Echo from The Cave: 87

Sunday Oct 14, 2018 NYC

Today we would like to introduce the third article of our blog series Actual Practice of Yoga in Everyday Life. This was written by Sadhya in 2017 as a part of a reflection on her practice of asana, which she began daily practice of in 2012, how she practiced during that time and some of her discoveries of what Shri Mahayogi is teaching us along the way.

Her journey doesn’t stop after what is expounded upon here in this writing. Instead, she continues to discover and work towards mastering Shri Mahayogi’s ASANA, so that she can come to know and understand what true ASANA really is.

We recommend that you read her Testimony in the current issue of Pranavadipa (Vol. 47), which is a reflection on her experience having to come to face herself while participating in a kamishibai project in 2013.

Siva Sakti Yoga Painting from 18th Century


Actual Practice of Yoga in Everyday Life 3 :
Overcoming Discomfort

Shri Mahayogi teaches us that asana should be practiced daily as a part of kriya yoga. In kriya yoga, which consists of tapas, svadyaya and ishvarapranidana, asana is where the practice of tapas takes place. Consistent practice of asana may lead to many changes in the physical body, in the mind, and in the amount of energy one has or the amount of sleep that one requires. Asana may have many benefits for the practitioner, but that doesn’t mean that all such benefits are felt right away, nor does it mean that we should focus on attaining those benefits, or measure our practice or the usefulness of our practice based on our perceived notion of what benefits we are receiving from asana or what benefits should look or feel like. More importantly, we need to throw ourselves in and immerse ourselves fully—with sincerity to learn and without concern for the result.

One May Need to Really Put Oneself Through the Ringer

In the practice of asana, we often have to put our bodies into positions that we do not usually take or spend time in. These positions may not always be comfortable and many complaints and concerns are likely to arise. I remember at the end of a small class Anandamali explaining that indeed when we practice asana we are actually intentionally putting the body into an uncomfortable position and then working on focusing on the breath. By doing this, we are actually training the mind. If the position is too comfortable then there is no training for the mind and the benefit is much less. She explained that practitioners who experience more stiffness and less flexibility have their own advantage in asana since they may perhaps have the greatest opportunity to learn how to go beyond both mind and body. So what is this training all for?

Our day-to-day lives!

No matter how much we may wish to be able to control what happens in our lives, and experience only good things, it is inevitable that we are going to experience things that we find pleasing and things that we find unpleasing. We may find ourselves in situations that are comfortable for us, but surely we will also find ourselves in situations that are uncomfortable or less than ideal. Depending on the circumstances, we are pulled without break up and down as we experience comfort and discomfort and then have to deal with it. Yoga teaches us that we cannot avoid what is meant to come to us—this we have already created and is determined by our individual karma. However, what we can do is control the effect that our changing circumstances and experiences have on us. It is completely unnecessary to be pulled up and down and tossed about by our emotional reactions to circumstances that we already know are going to keep changing. But unless we learn how to control the mind and train it accordingly, then we have no choice but to be completely under its control, and to endure these never-ending ups and downs that exhaust us so much.

Later on, I came to understand that, in a way, in asana what we are doing is creating the condition in which practice can be optimized and this training can happen swiftly. This does not only apply to practice of asana though. As our practice begins to extend outside of asana and into all aspects of daily life, yogi often seek to create conditions that are ideal for practice. (But this is a topic to elaborate on more at another time… )

Going back to asana, after a rigorous practice in which we have created many seemingly uncomfortable positions for the body, we may feel soreness in the body the next day and think, “I should rest a day and allow my body to recover.” This is typical thinking when it comes to exercise and sports training. Often the suggestion is that you balance workouts with days of rest and recovery. However, the instruction we receive for asana is to practice everyday, 365 days a year—no breaks.

Once I finally realized after the first few months of practicing with the Mission, that this instruction of practicing everyday also applied to me, I took it very seriously. Before that time, I practiced on the days we had class with the Mission and perhaps another day or two on my own. But on other days, I would practice asana at another school, where I had been attending since before meeting Shri Mahayogi, and where I also happened to be doing some office work at the time. In the beginning, I took the instruction of “practice everyday” quite casually and generally to mean practice any asana daily—it didn’t matter the school or how the asana was instructed, just as long as it was something every day. So, in a way I felt that I was doing that already and therefore this instruction did not apply to me.

