In the middle of the satsangha, Ms. Nagaishi (later named Ambika) and Ms. Endo (later named Mirabai) arrive. Chetaka introduces Ms. Endo to Shri Mahayogi. She has been attending MYM’s classes in Osaka for a month. Ms. Endo is interested in Buddha. She decided to participate in the MYM class after having seen Sanatana’s blog, thinking that she could learn about Buddha. She has been drawn to India and has travelled there alone twice, once for a month and another time for three months.
MASTER: I heard that you are interested in Buddha.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Ah, yes, but I do not know much because what I know is only through the manga (comic book)1.
(As Shri Mahayogi speaks to her, Ms. Endo’s nervous expression subsides.)
MASTER: That’s a Tezuka Osamu manga?
(In a very friendly manner, Shri Mahayogi asks her how many volumes there are in total, how the series ends, and then goes on to inquire how the classes have been for her.)
(After that, Ms. Endo explains that she was very nervous after hearing many things about Shri Mahayogi from Ms. Nagaishi on their way to the Ashrama. Her comment triggers a big laugh from everyone.)
MASTER: So, you felt admiration for Buddha?
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Hmmm, at first, I read the manga when I was in junior high school, and although I haven’t done anything about it since then, as a junior high student I was very curious about it...even though I have never intentionally taken any action on that curiosity. I went to India, and [there] I was still somewhat interested, though it wasn’t like I did anything about it.
After I started going to the MYM’s classes, I was taught so many different things and I became interested [in Yoga]... Didn’t Shri Mahayogi learn Yoga from someone in the beginning?
MASTER: No, not quite (laughs). [It happened] naturally, autonomously (laughs).
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): (laughing from being perplexed) I have no idea how to ask...
(The questions and answers between Shri Mahayogi and the attendees continue.)
(Ms. Endo, who is a bit nervous, listens to the others speak, then begins to speak again after Chetaka prompts her.)
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): I don’t even know the first thing about Yoga.... I was told to practice concentration, which is laid out as step one, yet I am in a state in which I can’t even concentrate. I cannot even grasp it. I don’t quite know what it means “to concentrate.” I haven’t understood what it means “to gather the mind into one point.” Will I eventually be able to do this as I continue?
MASTER: You’ve mentioned that you are interested in Buddha. That means that you could say that you are concentrating on Buddha, no matter how many other historical figures have existed. Technically speaking—it may be a bit strange to say it that way—but the more fundamental way of concentration, if you are concentrating on Buddha, should be to feel Buddha more, to align your thoughts with Buddha, or, in other words, to gaze upon Buddha. Then that will naturally become concentration. So, it isn’t difficult at all, because choosing your ideal object and thinking about it, is concentration. And as the object is guided towards the Truth, such as concentrating on Buddha or setting out to discern what the Truth in life is, various things will be resolved.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Does “things getting resolved” mean that a change takes place in one’s way of perceiving things?
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): When I’m concentrating, at times I feel pressing pain.
MASTER: Do you feel like suffocating, or is it more about the chest, or that your heart or mind feels pain?
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Well, sometimes my chest becomes painful. I’m not sure what kind of condition I am in when that happens, but it is different from concentrating, isn’t it?
MASTER: No, that is concentrating. It is characteristic of the mind to be more outward [than inward]; it is always activating toward the external. Although the mind receives various things from outside through the senses, thinks, and recognizes things, of course, the mind by its nature is not good at going further inward beyond that. After roughly categorizing and separating what it receives, it then stores [these things] within an apparatus, that is, memory. And the mind will not try to pursue it any further. It then activates outwardly again. And thus the mind gathers similar kinds of things, as like attracts like, while at the same time not letting in anything that it despises. These are the mind’s characteristics. Because concentration [in meditation] entails going inward, when that line I just mentioned is crossed, a sensation of pressure or a feeling of suffocation may arise. That is the natural characteristic of the mind.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): What does meditation feel like when one is meditating?
MASTER: In the state of meditation, it is not possible to notice oneself meditating. Whereas in concentration, the mind is intentionally concentrating, so it recognizes that it is sufficiently concentrating. But when the concentration deepens, the effort to gather the mind and focus it on the object loosens its grip, and the mind enters into the object seamlessly. The sensation is that of the mind assimilating with the object. That state is called meditation. Concentration and meditation are words that differentiate these states. Therefore, meditation is when the mind is completely free of exertion and is assimilated into the object, expanding with it. That’s why when you are meditating, you cannot know that you are meditating while you are in the state of meditation. It’s not possible to recognize it, because once recognition happens, the mind goes back to the state of concentration. However, once one has come out of meditation, a clear and distinct impression based on the experiences that occurred during meditation has been carved into the mind. That is how you will recognize that you were meditating. And further, it is also accompanied by a sense of comfort. Well, you’ll just have to experience that for yourself.
