space within ourselves and take in more deeply That which you have given us: seeking, loving, caring and nurturing It for others to experience and receive the same too. The vibration of Yoga is strongest in you, and hopefully, it will become stronger in us as we grow to be purer. Oh! Dear Shri Mahayogi! To know this to be possible and to be able to have a more solid conviction that you are That, is the greatest Joy! Thank you so very much for making It possible for us in this lifetime. Your kindness abounds!

I would like to share with you on this most precious day that commemorates your Holy Day in which you were born, a little bit of what has been transpiring in New York and how your disciples here have been changing each other and changing themselves little by little, because this process has everything to do with my current state of Thankfulness to you, and what I have to thank you for.

On the last evening before you left for Japan, answering a question about how to live through the pandemic that was nearing, you gave us a clear message about holding on to the Truth despite the waves of this ocean called life. You guaranteed us that this is the nature of the world, and that in the same way it ripples out of control, it also calms down and finds some sort of balance again. You have continued to remind us that, regardless of how the world is behaving, the Truth is always there—constant. You have been saying this all along, so the idea of holding on to the Truth as the only unchanging existence sounded familiar to our ears at least, and very poetic to our hearts.

But then the situations in our lives, jobs, families and our ability to sustain our regular routines actually began to change more and more, and they have continued to do so beyond what we thought we would experience individually or collectively. Pretty soon after, what we thought of as the guaranteed time and space to be together in practice also disappeared when asana and meditation class was cancelled. The concept of not being able to control anything started to become more extreme to everyone and all around, and to see the way our minds wanted to react, was also a perfect representation of what you had affirmed about the state of the world and the mind as always being vulnerable to conditions—changeable and unreliable, and when this is so, for all there is suffering.

Ironically, it is during this time that your sangha in NY has started to truly come together (virtually) to walk toward Yoga. The new condition in our lives trapped us with our own minds and situations, and what you referred to as the times that call for kumbhaka made it so that we could not turn away from our own karmic reality. Certainly, we did not begin to engage in this turning inwards by ourselves without being prompted or cared for. The unmatchable resolution and unending care of Anandamali is behind this, carefully leading us toward facing the trappings of our minds. Sadhya’s clarity and strength has been a firm guidepost for each of us too, helping us face the resistance and uncertainty that many times has pushed us backwards. During these long hours with the gurubai, trying to face and accept our own condition, but also to identify the truth of the teachings in us, is when I began to realize how we have always been and continue to be embraced by You, Shri Mahayogi. This embrace encompasses every one of my brothers and sisters in New York, in Japan and in Taiwan, whose inspiration has become so crucial and inspiring to us. For that, I thank all the disciples who work day after day in recording, translating and sharing your words, as well as their own learning in Yoga for everyone to be benefitted by them around the world! This work is the work of God Itself! Thank you endlessly, Shri Mahayogi.

All this has been happening all along right under my nose, but now its meaning is beginning to become clearer, and one by one, we are starting to learn from experience how to actually rely on Yoga. During these times of uncontrollable change and with the increased opportunity to introspect, we have been able to observe how vulnerable everything is, and how we truly have nothing else we can rely on but the Truth. Perhaps most importantly, we may be learning that you brought us together to learn to do just that, so that we can then live the teachings that you have tenderly planted in us for the sake of others. I would have never understood how you are able to be among us and continue guiding us through this process from afar. But now, I can understand how it is possible: because You exist, and because we exist for You, and because there is truly no other purpose. There is so much joy in this!

Though I am sure it is not experienced exactly the same way by each of us in New York, there is one thing that I am certain of: that we come together because we all KNOW, so we need to continue to come together to drink the Yoga you serve, and to continue purifying ourselves for You. As you must have heard, we meet twice a week for long hours and like good “potatoes” we try to clean ourselves off little by little. Some potatoes are really good at this, while some of us are learning the skills of “potato-hood.” But the love and care that is going into this process, the hunger for Truth that it nurtures, the way it slowly pushes us to go a little further, is definitely a sign of your loving embrace. I hope this continues to be so and that each one of us continues to allow it to guide us into a deeper connection to Shri Mahayogi, to each other, and to Yoga.

The Mission that you have been given must not be easy at all, but you have been doing this without stopping one second. I ask myself why does Shri Mahayogi do what he does unceasingly? How can He contain so much, be so vast and reach so far? The answer seems much bigger than what my mind can grasp, and possibly bigger than what my little heart can bear. Your never-ending care and liberating love toward all can be almost ungraspable but it is undeniable. I do not want to ignore it at any moment.

Being able to write to you now is an opportunity to express Thank You, and trust that you can know how I feel without boundary of space. I feel it completely and unquestionably inside. This Thank You says that I am here to receive what you are giving, and to surrender to it so that it will transform me at your wish and will. In other words, Shri Mahayogi, I wish that only your essence is what inhabits in me, nothing else, and, because I wish others to know that essence in them too, so that You can rejoice in carrying on your Mission through us, and we can rejoice in You.

On this Holy Jayanti in which we celebrate your vibrant presence among us right here, right now, Beloved Shri Mahayogi, on behalf of your sangha children in New York, I would like to say, “YES, we humbly accept and receive what you give us.” I personally vow to continue kindling this flame, Shri Mahayogi’s Yoga, in me, together with gurubai, wherever we all are, near or far, so that You reach as far and wide as Your Being is…. ENDLESS!

Jai, Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa, Ki, Jai!!!

Bowing at your lotus feet,

Karuna (on behalf of the Mahayogi Yoga Mission Sangha)

Celebratory Messages for Our Beloved and Most Honorable Master from Sangha in New York, Puerto Rico, Berlin and France

Echo From The Cave: 142

Sunday Nov 22, 2020

In Anticipation of Satguru Jayanti:
Following the Way of the Life of the Guru

Tomorrow, November 23rd, is Satguru Jayanti, the day that marks the sacred birth of our beloved Master, Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahamsa.

In anticipation of honoring this most sacred day, we would like to introduce an article written by Yogadanda, a disciple of Shri Mahayogi in Japan.

During past celebrations of Satguru Jayanti, Yogadanda has been the disciple who offers the mantra of Om when the ritual of arati, a puja for the Guru using fire, is performed. This chanting of Om on such an auspicious occasion as Guru Jayanti is a precious gift in and of itself, and in the Satsangha of this month’s Pranavadipa (Vol. 72) we can read the question and answer between Shri Mahayogi and Yogadanda about precisely this topic.

