Tuesday Oct 20, 2020 NYC
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.
Before I Began Yoga
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.
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.