Wednesday July 22, 2020 NYC
Do you know what meditation really is?
How do I meditate? What is the benefit of meditation?
If I can’t meditate, what should I do…?
How do you understand the words of Buddha:
“To rely on oneself, to rely on Dharma”?
How do you understand the words of Vivekananda:
“If you cannot, dream but truer dreams”?
If someone were to ask you these questions, how would you answer? What would your answers be based on? And with what level of clarity would you be able to respond?
PASSION: To inquire. To seek to learn. To seek to understand. These are the forces that are essential in propelling one along the path of Yoga, no matter if one is just beginning the practice of Yoga or has been practicing for an extended amount of time.
In this month’s Pranavadipa (Vol. 68) the attendees present in the selected Satsangha represent a range of different practitioners, from brand new beginners, to more advanced, and the types of questions asked to Shri Mahayogi also represent a range in depth of practice. It is fascinating to see how the conversation between this group of practitioners and Shri Mahayogi unfolds and how seamlessly Shri Mahayogi responds to each practitioner, mirroring in his response the level of depth with which each asks their questions.
The Satsangha begins with an inquiry into the meaning of the words of Buddha in the above question, particularly in regards to what “oneself” is referring to and how the practitioner should understand the way to apply this teaching. It then continues into the topic of bhakti, which leads into a conversation about the state of a bodhisattva. As attendees continue to inquire into this state, a connection between it and what is referred to in the words above of Swami Vivekananda is revealed, as is how what is referred to in the Yoga Sutra as dharma megha samadhi is related. Not only does Shri Mahayogi speak with remarkable clarity about the content of this state, but he also speaks about how to progress towards it and how one proceeds from there to the final realization! It is astounding to see the precision and detail with which Shri Mahayogi teaches about these topics—it is so evident that his answer comes from his experience and the state where he is—the complete Pure and Free state, unbound by all the information, ideas and interpretations that our minds are filled with. How rare is the opportunity to receive guidance from one who is in that state, one who can really grasp and know it, the true Master of Yoga, who is in the state of a Buddha.
The Satsangha continues further still, as practitioners inquire into meditation itself, how to overcome obstacles or the feeling of “I can’t meditate,” the most important key to meditation, and the benefits of meditation. This inquiry continues into the topic of attaining to the state of Satori, the preciousness of the opportunity and moment that we have now to do so, and the teachings of the Four Noble Truths as the most relevant and accessible entry-point for anyone standing at the gate of the path of Yoga.
There is so much we can learn and study in this very rich Satsangha. Pranam and our utmost gratitude and reverence to Shri Mahayogi, who graciously offers his words and teachings—the Infinite Knowledge directly coming from his own experience, from the Love and Compassion that spring forth from his presence.
Shri Mahayogi has said in the past that, for himself, he has nothing to say, and that the answers he gives are in the questions asked, suggesting that how and what Shri Mahayogi answers, including the depth and detail of his answer, is in direct proportion with the hunger and depth of inquiry of the practitioner who asks. We also extend our gratitude to the participants of this Satsangha, who asked the questions that allowed for these precious teachings of Shri Mahayogi to come to light.
The Testimony this month is the second part of the writings of Yukti, a disciple of Shri Mahayogi in Japan, whose journey we were first introduced to in last month’s Testimony (Vol. 67) Living on the Words of Mother, Part 1 of 3.
“How can the dying best be served?” —Yukti started to yearn to know the answer when she was working as a nurse, and this became her aim. There may be different approaches to seek out the answer, but Yukti’s approach, as she expressed in her own words, was not to look to “some eminent theorist or researcher within the nursing profession, but a single nun who dedicated her entire life to God. It was Mother Teresa.” Through trying to seek through the life and example of Mother Teresa, she found that the answer was “Being Holy.” Then she realized that “the inquiry I had been pursuing did not come from a sense of my duty as a nurse, but came from an eager desire in the depth of my heart, desperately yearning to save souls.”
In her own words, she then recalled her life, and the time she first encountered Yoga 15 years prior to this writing. “At the time, I was very sick and I didn’t expect to be living 15 years later. As I think about why I encountered Yoga and was allowed to live, I wanted to answer, ‘Yes’ to Mother’s message, no matter how far away I am from being holy at this moment. Because, there is only this reason that I am allowed to live, even now too: to be holy.” With this, her realization reached to the resolution that it must involve the way she lives: “However, just getting that answer was not enough, because the answer must be realized and lived.” Then her journey continues on as she strives for that.
