Vol. 6

Teachings of Shri Mahayogi:

Psychology, Yoga And The Mind Quality of Sattva

Practice The Four Immeasurables Until It Becomes Second Nature

Transcend The Illusion of Life And Death In Meditation

Deepening Your Discipline, Steadily And in Silence, Leads to Mastery of The Immeasurables

Knowing Your True Self Is Important Above All Else

The Four Yoga: As One Deepens The Others Follow Suit

The Yuga And The Cycle of Time

The Transparent Mind Comes Through Its Study And Restraint


Testimonies from Actual Practitioners:

Buddha’s Enlightenment—The Twelvefold Dependent Originations

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Teachings of Shri Mahayogi:

Translation of Satsangha,
November 7, 1998
The Ashrama, Kyoto


Psychology, Yoga And The Mind Quality of Sattva

At the Satsangha, Chetaka begins to talk about a woman who recently came to take the asana and meditation class at Wings Kyoto on Monday, November 2nd. He had met her at his friend’s wedding two and a half years ago and he recalls how they talked about Yoga at that wedding.

Chetaka: She is studying Freudian psychology, and according to what she said, she thinks that asana is similar to the type of hypnosis that is used to treat social phobia, blushing, autonomic-nervous disorders, and so forth. I think she is comparing asana to the relaxed state of hypnosis. She believes in this and has been studying it for six years.

MASTER: What do you mean by “studying”?

Chetaka: She is studying to be a counselor, to be able to do counseling.

MASTER: I see, she is studying those kinds of things.

Chetaka: Basically, her conclusion is that as long as someone is cured, then it doesn’t matter [which method is used]. Surely, I do think she has a point, but I’m not certain whether it is ultimately beneficial. For instance, can a very shy person who can’t even start a conversation eventually be able to talk to people as a result of these treatments?

MASTER: I think so. That’s how the mind is. Regardless of what the issue may be, the mind is a thing that is influenced [by other things]. So, Freudian and Jungian psychology theorize that the causes [of these various symptoms] are formed by the impressions derived from one’s childhood experiences, and those [causes] come to manifest themselves in one’s youth or later on, accompanied by certain results, [or symptoms]. These theories of Freud are mostly based on complexes: the mother complex, the father complex, such-and-such a complex, and so on. Another theory is repression, mainly of sexuality, which is repressed due to social conventions. As these accumulate, they are accompanied by various frustrations and they manifest as abnormal activities and experiences. That’s roughly how it can be summed up.

In Jungian psychology’s concept of complexes, so-called “libido” does not only remain at the level of sexuality, but delves deeper into the level of the subconscious. And, various concepts such as the collective consciousness and synchronicity are introduced. But they do not provide a fundamental solution. In other words, both Freudian and Jungian theories simply state the facts as they are. From a yogic perspective, this is already a given: the mind is influenced by these things. The question is where to go from there. No matter whether you study these ideas or not, [clearly that study will not be of much benefit because] this is already an established fact; that is to say, it is already common knowledge in India.

Each and every phenomenon surely has a cause. This is fundamental, indubitable common sense based on the laws of karma. It is like 1+1=2, which is so simple that it does not need explaining. In Yoga, or in the East, [where the influence of Yoga and Buddhism is strongly felt,] it is understood that this is how the mind is, so they delve further into the question of the real identity of the mind. In other words, no matter what it is, each action or movement of the mind has its cause. It varies from person to person, but each situation is always contingent upon a cause. And that has been found to be true.

On the other hand, is the mind simply this thing that is constantly being affected by such influences? And further, is there a possibility of creating a state or condition of mind that is no longer affected by these influences? Beyond that, mere logic cannot go. You have to actually refine and polish the mind—practice, practice, practice.

Chetaka: No matter what we try to do, it is as if we are just shaving off the tip of the iceberg of samskara, and yet we are fusing more karma onto it. (MASTER: That is so.) In a way, those methods give us a temporary sense of ease, but looking at the bigger picture, it is meaningless.

MASTER: If you apply [the idea of] the guna to the mind, the mind needs to be transformed into the quality of sattva, but those methods don’t seem to bring the mind any closer to the quality of sattva; rather, they are just a repetitious cycle going between tamas and rajas, and they cannot possibly result in sattva.

Chetaka: I think that what we can learn from the pain we experience within the world is only one thing: after we seek and seek, and get hurt again and again, it is only when we finally grow weary of this that we can we then change direction and go towards the Truth. I feel that if we merely alleviate the pain on the surface, we’ll simply go back to the same place.

MASTER: That is precisely so. The various [painful] blows and stimuli that create waves on the surface of the mind have underlying, subliminal causes. And this is the function of the mind and the condition of the mind. Unless you dig deeper and deeper—inquiring into how the mind is constituted and what the original condition of the mind is—you will not find the fundamental solution. It is simply because Jung took another step in that process that he broke from Freudian psychology and was able to advance further. Perhaps he was able to go further and discover more because he studied Yoga and Eastern psychology. However, Western scholars are still doing research in order to deepen their [understanding]. So, you can help her by telling her that they are getting clues from the East. Since the world accepts Western medicine as the authority, the course of study that she is now pursuing is currently prevalent due to its being accepted publicly as Western medicine, however, that is all just for the time being; it will need to have much, much, more depth and breadth. So you can tell her that studying Yoga in addition to her formal study will assist her in deepening her understanding for these reasons.

Chetaka: It saddens me to hear her talk as if she is really confident and proud of that method, and that she is seriously studying it, believing it to be the best and applying it to her patients.

MASTER: But you can look at it this way—from the fact that while some people may still be lost and in confusion, others will arrive at Yoga because of that confusion, and, for the latter group, therein lies the opportunity to open up their hearts.

