Prem: It’s been said that when Shri Ramakrishna entered samadhi, his breath stopped. Ramana Maharishi spoke about sahaja (natural, everlasting samadhi, the perfect absorption into the Truth). But why was Shri Ramakrishna in such a state? They were clearly the same sort of existence, but why did they display it differently in their different manifestations?
MASTER: That is exactly the mystery of it all. (Everyone begins to laugh, as a sublime sense of humor emanates from Shri Mahayogi.)
Prem: (grunts) Hmm...
MASTER: I want to hear Sanatana’s understanding of this.
Sanatana: Difference...Ramakrishna experienced various states of samadhi... (Shri Mahayogi laughs heartily at Sanatana struggling to answer)... If I were superior to Ramakrishna, then maybe the answer would be obvious. (Everyone laughs.)
MASTER: You may all know this from reading Shri Ramakrishna’s biography, but Shri Ramakrishna intentionally did not remain in sahaja, but made an effort to keep himself close to this world. That was only because of his compassion towards people, that is to say, for their salvation. Even so, the state of absorption into God, which came spontaneously or in a sahaja way, often pulled him up to samadhi.
Sanatana: You are referring to when Ramakrishna was told by Kali to “Remain in bhavamukha”?
MASTER: Yes. I am referring to that.
(Mr. Takahashi asks what bhavamukha is.)
MASTER: It is a state between advaita and dvaita, a threshold.
Mr. Takahashi: So advaita is like being half god and half human...?
MASTER: Advaita means non-dualistic Truth. Dvaita means dualism.
Yogadanda: I suppose that to remain in bhavamukha is related to Ramakrishna’s later mission in life. I think that there was a need for Ramakrishna to confirm that practicing each religion eventually leads to the absolute state. And I would think that perhaps there was a need to actually demonstrate getting into samadhi and coming back again, through his body?
MASTER: Let’s say there are people who found a garden with wonderful fruits behind the wall, and they enjoyed the taste of these exquisite fruits. Some will continue eating the fruit, while others will come back to the other side of the wall and tell others, “There are delicious fruits on the other side,” and even take their hands to go over the wall. Ramakrishna’s life was exactly the latter. Bhavamukha means to remain on this wall, which is the threshold.
(Shri Mahayogi speaks with a very compassionate gaze about the life of the Avatara, Shri Ramakrishna. The disciples are utterly silenced, as if absorbed into thinking about the beautiful life of Shri Ramakrishna.)
Mr. Takahashi: So the difference between advaita and dvaita, or between non-dualism and dualism—is that advaita can be likened to the eating of the fruits within the world that is inside of the wall?
MASTER: [Not the world,] it is the Truth.
Mr. Takahashi: And dvaita is like being outside the wall.
MASTER: It means samsara, this world.
Ms. Hotta (Jayadevi): Even though Avatara are born into this world in a state without any karma, do they have to recognize their mission anew?
MASTER: Yes. As in the aforementioned parable, when divine incarnations, Avatara, descend, their mission is already the salvation of the people. And another thing is that they will clarify the path in accordance with each era, or with the conditions of the place where they are, even though the path is in fact the eternal path that has continued since ancient times. That is why it is inevitable that the mission will come to be recognized within that time and space.
Niranjan: Shri Mahayogi, when you were young and sitting in the café1 (everyone laughs), were you analyzing like, “People in this age have these thought patterns or fall into this or that kind of thing, so they need to be led in such and such a way”?
MASTER: I hadn’t thought yet about guiding people at that time, but I did bring to the table various analyses during meditation.
It was back in high school. (Whispers to explain to Ms. Furukawa and Ms. Nakajima who have not heard about it.)
Unfortunately, that café is no longer there.
Ambika: If it still existed, we would all be storming there. (Everyone laughs.)
MASTER: Yes. (Everyone laughs.) I might go too. Like before, drink coffee and continue on. (Everyone laughs.)
Mr. Takahashi: Where was the café? (Everyone laughs out loud.)
(Shri Mahayogi explains the location and some details like how the café was called “Black” and had large windows and white open-plan interiors. He often spent long hours by the second floor window seat. Next door to it was a warehouse for a movie equipment rental place. There was also another café called “Mitsubachi” (meaning Honeybee in English) near his high school, but he did not meditate for a long time there.)
Ms. Umeda (Madhuri): Earlier you mentioned that Avatara descend for the salvation of the people. A while back I remember Shri Mahayogi mentioning that “a long time ago, I was not interested in teaching others, and it was just enough that I was being a yogi.” So that was your state and way of thinking. What triggered you to clearly find out what your mission was, of course, part of it might be the fact that people asked you for teachings? As Yuko-san (Jayadevi) asked a similar thing earlier, what actually happened?
MASTER: There wasn’t especially any kind of a turning point. To me, it doesn’t make a difference whether I’m being a yogi alone somewhere in an obscure corner or somewhere in a town, or if I’m together with all of you like this now. (speaks while laughing gently) Either way, the great mission will be accomplished. Even though the same things might keep repeating in this world.
Ambika: That is because there are so incredibly few people who are Awakened?
MASTER: That’s nothing new though. Another significant point is that the particular era in which it occurs has its meaning.
Ambika: The era has a meaning?
MASTER: For example, Jesus said, “I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill religion.”2 These words mean exactly the same as those of Shri Krishna. The expression is different, but he said, “Whenever and wherever there is a decline in Righteousness [meaning the Dharma], and there is a predominant rise of irreligion, at that time I descend Myself. In order to deliver the pious and to annihilate the devil, and to establish Righteousness [the Dharma]. I come into being from age to age.”
The same thing can be said of Buddha. At the time, there was a “spiritual boom” under way, much like the current time, and so various thoughts, philosophies, and methods were in trend. It seems that it had been so chaotic that people had no idea what was correct or not. That is why Buddha had to appear at that time.
