Monthly Archives: March 2022

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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Echo From The Cave: 173

Saturday March 26, 2022 NYC

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Friday, March 25, 2022:

Reflecting Daily Life in Practice of Asana:
Asana is for Filling Our Heart with Silence

During asana, I have been trying to forget about the body, and instead place my focus much more on the long and complete exhalation. It is very difficult to forget about the body altogether in asana, but because I have come to realize that I really need to work a lot on my mind, this instruction of Shri Mahayogi—“long complete exhalation”—has become a crucial tool. I would like to really experience the transformation in my mind that Shri Mahayogi says can take place if we truly work on this long and complete exhalation.

One of the reasons that I am feeling more urgency to work on my mind at this time is that, here in New York, from this winter in Study in Practice, we have been trying to learn from reading a book of teachings together, like a Book Club of sorts. Last week, a senior disciple mentioned that there is a crucial need of learning how to read. She posed a question: “What does it mean ‘to read’?” On another occasion, she said, “Shri Mahayogi and the scriptures say, ‘Listen to the Truth, think about the Truth and meditate on the Truth,’ and the first part is to listen.”  Actually, I identify this issue within myself, that listening is something that I personally struggle with for certain! One of the fundamental challenges that I face when it comes to reading scripture comes from not being able to truly listen, which is in fact step one in Shri Mahayogi’s simplest indications. So then, the next question was posed, “What is ‘to listen’? Do we really know how to listen? We need to learn how to listen.”

When reading, Where There Is Love, There Is God, the book of Mother Teresa that really inspired me two years ago, I found out that to the Mother listening is absolutely necessary so that we can Love God. In addition, she said that the prerequisite for listening is silence. Reading this at that time made me long to know and reach silence. But recently, I have concluded that my mind, impulsive and active by nature, needs help in this journey toward silence. So, as I mentioned, I very recently decided to use the practice of asana more proactively, in the way Shri Mahayogi has taught us, to give support to my mind in becoming more silent.

During asana, in addition to trying to bring the attention away from the body and onto the breath, I have been reframing the idea of the “long complete exhalation.” I have begun to consider the exhalation as a path or road that eventually leads to complete silence, endless silence. When exhaling along this path, the exhalation can continue, on and on, without end. From the few times that I have practiced this way, I feel a much deeper serenity during and after practice. It brings a sense of continuity between each breath, and between each asana even, which seems to contribute to heightening concentration.

This “experiment” with asana and the breath began very recently. I am hoping that this serenity and concentration will naturally extend on to my daily life at some point and settle in me as silence. I am aware that the most important part is to continue and persevere, every day. To inspire my on-going practice, I went back to the words of Mother Teresa about silence that hold so much meaning for me. I hope they also inspire you to move toward the silence from which we can Love God.


I think it is very important: that union with God. You must be full of silence, for in the silence of the heart God speaks. An empty heart God fills. Even Almighty God will not fill a heart that is full—full of pride, bitterness, jealousy—we must give these things up. As long as we are holding these things, God cannot fill it. Silence of the heart, not only of the mouth—that too is necessary—but more, that silence of the mind, silence of the eyes, silence of the touch. Then you can hear Him everywhere: in the closing of the door, in the person who needs you, in the birds that sing, in the flowers, the animals—that silence which is wonder and praise. Why? Because God is everywhere, and you can see and hear Him. That crow is praising God—I can hear its sound well—that stupid crow; we can see Him and hear Him in that crow and pray, but we cannot see and hear Him if our heart is not clean.

—Mother Teresa, from Where There Is Love, There Is God

~ Karuna

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Echo From The Cave: 172

Thursday March 24, 2022 NYC

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Wednesday, March 23, 2022:

Reflecting Daily Life in Practice of Asana:
Working to Overcome Procrastination

“Whatever you have to do tomorrow, do today;
whatever you have to do today, do this minute.” ~ Swami Turiyananda

This week I have been trying to notice my own habits in asana practice and how those come up for me again and again in other ways, no matter what I may be doing.

Something that I have struggled with all my life, and that I have been trying to work on and change in myself, is the tendency to procrastinate. As a child, I was always asking for five more minutes before doing a chore, or starting my homework, even if I wasn’t really doing anything other than daydreaming at the moment when the task at hand needed to be performed. I find that not much has changed in all the years since then—I still have a tendency to stall and ask myself for five more minutes before getting started. And even though I have been making attempts to force myself to just get up and do whatever is at hand, I am still struggling to fully embrace that instruction of Shri Mahayogi—to just get my mind out of the way and simply and proactively do! I feel this teaching comes up again and again, but it is so difficult for me to learn!