If you really like Buddha, then it is good to meditate on him.2 So, concentrate on Buddha. Hold your favorite form of his in your mind—of course a portrait of him seated placed in front of you could be fine—and concentrate upon it, trying to actually take in and feel his real breath, the way he really breathed.
1 Buddha by Tezuka Osamu is available in English as well as other languages.
2 See footnote 4 of the satsangha on Nov 10, 2001
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(Medha, while concentrating on Shri Mahayogi’s words, abruptly begins to speak.)
Medha: It was a very scary feeling, a sense of dread that suddenly arose in me. My favorite saying by Buddha is, “Walk the path like a wind untrappable by nets, like a lion unafraid of voices, and alone like a rhinoceros’ horn.” These words coincide with my simple prayers and wishes from my childhood. Yet, in actuality, something triggered me and I was suddenly seized with fear, trembling, and so I meditated as if I were running away from it...
Even though I like those words, and even though I have wished for that since childhood, after trying it for thirty years I admit that I have only kept piling things on to cover myself more and more, and in reality, the truth of the matter is that internally I have been getting weaker and weaker—that is my reality and I have not been able to break out of it, not even once. But I feel intensely that I want to enliven myself by making these favorite words of mine a reality through my actions and by mastering them. May I ask, how should I concretely practice meditation in order to actually reach that? And concretely, how do I express the words that I have read or studied that inspire my heart in my daily actions?
MASTER: First, in regards to conquering fear, everyone may have such things. Obviously, there is death that is inevitable to all, and following that are the various aspects of fear associated with death that attack you. Although in order to eliminate that fear, it is imperative that you discriminate, study, and meditate, of course; but you should give yourself over to fear itself—that way of meditation is effective. Fear persistently stands in the way and the mind keeps withering from it—in this relationship, even if you forget about it at times, it will continue to come up again and again and will never cease. And even if you do apply some level of discrimination and understand the logic underlying that fear, [and come to know] that such a thing does not exist and that it is the impression on the mind that creates it, as soon as it re-emerges, the mind harbors fear again—to harbor irrational fear in spite of that logic is the nature of the mind. When fear arises, although I don’t mean that you should act out of desperation (laughs), you should give the mind over to fear itself. Strike it (slaps the back of his right hand into the left palm). But, rather than striking, it feels more like giving the mind over [to fear]. Once you give the mind over to fear, then that fear will immediately disappear. Of course, you will have to seriously and earnestly give it over, not just pretend to do so.
(Shri Mahayogi is speaking forcefully, and he pauses a little before he begins to speak to her gently.)
As for daily action, it is best to emulate the actions of someone who is your ideal. For example, if Buddha is your ideal, then think and meditate on him from moment to moment, imagining how Buddha would have acted in a particular situation, while having the aim to be like him, and constantly act based on that. Of course, the era and lifestyle are different, so it cannot be exactly the same. Yet if you think of how Buddha would have thought, how he would have felt, how he would have acted, then you ought to be able to perform right actions according to each moment and each particular case. That is the easiest and most reliable way. Actually, I often did that myself (laughs). I really concentrated and meditated on Buddha—how Buddha reasoned and thought. [If you do this], then the scriptures about Buddha no longer matter. You need nothing at all. Feel and understand it through meditation. You will even be able to feel the rhythm of his breath, his body temperature. That is for certain.
(Ms. Endo, who earlier said she did not understand meditation, is listening intently to Shri Mahayogi’s answer. Perhaps the content of this answer spoke directly to her mind. As if to answer the sincere gazes from these two disciples, Shri Mahayogi looks back and forth between Ms. Endo and Medha while speaking about meditating upon Buddha.)
(Some days later, Ms. Endo mentioned that she could not forget the appearance of Shri Mahayogi that day, and she kept thinking about it even during work. Medha said that, yes, it was as if something was peeled away after asking that question.)
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(Ms. Endo is very quiet again today. It seems that she had been proactively asking questions during the class, so she was again urged by Chetaka to ask a question.)
