When everyone has gathered for satsangha, Shri Mahayogi instructs Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti) to begin practicing asana. Sitting in a circle with Shri Mahayogi, the other members begin to discuss the projects of the MYM, such as designing the calendar and working on the publication of Paramahamsa. They each receive instructions from Shri Mahayogi. Suddenly, Mr. Hotta (Sanatana), who was in the midst of writing an article about Buddha’s teachings, begins to ask questions.
Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): Currently, I am working on an article for Paramahamsa.
MASTER: For the next issue?
Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): Yes. About nama rupa (name and form) and other related topics. I think that there is an interdependency that exists between vijnana (recognition) and nama rupa. In the teaching of the “five aggregates,” [Buddha’s teaching about the five aspects that constitute a sentient being], only rupa (form) is mentioned, and it seems to refer only to the gross, physical body. All six sensory organs and the six objects of perception are all caused by nama rupa. In terms of human beings, that would be the mind, or the soul or spirit, and the body; in terms of the world, it would include the invisible, subtle things such as sounds and scents, as well as the visible sensory organs. As far as these statements are concerned, nama rupa is a more subtle, general concept. Buddha himself does not mention too many philosophical things. Rather, he spoke quite often about what to do with desires and attachments. As for nama rupa and sanskara, he only mentions them occasionally, and says something like, “you must control them.” However, in The Twelve Dependent Originations, they are emphasized a great deal. What should I think that nama rupa is? Is nama rupa something deeper, that is beyond just concept or form?
MASTER: I suspect that it is something that supports The Twelve Dependent Originations themselves: “restrictive conditions”—even though these specific words are not included in The Twelve Dependent Originations. Whether it be the individual mind or any material thing, these “restrictive conditions” are what form it and cause it to materialize; then further, they create attachment through the attraction or repulsion of cause and effect, and then [cause the mind] to take possession [of the object of attachment], and it is there that sanskara and karma are formed. Nama rupa is the very root of this, in other words, the role of the original or most fundamental condition that leads to everything else is that of nama rupa. Nama rupa is the first step toward individualization. Of course, ignorance is the prerequisite for [nama rupa] to arise, but even that word “ignorance” becomes nama, as well as rupa. Therefore, nama and rupa can be understood to be neither spirit nor body, but rather things themselves. If we look at it from the other side, nama, even as an abstract concept, already implies a “thing.” Therefore, you can understand it as two sides of the same coin, a harmonious whole.
Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): Then, as you trace back through the tenth of The Twelve Dependent Originations, there is a concrete bhava (existence). Probably, that means to think of oneself as an individual human being, a human that is born and dies. But, nama rupa is much more subtle...
MASTER: In that sense, nama rupa is a concept that is more philosophical and metaphysical, and it is the key factor to the physical conditions of the cosmos. The latter, “existence,” refers to that “existence” which is already established once the conditions are ripe, or once everything has been mixed into it, such that afterwards it functions as the causal force that creates [the concrete form of] birth at the physical level. So, I suppose that Yoga, or Sankhya philosophy, in which the visible and the invisible are considered the same, and Buddha’s view are entirely the same.
Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): The “existence,” which is already manifested as form, and nama rupa, which is not materializing as a form but exists as a conceptual differentiation...
MASTER: Yes. It is the relationship between the seed and the fruit that is its result. Buddha also had no doubt about [the relationship between] the invisible notion and its manifestation as a concrete result, and it was probably unquestioned in philosophy as it was common knowledge [at that time]. Therefore, it was probably unnecessary to philosophically investigate nama rupa any further.
Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): Shankara understood nama rupa as something subtle and primordial, like Om. Isn’t nama rupa almost synonymous with ignorance?
Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): Now, I read somewhere that Vivekananda said that nama rupa is “Time, Space, and the Law of Causality.” Is nama rupa something in that type of category, even though we cannot isolate “time” [from concrete things]?
MASTER: According to Vedanta, it is indeed. So whether in Vedanta, Yoga or Sankhya, or in the philosophy or ideas of Buddha, it is better to understand it as being a factor in the creation of upadi (conditions), the conditionalizing of phenomena. Of course, nama rupa also applies to our minds, and its individual ideas and notions.
Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): It means there is an interdependent relationship to the other [factor], “recognition,” or perhaps, that is to say, a relationship between subject and object, although we can’t quite say whether it’s subjective or objective.
MASTER: Yes, indeed. Whether it’s the subject or the object, both are nama rupa in any case.
Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): So, although it is extremely simplified in The Twelve Dependent Originations, the reason that nama rupa exists is because of “recognition,” and the reason that “recognition” exists is because of nama rupa, in a way.
1 Old age and Death → Birth → Existence → Grasping and Taking Possession → Craving → Input and Perception → Contact → The Six Senses → Name and Form → Recognition → Subliminal Tendencies → Ignorance
* See Pranavadipa #6: Buddha’s Enlightenment—The Twelvefold Dependent Originations
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Chetaka: I feel that the most ideal way of being a sannyasin is demonstrated by Vivekananda. The exemplary life that he lived in India, and then going over to America in that era, was that of a powerful type of sannyasin, which he demonstrated through his way of life. But in this current age, for example, in Japan or New York...the environments are different from back in those days. In the situation where social backgrounds and everything else are clearly different, what is asked of a sannyasin internally is the renunciation of not only pain-bearing obstacles, but also ego and ignorance. I thought that external [renunciation] was to demonstrate a real example—to prove it by exemplifying that it can be accomplished no matter what the situation. I think that I have heard that Shri Mahayogi came—came down to earth—to raise sannyasin that are both internally and externally equipped. I would like to ask about what we should do and how we should behave externally, in this day and age, according to your wishes. Back in those days in India, there was poverty, and I think that a gradual decline of Hinduism was taking place.
