It is the first public Satsangha during Shri Mahayogi’s visit to New York in the summer of 2017. Twenty-two attendees are gathered in one room in Ekanta’s apartment. The room is quiet yet filled with a joyous energy and the anticipation of the attendees, some of whom are attending for the very first time and others who are regulars. All are waiting to see Shri Mahayogi and for Satsangha to begin. Among the attendees are two new students: Elena, a friend of Ekanta, and Mr. A who found out about Shri Mahayogi some years ago but did not meet him until this visit. Ever since they met Shri Mahayogi for the first time at the Asana and Meditation class, they have been attending regularly and practicing only meditation during the class. This is the first opportunity these new attendees have had to directly ask Shri Mahayogi questions about the teaching. Gopala, who is visiting from Japan for one month, is also among the attendees. He is making a video recording of the Satsangha. All are waiting for the arrival of Yashoda, who will be the translator for the evening. As she arrives and takes her position in the front, the room is finally ready to receive Shri Mahayogi. Everyone stands and puts their palms together as they wait for Shri Mahayogi.
The door opens and Shri Mahayogi enters the room. He walks straight toward the back area of the room and takes a seat on the rug that has been placed there. All attendees sit and soon thereafter bow. Then the questions begin right away.
Elena Dempsey: I read in Satori that Shri Mahayogi recommends that we prepare ourselves before meditation by strengthening and preparing the body and the breath beforehand. Since I cannot do the asana practice right now, what would Shri Mahayogi recommend for me as my practice?
MASTER: What [the word] asana actually means is the seated posture. It is the method by which to lead one towards meditation, which is at the core of Yoga. As Yoga spread widely throughout the world, Yoga became available for everyone to practice. That includes people who may have weaknesses in their bodies, as well as people who get sick often. They need to get a healthy and strong body first. That is why so many different asana were created. As for the number, it is said that there are 84,000 asana, and it is also said that there are 84. But no matter how difficult or acrobatic the asana are, they are all meant to prepare yourself simply for sitting.
I have heard about your current physical condition. That’s why you are starting from sitting in the class, as you know. All the scriptures describe four superior asana out of the infinite number of asana. There are two among these four that are especially recommended. One is this position in which I am currently sitting, called siddhasana. Siddha means “one who is perfected or accomplished” or “the adept.” The other asana is called padmasana, the lotus. The characteristics of these two asana are that they enable you to create a strong position for sitting, and what’s more, you will be able to remain sitting comfortably for a very long time.
Another important point is that as you get accustomed to this particular position, your need to breathe will lessen. As the breath becomes very calm, this simultaneously brings about calmness in the mind. One enters into concentration and meditation with the mind being in such a condition of stillness. The purpose of Yoga is to calm and control the various activities and thoughts of the mind. If you can do that, the true Self or the Pure Consciousness that is already there within will awaken itself. So, Elena, you don’t need to be concerned about anything, even if you are not able to do other asana at all (smiling encouragingly).
Yajna: Along the same lines that we’ve been talking right now, because I’ve had hip replacement surgery I may never be able to sit in a good meditation posture, will my meditation progress be limited if I do my practice sitting in a chair?
MASTER: (without hesitation) [Practicing while sitting in a chair is] possible. The condition regarding the breath and the mind that I just mentioned is primarily related to the spine. As you keep the back straight, place the neck right above the spine, and the head right above the neck—by doing that you will find the point where the body can be supported effortlessly. That is very important—because it will bring about the stillness of the breath and the mind. In Japan, or in the East, since we have a lifestyle in which we more frequently sit on the floor, we are more accustomed to sitting like this; but in the West, chairs are predominately used. However, nowadays, westernization in Japan has progressed so much that most of the young people have a chair lifestyle (smiling and chuckling lightly). (Attendees laugh.) In fact, I learnt that in the West the tatami mats, which are the traditional Japanese [straw] mats, are becoming popular—but many of the tatami mats are disappearing from Japanese households. (Shri Mahayogi and attendees laugh.) Today, there is a young disciple here from Japan (smiling brightly towards the back of the room), and I presume his lifestyle was a chair lifestyle too. (Everyone turns to the back where Gopala, the young disciple, is sitting on a chair, video-taping. Shri Mahayogi and everyone laugh lightheartedly.)
back to top
Mr. A: I have a question about sanyama. It is called the three-in-one, and my question is: is it that there are three techniques one after another, or is it three all at once? And if it’s three all at once, can you give me an illustration, I don’t understand how you can have three such techniques at once, on one object, on one thing.
