Sunday Nov 22, 2020
In Anticipation of Satguru Jayanti:
Following the Way of the Life of the Guru
Tomorrow, November 23rd, is Satguru Jayanti, the day that marks the sacred birth of our beloved Master, Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahamsa.
In anticipation of honoring this most sacred day, we would like to introduce an article written by Yogadanda, a disciple of Shri Mahayogi in Japan.
During past celebrations of Satguru Jayanti, Yogadanda has been the disciple who offers the mantra of Om when the ritual of arati, a puja for the Guru using fire, is performed. This chanting of Om on such an auspicious occasion as Guru Jayanti is a precious gift in and of itself, and in the Satsangha of this month’s Pranavadipa (Vol. 72) we can read the question and answer between Shri Mahayogi and Yogadanda about precisely this topic.
Yogadanda’s article below originally written for Paramahansa (Mahayogi Mission’s bi-monthly magazine for members in Japan), “Following the Way of Life of the Guru,” offers a very real and great opportunity to glimpse from the observation and learnings of a practitioner, more about the way Shri Mahayogi lives, acts and infuses the spirit of Truth into all that he is. May we all aspire to learn from Shri Mahayogi’s life and existence and model our own lives to be in accordance with That!
Following the Way of Life of the Guru
Kyoto, September, 2020
It is difficult to fathom the conduct of our Master, who awakened into the true Self at the age of eight and has remained in nirvikalpa samadhi ever since; it may be the same as how impossible it is to grasp the formless Atman with the mind. Without being taught, Shri Mahayogi continued to practice the most intense asana for twelve years—the reason why, he said, is because he “had leisure time.” And even though he had completely mastered Yoga, knowing more thoroughly about it than anyone else, he said that he had no intention of teaching it to others. The more anecdotes I learn about the Master, the more it feels to me that it is completely elusive to fathom what he sees and what motivation underlies his actions—it is as if he is in a place that is too far away, a place totally different from where we are.
However, as we sit alongside the Master and listen to his teachings, the mind is somehow convinced that True Existence surely exists, and that the Master lives It and acts from It.
And, because the Master is so incredibly captivating, even if just on a superficial level, I can’t help but to emulate the Master’s ways—does that happen only to me? I doubt it. Even so, one day, perhaps even this simple imitation may eventually lead to following how the Guru lives.
When I began to practice Yoga, I did not have a chance to encounter the Master’s daily activities and behavior, and only saw him on the occasion of Satsangha. I am sure that everyone is drawn to the way Shri Mahayogi speaks so gracefully, his gentle smile, and the look of his compassionate eye of mercy; however, I thought that if I were to imitate such a demeanor without having adjusted my internal condition to match, surely I would get a cold stare from the people around me. Instead, because Shri Mahayogi, wearing the orange kurta, looked so cool and also senior disciples were wearing a kurta in the same color, I started to imitate the orange kurta first. Shri Mahayogi wore the same kurta every single week, and even if it was a bit threadbare, he always made it without wrinkles, and wore it neatly. Even if the clothing was old and worn-out, it did not create an atmosphere of shabbiness, but rather, there was a freshness to it, and I imagined that the shade of that orange color was coming from the Master’s unique taste and sensibility. I dyed my kurta a similar color as that of the Master, and I left it out in the sun purposefully in order to make it appear faded, and in this way made it look as close as possible to the color of the Master’s kurta. Looking back, I think that the Master’s kurta reflected the keenly refined, sophisticated and noble spirit that arises from wearing only the bare minimum necessity and the resulting unique sense of aesthetic sensibility—and I believe that was what had drawn me to it.
After sometime, as I had more opportunities to see the Master’s daily life, then I began to realize that not only did the Master treat the kurta with care, he treated every object of daily life with care.
As I began to live together with some senior disciples, the Master gave me advice on my personal belongings. For example, he suggested painting a well-worn ornament cabinet white to use it as an altar, and re-dying a pair of pants someone had forgotten and left unclaimed at the Ashrama and wearing them. When I followed his guidance, these well-worn used objects, fated to be discarded, were revived as if they were completely brand-new, original objects. When purchasing something, it was advised to do research, collecting all the necessary information, examining it carefully and thoroughly, and then buy the best product. Even if it may seem to be a bit expensive, good quality products last a long time, so the cost is reduced long-term.
The Master’s simple manner of living was emulated by the senior disciples, so I too was affected in turn, and I began to practice to make this “being simple” into a habit in all respects of life. Then the things that I may have thrown away easily, I began to consider carefully whether or not I truly should discard them; also, if I was going to purchase anything, I would consider carefully whether or not I really needed it, and what the most appropriate item to get would be.
One time, on the second floor of the Ashrama, Shri Mahayogi said to me clearly, touching the rug, “Even in this rug, Atman is manifesting.”
His attitude of caring for things, and the indescribable tenderness and carefulness that he has when he actually handles them, and the perfect harmony that I felt exuding from his form in that kurta—I imagined that they all reflect the fact that he actually sees the sacred existence of Atman within each and every object. And not only that, but the way the Master expresses compassionate countenance and behavior towards people—I believe that it is also because he sees that Existence within each and every single person. Indeed, it is not only limited to objects, but people, especially his disciples, including myself—I have been feeling how much the Master attends to and takes care of us with carefulness and respect. Especially at times when we have made a big mistake or are stuck and can’t proceed smoothly, the Master conditions these disciples’ environment, and prepares a path in front of us very, very carefully, so that we can move forward.
