Echo from The Cave: 83

Wednesday July 4, 2018 NYC

Swami Vivekananda

Today we would like to honor the life of Swami Vivekananda, the great disciple of Shri Ramakrishna of the 19th century India. He was the first one who brought Eastern Wisdom, Sanatana Dharma, to the West in 1893. He was a great warrior—spiritual dynamite! July 4th is the day that he left the world at the age of 39. Before he left, he said, “I have given humanity enough for the next fifteen hundred years.”

For this blog, even though we have already shared two of the speeches (Pranavadipa Vol. 43) given by Shri Mahayogi’s disciples at Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela (Ceremony of Divine Manifestations), which was celebrated this past April, we would now like to share the speech given by our brother, Sanatana, as well as the words he gave at the opening of the event. His speech was the last of all of the speeches given, and he mentions Swami Vivekananda, who greatly revered Buddha for the compassion he showed for others throughout his life and how his teachings changed the history of India.

And finally, we would like to share the words imparted by Shri Mahayogi himself at the end of the ceremony. Truly it is a Strong Message for us all to take into our hearts. And Shri Mahayogi IS CURRENTLY HERE IN NEW YORK!!! HOW RARE AND PRECIOUS IT IS TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN AND RECEIVE GUIDANCE AND BLESSINGS DIRECTLY from a living Master, a Buddha!!!

May many people meet Shri Mahayogi and may the grace of Shri Mahayogi’s physical presence inspire us to seek the teaching from him, and to strengthen our passion and faith to actually walk the path of Yoga by applying the teaching that will lead us to experience our true Self.

*

Opening Remarks from Sanatana
at Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela (Ceremony of Divine Manifestations), 
April 08, 2018, Kyoto

Let us all celebrate this day together.

Sanatana Dharma—originally, the words and meaning of Sanatana Dharma itself were introduced to the world when Buddha appeared and used “Sanatana” or “Dharma” to express the Eternal Truth. In India, these terms have been cherished throughout the ages and have thus been passed down to us.

And what Buddha said: “I found the ancient path, that ancient straight road travelled by the Perfectly Enlightened Ones of long ago”—this he declared unequivocally.

However, when we look carefully at Buddha himself and at his life, he himself did not have a master. He tested all the various methods available during his time, he practiced all of them perfectly and in quite an unprecedented, unsurpassable way, yet he was not satisfied with them, and so he followed his own convictions and grasped the Truth itself. That was his path to Satori.

In India, it is considered that there are ten Avatara, ten incarnations of Vishnu, a universal God. Buddha was said to be the ninth existence. He himself had no master, nor was there even a path to be taught, yet he realized the Truth by himself.

It looks to us as if Buddha himself brought that Truth. However, as I mentioned earlier, Buddha himself said, “This is not my creation. This is nothing coming from my thoughts or my analysis. Whether I am here or not, this Truth exists eternally.” In other words, “I found the ancient straight road.” That is what he said.

From his words, we can see that this is not some lineage that is passed down through history or through an oral lore. Through his own practice and meditation, he felt the past Awakened Beings’, or the Buddhas’, Existence vividly and tangibly.

I see that this is equivalent to how Shri Mahayogi began to practice asana on his own and mastered each and every one as if he had invented them himself, and then afterwards confirmed that it was something that has been passed down continuously as Yoga from ancient times in India—it was not something that he heard from someone else or was taught by someone else, but that he confirmed through his own intuition.

We are taught meditation or asana in Yoga, and while we are putting this into practice for ourselves, we, at times, may feel the self-improvement, effort, and passion of the ancient yogi through a single asana or through the progression of the ways of meditation. And at times we feel that we too belong to the path of the yogi, even though we may only be at the very edge of it, and that we can practice Yoga because of the path taken by these ancient yogi.

In this way, this succession of the Truth is not a mere physical thing, but rather it is the succession of the Soul of the yogi and of the buddha—those who feel It inherit It. I believe that is how it is.

Today, there will be several people who will give speeches containing deep messages about Buddha or the Avatara and their seeking of the Truth. I think that these are nothing like merely introducing the life of Buddha or the holy beings, but rather, these are about how they themselves have felt the Buddha’s Soul and Essence, and have received His message, which they then deliver as their own message. I hope for today’s gathering to be about receiving and feeling the Buddha’s Soul and Essence.

Thank you very much for this opportunity today.

Sanatana at Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela 2018

*

From the Editor: It would be most natural to insert all seven of the wonderful speeches here chronologically, but since we have already introduced two of these speeches in the Testimony of the current issue of Pranavadipa Vol. 43, we suggest that you re-read these two messages and then allow us to now introduce the speech given by Sanatana himself, who was the last to speak out of the seven speakers.

Finally, and very gratefully, we would also like to share with you the precious words from Shri Mahayogi, who responded to everyone’s messages and spoke at the very end of Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela.

*

Speech at Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela,
April 8th 2018
By Sanatana (Tokyo)

Lately, people have been asking me often, “Since when has Sanatana-san felt Buddha so closely? What was the cause of it?” My answer is that it’s always been that way…

It was either in elementary school or junior high, when walking home from school a thought suddenly came to me, “Buddha was the person who forgave everything limitlessly.” My family members were not priests of a Buddhist temple, it was just a regular Japanese family with a father who was a salaried employee, so there was no special knowledge about Buddhism, and I remember no more than something I heard about Buddha from a tour guide during a school trip. But somehow when I was an elementary school kid, out of the blue I thought: “Buddha was someone who forgave limitlessly.” The word “forgive” is a human word, so in truth it cannot describe him, but it couldn’t have been described in any other way while using these human words. It wasn’t about, “I forgive,” but it was, “limitless forgiveness.”