MASTER: It can be said that back then the enemy that had to be confronted was visibly obvious. So, has that enemy disappeared or weakened in this age? No. I think it’s the same. Even if times appear to have changed, the situations that we must confront or live through as sannyasin—or even in a stronger word, battle—are perhaps even more grueling than before. And more than anything, to put it into action, and to actually continue practicing, to live it and to survive, that is a great undertaking. From now on, whether you are in Kyoto or New York or in other places, each person must be conscious of this, strive for it, and continue living it. This undertaking is not beneath the greatness of Vivekananda. You must make your best effort to do just what he did, or even to accomplish what he could not accomplish. So there is so much that concretely needs to be done. Vivekananda already accomplished a formidable task.
The great task he accomplished was that he awakened and guided the Westerners, who, for close to two-thousand years, had been rigidly governed by Christianity in its biased beliefs and way of thinking, towards the right path. But it is not easy to end this bigotry that has continued for two thousand years. Moreover, it is not only Christianity, but Islam, Buddhism, and even Hinduism too, that have these prejudices and this sense of superiority. Vivekananda and Ramakrishna said that, “Religions and faiths can be as numerous as the number of people.” That is exactly so, there should be as many religions as human beings. At the same time, the Truth of them is One. If that is forgotten, then everyone is the king of their own hill, thinking themselves to be the only one that is right. As long as that mistake is avoided, then faiths and religions can be as numerous as people are. So the action we must take from now on while living this life is to not be fettered by such constraints, but to live in true Universality—Universal simultaneously meaning Eternal and based on the Truth. So you yourself should live within that, and help as many people to realize it as possible. Vivekananda so boldly and bravely went around the world. However, I believe that this is not impossible for us either. We can do the same, nay, we can strive and make every effort to achive even more.
I think that this issue of Paramahamsa, the newsletter that you are working on now, along with this calendar, have truly wonderful content. Begin by spreading Yoga Asana2 and continue to make these things more public, in English and in other languages.
Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): With respect to the sannyasin, or the arising of sannyasa, the way I look at it is that it is simply the burning passion of one’s heart being heightened internally, or as one’s internal readiness ripens, even if one has not [explicitly] declared the intention to become a sannyasin, as in the case of Ramana Maharishi, when looking at the result retrospectively, in one way or another it will have happened. I think that Shri Mahayogi, too, is a similar case. In contrast, [some saints did] renounce the world at a particular moment; for example, Vivekananda, I suppose, achieved this [state of] sannyasin. The same can be said of Buddha; when he left everything behind he cut off all [attachments] at once. I think about that from time to time, that by taking external actions in order to practice the attitude of a sannyasin, I surely will be able to change, but is it better to go through the process of complete internal change first, and truly become a real one, wearing the state of sannyasin as the outcome of that [internal change], or is it not? Well, I probably shouldn’t think about it, since it will happen in the course of nature.
MASTER (bluntly): Either way is fine. It doesn’t matter. Just become one, right at this very moment. (laughs) (All attendees laugh loudly.)
Buddha’s renunciation in leaving the palace was surely a demonstration of his sannyasa of everything, and a concrete demonstration of his resolution. However, the legend says that during the six years of his extreme austerities, he could not attain complete tranquility. From that, it can be inferred that his inner, complete [state of] sannyasa was not yet established. But when Ramana Maharshi or Vivekananda—of course, Vivekananda attained the fulfillment of sannyasin after experiencing a great deal of hardship—when they used the word “sannyasa” or “sannyasin,” they were using it from the state of extreme perfection.
Especially in the case of Vivekananda, he inspired people or, in other words, he put the spurs to his disciples, to younger generations, and to Westerners who were being tossed about by illusory materialism. As long as the mind is founded upon sanskara, various memories, ego and ignorance will not easily come to their total demise. However, it is even worse just to ignore them. So, consciously and intentionally, you must expose them and burn them away. In these moments, the power that the words “sannyasa” and “sannyasin” possess become the power of discrimination, as they are a reflection of the Truth. Well, these words too are still one of the nama rupa mentioned earlier, but nevertheless, as long as the mind is already dependent upon conditions, it is inevitable that one must counter them with the opposite conditions. (momentary silence) It follows, therefore, that “sannyasa” or “sannyasin” refers to our pure, original, pristine state of being.
Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): Going back again to the question of the internal aspect of sannyasin and the external expression of the self-awareness of sannyasin, since sannyasa can be done in any situation, it is undoubtedly clear that one must practice sannyasa at every second and in every detail, regardless of what one’s title may be, what color clothing one may wear or whether one’s head is shaved. There cannot be any self-deception at all. What becomes dubious to me is the external sannyasin, [which can tend to be superficial]. For example, Sarada Devi said something to the effect of, “Nowadays, everyone wants to become a sannyasin, but it cannot be so easy.” Or even in the case of Vivekananda’s disciples, it seemed to happen often that once having taken the plunge to become a sannyasin their conduct would not match. Perhaps they first took the plunge externally before being well-prepared internally, and then they were probably trying to catch up internally as well, but, in a way, these cases make me question whether it is really leading to the true meaning of sannyasin or not. I have no questions regarding the internal aspect at all. Even so, with respect to sannyasa, should we oblige ourselves to practice externally too, or should we really focus on fulfilling the internal and not be concerned about the external?
