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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Echo From The Cave: 136

Monday Oct 12, 2020 NYC

Editor’s Note: Pranavadipa Volume 71
“Divine Light of the Truth” and “Realization of the Truth”

Question: I think I understand that there is not a past, or not getting stuck in the past, and I have been training to not get dragged down by it—always focusing on “now” and “at the present,” yet I find myself still getting caught up in the past. I think that I must thoroughly discriminate the past. But how should I go about discriminating the past?
(“Not Getting Caught Up By Maya” Pranavadipa Volume 71)

“Getting caught up in the past”—perhaps this sounds very familiar to many of us. This too was thoroughly studied by the ancient Yogi, and Shri Mahayogi also delved into this matter spontaneously when he was teenager, after experiencing Awakening, or Self-Realization at the age of 8 years old. What the Yogi and Shri Mahayogi all found is the mechanism of how our mind works, and from there come the teachings for seekers on how to practice tackling the obstacles created by our own mind in order to attain the state of Yoga: Self-Realization.

Our minds are continuously influenced by subconscious impressions that are left upon the mind by various worldly experiences—these impressions are called sanskara in Yoga. Due to the influence of these impressions, differentiations in views and reactions within each person arise continuously throughout life. And not only that, these sanskara also later produce karma-related consequences in accordance with their nature and content. Today is the result of this evolution, and the future is the evolution of today, this very moment. In a way, if this is true of the mind, then it might not be that much of a stretch to say that our current world itself is the product of the collaboration of all of our minds up until this very moment…which would also naturally signal the great importance of us all working on our own minds for the betterment of all.

To this point, the Yoga Sutra states that “Future pain is that which is to be avoided” (Ch. 2:16). And the following teaching of Shri Mahayogi further emphasizes this:


Karma is action and reaction, cause and effect.

‘As you sow, so shall you reap.’
Today is effect of everything leading up to yesterday.

Today’s causes become tomorrow’s effects. So live in the Now!”
Karma, from The Universal Gospel of Yoga-
The Teachings of Sadguru Sri Mahayogi Paramahamsa

Now, what does it mean, “To live in the Now”? Shri Mahayogi answers this inquiry in the two Satsangha published in this month’s issue of Pranavadipa (Vol. 71), the main titles of which are “Divine Light of the Truth” and “Realization of the Truth.” Both of the Satsangha featured in Volume 71 took place just last year in 2019, in Kyoto, Japan.

In addition to the question and answer mentioned above, which comes from the first Satsangha, “Divine Light of the Truth,” Shri Mahayogi teaches us about how Yoga views the “will” of God or of the Consciousness, which differs from the “will of the mind.” He teaches about maya and the process of clearing away ignorance, about the practice of discrimination, about the importance of proceeding boldly only seeing the Truth, and about the importance of cultivating faith and purity. He teaches about the Avatara and his disciples, using the example of Buddha and his disciples, as well as Latu, a disciple of Shri Ramakrishna. And further, this Satsangha provides a great opportunity to hear the way Shri Mahayogi responds to a request from a disciple for help, explaining how he himself comes to the answers he provides during Satsangha.

The second Satsangha in Volume 71 was held shortly after the release of Mahayogi Mission’s YouTube video, which includes the first-ever images and teachings of Shri Mahayogi released to the public in such a way: Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa: A modern age Yogi who abides in the state of Self-Realization. Quite a few new practitioners had seen it in Japan and had since been hoping to have the opportunity to meet Shri Mahayogi for the first time. This Satsangha was held as that opportunity, and those who attended were practitioners who ended up having a wide range of backgrounds: from a researcher for IPS (Induced Pluripotent Stem) cells, to a dancer, to a scholar who specializes in researching about peace, to a social worker, to a full-time housewife—and all coming from both near and far away. In this Satsangha, Shri Mahayogi generously brings the most foundational aspects of Yoga in response to attendees’ questions, which could be arising with the influence of their respective professional fields, and he answers each accordingly, crisply breaking down the teaching in a way that anyone can relate to, in a way that reminds us of the universality of Yoga. From what must be attained in life to what Yoga truly is, to what the source of real happiness is, and much more.

There are even several occasions in this Satsangha, in which Shri Mahayogi speaks about his own experience, first in the way he experienced Awakening from his perspective as a primary school-aged child, and later on, how he first began to practice asana, seeking to understand this subject without any prior knowledge or reference of teaching, until the point of fully mastering it. How awe-inspiring it is to hear Shri Mahayogi’s own experiences and accounts from these moments in his life!

With so much richness, purity and depth in these two Satsangha, we are very grateful to have this opportunity to receive Shri Mahayogi’s teachings and guidance, that seems to always stand with utmost steadiness. No matter how much the world outside of us and our minds change, Shri Mahayogi is always giving us the confirmation that no matter if we are aware of it or not, whether we seek it or not, the Truth is always there—we can always rely on that.

“What is to be renounced?—Ignorance! What can never be renounced even if you try?—the Truth! The Truth is what exists originally, therefore, you cannot renounce it even if you try. … Even if you leave it alone, It exists. … Even if you’re not attached to the Truth, even if you don’t own it, It is always there. It always exists. There is only the Truth.”
Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa, June 2019, Kyoto, Japan

* * *

The Testimony in this month’s issue—“Live Without Being Bound by Fear”—is coming from Mr. Kosuge, a disciple of Shri Mahayogi who lives in Tokyo, Japan. Mr. Kosuge tells of his first meeting with Shri Mahayogi, which took place in the very last of Shri Mahayogi’s Direct Asana classes in Kyoto, Japan, that was held and the impact that finding a Guru has had in his life.

Mr. Kosuge’s testimony is filled with very relatable examples of how our minds develop certain habits and tendencies from our past impressions, the common mistaken beliefs it can hold onto, as well as very practical ways to work with these conditions and limitations of the mind that can ultimately give us so much trouble if left unchecked and unaddressed. Just like in the question that is shared above, at the beginning of this post, Mr. Kosuge was very much affected by memories from the past, no matter what he tried to do to overcome these impressions. But after encountering Yoga, through simple actions, he began to really work on transforming his own mind. We are very grateful that Mr. Kosuge has shared with us the insights coming from his own life experiences and those of practicing Yoga, so that we too can be inspired to take simple actions to transform ourselves positively.

COMING SOON!!

We are very happy to announce that coming up next on the Project Sahasrara blog, we’ll be publishing an article written by one of the attendees who attended the Satshanga held for newer practitioners and whose question appears in the second Satsangha published here in Pranavadipa (Vol. 71). Mr. Shimamoto, who attended and met Shri Mahayogi for the first time on this occasion, just a few short months later, traveled to New York, having been accepted to study and learn under Shri Mahayogi while staying with him for about ten days at the Cave. The reflection on his experiences in New York and all that he learned through these experiences is expressed in his writing. Please check back soon to be able to read and be inspired anew by this great Testimony!