In the case of Shri Ramakrishna, the demand of the times also called out to him. With the eventual contact in the modern world between the West and the East and with the further expansion of this, it was necessary to clearly declare what the Eternal Universal Truth is. Of course, the Eternal Truth is unchanged, whether it is during the era of Krishna, Buddha, or Shri Ramakrishna; It is the same. However, they were needed according to each era, again and again. In today’s world, yoga has become fashionable and it has gotten to the point where people are really into it, nevertheless the Truth is not sufficiently understood. That is what I meant by how the era repeats again.
1 Shri Mahayogi speaks sometimes about how he used to meditate at the café when he was a high school student.
2 Paraphrase of Matthew 5:17
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Sanatana: I had someone ask me about mantra, yantra, and various symbols and sounds that are introduced in books and on the internet, and whether if just by looking at them or saying them they are effective. I didn’t intend to answer like this, but I said that since these are not given by a Guru, there is no special relationship in them, so you can only expect to get some run-of-the-mill, general, or worldly effects so to say; and that I think that you can’t expect true spiritual progress with these if they are not given by your Guru.
Even if one gets close [to the Truth or the teachings of It], one has not yet met like-minded comrades, and a true guide—so then, does one’s own inner yearning, or causal connection, cause one to encounter them?
MASTER: Yes. It’s exactly like that. Truth neither has name nor form, in actuality. Yet, it is That alone which exists. Normally, what we experience as the physical body and sensory organs, and the mind, etc., are finite, limited only in this world. And these are what are born and what die. However, at their source, there definitely is Existence—within everyone. That is called Truth.
You can neither learn It from books, nor think and experience It with your intellect. Then when can you experience It? When all the mind’s activities stop, at that moment, suddenly the Truth is revealed like lightning—you experience that. That experience is not ephemeral like our daily experiences or the dream world, the experience of the Truth truly is the experience of Reality itself. That Truth is nothing other than the Essence of everyone, the Essence of all things, and the Essence of this entire universe.
The “I” that everyone normally uses as the first person—if you ask yourself, “Who am I?” you may answer, “I’m a man” or “I’m a woman” or “I’m this and that”—these answers only indicate a conditional situation or an experience. Happiness, unhappiness, all are mere phenomena created from conditions. Normally the “I” is tangled up in and immersed into these things, and you are lost as to who the true “I” is. Therefore, through learning the correct teachings, and eliminating false concepts from your mind, which means that as the mind becomes purified accordingly, so to speak, the Truth gradually awakens.
In this way, whether you are born in ancient or modern times, whether you are born in the East or the West, by using the means of [purifying] the mind that you can all perceive, we awaken to true Existence—that is what one must achieve in Yoga. That is, to regain your true Self, to awaken to your true Self.
For that purpose, many teachings were born throughout the last several thousand years. Mantra, or yantra—mantra is about repeating “True Words” and yantra is the geometric expression of a holy symbol—are means by which to purify the mind and to get closer to the Truth. That is their role. However, for example, the mantra “Om,” or many various other mantra, are not necessarily effective for anyone just because they’re considered to be good.
There is a very simple example that illustrates this. In an old fable from India: there once was a minister who was deepening his spirituality through devotedly repeating mantra. The king heard about this and thought, if this mantra is so wonderful, then he must know about it. Thinking that he should share the spirituality [of the mantra], he asked the minister to tell him the mantra. However, the minister said to the king that because he was told by his Guru not to tell anyone the mantra, he could not do that. But the king, using his authority, pestered the minister to tell him the mantra. Then suddenly, the minister yelled, “Arrest this man!” The retainers flocked into the room, and saw that the minister was pointing at the king and saying, “Arrest this man!” The king, meanwhile, getting so agitated by the minister’s words, in turn, told his retainers, “Arrest this man!” So the minister was arrested. Then, the minister said to the king, “My majesty, as you can see, even if the same exact words are used, their actualization depends on the person who says them.” Then the king understood the implication. That is to say, even if it is the same word, which is the mantra, who grants that mantra makes a difference. That is the meaning of what Sanatana mentioned, that the mere information from books or the internet (laughing) will not be effective even if it’s the same mantra. They become effective for the first time, only after given by an authoritative Guru who grants the mantra simultaneously with grace—that is how it is.
Ms. Takagi (Ranjani): So does that mean that it’s not about whether the words fit the person?
MASTER: There is a little bit of that, but even that is something that must be discovered by the Guru. However, it might be odd to say this, but even a mantra is just a means to an end. Ultimately, grace—the hidden grace deep within—is the most important. And the mantra has so much power that it is inaudible to physical ears, and it has been imbued deeply with grace (laughing). That is to say, the grace granted by the Guru in his or her silence is activated [within the mantra].
Sanatana: From hearing this, whether it is mantra or the disciplines of Yoga, such as asana and other practices, they are practically meaningless unless given by a Guru with authority. Then, how is that related to the faith of the receiver, or how much they believe in it?
MASTER: (With emphasis) Of course! That is an indispensable condition. The degree of faith within the purity of the practitioners—even if one uses the word faith, it actually varies from one who asks for worldly benefits, to pure faith—the more pure the faith becomes, the grander the grace manifests.
What I can say is that the Truth is already within everyone. In that sense, a Guru and a disciple [in essence] are exactly the same. Of course all things are exactly the same [in their essence]. However, there are Avatara, who embody the Truth 100%, and then there are ones who do not at all—between these two [conditions] there are varying degrees of difference. One difference is karma, which works just as if one is throwing shadows upon the mind, that has been created through the experiences of past lives as well as the past experiences in one’s current life. The cause of karma is egoism and the ignorance of not knowing the Truth—and these are the biggest reasons—but even faith, if it’s only for getting worldly benefit, is still in the realm of karma. When one’s faith becomes pure, then one is no longer affected by karma. That is because pure faith is generated and produced by a purified mind, in which ego or ignorance have been eliminated. So the practitioner must devotedly transform the mind from ignorance to Truth.