In New York, many counselors and healers have visited me and said that they find fundamental solutions when they come to me.

In the East, just as it is said that Buddha was called by another name the “Great Doctor,” the specialists in the field of something like psychiatric or psychological pathology are those who have practiced controlling the mind and conquered the mind. In olden times, they were monks and [spiritual] practitioners, and for thousands of years it has been a tradition that people have sought them out for help.

Truly, the world has been overtaken by Western culture, and the Eastern things have been forgotten. They have to be remembered again, or be re-studied, and we ourselves also have to remember and re-study them. It may be difficult to have a conversation like this, however, in the short period of time we have during class.

Chetaka: Since we met again serendipitously, there must have been some reason why we met again here, at this point, so I am hoping that I can at least communicate to her that there is something we are aiming toward that is deeper than the subconscious...

MASTER: Whatever it is, whether it’s a childhood experience or not, there must have been an underlying cause for it, and there is no other way but for it to have happened beyond [or before] this lifetime. Because this goes beyond the cycle of time.

And that’s the way the mind is—the mind takes in impressions caused by certain experiences, and these become a new cause, which [in turn] produces results. These results then create a new cause. It is simply the accumulation of these repetitions. However, fundamentally speaking, the critical issue that arises is whether that is your true Self. Unless that is dealt with head on, and as long as the mind and the Self remain assimilated, there is no path to a solution. Ultimately, what is the “self”? Is it the mind’s experiences, or is it something else?

Chetaka: I will invite her to the ashrama one day (smiles).

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Practice The Four Immeasurables Until It Becomes Second Nature

Chetaka: Should we practice the “Four Immeasurables” (friendliness, sympathy, empathic joy, and equanimity) intensively and thoroughly, without exception?

MASTER (after a long silence): Yes, it must be done thoroughly

Chetaka: Is it best to compel myself to do everything in such a way? Is it best to practice thoroughly, not only by not seeing or not paying attention to whatever shortcomings others may have, but to do so even to the extent of not sensing or reacting to any of these things whatsoever?

MASTER: As Yoga deepens, one will actually perform yama and niyama, or the Four Immeasurables, or whatever the teachings or practices may be, concretely, without being conscious of it. If you have to do it with intention, then it is just the beginning stage.

Chetaka: Becoming humble has been the theme given to me by Shri Mahayogi since he visited New York. I was trying to force myself to practice friendliness and sympathy, or rather, I should say that I was forcing myself to practice empathic joy and equanimity. But, there was always a “bare minimum,” some threshold within me at which point I would get angry or get an urge to have the last word if anything crossed that line. That is why I still have a little doubt as to whether I should remain thoroughly equanimous by removing that threshold completely or not. 

MASTER: It appears to be the case that in society and in the world at large, one’s daily life is closely involved with a number of different relationships, however, in actuality, all of that exists only within one’s own mind. This means that one must be extremely conscious of one’s actions towards others. To be conscious means to be humble, and [if you practice that], mauna will naturally arise in your actions, your words and your thoughts. At the same time, when it is necessary to apply the Four Immeasurables, they will be performed naturally, without any concern at all about what others think.

Chetaka: Until I reach that point, I should place myself in those situations regardless of whether the practice generates heat or not, proactively, as a form of tapas...

MASTER: Basically, if there are any disturbances of the mind that are contradictory to the Immeasurables, or if there are any actions that go against them, one must restrain and reject [those thoughts or actions].

Chetaka: So, in the beginning such things should be rejected purposefully.

MASTER: Yes, indeed. And one more thing—when it comes to practicing the Four Immeasurables, it shouldn’t only be an internal matter, but rather, they need to be performed as concrete actions.

Chetaka: Yes, I should put them into action. And that has to be directed toward others, is that correct?

MASTER: Yes. That is right.

Chetaka: It simply grows into that. I understand.

MASTER: It will come to be performed naturally. The experiences of many yogi prove that this will surely be so.

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Transcend The Illusion of Life And Death In Meditation

Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): There are physically extreme situations even in daily life—for example, even in the case of quite mild-mannered people, if they were to find out that they had only one month to live due to illness, they might suddenly become antagonistic and take it out on others. Or, if someone is lost in the mountains in the winter, or we hear stories about someone who was “such a nice person until the company went bankrupt.” Normally, reason prevents us from doing things we should not do. However, in situations when we find ourselves backed into a corner, certain actions or emotions arise that would never have arisen under normal circumstances. The conditions that would have prevented this are themselves weakened. However, as one advances in the learning of Yoga, things like that should become more noticeable. So then, if we think that we need to do something about this, how should we proceed?

MASTER: Well, those situations, that is to say, such utterly extreme conditions, must be dealt with and completely resolved in meditation.

Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): Even then, we must practice being resilient.

MASTER: The examples you’ve given relate to those extreme situations in which humans generally cannot be expected to act rationally, or in which they reach their wits’ end. However, these examples are still within the realm of common problems. [Although such events do not normally occur,] Yoga practitioners, through meditation, experience states that enable them to remain unflustered even under such extreme conditions. This has nothing to do with having the virtual experience of being stranded on a snowy mountain; fundamentally, it is about meditating upon life. Life, in other words, is death. It is the death of the body. On the other hand, Yoga practitioners meditate on a different theme: they inquire into reason itself, or, in other words, they inquire into that which has been found to be the ultimate essence of rationality. This inquiry must be exhausted until the very end of philosophy or psychology. To seek this unto the furthest reaches of one’s own mind—that is the crucial part of meditation. 

In a way, Yoga practitioners do not intend to live in this world to begin with. Because they do not have the desire for life, they do not die. Rather, you, as practitioners, must sense what death is, what life is, and what eternal life is, not just by remaining [within the realm of] mere logical thinking, but by actually experiencing these things. This is the main path given to Yoga and its practitioners.

Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): So, for example, through meditation, or by accident, when you are able to encounter something that would not arise under normal circumstances, it is an opportunity. Should we then continue to inquire into what that [essence] truly is?

MASTER: Stick with it and be thorough about it [until the ultimate conclusion is reached and perfected]. The truth of those [things such as life, death, and rationality] relates to the nature of maya, and you must conquer that very truth. To conquer it means to know its essence. Knowing the essence, [the mind] clarifies that [what it believes to be true is actually] not the Truth; even if it might be true within the relative world, it is not the absolute, ultimate Truth itself. To know the essence [of things] means to conquer them in the end. Quite frankly, this is the most pressing matter, and it concerns the core of your awareness, be it physical or mental. If you understand that, you must therefore experience [and conquer] extreme conditions and situations in meditation.

Chetaka: So, the extreme fear that arises in me is just as if a surgical scalpel were cutting directly into my own ego, and if I am attached to [the ego], I will become a complete mess. But I am in a state in which my entire body is resisting being cut cleanly, and I am pulling myself away. In meditation, I clearly see myself in a state of fear. So, do you mean that I should draw closer to [that fear] in meditation?

MASTER: Right, and continue to pursue it further until you reach the ego, or the foundation of that mind of fear itself.

Chetaka: So that means that when these types of situations arise, they provide the greatest opportunity [to confront the ego]?

MASTER: Yes. From that perspective, whatever the issue may be, the more severe the disturbance, suffering, or sadness, the greater the opportunity. Truly, it is because this is the real battle, as if a sword were being pointed right at you. (The word “serious” in Japanese writing is written as “real sword.”)

Chetaka: I’m beginning to understand that somewhat. It is about what you mentioned, Shri Mahayogi, when you were at Sevakutira the other day: courage is not directed externally, but internally, to directly confront one's own self.

MASTER: Exactly. It is important to study and familiarize yourselves with the various scriptures such as the Yogasutra, yet these are still just practice stages. The real swordfight is the battle within one’s own mind—that is meditation. This point demonstrates why meditation is important. It is absolutely not about simply being content with sitting or feeling better. Truly, in a true sense, it becomes a life or death battle.

Chetaka: A while ago, when I began to intensely introspect during my daily life, there were times when I allowed myself to give up [that introspection] whenever I felt tired. But lately, that hasn't been happening anymore. What I've been doing is no longer at the level where fatigue can get in the way; instead, I am keeping surveillance over any emotions or thoughts that might arise regardless of the situation. This battle is becoming increasingly more severe and intense, but to sustain that diligently, with single-minded focus, is an important aspect of meditation. [As I proceed with raja-yoga meditation], simultaneously, meditation to deepen the faith [of bhakti-yoga] has to be continued. But I understand that the path of service is consistent [with both of them]. Ultimately, everything proceeds in the same direction.

MASTER: Yes. In service, whether it is karma yoga or bhakti yoga, the ego and ignorance are totally absent in both the approach and in the results thereof. Indeed, essentially the mind can be understood to be like actual matter, much in the same way that this body or various other [things] are matter.

Precisely speaking, the soul is only AtmanAtman with consciousness, and as for all other things, even the mind, they are all substances or materials. They are like tools. And these tools have various positive and negative aspects, and their functions may differ. This could be considered to include such things as intellect or talent, which can be cultivated through experience—but none of them are related to karma. A tool is a tool. When ego, ignorance, and pain-bearing obstacles (klesha) color them, only then do they tilt in the wrong direction. Therefore, there is no superiority or inferiority associated with a tool. A tool just performs its role according to each usage and purpose.

Chetaka: If I am a screwdriver, then I simply dedicate myself to turning screws. I can’t even think about performing other tasks, so I can only concentrate on the same task without choice. Once I have accepted that, I ought to be unfazed no matter whether I have a thousand or two thousand screws, isn’t that so?

MASTER: Yes. Mr. Hotta is writing a series of articles, for example, about the Twelvefold Dependent Originations for the Paramahamsa1 newsletter, and the fundamental yogic thinking is exactly the same. Because a temporary owner called “the mind” exists, possessions exist, and therefore the act of possessing is established. The owner grasps onto something, and then that something is used by powers such as attachment and ignorance. It is there that the greatest cause of losing ourselves is born. The cause of the loss of the true Self has occurred.

1 Bi-monthly magazine/newsletter in Japanese published by Mahayogi Yoga Mission Kyoto

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Deepening Your Discipline, Steadily And in Silence,
Leads to Mastery of The Immeasurables

Kinkara: I somehow have an image that the teaching of the “Four Immeasurables ” is a very preliminary stage, that is, it is a way of nurturing bhakti. Ji (friendliness, the first element of the Four Immeasurables in Japanese translation) is basically the easiest, and sympathy and empathic joy are basically thinking from the perspective of others. And I think that the most difficult is equanimity, because, if I understand it correctly, equanimity needs to be performed with ji. In short, I think that I need to practice the Four Immeasurables based on ji, but I am not sure about what part or where exactly I need to focus on equanimity, which I consider to be the most difficult step when I go about my daily life.

MASTER: The Four Immeasurables are [virtues] that are classified into four specific categories. What you are trying to say, or what you are feeling, is compassion. When we refer to the Four Immeasurables and when we refer to compassion they are different, because the original terms are different. What you are feeling is compassion. That is to say, the Four Immeasurables must be practiced with compassion—which I agree with—and you should really become like that.

Kinkara: Ji of the Four Immeasurables and “compassion” are completely different? {In Japanese, the word compassion is composed of two characters: Ji (affection or compassion) and hi (sadness or sympathy for others); the characters that indicate them are the same.}

MASTER: The original terms are different. Ji is maitri.

Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): Maitri is “friendship.”

MASTER: Yes, maitri in Sanskrit is translated as ji. On the other hand, “compassion” (ji-hi) is [the translation of] daya [in Sanskrit].

Mr. Hotta (Sanatana): Yes, daya has a meaning similar to that of “compassion.”

MASTER: So maitri and daya have different nuances. When it is translated into English, maitri is translated as “friendly, or friendliness,” while daya is “compassion.” Since they have different nuances, the Four Immeasurables teach that they have to be performed through the broader definition of “compassion”: acting based on the types of impressions you receive from others in varying conditions and situations. Regardless of that fact, basically, you should practice all of them with compassion. Of course, even when you act with equanimity, you must act with compassion. What Kinkara says is true. It is always the case that as compassion becomes deeper, then, naturally, the Four Immeasurables will result in action. Since these actions are performed in relation to others according to the situation and the conditions, in that sense, they have to do with relativity. The mind has no right to delineate between friendliness, sympathy, empathic joy, and equanimity. The only thing we can say is that what can be done, what must be done, is to perform each and every action with compassion. By doing so, good results will naturally come by themselves, and that is all there is to it. So it will be fine just like that.

Kinkara: For instance, let’s say that the world has its demands, and these demands are mostly incorrect and materialistic. Even the Truth has no value for those who do not seek it. Unless others are seeking the essence, I cannot do anything. Even these [concerns] are preconditions, but should I not worry too much about these kinds of things?

MASTER: In order for all of these acts to yield good results, first, one must deepen one’s practice in the path by oneself, steadily and in silence, and then master it. That is all you can do. That is more precise than words. And above all, within everyone’s heart dwells the Buddha nature, if we use the Buddhist term. Or, the Sacred Soul dwells within—everyone is Holiness itself.

Chetaka: This is my own personal interpretation, but, as an extreme example, let’s say that there is a person who is healthy and has no problem paying for food, and he comes to me and asks me for food because he doesn’t like to work. I wonder if I should then offer him food? In an extreme scenario, am I to simply make a determination like that, whether to help someone or not, to serve someone or not, something like that...? Lately, however, I’ve been thinking that everything will all depend on the state I am in. If my practice has deepened, then perhaps I will naturally gravitate toward people who really need help. That way, there is no decision making based on whether I want to do it or not, or if it’s good or bad. And, ultimately, it is only up to God to decide. In that sense, there is no need for me to decide, consider or calculate. Is it like that?

MASTER: Yes, it will eventually be like that.

Chetaka: I think that to remain intent on doing the task at hand and to do it diligently is the supreme path. I am trying to perform my tasks with the finest quality, constantly doing the same things the same way in a really steady and precise manner, and to convey things that must be communicated with conscience, regardless of who the other person is—and I think that that is about all I can do.

MASTER: Indeed. The differences in the levels [of progress] are not that important. The point is to bring any interim steps toward the goal as swiftly as possible. The level, whichever level a person has reached, is completely irrelevant. Of course, in practical terms, there are many different levels; so, while you are concretely solving the various troubles at various levels accordingly—be it physical solutions for the body, or mental solutions for the mind—you simply try to make each situation reach closer to perfection. And then, the next thing you always need to do is to just keep going and keep making progress. Therefore, it may appear that there are different levels in relative terms, but there is no superiority or inferiority [in those levels], no fast or slow [progress] at all. Obstacles or problems [that might appear to be obstructing the path] just happen to be there in front of your eyes. You just have to deal with them positively each and every time.

Chetaka: I have always thought of the work I do for Yoga as something special, so I thought that I have to be absolutely perfect, not in the sense of the results of what I’ve done, but in my attitude when I am engaged in the work. But, from what you have said just now, I realize that there is nothing special and there is nothing ordinary, and that everything is the same. This means that in our actions, whether it’s working for Yoga or working at my job, or even in daily life, everything must be dealt with from the same position: as a practitioner.

MASTER: There is no distinction from the viewpoint of the Truth.

Chetaka: I must act based on that. I feel much clearer about this now.

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Knowing Your True Self Is Important Above All Else

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): Will anxiety and fear disappear as you continue to practice Yoga?

MASTER: Yes, they will disappear.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): There are many types of information we encounter in our daily lives. Some of them cause anxiety, so I am now avoiding these kinds of information, such as newspapers and TV. Indeed, this makes me feel much more at ease, but I occasionally feel that I may be isolating myself. Is that OK?

MASTER: Newspapers and other sorts of information from the media are not perfect, are they? What is even more concerning is that we partially absorb this imperfect information. In addition to that, whether or not the content of that information is truly necessary must be carefully considered. I think that there is nothing other than Yoga that can provide you the most important, most crucial information (laughs). In other words, establish your true Self: understand what your true Self is, learn about it, and realize It—there is nothing you need other than that.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): How about interacting with other people?

MASTER: Interactions with people must be conducted with true sincerity. Therefore, dealing with people heart-to-heart through sincerity is the truest of interactions. In that sense, this will truly enable you to interact with good people.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): So it’s not about choosing who you like to interact with.

MASTER: No matter where you place the dividing line between likes and dislikes, as I mentioned just now, you will be able to interact with people who can interact heart-to-heart.

When it comes to radio and TV and other types of media, everyone tunes in with their minds. It is the same regardless of whether you watch a public channel or a commercial channel. So, if you change yourself, the sources of information and the content of the information change along with you. Therefore, this means that you will naturally be able to tune into good people. You can keep on living even if you completely ignore the news.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): Yes. So, it is unnecessary.

 (Silence continues for a while. Then, Ms. Shibasaki suddenly speaks up again as if she has just remembered something.)