MASTER: The content of meditation is first, concentration, and then next, as the concentration becomes stronger, this turns into a state of meditation. And the state in which meditation becomes deeper still, in which it’s as if you become one with the object that you concentrated upon, is called samadhi. These three as a whole are clustered into one and called sanyama. Therefore, what the mind can do is simply to concentrate. The meditation which follows concentration will be entered into automatically, irrespective of the mind’s intention. And the state in which it seems as if you become one with the object of meditation is samadhi. For example, let’s say we concentrate, meditate, or we do sanyama on this flower. Then the mind will have an unbroken flow of thoughts or ideas toward the flower. In that state, there are still two things: the mind that is concentrating and the flower. As the concentration becomes stronger, the mind gradually starts to enter the flower. When that happens, you will be able to sense the essence and the various properties of this flower. Then the mind is getting absorbed into the flower. Eventually a condition like “I am the flower” occurs, in which it seems as if one becomes the flower. That is samadhi, and these are collectively called sanyama. But of course, no one wants to be a flower (smiling). (Attendees laugh.) So, the object of meditation should be the Truth, the true Self, or God. By doing this you can become That. You will realize, “I am That.” That is the ultimate purpose as well as the goal of Yoga. Therefore, there is no technique. Truly, passionately and ardently, concentrate upon the Truth as the object [of meditation].
Sadhya: When Shri Mahayogi is speaking about the mind he always does this (makes gesture towards the heart) and touches the chest. So, in thinking about concentration does it mean that one is trying to...from there, from the heart...trying to feel or become one with the object of meditation?
MASTER: (smiling) Indeed. Probably anyone who refers to themselves as “I” will point to the chest (points to his own chest), right? Yes, the seat of the true Self exists here. And the heart is here as It’s entrance too. That is why when you start with concentration, first try to gather your mind at this place as the location [upon which you will focus]. Concentration is like fixing the mind continuously towards the same object without any interruption or distraction, like pinning it to the object. In that moment, if you practice this, then it is easier to do so in this place.
Sadhya: I feel a bit stuck in meditation. Because sometimes when I sit down to meditate, I may feel that I need to discriminate on some issue that is present at that moment. So I may try to do that, but it all seems to end in the same place. I feel that I cannot maintain concentration on that, so I end up trying to feel Shri Mahayogi everywhere from the heart. But then I become concerned that maybe this is my mind’s trick to escape from facing myself. So then I try to bring the mind back to discriminate and I feel then my concentration is too spread out. There’s a part of me that feels that it’s ok because I cannot discriminate truly unless I really understand through experiencing that, that everything is One. Would Shri Mahayogi please guide me?
MASTER: What you are doing is fine. And if you see and feel me in everything, then do so not with my form, but try to enter the essence, which is my core—from there. Discrimination is the practice that is performed when disturbances or obstacles are still in the mind. However, if those obstacles are completely gone, then there’s no more need to discriminate. What is needed then is simply to only make the concentration stronger and deeper.
Sadhya: How will I know that the obstacle is not there, is it just that I… How will I know?
MASTER: Well, if there is an obstacle, then the mind reacts to it, and the mind is made to notice it. If you don’t have any of those, then, you should rather take the positive approach.
Sadhya: Meaning, trying to feel the essence.
MASTER: Yes. And in moments when you feel the obstacle again, practice discrimination in meditation on that.
Sadhya: So is it possible for that to happen in and out between one sitting, is that ok?
MASTER: It may happen, or it may happen at separate times.
Sadhya: Thank you Shri Mahayogi.
Ryan: Related to those questions, is it possible that at different points in time you may be more predisposed to meditating on the divine essence versus practicing discrimination on the Truth?
MASTER: It may happen, but that is fine.
Ryan: If I feel very clear minded can I meditate on the Essence?
MASTER: Yes, indeed.
back to top
Yennimar: Is it possible that we were born Enlightened and then as we grew up we lost that Enlightenment? And if that’s the case, how can we help our children to keep that Enlightenment, even from a place where we are no longer Enlightened?
