Monthly Archives: December 2017

Echo from The Cave: 67

Wed Dec 27th, 2017    NYC

Swami Vivekananda in Alameda 1900

EXPERIENCE: Use Your Will!

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

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

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

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

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


Echo from The Cave: 66

Wed Dec 20th, 2017    NYC


Being involved in a project with the mission is always a blessing—projects push us to look directly at how the mind imagines things and creates it’s own reality based on our worldly experiences, and at the same time, they create an environment in which to see the teachings of Shri Mahayogi, and have the opportunity to apply them to our own experiences. Ananadamali invited me to study the series of workshops our brother disciple, Sananda, led in Kyoto called “Anyone can Practice Yoga” and the first one in the series was the “Secret of Happiness”. Through this involvement, I was directed towards observing the moments in my daily life in which I am happy, the circumstances that bring that happiness, and to concretely analyze the state of the mind in those moments. But in trying to observe these moment of happiness I started to be more and more aware of all the moments of unhappiness—the moments in which the mind is constantly struggling to get what it wants or run away from that which it doesn’t want.

This was particularly prevalent in the interactions with my friends. I noticed that when I’m in their company, sometimes my tendency is to try to look good in front of them by saying the right thing at the right time. But no matter how hard I try to do so, I always seem to have moments when I’m disappointed with what I say or when those around me are not approving of my views. Upon closer look, most often this is the result of unnecessary talking. The mind is constantly trying to get its happiness from the ideas and situations it imagines, in this case the approval of others, and as soon as those ideas are not matched, the mind faces disappointment, in other words suffering.

If with the help of asana we are slowly walking from the physical towards the control of the breath and eventually our mind, then not talking should be one of the means in which the mind is also brought under control, or at least made to slow down it’s chatter.

So I made a decision to stay quiet in their presence to see what would happen and how my mind would react. Slowly I began to hear my thoughts more and more clearly and how they wanted to constantly burst out using speech as their escape. Another thing was that instead of the mind’s chatter becoming less, it seemed to be amplifying and getting stronger. This was both an opportunity and an unpleasant discovery. The unpleasant discovery was that the more I stayed quiet the more thoughts came, and it felt like the temperature of my brain was literally heating up. But not letting the thoughts escape through their physical form, the words, brought with it the chance of starting to see where they come from and what the intention is behind them. In short, what was I trying to get by saying those thoughts out loud?

It is because of letting the thoughts transform immediately into words, that the practice of discrimination is not possible. It’s like trying to tame wild horses in a pen but always living the door open.

The single act of not letting the thoughts escape will not bring the mind under control or quiet it down, but it does give the precious chance of going after the intention behind them.

So not speaking creates the environment in which we can directly see and determine whether or not the wanting behind the thoughts is in direct alignment with the teachings of our Master, and if not we simply need to let go or renounce them. Not speaking and having gone after those intentions behind the thoughts, and applying the process of discrimination seemed to bring a direct effect in other aspects of daily life, for example being more present in daily activities and being able to concentrate during asana and meditation with more ease. So the practice of asana and meditation will influence the mind during our interaction with the world, but applying the precious teachings of Shri Mahayogi in daily life brings a stronger mind and makes for a more powerful ground in which meditation can actually begin to take place.


Echo from The Cave: 65

Wed Dec 13th, 2017    NYC

Editor’s Note: Pranavadipa Volume 37

December 8th marks the day that, after having determined single mindedly, with no other desire in his heart, to sit until he had fully realized the Truth, the Buddha awakened into Satori, the One Eternal Truth.

On this same day, in 2017, we have started a new cycle of Pranavadipa—our fourth year! As disciples living far away from our Master, it was out of our desire to stay connected, our  eagerness to know and live our master’s teachings, and in feeling that his teaching is far too precious, too immense and too grand for our hearts alone to keep, that three years ago we began  Pranavadipa  with the hope of introducing Shri Mahayogi’s existence and his teachings to others. We hope to reach many people and also ask that you join in our efforts by supporting this work so that we can continue to make this teaching available.

Last month in Pranavadipa, Vol. 36, we had the chance to read in the Testimony some articles written by Anandi, a disciple of Shri Mahayogi in Japan. Many people mentioned how beautiful it was to read Anandi’s articles, especially the part when, upon hearing Shri Mahayogi’s advice, she apologized to her father, with whom she had had a strained relationship, for her disrespectful behavior, vowing to change herself. Indeed, it is quite a beautiful and remarkable act, but we should not remain with just the feeling that it is beautiful or remarkable, because within that act there is an important secret that we must discover for ourselves.

The other day, at the end of our class, Sadhya shared with us that although she herself had started to practice asana and meditation daily right away after meeting Shri Mahayogi, she was amazed by how straightforwardly Anandi put Shri Mahayogi’s first advice to her into action in daily life and how clear her aim must have been from the get go in order to do so!

