Today’s Satsangha came about due to the keen desire to learn more and more about meditation shared by the students who have recently begun to experience the meditation classes. Several women from Osaka were also present, accompanied by Madhavi. Among the attendees were a few people who had started their own study group and continued to meditate together after the program of meditation classes ended. Ms. Fuko, one of the participants of the “Yoga with Mother’s Group” in Kyoto, led by Ms. Hiraoka (Amara), is also attending for the first time.
After all of the participants, the majority of whom are new, introduce themselves, Shri Mahayogi says, “Well, we can begin without much further ado. Are there any questions?” Everyone seems quite nervous, but Ms. Fuko shyly begins to speak, supported by Ms. Hiraoka (Amara), about the sensations experienced during meditation.
Ms. Fuko: As I continue to let all the thoughts pass by, in an effort to make the mind empty, at times there is a sensation that I am floating away, just as if the wind were blowing me. Is that meditation?
MASTER: Roughly speaking, it is one of the experiences in meditation, but more precisely speaking, prior to meditation there is a process you initiate by concentrating on some object. In India, the object of meditation is often one of the Gods—it doesn’t necessarily have to be God—but you concentrate on a certain object. Once that concentration deepens, it will seem like one is entering the realm of the essence of that object, and sensation expands in an unusual way. That state is called meditation, strictly speaking. That is still not the end; when that goes deeper, then it is as if the essence of the object and one’s self merge into One, or in other words, one will experience a sense of Oneness. That is the step beyond meditation, called samadhi in India. Basically, it is the state in which it is as if you become One with that essence. Eventually, when coming back from that state, one returns with the firm impression of having experienced the essence [of the object]. To sum it up, it doesn’t matter what the object is, but if you are wondering about the essence of an object, and let’s say that object was God, then if you continue to concentrate on the essence of that God, even if you have no idea what that is, eventually, the realm of that God expands and you become One with that God, grasp that essence, or rather, experience, or taste it, and then return from meditation with it. The whole process of concentration, meditation, and samadhi—although psychologically speaking each one entails slightly different states of mind—is often combined into one and called meditation.
In [Japanese] Buddhism, meditation is called “Zen.” Zen is the phonetic translation of dhyana in Sanskrit. The word “dhyana” was imported to China, where it was called jhana, then eventually it was imported to Japan as Zen. The word “meditation” is the modern literal translation, so both Zen and meditation mean the same thing.
This state of meditation is something that everyone does to a certain extent in daily life. When you are thinking about the subject of your study and trying to find the answer, or concentrating upon a difficult task at work, these moments are a sort of glimpse into meditation, so to speak. Also, there are various things in our daily lives that we inevitably experience, and as the mind suffers or becomes anxious from each and every emotional up and down, naturally, in response to this we meditate on it in some way in order to get to the essence of it. In Yoga, especially in our practice, we are grappling with the ultimate theme of clarifying the meaning of life, the essence of this existence itself.
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Indeed, once we are born, we all strive to be happy. Nevertheless, once you go out there into the world, you realize that things simply don’t go the way you imagine. Also, even if one does attain the happiness or freedom that the mind wishes for, it isn’t very clear whether that truly has ultimate, absolute meaning or value. There may be times when you experience temporal, fleeting happiness; however, as soon as the situation changes, happiness can turn into unhappiness—suffering, sadness. So then why does that happen? Looking around at your friends and siblings, you might find that their situations appear to be similar to yours, yet there are various differences. Why does one person look happy, while another looks unhappy? These problems in life were thoroughly considered by the ancients of India. Even if you are a set of twins, your lives do not happen in exactly the same way. We can’t just pin the difference on genetics or on the environment. There is an individual character, an identity as a human being, even with twins. Then where do these differences come from? It can be concluded that they probably came about as a result of differences in their past lives, so even if they look the same, as identical twins do, and were raised in the same way, the results will differ—this is called karma. Karma is a popular word nowadays and you may know about it, but in ancient Japanese Buddhism, it has been translated as “goh [業=deed/work].” This means “action.” There is good karma and bad karma. In sum, just as Jesus said, “One shall reap what one sows,” one must receive the results of the causes one has created. This is the law of cause and effect. It is the same in physics, from what I’ve heard. The amount of energy that is put in creates an equal output—it is like the physics of the mind. This is science; it is called psychology.
