Echo from The Cave: 76

Sunday April 8, 2018    NYC

Celebration:
Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela 2018
—The Second Ceremony of the Divine Manifestations—

 

On April 8th, the auspicious holy birthday of the Awakened Being, Buddha, we celebrate the joyous occasion of Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela (the Ceremony of Divine Manifestations), in which we think of both the Eternal Truth—Sanatana Dharma—which is beyond time and space, and the incarnations of God—Avatara—who have expressed the realization of this through their physical manifestation, with the conviction that their true Existence and grace saturate the entire universe and fill the essence of all living beings.

According to the needs of every era, Avatara have provided various teachings and brought salvation to the people. Shakyamuni Buddha, the most familiar existence among them, established the path of meditation through Yoga and provided the universal teaching to this world that makes the realization of Satori possible for anyone. At this year’s festival, we would like to make this celebration into a wonderful opportunity for us to focus particularly on the divine existence of Buddha out of all the Aavatara, to let our small minds melt away into His essence, the Truth Itself, and to see all the different existences and the entire universe through Buddha’s mind and through Buddha’s eyes.

Buddha said, “I have found an ancient path, a straight and ancient road that has been traveled upon by past Awakened Beings.” Without having been taught by anyone, Buddha was convinced of the existence of Avatara in the past. He also felt that this blessed path left behind by such awakened predecessors was connected to his path. Through the existence of Buddha, may we, those of us who live in the current time, see the path—which has been shown by the Avatara, the god-incarnate, that is, the path toward universal Truth, Sanatana Dharma, which may not be visible to our physical eyes, yet is tangibly clear to the eyes of Truth—from a universal point of view, and tangibly feel that it is connected to us too.

 

 

Echo from The Cave: 75

Friday March 23, 2018    NYC

BUDDHA AND MODERN TIMES:

The Essence of the Words of Buddha:
People Aren’t Saved Merely
By Getting Comfort From Hearing His Words

“Brahma Urges Buddha to Teach”

 

How the Words of Buddha are Consumed 

Buddha’s words are very popular, even to this day. There are many books available, and every once in a while they become trendy again. Perhaps people who buy these books or search for them on the internet are trying to get answers or hints about how to deal with the concrete personal problems they are facing, their vague or general anxiety, or the various doubts they have in life.

This may not be limited to Buddha, but it may be the primary motivation in general as to why people seek words from Holy or Great Beings from the past, or from successful people and celebrities of modern times (i.e. the famous words from Nietzsche, Dale Carnegie, Steve Jobs, etc.)

Especially when people look for words from people who are considered to be Holy Beings or saints, such as Buddha, I suppose that they are looking for salvation in the form of an immediate remedy or some relief from an emotional problem, such as an answer to their anger, sadness, or their pain.

Looking at books with titles that have words like, “The Words and Teachings of Buddha,” etc, they are often edited in such a way as to meet the above needs. The fact that these books sell so well implies that those needs exist, and that Buddha’s words are consumed based on those needs.

 

The Attitude of Buddha Himself 

However, when you read Buddha’s words (i.e. the most ancient Buddhist scriptures) just as they are, we can see that Buddha never uttered words based on a temporary remedy or for comfort or relief, nor did he just answer with something that the questioners expected to hear.

Take as an example the famous story of Kisa Gotami.[1] We can see in this story that even to this mother, who had lost her child and gone mad, even towards the person who most needed such an immediate remedy, he did not simply tell her words of consolation, but rather guided her in such a way that she could think for herself and recognize the truth of the world.

Footnote [1]: Buddha told her to bring a mustard seed from a family that had not had any deaths. She searched for it but could not find any such house. When she returned to Buddha, Buddha then taught her the Truth. And she became his disciple.

Even when it comes to thinking and translating his words into action, to those who came to him with an attitude of, “I can’t get into action unless I understand the meaning of that action fully,” Buddha did not give the immediate answer that was expected. The famous example of this is the analogy of the “Poison Arrow.”[2] To a disciple who asked, “Is the world eternal or not?” “Is the world limited or limitless”—he did not give an answer that the mind of his disciple wanted to hear.

 Footnote [2]: This is the teaching that one should first remove the arrow, rather than over-analyzing where the arrow comes from and the details of the arrow.