MASTER: (after some silence) The most ideal is for the parents to realize Yoga, or attain Enlightenment. However, as you just mentioned, why are children born? Surely, by the coitus of the mother and the father the flesh of the child is created and born. However, children are all born by choosing their specific father and mother. The cause of that is in their past lives. They have created what is called karma in their past lives, and they are born to specific parents in order to fulfill that karma—that is what is most suited for them to dissipate their karma from the past. Of course, when they are babies, they look so innocent and pure and they are like angels (smiling). (Attendees laugh.) Weren’t you all like that (laughing lightheartedly)? But, the older you get, the more you create karma, both good and bad (laughing). When one is a baby, one is unable to act in a way that will express or fulfill one’s own karma yet. But within the mind, the karma still exists as a memory [from the past]. So the best thing for parents to do is to lead them in such a way that their karma will go in a better direction as much as possible, so that their karma doesn’t cause them to act negatively. To do that, it is good for parents to learn this Truth, and if possible, it is ideal that they apply the teachings and practice of Yoga. By doing so, the children will follow the example of the parents, and will follow suit in a positive direction.
back to top
Eduard: I want to know more about the true essence of Reality, the one beyond the ego, the one we cannot see while we live in the ego. In recent studies, in quantum mechanics, they kind of demonstrated that everything is actually energy, there is no matter. Is that true? ...matter is just an illusion?
MASTER: Yes, it is. This body and everything you see manifested in the universe is [matter] in the grossest form. This body, as well as all matter, is supported by the energy called prana. It is understood as the power that moves the entire universe. And the activities of the mind are also caused by prana. The most subtle form of that is the egoism deep within the mind. However, the true Existence exists beyond these things. It is formless. And it doesn’t require prana either. However, It only exists, which is the only Reality. It was never born and it will never die—it is Eternal Existence. Who knows that? The Existence itself knows that. Therefore, that Existence is, at the same time, the Pure Consciousness. Since there is no sadness or suffering there whatsoever, it is Eternal Bliss. That is your true Self. It is the essence of all and everything. (With emphasis) Only That exists. (Smiling broadly) Experience that. You are already That! (Smiles, and then with emphasis again) What is important is to still the mind. Even for a short time, try to sit quietly and meditate every day.
back to top
Karuna: I would like to ask about the practice of pratyahara. When I read in The Universal Gospel of Yoga about pratyahara, I’m looking for the practice—what is the practice? But when I read it, I feel that it is actually the result of other practices.
Karuna: So, I feel an urgency to be able to separate my mind from the object, as the pratyahara practice describes. Therefore, I am assuming that doing this happens in daily life.
MASTER: (immediately) Yes. For anyone, when they begin to practice Yoga, their affairs will start to be straightened out and [their surroundings will] become tidy and clean. One will even start losing interest in the music that they’ve been listening to all the time (smiling), and will lose interest in all the other various things in life. These are only the gross parts. And they are realized by controlling the mind. However, you cannot block the ears and nose, therefore you get caught by sounds that you hear from outside or by various smells. So, for the sensory objects that are more subtle it is required for you to have been fixing the mind towards the Truth [so that you are not affected by these more subtle stimuli]. A simple example of that is that you may have experienced that you were absorbed in something, so much so that you didn’t notice someone calling your name (smiling). Pratyahara is the stronger version of that. Therefore, in accordance with the deepening of concentration and meditation, pratyahara will come to be perfected.
Karuna: So, in order to decrease the reaction to stimulus from the outside, a certain degree of discrimination may be necessary—where you are recognizing the trigger, you are recognizing your reaction to it and understanding that this reaction is not based on the Truth.
MASTER: (shortly) Yes.
Karuna: So, I’ve been trying to practice this, but I felt that this practice, in a negative or reductive way, is sometimes very demanding and so I then turned it around to look for a positive way. So instead of reduction, addition. So, this became instead of “these should not affect me,” “these things are divine.” And from this a great openness can happen, which I feel is perhaps a direction that I should follow. So, I would like to hear about that.
MASTER: If that is easier for you, it will be fine to do that, however, you must make sure that you definitively only see One.
Karuna: um... I understand.
Nandiswara: Shri Mahayogi, this question is about sanskara. I find that there are these tendencies that always propel me to go back into some habits that I would like to get rid of. For a long time I was trying to put a lot of force to control myself to not allow these tendencies to spring into action. But very often, when I put a lot of force, a lot of power to try and control these tendencies, they come even stronger at me. It’s more like the more power I put into it, the stronger it becomes. And lately I feel like it is because of this fear that I’m going to lose control—because of that fear, that is what gives the power to these sanskara, these tendencies, to fight back. And I’m just wondering if this is right, if this is the right thought.