PRANAVADIPA
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Echo From The Cave: 135

Saturday Oct 3, 2020 NYC

Pranavadipa in Action: Reflection from a Reader

Learning from our Fellow Disciples’ Practice
Ekanta
New York, September, 27, 2020

In my last writing I mentioned the unique and positive changes that can come out of reading the teachings of Yoga in Pranavadipa. Another part of our monthly publication is the Testimony, which comes from the writings of Shri Mahayogi’s disciples. Many times these writings can also have a strong effect on us. When I read them I notice that even though the objects of our attachment or the situations that we deal with on a daily basis might be different, the challenges that my own mind faces are very similar.

For example, in Vol. 70, Gopala, our brother disciple from Japan, wrote about how in the beginning his idea of practice was more what he imagined it to be, but then, he noticed that there was a change in himself when he left his view of “how he should practice” and instead embraced the opportunities that were given to him by Shri Mahayogi and his fellow senior disciples in Japan.

Recently, because of the Study in Practice group, a program that the Mahayogi Yoga Mission in New York started a few years back with the goal of studying and understanding the teachings by applying them in our daily life and then sharing with the group, I started to notice more and more that there is an underlying tendency in my mind to rush many things that I do in order to get to the result and not have to struggle anymore. Many times this is done with no consideration for others that are involved in the same activity. My thinking is that once I achieve the result I’ll be able to rest and not have a worry in the world. Looking closer, I can relate this to what Shri Mahagyogi is talking about when he says that we always look for happiness but the problem is that we look in the wrong place. In my case, I’m imagining that that result, whatever it may be, is permanent, and hence it will make me permanently happy. But if I look objectively at my life, even if I may achieve the result I am looking for, it never gives me complete contentment, because before I know it there is another activity to perform and then another and so on, which puts me in a chase for a never ending stream of results.

So, as I mentioned earlier, even though Gopala was facing a different kind of challenge outside, I sensed from his Testimony that underneath there is the same kind of mind, which thinks that happiness will come from doing or achieving things its own way.

This came to the surface in one of the meetings I had with two disciples here in NY. Before the meeting I noticed myself being in that state of mind. I was rushing everything, from the way I was getting dressed, to the way I was driving to the meeting. Because Gopala’s Testimony was fresh in my mind, and not too long ago I shared about my mind’s tendency with the Study in Practice group, I immediately noticed my short coming and I thought “this state of mind and the energy that I have must make others very uncomfortable, and it is definitely not productive for the meeting at all” and even though most of the time my brother and sister disciples in NY may be too nice to say something, I made up my mind at that moment to not bring this attitude to the meeting.

First I focused on Shri Mahayogi for a while, which made my mind calm enough so that I could further dig deeper into how to deal with it. Then I remembered Shri Mahayogi’s teaching that the true Self is all we need to find, that nothing else is worth struggling for in this world besides that, and finding the Truth is enough. I compared that to the fact that my mind was looking at the future towards a certain result and not at what Shri Mahayogi describes as the source of happiness being here and now. So, I firmly told my mind that there is no happiness in reaching any goal except the Truth, and then next I tried to focus on the true Self in the way Shri Mahayogi sometimes guides us to just observe the awareness that witnesses the mind. Doing that I sensed a feeling of ease that came over me and the need of achieving something disappeared. I felt my body relax and I was finally able to focus on my brother and sister disciples, acknowledging their presence and respecting their time and effort, valuing their opinions, only stepping in when I thought necessary. What a relief! I felt like a different person, and mixed emotions of gratitude towards Shri Mahayogi and appreciation towards my fellow disciples came over me.

To some, respecting others spaces and being aware of their needs might seem natural and common sense, but in my case, because of the incorrect thinking habits that I built in the past, it’s something that I have to work on. But I believe that being fortunate enough to have had the chance to meet Shri Mahgyogi, encounter the teachings of Yoga, read about other disciple’s journeys, and practice, will help me change my behavior, because through Yoga the error can be removed at it’s core. In a way I think that Yoga is easy for anybody to look into, because in the beginning it can be as simple as just observing our behavior and our thinking behind it and then in time, after learning the teachings, simply comparing the two.

Thank you very much Shri Mahayogi, and thank you to all my brothers and sisters from Mahayogi Yoga Mission!

Echo From The Cave: 134

Saturday Sep 26, 2020 NYC

Yoga in Action: Reflection from a Practitioner

How Do I “Turn It Around”?
by Karuna
New York, September 26, 2020

One of the main topics introduced in the Mission’s online event on August 14th, titled, True Independence of the Mind, was “turning it around.” During that time, I understood at least that our mind’s desires lead us toward trying to control things that are not controllable and that this is a constant cause of suffering, especially in such a changing world. Nonetheless, even if I had made some efforts to understand this concept a few times, when I spoke with senior gurubai about how to apply that in my own life, it was not easy to know where to begin. My mind tried hopelessly to bend and shape itself to understand this “turning it around.”

One evening, in a group conversation during Study in Practice,[1] Anandamali walked me through the example Aniruddha spoke about in the event, when he saw clearly how his mind’s obsession with securing his financial stability during these unstable times, blocked him from seeing the immediate need of somebody else, and also from recognizing his own ability to make a difference in that person’s life. When he turned his attention from himself to the other person’s need, he was able to understand more what is meant by the independence of the mind from its own desires and the suffering they bring about. Intellectually, I could grasp the example, but felt that such “turning it around” skills were not so developed in me yet, and I couldn’t figure out how to approach it in a way that did not feel so mechanical and clumsy.

My summer assignment had been to translate into Spanish the Testimony of a gurubai in Japan, Yukti, which began in an article posted on MYM’s website, “Searching for God’s Love,” and continued in the recent issues of PranavadipaVol. 67, 68 and 69. Her writing contains a detailed account of how, while working as a nurse, the question emerged from her heart about how to best serve the dying. In this long quest, Yukti chose Mother Teresa as her guide, the Saint in whom she uncovered a treasury of teachings of Truth coming from the Christian tradition. Yukti’s journey was not simply about finding a methodology, it was about discovering through her own search, what was behind Mother Theresa’s Love and surrender to God in the form of Jesus. What Yukti, a non-Christian Yoga practitioner, slowly uncovered about Mother Teresa made me feel that even though I grew up in a Catholic household and educational system, I had never understood even superficially who Mother Teresa was or her real mission. Quietly and secretly fascinated, I felt that Yukti, through Mother Teresa, was teaching me for the very first time, the meaning of Love, but I did not want to talk about it to anyone.