This week, after reading the Blog, Echo From the Cave:  171, written by Sadhya, about learning to listen and working to align oneself with the asana, rather than allowing the mind to feel “I am doing this” or “I am making this pose,” I began to seriously confront this tendency to stall and procrastinate during my own asana practice.

Oftentimes when I am practicing by myself, even if I can maintain my concentration fairly well while I am holding a pose, once I release it I may rest in shavasana for a long time. And when that happens, my mind may start to wander so that I am no longer even really in shavasana, but am simply lying on the mat, and I may become distracted and get lost in my thoughts, completely forgetting that I am supposed to be practicing asana.

While trying to discover how to more fully align myself with the asana, I realized that not stopping for too long in between the poses and not following the thoughts of my mind was important to practice as well…and also that this tendency did not only exist in my practice, but also in how I conduct myself in my daily life. I have been trying to see more clearly how these two reflect each other, and because asana practice is so concrete and involves so much focus, it may be a good place to start training myself to break this habit that is so ingrained in me.

Therefore I have begun to make a conscious effort to limit the amount of time between poses in my asana practice, keeping the teaching of Swami Turiyananda (who was known to hate procrastination) firmly in mind:

“Whatever you have to do tomorrow, do today; whatever you have to do today, do this minute.”

In some small ways, I have started to see some changes in the way I approach my daily tasks. I find I am more likely to remember why I should take action immediately and not put things off until later when it comes to tasks like washing dishes, putting away laundry or other simple mundane tasks. But I still notice other situations where my mind is still begging for those extra five minutes, like when it comes to taking the dog for his last walk of the night or finishing a work project, for example.

Like so many of the changes I need to make to transform my mind, this one does not come easily and requires a great deal of repetition and concentration in order to become natural. As I continue to work on becoming consistent and continuous in my practice, I am understanding more and more how I need to go about battling my mind’s habits. This is just one battle out of many that I need to engage in to move myself closer to the goal of living in Yoga.

~ Prajna

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Echo From The Cave: 171

Sunday March 20, 2022 NYC

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Sunday, March 20, 2022

Reflecting Daily Life in Practice of Asana:
Getting Ourselves Out of the Way to Listen

There is much that can be learned about daily life through the experience of practicing asana. And today I would like to share something that I was reflecting on just this morning as the asana class began. I had been thinking about the participants of the class, the topic of expanding the way we “read”, which we were discussing among some gurubai the previous night as we met for a Study in Practice Book Club, and also how sharing a certain issue I’ve been facing up against within myself and trying to work on might relate and be of some use. And perhaps I am also, in part, encouraged by the timely material I was working on in the editing process for Pranavadipa, our online monthly publication, which, in the upcoming edition, will be a Testimony written by Satya, a disciple in Japan, about her experience and practice of meditation.


Not that long ago it was pointed out to me that it would be good for me to focus on practicing “being humble.” Now, this is not the first time that I have been pointed towards this practice, but perhaps I had been overlooking it, or not clear on how to approach it. Anyway, what was shared with me as an important aspect of it is “listening.” And on the particular occasion that this was pointed out to me, well it just so happens that I had not been listening well because I was instead getting caught in my mind’s reaction to what I was hearing. If I’m honest, I think I thought I was listening, but having this pointed out made me have to check myself. What really is listening? How does one listen?

I suppose I can say that when I see a lack of listening in others I can easily identify it, and just like I was reminded, it’s true that the one who is not listening is the one who misses out. But isn’t it always the case that it’s so much easier to see these kinds of issues outside of ourselves than to see them unfolding right within us?! Anyway, I’m sure we can all identify that when in conversation with someone else, when we think we are listening, or even the same goes for when we are reading, whether in a noisy or in a quiet way, the mind can have a lot to say. It has its opinions, it is processing according to its experiences and prior knowledge and views that have developed through those experiences, it wants to assert itself, feel that it understands, or bring up a further point, etc, etc…and sooner or later what we thought we were listening to has come to be neatly fit into our own mind’s world, all the while giving us the illusion that we have listened and understood. Certainly, the mind has various reasons or motives that can come in the way of listening, which I’ve been observing in myself, but that will have to be a conversation for another time.

The bottom line is, for myself, I decided that the first thing I would do just to make some ground for gaining clarity, was to just be quiet. There’s no need for me to say anything, I don’t need to express my opinion, I don’t need to jump to a conclusion, but just simply sit with whatever I am hearing and try to take it in without fitting it into my own mind’s existing story. There’s not a lot more I have to say about this at the moment—this was just a place to begin.

However, that being said, as I was reflecting this morning, the practice of asana and the experience of how it goes, started to reveal an important clue, yet again. This too, is just like practice of asana!