 

Our False Expectations of the Words of Buddha 

Naturally, if Buddha were to be living here now in this modern world, he would not answer questions like, “How do I succeed in business?” or “What is the trick to maintaining health and beauty?” And even if you were to make requests such as, “I’m sad, please give me some words of comfort,” or “Please teach me how to calm down my anger immediately,” or “Please teach me how to get myself motivated,” or “Is there a magical mantra that gets rid of my depression?” he would not answer in the way people would expect. (Just like he brought the realization to the mother who asked him to revive her child in the story of Kisa Gotami, “death is inevitable to all.”)

Indeed, we are expecting the “magic mantra” that gives comfort and relief from the words of Buddha. We want that instant comfort, as if we could be healed immediately from being hugged by a saint. That is why once our minds feel comfort, we forget about Buddha. Then we fall into the same suffering and sadness again.

I think that we are all used to getting an immediate answer. On TV, we see the conclusion within 30 minutes to an hour of a show. If we search for anything on the internet, some kind of answer-like things are found. We don’t have the endurance to continue to seek something that is “difficult or perplexing,” something that doesn’t have an immediate answer.

Another cause of this may also stem from the education we have received. That education rewards the rote memorization of difficult questions, where you can just find the answers first and memorize them as soon as you get stumped, rather than thinking tenaciously about a difficult question. (Oftentimes, [in Japan,] victory or defeat when taking the school tests and entrance exams depends on how many correct answers you were able to memorize.)

However, the issues we face in life are nothing like workbooks from school, where the answers are written at the back of the book. Rather, it is required to face any unanswered questions head-on, and come up with our own answers by thinking them through for ourselves. It’s not as simple as being able to solve the problem because you were taught the right answer. It’s not as simple as just asking Buddha or the saints for an answer, and then thinking as if everything is fine once you get the answer from them, without going through the process of examining this within ourselves. It doesn’t work this way.

 

The Words of Buddha are not Merely for Healing and Comfort 

This is all the more true considering the way Buddha taught and guided people was correct.

Because the way he answers is different from that of merely satisfying people’s minds at once, though his words might have been hard to understand, and they may not have been so popular. (In fact, in some of the old writings of Jainism, there was a point when Buddha was not recognized as the founder of Buddhism.) It is said that Buddha himself thought, “This Truth is too subtle for anyone to understand,” and hesitated to preach it. Back in his time, it seems that many practitioners were insisting on their own way, “This is the only Truth. And only through this teaching and these precepts, can you become pure.” So it seems that Buddha had a hard time with people who came to him to seek such teachings and precepts. (Sutta Nipata, Ch. 4)

The salvation that Buddha performed was not by means of just giving words of comfort or healing to the mind, or of some method that was immediately useful. Considering this, I suspect that the type of books entitled something like, “Heal Your Mind Just by Reading Buddha’s Words or Sayings” are different from what Buddha intended. I suspect that the words of Buddha are not like something you would expect to have the result from the feeling of “I really got a lift from reading this book, which we often hear these days, even though this was not Buddha’s intention.

Temporary comfort may provide an effect just like that of pain-killers, which suppress suffering, or like anesthesia, but it does not have the lasting effect that completely eradicates the confusion of the mind. Even if Buddha’s words contained continuous guidance, if we just take his words for the part that is convenient for us, against his original intentions, then we are merely projecting our own minds’ hopes onto it. To just remain satisfied with oneself only by reading a book, or not thinking further about the teaching after hearing it, is the same as taking a pain-killer only for the temporary relief and then never going back to the doctor again to get the fundamental approach for treatment.

 

Don’t Let Yourself Become Complacent By Just “Listening”;
Confront Your Own Mind With the Words of Buddha By Applying Your “Thinking” Against Them

Then what should we do? In Buddhism and in Yoga, we are taught that “the Truth must be heard, thought about, and meditated upon.” It is a problem if we just stop at the level of “heard.”

Originally, the teachings of Buddha or of Yoga were devised to prevent us from just being satisfied by listening to them. (For example, Buddha never answered “what he realized” or used any particular name for God.) However, if we stop once we are satisfied with only the part that we have selectively and conveniently taken from his words, then it is quite possible that the continuity of the process in which we shift and transition into the step of “thinking” is cut off.

So instead, we must think about the question, “What was it that Buddha meant?” and, “If I am to transfer that into my own action, how should I do it?” Or we must confront whatever incongruity we have within ourselves, or any fear we feel, or ego that arises from within us when we hear these words. And with utmost seriousness, as if we are in a real duel with a “real sword,” we must challenge our mind in a showdown between the mind and Buddha.