The work of the translation continued and so did my uncomfortable and disjointed efforts to “turn it around.” Until one day, a huge obstacle appeared very boldly right in front of me: it was the question, “What do I want to live for?” It was simply torturous to know that I wanted to live for true Love, or for the Truth, but that despite this, my mind was still unwilling to move freely in that direction. I began to see so discernibly that everything came down to one single choice, and that was the choice I had been avoiding my whole life.

The summer continued and I struggled along with this load in my heart. Until one day this summer I received a package, a birthday gift in the mail from Anandamali. For some unknown reason, I was nervous. In the package I felt the shape of a book, and when I saw its cover, I immediately had the overwhelming feeling that within this book was the power to change everything that I had been trying to change. What strongly and instantly caught my attention was the cover photo: Mother Teresa tenderly embracing a young child. It sent ripples all through me. I had to close my eyes to manage the power of those ripples as they reverberated through me so strongly. I said to myself, “Take it, you have to take it.” Then, I was able to read the title: Donde hay amor, está Dios (in English: Where There is Love, There is God.) This moment was the beginning of a change.

Since that day, I have been trying to understand where those ripples, such immense Love, come from, and how I can also find their source within me, so that it can be made possible to share with others. I was convinced that there is nothing more nourishing than feeling so loved and cared for, being fully embraced and fully embracing without any boundary whatsoever! The first urge was to understand Mother Teresa’s embrace. Through Yukti’s writing and Mother Teresa’s book, I began to understand that the Mother loved Jesus within every being that she encountered, particularly the poor and forgotten ones. As I read, I began to discover why this was so.

In Christianity, the “Passion” of Christ commonly refers to the events in the life of Jesus from the moment he was arrested, the journey on foot carrying the cross, and finally, his crucifixion. For the Mother, his Passion represents his complete renunciation and self-sacrifice throughout his entire life. Her deep adoration toward Jesus comes from the recognition of how, while bringing the Gospel, the “good news” of the limitless love of God for all his creatures, he bore the pain of fulfilling the command of his Father, leaving us a gift and an example of perfect humility and compassion. For the Mother, clearly this Passion was not just physical—he lived and spoke the Gospel uncompromisingly, despite poverty, rejection, betrayal, shame, arrest, torture and crucifixion, and NEVER blamed anyone. Mother Teresa spoke about the example of Jesus using the words, “Love until it hurts.” Everything that Mother Teresa did for others, she did to care for that Jesus who ached to awaken the compassion in us, so that we could then come close to his heart, God itself. And it is in this that I began to perceive the sublimity of Jesus’ sacrifice and why it is considered our way to salvation—Satori. “You will come to the Father through Me.”[2]

I began to see Mother Teresa’s relationship to Jesus as that of a disciple and her Master. Her embrace of Jesus within everyone was her way of serving Jesus, whom she recognized in the sufferers saying, “I thirst.” “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). Mother Teresa’s acceptance of that call from her Master guided her every action. So, one day, while staring at that cover photo, I finally determined that I had to embrace my Guru, and accept the calling to carry out his teachings in my life, in other words, let go of whatever was holding me back from that embrace. And, looking at that picture I vowed to do what Shri Mahayogi has been guiding all of us to do and Mother Teresa is showing us through her example: to sacrifice ourselves for others, to Love until it hurts, and in this way, touch the Love of God that is there in our very own hearts. Mother Teresa explained, “He did not come to bring peace to the world, the peace that consists of not bothering one another; he came to bring peace of the heart, born from loving, doing good for others.”[3]

Mother Teresa, through Yukti’s example, has led me back to read and seek to absorb the substance of Shri Mahayogi’s teachings, out of a real need and longing. I see much more clearly now how Shri Mahayogi has laid it all out, as simply and directly as possible, but I was not able to “take it” because I had not understood why I needed to “take it.” My urgent aim now is to purify my mind—through the longing for being close to that source of Love, that living true Self—and to begin the work of “turning it around” every moment.

I have much to do, but I am grateful that through the grace of Shri Mahayogi and the care of his disciples around me, my eyes and my heart began to open so that I can finally begin to practice and walk the path of Yoga for the very first time.

[1] A program run by Mahayogi Yoga Mission since 2018 for the purpose of deepening spiritual practice and understanding through acting upon and thereby experientially learning the teachings of Yoga.

[2] John 14:6. Referred to in “Jesus and His Teachings”, from The Universal Gospel of Yoga, where Shri Mahayogi explains that “Me” means pure mind, the mind-quality of sattva in Yoga.

[3] De Calcutta, Teresa, and Brian Kolodiejchuk. Donde hay amor, está Dios (in English: Where There is Love, There is God: A Path to Closer Union with God and Greater Love for Others).

Echo From The Cave: 133

Saturday Sep 19, 2020 NYC

Pranavadipa in Action: Reflection from a Reader

The Necessity of Accepting Pain
by Ekanta
New York, September 19, 2020

Probably one of the advantages of thinking about and trying to understand the teachings of Yoga is that, in time, and unexpectedly, there will be moments in which our mind will begin to relate what is happening during our everyday lives to one of the teachings of Yoga, and based on that, we might even start asking ourselves if the mind patterns that develop as a result of those experiences are truly who we are.

One of these moments happened in me when all of a sudden, a strong feeling arose within to look into what it is that I really want, and especially, what the reason is for why I’m practicing Yoga.

Right away I recognized that I didn’t have an answer one hundred percent clear in my mind yet, so in that moment the thought that came to my mind was: “I’ll read Pranavadipa”—our monthly online-publication that contains transcripts of Satsangha, meetings with Shri Mahayogi, and Testimonies of practitioners of Yoga. Not too long after I started reading the current issue, Vol. 70, I found a lot of content in it that could help me get closer to the answer I was searching for.

One of the chapters was “Ekagrata—100% Fervor.” Ekagrata means one-pointed concentration. Shri Mahayogi explains that in Yoga one-pointed concentration towards the goal is crucial, and that one of the ways, in which it is created, is by arriving at a point of extreme discomfort as a result of observing and accepting that the world we live in is imperfect, and from here accepting that suffering is unavoidable.

Shri Mahayogi says:

“…by looking at the world and feeling it, the various problems, like the contradiction and the dilemma of an ideal world will come to the surface. These will then connect to that sense of discontent and despair.”

Reading this, I couldn’t help but notice that one of my tendencies is that at times when I find myself in an uncomfortable situation, instead of accepting it as an unavoidable condition that is common to living in this world, I tend to try to escape by using the outside world to create a different condition in order to feel better. It seems that this is because I don’t yet fully accept that the world will always change, and that the source of my suffering is not in the world, but it is in the fact that my mind thinks that the world can provide me with a permanent source of happiness.

