Monthly Archives: June 2022

Echo From The Cave: 193

Saturday June 11, 2022 NYC

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Friday, May 27th 2022

Beginning with Raja Yoga, for Loving God

“I will be able to do these things, no doubt”—this was my reaction to Raja Yoga, by Vivekananda, when I read it for the first time after starting to practice asana and meditation with Mahayogi Yoga Mission; so, I really did not put too much effort, but instead, I tended to believe, “I will be able to do it naturally” or “I am trying this already.” My approach was very dreamy, and self-serving in a way.

As years passed, at some point, I began to think the opposite, that raja yoga was actually something that is very challenging—methodical and demanding—and that it required a lot of constant attention, which is something I did not have or I was not so good at. I tried to put effort toward the practice of it, yet my efforts were inconsistent, fluctuating between periods of trying hard sometimes, and not trying at all, trying one way sometimes, and quickly switching to some other way without persisting on the first way. Consequently, I could not deepen my understanding of these practices or experience enough of an effect to change the way my mind functioned. And I lost enthusiasm, and rather, continued to struggle back and forth greatly.

It was not that many years ago, that I received from Anandamali, “Where There is Love, There is God,” a book of teachings of Mother Teresa of Kolkata, and unexpectedly, something changed completely. I felt as if something wiped away all thoughts, and all that occupied me was the overwhelming feeling of loving God in the form of vibrant and joyful gratitude. This also included a feeling of acceptance of what I had received from Shri Mahayogi. It was as if the block that was causing resistance to loving and being loved was crumbling down—I had never in my life experienced anything like that. This experience made me arrive at the conclusion that loving God is the only happiness that exists, and from that moment on, “loving God” became my aim; my only happiness, what I want to pursue happily and willingly.

Now, the reason why I mentioned about raja yoga is that even though my aim suddenly became clear, nonetheless, as time passed, the feeling of being filled up by loving God, and even of wanting to be filled up by loving God began to wane; and this made me realize the necessity of practicing raja yoga, so that the mind can return to my aim over and over. Raja yoga is to control the mind, it is the work toward establishing the foundation of a steady and tranquil mind, so if I don’t do this intentionally, or if the mind has not learned to function in a way that would be able to sustain this beautiful Love, it is very likely that it will end up where it was before—cluttered and feeling vulnerable, filling up again with the many unnecessary thoughts that occupy the space for loving God.

Recently I have been thinking about the yama (actions in relation to others) and niyama (disciplines in relation to oneself), and I understand that these practices seem to have the purpose of turning thoughts, words and actions toward harmony and respect, both in relationship to oneself and to others, because they help turn the mind toward a more loving way—a way that considers God, or the Truth, as the guide for living. Also, I am beginning to recognize asana is medicine that uses the physical body to restrain the mind and pranayama is medicine to control the prana through the breath; when taken correctly and regularly, these medicines bring the mind toward a type of calmness that cannot be easily affected by triggers that typically direct it otherwise. I feel that through asana and pranayama the mind is shown, without one knowing exactly how, what it means to be closer to God, the perfect Stillness. And, although when I spoke after class, I did not have such a clear sense of what pratyahara meant, and I referred to it as remaining uninvolved or unaffected by ideas or matters that are not God or the Truth itself, I later clarified within myself and began to think that pratyahara, the practice of controlling the senses to the point of becoming undisturbed by the mind’s biased likes and dislikes, must have a very important role in keeping the mind from being distracted from the simplicity and serenity that Shri Mahayogi describes as the essence of God or the Truth.

Anyway, what is different now, and the most important part for me, is that for the first time I feel the need to practice raja yoga for a specific reason and with a purpose that moves me from within: to cultivate loving God. And for that, I need to clear my mind from self-driven ideas and wants that can easily return if I go through daily life without remembering my aim, without acting from the longing for that aim. I really want to prevent my mind from filling itself up with what is not God, or the Truth. For this reason, I would like to remember always, and to act relating my thoughts, words, and actions to my aim of loving God. I truly feel that this is the beginning.


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Echo From The Cave: 192

Saturday June 4, 2022 NYC

With no gas in the building, a backpacker’s stove to the rescue.

Talk at the End of the Asana & Meditation Class
Sunday, May 22nd 2022

In Learning Yoga, It’s All Up to Each One of Us

At the end of the Asana & Meditation class, I spoke about how I recently caught myself in a situation, where I noticed that my internal reaction to something very simple that was mentioned to me was incongruent with something I had been trying to work on. I had received someone’s words through a lens of pride.

Because of noticing it, I was reflecting on how oftentimes I may have difficulty when something is pointed out to me that I could improve on or do differently or better, something that I could take positively for my own learning and for improving myself, but in the moment of receiving a message, because my mind may take it as a negative criticism…even if only very lightly so, and even if that may be far from the actual intention…a reaction within me, whether I say anything or not, can shift my demeanor, tone, energy, etc., and I think that can make an uneasy air or mood for myself and for those around me, as well as block me from allowing myself to see from another view or to improve. Now this is nothing particularly new, but I was looking at it more straightforwardly in myself. And that brought about the recognition that this is something I would really like to change, not only because I’m seeing it as a necessity for improving myself and learning and deepening Yoga, but also because I would like to add to situations and interactions being at ease and proceeding with ease, rather than bringing difficulty or uneasiness that then makes me struggle and gets imposed on others, no matter the degree of it.