No matter how gentle the words of Buddha are, if we really try to grasp their true intention, to approach the state of Buddha who uttered these words, and to actually put them into action, then we will need an appropriate, or rather, an incredible depth of contemplation and inner struggle.

For example, can we really understand Buddha’s state of mind when he said, “It is better to live one day seeing the state of Deathlessness, than to live a hundred years without seeing it” (Dhammapada, Verse 114)? Even if it’s not the state of Deathlessness, do we even have something that we can stake our lives on?

We say that family is important, we say that work is important, but can we really say that we’d rather see our family’s face one day than live for a hundred years? Or can we say that we don’t care if we are demoted or unpaid if we accomplish one important project at work? When we consider these things seriously, that’s when various things arise within the mind and a serious battle occurs as the mind is dissected and laid bare.

We must not stop at just being complacent with hearing the words and teachings. Then there would be no point as to why Buddha uttered these words. Buddha’s words will only become effective when we transition from “hearing” his words to “thinking about” his words. Buddha’s words are words that have that intention underlying them.

 

The Essential Value of the Words of Buddha 

The salvation that comes through Buddha is not just a temporary relief. It is not a pain-relieving anesthesia that allows us to turn away from reality. It is not about remembering the right answers. It is about acquiring methods for resolving problems. As Buddha explained at the end of the analogy of the “Poison Arrow,” it is to acquire the teachings of the Four Noble Truths—Suffering, its Cause, the Elimination of its Cause, and the Path for eliminating that—so that we can apply them to every problem that arises, be it in meditation or in daily life.

Then, by being able to cultivate the power to solve these problems by ourselves, we are able to acquire sustainable help and salvation.

 

From Temporary Help to Sustainable, Continuous Help 

Swami Vivekananda, a Yogi who understood Buddha best, in my opinion, said that there are three types of help that we can give to others: material, intellectual, and spiritual.

To feed the hungry is a type of material help that is needed immediately. However, the effect of that help is short lived. It will only relieve their suffering for a moment. 

Intellectual help does have more continuity. By receiving specialized knowledge or techniques, a person can find a job and sustain his or her own livelihood.

And I think that this “intellectual help” itself is equivalent to the “think” part of the “hear, think, and meditate.” It is the ability to continuously resolve issues by oneself without having to depend on others.

If we just stop at the level of “hearing” and do not proceed to “thinking,” then it is like we keep lining up at the soup kitchen, but we never go get a job. In that moment, the stomach fills up. But the next day, we get hungry again. Buddha can give us help to even go beyond the intellectual level, to the spiritual level, yet if we continue to return to the soup kitchen for bread, it feels so sad.

 

What We Ought to Seek From the Words of Buddha 

Then, beyond the step of “thinking,” there is “meditating,” just like there is spiritual help beyond the intellectual help. We can say that out of the three types of help, material-intellectual-spiritual, the spiritual help can further be divided into temporary help by “listening,” continuous help by “thinking,” and everlasting help by “meditating.”

Vivekananda was a saint who appeared in the 19th century in India under British colonization. In order to tackle the issue of poverty and discrimination, he had to put all of his energy into providing material and intellectual help (through welfare aid for the poor and through helping in the plagued areas, building hospitals and schools.)

In comparison, as we live in modern Japan, I think that we are getting to the point where we do not really need material or intellectual help as the first and foremost thing from Buddha or from Yoga. If that is so, then we should really seek help from Buddha as he originally intended it to be. Not only remaining at “hearing,” but continuing on to “thinking” and further leading to meditation—that is the salvation that is continuous and everlasting. The time is now. Now is the time to truly know Buddha.

Sanatana
Translation of the Mahayogi Mission blog in Tokyo, October, 2015

Echo from The Cave: 74

Thursday March 15, 2018    NYC

ANNOUNCEMENT:
Today, we celebrate our newest publication,
the English translation of
Seeking Truth: Memoirs of a Yogini


written by one of Shri Mahayogi’s disciples in Kyoto,
Mirabai

A non-fiction account of a seeker who embarked on a quest to find the purpose of life,
then met a Yogi,
and came to experience the Truth firsthand.

Part I contains her memoir and Part II contains the teachings of Yoga.

*

The book is available to purchase online
Softcover: 240 pages
Size: 4.25″ x 6.75″
©2018 MAHAYOGI YOGA MISSION
ISBN 978-0-9663555-4-3

Echo from The Cave: 73

Saturday March 10, 2018    NYC

Announcement:
SHRI MAHAYOGI WILL VISIT TAIPEI,
TAIWAN IN MARCH!