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Ms. Nakamura (Sarani): This is about an issue I have. Lately, I noticed that I have hurt someone through my ignorance and ego. It’s been months since it happened, and it’s not someone I see often and it is not easy to contact this person. As a person who is studying under Shri Mahayogi, should I apologize, even if only briefly, and even if that will make this person uncomfortable? Or should I consider this to have ended in the past, and apologize in my heart, and pray for that person’s happiness? How should I approach this?
MASTER: It also depends on the current connection you have with that person, do you still have a chance to see this person often?
Ms. Nakamura (Sarani): No, I don’t.
MASTER: Then the latter would be fine. But in the future, if you ever do get a chance to see this person again, you can apologize then. Truly, since everyone is born into this world with karma, as you live through this world, you may hurt someone or get hurt by someone. And if you start on the journey of apologizing, you may never finish in this lifetime. But to make this apology be definitive, which means to make a change, you will have to establish it firmly within. It is referred to in the Bible as “repentance.”
And it is referred to in Yoga as “Dying once and living again”—it is to kill one’s past self in an instant, and be reborn and live as a new person. Of course, this is not about physical suicide. It is a mental rebirth, so do not misinterpret this.
At the least, when you study Yoga you’ll first encounter the teaching of “reaping what you sow.” Regardless of what kind of experiences you taste, the causes that created them are within you, whether they are good or bad. It is sort of the law of the universe. Even if you know about just this one simple law of cause and effect, and if you do not want to invite negative results, you cannot help but to think of making things better. The rest all depends on whether you are making an effort that is commensurate or not. Through real actions, it will be validated within yourself. Therefore, you will never be able to blame others. Do not place blame on others. And you must keep taking steps to progress forward until you are beyond the law of cause and effect. Because that is where your own Truth exists.
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Masa (Haridas): I think that benevolence is a virtue in Buddhism, and being one of the Four Immeasurables—[Benevolence, Sympathetic Concern, Gladness, and Dispassion]—is to have sympathy toward someone’s pain or sorrow, as we often say, “to put yourself in somebody else’s shoes” or “to think about how others would feel”—and that is perhaps what the second word, “Sympathetic Concern” from the Four Immeasurables indicates. Imperatively, people are dwelling within ignorance, and even if there is sadness, its cause is ignorance. In society nowadays, it is considered to be a given, to be common sense to think from other people’s shoes, or to use your mind to consider how others think and feel. But, when you try to feel what another person is feeling, you’re immediately swallowed up by that sadness, or that pain. Your own mind becomes agitated. Is that called “Sympathetic Concern” or “Compassion” in the Buddhist context? When we deal with other people, how should we catch the “Sympathetic Concern” or “Compassion” aspect?
MASTER: “Sympathetic Concern” in this virtue means to sympathize with someone who is sad, to share that feeling. It cannot be done by patching things up just on the surface. Unless you yourself feel as if the incident that caused the other person’s pain and sadness happened to you, you cannot understand the depth of that sadness. It is like assimilating into the other person’s sadness, with sincerity. But at times, sadness can be alleviated somewhat by having someone sympathize with it. Perhaps, because through sharing the sadness a little, it becomes shared, and so the burden of it becomes a little lighter. That’s the gist and culmination of what this one of the “Four Immeasurables” teaches.
Toward someone who is in happiness, then share in that happiness. Toward someone who is sad, then take on some of that sadness through extending your sympathy. Now regarding “Dispassion” [in this context], it is to be indifferent to various wicked thoughts and actions. These are taught to prevent the minds of the practitioners who are halfway on the path, from having disturbances in the mind.
However, for practitioners who have gone deeper than that into the practice, they are not disturbed so easily, so they grope more proactively for a way to help, going further from practicing the Four Immeasurables to Compassion. This is not about just becoming assimilated into sadness, but rather to think and act for how those who are sad can get out of their sadness much more quickly—and this will become something that such a practitioner gives for the sake of another’s happiness, without thinking about their own self. That is Compassion.
Masa (Haridas): But when that happens, since we deal with the person from knowing that the sadness and the suffering of that person’s mind comes from that person’s karma, or ignorance so to speak, there is no disturbance in our mind, and as our emotions come to be clearly different than how we used to be before when we came in contact with another’s pain, so then I would feel like I’ve become a cold-hearted person...
When I observe Shri Mahayogi, there is no ego whatsoever. You are able to constantly assimilate with the people you see, and to grasp the condition in which that person is, and respond accordingly to the need of that person; waiting is also a part of it too... To be able to do all of that...this should come as a result of not having any ego... Shri Mahayogi does not cry with the person who is in sadness, and I don’t think the compassion of Shri Mahayogi at that time is necessarily assimilation. If assimilation is to occur, then Shri Mahayogi would become one and the same with the condition of that person and would cry hard with that person too. Yet, Shri Mahayogi is not cold-hearted. So how should I interpret this? If we understand what it means for us to become disturbed when we are in the other person’s place, then I would think that we would try not to be agreeable to this. Is that the appropriate attitude to take on for that period of time?
MASTER: Sadness, pain, and torment, they all can be likened to sickness. When you see someone is suffering due to a stomachache or an injury, rushing to help them might alleviate their suffering. However, it is pointless for you to get the same stomachache or injury as they do. What is important there is to accurately grasp the condition of their sickness, that is, the pain, sadness, or suffering, along with its cause. If you do that, then you are able to give an appropriate treatment. That means, needless to say, bringing the patient back to the original healthy state. The prescription and treatment are needed for that. Once the person recovers from that sickness of suffering, then they will be well again. That is the most ideal good you can do.
That is to say, the calmly rational understanding of life, as Shakyamuni or the Yogi have also said, is that “all is suffering,” “everything is filled with sadness and pain.” The causes are the self-created karma and attachment to desires; and more than anything else, following a mistaken concept called ignorance due to not knowing the Truth. That is the cause of the sickness called suffering. Therefore, in order to cure this, it can be concluded that one must treat it with the Truth, which consists of the teachings and the concrete methods. Through treating it this way, one can regain wellness and health. In other words, wellness and health, which means the Truth [in this context] is already within everyone, and even when they are suffering, it still exists there. The concrete content of Compassion is to give the accurate diagnosis and prescription.