At other times, I suddenly thought that I wanted to be either somebody like Buddha or like Fudō Myō-ō (in Sanskrit: Achala or Vidyaraja; fierce protective deities, who take on a ferocious appearance in order to frighten away evil spirits and to destroy ignorance and ugly passions). I probably heard about the knowledge of this deity from a tour guide during a school trip to Kyoto (everyone laughs) when they were talking at Buddhist temples (Kiyomizu-dera or Kinkaku-ji), describing the various statues. Buddha looks like he is sitting in meditation, with a tranquil countenance, embodying kindness itself solidified into a human form, yet, I heard that within he is ablaze with the fire to realize the Truth; on the other hand, Fudō Myō-ō is considered to be a manifestation of Buddha, but his appearance is scary with his flaming exterior, and the reason he has a scary frown while stepping on a person is because his flames of wrath are for the purpose of removing people’s ignorance and pain-bearing obstacles. So then, I first thought, I want to be someone like Buddha or Fudō Myō-ō. However, I do not have a scary looking appearance to begin with (everyone laughs) so I thought I wanted to be more like Buddha.

That is how I had been thinking about Buddha from the very beginning. Then, some years ago I had the opportunity to write a theatrical script about Buddha for an event the Mahayogi Mission was involved in. When I wrote the script, rather than simply writing things as they had happened, I wrote while ruminating on whether Buddha had intentions behind his words or not, and if he had them, what these intentions were, or if he said these words without intention, and so on.

(Watch Epiphany vol.2 – The Story of Buddha 1/2 with English Subtitles)

The story about Angulimala was the second theatrical script I wrote. When I read in the scriptures, there is only a mention of Buddha taking a brisk walk. But in order to write the script, I had to think about the motivation behind this action, and what he would be expressing as he walked. Therefore, I mused about whether Buddha intended to go to see Angulimala and then save him, or if he got lost in the forest without knowing; whether he knew the mind of Angulimala or whether he did not. I came to the conclusion that because he was a renunciate, there was no need whatsoever for him to be involved or to meddle with worldly troubles, gossip or confusion, or rather, he had to not be involved. Therefore, he must have had an attitude that the world should be taken care of by the world, and that would have been normal for someone in his position. However, he intentionally went to someone who was in the position of being the most despised person in the world, a serial killer, someone who had committed the worst crimes, and rather than even mediating between him and the world, Buddha made him his disciple. He must have seen through to the fact that all of the suffering of humanity was gathered in the suffering of Angulimala’s mind, and that the problem would not be resolved even if he were to be taken to the police—the pain-bearing obstacles within him were the same hatred and suffering that is within everyone, so unless this core issue were to be dealt with, the issue would not be resolved. He didn’t merely teach this or point it out, but he himself walked over to him with his own feet, invited this felon into his own sangha, and made him his disciple—if he were to do the same thing today, he would get the Internet blazing [with criticism]. (Everyone laughs.) I thought about this realistically. If Shri Mahayogi were to make a famous criminal into his disciple, our stance and our concern, or uneasiness, about this would be immeasurable. So, in the play, when Mr. Suzuki played Ananda, the closest disciple, his line was, “It will be a bad influence on the other disciples.”… As I wrote these words, I thought, Ananda is really saying something so obvious, in the most natural way that anyone would. In a way, Buddha is the far more daring one, doing something completely outside the box, beyond common sense. Why did he have to do such things? I suppose that Ananda must have been very far in his practice, yet he still might not have seen all of the mechanisms of the world, the suffering of Angulimala, or the root cause of all the people’s suffering.

(Watch Epiphany vol.5 – The Eternal Buddha with English Subtitles)

In that sense, even though Buddha was not obligated to do so at all, even though there were considerable risks of criticism towards him, and even though it might have led to the destruction of the sangha, or he might not have even considered such things at all, he just dove in and helped Angulimala. Here I see there is a concrete example that expressed the self-sacrifice of Buddha.

Thinking about it now, I see that I tend to think quite seriously and keenly about these things that could easily be taken lightly as just a story, a fable, or a legend. But then I also notice that there is another person, who foolishly took these stories, that have now turned into legends and tales, with the utmost seriousness.

That was Vivekananda. Towards the last years of Shri Ramakrishna’s life, young Vivekananda went to Buddha-Gaya with a brother disciple, Shivananda. At that time, Vivekananda said that “he keenly felt the presence of Buddha and saw vividly how the history of India had been changed by his noble teachings; pondering all this he could not control his emotion,” and he then hugged Shivananda meditating next to him.

When he returned from the trip to Buddha-Gaya, his master, Shri Ramakrishna asked him, “What did Buddha preach?”

Vivekananda answered thus, “He did not discuss the existence or non-existence of God. But, he showed compassion for others all throughout his life. A hawk pounced upon a bird and was about to devour it. In order to save the bird, Buddha gave the hawk his own flesh.”

To be accurate, this is not the story of Buddha. It is the story of King Shibi, a prior incarnation of Buddha. The story of King Shibi is also introduced in the Mahabharata, so it’s not Buddhism’s own, but it is a teaching that is familiar to Hindus as well. Naturally, Vivekananda must have known that this story was included in the Mahabharata. However, he said that this is Buddha’s essence. Vivekananda must have known very well that this was a legend or a tale, yet he took it quite seriously. He said that rather than the various words of Buddha, this tale itself is a very excellent teaching of Buddha, and he saw clearly and tangibly how this teaching changed the history of India.

This self-sacrifice of Buddha—in other words, whether I can…(with tears) die for someone or not… That has been the question that continuously has captivated me since I began Yoga, and even before then.

Buddha’s prior incarnations are filled with these stories. There are stories about his offering up everything, or surrendering his body to a hungry tiger, giving his own life for the life of this one single tiger. Or the story not unlike that of the hungry tiger who was in a devastating condition: the story of a six-tusked elephant. According to this legend, he gave his tusks to quite a greedy queen, the queen of Benares (Varanasi), and chose his own death. From such stories we can see his compassionate heart, where he didn’t even care about the motivation of others. Even though they are conveyed as the stories of his prior incarnations as bodhisattva, as you can see, the spirit of self-sacrifice, without taking himself into consideration at all, which is in the story of Angulimala, is not just a legend. It is the Soul of Buddha. I think that Vivekananda felt and awakened to that Soul of Buddha, and he walked the same path of life, as if possessed by it. He went beyond the life of a sannyasin who is not supposed to meddle in worldly matters, and instead, shortened his life for the sake of serving others. That was the life of Vivekananda.