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The Four Yoga: As One Deepens The Others Follow Suit

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): I have heard that there are four kinds of yoga. Are there any borders between them? Are they completely separate from each other?

MASTER: If you see only their surface appearance, Yoga is divided into four, but if one becomes deeper, the other three will deepen as well.

To explain these four in simple terms, the first is raja yoga. It has to do with controlling the prana through the actual use of the physical body and then controlling the mind. The method of controlling the mind is mainly through the approach of meditation, in which you eliminate the impurities within the mind, such as pain-bearing obstacles, ignorance and ego. This is the central practice [of raja yoga].

Next is jnana yoga. It is about mastering through actual experience the teaching that the Truth—which is called the true Self, Truth, Soul, or Atman—is the only Reality, and everything else is changing like an illusion; so you should renounce those things so that you won't be caught up by them. How do you master this through experience? Its [realization is] perfected through raja yoga. If one can realize jnana yoga immediately, it means that, already, there is no more ignorance or ego. But if there are still unresolved areas, then one must discriminate and renounce them. That is the approach that is pursued in raja yoga as well. So raja yoga and jnana yoga are the same, and the result, which is Satori itself, is referred to as jnana yoga, you might say. And that is also the result of raja yoga.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): Must we practice all four yoga?

MASTER: No, they need not necessarily be practiced. For example, as you make the mind completely pure and unmoving by applying the teachings of raja yoga, the results from the other yoga will emerge. So, even through only one of them this is possible. I mentioned two kinds just now. Additionally, there are bhakti yoga and karma yoga.

Bhakti yoga is faith, generally defined as pure faith towards God. In this yoga, by correctly learning what God is, one comes to know that God is the only Reality; that we, all beings and things, are, so to say, playmates of God, and that the One Reality called God takes on the myriad forms of creation, albeit with limitations. Therefore, love that God and offer pure faith [to God]. There is only That and nothing other than That. To attain that state—that is bhakti yoga. This yoga does not require physical training, nor does it require anything else at all, as long as you have this pure faith quite intensely.

Karma yoga is the complete cessation of selfish thoughts and deeds, and it means to act by dedicating your heart only to the benefit of others, for their joy and happiness. It is to dedicate yourself to that entirely.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): How is it determined that one should dedicate oneself completely to jnana yoga, for example?

MASTER: They are divided according to the mind’s temperaments, to a certain extent. For example, an active person may excel at karma yoga. He or she needs no justification [for taking action] and is active and good at just being in action. For someone who is deeply emotional, faith and love towards God will occupy most of that person's mind.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): Is it something I can just find out for myself?

MASTER: Everyone has these elements to a certain degree, more or less. As I said just a moment ago, especially if a person excels in one of these yoga and if that one comes to supersede everything else, then that person takes only one path, or proceeds according to his or her temperament. However, in general, the easier approach is to use all the elements, which are present in everyone, and combine them so that they enhance one another.

Another point is that in jnana yoga, bhakti yoga, and karma yoga, the results and the methods, or the steps in approaching [the goal], are the same. In jnana yoga, one repeatedly discriminates between Atman as the only Truth and everything else as being like an illusion, and then one realizes the conclusion of this. [The Jnani] realizes It thoroughly and completely. In bhakti yoga, too, the approach and the result are the same: one has pure faith toward God, loves God, and then becomes one with God. From the initial approach in karma yoga, which is to extinguish individualistic and self-beneficial actions and thoughts and to act for the benefit of others or for others’ good, the action and the result are also the same. Only raja yoga contains the approach that deals with eliminating pain-bearing obstacles and the ignorance within the mind, which obstruct [these results]. The result of raja yoga will eventually arrive at one of the other three yoga I mentioned earlier. So, raja yoga lays out a step-by-step approach from the mind’s perspective. In the other three yoga there are no steps, but the degrees to which they each manifest deepens little by little. That is why if you practice raja yoga along with them during that process, your progress will be smoother and faster.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): How about asana? As long as one practices asana, then one progresses in that direction?

MASTER: Asana is a part of raja yoga.

Yoga is divided into four [streams], but when raja yoga reaches the state in which the mind stops, or when it becomes as if it were empty or transparent, which marks the completion of raja yoga, the true Self is realized. It is, in other words, awakening into Atman in jnana yoga—the self wakes up to the Self. That which is called Atman is nothing other than God in bhakti yoga, and, at the same time, it is each and every being and thing. And there is only That. Only That is Reality. And, in karma yoga, it must be performed not as a practice for oneself, but rather, as complete self-abnegation from beginning to end, from head to toe; it must be performed only for others. Because it is therein that God alone exists. In other words, only Atman exists. That is the ultimate, the goal of karma yoga.

So whether you call it Atman or God or Others, they all indicate the same thing. Therefore, all four yoga, ultimately, are one.

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The Yuga And The Cycle of Time

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): I heard that the time we are living in now is spiritually some kind of yuga. In this case, is it difficult to become free in this particular yuga compared to other yuga?