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Currently, I am practicing asana regularly at home, and I try to sit for meditation a little bit after that. Maybe the way I am concentrating is incorrect, but my skin becomes very painful. It takes a good while for me to reach the point of concentration, and once it starts, I am aware of my head and there is a tube through which air is flowing, and I am sitting there, but the friction between my skin and clothing that results from the slight movements of breathing feels very painful. I get uncomfortable and often it will linger for some time afterwards. I thought I was concentrating on the wrong place. So, I asked Chetaka and he suggested that perhaps I am concentrating on the external. He advised me that I should rather concentrate deeper within myself, but to also ask Shri Mahayogi about it.
MASTER: Maybe you are wearing bad clothing? (Everyone bursts out laughing.) Isn’t that so? If the fabric is synthetic, or surfaces are not smooth, then at times you may feel them very acutely as a stimulus like a thorn. This is a very physical aspect. If that’s the case, you should wear something more comfortable. And, as Chetaka says, concentrate deeper within, as in the depths of the center of the chest, neither on the surface nor towards the back, but more centrally, inside; rather than the skin, make [the point of concentration] the heart, which is inside the body.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Inside doesn’t mean the heart, correct? You mean the center?
MASTER: Yes, the heart is slightly towards the left, so the center is more towards the right. Therefore, the [location of] the internal sensation is the heart, just like the heart is there inside. Gather your concentration there.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Most of the time I do this before going to bed, so I’m wearing pajamas, ordinary cotton, or perhaps synthetic? I’m not sure (laughs), it may be cotton.
MASTER: Then your clothing should be fine.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): So that means that I am directing my concentration to the external, to the surface, correct?
MASTER: Well, perhaps what might be happening is that it might be an issue of posture, that the chest is sunken in towards the front slightly. If that is the case, then you may feel the sensation outside the chest. So, straighten the spine again. Then bring your concentration to the center. That will take care of it, and you’ll no longer be bothered by the external.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): I can’t quite grasp the image of bringing my awareness to the center.
MASTER: It may not go well at the beginning, but as you continue, you’ll be able to grasp it.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Regarding concentrating on one point—it was suggested that I imagine the lotus flower, but I am having a hard time to imagine it. So I wonder if there is something much more concrete. I try to sit, even for a brief moment, for meditation when I need to resolve something on my mind. But rather than doing one-pointed concentration, I find that I keep thinking of these issues while sitting, because the reason I sat in the first place was to find a solution. So I still don’t understand what meditation is at all.
MASTER: The objects of meditation can be classified into three main [types]. The first is, “Who am I?” That is to seek Atman, that is, the true Self, and concentrate solely upon That. The word and concept of “I” becomes an entryway to That. Another one is God, or a God-like Existence, which is to think of the image of the ideal God in that same location [in the center]. And one more is to concentrate upon an abstract thing, the Truth. Various thoughts will apply to this third one. No matter what thoughts arise, realize whether they are the Truth or not through meditation.
Therefore, you must categorize the objects of your meditation into one of these three pillars. That means that you must choose just one [each time you meditate]. If it is muddled, then the sense of concentration is not that easy to grasp.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): So, then I have to choose one out of the three?
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Is it about choosing something that you find easier to do?
MASTER (sternly): It’s about what it is that you are seeking. It’s not a matter of ease, it is about what you are earnestly and seriously seeking. Through that, it will naturally lead to what you feel as being most dear to you or what is most urgent.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): The destination is all the same, right?
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Its appearance is different, so it is about what appearance you seek?
MASTER: That is so. The difference lies in the multiple facets or manifestations of the Truth. Therefore, the first one [that was mentioned], which is to inquire into the Self, is jnana yoga; meditating upon a divine Existence is bhakti yoga; and ascertaining the Truth is raja yoga. In that way, the names differ according to the object and the content of concentration; however, the destination is the same, and whether it is bhakti yoga or jnana yoga, discrimination—the task of removing pain-bearing obstacles that may still remain within the mind—is required in order to increase the purity [of jnana or bhakti.] Pain-bearing obstacles will be renounced as they come face-to-face with the Truth through the path of raja yoga. Therefore, remember this well, and choose the object [of meditation] that you can most keenly seek.
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Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Chetaka told me that practicing asana alone cannot resolve everything. Sitting—that is the crucial part. But it’s still vague to me.