MASTER: The internal must be established first. The external is just the material condition; so these things will align themselves eventually. Then, ultimately, the internal and external will not contradict each other.
Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): Of course, we must put our hearts and souls into internal renunciation. In any case, renunciation can only be done internally.
MASTER: Yes. You should practice that. In the general custom of India, traditional customs or practices such as [those of the] sadhu or sannyasin have been prevalent for a long time, really for thousands of years; external sannyasa are very common. There are many cases in which the internal has been neglected, and that has produced many contradictions. Even to this day, that has not changed much.
Afterwards, vibrant conversations continued about Paramahamsa, the bi-monthly newsletter, and about Vivekananda and his disciple―children. Their lives as sannyasin were powerful, and every time we hear about their anecdotes, we are inspired.
In this current day and age, Shri Mahayogi’s disciples simply must live Truth-aligned lives as yoga practitioners.
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Chetaka: Yesterday and the day before, I wrote an article for the newsletter Paramahamsa about my enemy, conceit. With regard to the Truth, the assertion of “me!” which is the sense of superiority or desire to be the center of attention, leads to, “To whom shall I flaunt or show off, and what?”; therefore, this foolishness is clearly ignorance. If we take a look at it concretely, at a more realistic level we can see that it is nothing but ego-protection. Initially, we are setting out to shake the foundation, to cut the ego out of it, but instead it is like we are hammering that stake of ego firmly into the ground. And that is because in Yoga that conceit is one of the biggest things that are completely contradictory to the actions of Yoga, and that will pull us in the opposite direction. Is that why it is to be so severely admonished?
MASTER: Indeed, based on the situation and context, you [have a role to lead others and] may need to give instructions to someone at times through the teachings of dharma, or the Truth. However, with that too, if you think about who the person is who is teaching—of course it must not be the ego, but if the one who is speaking and the teachings are in conformity with universal love, the body simply becomes a tool to project the voice, and the mind becomes a tool to bring out those words in the right way, and the protagonist, which is the Truth itself, is none other than the person who is speaking and, at the same time, the one who is being spoken to—therefore, because of that there is no need to hold back. From the perspective of the one who is speaking, the essence of the one who is spoken to is the same protagonist, yet in between there is one error that obstructs that. Since that action is taken for [the purpose of] subjectively digging out [the obstruction] and eliminating it, there is no antagonistic conflict in the sense of one human being against another human being. It is completely different from that. The only situations that exist are that of Truth and that of ignorance.
Chetaka: So, then it all boils down to one’s conduct in daily life, just as Shri Mahayogi has told us—the practice of controlling and restraining [ourselves] in every action we take.
MASTER: Well, one must truly commit to engaging in conduct, attitudes and behaviors that do not contradict that. You must commit to act on that. Otherwise, the mind, or that which is called the ego, is waiting to rise up... (laughs) as soon as there is the slightest chance.
Chetaka: In addition, the ego shows intense revulsion towards being burned away and eliminated. It may not be the best example to mention, but I suspect that the people who have left Shri Mahayogi even though they had studied under him for a good many years ran away as soon as that process began. One’s determination is not enough if one just wants to feel high and merely remain happy as a result of being able to spend time with Shri Mahayogi, to feel the blessings of God...
MASTER: Right. Certainly, not everyone knows Yoga from the beginning.
When one starts to come into contact with Yoga or begins studying Yoga for the first time, Yoga becomes something that is truly special. You start to look at it as something special for the reason that it has the special power and wisdom to free you from your various confusions. And, in this relative situation it is inevitable that Yoga is looked upon as something special; it is only natural. So one keeps practicing it. In the course of one's steady progress while practicing, there is a turning point at which Yoga, which had formerly appeared to be something special in relative terms, is in Truth no longer something special but something ordinary. But until one can reach that point, one will be in that relative situation and continue to look at Yoga as something special. Furthermore, the ego that endeavors to learn Yoga can fall into the mistake of carelessly thinking that you possess some superior, extraordinary wisdom and power.
Chetaka: Regardless of whether it is samadhi or siddhi, or the abilities of foresight, which are considered supernatural, for a yogi they are nothing special and that is simply that—I felt that so keenly from reading Pranava Sara.3
MASTER: Indeed, when suffering, sadness, and worry are present in the relative sense, they serve the purpose of urging one forward toward that specialness; however, it’s just like a means to an end in order to cut out that erroneous part, which was just mentioned, as soon as possible. From then on, one needs to recognize the means itself as just that—a means to an end.
Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): I think that we all consider ourselves to be practicing diligently, and we don’t practice thinking that we are going in the wrong direction. Is there any way to check ourselves, or to be watchful of our own selves?
MASTER: That is difficult, indeed.
Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): Difficult?