MASTER: Everyone inevitably must perform some kind of action in order to be alive. Oftentimes it is understood that actions have their causes in sanskara or tendencies. What is important here is whether the tendencies are pain-bearing or not. If the tendency is of a pain-bearing obstacle, then ignorance is hiding there within it. So then, if this is the case you must thoroughly discriminate against that tendency and mend your actions. But there is no need for you to be concerned about tendencies that are not pain-bearing obstacles. And ideally, you should add actions that are based on the Truth, in the way that is in accordance with the Truth, to that tendency.
Ryan: How do you determine what’s pain-bearing and what’s not?
MASTER: The pain-bearing obstacles always have their cause in ignorance. Therefore, you must confirm, or in other words discriminate whether it is rooted in ignorance or not.
Karuna: Following this question, so, for example, there is one type of ignorance that I always get to–this is thinking that, “I am this body.” So, I recognize that many of the complications in my life relate to that. Of course, also, “I am this mind.” So, I can match this ignorance and the source of this ignorance, but I don’t know how to proceed after that, in meditation. So, I may bring up one of the situations and I may confront it with the Truth, “I am not this body.” Then how do I proceed from there?
MASTER: Have the right understanding towards the body and the mind. The true protagonist is the Pure Consciousness and the Eternal Existence. That is the Protagonist. The mind and the body are the servant or the tools for that Protagonist, or that Master—that is the right understanding. (With emphasis and a strong tone) You must educate and discipline the mind with that.
Karuna: (to Yashoda who is interpreting) So, Yashoda, you said that the mind and the body are the tools of the Master, not the Protagonist?
Yashoda: No, Master or the Protagonist—same thing—protagonist, Master, hero, heroine...same word.
Karuna: And this protagonist is not the true Self?
MASTER: Yes, [the protagonist is the true Self] (confirming with a light laugh that it is the same).
Karuna: So once that is established, just in the aspect of understanding it intellectually, to proceed with that means to simply try to associate with that Master?
Anandamali: (to Karuna) I think Shri Mahayogi is saying to educate the mind, or to train the mind.
Karuna: But then, is this during meditation?
MASTER: No, no, whenever those thoughts [based on ignorance] arise, you must educate the mind. That is discrimination.
MASTER: You see, before you know it the mind deludes itself into thinking that ego is the Protagonist. That’s why you surely need to educate the mind with the facts, and there is no other way to do it but that.
Karuna: That seems like a lot of refraining all day long (laughing with exasperation).
MASTER: (plainly) No, just practice this if or when such problems arise.
Yennimar: Does the true Self have a place in your body...or a voice?
MASTER: (smiling mischievously) It is here and everywhere (laughing warmly and joyfully). Here and everywhere (beaming a great smile and gesturing to all around). Because That is the only thing that exists.
Yennimar: Does it have a voice?
MASTER: (immediately) No. It is like light. Because of that light, only then you can see the mind or the physical world manifesting around it. If there is no light, then it is dark and there is nothing there. And that true Self is the true identity of God. (after a short pause) That means, in other words, that God is manifesting as everything.
Anas: I think I received some partial answers to my question, but I will still ask it. I learned from you in our very few encounters that my attachment to the objects of desire is really out of my ignorance to the true Self...that my desire really stems from this ignorance of the true Self. However, the stronger I desire not to desire (light laughter from attendees) I suffer even more. I started my asana practice not too long ago and I fear if I ask you about technique you will tell me there is no technique (laughter from all). How do I become, maybe this is going too far, but how do I become indifferent to what I desire?
MASTER: I think that what everyone is seeking at the end of desire is Joy and Happiness. However, desire based on ignorance has a limitation and, consequently, it ends in suffering. (With a crisp tone) In other words, your desire is still not big enough! (laughs and smiles) (Then with a powerful tone) Make it even more gigantic and have the desire extend to the point where you desire to possess the entire universe. If you can seek this limitless, infinite Joy, then you will be able to face the Truth. (With emphasis) Conversely, your tiny desires will fade away (smiling with great reassurance). Truly, the Truth is endless Joy and Freedom.
Aniruddha: Shri Mahayogi, my question is in regard to honoring your word, because I tend to always try and do my best to honor whatever I say. But sometimes I find that when there was a wrong decision that was made, I would still like to honor that decision. When is it appropriate to not honor something you say?
MASTER: Well, the mind and situations are changeable, so if the mind or the situation changes before the time comes to act on your promised action, then simply notify them that you are unavoidably not able to meet your obligation.
MASTER: But if you go on without informing anyone of it—this is bad. Because this will be stored in your memory and will linger within your mind as karma.
