Monthly Archives: September 2020

Echo From The Cave: 134

Saturday Sep 26, 2020 NYC

Yoga in Action: Reflection from a Practitioner

How Do I “Turn It Around”?
by Karuna
New York, September 26, 2020

One of the main topics introduced in the Mission’s online event on August 14th, titled, True Independence of the Mind, was “turning it around.” During that time, I understood at least that our mind’s desires lead us toward trying to control things that are not controllable and that this is a constant cause of suffering, especially in such a changing world. Nonetheless, even if I had made some efforts to understand this concept a few times, when I spoke with senior gurubai about how to apply that in my own life, it was not easy to know where to begin. My mind tried hopelessly to bend and shape itself to understand this “turning it around.”

One evening, in a group conversation during Study in Practice,[1] Anandamali walked me through the example Aniruddha spoke about in the event, when he saw clearly how his mind’s obsession with securing his financial stability during these unstable times, blocked him from seeing the immediate need of somebody else, and also from recognizing his own ability to make a difference in that person’s life. When he turned his attention from himself to the other person’s need, he was able to understand more what is meant by the independence of the mind from its own desires and the suffering they bring about. Intellectually, I could grasp the example, but felt that such “turning it around” skills were not so developed in me yet, and I couldn’t figure out how to approach it in a way that did not feel so mechanical and clumsy.

My summer assignment had been to translate into Spanish the Testimony of a gurubai in Japan, Yukti, which began in an article posted on MYM’s website, “Searching for God’s Love,” and continued in the recent issues of PranavadipaVol. 67, 68 and 69. Her writing contains a detailed account of how, while working as a nurse, the question emerged from her heart about how to best serve the dying. In this long quest, Yukti chose Mother Teresa as her guide, the Saint in whom she uncovered a treasury of teachings of Truth coming from the Christian tradition. Yukti’s journey was not simply about finding a methodology, it was about discovering through her own search, what was behind Mother Theresa’s Love and surrender to God in the form of Jesus. What Yukti, a non-Christian Yoga practitioner, slowly uncovered about Mother Teresa made me feel that even though I grew up in a Catholic household and educational system, I had never understood even superficially who Mother Teresa was or her real mission. Quietly and secretly fascinated, I felt that Yukti, through Mother Teresa, was teaching me for the very first time, the meaning of Love, but I did not want to talk about it to anyone.

The work of the translation continued and so did my uncomfortable and disjointed efforts to “turn it around.” Until one day, a huge obstacle appeared very boldly right in front of me: it was the question, “What do I want to live for?” It was simply torturous to know that I wanted to live for true Love, or for the Truth, but that despite this, my mind was still unwilling to move freely in that direction. I began to see so discernibly that everything came down to one single choice, and that was the choice I had been avoiding my whole life.

The summer continued and I struggled along with this load in my heart. Until one day this summer I received a package, a birthday gift in the mail from Anandamali. For some unknown reason, I was nervous. In the package I felt the shape of a book, and when I saw its cover, I immediately had the overwhelming feeling that within this book was the power to change everything that I had been trying to change. What strongly and instantly caught my attention was the cover photo: Mother Teresa tenderly embracing a young child. It sent ripples all through me. I had to close my eyes to manage the power of those ripples as they reverberated through me so strongly. I said to myself, “Take it, you have to take it.” Then, I was able to read the title: Donde hay amor, está Dios (in English: Where There is Love, There is God.) This moment was the beginning of a change.

Since that day, I have been trying to understand where those ripples, such immense Love, come from, and how I can also find their source within me, so that it can be made possible to share with others. I was convinced that there is nothing more nourishing than feeling so loved and cared for, being fully embraced and fully embracing without any boundary whatsoever! The first urge was to understand Mother Teresa’s embrace. Through Yukti’s writing and Mother Teresa’s book, I began to understand that the Mother loved Jesus within every being that she encountered, particularly the poor and forgotten ones. As I read, I began to discover why this was so.

In Christianity, the “Passion” of Christ commonly refers to the events in the life of Jesus from the moment he was arrested, the journey on foot carrying the cross, and finally, his crucifixion. For the Mother, his Passion represents his complete renunciation and self-sacrifice throughout his entire life. Her deep adoration toward Jesus comes from the recognition of how, while bringing the Gospel, the “good news” of the limitless love of God for all his creatures, he bore the pain of fulfilling the command of his Father, leaving us a gift and an example of perfect humility and compassion. For the Mother, clearly this Passion was not just physical—he lived and spoke the Gospel uncompromisingly, despite poverty, rejection, betrayal, shame, arrest, torture and crucifixion, and NEVER blamed anyone. Mother Teresa spoke about the example of Jesus using the words, “Love until it hurts.” Everything that Mother Teresa did for others, she did to care for that Jesus who ached to awaken the compassion in us, so that we could then come close to his heart, God itself. And it is in this that I began to perceive the sublimity of Jesus’ sacrifice and why it is considered our way to salvation—Satori. “You will come to the Father through Me.”[2]

