It's the third day of Satsangha in Taiwan and it's been cloudy since morning, looking like it could start raining any minute now. There are more than 40 participants and it will be the first time meeting Shri Mahayogi for at least half of them. There is a little tension in the silent room, but as soon as Shri Mahayogi arrives and enters, the atmosphere immediately becomes relaxed.
After Prasadini's welcome and introductory message and a short pause of silence, Mr. Sou, who is a staff member, takes the lead and begins to ask questions addressed to Shri Mahayogi.
Mr. Sou: It's been a while since I began practicing Yoga. However, my meditation is not really progressing. What should I do to make progress?
MASTER: Looking at it from the perspective of the mind, spiritual progress can be seen in the mind that appears as if it has become transparent, that is to say, purified. Yoga is the task of working to clean the mind, which has been defiled by karma and pain-bearing obstacles. The mind actually doesn't have any substance, it is just like some transparent thing; however, due to various pain-bearing obstacles it is clogged with dirt. Looking at it from another perspective, the mind is something that can never become independent, and it is always depending on something. Working to eliminate these habits of the mind means making progress in Yoga. And in order to do that, not only meditation, of course, but the power of faith plays a large role in this. Practice Yoga with faith towards that which is Perfect, that is, Satori, or the Existence of God. By doing that, you will see noticeable progress.
Ms. Jia Qi: Savasana and meditation seem similar, but how are they different?
MASTER: (tenderly) They are totally different (everyone laughs). Savasana has the effect of temporarily relaxing the concentration and tension that was created during various asana. Meditation, on the other hand, is to focus on a specific object. In savasana, like the name says, you position your body like a corpse, and the mind is not supposed to think of anything. Whereas in meditation, you focus intently on the object [of meditation] and point the mind towards it.
Ms. Yi Fang: I have one issue. I want peace of mind and I want to practice, but I have various pressures at my job and in my daily life. Conflict and competition, especially at work, are unavoidable, but is it better to change my life or my job? Or does it help for me to stay, as a training for myself?
MASTER: Regardless of what other workplace you may switch to, similar troubles might occur there as well. Indeed, coworker relationships are one of the biggest issues out there in the world where you have to make a living. Many people have the same issues, whether they're big or small. (With encouragement) It all boils down to transforming yourself. The mind transforms through learning the scriptures, through practicing asana, and through practicing meditation.
Continue to practice Yoga devotedly. Then, the positive transformation will come soon. And just to add one more bit of advice: when you encounter trouble at work, what you need to do is simply act based on integrity. Be detached from the results.
Ms. Pei Jun: To give an example, a person with depression might have to take many medications. There are side effects of the medicine upon the nervous system, so how can someone like that practice Yoga?
MASTER: I think that simple asana, pranayama, and meditation can be practiced. And I think that these will bring about positive results towards symptoms of depression. In fact, there are students with these conditions in Kyoto and New York who have gotten better through Yoga little by little. Yoga is a medicine that is far better than even pharmaceutical medicine.
Ms. Renee: When one gets sick, is it beneficial to look for the cause?
MASTER: It's more important to cure the disease.
Ms. Renee: If one cannot discern the cause, then one cannot know how to cure it, wouldn't you say?
MASTER: Indeed, most diseases are caused by attitudes of the mind, diet and various behaviors and actions. For example, someone who is always anxious about tomorrow definitely tends to have stomach issues. Someone who is skeptical and doubtful of everything, will have intestinal issues. If one gets emotional and is easily angered, then they will have issues with their circulation and the heart. Either way, the solution is to change how your mind behaves. I think that for this, it is through studying the Truth, and studying and practicing asana that most diseases can be cured.
Ms. Renee: Which scriptures do you recommend?
MASTER: I am not sure what scriptures have been translated and published in Chinese, so please ask your senior disciples, like Prasadini and others. Indeed, when you choose what scriptures to read, it is very important to choose the right scriptures. When you go to the book store, there may be mountains of scriptures from across the world, yet how many of them are the right ones? So for those who learn Yoga, I always tell them to limit themselves to books that record the words of truly Awakened Beings. Scriptures from ancient religions have very often been diluted with various content mixed in over the past two millennia. There are relatively more recent Awakened Beings and saints, from the 19th and 20th centuries. You may have heard of them, but just to name a few, there is Shri Ramakrishna, his disciple Swami Vivekananda, Ramana Maharishi, and Paramahansa Yogananda, and it is very beneficial to learn the words of these Awakened Beings who have been recognized across the world. Their words have been published in English and Japanese, but I'm not sure how many of them are available in Chinese.
