Echo From The Cave: 183

Saturday May 14, 2022 NYC

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Sunday, April 24th 2022

Soul to Soul: The Dynamic Impact of Uninhibited Spirit

For those who have had the opportunity to see Shri Mahayogi’s asana, there is a word that I have often heard used to describe it. And that is, dynamic.

It may seem unusual—how can something so still be so dynamic? What is it anyway that can be dynamic when everything else, body and mind, is brought to stillness?

Not that long ago I finished taking an educational course related to a new field of work. (Read a related writing in Echo From the Cave: 181) As the course finished I wanted to express my gratitude to the instructor—in the process and along with other life circumstances I have been receiving many lessons and learnings, which are truly blessings, and certainly the instructor, as part of it, has had some role to play—so, I wanted to express my “thank you.”

I wanted to be clear though within myself about what exactly I am saying thank you for, because I felt, it’s easy to say thank you just for the sake of saying thank you or to list off the obvious things I can say thank you for, but I felt that if I did that then it would result in a rather casual or generic expression and not capture the real feeling. In other words, I can easily write a fluffy thank you that may possibly sound nice, but is otherwise empty…only covered in fluff. So, as I was reflecting trying to pinpoint what exactly it is I am feeling grateful for, in relation to this particular person and context, I realized that first and foremost, it is the spirit of the person.

Every class and every interaction was filled with the spirit that the instructor was quite naturally bringing, which just happens to feel as if it is packed full of strength and momentum. And I received that spirit coming behind the words, behind the instruction, like a much-needed impetus to throw myself into action and get motivated and moving towards something that seemed so unknown and challenging. And apart from that, the content of the class—the knowledge, skills, guidance etc.—was all naturally laid out on the backdrop of the instructors lived experiences…repeated experiences, learnings gained through experiences, all kinds of varieties of experiences…nothing perfect, but real, honest, and uninhibited. And that helped bring life and depth into the content of the course, even if it wasn’t anything spoken explicitly.

These are the things that I truly feel grateful for, in part because I feel that through the exchange of these more invisible elements, there was more room for the learning experience to expand, but also because in recognizing and experiencing it, it’s helping me to see more clearly something about the importance of what takes place in an interaction or exchange that is beyond what the surface of it can tell. It is like a few more threads are being woven into the fabric of a much bigger picture of what I am learning.

As I continue to reflect, I feel that noticing the importance of the spirit within an interaction is due to having had the chance to meet with Shri Mahayogi and feel this concretely, perhaps in the most heightened way possible. In the presence of Shri Mahayogi, I am sure I am not the only one who tangibly feels that something is happening, something is changing, something is being communicated or given, even when no words are spoken or no action seems to be taken—yet it is just undeniable. The purity of this “Spirit” in Shri Mahayogi feels incomparable. Because of experiencing that through Shri Mahayogi, I am sure that there must be something invisible that happens when we are near and exchange with others, the spirit of our mere presence may impact much beyond our words and actions.

In fact, this is actually something that Shri Mahayogi has spoken about before, that the internal state of a person is much more impactful and important than the words spoken or actions taken. And this is something that I have thought about often since I first heard it. Even so, and even though a number of years have passed since I first heard it, those threads being woven in from my most recent experiences seem to be helping me to catch a few new insights.

To receive the impact of the spirit of someone else feels like a beautiful and precious thing, almost as if it is an expression of that same sacred essence that we learn through Shri Mahayogi and the teachings of Yoga is within all of us, is coming out and coming together, even in one moment’s exchange. And through that I feel that perhaps various things hidden from our view can be suddenly highlighted…thus becoming important ground for learning. Just like I have experienced others giving freely of themselves, in other words putting their real spirit, I want to be able to give more freely of myself too, bringing real spirit into my way of being, more and more. Or perhaps another way to put it is, no matter who the person is, I want to be able to meet in that exchange, full of spirit, without inhibition.

As of now, however, I see that there are various things that cause me to hold this back, making that spirit part become dampened. Some of those things I have already mentioned in previous blog writings (Echo From the Cave: 171, 179, 181), but more often than not I see there are small fears that keep me holding back and holding on, these small fears that cause me to hesitate, to not express clearly, or to confuse my words and actions. All of these stand as obstacles to that spirit uninhibitedly and strongly coming forth. And these are the things I really want to root out…because truly they are all so unnecessary…and, to say it again with more emphasis, I really would like to be able to be, to speak, to act in a way that is freely and uninhibitedly filled with spirit—to share and come together with others with that spirit and not with my mind’s unnecessary obsessions. I am so grateful to have not only the brilliant example of Shri Mahayogi to aim towards, but I am also grateful to experience that from gurubai and from many of the people around me in daily life. It comes in all forms and degrees—and I’m also finding that even to receive it, the mind needs to be getting rid of those very same obstacles and obsessions, as if the spirit put from each one needs be able to catch what’s put from the other. If it misses we may lose the opportunity of the moment, and the learning that can be born of that exchange falls flat.

Recently Karuna has been sharing with us through her example about what she notices are the contents of an active mind, as well as how she has started using some tools of the practice of discrimination to address the active mind, coming from a recent inspiration from another gurubai (Echo From the Cave: 180). I think what Karuna is observing in the active mind helps us to see some other forms of the many activities of the mind that end up resulting in obstacles and obsessions—and these are probably things we can all relate to and identify in ourselves to various degrees. And actually, in Pranavadipa Volume 87 and Vol. 89 there are excellent Testimonies written about the very topic of how to deal with resolving the mind’s many obstacles and obsessions, so there is much inspiration there as well as practical tools for us to reference and use in dealing with the mind’s activities that cause obstructions.

And I’ll say that in my case, at the moment, what seems to be the strongest driving force is the motivation coming from more clearly recognizing the direction I want to head and the importance, value and need that I feel in it, as well as the unnecessary things that seem so obviously necessary to get rid of in order to get there.

I think that, most likely, the impact we may receive from someone’s internal spirit may come from whatever part is not caught up in self-concern, self-consciousness, or in other words, the mind’s obsessions…because that part is more free of the mind’s little self-imposed prison…and I think the more free it is, the more dynamic it can be, can act and can positively impact others, regardless of anything we say or do.

Now, returning to the dynamic quality that people express in seeing Shri Mahayogi perform asana, I think now, perhaps that dynamic part is the Spirit or the Life that is in full force within Shri Mahayogi, nothing at all to cover it up, Pure as Pure can be. Plainly visible in the expression of form, contrasting with the apparent silence and stillness, laid out upon the back drop of the ultimate experience, the experience of Eternal Truth. Perhaps with that dynamic quality, Shri Mahayogi is vibrantly giving us an example of the internal state being 100% aligned with Truth, no obstruction whatsoever—that it can even be felt and can even give impact in the silence and stillness of asana. Perhaps it is an example to help us recollect that within ourselves and to inspire us to purify ourselves so that that dynamic internal spirit—the Spirit of Truth—can be heightened more and more.