It was from that moment of the very first meeting  that Anandi put all her efforts towards acting upon the teaching that she had received from Shri Mahayogi. Whether it was due to Anandi’s sincere desire to improve something about herself and her situation, or whether it was due to what that first meeting with Shri Mahayogi kindled within her, one thing is for certain: because of Anandi’s clear aim and passion towards it, she was able to act immediately on the teaching, without question, without complaint, and as a result she was able to experience the concrete result. There is so much we can learn from that!

In Pranavadipa (Volume 37), the theme of passion towards one’s aim arises once again in the Satsangha and in the Testimony. Both are coming from Taiwan.

The Satsangha is the second of four Satsangha that took place in Taipei when Shri Mahayogi visited Taiwan for the first time in May this year, at the invitation of disciples.

From Shri Mahayogi’s first visit to Taiwan in May 2017

Well over one hundred seekers gathered to meet Shri Mahayogi, recognizing the rareness and preciousness of this opportunity. For the majority of the attendees, this was their first opportunity to meet Shri Mahayogi, and not knowing when such an opportunity may arise again, attendees brought their earnest questions as well as a true desire to learn the teaching of the Truth and to apply the teaching practically in their lives. In their questions, the attendees gradually began to open themselves more and more to Shri Mahayogi, and as a result of their open search to resolve their heartfelt inquiries, Shri Mahayogi offers some of the most basic and foundational teachings of Yoga in a way that gives everyone the most practical tools to move forward in walking the path of Yoga.

The Testimony, which is written by Priya, is truly a testimony to her concrete experience of the efforts she has made towards putting the teaching of Yoga concretely into practice. Even though the sangha in Taiwan is relatively new in relation to sangha in Japan or in New York, the hunger for the teaching is strong and it is easy for us to feel inspired to clarify our own aim.

It is invigorating to read through the Satsangha and Testimony and feel the fresh energy that comes from the sincerity of wanting to learn and practice, indeed. The following is also a great example of this sincerity. It is an article written for the Mission’s blog in Kyoto by our new sangha member, Pan Pan, from Taiwan, right before Siri Mahayogi’s second visit to Taiwan this year.

Sangha in Taiwan in March 2017. Practicing and preparing for Shri Mahayogi’s first visit to Taiwan. (form left) Priya (in the front), Sou, Pan Pan, Marula, Mirabai (visiting from Kyoto), Tzu Yi and Radha


How I Felt Encountering Shri Mahayogi

In May 2017, Shri Mahayogi came to Taiwan for the first time, and four special Satsangha were held.

During the first Satsangha, as soon as Shri Mahayogi entered the room, tears began to flow out of my eyes like a broken faucet. It was not as if my mind was sad or suffering, so I didn’t know why I couldn’t stop the tears at all. I’ve never experienced anything like it before, and I still don’t know the reason for it.

On the afternoon of May the 13th, the third Satsangha was held.

Before every Satsangha, I wrote down many questions on paper. But, since the participants’ thirst for the unknown was all similar to each others’, my questions were resolved one by one through the questions and answers of others’. Shri Mahayogi answered everyone’s questions with such unwavering earnestness!  He also made it clear for us, with simple answers, that there is only “That,” and that the Truth is not something that is out of reach. However, there was one question that arose in my mind…

In that moment, after Shri Mahayogi answered one of the participant’s questions, there was a pause. Then I tried to raise my hand, but Shri Mahayogi still continued to answer the previous question. I was seriously, deeply listening, so I forgot to raise my hand and others kept asking questions. But it appeared to be that no one asked the question that came to my mind, and that question kept lingering within me. After several questions and answers passed, I finally got the chance to ask my question!

When I raised my hand, Shri Mahayogi looked at me firmly. That gaze spoke to me, as if he said, “Hi Pan Pan, I know you. You have finally raised your hand. I know what you want to ask, but say it anyway.”

Pan Pan: “What is the relationship between Guru and disciple? My current understanding is that, when we are children, the teacher is always close to us. I’m sure someone like Shri Mahayogi has many disciples by his side. At the same time, many other disciples cannot be with you all the time. For those disciples that can’t be near, how can they learn?”

After hearing the translation, Shri Mahayogi nodded and said, “The Buddha, before he passed away, said the following words, ‘He who sees merely my body does not truly see me. Only he who lives my teachings truly sees me.’”

What an intense, powerful and reassuring answer! My eyes were immediately filled with tears.

Then, Shri Mahayogi explained the relationship between Guru and disciple in the following way, as a metaphor of light and darkness: “Darkness is ignorance, and in order to eradicate ignorance, light is needed. Originally, disciples are light as well, but it is hidden at the moment. When the disciple’s ignorance is removed by the help of a Guru, then true light appears. In the end, the Guru’s light and the disciple’s light become One. Because originally it was One to begin with.”

At that moment, a ray of light shone through the window from the cloudy sky. Shri Mahayogi’s body became brilliant and his face emitted light. He smiled gloriously. It was as if time stopped, and the room was filled with silence.

Shri Mahayogi continued: “Continue to learn and practice Yoga with an easy mind. I will try to make this body visible to you as much as possible.”