Oftentimes, when it comes to the practice of asana, we can get in to a wave of the mind that approaches it from the notion: “I’m going to do this asana” or “I’m going to make the form of this asana.” But in asana, there is nothing to “do” and there is no form to “make.” From what I experience, asana is nothing like that at all! Asana is not something that needs to be “done” or “made.” Asana is already there, regardless of us. And rather, asana is about using these few ingredients that we have been given—simple instructions, focus on the breath, etc—to bring ourselves to align with the asana. Then, the asana starts to reveal, taking care of itself by itself, in spite of us. But to align ourselves to the asana, there is something we need to let go of, in other words, I feel we need to get ourselves out of the way—and “what gets in the way” can include tensing the body too much as we make efforts to “do the pose,” that can include various concerns and beliefs of the mind, that can include being self-conscious and all that goes along with that…there’s a lot that can get in the way and make us block ourselves from aligning with and coming to get to know the practice of asana itself that Shri Mahayogi so graciously teaches us.

Another way of saying it is, perhaps in the same vein of listening, in order to not lose the opportunity to learn or come to understand something that is not already in the small realm of our minds’ experiences, something that we are lucky enough to have come before us, it’s important to try to quiet ourselves and get our minds out of the way, so that we can try to align and come to understand whatever it is that is being presented to us. It seems that there are many things that are trying to be shown to us all the time, but, just like with asana, we are the ones who need to shift something in ourselves in order to hear and be able to receive that which is being shown, otherwise we just continue to keep ourselves blocked.

Anandamali often reminds us of one of Shri Mahayogi’s most basic teachings: “The Truth must first be heard, then contemplated, then meditated upon.”

What does it mean for the Truth to be heard? What does it really mean to listen and what is required of us in order to make ourselves able to listen? As Anandamali has pointed out to us today, “listen” is such a basic word that we hear from the time we are young children, yet it may be so common that we can easily take for granted or assume we understand what it means or how to do it. Or like me, slip under the impression that we are doing it already. Perhaps, given that this is one of the first and foremost teachings of Shri Mahayogi and a prerequisite for passing to the gate of Yoga, it is an area where we can all step back to and start to reexamine. Indeed, this also relates to something that Anandamali was recently bringing to our attention. Which is that, in the traditional or classical approach, when one is really wanting to learn something, already the mind is prepared to go to great lengths to first find where it can be learned, and then further, to set aside its own prior notions and understandings without objection, all to make way for coming to align with that which is being sought out to learn and know—that is listening.

And finally, there is one last thing I would like to mention today.  It’s a topic that keeps coming up in multiple conversations about a variety of subjects…as if it is being highlighted to me no matter which way I look, like a bright neon flashing sign begging me to pay attention.


Patience, it’s great value, and the importance of cultivating it. I’m sharing it with you now, because I certainly suspect that it is an important message to listen to and another clue for us to follow, whether for developing the ability to listen in daily life situations or for developing the practice of asana. Very often, we are all reminded—be it directly through scriptures or through the Testimonies of various brother and sister gurubai—of the importance of consistent and continuous practice, whatever that practice may be. Perhaps “patience” is an important tool in dealing with our minds as we train ourselves in all varieties of life situations towards “action without expectation of any result.”

~ Sadhya

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Echo From The Cave: 170

Saturday March 19, 2022 NYC

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Friday, March 18, 2022:

Yoga is Wherever You Are, Whoever You Are With

 Today, I am in New Mexico. This is where my brother and his family, as well as my parents, live. I have not visited them for several years because I felt that I was not ready. To make a long story short, my mind tried to believe that I would not “feel good around them” because being around my family throws off the way I live and feel at ease. But in truth, when I consider what is behind “not feeling good around them,” I realize that it has nothing to do with being disruptive to my lifestyle or detrimental to my well-being, but with thinking of myself as superior to them, protecting myself, judging, blaming or simply disagreeing with their ideas or ways, and therefore, not feeling inspired to be around them. That is how I ended up preferring to stay away from them—that and attaching myself to the idea that made me feel that this was the best decision for me.

In the recent talks at the end of the online Asana and Meditation classes in New York, we have been focusing on Yoga in daily life, as well as asana as a preparation for Yoga in daily life, hearing examples of empirical practices from others. It reminded me of Shri Mahayogi’s words about daily life being the field for practicing and living in Yoga. But even though I have read or listened to this topic for a long time, I am noticing that there is still a tendency in me to become rigid and try to define “Yoga” as something separate from daily life, or as needing its own allotted space and time in my life.

When I decided to come to visit my family, I was uncomfortable because so much in my daily routine, diet, environment and habits had to change. In New York, I have a relatively steady routine around what I consider conducive to the practice of Yoga: I wake up to a short meditation, shower, practice nauli, water plants, eat breakfast, think about a practice for the day, come home, eat early dinner, read scriptures, relax a little, go shopping, talk to a friend, clean and organize, practice or attend asana class or attend a sangha Zoom meeting, prepare lunch for work or dinner…then, the next day, I do more or less the same.