Schedule of Satsangha:

● 3/22(Thu)19:30 @SPACE YOGA
● 3/24  (Sat)    14:30 @JOYFUL LIVING
● 3/25(Sun)14:30 @JOYFUL LIVING
● 3/27(Tue)19:30 @JOYFUL LIVING

May this coming visit to Taiwan awaken in the hearts of the people their inherent yearning for Truth, for Yoga, and may those who have had the great blessing of meeting Shri Mahayogi already carry that seed of Truth in their own hearts and spread it far and wide, to the people of Taiwan and beyond!

For more informationt: taiwan.yoga.sangha@gmail.com
http://taiwanyogasangha.blogspot.com

 

Editor’s Note: Pranavadipa Volume 40 

Satsangha at Joyful Living, Taipei 2017

Graciously responding to the request of disciples and seekers in Taiwan, Shri Mahayogi will soon visit Taipei. The first time he visited Taiwan was in May 2017, so this will mark his third visit within one year! Surely the people of Taiwan must truly hunger for the Truth in order for the yearning of their hearts to draw the Master back once more this year.

This month’s issue of Pranavadipa (Volume 40) contains the third of four Satsangha that were held during Shri Mahayogi’s first visit to Taiwan. We believe that for our subscribers in Taiwan this translation will be especially good to read as a reminder in preparation of the Satsangha before Shri Mahayogi’s arrival! And of course, for all of our subscribers, this Satsangha serves as an inspiration for all who thirst for answers.

The questions contained within seem so simple and straightforward, yet they come from a profound place of true seeking. Within the interactions between attendees and Shri Mahayogi, there is no pretense and it feels as though attendees are really looking for practical guidance of how to apply the practice of Yoga in their everyday situations. And all attendees seemed to be intensely drawn to Shri Mahayogi, simply because of his existence, taking very seriously the opportunity to meet a living Master of Yoga, not knowing whether the opportunity would ever arise again. During that first visit Shri Mahayogi planted the seed of Truth, and as it begins to sprout, he is carefully watching over it.

Satsangha at Space Yoga, Taipei 2017

Shri Mahayogi visited Taiwan for the second time last year for nine days, from October 19th to 27th. Three Satsangha were held and over one hundred people participated. Many had eagerly anticipated meeting Shri Mahayogi again, while others met him for the first time, after having missed the last opportunity. From beginning to end, Shri Mahayogi expounded upon the Truth gently and in detail. Every Satsangha was wonderful and fulfilling.

Besides Satsangha, Shri Mahayogi also allowed opportunities for gurubhai in Taiwan to interact with him on several occasions. In each situation, Shri Mahayogi answered various questions from them, and gave blessings and sincere words that helped propel everyone further along on the path. Every situation spontaneously became a Satsangha.

*

Now, the testimony in this issue is a translation of an article that was contributed to Paramahamsa (a bi-monthly publication in Japan) and is written by a new staff member in Taiwan, Zhao Yuan, after Shri Mahayogi’s second visit in October.

Zhao Yuan, a graphic designer, had already become involved with making the flyer for Shri Mahayogi’s first visit, before even meeting Shri Mahayogi. And after meeting him and being inspired by the Master’s presence, he has spontaneously started to participate and support the activities of our sangha in Taiwan more and more, and is now walking the path along with us. With depth in his simple and straightforward, yet beautifully expressed writing, Zhao Yuan gives testimony to what he has recognized through practice about the true significance of having had the opportunity to learn from Shri Mahayogi.

And in addition to Zhao Yuan’s article, we would like to share here the translation of another article that appeared in Paramahamsa, which is written by Prasadini, who has been central to the activities in Taiwan. Although it may not be that long ago that the sangha in Taiwan began, she herself, along with the new sangha, strive to keep walking on the path itself. And Prasadini’s candid and sincere writing, reflecting exactly that, also brings us fresh energy and much inspiration.

 

 

After Shri Mahayogi’s Second Visit to Taiwan:
To Learn Yoga is to Transform the Mind

After Shri Mahayogi’s visit in May, Taiwan entered a period of scorching weather. In Taipei, we continued to have Asana and Meditation Class twice a week, and Meditation Group every other week. Both events at times had many attendees, while at other times, there would be very few. After having received the joy of our hearts being suddenly opened, we all went back to the routine of our busy daily lives. Perhaps everyone may have noticed that even if you meet Shri Mahayogi a few times, your original life does not change that much. The relationships you must face, various issues with family, and personal financial situations, continue to exist. At the same time, I suppose that having been given so much encouragement and having the fire of passion lit by Shri Mahayogi, many of us have felt that there is something that is different than before.