MASTER: Yes. The concept of time, or rather, the calculation of time, is understood to be linear, beginning with the Big Bang and eventually ending in the apparent disappearance of the Sun and the universe. However, if the Big Bang happened and generated the universe, it means that there must have been another similar universe before it. The next time when the Solar System one day disappears, it will revert to a subtler form, however, there should be a new Big Bang. Just like all beings and things are born and then die, and are then born again. But because each being has a much different span of time, or longevity, it may not be possible for our mental capacity to calculate time. Yet, if we follow the rule that all beings and things repeat the cycle of birth and death and regeneration, then there must not be any exceptions to this law, and it can be inferred that even this universe goes through the same cycle, although the time span is very long. Therefore, time is not moving in a linear direction, or working in one direction, but it is drawing a spiral or a circle. And not only that, it is more correct to understand it as an image of a moving spiral. In the course of this ring of time, there are good times and bad times. In seasons, there are hot times and cold times. In life, there are good times and bad times. Even in nature it is the same; there are good times and times of disaster. Everything in the world that falls under nature goes through these relative states repeatedly. Then, in history there must also have been good times and bad times. Even if it is relative, it can be understood in that way. So according to the calculations of the ancient sages in India, we entered into the worst time cycle about 2500-2600 years ago, when Buddha appeared or even a little earlier. That type of thinking spread [in Japan] through Buddhism as “the degenerate age,” meaning the end times, or the worst era. This type of aversion to the world or pessimistic view became very popular during the Heian period in Japan [circa 794 – 1192AD]. And even now, the era we live in is considered to be the degenerate times. So then, when were the good times? According to one theory, it has been calculated that it takes 5,670,000,000 years to cycle between the good times and the bad times (laughing), so it was an unimaginably long time ago. It is thought that since then, the good times, the good events have come to be fewer and fewer, while, on the other hand, bad events have begun to increase and the world has become more relative.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): Does “The End of the World” exist? Is that view of the degenerate age true?

MASTER: It is, so to say, in a relative sense. Even “good” is relative. So it does not mean that there is an age in which people do not die in a heaven or a hell. The longevity of people changes according to the era and the surrounding environment. You can see that from the fact that Japanese people from a hundred years ago only lived to be 50, but now they live to be 80. That has changed in relative terms, but that does not mean that we never die. You never know, in the future 150 years old could possibly be the norm. Therefore, you can simply understand it as one of the theories or concepts, and that is all there is to it.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): What about fear...

MASTER: There is no need to fear. Whether good or bad, if you hadn’t experienced good things, then you wouldn’t know bad things. And if you hadn’t experienced the bad, then you wouldn’t even know if it is really good or not. After all, the mind is deluded and imagining the content of what it means to be good or bad. If you were actually living an extremely long time ago and remembered events from the good times, then perhaps you would feel that the current era is bad, but if you only know this era, then you can’t really know whether it’s good or bad. At least, based on the knowledge of recorded history that we can acquire, things haven’t really been all that different.

I heard that the other day you bought another scripture. How is it?

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): I am grasping it a little at a time, yes.

MASTER: That’s perfectly fine.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): I am stuck at “Raja Yoga,” still trying to understand the terminology...even [trying to understand that] of “Bhakti Yoga."

MASTER: That’s fine. If something eludes you, ask Mr. Hotta or Chetaka. If you have some questions (laughs), just start by asking whoever is nearby. There is no need to fear or be anxious and no need to struggle or be bothered by anything.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): Yes. What if I get stuck in my thinking?

MASTER: Check it against the Truth to see whether it is Truth or not.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): Does that mean to meditate?

MASTER: First, you must learn the Truth. If you only had struggles but no Truth, then it would be one-sided, so learn the Truth, and reflect deeply on both—which is right? That eventually becomes meditation. So, think of meditation as an inquiry by which to consider whether something is true or not.

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The Transparent Mind Comes Through Its Study And Restraint

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): A while back, I used to learn yoga just a little, and in that yoga class there was time to meditate after asana, and I was told to make my mind empty, but while I was closing my eyes, I thought of so many unnecessary things. Is it possible to empty the mind?

MASTER: Yes you can. It is possible, but the mind’s nature is to be active. For instance, even while sleeping the mind is extremely active during dreaming. When one is in deep sleep and is not dreaming, then the mind is still active in the realm of emptiness, like a black hole. When you wake up, you can’t remember the scenery because the scenery itself was “empty,” but you can confirm that you were asleep. So the mind is never non-active. The mind itself cannot be in the state of nothingness, because the mind’s very characteristic is activity. It is easy to say “make the mind empty,” but it is extremely difficult to do so. Unless the nature of the mind or the mind itself is eliminated, or [in other words,] the mind itself stops its own activity, the mind cannot be empty. In deep sleep, the mind is simply submerged in the state of nothingness, but it is not real nothingness, rather the mind is acting empty, or you could say that the mind is acting toward the object of nothingness. Usually, even in zazen or yoga classes, it is easier to say “make the mind empty,” but it is like hypnotism and will only bring about relaxation. In order for the mind to become empty, as is its real origin, then the activity of the mind itself must be eliminated. The mind, as a kind of biological organ, is constantly in action. From the perspective of [yogic] psychology, it won’t stop because of the power of pain-bearing obstacles, ignorance, and ego. These generate karma and karma [in turn] becomes the actual, concrete cause of the activity. This means that they must all be eliminated. By making them into nothing, only then does the mind for the first time attain the state of nothingness.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): If one is able to bring about such a state, then it’s already freedom...

MASTER: Yes, that is so. That's why you can say that the series of consecutive steps of yoga are [all] important: asana, as well as learning the scriptures, and meditation, which is the most important part of this series of steps. That is the reason. And, if I may add, the mind is originally transparent. It just so happened that ego and ignorance were born, and this inevitably produced activities, that is, karma. So once you recognize these mistakes, you will be able to weaken the causes and gradually eliminate them. Thus, karmic activity will eventually no longer occur.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): It is transparent?

MASTER: Originally, it is transparent.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): I have heard that based on the laws of cause and effect, Yoga multiplies karma by zero. Is that because the mind no longer reacts to these things?

MASTER: Yes, it will no longer react. The reason why reactions occur is because there are [psychological] causes of these reactions. When the mind no longer possesses the cause of being affected [by external things], then it will no longer experience them.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): Causes are desires?

MASTER: Yes. Desires, pain-bearing obstacles, ignorance and ego.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): If one is practicing Yoga, will they be reduced?