Yogadanda’s article below originally written for Paramahansa (Mahayogi Mission’s bi-monthly magazine for members in Japan), “Following the Way of Life of the Guru,” offers a very real and great opportunity to glimpse from the observation and learnings of a practitioner, more about the way Shri Mahayogi lives, acts and infuses the spirit of Truth into all that he is. May we all aspire to learn from Shri Mahayogi’s life and existence and model our own lives to be in accordance with That!

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Following the Way of Life of the Guru
by Yogadanda
Kyoto, September, 2020

It is difficult to fathom the conduct of our Master, who awakened into the true Self at the age of eight and has remained in nirvikalpa samadhi ever since; it may be the same as how impossible it is to grasp the formless Atman with the mind. Without being taught, Shri Mahayogi continued to practice the most intense asana for twelve years—the reason why, he said, is because he “had leisure time.” And even though he had completely mastered Yoga, knowing more thoroughly about it than anyone else, he said that he had no intention of teaching it to others. The more anecdotes I learn about the Master, the more it feels to me that it is completely elusive to fathom what he sees and what motivation underlies his actions—it is as if he is in a place that is too far away, a place totally different from where we are.

However, as we sit alongside the Master and listen to his teachings, the mind is somehow convinced that True Existence surely exists, and that the Master lives It and acts from It.

And, because the Master is so incredibly captivating, even if just on a superficial level, I can’t help but to emulate the Master’s ways—does that happen only to me? I doubt it. Even so, one day, perhaps even this simple imitation may eventually lead to following how the Guru lives.

 

When I began to practice Yoga, I did not have a chance to encounter the Master’s daily activities and behavior, and only saw him on the occasion of Satsangha. I am sure that everyone is drawn to the way Shri Mahayogi speaks so gracefully, his gentle smile, and the look of his compassionate eye of mercy; however, I thought that if I were to imitate such a demeanor without having adjusted my internal condition to match, surely I would get a cold stare from the people around me. Instead, because Shri Mahayogi, wearing the orange kurta, looked so cool and also senior disciples were wearing a kurta in the same color, I started to imitate the orange kurta first. Shri Mahayogi wore the same kurta every single week, and even if it was a bit threadbare, he always made it without wrinkles, and wore it neatly. Even if the clothing was old and worn-out, it did not create an atmosphere of shabbiness, but rather, there was a freshness to it, and I imagined that the shade of that orange color was coming from the Master’s unique taste and sensibility. I dyed my kurta a similar color as that of the Master, and I left it out in the sun purposefully in order to make it appear faded, and in this way made it look as close as possible to the color of the Master’s kurta. Looking back, I think that the Master’s kurta reflected the keenly refined, sophisticated and noble spirit that arises from wearing only the bare minimum necessity and the resulting unique sense of aesthetic sensibility—and I believe that was what had drawn me to it.

After sometime, as I had more opportunities to see the Master’s daily life, then I began to realize that not only did the Master treat the kurta with care, he treated every object of daily life with care.

As I began to live together with some senior disciples, the Master gave me advice on my personal belongings. For example, he suggested painting a well-worn ornament cabinet white to use it as an altar, and re-dying a pair of pants someone had forgotten and left unclaimed at the Ashrama and wearing them. When I followed his guidance, these well-worn used objects, fated to be discarded, were revived as if they were completely brand-new, original objects. When purchasing something, it was advised to do research, collecting all the necessary information, examining it carefully and thoroughly, and then buy the best product. Even if it may seem to be a bit expensive, good quality products last a long time, so the cost is reduced long-term.

The Master’s simple manner of living was emulated by the senior disciples, so I too was affected in turn, and I began to practice to make this “being simple” into a habit in all respects of life. Then the things that I may have thrown away easily, I began to consider carefully whether or not I truly should discard them; also, if I was going to purchase anything, I would consider carefully whether or not I really needed it, and what the most appropriate item to get would be.

One time, on the second floor of the Ashrama, Shri Mahayogi said to me clearly, touching the rug, “Even in this rug, Atman is manifesting.”

His attitude of caring for things, and the indescribable tenderness and carefulness that he has when he actually handles them, and the perfect harmony that I felt exuding from his form in that kurta—I imagined that they all reflect the fact that he actually sees the sacred existence of Atman within each and every object. And not only that, but the way the Master expresses compassionate countenance and behavior towards people—I believe that it is also because he sees that Existence within each and every single person. Indeed, it is not only limited to objects, but people, especially his disciples, including myself—I have been feeling how much the Master attends to and takes care of us with carefulness and respect. Especially at times when we have made a big mistake or are stuck and can’t proceed smoothly, the Master conditions these disciples’ environment, and prepares a path in front of us very, very carefully, so that we can move forward.

 

I cannot say that I know Atman or God, but if every single thing and every single person is that precious Existence, then I cannot treat them carelessly and impolitely—I then began to tell my mind, even if my mind couldn’t understand it, that everything is Atman, God itself, and I began to discipline myself to put this Truth into action. This practice perfectly coincides with all aspects of yama and niyama, the very first teachings that are taught in Yoga—the way of acting towards others and one’s own actions—to not harm, to not lie, to not have greed, and so on.

 

After studying Yoga for about ten years, various roles were given to me, and I came to take on the responsibility of conveying the Existence and teachings of the Master through doing classes and events. On one hand, I wanted more people to find out about Yoga and the existence of the Master, yet, on the other hand, I was in an internal struggle over the conflict between my responsibility and my state—I still have not realized Yoga yet—and this state of having this central core lacking continued within me for several years, even after that.

 

In the midst of all this, I was given a task to write the script for an event the Mission participated in, entitled “Eternal Quest,” and through this task I even ended up being given an opportunity—which I couldn’t have asked for anything better—to work on a task while being directly supervised by the Master. During the production process, there was an incident that suddenly amazed me into a state of awe, [and this became a lesson for me] from the Master. In our performance, while some poetic texts from the Upanishad were to be read from time to time, an asana and kirtan singing were to be performed. And at first, we created the script by breaking down the anciently-fashioned phrases of the Upanishad into simplified explanations with details, thinking that otherwise it would be difficult to understand for the audience who was going to hear them possibly for the first time ever. When the Master saw it, he reverted them back to the original phrases from the Upanishad, and further, he even cut out unnecessary words from them, and created a script that had only the essence remaining. In that moment, it felt to us that spirit was suddenly infused into each word, emanating eternal brilliance. It was at that moment that, with the Master’s grace, the ancient words of the rishi were revived.

In thinking about this project, I was expecting that whoever would see this production would become more interested in Yoga, even if just a little, which would cause them to begin to participate in our classes and Satsangha, however, I felt that actually, the Master, by completing this creation of the performance as one that wholly expresses the Truth, he put his soul into it and that is what will inspire the seekers who are truly seeking, including those to come in the future.