Masa (Haridas): So what you have mentioned is like something that belongs to jnana yoga or is a perception based on karma yoga?
MASTER: These are not belonging to one individual type of yoga, but they are the basic foundation of all types of yoga.
Masa (Haridas): Let’s say that there is a case in which a person perceives some phenomenon that occurred with extreme sadness or received pain in the mind, if we handle it with bhakti yoga, for example, to understand everything as the play of God, then what is the most correct way to handle it?
MASTER: Faith in bhakti—bhakti is the devotion to God—if it is pure and heightened, then no matter what suffering or sadness attacks you, then you even take that as a gift from God, therefore you are at peace. If you have acquired jnana, then you can thunder out that the suffering produced by the physical body and mind is all maya and therefore false, so such a thing does not exist, and everything is like that of illusion. If your aptitude is toward raja yoga, then you understand that suffering is created by your own mind, and so you alleviate suffering by swiftly removing the ego and ignorance that are the cause of suffering. If you are a karma yogi—the content of the practice of a karma yogi is to devote oneself to the service of society and others—then even if there is suffering present in you, you understand that it belongs to the ego, so you ignore it and drive yourself even further into service. And whether there is suffering or not, you accept everything.
Prem: One of the great things I’ve understood about Shri Mahayogi is that the Guru gives a teaching that is the most necessary and appropriate teaching to each person respectively. I mean that the person who received the teaching understands the most about what that teaching points to. If that is the case, when we want to help others, how should we do that—we only know ourselves?
MASTER: This can be connected to what I spoke about earlier—first, accurately grasp the conditions of suffering. Also, accurately grasp the cause of suffering too. Even though they are all caused by ignorance and ego, you must not dispose of that suffering at once just because of that. Indeed, they are the root causes for sure, but you should be able to find further varied causes that stem from ignorance and ego. In order to cure the suffering, you must pinpoint what cause needs to be rooted out.
In short, if a person is suffering from hunger, give him food (laughing) even if that comes out of ignorance. (Everyone laughs.) Just like that, so concentrate so that you can provide the necessary thing that will directly and surely alleviate the suffering first. Such insight is necessary. Insight and concentration. And for your own self, you yourself ought to have known the original condition, which is healthy, very well. If not, the path or recovery will lead to a labyrinth. Therefore, it is necessary to grasp this using a force that is akin to assimilating with the other person.
As I’ve often said before, a healthy person does not even think about the body. They act as if the body doesn’t even exist. When there is a signal from the body, that is an abnormal condition, that is a sickness. The mind is the same. The mind complains about something. That is a sickness of the mind, so to speak. When the mind is healthy, there is nothing that the mind complains of. It is as if the mind doesn’t exist. It is true (laughing lightly). If your mind is healthy, then, you will be able to intuit the essence of all kinds of things, and understand them. Then you will be able to demonstrate how to act.
Prem: One time, when I was speaking with a gurubai, that gurubai mentioned to me, “We must master all the teachings of Shri Mahayogi.” My perception is a little different. My understanding is that if my inner realm gets closer to Shri Mahayogi, then as Shri Mahayogi just mentioned, even when I try to help someone, I will seize naturally what’s necessary to do by intuition. Is that correct?
MASTER: Well, I am curious to ask him about it (laughing). What I can say is that the teachings are not something to be simply understood intellectually, and memorized by the mind. What is meant by “master teachings” is not that, but it is about emptying the mind—that is the essence of the teachings. That is to say, it’s not about memorization or acquisition of knowledge, but it is about emptying the mind. Empty, in other words, is the purification of the mind, or purity, or transparency (laughing).
This Truth fills up this relative universe as well. However, normally, one can only understand things through the five senses and also through the filter of the mind. Unfortunately, that is the cause by which ignorance is generated. Even if you read all the scriptures in all the libraries across the world, even if you memorize everything like a giant computer, they will in turn become thick obstacles. Truly right teachings are performed in order to get rid of these things rapidly. Truth is not only about knowing, but “becoming.” You must become That. It’s a simple task of making the mind transparent. If the mind becomes transparent, then the mind comes to be filled only with the Truth that is omnipresent in this world.
This reminds me of something I spoke about in New York. The state of Satori can be likened to a vase floating in air, or in water.
(Shri Mahayogi explained humorously a funny story that happened when Anandamali translated Shri Mahayogi’s words: The intonation of the word “vase” in Japanese is different in his dialect, which comes from the Kansai district in Japan, and actually with that same intonation the pronunciation of that word is actually “turtle” in the Kanto district (or the Tokyo area—and this is considered to be the standard in Japanese today). So, during public Satsangha, Anandamali interpreted this as “a turtle floating in the air.” Everyone laughs hard. With Shri Mahayogi’s humorous story, the audience was filled with laughter, and even attendants participating for the first time, began to relax.)
Think of it floating in the air. It’s empty inside, and it’s empty outside. Yet, since life is still maintained, the form of the vase still remains. It symbolizes that the physical body still remains. It’s the same with water. It would be water inside and outside of the vase. It is the same all around.
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Ms. Takagi (Ranjani): Earlier you have mentioned that in order to examine the cause, we need concentration and discernment. Will discernment come naturally if we cultivate the power of concentration?
Ms. Takagi (Ranjani): Hmm. I would think that the intuition and other things you mentioned earlier—none of these can be acquired unless we proceed further, can they?
MASTER: Exactly. Intuition is the power to know directly, without concentration or discernment, and without having any influence from past acquired memories and such. It is similar to the senses. (Pointing at the light bulb hanging from the ceiling) When you see it, immediately you recognize, “That’s a light bulb,” you see.
Ms. Takagi (Ranjani): Even the ability to discern?