MASTER: Well, as for a self-check, that self inevitably belongs to the realm of the mind. There is no other way but to forge ahead completely with full attention! One must progress much deeper and much further, to the state in which the mind is actually extinguished, Nirvana... One cannot do that by oneself, one cannot get to that point [by oneself alone]. In that sense, you can say that one needs a guru only during the process of getting to that point. Since “Nirvana” and “Guru” and “Truth” are the exact same thing, as long as you reach that point, you are no longer fettered by that, and the situation is resolved.
Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): So, then is it better not to worry about it too much? On the premise that I do whatever I think is the right choice...?
MASTER: You mustn’t worry. There is no need to worry. Simply by practicing it much more thoroughly and single-mindedly, and by progressing much further, then all of these things will fall away or be eliminated eventually.
2 Yoga Asana in English was published in 1999.
3 Pranava Sara, published in Japanese in 1999, is a journal of a devoted disciple who faithfully recorded the conversations between the Master and seekers during his first visits to New York.
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Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): I am working on transcribing the teachings about the sannyasin from the last satsangha. What exactly is tapasya, or the tapas that shakes the foundation of sanskara or chitta? Shri Mahayogi has often said of his past, “I imposed tapasya upon myself, severely and thoroughly.” Would you please tell us about that?
MASTER: The tradition of tapas in Yoga comes from the times before Yoga. It seems that until Yoga was accepted as the most certain path to Satori, wisdom and its realization, tapas played that role in its stead. That is what you can see symbolized in the myth of Shiva. Through tapas, Shiva gained super-powers and became immortal. This myth reflects the superiority and absoluteness of tapas, and the fact that Brahmins (brahmana) also inevitably had to accept it; then it culminated in the creation of the following verses: “Tapas is Brahman,” and “Through tapas, realize Brahman,” in the Taittiriya Upanishad.
The content of tapas has changed somewhat according to the times, but basically, the meaning of the word tapas itself includes the heat, power, and wisdom that manifest that which is pure.
As the path of Yoga began to spread throughout the land, tapas began to play a partial role, for example, tapas in the niyama; however, if you look at Yoga as a whole, it is nothing but a system of tapas.
Tapas in the Yoga Sutra means to overcome dualistic conditions physically and mentally, as you know. Concretely, it means to continue devotedly practicing asana, pranayama, or meditation. So, if one’s sadhana has deepened, and one has gotten a glimpse of Satori, what happens to tapas? Although up until that point, tapas had been taught as a method of sadhana, it was realized that tapas was not only that, but rather the expanse of its meaning also encompassed the brilliance of each individual [expression] of Brahman in the world. This means that the qualitative transformation of tapas happens there. For example, the Path of the Bodhisattva in Buddhism is, in other words, tapas. And, [so is] the way of living in Satori or of the sannyasin or sadhu on their paths—that may be the most natural and unbridled state for them, too; however, objectively viewed, that is also tapas, because from a relative perspective there are no impurities present. If you take a look at this transition, tapas refers to purification of the relative condition in which impurities are mixed in. When purity finally dawns, tapas will be for the sake of making that purity shine forth even more—though at this point, relative impurities no longer exist—as long as the body still exists upon this earth, tapas will become the power to radiate that [purity]. And that, too, is referred to as tapas. Of course, that is the action of Brahman itself, and that is the reason why it is said that “Tapas is Brahman.”
Through tapas, Brahman is realized—Brahman is the true [essence of] tapas—therefore, tapas is Brahman. That was the logic of how the word tapas came to be interpreted as such. Therefore, it follows that “Brahman,” “tapas,” and “sannyasin” all express the same thing.
Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): The word “sannyasin” itself, especially when Vivekananda uses it, galvanizes people who have selfish dispositions [by bringing them face to face with the Truth], that is to say, it can deal them a crushing blow. Upon hearing that word, the mind flutters, for example, even if a person verbalizes a desire to renounce, it will put them on the spot to see if that is truly so. Simply meditating in the seated position, one may superficially confront it merely at the level of the word, whereas the tapasya that emanates from the word “sannyasin” cuts to the heart much more intensely in this way.
MASTER: Right, that is the very purpose of tapas. That is why tapas is crucial there. Tapas is like the power of viveka (the knowledge that arises from discrimination). In order to create a state of sannyasin that makes a sannyasin be a sannyasin, which I just mentioned, it is necessary that the correct knowledge arise from discrimination, or viveka, as a precondition. And that must be acted upon. That is considered to be tapas.
Therefore, with his galvanizing call to action Vivekananda truly awakens that tapas. Because tapas is Brahman, it will manifest from the depths of the heart as unmistakable viveka.
Chetaka: Does that mean that tapas is the method, the process and everything, and its consequence is Brahman?
MASTER: Yes. Tapas is, as I mentioned just now, Brahman; and also, things that are closely related to Brahman, such as things that come from Brahman or lead to Brahman from the relative perspective, are expressed as tapas. That is why it can be understood as the sacred power of Shakti, so to speak.
Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): While relative conditions are still present, for example, we should proactively look for and do things that people normally tend not to be fond of doing, such as toilet cleaning; if we are aware of the presence of our own ego, we engage in helping others. I think that through practicing this way, the sense of “good and bad” or the assertion of “me” is shaken, and by the ego being shaken in this way, a confusing state is created in which one has no clue about anything. But [when you said] you add the adjectives “severe and thorough” to the practice of tapas, what type of practice can that be, what state of mind can that be?
