Ms. Fukoue (Anandi): Please teach us about “surrendering the mind.” In our daily lives, does it lead to this surrendering if we take action and remove any complaints or dissatisfaction as they arise, or should we be proactively acting upon our weaknesses or doing the tasks we resist doing before the mind even has a chance to react to them?
MASTER: When you are “surrendering the mind,” the questions would be “to whom do you surrender the mind?” To whom?
(Shri Mahayogi proposes this riddle with delight.)
Ms. Fukoue (Anandi): To the true Protagonist?
MASTER: Yes. Or God, right? So, then obviously complaints, dissatisfaction and laziness—the various disturbed states of the mind—cannot be handed over to something so sacred as the true Self or God. These impurities of the mind must be removed beforehand. Then, they must be handed over to the true Master with at least some feeling of devotion. To be sure of these two steps, first purify the mind. Then, hand over the purified mind.
Ms. Fukoue (Anandi): So, in order to purify the mind it is necessary to persist in faithfully putting yama and niyama into practice...
MASTER: Yama and niyama [are necessary practices], and what’s more, there is also discrimination. In order to discriminate, one must have learned the right teachings, the Truth.
Ms. Nakamura (Sarani): Over the past week, I’ve been thinking about the same thing that was just asked about. Some time ago I actually sought advice from Ms. Endo (Mirabai) about what to do when thoughts and feelings of “dislike,” “avoidance” or “running away” arise when dealing with people out in society. She told me two things at that time. In one way she answered from her own experience that it is, “inevitable that we cannot and will not be able to practice in a cave, even in the future. It is inevitable that we will always have to deal with people in one way or another, so I consider it to be preparation for that.” The second way she answered had to do with something that she had also spoken about at Jayanti, that as she started to experience her heart being filled with thoughts of Shri Mahayogi after [throwing herself into] kirtan, these types of issues began to disappear rapidly. The first one, I understood well from my own actual experience, or rather, I should say that it’s within the realm of my intellectual understanding, meaning I have still not been able to acquire this and I’m in the midst of struggling to internalize it. The second one, I suppose, is something that unless one experiences it, these words would not come from one’s mouth. Will Shri Mahayogi expound upon what that is, when one is filled with only thoughts of God, and everything else just falls away?
MASTER: Each and every thought within the mind requires some object to depend on. Yet these objects are constantly changing and fluctuating, and they will eventually go up in smoke. The mind has a history of constantly chasing these things, so even after one object disappears it continues to look for another.... Ultimately, this keeps on repeating. Therefore, it can never provide absolute satisfaction. So, if you sharpen your discernment, and thereby intuit the happiness, freedom or love that that object depends on, the mind will be led to the realization that it was seeking a flawed object. On the other hand, you will simultaneously come to understand that that core of the self, the true Self or God, never changes and it always exists. By going through this process of discrimination and renunciation, eventually the mind will be able to eliminate these attachments—this clinging to the wrong things. The habit of the mind, which has been formed over the course of many reincarnations, may not disappear very easily. Nevertheless, if you seriously practice this Yoga, you will be able to reduce the time it takes to disappear, even within this lifetime. When the mind completely stops attaching to anything, then the mind itself gains freedom. And at that time you will also realize that that state of mind, which is like emptiness, is the very original state of the mind. Since karma indicates the working of cause and effect, if the mind no longer has the cause—that is, the attachment to something—then there is no longer any effect for us to receive. No matter what is done, or what actions are taken, you act freely without attaching to or insisting on anything—you are no longer constrained by karma. That is the original state of the mind, the state of emptiness.
Kinkara: In the state in which the mind-stuff is restrained, does the mind of emptiness still exist, or does the mind cease to exist completely? What is that like...?
MASTER: In the state that is called samadhi—that is to say, in the case of nirvikalpa samadhi—the mind disappears completely. In the state in which there is still consciousness in this relative world, then the mind functions. It functions, however, the state is no longer ruled by ignorance and pain-bearing obstacles. It means that, because the true Master has been found, the mind is an obedient servant and acts as a tool for the true Master. The same can be said of the body as well.
Ms. Nakamura (Sarani): Does that mean that even though I remind myself of this repeatedly with the words, “The mind and the body are tools,” the mind cannot understand this because this is only about the mind thinking in circles, but instead, through thinking about God [and thereby concentrating] and entering into the state of meditation, something like a sudden deviation from the usual road of this vicious cycle could happen?
MASTER: Yes, that is so.
Ms. Nakamura (Sarani): Is meditation the only way to cause this to happen, and is there no other way besides that?
MASTER: That’s right. Such a transformation is impossible merely through intellectual knowledge. This is about a concrete transformation of the mind itself, and that transformation cannot happen unless the mind goes through the process of learning the teachings, actually putting them into practice, and further, reminding and firmly convincing your mind at the level of meditation or in the meditative condition—in other words, unless the mind truly realizes [it in this way], the transformation cannot happen. In this sense, you can consider meditation to be an extension of this process of learning and applying the teachings of Yoga in action.