This matter has possessed me and it does not let me go. No matter what I say or what I know or don’t know, what tenets I follow or not, will I be able to sacrifice my life for someone else when I am called to? Will I be able to be a human being like that? That is the message that Buddha is asking of me.

In a way, just like an ancient samurai, I feel like I have kept looking for a place to die, a battlefield where I can die. Just as our physical body is born, no matter what happens, it goes straight towards death, I think that our reincarnating souls are going straight towards the death of the ego.

That is what I feel most from Buddha’s existence. There are words from Vivekananda that describe this precisely, and I would like to wrap this up by reading these words.

“Who cares whether there is a heaven or a hell, who cares if there is a soul or not, who cares if there is an unchangeable or not? Here is the world, and it is full of misery. Go out into it as Buddha did, and struggle to lessen it or die in the attempt. Forget yourselves; this is the first lesson to be learnt, whether you are a theist or an atheist, whether you are an agnostic or a Vedantist, a Christian or a Mohammedan. The one lesson obvious to all is the destruction of the little self and the building up of the Real Self.”

Who was Buddha?—He forgave everything infinitely.

Even though the words may have changed, what I initially thought since childhood in regards to him has not changed.

He lived concretely. Regardless of the age or the location, I always feel that he was a live Existence.

***

Words of Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa
at Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela, April 8th 2018

Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa at Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela 2018

“Hearing the many precious speeches, my heart is overwhelmed.

What many scriptures say, and also, the true identity of the Soul that dwells deep within everyone’s hearts, is the Truth. It is what is True. (Emphasizing) Only That exists as the one True Reality.

There is nothing else other than that. At the same time, that One without a second, manifests across countless forms of things, of beings and of this universe. That is all. It is really simple. So, see only That, act only through That, and live only by That. There is nothing else. That’s It.

Buddha and Shri Ramakrishna, they all found that simple Truth, and taught It.

How definitive and holy were their lives and the way they lived them!

Let’s all live without reservation, without pretense, straightforwardly.

The anecdote about Buddha walking seven steps as soon as he was born and declaring that only Atman is sacred across heaven and earth—“Above Earth and below heaven, I alone am the world honored one.”—This describes that very simple Truth.

The Truth is Immortal, and Buddha is alive now.”

「数々の尊いスピーチを聞いて、本当に胸がいっぱいになっています。

多くの聖典が語るところ、また誰ものハートの奥に宿っている魂、その正体は真実です。真実なるものです。(力強く)それだけが唯一の実存として在ります。

その他のものは何もない。そして同時に、その二つとないものが無数の万物、この宇宙となっている。それだけのことです。本当に単純なことです。だから、それだけを見つめて、それによって行為し、それによって生きる。他に何もない、それだけです。

ブッダもシュリー・ラーマクリシュナも、皆その単純な真理を見つけ、そして教えたのです。

彼らの生涯に見るその生きざまはなんと清々しいことで尊いことか。

照れることなく、計らうことなく、素直に生きようではないでしょうか。

ブッダが生まれ落ちてすぐに七歩歩き、語ったといわれる、天の上にも下にもただアートマンのみが尊い―『天上天下唯我独尊』―これはまさしく、その単純な真理を表している。

真理は不滅であり、ブッダは今も生きています」

Jai! Sanatana Dharma Avatara! Jai! Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa Ki, Jai!

 

Echo from The Cave: 82

Monday June 25, 2018 NYC

Today we would like to introduce the second article of the series Actual Practice of Yoga in Everyday Life. This is a translation of the Mahayogi Mission in Japan’s blog from April 28, posted just three weeks after Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela (Ceremony of the Divine Manifestations), the occasion in which Chaitanya gave the speech that is now available to read in Pranavadipa Vol. 43, the current issue, and the behind the scenes writing process for which is also introduced in our blog Echo from the Cave: 80. We decided to share the translation of this article because we find that it provides an example of how a seeker takes up courage and continues to battle against his own mind, all for the transformation of the Self: the journey to Freedom.

Actual Practice of Yoga in Everyday Life 2: Asana that is Effective for the Mind

Lately, I have been thinking about the mind day after day.

However, until now, the fact is that I’ve never removed my mind from myself, thinking: “This mind is thinking like this, feeling in such and such a way.” Instead, most of the time, it’s been more like this, “I think this way, I feel that way.” After establishing the habit of discrimination between the thoughts in my mind and the Truth, I feel like I’m finally starting to be able to see the mind from a bird’s eye view.

I have learned from the teachings of Yoga about the mechanism of the mind, I have understood it, which gave me a satisfactory explanation and I practiced discrimination between the Truth and the thoughts in my mind. Nevertheless, even if I were to think, “Great, I am steady, my mind is not being shaken!” as soon as I face an unexpected circumstance in daily life, the mind’s habits, tendencies, and their root cause—attachments—start coming out of the woodwork. Oh well, I am so far from being steady…

My mind, seemingly being in a good condition, has actually been grasping various things that could become the root causes of suffering, in a tricky way that was not visible to me. Or, the past subconscious impressions (sanskara) had not been eliminated.

The mind is really formidable.

It was that mind that decided to change because it did not want to accept the way I was in the past, and it was that very same mind that tricked me while I was working hard at dismantling it, and unbeknownst to me, was growing roots of new attachments. The fact that I was unable to notice it is the proof that my discrimination was superficial. My being complacent, from the sense of “I am doing the best I can”, manifested as a result of the fact that I was not working hard enough.

Being confronted with this, I couldn’t even trust myself enough to ask my own self. Oftentimes when that happens, I’m thinking too much about this and that, about either the past or the future, so I concluded that it would never end no matter how far I go. The mind’s conditions change depending on the season, the day, the time… It’s not easy to shut this damn thing up.