Mr. TJ: Earlier, you mentioned that meditation makes the mind transparent, and that faith is good for that too. I suppose that this is bhakti yoga. Please teach us how that can purify the mind.
MASTER: Faith is the power that propels all Yoga. Not only is it necessary in bhakti yoga, but it is also necessary in raja yoga. In bhakti yoga, one offers faith towards God. In raja yoga, one must have faith to realize Satori, that is, to realize the Truth. When one's faith deepens, the mind can detach from materialistic desires. Then, it will no longer be attached to incorrect things. That indicates that the mind has been purified.
Mr. TJ: So does that mean that through faith and actual practice, one can detach naturally from attachments?
MASTER: Yes, it does. Definitely.
back to top
(Today, Amily brought her sister-in-law. A young relative's life was suddenly lost in an accident recently. The entire family is filled with sorrow every day.)
Amily: To be born, to die, to get sick, to age—they are all said to be due to karma. For such a young man to die in an accident, is that also karma?
MASTER: Yes, you must understand that too as karma.
Amily: In Buddhism, it is taught that since those who die in an accident might not know what has happened, because of it happening so suddenly, they may be disoriented as to where they're going next, so we are told that we should chant sutras for them so that they find their way to a better place. Is it really useful to chant sutras?
MASTER: The day before yesterday, do you remember that I spoke about how when people die, they go to a dream-like realm in between until they're born into their next life? (Amily: "Yes.") People will go forth into the world that they envision in their minds. If they die due to some unexpected sudden incident, like an accident, they may be confused at first, but they will eventually enter that dream world. Toward this dream world, others, in other words, the living, are not useful at all. (Amily cries as she hears his words.) In Buddhism, especially in Tibetan Buddhism and other sects, it is taught that when one dies, after 49 days of traveling across the netherworld, the dream world is reached. It is understood in Buddhism that 49 days is the length of time that the soul is considered to be between this world and the next. So those who are left behind on earth offer chanted sutra, praying so that the dead can have a happy journey and be reborn in a good place. In actuality, the dead do not receive these sutra. But it is actually for the living, those who are left behind, to understand this journey of reincarnation as a whole, so that they can prepare themselves and accept their own [eventual] death in a calm manner. More than anything else, what's important are the thoughts in your mind while you are alive. If you have good thoughts and perform good actions while you are alive, then you will have no worries in the midst of your good journey.
Paul: In some scriptures, it says that chanting a sutra for the dead is beneficial. Are those scriptures incorrect?
MASTER: There are so many various teachings in scriptures and in religions. This means that there are so many varieties of people who understand the Truth. So it is just one of the teachings, to offer sutras to the dead, and it is not incorrect.
Paul: What is this teaching for?
MASTER: (immediately) It is for the people who are consoled by it.
This reminds me of a story, an anecdote from the New Testament of the Bible. When Jesus was wandering the shores of Galilee looking for disciples, he found a fisherman. Jesus told him, "Be my disciple and follow me." The fisherman said to him, "I have just lost my father. Please let me bury him then follow you afterwards." How did Jesus answer? He said, "Let the dead bury the dead. You must follow me."1 You may have read that in the Bible. There are various levels in Jesus's teachings. There is, "Worship the Father in heaven." Then there is, "The Father and I are one." Depending on the people's level of understanding of the Truth, he taught various teachings for various minds. What I can say about all of them is that there definitely is salvation in religion.
1 Matthew 8:21-22
back to top
Ms. Ayano: I would like to ask about Buddha's teachings. The seventh out of the Eightfold Noble Path is Right Mindfulness. Please teach us about it.
MASTER: The Eightfold Noble Path is the path to Satori. There are eight steps. The first step is the Right View, to view the Truth and this world correctly. Through doing that, one's actions will begin to correspond with the Truth. Then as great efforts are made, one progresses further and further on the spiritual path. The words "Right Mindfulness" are used to represent the seventh step. By mindfulness, what is being referred to are the thoughts deep within the mind. So the earlier steps in the Eightfold Path involve controlling external behaviors and the thoughts in the mind, that is, the surface level of thoughts; and then by the seventh step, one must make right even the depths of the mind. By doing so, one will reach the eighth step, Right Concentration, or Samadhi in Yoga, which in terms of the mind means that the state of peaceful tranquility in Satori will come.