For us, in practicing asana, what is the spirit we bring as we practice? How can we heighten it? How can we each work towards getting rid of the unnecessary fears, activities, complaints, holding on, holding back, etc? What would it be like for us as we come together to learn and practice asana, to each bring ourselves full of uninhibited spirit? What learning might open up in that heightened exchange? I don’t have the answers, but I would like for us to find out!

~Sadhya

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Echo From The Cave: 182

 Thursday May 12, 2022 NYC

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Friday, April 22nd  2022

Yes, Having a Clear Aim is a Necessity for Practice

Whenever things seem to not be going against me, directing my mind toward God, the Truth, or Holy Beings is more attractive and easier to sustain. But as soon as things don’t go my mind’s way, regardless of how much I try to control it, my mind can react emotionally and turn in the opposite direction of the Truth. How do I tame this wild mind?

This week, at the school where I work, my supervisor changed my teacher-team’s schedule, adding more work, work that I considered to be unimportant in comparison to other work, to a week that was already overloaded. I did not expect that my mind would react the way it did since I had been working on keeping it calm day after day. But to my surprise, it became quite upset and then immediately very busy, looking for someone to blame for the unexpected additional workload. The more it dwelled on the circumstances, the more it sought justifications for being displeased and the more it hung on tightly to the feelings that came along with these kinds of thoughts. Next thing I knew, it was fully saturated and tensed up.

This continued for a good number of hours. Even when I was not paying attention to it or realizing it—it was propelling itself, all on its own. What caused me to slow down and recognize the locked state of my own mind-functioning and the fact that I had completely gone in the opposite direction of the Truth, was the intensity with which my mind clung to the feeling of having been wronged. The energy that was going toward this thought pounded in my head and started to become bothersome. At some point, while experiencing these feelings of discomfort, I was able to also recognize that this state was being sustained by some sense of satisfaction that came from blaming somebody or something and growing the self-aggrandizing idea of being “right” while that somebody or something else was “wrong.” Thankfully, while giving myself some time to just look at what was taking place in my mind and while in a state of awe about how much my mind was willing to continue to move in this direction, these words appeared in my thoughts, “Discrimination! Try it! Right now!”

In Echo From the Cave: 180, I shared how, when looking for a way to appease my active mind, I resorted to the Testimony in Pranavadipa Volume 87, which contains Gopala’s description of his practice of discrimination. I began to try to use “Is it permanent?”, “Is it pure?”, “Is it joyful or blissful?” and “Is it the true Self?”, the questions that Gopala chose as his weapons of discrimination following the teachings and guidance of Shri Mahayogi, to see what change may take place in my mind. As a very beginner with little experience in discrimination, I faced the new challenge of trying to pose the questions (which contain the undiluted Truth) to an agitated mind in the thick of a crisis-state while being fully shielded, unwilling to open any space for a question or suggestion of any kind. I quickly had to adapt the questioning to the state and to the shifting around that was taking place in my mind and pry my way in.

“Is it the true Self?” was the question that made most sense to use for the specific conditions because of the inflated sense of “I” that had taken over. I had to treat it like a critical patient, carefully.

—“Why are you upset?”—I asked.
—“I have been mistreated, somebody was trying to take advantage of me, not being considerate toward me”—my mind was willing to answer with a complaint.
—“Who is upset about this? Is it the true Self?”—I was able to ask, but my mind resisted, so I decided to go on.
—“The true Self, according to Shri Mahayogi, only knows and sees. It does not move or react”—I pointed this out to my mind, trying to use what I have heard from Shri Mahayogi about the true Self. “The mind and the body are not the true Self,” I added, “so neither you nor the other person’s mind is the true Self. Does it make sense to react to the mind and the body which are shifty, and ultimately will change again unpredictably? Is it worthwhile to react to something that has no stability to begin with?”
—“If I am not the body and mind, then who am I? Who is the other? Who or what should I focus on if not the body or the mind?”

I realized at this point that my mind was more willing to listen and to be pointed in a new direction.

—“You are the true Self, the unchanging and unmoving. And so is your supervisor.”

This is as far as I went with the questions because my mind had to cope with the answers and ponder further on its own.

I allowed my mind to look for this true Self within. It began looking for something independent of the thoughts in the mind and beyond the distinctions of the physical bodies, which meant something complete and whole without a second, indivisible. I allowed it to seek within, as if scanning for something, while I stood to the side observing or witnessing quietly as not to disturb. I let it seek everywhere, even outside, in the circumstances of my school, the ideas that hold the school together, or even further to the way the world works. The expanding question, “Is it the true Self, the unchangeable and unmoving?” kept guiding it and cancelling out thoughts that did not qualify as the true Self. As this process continued, before I knew it, the big and messy ball of emotions began to quiet down—not completely—but significantly, enough to allow me to focus on the tasks in front of me again, in the present moment. The tension in my mind began to ease up, and the thoughts began to become less domineering. I was able to smile a little, and breath better too.

The battle is by no means over. Such a reaction comes from a very strong sense of “I,” one that I have to chip away at little by little. I have no doubt that I must repeat this kind of process over and over, in various circumstances, whether it feels like an emergency or not, because the mind of ignorance that is convinced that my mind and body are the Self, is there 24/7. “I have to have a strong will and the determination to keep going until my mind gives up, and the ignorance in the mind truly crumbles.” (Echo From the Cave: 180)

From this new experience, however, I realize that the issue that I have had for a long time, lack of consistency, could make any progress a challenge. I have no doubt that I must repeat this kind of process over and over, but how can I become more consistent in this practice?

My mind is so persistent when it goes after what it desires. Shri Mahayogi has described in the content of one of the Satsangha in Pranavadipa that desires are “anything the mind wishes,” and taught that “there is a difference depending on whether that desire is coming from pain-bearing-obstacles or not, in other words, whether that desire is coming from ignorance or selfishness, or whether it is altruistic or not.” Perhaps I can nurture an equally strong desire or aim to pull my mind away in another direction.

Anandamali always emphasizes the need for a clear aim. When I began to think about learning to practice discrimination, originally, my aim was to calm my active mind, but I see that Shri Mahayogi says that the purpose of cultivating a calm mind is to enable one to meditate. I know that I very much want to be able to meditate. I asked myself what is the purpose of meditation? The answer for me was, “I want to know and love God.”

When I make the connection between my aim and the practices toward that aim, then each practice takes on a new meaning because it is not being done in a vacuum, but directly connected to the most important purpose in my life. The aim then, should be the why behind any of the practices in Yoga, such as asana, meditation, reading scriptures, chanting to a holy being…and in fact, any action, if taken as a step toward the Truth, anything done wholeheartedly “to know and love God” may also be called Yoga. If this aim becomes the strongest purpose in my life, real and firm, stronger than any other desire, I believe that my mind will become more tamable and willing to give up, and consistency in practice may not be an issue anymore.

~Karuna

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Echo From The Cave: 181

Wednesday MAY11, 2022 NYC

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Sunday, April 17th 2022

Learning the “Beginner’s Mind”

“Each one of us is given unique material in our daily lives as the ground for Yoga, for learning and living the Truth.”   —Reflection found in Echo From the Cave: 174

Several months ago I found myself in a situation of needing to change my job. Though my case wasn’t the kind where I had some plan in advance or some idea of what I would change my job to, just simply I was in the situation of needing to find something new. It just so happens that the door that opened, the field where I entered, is a field that I didn’t expect (or even really know about). It has to do with looking at different homes and inspecting them for the functionality, safety and condition of all the operating systems, which could include the heating system, the structure, the plumbing, etc.