Aniruddha: Ok, I guess that was my problem. Because sometimes when you feel like you didn’t fulfill what you promised, there is this negativity that goes in your mind. So how do you...so is it by simply being upfront?
Anas: What is the relationship between karma and regret?
MASTER: (after some pause) Regret is a working of the mind trying to balance itself. If you have something that you regret, then immediately reflect upon it and make sure that you do not repeat the same action again.
back to top
Kamalakshi: Shri Mahayogi, recently I took a trip to Japan. (Shri Mahayogi smiles and laughs.)
MASTER: (with a big smile and laughing) Yes, I heard about it. (Upon hearing it Kamalakshi laughs delightedly, and others who have had an experience of visiting Kyoto smile and laugh as well.)
Kamalakshi: And on the very day that you were coming to New York, I was flying to Japan (Shri Mahayogi laughs hard). I thought that [because of my trip’s itinerary in Japan] I wouldn’t be able to do anything except to take a Yoga class in Kyoto. However, the lady I was traveling with was a musician, and her bass player happened to know one of your disciples (smiling at Gopala who was video-taping in the very back)—and I didn’t expect to see the brothers and sisters from the sangha, but many of them, almost eight, showed up at the concert.1 So, of course, given that your disciples are who they are, we immediately started talking about Truth. Haridas, one of the disciples, said, “This is en.” Please explain about en.
MASTER: En is a term used to describe the auspiciousness of a cause and its effect. It is the word that is oftentimes used for encounters, for people encountering one another. For example, there is a season when the cherry tree blossoms. In Japan, the cherries always blossom beautifully in early April when the weather gets warmer. And they bloom beautiful blossoms. Of course, the trees are preparing to grow their life (energy) into blossoms, and there is also warm weather in April—this warm air, being the cause for the flowers to open, brings the blossom as its effect—en. In the same manner, the experience you had in Japan [with sangha] also happened because my disciples in Japan, as well as Kamalakshi, have been learning and practicing Yoga, and with this being the cause, eventually there was an encounter with one another as its effect—therefore it is an auspicious en (listening attentively Kamalakshi lets out a small laugh and a big smile).
Kamalakshi: And it was a real big teaching for me. Thank you. (Shri Mahayogi smiles and nods.)
MASTER: (to Kamalakshi) How was Japan? (smiles and laughs lightheartedly)
Kamalakshi: ...oh Amazing! (Shri Mahayogi laughs with joy.) I think what impressed me most is how the culture honors every single thing and person—I appreciate it. And I realize that a lot of our practice is actually engrained in the culture of the Japanese people. So that was very beautiful.
MASTER: Some of you here have been to Japan too, and recently Sadhya also visited in April, during the time of the cherry blossoms. (Looking at Sadhya and smiling) It was so beautiful at that time.
1 Coincidentally, the gig at which Gopala was requested by his friend, a Japanese Sarodist in Kyoto, to demonstrate a series of asana while music was being played, happened to be a joint gig with the musician that Kamalakshi was traveling with. Gopala, originally being inspired by a project taken on by the sangha in New York to perform asana demonstrations in the streets of New York almost every weekend in the summer 2014, now demonstrates asana on the streets of Kyoto or, on occasion, at gigs such as these with his friend.
back to top
Elena: Shri Mahayogi, I have a question about how to practice karma yoga. And I tried to...in my work I tried to perform actions selflessly, but just by the circumstances that place me in that specific place and time, does that mean that it kind of negates this—because it is a job and I am getting paid for it—even though I’m offering my actions to God?
MASTER: (with a crisp tone) No, that is also one kind of karma yoga. Karma yoga is...or the karma yoga that everyone can practice, is to act without egoism or ignorance. Oftentimes there is a transactional nature in work between the work and the salary, [where you get paid for what you do,] however, to ignore this and serve others further will then become a more advanced form of karma yoga.
Elena: Thank you.
back to top
Karuna: There is a suffering of impure mind and body. And I would like to hear if there is a way to understand this impure mind and body; when I think about if the mind and body are impure, then it is difficult to be aware of this impurity. So how do you correct that impurity from a state of impurity?
MASTER: The root cause of the meaning of “the mind and the body are impure” is ignorance. Therefore, if you eliminate ignorance, it will be solved.
Karuna: It’s like black and white?