If the practice of bhakti or of discrimination alone is not enough, then let me reconsider the entirety of my sadhana again, I thought. Then, the conclusion I came to after pondering thoroughly was “practicing asana”—let me go back to the mindset I had when I first started attending class and restart the practice of yama, niyama, and asana, which are the basics of raja yoga. I determined to go through it again, and since then I have been practicing asana carefully every day. I practice asana thoroughly, precisely, and solidly until I get to the point where I’m not able to think anymore after that.

My asana is nothing like the lithe, light, beautiful kind, rather my inflexible body squeaks and screams—it is tapas (heat) itself. But that actually works best for me. It captures the complacent, lazy mind, and makes it disciplined (tapas), and then the mind shuts up (mauna) for a while.

Two hours of asana and meditation. Then, its lingering sensation continues for about two hours afterwards.  Let’s say I sleep for 7 hours. That’s a total of 11 hours. Then all I have to do is to shut up the mind for the other 13 hours. As soon as I find spare time, I read scriptures (svadhyaya), or chant the name of my favorite deity and think about it (ishvara pranidhana). However, you can’t practice only those things all the time during the day. So while working, while at home, you concentrate on the task at hand. Just simply concentrate! Do not receive the results or the impressions. If we practice that way, then we ought to be able to live in the “Now,” moment by moment, without being swung around by the thoughts in the mind.

Out there in the world nowadays, asana is said to be effective for beauty and diet. However, practically, it is actually the most effective for the mind!!

Chaitanya (Kyoto)
Translation from the Mahayogi Mission-Kyoto Blog on April 28, 2018

 

Echo from The Cave: 81

Friday June 22, 2018 NYC


Announcement:
Mahayogi Mission now has new “Kali Yantra” t-shirts and tote bags available!
— Designed by Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa!!!

From the top: Mint, Peacock Blue, Green, Metro Blue, Light Salmon, Italian Red, Pink, Light Purple and Lavender

From the top: Purple, Deep Purple, Light Yellow, Silver Grey, Olive and Denim

Mahayogi Mission Original T-shirt (Mint, Light Yellow and White) & Tote Bg

T-shirts and tote bags will be ordered upon request only and will be shipped from Japan in August.
If you would like to place an order, please contact us

The deadline for orders is June 30th, 2018.

Item Information:
Slim Fit
100% cotton
Unisex (S, M, L, XL, XXL, XXXL)
Woman (W-M, W-L)

Echo from The Cave: 80

Sunday June 10, 2018 NYC

EDITOR’S NOTE: Pranavadipa Vol. 43

Painting by Dayamati, Mahayogi Mission

“I found the ancient path,
That ancient straight road travelled
by the Perfectly Enlightened Ones of long ago.”
—Buddha

In this month’s issue of Pranavadipa (Volume 43), Shri Mahayogi teaches about the mission of the Avatara, (those who appear throughout the ages, with one and the same mission—to bring salvation through the reestablishment of the teaching of Truth and the way to reach it that is most appropriate for the times) and how the particular era in which each Avatara appears has its own significance. He teaches about the case of Buddha, the case of Shri Ramakrishna, and about how there is a common concept behind Jesus’ words in the Bible (Matthew 5:17) and Shri Krishna’s words in the Bagavad Gita (Ch. 4, verse 8). Shri Mahayogi also delightfully reveals more about his teenage years.

Throughout this issue Shri Mahayogi is directing us to a variety of concrete ways to bring an end to our own suffering, or in other words, to purify our own mind, in daily life. He explains the difference between Sympathetic Concern (which is commonly translated as “compassion”) of the Four Immeasurables [Benevolence, Sympathetic Concern, Gladness, and Dispassion] in the Buddhist teachings, and the ultimate level and meaning of Compassion, which is to lead people to experience the Truth for themselves. And going further, he explains how we too can practice to proactively help bring others out of suffering, as we free ourselves from the suffering within our own mind. Just as any spiritual practice is for the purpose of purifying the mind, so too Yoga has as its aim the realization of the true Self by applying the teaching of the Truth under the guidance of a Master who is in the ultimate state of Yoga. Wherever we are in our practice, Shri Mahayogi is encouraging us to face the ego, to face the pain-bearing obstacles, and to face ignorance with the sword of Truth, to put an end to blaming others, and through doing so, to purify our minds of judgements so that we can see clearly and take action, righteously, based on Truth.

Shri Mahayogi also teaches about the power of grace in this issue. Grace—perhaps we have heard this word and thought of it as something akin to a divine blessing, or the unmerited favor of God, or perhaps of a Guru, if you happen to have a spiritual practice under a Guru. But how much do we understand beyond this word that we hear and the meaning we imagine, how much have we considered the power that is within “grace.” Grace is unseen and intangible, yet its power can come to be palpable and concrete. And as we read, we learn that the secret of all the teachings and practices of Yoga is the grace with which they are imbued. Whether it is the discipline of asana, mantra, yantra, or any other discipline included in the practice of Yoga, when it is given by the Guru, it contains this grace and therefore has the power to truly transform the practitioner. This month’s Satsangha, is filled with question and response that delves deeply into some of the more intricate aspects of the practice of Yoga—all of which are arising because of the sincere attempts of the practitioners to apply the disciplines in daily life. As Shri Mahayogi, meticulously details each teaching, if our heart is open, we can’t help but sense the grace that is brimming within.

For this month’s Testimony, we are sharing two speeches that were given this April at Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela (the Ceremony of Divine Manifestations). The main focus of this year’s ceremony was the Avatara, Buddha. A few months before the event took place, seven disciples were carefully selected by the planning committee to prepare speeches to give. In order to reflect the significance of Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela—an opportunity to offer our joy and gratitude for the all-pervading blessing of the Avatara, and commemorate and reflect on those who are the Pure Embodiment of that which is formless, the Eternal Truth—the concept or content of these seven speeches was to be centered around the purpose of this event. Throughout the time of preparation before the event, each speaker was asked to go to the core of Buddha or Sanatana Dharma as much and as deeply as possible so that their speeches would be reflective of their current state and the realizations they have had as a result. From time to time they would meet with the planning committee to submit a draft of their speech, to speak about their progress, discuss their thoughts, and try again from different directions and angles…all in the effort of going deeper and deeper. Although they were preparing a speech, this became a great opportunity to deepen in practice, to go closer to Buddha, to Sanatana Dharma, or to God. Without a doubt, sometimes it must not have been a very easy process for them and surely they struggled as they came face to face with themselves and pushed themselves beyond their own limit, beyond their own understanding and current level of practice. But no matter the difficulty, in the end, it was obvious that it was a great opportunity for each of them and the grace that they received due to such intensive learning led to transformation within each one of them.