During class or meditation, we have continued to ponder further and debate Shri Mahayogi’s teachings, and also to discuss how we can check the challenges that occur in our daily lives against the Truth. In fact, we have begun to realize that in actuality that is the difficult part. How can we live in conformity with Truth? Even if we know the right thing to do, why do we resist? Why can’t we do it? We have all struggled in the past five months, following Shri Mahayogi’s first visit. However, we are very blessed. Shri Mahayogi, deeply merciful and compassionate, visited Taiwan again after five months. Shri Mahayogi must have heard the cries within our hearts.

Three Satsangha were held during Shri Mahayogi’s visit in October. In the last visit, for almost everyone, it was the first time to meet Shri Mahayogi, but this time, over half of the participants met him for the second time. Participants deepened their trust towards Shri Mahayogi, and became more honest and willing to open up when they asked him questions.

“Shri Mahayogi, will I be able to become vegetarian as I practice Yoga? I enjoy eating meat.”

“Shri Mahayogi, how can I make my mind transparent?”

“Shri Mahayogi, I am afraid of the unknown and of death. What can I do?”

A variety of questions were addressed to Shri Mahayogi. At times, we kept asking questions about the same topic, until our minds could understand the answers. Observing this, suddenly, a thought came to my mind—people are bound by their own thoughts and beliefs, and that is how suffering and pain-bearing obstacles are created…

However, in Satsangha, Shri Mahayogi taught:

“The mind must be completely transformed. The mind has reincarnated countless times [in the past]. And it is obscured by the accumulated pain-bearing obstacles and ignorance. So it is required that the mind become clean and transparent. It’s not easy to do in just two years—truly it requires as much as spending one’s entire life in order to do it. So do not hurry, but you must practice earnestly and seriously. Then, positive changes are sure to happen one after another. And then realize the Truth some day in this lifetime.”

Upon hearing this, I saw that some people had tears in their eyes, perhaps they finally understood the purpose of the efforts they had been making, or perhaps they were finally able to let go of anxiety or self-loathing.

Fear, hate, attachment, sadness—whatever we pick, what we are facing is actually our own minds. However, the mind’s habits are much more stubborn than we can even imagine. Even if it hears the words of Truth once, the mind may make excuses and take the path of least resistance. But, at that moment when we all thought it was very difficult to transform the mind, Shri Mahayogi did not mention whether it was difficult or easy, but instead he encouraged us again to just keep practicing. Indeed, there is no need to feel down by the preconceived notion that it is difficult to make a change in the mind: we just have to continue to discipline ourselves to apply the teachings and put them into action.

After the third Satsangha ended, I thought about it again. What amazing work Shri Mahayogi is doing! Our stubborn heads bind us with dark doubts and suffering, but Shri Mahayogi shines rays of light onto them from many different directions, with his humorous words, filled with compassion and wisdom. We cannot solve these difficult queries with our own intellect but only Shri Mahayogi’s existence can bring about absolute transformation. For this one week, we were so fortunate to be able to receive this gentle, direct instruction from Shri Mahayogi.

We will continue to learn and make an effort to apply the teachings and put them into action. Shri Mahayogi, please visit us again in Taiwan to continue to guide us!

Prasadini

 

Echo from The Cave: 72

Monday March 5, 2018    NYC

Asana by a Seeker of Truth


Editor’s Note: Pranavadipa Volume 39 


When the sleeping
Kundalini is awakened by the grace of the Guru,
then all the lotuses (the
chakra) and the knots (granthis) are pierced.
—Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Ch.3, V.2

 The great Goddess (Kundalini) sleeps closing with her mouth
the entrance to the way (the
sushumna)
by which the seat of Brahman (
Brahmarandhra),
where there is no pain, is to be reached.
The
Kundalini-shakti,
who sleeps above the
kanda (muladhara),
gives liberation to the
Yogi
He who knows her knows Yoga.
The
Kundalini is described as being coiled like a serpent.
He who causes the
Shakti to move (from the muladhara upwards)
becomes free, without doubt.
—Hatha Yoga Pradipika, Ch3. V106-108

 

Kundalini…perhaps you have heard of it? It is the great force of prana that lies dormant at the base of sushumna nadi, the base of the spine. Although it is referenced a number of times in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, one of the classic Yoga scriptures, most likely the majority of people nowadays have heard about it in reference to some kind of fantastical spiritual experience, or at the very least, in relation to the opening or activation of the chakra, the various energetic centers that fall along the path of the spine.