Another thing that I’m trying to accept in reading the current issue of Pranavadipa Vol. 70, is that whenever I find myself in the condition of discomfort, especially in those moments when there is no escape and my mind feels trapped, that that is actually a blessing—because it seems that this will create the necessary passion towards focusing more and more intensely on finding the goal and dedicating myself to achieving it.

The first teaching of Buddha is that “Everything is suffering.” Accepting that, because the world is always changing and this change will affect me, is in a way accepting that I’m always bound to suffer. It seems that this will give rise to the urge and the focus to find the condition in which my mind is not bothered anymore by these changes.

I think that in my case, I would have probably never even tried to look objectively at the world if not for the teachings of Yoga. This is one of the reasons I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and study the teachings under the guidance of Shri Mahayogi and in the company of his disciples.

Thank you very much again Shri Mahayogi, for blessing us with your presence in this world!

Echo From The Cave: 132

Sunday Sep 13, 2020 NYC

Editor’s Note: Pranavadipa Volume 70

“Even if the world is chaotic, it’s not the world that is struggling.
What is struggling, what is suffering, is each and every individual mind.
Therefore, what needs to be healed is each and every person.”
—Shri Mahayogi, January, 2013 in Kyoto

It is said that the Truth is one and the same, throughout all eras—past, present and future—across all locations, and in all people, regardless of creed, culture, or any other factor.

The world may seem to be increasingly turbulent, uncertain and filling with hardship, yet the same teaching of Truth that has been taught from thousands of years ago, should apply to modern times, regardless of the ebb and flow of seeming stability or instability within the circumstances of the world.

At times in our lives we may look around us and perceive joyfulness and prosperity within our world, while at other times we may experience quite the opposite, and instead perceive pain and suffering. Then of course, there is every experience in between, various combinations of these two extremes.

How can we manage amidst the uncertainty of the worlds ups and downs, not to mention the ups and downs of our own minds? How can we live upon Yoga to ease the suffering of our own minds, of the people around us, and of the entire world?

Swami Vivekananda on the platform of the World’s Parliament of Religion, Chicago Sept 1893. He was at 30.

The year 2013 was the 150th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s holy birth. Swami Vivekananda is one of a few Enlightened Beings that Shri Mahayogi advices his disciples and seekers to study and learn from, so naturally disciples had already determined to focus the entire year around aligning themselves especially with the teachings and life of Vivekananda, to bring his spirit concretely into the 21st century. What an inspirational undertaking in and of itself—to bring and embolden the spirit of a great saint into the modern day will undoubtedly bring the reach of the positivity of Truth to an ever-widening circle! The content of this month’s Pranavadipa (Vol. 70)  is from a few Satsangha held in Kyoto, Japan during that year, 2013, one of which is from a Satsangha that took place at the Ashrama, which happened to be on the exact day of the birth of Swami Vivekananda, and from the Satsangha that took place on the Saturday that followed. Thus, many of the topics in this Satsangha naturally center around what attendees have been learning about Vivekananda as they strive to understand his spirit and dynamic work, and to align themselves with him.

The details of the world’s happenings of course differ from what they are today, yet there is much to learn from the life and teachings of Vivekananda for those of us living in today’s world of 2020, too, and much that we can apply, especially with Shri Mahayogi as our guide, constantly illuminating and clarifying the truth of Yoga for us in a way that we can better understand and move forward boldly. The contents, in fact, come to us this month at what seems to be just the right moment.

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“A single individual’s experiences are truly insignificant.
However, meditation contains the power
that can expand one’s experience to a cosmic scale.”

Shri Mahayogi  January, 2013 in Kyoto

It may be a common human experience to live our lives day-to-day and be caught up in the matters that most concern us—our interactions, our activities, our own experience. Our own little world may expand to a variety of reaches, but no matter the reach, it is most likely revolving around each one of ourselves—in other words, the “I” is always at the center and everything that is seen and understood is through the experience of this “I”.

In the content of the Satsangha this month, through the example of Swami Vivekananda, Shri Mahayogi is pushing us to expand beyond the world of our own experience, to break through the limitations of our mind and its many notions and ideas that stand in the way of us being able to sense the need of the world—beyond just our own scope—and act accordingly. Shri Mahayogi also breaks down the reality of the world and its nature, the reason for which Swami Vivekananda spoke of “a peaceful world” as “hot ice,” and goes on to teach us about the necessity and power of ekagrata, the cultivation of faith, the way of learning through aiming towards an ideal being, and the importance of working in the world for the healing of suffering.

Also, in one part of the Satsangha there is a question posed to Shri Mahayogi by Yukti, the disciple of Shri Mahayogi whose articles “Living on the Words of Mother” were published over the last three Volumes of  Pranavadipa (Vol. 67-69) as the Testimony. At the time of one of the Satsangha contained here in this Volume, she was about to move to Fukushima to work as a nurse, to live on the words of Mother Teresa. It is very inspiring to read her question and answer from Shri Mahayogi. Because, in addition to the Testimony that we read from her, this is a great insight into Yukti’s thoughts at that time, and her sincerity, of course. Even though aiming towards her ideal of Mother Teresa, her base was in Yoga and she was constantly guided by her Guru, Shri Mahayogi. Yukti said that her departure to Fukushima was approaching, and reflecting on what she had learned in the past 15 years in Kyoto under Shri Mahayogi, she asked a question related to an answer she received from him that struck her about the state higher than Nirvana, which is Lila, and asked him to explain further. That question led her and us to receive some phenomenal answers from Shri Mahayogi’s exceptional understanding of the meaning of the Yoga Sutra, and the spirit and words of Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and Buddha!

There is so much to learn from these Satsangha, how Shri Mahayogi teaches us about Vivekananda, Vivekananda’s example itself, and the hunger and sincerity of the disciples striving to bring betterment to the world around them through Yoga. We hope that readers will also feel uplifted and inspired into action, to work towards bringing betterment to our present-day circumstances.

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This month’s Testimonies by Gopala and Ms. Mitsui, both reveal in different ways, how these disciples of Shri Mahayogi wholeheartedly work on the assignment that Shri Mahayogi gave for the third year of the Siddha Marga (Path to the Completed One) program (2013-2015) led by two senior disciples in Kyoto, Japan. The assignment for those attending the program was to choose an “ideal saint” to meditate on—trying to come closer through meditation, through trying to understand and follow the example of one’s ideal saint as a concrete way to deepen oneself toward Yoga. These articles were written this year, so we can catch a sense of the continuous effects that come as a result of continuous and consistent practice, even after some years later.