Shri Mahayogi points out to us that in order to learn the Truth it is necessary to also be “teachable,” in other words, willing to learn. Being teachable or willing to learn—I have heard that the word in Japanese that Shri Mahayogi uses to describe this quality really doesn’t have an exact translation into English that accurately captures the meaning—but I think it probably includes much more than what I thought or considered previously, and that’s something I’m trying to learn and understand.

Actually, not long after I spoke about this topic at the end of the class, I had a conversation with Anandamali. And that conversation, which had a lot of content that I am still contemplating, in part got me thinking again about the different ways that the mind can make excuses for itself, and after trying to understand this, then I caught a glimpse of something that I wasn’t realizing. In regards to that situation that I had spoken about after the class, I started to see that as soon as I was able to recognize that lens of pride come up in myself, there was something else that at once came up right along with it—a lens of self-concern. And I started to see that how I perceived the scene that had been in front of me at that time, including the words and action of those around me, was all interpreted through that lens of self-concern…and that is something that I did not catch in the moment it was happening. Therefore, what I was able to perceive in that moment or how far I was able to reflect on what was happening from a wider view, was limited by that lens of interpretation.

After being able to recognize it, I began to see that this initial reflection had not yet developed beyond the point of having myself as the main subject. Of course, I still have what I mentioned above to improve and work on, but in addition to that, it started to become clear that I cannot get caught up and stop only at that, but now need to bring my focus and mind to where I have been lacking in noticing and taking in the opportunities to learn and deepen Yoga through simple daily life tasks and matters that are right in front of me.

Actually, one of the things that Anandamali spoke about when we were having that conversation, had to do with Shri Mahayogi’s way of taking care of all things. And that many of the things or ways of doing that she has observed in Shri Mahayogi over the years come as a result of the way he truly takes care of and cares for all things, even in the simplest moments of daily life. I can’t say too much about this now, as truly I am still trying to see and understand this for myself, beyond just the level of words making sense, and I think this will take time and application. But in the days after hearing it, I continued to contemplate on this along with what it is I may not be seeing yet, and in doing so I reached for Karma Yoga by Swami Vivekananda, thinking that I might find some clue there to help my mind expand to see from a different angle.

There, in the first chapter, “Karma and its Effect on Character,” the following message gave me a strong and needed impact:

“If we stand near the seashore and hear the waves dashing against the shingle, we think it is a great noise. And yet we know that one wave is really composed of millions and millions of minute waves: Each one of these is making a noise, and yet we do not hear it; it is only when they become the big aggregate that we hear them. … Watch a man do his most common actions those are indeed the things which will tell you the real character of a great man.”

—Swami Vivekananda, Karma Yoga.

Reading it, I reflected on the great example that Anandamali and other senior disciples are always showing us in the way that they closely observe Shri Mahayogi’s most common actions, and then follow, readily setting aside their own accustomed ways of doing, and seeking to discover what is behind those actions of Shri Mahayogi, consistently repeating them until they become second nature…molded into their way of being. I started to recognize my own limitation in having eyes and ears open at all times and being ready and willing to swiftly adjust myself and embark on that same path of learning and discovery through consistent and continued actions. Anandamali is always sharing with us through her way of being, as well as through what she speaks, what she has learned from Shri Mahayogi over the years. Other senior disciples are, in a way, doing the same, though our chance to see may not always be in person, but through the writings of the various Testimonies in Pranavadipa.

For being able to notice and catch those common actions that we too can learn from—I think “being humble” must be one of the very important keys for that. In fact, without that key I have the suspicion that our ability to even notice the common actions being exemplified or take them as things that can have real significance, may be greatly hindered.

Actually, going back a while ago, it was brought to my attention the need to work on “being humble.” I took this message to heart because I believe it is true, it is an area where I need to work on myself. Though my understanding of it is still small and needing development, I have been making various attempts to reflect on myself and recognize the tendencies or ways of thinking and doing that are incongruent and working to find ways to shift these. It’s a bit experimental, things don’t go always very smoothly and surely there are many things that I miss, but I feel that by putting energy towards it, it also brings about some conditions that help to allow some things to loosen up, and the mind can gain some strength to face itself, to clarify and to recognize just a little bit further the way to take one little step at a time forward towards Yoga.

Now I am seeing more clearly what Anandamali says about it always being up to each one of us, whether or not we cultivate the eyes to see and ears to hear, see value in what is being shared, regardless of how seemingly small or simple, and put ourselves to learn about it through not just thinking about it, but through putting it into our actions over time and experiencing it for ourselves—and I think that this is really true…it is up to me how much I throw myself into learning Yoga and it is up to each individual as well.

Reflecting on this and reading Swami Vivekananda’s words about the millions and millions of minute waves that when accumulated make a great noise, brings fresh inspiration to bring more attention to the small yet consistent actions that may tend to get overlooked and start incorporating these into my everyday happenings. Already we have the exemplary model of what the common actions of a man of great character can look like in Shri Mahayogi. I would like to come to understand more about the way that Shri Mahayogi takes care, or cares for all things, like how Anandamali mentioned, and I would like to come to understand more about Yoga.

~ Sadhya

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