MASTER: It is such that absolutely everything will be for others. If there is even the slightest remnant of ego, ahamkara or samskara, or if these create vritti in the mind, if one is a true sadhaka, or Yoga practitioner, that tapas will inevitably be manifested. And then, everything will be steered towards Nirvana, that is, Brahman. In this way, you can say that to a Yoga practitioner, every action—including all of one's actions, words and thoughts—is tapas. Since even after Satori is attained the world is relative, regardless of any transformation in the quality [of tapas], only tapas exists externally. That means that there is only Brahman. And it can also be said that that is Nirvana. Tapas is a very old word. However, it is actually through Yoga that the meaning of the word tapas has become more precisely understood and acted upon.
Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): So, we should use the method of having these three things that are the same—abiding in Brahman, executing the Truth, and acting and speaking only for others—as the fundamental principle; we proactively perform things that the ego dislikes.
MASTER: Yes. That is a really quick way to the Realization of Truth, called satya.
(While listening to the exchange between Shri Mahayogi and the attendees, Mr. Hotta recalls the letter he received from the Master about a question he had asked ten months ago, and now he realizes that his understanding was insufficient. At that time, Mr. Hotta had just been accepted into graduate school. He was financially dependent on his parents, and even his brother and sister disciples treated him generously as a student. He was concerned that by extending his student career, it would go against aparigraha (non-greed, not receiving gifts). After struggling to come up with an answer, he decided to ask Shri Mahayogi, who was staying in New York at the time. Shri Mahayogi responded with the letter below:)
Allow me to state my personal views regarding your question.
First of all, I am delighted to learn that you will be entering graduate school. Regarding the financial aspect, you should gratefully accept your parents’ generous and compassionate support, as well as your fellow disciples’ display of love. As you point out, at this stage what you need to do is to firmly establish the Universal Truth. And you must embrace that. Fully accomplish your task without concern and without worrying about anything.
What aparigraha means is non-possessiveness, or the absence of greed—in other words, getting rid of the attachments that result from pain-bearing obstacles—but on the other hand this also implies santosha, which is to know that one’s minimum needs will suffice. Their thorough application will inevitably give rise to the strict control of one’s mind, and thus will result in the establishment of a stout mind (manas) that can detach itself from all phenomena pertaining to relativity. Furthermore, you must meditate thoroughly on the other yama and niyama 4, and translate them into action!
It can be understood that buddhi 5 and ahamkara 6, which constitute the chitta (the general term for the mind), as well as the material causes of the mind such as sanskara 7 and vasana 8, have already been solidified. Yet through one’s fervent passion for Yoga, and by infusing it with the nirodha sanskara 9, one can jolt the foundations of the chitta and, to a great extent, set into motion all of its components (vritti) which have become solidified; eventually, one has to dissolve all of these into their own fundamental prakriti 10.
The Twelve Dependent Originations, and The Four Noble Truths also reflect a distinction between the owner (the subject) and his possession (the object). Thus, in the case of metaphysical concepts such as Subliminal Tendencies, Grasping and Taking Possession, Craving, and so on,11 when their psychological power is rendered ineffective, non-possession (the extinction of the subject, which is the mind, and its object), or in other words, Nirvana, manifests itself. Therefore, [seen from the opposite direction,] until its ultimate stage has been reached, meditation continues to imply dualism, so, “[The Truth] has to be heard, pondered, and then meditated upon.”12 It is not the mere acquisition of knowledge. It is to be lead to mastery, and then renunciation. Because the true Self is self-sufficient.
4 yama and niyama: abstinences and observances
5 buddhi: intellect
6 ahamkara: self-awareness
7 sanskara: impressions left behind by one’s actions
8 vasana: latent tendencies
9 nirodha sanskara: “sanskara of cessation” or the sanskara that exterminates all other sanskara
10 prakriti: nature
11 Three of The Twelve Dependent Originations.
12 Allusion to the words of Yajnavalkya to his wife Maitreyi in the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad 2.4.5: “The Self, my dear Maitreyi, should be realized—should be heard of, reflected on and meditated upon”
(In this letter, Shri Mahayogi revealed a profound Truth while answering a financial question. Suddenly, the depth of the meaning in the letter revealed itself to Mr. Hotta.)
Chetaka: Things that must be accomplished will naturally arise, so there isn’t even a need to make judgments. However, it’s not about intentionally avoiding action, of course.
MASTER: There is no need. Just as long as they are simply being utilized for others. It means that, in other words, all is for the Truth. In religious, or theological terms, all is for God. Whether it is Yoga or Buddha or the Satori of various awakened beings, it is all crystal clear. Truth or Not—That is all. Really, it can be summed up with that one word. Going about our daily lives morning and night, is that really the Truth or not? Is the world within the mind really the Truth or not?
(Silence ensues and it seemed as if the talk had ended. It is rare that Shri Mahayogi teaches without being asked. However, this time, he began to gently and slowly speak, as if speaking to someone—)
MASTER: It is the mind’s nature to be anxious about various things. But when one is in deep sleep, or in utmost comfort, the mind does not think about anything. One state is as if the mind is in complete darkness, and the other state is as if it is in complete brightness. Both states are too extreme, where it is impossible to see the relativity of the situation. It is as if the mind had disappeared. Yet, at that time, the most blissful, positive condition is present in that. That is why we must calm the mind down, rather than letting it be noisy and active. Because going back to the aforementioned “Truth or not?,” it can be said that the mind’s world is not the Truth.