Not only that, I realized that this principle has been carried out through the Master’s designs, his words at Satsangha, and throughout his way of living. “There is only Truth, or God!”—he has always been saying the same message in Satsangha. Even if the question is more for advice on personal problems, or deals with specialized knowledge or content, he always leads to this point.

Even though I was given the role of disseminating the teachings, I was caught up in the numbers of class attendees, and how to keep the existing students. “You do not exist for the sake of class. Class exists for you.”—I recalled these words of Shri Mahayogi, which Shantimayi-san, a senior sister disciple of Shri Mahayogi who was given the responsibility of leading the class first, was taught by the Master [a long time ago].

Even though we are not yet completed or perfected, we are granted the opportunity to perform activities for the outside world, such as classes and other public events. I thought that the main, foremost purpose would be for each and every disciple to realize the Truth through these activities; next, there would be a wish to give positive influences to the people who we come in contact with through these activities. That means, a disciple must practice to conform their actions, words and thoughts to be one, and aim for perfect, pure actions as much as possible. This is not just limited to class activities, but I believe that each and every disciple is required to demonstrate this when he or she interacts with the external world. And, if a disciple can realize the Truth, even if there are no attendees in the class, or there are no outward activities such as classes, we can still inspire others around us in a true sense, and this influence can be delivered and can reach beyond time and space, precisely arriving to future seekers—I thought that this is the true missionary work wished for by the Master. I reinforced my belief that the aim and purpose of why Buddha guided his disciples to go beg for offerings and disseminate the teachings to people was exactly for that.

I then went back to the teaching—“There is only True Existence, and That manifests in all and everything in the universe,”—which Shri Mahayogi has taught me, and I have followed, from the very beginning when I started the practice of Yoga—and [since then] I have been practicing to act through relying upon the Truth I sense, however immature it may be in me. In classes and other activities too, rather than seeing the differences on the surface and in the aspects of the mind, I am working on only seeing the True Existence, which is its essence. Then, I make my words and actions obey the intuition coming from there. In this way, rather than letting the limited mind make decisions, I should be able to spontaneously act based on what is needed in front of me. If something is bothering me, then again I focus on the True Existence I sense, and seek for the answer from there. By doing that, the coverings of the mind begin to peel off, and eventually, I can become one with the True Existence—I believe that.

The True Existence I sense is the same Existence as that of the Master. Therefore, I think that to become one with the Master, to live with him, and to work with him is the ultimate way of following the way the Guru lives.

For me, the way the Master lives is precisely how Buddha lived, this Buddha who wore panshukula [1], who took the lead to travel all over India on foot, and who inspired so many people—even to this day he continues to inspire people.

 [1] The cloth that covers the bare minimum of the body, made by sewing together the gathered pieces of clothes that have been used for cleaning oneself of excrement and then discarded.

Echo From The Cave: 141

Saturday Nov 21, 2020 NYC

Study Material for Review: Disarming the Mind for Freedom Part 1

On Friday November 20th MYM held Part I of an online event Disarming the Mind for Freedom as part of its series Positive Transformation in Times of Change. Below are the visuals used during the program, which are provided here for you own study and introspection.

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If you attended the program, we encourage you to share with MYM your own learnings and introspections about the content of Part I of the program: info@mahayogiyogamission.org

Part II of Disarming the Mind for Freedom will be held December 4th at 7pm. REGISTER HERE

Please reach out to info@mahayogiyogamission.org for inquiries about this event.

Echo From The Cave: 140

Friday Nov 11, 2020 NYC

Announcement: Online Program ~ Friday, November 20th  7pm – 8pm
Nov. 20th – Part 1
Dec. 4th – Part 2

Disarming the Mind for Freedom

Mahayogi Yoga Mission presents a second online program in its series Positive Transformation in Times of Change.

Program Description:
With our eyes fixed on the external world, internal observation of the mind is more challenging than ever before. Glimpse just beyond the realm of our immediate perception, to the battle waging constantly within our own minds that keeps us in an un-free state, and seek together with us to disarm its factions in a step towards Freedom.

All are welcome to attend. No prior experience or knowledge of Yoga is necessary.

SPEAKERS: Karuna and Sadhya

Register HERE.

* Tickets will be available for purchase for up to 24 hours in advance.
* Please note that using Zoom is required for attending this program.
* You will be emailed a Zoom link on the day of the program.
* We will be happy to provide technical assistance to anyone who may need it.
* We will open the Zoom space at 6:15 for attendees to enter and test that zoom is working properly.
* We highly encourage you to connect early to troubleshoot any unexpected issues and then return just before 7pm.
* On the day of the event, we will post a contact number here for any technical issues that may arise.

Please reach out to info@mahayogiyogamission.org for inquiries about this event.

Echo From The Cave: 139

Saturday Oct 24, 2020 NYC

Yoga in Action: Reflection from a Practitioner

Tilling the Soil in Preparation of “Turning it Around”
by Karuna
New York, October 12, 2020

After pondering about the power that the teachings of Mother Teresa and her being have on me, I concluded that this is so because she is already fully “turned around” and because she speaks solely from the point of view of the Truth. Her words, her faith and her actions connect me in a deep way, beyond what I am able to explain, to the universal commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.”[1] So, through her inspiration, my heart has become more strongly set on the intention of “turning it around.”

What has been helpful is that even if I am not exactly sure where to begin or how to grow and sustain this intention, every day and every moment has started to reveal to me the “fork in the road”[2] that Shri Mahayogi speaks about. While trying to understand how to work with this mind that can still be pulled to either side of the fork in the road, I began to observe that when my mind relies and defends this “me” in the world—my happiness, my impression, my performance, my safety—the sense of being close to God abandons me, and in its place, worry, negativity and dissatisfaction arise. In one of these moments, when feeling severed from God’s Love, I was able to begin to recall Shri Mahayogi’s words in the Universal Gospel of Yoga in which he describes thoughts in the mind being like clouds, and how we simply have to clear them away, then fill that space up with bhakti.[3]

I am so grateful for Mother Teresa’s book, Where there is Love There is God. Because the words of Mother Teresa in this book inspired me and made it possible to experience the wiping away of thoughts and their replacement with bhakti for the first time. It was the Love itself that automatically wiped away the clouds and that too is what began to fill me up. But, as Shri Mahayogi has warned us, “because of the habitual nature of the mind, there is a great likelihood that new thoughts will emerge, and fill up the space you have just cleared.” And, because I do not want to be pulled away from this newfound Love, I have felt the need to learn what to do to keep this space clear or learn to clear it up when it becomes cluttered, in other words, how to move away from karma in the direction of the Truth, or God’s Love.