The first Testimony is written by Gopala, who lives in Kyoto, Japan. His article illustrates precisely how he is using his chosen ideal, Swami Vivekananda, in his journey over the years as he strives to practice, simply and concretely, to bring himself closer to understanding Vivekananda, and thus Shri Mahayogi and the teachings of Yoga. In fact, the exact words of Shri Mahayogi, spoken during the Satsangha in 2013, which is included in the content of this Volume of Pranavadipa, appear in Gopala’s Testimony, as words that have been consistently guiding him in his practice. And furthermore, we can also see the guidance that he was given by Yukti in conversations before she moved to Fukushima, which triggered him to realize something very important about where and how to focus his practice. This interaction also reveals the insight of Yukti, as well as one of the important functions of sangha—support and inspiration.

One of the great qualities that we can see in the journey of Gopala is the consistency he keeps in continuing to strive to come closer to his ideal and to continue to practice the simple things that are right in front of him. Through doing so, little by little, his understanding of the words and life of Vivekananda, his understanding of the teaching of Yoga, and his understanding of his Guru, Shri Mahayogi, grows and transforms…all through taking simple actions. As the Yoga Sutra  explains:

“That practice however becomes firmly grounded
when it is continued accurately for a long time.” (Yoga Sutra 1.14)

There may be times when we might catch the belief that “practicing Yoga” means something much more grandiose than what it actually is, which as a result can make it seem a bit impossible to perfect, or in some cases, even begin. But the example of Gopala verifies and lets us see clearly that taking small actions, consistently over time, certainly leads to progress, transformation of oneself, and deepening in Yoga. Why not practice that way too?

The second Testimony is from Ms. Mitsui, who lives in the north part of Japan, far away from Kyoto (1005 km/625 miles), and it seems she is only able to travel the distance to come see Shri Mahayogi once a year at most. The rest of the time, she practices completely on her own, propelled by her own striving to come closer to the true Self, closer to God. Her example is a great gift for many of us who might not have many opportunities to see the Guru, or a great master. In her writing in this Testimony, we can see that Ms. Mitsui, by hearing about Shri Mahayogi’s assignment to the participants of Siddha Marga in Kyoto, even though she was not a part of this program, due to living far away, she did not take this assignment to the participants as just for them, but took this as an instruction that she herself should also strive towards. What an inspiring example of proactiveness—when we are hungry to find something, we are ready and willing to take up any clues that come along the way!

In this Testimony, she begins by writing about a novel of a well-known Japanese author, Shusaku Endo, called Silence (the translation to English is available as well as a movie, directed  by Martin Scorsese), the theme of which is around faith—quite a universal subject; and this novel prompted her to ask herself whether or not she could uphold faith. Her writing reveals some of her own journey, touches upon prayer, meditation, God, the words of Paramahansa Yogananda; we can also see how the world of Yoga has opened up for her, and how her precious interactions with Shri Mahayogi have brought her incomparable guidance for how and what to aim her life towards—Satori, Awakening.

Yoga is practicable for everyone, regardless of background or circumstances. In both Testimonies, we can see how simple and practical the practice of Yoga can be. Sometimes the simple things can be overlooked or sometimes the simple things are more difficult for us to practice. But we should remember that simple things are but simple things—when practiced continuously, with sincerity and consistency, these simple actions centered in Yoga most assuredly can lead to bringing positive and sweet-scented transformation to ourselves and those around us.

Echo From The Cave: 131

Saturday Aug 29, 2020 NYC

Editor’s Note: Pranavadipa Volume 69

During this time of great change in our lives and in our world, perhaps the opportunity to face questions pertaining to our very existence may be urgently knocking at our door. The Satsangha in this month’s issue of Pranavadipa (Vol. 69) is incredibly rich, the content being gathered from parts of the question and answer that happened during various Satsangha taking place over the course of several consecutive weeks in 2012, all falling under the theme of the main title, “Confronting ‘Life’ and ‘Death.’” The content probably relates to one of the closest matters that all human beings have in common, as without life there is no death, and without death, there is no life; such matters relate directly to how we want to live our lives; and this is very closely related to the sense of “I”.

Life and Death—some people may think of these as philosophical matters. But, is it really so? If we think about it seriously and objectively, we come to realize that these relate to everything we do and think, whether we are aware of it or not—and this is quite universal.

Satsangha begins with a question from a first-time attendee; her daughter, when down, asks her, “What are we living for?” So, she asked Shri Mahayogi for advice on how to answer her. Shri Mahayogi responded:

“Indeed, all of humanity living on this earth is facing a similar issue. The Yoga that began in ancient times has also tried to answer that question. What are we living for, and who is living—“I am living” may be how you answer that. Then, what is that “I”? Who am “I”? Being born, growing up, then going through various studies, jobs, and making a living, then dying. What is the meaning of all of this? After all, the answer cannot come unless you ultimately come to know who you are.

The answer that Yoga found, which is actually related to this conversation I just mentioned, is that the essence—“I”—is neither the body nor the mind, it is the Soul that exists deeper within. And Yoga teaches through experience that this Soul is the Eternal Existence; and that the Soul of the person who experiences this and the soul of others, or the substance that is abiding as the essence of the entire universe, do not differ one iota and are exactly the same. It is the One without a second. It is merely this Eternal Existence that is repeating being born and dying again and again within the limited realm of space and time. By knowing the true substance, you will become unentangled in things like ephemeral joy and pain, or the sadness that arises from the experiences in the world. These are just like inevitable conditions that refer to the world, so you just have to deal with them accordingly.

What’s more important is to know that even though it is within this limited time frame, the brilliance of this Existence—this sacred Life—is within everyone and you yourself are That. By knowing that, if you come to know the most important thing for yourself, then you will no longer be entangled so much in other things, meaning the experiences of this world. Realizing that is Satori (Awakening), and [that Truth] is the very essence of everyone. [It is important to] tell your own mind this, since the mind does not know it. For that is the only absolute salvation. 

The teaching of Yoga is the universal Truth, so I am sure that if your daughter hears it or reads about it a little, she will be able to find the answers there; when she is having doubts like that, then she must be seeking, therefore it is a good opportunity [to open herself to find a real answer].”

At another point in the Satsangha, a long-time practitioner asks: “Shri Mahayogi tells us to discriminate on death and to make death the object of meditation. I deduce that we ourselves are not clear how we want to live our own lives, perhaps because of not thinking thoroughly about death. Is it indeed necessary to think about death? Or, is it enough to just simply and steadily concentrate on Yoga?”

Then Shri Mahayogi started to answer:

“Within the process of concentrating on Yoga, over time, there comes an inevitable point in which one must conquer death. Why?—because a large part of the attachments that occupy the depths of the mind are resting upon death. In order to make progress in Yoga, you cannot avoid eradicating the sanskara of the fear of death. Conversely, simply and precisely because we were born, ignorance, pain-bearing obstacles, and various attachments, including the fear of death arise. Despite this fact, humans forget that they were born, and are deluded into or fancy living in their own physical body forever. This is the huge illusion of ignorance. That is exactly why you meditate on death and conquer and transcend it; and through that you will transcend the mind itself.”