But there came a point, when I started to feel that I wanted my practice to go more deeply…but I didn’t know how to make that happen. There was an intense longing to know what to do that settled into my heart. When that yearning became very strong, I clearly remember pleading internally to please be shown the way to deepen my practice, that I would do anything…I just needed to know exactly what to do. That was shortly after Shri Mahayogi arrived for the second time to visit New York after I first met him. There was a class that night, a Wednesday class, and directly at the beginning of the class, Anandamali came to me and presented me with a list of asana that I should take as my practice from that moment on. No longer should I practice with the same sequence as everyone else in the class, but I should follow this order. I looked at the paper. There were some 32 asana listed there. At the top of the paper it had my name and the word “Program.” At the bottom of the paper it was written, “Must practice Everyday! 365-7.”

When I received this paper I was shocked and speechless. I felt that Shri Mahayogi had felt my yearning and that this was the concrete answer and direction that I had just been asking for.  When I saw “Everyday” and “365-7,” I knew right then and there that that was what I was going to do, and there was absolutely no question in my mind about it. I knew that I would not allow myself to not do it—how could I let that happen—this was a direct answer to my most internal request. To not do so would be a waste. I recognized this to be an extremely serious thing and as the concrete demonstration that our prayers are indeed heard and answered.

***

Although I may appear to have a good amount of flexibility in my body, I can honestly say that after I began practicing asana consistently and daily, I think I had soreness in my body for almost 2 years, without break. Even so, I quickly learned that regardless of how sore the body was or wasn’t, I could still practice asana and that soreness really didn’t make the least bit of difference. When I was actually in the practice, I rarely noticed or paid much attention to this soreness. It was only in between practices that I would notice it. But I really was not concerned about it, even though I had it for quite some time. In the past I might have complained about becoming sore from some sort of exercise or physical exertion, but with asana I simply accepted it and therefore no longer felt any complaint or uncomfortable feelings towards it.

A few months after I had been practicing my daily program of asana, I returned to the previous school where I had practiced before meeting Shri Mahayogi. A friend of a friend was visiting from out of the country and really wanted to take a class at that school. And since I already had plans with my friend, we all went to take a class at this school together. My experience in this class was shocking. The only word that came to my mind to describe this class was “violent.”  It’s not that the class was physically violent or overly demanding or anything like that, but rather it was the internal experience that felt so violent in comparison to the practice I had been grounding down into now for a few months without pause. It was then and there that I began to realize how truly fine and refined the practice that Shri Mahayogi teaches us is. There is a meaning and a purpose to everything, every movement, every breath, every direction of the eye gaze, every step-by-step instruction, the order of the asana, every savasana, everything. This fineness comes not from the physical positioning of the body, although that certainly has a part, but from the way in which all of these details and the order of the asana, affect and move the prana throughout the body. The definitive sense that this practice given to us by Shri Mahayogi is so incredibly fine-tuned down to all of the most invisible elements was truly shocking to me.  Never before had I experienced anything like that or had the ability to begin to perceive anything like that. In comparison, the class that I had just attended, even though many of the asana looked very similar, seemed to disturb the physical body and the prana. There was excessive movement that felt too jarring for the body and it felt as if the internal and invisible parts of the practice had been left completely unattended to, and as a result the external seemed to allow the internal prana to run loose, uncontrolled and misdirected in a way that felt as if it could wreak complete havoc!

***

As I continued on in practicing daily, I felt as though my body was becoming entirely reworked.  I still cannot say I know what exactly was happening, but I began to feel as though the body was like an old rag. I was using it to wash and clean day after day, wringing it out again and again and again. Various pains arose and passed away, as did emotions, and memories. It was as if the practice of asana was going into all parts and pushing various things out. Perhaps this feeling of the body becoming worn out like an old rag was a necessary step for me…once many things had been squeezed out, it could start to reconstruct in a way that would be more suitable for the continued practice of Yoga in all its forms.