MASTER: Exactly (laughs). So, taking the third method—meditating on the Truth, or in other words, whether it be the discrimination and purification of the mind, or the Truth—if you have not attained Satori, it is merely [at the level of] intellectual understanding or intuition. Therefore, it is not reliable [as it is not completely resolved yet], precisely speaking. But, if you could deepen your search through meditation and come to know the Essence, then you will know clearly whether the words in the scriptures, or the words of holy beings, are the Truth or not. So until the attainment of Satori, you must meditate, even if it is with just a piece of information, to confirm and then to know the Essence. Even the words in the scriptures did not exist as scriptures initially. The words that were spoken by the Awakened Ones were recorded, and over a long period of time they came to be called scriptures. The reason why they came to be called scriptures is because these words, regardless of the era or the location, continue to shine forth as living words. Speaking the unchanging Truth is the Truth, and the words that are collections of Truth, became scriptures. Therefore, think of how Buddha, for example, would interpret the words from these scriptures, or these various books, or even how he would interpret what your mind feels is the Truth, and think of what conclusions he would arrive at. That is to say, meditating directly on Buddha himself, you will be able to know whether his legacy of words are actually Buddha’s or not.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): To be able to know means to feel it through intuition?
MASTER: Yes. It is to know the Essence as something unmistakable.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Is intuition always correct, or not necessarily?
MASTER: Not necessarily. Because there is still the task of confirming it.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Hmmm.
MASTER: Don’t you all have a habit of always observing things in the world based on relative standards such as what is right or wrong, good or bad? Regardless of what that is, start with relinquishing your preconceived ideas. And where will you place your standards then? If concepts such as Real, True, Eternal, or Universal are contained therein, then you will intuit those as being the Truth. If they are even the slightest bit mixed with something else, then that’s not it. In that way, remove [yourself] from the relative realm of ordinary standards of value and verify the absoluteness of phenomena. So even when thinking about Buddha, you might have your unique impression of Buddha. Probably, it can’t be argued whether it’s this way or that, and if you ask ten people, ten particular impressions of Buddha may appear. That is not the problem. What is common to all is the image of a perfected Awakened Being, or an impression of a perfect Existence. That is fine as it is. That is why the ideal God-like Existence can be different for each person in its external appearance or name. However, the internal reality is common to all.
Was it the current issue [of Paramahamsa] that had a part about meditating on the Awakened Ones3?
Sanatana: Do you mean the Yoga Sutra article? Yes.
MASTER: I think that this issue of Paramahamsa had the ones that Sanatana translated, right? That one [sutra] contains what I just mentioned.
3 “Or when the mind is applied to those who are free from attachment.” Yoga Sutra 1:37
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Ms. Endo (Mirabai): What happens as one continues to meditate? There are three ways, and they are all going towards one [destination], but if one cannot reach it, then it is merely a means to an end, or will even “a means to an end” eventually cause something to change as one continues? (Her voice fades into a whisper towards the end.)
MASTER: Ask the experienced ones (laughs). That will be the easiest way to understand. Mr. Sanatana, what about you (laughs)? What happens when you continue to meditate?
Sanatana: Ms. Okunishi asked me the same thing in class a while ago. I heard later that my answer was that one’s daily life will transform. She told me that when she heard that, she understood that it wasn’t like gaining health or gaining super powers, but that it would happen in her ordinary daily life, and that it has nothing to do with the benefits of worship. I totally forgot that I said that, but I think that it is so. For example, when I think back to the Jayanti a year ago, I do not think about what I was thinking then. If I look at my current self, I have changed my thinking drastically to the point where it would have been impossible to imagine myself one year ago. When the foundation is altered, whatever happens upon it will obviously be different. I feel like I spoke about this to Ms. Endo last week. (Everyone bursts out in loud laughter.)
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): I remember that well (laughs).
Mr. Ikeda: In my case, although not much time has passed since I began practicing, I feel that after meditating, the things that bothered me before meditating seem to be such trifling matters. So, I am less worried about things. (Shri Mahayogi laughs.) And I wonder why I was even concerned about such things.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): You have only been practicing for one year, right?
Mr. Ikeda: In regards to asana, yes. But in my case, I would say that after I started to practicing meditation, I have became much lighter than before.
Sanatana: Mr. Ikeda is really amazing. I feel that he progresses every week because [first] he would say that he was finally able to practice meditation for 1 hour, then the next week he would say that he could do it for two hours, like that. The other day I had the opportunity to speak with him while three of us were sitting at the bank of the river. When I asked him how he meditates, he answered that he tries to adhere Shri Mahayogi’s chest and to his, and unite them as one. Upon hearing this, I thought that he must be meditating, or concentrating much more definitively than how I do (everybody burst into laughter). It is really great that he is meditating in such a tangible way.