Ms. Wen Xin: I have no idea how I should live my life. Since I still have to deal with other people, I have had to pretend to laugh even when I don't feel like laughing. Then gradually that has become my habit. What should I do?
MASTER: (gently and whispering) That must be so tiring. Don't depend on other people or things. The Truth exists within you.
Ms. Wen Xin: I understand that, but it's difficult. I know it's better to live life being myself, but I am having a hard time ending my dependencies.
MASTER: That is the habit of the mind. That's why you should create new, positive habits.
Ms. Wen Xin: (doubtfully) Is it that easy? (Everyone laughs.)
MASTER: It may take some time, but it feels more at ease than fake laughter.
Ms. Wen Xin: What should I rely upon to make myself stronger?
MASTER: The Truth, the teachings of the Truth. That is, by another name, God. The word God is abstract, but the Existence of God Exists! Think of that always as your most Beloved. And then as you practice asana and meditation, positive changes will definitely occur very soon.
Yoga cannot be effective without actually putting the applications of practice into action. It cannot succeed in your head alone. Yet, it is not that difficult. Practice at the level that is possible for each one of you. You do not need to have flexibility to practice asana. For each respective person, in their situation at whatever their level may be, it is 100% effective. What is important is not the ability to perform asana well, but to have your mind filled with tranquility.
Ms. Tsu Yi: Shri Mahayogi, thank you for teaching us always. Shri Mahayogi gave me the teaching of being more patient and kind to my parents, and this has been a pillar of support for me. But I still have a question. There are things that my parents have said to me, but I realized they said these things because they have their own sanskara, so because of this I have started to be able to be more considerate to my parents. However, my parents neither learn Yoga nor do they practice asana. How can they become closer to Yoga and the Truth along with me?
MASTER: The best method is for you to deepen your own practice of Yoga. So then the people around you will be amazed at your transformation. Then when that time comes, just tell them, "it is because of Yoga." (Everyone laughs.) Then your parents will listen to you a little.
Ms. Shu Shu: I very much agree with Shri Mahayogi's teachings. And I try to practice them to the best of my ability. Others have commented on my transformation. My family, seeing my transformation, is very happy about it, but on the other hand, they are concerned that it may have gone too far.
MASTER: There is no need to worry about that. Yoga is the golden mean, the middle path. So there are no extremes. Even more than that, Yoga also warns against fanaticism.
Ms. Shu Shu: I also believe that Yoga is the right path, the balanced, middle path, but my family is so worried that I will eventually renounce everything in the world.
MASTER: Indeed, when Lord Buddha was a child and called Siddartha, his parents worried so much that he would eventually become a renunciant. (Everyone laughs loudly.) However, his father's worry became a self-fulfilling prophecy and he became a renunciant. But, some years later, Siddhartha came back as a great Buddha. Even his father, who was so saddened when he left, became one of his disciples.
Yoga does not do incorrect things at all. Rather, it must proceed on the most correct path. To not have any ego, to not be attached to the things of the world, and to be content with things as they are. And to serve others selflessly. Isn't that the ideal way to live? However, the parents of the world often say they want their children to be successful in their careers, to be rich, and to be fortunate. It is as if they wish the children to suffer. (Gently and with encouragement) So don't worry. Proceed on the path that you believe in.
Mr. Zhao Yuan: I would like to ask about an experience in meditation. In meditation, the objects are supposed to be, "Who am I," or "God," or "Truth," right? One time, I was meditating on the true Self. At that time, I saw many faces I've never seen before, but felt that they were all myself, and I felt comforted. Is that the correct way to meditate, or was I mistaken?
MASTER: Proceed even further. That experience taught you that the consciousness of "I" is universal. Next, these various forms will eventually disappear and only that consciousness of "I" is realized tangibly. That is good. Please continue eagerly, with enthusiasm.
Mr. Zhi Zhong: What should I do if I hurt someone but can no longer do anything about it?
MASTER: It is good that you have recognized you have hurt someone. If possible, you should apologize to that person. If it is not possible, then apologize in your heart. Then, be careful not to repeat the same thing again.
Ms. Xing Yun: For what reason are we supposed to apologize in our minds? For that person? If the person has already died, then what would it be for?
