Monthly Archives: October 2020

Echo From The Cave: 139

Saturday Oct 24, 2020 NYC

Yoga in Action: Reflection from a Practitioner

Tilling the Soil in Preparation of “Turning it Around”
by Karuna
New York, October 12, 2020

After pondering about the power that the teachings of Mother Teresa and her being have on me, I concluded that this is so because she is already fully “turned around” and because she speaks solely from the point of view of the Truth. Her words, her faith and her actions connect me in a deep way, beyond what I am able to explain, to the universal commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.”[1] So, through her inspiration, my heart has become more strongly set on the intention of “turning it around.”

What has been helpful is that even if I am not exactly sure where to begin or how to grow and sustain this intention, every day and every moment has started to reveal to me the “fork in the road”[2] that Shri Mahayogi speaks about. While trying to understand how to work with this mind that can still be pulled to either side of the fork in the road, I began to observe that when my mind relies and defends this “me” in the world—my happiness, my impression, my performance, my safety—the sense of being close to God abandons me, and in its place, worry, negativity and dissatisfaction arise. In one of these moments, when feeling severed from God’s Love, I was able to begin to recall Shri Mahayogi’s words in the Universal Gospel of Yoga in which he describes thoughts in the mind being like clouds, and how we simply have to clear them away, then fill that space up with bhakti.[3]

I am so grateful for Mother Teresa’s book, Where there is Love There is God. Because the words of Mother Teresa in this book inspired me and made it possible to experience the wiping away of thoughts and their replacement with bhakti for the first time. It was the Love itself that automatically wiped away the clouds and that too is what began to fill me up. But, as Shri Mahayogi has warned us, “because of the habitual nature of the mind, there is a great likelihood that new thoughts will emerge, and fill up the space you have just cleared.” And, because I do not want to be pulled away from this newfound Love, I have felt the need to learn what to do to keep this space clear or learn to clear it up when it becomes cluttered, in other words, how to move away from karma in the direction of the Truth, or God’s Love.

One of the first lessons that I found in the book by Mother Teresa was about listening. For many years, Anandamali has been speaking to me about the need to listen much more. For a long time, I have had the habit of “half-listening.” In conversations, I tend to jump in before I understand what is being said, or the context from which it is being said. In several occasions, a few gurubai recommended that I practice mauna, but even if I controlled my tongue to some degree, mentally, I continued to be busy with a personal reply, a point, an attack or a defense, or an argument.

In the book, Mother Teresa explains that silence is the precondition for listening to God, and that when we are able to attentively and quietly listen to God, we can then know His full Love for us, and experience the meaning of prayer, simply “feeling one with God.”[4] Mother also says that the one who experiences this Love is compelled to sacrifice herself for others, out of that same Love. And this is the path to true Peace.

Mother Teresa’s words awaken in me the intense sensation of wanting to be close to God. They pull me into silence automatically, without me thinking about quieting my mouth or my mind. And this longing makes me want to let go of anything in me that could be an obstacle to being close to God and accepting what He is offering, the purest Love of all. I have begun experiencing that the wants and cravings that have kept me tied to karma (the experiencing of pain-bearing-obstacles[5]) have begun to lose their allure, since the sweetness of God’s Love is there as the other alternative. And for the same reason, when a wanting arises, and I am able to realize that that wanting is based on the belief that this Love can be found in the matters of the everchanging world, I have intentionally started to recommend to my mind to let go of this idea as soon as possible, so that nothing will clutter the space where I only want God to be. When I am able to do this, a sense of loving surrender and gratefulness is what fills me up again.

[1] The new commandment from God in the Bible (John 15:12). This refers to God’s Love, given to the world through Jesus.

[2] “Live in the Now” from The Universal Gospel of Yoga—The Teachings of Sadguru Sri Mahayogi Paramahamsa; and “The Path of Yoga and the Path of Karma,” Satori. Shri Mahayogi’s teaching about the “fork in the road” explains that every single moment there is a choice between the Truth and karma.

[3]
“Bhakti Yoga and Karma Yoga” from The Universal Gospel of Yoga—The Teachings of Sadguru Sri Mahayogi Paramahamsa.

[4] “God is Love” from Where There is Love, There is God.

[5] “The Pain-Bearing-Obstacles: Klesa” from The Universal Gospel of Yoga—The Teachings of Sadguru Sri Mahayogi Paramahamsa.

Echo From The Cave: 138

Tuesday Oct 20, 2020 NYC


Through Yoga in Action: “Love is An Infectious Disease”

The topic of Echo from the Cave: 134 was the reflection of a practitioner, an article written by Karuna, a practitioner in New York, about her search for how to “turn it around.” It seems that there were a few courses of events that triggered and guided her to open her heart and begin to receive the teachings of Yoga, perhaps for the first time straightforwardly. And since then, being tremendously inspired by the words of Mother Teresa that are grounded so concretely in the way Mother Teresa lived her life, Karuna’s understanding of the teaching of Shri Mahayogi and of Yoga seems to be clarifying more than ever before. Yukti, the disciple in Japan who wrote “Living on the Words of Mother”, a series of eight articles, originally written in Japanese from Sept. 2012 to Jan. 2014 and published over the course of Pranavadipa Vol. 67-69, wrote the following letter to one of the Project Sahasrara editors after hearing about Karuna’s transformation:

“Thank you very much, I read the translation of the blog many times.

What I felt from reading it is that, we are constantly having a turning point, from moment to moment; this turning point is always there, and it is up to us how we face up to it.

One year after beginning the practice of Yoga, when my body had been dramatically restored and I was able to take a job, I mentioned to Shri Mahayogi, “Finally I am able to stand at the starting line where others are.” Then Shri Mahayogi said, “In Yoga, every single moment is the ‘start’.” I remember that upon hearing it, I sensed intuitively that no matter what the condition of the body is, it is so irrelevant, what’s important is how seriously I work on confronting the ego and eliminating it.