At first glance, there did not seem to be anything wrong with my routine, it has looked pretty good actually. But, when I thought about leaving New York to come to New Mexico, I worried about losing my schedule and not being able to sustain my practice. Even though we have been talking so much about Yoga as an integrated part of daily life, I found myself wondering when I would practice Yoga in my families’ homes in New Mexico!! When I realized that I was thinking this way, I began to suspect that there must be something that I had to correct about my understanding of Yoga and way of living Yoga in daily life.

When I arrived in New Mexico, Echo From the Cave: 161, the blog post from a recent talk (Feb. 25th) at the end of the class, came to mind. In this talk, I had shared a reflection from my work as a primary school teacher and the teaching of Shri Mahayogi: “Make your body, words and intentions in daily life match.” I explained how I had begun to see that even though what my students need the most is “to feel that I genuinely care about them,” what I care for the most was “to be perceived as the one who knows.” I had then reached the conclusion that “wanting to show that ‘I know’ was a stronger intention than wanting to show ‘I care.’” Having had the opportunity to reflect on the lack of coherence between my intentions, words and actions, I decided that I should use this time with my family in New Mexico to try to align these three things in daily life, because doing that may help me integrate Yoga into anything I do, wherever I am and whoever I am with.

As I expected, in the last few days, it has been nearly impossible to adhere to a routine in which I am able to confine “practice” to a set schedule. By not being able to control my own schedule, I saw more clearly how I tend to separate Yoga from daily life, and similarly, how I separate others “outside of Yoga” from me. Knowing that I do not have many days to work on this while I am here, I proposed to myself to stay close to the people around me and simply and actively attend to the need of each moment, one by one. This did not seem so difficult, but at first, I found myself thinking too much about how to show that “I care” more than “I know,” and not flowing with the situations. I also noticed that hiding in my mind there was the wish to come up again with a perfect routine and to sabotage my attempts to simply do what is needed when it is needed. Still, I have kept working on responding in the moment to the person in front of me and on forgetting about what my mind prefers as the perfect scenario, company, and condition for Yoga.

At some point in the last few days, I began to feel the need to be inspired or guided by a stronger understanding, and not just continue to act robotically and incessantly to meet the needs of others. And I began to feel that living in Yoga requires that I forget about myself, and that I am also guided and filled by the Truth inside my body and mind. This conclusion led me to ask myself about the intention behind my idea of “I care.” Why should I act in a caring manner towards others? What is the reason or the motivation for that? Is it simply to be a good person in the eyes of others? Although I was not really guided by a concrete aim when I asked myself these questions, I believe that I was beginning to suspect that I could deceive myself to think that “I care” and in reality be back to wanting to feel “I know.”

At some point, while I was trying to check my own motivations for acting in daily life, the lyrics of the song we sang in New York for Shri Mahayogi, during the Guru Jayanti last year, filled my mind and my heart and gave me a direction, a way to understand and a deeper reason to act for others. These beautiful words reminded me of what Shri Mahayogi has constantly been teaching us.

I invite you to read the fifth verse (and the entire song) again and again as a reminder of what Shri Mahayogi is here to teach us. When these lyrics came back to me, they helped me clarify the Truth and inspired me to aim toward a deeper way of living from this Truth all the time with anybody, no matter where, how or who they are, what they think, say, how they live, if I agree with them or not, if I like them or not—just act from this Truth all the time. I am so thankful for these words in the lyrics!

Seeing only the singular Existence behind all
You show all forms and names as manifestation of One
You say act through pure love and harmony
For all is God, we are all That, Joy permeates

Every single life, so sacred, no one can deny it, just like the sun rises after the night
Every single life, so divine, no one can deny it, just like the sun rises after the night

It is true, it is true, seeing the One shine through all forms
It is true, it is true, your Love imbues all with holiness
It is true, it is true, the invitation to return to pure Joy
It is true, it is true, ever-leading us to salvation

~ Karuna

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Echo From The Cave: 169

Thursday March 17, 2022 NYC

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Wednesday, March 16, 2022:

The Truth as a Refuge in Difficult Times

“Though the world may fall into turmoil, change and then disappear,
not even that would be cause for fear.”
~ Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa

The past few years have been difficult times indeed. While the pandemic seems to be having less of an impact here in the United States, many people are still being affected by it in one way or another. In Europe, the threat of a drawn-out conflict causing great suffering to many millions, and even perhaps of nuclear war, is looming. And in Japan, I just heard that another earthquake has hit near Fukushima.

In times when disasters and suffering seem to be striking everywhere, I find myself looking to the works of Shri Mahayogi and the Mahayogi Yoga Mission to find stability, comfort and peace.