MASTER: Yes, they will be reduced, and since they are produced by errors, or ignorance, they will be eliminated. Or you will eliminate them. That is the great purpose of Yoga.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): Do I have to make my desires absolutely zero? Unless desires are completely eliminated, will I not become free? (MASTER: Yes.) I can’t even have an inkling left?

MASTER: When the word “desire” is used, usually it is in a negative context, so in that case, it is so. However, if you define desire as anything that the mind wishes, then some differences exist based on whether the desire bears pain or not, whether it is based on ignorance or contains selfish desires, or if it is a desire that benefits others, which may not even be called a desire.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): Is it fine to have the desire to benefit others?

MASTER: Yes, if it is truly to benefit others only. If there is no selfish benefit to the action that benefits others (laughing).

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): There are situations when I think that I’m serving others, but that may not be the case...

MASTER: Yes. For example, if the mind derives satisfaction from it, or the mind creates a value system based on it, that’s not good. If that happens, even the external action to benefit others is selfish.

Therefore, as I mentioned before about Yoga, unless the mind is truly pure, there cannot be an action that truly benefits others. To that end, there are four yoga [that you should practice]: practice raja yoga, which internally makes the mind transparent and pure, as your foundation, then practice seeing Atman, or God, as the only one Reality, within oneself as well as without. If you do so, then karma yoga will be performed within the One.

Ms. Shibasaki (Yukti): Yes.

(Today, there was very active questioning. The first thing we have to do is to follow the teachings of Yoga and practice yogic actions diligently for ourselves.)

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Testimonies from Actual Practitioners:


Buddha’s Enlightenment—The Twelvefold Dependent Originations

Translation from article by Koji Hotta1
Kyoto, Japan

One of the most well known teachings of the Buddha is called “The Twelvefold Dependent Originations.” The meaning of the original word “pratītyasamutpāda” in Sanskrit is “originating as dependent [upon another condition],” or in other words, that a certain condition causes another one.

“All suffering, such as old age and death, originates in being born. Being born has its cause in existence. Existence has its cause in grasping and taking possession. Grasping and taking possession have their cause in craving. Craving has its cause in perceiving sensory input. Perceiving sensory input has its cause in sensory contact. Sensory contact has its cause in the six sensory functions—sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch, and thought. The six sensory functions have their cause in name and form. Name and form have their cause in the recognition of a subject. The recognition of a subject has its cause in name and form. (Name and form and the recognition of a subject are interdependent.) The recognition of a subject has its cause in subliminal tendencies. Subliminal tendencies have their cause in ignorance, which is seeing the non-eternal as eternal and seeing the non-self as the Self.”

Traditionally, it has been expressed as such:

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

This teaching has variations in which there are only ten elements instead of twelve, so it has not always been taught in the same form. Even so, it has been included in what is considered to be the oldest scripture, and most likely Buddha himself taught it in such a manner. Nevertheless, considering the fact that it appears to be overly formulaic and cryptic, that is, it is not easy to understand what the words mean simply by hearing them, I therefore assume that this was an attempt to concisely organize Buddha’s direct teachings into a mnemonic device. Even up to the present day, many scholars have attempted to interpret this teaching philosophically, however, because they viewed it as one philosophical system and could not go beyond their own preconceived notions, this teaching has not easily lent itself to becoming a living teaching that can actually be put into daily practice. I understand that I myself have my own prejudices, but being a Yoga practitioner, a seeker, I wish to decipher this teaching.

First, the unique characteristic of this teaching of Buddha is its way of thinking about “Cause and Effect.” Regardless of who we are, we tend to look for a cause when we experience difficulty or discomfort. Yet, in the teaching of Buddha, the method of searching for that cause, and the concept of “cause” itself, is completely different. For example, it is common to think that, “Getting old or dying is terrible,” with the resulting conclusion being, “So, I need to stay healthy,” or, “I’m going to procure a medicine that will let me stay young and live longer.” In most cases, people will live without facing this fact as they continue to deceive themselves by thinking that, “It’s inevitable that we have to die or grow old. It’s scary, but I just won’t think about it.” However, Buddha must have thought otherwise and struggled against this inevitable problem: “No matter how pleasurable life is as a prince, that life will have to come to an end, and even worse, a prince could get mired in the fear of losing it all at any moment. Even if one is a king or a prince, old age and disease and, eventually, death, come to all. The ancient, glorious capital city and its kings and princes are now forgotten, turned to dust. Regardless of what I am now, nothing will remain or be remembered after death. Does this life have any meaning? Finally, after struggling and chasing after desires, one day, all will suddenly be lost. What is more, even while chasing these desires, always worrying about loss or failure, there is no peace of mind. What is the cause of this suffering?” Buddha thought, “It is because one is born that death is scary. If one had not been born at all, then there would be no emotion toward death. It is because one has something that one is afraid of losing it. If one didn’t own anything to begin with, then there would be nothing to lose.” This bold way of thinking is the means by which he drew nearer to the cause. Indeed, that way of thinking is exactly right. We take it for granted that we have to live our lives, and we attempt to solve problems with that assumption. But Buddha wanted to eradicate suffering completely from the roots. For him, living life would not be the underlying presumption. On the contrary, he says that living itself is suffering. Instead of viewing cause and effect from within the world, such as saying, “That person’s insults made me feel discomfort,” he thought that, “If there is no mind to react to insults, then discomfort cannot arise.” Rather than running around in the world looking for something suitable to blame, he did not accept any presumptions, including the existence of "I” or the way of existing; he attempted to find the true cause. In this sense, this “origination” is entirely different from the conventional definition of cause and effect.