The point is that everything about this field is absolutely and completely new to me. I’m a total beginner. And what I’ve been experiencing going through it all, I feel, is giving me an important lesson into something that Shri Mahayogi, and senior disciples, say is very important, and that is, the “beginner’s mind.”

As part of preparing for entry into this field of work, I have been taking a class and learning alongside a small group of peers who are also preparing themselves. Many of my peers have backgrounds in related fields, so it seemed to me that they knew a fair amount already, which also seemed to be in stark contrast to my own feeling of “I know nothing!” Because of feeling that “I know nothing” kind of feeling, while at the same time feeling the urgency to maximize this time of learning, since it is only for a short few months, and there is a true need for me to prepare myself well so that I can get into work, I didn’t hesitate much to express when I didn’t understand or to ask questions to try to understand better, even if I thought “this must already be something that is so obvious to everyone else.”

Then, one day when we were out at a practice jobsite, I started to notice something. I started to notice that when I am asking questions—things that I assume are probably related to basic things that everyone else must know already—all my peers would quietly stop what they were doing, lean in or come closer and listen attentively to whatever the instructor or his assistant were explaining or showing. And I also saw that their faces would show the same expression of “Ohhh…Now I see!” that I was more outwardly expressing. That caught my attention, because that’s when I started to recognize that my classmates perhaps didn’t know everything already, like I had supposed from their demeanor. And perhaps somewhere within, they could be feeling the same thing as me, but somehow not expressing it and not really asking questions. Why is that? I wondered.

Reflecting on it, brought me to reflect on myself, and then I saw something that I have probably experienced in myself on many occasions. It is a subtle layer of thought that the mind wears, the thought of “I should know that already.” Such a small and simple thought can carry a lot along with it. To begin with, it is based on a certain expectation…that could be an expectation we think society has for us, or one that we ourselves have created. This is pure speculation, but if I put myself in the shoes of one of my classmates, I think that, just in the simple fact that this field relates to something I would have previous knowledge or experience in, even if it is not exactly the same thing, I might feel that I should in some sense know already, be able to do already, understand already, be already…which is nothing different from something that I can perceive happening within myself, albeit in different situations and contexts.

In fact, when I am in a similar situation, whether conscious of it or not, I may incidentally be trying to give that impression to others or represent myself that way. The unfortunate part is that because of that little sheer layer of that thought resting over the mind, even if it is only the slightest wish for that “already” part, growth and learning can become stunted, and passion and urgency can be dampened…which in turn makes it more difficult to open myself up—without inhibitions—to really take in and receive something new. Taking a step back and seeing it, well it seems silly for me to get in my own way like that, over such an unrealistic expectation that is nothing more than an invisible notion…but that little thought or view can slip over the mind in such a smooth way that it can be hard to catch. And at the same time, it stands firmly as an obstacle to the “beginner’s mind.”

So in this unique situation of entering a new field and naturally having no choice but to have a “beginner’s mind” without being necessarily conscious of it, I really feel like I am being given the circumstances that are helping me start to recognize something important and start to learn more about what the “beginner’s mind” may be, and at least something that it is not. And it seems that through the overarching experience of it all, including the diminished notions of what I should or shouldn’t know already, or should or shouldn’t be already, something much more fascinating and beautiful seems to be unfolding, some learning that is much beyond just the content of the preparation course. And I am seeing that that itself has an immense value.

If I share just one example, I feel that one of the things I am being shown is that, even in these rather mundane and inanimate seeming things—like the examining and testing of building systems, which I probably first perceived as more or less mechanical, technical and straightforward—there is an expression of the same beautiful and dynamic Truth that we hear about from Shri Mahayogi and through Yoga. Almost as if hiding right there, disguised in the ordinary things that I have probably taken for granted throughout most of my life!!

Just like in Shri Mahayogi’s teaching, “Atman: All is for It” in The Universal Gospel of Yoga, in looking at the various systems within a home, everything has its part to play, everything has its role, and everything is coexisting all together, always for the sake of providing something for “another.” In a home, each piece or part, no matter how inanimate or mechanical it may seem, has its role, its influence and at the same time is in its own cycle that all things of nature and the world are subject to, all having a beginning, all constantly changing, all benefitting from care, attention, and appreciation, and at some point all becoming non-functional and in need of being replaced…in other words, time for its form to change and re-enter this cycle…and all coming together to form this dynamic whole. There must be endless reflections and reiterations, from the most micro to the most macro, of the same thing, the same patterns, the same nature, and ultimately, as Shri Mahayogi teaches us, the same Essence that is the backdrop of it all, within endless varieties of circumstances and situations. Certainly all of the ordinary things, the happenings and circumstances within each of our daily lives, must also be telling a dynamic story of Truth, maybe just waiting for us to stop and listen. And I feel that because that dynamic Truth can be right there in those ordinary things, then it’s like those ordinary things themselves become the material that can help us to further learn and come to understand Yoga, or the Truth, in a way that is completely different from just reading about it in a book and logically seeing the fact of it.

“You just have to rid yourself of attachment. Only then will you be able to truly cherish and love the limited material body, the world and everything else, even if all of them are destined to disintegrate.” These words of Shri Mahayogi, in the teaching mentioned above, feel as if they are resonating in the experience I am relating here.

Coming back again to the “beginner’s mind,” I would really like to work towards carefully and thoroughly removing attachment towards any notion of “I should … already.” (It’s perhaps an attachment with a different flavor than how I might typically think of “attachment,” but nonetheless, I think it is attachment of some sort.) The natural conditions of my recent circumstances seem to have allowed a moment to see its limitation, to experience being more free from it, and to taste the joy of discovery and learning that can more spontaneously come out of it. This is all gratefully bringing me to see more clearly now the importance and value of cultivating the “beginner’s mind” in all varieties of situations, even when it may seem more difficult to catch the mind’s thin little layers of attachment, that quietly sneak in as mere shadows of notions. And, though I think I have a few more tools now than before, I’m not 100% sure of the exact way or what will come along in the process…but I think I’m looking forward to simply being able to work towards it.

~Sadhya

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Echo From The Cave: 180

Thursday April 21, 2022 NYC

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Friday, April 15th 2022

The Power of the Words of Truth

I have a very active mind, full of things: projects, opinions, plans, amusements, imagination … all sorts of things float around in my mind. It was not until recently that I was able to understand that all this activity comes from the many ideas that I have about who I want to be in the world, which I work so hard on projecting day in and day out. Realizing the need to face this situation in my mind and seeing the trap of its binding effects for myself and others, I have begun to feel that all this mind-stuff is like a time-bomb of karma; sooner or later, it will explode as an emotion, an action or as words that will lead to more mind-stuff and commotion. “I do not want it!” I also noticed recently, that even when there is nothing that I need to do or think about, my mind continues to spin with thoughts and ideas. The situation is so dire, that I have started to want to use the teachings of Yoga more seriously and effectively than ever before.