One of the first lessons that I found in the book by Mother Teresa was about listening. For many years, Anandamali has been speaking to me about the need to listen much more. For a long time, I have had the habit of “half-listening.” In conversations, I tend to jump in before I understand what is being said, or the context from which it is being said. In several occasions, a few gurubai recommended that I practice mauna, but even if I controlled my tongue to some degree, mentally, I continued to be busy with a personal reply, a point, an attack or a defense, or an argument.

In the book, Mother Teresa explains that silence is the precondition for listening to God, and that when we are able to attentively and quietly listen to God, we can then know His full Love for us, and experience the meaning of prayer, simply “feeling one with God.”[4] Mother also says that the one who experiences this Love is compelled to sacrifice herself for others, out of that same Love. And this is the path to true Peace.

Mother Teresa’s words awaken in me the intense sensation of wanting to be close to God. They pull me into silence automatically, without me thinking about quieting my mouth or my mind. And this longing makes me want to let go of anything in me that could be an obstacle to being close to God and accepting what He is offering, the purest Love of all. I have begun experiencing that the wants and cravings that have kept me tied to karma (the experiencing of pain-bearing-obstacles[5]) have begun to lose their allure, since the sweetness of God’s Love is there as the other alternative. And for the same reason, when a wanting arises, and I am able to realize that that wanting is based on the belief that this Love can be found in the matters of the everchanging world, I have intentionally started to recommend to my mind to let go of this idea as soon as possible, so that nothing will clutter the space where I only want God to be. When I am able to do this, a sense of loving surrender and gratefulness is what fills me up again.

[1] The new commandment from God in the Bible (John 15:12). This refers to God’s Love, given to the world through Jesus.

[2] “Live in the Now” from The Universal Gospel of Yoga—The Teachings of Sadguru Sri Mahayogi Paramahamsa; and “The Path of Yoga and the Path of Karma,” Satori. Shri Mahayogi’s teaching about the “fork in the road” explains that every single moment there is a choice between the Truth and karma.

[3]
“Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga” from The Universal Gospel of Yoga—The Teachings of Sadguru Sri Mahayogi Paramahamsa.

[4] “God is Love” from Where There is Love, There is God.

[5] “The Pain-Bearing-Obstacles: Klesa” from The Universal Gospel of Yoga—The Teachings of Sadguru Sri Mahayogi Paramahamsa.

Echo From The Cave: 138

Tuesday Oct 20, 2020 NYC


Through Yoga in Action: “Love is An Infectious Disease”

The topic of Echo from the Cave: 134 was the reflection of a practitioner, an article written by Karuna, a practitioner in New York, about her search for how to “turn it around.” It seems that there were a few courses of events that triggered and guided her to open her heart and begin to receive the teachings of Yoga, perhaps for the first time straightforwardly. And since then, being tremendously inspired by the words of Mother Teresa that are grounded so concretely in the way Mother Teresa lived her life, Karuna’s understanding of the teaching of Shri Mahayogi and of Yoga seems to be clarifying more than ever before. Yukti, the disciple in Japan who wrote “Living on the Words of Mother”, a series of eight articles, originally written in Japanese from Sept. 2012 to Jan. 2014 and published over the course of Pranavadipa Vol. 67-69, wrote the following letter to one of the Project Sahasrara editors after hearing about Karuna’s transformation:

“Thank you very much, I read the translation of the blog many times.

What I felt from reading it is that, we are constantly having a turning point, from moment to moment; this turning point is always there, and it is up to us how we face up to it.

One year after beginning the practice of Yoga, when my body had been dramatically restored and I was able to take a job, I mentioned to Shri Mahayogi, “Finally I am able to stand at the starting line where others are.” Then Shri Mahayogi said, “In Yoga, every single moment is the ‘start’.” I remember that upon hearing it, I sensed intuitively that no matter what the condition of the body is, it is so irrelevant, what’s important is how seriously I work on confronting the ego and eliminating it.

Karuna’s “turning it around” was impactful for me too. And it made me solidify in my consciousness that I must become ever-closer to God, I must see God alone. I assume that the invisible reformation within Karuna is giving an influence to many. Perhaps that spiritual reformation is what is called true sacrifice. Mother Teresa said, Love is an infectious disease. I felt that it is exactly that infection that is happening beyond time and space.

I must express my gratitude.”

 Yukti wrote in the Mahayogi Mission’s blog in Japan, exactly six years ago, in 2014:

“There are three elements to prevent infectious diseases. If you don’t want to be infected, you have to reduce these elements.

First is the source of infection, which can be things or people that have come in contact with a pathogen such as a virus or bacteria. That is called the source of infection. Second, is the path of infection. It is the pathway through which the pathogen can invade via the air or via contact. Third is the sensitivity of the individual, and this is about the individual level of sensitiveness for becoming infected, which can be influenced by a compromised immune system. But, if you want to be infected with love of God, conversely, increasing these conditions is necessary. A person who has contacted God’s love is called a bhakta. Bhakta are those who love God purely.

Mother Teresa was a bhakta. The infection pathway can be through meeting with a bhakta or hearing about them, or even thinking about the bhakta—these conditions may increase your chance of getting infected. In order to bring sensitivity, or the mind that is purified to that which can receive God’s love, one should practice asana and meditation daily, without neglecting it. Then, the three conditions are set. The key is to continue simply, devotedly, steadily and tenaciously. If you do so, then no matter what, you can always maintain the joy of loving God in your heart. Let’s begin today!”

The experience of Yukti that has been shared so far in her writing has brought inspiration to our readers. One of many aspects that we can learn about from her concrete example is, “how to learn”: to hear, to contemplate, to meditate on and to take action. But, in order to do that, what makes all the difference is having a clear aim.

Many readers might wonder what made Yukti throw herself towards her aim? Here in this blog, we would like to share her writing, which was originally requested from her by Anandamali in 2013, on how she came to encounter Yoga and Shri Mahayogi, her Guru. It is quite fascinating.

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Before I Began Yoga
By Yukti
Fukushima, Japan – April 27, 2013.

I used to work as a speech therapist (ST) for rehabilitating patients after I graduated from a specialized school. An ST is a specialist who rehabilitates people who have speech impediments after suffering from strokes or neurological disabilities. I met various patients at the hospital, and I enjoyed being with them very much. When I was with my patients, I was able to feel something indescribable, something dear and precious deep within them, however slight and subtle. Particularly when a patient was battling a disease alone, through their loneliness I was able to feel my own loneliness, and I was also able to feel something precious deep within myself.