Karuna’s “turning it around” was impactful for me too. And it made me solidify in my consciousness that I must become ever-closer to God, I must see God alone. I assume that the invisible reformation within Karuna is giving an influence to many. Perhaps that spiritual reformation is what is called true sacrifice. Mother Teresa said, Love is an infectious disease. I felt that it is exactly that infection that is happening beyond time and space.

I must express my gratitude.”

 Yukti wrote in the Mahayogi Mission’s blog in Japan, exactly six years ago, in 2014:

“There are three elements to prevent infectious diseases. If you don’t want to be infected, you have to reduce these elements.

First is the source of infection, which can be things or people that have come in contact with a pathogen such as a virus or bacteria. That is called the source of infection. Second, is the path of infection. It is the pathway through which the pathogen can invade via the air or via contact. Third is the sensitivity of the individual, and this is about the individual level of sensitiveness for becoming infected, which can be influenced by a compromised immune system. But, if you want to be infected with love of God, conversely, increasing these conditions is necessary. A person who has contacted God’s love is called a bhakta. Bhakta are those who love God purely.

Mother Teresa was a bhakta. The infection pathway can be through meeting with a bhakta or hearing about them, or even thinking about the bhakta—these conditions may increase your chance of getting infected. In order to bring sensitivity, or the mind that is purified to that which can receive God’s love, one should practice asana and meditation daily, without neglecting it. Then, the three conditions are set. The key is to continue simply, devotedly, steadily and tenaciously. If you do so, then no matter what, you can always maintain the joy of loving God in your heart. Let’s begin today!”

The experience of Yukti that has been shared so far in her writing has brought inspiration to our readers. One of many aspects that we can learn about from her concrete example is, “how to learn”: to hear, to contemplate, to meditate on and to take action. But, in order to do that, what makes all the difference is having a clear aim.

Many readers might wonder what made Yukti throw herself towards her aim? Here in this blog, we would like to share her writing, which was originally requested from her by Anandamali in 2013, on how she came to encounter Yoga and Shri Mahayogi, her Guru. It is quite fascinating.

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Before I Began Yoga
By Yukti
Fukushima, Japan – April 27, 2013.

I used to work as a speech therapist (ST) for rehabilitating patients after I graduated from a specialized school. An ST is a specialist who rehabilitates people who have speech impediments after suffering from strokes or neurological disabilities. I met various patients at the hospital, and I enjoyed being with them very much. When I was with my patients, I was able to feel something indescribable, something dear and precious deep within them, however slight and subtle. Particularly when a patient was battling a disease alone, through their loneliness I was able to feel my own loneliness, and I was also able to feel something precious deep within myself.

Out of all of them, I still cannot forget a patient who became the catalyst for me to go on the path of Yoga—Mr. K, who has probably already passed away by now. When I met him before he was 40, he was still young, but had a wide range of disabilities arising from a stroke in the cerebellum, which controls movement. He was bedridden; he had a clear consciousness, yet could not move any limbs, and could not open or close his mouth smoothly, so every time he tried to move his mouth, his teeth chattered against each other. The doctor requested for me to improve his swallowing, since his throat reflexes were weakened and he often choked and had difficulty in swallowing. It is an important task of an ST to train patients in eating activities. But when I first saw Mr. K, I thought that there was no possibility of him getting better through training, to the point where I thought it would be a pointless treatment. However, as I kept working with Mr. K, I began to think—Why is the world so unfair, why do people like him exist, what is the meaning of him living? I’ve met many bedridden patients before, so I really don’t know why such a thought suddenly arose in me, but I began to think that way towards Mr. K. I must have felt something precious within him and I had an urge to help Mr. K no matter what.

I became so engrossed in thinking about Mr. K, and kept thinking every day about what the way would be to remove his suffering. In order to spend good quality time with Mr. K, I didn’t take on other patients, and I spent a long time by Mr. K’s side. Then I began to think, “If I attend to him and keep speaking to him, then maybe he will be diverted by having company, yet when my shift is done, I go home. When I’m in front of Mr. K’s eyes, I’m thinking about him, nonetheless, when I go home, I do whatever I want and forget about Mr. K. How do I stay with Mr. K all the time and remove his suffering? Awake or asleep, I kept thinking about that.

One of those days, an idea sparked in my head. In order to remove his suffering, I should become one with him—I thought. Then, I thought about how to become one. Then I thought I needed to remove my ego and desires. I don’t know why I thought this way; but simply, I sensed intuitively this was right and I sensed that I must embark on it without any doubt.

I didn’t know what I must do to get rid of desire, so I began to stop anything I thought was enjoyable. First, I stopped seeing people. And to restrict my eating, which is one of the biggest desires for humans, I restrained myself from eating. I only ate once a day, a bowl of brown rice with sesame and salt. I began to give up various pleasures. Not even in the slightest did I ever think I was doing anything wrong. However, the body began to sink, it became emaciated and unbeknownst to me, I had quite severe anemia. I ran out of breath while walking, and the body was constantly cold to the degree that even during the middle of summer, I wore many layers of wool clothing and many layers of tights. Even then, when I was at the hospital for work, I felt cold; and during lunch break, I went outside the building and ate alone under the blazing sun. Looking back, it was very strange behavior, but I was serious about my intention.