What is the Truth? Not only we as humans, but everything in the entire universe is One and the same Existence—that is the Truth. However, when the word “Existence” is interpreted as material existence, it is a mistake. It is non-matter, and matter at the same time. Matter is its limited form. Its essence, that is, its primary substance, is limitless, eternal Existence. That alone is the true Reality called the Truth. That is our Reality and the Reality of everything. Only “That.” So firmly make your mind understand that only That, only That Exists, and use your mind and body only for That. If you do so, then you will never be visited by misfortune.
Ms. Misato Shibasaki: What does it mean concretely, to use your mind for Reality?
MASTER: Concretely, it means to completely eliminate the ego. And, to deepen your faith in the Truth, as I just mentioned now, and to eliminate everything else such as ignorance and pain-bearing obstacles. Those are the concrete actions: firmly being attached only to the Truth, and being detached from everything else.
Ms. Yuri Shibasaki (Yukti): Is un-attachment the same as renunciation?
MASTER: It is the same.
Ms. Yuri Shibasaki (Yukti): The mind often scatters all over the place. When it is about to scatter, if I pause myself and hold my mind back with strength, and if I repeatedly restrain the mind again and again, will the urge weaken?
MASTER: Yes, that is the training of the mind, and the path of Yoga.
Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): Ishvarapranidhana and tapas are both in niyama and kriya yoga. So, are the results the same?
MASTER: Yes, they will be the same.
Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna says, “Offer your mind and the results of your actions to me, and you will be able to overcome all obstacles.” Is it correct to think that this means offering oneself to others?
MASTER: Yes. The basic characteritics of the “Gita” are sannyasa and bhakti. Older words used in their stead may have been tapas or vairagya. In that way, the teachings of the “Gita” brought forth a new essence, which seems to have been expressing old concepts with new words.
(At Shri Mahayogi’s cue, the meeting for the Paramahamsa newsletter begins. After that, even though it was earlier than usual, satsangha ended and everyone bowed. There was another meeting scheduled at 10pm at Seva Kutira, so everyone quickly left.)
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The yearning to devote every ability that I have, all of my life, and all of my soul to the work of Shri Mahayogi has been constant. The reason is that through the work of creating Yoga Dipika2, the performance of the theatrical events “The Beginning of the Expansion of the World,” “Prema,” and “Amrita3,” I got a taste of what it’s like to work with Shri Mahayogi. All the cells of my body were brimming with joy throughout that process and it made me feel that it was worth being born into this world. Once I had tasted this nectar, my worldly job became utterly bland. It is the Truth that any work is our divine dharma (duty), and we humans must fulfill our duty with integrity. Yet, what about those who are enchanted by God? Even the dharma of the world is forgotten. What is dharma? Everything is God’s will!
When I graduated from the university in Tokyo, I decided that I would work in the old capital—Kyoto. When one of my professors, who was also responsible for career counseling, returned from a trip to the Kansai area in Japan and told me, “There is an interesting company in Kyoto,” right away I decided that I would work for that company, even though I didn’t know what that company did; and so, I obtained a job there solely by intuition and serendipitous connections instead of having to go through various job interviews. That was twenty-five years ago, 1985. Thus, even though I so casually began to work for them, I ended up working there for twenty-five years.
My initial greeting speech at the assembly of the company was this: “I have been practicing zazen (meditation) since childhood, so I am really looking forward to practicing it.” Thinking highly of this, my supervisor, the manager of my department, treated me very well, saying, “It is promising to see such a young person meditating.”
As I entered the workforce, I felt vibrant and vital and wanted to experience so many things. Since childhood I had always vaguely admired the Satori of Buddha and was interested in the path of the reclusive Taoists and the path of Yoga, and I had researched and visited many places. When I met Shri Mahayogi it was 1989, five years after joining the company. Because I was also very interested in having a relationship, I was already engaged to be married about a year later. I struggled much to make that decision, but I got married thinking that I could continue to practice Yoga regardless. Right after we got married, the fact that I was completely absorbed in Yoga made my newly-wedded wife suffer. By studying bhakti yoga, and with the deepening of our love for each other through our marriage as husband and wife, I continued my life in a way that allowed us to respect each other’s ideals, all the while having the words from the Upanishad, “to see Atman in one's wife,” as my ideal.
At work and in family life there is constant contact with other people. Things do not go your way, and that constantly agitates the mind. Yet this agitation is crucial for a Yoga practitioner. One must never escape from it. This is the enemy that one must contend with. Only by relating to others can one’s selfish tendencies, weaknesses and desires be plainly revealed for the first time. By experiencing the large and small waves that arise from frustration, and feeling pathetic for not being able to control them even though I could recognize them, I seriously and wholeheartedly practiced the Yoga that I had been learning from Shri Mahayogi to the very best of my ability. One’s tendencies do not easily disappear merely by noticing them or by applying a technique, rather it is only through the diligent practice of Yoga that they can improve a little at a time. I can never say it was smooth; however, the only reason why I did not lose sight of the light in spite of the storm of the mind’s agitation was solely due to the Guru’s guidance. Work-life and married-life became a very important place to apply the practice of Yoga.