MASTER: (immediately) For yourself. By doing that, the mind clears away some karma.
back to top
Mr. Wei Hang: In Yoga, are there any other teachings surrounding diet besides [not eating before and after] asana?
MASTER: Just that the diet is basically vegetarian. And eat small amounts. That is sufficient.
Fang Ting: Many practitioners do not eat anything after lunch. Do the teachings in Yoga recommend the same?
MASTER: People who practice Yoga are generally civilians. Most people have a family and a job. The diet can follow their lifestyles accordingly. Normally, we have three meals. Practice not to eat snacks between meals. (laughing). And as I mentioned earlier, in Yoga, since we make do with a small amount, do not overeat. And in addition to this, there is no need to fast either. [In this way,] you can practice Yoga in your current lifestyle.
TJ: I've heard that, according to the teachings of Yoga, practitioners should only fill their stomach to 70%, but in Japan, I heard 80%. Which is better? (Everyone laughs.)
MASTER: Indeed, the dietary recommendation of the Japanese [tradition] is 80%, as you said (smiling). In the old scriptures of Yoga, it's said to have 1/3 food, 1/3 water, and 1/3 air. But it is not so easy to practice that strictly. The stomach expands or contracts based on one's habits. So in that sense, it may be based on what it feels like, but it's ideal to keep it under 80%.
Mr. Yuan Hao: Why do we have the word "God" in Yoga? If God exists then where did the first God come from? If the world is non-dualistic, then why did Shri Ramakrishna still want to talk to Kali after Realization?
MASTER: The word God is synonymous with Truth. Truth is Eternal Existence. Only That exists, and nothing else exists but That. On the other hand, the mind has various relative stages. What is meant by "stage" here is one's ability to understand God, the Truth. If you ask ten people what God is, there will be ten different answers. However, the ultimate answer is that it is the Existence that is One, without a second. At the same time, that Existence is the essence of everything. The differentiations, such as what form things are in right now, is like a dream. What Exists there, what Exists here and now, is only Existence.
Shri Ramakrishna devotedly worshipped Kali. He spoke to God, became one with God, and then transcended the Goddess Kali and realized Existence. Then he himself remained in the state of being a little between the Absolute and the relative and saved people. To use the example, this is just like having a tall wall between this world and the World of Truth. People seek salvation and try to go to the other side of the wall, to the World of Truth. The ones that went over may not come back to this world anymore. However, Shri Ramakrishna and other Awakened Beings stayed on the wall, and pulled people up to salvation. That is the relationship between Shri Ramakrishna and God. In order to save people, these Awakened Beings gave comprehensible teachings that the people yearned for and that were easier for them to digest accordingly.
May: Is that the role of Shri Mahayogi now?
MASTER: Yes (smiling).
Iris: Since I was not raised with religion, I have difficulty meditating now. These days I have been meditating on flowers, placing them in front of me, but I am not sure what I should think about. Is it okay to meditate on the words of Holy Beings?
MASTER: Yes, that is fine. It does not matter whether you were brought up in a religion or not. All you need is, simply, to seek the Truth, to seek only that which is Real, earnestly and devotedly. In those moments, the words of the Holy Beings will guide you more and more for betterment.
Amily: Earlier, you mentioned "to let the dead bury the dead." But we, the ones who have lost loved ones, still feel sadness and are being emotional, so what should we do?
MASTER: There is no need to have sadness. The person who passed away is continuing on a journey to the next life. And his essence is the Existence that will never die. What you must do is find that Existence within yourself, and Realize That.
It is not a difficult thing to do, because That is already within everyone. Everyone is That.
Ms. Pan Pan: "What is the relationship between Guru and disciple? My current understanding is that, when we are children, the teacher is always close to us. I'm sure someone like Shri Mahayogi has many disciples. But many disciples cannot be with you all the time. For those disciples who can't be near, how can they learn?"
MASTER: Before passing away, the Buddha said, "My true disciples are not the ones who see my body, but the ones that live my teachings." That is to say, Buddha's substance or essence was not his body, but his Existence, the formless Existence, the Truth.
Guru and disciple can be compared to light and darkness. "Darkness is ignorance, and in order to eradicate ignorance, light is needed. Originally, you, the disciples, have light within you as well, but the darkness is so deep that it is pitch black (smiling). During this time, light is needed from the outside. Once light enters the darkness, immediately, that darkness is dispelled. When the disciple's darkness is completely removed, then the light that was already there emerges. What happens when the two lights, the light of the Guru and the light of the disciple merge? Then there is only One. Because there was only One to begin with.