Then he continues on about meditation on death in Yoga, and at one point speaks:

Concentration and meditation [on death] are like putting death itself on top of an operating table—this concentration, this meditation, is, so to speak, like being a surgeon! It is extremely scientific, medical, philosophical, and psychological. You must not bring your preconceived notions! Truly, you put death itself on the operating table, dissect it, and find out what’s in there! It is a scientific task of discerning it. There are, as mentioned now too, conceptual thoughts, medical concepts, philosophical, psychological, and various elements that are vaguely creating the image of death. You must dissect each and every one of them, discriminate and make them completely naked! Meditation is like anatomy, so to say. You must thoroughly perform it, so much so that it is like that!

Shri Mahayogi also spoke, answering a question, about his own inquiry into death—the thought that initiated him to experience it and enter into Nirvikalpa Samadhi at the age of 8.

Shri Mahayogi’s teachings, through answering the questions that come from the more advanced or long-time practitioners to those who are beginners, speak to all of our hearts. His way of guiding us is very clear and powerful, yet it is always enveloped in serenity. It is quite lively, quite spirited—absolutely FREE!!! It most definitely does not come from the kind of explanation one would receive from a scholar, it is of a completely different quality—Shri Mahayogi is not theoretically explaining when he answers, he is speaking the facts, which are purely coming from a type of knowing that is in a completely different category from that of intellectual knowledge, and rather it is the knowing coming from directly experiencing the Truth. We can clearly feel this from his presence and his words. From that state of Truth, from the realm of Fact that is beyond time and space, he speaks, explains, and guides us towards It, telling us again and again that we are all That and we must realize That—the entirety of our inner Self, the true Self, is the brilliance of this Existence—this sacred Life!

Shri Mahayogi does not give lectures, nor does he prepare any material to speak, he simply answers questions because we ask him. It is always simply that, he just answers from the state of Truth—his wisdom is unfathomable! But are his words what matter most? His presence itself is the immeasurable blessing and most tangible teaching for us to be guided towards returning to our origin!

But because we ask, he answers. And he answers for the sole purpose of us returning to our original Self, the true Self.

He explains the fact of why we can’t see It, and that for us to be able to see It, the work we need to do is to remove the obstacles that we ourselves have created on our own that block it. Thus, he explains the way to remove the obstacles, the block, is through the practice of discrimination between the Truth and the thoughts that arise in our minds over and over. Shri Mahayogi says:

“Deepen meditation. In order to do that, what is crucial is to purify the mind—to purify means to eradicate pain-bearing obstacles and ignorance. The biggest power for that is indeed, FAITH. Pure faith will bring you the power to proceed with leaps and bounds. And then you yourself awaken to the Truth that is within you. That is the supreme directive of Yoga.”

Shri Mahayogi also explains that “what the yogi practice is nivritti, a backtracking, or going against the flow.” It is quite fascinating that this nivritti, or “going against” the natural flow of outward development and manifestation that takes place in the world, is precisely what envelops us in an illusion that we believe to be real. It is this “going against” in all aspects that is at the heart of the discrimination that Shri Mahayogi is teaching in this Satsangha. We should put to the test everything we know and believe about what this life is and who we are, including the very content of what death itself is.

Although “facing death” is an important content in the process of discrimination and emphasized in the Satsangha of this Pranavadipa (Vol. 69), Shri Mahayogi also teaches about many other aspects of discrimination, including about where the passion that one needs to thoroughly discriminate comes from, how this differs in jnana yoga and in bhakti yoga, how to approach discrimination in regards to the results one may receive from various actions, the importance of correcting oneself according to the teaching of Truth again and again, and the True Independence that is reached at the end of thoroughgoing discrimination.

The content of Satsangha is filled with many clues as to how we can actually use the teachings and practices of Yoga to transform our mind. Shri Mahayogi always says that Yoga should be practical. It is not something to just think about once and think that we have understood. Rather, what we are being offered in Satsangha is how we can apply the practice of Yoga into every moment of our lives, examining and transforming our foundational views, and concretely bringing them to align with the Truth.

Once again we are amazed with Shri Mahayogi’s manner of teaching and the profound depth of his understanding that we are only still reaching out to try to grasp.

This month’s Testimony contains the final part, Part 3, of the articles written by Shri Mahayogi’s disciple, Yukti, that we have been publishing over the course of the last two issues of Pranavadipa (Vol. 67 and 68): Living on the Words of Mother. Where has her search for the understanding and the bringing to life of the words of Mother Teresa—“Be Holy”—reached?

As she concretely pursued this search coming from her thirst to understand the meaning of the words of Mother in Parts 1 and 2, she continued her journey by continuing to study the words and life of Mother Teresa, what it all meant, and how she could try to act upon it herself, in whatever way she could that would make sense for her own life circumstances.

Yukti ended up making the decision to work as a nurse once again and move to Fukushima, where she was striving to work on the aftermath of the March 11th Tofoku Earthquake and Tsunami that hit in 2011. This was two years after she went to India in search of the answer for “how the dying can best be served,” which she found upon her return from India in the words of Mother Teresa—“Be Holy.”

Part 3 begins with Yukti’s pursuit to know more about Mother’s words, and her striving to understand their meaning as much as possible before moving to Fukushima. At that time, she came across these words in a letter that Mother Teresa wrote to her sisters and brothers the day she passed: “Be only all for Jesus through Mary.” Yukti’s desire to know why this seemed to be of the utmost importance to Mother made her strive to know who Mary was, which then led her to begin to understand what the meaning of surrender is, and finally led her to come to realize the following:

“After all, the only thing of all the things that we can do, is to make an effort to make our own minds more pure… Before, I was so eagerly striving to see God in the people in front of me. I wanted to see God. I convinced myself that if I could see God in everything, the way I lived would change. However, on the contrary, that mind that was desiring so eagerly to see God in some way, made me go far away from loving the person in front of me. And I had overlooked how their words, gestures or expressions were trying to appeal to me. The fact and the Truth is that God is within everybody, whether I can see It or not. What I must do is only one thing—to get rid of my own thoughts, empty my mind, and continue to act, bringing the mind to the God in front of me. That is the way to purify ourselves and that is the meaning of purifying our mind and actions—to become such that you belong to God. I realized that there was nothing left for me to do but to aim for that.”

Her words are very simple yet very powerful, because they come from her own realization, reached by going through all the journey she went through up until then.