It may be easy sometimes to forget how rich, varied and constantly accessible some of these resources are. Within this very blog, there are so many beautiful, inspiring words, from the Master and from our fellow gurubai all over the world! It is truly a blessing that at any moment, we can receive this inspiration and lift up our hearts and minds to draw a bit closer to Sanatana Dharma—the Eternal Truth.

When I am feeling overwhelmed and anxious about the state of the world and the plight of my fellow beings, of all the many wonderful messages I can revisit, I find that the very best one is the incredible video of Shri Mahayogi that Project Sahasrara made available in 2019. Amazingly, this video is hosted right on YouTube, where anyone can see it. I think that probably I have watched it at least 50 or 60 times, maybe more. There are weeks when I watch it every single day and sometimes more than once a day. It never fails to soothe my mind and strengthen my resolve and commitment to Yoga.

When I look at the footage of the Master included in the video, and the many photos of Him teaching in Raja Yoga classes and Satsangha in so many different places to so many various seekers, smiling so joyously, and when I read the accompanying words of Truth that so deeply and clearly explain what Yoga is, and that demonstrate why we should treasure the opportunity to practice and learn from such a Teacher, I can feel the power of those words flowing directly into my heart.

In particular, these words come back to my mind time and again in those moments of anxiety and grief:

“Though the world may fall into turmoil, change and then disappear, not even that would be cause for fear.”

Learning and practicing Yoga under the guidance of a true Guru offers a seeker a way to develop a mind that can overcome anything, even itself. As I walk along the path, attempting to get closer to the Master, I aspire to develop such a mind and become an able part of this great work, always remembering that these precious jewels are available to help me and everyone to keep moving forward, step by step, with humility, dedication, and ever-heightening passion.

~ Prajna

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Echo From The Cave: 168

Sunday March 13, 2022 NYC

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Sunday, March 13, 2022

Reflecting Daily Life in Practice of Asana:
Training and Expanding our Awareness, our Concentration, and Ourselves

Today during the asana class, while doing bhujangasana (cobra), the question came up:

What should I prioritize? Maintaining the legs together? Raising higher to bring the navel off the floor? Both are very difficult…should I prioritize both or which one is more important?

The answer was: both.

Then came the hesitation:

But that’s not possible. If I bring the legs together, the upper body comes down, and vice versa, if I raise the upper body the legs don’t stay together. Would it be better to just find a position that I can sustain?

The actuality is, it is important to condition the body to be able to sustain the correct position. A position that can be sustained, yet is not according to the instruction, does not bring benefit to the practitioner. And in practicing this way, there is a danger in forgetting that asana has a greater aim and is a means for preparing ourselves for something further.

Truly, there are times in practice of asana where it can seem to us that the task before us is near impossible. Or at least our minds can react that way and reassuringly tell us “if I just do it like this, that should be enough…at least I’m doing this much”!

Again, the practice of asana gives us a window into the mind and there we may discover that there are many things that we may not be aware of, that we may not be consciously bringing our attention to. As we work to expand our awareness in practice of asana, bringing our minds to sustain concentration and efforts, sometimes on multiple things that we are completely not used to, we are also being given the ground to expand our mind, including our capacity for many things, in other areas too. And we can always expand more, there is always room to grow!

Nowadays, I sit in the position of leading the Asana & Meditation classes regularly. But I am learning with and alongside those who are in the class practicing the asana. Practicing to lead the class is very much also a part of “practice” and “learning.” And I remember that when I first started to practice leading the class, I was quickly shown that there are many things that I need to bring my attention to, simultaneously and sharply—things that I was completely unaware of before. And over time I have been being taught that it’s not enough to focus on only one or a few things, but rather, the capacity, ability and understanding need to always keep expanding, which could be in the direction of wider, quicker, sharper, more depth, etc. The point is, there is always a next step, always room to grow.

When it comes to our daily life circumstances…well, I have to say that building our capacity to bring our awareness to things we were not aware of and sustaining and building our ability to hold concentration there simultaneously seems a lot easier when it comes to asana. But just like in asana, when we are pointed to things that we were not aware of and then need to make conscious efforts to work on them and train ourselves in those areas, it can pose a real challenge for the mind and may even be difficult for the mind to see clearly or know what to do. Recently, for example, a few things were pointed out to me and brought to my attention as areas that I may not be very aware of but need to work on. It was true, my conscious awareness and efforts to cultivate myself in those areas were lacking, and in its own way, somewhere in the background, my mind was probably having a similar shade of the thought that our mind can so reassuringly tell us in asana: “if I just do it like this, that should be enough…at least I’m doing this much.”

