Monthly Archives: June 2018

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