(From the clouded sky, a ray of light shines through and surrounds Shri Mahayogi's body with light.)
MASTER: (beaming with a smile) Continue to learn and practice Yoga with an easy mind. I will try to make this body visible to you all as much as possible.
(As soon as these words emerge from Shri Mahayogi's mouth, everyone becomes inebriated with joy as if drawn into Shri Mahayogi's Existence. Pan Pan, with tears streaming down her face, nods with an expression of being utterly overwhelmed.)
(The place becomes filled with the sweet atmosphere of an exchange between God, who has captivated the people's hearts, and the souls that have just had their hearts stolen.)
(Unfortunately, the time comes to a close and an announcement for tomorrow's Satsangha is made.)
MASTER: (smiles fully then says in Chinese) ZaiˋJianˋ! (See you again!)
(Tomorrow marks the last day Satsangha will be held during Shri Mahayogi's first visit to Taiwan.)
back to top
* * *
During the preparations that took place before the special Satsangha held in October, it turned into autumn in Taiwan and the weather became unpredictable. The temperature fell in Taipei, and it kept on raining for days. Staff members held rehearsals in advance but we were all worried about this continuous rain, lest it become an inconvenience during Shri Mahayogi's visit.
During Shri Mahayogi's visit in May, Satsangha were held in the afternoons. But in October, they were all held in the evening. We did not have the light shining through the windows like in May, but the room that we had gotten accustomed to had a very different atmosphere. Participants entered the room humbly, sat on the floor, and were filled with anticipation. When Shri Mahayogi entered the room, and everyone's gaze focused upon him, it was as if we were all actually visiting a holy man living in a cave.
I like the sound of the knocking on the door before Shri Mahayogi enters the room. Because it feels as if it is by the resounding knocking sound in the silent room that something in my heart awakens, and at the same time, the tight door of my heart opens up and gets melted away. Perhaps it is through this that we are then finally able to listen to the teachings of the Guru with an unbiased, transparent mind.
In Satsangha, Shri Mahayogi answered various difficult questions from everyone with gentle words, and blew away the dark clouds covering everyone's hearts numerous times. The following are some of the memorable questions and answers:
Someone asked, "Is it okay for us, even though we are Yoga practitioners, to enjoy the world?" Shri Mahayogi answered, "Yes, it's okay to enjoy, but do not be attached to the enjoyments."
Upon hearing that, I thought about how we were worried about the rain that wouldn't stop during the time just before his visit. The sun and rain in the mind are merely temporary scenes. That changing scenery is the truth of this world; it's constantly changing, coming and going. It's fine just to see, to observe and feel these scenes. But be not attached. Because behind the scenery lies the most important principle. "That" which has created all and everything, yet never changes despite the fact that everything changes-"That" is the most important Truth.
I too asked Shri Mahayogi, "Is it necessary for evil to exist in the dualistic world? Is the purpose of evil, to make Divine Existence be more distinguished?"
Shri Mahayogi answered in an unwavering, stern tone, "There is no need to accept evil. Even if evil does not exist, Good exists. Direct your mind towards the Truth. Evil is ignorance, and it must be eliminated."
In the next moment, my anxiety towards the fear that comes from evil, vanished; because these anxieties are ignorance and impurities, they are weakened and removed eventually in our process of disciplining ourselves in the practice of Yoga. If we can shine the light of Wisdom upon the world, then the world will surely be covered in a land that is pure.
Even if I don't understand Japanese, I could heartily feel Shri Mahayogi's kindness and the unwavering stillness in Shri Mahayogi's answers. I tried to remember each and every word in my head, so that I could share these words of Truth and Wisdom with my friends and family. However, when the whole Satsangha ended, and I thought about it carefully I clearly understood that whatever I had received was something that cannot be communicated with words. I began to think that if I would like to convey Shri Mahayogi's teachings correctly, I must not only record his words, but first actualize them through my entire being. I would like very much to actualize the teachings of Truth in my daily life from now on.
I express my gratitude towards Shri Mahayogi from the bottom of my heart.
I am looking forward to Shri Mahayogi's next visit to Taiwan!
back to top