Translation of Shri Mahayogi’s words during a satsangha in New York
September 11, 2010
This year’s last satsangha is about to begin. On a table near the entrance to the room, the newly completed English translation of Satori is prominently and beautifully displayed. Columns of golden colored books glow like refulgent moonlight.
The room is silent as everyone awaits Shri Mahayogi’s arrival. Avishai, an Israeli man, is among the attendees. He recently took his first asana and meditation class after hearing about Shri Mahayogi from his musician friends. Jake, who has been coming to satsanghas regularly for the last few years, is also here today with two friends. At the very center of the front row, is Conrado, a Mexican man who flew in from Chicago.
* * *
(Shri Mahayogi enters the space gracefully and sits gently on a sheepskin. With a dignified gaze, he bestows darshan or blessinng, upon all present. Some eyes are joyfully fixed upon him, some stay closed, but everyone’s focus is on Shri Mahayogi.
Anandamali begins satsangha by informing everyone that the book, Satori, is completed and finally released today! Upon Anandamali’s request, Gauranga speaks to the Master on behalf of all disciples who participated in the project, expressing deep gratitude for the precious opportunity. Karuna also expresses words of gratitude to Shri Mahayogi.
Shri Mahayogi looks at everyone with a broad smile for some time, then offers his words slowly, in an unassuming manner.)
Master: It is only one book, but it was completed through your painstaking efforts. As a person who witnessed this scene, I truly and simply admire you. There may be any number of words [in the book] but what I want to say, or what I want you to know is only one thing; that is, your True Self is eternal existence. It is never born and never dies. That is the only Reality. The mind may play with the world. But do not let your true self get caught up in the world. Let your mind play the role or do the work according to the situation in the world. Its never-changing witness is the Pure Consciousness in the depth of the mind. Even now! That is your True Self. And, that is the truth of God. Everything is the manifestation of God. There is only That. You are That.
Well, if I say all this, you may not buy the book. (Sri Mahayogi laughs. Everybody starts laughing.) But I am sure there probably are other interesting things in the book beside this, so please look forward to reading it. Anyhow, it was just released today (smiling).
(Shri Mahayogi spoke so delightedly.)
* * *
Julie: What is the key to not mingling those two [the True Self and the world]?
Master: Always bear God or True Existence in mind. If it is too abstract for you (gesturing with his hands in front of the chest), think instead of the representative of it, a God-like being. (Smiling) It is a more infallible partner than a human lover.
Julie: I just recently came back from being in the beach for two weeks. It is very easy there to see that “I am That” when we are in nature. But when we have to come back to a city atmosphere, and use our minds to do our duties and our roles, it becomes confusing because it is hard to separate when to do our role and when to let go.
Master (smiling): What you can experience by the ocean, you can experience in the city. The difference is probably in the busyness. The city, especially New York City, is truly too strong a stimulant, providing you with an array of temptations—so much so that you have no time to sleep. So you should restrain the busyness and create your time alone little by little. Even if it may be in a tiny corner of a room, it can become your sacred cave and sacred altar for the meeting with your secret lover. (Shri Mahayogi smiles.)
Julie: Sounds enticing.
Master: That is why from ancient times yogis have been practicing and meditating at midnight. The day is for the activities of humans, and the night is for the activities of yogis. In this way, you can engage in the work of this world (opens his arms) as though you were in sleep. In the middle of the night is the real match!
Julie: But you are sleeping then too, physically.
Master (smiling): You have to stay awake. (Sri Mahayogi laughs along with everyone.)
Julie: Oh…OK. Meditation you are saying.
Master: Yes. (Sri Mahayogi smiles.)
Anjali: Shri Mahayogi, is there anything we can practice during sleep hours…when we feel very tired, when we have to sleep?