Yukti’s pursuit then continued on to who Jesus was and what qualities Mary must have had to make Mother want us to use Mary as a way to go closer to Jesus, as well as how all of this might relate to what she has learned about in Yoga through her great Master, Shri Mahayogi. Yukti’s articles end with her determining how she wants to live her life, just before moving to Fukushima.

Truly, Yukti’s story is so inspiring in many ways. And it is truly a testimony of why Shri Mahayogi suggests us to meditate on the life of a Saint. Because of her thirst, which is something that Shri Mahayogi mentions during Satsangha in one way or another, is so real and strong, thus, her aim and ideal are very clear and are reflected in the course of her actions. Through the account of what her experiences demonstrate, we can learn the tools that we too can use in order to strive towards our own aim and our own ideal. In her own way, Yukti was filling her mind with her aim and her ideal, she was filling her mind with Truth, and as she tried to learn, to understand and to live accordingly, she was going through the process of discrimination in the most natural way. Her experience and her example exemplify to us one way to approach the discrimination that Shri Mahayogi is teaching us about in this month’s Satsangha. There are three treasures that Buddha taught about: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. We hope that each of us finds the way to apply what Shri Mahayogi (Buddha) is teaching (Dharma) in our own life and circumstances, and it is certainly helpful and inspirational to be able to see how other practitioners (Sangha) are doing it in their lives.

Yukti’s writing may end here, but her practice of Yoga and striving to live more and more according to the Truth continues.

Publisher’s Note:
Yukti worked as a nurse in Fukushima for four and a half years, from April 2013 to October 2017.  Her original plan was to work there until around the time of the Tokyo Olympic in 2020 (postponed due to the pandemic), predicting that this might be the period in which the area would have the most need. But her father developed a serious physical condition, so in order for her to support her family, she moved to Osaka prefecture, much closer to where her family lives. Her father passed away a few months later, and she now lives in Ehime prefecture where her mother and 101 year-old her grandmother live. She is working as a nurse and supporting her family. We believe she continues with her same spirit and determination, serving those who are most in need according to her circumstance, and continues to live in her pursuit of the Truth.

Echo From The Cave: 130

Saturday Aug 22, 2020 NYC

Report: Positive Transformation” Online Program, August 14th, 2020

“See the infinite in the moment, for this moment we have been given now may never come again. That is why it is precious.” (excerpted from The Universal Gospel of Yoga—The Teachings of Sadguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahamsa)

Where is the world going?

In the current world condition, the level of uncertainty in our lives may be heightened and many of us may feel, perhaps more so now than in the past, that we are facing many unknowns. What will come next? Where are we going?

All around the world there are health concerns, economic concerns, social concerns, concerns of heightening political tensions, environmental disasters, and a range of other changes that are impacting the way we may be accustomed to living our day to day lives up until now.

With so many changes happening so rapidly, how can we take this time positively for our own internal growth and transformation, to deepen our own understanding of what Yoga is and what the teachings might mean if we try to learn about them through the experiences of each of our own day to day lives? With so many changes happening so rapidly, as if blatantly demonstrating to us the impermanence of the world and everything we create within it, how do we seize the opportunity of this moment, the preciousness of what is being given—even with its unexpected nature?

As restrictions in New York first began, this was the view that we, the Mahayogi Yoga Mission staff, were aiming to ingrain within ourselves. Thus naturally, when we decided to hold MYM’s first online program, this was the view that gave rise to the title—Positive Transformation in Times of Change: True Independence of the Mind. It was our hope to come together with participants for a journey into the learning and understanding process of two practitioners who are learning Yoga under the guidance of Shri Mahayogi.

We did not design this program as a lecture, but rather we attempted to create an atmosphere in which, through introducing how our practitioners (in this case, Aniruddha and Sadhya), have been trying to process what Shri Mahayogi has been teaching us, others may be able to feel how we can practice to bring our view towards the positive and use this time to bring transformation to our own minds.

One of the greatest parts of this online program is that, for the first time, anyone could be participating from any region of the world. This time attendees joined from Puerto Rico, France, Germany, Taiwan, and the USA (Oregon, Nevada, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, and New York) and for some, this was the first time they were ever able to attend an MYM program.

Now, when we think about the situation that we are facing, perhaps more than ever before, we are coming face to face with exactly what the teachings of Buddha are all about, and what Shri Mahayogi has mentioned and taught us again and again—Impermanency. When we hear or read that “everything changes, there is nothing that is permanent,” how many of us really go deep into it, to the extent that we accept the very raw and sometimes harsh reality of this fact. Isn’t it that our mind may often say, “yeah, yeah, I know, that is nothing special—we know that, we hear it, we see it.” But do we really know firsthand beyond what is just skin deep? This may very much be a universal issue and it must have been the same in the past, too. Perhaps, this is how the human mind is. And it may be why, even though we may think we “know,” we try to control our circumstances—because we think or perhaps, even further, we believe that we can control such things.

We all know and can recognize to a certain extent that change is inevitable, when we look back at the past and what has happened in our lives, and in the world, up until now, it is quite evident. However, even so, when we are actually going about living our day to day lives, are we really accepting and acting upon the belief and deep recognition that this world and everything in it is indeed impermanent? Or is our belief otherwise so strong that even though we may think we know, we may still be taken by our emotions when they arise, and not be able to see “objectively”? This is a question that we each may need to face within ourselves, and wake up to the reality of what is in our mind.

In the opening of the program, Sadhya spoke that she was beginning to recognize from the way she had taken many opportunities for granted before restrictions began, expecting things to continue more or less as they were, that in fact her mind may be holding precisely the mistaken belief that the world is not that impermanent after all. If she did not have this belief somewhere within her mind, wouldn’t her way of taking actions and taking each moment as a precious opportunity be different?

Aniruddha shared his own discovery that perhaps his mind was holding onto the belief that “I am in control of my own destiny.” A belief that was challenged by restrictions in New York, and the fear of the pandemic that made the clients of his self-owned and operated natural pest control business to hesitate to call. It was as if everything that he thought he had created and worked hard for, to make himself independent, everything he thought that he had under his control, was all of the sudden out of his control.

This is exactly what the teachings of Buddha are about—Impermanency. There is nothing that we can control.

Now, are these two beliefs shared by Aniruddha and Sadhya unique to them? Probably not—these are common to many of us. The beliefs that things will continue on as they are and that we have some control over our conditions and circumstances in the external world, are quite commonplace in fact, and when we are faced with the reality that these things are not true, that is when our mind often feels a bit bewildered by it, not really wanting to accept the fact of it, and a variety of emotions may come as a result: uncertainty, anxiety, fear, frustration, sadness…just to name a few of the most familiar ones.

But these are the beliefs that Buddha taught are mistaken beliefs, and they are caused by the condition of “not knowing the Truth,” which is what he called “ignorance”—and this emotional result that comes when we are confronted with reality, that produces great discomfort in many of us, is what is often referred to as “suffering.”