I began to see Mother Teresa’s relationship to Jesus as that of a disciple and her Master. Her embrace of Jesus within everyone was her way of serving Jesus, whom she recognized in the sufferers saying, “I thirst.” “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). Mother Teresa’s acceptance of that call from her Master guided her every action. So, one day, while staring at that cover photo, I finally determined that I had to embrace my Guru, and accept the calling to carry out his teachings in my life, in other words, let go of whatever was holding me back from that embrace. And, looking at that picture I vowed to do what Shri Mahayogi has been guiding all of us to do and Mother Teresa is showing us through her example: to sacrifice ourselves for others, to Love until it hurts, and in this way, touch the Love of God that is there in our very own hearts. Mother Teresa explained, “He did not come to bring peace to the world, the peace that consists of not bothering one another; he came to bring peace of the heart, born from loving, doing good for others.”[3]

Mother Teresa, through Yukti’s example, has led me back to read and seek to absorb the substance of Shri Mahayogi’s teachings, out of a real need and longing. I see much more clearly now how Shri Mahayogi has laid it all out, as simply and directly as possible, but I was not able to “take it” because I had not understood why I needed to “take it.” My urgent aim now is to purify my mind—through the longing for being close to that source of Love, that living true Self—and to begin the work of “turning it around” every moment.

I have much to do, but I am grateful that through the grace of Shri Mahayogi and the care of his disciples around me, my eyes and my heart began to open so that I can finally begin to practice and walk the path of Yoga for the very first time.

[1] A program run by Mahayogi Yoga Mission since 2018 for the purpose of deepening spiritual practice and understanding through acting upon and thereby experientially learning the teachings of Yoga.

[2] John 14:6. Referred to in “Jesus and His Teachings”, from The Universal Gospel of Yoga, where Shri Mahayogi explains that “Me” means pure mind, the mind-quality of sattva in Yoga.

[3] De Calcutta, Teresa, and Brian Kolodiejchuk. Donde hay amor, está Dios (in English: Where There is Love, There is God: A Path to Closer Union with God and Greater Love for Others).

Echo From The Cave: 133

Saturday Sep 19, 2020 NYC

Pranavadipa in Action: Reflection from a Reader

The Necessity of Accepting Pain
by Ekanta
New York, September 19, 2020

Probably one of the advantages of thinking about and trying to understand the teachings of Yoga is that, in time, and unexpectedly, there will be moments in which our mind will begin to relate what is happening during our everyday lives to one of the teachings of Yoga, and based on that, we might even start asking ourselves if the mind patterns that develop as a result of those experiences are truly who we are.

One of these moments happened in me when all of a sudden, a strong feeling arose within to look into what it is that I really want, and especially, what the reason is for why I’m practicing Yoga.

Right away I recognized that I didn’t have an answer one hundred percent clear in my mind yet, so in that moment the thought that came to my mind was: “I’ll read Pranavadipa”—our monthly online-publication that contains transcripts of Satsangha, meetings with Shri Mahayogi, and Testimonies of practitioners of Yoga. Not too long after I started reading the current issue, Vol. 70, I found a lot of content in it that could help me get closer to the answer I was searching for.

One of the chapters was “Ekagrata—100% Fervor.” Ekagrata means one-pointed concentration. Shri Mahayogi explains that in Yoga one-pointed concentration towards the goal is crucial, and that one of the ways, in which it is created, is by arriving at a point of extreme discomfort as a result of observing and accepting that the world we live in is imperfect, and from here accepting that suffering is unavoidable.

Shri Mahayogi says:

“…by looking at the world and feeling it, the various problems, like the contradiction and the dilemma of an ideal world will come to the surface. These will then connect to that sense of discontent and despair.”

Reading this, I couldn’t help but notice that one of my tendencies is that at times when I find myself in an uncomfortable situation, instead of accepting it as an unavoidable condition that is common to living in this world, I tend to try to escape by using the outside world to create a different condition in order to feel better. It seems that this is because I don’t yet fully accept that the world will always change, and that the source of my suffering is not in the world, but it is in the fact that my mind thinks that the world can provide me with a permanent source of happiness.

Another thing that I’m trying to accept in reading the current issue of Pranavadipa Vol. 70, is that whenever I find myself in the condition of discomfort, especially in those moments when there is no escape and my mind feels trapped, that that is actually a blessing—because it seems that this will create the necessary passion towards focusing more and more intensely on finding the goal and dedicating myself to achieving it.