But even though talk of “spiritual experiences” is now often intertwined with talk of “kundalini” or “chakra,” how much do we really understand about what it all really is? And how often do we encounter a teacher who can truly guide us based on his or her own intimate experience of it?

This month’s Pranavadipa (Vol. 39) gives us a unique glimpse into this very topic. Shri Mahayogi graciously responds to the inquiries of a seeker as she strives to make sense of her own experience of changing prana and understanding of the rise of kundalini.  Shri Mahayogi not only expounds on the more technical aspects of prana, kundalini and the chakra, but he also speaks about the actual likelihood of the true occurrence of kundalini rising, what blocks it from rising and then guides her to practice looking beyond this phenomenon towards the ultimate aim of Yoga.

Again and again, Shri Mahayogi guides seekers to the most practical methods of true application of practice that lead towards the attainment of Satori, beyond all phenomena that are mentioned in various scriptures. This month’s issue is centered on two such practical methods: the practice of humbleness and the practice of pure faith.

***

As we walk the path of Yoga, there are many opportunities for us to receive guidance. And one of the most important ways is through our fellow gurubhai. If we look to the practice of our fellow gurubhai, we can often find clues for how to concretely further our own practice, as well as fresh inspiration. And there is no doubt this is one of the three treasures described by Buddha: Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. In this month’s Testimony (Vol. 39), which touches on the key to the breath in asana, Sadhya, a disciple from New York, writes about the inspiration she received from watching Yogadanda, a gurubhai who was visiting from Japan, practice asana in the class. Five years later she would go to Japan, and interestingly enough, having advanced in her asana practice, she was then asked to demonstrate during the class for the gurubhai there, including Yogadanda. Seeing her awe-striking demonstration took everyone’s breath away. As a result, the gurubhai in Kyoto have become inspired by her practice, of course.

The content of this month’s Testimony reveals a glimpse of Sadhya’s journey through the practice of asana and what she has recognized as the result of the depth of her practice as a true seeker. This also reveals what the asana practice taught by Shri Mahayogi is. She is definitely on the way to discover, with her understanding going deeper and deeper, what the true asana is that Shri Mahayogi is bestowing upon us.

Sadhya’s Asana in Kyoto, April 2017

After the demonstration, she answered questions from the attendees.
Everybody was surprised to hear that she works as a high school teacher, no different from anyone else. There were new students in the class that day, and they too were inspired to continue to practice.

Sadhya’s Asana Demonstration in Kyoto, April 2017

Jai Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa Ki, jai!!!

Echo from The Cave: 71

Thu Feb 8th, 2018    NYC

EXPERIENCE: Validation of the Scriptures

Lately I started to notice that whenever I spend several hours in a day engaged with something that involves looking at pictures, like researching something online for example, the images I see tend to flash back into my mind for the rest of that day. This seems to be even more powerful if I have a strong emotion associated with the thing I’m looking at, or if I desire it strongly. Not only that, but if the object from those images is somewhat familiar, like in the case of a piece of clothing, if I know how the material feels, then the images that I’m seeing in my mind bring with them the feeling or sensation of that material, even though I’ve never before touched the exact item in the picture.

These images are most vivid, and come back most powerfully, at the end of the day when I sit for meditation, making the process of calming the mind and trying to bring its focus to the subject of meditation more difficult. And, at the same time, the period of time that my mind can stay focused is shorter, as it more frequently fluctuates from being somewhat concentrated to being involved with those images.

But, on the contrary, if I spend a long period of the day, or almost all of the day being involved with the work of the Mission, or reading and studying sacred scriptures, this never happens. My mind seems to be light and, in a way, fresh, with more energy to bring towards concentration and without any images or sensations that distract it.

After speaking to our senior disciple Anandamali about the above experiences, she commented that interestingly this was one of the topics that was recently spoken about in relation to the Yoga Sutra during the meditation class led by our brother disciple Sananda in Kyoto. So she suggested I look in the Yoga Sutra to find the sutra that refers to this topic. In the back of my mind I remembered that when I was in my teens I read several books on Yoga and also tried to read the Yoga Sutra, but not too long after I began reading it I had to stop completely—the sutra was so hard to understand! My mind just couldn’t register what I was reading at all, therefore I couldn’t grasp the meaning or the practical value they have. This was probably because I was trying to understand them using my intellect alone.