MASTER: Yes, the ability to discern as well.
Ms. Takagi (Ranjani): It’s the same as intuition?
MASTER: The ability to have an insight without going through these various steps is called intuition. It’s to directly understand the essence of something.
Ms. Takagi (Ranjani): So then, it’s no good if we still have ego, right?
MASTER: That is so. That is so. (laughs) Because that gets in the way.
Ms. Takagi (Ranjani): So then it’s just like if you have ego, even if you think, “This is a lightbulb,” you would think, “no, no, no, wrong, wrong,” (everyone laughs) “This is a different thing.”
MASTER: Or you may think, “What an old-fashioned light bulb” (laughing).
Ms. Takagi (Ranjani): So that means that judgments come attached to things.
MASTER: “It’s dark...” some people say that.
Ms. Takagi (Ranjani): So rather than thinking these extra things, simply recognize the lightbulb...
MASTER: Right, right.
Ms. Takagi (Ranjani): Hmm. I see.
Masa (Haridas): So that intuition is the thought that arises instantaneously when you concentrate and see into something, isn’t it?
MASTER: Yes, that’s right. That is to say, at times, that power of intuition comes after following some steps, or at other times, it arises all at once.
Anandamali: Sanatana and I were talking the other day at his home. When we have a conversation with someone, or we’re listening to someone talk, concentration and discernment are important and needed to get to the essence without becoming distracted by the superficial meaning of the words. I think Sanatana is brilliantly insightful. With myself, Anandamali, there is almost no thinking process to go through, or logic behind something, in fact my strength is rather more purely intuition. Now regarding discernment, how can I become more able to go through the process of discernment like Sanatana...but, is it really necessary to do that? How do we get to the essence in a way that is sharper and sharper...
MASTER: More than anything else, by concentrating on this teaching, Truth, this discernment and intuition will be cultivated. [Because by doing this,] on the other hand, you are eliminating the ego and pain-bearing obstacles that are the obstacles to these things, and furthermore, the power of concentration is heightened and one’s discernment becomes superior.
Anandamali: That is because, in a way, the mind is in a state of stillness when that accurate sharp intuition or discernment arises?
Anandamali: If we are continuously in that state, then we should always be able to do that, just like Shri Mahayogi—that would be great (smiling).
MASTER: But everyone has that ability. It’s just that they’re not able to exert it—because there is something preventing this from occurring. So the point here is actually not about cultivating it, but rather taking the task of removing that which obstructs it. Then these things arise automatically.
Ms. Takagi (Ranjani): So I said earlier, “...to proceed further” [we need to progress in practice, in order to acquire intuition], but does that actually mean “as we eliminate the obstacles”?
MASTER: That’s right. And of course, at the same time, there are many tasks, or whatever they might be, that you have to think about, or there are many things that you have to focus on. So these abilities will be cultivated through these trainings as well. Even so, the best strength, which is more than any help, is obviously the mastery of the Truth, if I were to use the word that was used earlier. It means to understand and overcome. Mastery here does not mean, “getting a hold of” in this context. It is to overcome: to conquer; to control. That is the closer meaning of the word “Master” here. If you already own something, you cannot not own anything additional [in its place], as in the example of the hand. Because you keep your hand empty, you can grab things as the need arises.
Prem: Another thing I understand about Shri Mahayogi is that he once said, “I do not give speeches, however, I will answer questions. If someone asks me a complex question, I might answer in a complex way. If someone asks about baseball, then I’ll answer about baseball.” Does that mean the same as mantra? Does that mean the power is behind the words themselves, and Shri Mahayogi has the ability to put that power into any words, so because of that, the point is not about what words he uses, but what’s important is that he has equipped them with the power to change people?
MASTER: That is exactly so.
Anandamali: So then, it boils down to the same as Ramana Maharishi... After all, even he does not say anything, it is actually the same, yet, simply for the sake of the person, he uses words.
MASTER: Yes. Exactly that.
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Niranjan: It’s been eight years since I met Shri Mahayogi, but for a very long time, I had a sort of a romantic (fictional or dream-like) notion in regard to myself, Satori, and the practice of Yoga. In my current daily life, my ugly parts, sick parts that I’ve kept hidden, have been coming out. I had tried hard to hide or cover them, and so I don’t know how others have perceived this, but of course, Shri Mahayogi sees all. However, in Satsangha, I behave myself and sit with a smile calmly, but then it is as if I uncover the fact that my superficial appearance was just a façade that was fooling me, and I explode only when I am at home, and only Ambika knows about this. When I am about to explode, right before my explosion happens, in the midst of this explosion, I am aware how silly it is. Even so, it keeps coming up. In that moment, even if I know I’m wrong, I throw a tantrum like a two-year old. It is truly embarrassing. (starts crying) At these moments, I feel like the past eight years of practice is gone and I am back to the place where I was before I started to practice. Scriptures say that, and through Shri Mahayogi’s Existence, I understand that ego is not the true Existence, and even though I know it, the ego still continues to exist. Do these things (ego) come out in such bursts only so that I can see and learn how utterly silly and ugly they are? Is it because I can no longer hide or ignore it, so it is time to face it (ego)?
MASTER: Truly, to eliminate ego or pain-bearing obstacles, which is considered to be what the mind itself is composed of, may actually be extremely difficult. However, the fact that you see, you recognize now that it still exists in the mind, and further, looking at it through Truth and feeling shame of having this mistake, is a very good thing.
This Yoga...or even if it’s not called “Yoga,” the task of realizing the Truth is a lifetime of work, and is even the task that may have continued for some lifetimes, tens of lifetimes, or some thousands of lifetimes. However, if you encounter the unmistakable, right teachings and Existence, then be courageous and strive hard to get rid of them as swiftly as possible. It is just like a Whack-A-Mole game (everyone laughs), even if you whack one mole, (Shri Mahayogi laughs and says he’s not sure if the game exists in the USA), other moles keep coming out of other holes. You will have to continue to whack them patiently, steadfastly. It’s a battle of wills and a test of endurance (laughing heartily). It will continue until none peek out of the hole anymore, or until you realize that even the moles too are the manifestation of Atman.
