Monthly Archives: March 2022

Echo From The Cave: 164

Saturday March 5, 2022 NYC

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Friday, March 4, 2022:

“Remember the Purpose.”
~Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa 

A few years ago, during a Sadhana Program in New York with Shri Mahayogi, while we were practicing the asana, I had a sense of urgency about asking this question, “When I practice asana, sometimes I can get sleepy. What should I do?” Shri Mahayogi’s answer was, “Remember the purpose.”

When I heard this, I was pleasantly surprised. It made so much sense! But I also felt a little silly because I had expected Shri Mahayogi to offer me some trick or something related to the physical body to wake myself up, but instead his answer was all about the “why,” or the intention behind the practice of asana. Now come to think of it, his answer applies to the “why” behind all the practices of Yoga!

Actually, at that time, I did not have a clear purpose, so when I heard the answer, I realized that something very big had been missing in my practice of asana—and now I see that this missing part may very well have been missing all around. I had to accept that first. So, I began by practicing asana while longing for that purpose, practicing asana as if it was a form of prayer. By doing that, each asana felt more like a supplication for the purpose.

Around that time, the purpose then became to express gratefulness. The reason was that I needed to recognize that the asana from Shri Mahayogi was a gift, and by expressing my gratitude for it with my whole person, soul and body, I wanted to make myself able to receive that gift. I felt that if I did not see it that way, I could not receive anything from it. Well, this conclusion was reached by experiencing the opposite, by having practiced asana without realizing the gift that it is. From my experience, if asana is approached as a physical exercise, relaxation or as a beautification tool, its benefits are gravely diminished. Having practiced like that in the past, even though I experienced physical and overall mental benefits, I did not make much progress in Yoga itself. So, I knew that I had to start from acknowledging the value and sacredness of what was being offered to me through the asana from Shri Mahayogi. I think I was trying to make myself capable of receiving this gigantic gift and that made me realize, in turn, that I had to put myself through it knowing that there was so much that I had not experienced yet.

Since participating last year in the Jayanti celebration in honor of the Holy Birth of Shri Mahayogi and working on the preparations to make an offering of a song to Shri Mahayogi on this occasion, my purpose has become to get to know Shri Mahayogi and to be able to understand Him more and more. When I think about it, if Shri Mahayogi, already in the state of Satori, still devoted 14 years of his life to uncover this Asana for us, then there must be something very important that we each must learn about Asana and its connection to the Yoga that Shri Mahayogi has come to teach us. I feel that I must go through the practice of asana, gradually and consistently, in order to get to understand what Shri Mahayogi is revealing to us. His message must be embedded into every single thing he instructs, asana included. And, I also see that coming to understand what Shri Mahayogi is teaching us by practicing asana ourselves, allows us to know Shri Mahayogi himself directly, taking Him in.

Nowadays, I participate in all the online asana classes from New York, so I get to hear different people leading the classes. No doubt, we are constantly hearing a lot of corrections and adjustments to our physical body, and reminders of how to breathe and where to place our focus. It all seems very technical and precise. These are very necessary for each of us to find our completed and maximized pose as it evolves, but I have never experienced a more powerful difference than when I began to practice asana thinking of the purpose—why am I practicing? What am I doing it for? No doubt, when there is that clear and strong intention behind the practice, each asana becomes so powerful. It is as if we can then tap into the incredible power of each asana. I am truly fascinated by asana because of that. There is so much to uncover through asana!

The other day for instance, I heard Sadhya speak about accepting and dealing with whatever condition we are in when we practice asana, without being attached to a “good practice” or categorizing a better physical or mental condition for asana. This reminded me that it is not about the physical, it is about the purpose, regardless of our condition. We can aim for the purpose from whichever state we are in each time we practice, and that will always vary beyond our control. When I think about it now, I believe we should approach meditation or daily actions this way too!

And recently, in a class that was being led by Prajna, I heard her say to Yashoda, (actually Prajna was honest that in fact it was Anandamali who directed her to mention it to Yashoda during the class) “You can do it! Remember the aim!” I was so happy to hear those words as a reminder that I have to always remember my purpose too. Even though the message was spoken to Yashoda, it was in fact for all of us. So, in my mind, I happily said, “Yes!” Yes!”