One day, the head nurse in the ward said to me, “You look very pale,” and took me in front of a mirror. When I saw my face, which was for the first time in a good while, I was horrified. My lips were blue, I had strong dark circles under my eyes, and my cheek bones were jutting out from losing weight. I did not realize it at all until then, how weakened I’d become. Being so shocked, I saw a doctor in the afternoon, and as a result of a blood test, I was told I had extreme anemia and needed treatment. My period had already stopped six months ago. Only then for the first time, I realized I had done something irreversible. They then sent me to a gynecologist and it was found that I also had issues with hormones. I increased the amount of the food I was eating, however, since the internal organs had not been functioning well, they didn’t respond right away after quickly inserting food. When I ate, all the blood concentrated in the stomach, taking all the blood away from the brain, and I got dizzy and could not keep standing. The symptom of being out of breath worsened. I felt that I could no longer support my own body, and I felt that I needed someone to provide guidance.

I then began to look for a guide. I had not given up on removing my ego and desires, because I felt that was not incorrect. I believed that I had made a mistake, using an incorrect method, due to trying to do it my own way. When I would hear about a great teacher, I would travel to Kobe and beyond, far and wide. However, I didn’t feel anything from these famous teachers. I felt that something was different, I felt that they were not the ones who know what is Real. Even so, I could not continue long; this search too was reaching the limit of the strength of my body, I felt that I could no longer keep walking to search for a teacher by myself. I also gave up on continuing in my profession. I was driven to utter despair. And I even began to sense a crisis in my life, feeling that perhaps I wouldn’t wake up the next day. Every morning when I woke up, I felt relief, yet at the same time, I knew that today too I would have to battle against the heaviness and the exhaustion in order to support the body for one more day, and I cried feeling frustrated and hopeless. Nonetheless, there was no one but myself who could support this body. I had no time to cry—for I had to move this body no matter what.

From around that time, I began to pray before going to sleep. When humans come to a point that they don’t know what to do anymore, the last means left is to pray. I prayed, “Please allow me to meet someone who can correct my mistakes, who knows what is Real in this world. I have gone to many places to seek for someone who can teach me this, but no one knows the Truth. I may not have much time left. So, the next person I meet has to be the person of Truth, definitively 100%. Please allow me to meet such a person.” Even then, such a person did not appear. I had no choice, so next I started to pray, “Please, please let me meet someone who knows the Truth. If that is not possible, please let me meet someone who knows a person who knows the Truth.” Then, one day, I read an article in a newspaper that I hadn’t read in a while, and found out there was an Asana Class held by the Mahayogi Mission, at a community center near my parents’ house where I stayed, and I went without any particular expectation. Then just as I prayed, I encountered gurubai, people who knew a person of Truth, Shri Mahayogi. Interestingly, in fact, I probably did not have enough physical strength to go there walking if it was not nearby. When I first did asana, I felt an incredible energy flow through my body, and I felt that my body was revived.

I quit my job and continued practicing asana every day. At that time Shri Mahayogi was in New York for a long stay, so I received instructions and guidance from a disciple, and if there were any questions or issues with my physical condition, the disciple called Shri Mahayogi and asked him for me. I did not take any medication whatsoever. I heard from the disciple that Shri Mahayogi said to me, “Think that it will take 10 years to recover.” When I heard that, I truly wanted to jump with delight. No one before had ever told me that my body will heal in a certain time period. Eventually, the disease will come to an end. To me, that was hope. I want to do it, whether it will take 10 years or 50 years—I was so, so happy indeed. I continued to practice asana devotedly, and after 10 months I became well-enough to be able to begin to take up a job again. When my physical condition became significantly well, I started to feel that I would like to work at a hospital again. I yearned to live how I wanted to live, sensing that preciousness deep within the patients once again. Around that time, my mother told me that they would sell their house, so they would give me some of the proceeds from the sale of their house, and thus I came into a sizeable amount of money. After pondering over how to use this money, I decided to become a nurse, since it would give me the opportunity to work closer with patients. Then, [using this money,] I went to nursing school and became a nurse. As I began to work in a ward with many cancer patients, I began to think more about how best to send off the patients who were in the process of dying. That process has been written about in the article about Mother Teresa.

Originally, I did have respect for Mother Teresa, but it was not that I specifically had an interest in her. If I had known about stories of holy beings in Yoga who took care of the sick, then I would most likely have wanted to know about them, and sought this person out to study and learn from him or her. However, I could not find one, and I didn’t have any idea except for Mother Teresa, so that is why I went to the Mother’s facility in India. The day I left for India, which was the day that the Great East Japan Earthquake happened, I was actually not planning to take that flight. It was two days after my night shift, so it was not ideal because it was hard on my physical strength. But considering various conditions, I had no choice but to take that particular flight.

I never really spoke to others about these things that happened before I began practicing Yoga until recently—because I didn’t think it would be meaningful to speak about. However, being triggered by something quite unexpectedly, I spoke to a gurubai in Matsuyama and she was very interested, so I began to share it on various occasions. After the last Satsangha before I moved to Fukushima, I asked Shri Mahayogi, “I feel that whatever I have felt or the ideas that have flashed into my mind, are not just happening for the first time in this life; have I inherited these from my past lives?” Then Shri Mahayogi answered, “Yes, you have.” Then continued, “What is important is that through Yoga, you are able to perform them purely, without ego. True practitioners of Yoga do not incur karma, even though they take action.” Hearing that, I realized that what I’ve felt up until now in my life may be peculiar, but what is truly and actually of paramount importance, is “pure action without ego.” The means to do so exists in Yoga, and I believe that that is what we must truly transmit.

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Note:
Today, Yukti lives near Matsuyama-City, in Ehime prefecture in Japan, and works as a nurse. Currently she is focused on heightening her skill as a Chinese-language medical interpreter, using her experience from studying in Beijing Normal University in 1991.