Sananda: So, can we understand that this transformation happens, of course, at the subconscious level rather than at the conscious level?
MASTER: Yes, that is so.
Sananda: Then, does that mean the practitioner may not be able to catch that transformation in his or her conscious state?
MASTER: Right. If the mind catches it, then that means that the action is taking place within the mind’s surface-level of consciousness. And so it doesn’t reach deeper into the subconscious; therefore, it’s impossible. So [the transformation] is perceived later on, with the passing of time.
Sananda: So, does that mean that the transformation, or the shift in the subconscious, which is brought about by putting the practice of Yoga into action or through the grace of the Guru, is oftentimes not perceived until later?
MASTER: I think so.
Sananda: That’s how it is for the most part?
MASTER: Yes, I think so.
Sananda: So, from time to time, then, one will notice it on the conscious level in order to realize it more easily...
MASTER: Well, yes. I think so. The surface layer of consciousness, the various thoughts or feelings of the mind, are like the waves [of the ocean], so to speak. However, the waves do not know about the bottom of the deep ocean. It is just like that. However, as one progresses more deeply into the practice of Yoga, one will gradually begin to dive from the surface level deeper into the depths, where the gradual understanding and control of these deeper layers of the mind come about.
If you remember, in the first chapter of the Yoga Sutra, there are many types of samadhi that are explained. These samadhi are expressed as the progression of transformations that occur from the surface layer of consciousness, and then gradually go to the deeper layers of consciousness. Truly, the mind is always a tool, even from the beginning. From the very beginning, when the mind was born, it is like a tool for the true Master; it has a role like that. However, the ignorance of the mind began to think that it itself is the protagonist, it began to think this world was eternal, and it desired to taste happiness in this world—that’s how the error, that is to say, karma, was created.
Ms. Tahara (Saranya): Wow, I see. I must tell my mind...
MASTER: Indeed. You must educate the mind. (laughs)
Ms. Tahara (Saranya): That’s how it is... In order to remind and convince the mind, I must learn the Truth.
MASTER: Yes, that is so.
Ms. Tahara (Saranya): I must truly, pragmatically put what I am learning into actual practice.
Indeed, truly that is so.
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Sanatana: In the past several years, I’ve come to think that there truly is such a thing as the grace and the guidance which comes from the Guru, or from the absolute Existence of Truth. But, I still don’t understand anything else about it. (smiles) I understand that grace and guidance exist. I would like to ask about what is going on when that happens, and how it happens.
For example, a long time ago there was a monk named Ippen Shonin. He was a monk of the Pure Land Buddhist sect, so in order to guide everyone to the Pure Land, he was actively distributing to anyone he encountered amulets with the words “Namu Amida Butsu (Amitābha, Buddha of Infinite Light)” written on them. One time, when he was distributing these amulets around the Kumano mountain, someone told him, “Since I do not have faith in the Amida Buddha, I cannot receive it.” He was so shaken, having never thought about whether or not having faith in Amida Buddha would have an impact on the effect or not, that he shoved the amulet onto this person and left.
Afterwards, he thought deeply about this at the Kumano Shrine in Wakayama prefecture. During that contemplation, the god of the Kumano temple, who is considered to be an incarnation of Amida Buddha, appeared and revealed a divine message to him: “The compassion of Amida Buddha is something that flows universally unto all, regardless of whether a human being believes in it or not. Therefore, have confidence in your actions and continue on as you have been doing before.” Later on, he understood that the person who refused the amulet must have been the very incarnation of the god of Kumano.
That compassion from Amida Buddha, in a way, is the same as the grace and guidance from God or True Existence, and I think it is something that pours over us with perfect impartiality regardless.
(Shri Mahayogi smiles gently again and again as he listens.)
MASTER: (in gentle intonation) Yes.
Sanatana: However, this is also dependent, of course, on the receiver whether they can feel it or not, ...and some look like they receive it, while others don’t seem to receive it. Truly...how should I put this... There is an issue about the mind of receiving it, how one should receive it uprightly. Another thing that I would like to ask is what exactly is happening there in that process?
MASTER: (speaking slowly towards everyone) Indeed, the mind of a human being is arrogant, cunning, and filled with falsehoods and lies (for a moment, smiles slightly). (With a raised right hand, emphasizing the words) Whether a human mind knows it or not, the Earth is spinning around, right? Then, it goes around the sun. The sun does not move. Even at night, when the sun is hiding, the moon replaces it and shines, and the sun hides. Whether the mind knows it or not, it is clear that all things in nature are working in a way that is beyond human knowledge. As I mentioned before, the cutting-edge scientists are gradually unraveling this, and also, prophets have been teaching this since ancient times. Divine regard, which is the grace of God, exists too, beyond any shadow of a doubt.