I cannot say that I know Atman or God, but if every single thing and every single person is that precious Existence, then I cannot treat them carelessly and impolitely—I then began to tell my mind, even if my mind couldn’t understand it, that everything is Atman, God itself, and I began to discipline myself to put this Truth into action. This practice perfectly coincides with all aspects of yama and niyama, the very first teachings that are taught in Yoga—the way of acting towards others and one’s own actions—to not harm, to not lie, to not have greed, and so on.
After studying Yoga for about ten years, various roles were given to me, and I came to take on the responsibility of conveying the Existence and teachings of the Master through doing classes and events. On one hand, I wanted more people to find out about Yoga and the existence of the Master, yet, on the other hand, I was in an internal struggle over the conflict between my responsibility and my state—I still have not realized Yoga yet—and this state of having this central core lacking continued within me for several years, even after that.
In the midst of all this, I was given a task to write the script for an event the Mission participated in, entitled “Eternal Quest,” and through this task I even ended up being given an opportunity—which I couldn’t have asked for anything better—to work on a task while being directly supervised by the Master. During the production process, there was an incident that suddenly amazed me into a state of awe, [and this became a lesson for me] from the Master. In our performance, while some poetic texts from the Upanishad were to be read from time to time, an asana and kirtan singing were to be performed. And at first, we created the script by breaking down the anciently-fashioned phrases of the Upanishad into simplified explanations with details, thinking that otherwise it would be difficult to understand for the audience who was going to hear them possibly for the first time ever. When the Master saw it, he reverted them back to the original phrases from the Upanishad, and further, he even cut out unnecessary words from them, and created a script that had only the essence remaining. In that moment, it felt to us that spirit was suddenly infused into each word, emanating eternal brilliance. It was at that moment that, with the Master’s grace, the ancient words of the rishi were revived.
In thinking about this project, I was expecting that whoever would see this production would become more interested in Yoga, even if just a little, which would cause them to begin to participate in our classes and Satsangha, however, I felt that actually, the Master, by completing this creation of the performance as one that wholly expresses the Truth, he put his soul into it and that is what will inspire the seekers who are truly seeking, including those to come in the future.
Not only that, I realized that this principle has been carried out through the Master’s designs, his words at Satsangha, and throughout his way of living. “There is only Truth, or God!”—he has always been saying the same message in Satsangha. Even if the question is more for advice on personal problems, or deals with specialized knowledge or content, he always leads to this point.
Even though I was given the role of disseminating the teachings, I was caught up in the numbers of class attendees, and how to keep the existing students. “You do not exist for the sake of class. Class exists for you.”—I recalled these words of Shri Mahayogi, which Shantimayi-san, a senior sister disciple of Shri Mahayogi who was given the responsibility of leading the class first, was taught by the Master [a long time ago].
Even though we are not yet completed or perfected, we are granted the opportunity to perform activities for the outside world, such as classes and other public events. I thought that the main, foremost purpose would be for each and every disciple to realize the Truth through these activities; next, there would be a wish to give positive influences to the people who we come in contact with through these activities. That means, a disciple must practice to conform their actions, words and thoughts to be one, and aim for perfect, pure actions as much as possible. This is not just limited to class activities, but I believe that each and every disciple is required to demonstrate this when he or she interacts with the external world. And, if a disciple can realize the Truth, even if there are no attendees in the class, or there are no outward activities such as classes, we can still inspire others around us in a true sense, and this influence can be delivered and can reach beyond time and space, precisely arriving to future seekers—I thought that this is the true missionary work wished for by the Master. I reinforced my belief that the aim and purpose of why Buddha guided his disciples to go beg for offerings and disseminate the teachings to people was exactly for that.
I then went back to the teaching—“There is only True Existence, and That manifests in all and everything in the universe,”—which Shri Mahayogi has taught me, and I have followed, from the very beginning when I started the practice of Yoga—and [since then] I have been practicing to act through relying upon the Truth I sense, however immature it may be in me. In classes and other activities too, rather than seeing the differences on the surface and in the aspects of the mind, I am working on only seeing the True Existence, which is its essence. Then, I make my words and actions obey the intuition coming from there. In this way, rather than letting the limited mind make decisions, I should be able to spontaneously act based on what is needed in front of me. If something is bothering me, then again I focus on the True Existence I sense, and seek for the answer from there. By doing that, the coverings of the mind begin to peel off, and eventually, I can become one with the True Existence—I believe that.
The True Existence I sense is the same Existence as that of the Master. Therefore, I think that to become one with the Master, to live with him, and to work with him is the ultimate way of following the way the Guru lives.
For me, the way the Master lives is precisely how Buddha lived, this Buddha who wore panshukula , who took the lead to travel all over India on foot, and who inspired so many people—even to this day he continues to inspire people.
 The cloth that covers the bare minimum of the body, made by sewing together the gathered pieces of clothes that have been used for cleaning oneself of excrement and then discarded.