Echo From The Cave: 137

Thursday Oct 15, 2020 NYC


Experience: Seeing the Beautiful World of Yoga at the Cave

As we mentioned in the last blog post, we would like to introduce here the writing that Mr. Shimamoto contributed for Paramahamsa Vol. 139 (the bi-monthly member’s magazine of Mahayogi Mission Japan) about his experience of discovering what Yoga is and who Shri Mahayogi might be, having been bestowed with the opportunity to be physically close with Shri Mahayogi for 10 days in the winter of 2019-2020 when Shri Mahayogi spent 3 months in New York.

Mr. Shimamoto is a biologist and researcher in the field of IPC stem cells. After hearing about Shri Mahayogi, he met him for the first time at a Satsangha in Kyoto in July 2019, and then embarked on practicing asana and meditation.

Seekers are drawn to Shri Mahayogi from all walks of life and with various backgrounds and interests, as this month’s Pranavadipa Vol. 71 represents on a microscale in one of the featured Satsangha, which contains a question Mr. Shimamoto asked to Shri Mahayogi at that time, as well as Shri Mahayogi’s response. That was his second time meeting Shri Mahayogi, and it was just a few months after when he made the trip to New York.

Because of Mr. Shimamoto’s scientific background, in this article we are introducing here, we are able to catch a glimpse of the meeting of “science” and “Yoga,” two things that may at times seem at odds based on modern perceptions. And in addition to that, we have the opportunity to see how Mr. Shimamoto’s perception of Yoga changes during his stay at the Cave and how he begins to work within himself, challenging his own mind, its assumptions and beliefs, with the teaching of Yoga.

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Seeing the Beautiful World of Yoga at the Cave
Ren Shimamoto
Kyoto, Japan – May 2020

I stayed at the Cave in New York for ten days, from February 7th to 17th of 2020, to learn and practice Yoga under the supervision of Shri Mahayogi and Anandamali-san. Actually, I first met Shri Mahayogi at Satsangha in Kyoto, held in July of the previous year. Because I had met him only a few times since then, moreover, I had just started practicing Yoga when I heard the advice for staying at the Cave during Shri Mahayogi’s visit from Yogadanda-san, I wondered whether I should wait to take this opportunity until I had undergone more practice. But, after I encountered Yoga, my heart was already strongly drawn to it at once, and I had a keen desire to concentrate on learning and practicing Yoga directly under Shri Mahayogi; so I decided to ask him anyway. Thankfully, he accepted my wish and I had a wonderful experience, far beyond what can be described.

A Vast World of Yoga Expanding Outward
During my stay in New York, I participated in a public Satsangha, the Yoga Sadhana Program with Shri Mahayogi (asana and meditation class directly taught by Shri Mahayogi), and regular asana classes. At the Cave, I prepared food for Shri Mahayogi daily with Anandamali-san, from the shopping to the cooking. And at other times, while staying at the Cave, I received much guidance from Shri Mahayogi in one-on-one conversation. Until then, I did not know much about Yoga, so I asked much more than a hundred beginner questions like: “What does Yoga mean?” “Why does Shri Mahayogi always wear orange clothes?” and “What does Shri Mahayogi do?” Shri Mahayogi answered all my questions politely until I understood them. His kindness moved me so deeply. His thorough guidance resolved my unsolved questions that had been stuck in me, connected the parts that were not connected, and I was able to grasp the whole picture of the teaching of Yoga. I realized that I only knew a tiny part of Yoga: health, beauty, and relaxation. I was amazed, because it felt to me as if I entered a clothing store and was then surprised to see a vast world of Yoga expanding out as I stepped into the back.

One of the reasons that I started practicing Yoga was because of the difficulty I faced in my job, which I have devoted my life to, and I wanted to resolve this anguish caused by it. That agony was alleviated within a short time through the asana and meditation I learned from Mahayogi Mission, and I was very surprised to experience this therapeutic effect. Yet, this is only a small part of the aspects of Yoga I realized later on. The teaching of Yoga explains the mechanism of how self-awareness (ego), the root that generates distress in our life, arises. It felt to me as if I had opened the casing of a computer, which is me myself, and saw the contents. The teaching of Yoga explains that ego is simply a phenomenon, and there is no substance, that there is a true Self witnessing the ego, and that the true Self is everlasting—it will not disappear if our body dies. That means that I have identified myself as being Ren Shimamoto, a Japanese person, a biological researcher, a soccer player, and as being tan—but actually, I am mistaken. It was beyond surprising and honestly scared me a bit. I only understood that in my head, and had not completely digested it yet, but still, I thought that it must be true because Shri Mahayogi says that it is so.

I was also very impressed by the teaching of Yoga that men are born inheriting karma from their previous lives. Shri Mahayogi even told me that children are born by choosing the parents that will fulfill their karma. I was struggling with parenting sometimes, a father and son relationship. When my children weren’t behaving as I asked, I would get angry or disappointed, which is suffering. But, the teaching made me realize that I did not respect their karma, and instead, I was trying to fulfill my own karma by manipulating them. Realizing that there must be a reason for them to have come to me, and they are living fighting with their own karma—I shifted the way I was, and now I am focusing on supporting them.

What was shocking to me was that Shri Mahayogi said that the universe is repeatedly born and disappears. I knew that my body is constantly changing at the cellular and atomic levels. But still, I was shocked because I didn’t understand that the universe is also changing. It felt to me that I had been informed of the fact that we are in this vehicle named the universe. People who heard Copernicus’ heliocentric theory (the earth goes around the sun) for the first time must have had the same feeling. When I listened to this story from Shri Mahayogi, I felt a sense of motion sickness. Let’s call it “Yoga sickness,” which occurs when the world view I had had up until then changes drastically. When I had conversations with Shri Mahayogi, I got this same sense several times. In this way, I was baptized, or initiated by Shri Mahayogi, introduced to how magnificent the teachings of Yoga are, and I was further drawn into its world.