Buddha analyzed the sufferings of the human beings and taught them categorized into eight different types of sufferings that No One Can Avoid.

The first four sufferings, which relate to bodily sufferings are:

  • Old Age
  • Sickness
  • Death
  • and the cause of the previous three, Birth.

And another four sufferings, which relate to the mental state are:

  • Separation from loved ones
  • Being with despised ones
  • Not being able to get what one wants
  • Having an impure body and mind, which, in brief, refers to the five aggregates of clinging. These are the aggregates of:
    • form
    • feeling
    • perception
    • formations of mental volition
    • consciousness

Aniruddha and Sadhya continued to share how they were trying to understand, through learning about these basic teachings of Buddha using their current experiences, how to cultivate a mind of fortitude, a mind that is less and less shakable by changing external conditions. And as they tried to take attendees through their process, they also broke down what they have come to understand so far about how these mistaken beliefs that Buddha teaches about bring us so much emotional discomfort.

Why is it that we suffer or have so much anxiety around facing these things, not wanting to really accept them when they come to us?

Here again the answer is in the teaching of Buddha, and Aniruddha and Sadhya verified it in their own experience: the suffering itself is caused by “desiring always for ‘me’, what I want, what will satisfy and please me.” And underneath that desire, as the foundation of it, lie these mistaken beliefs that Buddha pointed out:

  • Believing that we can have control over things outside of ourselves
  • Believing that we, ourselves (our own mind and body), and the things around us will continue on
  • And, believing that this existence of “me” is separate from others

As Aniruddha and Sadhya gained a clearer understanding about what might be happening within their own minds, relating what they observe in themselves to these teachings of Buddha, they again brought participants back to the question of: so what now? What can we do to cultivate fortitude within our own minds?

That answer itself was captured in the highlight of the program—a story of the recent experience and powerful realization that Aniruddha went through. In this experience, he shared that he had been caught up in his own desire for himself. This was related to wanting to ensure his financial gain with some upcoming jobs. However, circumstances required that he give up these jobs in order to continue physically participating to support some efforts that he had been involved in. Having to give up his own plans and what he was counting on for financial gain, especially during this crucial time, perhaps led him to become caught up in frustration and anger over the situation. (Surely we have all experienced something similar in our lifetimes!)

But then it was pointed out to him that there was a person, whom Aniruddha might not have recognized before, that was counting on these efforts and would benefit greatly. Aniruddha had to go through a battle within his mind. What is important?! Even though he had been learning these teachings of Buddha, he could not recognize by himself what was happening right away because of his emotional state. But when it was pointed out to him, he started to look objectively at himself and recognize that he was putting his own desire, his own benefit, before that of others. Then further he came to the clear conclusion that the financial benefit for himself and the benefit that would be received by the other person from making these efforts, was incomparable—the other’s benefit was much more. When he understood it deeply and accepted the situation fully, then he recognized also that it was this desire itself that was causing him to suffer in anger over things not going according to how he wanted.

He said that upon seeing this, the cloud of anger and frustration immediately disappeared, and his mind was only wanting happily to do whatever he could for the benefit of the other person. The shift happened right then and there—from blaming an external circumstance, to looking within his own mind. Aniruddha’s example was a very clear and concrete depiction of POSITIVE TRANSFORMATION.

This positive transformation, did not come through changing the conditions of the world or controlling external circumstances, but rather through applying this teaching of Buddha to accept the reality of the circumstance, seeing what the mind was doing, and then SHIFTING it to work in a new direction. In a way, we can see that this small shift, from believing the cause to be due to others or external factors and focusing primarily on the benefit for “me”, to trying to find the cause within and focusing on the benefit for “others,” was itself what “ended the suffering” of this situation, and allowed Aniruddha to “become free.” The key to start cultivating our mind is to look within.

True Independence. Imagine if we all work to make these small shifts within our own minds, in our daily life situations? Perhaps this is what will bring us little by little towards what Buddha taught as “the end of suffering,” or Nirvana! Perhaps this is what will bring us to become less and less dependent and tossed about by the ever-changing conditions of the world and lead us towards the state of True Independence, which is something that Aniruddha and Sadhya are still both striving to understand more about. (Though Shri Mahayogi teaches about this state from his own experience of it in Pranavadipa Vol. 69.)

In making these small shifts and working towards a state of True Independence, it does not necessarily mean that each one only thinks about themselves and forgets about everyone else in the world, and towards the end of the program, Aniruddha and Sadhya spoke about how they are beginning to understand that. Buddha taught about Co-Existence, that all of existence is like one interwoven mesh, inseparable from the rest. If the case, as observed in themselves, is that normally we may not recognize this, caught up in the desire for ourselves, then it may be easy to overlook how our desires may require others to give up for us. So then, if we can make these small shifts in our beliefs and the way we take action, perhaps our view and want to give of ourselves for others will instead grow more and more, thus adding another degree of positive transformation, not only to ourselves, but to those around us too.

All in all, the program concluded with Aniruddha and Sadhya sharing their own views of how this particular time of great change may bring to our lives more opportunity and urgency to face the questions most relevant to our existence in this world, how we want to live our lives, and in what state of mind.

At the very end, Aniruddha spoke our gratitude for our great Master, Shri Mahayogi, expressing that without the guidance and grace of Shri Mahayogi, we would not have been able to approach the teaching of Buddha in such a way to experience and realize more concretely its practicality and applicability to all humanity, regardless of background or religion, or the time period in which one lives—the ancient past, the present, or the future—this teaching is truly universal to all human experience and provides real tools for actual transformation.


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These basic teachings of Buddha might sound or look very simple, indeed. But the fact of it is what makes it worthy to be called Universal Truth—because it is the Truth beyond time and space. Though this Truth is very simple, our own mind may be having a hard time to see or accept it easily when we hear or see it. Our mind might not be able to grasp how immense the contribution that Buddha and the Yogi of ancient times made for all living beings. It is so awe-striking. Because of their discovery, because of their presence, we have the opportunity to see it ourselves. Not only that, but such a being exists in this current time, in which we are living now! Shri Mahayogi, after awakening at the age 8, went through a period in his teenage years of immersing himself in meditation at all times, and in so doing unraveled the mechanism by which the mind functions, along with the fundamental cause of suffering, that is to say, he independently discovered the law of karma and came to know that the cause of all suffering is, ultimately, that which is produced due to ignorance, or not knowing the Truth.

Again and again, we are so humbled by the fact that we have the opportunity to be with and learn from Shri Mahayogi, a Buddha of the modern age.

To our most beloved, our venerable Master,
Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa,
and to all of you.

We humbly, bow down.