Fri April 15th, 2016 06:17am, NYC
NY Gurubai’s Visit to Japan, Winter 2016
and Its Synchronization with Pranavadipa Vol. 17:
Part 2: BLESSING
Saturday afternoon, the gurubhai from New York took their first Asana & Meditation class in Kyoto, led by Shantimayi. They were a bit nervous at first, but eventually they blended in quite well. After resting for a little while back at Shanti Kutira, we then set out to attend the first satsangha at the Ashrama!!! It was finally time to reunite with Shri Mahayogi at his residence in Kyoto!!!!!!! You can imagine how excited we were… How long we had waited for this day to come!!!!!!!
At the satsangha, Aniruddha expressed his heartfelt need to be free. He could feel that he was always holding himself back, mostly out of being concerned about how others would perceive him. So he always felt imprisoned by what was going on in his own head, knowing that this was the opposite of the freedom he yearned for.
Shri Mahayogi was just listening and nodding his head, but he didn’t say anything about it.
When asked by Nandi why he feels that others are judging him, Aniruddha answered that his personality is such that he prefers to be reserved, to be the man in the background. He has never sought attention for himself. He was always afraid of being judged.
Still, Shri Mahayogi said nothing.
Who could have guessed that the answer was yet to come—no, actually what would happen went far beyond any kind of answer. Who knew that something that was beyond an answer, even beyond what any of us could imagine, was bound to come…and so soon!
After the satsangha, we had late dinner with Satya, Kripal, Taka and Yohei at Shanti Kutira. With foresight, Taka had prepared the meal before heading to the satsangha. Ryan couldn’t attend the first night’s meeting because he was so exhausted after not being able to sleep well the night they arrived, but this night, Ryan was wide-awake and looking completely alive. Nandi, on the other hand, who was probably over excited at having seen Shri Mahayogi and attending the satsangha at the Ashrama, couldn’t stay up any longer, so he went to sleep right after dinner. As if Ryan was making up for the precious time with gurubhai that he had missed the night before, he asked a number of questions about the recurring theme present in all of the discussions that took place over the course of their journey—discrimination.
At some point, Yohei, knowing that Satya had been practicing discrimination, suggested that she share her practice of discrimination.
She shared that her tendency is such that if something rises up within her that she is bothered by or concerned about, she cannot think about anything other than that, and this makes her naturally enter into the condition of discriminating on a given issue. In the beginning, it took a long time to process, but she now feels that she has grasped how to get to the core of discrimination, or how to go about discrimination, so her process has been shortened. Discrimination begins by thinking about the matter, (this is the gross level in which she is aware that she is thinking about it, and this is the condition in which she and the issue are entangled). Then, as she continues, gradually, the condition arises in which it seems as if the issue is being looked at from above. By that time, the state of concentration deepens and continues in the depths of the mind. That condition ends too. And then, the condition in which it appears as if the mind no longer contains that issue at all arises. At that time, she is not aware of concentrating, but the concentration still continues. At some point she experiences the feeling of being very clear and light, as if the clouds have been cleared away and the sun has come out into the blue sky. Then all of a sudden at that time, the intuition comes, that “the matter in its entirety will be resolved very soon.” And later it vanishes by sheer chance.
Ryan asked her how she knows if the matter is completely resolved or not. She answered that when the issue is completely discriminated, then she clearly knows that the matter is completely separate from her, so that she can never be bothered by it again in any way whatsoever. Since she knows from her experiences the difference between the condition of intellectually understanding it, (in which her mind forcibly tells her “that is ignorance”, “that is the Truth”), and the issue being resolved by actually discriminating, she carries the process through until the very end of discrimination, which results in the renunciation of that issue.
And she also explained that the practice of discrimination she is working through is nothing like a big subject such as “death,” but rather it is focused on the agitations within her mind that occur in daily life. For example, it could be something like, “Why does a feeling of “not liking” this person arise?” Or, if she is bothered or disturbed by the words of others, “what is the real intention behind these words?” Or if her negative habits arise, why does she still allow them to continue?