Now, just because I can see that there’s a lack, it doesn’t mean that I have clarity or have necessarily resolved anything. Not everything is always clear at once, and not everything comes naturally—that is just how things are sometimes. So in my case, simply I know that I need to train to consciously bring my awareness to things that I was not so aware of before, and from there, try to understand more clearly, make adjustments where I can according to what I learn from the teachings of Yoga, see what happens, try again, and continue in this way. Of course, it goes without saying that this cannot be done by taking attention and conscious efforts away from other areas, but needs to be done in addition to (just like in asana, we can’t sacrifice one instruction to focus on another). Training and expanding ourselves consistently and patiently surely seems to be the necessity.

One thing I feel for certain though, is that everything we do in practice of asana, in other practices of Yoga, in work of the Mission, and through our daily life experiences—all is simultaneously supporting us and giving us the means to work towards expanding ourselves in ways we may not be able to really imagine on our own. And this, most importantly, is important in the preparation of making ourselves into better tools for conveying Yoga and for being able to be of service to others.

~ Sadhya

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Echo From The Cave: 167

Saturday March 12, 2022 NYC

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Friday, March 11, 2022 (With Extended Reflection):

This Mysterious Essence

This past Summer, Anandamali offered me a copy of the Chandogya Upanishad. I have attempted to read the first chapter several times. I took notes and put myself to study it, but, it was not until I read the recent Blog, Echo From the Cave: 165, that I found a door through which to enter this Upanishad. This blog shares the story of the brahmin, Uddalaka Aruna and his son, Shvetaketu, who left home at 12-years-old and spent 12 entire years studying and learning the Vedas under a Master.  When he returned, he had come to think of himself as quite erudite. Seeing the pride of his own son, his father asked him, “Do you know that which when once known everything else becomes known?” In this excerpt from the Chandogya Upanishad in that Blog, “that” is described as the secret that is not a secret because it is omnipresent, always present in all its fullness and in everything equally.

When I read this Blog, I became elated—actually, joyous! The idea of a precious Essence waiting to be known filled me up with hope and happiness! And the idea of having the key to this treasure through Yoga was over joyous, not to mention the idea of this Yoga as ever present and available at any moment!

All of this made me want to understand this Essence more. First, I started thinking that It must be the opposite of what brings me down, what creates darkness and discomfort in our minds: the uncertain, the unreliable, the unsettled, the anxious. This Essence must be certain, reliable, settled, and serene. If this is so, It must be what we all long for (even if we do not know that we are longing for it), and it must be truly so special! I was becoming more and more intrigued about this Essence. Thinking that it is everywhere and in everyone, was even more thrilling! I began to feel as if it was very possible that something inside of me already knew this as unquestionably true and within my own reach.

Because I wanted to know more about this mysterious Essence, I decided to give the first chapter of the Chandogya Upanishad another try. I read one of the definitions of OM as “Existence, Only one, without second.” If this is so, it was no wonder that reading the question, “Do you know that which when once known everything else becomes known?”, was bringing me such joy to hear about it. If Existence is “Only One” and there is no other, then it must be the only certainty we can find in our lives. I read on… “OM has the quality of fulfilling all desires.” No wonder we gravitate toward That even when we do not know we are doing so. We must be enraptured by That which “fulfills all desires.” This means that it must satisfy us to the point of ending all other desires! Isn’t that the ultimate aim of every single one of our desires in the end?? It sounds akin to drinking water to quench our thirst forever—the very last glass of water.

Then, in the state of elation and marvel that I was in, I remembered the first and only time that I have experienced a teaching having an instant and completely transforming effect on my mind. On that occasion, the teaching came to me in the form of a photograph, which was on the cover of another book, also offered to me by Anandamali for my birthday a few years ago, Where There is Love, There is God: A Path to Closer Union with God and Greater Love for Others, and it contains the recorded words of Mother Theresa. The photo shows Mother Theresa tenderly embracing a baby child. Upon one single glance of this photograph, I became defenseless, all walls crumbled down. To me, this image shows entirely the meaning of “Yoga.” The photo re-appeared in my mind vividly when I was reading about the “Essence behind all” or OM, in the Chandogya Upanishad.

Around the time I received the book of Mother Theresa from Anandamali, she had been telling me that I needed to “accept.” “Acceptance” became my aim, but I could not understand, what it was that I needed to accept. When I would hear the word “accept” I used to think that it had to do with accepting my flaws, my poor judgement, accepting my mistakes…as an act of contrition. And, yes, that was a very necessary part of what I needed to go through, but this acceptance was probably more in the direction of accepting my own shortcomings and the habits of my own mind, which continued to keep me from growing—I surely had, and still have a lot to acknowledge in this sense. However, after reading about the ever-present and subtle Essence in Echo From the Cave: 165 and the Upanishad, and looking again at the photograph of this most tender embrace, I began to see that what I needed to accept was the Essence itself, the One and Only Essence, God itself, the One, which is also Me, You, Everyone and All. In my heart, this embrace represents so purely and completely the One loving the One without restrictions or barriers of any kind. The Chandogya Upanishad says of OM: “All this is but the Self.” And all I see permeating this photograph is the Self, no matter where I place my eyes.