In this month’s Part 2, Yukti’s determination to know how to “Be Holy” is so firm that nothing can stop her—this urge to realize her aim and live in accordance with it, and this drive to win over any hesitation she may have or feeling of self-consciousness that may come up along the way, comes from her seeing only the aim. As she goes towards the aim by diving into the life and teachings of Mother, it is as if she is given a “message” to decode in order to open a door, then after she opens that door, she walks, and comes upon the next “message” to decode for going through the next the door, and in this way she is led forward.
It is the passion with the clarity of an aim and the strong drive to go closer towards it by putting ourselves through a process of learning that gives rise to progress—not following our own ideas of what we think the path should look like.
The great part in this testimony of Yukti is that, through her writing, she allows us to take a peek, in a very concrete way, into what she was thinking and what she was contemplating upon as she progressed each step of the way, and into how she tried to decode each message. Her process, the ways in which she strives to understand and apply her new learnings into her own life situation, gives us much inspiration and provides many opportunities for us as readers to learn an example of how one goes about learning through action driven by working towards an aim. But beneath it all, she must have a deep gratitude and sheer recognition of her life’s mission: “there is only this reason that I am allowed to live.”
There are several aspects of Yukti’s journey that are actually very much connected to the topics in the Satsangha in this issue of Pranavadipa (Vol. 68).
During the Satsangha, there was a question about the possible reasons for which one may get stuck and not be able to meditate even though one tries to practice, and Shri Mahayogi answers that “it all boils down to how crucial the issues upon which one meditates are within the mind.” Yukti’s way of taking action driven by her strong want to attain her aim is an example of exactly that.
Additionally, her journey, a consequence of her sincere seeking with all her heart, mind and strength, naturally led her further and further toward the words of Swami Vivekananda, “dream but truer dreams,” that Shri Mahayogi teaches about in this month’s Satsangha (Vol. 68). The decision to move to Fukushima, the disaster area of the Great East Japan Earthquake, where the people were and still are suffering from the aftermath of the earthquake, the tsunami and the on-going situation with the nuclear power plants, came to Yukti. She wrote, “…as the days passed, I came to know that there is no need to hesitate or to have a particular resolution. Because I felt that working in the disaster area is what God was calling me to do, was asking me to do, so it was a very natural thing.” These words reflect her depth of yearning and the determination of her soul to realize the aim, and this must be precisely what brought Yukti to take action, this recognition that “the answer must be realized and lived.”
There must be many people who are inspired by Mother Teresa and strive to learn and follow her example. However, something that is perhaps a bit distinctive in Yukti’s case, is that by her striving to follow and learn from the example of Mother Teresa as a guide for the purpose of going closer towards her aim—in her own way, without any boundary of religion—she came to know Mother, she came to know the heart of Mother Teresa more and more closely, all the while being guided by Shri Mahayogi. At one point, she wrote, “I could not think about Yoga anymore.” Yet, most importantly, she was very aware that while she was striving to know and live on the words of Mother, her Guru was Shri Mahayogi—and from the larger perspective, Shri Mahayogi was surely guiding her, his grace behind it all. Shri Mahayogi teaches that the content of Yoga is the very essence of religion—Yukti’s story and how Shri Mahayogi, her Guru, guides her, his disciple, is a beautiful demonstration of the way Guru and disciple are bonded in Love and Trust.
In the beginning (Part 1) of the entire article of “Living on the Words of Mother,” Yukti wrote:
“As I began to know her more, I began to think of her words more deeply, meditate on them and I began to act on them. What I have come to understand from that is that if we meditate upon the words of holy beings, and seriously continue to apply them in practice through our actions, then we will surely come to see the Truth ahead.”
It is a very powerful statement!—because these words of recognition come from her very own experience. Only those who have gone through experiencing these processes first hand can really say such things with conviction.
Yukti may not necessarily have been intentionally trying to practice Yoga through her search, yet with the yearning for going towards her aim she threw herself entirely into it, heart and soul, which ultimately led her to unintentionally go through the practice of sadhana in Yoga, and through that she started to come closer and closer to the Truth.
Shri Mahayogi once mentioned that it is of great benefit to have an image of one’s ideal as a siddha (perfected one). And that this ideal should not be one who has been perfected since birth (avatara) but an ordinary person or disciple of an Enlightened Being, just like us, who later became a saint. Your ideal siddha is one who you really admire and who you aim to bring your way of being towards, going ever closer to their heart, even in your own life circumstances—who you study to find out about how they lived their life, and you think and meditate on them, including what led them to become a saint, what the turning points were in their life, what the teachings or lessons were that they learned along the way, what realizations and impulses came about within those turning points, and what actions they made to remain as a siddha, working to deepen their state, rather than turning back.
What we can see in the experience of Yukti, with Mother Teresa as the image of her ideal siddha, is itself a testimony of Shri Mahayogi’s way of guiding his disciples ever-closer to the Truth.