MASTER: (laughing) Right. (Karuna laughs too.) Probably Karuna asked this question from Buddha’s teaching. [The content of] Buddha’s Satori and his first teaching are as follows:
Everything is full of suffering. There are four inevitable types of suffering: that you are going to die, illness, aging, and that which created all of these, which is birth. As I mentioned earlier, because of the karma that has continued without pause from your past lives, even being born, in fact, becomes suffering. Besides these four sufferings that are inevitable to all, there are four additional sufferings. The suffering of not being able to get what you want. You know, nothing goes the way you want (laughing)—you’ve all surely experienced that, haven’t you? The suffering of being separated from your loved ones. There is separation due to fighting or separation due to death. Could be your lover, your family, your pets. And counter to this, there is the suffering of not being separated from people you hate. (Everyone laughs.) (While laughing) This too you may have all experienced, perhaps within your family...or at work. (laughs mischievously) And the next one, which is the suffering of the body and the mind being full of impurity. What is the cause of these sufferings? It is karma, and what created karma: the pain bearing obstacles, or attachment to desire. Then furthermore, what is the root cause of creating desire? It is ignorance. In short, this world is [full of] suffering, and the sufferings have their causes. On the other hand, there is inherent Bliss. It is called Nirvana. It is the state of realizing the Truth. In Yoga, it refers to realizing the true Self, or realizing God. And then there is the concrete way to learn and practice in order to realize That. These four pillars (sufferings, their causes, Nirvana and the way to It) are what the Buddha first taught. From this, you will understand that the mind and body’s impurities originate in ignorance. [While deepening the understanding of these,] you must aim and strive towards Nirvana. In order to attain It, first you must understand these four truths (the Four Noble Truths) correctly (Right View). If you do that, the thoughts of the mind will be conditioned to be right (Right Thought). Once the mind is well-conditioned, then the words follow accordingly, therefore you will no longer speak unnecessary words; and another thing is that you need to be honest (Right Speech). And then the external actions will also be conditioned to be right (Right Behavior). If you practice that, your entire daily life will be more and more conditioned to be the right livelihood for progressing towards the Truth (Right Life). And then you are required to put forth a great effort (Right Effort). As the result of this practice, even the subtle parts or the deepest layer of the mind will come to be entirely purified and conditioned (Right Intentness). And meditation practiced at such moments will lead you to realizing the Truth (Right Meditation). These eight steps are called the Eightfold Path (Eightfold Right Path in Japanese).
Sadhya: I know that Shri Mahayogi has said the eight limbs of raja yoga can be practiced simultaneously, that they do not need to be practiced one after the other. And is the Eightfold Path the same way?
MASTER: The Eightfold Path that Buddha described is a step-by-step practice. Yet, within it, there are yama and niyama, and of course, meditation that are common to raja yoga.
Sadhya: Karuna and I were working on The Universal Gospel of Yoga Spanish translation, and we were just looking at that teaching. And the Right Intentness is the seventh. And when I was trying to understand, “What does that mean?” I realized that—well I never really thought that much about the Eightfold Path to begin with, because I felt like it is so confusing, how will I know what “Right” is—and then when I saw Right Intentness is about the rightness of subtle thought then I felt that although we may make efforts for Right View and Right Speech and Right Action and all of these various steps, can we really do any of them without the Right Intentness? Because it seems like with that, that is the thought, word and action coming together, that that intentness, that subtleness must be present.
MASTER: Certainly that is so. The Right Thought, which is the second step, is about conditioning the surface of the mind, so to speak, the thought. In short, the gross part. And the seventh, the Right Intentness, indicates the sense of concentration in a much more subtle part. So, the Eightfold Path illustrates the right deepening of the mind and action as the mind progresses in its conditioning step-by-step.
Sadhya: So, we may not be able to see that intentness, or condition it, until we correct those other beginning steps.
Karuna: On the same note, this Right View, seems like the entrance. But from listening to Shri Mahayogi’s explanation, this Right View, is it like a Right Perception, or Right Understanding? So it’s like understanding, but more general.
MASTER: Simply put, people are all either living on the path of karma or the path of Yoga; those who have the auspicious en to enter the path of Yoga are fortunate. So because of that, the first one, Right View, as the starting point, requires a firm understanding of the Four Truths that I spoke of earlier. And accordingly, as the words, actions and way of living are conditioned to be Right, those steps progress more deeply. This indicates the transition from the path of karma, into the path of Yoga. Well, the path of Yoga means the path of Truth.