Out of all of them, I still cannot forget a patient who became the catalyst for me to go on the path of Yoga—Mr. K, who has probably already passed away by now. When I met him before he was 40, he was still young, but had a wide range of disabilities arising from a stroke in the cerebellum, which controls movement. He was bedridden; he had a clear consciousness, yet could not move any limbs, and could not open or close his mouth smoothly, so every time he tried to move his mouth, his teeth chattered against each other. The doctor requested for me to improve his swallowing, since his throat reflexes were weakened and he often choked and had difficulty in swallowing. It is an important task of an ST to train patients in eating activities. But when I first saw Mr. K, I thought that there was no possibility of him getting better through training, to the point where I thought it would be a pointless treatment. However, as I kept working with Mr. K, I began to think—Why is the world so unfair, why do people like him exist, what is the meaning of him living? I’ve met many bedridden patients before, so I really don’t know why such a thought suddenly arose in me, but I began to think that way towards Mr. K. I must have felt something precious within him and I had an urge to help Mr. K no matter what.

I became so engrossed in thinking about Mr. K, and kept thinking every day about what the way would be to remove his suffering. In order to spend good quality time with Mr. K, I didn’t take on other patients, and I spent a long time by Mr. K’s side. Then I began to think, “If I attend to him and keep speaking to him, then maybe he will be diverted by having company, yet when my shift is done, I go home. When I’m in front of Mr. K’s eyes, I’m thinking about him, nonetheless, when I go home, I do whatever I want and forget about Mr. K. How do I stay with Mr. K all the time and remove his suffering? Awake or asleep, I kept thinking about that.

One of those days, an idea sparked in my head. In order to remove his suffering, I should become one with him—I thought. Then, I thought about how to become one. Then I thought I needed to remove my ego and desires. I don’t know why I thought this way; but simply, I sensed intuitively this was right and I sensed that I must embark on it without any doubt.

I didn’t know what I must do to get rid of desire, so I began to stop anything I thought was enjoyable. First, I stopped seeing people. And to restrict my eating, which is one of the biggest desires for humans, I restrained myself from eating. I only ate once a day, a bowl of brown rice with sesame and salt. I began to give up various pleasures. Not even in the slightest did I ever think I was doing anything wrong. However, the body began to sink, it became emaciated and unbeknownst to me, I had quite severe anemia. I ran out of breath while walking, and the body was constantly cold to the degree that even during the middle of summer, I wore many layers of wool clothing and many layers of tights. Even then, when I was at the hospital for work, I felt cold; and during lunch break, I went outside the building and ate alone under the blazing sun. Looking back, it was very strange behavior, but I was serious about my intention.

One day, the head nurse in the ward said to me, “You look very pale,” and took me in front of a mirror. When I saw my face, which was for the first time in a good while, I was horrified. My lips were blue, I had strong dark circles under my eyes, and my cheek bones were jutting out from losing weight. I did not realize it at all until then, how weakened I’d become. Being so shocked, I saw a doctor in the afternoon, and as a result of a blood test, I was told I had extreme anemia and needed treatment. My period had already stopped six months ago. Only then for the first time, I realized I had done something irreversible. They then sent me to a gynecologist and it was found that I also had issues with hormones. I increased the amount of the food I was eating, however, since the internal organs had not been functioning well, they didn’t respond right away after quickly inserting food. When I ate, all the blood concentrated in the stomach, taking all the blood away from the brain, and I got dizzy and could not keep standing. The symptom of being out of breath worsened. I felt that I could no longer support my own body, and I felt that I needed someone to provide guidance.

I then began to look for a guide. I had not given up on removing my ego and desires, because I felt that was not incorrect. I believed that I had made a mistake, using an incorrect method, due to trying to do it my own way. When I would hear about a great teacher, I would travel to Kobe and beyond, far and wide. However, I didn’t feel anything from these famous teachers. I felt that something was different, I felt that they were not the ones who know what is Real. Even so, I could not continue long; this search too was reaching the limit of the strength of my body, I felt that I could no longer keep walking to search for a teacher by myself. I also gave up on continuing in my profession. I was driven to utter despair. And I even began to sense a crisis in my life, feeling that perhaps I wouldn’t wake up the next day. Every morning when I woke up, I felt relief, yet at the same time, I knew that today too I would have to battle against the heaviness and the exhaustion in order to support the body for one more day, and I cried feeling frustrated and hopeless. Nonetheless, there was no one but myself who could support this body. I had no time to cry—for I had to move this body no matter what.

From around that time, I began to pray before going to sleep. When humans come to a point that they don’t know what to do anymore, the last means left is to pray. I prayed, “Please allow me to meet someone who can correct my mistakes, who knows what is Real in this world. I have gone to many places to seek for someone who can teach me this, but no one knows the Truth. I may not have much time left. So, the next person I meet has to be the person of Truth, definitively 100%. Please allow me to meet such a person.” Even then, such a person did not appear. I had no choice, so next I started to pray, “Please, please let me meet someone who knows the Truth. If that is not possible, please let me meet someone who knows a person who knows the Truth.” Then, one day, I read an article in a newspaper that I hadn’t read in a while, and found out there was an Asana Class held by the Mahayogi Mission, at a community center near my parents’ house where I stayed, and I went without any particular expectation. Then just as I prayed, I encountered gurubai, people who knew a person of Truth, Shri Mahayogi. Interestingly, in fact, I probably did not have enough physical strength to go there walking if it was not nearby. When I first did asana, I felt an incredible energy flow through my body, and I felt that my body was revived.

I quit my job and continued practicing asana every day. At that time Shri Mahayogi was in New York for a long stay, so I received instructions and guidance from a disciple, and if there were any questions or issues with my physical condition, the disciple called Shri Mahayogi and asked him for me. I did not take any medication whatsoever. I heard from the disciple that Shri Mahayogi said to me, “Think that it will take 10 years to recover.” When I heard that, I truly wanted to jump with delight. No one before had ever told me that my body will heal in a certain time period. Eventually, the disease will come to an end. To me, that was hope. I want to do it, whether it will take 10 years or 50 years—I was so, so happy indeed. I continued to practice asana devotedly, and after 10 months I became well-enough to be able to begin to take up a job again. When my physical condition became significantly well, I started to feel that I would like to work at a hospital again. I yearned to live how I wanted to live, sensing that preciousness deep within the patients once again. Around that time, my mother told me that they would sell their house, so they would give me some of the proceeds from the sale of their house, and thus I came into a sizeable amount of money. After pondering over how to use this money, I decided to become a nurse, since it would give me the opportunity to work closer with patients. Then, [using this money,] I went to nursing school and became a nurse. As I began to work in a ward with many cancer patients, I began to think more about how best to send off the patients who were in the process of dying. That process has been written about in the article about Mother Teresa.