Although in this Testimony we are sharing the final result of two of these practitioners, the speeches given by Satya and Chaitanya, it is incredibly valuable to know the process behind this final result, because through that, we can feel the meaning and depth of the words much more, we can really learn from the spirit they each put into the process, and apply such spirit for ourselves. Here, we would like to share little more detail about each of their processes, as shared with us by a planning committee member who had the opportunity to witness it all:

“When Satya was asked to give a speech this year, she first earnestly expressed that it would be difficult for her to do so, simply because she had just shifted the way she practices and therefore she would not be able to have any sort of conclusion about this new way of practicing to include in her speech by the time of the celebration. But when the members of the planning committee heard her speak about the details of her process and the actual practices she had been doing until then, as well as her present state, they felt the mind of a true seeker with thirst for the Truth equal to that which Buddha had. So, without telling her this, they asked her to continue and see what happens. She continued toward an uncertain future, and while she was disheartened at times, she continued to seek for the Truth with utmost seriousness. As a consequence, her constant efforts brought about the flower of bhakti with rapid speed. Shri Mahayogi transformed her into a bhakta!

Chaitanya was asked to give a speech at the event because he had mentioned that he had been longing for the state of Nirvana. But when he was first presented with the opportunity to offer a speech, he commented that he had not tried to approach Buddha at all and therefore had no experience of going closer to Buddha, and because of this he wasn’t sure if he would be able to follow through with it or not. So, he requested some time to think about it. But not long after that, he sent a draft of writing to the planning committee. The concept was not clear in his writing, however, which was actually a reflection of where he was in his practice: at a stalemate.

Then, he had a meeting with a member of the committee to discuss whether he would change the direction of his writing and write based on the actual experience of what he had been practicing, or decline this opportunity. This same process continued and repeated: there would be a meeting, after which Chaitanya would change the direction of his writing, then there would be a meeting again, and so on. As Chaitanya faced and confronted himself again and again, his writing became sharper and more and more refined, and his thirst for the Truth, his passion and faith towards his Guru started to stand out.

It would have been easy for him to simply say, ‘I can’t!’ but he never gave up. He himself is a member of the Special Events Committee, and while continuing at his regular job (outside of the Mission), he worked hard for the event, attending various meetings, arranging many things and working in subtle details for the event. In spite of all of that, the approach and attitude he had toward fulfilling the commitment he had made for his speech, even under such intense conditions, truly deserves respect.”

As we read and study this issue’s Satsangha, as well as the inspirational speeches made by these two practitioners, may our faith grow in the teaching, may we strive to apply such inspiration and faith toward the teaching into practice, and may we all concretely experience the power of grace.

Cleaning the Prema Ashrama one week before the Celebration in 2018 (From left: Chaitanya, Ramdas and Saci)

Chaitanya working lighting for the event.

Satya

 

Echo from The Cave: 79

Tuesday June 5, 2018 NYC

Often times we might feel that we want freedom from our mind. Wherever we go, our mind follows. How can we be free? Herein lies the beauty of Yoga, because it deals directly with our mind so that we can be free of it. Nowadays, many people may see Yoga as the practice of asana, meant to relieve daily stress or to get exercise. But Yoga is actually for the purpose of coming to know our real and pure Self. And Yoga teaches that if we still the waves of our mind, the real and pure Self emerges alone. But then how do we do this? Indeed, asana practice is one of the practices that will prepare our mind to become calmer so that we can meditate in stillness. Yet many of us might have experienced that it is not so easy to still the mind, even though we try to sit for meditation. Why? Our mind is constantly, or if not constantly, it is at least more often than not caught up by daily situations and matters—our mind moves so easily. That is where the actual practice of Yoga in daily life comes into play as a way to deal with our own mind. Don’t we want to free ourselves from that?

It is always helpful to know how other people are trying to practice. Therefore, we are going to share some stories from around the world that allow a glimpse into the daily practice of Shri Mahayogi’s sangha. One of the purposes of sangha is to support one another to understand the teachings and go closer for ourselves to the pure Self. Following is the first of these stories.


Actual Practice of Yoga in Everyday Life 1:
To Offer Myself

A while back, Shri Mahayogi said, “In order to remove all sanskara, you will need devotion equal to the cost of exchanging your life.” I looked up the definition of “devotion” in the dictionary and it said, “Devotion is giving one’s own self; to devote yourself [to something] regardless of your own benefit.”

Some years ago, there was someone who said tactless things around people, and one day this person looked at my fingernail (the nail on my thumb only grows halfway, which is the way I was born) and said, “Your nail is half broken, how disgusting.” I reacted to this person’s attitude of saying such things freely without concern for my feelings, became enraged and remained disturbed for some time.

Before going to sleep that day, I was thinking about this incident, and I started to think about why this person said such things. What really was the deeper intention behind this person’s words? Then, when I thought about the state of this person, I began to see that this person was in a state of isolation, without much communication with others, and although this person actually tried to communicate with me, because of this person’s straightforward character the words came out in such a way.

I realized that the reason why I felt unpleasant about it was because when I was in elementary school, the boys in my class made fun of me by saying something similar, and so I was looking at things through that filter of a sad impression. When I applied the Truth to it—that this body is not who I am, that it is the tool of God; and it has nothing to do with my true Self—then I felt that no matter what anyone says, there is no need for me to feel hurt.

From the next day on, each time I had the opportunity to speak with that person, I faced this person with the determination of offering everything of myself. As I concentrated fully on the thoughts that were behind this person’s words each time I encountered this opportunity, I began to be able to understand this person’s feelings that had been unknown to me before, and I established a relationship in which this person began to open up to me more honestly.