And so, this is the work by which to find the answer to the highest, greatest, ultimate questions of what real happiness is, who the true Self is, and what the essence of the entire universe is. The organized system which has these things as its principal subject matter, and which has been arranged with the goal of realizing them, is Yoga. The history of Yoga is very ancient, and it is said that it was already organized before the time of Shakyamuni. It is theorized that Shakyamuni was a supremely perfected yogi. Within Yoga, there are many types [of practices] due to the various teachings accumulated over the past two to three thousand years, but meditation is the most representative, central method.
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Another thing to point out is that one of the special characteristics of Yoga is that it has focused on the connection between the mind, the breath, and the body; and Yoga has elucidated the correlations between them through actual self-experimentation, while, at the same time, developing the method by which to control them, which is asana—even though it may appear to be like an exercise. If you practice asana thoroughly, the breath transforms. The breath is a part of the autonomic nervous system, so regardless of whether the mind wants it to behave in one way or another, it reacts to the slightest stimulus and cannot be so easily controlled. This is how the autonomic nervous system works. For example, when one is excited, the breath becomes intense. But if, to the contrary, you can calm the breath, then consequently the mind becomes calm as well. But be that as it may, it is very difficult to control both the mind and the breath using the mind. You can get so easily tangled up in emotion that the breath is not easy to control.
Mind, breath, and body can be likened to wind, water, and ice. If you consider the fact that they are all H2O, they are gas, liquid, and solid. You cannot grasp a gas, or the wind. Nor can you grasp water—that requires a vessel. However, if it is ice, then it is easy to grasp. So that is what the body can be likened to. And that is [what] asana [deals with], the easiest to handle and control out of these three states. That is why you first control the body, which is comparable to ice. Once you do that, the breath within the vessel of the body can then be captured. Once the breath is transformed, then the mind settles down and becomes easier to capture. That is the general process. The reason we need to control the mind is [related to] the past karma—or, we more commonly say, the “personality”—and the “personality,” or habits of the mind can be seen as karma, for example, “I have this habit,” “I have that habit,” or “I have such and such a personality.” However, it is preferable to keep them neutral. The reason for this is that when you meditate or concentrate it is difficult to practice if the mind is agitated and disturbed. Since concentration exerts enormous power, it is ideal to point the mind in a neutral condition towards the object of concentration, and for that purpose, it is best that the mind be calm, that it be under control. Working backwards from the goal, it is best to have the breath under control, and in order to have the breath under control, it is best to bring the body under control.
You might have an idea of what one of the most commonly known poses for meditation is (pointing to his own siddhasana), this type of sitting, zazen form. If one can sit like this calmly, then that means it is under control. One can then sit in this way, whether it be for several minutes or many hours. However, if the mind gets a bit upset or excited, if it moves around in response to stimulation, then this form breaks. Therefore, the purpose of asana is to prevent that from happening, and it is through putting the body into various forms that ultimately one is able to sit comfortably in simple forms (like siddhasana). Of course, while you are training, if you have weaknesses or tend to get ill, these things will gradually be healed, and a healthy, sturdy body will be created. This means that the power to heal yourself will be unleashed.
You may have heard about the chakra. There are seven chakra—which are like [acupressure] points in traditional Chinese medicine—and these points are also related to the nerve plexus, the focal intersection of the nerves—and these centers are thought of as existing within the spine. This too is possible to confirm through meditation (smiling). These centers are located at seven points starting from the tailbone to the top of the head. The chakra around the heart is related to the respiratory system, the one around the navel is related to the digestive system and its functions, and the other two, which are below that at the reproductive organs and tailbone area, are related to the excretory functions. And so asana creates forms that concentrate on a respective chakra; therefore, asana can heal weakened functions, or improve those functions even more. From the perspective of Yoga, this has a very scientific effect. [Asana can offer us great benefits,] however, there are people who are healthy or whose bodies are strong to begin with. In Yoga, the ideal is not only that [of remaining healthy], though not to the extent of creating an immortal body (everyone laughs), but to create a strong body and to then be comfortable at all times. That is the worldview, or an overview, of Yoga.