Originally, I did have respect for Mother Teresa, but it was not that I specifically had an interest in her. If I had known about stories of holy beings in Yoga who took care of the sick, then I would most likely have wanted to know about them, and sought this person out to study and learn from him or her. However, I could not find one, and I didn’t have any idea except for Mother Teresa, so that is why I went to the Mother’s facility in India. The day I left for India, which was the day that the Great East Japan Earthquake happened, I was actually not planning to take that flight. It was two days after my night shift, so it was not ideal because it was hard on my physical strength. But considering various conditions, I had no choice but to take that particular flight.

I never really spoke to others about these things that happened before I began practicing Yoga until recently—because I didn’t think it would be meaningful to speak about. However, being triggered by something quite unexpectedly, I spoke to a gurubai in Matsuyama and she was very interested, so I began to share it on various occasions. After the last Satsangha before I moved to Fukushima, I asked Shri Mahayogi, “I feel that whatever I have felt or the ideas that have flashed into my mind, are not just happening for the first time in this life; have I inherited these from my past lives?” Then Shri Mahayogi answered, “Yes, you have.” Then continued, “What is important is that through Yoga, you are able to perform them purely, without ego. True practitioners of Yoga do not incur karma, even though they take action.” Hearing that, I realized that what I’ve felt up until now in my life may be peculiar, but what is truly and actually of paramount importance, is “pure action without ego.” The means to do so exists in Yoga, and I believe that that is what we must truly transmit.

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Note:
Today, Yukti lives near Matsuyama-City, in Ehime prefecture in Japan, and works as a nurse. Currently she is focused on heightening her skill as a Chinese-language medical interpreter, using her experience from studying in Beijing Normal University in 1991.

Echo From The Cave: 137

Thursday Oct 15, 2020 NYC


Experience: Seeing the Beautiful World of Yoga at the Cave

As we mentioned in the last blog post, we would like to introduce here the writing that Mr. Shimamoto contributed for Paramahamsa Vol. 139 (the bi-monthly member’s magazine of Mahayogi Mission Japan) about his experience of discovering what Yoga is and who Shri Mahayogi might be, having been bestowed with the opportunity to be physically close with Shri Mahayogi for 10 days in the winter of 2019-2020 when Shri Mahayogi spent 3 months in New York.

Mr. Shimamoto is a biologist and researcher in the field of IPC stem cells. After hearing about Shri Mahayogi, he met him for the first time at a Satsangha in Kyoto in July 2019, and then embarked on practicing asana and meditation.

Seekers are drawn to Shri Mahayogi from all walks of life and with various backgrounds and interests, as this month’s Pranavadipa Vol. 71 represents on a microscale in one of the featured Satsangha, which contains a question Mr. Shimamoto asked to Shri Mahayogi at that time, as well as Shri Mahayogi’s response. That was his second time meeting Shri Mahayogi, and it was just a few months after when he made the trip to New York.

Because of Mr. Shimamoto’s scientific background, in this article we are introducing here, we are able to catch a glimpse of the meeting of “science” and “Yoga,” two things that may at times seem at odds based on modern perceptions. And in addition to that, we have the opportunity to see how Mr. Shimamoto’s perception of Yoga changes during his stay at the Cave and how he begins to work within himself, challenging his own mind, its assumptions and beliefs, with the teaching of Yoga.

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Seeing the Beautiful World of Yoga at the Cave
Ren Shimamoto
Kyoto, Japan – May 2020

I stayed at the Cave in New York for ten days, from February 7th to 17th of 2020, to learn and practice Yoga under the supervision of Shri Mahayogi and Anandamali-san. Actually, I first met Shri Mahayogi at Satsangha in Kyoto, held in July of the previous year. Because I had met him only a few times since then, moreover, I had just started practicing Yoga when I heard the advice for staying at the Cave during Shri Mahayogi’s visit from Yogadanda-san, I wondered whether I should wait to take this opportunity until I had undergone more practice. But, after I encountered Yoga, my heart was already strongly drawn to it at once, and I had a keen desire to concentrate on learning and practicing Yoga directly under Shri Mahayogi; so I decided to ask him anyway. Thankfully, he accepted my wish and I had a wonderful experience, far beyond what can be described.

A Vast World of Yoga Expanding Outward
During my stay in New York, I participated in a public Satsangha, the Yoga Sadhana Program with Shri Mahayogi (asana and meditation class directly taught by Shri Mahayogi), and regular asana classes. At the Cave, I prepared food for Shri Mahayogi daily with Anandamali-san, from the shopping to the cooking. And at other times, while staying at the Cave, I received much guidance from Shri Mahayogi in one-on-one conversation. Until then, I did not know much about Yoga, so I asked much more than a hundred beginner questions like: “What does Yoga mean?” “Why does Shri Mahayogi always wear orange clothes?” and “What does Shri Mahayogi do?” Shri Mahayogi answered all my questions politely until I understood them. His kindness moved me so deeply. His thorough guidance resolved my unsolved questions that had been stuck in me, connected the parts that were not connected, and I was able to grasp the whole picture of the teaching of Yoga. I realized that I only knew a tiny part of Yoga: health, beauty, and relaxation. I was amazed, because it felt to me as if I entered a clothing store and was then surprised to see a vast world of Yoga expanding out as I stepped into the back.

One of the reasons that I started practicing Yoga was because of the difficulty I faced in my job, which I have devoted my life to, and I wanted to resolve this anguish caused by it. That agony was alleviated within a short time through the asana and meditation I learned from Mahayogi Mission, and I was very surprised to experience this therapeutic effect. Yet, this is only a small part of the aspects of Yoga I realized later on. The teaching of Yoga explains the mechanism of how self-awareness (ego), the root that generates distress in our life, arises. It felt to me as if I had opened the casing of a computer, which is me myself, and saw the contents. The teaching of Yoga explains that ego is simply a phenomenon, and there is no substance, that there is a true Self witnessing the ego, and that the true Self is everlasting—it will not disappear if our body dies. That means that I have identified myself as being Ren Shimamoto, a Japanese person, a biological researcher, a soccer player, and as being tan—but actually, I am mistaken. It was beyond surprising and honestly scared me a bit. I only understood that in my head, and had not completely digested it yet, but still, I thought that it must be true because Shri Mahayogi says that it is so.