Niranjan: Then, should we choose either one of these methods—destroy them one by one, or see them all as Atman?
MASTER: Use either one according to the need in each time. Shri Ramakrishna said that to eliminate ego is truly difficult. Because of that, he taught to make the ego into the servant of God. Follow his ways.
Masa (Haridas): Do you mean bhakti?
MASTER: Yes. As long as we have this physical body, we each have a respective individuality. As the physical body has an outline, the mind also makes its own outline. In its nucleus is the ego. In sum, train the ego not be fettered by ignorance or pain-bearing obstacles. Do not let it be reigned over by pain-bearing obstacles. Conversely, let Atman or God reign over it.
Ambika: So it will change to the task of erasing ego.
MASTER: Yes. If you discipline yourself in this way, you will realize only Atman exists, and everything exists for Atman. So even if you find these things [such as these pain-bearing obstacles] within you, there is no need to have tragically negative emotions about them. Reframe them and switch over to a more proactive mindset like that.
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Anandamali: Lately, I have seen situations where misunderstandings cause issues, and I think to myself that I should be careful about them too. It might be because each and every person is looking at things and feels their sanskara through their own filter, and even the same word can be interpreted differently, leading to misunderstanding. I understand that what we, each person, can do individually is to work to eliminate our own ego and ignorance, then we should be able to generate correct communication and see things truly. I can, and each person can practice that. Yet, while we are still practicing it, how can we communicate properly?
MASTER: These are things that happen frequently. It is even specified in the Yoga Sutra as one of the main workings of the mind. Very often these things occur. What is lacking [in communication when such a misunderstanding occurs] is the insight from the parties involved, towards the essence of the theme that is the subject of that communication or conversation. Even though initially, there may have been a conversation or communication with a theme, because people do not understand the theme in an insightful way, they go away from the theme, and their own thinking and emotions etc. begin to lead them. When it goes like that, because everyone has different ideas respectively, one misunderstanding leads to another, and it gets even more tangled up. Then it gets tangled up so much so that one is not able to disentangle it. Simply, that is because what the theme is, its origin, which is the essence of the theme, is forgotten.
(a long pause)
Therefore, amongst the gurubai, I don’t think it is impossible for this to happen, but if one is not quite perfected yet, then there may arise many differences in opinion or misunderstandings. But that is nothing important. What is important is to discern what ought to be done, and what needs to be accomplished in order to execute that. What can you do? If you still have your own opinions and ego, persisting with the ego is going against Yoga, so if you aim to realize Yoga, you must strive to make the mind empty. There shouldn’t even be one iota of attachment. Otherwise, you cannot see the Truth correctly. And you cannot perform the correct tasks either.
There are some ancient sacred words, which are a mantra: “Tat Tvam Asi.” This means: “Thou art That” “You are That” “You are Atman” “You are Brahman” “You are God.” If you are Atman, Brahman, and God, then there is no boasting about it or showing it off. It is something that everyone can [concretely] feel and know—it is indisputable. And then you see Atman, Brahman, or God in everything, and act upon that. That then becomes selfless service. Because the ego no longer exists there (smiling), you will no longer be able to perform tasks for the ego.
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Yogadanda asks to know more about a conversation that happened during a Satsangha that took place a few weeks ago, about whether one should go from basic asana to nadi-shuddhi, or go from basic to further advanced asana?
Yogadanda: Both directions relate to the purification of the nadi, but I would like to hear about the differences between these two. And for the case of moving into practicing advanced asana, for example, I’ve also heard that when Sananda-san demonstrated many advanced asana dynamically at “Kaibyaku,”1 after his performance, Shri Mahayogi told him something like, “If you keep practicing asana in this way, transformation at the level of the DNA can happen.” I’m not sure if I have experienced that, but there was one period in time when, as I practiced advanced asana, my main focus came to be not the control of the breath, but rather the concentration of the mind. I would like to receive the teaching about how this way of practicing advanced asana relates to purification of the nadi. And about the nature of the people who are suited to pursue this way of practicing advanced asana. I’d like to receive more clarification on this.
MASTER: It is impossible to progress in Yoga by practicing advanced asana alone. That simply becomes acrobatic practice. (With a firm tone of voice) Unless there is psychological discrimination and renunciation, that is, the purification of the mind, you will not be able to deepen Yoga whatsoever. There may be a preconceived notion about asana, nadi or prana being material concepts or images, but actually, the psychological content hugely affects the physiological facet as well. Therefore it is futile to move towards practicing advanced asana just because you’re flexible. You must have had ardor for and faith towards the completion of Yoga, and only then, advanced asana will finally have efficacy.
Yogadanda: Some advanced asana are dangerous to perform, so in order to get into the form, it requires concentration of the mind. Does it mean that, as Shri Mahayogi mentioned earlier, whether you have faith or not, is key when it comes to this?
MASTER: (immediately) Yes, it does. Exactly. This is the most important point. Simply, no matter how advanced an asana is, it’s only a means to an end. It’s not the goal. It is only placed as one of the small parts of the means within a great goal, Yoga. People will often confuse the goal with the means, and make the mistake of the means being the goal. To express it a bit recklessly, it doesn’t matter what the means are. (Laughing gently) In short, you must get to the goal, swiftly—the sooner the better. But since it’s not that easy, it’s best to be able to exert as much effort as possible, using various means. Asana is merely one of the tools.
1A demonstration of and lecture about Yoga in 1995, Nagoya, Japan.
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* * *
Looking back, my search for Truth began during my years as a student.