Karuna: So, could we think of these as one being the entrance to the other, to the other, and to the other—as entrances.
back to top
Student: Today I opened The Universal Gospel of Yoga, randomly. And it opened on the “Sexual Energy” page. I believe that’s not random for me (laughter from all, including Shri Mahayogi). It said we need to control the sexual energies. What’s the first step, what’s the way to go, in order to store it?
MASTER: Sure enough, the fastest shortcut is to put the practice of Yoga into action, and that means to practice asana and meditation. If you do not, it is very hard to combat strong lust. (laughs, then after a short pause, looks at the student and speaks with a tender voice) Come to class by all means. (Shri Mahayogi and others laugh warmly as Alexandru smiles and nods.)
back to top
Aniruddha: Shri Mahayogi, please explain to me more about living by faith. A few days ago, a friend of mine was explaining to me about having more faith, and how our actions can show lack of faith. Because, for example, last year when I was hurt, my friend said that when I decided to join Lyft it showed lack of faith in God and in myself. So, it got me to really want to understand more. Because, as he said it, I began to understand more exactly what it is he is saying. But I think, in my mind, I was reacting more out of fear, out of say, security, as a back-up, but he said that by taking an action, it was wrong to do that. So I really want to understand more about what he said, to just have faith, to just believe.
MASTER: In living in this world, there are good things as well as bad things. Yet, whatever the situation may be, to make a point to never let go of the Truth or God—that is the golden rope, so to say, that ties between you and God—that is faith. (With emphasis) Everything is—whatever happens—everything is God.
(After a long pause) Don’t think using your mind! (All laugh.) That is what gets in the way of faith.
Aniruddha: ...Start thinking.... (Shri Mahayogi and some laugh.)
MASTER: (after a short pause) Or, look only at the Truth. (some pause) Also, you do not need to worry about what your friend said.
Darren Chase: Shri Mahayogi, what function, if any, does doubt have on the spiritual path?
MASTER: Doubt is a sign that indicates that ignorance exists hidden within the mind. So then learn and meditate on the Truth more and more. By doing so, your doubt will disappear along with ignorance. (Darren smiles.)
It is inevitable that the human being, or the mind, is born with karma. However, that [karma, or what the mind believes,] is an error. Because of the very, very long-time habits that have been established by past lives, the mind believes, as if it were real, that [karma, or life that is based on karma,] is a fact. (With a powerful tone) As soon as the light of Truth shines upon it, there is no place whatsoever for karma or ignorance to dwell any more. Indeed, because it was cultivated through habits over a long, long time, it may be difficult at first, however, certainly, the Truth will be realized!—because it is already within each one of you. (Tenderly) Truly, truly, the Endless Bliss and Freedom, which is the Eternal Existence, exists there.
back to top
The Guru is the light that guides people out of darkness.
I don’t know how much I really understand what this word Guru means. But, when I reflect on the days I spent in New York with the Master, I can clearly sense that his existence shone upon me and I was guided by the Master.
During the month I stayed in New York, Shri Mahayogi held two Satsangha and four Asana & Meditation classes. Because the two Satsangha were located at Ekanta’s home, where Shri Mahayogi had coordinated the colors of the walls (for spiritual practice), and since Ekanta is Romanian and there were many Romanians who gathered, as well as people of various ethnic back grounds—it was a very different atmosphere from Satsangha in Japan. However, as Satsangha began and the Master’s words resounded within those blueish walls, the space immediately transformed with the sacred prana. The questions covered a wide range of topics, such as how we can deepen our meditation and faith, how we can control our desires, what the best service to one’s family is, how to understand the concept of Original Sin in Christianity, the teaching of the Eightfold Noble Path of Buddha, etc. During the Satsangha, some cried, some could not help but fix their eyes on the Master, some were filled with joy—I witnessed firsthand that various spiritual transformations were brought about in the attendees.
The last Asana & Meditation class was filled with 24 participants, as there were new participants who were inspired to come after having attended the Satsangha. So that day the room was divided into an asana group and a meditation group. And at the end of the class, Bhadra (Ryan), who had received the spiritual name "Bhadra" (auspiciousness) during the Master’s stay, dedicated words of gratitude and a bouquet of flowers on behalf of the sangha. The Master blessed everyone there, as if responding to the words in a way that was above and beyond, and the place was truly filled with an abundance of auspicious prana.
This was a moment when I could clearly and vividly feel Shri Mahayogi’s grace and guidance beyond words.
Shri Mahayogi’s grace and guidance were not only limited to Satsangha or class.