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What is most crucial is, as I mentioned initially—what is it that you seek? It is true happiness, in its truest sense, which is never accompanied by unhappiness or sadness (emphasizes)—it is absolute. You don’t need temporary happiness, because those things are relative and differ depending on the individual, so there is nothing more to it than that. Be not satisfied with these. Yearn for what is real.
Another important object [of your inquiry], is to boil it down to: who is that true Self after all? I think that everyone normally perceives his or her own self to be this vague thing that includes this body, this character and various other elements. However, and it might sound a bit shocking to hear this, but I must tell you, in actuality that is not the true Self (Shri Mahayogi and everyone laugh). Everyone may be surprised by this. But if you think about it, you can realize that everyone thinks of themselves as the first person, “I.” Whether you are a man, a woman, a child, or an old person, everyone’s first person is “I.” It’s a mere word, a pronoun that indicates the first person. Then who is that “I”? What is it? If you say, “I’m a child,” you will no longer be one after ten years. If you say, “I’m a woman,” or “I’m a girl,” with that, too, in ten years you may become a mother. Many years later, you’ll be a grandmother. That simply means that it is just the terminology that changes. Nevertheless, most of the mind’s delusions come from believing that these conditions are your Self—thinking, “I’m this way” or “I’m like that,” or equating yourself with your titles, or thinking you are happy or unhappy depending on the situation and identifying yourself with that. All of these are merely explanations for certain situations, but are not the true Self. So, then you may ask, “If that is so, where in fact does my ‘I’ exist?” Then, going further, who is it that knows what the mind is thinking? The mind is constantly moving. It is constantly moving from one thing to another, from making up various thoughts and receiving various stimuli. However, it is known by something else. Who is this “knower”? This leads to the answer that there is something that is unmovable there. The thing that is moving cannot recognize for itself what exactly it is that is moving with it. A vehicle that is moving cannot recognize that it is moving if everything else is moving in exactly the same way. But from unmovable stillness, you can recognize that something is moving, and whether it is moving rapidly or slowly. Therefore, there is something that is unmoving, or rather, there is a consciousness that exists. That is to say, a consciousness exists that knows the mind—even now.
Right now, you can recognize that, “Oh, I’m listening to this talk. I’m understanding these things,” I think. That is because of the consciousness deep within the mind that knows this. That consciousness is the consciousness of Purity itself, which is like light. The mind is like a screen that filters it, and various things change and move upon the screen. However, when the light hits the screen, these things are illuminated. So then one understands that it is the mind that is saying one thing or another. This mechanism has been discovered [in Yoga]. This Pure Consciousness is the true Self! This true Self can be likened to light, and it is silent. It does not claim, “I am light.” It is the existence that is simply seeing the mind, that is seeing the world through the mind, witnessing or knowing, and that is all. However, this Existence, which is the Pure Consciousness, is an Immortal, Indestructible Existence—which means it’s an Eternal Existence. At times, it is called “the soul,” but since this Pure Consciousness was never born, it will therefore never die.
The body was born, right? That means that one day it will eventually die. This is inevitable. If you consider the mind, thoughts are born too, and eventually these thoughts change and disappear over time. [In this way,] since the mind is constantly changing, it must have been born at one point. So, there will be a time when the mind dies. Nevertheless, since it is true that various thoughts keep coming up one after another, it is difficult to welcome the demise of the mind, but in Yoga we work to bring about its demise; we train the mind such that the workings of the mind are no longer necessary. These are the kinds of things that are done in meditation. The essential point is, the true Self is not the agitated and unsettled mind, but the Existence, which is the essence behind it. That is the true Self, that is the Eternal Existence. That is the only irrefutable, certain Existence, called Reality.