This story about Ippen Shonin certainly demonstrates that he had strong faith towards Amida Buddha and its religion, but it reveals that he still had not reached completion. “This is good [so take it],” (shoving his closed hands out in front of him as if holding an amulet)—saying such a thing shows the state of an incomplete, biased state of faith. So, then the villager, who didn’t know anything about this and refused to take the amulet, unintentionally picked at Ippen Shonin’s blind spot, a subtle part of his mind. But then, as Ippen Shonin seriously thought, prayed, and meditated on this, he got the correct answer. In short, it was the grace of Amida Buddha. The right view is to see that Amida Buddha is not just an object of faith simply within one’s mind (opens his arms wide) but everything is Amida Buddha, and that Amida Buddha dwells in everything.
So, you can understand that the villager was the incarnation of Amida Buddha, a manifestation of grace. (Shri Mahayogi smiles towards Sanatana. Sanatana nods.) If you look at it that way, grace is everywhere always... waiting eagerly to be bestowed upon you. The grace of God, of the Awakened Ones, is not limited—it can exist limitlessly.
In summary, whether one receives grace or not, or notices it or not, being able to receive depends on the state of the mind of the receiver (moving his both hands toward the area around the chest, as if holding something).
However, the fact is that all things in nature are working according to the order [of the universe], behind that there must be a huge fundamental true Existence that exists. This is what turns into grace, and it always exists.
(Shri Mahayogi quietly stops talking and gives darshan to everyone.)
MASTER: (after a while) Grace is like getting closer to, or touching the mystery of God, one step at a time... (smiles towards Sanatana)
(Ambika looks steadily at Shri Mahayogi and asks in a brisk tone.)
Ambika: Then struggling and suffering within karma is also grace?
MASTER: (after taking a breath) That is not grace, but it can be a catalyst for grace (smiles and nods while looking at Ambika). If Yoga enters into this process of karma, it turns into grace; however, without Yoga, it will only end in further tragic suffering.
(Ambika looks at Shri Mahayogi with a serious gaze. Shri Mahayogi gazes at Ambika with a smile for a long time, then continues.)
MASTER: ...but by now, hasn’t everything changed into grace already? (laughs a little)
Ambika: Yoga is the restraint of the mind, isn’t it? (Shri Mahayogi: Yes.) Then, does that mean that—although we’re not really supposed to say it’s difficult—it is such an intense struggle or it brings so much difficulty because while we continue to maintain the body, we bring only the mind to commit suicide?
MASTER: Since you call it “suicide,” there must be a character, or an individual personality. (smiles) So, the question is: who is being killed? (Shri Mahayogi laughs a little.) It is the ego, pretending to be the true Self. (laughs) If the ego disappears, the mind becomes as if it were transparent, and then turns into a useful tool, just like how the body is a tool. That is the secret of the mind committing suicide.
...I believe that there were words by Shakespeare, introduced in Paramahansa Yogananda’s book, most likely. Does anyone remember them?
(No one seems to remember. Shri Mahayogi looks at Niranjan and Ambika from time to time, and speaks slowly.)
MASTER: It was... (looking at Niranjan) either, “A man needs to die only once,” or “Fortunate are the ones who die once,” or something like that. In India, it is said, “The twice-born are fortunate.” The first one is the birth of this body. The second one is the second birth, being born again after killing the mind. Especially, yogi and sannyasin carry this out by taking on this intention. It indicates exactly the same thing as the suicide of the mind that I just mentioned.
The greater portion of the mind consists of memories, called sanskara. The mind contains an unimaginable quantity of impressions from the experiences of many incarnations. To eliminate the mind means to eliminate all of these sanskara, so it may not really be a simple task (smiles a little). However, through the practice of Yoga, and also through grace, they can be removed rapidly. These are the great workings of grace.
(Shri Mahayogi quietly finishes talking as he looks at Sanatana.)
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Shachi: The other day, when I was in a particular place, I recalled something from the past. And at one point, while I was reminiscing about the past, I suddenly snapped back to reality and got the impression that I had been so absorbed in my past memory that even though I was present, I wasn’t even aware of my surroundings, as if I wasn’t even there. I suppose something like this happens to everyone quite often. I then thought that meditation begins with concentrating upon a holy object by gathering your own thoughts. Then, as one goes beyond the mind, I suppose that meditation deepens. Often in class, too, I hear people say that meditation is difficult. But getting absorbed by our own memory, like how I just mentioned, also uses a similar thinking process. So, then I wondered why we feel that meditation is difficult, even though it uses a thinking process [that is similar]. Please teach us the difference between directing outwards versus inwards.
MASTER: The act, as well as the word “meditation” were born from the religious realm. It is a requirement to learn the Truth first. Learning includes reading scriptures, listening to the words of Holy Beings, and also suddenly being struck by something in daily life. And then, deepening in thoughts of Truth—that is called meditation.
The mind, in a way, has a kind of functionality that is like a memory device. It impresses one’s various experiences upon the mind, with all its own dramatization. The dramatization consists of particular tastes and colored filters, which have been shaped by your minds’ experiences and cultivated since the past. Therefore, even when multiple people have the same experience, you can’t say that their memories and impressions of the experience are the same. Each individual mind has various colors—“Ten people, ten colors” (a Japanese saying that means, “To each, his own”). Each individual carves unique impressions into the mind—that is the way the mind works.