Chetaka: When he is meditating, he looks so gallant. He is so motionless. I feel that his practice of meditation is quite good. Like Sanatana said, his concentration is better than mine (laugh). (Shri Mahayogi laughs.)
Sanatana: It is really good thing to practice together for one or two hours.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Does Shri Mahayogi ever sit down to meditate?
MASTER: At this point already, no way (laughs). (Everyone laughs as if ignited upon hearing the child-like tone of Shri Mahayogi.)
MASTER: But at times like these, when various difficult questions and issues (laughs) come up, of course, I must concentrate on those (laughs).
Dayamati: I have been practicing continuously and what I feel nowadays is that even though I did not recognize it strongly, I feel something like freedom more often. I looked back and realized that I used to like to overthink things. It was nice to be happy by thinking happy things, but I feel that I can no longer overthink things, for example, I will just suddenly think, “this is it.” So I am letting go of things that don’t matter, no matter how I think about them. Once these things lessen, I see that what I was bound to was my ideas, of which I had many, and I have recognized that they seem to be lessening and, simultaneously, I feel freer, lighter. I’m still a work in progress so things may change again, (laughs), but isn’t it like that, Shri Mahayogi?
MASTER: Yes. (Everyone laughs loudly). It is freedom (laughs). See, asking these kinds of questions, that itself shows non-freedom. No matter what it may be, it can be said to be that. If you are free, things will no longer arise, because there are no more attachments. So get rid of that sense of bondage. Freedom is free of them.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Do you mean it will happen if I continue meditating?
MASTER: To back up a little bit, you too want to be free. As the result of meditation, your bondage will disappear. Then you will actually feel freedom.
Do you want to ask some of the others about it too?
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Yes.
(She asks Ms. Okunishi for an answer.)
Ms. Okunishi (Jayadevi): I felt nostalgia hearing about that. When I asked Sanatana that question I was still taking the classes and only practicing meditation for 5 – 10 minutes after asana. I was only doing asana at home, so meditation was like trying to get a hold of clouds, and I was simply closing my eyes. But at that particular time, for the first time, a certain emotion arose and I was extremely overwhelmed by the fact that I am here, that I exist. Back then, I still had not met Shri Mahayogi. Having this sense of appreciation toward my mother for the fact that I had been born into this life, for example, I asked Sanatana with quite a lot of excitement at the gate of the building where the class was being held, “What happens when you meditate?” When he said, “Your daily life will change,” I felt as if my feet were brought down to earth, or I felt that it is not about setting out into an unknown world, but that it was something that will certainly bring me the strength I need for living in the moment in which I live now. Then I thought, let me just do this without much concern. That’s all (laughs). If it were just about entering a strange world, I wouldn’t want to do it. The teachers in front of me looked to me like they had that strength. So when I saw them as role models, it motivated me to practice.
MASTER: Yes, I remember that time. At one point, you changed; you truly did. It was clearly recognizable compared to how you were before. That is a sign of the real experience of meditation, but even so, if one does not practice, such turning-point types of experiences will never come. However, if one continues to meditate, then that moment, those kinds of things, will definitely occur. So, rather than continuing to think about this or that on an intellectual level, the answer will be prepared for you accordingly as you continue to practice. What was mentioned just now is definitely based on having had that experience.
Ms. Okunishi (Jayadevi): Anyone else?
MASTER: Anyone? Go ahead.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): May I point someone out? (Everyone laughs.)
MASTER: Today, yes you may. (laughs)
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Mr. Sananda (laughs).
Sananda: Well, I too...When it comes to the effects of meditation, certainly, the mind becomes lighter. That is what I feel most, for sure. (Ms. Endo laughs.)
Chetaka (whispering to Sananda): She is not convinced. (Everyone laughs.)
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Next week, then, (laughs) I’m looking forward to it.
Sananda: How shall I put it...it’s something you will know after things are gone. Like, “Oh, I was caught up in such petty things...”—there are times that I have started to notice within myself some unexpected things that are gradually disappearing, but I will notice it at a later time. That is how I feel that I have gotten lighter. Another result is immediate. What I feel right after meditation is this lightness, along with what Sanatana mentioned earlier—the lightness of the body, or, in other words, the disappearance of any anomalies in the body, which [is something that] I feel the effects of very much. And I feel strongly that it is through this that the anomalies in the mind particularly, or the knots in the mind, disappear through meditation. I feel that these are the effects that arise and can be felt immediately in every instance of meditation, and when that is repeated, I feel that even the bigger knots come to be removed. (Ms. Endo laughs.) Is that too abstract?