Words like Existence or Reality are very difficult to explain. I am not even sure that such words are truly appropriate, but they are the closest, so they are inevitably used. We say that this physical body exists. Indeed, it exists on this earth, right now. Yet it is said that the billions of cells within it may be completely refreshed in two weeks. That means that the cells that exist right now cease to exist after two weeks. From a scientific perspective, their existence is gone. In the same way, existence, whatever it may be, whether a cityscape, or the galaxies across this universe, such existences are all changing second by second, and in an instant, that which exists can become non-existent. However, the five senses of a human being cannot perceive these gigantic galaxies, nor can they see microscopic things. As this eye can only see the seven colors of the rainbow, it can only see the scope of what appears in front of it by coincidence. It is the same with sounds, which can only be heard when we are in their vicinity. We know that there are animals that can see even infrared and ultraviolet rays, and there are many living creatures that have much more developed hearing than humans. So it is incorrect to think that only the knowledge of humans is perfect or complete. This means that humans, too, are merely a part [of the whole]. When you think about that, you can recognize that even the characteristics of the mind are imperfect creations based upon various experiences that are had after we are born—all characteristics and knowledge differ among various individuals, of course, and not only that, they are all imperfect. No matter how you cram in knowledge from all the encyclopedias and books, from all the libraries across the world, it does not help. This leads us to the question—then what really is the mind?
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I will tell you an interesting story. The search for Truth and the realization of It can be likened to this: think of it as a plot in which the mind and the true “I”—the true Self—act as if they are mingled together, unable to be distinguished from one another. A scenario is then created in which the mind is at first made to suffer, so that it eventually becomes weary of the suffering and begins to seek true happiness, yearning to escape from this suffering. The real purpose or intention behind this scenario is that by going through this, one gradually comes to realize the original role of the mind, and the Truth of the true Self. Another word for that true Self, or the first person “I,” is “the principal,” which is the subject, and therefore the Master. Normally, you may think that the mind is the master, and that the limbs move according to how the mind wants them to move, and that the mind sends signals to various places. So, for instance, the body’s relationship towards the master appears to be that of the relationship between master and servant. However, in Yoga, the true Master, as mentioned earlier, is Existence as Consciousness. So, then what about the mind? It is the servant. (Everyone simultaneously whispers “Oh...” and laughs.) Since the mind does not know the true Self, it believes that the mind is the master, and that is called “ego.”
Visitor: Does that mean that the soul is the Master?
MASTER: (smiling brightly) Yes. Exactly. Since the soul does not have form, it cannot be seen if the body is dissected, and thus it has tended to be relegated to the realm of religion and faith. However, it is clearly cosmic science. It is cosmic science, and it is life science and biology as well. Of course, not only humans, but every living being, and even the cosmos itself, has a soul; they are all the same One, in which there cannot be two. Therefore, my soul and your soul are not separate things, but the same One.
MASTER: As in, the Essence. It is Existence, or the Reality that is without a second. It just so happens that [the material parts] are separated into many physical bodies. [The soul] is trapped in such forms, and the mind too is trapped, but when we gather together like this, you may feel a sense that the mind expands beyond the body and can communicate with others. In that, one mind is formed. However, the fact is that the soul goes beyond that and exists within every life form in the entire universe, and it truly exists as their essence—it Exists. It’s not because it says so in the ancient teachings, but it can be experienced—Experience. That is the real, ultimate theme that you most want to experience in meditation. It is surely possible, because that Soul, that Existence, exists within you. Once you understand that It is the true Master, then the body and mind too will understand their place as servants, and the mind will no longer assert the wrong thing, which is the ego. Then the mind, without insisting that it is the master, will work and accept its role accordingly.
(To be continued in the next issue...)
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There is a constant yearning inside of me to do as much work for the Mission in my life as possible.
However, since I’ve been reaching the peak of my career during the past several years, I’ve gotten very busy at work and it has often been taking up more and more of my physical strength and willpower. Since I consider all work, whether it be the Mission’s work or outside work, to be bestowed upon me by Shri Mahayogi, at times I thought that perhaps Shri Mahayogi does not want me to do the work of the Yoga Mission... that maybe it is better that I concentrate on working outside and making monetary contributions to the Mission... Yet, I still could not give up my yearning to do the Mission’s work, and I was perplexed by that concern.