The past memories, just mentioned by Shachi, are constantly working to revive themselves, depending on their strength and level of impression. The experience of learning the Truth has the effect of eliminating the cause and effect—karma—of experiences. Whereas mere regular memories, formed without going through such learning, constitute the story of memories created by a protagonist named karma.
So, you can say that the difference between the manifestation of meditation and of being absorbed in recollection results according to how strong the impression within the mind is. If the study of Yoga deepens, and there is actual practice of proactive and continued meditation, then no matter how large the amount of past memories is, it’s possible for you to correct your mind without being under the influence of those past memories, and you can eliminate them. In fact, it can be said that to do exactly that is the very task of Yoga.
Memory, like the term “subconscious memory” illustrates, is not easy to grasp or control with just the mind’s surface layer of consciousness. Even so, this learning of Yoga and the practice of meditation have the power to enter further into that realm, and they have the power to transform the mind. That is why meditation has its position in the realm of religion.
Ms. Fukoue (Anandi): About meditation, we have been taught that meditation can be likened to the condition of pouring oil from one vessel to another ceaselessly without interruption, and that the ideal condition is that of an even tone, without a break. During meditation, (weeping with emotion) thinking of Shri Mahayogi, I sought and sought him. Not knowing what... how I should... I just kept seeking him. Then my body stiffened and my neck got flushed. I don’t know whether it’s fine to continue like that, or if I need to calm down a bit and aim for a more consistent, calmer state. Please advise me.
MASTER: You can continue on in that way. And, if the neck or the area around the chest become red, it is evidence that strong meditation is taking place, so you don’t need to worry.
Ms. Fukoue (Anandi):
Yes. Thank you very much (sobbing).
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Ms. Wada (Dharmini): I felt that burning out karma with that heat in meditation, and discriminating its cause by putting it up against the Truth, and then destroying it by bringing it to the surface, are the same process. Then, I concluded a mathematical formula, “Truth = Heat.”
MASTER: (laughing) Yes. That is correct.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): Sorry, it’s a silly question, but is Truth hot? (laughs out loud)
MASTER: Truth is hot (laughing), yes, it’s hot. Exactly. In the Upanishads, which is considered to be even older than the Yoga Sutra, there is a saying, “Brahman is tapas.” (Ms. Wada grunts, being impressed.) Tapas is heat, and in ancient times, it was translated as austerity. From the perspective of Yoga, it can be interpreted as the heat that burns out the pain-bearing obstacles. Brahman is one of the names of Truth or God. “Brahman is tapas. Through tapas, realize Brahman.”
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): If I may continue, from this I understood well that the series of disciplines and practices of Yoga make up the formula that produces heat when put into action, and leads us on towards Truth. It is true that when we practice asana, the body heats up, so we know for real that heat was produced. (Shri Mahayogi: Yes. [Heat is also created] physically.) Also, when we sing kirtan, repeat mantra, or think of Shri Mahayogi, my chest heats up—so we can empirically understand the sensation of heat arising. (Shri Mahayogi: “Yes, that is so.”) Now, there is tapas of the body and mind, of the abstinence of the mind, and of the restraining of words, and these relate to yama and niyama. I would like to actually experience these so that I know empirically why these practices themselves can generate heat. Please teach us about that, and also the way to maintain that heat so much so that it turns into a big fire (everyone laughs), to make it so hot that it explodes.
MASTER: The key words are what I just said, “Brahman is tapas. Through tapas, realize Brahman.” So, then why can’t people just do it? It is because people talk and have unnecessary thoughts and take useless actions. These become karma, and the actions, words, and thoughts that are not based on the Truth prevent that [heat of tapas] from arising and increasing, and instead let it escape. So, in order to generate more heat, one must first control one’s actions, words, and thoughts.
Another key word is mauna. Mauna is translated as spiritual silence; it is to refrain from chatting and to make the thoughts within the mind silent, and furthermore, it is to put an end to karmic actions—these practices are mauna. If one can persist with such mauna, which is a focused restraint, tapas arises and also continues.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): Isn’t it difficult to become disciplined in the practice of mauna within the mind?
MASTER: It may sound difficult, but it is (emphasizing) ab-so-lute-ly ne-ce-ssa-ry for Satori... (towards Ms. Wada, whose appearance changes now as she becomes very serious with contemplation) So you’re quiet now. (Everyone laughs.) Are you practicing mauna? (Everyone laughs again.)
(Shri Mahayogi unwinds everyone’s [tensed] minds and continues slowly.)
Then, within mauna, begin to concentrate the mind only on one single matter, the Truth. From there, one-pointed concentration arises, and from that (stern emphasis) arises meditation: the ceaseless continuation of concentrated consciousness, like the pouring of oil from one vessel to another. When this state arises in the mind, the transformation of the mind will truly be taking place. Truly, it is then that tapas arises, and all the pain-bearing junk in the mind burns up...and is eliminated.
Brahman is already within everyone. It’s not something brought from somewhere else; it already exists. You are all that. It is simply that you have not noticed the Truth within yourself yet. It is, so to speak, as if the junk in the mind is covering and hiding it.
