Tuesday January 1, 2019 NYC
Greetings & New Schedule Times for Programs with Shri Mahayogi
Happy New Year!
A new year brings new beginnings and new opportunities to deepen and further in practice of Yoga. In this new year, whether we are new to Yoga or long-time practitioners, let us look with fresh eyes upon the teachings, take on the mind of the beginner, and take each and every opportunity to apply the teachings in our daily life, so that the essence of Shri Mahayogi’s teaching, the heart of Yoga, is brought to take form in the way we live our everyday lives.
This New Year is very special since Shri Mahayogi will be arriving to NY in just two short weeks. Don’t miss this invaluable opportunity to learn from and be in the presence of the Master who abides in the ultimate state of Yoga.
In consideration of winter travel, we have made a change to the time for Shri Mahayogi’s Sunday program.
The Sunday Sadhana Program directed by Shri Mahayogi will be held from 3-5pm at Still Mind Zendo, instead of our regularly scheduled 7-9pm Sunday class.
Register for the Sadhana Program through Eventbrite
Satsangha will still be held Feb. 2nd & 23rd, 3:00-4:30pm. Location TBA.
Register for Satsangha through Eventbrite
To honor how precious the opportunity is to meet a Master of Yoga, we would like to share the following account of one person’s experience of coming to meet Shri Mahayogi for the first time.
MEETING WITH THE MASTER
“Fix your mind on Me alone, rest your thoughts on Me alone,
and in Me alone you will live hereafter. Of this there is no doubt.”
—Words of Krishna, Bhagavad Gita, Ch. 12 Verse 8
I was standing by the stairs of a subway station. I don’t recall now where I was coming from or where I was going. But I had stopped and was just standing still there by the green painted fence that is the hallmark of every subway station in New York.
It was in that moment that the thought “There is nothing I want in this world,” crystalized in my mind with such clarity that I could have reached out my hand and taken hold of it. My heart became full with one desire alone: to give my life completely to serve God.
It was a strange thing for me to want. Growing up I had gone through various phases of how I related to the idea of God. There was a time when I went along with whatever idea was presented to me in church—that’s just what there was and it was all I had been introduced to. Then there was a time when I became disenchanted with the Christian idea of God and spent my time praying to and revering the Great Spirit that I had read about in books that my uncle had sent me about the lives of different Native American peoples. Then as a teenager I followed my sister’s lead and rejected God entirely. God did not exist and religion, in all of its hypocritism, was a joke. I looked down on the Christian religion and put myself above those who believed in God. “Those people” were delusional, discriminatory and were always trying to shove their own beliefs onto someone else. I set myself apart from that—not only because of my cynicism, but also because that is what I thought the “cool” thing to do was. I didn’t want anything to do with the Christian religion and I didn’t want anything to do with God.
I can’t say that I knew much about other religions—the diversity of my religious education was extremely limited. But I knew that there were ongoing wars with all violence and atrocities being justified by religion…and that was something that I simply could not understand or accept. So I rejected, and for many years I had maintained this mindset, or some variation of it. It was only within the prior few years, really since reading Autobiography of a Yogi and being introduced to some of the Yoga scriptures, like Bhagavad Gita, that my idea of God had begun to soften and my heart had started to open itself more and more to want to know God.
And now there I was turning my everything to God. I didn’t know what God was and I didn’t have any idea what it might mean to give my life to God or to serve God—all I knew was that that was the only thing I could see that would be worth living my life for. Everything else was empty. Everything else was false. I was ready to start making arrangements to leave New York. My first thought was to go to India, to find an Ashram where I could give up everything else, live in seclusion, and devote only to the spiritual life. My interest in worldly life was gone.
It was a mere one or two days later that a friend of mine told me in conversation that there was Yoga master in New York that he had heard about and had gone to see. He pulled a small book out of his bag—The Universal Gospel of Yoga—and handed it to me. I held it in my hands. The unique style of its design, the image of a yogi on the front and the smiling image of this Yoga master just inside stood out to me. As my friend talked about this Yoga master, I listened intently but I didn’t realize that I might actually be able to meet this master myself. My friend told me that he would be attending a program with this master over the weekend and would let me know how it was afterwards.
The next week, I met my friend to hear his experience. Right away I felt something was different. He was quieter than before and something had changed in him. When he spoke about the Yoga master, tears came to his eyes and I could feel his emotion, as if he had found something that was long lost. He mentioned to me “You should meet him for yourself.” Until then I hadn’t even realized that that was a possibility. Somehow in my mind I had thought that this was not a person you could just go and meet. You had to know somebody or be invited…or something. My friend went on to tell me that this Yoga master, Shri Mahayogi was his name, was from Japan and was actually only visiting New York. He would be giving a few Yoga classes before he returned and one Satsangha (gathering for question and answer). My friend was leaving the country the next day so he would not have any more opportunity to see Shri Mahayogi again, but he passed along the information and encouraged me to go.