In search of where to begin working more methodically with my mind, I went into Pranavadipa Volume 87 because from the first time I read it, it had captured my attention strongly as it contains many tips for the practice of discrimination, which I imagined may work for this very purpose. 

I must confess that, actually, it is embarrassing to realize that I am still such a beginner. When I read the Testimony, titled “Deepening Meditation,” by Gopala, a disciple of Shri Mahayogi in Japan, the words Permanence, Purity, Joy and Self stood out first—because I had been thinking about discrimination as a big task, a very difficult thing, when I first saw these four words being referred to as the weapon, my initial thought was, “how can these four little words do so much work?” I did not know how they would help, how we could use these four words, and I did not understand why we need four ideas, not just one, so I found it intriguing. It is clear I had not thought about the meaning of the words much at all.

Gopala goes on to explain how he applied the practice of discrimination by contrasting the mind’s ideas with the Truth over an extended period of time to control his mind’s attachment to objects of desires using the questions—“Is it permanent?”, “Is it pure?”, “Is it joyful or blissful?” and “Is it the true Self?”—as weapons in the battle between the Truth and the pain-bearing-obstacles in his mind: 1) egoism, 2) attachment to what we enjoy and like, 3) attachment to avoiding what we dislike and what perturbs us, 4) clinging to life, and 5) ignorance of the Truth altogether. As I read Gopala’s explanation about how the pain-bearing-obstacles open the way to and feed numerous desires (likes and dislikes, or attraction and repulsion), it leads me to realize that desires have everything to do with the constant activity roaming in my mind, and they are exactly what I need to get rid of!

As I started to think more deeply about these four words—Permanence, Purity, Joy and Self: permanent = something eternal, that is never born or dies; pure = something that has no ego or self-interest; joy or bliss = the freedom from all thoughts and desires, unconditional well-being; and the Self = the Truth itself, the only reality or Existence, the unchangeable—I began to recognize that they are not just words, but that each one represents the Truth itself, wholly and without an ounce of error. The more I ponder on these words, the more I perceive that they contain immeasurable power. Even though I might only be able to perceive just a little bit of the power contained in these words, when I think about their meaning, my mind is automatically intimidated by the possible outcome of a face-off against its own beliefs. This makes me remember that Shri Mahayogi says something like, in front of the Truth, everything else crumbles.

The words of Truth have immeasurable power, nonetheless, seeing how quickly my mind wanted to escape the weapons of discrimination, even from just thinking about the meaning of these words that stand for the Truth, I understood that the battle against the ignorance in my mind must continue. If I allow my mind to seek comfort again, as it has done for so long, my mind will remain unchanged, and the real battle cannot begin. I have begun to come to terms with the fact that, in order to fight against the ignorance in my mind, the process of discrimination has to create enough ripples to shake the foundation that sustains that ignorance! Therefore, following Gopala’s example of how he was practicing discrimination, I decided to go forward using the same questions against one of the strongest tendencies that I see in myself, which is to want to prove that “I know, so you must like and admire me” or the opposite, “I do not know, so come to my rescue or leave me alone.”

I have only tried this a few times in sitting meditation and during the day so far, when I have been able to notice my mind’s tendency acting up. But when I have, my mind felt under attack and vulnerable; for example, when I asked, “Are you seeking something permanent now?”, the honest answer was “No, my mind is seeking to gain temporary results, admiration, support, or sometimes to deflect its ignorance temporarily”; to the question, “Is this action coming from Purity or seeking Purity?”, the answer was, “Purity is egoless, does not want for itself, while my mind is seeking for itself, regardless of what may benefit others”; like so, I asked, “Will this bring true Bliss or Joy?”, and the answer was, “How can my mind bring true Joy if it is seeking joy in the unpredictable, uncontrollable, and unsustainable conditions of the world? …True Joy is beyond conditions”; and when I asked, “Does this thought come from the true Self or seek to know the true Self?”, the answer was, “The true Self only knows and sees and stands completely unaffected by the fluctuations of the mind, it is perfect Stillness.” Indeed, my mind definitely began to feel great discomfort and tried to run away, concerned about encountering this weapon again!

Quite honestly, I didn’t realize the link between these four words, Permanence, Purity, Joy and Self, and the four causes of ignorance, until when recently, after I had already started to practice using them, I heard a fellow gurubai point it out. Of course, Shri Mahayogi reminds us over and over of the four main causes of ignorance:

1) seeing the impermanent as permanent
2) seeing the impure as pure
3) seeing pain as pleasure
4) seeing the non-self (ego-mind) as the Self (the Truth or God)

After hearing it and realizing the connection, I finally began to understand why these words function as a powerful “weapon” in the battle against the ignorance that has taken over our minds. It is because they are the very opposite of ignorance, the Truth itself, like an antidote.

Yet, I also have begun to see that no matter how much I think I understand, in order for me to move forward with this battle, I have to have a strong will and the determination to keep going until my mind gives up, and the ignorance in the mind truly crumbles. Like Gopala, I need to always remember that “I want to live in the Truth!” and that it is possible! For me to continue using the weapon of discrimination, I must be determined not to give up, whether it goes well or not, whether my mind likes it or not. I want to boldly move away from karma and toward Yoga, every time I realize that I am again standing at the fork in the road.

~Karuna

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Echo From The Cave: 179

Tuesday April 12, 2022 NYC

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Sunday, April 10th 2022

At the End of Explaining is the Beginning of Listening

Disarming the Mind for Freedom—last year we had several online programs around this topic, and just recently in Pranavadipa Vol. 89 a Testimony written by Karuna was published under the same theme. And in in a recent Asana & Meditation class, Karuna was also sharing with us about “the mind of complaint” that is one of the concrete things we can go against in order to work towards “disarming the mind” (Echo From the Cave: 178).  Actually, there is another mind habit that we learn is important to work against, and one that I’ve been trying to understand better and shift in myself, and that is “making excuses and explanations,” which very much goes hand in hand with the “mind of complaint.” Or perhaps to be more accurate, I have often heard through senior disciples that “explanations” are more or less a form of “making an excuse.” And how difficult it is to learn or receive anything new when we’re busy making excuses!

After being pointed to the importance of improving in ability and depth of listening, and the importance of being humble, I started to bring my mind more towards looking at what’s getting in the way. It’s a small thing, but one thing I see is that the mind holds a fear of others’ negative opinions or impressions of me. So, as a result I may find myself explaining…explaining in hopes of not being misunderstood, explaining in hopes of not being taken as thoughtless, explaining in hopes of … well it doesn’t even really matter in hopes of what … it’s all different shades of the same hope of “giving a good impression.” Ultimately, this is all based on ignorance of the Self. And as Shri Mahayogi teaches us, how vain and unnecessary it is to allow oneself to be dependent on the changeable and uncontrollable thoughts and opinions of others. Truly I would like to come to trust in and depend fully on the Truth, which is what Shri Mahayogi points us towards again and again, not just through thinking that I am, but through the content of my actions. Right now, this is something that I am working towards and trying to find the ways to really make it come to be more concretely so.