Ms. Yoshigaki: How do I get rid of this junk in the mind?
MASTER: First, you must know that the junk is actually junk. In order to do that, you must learn the Truth. And on the basis of Truth, you must confirm whether whatever it is that the mind has cherished up to this point is really the Truth or not, or whether these things are worth cherishing from now on, or not. By doing this, you’ll see whether it is junk or not. Such action is called discrimination.
So, in order to declutter the junk, learning the Truth is a must. In addition to that, one must actually put it into action continuously. The asana that you practiced today is one of the disciplines for that, and so is meditation. And also, there is something called karma yoga, which must be practiced. The mind is so egotistic that it always only thinks and acts selfishly all the time. But to end that as much as possible, and instead serve and devote yourself to others selflessly is karma yoga. As you put the practice of karma yoga also into action, the junk will declutter promptly and disappear.
Moreover, as long as you have a physical body, you all must think that you are alive and that you exist. But, you die eventually. So, then what is your true Self? The physical body will be gone eventually, but then how should you live until then? These are the most important questions for everyone. No matter how you live your life, “What is the true Self?”—this is the most pressing, important question. Think about these things seriously. In the scriptures of Truth, the answer may be found through words. And what is left is the crucial part, that the mind truly needs to understand and recognize It.
Ms. Hirokawa: When something unpleasant happens, in order to generate heat, should I suppress that feeling of agitation instead of bringing it out?
MASTER: The feelings of agitation are temporary, so you must train yourself to form a habit of paying no notice to such agitation. With this too, as your practice of Yoga deepens, these thoughts will eventually stop occurring. You will recognize these experiences—you can know when things are not pleasant or comfortable, however, the mind will no longer be affected by them. If you have an unpleasant experience and the mind is disturbed and upset by that, it demonstrates that the mind is still weak.
Ms. Hirokawa: My mind is really weak. (laughs)
MASTER: Then, strengthen it through the Truth. Switch your thinking to, “I don’t have time for these trifles,” then truly remind the mind of the words of Truth, for example, and in this way train [the mind to] form a habit. The mind is founded on habitual thinking, so you must ingrain good new habits, that is, Yoga, into the mind. By training in this way, your past weak habits will eventually fade away.
Ms. Wada (Dharmini): If it is something to do with me, then I thought that I would be able to control my mind myself by having principles and heightening my faith. But for example, if someone in a bad mood takes it out on me, then my mind gets disturbed immediately, so I’ve recognized that my mind is still affected. I am more affected by these types of things and get disturbed much more easily than with my internal issues. So, does this mean that once I no longer have any reaction toward these things, the mind will have finally been toughened?
Yes. Generally [in Japan], we often use the words “immovable mind” or “a calm and collected mind.” That’s what those words mean.
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Ms. A: What is renunciation?
The mind strongly holds concepts of “me” and “mine.” Because of that, it strives to be happy and free through possessing something in this world. However, one must know that the truth is that there is no such thing [that you can possess]. If that Truth can be understood, then the mind can renounce things it has possessed before. What’s meant by “possession” here is not only material, but includes everything, even abstract thoughts and concepts. The innermost possession of the mind is the concept of “me” and “mine.” Being able to let go of all these thoughts completely, is called renunciation. What happens to the mind when that happens? It will cease to assert its selfish demands. Then, it will become a useful tool for the Truth, Atman, or God.
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(Ms. Keiko shared that from the time she leaves the house to go to work to the time when she returns often takes about twelve hours. During work hours, her mind is taken over by work, and it feels to her like she is not practicing Yoga. She struggles between wanting to have Yoga take over her mind completely, yet having to spend most of the day working, and she thinks others struggle similarly. So, she asks how she and others can view work?)
MASTER: Shri Ramakrishna taught this using a very good metaphor. If I remember, the teaching goes like this: It is like a woman who leaves her child behind to go away to work. Even if she is involved in the work at hand, her mind is constantly thinking about the child. Therefore, you should constantly think about God while you work. Whether for 12 hours or 8 hours, you are restricted by work hours, but you are never caught in work like machines for exactly this number of hours without being off for one minute, or even one second. I suppose that probably half the time must be between work time and down time. So, it’s an illusion that you are working for 12 or 8 hours. For example, there must be commuting time, or break time, or moving time, or small amounts of time in between tasks. Total up these small in-between times and it must be half of your workday. (Shri Mahayogi concludes gently.)
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Ms. A: Does wanting to be accepted and recognized by others, turn into an obstacle for Satori?
MASTER: What do you mean by recognition?
Ms. A: When performing music and trying to create something beautiful, the audience will sometimes applaud it. At times, I do not feel comfortable with this. It feels like the opposite of love, or that it goes against the atmosphere that has been created.
MASTER: Well, it can turn into an obstacle very often. Regardless of the occupation, if you are seeking God, then you must seek not without, but within. It is the same with love. Because, God is love. In these times, it can be said that musicians, or those who are in the position to be praised, admired, and recognized by various others, can often be full of obstacles.