So when I got home that evening I started to search for that sutra in Swami Vivekananda’s Raja Yoga. After reading for a while I found a couple of sutra that were related to what I was experiencing, but sutra 1.4 revealed the exact phenomena that my mind was going through. While reading it I felt a deep sense of excitement building within me, and an intimate childlike curiosity to continue to try to experience more of the teachings by applying them in my daily life was immediately sparked.

This experience made me believe that we should apply the teachings using our bodies and minds, and honestly look at the relationship between the mind and the world. And I also believe now that by practicing in this way, little by little, the secrets behind the teachings will be revealed, taking on a life of their own in our very own experiences.

This gives me confidence that under the guidance of Shri Mahayogi, and through dedicated practice, the final realization is actually attainable and within our reach, and that one day we will come to the realization, through our own experience, that:

     “the mind; when it is calm, we see what our own nature is;
we do not mix ourselves but remain our own selves.”
Yoga Sutra 1.3

        “At other times (other than that of concentration)
the seer is identified with the modifications.”
Yoga Sutra 1.4

Ekanta

Echo from The Cave: 70

Mon January 15, 2018    NYC

Lord Shiva

Editor’s Note: Pranavadipa Volume 38

Mysticism is something that is intertwined throughout all of the world’s major religions. Upon first impression, mysticism may seem like something magical or something that is only experienced by religious fanatics who adhere to rituals and little understood practices. Or perhaps mysticism is shrouded with an intangible atmosphere. What does it mean? What do the mystics know? What do they do? Such things may pique our curiosity, but seem to stay in a realm that is seemingly unseen, and therefore unknown.

Many practitioners of Yoga have probably at some point had the opportunity to read the famous book by Paramahansa Yogananda, Autobiography of a Yogi, and for many of us, this book may be one of our first introductions to the real Yoga of India. And as many of you may have found, it is full of things that could seem quite mystical, yet quite fascinating! Indeed, mysticism exists among the yogi too. And to take a step even further back into the mystic history of India, for those who have had the good fortune to come across the accounts of Shri Ramakrishna from the 19th century, it is easy to feel struck with awe at his practice, his devotion, and his experience of God.

But both the world of Paramahansa Yogananda and that of Shri Ramakrishna seem to exist in the past and it is only through books that we have been introduced, not through seeing such things with our own eyes or experiencing them for ourselves. So it can be easy to feel that such strange and mystical experiences of these mysterious unseen realms remain covered in mystery, out of reach, a thing of the past, or at least something that perhaps only happens in India.

But as we practice Yoga under the guidance of a true Master, such as Shri Mahayogi, we can increasingly understand that mysticism is far from a mystery or some imaginary thing. Rather, what may be deemed as mysticism by some, is actually incredibly concrete. Through the actual application of the practice of Yoga, it is truly possible and guaranteed that one increasingly comes to experience firsthand that which at first seems unseen. In fact, it is as if the unseen comes to be seen with crystal clarity. And the mystery around mysticism fades away.

The practice of Yoga is truly both concrete and mystical!

In this month’s issue of Pranavadipa (Vol. 38), one of the topics we have the opportunity to learn about is the similarity of the paths of raja yoga and bhakti yoga as well as the mystical union of the two. Love of God, practice of asana transforming into mudra, mudra leading to Samadhi—Shri Mahayogi concretely delves into the subtleties of these topics at the inquiry of attendees and provides us with the tools to pull the veil of mystery from around some of the more mystical aspects of Yoga and concretely experience them for ourselves.

In the Testimony, we have the opportunity to read two messages that were delivered to Shri Mahayogi during the occasion of Jayanti (celebration of the Holy Birth), which took place this past November, 2017. (Echo from The Cave 63) Interestingly, these two messages from Sharmini (who lives in Tokyo) and Sadhya (who lives in New York), written from their own personal experience on the path, are filled with bhakti (devotion) and gratitude toward Shri Mahayogi, as well as their firm resolution to continue on, and are a testimony to the very content that is contained within the Satsangha of this issue.

Echo from The Cave: 69

Fri January 5, 2018    NYC

2018 New Year’s Card “Truth is 汪” received from the Sangha in Taiwan!

NEW YEAR’S GREETING: Truth is ワン-汪-ONE!