The cause of all suffering, such as old age and death, lies in having been born. To be living as a separate, individual existence—that is the cause. Individual existence inevitably has its limitations, birth and death. In order to maintain that existence, one brings profit to oneself while taking it away from others. That is why suffering occurs. Having the craving for life, the craving to maintain the body as one individual existence, causes one to attract various things, which is why this individual existence becomes even more pronounced. A person who does not think of profiting for himself by taking from others, or does not think of how his own self is better or worse than others, is most likely someone with low self-awareness. The extent might vary depending on the person, however, Buddha thought about eliminating self-awareness entirely. That is to say, he attempted to stop being an individual existence, to discard all individuality. First, he threw away all his possessions. The reason being that if he had remained surrounded by them, they would have made the self stand out. He also discarded the awareness of, “I am this” and “I am that.” These are internal possessions. And, ultimately, he even renounced the will to live, the very will to exist! That is why he taught nirvana, the state of being in which one is no longer counted as an existence, as if the flame of a candle had been blown out.

These causes and effects that are taught here are not based in a chronological progression. Obviously, birth existed before death. However, that does not mean that there is an individual existence before birth, nor is there a craving for life before existence. As I mentioned earlier, if you view it from that standpoint, you will misunderstand this teaching. The way he taught it was to delve deeper into the innermost layers; so it does not mean that there is sensation before existence. All of the twelve originations are happening here and now. The craving for one’s very life and existence is the mind’s desire. Even if it is called a fundamental instinct, it still pertains to the desire of an individual human being. The act of trying to attract “my things,” including the existence of “me,” is undertaken through the senses, which include thought. We incessantly think, “I want this, I want to keep being this way.” We are attempting to hold onto that ideal “me.” “Not having is uncomfortable, not being is a bad thing, so I want to attract things to myself more and more, I want to possess this and that and be a respectable me.” That is what is being done through the use of the human senses. And that is suffering. That is a never-ending morass of a battle. That is a battle in which you can never find contentment—always full of complaint and never satisfied. When will it end? Will it end when you get a new car? Will it end when you attain an honorable status? It will end in death, won’t it? Could you finally give it all up if this imagery projected on the screen of life were suddenly cut off? Whether you can give it all up or not, you are forced to do so like pigs being hauled off to the slaughter. Through the senses, you crave for “me” and “mine” and acquire objects to shape that sense of “me” and “mine.” You fall into the bottomless, muddy pit. People are fully dependent on their six senses, which they are unconsciously provided with even though they haven’t voluntarily chosen to have them. If we had eyes that could see ultraviolet rays, perhaps different desires would exist. If we could smell electric waves, then perhaps very different businesses would have developed. We laugh at the moths flying frantically into a burning fire, and yet, as “summer bugs plunge into fire of their own accord, so a fool hunts for misfortune.” Our senses, our instincts, are no different from theirs, are they? Even though we don’t know why we are attracted to shiny things, we charge towards them for no reason, not knowing that they will kill us. Comfort, discomfort, and so on—they are all completely dependent on the senses. There could be other kinds of sensuous pleasures and stimuli, but we seek after the same specific joys. Just like the moths flying into the fire, we are bound and not free. We are slaves to our senses, completely ignorant. We have no idea what must be done, and we continue to charge headlong into suffering. Like the moths diving into the fire, we also possess similar subconscious tendencies. We are in no position to laugh at the moths. People think they must work hard in order to earn a living and often overwork and endanger their lives, destroy their families or lose themselves in the process. Is that really beneficial to us? Have we not mistaken what the “I” is? Are we mistakenly thinking we are something we are not? Status, money, I am so-and-so belonging to here and there—these are simply attributes. How do we answer when we are asked, “Then, who are you?” We are hoping for something by seeing “the non-eternal as eternal” and “the non-self as the Self,” aren’t we? As the moths believe fire is good for them, or even instinctively fly into the fire before believing, we, too, are mistaken. It is ignorance that will never shine light upon the Truth. It is like charging blindly. We are struggling in the dark by obeying the orders that come from the six senses of “me,” and therefore we lose ourselves in them; we have devolved into a miserable existence.

We are free—in our very essence. One can be emancipated from the world, the senses, one’s thoughts and existence. Buddha says, “I am not different,” and he also says, “Nobody is to be free on account of others.” Buddha was a doctor. He made an accurate diagnosis, wrote the prescription, and even gave us the medicine. However, if we don’t follow the doctor’s orders, then not even Buddha can help. A patient must rely on his or her own recuperative powers to become healthy again; there is no other way. Everything is laid out in front of us. We have the possibility. It is not about gaining something. But rather, it is about casting the veil of ignorance to the ground. The Truth is here. It is eternal and It is universal. It cannot possibly NOT exist right now, at this moment and in this place. We shall cast aside the dark ignorance devoid of Truth, and we shall not be fettered by petty things such as human instinct or individual characteristics. These subliminal tendencies create the separate distinctions of the world, which consist of name and form. We shall be free at last when we can see absolutely no differences based on various names or forms and love all existence as nothing other than our eternal, universal Self. And then, we will no longer be “we,” but we will be the eternal, the one and only, the true “I.” And that time is now. Now, this moment, is It. Buddha’s compassion is omnipresent even right now. We are that love. Our essence is eternal, infinite, universal. It is That, which is indescribable. Buddha did not specifically call it “Atman” (the Self). It is something that cannot be defined as “my own self” or “others”—something that is beyond these distinctions, something that exists here and now. When referring to that which is transcendental yet not far away, Buddha indicated that it is “nothing unique.” We peel off the veil of “me” and “mine,” and now we can realize the true Self. We will know that It had neither beginning nor end, that “I am That.” No more diving into the fire. We were already free. Eternally free.


1 This article was written in 1998 by Mr. Hotta who is now called Sanatana.

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