The first teaching of Buddha is that “Everything is suffering.” Accepting that, because the world is always changing and this change will affect me, is in a way accepting that I’m always bound to suffer. It seems that this will give rise to the urge and the focus to find the condition in which my mind is not bothered anymore by these changes.

I think that in my case, I would have probably never even tried to look objectively at the world if not for the teachings of Yoga. This is one of the reasons I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet and study the teachings under the guidance of Shri Mahayogi and in the company of his disciples.

Thank you very much again Shri Mahayogi, for blessing us with your presence in this world!

Echo From The Cave: 132

Sunday Sep 13, 2020 NYC

Editor’s Note: Pranavadipa Volume 70

“Even if the world is chaotic, it’s not the world that is struggling.
What is struggling, what is suffering, is each and every individual mind.
Therefore, what needs to be healed is each and every person.”
—Shri Mahayogi, January, 2013 in Kyoto

It is said that the Truth is one and the same, throughout all eras—past, present and future—across all locations, and in all people, regardless of creed, culture, or any other factor.

The world may seem to be increasingly turbulent, uncertain and filling with hardship, yet the same teaching of Truth that has been taught from thousands of years ago, should apply to modern times, regardless of the ebb and flow of seeming stability or instability within the circumstances of the world.

At times in our lives we may look around us and perceive joyfulness and prosperity within our world, while at other times we may experience quite the opposite, and instead perceive pain and suffering. Then of course, there is every experience in between, various combinations of these two extremes.

How can we manage amidst the uncertainty of the worlds ups and downs, not to mention the ups and downs of our own minds? How can we live upon Yoga to ease the suffering of our own minds, of the people around us, and of the entire world?

Swami Vivekananda on the platform of the World’s Parliament of Religion, Chicago Sept 1893. He was at 30.

The year 2013 was the 150th anniversary of Swami Vivekananda’s holy birth. Swami Vivekananda is one of a few Enlightened Beings that Shri Mahayogi advices his disciples and seekers to study and learn from, so naturally disciples had already determined to focus the entire year around aligning themselves especially with the teachings and life of Vivekananda, to bring his spirit concretely into the 21st century. What an inspirational undertaking in and of itself—to bring and embolden the spirit of a great saint into the modern day will undoubtedly bring the reach of the positivity of Truth to an ever-widening circle! The content of this month’s Pranavadipa (Vol. 70)  is from a few Satsangha held in Kyoto, Japan during that year, 2013, one of which is from a Satsangha that took place at the Ashrama, which happened to be on the exact day of the birth of Swami Vivekananda, and from the Satsangha that took place on the Saturday that followed. Thus, many of the topics in this Satsangha naturally center around what attendees have been learning about Vivekananda as they strive to understand his spirit and dynamic work, and to align themselves with him.

The details of the world’s happenings of course differ from what they are today, yet there is much to learn from the life and teachings of Vivekananda for those of us living in today’s world of 2020, too, and much that we can apply, especially with Shri Mahayogi as our guide, constantly illuminating and clarifying the truth of Yoga for us in a way that we can better understand and move forward boldly. The contents, in fact, come to us this month at what seems to be just the right moment.


“A single individual’s experiences are truly insignificant.
However, meditation contains the power
that can expand one’s experience to a cosmic scale.”

Shri Mahayogi  January, 2013 in Kyoto

It may be a common human experience to live our lives day-to-day and be caught up in the matters that most concern us—our interactions, our activities, our own experience. Our own little world may expand to a variety of reaches, but no matter the reach, it is most likely revolving around each one of ourselves—in other words, the “I” is always at the center and everything that is seen and understood is through the experience of this “I”.

In the content of the Satsangha this month, through the example of Swami Vivekananda, Shri Mahayogi is pushing us to expand beyond the world of our own experience, to break through the limitations of our mind and its many notions and ideas that stand in the way of us being able to sense the need of the world—beyond just our own scope—and act accordingly. Shri Mahayogi also breaks down the reality of the world and its nature, the reason for which Swami Vivekananda spoke of “a peaceful world” as “hot ice,” and goes on to teach us about the necessity and power of ekagrata, the cultivation of faith, the way of learning through aiming towards an ideal being, and the importance of working in the world for the healing of suffering.

Also, in one part of the Satsangha there is a question posed to Shri Mahayogi by Yukti, the disciple of Shri Mahayogi whose articles “Living on the Words of Mother” were published over the last three Volumes of  Pranavadipa (Vol. 67-69) as the Testimony. At the time of one of the Satsangha contained here in this Volume, she was about to move to Fukushima to work as a nurse, to live on the words of Mother Teresa. It is very inspiring to read her question and answer from Shri Mahayogi. Because, in addition to the Testimony that we read from her, this is a great insight into Yukti’s thoughts at that time, and her sincerity, of course. Even though aiming towards her ideal of Mother Teresa, her base was in Yoga and she was constantly guided by her Guru, Shri Mahayogi. Yukti said that her departure to Fukushima was approaching, and reflecting on what she had learned in the past 15 years in Kyoto under Shri Mahayogi, she asked a question related to an answer she received from him that struck her about the state higher than Nirvana, which is Lila, and asked him to explain further. That question led her and us to receive some phenomenal answers from Shri Mahayogi’s exceptional understanding of the meaning of the Yoga Sutra, and the spirit and words of Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and Buddha!