Today we received a New Year’s Greeting from the Sangha in Taiwan!
So thoughtful of you!
Thank you very much to the Sangha in Taiwan!!!
It seems like this is an original postcard and has a clever sense of humor,
so we would like to share it with you all.

*

Woof, woof, woof!” “Bow-wow” “Arf-arf
bark the dogs in America.
But when they cross the ocean,
they speak a different language.
Wan-wan!” “ワンワン” in Japan and
Wang-wang!” “汪汪” in Taiwan.

But no matter how their bark may sound,
in 2018, the year of the dog according to the Chinese Zodiac,

Tavia is thinking…

Tavia’s message is:

Truth is wan.. wang,.. ONE!

Tavia, a neighbor’s dog who is adored by Shri Mahayogi, at Washington Square Park yesterday in NYC’s latest snow storm

The temperature in NYC right now is 12°F°/ -11℃  (and feels like -7F°/ -22℃),
but later it can go down to 6°F°/ -14℃  (and feel like -25°F°/ -32℃) !!!

And tomorrow will be even colder….

 

 

 

Echo from The Cave: 68

Mon January 1, 2018    NYC

GREETINGS: Our Beloved Shri Mahaogi and Everyone,
HAPPY NEW YEAR from New York!!!  

 

 


The very first day of the year 2018 begins frosty and crisp.
May you find fulfillment and joy in the year 2018.


OM TAT SAT, OM!!!

Echo from The Cave: 67

Wed Dec 27th, 2017    NYC

Swami Vivekananda in Alameda 1900


EXPERIENCE: Use Your Will!

I see that feeling comfortable is what my mind believes to be a primary source of happiness for me.

There was a time in asana class when I was told that I should do a headstand. I had been practicing asana with the Mission since 1996, and many of my fellow practitioners had practiced the headstand already, but to confess, I had been trying to avoid it. I was comfortable with my asana practice and felt fine. I was around 58 years old at the time and my body was not slim. I should stand upside down on my head? I didn’t believe I could even begin the pose.

I noticed that when new asana would be introduced to other students, even though they did not know the pose, they would take on the challenge willingly without complaints or resistance. I probably should have been inspired and followed their example but I did not have faith. I was afraid that I would look bad or fail, and so I masked my fear with anger. I did not trust the teacher of the class, nor did I trust myself. Thank heavens though that she knew me well and paid my behavior no mind, saying unyieldingly – “You have a strong body, so physically you can do it­. USE YOUR WILL Kamalakshi! USE YOUR WILL!” For a few weeks I would cup my hands and just put my head between my hands. The teacher kept saying this phrase to me in different forms class after class.

Time went by and then one day I saw her standing in front of me and in my mind’s eye I saw Swami Vivikenanda’s face. I had been reading Raja Yoga around the time so when she said the word “WILL,” I remembered reading somewhere in his writing that one quality a disciple must develop is “great power of endurance.” And I also remember him saying that we should tell ourselves – “Go forth, be bold, you are strong!” and so with that I lifted my legs off the floor just a little. Needless to say, we worked on that headstand pose, lifting bit by bit, each and every class. Sometimes I practiced only that pose, again and again, throughout the entire hour and a half asana portion of the class. At times the mind would whimper and I fell many times over and over again. But I got used to falling, and I kept focusing on the breath. I moved from one stage of the pose to the next, and then one day, my legs went straight up into the air, and I held the pose. I couldn’t believe it! I felt my spirit soar. That was about six months later.

Being comfortable does not equal growth. Sometimes comfort is when one actually just holds tightly to limiting beliefs. I believed that my age, weight and maybe past ideas set the parameters of what I could and could not achieve. The mind can build barriers and we must consistently try to break them down. From this experience, I came to understand that even when I don’t think I can achieve something, I should at least try. Now I apply this when asked to perform an unfamiliar task, whether it is for the Mission, or in other circumstances. I try to remind myself that there is a reason I have been given the opportunity to learn some new thing that might be outside of my comfort zone. The truth is that I don’t always know what is possible or what may come as a result. The mind in its struggle and fight to resist must be tamed. It is important to hold on and pull the reins until the mind becomes quiet. For me, in these moments when I doubt myself, I bring to mind the words of the Holy Ones, just like when I brought to mind the words of Vivekananda that day. I find that these words of Truth offer the inspiration and strength to overcome my fear, to overcome my complaint of momentary discomfort or dislike and to steady my mind and heart. Then I am more able to simply gather the mind and just begin.

Kamalakshi