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* * *
The following is an article that Anandi, a female disciple who lives in Matsuyama, read at a gathering which she spontaneously organized on her own for the grand opening of a café in her neighborhood on September 21, 2008. She organized this event alone out of her sheer desire for many more people to know about the existence of Shri Mahayogi, even if that ended up meaning only one more person.
I first met the Master in Kyoto, on January 16, 2003, when he first visited Ehime prefecture at the request of his disciples. Because I had an important test approaching in ten days, I wasn’t sure whether I should attend or not, even right up to the time of the Satsangha (the literal meaning of which is “gathering with the Truth”). I had only seen Shri Mahayogi in the photo from The Universal Gospel of Yoga, but two days before the event, I finally decided to participate and the day beforehand I rushed to read The Universal Gospel of Yoga. But I felt it was difficult for me, and I couldn’t grasp what I was reading at all. Is it really worth it for me to attend tomorrow?—To be honest, I attended it having this disrespectful, not-so-eager feeling.
At the very moment that I saw Shri Mahayogi’s kind smile, the state of mind that I’d had up to that point was blown away, and I felt an indescribable admiration. It was completely different from the kind of admiration you would have for a celebrity or the mere infatuation you might have towards a man. The Master, who gracefully entered the room where the participants were waiting, was ‘sattva’ itself, a word I did not know at the time. Sattva is the state of mind that one aims to attain through Yoga, and it means purity or light.
The Satsangha lasted a very long time, from 11am to 4pm, but everyone was so enthusiastic and active, with questions about their daily struggles, purification of the mind, and Enlightenment, or Satori, continuing ceaselessly. Shri Mahayogi sat in siddhasana, or adept’s pose, throughout the entire Satsangha and not once did he unravel his legs; he remained unmovable, as the term would suggest. I was amazed to see his way of being; he did not display any fatigue from the long trip and he answered each and every question very sincerely and carefully.
During the Satsangha, there was a question from someone who was pleading for advice, expressing the confusion and struggle she had been experiencing since a particular incident that made her feel as though she no longer knew how to deal with her family and others around her had occurred. Shri Mahayogi quietly spoke, “Whether they are parents, siblings, or strangers, they are all equally sacred beings—think in this way, and always have kind thoughts, use kind words, and deal with them kindly.” While hearing these words, a problem with my own attitude towards my parents popped up in front of me, and so I mustered enough courage to ask the following question:
Fukoue: I am very embarrassed to ask this question... Right now, I live with my parents, just the three of us in the household. On the surface, I can usually keep up appearances, but at home, my attitude and behavior toward my parents is not very considerate or kind. I especially cannot respect my father, and when he admonishes me for some trivial matter in daily life, my mind responds thinking, “Even he can’t follow his own instructions!” and then I give him an impertinent answer. I confess that I don’t like that about myself at all. In order to change myself, what do I have to do?
Shri Mahayogi: You must already know what you have to do. Every single day is a trial, so try hard to keep making an effort. Put more and more effort into it. Practice, practice, and practice. Many people may think that by coming to class from time to time and doing asana (poses) for two hours and then meditating—that that means you practice Yoga. But actually, the evidence of how much you have mastered Yoga appears during our daily lives. It’s never about what kind or how much asana you can do at all. That is completely irrelevant. It’s fine if you are not even [physically] able to do it. Through actions in daily life, how were you able to deal with family, others or anything else, with what kind of attitude and feelings?—that’s where the evidence of how much Yoga has been achieved is shown. Therefore, the real battlefield is in daily life, in interacting with your family and with others.
I still remember it as if it were yesterday, in response to the way he spoke these words so sincerely, with such kindness, my mind surprisingly became very obedient and the teachings entered me so directly. I felt—I got it! Daily life is the most important part! What have I been doing? The things that I’ve been learning and thinking are Yoga, are not Yoga. I didn’t understand what Yoga was at all. It was as if the scales fell off my eyes. I suddenly realized this truth.
That evening, right after I came home, I apologized to my father for my attitude that had been so disrespectful. I affectionately held both of his hands and told him, “I’m so sorry for my behavior all this time. I will change! Through my actual transformation I will prove what an amazing person this teacher of Yoga in Kyoto is!” Tears immediately welled up in my eyes and I could not see the face of my father. He looked blank at first, but he then said, “You have met a great teacher! How wonderful!” He expressed his happiness straightforwardly.
From the next day, from the moment I woke up in the morning, the true battle began. But as I straightened myself up in this way, it was so much easier to relate to my father in a kind manner, as if all the things up until the day before were not even real, so day by day I was able to deepen my relationship with him. I now cherish the time I was able to spend with him; we laughed together a lot.
In retrospect, I realized that because the words I received in that initial meeting went beyond my intellectual understanding and went straight into and permeated my being, this resulted in me translating them into actions. Indeed, I myself am powerless alone. I am so awed to this day about what an enormous power the gift of Yoga can be. “To listen to the teachings, to think deeply about them, to meditate upon them, and to then act accordingly and actualize them”—we have always been taught by our Master, Shri Mahayogi, the importance of this. But actually, I realize that he gave that concrete method to a novice like me during my very first meeting with him. By humbly continuing to listen to his teachings, and by continuing to remind my mind of them again and again until they permeate into my body, and by simply putting them into action without objection, may I embody the Way of Life that the Master lives.