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Hmmm. When you say “become lighter,” does that mean you begin thinking less about things?
MASTER: What you were attached to disappears, and it also disappears sensorially, so people tend to express that as “lighter and lighter.”
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): “Time will solve all”—at times, healing occurs through the passage of time. Is that different from this?
MASTER: That is different. That means it is merely fading away, and its roots, just like those of plants, still remain in the soil—deep within the mind. Just as the sprout comes out from the roots when the seasons change, they will eventually sprout again from the mind. On the other hand, when something is eliminated through meditation, it is like a seed that has been burned away, and it will never sprout again. So once you become light, then you will no longer feel bogged down by it. That is the difference.
That is why meditation is different from mere intellectual understanding. Everyone can understand things through rationality or intellect, yet understanding what is in your mind and how the mind works through your intellect, does not equal actual transformation, right? Whereas meditation does equal that. So the mind is transformed. That is why the impression of the landscape, your daily life as it is perceived by the mind, appears to be something completely different.
Either way, if you want the essence of freedom, Truth, or something beyond those words, then you must seek for that. Meditation is the sure means by which to reach that. The answer is already within you, but unless you go through this process, you will not be able to find it. How long it may take is not the issue, because it is your seriousness that is what is vital. It is all about seriousness and passion.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): I see. (Looks around at the senior disciples and smiles.)
MASTER: So, let’s save the rest for next week. (Everyone laughs.)
Shaci: Back in the early days, my body used to itch after meditation. Was that because the concentration was not done smoothly?
MASTER: Do you feel like that?
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Yes, there is this tingling, or static-like feeling.
MASTER: Then it is quite the opposite; that happens because the concentration went well.
Shaci: Is that so?
MASTER: Yes. If concentration goes well...There is a working of ki called vyana, which regulates and circulates the prana throughout the entire body. There are five main workings of ki, such as samana, which governs digestion, and prana, which governs respiration. And one of them is vyana. The workings, mainly of the physiological functions, pause temporarily. This condition arises once one’s meditation deepens. Then, after coming back from meditation, the physiological functions return. It feels like the senses are revived by prana flowing back into its circulation, which you can understand as being like capillaries [that are circulating it all over the body], after the circulation of prana having been temporarily suspended. As a result of that, experiences like the one you spoke of can occur from time to time. I think that is what your case is. There is no need to worry. Rather, it is the result of concentration that was done correctly.
Do you feel it especially around the shoulders?
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Yes. The arms and shoulders are the worst.
MASTER: Those parts may be slightly weakened physiologically, and it could be related to that. That is why these sensations occur in those areas. But as was mentioned earlier, these weaknesses will also recover, or vyana also plays a role in re-conditioning, so even if you feel these sensations, just understand that re-conditioning is happening there and improvements are being made [in that process]. Therefore, having done asana for many years can also have benefits in preventing these sensations. Asana is related more to the physical aspect, so various imbalances in the body, or these tendencies that can occur within the body, can be prevented, because asana has the power to remodel the body in this way. All of you are asked in class to start meditating at a relatively early stage, so you may experience things like this more or less just because your bodies may not be sufficiently completed as Yoga practitioners. But, there is no need to worry about that. You’ll be fine. Just know that it is still necessary to continue to practice asana steadily and surely for quite some time.
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Chetaka: Regarding Endo, she kept picking on me by saying that she does not understand meditation, that she cannot understand meditation, for quite a long time. (laughs)
MASTER: Yes. (Smiles, as if to say, I know.)
Chetaka: In the class yesterday, there was this one particular person who did not respond when announcing the end of class. She was not able to move, so we waited all the way until 9:30 when we had to close the space, then she finally moved somehow. She was extremely concentrated...Looking at her asana, her recent deepening of the practice, is admirable. Her meditation, too...she has no idea what is happening and cannot satisfactorily explain it through logic (laughs). May I ask if we can look at it as her meditation finally becoming meditation?
MASTER: That is so.
Chetaka: From what I have heard from her, she heard my voice announcing the end of class, but she could not respond to that at all. She didn’t move a muscle at all, so perhaps...
MASTER: It seems that you firmly entered into meditation (laughs).