One day, my teacher told my parents, “Her grades are very good. You have nothing to worry about.” My parents and the teacher seemed very satisfied. Nonetheless, in that moment, contrary to what they were feeling, I was devastated. In some sense, I felt that I saw my future. Would I continue to live like this, fretting over these things and fooling myself into being happy or sad based on them, only exerting effort to please others for something I am not even sure is worth achieving at all? And after I graduate, I turn into an adult, and then even after I get a job, will I repeat the same thing over and over until I die...?
From that point on, I stopped being able to go to school. As I found myself unable to understand what it means to live, I became confused. What is human life? Do people live just for the sake of repeating such meaningless things over and over again? Are human beings merely that? If so, this was horrifying. It was too scary for me to face head on, yet I couldn’t continue to go to school pretending that nothing had happened either. I was unable to meet or speak to anyone, and I just continued to go sit still on the desolate Imperial burial mound at Momoyama Goryo [in my town].
I have a strong admiration and deep faith towards the Truth. Because I found out that It is what I am really seeking. What it was that I wanted to know—while standing on that edge of the precipice that looks down into the depths of despair—was the Eternal Truth.
Since the Truth is, of course, the Truth, it is therefore uncompromising. It says that everything is suffering in this world. How invigorating that is!! That’s exactly why I was suffering. Yet, both Yoga and Buddha clearly show the path to get to that state which is the complete opposite, which is free from all suffering. The question I’ve had for years—What is the purpose of life?—was answered clearly there: “The purpose of life is to reach that state.”
The teaching of Truth is very subtle and detailed, yet at times, it is generous and dynamic, and it teaches us vividly the state of the world and of the mind. A sense of joy courses through my entire body, just encountering these teachings. “Yoga is science, like a dissection...” As I began to observe the world and the mind through the Truth in this way, with calmness and objectivity, almost all of my questions until that point were answered, and eventually came to disappear.
If I could meet my past self in that time, I would like to run straight up to her and tell her!! What she wanted to know most actually exists!! That indeed is the purpose of my Life, so there is no need to worry.
After encountering Yoga, and knowing the Truth, I finally felt relieved from the bottom of my heart. I was finally able to breathe.
Then, a thought came up, originating from the moment when I realized, “Soon it will have been ten years since I began studying Yoga...” I have been truly happy in these ten years. I have been freed from those days of despair, and I was rejoicing in the way I was becoming more and more free, as I practiced the teachings of Truth one by one.
Yet meanwhile, behind this, I felt anxiety—“Will I really be able to realize the Truth if I keep staying like this...?” I wanted to find out about the Truth of people, of the world; and I had been taught this, I rejoiced in knowing It, and I was relieved. However, Truth is meaningless if it’s merely known. It must be realized. I felt that just rejoicing in the knowledge of it, is like rejoicing in just hearing about the existence of a treasure, without actually going to get the treasure. I must get this treasure for myself. So, what do I need to do?—I then had another thought. I have faith towards the Truth, but maybe having this faith towards an intangible Truth has a bit of a limitation...perhaps, I need to make the focus much more concrete and tangible.
During one particular period, no matter what I asked, Shri Mahayogi always answered in the same way in the end, “Ah, it’s wonderful to think about God.”
God?! I don’t recall using the word God when I asked him, so I thought, “Why does he always say that at the end?”
At the time, I did not understand. However, right then and there, what he said and my problem matched. Yes, the Truth itself, having taken the form of a human being and manifested in this world, is the Avatara, which is right in front of my eyes—Shri Mahayogi. Through an unfathomable grace, I have encountered him.
There is no other focus than that. If God and Truth have the words with the same meaning, then from a formless God to a God with form—in that moment I instantly decided to shift my faith.
The shift did not come easily, and it took a lot of effort.
Concretely speaking, I tried to keep chanting the name of God. It was far from loving, but I made an intense effort to ceaselessly think of God. As soon as I noticed I had forgotten, I began again, only to forget, and then to remember again without giving up. It continued on for days. I also changed the object of my meditation. I prayed, “Please grant me the faith to worship at your feet”; it felt like I was not making any progress whatsoever; gradually, my prayer got to a desperate plea, “Please do not forsake me.”
Even then, I still could not get how to focus on God! Nor could I understand love!!!
One day, I suddenly had a premonition that the way I was practicing the disciplines was, in a way, not enough; that even if I tried with a thousand-fold effort, it would not be enough for me to get it in this lifetime. I felt as if the amount of effort required was presented physically in front of my eyes, I was overwhelmed and shocked.
From the shock, I stopped practicing.
But after a few days, I decided to continue practicing the disciplines; my effort might not be enough, yet I had no choice but to do it; and I understood that there was no other way for me to live. I am living this life after having lived thousands of lifetimes. Then, if it will take another several thousand, there is but only this one thing that I must commit to doing. I accepted this and determined to do it.
I think that it was just a little after that, that my mind suddenly shifted. The name of God that I was chanting like a magic spell began to breathe. God began to respond to my calls.
The direction of my mind was completely reversed. The mind that had been working in only one direction completely reversed; it changed direction completely, as if what I thought was up became down, and what I thought was right became left, and I was flipped over, losing my bearings, and at the same time, I fell into the big ocean of Love. I don’t understand it myself, but loving just to love [for love’s sake], began to dwell inside of me. I simply can’t describe it in any other way!!
In that state, regardless of what I saw, what I heard, or what I did, I could no longer think of anything else but the beloved God.
Calmness and objectivity went away somewhere else. The “I” that I was holding onto for a long time, blew away, and there was only “You” that remained there; further, even “You” disappeared, and only the exchange of Joy remained. Incomparably overwhelming love, which is different from the sensation of intuiting the Truth and the feeling of it that I had had, filled everything; I surrendered everything to it. When I was there, I honestly forgot about the purpose of life, and even realizing the Truth.
Bhakti—this step has only just now begun within me, in the present—I myself am living in awe of this continuous transformation. Right now, I just want to love God, whom I love more and more, to devote pure love to God, and to be One with God forever.
“We have attachment to money, and so this world is fun. We have attachment to the person we love, and so this world is fun.”