Though this may not be a very well developed way of going about it, one thing I decided to do is to just stop with the explaining. If something is being pointed out to me, whether or not I have thought of it, whether or not I have done it, whether or not I think I have been misunderstood, I can just give it all up and I don’t need to say anything about it. Because I see that as soon as I do, the conversation goes to “let me tell you…” and it becomes about me justifying, defending, or showing something about myself—and once it reaches words, the impetus has already proceeded forth from the thought and the mind has already painted its lens in a way that “listening and considering” is greatly lessened, even if it may appear to happen at a certain level.

I don’t have much to conclude or share about it yet. It’s not something I’ve been doing actively for a long period of time, maybe only for about one month, and I can’t even say that I’m doing it very well. But I see it as a starting point, a way to work backwards, towards weakening the grip of the small self, and putting the validity of its dependence to the test. In a way, I also see it as a test that can be done in the scenes of daily life towards one of the great objects of meditation that Shri Mahaygoi teaches us: “Who am I?”

We always hear from Shri Mahayogi the importance of practicing empirically—and if Yoga is science of the mind (See Echo from the Cave: 177), certainly it must be true that philosophizing, imagining, or intellectualizing just won’t do. The mind needs evidence to learn, and the only way to find evidence is through consistent experimenting and testing. Satya’s Testimony that was recently published in Pranavadipa Vol. 89 is an excellent example of that, and one that we can gather a lot of hints from.

In that same article, Satya shared Shri Mahayogi’s words: “It sure is easy if you’re free from obsession!” I think, most likely, a lot of the explaining of ourselves, the making of excuses, and the complaining—all of these are “peas-in-a-pod”—and they’re all coming from the mind’s obsession to defend some idea or concept of this small self, “myself”, the ego…which is completely unrelated to the real Self and the Truth. And that obsession seems to constantly be standing in the way of deepening our ability to listen to the Truth and receive It.

How nice it must be to become utterly defenseless! And as Shri Mahayogi reminds us often in various ways, by throwing out and resolving this mind-stuff, practically and empirically in daily life, more and more space opens up for the Truth to emerge.

~Sadhya

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Echo From The Cave: 178

Sunday April 10, 2022 NYC

Rama and Lakshmana fighting Ravana

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Friday, April 8th 2022

Reflecting Asana in Practice of Daily Life:
Battling the Mind of Complaint in Asana and Daily Life

In Satsangha, Shri Mahayogi has often spoken about how, “one should not complain,” and also, Anandamali has often explained to us that what Shri Mahayogi means by “complain” is much more than “what we might think complaining could be,” or that there are a variety of subtle forms that complaints can take, many of which we may not usually consider as complaints, or which may easily go unnoticed by us. One of my immediate reactions whenever I have heard about this “mind of complaint,” has been to hope that this is not my case. Other times, I may convince myself confidently, “this is not my problem,” and feel relieved. And at times, I simply push forward with what I think is “my practice” and ignore the topic altogether.

But recently, I have begun to think about this “mind of complaint,” and realized that, just like what Anandamali has been explaining, there are actually many ways in which I have been complaining. When I hear or see someone or something, I may silently react with, “What a bother!” “I am not doing that!” “Why do things have to be this way?” “I am not interested at all.” “I would do things very differently.” Or even, “That is great, but not for me.” These are not actual words that appear in my mind, but they represent attitudes that can arise from feelings of disdain, a sense of superiority, a lack of empathy, or an unwillingness to understand others or to learn and contribute positively to a situation.

If I think about it, there are many ways in which my mind can complain, because complaints will manifest in many ways when my mind is set on justifying itself, feeling that it is right, or seeing others as being wrong—same thing. By pointing to these things in myself, it may seem as if I am putting myself down, or being unnecessarily negative toward myself, but in fact, if Shri Mahayogi or a senior disciple talk about the need to work against the “mind of complaint” this must be related to the aim of Yoga, and if this is so, then it is important to know that there is something to work on. Besides, regardless of the person, it is not at all uncommon to have this kind of mind tendency because the ego-mind (the mind that is interested in preserving “me” and “mine” above all else) is always looking for ways to succeed and have its way, and will resort to all kinds of methods to achieve that. So, these complaints, though ultimately not effective, are our mind’s way of believing that it is in control and getting its way.

Nowadays, more than before, I have begun to work on my mind that gets troubled by various things, by facing it. So, recently when I read, “because our minds are clouded by desire and attachments, and therefore unable to perceive Sanatana Dharma [the Truth, or the Divine Essence behind everything],” in the recent blog (Echo from the Cave: 176) about the 5th Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela held on April 3rd, I began to think that it may be the complaints in my mind that cause and sustain my state of cloudiness and attachment, because they keep me from perceiving the Truth—and this, I suspect, may very well be the purpose for the complaints of an ego-driven mind to begin with.

Then, I came to realize clearly that for me, if I truly want to experience Yoga, it is important to get rid of the cloudiness and the attachments as swiftly as I can, so that my mind can take down its defenses and allow me to perceive the Divine Essence behind all, the Guru, the Truth itself. That is why I figure that I need to take the short and precise suggestion of getting rid of the “mind of complaint” as something very serious, as a priority.

What can help build the will to fight a complaining mind? Through constant training, just as how Shri Mahayogi always says, we can fight against the tendency of our mind (a question and answer was recently published on this topic in Pranavadipa Vol. 89), and just as how Sadhya spoke recently at the end of the Asana and Meditation class, about how the mind tries to get out of holding steady in a tight pose and exhaling longer; in asana, through the long and complete exhalation, we can train the mind to go past the fears and concerns that arise when it is pushed to go past its perceived limits (Echo from the Cave: 177). I believe, and we can each test this for ourselves, that by repeating this training in asana day after day, the mind that is attached to fear and comfort gradually begins to loosen its grip. Likewise, in our daily lives, when the “mind of complaint” kicks in, we also need a strategy!

In asana, the prolonged exhalation is not necessarily about putting effort, but more about a gradual surrendering, not of the breath, but of the mind’s thoughts themselves, any thoughts, even the thought of “I am exhaling” or “I am breathing.” So, after learning and recognizing this not long ago, I feel that this repeated surrendering is offering me a clue for what I could do in daily life. During the day, when “the mind of complaint” wants to take over and trick me into becoming tangled up in its complaints, knowing that those complaints are the soldiers of the ego-driven mind and the very obstacles to the Truth, I can refuse to pay them any attention and instead pierce through and dissolve them as I move nearer to the Essence of God, Shri Mahayogi, or any form of the Truth, while seeking the stillness deep within. Just like in asana, in daily life too, I can extend my focus inwards, past the ideas that are on the surface of the mind that creates cloudiness and that holds on to the attachments preventing us from deepening Yoga.