Several years later, the same person mentioned my nail again. But this time, I had no feeling of animosity. Not only did I start to understand this person’s character, I also recognized that I was seeing my body merely as a material object. I could even joke around, and say, “I was born this way, but doesn’t this nail look unique and cool?”

Looking back, I thought, “Had I not had this opportunity, would I still be seeing my body just as a material object?” Right when you want to run away from something, when the mind moves in reaction to something, this is a very precious moment in which we have the opportunity to remove our sanskara (impressions from past experiences). I will continue to tackle this until I feel only Joy, no matter where I am or in what situation.

Amala (Kyoto)
Translation from the Mahayogi Mission-Kyoto Blog on April 24, 2018

Echo from The Cave: 78

Friday May 18, 2018    NYC

Announcement:
SATGURU SHRI MAHAYOGI PARAMAHANSA TO VISIT NYC

Our hearts are brimming with joy
as we announce that
Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa will visit New York this summer 2018!!!

There is no opportunity more precious than to experience the teaching of Truth from a living Master. Shri Mahayogi graciously guides each and every seeker according to their individual need from his own direct experience of the Eternal Truth. From unveiling the innermost workings of the mind and subtlest realms of meditation to demystifying the concept of God and revealing the essence of all religions, Shri Mahayogi pours pure and compassion-filled teachings indiscriminately into the hearts of all.

This summer, learn, study and experience the universal teachings of the Truth for yourself!! Programs, including practice of Asana and Meditation directed by Shri Mahayogi (Sundays 7-9 pm), will begin June 17th and continue through September 9th.

Registration available Sunday May 20th online through Eventbrite or in class.

For inquiries and further information, please contact: info@mahayogiyogamission.org

Echo from The Cave: 77

Wednesday May 9, 2018 NYC

Editor’s Note: Pranavadipa Volume 42 

Satsangha at Joyful Living, Taipei March 2018

Hunger for the Truth along with simple and sincere practice most assuredly advance the true seeker on the path of Yoga!!!

In this month’s issue of Pranavadipa (Vol. 42), from the Satsangha through to the Testimony, the concretization of this is woven like a thread throughout. The Satsangha is the fourth of four special Satsangha that took place in Taiwan in May of 2017, when Shri Mahayogi first visited Taiwan at the invitation of Prasadini (the leader of the sangha in Taiwan) and other practitioners who had been gathering together to regularly practice asana and meditation, and to study the teachings of Shri Mahayogi and the teachings of Yoga. This particular Satsangha is filled with the crisp and powerful teaching of Shri Mahayogi as he generously offers guidance on establishing yama and niyama (the precepts of Yoga), eliminating sanskara, the applications of meditation, the meaning of Jesus’ teaching from the Bible, and as he dispels, with utmost grace and compassion, the doubts of a mother who is most concerned about her daughter’s choice to follow the path of Yoga. This is the same daughter who asked Shri Mahayogi just one month prior when she first met with Shri Mahayogi during a visit to Kyoto, about how to view familial relationships from the point of view of Yoga (Pranavadipa Vol. 33).

Since Shri Mahayogi’s first visit to Taiwan, he has returned two more times within the year. The group of practitioners in Taiwan was started by Prasadini, whose Testimony is in Pranavadipa Vol. 34. When Prasadini was first in New York, she mentioned that the only person she knew who would be truly interested to meet Shri Mahayogi was her cousin. Indeed, as she guessed, Prasadini’s cousin, Priya, whose Testimony is in Pranavadipa Vol. 33 & 37, was also gradually drawn to Shri Mahayogi and the Mission. Now she serves as a translator of Chinese and Japanese when Shri Mahayogi visits Taiwan. After Priya, two more practitioners joined the sangha, and now they have more than 10 staff members who have been dedicating themselves to inviting Shri Mahayogi and participating the work of the sangha in Taiwan.

In preparation for Shri Mahayogi’s third visit to Taiwan, Anandamali (director of the New York Mahayogi Yoga Mission) arrived one night beforehand in order to join His stay. The first night she stayed at the house where Prasadini, Priya and Lilly live together in an apartment in the central area of Taipei. Radha and Marula, who are two of the central staff members also stayed there that night. The next morning, before Radha went to the flower market to prepare the flowers for Shri Mahayogi’s visit, there was a moment when she was alone with Anandamali, sitting in front of her. Then Radha spontaneously and straightforwardly spoke about how much she anticipates the 8th of every month so that she can read the new issue of Pranavadipa, which she always reads beginning with the Testimony, since it is easier to relate to and therefore understand. Because the teachings are in a more relatable format, she first learns from them that way, then moves on to the Satsangha, which she reads and studies again and again. It was a quiet moment, and her sincerity was moving.  After that, suddenly her face flushed with redness and tears came streaming down her cheeks as she said, “My thoughts and actions still do not match.”  It is obvious that she keeps thinking about the Truth, the teaching of Yoga, and of course, our beloved Shri Mahayogi… Unless we keep thinking about the teachings constantly such words and emotion cannot appear. Indeed, it was a great moment to tangibly witness how a disciple and how sangha are working in Taipei.  What’s more, many of Taiwan staff members commented that the Satsangha that took place during Shri Mahayogi’s third visit to Taiwan went much deeper than the first two. Of course, the more we deepen our practice, the more we can receive answers that delve further and further into the Truth. They were amazed, again, by the Master, Shri Mahayogi.

Flower arrangement for the Satsangha

 

In the Testimony, there are 4 articles, 3 of which are the direct messages from sangha members in Taiwan written for and shared at the occasion of Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela (the Ceremony of Divine Manifestations), in April 2018, which was a few weeks after Shri Mahayogi’s third visit to Taiwan. Radha’s message is included, in addition to a writing by Gopala, in which he mentions an episode with Radha. Two testimonies are from Zhao Yuan. From them we can see how they have concretely deepened their practice of Yoga, just less than one

Radha

year since that first visit. From these messages and their experiences shared within, it is tangibly revealed that it is out of practice and sincerely yearning to understand the teaching that one is led to concrete growth along the path of Yoga. The heartfelt sincerity and yearning for real practice that drives the steps of the seeker to walk along the path of Yoga have the power to inspire us all in our own journey and propel us forward. May we feel the inspiration of our Taiwan brother and sister gurubhai!!