I was also very impressed by the teaching of Yoga that men are born inheriting karma from their previous lives. Shri Mahayogi even told me that children are born by choosing the parents that will fulfill their karma. I was struggling with parenting sometimes, a father and son relationship. When my children weren’t behaving as I asked, I would get angry or disappointed, which is suffering. But, the teaching made me realize that I did not respect their karma, and instead, I was trying to fulfill my own karma by manipulating them. Realizing that there must be a reason for them to have come to me, and they are living fighting with their own karma—I shifted the way I was, and now I am focusing on supporting them.

What was shocking to me was that Shri Mahayogi said that the universe is repeatedly born and disappears. I knew that my body is constantly changing at the cellular and atomic levels. But still, I was shocked because I didn’t understand that the universe is also changing. It felt to me that I had been informed of the fact that we are in this vehicle named the universe. People who heard Copernicus’ heliocentric theory (the earth goes around the sun) for the first time must have had the same feeling. When I listened to this story from Shri Mahayogi, I felt a sense of motion sickness. Let’s call it “Yoga sickness,” which occurs when the world view I had had up until then changes drastically. When I had conversations with Shri Mahayogi, I got this same sense several times. In this way, I was baptized, or initiated by Shri Mahayogi, introduced to how magnificent the teachings of Yoga are, and I was further drawn into its world.

What I appreciate about staying at the Cave more than anything is that Shri Mahayogi, who is the teaching of Yoga itself, was present, and the teaching was compellingly transmitted. It was exactly what is meant by, “Seeing is believing,” and the teachings I learned were enacted daily in front of my eyes, which further improved my understanding of the teachings. For example, one of the typical teachings of Yoga is non-attachment. I understand it intellectually as a word, but I did not know what it would actually be like at the level of real life. However, it is evident in Shri Mahayogi’s action. There is no hesitation in the actions of Shri Mahayogi, and his extraordinary concentration allows him to complete a task in no time at all. There is no waste whatsoever. Even the series of steps and mannerism in the brewing process of the morning coffee, from boiling water to grinding beans, extracting, preparing a cup, and pouring coffee, proceeds rhythmically without delay. It was like watching a sophisticated dance performance or karate performance.

Yoga Improves and Polishes Humanity
I have never met anyone like Shri Mahayogi. It is worth noting that he has many simultaneous characteristics, not only as a Yoga master, but he also looked as if he were a philosopher, religionist, revolutionary, scientist, artist, and sometimes a fashion leader. One day, I talked with Shri Mahayogi about biology. He asked, “Is the state of mind coded in DNA?” I was quite impressed by his question because it is one of the hot topics in the field of neuroscience. When I was discussing about biology with Shri Mahayogi, it felt to me that I was talking with a biologist.

Another noteworthy point is that he has characteristics which, at a glance, have seemingly contradictory properties, such as delicacy and robustness, suppleness and strength, and stillness and activeness, all at the same time. I thought that Shri Mahayogi might be a delicate person because of his answers, always full of heart, and his appearance in Satsangha. That impression was matched indeed, however, not only that, he was also a very powerful person of mental fortitude. I got the same impression from Anandamali-san, who lives at the Cave. Let’s call it a “mental machismo”—I think both of them would surely be able to survive on an uninhabited island. By staying at the Cave with Shri Mahayogi, in a way, I was doing a close-coverage, I found that being a Guru in Yoga is truly a mentally tough job. Take Satsangha as an example, many people rely on Shri Mahayogi to seek solutions to their problems. I felt that understanding and giving guidance in an instant must be an extremely difficult task in terms of concentration, discernment, knowledge, and depth of devotion. I don’t believe that just anyone can do that. In fact, when answering questions during the Satsangha in New York, Shri Mahayogi was full of spirit and was in a true state of seriousness. The same would be true for Buddha, because it is said that he practiced much asceticism. He must have been quite courageous and tough. I think that many people may have the stereotype that a Yogi equals being vegetarian, which means being delicate and naive. But, as a matter of fact, the opposite is true, and I came to realize that real Yogi have a robust mental fortitude.

Shri Mahayogi is very knowledgeable and astonishingly insightful about whatever topic he speaks about. Also, his knowledge is wholly his own, and the story is realistic and compelling. The standing position too is unique; it could be like a super bird’s-eye view or vice versa, a super micro view. When he talks about a material thing, he describes it as if it were there. When he talks about happenings, he describes them as if he were actually there. “What kind of clothes did Buddha wear?” I asked. Then Shri Mahayogi answered that, “Buddha was wearing something like a piece of cloth.” It was as if Shri Mahayogi had met Buddha before. I asked him, “Shri Mahayogi, why are you so familiar with the many particulars of Buddha?” He answered that perhaps he is grasping the essence of things through meditation. I had read in the Mission’s book on Yoga that it is possible to become One with the object of meditation during meditation—I thought this must be the case.

In this way, Shri Mahayogi has a naturally beautiful magnetism. If it’s too great, it’s usually difficult to get close to it, but this is not the case at all. He is quite an approachable and charming person. For example, he loves ordinary Japanese street food, like okonomiyaki and yakisoba. I think that his friendliness and charming nature are some of his attractions. As I lived with Shri Mahayogi, I was naturally drawn in by his character, personality and charm—I understood why everyone admires Shri Mahayogi.

One day Anandamali-san asked me a curious question. “If Buddha were to live in the present time, would you be able to notice him? Buddha is right in front of you.” Her words hit me suddenly. I thought that it might be true. But, unfortunately, I cannot notice him because I cannot distinguish him since I don’t have the ability to discern or the experience to do so. However, if Buddha were in the present time, I’m sure he must be like Shri Mahayogi—because I have never met anyone who has a stilled, immaculate mind like Shri Mahayogi. After I came back to Japan, I told this story to my family, but they did not understand it at all. They will not understand this unless they meet Shri Mahayogi firsthand.

The Teaching of Yoga is Rational and Easy to Understand
I work as a biology researcher, and I have a habit of seeking logical explanations for everything. Having said that, I think that the teachings of Yoga are rational and easy to understand. The teaching is to purify our minds by conditioning our bodies, thoughts, and actions; by doing so, we will be able to get rid of worries and meet our real “I,” which is called the true Self, or God. It’s a straightforward message and not demanding. The eight branches, such as asana, meditation, yama, and niyama are all empirical rather than theoretical, that means that we can verify their effects by ourselves.