It’s Not Easy to Meet a True Master of Yoga
After I went home, I immediately looked up the Mahayogi Yoga Mission’s website. I found there the remaining classes offered with Shri Mahayogi and the one Satsangha. The first to be offered was a Raja Yoga class. The class fee was more than what I was accustomed to and at that time my budget was tight, but I was determined to meet this master, so I decided, “I will at least attend one class.” As requested on the webpage, I called the number listed to reserve my space.
The day of the class came and so did Hurricane Irene. The day before the class, the city announced the possibility of the subways and buses being closed and the city being gridlocked. Concerned about having to miss the class because of not being able to get there, I called again the same number I had called to reserve my spot in the class. I saw this as my opportunity to meet Shri Mahayogi, this great Master whose presence seemed to have transformed my friend so quickly…I was ready to walk from 191st street to 10th street if I needed to…but then there was a hurricane, so I wasn’t sure that would be the best idea either. The same woman’s voice that had answered when I reserved my space again sounded from other end of the line. She informed me that it was undecided whether the class would be held or not, but that there would be an announcement online soon.
I must have called back again at least once after that just to check to see if a decision had been made. When I finally heard that the class would be cancelled I was relieved on the one hand that I would not have to miss it because of not being able to get there, but on the other hand I felt as if I was missing a great opportunity.
The class was rescheduled and that opportunity finally came. I arrived early for the class and there was one woman, who I would later learn to be Karuna, there setting up. I asked if I could help with anything and she graciously allowed me to move some flower vases around. I don’t recall many other details about how Shri Mahayogi entered or how the class began. I just know that I was practicing in the front row and just to the right of where Shri Mahayogi was stationed at the front of the class.
During the asana, I was surprised at how many and how detailed the instructions were. Two women were leading the class through voice and making many of the adjustments to the practitioners. It seemed a little overwhelming at times, I wasn’t used to anyone paying much attention to what I was doing in asana practice, but here it seemed that there were many details to attend to. We held each asana for what seemed to be an unusually long time, and rested between each. All of it was new and different, even though I had been practicing asana for some time beforehand. When it came time for headstand, I went ahead, as I normally would. I had no problem or struggle practicing headstand, so I was quite surprised when I suddenly felt Shri Mahayogi himself at my side. His presence was so undeniably strong and different from anything I had felt before. As he guided me to a straighter position my heart suddenly started to fluctuate. This was highly unusual and for a moment I felt worried—should I release and come down? But then immediately I thought: No. Shri Mahayogi is the Master, he will not lead me to harm. The flashing memory of a story I had heard about the willingness of a disciple to follow any instruction of the Master came to my mind. I will stay until he tells me to release, no matter what. Although in that moment I didn’t really know who Shri Mahayogi was, I felt as if this was my test, my test to see how willing I was to surrender and put my trust in the Master.
Before meditation, Shri Mahayogi sat in front of me and patiently showed me each sitting position. I was taken aback by his kind face, his penetrating eyes and his smile that seemed to reach into the depths of my heart. At the end of the class, I don’t remember if he spoke or not, I just couldn’t stop gazing at him. It was as if he was surrounded in a brilliant light, shining as brightly as the sun. I didn’t want him to leave…but class ended.
As attendees where rolling up mats and leaving the classroom, Anandamali approached me. Surely we must have exchanged a few words, but I don’t remember much. The only thing that stands out with crystal clear clarity is that she looked me straight in the eyes said “Welcome home,” and then pulled me in for a strong hug. The world started spinning around me and I felt as if I might pass out. Something was happening…I couldn’t name it but I felt it with my senses. I had arrived home—and my entire being was recognizing it, whether my mind could in that moment or not.
Although I had not intended to attend any other classes with Shri Mahayogi after that (mostly out of concern for my finances), I put everything else to the side and made sure that I came to both the Satsangha and the last class before Shri Mahayogi returned to Japan. I don’t remember much of the Satsangha, I didn’t ask a single question, I only sat close, right in front of Shri Mahayogi and gazed at him, not wanting to turn my eyes away from him for a moment.
At the end of the last class, as Shri Mahayogi walked out of the room, tears came and I longed for him not to leave. It felt as if I had found my father, and then had to say goodbye, not knowing if or when I would see him again.
After that, I only wanted to go home and be by myself. My sleep was different that night and at one point I suddenly awoke in tears with the image and presence of Shri Mahayogi hanging in my mind. I felt that he was with me and would continue to be with me. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude that all I could do was cry and bow down to God—even though I didn’t understand much of anything then—something told me that God had given me what I was yearning for. Somehow this was my answer to “devoting my life to serving God.”
October 14, 2018