Upon hearing this, Shri Mahayogi, who was blurry from my tears, again appeared clearly. I nodded, was content, and cried while laughing at the same time with joy.

The answer from Shri Mahayogi became my treasure. These days when I meditate, I think of that precious, blessed time.

In another Satsangha, there was another answer that left an impression on me. One of the participants who also served as staff like me asked, “How should we see Shri Mahayogi?”

Shri Mahayogi, smiling, said, “Consider me to be yourself.”

Shri Mahayogi told us that we must practice by putting the teachings of Yoga into action. It’s been four months since then, and every time I think of these words, my mind is filled with strength and light. I began to gradually change my old life patterns. No matter how late I come home from overtime at my job, I have been trying to discipline myself to keep up with what I need to do in my daily life. For example, waking up early to make breakfast and lunch, not overeating with the amount of food, and changing my old habits; using ecological containers; practicing asana every day as much as I can (even though there are times when I’m too tired and I can’t stop yawning late at night, I still keep practicing each asana with all my might until my limit); no longer letting myself be late for work in the morning (simply so that I can earn a reward for attendance and donate it to Shri Mahayogi’s next visit to Taiwan); and training myself to not be affected by things I like or dislike at work and in life…etc. etc.

The other day I felt that lately my mind has become more at peace. When it comes to concerns about my future, I have stopped having so much fear and doubt.

I heard that Shri Mahayogi will visit again in October, which makes me very happy, so much so that I cannot contain myself. I’m so looking forward to it. I pray that even more people can meet Shri Mahayogi, and receive the strength to support themselves, just like me.

Pan Pan


Already many staff voluntarily and willingly put forth their efforts for Shri Mahayogi’s first visit to Taiwan, even though half had not even met Shri Mahayogi yet. The sangha in Taiwan is so cheerful. There were so many smiles and laughs as they coordinated with each other out of a true sense of purpose for doing such a great service. This photo was taken after trying to create the proper space for Satsangha. Naturally a meeting formed outside the room to discuss.


Congratulations to the Sangha in Taiwan!  On December 5th, 2017,  the first publications of Shri Mahayogi’s teaching in Chinese was released: Yoga Asana with Illustrations-Basic!!!  

For information about the class in Taipei and publication in Chinese, please contact:



Echo from The Cave: 64

Tue Dec 5th, 2017 22:30 pm, NYC

Invitation to step towards Satori:
What is Happiness?

What is happiness? This was a question presented at the end of class the other day by Ekanta. This question left everyone quite confounded because we all admitted that we never really gave much thought to what that phrase really meant to us. We hear the terms “Eternal Bliss” and “Eternal Happiness” used by Enlighted Beings all the time and assume it must be some out of this world experience. To learn how we can confront ourselves in order to move forward in clarifying our aim, we were asked to inquire within ourselves honestly and define, according to our own experience, what happiness means to each of us.

Over the following days I asked myself what happiness means to me. Am I even happy now in my life? To be honest, I couldn’t answer any of these questions because I never defined this idea for myself before. I could see that I had ideas society has told me should be moments of joy or happiness, such as achieving a goal or being with family and loved ones. My personal view would be that I feel most happy when I’m pushing the edge and feel alive. In doing these observations, I realized a connection in the moments I would say that I feel happy or joyful, whether that’s having a good lap at an autocross event or having some beautiful woman smile at me. It was all dependent on a favorable condition or result. I reflected on what Ekanta spoke about that night when he mentioned that the reason he had loved surfing was because of the peace that he got from being away from the everyday hustle and the attention he received from others when riding a wave. In observing these correlations that the mind is finding happiness from these positive conditions I began to play a game with my mind and make the outcomes  negative rather than positive; what if Ekanta crashed badly on a wave and was booed or mocked, what if that beautiful lady looked at me scornfully or I didn’t find her attractive at all?; how would I or Ekanta feel? My response would be negative I felt, and am sure Ekanta would not feel good either.

Shri Mahayogi’s teachings about what Truth is immediately came to mind. Truth is not dependent on anything or anyone, it simply exists. This contradiction became very apparent to my mind. Whenever I felt happy or sad it was due to favorable or unfavorable conditions according to the conditioning of my mind. My whole life for a moment began to feel like a lie or just an illusion.

I began to apply this approach of discrimination to many various aspects of my life, with various desires or attachments that the mind tends to be attached to, and the results were all the same, all my attachments are conditional. As I adjusted the variables more and more according to each condition, my mind’s attachments began to weaken, like water tossed on hot steel. In certain situations, just feelings of neutrality occurred. The real difference was observed when I would confront the mind with what Truth is and what It’s not, which it could not deny that this happiness or joy which it claims  to feel is nothing but a lie. True joy would not need the support or condition of something or someone to exist.

When I was asked what do I feel happiness is, I had to admit that I don’t know what that is. All my experiences have been conditional, not based on Truth. What I look forward to as I continued  on, is not happiness but serenity, where the mind is not influenced either negatively or positively by its environment. It can observe and experience the world and remain calm without becoming attached.