New York, as its nickname the “Empire State” suggests, is the most prosperous and cosmopolitan city in the world, where huge buildings stand in a row, and there are throngs of people from all over the world. While staying in this “Empire State” of New York, the Master has no interest whatsoever in sightseeing, and he is completely “indifferent” towards this world. And on one occasion I witnessed the Master exhibiting this intensely. It happened when we were waiting for the subway. It was very strange, but at that moment, instead of being gentle like the Master always is, he carried a stern and unapproachable atmosphere of gravitas. Several people noticed this extraordinary atmosphere and were looking at the Master. Only the existence of the Master stood out, completely isolated from the surroundings. Rather than standing aloof, it was “renunciation.” I felt the smallness of myself and at the same time, I was overwhelmed by his Transcendental Existence, so when we returned to the Cave, tears naturally flowed from my eyes and I bowed down in front of him. Anandamali, upon seeing the Master on the streets of New York on this day, remarked,
“This is like Babaji visiting Kumba Mela!!!”
Where does Shri Mahayogi’s “renunciation” come from? I felt that it must derive from the Master’s “meditation of discrimination” that he told us he performed while he was in high school.
During this visit, a new project was being undertaken by the Mission in New York. This project is about turning Shri Mahayogi’s early life into a visual biography, and through that I had the fortunate opportunity to be included in the interview sessions with the Master. The spontaneous awakening at age eight, winning the baseball tournament in the sixth grade with a perfect game in all games except the first one, starting asana spontaneously without being taught by anyone at age 14, being immersed completely in meditation during high school age, after working at a textile designer’s studio he quit to help out with his father’s business by devotedly doing selfless service... There were many episodes that I’d already known about, hearing them from time to time, however, re-hearing about his life continuously in such a flow left me in awe again and again. What was the most remarkable to me, was the “meditation of discrimination” he did at a café during his high school days. Interestingly, the café he frequented was called “Black” but strangely it had white furniture and white interiors... The amazing thing was that while looking outside from a second-floor table seat with a nice window view, he thoroughly and completely meditated and discriminated upon the mechanism of the mind that creates the world. I learned then that the world is like an illusion created by the mind, and he examined the original causation of the activity of the mind by removing each condition that the mind added to the world. I asked him several times about this meditation of discrimination that he did, but honestly, I did not quite understand it. The only thing that I understood was that during the meditation at the café, though he was looking outside the window, he was actually only looking within the mind, and he was renouncing all connections to the outside world. As if to validate that, because the Master did not speak to anyone during high school age, his teacher became concerned and asked him, “Why do you not speak?” The Master’s answer was only, “It’s unnecessary.”
Each episode was nothing short of awe inspiring. Not only did he suddenly awaken into the true Self without any practice, but through his own body and mind he perfected asana, meditation, and karma yoga, and through his own experience, and his blessing and grace that is beyond the words, he can guide human beings from darkness to light. Such a great Existence is Shri Mahayogi. There are no words that can explain this but that Shri Mahayogi is an Avatara, an incarnation of God. No words of mine can be sufficient to praise him. Truly I cannot help but feel like he is an Existence above the clouds. Yet, at the same time, I also have the hope to get closer to this Existence!
“You and I are the Same.”
If one sees the brilliance of a true gem, then one cannot help but be captivated by it. Our Master tells us with absolute confidence and hope, that our true Self within is that brilliant jewel!
I myself feel that what is being asked of me is for me to put into practice what the Master did, at the level of all out scrupulous, thoroughgoing practice. Also, from this visit, I felt from my heart that the comrades who have the same aim as I do, to seek to realize the Truth and to practice the discipline in order to realize this aim, exist in a far away, foreign land of New York. The way they prepared for class, their meetings for that preparation, their efforts to try and create connections of Yoga in the people who surround them, and their mind of respect for, not only the Master of course, but also for the disciples in Japan, was really something that I needed to learn. As one gurubhai in New York, Sadhya, perhaps feeling similarly said, “Until I participated in the celebration held at the Prema Ashrama in April, I thought that the sangha in Kyoto and New York were separate. But now, I feel they are the same sangha.”
Vivekananda, a holy man of the 19th century, tried to unite the world between the West and the East through “Yoga.” In this modern age, Shri Mahayogi continues the same work.
“You are the pearls, and I am the thread piercing them together.”
As these famous words of Krishna say, I will continue to practice disciplines of Yoga in my actions and actualize Yoga, as I wish everyone in the world, in the West and the East, to be united through Shri Mahayogi, and to create the highest quality mala (necklace) made of True Jewels.
back to top