One time, when I was struggling like this, I spoke to Shri Mahayogi about it. “Should I put more weight on the outside work?” Shri Mahayogi answered immediately, “Not at all!” And, understanding the thinking behind this right away, he said, “Right now, you may not be able to do just any work for the Mission, and you cannot transform all your work into the work of the Mission right now. However, you must yearn for that even more.” Then he said, “Even in my case, at the beginning I was holding Yoga Class while working. Later on, because so many people came to me saying they wanted to practice Yoga, without noticing it I ended up only teaching Yoga. It may take a little time, but nowadays, I’m so busy with just that.”
When I heard that, I thought, “I am not yearning enough yet.” Sometimes I think that, “There is very little that I can do. I don’t even have any exceptional talent or skills...” But then, I realized that it’s not about that, but it’s about the need to become more and more proactive, and make that simple yearning to do only the work of Yoga bigger and bigger.
After I spoke to Shri Mahayogi that day, I have been trying to have only that simple yearning, intensely. After I started to practice this way, I realized that we never know what situations present an opportunity to share Yoga with someone.
I’ve heard that when Shri Mahayogi went out, he always brought people back with him to learn Yoga. I totally understand that he is that captivating. Perhaps, if I can do a fraction of what he did, for example, coming to class, or even if it doesn’t connect to something concrete like that so quickly or directly, I can create as many opportunities as possible for people to find out about Yoga, and that is one of the works of the Mission as well. I thought that making that even bigger will allow me to be more involved in the work of the Mission, and that is something that anyone can do. When I think this way, I feel that every moment living my life itself can be used to advertise Yoga, and probably, by having this strong yearning, it will increase the chances of meeting people who are seeking Yoga.
My current and most concrete involvement with the Mission is mostly just the project of Samarasa (diet of yogi), and yet I have a very special feeling about this. Before I started to practice Yoga, I had lost the meaning and purpose of my life—what meaning does this monotonous daily life have? What was the difference between being alive and being dead, when all I did was work to survive, eat, and sleep, repeating the same cycle over and over again? Not only did encountering Yoga show me the meaning of life, of course, but I think that through going through the concrete practice of cooking while participating in the Kitchen of Samarasa, I have come to understand the universal teaching of Yoga.
Through this I noticed my own obsessions, sensed freedom by letting go of them, and learned about the fact that by concentrating on the task at hand, good work is possible—because cooking immediately shows the tangible results of our own actions, I was able to see this objectively and truly understand it, thus I was able to actually experience the teachings of Truth and understand them in the true sense, rather than only intellectually understanding them. Through the repetition of this process, my faith towards Yoga came to be reinforced.
What is the purpose of eating, and what is the purpose of work? When I found out the true meaning of this within each and every mundane, repetitious action in daily life, that daily life, which had been merely monotonous repetition up until then, began to repeat itself within joy, and my life transformed completely.
Samarasa uses cooking as an entryway to Yoga, but actually it transforms the “daily living” that one cannot cut oneself away from, and that is what takes everyone’s monotonous daily lives into a new step forward towards freedom—it teaches the way of living itself.
Through Samarasa, I also began to actually experience the preciousness of life, and the meaning of living life fully.
A while back, I had the opportunity to hear Shri Mahayogi talk about Samarasa. When he began by saying, “Samarasa is...,” all of a sudden, every single cell within myself began to intensely vibrate “Joy! Joy!” They exclaimed the joy of living. I could not control this level of Joy, and actually, I don’t remember anything that Shri Mahayogi said.
Yet, I sensed the meaning of life and the joy of existing, as a vibration, not in words. I want to share the Joy I felt at that moment with those who have not experienced it yet.
This Joy—that completely changed the life of this individual—I want as many people as possible to know It.
I will continue working for the Mission, only having pure thoughts firmly entrenched, so that I can keep emanating that Joy every time I recall the sensation of that moment.
Samarasa is a yogic term, and another word for samadhi, (the state of complete absorption). It can be translated as “same taste,” which indicates “tasting ultimate bliss.” (sama = equal/same, rasa = taste)
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Shri Mahayogi, thank you very much.