What I appreciate about staying at the Cave more than anything is that Shri Mahayogi, who is the teaching of Yoga itself, was present, and the teaching was compellingly transmitted. It was exactly what is meant by, “Seeing is believing,” and the teachings I learned were enacted daily in front of my eyes, which further improved my understanding of the teachings. For example, one of the typical teachings of Yoga is non-attachment. I understand it intellectually as a word, but I did not know what it would actually be like at the level of real life. However, it is evident in Shri Mahayogi’s action. There is no hesitation in the actions of Shri Mahayogi, and his extraordinary concentration allows him to complete a task in no time at all. There is no waste whatsoever. Even the series of steps and mannerism in the brewing process of the morning coffee, from boiling water to grinding beans, extracting, preparing a cup, and pouring coffee, proceeds rhythmically without delay. It was like watching a sophisticated dance performance or karate performance.

Yoga Improves and Polishes Humanity
I have never met anyone like Shri Mahayogi. It is worth noting that he has many simultaneous characteristics, not only as a Yoga master, but he also looked as if he were a philosopher, religionist, revolutionary, scientist, artist, and sometimes a fashion leader. One day, I talked with Shri Mahayogi about biology. He asked, “Is the state of mind coded in DNA?” I was quite impressed by his question because it is one of the hot topics in the field of neuroscience. When I was discussing about biology with Shri Mahayogi, it felt to me that I was talking with a biologist.

Another noteworthy point is that he has characteristics which, at a glance, have seemingly contradictory properties, such as delicacy and robustness, suppleness and strength, and stillness and activeness, all at the same time. I thought that Shri Mahayogi might be a delicate person because of his answers, always full of heart, and his appearance in Satsangha. That impression was matched indeed, however, not only that, he was also a very powerful person of mental fortitude. I got the same impression from Anandamali-san, who lives at the Cave. Let’s call it a “mental machismo”—I think both of them would surely be able to survive on an uninhabited island. By staying at the Cave with Shri Mahayogi, in a way, I was doing a close-coverage, I found that being a Guru in Yoga is truly a mentally tough job. Take Satsangha as an example, many people rely on Shri Mahayogi to seek solutions to their problems. I felt that understanding and giving guidance in an instant must be an extremely difficult task in terms of concentration, discernment, knowledge, and depth of devotion. I don’t believe that just anyone can do that. In fact, when answering questions during the Satsangha in New York, Shri Mahayogi was full of spirit and was in a true state of seriousness. The same would be true for Buddha, because it is said that he practiced much asceticism. He must have been quite courageous and tough. I think that many people may have the stereotype that a Yogi equals being vegetarian, which means being delicate and naive. But, as a matter of fact, the opposite is true, and I came to realize that real Yogi have a robust mental fortitude.

Shri Mahayogi is very knowledgeable and astonishingly insightful about whatever topic he speaks about. Also, his knowledge is wholly his own, and the story is realistic and compelling. The standing position too is unique; it could be like a super bird’s-eye view or vice versa, a super micro view. When he talks about a material thing, he describes it as if it were there. When he talks about happenings, he describes them as if he were actually there. “What kind of clothes did Buddha wear?” I asked. Then Shri Mahayogi answered that, “Buddha was wearing something like a piece of cloth.” It was as if Shri Mahayogi had met Buddha before. I asked him, “Shri Mahayogi, why are you so familiar with the many particulars of Buddha?” He answered that perhaps he is grasping the essence of things through meditation. I had read in the Mission’s book on Yoga that it is possible to become One with the object of meditation during meditation—I thought this must be the case.

In this way, Shri Mahayogi has a naturally beautiful magnetism. If it’s too great, it’s usually difficult to get close to it, but this is not the case at all. He is quite an approachable and charming person. For example, he loves ordinary Japanese street food, like okonomiyaki and yakisoba. I think that his friendliness and charming nature are some of his attractions. As I lived with Shri Mahayogi, I was naturally drawn in by his character, personality and charm—I understood why everyone admires Shri Mahayogi.

One day Anandamali-san asked me a curious question. “If Buddha were to live in the present time, would you be able to notice him? Buddha is right in front of you.” Her words hit me suddenly. I thought that it might be true. But, unfortunately, I cannot notice him because I cannot distinguish him since I don’t have the ability to discern or the experience to do so. However, if Buddha were in the present time, I’m sure he must be like Shri Mahayogi—because I have never met anyone who has a stilled, immaculate mind like Shri Mahayogi. After I came back to Japan, I told this story to my family, but they did not understand it at all. They will not understand this unless they meet Shri Mahayogi firsthand.

The Teaching of Yoga is Rational and Easy to Understand
I work as a biology researcher, and I have a habit of seeking logical explanations for everything. Having said that, I think that the teachings of Yoga are rational and easy to understand. The teaching is to purify our minds by conditioning our bodies, thoughts, and actions; by doing so, we will be able to get rid of worries and meet our real “I,” which is called the true Self, or God. It’s a straightforward message and not demanding. The eight branches, such as asana, meditation, yama, and niyama are all empirical rather than theoretical, that means that we can verify their effects by ourselves.

I thought Yoga had nothing to do with religion, by which I mean believing in a particular god. However, now I think it is one of the religions because it teaches about God inside of us. For me, God meant a god of Shinto, and it was vague. Also, neither did I have faith in any particular religion, nor did I feel it convenient or needed. I also had a sense of resistance toward a god with human form. For all these reasons, I didn’t have any presence of God in my mind. However, according to the teaching of Yoga, there is a true Self within one’s own self, and that is the existence that is called God. This teaching clearly explained what the existence of God is, and instilled God within me. This made me feel like I got an anchor and like I was saved. At the same time, I came to understand the feelings of those who believe in other religions. Staying at the Cave was very significant in the sense that I was able to understand and accept the meaning of God.