I thought Yoga had nothing to do with religion, by which I mean believing in a particular god. However, now I think it is one of the religions because it teaches about God inside of us. For me, God meant a god of Shinto, and it was vague. Also, neither did I have faith in any particular religion, nor did I feel it convenient or needed. I also had a sense of resistance toward a god with human form. For all these reasons, I didn’t have any presence of God in my mind. However, according to the teaching of Yoga, there is a true Self within one’s own self, and that is the existence that is called God. This teaching clearly explained what the existence of God is, and instilled God within me. This made me feel like I got an anchor and like I was saved. At the same time, I came to understand the feelings of those who believe in other religions. Staying at the Cave was very significant in the sense that I was able to understand and accept the meaning of God.

The Universality of the Teaching of Yoga
One of my primary purposes to visit New York was to attend Satsangha, the classes and to learn how people abroad practice Yoga. I knew that Yoga is accepted not only in Asia but also all around the world. But still, I did not know how people in the countries without a base of Buddhism understand the elements of Yoga, such as enlightenment and the true Self, which can be abstract ideas, so I was curious to find out about that. What I found by attending one of the Satsangha in New York was that people abroad have similar work stresses, worries, and problems related to life and death as we do in Japan. A woman (whose nationality I don’t know) confessed, “It scared me so much to think that my mother will be gone. It creates such deep fear, and it throws me out of balance completely.” In response, Shri Mahayogi said, “What you are fearing is being separated from your mother’s body. Her soul will never disappear, her soul is eternal.”[1]

[1] Pranavadipa Vol. 66.  Shri Mahayogi: Even if her physical body dies, it does not mean that she herself dies. What you are fearing are the memories between you and your mother. That is an erroneous attachment. Recognize the real her, that is, recognize she, who is the Eternal Existence, and exert yourself to the utmost to serve her within this limited span of life. The Truth is the Immortal Existence. Everyone is That. It is the one and only One. It is that which has been called “God.”

The woman deeply appreciated Shri Mahayogi’s answer in tears. It seems that the participants of the Satsangha varied and I did not know their nationalities, however, many of them seemed to share the same feelings as her, including me. It seemed like it was my misconception that the teachings of Yoga would be challenging to understand in non-Buddhist countries. Indeed, initially, rishi found the Truth intuitively, beyond language, in meditation, and that has been recorded as the teaching of Yoga; I speculated that the teaching of Yoga can be intuitively understood regardless of nationality.

I had the opportunity to prepare the venue for the classes. At the beginning, the disciples gathered together, prepared our minds with a short meditation, and then began to focus on practicing our tasks respectively. I was assigned to clean and set up the entrance with Aniruddha-san. After I finished my task, I was looking for the remaining tasks. Then Nandiswara-san noticed that the mats next to the entrance were untidy. So we refolded them neatly, and the area shined brightly. I felt as if energy was being poured into the space. I recalled seeing a similar scene when Shri Mahayogi arranged the flowers and the curtains in the room at the Cave. I learned the importance of working carefully with all our heart.

Facing Myself
By being away from my daily life in Japan and putting myself into an environment different from my norm, I was able to take the time to look at myself. I came to recognize some parts of myself, and from time to time I had to face the negative side of my personality that I usually do not notice. It should have been a perfect opportunity to change my way of being, but I found myself not being able to take it squarely, and rather I tried to find good excuses. At such times, I observed how and to what my mind was reacting in meditation. One thing I found is that I believe myself to be this or that, and I am attached to the ideas that have worked well so far; so when someone presents different ideas from what I know, the sense of self-denial arises instinctively, which leads to irritation and anxiety. This series of flows occurs in an instant like a domino effect. In a simple example, suppose someone tells me that red looks good on me. In fact, that may be true, however, my fixed idea that blue should look good on me quickly interrupts my mind and disturbs my feelings, not allowing me to be able to judge calmly whether red suits me. It is even worse, more complicated when it comes to internal topics. After I recognized this pattern, I investigated within myself how and when I formed these fixed ideas. It seems that these fixed ideas have been formed gradually at different times in my life. It didn’t seem easy to get rid of them immediately, but it seemed possible to draw them back once. So, when the pattern of the negative emotional reactions rising up was produced, I started to tell my mind to ask the fixed ideas to step back. This training allowed me to calmly discriminate upon only the necessary points. When we are engaging in the practice of putting Yoga into action, there are times when we might feel it mentally difficult to face our weaknesses, the part that we don’t want to see. But I realized that I need to be prepared to confront this and deal with it without running away. When I came to recognize it, it inspired a sense of respect for senior disciples. Their presence encouraged me.

The Relationship Between Guru and Disciple in Yoga
I could not have had a meaningful time in New York without the support of Anandamali-san. She is very powerful and full of kindness—I have never in my life met a person of such strong character like her. She is enthusiastically engaged in the works of the Mahayogi Mission, as if she is being driven by something. I keenly felt her devotion.

Anandamali-san works very fast and efficiently. I could not keep up with her when I worked on cooking, shopping, walking the dog, or whatever. As I learned cooking from her daily, I noticed that she was well-organized and it seemed to me that before she began cooking, she had already perfected the image from the beginning to the end. Because of that her course of actions were smooth, for example, she prepares soup while preparing curry, and meanwhile she washes utensils. Another noteworthy point is that when she executes the image, she seems not to think or hesitate but is rather boldly decisive. I found this is an important point for efficiency.

On the other hand, she has the flexibility to add arrangements according to the situation. I was impacted by her comment: “I cook like I’m experimenting.” When I heard it, I felt that she is a researcher and I am the experimental assistant. I think Anandamali-san is also a person who has various charms at the same time as Shri Mahayogi. What impressed me especially was her attitude of serving Shri Mahayogi. It may be no exaggeration to say that everything is done for Shri Mahayogi. And also, Shri Mahayogi is responding to that. They are connected through a strong bond. I have never seen anyone devoting oneself to such an extent. From observing it, I thought that the relationship between a Master and disciple in Yoga is tremendously deep and profound.

Practicing Yoga Step by Step
The ten days at the Cave passed in no time, and the day of my return to Japan came rather rapidly. I had a better understanding of Yoga and I was inspired to practice more and more. Probably, my mind and body were refreshed, I was also motivated to go back to work. When I expressed my gratitude to Shri Mahayogi right before leaving the Cave, he said to me, “Practice step by step. No rush. There’s no hurry.”

Now I have returned to Japan. There are times that my job is quite busy, but I always remember this advice, and I treasure my discipline to practice asana and meditation. The road to Yoga is long and has only just begun, but I want to practice Yoga step by step with eagerness.

Lastly, I would like to thank Shri Mahayogi, Anandamali-san, the Gurubai of New York, and of Japan. I am grateful for having been bestowed with the opportunity and the support for my stay at the Cave in New York. Thank you so very much.PRANAVADIPA

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