There may have been times when I pushed too hard in asana. To give an example, there was a time when I developed a pain, deep within the shoulder blade area. For a long time, I disregarded it because as soon as I would begin asana, my focus would go to the breath and I would lose all such sensations of pain or discomfort in asana. I knew that there were certain asana that were exacerbating this pain, but I did not want to not practice them. I felt incredibly committed to adhering to the list I had been given, not understanding that I also had to learn to not hold on too tightly. All practices are means to an end, not the end itself. Eventually all practices must change or fade away as the condition of our mind changes, or our understanding deepens. But that is a lesson it would take me more time to learn. In a way, I feared to shift my practice much, because I felt like that would mean that I was not following Shri Mahayogi’s instruction to me and therefore the asana practice would not serve its purpose correctly (whatever that was—I certainly didn’t understand much then).

When I look back at this time now, I can see that what was lacking in my practice was discrimination. I could not see that I was suffering out of a fear of losing something gained or even simply from the idea of possibly losing something I had not even gained yet, but was hoping for. All of these ideas were stemming from my own imagined idea of what the goal was or should look like. As I practiced further, even these ideas, which seemed to not be subjective at the time, began to reveal their subjectivity. One by one, many of my preconceived notions about what practice of Yoga is and what my aim may or may not look like was shaken and the mind was brought little by little and again and again to have to face itself.

Sadhya   (November 2017)

Echo from The Cave: 86

Friday Oct 12, 2018 NYC

EDITOR’S NOTE: Pranavadipa Vol. 47

Kamishibai 2013


Today, Yoga is almost unknown.

These are the words that were spoken to Shri Mahayogi by an attendee at the end of the Satsangha that is featured in this month’s issue of Pranavadipa (Vol. 47). This Satsangha was the final Satsangha that took place during Shri Mahayogi’s most recent visit to New York this past summer 2018.

From the very start, the questions arose one after another and covered a variety of topics, starting with the meaning of true Love and the application of compassion in any situation. Shri Mahayogi then went on to graciously teach attendees, both new and old alike, about the difference between the mind and the Self, the practical application of yama and niyama, and the four paths of Yoga.

In response to an inquiry about if there is anything he has ever desired, Shri Mahayogi spoke the following: “For people to learn and actually practice the correct Yoga, and then to realize It.”

Through every word, every smile, every moment of laughter and of silence, indeed Shri Mahayogi detailed what the correct practice and understanding of Yoga is, as well as how to apply it practically in our day-to-day lives. If we pay close attention to the teaching contained in just this one Satsangha we can find that Shri Mahayogi is giving us enough to practice for a lifetime!

Today, Yoga is almost unknown. But Shri Mahayogi knows Yoga, because he is in the state of Yoga. We are so grateful that he is here to show us the way!

We can truly come to understand and know the truth of Yoga for ourselves if we actually put the teaching into action. It is the way towards true Freedom, towards knowing our Self.

* * *

The Testimony in this month’s issue is written by Sadhya and is coming from the experiences and the lessons that took place between the winter and late spring of 2013, just less than two years after she first found Shri Mahayogi and started to practice with us. Those of us, who have known her from when she first entered into this practice, clearly recognize how much she has transformed since then. She has matured in so many different ways—leading the Mission’s class strongly, you might not be able to imagine that in the beginning we almost did not even know her voice, even though the power of her concentration and sincerity were definitely present from day one. We saw her hidden strength, but it needed time before it would come out.

But what is it that happened? What happened to her during these years? In this month’s Testimony, written from her own voice, there is a glimpse of exactly that. This is a true story of how one made oneself transform. And her journey continues…

Definitely there is much that we can learn from her inspirational and concrete example of how she tackled herself on the journey towards Freedom.

mana eva manuṣyāṇāṃ kāraṇaṃ bandhamokṣayoḥ ।

The mind is the cause of bondage and liberation.

                                     -Amrita-bindu, Upanishad 2

 

 

Echo from The Cave: 85

Tuesday Oct 9, 2018 NYC

New Program: Introductory 3 class course
“Cultivating the Mind: An Intro to Yoga, Asana, and Meditation”

DESCRIPTION:
Yoga, in the original sense of the word, refers to the state in which the mind is completely quiet and under control—it is a state in which there is purely Joy. There are many practices associated with Yoga, including meditation, all of which have the purpose of guiding the practitioner towards experiencing that ultimate state.