After meeting Shri Mahayogi, I became so immersed in Yoga, not that I neglected my work or family, but I devoted myself to the work of the Mission and the practice of sadhana (spiritual training and practice), which I set as my priority. I was so looking forward to seeing Shri Mahayogi each and every time, so much so that it seemed unclear as to whom I had actually married. However, thankfully my wife was very happy and supportive to see me devote myself to the things I liked, so we were able to continue to get along fine. I also did not neglect my service to my wife or my children. It was a struggle to manage the schedule, but I somehow was able to balance it all.
Ten years ago, my wife was diagnosed with an incurable disease. At the same time, my work became busier, yet the children were still young, so the situation became a bit challenging.
Around this time, my desire to retire became intense and I began to think selfishly and arrogantly that I wanted to make use of all of my energy and all of abilities for the work of the Mission. The reason that the desire4 arose to concentrate only on Yoga, without consideration for my wife and children, was because of the subconscious desire to escape from my boring work and the life that I could not control. Since I had no interest in business to begin with, even though I worked hard at it I had never thought it was interesting or fun. Still, my wish for retirement in some way must have been coming from seeing the difference between the work of the Mission and that of my worldly job, which means that there was an expectation about the results, and therefore this was not the attitude that a Yoga practitioner should take. I understood that, “from the universal perspective, both tasks are very important dharma that must be fulfilled.” Therefore, the worldly job and the family obligations, and the work of the Mission are all the same, so I subdued the wish for retirement. It must have been troublesome for Shri Mahayogi to deal with my wish for retirement; at times he gently appeased me, and other times he sternly admonished me. Externally and internally it was not the right time. What I needed to do was to take care of the tasks at hand.
Anyhow, after the performance of "Amrita" in 2005, my retirement wish subsided and I began to perform my tasks simply and quietly.
In 2009, my wife’s condition worsened and became extremely bleak. At work, my responsibilities grew and I became busier than ever. It became impossible to dedicate myself to fulfilling all of the tasks well—taking care of her, the housework, the job, and the work of the Mission—so, regretfully, I took a break from the activities at the Mission. Then, last year my wife passed away. My wife, who had been fighting hard for the past ten years, said to me in the last moments, “The past twenty years that I have spent with you were truly fortunate. It was really wonderful. Thank you.” I was simply speechless and grateful.
After my wife’s death I was struck with two big issues. The first issue was that my sons had grown into teenagers, but they were not in the best condition to take care of themselves, and it seemed it would be very difficult for them to become independent if nothing was done for them. And without a mother, their father’s total support would be indispensable in that situation. Another issue was that I had lost any sort of motivation that I had for my job. I worked so that my wife could feel at ease. Now that she was gone, the motivation for work fundamentally disappeared.
I felt that suddenly I had lost my reason to continue spending my days working hard at my job as I always had. Considering our financial stability for the future, money was a prerequisite, so it would be preposterous to lose a source of great income at my age. If there is money, it can be used for all kinds of beneficial things. What about my dharma as a householder to fulfill my responsibility to contribute to society? Thoughts like that arose in me too, but in losing the sense of meaning in continuing to work the way I used to work, my wish to devote my life solely to Yoga, [a path] which I had persuaded myself not to take in the past, gradually became stronger until it reached the point of no return. Come to think of it, there was no better work than the Mission's work to be able to contribute to society, and I didn't have the common sense to worry about my future. There are no guarantees; nobody knows how long a company will remain stable, and, above all else, I do not know when the soul will leave this body. While my heart still beats, I have to do what I have to do. Remaining in this limbo at work was neither good for the company nor for my family, I thought. Also, I had been planning to eventually retire early at fifty or fifty-five, but considering the situation in the company, I felt that right now was the only time to retire. I figured, externally and internally, that now was the turning point.
However, there was still some doubt left in me, and I would think, “Is this idea selfish, or is this just an escape?” I thought that the selfish mind was manipulating me for my own convenience. Then, right during that time, a perfectly timed question was asked by a gurubai (brother or sister disciple) at satsangha. The question was something about when the right time to ask advice from the guru was. Shri Mahayogi responded that a disciple should come to him for validation of what he or she has pondered or meditated on after much consideration. This was a boon to me, so I visited Shri Mahayogi the next day and stated my ideas. Shri Mahayogi answered, “At the moment, you need to think of your children as your highest priority. Your judgment is not mistaken.” I felt relieved. My mind was made up, and I then began to take action swiftly.
My last day at work was a truly refreshing day with glorious spring weather and a clear sky. It was also my 47th birthday and a perfect day to celebrate the Ohigan (Buddhist equinox holiday). My mind hadn't a single doubt; it was crystal clear. Since I had made the decision to retire, I was obviously very busy and tired, so I was surprised to find myself in such a state of mind because I had not expected that it would be like that in the end. The things that I had accomplished and the things that I had not accomplished in the past twenty-five years at work, the anxiety for the future, the pressure, the sense of hesitation—there were no impressions whatsoever present in my mind. My state of mind was even vacant, not quite joyous, but light and pure as if I had grown wings. It was like graduating from my job. I felt more glorious than when I graduated from university and became a contributing member of adult society. In my farewell speech at the assembly I spoke about what I have written here, nakedly, just as it was. I wanted to speak honestly and straightforwardly about the path I was going to proceed on. Since I first entered the company twenty-five years ago, I had stayed in the same department, so I only gave a formal speech twice—the day I first started working and the day I retired. In my first speech, I spoke about zazen, and in my last speech, I spoke about Satori.