~ Karuna

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Echo From The Cave: 163

Thursday March 3, 2022 NYC

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Wednesday, March 2, 2022:

Reflecting Daily Life in Practice of Asana:
Confronting the Attachments in the Mind

“Do not do what you want to do;
if you do so, 
then you will be able to do what you want to do”
~ Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa

In this month’s Prananvadipa, I was struck by Shri Mahayogi’s teaching about recognizing the attachments in the mind that lead us to follow certain patterns of behavior. “Do not do what you want to do; if you do so, then you will be able to do what you want to do” is a teaching that I was familiar with, but when I read that portion of the Satsangha, it felt to me that Shri Mahayogi was describing what it meant in much greater detail, and I couldn’t stop thinking about how I myself act out of attachment (and its twin, avoidance) both in asana practice and in daily life.

I started to notice how often my mind would try to reach for its own comfort and convenience. It might be in the realm of asana, where it would try to convince me to practice fewer poses, or hold them for a shorter time, or even to skip a day of practice. Or it might be in the realm of work, where my tendency might be to change the priority of tasks towards ones where I feel more confident or in which I have a better chance of making a positive impression about myself. No matter the situation or task, whenever I found myself gravitating toward gratifying my mind, that teaching would come back to me and make me feel how much I was truly getting caught up in my mind’s attachments. More and more, I need to apply myself to proactively recognize the mechanism that brings up these attachments when I feel uncertain or uncomfortable, and make the strong effort necessary to “do what I want to do in Yoga,” as Shri Mahayogi says, which I feel means to really choose actions that will weaken the power of attachment…actions that cause those feelings of uncertainty and discomfort, and to do so consistently, so I can develop the habit of acting according to the Truth rather than according to my mind’s whims.

This may seem like a very basic and obvious necessity for learning and growth—recognizing the attachment to preconceived notions about what ought to be done and how to do it—but somehow reading Shri Mahayogi’s teaching about it seemed to inspire me with a sense of urgency toward dealing with it more thoroughly myself.

In my role at my job, I often am assigned tasks that don’t fall neatly into anyone else’s job description, and this week one such task really threatened to overwhelm me. It has all the elements that make me want to avoid it: big and messy, necessary and with a definite deadline, and outside my area of expertise. Having to tackle it gave me a strong desire to do almost any other task first…but then the teaching rang out in my head once again, “do not do what you want to do…” I felt that behind my avoidance was actually an attachment to how I wish to be perceived as a worker: reliable, competent, helpful. And along with that attachment, a fear of failure and having to admit that the task might be too much for me to accomplish within the given time frame.

Trying to look at the situation through the lens of Shri Mahayogi’s teaching made me feel that I could find a middle way. I didn’t have to come up with an excuse to get out of finishing the project—which is what my mind really wanted to urge me to do, and I could admit I was struggling without giving up entirely. By looking at myself with more honesty and clarity, perhaps the attachment to my self-image can start to be weakened a little bit, just as the Master seemed to be teaching in that Satsangha.

I am not sure my understanding of Shri Mahayogi’s words is well-developed, but when I confronted my feelings and tried to peek behind them according to his teaching, the overwhelmed and beleaguered feelings began to melt away. The sense of discomfort lessened, and when I later went to do my sadhana, I felt that perhaps my experience of not trying to either run away from my issue or deny that I was having an issue in the first place, could also improve the way I was confronting myself through trying to stay in a challenging pose for longer or being more consistent and thorough in the way I was practicing.

In that same Satsangha, Shri Mahayogi also mentions that time plays a role in getting rid of the mind’s attachments:

“Therefore, the words ‘if you do so’ imply the passage of time…at that time, the power of attachment is not there anymore, so you can do it without attachment, once you get the secret of it or understand it.”

I am determined to continue trying to practice not doing what I want to do, and checking my choices against the Truth, more and more until I myself am able to take actions without attachment, both in my sadhana and in my daily life.

~ Prajna

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