Having filled myself with this content, I really wanted to take it into my life, and experiment living with the awareness of the Self. If this Essence is always there and in everything and everyone, then I want very much to act from this fact. At my work, there are many meetings and activities in which I am not so fond of participating. It could be because of the topics, the type of activity or the people, that I try to avoid them. When I have no choice but to attend, I can become quietly judgmental of the situation and of the people, feeling as if it was a waste of time or as if I was above all of that. But I asked myself this week, if all is that One Essence, then what or who am I running away from? What or who am I better or worse than? So, I cheerfully reminded myself, just accept! I attended some meetings, activities or events with the intention of opening my heart and arms to anything that came my way, the Essence itself coming closer to me, seeking to be embraced. And I proposed to myself that all I need to do is to keep my mind still and out of the way so that the One Essence can satisfy Itself with Itself. To my surprise, my defenses and offenses began to take a back seat, and then, the invisible wall between others and myself became less noticeable. I began to experience much more calmness in these situations, regardless of the topics, the place or the company. The discomfort that I typically go through when I am in groups of people, and the concerns that tend to linger after the interactions (regret, expectation, frustration, excitement, doubt…), started to lessen or become much milder, or none at all. Instead, something new began to arise. I sensed a soothing smile on my face which felt like it was coming from deep within. During this week, this sense continued even after my workdays were over. This new way of experiencing my daily life was something that I have been longing for, for a long time, but I did not know what would spark the change. Now, I am moved to continue seeking to accept this mysterious Essence again and again, moment by moment.

~ Karuna

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Echo From The Cave: 166

Wednesday March 9, 2022 NYC

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Reflecting Daily Life in Practice of Asana:
The Value of Holding

Asana—from the outside it looks like a physical training, we are making forms with the physical body…but one of the things that I am learning through the practice of asana that Shri Mahayogi teaches, is that it is actually a phenomenal training. A training for something that is not really something we can see with our eyes. Asana is training for the breath, the mind, for prana, and ultimately for daily life. Shri Mahayogi teaches us that in asana we are actually taking prana into the body, and many of the small details of the positions are helping to do that and to not let that prana escape, so that we can receive the most benefit possible. Surely this can be of great benefit physiologically. But paying attention to those details, holding the poses, and practicing consistently are the integral building blocks to be able to receive benefit.

Now, one of the challenges in asana is that sometimes, it is not very comfortable or easy to hold. In the midst of experiencing discomfort or challenge, one of the first things we may want to do is: get out! Yet we have to be still, hold it, and bring our mind back to focus on the breath. By doing this again and again, the mind gets stronger and over time, what made us want to “get out of it” at the beginning may not even be noticeable anymore. This is important training for our daily lives. We are constantly faced with circumstances and things that are pleasing and comfortable AND that are displeasing and uncomfortable. When those uncomfortable ones come along, the mind reacts just like in asana—it wants out!—though often times in much more dramatic ways that can also be much more difficult to control or face calmly. There’s no way to avoid uncomfortable circumstances, they come to us all. Without the preparation of training and strengthening the mind through asana, it’s very difficult to do anything but follow the mind’s every reaction, which often leads to trouble!

Through the help of the experience in practicing asana, I think we can learn that, just like in asana, in daily life there’s a value in holding tight and not trying to escape. And asana helps us gain the strength to simply try “not escaping” so we can see for ourselves what happens. For me, it seems that almost always there is a lesson to learn.

Either way, whether in asana or in daily life, paying attention to the instructions or the teachings, trying to apply them again and again, and building strength overtime through consistent training—surely these are the building blocks that are absolutely necessary.

~ Sadhya

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Echo From The Cave: 165

Monday March 7, 2022 NYC

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Sunday, March 6, 2022:

Reflecting Daily Life in Practice of Asana:
Seeking Out the Secret Behind the Form

 “Do you know that which when once known everything else becomes known?”
Chandogya Upanishad VI

There are many details and instructions in asana, and this can be true, yet I want to point out that surely there is some reason behind all the small details. For example, the importance of keeping the knee straight in certain positions, since if not kept straight, then prana (life force energy) will escape from that area. In practice of asana, we are actually taking prana into the body, therefore, when we allow it to escape, though the position may become a tiny bit easier or less intense for us, we are not letting ourselves receive the full benefit of the asana. These are things that have been pointed out to me in the past and I certainly have come to feel a clear difference. It is the same when we allow our eye gaze to shift around, or, in exerting some effort we may allow the mouth to open or feel the need to exhale through the mouth. These too, I have come to learn, represent a break in concentration, and I do feel that when it happens, something is lost. Whether we call that concentration, or prana, or benefit, or something else…the naming of it doesn’t matter so much, but the experience that differs, I feel is important.