The next morning, when I bowed to Shri Mahayogi at the altar, naturally, tears began to flow without end. It was neither out of sadness nor happiness. It was a thousand emotions. Thinking back, the first twenty years since my marriage had been filled with numerous events and various experiences at work, with family and in Yoga. Yet, actually, they were years that were filled with incomparable gratitude for being enveloped in the vast love of the Guru. They were days that were spent in the Guru’s love.
It is still a little bit early for the third phase of life5, the forest-dwelling period. I still have the important task of supporting my children’s independence. I spoke to my children, “Your dad has quit his job in order to complete the work that must be completed. There is no longer any source of income. If we continue in the same way, we will all die by the roadside in the gutter. Please accept it as your fate. My sons, what is it that you seek in your own lives—that is the main point. Whatever it is, it is inevitable that one must live. In order to live, one must work and earn a living. But, for what purpose do you live? Let us seriously consider these things. I will be responsible for you until you are twenty. After that, you two are on your own, whether you die in the gutter or stride ahead and live, and that is that.”
Overpopulation, environmental problems—numerous are the issues that surround humanity. The future is worrisome. The business environment has become extremely harsh—people work like horses, get exhausted, have no meaning in their lives after retirement, and die in anxiety. What is human? What is life? What is the soul? What is death? We must face these essential issues head on, and solve them at their roots. That is Yoga. If that is so, I will single-mindedly walk the path of Yoga, and realize the Satori of Buddha that I have admired since childhood. In the third phase of my life, I believe that infusing all of my actions with this resolution and dedication is the highest conduct I can engage in for my wife, my sons, my parents, my colleagues, and myself. Satori is the greatest good for others. To me, the work to realize Satori and the work of Shri Mahayogi, are the only joys of my soul. However, it should not just be so to me, the Truth must be the same to all things and all beings, not just to me. It is just that many have not yet known the true experience of falling in love. I am taking the first step towards Sanatana Dharma (Eternal Truth). From there, a path shall be made.
Om Tat Sat Om
* Due to the number of recipients, this is being sent as a BCC. My apologies for using an email for this announcement.
This is Seiichi Okada from the QA department. Due to personal reasons, I will be retiring on March 31. My last day here will be March 19.
I remember when I first visited this company before joining, someone from HR told me that “being engaged and committed to one's job is related to one's karmic connections.” Indeed, I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude for having the good fortune to find such a great company and for being able to work here for the past twenty-five years.
Since I started in 1985, I have been responsible for reliability engineering. I may have had many shortcomings, but throughout the years I have been blessed with so many great colleagues who have helped me and taken care of me. Please allow me to express my deep gratitude on this occasion. Thank you very much.
I have wonderful memories of being awed by mysterious breakdowns that happened under mysterious conditions, and of exercising ingenuity to try to find creative solutions to make those mechanisms work. I regret that there are still unresolved issues, and that I am retiring in the middle of quality transformation initiatives. I am entrusting those initiatives to the next team in charge, who I know will be able to handle them. Please do continue to support and collaborate with each other on these initiatives.
After my retirement, I would like to focus my attention on supporting my family, and since I have been an admirer of Buddha’s Satori, I would like to solely devote myself to pursuing Yoga, which I have been exploring for the past twenty years. I will be pushing ahead with Yoga and related activities in Kyoto, so if you are interested, please do stop by.
Last but not least, I will pray for the company to overcome its current challenges with flying colors, and to continue to grow even further, and also for the continued good health of everyone.
Thank you so very much.
Om Tat Sat Om
In the email, he included the link to the Mission’s website, his personal contact info, the photo and a note to not access the site from the company network.
1 This article is an extra edition of "The Meaning of Life" in the series of articles, “Aim to Become a Yogi.”
The English translation of both articles can be read on the Mahayogi Yoga Mission website: Part 1, Part 2, and Final.
2 A pamphlet that contains articles about meeting Shri Mahayogi and the experience of Yoga. It was published in 6 volumes between 1990 to 1996.
3 “The Beginning of the Expansion of the World”, 1995, “Prema”, 1996, and “Amrita”, 2005
4 The most memorable incident was when my wife asked, “Why did you marry me if you sought Satori so much?” At that time, I was reminded of the immaturity of my words and actions. I never regretted getting married. Every situation is the result of one’s own desire, and one can only realize Satori in the situation which one is in now. To create such anxiety for my wife and to have her ask me such a question showed how immature my Yoga study was. After that, I changed my attitudes.
5 In India, there is a concept of dividing life into four phases.
“Student phase” where one studies; “Householder phase” where one gets married, has children, and contributes to society through work; “Forest-Dwelling phase” where, after children become independent, and after fulfilling their duty toward society, a married couple goes to have distance from society, live in a forest and learn the Truth; and “Wandering phase” where one has completed all duties and wanders alone with God. In life, work is not everything. The true work begins when societal dharma ends. That is the beginning of the third phase.
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