Master: Before entering sleep make sure to visualize a sacred image. After you fall asleep it is impossible. (gestures with his arms opens) There is nothing you can do. After you’ve fallen asleep, in other words, the dream world is the reflection of your strong thoughts right before you go to sleep. Of course, it is important that you have prepared your condition at night so as not to be exhausted by your day job and daily activities. For that, as I said earlier, you should deal with your job and daily activities in the world as though you were in [yogic] sleep. (Smiling playfully) You must not fall asleep. (laughs) At certain times, you should do your best. What’s helpful to you all in all—your daily learning, your practice and discipline—is meditation. You see, even karma is a result of accumulated unconscious actions. So then, karma or actions, if based on yogic learning, practice and discipline, must lead to reasonable positive consequences.
(Anjali, gazing upon Shri Mahayogi while listening to his answer in full concentration, closes her eyes and instantly responds with gratitude, and brings her palms together in a prayerful position.)
Julie: I have a patient who wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep. Do you recommend this meditation then? Will that cure him?
Master: Is that for someone with insomnia?
Julie: I guess that’s what it’s called.
Master: Okay, there is a need to provide more fundamental treatment. One is the correction of their daily lifestyle. The mind’s attitude also takes an important role. Because insomnia is a physiological habit, positive means need to be applied in order to heal it. Concretely, asana is recommended because asana can offer many benefits. Simply, the physical exertion is important for them. And they can practice the breathing method that I have taught you in class before. It is the cow pose. Do you remember it? (Shri Mahayogi looks over everyone with a gentle smile.)
Julie: Yes, the cat-cow?
Master: Cow. The cow. The pose of the cow laying on the ground. Do you remember?
Julie: I don’t remember.
Master: No? (Shri Mahayogi expresses his surprise that she did not remember, and all laugh seeing Shri Mahayogi’s reaction.) Everyone…
Julie: I will look into it.
Master: Well then, let’s learn and memorize it again now. Well, let everybody do it. It is the most certain way. (laughing) If we use the body [the body can remember.]
(Yashoda explains while demonstrating. Occasionally, Shri Mahayogi makes sure she demonstrates correctly and, nodding joyfully with a full smile, he observes everyone perform the pose.)
Master: You see, now you must know the difference.
Okay. (laughing) Yes. So then, remember this. In the yogic physiology, the right side is called the path of the sun, and the left one is the path of the moon. Normally sleeping time is at night, meaning that one enters into sleep in the time of the moon; in other words, when the left nostril is open everyone enters into sleep. And when everyone wakes up in the morning, the right nostril is open. Examine it tonight and tomorrow morning. (laughter from all) This is a certainty.
Suzan: I would like to know how long I should hold.
Master: Once you confirm which nostril is open, that is enough. So, for insomnia, or for anyone on a night when you cannot sleep or at the time you want to sleep, perform the cow pose and open your left nostril. That means your body goes to the right. (Shri Mahayogi brings his body to the right.) Then your left nostril is open. And when you are only half awake in the morning, or having hard time to wake up, then do the opposite. And before practicing meditation, you must have both nostrils open. It is not a secret at all, yet this part is not so known. When both nostrils are open, the practice of meditation is easier. Because you know, if you try to practice meditation when your left nostril is open, your practice becomes sleep. Well, I would suggest these things to those who have insomnia: open the left nostril.
Julie: Yes, Thank you.
* * *
Karuna: Shri Mahayogi, I noticed when we were working on Satori that the more we worked, instead of becoming tired, we became more energetic or alert. Since we worked a number of hours, in the morning we were tired. But there was a sense that the mind that complains…the mind that creates tiredness was defeated in some way. I would like to know if Shri Mahayogi can explain the reason why, and if there are any other things like that where, through work, we get the opposite effect—we get invigorated instead of tired.
(Shri Mahayogi nodded with smile while listening.)
Master: I am truly grateful for your hard work through the many nights. (smiling) That work created a state similar to meditation in Yoga. As meditation deepens, the breath automatically calms down, and the condition of breathlessness comes. But you do not die. Our existence has such an infinite power! Usual worldly work is simply associated with actions and reactions, and creates various thoughts and feelings. It is, so to speak, like riding a bicycle: you must keep pedaling so as not to fall off. (gesturing the bicycle’s wheel) That’s why you get tired. However, the work this time was beyond actions and reactions, sacred work, as it were. Because of this, while editing the book you were in the realm of meditation (smiling fully).