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Thank you very much. But really, even now, going home after class, I still think I was “delusional” about it and it seemed like I just “had good thoughts.” (Shri Mahayogi and Ms. Endo look at each other and laugh.) When I have been focusing on Shri Mahayogi, I have had [self-imposed] conditions such as, “If you do this, that will bring such-and-such a result,” or I would whine that, “I don’t know what to do,” for a long time. But the other day, when Shri Mahayogi told me to “meditate on Buddha,” then I felt spontaneously that that gave me some backbone, and I no longer had any conditions, just doing. It was true equilibrium...That is what it felt like, and it became easier to meditate, I feel.
(Shri Mahayogi nods deeply. She seems to have forgotten, but when she first visited the Ashrama, Shri Mahayogi told her exactly that: “Meditate on Buddha.” 4 After one year and four months, these words finally made their way to the depths of her heart.)
MASTER: Practice it every day as it is possible.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): Yes, but after five minutes, I often think, “I can’t do this.” Other times, when I’m in a good state, I can sit well.
Chetaka: She has very good concentration, so I want her to share some of that with me in class. (Shri Mahayogi laughs.) It’s that good. She is very quiet now in class. She no longer says, “I don’t get it, I don’t get it.” (Shri Mahayogi and Ms. Endo laugh.) Not only Endo, but when anyone asks Shri Mahayogi about their practice, and [as a result] they then have a breakthrough in their practice or they are given an internal challenge to fulfill, their asana also transforms completely. It is so obvious to the eye that they are getting fired up to put their heart and soul into their asana, and their asana becomes good with their full determination and all of their spirit. Even if the pose is the same, there has been a shift, and I feel that from them concretely. The past few months, her asana have been incredibly powerful. But I’ll stop now since I get admonished for praising too much.（Shri Mahayogi smiles gently.）
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): I heard that Mr. Chetaka said to one of the class participants, “I meditate on the train on the way to Osaka.” I was amazed and thought while listening that there is no way I could concentrate in the middle of a place where there are so many people. Today, when I was taking a train on the Hankyu line, I concentrated on the depth of my chest. Then it was like I suddenly became glued, I wasn’t happy or sad, there were no emotions, but a gush of tears came out and wouldn’t stop. (Shri Mahaoygi listens, nodding again and again.) I was surprised and thought, “What’s going on, what should I do now?” (laughs) But I couldn’t do anything about it, so I let it keep going and finally calmed down after a while...Is it better to sit alone at home after all? I think that it might not be good to simply apply a smattering of what I have merely heard. (laughs)
MASTER: Well, [in this case] you’re not troubling others, though perhaps some people may wonder what’s wrong with you. At times, if you enter too deeply into it amidst a crowd, people around you may actually get seriously confused, so it’s better to enter into it only slightly.
Ms. Endo (Mirabai): When I practice asana and then pranayama thoroughly, and then when I feel I am ready to sit, it’s often the worst. Yesterday in class I just thought, “There is only very little time left, so I’ll just do it slightly.”—That’s exactly when I fell in deeply, straight down.
MASTER: Yes, yes, that’s what it is. Things like being excessively eager, or having some intention, can become an obstacle. (smiles) So, it is difficult to do this with no-mindfulness, however, if your mind is already set to undertake the daily practice of asana, pranayama, and meditation, or in other words, if it has become habitual, then your body and mind will be able to ride on the flow without you having to be so particular to think about what you need to do. You can say that the preparations have been made, without the mind’s intentions. Well, that is why it is necessary to practice every day. If you think, “Today is the day to do it!” or “It’s been a while, so today is the day that I must!” (everyone laughs), then you only get stiff shoulders and you won’t be able to do it well. There is no guarantee that you will be in the same condition every single day. So there may be days when you can do it well and days when you can’t. Still, in the process of repeated daily practice, the deepening of the meditation will gradually be established. Continue in such a way.
(An elderly couple from Kobe is attending. They have a calm demeanor, and they said that they have been practicing Yoga for a long time.)
Mrs. Morigaki: Where should the awareness be directed when you begin meditating?
MASTER: First, the practice of concentration is practiced before meditation. When the concentration deepens and the mind penetrates into the object of concentration and becomes one, in other words, it is as if it has become one, that state is called meditation, precisely speaking. The overall process is referred to as meditation. It does not matter what the object is, as long as it is sacred. However, it is necessary to practice by steadily fixing the mind to a particular object in order for it to not be bothered by random, wandering thoughts.