She said that hearing the questions that Ryan asked Yohei and Taka gave her the impression that they might be thinking that the practice of discrimination is something very far removed from the matters of daily life. But she feels that discrimination begins by first taking a subject that is closely related to one’s own actions, which is a very concrete thing. And by continuing to practice discrimination in this way, one is able to understand the teachings of Truth more and more, and to sense and absorb them on a deeper level. Through engaging in this process, as its consequence discrimination on ignorance—that is the very root cause of these thoughts and habits—happens. And then that ignorance is renounced. If that act of discriminating the root cause, or ignorance, was attempted at the very beginning, the process would be as elusive as grabbing a cloud.
(At another time, Satya, when thinking back on that night, mentioned that if they were to speak more openly about their issues, then she might be able to try to go through the actual process together with them. Unfortunately, Ryan’s example was not that clear, or perhaps he had not yet opened himself up, so she gave up on speaking about it further—discrimination begins from the point of clarifying what the issue is, so it cannot begin if the issue is not clear.)
When asked to share about her practice of meditation, Satya spoke about trying to know and understand Nag Mahasyaya, whom she had chosen for the subject of meditation for the Siddha Marga* program. (We will share her experience of concentrating on Nag Mahasyaya in another blog. It was very inspiring!)
* Siddha Marga is the three-year program that was initiated for the concrete growth of each disciple. It was a program made only for serious practitioners who have attended MYM’s classes regularly for some years and were willing to go further. The program was run between April 2013 and March 2016. It was led by Sananda and Sanatana.
Taka also spoke about his experience in Siddha Marga program. He chose Swami Vivekananda as his ideal. He had not really meditated on any Enlightened Being except for Shri Mahayogi, so at the beginning, it was very difficult to focus on Swami Vivekananda. He was, of course, interested in India, where Yoga and religion are well rooted and have developed, but sometime later he really wanted to see and experience how, and in what kinds of places Swami Vivekananda actually lived and practiced. So he went to India. He tried to feel the life and spirit of Swami Vivekananda through communicating with the swamis and devotees in Belur Math and branches of the Ramakrishna Mission, to see and touch and trace the footsteps of Swami Vivekananda’s life and work. When he returned to Japan, his daily life was very much influenced by meditating on Swami Vivekananda. If there was ever a moment in which he caught the mind in an idle, unfocused state—he would immediately begin to repeat the name of Swami Vivekananda. So, gradually he was able to focus intently on Swami Vivekananda, and he has begun to feel the bliss, or the Reality that he feels when he focuses single-mindedly on Shri Mahayogi. The quality of his concentration was not steady at first, but through persisting and continuing to practice, there was something that he began to understand: the origin of that bliss, or Reality, that he feels from Swami Vivekananda and Shri Mahayogi exists within him. And because of the fact that this experience of Reality is not consistent, some days it is strong and some days it is weak, his immediate goal is then to make it possible to feel this bliss and Reality at all times, endlessly, and to know its essence. He understood the essential need to deepen his learning and restructure his life completely in order to accomplish that task. And this learning and meditation have continued up to now.
Upon hearing this, Aniruddha said that he could clearly see that his practice has been an easy one up until this moment. He could feel how seriously Taka meditated on Swami Vivekananda, and he was touched by it.
In the morning, they took an Asana and Meditation class led by Dharmini. After that, Nandi went back to Shanti Kutira alone by bicycle to meet Gurudas there. They are both masseurs, so they shared their practices and learned from each other. (It was quite an adventure for Nandi to get back there all by himself… and, well… he lost his way… But it was better than another guruhbai from New York some years ago who got lost riding back by bicycle and ended up circling around the immediate neighborhood for several hours!)
The rest of us were in Kripalu’s car. He took us sight-seeing to the Fushimi Shrine, the iconic Shinto shrine with the vermillion toriis cascading down the hillside. Throughout our visit, Kripalu graciously took care of us in addition to Taka and Yohei. He quit his job right before our visit due to his former company’s relocation to the next prefecture. In order to continue to serve by participating in the works of the MYM, he chose to quit his job rather than relocating with the company. Because of his newly found flexibility, he unconditionally offered us a lot of his time and energy. Very often, he would come to pick up Anandamali, who was serving as the translator and organizer of the trip, at 2 am, or even 5am, to take her where she was staying, at Yoga Vihara, the residence of Yogadanda and Satya.