The Universality of the Teaching of Yoga
One of my primary purposes to visit New York was to attend Satsangha, the classes and to learn how people abroad practice Yoga. I knew that Yoga is accepted not only in Asia but also all around the world. But still, I did not know how people in the countries without a base of Buddhism understand the elements of Yoga, such as enlightenment and the true Self, which can be abstract ideas, so I was curious to find out about that. What I found by attending one of the Satsangha in New York was that people abroad have similar work stresses, worries, and problems related to life and death as we do in Japan. A woman (whose nationality I don’t know) confessed, “It scared me so much to think that my mother will be gone. It creates such deep fear, and it throws me out of balance completely.” In response, Shri Mahayogi said, “What you are fearing is being separated from your mother’s body. Her soul will never disappear, her soul is eternal.”[1]

[1] Pranavadipa Vol. 66.  Shri Mahayogi: Even if her physical body dies, it does not mean that she herself dies. What you are fearing are the memories between you and your mother. That is an erroneous attachment. Recognize the real her, that is, recognize she, who is the Eternal Existence, and exert yourself to the utmost to serve her within this limited span of life. The Truth is the Immortal Existence. Everyone is That. It is the one and only One. It is that which has been called “God.”

The woman deeply appreciated Shri Mahayogi’s answer in tears. It seems that the participants of the Satsangha varied and I did not know their nationalities, however, many of them seemed to share the same feelings as her, including me. It seemed like it was my misconception that the teachings of Yoga would be challenging to understand in non-Buddhist countries. Indeed, initially, rishi found the Truth intuitively, beyond language, in meditation, and that has been recorded as the teaching of Yoga; I speculated that the teaching of Yoga can be intuitively understood regardless of nationality.

I had the opportunity to prepare the venue for the classes. At the beginning, the disciples gathered together, prepared our minds with a short meditation, and then began to focus on practicing our tasks respectively. I was assigned to clean and set up the entrance with Aniruddha-san. After I finished my task, I was looking for the remaining tasks. Then Nandiswara-san noticed that the mats next to the entrance were untidy. So we refolded them neatly, and the area shined brightly. I felt as if energy was being poured into the space. I recalled seeing a similar scene when Shri Mahayogi arranged the flowers and the curtains in the room at the Cave. I learned the importance of working carefully with all our heart.

Facing Myself
By being away from my daily life in Japan and putting myself into an environment different from my norm, I was able to take the time to look at myself. I came to recognize some parts of myself, and from time to time I had to face the negative side of my personality that I usually do not notice. It should have been a perfect opportunity to change my way of being, but I found myself not being able to take it squarely, and rather I tried to find good excuses. At such times, I observed how and to what my mind was reacting in meditation. One thing I found is that I believe myself to be this or that, and I am attached to the ideas that have worked well so far; so when someone presents different ideas from what I know, the sense of self-denial arises instinctively, which leads to irritation and anxiety. This series of flows occurs in an instant like a domino effect. In a simple example, suppose someone tells me that red looks good on me. In fact, that may be true, however, my fixed idea that blue should look good on me quickly interrupts my mind and disturbs my feelings, not allowing me to be able to judge calmly whether red suits me. It is even worse, more complicated when it comes to internal topics. After I recognized this pattern, I investigated within myself how and when I formed these fixed ideas. It seems that these fixed ideas have been formed gradually at different times in my life. It didn’t seem easy to get rid of them immediately, but it seemed possible to draw them back once. So, when the pattern of the negative emotional reactions rising up was produced, I started to tell my mind to ask the fixed ideas to step back. This training allowed me to calmly discriminate upon only the necessary points. When we are engaging in the practice of putting Yoga into action, there are times when we might feel it mentally difficult to face our weaknesses, the part that we don’t want to see. But I realized that I need to be prepared to confront this and deal with it without running away. When I came to recognize it, it inspired a sense of respect for senior disciples. Their presence encouraged me.

The Relationship Between Guru and Disciple in Yoga
I could not have had a meaningful time in New York without the support of Anandamali-san. She is very powerful and full of kindness—I have never in my life met a person of such strong character like her. She is enthusiastically engaged in the works of the Mahayogi Mission, as if she is being driven by something. I keenly felt her devotion.

Anandamali-san works very fast and efficiently. I could not keep up with her when I worked on cooking, shopping, walking the dog, or whatever. As I learned cooking from her daily, I noticed that she was well-organized and it seemed to me that before she began cooking, she had already perfected the image from the beginning to the end. Because of that her course of actions were smooth, for example, she prepares soup while preparing curry, and meanwhile she washes utensils. Another noteworthy point is that when she executes the image, she seems not to think or hesitate but is rather boldly decisive. I found this is an important point for efficiency.

On the other hand, she has the flexibility to add arrangements according to the situation. I was impacted by her comment: “I cook like I’m experimenting.” When I heard it, I felt that she is a researcher and I am the experimental assistant. I think Anandamali-san is also a person who has various charms at the same time as Shri Mahayogi. What impressed me especially was her attitude of serving Shri Mahayogi. It may be no exaggeration to say that everything is done for Shri Mahayogi. And also, Shri Mahayogi is responding to that. They are connected through a strong bond. I have never seen anyone devoting oneself to such an extent. From observing it, I thought that the relationship between a Master and disciple in Yoga is tremendously deep and profound.

Practicing Yoga Step by Step
The ten days at the Cave passed in no time, and the day of my return to Japan came rather rapidly. I had a better understanding of Yoga and I was inspired to practice more and more. Probably, my mind and body were refreshed, I was also motivated to go back to work. When I expressed my gratitude to Shri Mahayogi right before leaving the Cave, he said to me, “Practice step by step. No rush. There’s no hurry.”