Even from the initial efforts that I have made, I sense that the result of working little by little and continuously against the “mind of complaint” in asana and in daily life, is less reactiveness and less agitation, because as with the army of any enemy, (just like Gopala also talks about in a recent Testimony, Pranavadipa Vol. 87) the ego-mind will start to retreat once it realizes that the uselessness of its plot has been exposed. And, just like in asana, for a new habit to take root, it must be repeated, sustained, tested, and used as a training over and over, every day. That is what I hope to do in order to work against the “mind of complaint.” I must say that, though I never thought about it until really recently, it seems to be that the training of controlling the “mind of complaint” in asana is very necessary and practicable, and the same thing can be said about this training in daily life!

~Karuna

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Echo From The Cave: 177

Thursday April 7, 2022 NYC

This is not a pipe.  1929  —René Magritte

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Sunday, April 3rd 2022

Yoga is “Science of the Mind”—Asana, an Instrument
&
Pranavadipa Vol. 89, April 8th, 2022

When referring to Yoga, oftentimes and perhaps especially in modern times, what comes to mind is the practice of various postures—like the asana that we practice during the Asana & Meditation class. But, what we learn from Shri Mahayogi is that originally, and now still, Yoga is actually a science of the mind. And asana is just one part, one practice contained within it. In the class, we practice asana as the preparation for the meditation time at the end.

Perhaps, very often, one of the things many of us may hope for is that, in one way or another, through meditation we may find some peace and calm, or freedom, from the many, many stresses coming from our daily lives. Shri Mahayogi has pointed out to us that everyone seeks for some kind of everlasting happiness, some perfectly peaceful state, or to be free (which could mean from just about anything), which is something we can probably all observe—but as long as we find ourselves still seeking it in various things, it also means we haven’t yet really been able to find it.

From Shri Mahayogi we learn that, since ancient times, the yogi looked into this matter. They found that there is something that seems to get in the way and become an obstacle…and that is the mind. The yogi found that the mind is always getting disturbed by one thing or another—which is what becomes the disturbance we call “stress,” that we are then constantly trying to deal with and resolve. But, the yogi also observed that, if the mind gets disturbed, if it is experiencing stress, there is always a reason for it, a cause. That cause is found within ourselves. And there are various causes that are common to everyone.

To give an example, in the Yoga Sutra, one of the principal texts of Yoga, it is pointed out that attachment towards the things we like and aversion towards the things we dislike are a huge cause of stress. If we like something, we want more of it, want to keep it, don’t want to lose it. If we don’t like something, we want to get rid of it, avoid it, escape from it. All of our efforts to ensure that we can obtain and maintain the things we want, while at the same time, get rid of and stay free from the things we don’t want, keep us busy going to great lengths to try to control situations and circumstances around us that are simply out of our control—stress—and then when things inevitably don’t go according to plan or how we wish for—more stress!!

The yogi found that, if we can observe the cause of that stress within ourselves, then, once we know what it is, we can work to remove that cause. By doing that, little by little, we can experience that this stress can come to be resolved for good, rather than just be temporarily soothed.

One of the big challenges though, is that most of the time we are just in the midst of experiencing all kinds of stresses, worries and anxieties, and immediately look for the cause of it all outside of ourselves—it’s because of the situation I’m in, it’s because of the environment I have to work in, it’s because of all these things that happened to me, it’s because of all the things I have to do, it’s because of that person, etc. And then, more often than not, we try to force changes in those things outside of ourselves. But when it comes to things outside of ourselves, there is always a complex myriad of factors at play, that are impossible to predict as we try to shape and change things according to our wishes and preferences, so inevitably when the next situation pops up unexpectedly, without having made any change within ourselves, the stress that we experience will not have changed either.

It is such a strong habit the mind has, to look outside of ourselves, that it seems to be rather difficult to actually reflect on ourselves, to look for a cause within ourselves, and then change something about ourselves! Indeed, that may be one of the mind’s strongest tendencies to go against. But, through Yoga, through the science of the mind, as Shri Mahayogi assures us again and again, we learn that this is exactly what must be done if we would like to truly resolve and become free from all of our disturbances, or stresses, which Shri Mahayogi and the great Yogi of the past have found is indeed possible and is actually our natural, inherent state.

Here’s where I think the practice of asana is a great help and why Shri Mahayogi teaches it to us as a foundational preparation. Through practice of asana, and the training through focusing on the breath, the way we learn in the class that comes from Shri Mahayogi’s own experience and mastering of asana, gradually the mind can come to settle down, enough to gain a little more clarity. And as that happens, our ability to face, and objectively and scientifically observe our own mind, gradually expands.

There is a question and answer that illustrates the important link between the asana and the focus on the breath in the way Shri Mahayogi teaches us. The following is an excerpt from the exchange of question and answer that arose at the end of the very last class that Shri Mahayogi directly instructed in Kyoto, Japan, back in March 2019. (You can read it and more in this month’s issue of Pranavadipa Vol. 89, published April 8th.)

Question: Shri Mahayogi always reminds us to still the physical body and focus on the exhalation during asana. Please tell us the reason why, once again.

MASTER: In order to realize the Truth, one must control the mind. However, it is very difficult to control the mind. In the scripture, Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna, the disciple of God Krishna, asks God Krishna: “Controlling the mind is precisely as difficult as trying to harness the wind; what should I do?” Then Krishna responds, “You can accomplish it through constant discipline and dispassion.” Constant discipline means to train again and again. Study and learning is included in that. “Constant discipline” applies to the whole of practice. And another one is dispassion—it means non-attachment; it indicates that you should make the mind empty as if it were transparent, or create a mind that doesn’t have any obsessions or attachments, like it is empty. Yet it is very difficult to try to restrain the mind. It is there then that the practitioners of Yoga [in ancient times], who had pragmatically mastered it through experiencing the close connection between breath and mind, realized that by controlling the breath, the mind can be controlled. They discovered that rather than trying to control the mind directly, they can first control the breath, and consequently the mind follows; since the breath too is a part of the autonomic system, for example, when emotions are disturbed—excited, angry, or crying—the breath also gets out of order according to the various fluctuations of the mind; it is difficult to always sustain a calm breath, so then, they attempted to control the physical body in order to control the breath—that is how they discovered that through this distinctive method called asana, they can change the rhythm of the breath. Therefore, asana does not merely have the purpose of maintaining health, but its purpose of transforming the breath is hidden within. In fact, if one devotes oneself to practice asana daily for many years, thoroughly and to the hilt, the breath transforms and simultaneously, the mind transforms; the mind becomes such that it does not get disturbed nor is it affected [by anything]; even if some stimuli come, the mind retains its calm, and it always remains the same. This is because the breath does not become disorderly, and simultaneously, the mind too is unaffected. This is the wisdom that has been cultivated through the actual, empirical practice of Yoga. Therefore, the purpose of asana lies in creating this foundation.

If I reflect on what I am being taught through the asana that I am learning through Shri Mahayogi, I have to say that I believe that through continued and correct practice of asana in its original form that Shri Mahayogi teaches, even if there are internal things that disturb our minds, like strong memories that may be invisibly playing into our thoughts and emotions, these too can be affected and transformed through this focus on the breath. There is really probably not much difference between the situations in our daily lives that push and pull us, and the memories that we hold onto that push and pull us.