As it turns out, Sunday proved not to be the best day to visit the famous shrine. There were so many people there that we decided to take a side path and find a more secluded area.
After resting a little at Shanti Kutira, we visited Seva Kutira, the house of service, to have dinner with Saci, Madhri and Mirabai, who reside there. These three female disciples have been working solely for the Mission for many years, and they are the engine behind many of its activities.
Aniruddha was again the first one to ask them a question. In an attempt to get help for himself, he said that he supposed that at the beginning, their focus was not only on Yoga, so what was it that made it possible for them to focus solely on Yoga? They answered very openly and sincerely.
Saci said that although when she first met Shri Mahayogi she didn’t understand what Yoga really was at all, she had a feeling that she shouldn’t continue the way she had been living, and that she should not leave her ego as it was, so she thought about trying Yoga.
She started to attend the satsangha at the Ashrama every week, but she felt that Sanskrit, or a lot of unfamiliar words were being spoken, so honestly she could not understand what Shri Mahayogi was saying for quite a long time. Still, she was somehow convinced that this must be the real, authentic thing here, in Shri Mahayogi, even though she had never really felt that her life up until that point had been false…
She continued to practice asana every single day, she took everything that was taught to her as being the positive things that she should practice, such as not drinking alcohol or not eating meat. And one year later, there was an incident that made her recognize a great transformation of her mind, and it really amazed her to know that the mind, which had been so resistant to change no matter how hard she tried, could change if she practiced Yoga continuously and persistently over the course of one year. That made her think that Yoga is her life’s work and the one thing that she would continue.
Madhri said that at some point, she started to feel that she really wanted to find out what the aim or purpose of life is. While she continued her search, and when she felt that she would not be able to go further, she met Shri Mahayogi. And the firm words spoken by Shri Mahayogi, “The Truth that is unchangeable, exists in everyone,” penetrated her, and she started to feel convinced. Then Shri Mahayogi told her, “Seek seriously only that which is truly precious, and by doing that, the number of things that are equally precious that remain, will be clarified.” Upon hearing this, she began the practice.
Mirabai said that she had been seeking the meaning of life, seeking something that she could live for.
Then, Anirruddha suddenly asked her, “Could you teach me about kirtan?”
Mirabai: “Why do you want to learn kirtan?”
Anirruddha: “Because Mr. Shimada told me that if I want to learn more about bhakti, I should ask Mirabai about kirtan. What is kirtan?”
Mirabai sensed that something about the way that Aniruddha asked, had nothing to do with the spirit of kirtan—kirtan was not something you could exchange, like a tool to heighten one’s bhakti, so she expressed her supposition,
“You do not really understand what kirtan is.”
Aniruddha was really surprised to hear these words.
Nandi then asked, “Aniruddha why do you wan to know?”
Aniruddha had actually intended to ask if this could be a tool to help him, but instead, he expressed his core feelings by saying—
“I have always wanted to be free, to experience freedom from my desires.”
In a strong surge of emotion, Aniruddha’s head fell toward his chest and he placed his hand on his forehead, as he struggled to contain his emotions. No matter how much he struggled to gain control, it could not be controlled. Moments of silence ensued… and through a forced whisper, he said,
“Anandamali… I came here knowing that perhaps this is my first and last visit—I would never have a chance to come back again…. Even though I am not in such condition both mentally and spiritually, I was able to come… I really want to deal with the part of me that is indecisive… “
Then the tears broke.
After we left Seva Kutira, Aniruddha said that he was very embarrassed because he had never cried in front of people before. He felt ashamed.
Later on, after reflecting on his experience however, he realized that Shri Mahayogi had not said anything at the satsangha, but actually, he had received much more than an answer… THE EXPERIENCE OF OPENING—it was Shri Mahayogi’s blessing that did that for him. It was Sri Mahayogi’s blessing that freed him for the very first time. Aniruddha said,
“Shri Mahayogi let me truly see how much He means to me in my life. “
(The journey continues… to Echo 43
Pranavadipa is a Monthly Publication of Online Study Material containing the Teachings of Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa ＆ the Experiences of Practitioners that is available by annual subscription. A new volume of Pranavadipa is issued on the 8th of every month.