Now I have returned to Japan. There are times that my job is quite busy, but I always remember this advice, and I treasure my discipline to practice asana and meditation. The road to Yoga is long and has only just begun, but I want to practice Yoga step by step with eagerness.

Lastly, I would like to thank Shri Mahayogi, Anandamali-san, the Gurubai of New York, and of Japan. I am grateful for having been bestowed with the opportunity and the support for my stay at the Cave in New York. Thank you so very much.PRANAVADIPA

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Echo From The Cave: 136

Monday Oct 12, 2020 NYC

Editor’s Note: Pranavadipa Volume 71
“Divine Light of the Truth” and “Realization of the Truth”

Question: I think I understand that there is not a past, or not getting stuck in the past, and I have been training to not get dragged down by it—always focusing on “now” and “at the present,” yet I find myself still getting caught up in the past. I think that I must thoroughly discriminate the past. But how should I go about discriminating the past?
(“Not Getting Caught Up By Maya” Pranavadipa Volume 71)

“Getting caught up in the past”—perhaps this sounds very familiar to many of us. This too was thoroughly studied by the ancient Yogi, and Shri Mahayogi also delved into this matter spontaneously when he was teenager, after experiencing Awakening, or Self-Realization at the age of 8 years old. What the Yogi and Shri Mahayogi all found is the mechanism of how our mind works, and from there come the teachings for seekers on how to practice tackling the obstacles created by our own mind in order to attain the state of Yoga: Self-Realization.

Our minds are continuously influenced by subconscious impressions that are left upon the mind by various worldly experiences—these impressions are called sanskara in Yoga. Due to the influence of these impressions, differentiations in views and reactions within each person arise continuously throughout life. And not only that, these sanskara also later produce karma-related consequences in accordance with their nature and content. Today is the result of this evolution, and the future is the evolution of today, this very moment. In a way, if this is true of the mind, then it might not be that much of a stretch to say that our current world itself is the product of the collaboration of all of our minds up until this very moment…which would also naturally signal the great importance of us all working on our own minds for the betterment of all.

To this point, the Yoga Sutra states that “Future pain is that which is to be avoided” (Ch. 2:16). And the following teaching of Shri Mahayogi further emphasizes this:


Karma is action and reaction, cause and effect.

‘As you sow, so shall you reap.’
Today is effect of everything leading up to yesterday.

Today’s causes become tomorrow’s effects. So live in the Now!”
Karma, from The Universal Gospel of Yoga-
The Teachings of Sadguru Sri Mahayogi Paramahamsa

Now, what does it mean, “To live in the Now”? Shri Mahayogi answers this inquiry in the two Satsangha published in this month’s issue of Pranavadipa (Vol. 71), the main titles of which are “Divine Light of the Truth” and “Realization of the Truth.” Both of the Satsangha featured in Volume 71 took place just last year in 2019, in Kyoto, Japan.

In addition to the question and answer mentioned above, which comes from the first Satsangha, “Divine Light of the Truth,” Shri Mahayogi teaches us about how Yoga views the “will” of God or of the Consciousness, which differs from the “will of the mind.” He teaches about maya and the process of clearing away ignorance, about the practice of discrimination, about the importance of proceeding boldly only seeing the Truth, and about the importance of cultivating faith and purity. He teaches about the Avatara and his disciples, using the example of Buddha and his disciples, as well as Latu, a disciple of Shri Ramakrishna. And further, this Satsangha provides a great opportunity to hear the way Shri Mahayogi responds to a request from a disciple for help, explaining how he himself comes to the answers he provides during Satsangha.

The second Satsangha in Volume 71 was held shortly after the release of Mahayogi Mission’s YouTube video, which includes the first-ever images and teachings of Shri Mahayogi released to the public in such a way: Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa: A modern age Yogi who abides in the state of Self-Realization. Quite a few new practitioners had seen it in Japan and had since been hoping to have the opportunity to meet Shri Mahayogi for the first time. This Satsangha was held as that opportunity, and those who attended were practitioners who ended up having a wide range of backgrounds: from a researcher for IPS (Induced Pluripotent Stem) cells, to a dancer, to a scholar who specializes in researching about peace, to a social worker, to a full-time housewife—and all coming from both near and far away. In this Satsangha, Shri Mahayogi generously brings the most foundational aspects of Yoga in response to attendees’ questions, which could be arising with the influence of their respective professional fields, and he answers each accordingly, crisply breaking down the teaching in a way that anyone can relate to, in a way that reminds us of the universality of Yoga. From what must be attained in life to what Yoga truly is, to what the source of real happiness is, and much more.

There are even several occasions in this Satsangha, in which Shri Mahayogi speaks about his own experience, first in the way he experienced Awakening from his perspective as a primary school-aged child, and later on, how he first began to practice asana, seeking to understand this subject without any prior knowledge or reference of teaching, until the point of fully mastering it. How awe-inspiring it is to hear Shri Mahayogi’s own experiences and accounts from these moments in his life!

With so much richness, purity and depth in these two Satsangha, we are very grateful to have this opportunity to receive Shri Mahayogi’s teachings and guidance, that seems to always stand with utmost steadiness. No matter how much the world outside of us and our minds change, Shri Mahayogi is always giving us the confirmation that no matter if we are aware of it or not, whether we seek it or not, the Truth is always there—we can always rely on that.

“What is to be renounced?—Ignorance! What can never be renounced even if you try?—the Truth! The Truth is what exists originally, therefore, you cannot renounce it even if you try. … Even if you leave it alone, It exists. … Even if you’re not attached to the Truth, even if you don’t own it, It is always there. It always exists. There is only the Truth.”
Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa, June 2019, Kyoto, Japan

* * *

The Testimony in this month’s issue—“Live Without Being Bound by Fear”—is coming from Mr. Kosuge, a disciple of Shri Mahayogi who lives in Tokyo, Japan. Mr. Kosuge tells of his first meeting with Shri Mahayogi, which took place in the very last of Shri Mahayogi’s Direct Asana classes in Kyoto, Japan, that was held and the impact that finding a Guru has had in his life.