I am learning through Shri Mahayogi and the teaching of Yoga, for example, that what we consider to be the factual knowledge within our mind, is actually all shaped by our perceptions of various experiences and how we categorize them in various levels of pleasing or displeasing. You and I may encounter the exact same situation. I may experience it positively, and then my mind will categorize it as “desirable.” You may experience it negatively, and then your mind will categorize it as “undesirable.” The situation itself is not necessarily either of those things, but based on each of our experiences, our minds will start to create respective beliefs about the same thing. And we will both believe our belief to be the true one! And of course, every time we encounter a similar situation, we won’t see it objectively at all, but through the lens of the belief we’ve already created. So much content of what is in our mind is created from seeing through these various lenses and establishing beliefs upon more beliefs that come to paint the background of our minds. Memory is the same way, it is just a shadow of a past experience. All of this seems to prevent us from being able to see and understand things as they are.

From what I am being taught through asana, I feel that we really do have the chance to start to challenge and test the validity of what we believe to be true, what we think we understand. We can test out pushing and going beyond the limits that our minds put in place for us, in simple ways. To give an example, with the long exhalation, the sensation may come, I need to inhale right now! Why? Because if I don’t, I might die!! The mind can be very dramatic that way. These aren’t necessarily thoughts or a dialogue that is happening in the mind, but like sensations that, if observed quietly, may reveal these beliefs hiding underneath.

So then, we can challenge those beliefs in the practice of asana itself! Not by thinking or analyzing, but by using the physical body and the breath to do something differently. And see what happens. See if our limits are our limits, if what we believe to be true is true, through action. Observing and testing over and over, again and again. After all, no scientist collects only one sample of data!

We hold onto so many beliefs, including memories, that result in limitation and unnecessary stress for ourselves. Let’s follow the way Shri Mahayogi is leading us and let’s challenge and shake the very structure of that mechanism of the mind through practice of asana!

~ Sadhya

*

To be able to receive this teaching from Shri Mahayogi, and to receive the instruction in asana from Shri Mahayogi, whether we have received it directly from him, or are receiving it from him through his direct disciples, or both—is a BLESSING. No matter the way, it seems the authentic practice of asana coming from ancient times, with its original purpose of transforming the mind, is what Shri Mahayogi is making concrete and practicable for us!

There are many other great teachings coming through the question and answer that continued at the end of the final class that Shri Mahayogi directly instructed in Kyoto, 2019, and in the Satsangha that followed that evening, all of which is now published in Pranavadipa Vol. 89. (Satsangha, which is a gathering of Truth with Shri Mahayogi, has been held regularly in Kyoto, though it is currently on pause until further notice.) And additionally, there are two Testimonies coming from the actual practice and experience of two different practitioners, both of which in different ways give us excellent material filled with concrete and practical examples of what it might look like to further face this mind, the way it can cause us so much trouble and stress, and some very practical ways of working towards resolving these causes in daily life and through meditation.

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Echo From The Cave: 176

Wednesday April 6, 2022 NYC

Celebration:
Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela
—The 5th Grand Ceremony of the Divine Manifestations—

Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Truth always exists as the essence of the entire universe, and all things. No matter which way the world turns, Sanatana Dharma, always emerges, its brilliance shining forth through the sacred forms of the Avatara, the Great Awakened Beings. No matter the era, no matter the form, no matter the happenings, Sanatana Dharma, the Eternal Truth, is always there, everywhere and in everything, and it is Pure Joy. That’s a promise.

However, because our minds are clouded with the filter of our desires and attachments, our minds are not able to see that Sanatana Dharma. That is why the Avatara have appeared in the world, to demonstrate Sanatana Dharma so that we can regain sight of It, and taste the Pure Joy that It Is. It is solely because of the appearance of the Avatara, the true Guru of the world, that we can come to know that the Eternal Truth is within us, and can walk the path toward It.

Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela, The Grand Ceremony of the Divine Manifestations, is a great opportunity to acknowledge the existences of the Avatara, including those who have appeared already and those who will appear in the future, and the great works that originate with them. And it is a precious gift given to us by Shri Mahayogi, as it is a time for us to come together, to heighten and expand our aspiration towards the Universal and Eternal Truth and towards all the Avatara who have appeared in this world time and time again for the sake of all of humanity.

On April 3rd 2022, the 5th Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela was celebrated with disciples in Japan, Taiwan and the USA gathering together online at the feet of our Revered Master, Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa.

Seven messages from various disciples of Shri Mahayogi were shared for the occasion, which all came from their experiences of how they’ve been working towards realizing this invisible Truth within themselves and how they’ve been acting on that in turn within the world; regardless of their respective backgrounds and life situations, their experiences of what they have perceived about what Sanatana Dharma is, is coming through the demonstration of the way their ideal Holy Being lives.

All of the messages, full of admiration and gratitude toward the Master and toward the Avatara, expressed firm commitment and devotion to proceed forth boldly towards each of their highest aims, respectively. And each message was inspiring because what each disciple spoke came from their long-time, single-minded empirical practice.

Besides messages, there was a video digest of one of the Divine Plays that was created and performed by the Sangha in Japan, and originally offered during one of the past celebrations of Satguru Jayanti that was held at the Mahayogi Yoga Ashrama in Kyoto. Titled, “A Handful of Rice,” it depicted the story of Saint Sudama, who devoted to God Krishna, portraying the importance of offering pure love to God and the unfathomable Grace of God, both of which bring one towards absolute Joy.

Sadhya, from New York, offered a message titled, Sanatana Dharma and Asana, along with her demonstration of Asana. The concentration and power in her demonstration was breathtaking, suggesting that there is a secret and a deep significance within the Asana that Shri Mahayogi is conveying to us; as Shri Mahayogi has said, “The true meaning of Asana is to abide in Brahman.”

The inspiration we have received from the presence and speeches of each of the seven gurubai will become the motive for us to proceed forward on the path towards our aim. Definitely, Sanatana Dharma Avatara Mela reminds us, deep within our hearts, of what the most important thing is, what’s at the core of the life that we are living, even in the midst of facing the uncertain circumstances of our current world.

It is clear that our work is to grow and establish ourselves more and more in Yoga, so that that bright Light of Eternal Truth, can shine forth. What strength it brings to know the Avatara are always with us, that the Light of Eternal Truth is always with us. The existence of Shri Mahayogi brings us confidence that this is a promise. We should allow ourselves to be concretely led to the Sanatana Dharma that is already unfolding within the shapes and forms of our own life situations.

At the end of Sanatana Dharma Avatara, Mela, we were able to see Shri Mahayogi!!!!!!!

Again and again, we are struck by his overwhelming presence. And in his majestic and unparalleled Siddhasana, the Perfect Seat, Shri Mahayogi offered us his words. Shri Mahayogi is our source of life—if there is anything that encourages us to keep going, it is the presence of our Guru. We are eternally grateful.

I am truly pleased in hearing all the messages,
full of purity, faith and love,
and I feel from them how you’ve matured.
May you all be and come to be shining and flooded with
that which is Holy more and more.
Always, always, I am with you.”

—Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa


「みんなの純粋な信仰と愛に満ちたメッセージの数々、
本当にうれしく、また頼もしく感じました。
今も、そしてこれからも、
益々みんなが聖なる者に、輝きに満ちていきますように。
いつも、いつも私はあなたと一緒にいます」

—サットグル・シュリー・マハーヨーギー・パラマハンサ

Jai Sanatana Dharma Ki, Jai

Echo From The Cave: 175

Monday April 3, 2022 NYC

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Friday, April 1st 2022

Learning Why We Need to Educate the Mind Through the Teachings of Yoga

It had been over three years, if not four, that I had not visited my parents. Since that time, I have communicated with them and known that their health has been deteriorating rapidly, but when I visited them a few weeks ago, and experienced first-hand their accelerated aging, I was truly shocked. Both of their conditions are manifesting in the mind quite strongly: for one of them the loss of memory is taking place very rapidly, which is triggering quite a severe depression in the other.

Facing the situation was puzzling, overwhelming, and at times exasperating! Even though I felt pretty even-keeled during the first few days, the unpredictability of their minds toward the end of my visit threw me into a type of confusion and, to be honest, despair and sadness. I came back to New York feeling off base and shaken. I felt a deep void, as if I had lost both of my parents, because they were no longer the people that I knew them to be, or the people that I had relied on for so many years. And I realized that I no longer knew how to relate to them. Simply trying to help them cope with daily chores was incredibly challenging because of the sudden ups and downs, changes in mood, lack of clarity, forgetfulness, confusion, and overall difficulty with basic daily life. I came back to New York quite torn inside.

Recently, while practicing meditation at the end of one of the Asana and Meditation classes, with this situation always lingering somewhere in my mind, I was feeling the urgent need to know, “How do I rebuild my relationship with my parents if they are mentally not themselves anymore?” I wanted to find a teaching that could help me move beyond the state of shock and sadness that would not disappear by itself. While focusing on the center of my chest, I kept searching for my parents, or a part of my parents that I could continue to hold and love dearly in my heart. Suddenly, the memory of a teaching of Shri Mahayogi arose from the same point where I was focusing:

“You are not the body that will one day break down and decay, nor are you the mind, constantly agitated and changing. You are the Pure Consciousness that simply knows and sees. That is your true Self. That is God.”   (From “God”, The Universal Gospel of Yoga)

These words that Shri Mahayogi has spoken so many times and are recorded in The Universal Gospel of Yoga, suddenly hit me as more real than ever. When I felt them arising from the center of my chest in meditation, I felt that specific point as the place where I could possibly meet my parents, perhaps even for the first time, in this true Self, in God. When the words came, and my mind received them, I immediately felt ease in my whole person, and the sadness and confusion that had been overwhelming me, lessened greatly. I felt revived and hopeful that if I continued to focus on this teaching, I could find a way to be with my parents and support them through this stage of their lives.

After this meditation, I was more ready to think about what to do, how to proceed. And I decided to consider my parents’ mind state. Their minds and bodies shift from one mood and state to another: from angry to giggly, from talkative to somber and silent, from active to sluggish, and so on, without warning. They worry, experience fear, insecurity, loneliness, boredom, excitement, anxiety, and many other emotions. And the more I thought about them, the more I realized, “My mind is just like that!” And then I pondered, “All minds are like that!”

In a recent conversation among the sangha in New York, Anandamali had reminded us about the parable in which Buddha spoke about the house being on fire—the house is on fire, and the father tried to trick his children to get out of their house, however the children wanted to keep playing with their toys and ignored the father’s beckoning—in the same way, we do not notice that our own house is on fire. After coming to see that the state of my mind is not that different for any of us, even for my parents—how it reacts to the shifting conditions of others and of the world, and can spin out of control—I understood, my own house is on fire! At that moment I began to realize that the fragility of the mind and body that I see in my parents is in me too, and in everyone, because it is the natural state of our mind, which is reactive and in constant change and movement. Perhaps, for my parents, in their old age, it is more amplified and less controllable, and it becomes more radically dangerous. But, I have to let my mind know that unless I do something about the “fire in my own house,” all I will experience is  the body that will one day break down and decay” and “the mind, constantly agitated and changing,” rather than “the Pure Consciousness that simply knows and sees… my true Self… God.” Suddenly, beyond wanting a calm mind for the sake of a calm mind, I felt that this very still and transparent mind is the gateway to the true Self in myself and my parents too, where we can recognize and care for each other, because there is only One true Self, and we are both that One, God. I felt much more aware of and grateful for everything that Shri Mahayogi has been teaching us. The Guru is here to help us become free from the error that we are the body and mind, and to teach us how to go beyond it, and be free once and for all! I need to believe and never forget this! I need to educate my mind!

What about my parents? How do I relate to them? I told myself that their minds are in a very confused state, just like all of ours; but their true Self is intact and peaceful, just like for all of us, even if we do not realize this fact. So, I began to internalize more the idea that if my mind becomes restrained through Yoga, and stops reacting emotionally to external situations, including the state of my parents, the true Self, God itself, would shine through on its own and offer real Peace to others, just like Shri Mahayogi emanates Peace to anyone around him. I also reflected that, if in fact we are the true Self or God and not the mind, caring for my parents or for anyone by alleviating their daily struggles is really caring for and loving God, the most precious Existence, regardless of whether they show understanding or not, whether they are able to show any appreciation or not, or whether my actions solve their life problems or not. I have a sense that this type of action is the most fulfilling action.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Shri Mahayogi says that we must correctly learn, understand, then meditate on this. To my surprise, it is my parents who are giving me the opportunity to learn to educate my mind through the Teachings of Yoga.

~ Karuna

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Echo From The Cave: 174

Sunday March 27, 2022 NYC

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Sunday, March 27, 2022

Life Experiences Are the Ground for Contemplation

We learn from Shri Mahayogi that Yoga is not something that is done at a particular time of day, or something that has to look a certain type of way, but rather Yoga lives in every moment of the day, it is the way of Life itself.

But, what does that mean? And what does it look like?

Going back again to one of Shri Mahayogi’s most fundamental teachings: “The Truth must first be heard, then contemplated, then meditated upon”—it is clear that learning the Truth is essential. Yet, simply reading or hearing the teachings of Truth or of Yoga, doesn’t necessarily mean that we understand them deeply in the context of our every-day experiences, even if the teachings may seem to make sense to us. Here’s where I have started to feel more and more the importance of contemplating the teachings through our own life experience comes into play. Actually, it feels kind of like, while contemplating the teachings, keeping them alive within the mind or heart, we may be allowing the Truth to reveal itself, or teach us, little by little, through our life experiences. And that includes through practice of asana too, which I feel is a mirror given to us to constantly be using to reflect on and look at those life experiences from another angle, another view.

Each one of us is given unique material in our daily lives as the ground for Yoga, for learning and living the Truth. Yet, no one has exactly the same ground—same job, living situation, people around us, responsibilities, etc.—so our material for learning and living the Truth differs slightly (or drastically!) from one to another. Yet, surely we each have an ideal and perfect situation for Yoga, in the scenes and scenarios that unfold in our lives.

~ Sadhya

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