Karuna: Is it possible for that to happen with other types of work or is it because of the nature of this work?
Master: It’s the latter.
Karuna: Thank you. (Shri Mahayogi smiles.)
Avishai: I have a question related to that. As far as work for a musician…sorry, it is a personal…I play music. I play improvised music, jazz. For many years I practiced meditation through music…trying to just find the Truth, or purity while playing, while resting in silence and staying in the Truth. I wonder…what are your thoughts about the correlation between practicing meditation through music and just practicing meditation as is.
(Shri Mahayogi nods with a smile as he listens.)
Master: In ancient times music, and many of the arts, used to be the means to get closer to God. But after a certain era, their essence was forgotten and they became something by which to enjoy techniques or please the senses. All the more, now…now remember the essence once again. It is God or Truth. Play music always thinking of It. Within bhakti yoga in India there are practices called kirtan or bajan that use that sort of music. They simply repeat the names of God, but they have melodies like music. Practitioners always think of their beloved God and repeat God’s names. Think of each note you play as a manifestation of God, and think of your ideal God always in your heart. If you do so, then it is true Yoga. (Shri Mahayogi smiles.)
Avishai (nodding deeply): Thank you.
Prem: I have a question related to work again. Like Mahayogi said, just try your best in the work that you do. And it seems like the nature of worldly work is that when you try your best, there is this forward momentum and people want you to take on more and more and more. With that comes more and more responsibility, or stress. But how do you remedy that?
Master (in a crisp tone): There is a power that can truly and marvelously solve your issue (laughing). Needless to say, it is the deepening of Yoga (smiling). Simply said (firmly), if you deepen Yoga, the job will go away by itself.
Prem: Like the actual work or the approach to it?
Prem: Then actually he answered my second question. (All attendees laugh. Shri Mahayogi smiles.) So in the meantime, just continue?
Master: The real work, the real work that you were born into this world to do is not the worldly work but the realization of God or Truth! Doesn’t matter what your worldly work is.
Nilakantha: I have a similar problem. As a…I am an “imaginary farmer.” (burst of laughter from all) Many people depend on the food from my crops. The work I do is very hard. How do I go about doing my work without any worries?
Master: I will tell you a story from a long time ago. Gautama Buddha was wandering from village to village preaching to people. (Shri Mahayogi gestures Buddha’s walk with his hand.) In one village, a farmer asked Buddha, “What in the world are you thinking—wandering around without working in the middle of the day whereas I, a farmer, am plowing the land (gestures a farmer plowing the field) and working hard to grow crops for the people?” Buddha touched the farmer’s chest (placing his hand on his chest) and said, “I am plowing the hearts of the people.” Grow your crops like that.
(Attendees express admiration and approval with a collective “hmmm…”) (Nilakantha nods and smiles.)
* * *
Pratibha: What is the relationship between eternal existence and the physical universe?
Master (crisply): Play!
(Pratibha looks into Shri Mahayogi’s eyes. The Master gazes at everyone for some time and then speaks enthusiastically.)
Advaita Vedanta states that the world is like an illusion or a dream, and that only Atman is the True Reality. On the other hand, bhakta in bhakti yoga states that God is the only Reality, and God manifests in all.
This world has many changes and differences. They are all only the mechanisms to make the divine dream interesting and enjoyable. And this is the concept of lila. Lila means God’s play. Everything is the manifestation of God! Even if it is an illusion or a dream, it is simply and only joyous play. It is God himself. Right, it is you yourself!
Pratibha: So is eternal existence separate from the universe or identical to the universe?
Master (in an assertive tone): Identical and also different. It sounds like a contradiction. One’s state causes the difference in expressions. As to existence, in a strict sense, the world does not exist! Truly only the True Self or Truth exists. It is formless. And it manifests in this world to play. Even when it is within the limits of time and space, the True Self or the Truth has some sense of existence—not identical yet identical in essence.