Mr. Kosuge’s testimony is filled with very relatable examples of how our minds develop certain habits and tendencies from our past impressions, the common mistaken beliefs it can hold onto, as well as very practical ways to work with these conditions and limitations of the mind that can ultimately give us so much trouble if left unchecked and unaddressed. Just like in the question that is shared above, at the beginning of this post, Mr. Kosuge was very much affected by memories from the past, no matter what he tried to do to overcome these impressions. But after encountering Yoga, through simple actions, he began to really work on transforming his own mind. We are very grateful that Mr. Kosuge has shared with us the insights coming from his own life experiences and those of practicing Yoga, so that we too can be inspired to take simple actions to transform ourselves positively.

COMING SOON!!

We are very happy to announce that coming up next on the Project Sahasrara blog, we’ll be publishing an article written by one of the attendees who attended the Satshanga held for newer practitioners and whose question appears in the second Satsangha published here in Pranavadipa (Vol. 71). Mr. Shimamoto, who attended and met Shri Mahayogi for the first time on this occasion, just a few short months later, traveled to New York, having been accepted to study and learn under Shri Mahayogi while staying with him for about ten days at the Cave. The reflection on his experiences in New York and all that he learned through these experiences is expressed in his writing. Please check back soon to be able to read and be inspired anew by this great Testimony!

PRANAVADIPA
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Echo From The Cave: 135

Saturday Oct 3, 2020 NYC

Pranavadipa in Action: Reflection from a Reader

Learning from our Fellow Disciples’ Practice
Ekanta
New York, September, 27, 2020

In my last writing I mentioned the unique and positive changes that can come out of reading the teachings of Yoga in Pranavadipa. Another part of our monthly publication is the Testimony, which comes from the writings of Shri Mahayogi’s disciples. Many times these writings can also have a strong effect on us. When I read them I notice that even though the objects of our attachment or the situations that we deal with on a daily basis might be different, the challenges that my own mind faces are very similar.

For example, in Vol. 70, Gopala, our brother disciple from Japan, wrote about how in the beginning his idea of practice was more what he imagined it to be, but then, he noticed that there was a change in himself when he left his view of “how he should practice” and instead embraced the opportunities that were given to him by Shri Mahayogi and his fellow senior disciples in Japan.

Recently, because of the Study in Practice group, a program that the Mahayogi Yoga Mission in New York started a few years back with the goal of studying and understanding the teachings by applying them in our daily life and then sharing with the group, I started to notice more and more that there is an underlying tendency in my mind to rush many things that I do in order to get to the result and not have to struggle anymore. Many times this is done with no consideration for others that are involved in the same activity. My thinking is that once I achieve the result I’ll be able to rest and not have a worry in the world. Looking closer, I can relate this to what Shri Mahagyogi is talking about when he says that we always look for happiness but the problem is that we look in the wrong place. In my case, I’m imagining that that result, whatever it may be, is permanent, and hence it will make me permanently happy. But if I look objectively at my life, even if I may achieve the result I am looking for, it never gives me complete contentment, because before I know it there is another activity to perform and then another and so on, which puts me in a chase for a never ending stream of results.

So, as I mentioned earlier, even though Gopala was facing a different kind of challenge outside, I sensed from his Testimony that underneath there is the same kind of mind, which thinks that happiness will come from doing or achieving things its own way.

This came to the surface in one of the meetings I had with two disciples here in NY. Before the meeting I noticed myself being in that state of mind. I was rushing everything, from the way I was getting dressed, to the way I was driving to the meeting. Because Gopala’s Testimony was fresh in my mind, and not too long ago I shared about my mind’s tendency with the Study in Practice group, I immediately noticed my short coming and I thought “this state of mind and the energy that I have must make others very uncomfortable, and it is definitely not productive for the meeting at all” and even though most of the time my brother and sister disciples in NY may be too nice to say something, I made up my mind at that moment to not bring this attitude to the meeting.

First I focused on Shri Mahayogi for a while, which made my mind calm enough so that I could further dig deeper into how to deal with it. Then I remembered Shri Mahayogi’s teaching that the true Self is all we need to find, that nothing else is worth struggling for in this world besides that, and finding the Truth is enough. I compared that to the fact that my mind was looking at the future towards a certain result and not at what Shri Mahayogi describes as the source of happiness being here and now. So, I firmly told my mind that there is no happiness in reaching any goal except the Truth, and then next I tried to focus on the true Self in the way Shri Mahayogi sometimes guides us to just observe the awareness that witnesses the mind. Doing that I sensed a feeling of ease that came over me and the need of achieving something disappeared. I felt my body relax and I was finally able to focus on my brother and sister disciples, acknowledging their presence and respecting their time and effort, valuing their opinions, only stepping in when I thought necessary. What a relief! I felt like a different person, and mixed emotions of gratitude towards Shri Mahayogi and appreciation towards my fellow disciples came over me.

To some, respecting others spaces and being aware of their needs might seem natural and common sense, but in my case, because of the incorrect thinking habits that I built in the past, it’s something that I have to work on. But I believe that being fortunate enough to have had the chance to meet Shri Mahgyogi, encounter the teachings of Yoga, read about other disciple’s journeys, and practice, will help me change my behavior, because through Yoga the error can be removed at it’s core. In a way I think that Yoga is easy for anybody to look into, because in the beginning it can be as simple as just observing our behavior and our thinking behind it and then in time, after learning the teachings, simply comparing the two.

Thank you very much Shri Mahayogi, and thank you to all my brothers and sisters from Mahayogi Yoga Mission!