***

 

Prasadini leading Kirtan at home where she lives together with Priya and Lilly

Indeed, the rapid development in Taiwan of passion for Yoga and for the teachings of Shri Mahayogi is really quite remarkable. Prasadini first met Shri Mahayogi when she was visiting New York in 2013. That first meeting left her questioning what she had come to understand about Yoga up until that point. After she returned to Taiwan, she traveled to Kyoto to meet Shri Mahayogi and the sangha in Kyoto, and it was then that she gave up the idea of trying to stay in New York, and instead decided to remain in Taipei.  Little by little, she continued to practice what she had learned from Shri Mahayogi, all the while gathering the people alongside her to practice together with the hope of inviting Shri Mahayogi to Taiwan one day. As time went on, she would come to question what would be a truly worthy cause for her to dedicate her life to, and in the end her passion toward the Truth became the center of her dedication. Here we would like to share an article written by Prasadini that relates her experience of meeting her Master and transforming her life to truly dedicate to Yoga.

But first, we would like to announce some GREAT NEWS.

The other day Shri Mahayogi bestowed a name upon the apartment where Prasadini lives alongside two other disciples.

From now on, it will be called Ananda Ashrama!!!

 


Namo Maha Prabho Namo Mahayogin te Om………………………………………..

Beloved Master, may we express or deepest gratitude for your grace and blessings that shine infinitely upon us, filling us with the light of Truth. May this new Ashram be the gem of true Yoga in Taiwan and may that light of your Truth shine forth through our everyday actions.

 

*

Kirtan practice at the place that is now called Ananda Ashrama.

The following is an essay by Prasdini who lives in Taiwan and has been striving to practice and participate in the activities of Yoga. It recounts her meeting with her Master in New York, as well as the trials and tribulations in life while progressing on the path of Truth.

 

Meeting My Master and the Mind of Awakening into Seeking the Truth

For seven years during the time before I met Shri Mahayogi, I was travelling to many countries, participating in various yoga retreats and teacher trainings. I don’t know what I was seeking, but I felt that I was able to get away from my busy life for some time and get closer to the teachings of Yoga, so I was always planning the next trip. However, every time a “fantastic” yoga vacation ended, I had to go back to a crazy, packed schedule in order to earn and save enough to go on the next trip. Looking back now, it was as if I was a hamster, blindly continuing to run inside the wheel without any purpose. I learned many teachings of Yoga from yoga classes and from scriptures, yet nevertheless I could not put an end to the confusion in my own life, and I couldn’t see the contradictions between my thoughts and my actions. What is most frightening about this was that I thought that this kind of life was normal.

In 2013, I spent an unforgettable summer and autumn in New York. The friend whom I was staying with was a disciple of Shri Mahayogi, and he kept talking about love for the Guru (Master) all throughout our conversations. These conversations reminded me of a book, Autobiography of a Yogi, which had been a big influence on me. I wanted to improve my English because I wanted to learn more about Yoga, so in 2008 I went to England and stayed there for a few months. At that time, the book, Autobiography of a Yogi, always supported my soul, which continued its wish to search further into the spiritual realm. Yogananda was seeking his Guru since childhood, and always praying in his heart and crying out for it. I sympathized with Yogananda’s prayers. When I asked myself, “Will I ever be able to meet my Guru in this lifetime?” and meditated, tears flowed uncontrollably. Afterwards, my yearning for a Guru was swallowed up by various other activities. I even thought that such a pure relationship between Guru and disciple might no longer exist in modern society. However, when I was allowed for the first time to attend the Satsangha at the Cave (the name of the space where the Mission in New York is based,) and from seeing the exchange of gazes between Shri Mahayogi and his disciples, I felt very much the deep love and trust between them. It reawakened my thirst for finding my Guru. Yet, at the time, I was not sure whether Shri Mahayogi was my Guru or not, and I thought that I had to carefully think about this. In one Satsangha I asked him, “What is the Truth?” and “What is the relationship between Guru and disciple?” Shri Mahayogi answered me with a compassion-filled gaze and in an unshakable tone. His words were very difficult for me to comprehend at that time, as if he were speaking in an alien language, but I was so drawn to his pure smile. Such affection brought me joy and I felt my consciousness expand.

I was very happy to be able to participate in the Satsangha each time, but as I began to participate more, I got more anxious. I asked myself, “Will I be able to actually practice the teachings of Yoga?” “Do I really want to seek the Truth?” “Isn’t my current lifestyle enough?” “The status and wealth I have created as a yoga teacher took me pretty far, even to this point.” —I was conflicted in my mind. Then, I noticed a flyer from the Mahayogi Yoga Mission and I realized that my pursuit of the material world came from ignorance. The flyer said:

“Student: How does one increase one’s passion to know the true Self?

MASTER: You need to confront the most pressing questions directly: Who am I? What is Existence? What is God? Then conversely, What is this world? What is pleasure? What is pain? What is happiness? What is unhappiness? You must pursue the answers to these questions exhaustively. If you do so, then your aspiration to seek the Truth will surely increase. That is true passion. These are universal questions.”

I looked at the flyer for a long time, but I could not answer these questions. Yet, at the same time, the world and the values I used to believe in began to crumble.