Today the word Yoga is used most often to refer to physical postures, yet Yoga is much more than this and offers benefits to the practitioner that are far beyond that of physical exercise or stretching. In fact, the practice of Yoga is extremely practical for anyone, as it allows one to:

– cultivate a quiet mind
– strengthen concentration
– develop new perspectives
– deepen knowledge of the Self within

This program, a series of 3 introductory classes, will focus on providing an introduction and foundation to what Yoga is, as well as the practices of asana (physical postures used to prepare the mind for meditation) and meditation.

CLASS DATES: Tuesdays October 9th, 16th and 23rd 7:00 – 8:30pm

LOCATION: 4409 30th Ave, #2L Astoria NY 11103

Please contact for class fee details and to RSVP (required):
sadhya@mahayogiyogamission.org / 828.243.1176

NOTE:
• Please RSVP – spaces are limited!
• Bring a mat or towel
• Keep an empty stomach
• Most benefit will be received from attending ALL 3 CLASSES

Echo from The Cave: 84

Tuesday Oct 2, 2018 NYC

Gratitude to Shri Mahayogi

 “One glance can do more than hearing about it a hundred times.” These were among the final words that Shri Mahayogi spoke to those who had gathered to hear his teaching during the last Satsangha of his visit to New York this summer, 2018.

We often hear or read about the great Awakened Beings of the past, but it can be hard to imagine what it might be like to actually be in the presence of an Awakened Master, to hear his voice, to see him in action, or to simply feel his Existence. Many of us may think that Awakened Beings are merely figures of the past and struggle to accept, amidst a culture of hard skepticism, that there could even be the possibility of an Awakened Being living and walking right here among us.

We may read the teachings of Yoga or the teachings of Truth again and again, but similarly, have difficulty actually understanding or applying them in the modern world. The teachings themselves are timeless, but the way they appear today may differ from the way they may have appeared 2000 years ago. Such teachings and concepts can be hard for our minds to grasp unless we see and feel them right in front of us.

 


To our most dear Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa:

You are that Awakened Being who lives and breathes among us. You are the concrete demonstration of each of the teachings. For three months you appeared before us each week and taught those who gathered before you through your every way of being: your gaze, your smile, your movement, your words, and your silence. There are no words that can describe what it is like to be in your physical presence, even though we may try again and again—truly the only way is to see and feel it for ourselves. Then we are beyond convinced that Awakening is real and the attainment and realization of all the teaching of Yoga in this very day and age is possible!

During the three months of your stay, your all-pervading grace entered into our hearts in silence and allowed space for the taste of pure Joy to take hold. We watched in amazement as the faces of those who were regularly attending the classes melted from their stern or worried appearance into brilliant and glowing smiles. There were those who came to meet Shri Mahayogi for the first or second time, and upon receiving your strong yet gentle and loving teaching of the Truth, left feeling lighter, in awe of your vast humbleness, feeling as if they had finally found true Yoga, or simply having clarified the answers to their questions and confusions. When Moksha, who has been living abroad away from sangha for many years, made the trip to see you from Berlin, it was as if his spirit came to life again. His deep gratitude for you and for the opportunity to be and share with your disciples brought inspiration and motivation to those of us in New York who can easily take for granted our opportunity to practice together and to see you every year for those precious several months. We were all reminded that no moment should be taken for granted! Then, towards the end of your stay here in New York, you bestowed upon the NY sangha a strong and sobering teaching, and inspirited us all to seek out the ropes of attachment that tether us to the shore of ignorance and suffering so that we can truly begin the journey along the path of Yoga to reach the other shore—the shore of Truth.

Only three weeks have passed since you returned to Japan but the grace infused within this teaching is continuing to reverberate within the sangha and the search for Truth is deepening little by little.

May we work diligently and tirelessly towards the actualization of Yoga, the actualization and concretization of the Truth. May we have the courage to come face to face with ourselves and the faith to put your teaching into everyday action. And may we spread the existence of Shri Mahayogi through our passion and fervor to seek out the Truth.

 

Namo mahāprabho namo mahāyogin te Oṃ !!!!!!!

 

 

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