There is so much to learn from these Satsangha, how Shri Mahayogi teaches us about Vivekananda, Vivekananda’s example itself, and the hunger and sincerity of the disciples striving to bring betterment to the world around them through Yoga. We hope that readers will also feel uplifted and inspired into action, to work towards bringing betterment to our present-day circumstances.


This month’s Testimonies by Gopala and Ms. Mitsui, both reveal in different ways, how these disciples of Shri Mahayogi wholeheartedly work on the assignment that Shri Mahayogi gave for the third year of the Siddha Marga (Path to the Completed One) program (2013-2015) led by two senior disciples in Kyoto, Japan. The assignment for those attending the program was to choose an “ideal saint” to meditate on—trying to come closer through meditation, through trying to understand and follow the example of one’s ideal saint as a concrete way to deepen oneself toward Yoga. These articles were written this year, so we can catch a sense of the continuous effects that come as a result of continuous and consistent practice, even after some years later.

The first Testimony is written by Gopala, who lives in Kyoto, Japan. His article illustrates precisely how he is using his chosen ideal, Swami Vivekananda, in his journey over the years as he strives to practice, simply and concretely, to bring himself closer to understanding Vivekananda, and thus Shri Mahayogi and the teachings of Yoga. In fact, the exact words of Shri Mahayogi, spoken during the Satsangha in 2013, which is included in the content of this Volume of Pranavadipa, appear in Gopala’s Testimony, as words that have been consistently guiding him in his practice. And furthermore, we can also see the guidance that he was given by Yukti in conversations before she moved to Fukushima, which triggered him to realize something very important about where and how to focus his practice. This interaction also reveals the insight of Yukti, as well as one of the important functions of sangha—support and inspiration.

One of the great qualities that we can see in the journey of Gopala is the consistency he keeps in continuing to strive to come closer to his ideal and to continue to practice the simple things that are right in front of him. Through doing so, little by little, his understanding of the words and life of Vivekananda, his understanding of the teaching of Yoga, and his understanding of his Guru, Shri Mahayogi, grows and transforms…all through taking simple actions. As the Yoga Sutra  explains:

“That practice however becomes firmly grounded
when it is continued accurately for a long time.” (Yoga Sutra 1.14)

There may be times when we might catch the belief that “practicing Yoga” means something much more grandiose than what it actually is, which as a result can make it seem a bit impossible to perfect, or in some cases, even begin. But the example of Gopala verifies and lets us see clearly that taking small actions, consistently over time, certainly leads to progress, transformation of oneself, and deepening in Yoga. Why not practice that way too?

The second Testimony is from Ms. Mitsui, who lives in the north part of Japan, far away from Kyoto (1005 km/625 miles), and it seems she is only able to travel the distance to come see Shri Mahayogi once a year at most. The rest of the time, she practices completely on her own, propelled by her own striving to come closer to the true Self, closer to God. Her example is a great gift for many of us who might not have many opportunities to see the Guru, or a great master. In her writing in this Testimony, we can see that Ms. Mitsui, by hearing about Shri Mahayogi’s assignment to the participants of Siddha Marga in Kyoto, even though she was not a part of this program, due to living far away, she did not take this assignment to the participants as just for them, but took this as an instruction that she herself should also strive towards. What an inspiring example of proactiveness—when we are hungry to find something, we are ready and willing to take up any clues that come along the way!

In this Testimony, she begins by writing about a novel of a well-known Japanese author, Shusaku Endo, called Silence (the translation to English is available as well as a movie, directed  by Martin Scorsese), the theme of which is around faith—quite a universal subject; and this novel prompted her to ask herself whether or not she could uphold faith. Her writing reveals some of her own journey, touches upon prayer, meditation, God, the words of Paramahansa Yogananda; we can also see how the world of Yoga has opened up for her, and how her precious interactions with Shri Mahayogi have brought her incomparable guidance for how and what to aim her life towards—Satori, Awakening.

Yoga is practicable for everyone, regardless of background or circumstances. In both Testimonies, we can see how simple and practical the practice of Yoga can be. Sometimes the simple things can be overlooked or sometimes the simple things are more difficult for us to practice. But we should remember that simple things are but simple things—when practiced continuously, with sincerity and consistency, these simple actions centered in Yoga most assuredly can lead to bringing positive and sweet-scented transformation to ourselves and those around us.