This transformation was tangibly felt the year after, in 2014 when I visited Kyoto. It was cold in March, and at the home of my fellow gurubhai (brother and sister disciples), for the first time I got involved in the task of cleaning the bathroom, for the first time I got involved in helping out with the preparation of meals, and for the first time I heard the senior disciples’ life stories, the challenges they faced and the faith they had on the path of Yoga—I was deeply moved seeing the way in which they lived their lives so seriously. Nevertheless, I could not understand in the least how they were able to take that first step towards staking their lives on the path of the Truth. So in Satsangha, I asked Shri Mahayogi this question, “Eventually, everything in the world repeats the cycle of life and death, so the world will vanish one day and then will be born again. If that’s the case, what is the meaning of the existence of this world?” Shri Mahayogi answered that “It exists in order to serve all people in realizing that everything in this world is a dream, and for people to wake up from the dream and serve others.” His words resounded in my heart. He gently smiled and looked into my soul deeply with an unshakeable gaze. Indeed, the past troubles, pleasures, pains, times of happiness, they were all like a dream. Everyone (including myself) is working hard, spending their entire lives chasing after a dreamy success. When I thought about that, I was overcome with a sense of emptiness, that everything in the end will vanish. If both are required to make efforts as much to stake my life on it either way, then I thought, wouldn’t it be more worthy of the effort, to realize the Eternal, Unchangeable true Self? Such thoughts began to grow quietly in my mind.

I would like to express my gratitude towards the senior disciples who always helped as much as they possibly could while I stayed in Kyoto. The friendship especially from Anandamali-san, Takashi-san (Ramdas), and Yohei-san (Gopala), nurtured my yearning towards the true Self. The senior disciples’ demonstrations of walking on the path of Yoga always encouraged me. Buddha said, “My disciples are not the ones who merely see my flesh, but the ones who know my teachings.” But then, how do we actually apply the practice into our action? As I saw the disciples in Kyoto and New York always spend time together, live and practice together, I recognized the importance of sangha (like-minded peers). Sangha not only encourages and enlightens one another, but at times, can clash and break apart the ego to eliminate it. I felt the necessity for sangha in Taiwan too. But then I thought, “Will I be able to transmit Shri Mahayogi’s teachings to people in Taiwan, and create and establish a sangha little by little? I am so grateful that Shri Mahayogi blessed this thought, and told me that he is always with me. The words of Shri Mahayogi gave me courage and power, and I began to lead asana and meditation classes once a week when I returned to Taiwan.

Nonetheless, things don’t go that easily. Shri Mahayogi told us that the visible sanskara (potential impressions from past experiences) are like the tip of an iceberg. As soon as I went back to Taiwan, the stubborn desire and ego appeared, and I was tested in my determination. I had an offer from another place to teach Yoga abroad. Then I’m afraid I thought that I could perhaps take this job for a year or two, teaching Yoga in Beijing and India, and then afterwards I could begin applying Shri Mahayogi’s teachings into practice seriously. Even so, I felt—“I can’t bring myself to teach the methods I don’t believe in anymore, nor can I disseminate the teachings of Yoga which my heart can’t even actually put into action for myself!” “Can I really teach the Yoga of Truth?” In my second visit to Kyoto, I received the answer to that.

A student asked me after class, “Lynn,* I know that you have studied Yoga for a long time, and sought and met many yoga teachers. But why did you choose this current teacher?” Well, why did I choose Shri Mahayogi? While I stayed in New York, I often heard in Satsangha, “Put the Truth into actual practice.” A senior disciple who has studied under Shri Mahaoygi for 15 years told me, “For the past 15 years, the teachings that I have received from Shri Mahayogi are always simple, and the Guru always encouraged us to put them into action.” There is no one but a Guru who is truly in the state of Truth that can demand that disciples practice the Truth! There are many teachers in this world who teach only through words, but there is no one else but the only Existence who can truly guide students towards that true Existence!

* Prasadini’s birth name. She received the spiritual name, Prasadini, by Shri Mahayogi in 2017.

That thought was verified in a Satsangha when I went to Kyoto for the second time. At that time, Shri Mahayogi answered to Takashi-san (Ramdas), “At first, you seek to attain the state of Bliss, but afterwards, you become Bliss itself,” and then looked at me with a smile. In that gaze, I felt a Pure Existence. Shri Mahaoygi was permeated with Joy, and I sensed that Shri Mahayogi himself is none other than Joy itself. I laughed and tears came out of my eyes. I found out that that was darshan (the divine gaze) from a Guru. I felt that the darshan I received from Shri Mahayogi filled me with uncontainable blessings and love. In that moment, it became clear to me. I cannot teach Yoga. Going abroad for a year will only fill my ego, and all the efforts I would make for that will vanish like a dream once again—it will be nothing but a waste of time. If I would continue with these plans exactly as they were, then I would ultimately be defeated by the fraud and emptiness within them.

No matter what words I use, I cannot express the gratitude I have towards Shri Mahayogi. After returning to Taiwan from Kyoto, we have worked hard proactively and made efforts to grow the sangha in Taiwan. Even if we cannot do everything right from the beginning, I believe that the secret is within action. We have two Asana & Meditation classes per week, once a month we have a reading group, and we also have other occasional gatherings. Every action is for seeking the Truth, and sangha and these activities give meaning to my life. I could not recognize my Guru at first glance like Yogananda could, but the sincere, earnest exchange between Guru and disciple is beginning to arise within me. I have come to know that I am receiving Shri Mahayogi’s love and guidance. More importantly, I felt the blessing of God. And that blessing is not only given to me, I felt clearly that it is to the sangha in Taiwan!

I will continue to cherish and nurture that sangha from now on, and tirelessly put the teachings of Shri Mahayogi into action.

Prasadini   January 25, 2018.  Taipei
(From the Blog of Mahayogi Mission Kyoto)

Prasadini                  On the board, it is written “Birth, Old age, Sickness, Death. Birth=Karma”

Study Group

Kirtan Practice: Prasadini – lead; Priya – drum, and this must be the occasion that Priya wrote about in the Testimony of Vol.37; and Zhao Yuan – guitar

Taiwan Sangha in Kyoto 2017. On the way to attend Shri Mahayogi’s Jayanti!!!  9 members from Taiwan visited Shri Mahayogi and Sangha in Kyoto, Japan.

Radha, Marula, Prasadini and Priya on the way to go to the activities, Taiwan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And here are the three ladies who now live in Ananda Ashrama, Taipei!

Lilly, Prasadini and Priya

Om Tat Sat, Om!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Pranam to our Most Beloved Shri Mahayogi.

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