Julie: So, what is not the same then?
Master: It is the mind. The mind looses the Truth and mistakenly seeks Reality in the world.
Julie: But is the mind God as well? Because all is God?
Master: Understand the mind, so to speak, as a tool of God. Just like this body.
Julie: What allows us to use it wrongly?
Master: Well, the tool at some point becomes self-assertive. Yes, it’s wrong. (Shri Mahayogi smiles.)
Prem: What state does the yogi live in? Both?
Master: In both, because there is another element—the work of compassion or salvation.
* * *
Karuna: Shri Mahayogi, recently I had a very strong dream in which I had two identities. One was a killer and the other one was the killed. So in one I experienced two bodies, one killing the other. And during this dream, I experienced great admiration for both. And I experienced that they were not different from each other, even though one died and the other lived. When I woke up I had a strong taste for knowing “death”. But also I felt as if I were dead, even though I woke up. What can I do with this dream in relationship to meditation practice and how can I understand this dream?
Master (while looking over everyone, speaks calmly in a serious tone): What dies, or… both the killer and the killed are mere materials. The True Self can never be killed nor dies. What you need to understand firmly in meditation is, you yourself are not the existence who dies! Fear of death sticks to everyone’s mind as the biggest fear. The mind worries about whether or not you are killed while walking on the street. The mind worries, even in sleep at night, about whether you will be dead in the morning or not. Nobody knows when he will die—whether it is tomorrow or the day after tomorrow. Such a fear is hidden within the mind. It belongs to the body and the mind. Let the mind and body die. The True Self never dies. Therefore, always concentrate firmly on the True Self, “I am the True Self!” Realize that, and eliminate the fear so that it will never attack you.
Karuna: In meditation, when the breath becomes very still and goes deeper, as if it does not want to inhale again, should we approach the mind to tell it it’s ok?
Master: No, not that way, but concentrate on the divine existence. By doing so, the breath will smoothly come to a stop.
* * *
Julie: What does it feel like to know your True Self all the time?
Master (emphatically): The mind is something to be witnessed! The seer is the Pure Consciousness, and it is the True Self. It does not say anything. It just sees and knows the mind, just like the light. So, instead of following your thought in the mind, (placing his hand to his chest) return toward the Consciousness that sees it.
Julie: Okay. (Shri Mahayogi looks at her with a smile.)
* * *
Avishai: I have a question about compassion. Compassion is important. How important is self-compassion and practicing that.
Master: Compassion…compassion means self-sacrifice for the sake of the happiness of others. If it is compassion for one’s self, then Satori, in other words, the realization of Truth, is true compassion for the happiness of the mind, which is the other.
(Avishai listened to the answer, nodded, and crossed his arms.)
* * *
Attendee: You said that most of our worldly deeds should be done as if we were asleep. But where does it fit in with other people, and shouldn’t those deeds to be done with a purpose and fully awake?
Master: Of course, it is so. It seems that the expression “as if in sleep” may cause misunderstanding. Normally, people deal with worldly work and day to day life as if life depends on it. Sometimes one may stake one’s own life for a job or to get attention from the opposite sex. The true work is none of these; it is to realize God or Truth so as to restrain yourself from your feelings toward worldly activities. That is what I meant by the expression “as if in sleep.”
Same Attendee: But that focus is on your relationship with God. Aside from our relationship directly with God, where in the hierarchy does our relationship or duty to help other people or to do good things for others come in?
Master: Yes, of course these must be done while awake. It is exactly as you are thinking. What I meant is, be asleep to worldly jobs or mind’s desires. These words are a verse from a famous scripture, Bhagavad Gita.
Nilakantha: So it seems that we are all “imaginary farmers.” (laughter from Shri Mahayogi and attendees)
* * *
Pratibha: Mahayogi started with the sentence that “we are Eternal Existence.” Now if I really, really, really believe in that, when I see my daily life in the world, I do not see a bridge. It seems that it is so radically different, that I do not really see the bridge between the two.