“If there is nothing to be attached to, there is no joy. No suffering, no joy, no feeling, no desire! There’s nothing good in that!! ”
These are the words the god of Death, Mara, portrayed by Yogadanda, shouted to Buddha in his final meditation, during the play, “The Story of Buddha” performed by the Lila Players in 2011!
“You don’t suffer if you don’t desire anything”—that sounds so ridiculous! “All is suffering”?? That is just so point-blank...
This was how I used to think, so I could not accept any of the teachings of Buddha.
The only teaching I could not help but accept was the “Impermanence of everything.” It is an indubitable fact, that everything in this world is changing every moment, and will eventually cease to exist.
That’s so obvious! I know it already—that was how I used to feel.
“Everything is impermanent? If that’s so, then even more so, there’s no advantage unless I have all the fun I can while I’m alive!! Everything ends anyways when I die! Let me just eat delicious foods, ride in cool cars, and chase beautiful women as much as possible during my lifetime...”
Then, the more the desires come to be fulfilled, the more there are new additional desires and attachments for not wanting to let these go that arise one after another and keep increasing.
It’s so futile..., just the vanity of it all.
As I carefully discriminated upon “All is Impermanent,” I began to see the reason why I resisted accepting Buddha’s teachings, and why I felt desperation.
It was because I came to understand that all of my values were based on the thought that “Everything ends when I die.”
No matter how desperately I protect what I value, everything will eventually fall from my hands.
If the time limit of death creates attachment to limited things, then all of this world is truly “Full of Suffering.”
Nevertheless!! There is someone who asserts, “The Truth is not that.”
When I saw Shri Mahayogi, who has been speaking with the same firm attitude for decades at Satsangha to all these people who confide in him the same suffering and anxiety that comes from ignorance, I thought to myself, “What does this honorable man have at the core to be able to remain composed in such a way like this? What causes him to be able to take on all these strangers’ lives to this extent?”
What does he see, and what kind of world does he know?”
Also, how was Swami Vivekananda able to speak such powerful words that they ignited the fire of the souls of the people as much as they did when he went in front of the masses in an unknown foreign land? What did he rely on that allowed him to declare that he would gladly fall down to hell a thousand times in order to save others from suffering?
These Awakened Beings know the Absolute Truth that transcends death. That is why they’re fearless and unshakeable.
What if the true Self is neither this decaying body nor the mind that easily changes... What if there is true Joy, that is much more than that which comes from money, or youth, or loved ones... The ones that have realized Satori, they are the ones who have seen right through this illusory mechanism.
Through Shri Mahayogi and Vivekananda, my mind was drawn to that which is beyond the impermanence of everything.
As a result, almost all of the value system that motivated me up to that point crumbled away. The only thing that remained was just one wish, to realize Satori under Shri Mahayogi.
And as a result, I was able to have something within me that was unthinkable in the past—the attitude of faith.
Having the feeling that I finally understood the teaching of “All is impermanent,” and with the joy that I would feel every day from gaining this passion called faith that I didn’t have before, I became elated.
However, even though as I practiced the discipline of Yoga, and was under the impression that as long as I lived in the “now” joy would not link to attachment, I recognized an incident that triggered agitation to rise within my mind.
In that moment, I had no choice but to recognize that in my relationships with others while I continued to practice disciplines every day, the root of attachment—“I do not want to lose this”—had become intertwined.
I thought that all the disciplines of practice that I had done were insignificant, and that even they were futile up to a certain point, and I felt extreme exhaustion and emptiness. At the same time, I also feared that I would never be able to get rid of this completely.
I had encountered Yoga, gotten rid of attachments, and then I was supposed to have been progressing in joy, but unbeknownst to me, the mind was slyly tricking me and giving rise to new sufferings.
Indeed, this is ignorance itself!!!
How can I get rid of this stubborn delusion? How should I live the teachings of Buddha?
There was an unreasonable gap between the two teachings, “All is impermanent” and the “Tranquility of Nirvana.” Then, I arrived at the conclusion that, actually, the teaching and the way to fill this chasm has to do with watching closely the way that the Avatara lives, that this has to do with learning from and applying following the example of the Avatara, and through practicing meditation.
To show the teaching through his very life is the reason for the existence of the Avatara.
For the billions of people who don’t even know they are dreaming, the teachings of the one who has realized the Truth, who has woken up from the dream, are crucial.
Shri Mahayogi! You are the Awakened One who has descended upon the modern world! Please teach Sanatana Dharma to as many people as possible, in the world that is gradually losing the true Essence of Buddha. I beg you.
Please teach me the concrete way of living It. Please grant me the secret of how to live lightly in this modern world, free from attachment.
As I began to seek on a path, a Guru appeared. That is everything for me; that was the beginning.
Therefore, from now on too, I will continue to look to, to see and learn from following Shri Mahayogi, who lives in the same age as we do, and I will continue to discriminate what Shri Mahayogi indicates through his actions and words, and eliminate ignorance.
If we think about the meaning of Shri Mahayogi’s existence in the 21st century on Earth, and the way he conducts the work, it is imperative that as many disciples as possible attain Satori.
In fact, for this reason Shri Mahayogi never stops. The journey to preach the teaching is now expanding across the world, and due to the utilization of a jet and modern technology, it is covering a far wider distance than Buddha could on foot.
Do we, the disciples, remain to merely listen to and admire the way the Awakened One lives, as if it were a fairy tale?
No, we can do much more. Let us, the disciples of Shri Mahayogi, say that we can realize Satori, regardless of what others tell us. Just like the disciples of Buddha realized Satori, albeit with different characteristics respectively.
I will never give up no matter what challenges await me. Since I have come this far, I won’t ever turn back. As a disciple of Shri Mahayogi, I want to realize Satori whatever the cost.
If each and every one of us here realizes It, then Sanatana Dharma will disseminate across the world, from here, from the Mahayogi Mission!
Jai! Avatara, the Awakened One, our Guru Shri Mahayogi!!!