In the situation I was in at that time—I was helping manage the finances of my husband’s company, and, of course, I did the work of a house-wife, and I also worked at an obstetrician’s office. Because of that, I came into contact with the various unnecessary struggles that mothers encounter in this current society, such as infertility, domestic violence, and child abandonment. So even though the work my husband was doing for his company was so busy that I had to concentrate on supporting him in that, on a whim, based on nothing but my own inspiration, I started a non-profit organization back in 2004. At the time, I simply wanted to save these mothers and that was all, but I myself was still struggling in the dark.
Sometime later, I was fortunate enough to encounter Shri Mahayogi. Because I performed social services while taking care of my own family, there were not only financial issues, but of course, since this organization was begun without thoroughly thinking it through, there was my own lack of skill and ability, which arose from my own self-righteousness. Can I truly help others? I kept asking myself this. There were many days that I fell into despair, asking myself whether my power alone would be enough to make a difference.
However, as I encountered Shri Mahayogi and my intention to practice Yoga grew stronger, I went too far and would carelessly create too many classes on a whim, and over-extend myself. The operation began to falter, and when I was really trying to lean upon you, Shri Mahayogi, you reprimanded me: “It still hasn’t been well-prepared. In order to establish something, the right timing must be there. You sowed this result yourself.” To me these were very harsh words. However, it was an admonishment based on love. It was the big blow I needed to destroy my self-righteous perceptions. This opportunity led my mind, which had been facing outward, to turn inward for the first time, and, from that point forward, I began to look at myself, as well as to nurture true faith towards you.
Afterwards, the non-profit organization’s activity again encountered another big transition. My relationship towards the Mission became deeper and deeper, yet our staff did not correctly understand Yoga or the existence of the Master. They all attacked me, saying, “This is a cult [religion]...it’s wrong.” After struggling for quite some time, as the executive director, I announced to everyone, “If I truly wish these pregnant women to be truly happy, then I will have to walk the path of Yoga.” I declared my intention and committed myself to that. Many staff quit. However, a few staff that understood continued the steady activities of the organization persistently and quietly alongside me.
Shri Mahayogi always pours love over us, no matter how far away he is. The activities based on the teachings of Yoga by Shri Mahayogi—“Eternal Truth”—began to be supported by many people, to our surprise.
I learned that what is even more necessary than pitying the chaotic world, is to keep oneself abiding in the Pure Consciousness, and then I began to hear his voice, “Do not be fooled by conventional ideas or notions. Live in Yoga.” My wavering mind calmed down, and it became filled only with yearning and aspiration towards You.
At these times, Shri Mahayogi has let me feel his existence within each and every mother who was anxious and struggling with childrearing, and shown me the brightly shining life in every single one.
Alas!! Shri Mahayogi is omnipresent, always and everywhere, even now. Only You Exist. Everything, every living being within this universe, is truly You yourself.
I understood that Truth is given not only to renunciates who are able to devote their lives single-mindedly to Yoga practice, but it can also be given in the same way to householders. I am convinced that even a mother who is in the midst of raising a child can attain the Truth through experiencing the joy of loving one’s own child. Truly, I thank you very much.
These days, I am able to pass the baton to the younger staff when it comes to the practical works of the NPO, and the relationships within my family are so much happier and harmonious. And also, I have received sufficient wealth.
Shri Mahayogi congratulated me with a smile, saying, “It is very difficult to transition everything to the younger generation. But the baton passing went smoothly.”
In order to fulfill my wish that this life be used as your tool, and to be able to do this with everyone, I will continue to create sangha across various regions.
I will carry out our duty as householders to assist financially in disseminating “Sanatana Darma” to the next generation. And I offer my entire wealth to you.
Thank you so very much. I was just a housewife...(everyone laughs) I was initially envious of the first three students who learned directly from Shri Mahayogi while at his side. However, no matter how far away, Shri Mahayogi is always giving us love. We, the householders, must strive to transmit that love to those who are close to us, as well as bring in the people in the darkness to our vortex here. This body is old, but I will continue to make effort and keep on. (Everyone laughs)
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