Master (seriously): That is not true. What is inevitably active in daily life is the body and the mind. Who is the protagonist in that? It is the Atman, True Existence. So, you must get on with your daily life or job according to the need. However, the protagonist, the Existence, abides immovably within.
Prajna: That seems like the actual source of the problem. The ego, on some level, must be aware of Atman, and it could not exist without Atman. And eventually its contact with Atman leads it to believe that it is Atman. The problem seems not that there is no bridge, but that the bridge is so evident that we can’t find it. And the problem is entirely a problem of perspective.
(Shri Mahayogi listens to her with a smile.)
Master: Well, what’s confusing all of these are the various thoughts in the mind. If you can make the mind transparent, as if it no longer exists, then the problem does not arise.
Nilakatha: That is really the heart of the problem. Since we use the mind as this tool, once that tool gets momentum, it’s so hard to stop when we apply it to work. At least for me, what happens is, I have to give full effort. But I think, at least for me, it is difficult to know when to pull back and let that go, to not worry and leave everything to grace, as opposed to continuing to use effort.
Master: Well, even if you over do it, do not have any regrets.
Pratibha: One more time, last time. I do feel that to some degree I have the witness in me that observes. What it does is that it makes me feel good. I do not feel attached to what happens. I do not feel I have big problems. So the effect of that has been that it makes me feel good and at ease, or at peace, but it does not seem like this grandiose Enlightenment. So, what am I missing?
Master: When you stop complaining, it is Satori. (Shri Mahayogi laughs and everybody laughs.) Satori is not about acquiring any special knowledge or technique. (Speaking boldly) You can say that (with a sweeping motion of the right hand) it is rather about getting rid of all knowledge and becoming naked! Then only the pure spirit (placing the right hand on his chest), the existence of the soul, emerges there.
* * *
Julie: What is the yogi’s role in being a parent?
Master: If possible, it would be wonderful if the parents realize Yoga and the child comes to follow their example.
Julie: What is the yogi’s role in partnering with somebody, sharing a life with someone?
Master (firmly): Understand that your partner is Atman or God, the divine existence. See only that in him. And enjoy (smiling fully).
* * *
Prem: Shri Mahayogi, this is your last satsangha in New York this time. I just want to say just thank you so much for coming to New York again to be with us. Thank you so much.
* * *
(Anandamali has been waiting for the moment when Conrado, a new gurubai, will speak up, but decides to introduce him instead. He is sitting in the very front of the Master, and appears to be in silent awe. Conrado must have been immersed in joy in the presence of Shri Mahayogi. During the satsangha, he seemed so overwhelmed; no words arose from him.)
Anandamali: I would like to introduce Conrado here, sitting in the center. He came from Chicago for only one day, or actually even a few hours, only to meet Shri Mahayogi. (oohs and ahhs from attendees)
(Conrado, overwhelmed, places his palms together as if in prayer. He is filled with emotion, and manages to speak slowly and clearly.)
Conrado: Tonight, my dreams came true. I wanted to meet Shri Mahayogi for a long time. I am so happy...he is so beautiful. (Shri Mahayogi and all laugh joyfully.) I don’t have words to express myself. All I want is for him to help me out and keep me strong because I really love Yoga and his teachings.
As a matter of fact, I’ve had this picture for over 10 years. (pulling the picture from his wallet) Prem gave me this a long time ago. Thank you. Thank you. This is in my heart all the time (places Shri Mahayogi’s picture to his heart.)
(Shri Mahayogi gazes at Conrado and speaks tenderly) Don’t worry any more. I am always with you. (Moved to tears, Conrado covers his face with both hands.)
(It is truly the sweetest moment and the highlight of the satsangha. Shri Mahayogi receives Conrado’s pure heart so gently. Everyone is moved by Conrado’s genuine and innocent purity, and experience the love between him and the Master. Sacred prana pervades the entire space.)
Master: It was a wonderful time together. Let’s have an opportunity like this again.
Jai Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa Ki Jai
Om Tat Sat, Om!
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