I think that through this practice given by Shri Mahayogi, I have been allowed to become very convinced that asana indeed holds a secret. Not a secret, like the type where something is being hidden from us, because nothing is being hidden. Rather that secret is like something that must always be evidently there, it’s just that until our minds become aware of it, it is like it is a secret. I feel that many of the details in the practice of asana are helping to guide us to be able to eventually become aware of this secret of asana, that is, the essence of it.

Actually, I feel that there is not just a “secret of asana,” but there is a secret within probably just about everything, just waiting for us to become aware of it.

Recently, I have been going through a complete change of career. And in that, there are many new things that I am having to learn. Everything is brand new to me, so it requires a lot of my attention and concentration. At some point, I was reflecting on the content that we put into our minds. Think about it, we are all the time filling our minds with content: from interests or hobbies, to job responsibilities, to entertainment, to the social interactions we have, to news, to new endeavors and just about everything in between. I was reflecting on how the content of our mind and what we choose to fill it with, is utterly important, as this becomes part of the base from which we view and interpret all else. I started to concern about how much I was packing my mind with all kinds of new content. I feel like I am spending so much time filling my mind with new content…everything from heating systems, to plumbing, to roof structures, landscaping, the way water flows…so many things…where am I leaving room for the content of Yoga?

Yet at the same time, I knew that my current situation is such that I must spend this time learning many new things in a concentrated way. That is what is called for, given the circumstances, and that is what is being served on my plate, so to speak, and there’s nothing I can do but accept it! So rather than concerning over “leaving room for the content of Yoga,” which I am aware is a concern, that in and of itself, is limited to a certain way of thinking about what Yoga is or looks like, and actually I am trying to gain flexibility in understanding how “living on Yoga” may appear in varieties of situations, I started to wonder instead, how can I overlap with Yoga?

It just so happens, that very shortly after this concern appeared, I happened to read a short passage that firmly planted my feet on the ground and gave me an important clue for directing the mind.

Actually, it was an excerpt from one of the Upanishads, which we have published a version of in one the Testimonies in Pranavidipa (Vol. 77), though on this occasion I read this excerpt in a different book that Anandamali had recommended to me several months ago, titled Hindu Mysticism by Surendranath Dasgupta. The excerpted part of the Chandogya Upanishad VI goes as follows:

When Shvetaketu returned after a stay of twelve years at the house of his preceptor, where he studied all the Vedas, he became arrogant, considered himself to be a wise man, and hardly ever talked with others. His father said to him:
“Well, Shvetaketu, what have you learned that you seem to think yourself so wise? Do you know that which when once known everything else becomes known? When you once know what iron is, you know all that can be made out of iron, for these are in essence nothing but iron; we can distinguish the iron vessels from iron only by their specific forms and names. But whatever may be their names and forms, the true essence in them all, whether they be needles, pans or handles, is nothing but iron. It is only that you find therein so many forms and names. What are these names and forms worth without the essence? It is the essence, the iron, that manifests in so many forms and names; when this iron is known, all that is made of iron is also known. It is the ineffable reality, the ultimate being which is the essence of everything else. As rivers which flow into the sea lose all their individuality in it and cannot be distinguished, so all divergent things lose their individuality and distinctness when they are merged in this highest being, the ultimate reality from which they have all sprung forth. Fine and subtle though this experience be, yet it is in reality the entire universe of our knowledge. A small seed of an oak tree when split open reveals nothing that we can call worth noting, yet it is this fine kernel of the seed that holds within it the big oak tree.”

Reading it, I was immediately struck, and the concern that had popped up in my mind seemed to evaporate at once. Not only is this story incredibly soul inspiring, touching upon something that seems invisible yet certain and undeniable, it carried the message that regardless of whatever new content I may be filling my mind with in this moment, there’s no need to be blind sighted and caught up in the surface of it. Because regardless of the type of content, the essence of it is always there waiting to be discovered. That essence IS what overlaps with Yoga and it is there all the time. And that is precisely what I want to discover, regardless of what the details are of the things I need to learn, the tasks I need to complete, or whatever it is that comes my way just as a result of living in this world we live in. Learning, doing new things, coming to understand new things—all of these have their place and value in different circumstances and they are a part of life—but I believe that, at the same time, directing the mind beyond what’s most readily evident on the surface of each of our life situations and all the various things we live and have on our own plates, is a treasure of a clue. Just as much in our daily life circumstances as in practice of asana, we each have before us the perfect situation to dive in and try to discover what is that essence at the core of all!

~ Sadhya

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