“It is possible to explain all aspects of Yoga, including asana, physiologically, physically, and philosophically—as a science. It is easy to explain them. However, it is more important to express the positive changes in the body and the mind, rather than to understand them intellectually. Awakening is not simply to know and understand, but to become and to be (to acquire through experience). That has been the objective of Eastern spiritual practices for thousands of years. The Truth is within you already, but the movement of the mind keeps you from realizing it. The mind is like the wind, the breath is like water, and the body is like ice. They’re all H2O, but it is very difficult to grasp the wind. So, given that the ice is the easiest thing to grasp, we control our physical body by practicing asana. Then, the breath, likened to water, will obey the body, the vessel. When the breath is controlled, the mind is controlled. Once the mind is still, the True Self is realized—that is Satori: Awakening.
—Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahamsa from SATORI
The following article is from a column written for the Ehime Newspaper1 on Thursday, August 14, 2008.
(This short column then led to the aforementioned event.)
To Teach is to Learn
“What? Yoga is not about health or beauty?” the owner of a café,2 who is a good listener, exclaimed, and then decided to participate in the class at Yoga Circle.3
Yoga leads to mental independence, and it is a path to know one’s true Self.
The words that a senior disciple told me when I just began to practice Yoga still shine to this day, “If you are agitated by negative words from others, that’s because you have a target within you. Once the target is gone, then no matter what he or she says, you will no longer be affected by it. The arrows will just fly through.”
Rather than blaming others or retorting, go back to your own mind and try to eliminate the cause deep within. This humble attitude, and the strength to not injure others, are what I channel all my efforts into, putting myself to the task of acquiring them.
In the class, I always talk about Yoga topics like those mentioned above after practicing the poses and meditation, but I also say the same things to myself. Participants, which even include elementary school students and differently-abled people, vary in age and nationality. “To teach is to learn.” With these words of my Master in my heart, may I continue to learn Yoga and deepen the practice with you all in the class, even today.
(Akiko Fukoue, Matsuyama City, Director of the Matsuyama Yoga Circle)
(From a column written for the Ehime Newspaper, Thursday September 11)
The Content Mind: Knowing One has Enough
My Master in Kyoto went to the United States at the request of his disciples overseas. Even though his stay is beyond two months, I heard that his luggage was very minimal.
Know that one has enough. From day to day I have been learning to be content with the bare minimum.
My Master’s advice stimulated me into action when I had an opportunity, through en (the auspiciousness of a cause and its effect), to be one of the committee members, as well as to be in charge of a program called “Experience Yoga” at an eco-event, “Live Earth Matsuyama,” this May. “Today, as we are being made to recognize that the mistake of seeking material things and pleasures gives rise to environmental destruction and climate change, the way of living of each individual is being called into question. Know that what one has is sufficient as it is—by acquiring this secret, little by little, the disturbances of the mind stop. And Real results are born out of this being ingrained into one’s being.”
“I have enough as it is.” The mind becomes calm as I innocently, trustingly repeat this again and again. I made miso soup while having that state of mind, then it tasted mild. It’s been said that the state of mind of the person cooking food is reflected in the food, so then even a small amount can be fulfilling. Admiring and aiming to become a true Yoga practitioner, one who is blissful without any possessions—I would like to come closer and closer to my ideal being by reminding my mind to be grateful for the bounty of nature, that simple things are more than sufficient.
(Akiko Fukoue, Matsuyama City, Director of the Matsuyama Yoga Circle)
Finally, I would like to introduce a powerful message of encouragement that I received from a senior disciple around the time I first encountered Yoga:
“I think that by learning what is Real, by continuing to put what you learn into action, and by embodying it, this will be the greatest gift you give yourself, as well as those who are close to you. Shri Mahayogi guides us for the sake of conveying the Real Thing, not some temporary freedom, joy or consolation.”
* * *
Column from June 19, 2008
When I was very young, everything seemed fresh and shiny to me every day. As I grew into an adult, just when I had almost forgotten what I had been seeking and what I needed to do, along with the preciousness of everyday life, I encountered Yoga. Thanks to this encounter with Yoga, even if I am surrounded by busy-ness, within, my mind is so calm.
Nowadays, my heart has an unshakeable reliance on Yoga.
When I just began Yoga, I asked the Master what to do about my unsettled mind. “If you practice asana, Yoga poses, every single day, you will become immoveable.” I still aspire to these words today and they continue to motivate me to do my daily discipline.
“If we learn what Yoga is, practice and discipline ourselves even a little bit, we must experience peace, if only for a brief or short moment. So, deepen your learning further, and improve in your practices and disciplines. For certain, stillness or bliss will well up within you, and you will realize that it is your True Self.”
—Sadguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahamsa from SATORI
Column from July 17, 2008
The Secret of Fortitude
“My body is so stiff, so I can’t practice Yoga.” Some people are afraid of practicing it, but Yoga is a path that is open to all people, regardless of flexibility, age, or gender.
“...practice of asana stills the body, whose nature is constantly active. This in turn stills the breath, which accompanies the activities of the body. Furthermore, by learning the Truth and practicing meditation, one can remove attachment and ignorance. Through this discipline, the mind’s agitation stops. Mastery comes only through training. Practice, practice, practice.”
—Sadguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahamsa from SATORI
I am a practitioner of Yoga who goes to learn from the Master in Kyoto every month.4 Needless to say, Kyoto is extremely hot. But we are taught that through continuous application of the practice of Yoga, we can overcome dualities, such as hot and cold, comfort and discomfort, and become immoveable. “The truth of things is, if we run away from something it will chase us endlessly; however, if we confront it head on, it will disappear without us noticing it.” A senior disciple whom I admired once told me this, and it keeps ringing true to me every day: it is the secret of fortitude, to take no notice at all of complaints. Yoga always gives hope. I aspire to share it with as many people as possible.
(Akiko Fukoue, Matsuyama City, Director of the Matsuyama Yoga Circle)
Column from Oct 9, 2008
To Bring Actions, Words and Thoughts Into One
“It has been said that if we tell a lie out of convenience for our own self, then we’ll have to start our Yoga practice over again for ten years.” Around a month after I started to practice Yoga, I was startled to hear these words from a senior disciple.
We are constantly taught to bring our actions, words and thoughts into One; to never have negative feelings towards our own self or others, and to always fill our self with positive thoughts; to maintain only a tranquil state. I used to have a leisurely and easygoing image of the word “tranquil,” but it’s different now. In order to maintain my thoughts “constantly” in a tranquil state, what strong enthusiasm I am required to have!
These passionate words from a senior disciple inspire me, “To concentrate our thoughts upon the Truth...is nothing like merely “thinking” about it. It is something very intense, to such a degree that it will blow away all desire, anxiety, depression, and regrets. By having this intensity like a storm, only then can the tranquil state of mind and the purity of thought come.”
—From Paramahamsa, the monthly publication of Mahayogi Yoga Mission
Even if I am a novice now, I aspire to continue to walk on the path with the strong conviction only to improve myself.
(Akiko Fukoue, Matsuyama City, Director of Matsuyama Yoga Circle)
Column from Nov 6, 2008
Everyone is the Same in Essence
When I first heard the words, “winning team, losing team” (a new Japanese colloquial saying that divides the “winners,” who are successful in business or other areas, from the “losers,” who are not successful in business or other areas in life), I was utterly shocked. From the perspective of Yoga, there is no competitiveness to begin with. What is the Truth?—we are taught to see the world from that perspective by focusing on that.
“In essence, everyone is the same, sacred being.” When I was filled with a sense of inferiority, seeing the growth of my comrades who had started Yoga around the same time, these words of my Master suddenly made my mind lighter.
I should not compare myself to anything. It’s more important to objectively look at myself. “Help others if they can’t do something that I can do, and follow the good example of others when they excel at something I don’t. Simply, that’s all.” Even if I struggle to fix an old habit, by always proceeding forward without shrinking away from my faults, I will overcome fear.
“Self-confidence is not about exaggeration of pride or asserted ego. It is the conviction to be able to motivate oneself to keep putting practice into action, while remaining humble.” Hearing these words of the Master suddenly made me aware of this. By bearing this confidence within my heart, by cultivating humility, and getting closer to my Master, may I treat every person, every plant and every thing, gently and equally.
(Akiko Fukoue, Matsuyama City, Director of the Matsuyama Yoga Circle)
1 Anandi happened to meet one of her childhood neighbors after some years of not seeing him when she was working at City Hall, and she spoke to him about Yoga. This man was working at the Ehime Newspaper, and later offered for her to write a series of six columns.
2 This was the owner of the café where Anandi held a gathering of Yoga for the café’s grand opening.
3 Yoga Circle is not an official Mahayogi Mission class, but rather it is a club in Matsuyama City in Ehime Prefecture, that holds a preparatory position toward the Mission, introducing Shri Mahayogi’s teachings. Anandi began Yoga Circle alone in May 2003 at a public space. Her passion and devotion toward Shri Mahayogi and Yoga heightened to the level that it became difficult to continue working outside. So, in 2009, she sought the advice of Shri Mahayogi, and subsequently quit her job and began to do the missionary work of spreading the teaching of Shri Mahayogi in Matsuyama.
4 Anandi lives in Matsuyama City, Ehime prefecture, located in the smallest of the four main islands of Japan, and the one with the lowest population. Traveling from Matsuyama to Kyoto takes 6 hours by Express Bus (235 miles/380 kilometers, about the same as from NYC to Boston or Washington DC) or 12 hours by a combination of over-night Ferry, subway and bus, (which is less expensive). She uses either of these two options when she goes to Kyoto regularly once a month.
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