Mrs. Morigaki: Before meditation?
MASTER: Yes. For concentration. One of the methods is to concentrate upon a specific point in the body, for example, the point between the eyebrows, or the center of the chest.
Mrs. Morigaki: What about breathing?
MASTER: Do not worry too much about breathing. It will change to a slight, quiet breath [in meditation]. But, your posture is important. Plant the buttocks on the floor if possible, and straighten the spine. The head is unexpectedly heavy, so make sure that the head sits well-balanced atop the cervical vertebrae, and that there is no sense of effort or pressure to support the position anywhere—if you can sit this way, that would be ideal. If you sit like that, then the breath naturally subsides and becomes calm.
See footnote 2 of the satsangha on July 7, 2001
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* * *
Mr. Morigaki: It is a very basic question, but what is the meaning of darshan? I read in the book, “Shri Mahayogi gave darshan.” Does darshan mean blessing?
MASTER: Yes, it does. The word darshan is derived from the word “to look, or to see.” Now, the important point [to consider] is, who is looking or seeing? By whom are you being seen? Therefore, by that Seer, darshan—blessing and inspiration and spiritual grace—is bestowed.
Mr. Morigaki: I see...Today, I feel extremely tranquil, and you are making me feel indescribably good. Is that darshan?
(Mr. Morigaki nods deeply.)
(Everyone in attendance smiles joyfully. Everyone feels an unspoken sense of peacefulness, and a sensation like the loosening of a tight string. Every time there is an occasion to gather around Shri Mahayogi, it is filled to the brim with such blessings.)
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* * *
“The purpose of life is to know what the Truth is, and then realize It. The absolute Truth is Eternal Reality, which is your true Self. The mind, however, does not know this. So, by illuminating the mind with the Truth from outside, that error is removed.
The Guru is the Truth itself. All experiences can be teachers, too. But if you have a Guru, the burden of those experiences will be lightened and compressed thousands of times over. The Guru brings Liberation, not bondage.”
—from The Universal Gospel of Yoga
Satguru Shri Mahayogi Paramahansa
Since ancient times, those who have seriously sought the path [of Truth] first sought out a Master, and then walked under the tutelage of that master. You cannot aim for the summit in pitch-black darkness without a torch. A torch is absolutely necessary. The Guru—the master who removes the darkness (ignorance) with light—is the Divine Light of Yoga (Yoga Dipika), and a disciple walks upon the path lit by this light, aiming towards that light. The long, constant darkness is instantly filled with light through the divine light of the Master.
We are taught that, “The Truth exists within everyone.” [In both] a good person and an evil person, the Truth exists equally. That is the quintessence of the teachings of Yoga. If that be the case, why do we need a Master? We can simply seek it within ourselves, without depending on someone outside. On the other hand, it is said that “In order to attain Yoga, a Master is absolutely necessary.” Long ago, someone asked Buddha, “In order to realize Satori, what is the ratio of effort between Master and disciple? Is it something like, 7 to 3, the Master’s guidance to the disciple’s effort?” Immediately, Buddha answered, “The Master’s guidance is 10.” Everything is due to the Master’s guidance. This does not mean that disciples do not need to exert any effort at all. Effort is necessary, yet it seems that Satori cannot be realized by effort alone. The reason is that the mind is what is exerting the effort, but by itself the mind cannot realize the Truth (God), which is beyond the mind. The guidance of the Master, who is the manifestation of Truth itself, is necessary.
Come to think of it, if you want to accomplish anything in life, you need a teacher—even more so for the paths that require delving into the deepest realms of the mind and handling karma, such as Yoga. Various scriptures and holy beings recommend the importance of the guidance of a Master, such that in India people stake their entire lives on the search for a true Master.1 For a Master to be considered so sacred—exactly what kind of person is that Master?
A true Master is an Awakened Being, that is to say, one who has realized Satori. He is at the destination (Satori). Since he is already at the destination, he can unerringly verbalize the teachings about the destination. Because he knows the way there, he can unerringly guide the disciple. Because he is the Truth, he can act the Truth, speak the Truth, and guide the disciple to the Truth.
We are taught that, “Satori is to awaken into one’s own Essence,” and that “Everyone’s true Self is the same, and it is One.” What is clear from these teachings given by an Awakened One is that, in their Essence, a Master and a disciple are the same. However, the Master is the manifestation of the true Existence itself, whereas the disciple is an existence still covered in ignorance (delusions of the mind). The Master helps to eliminate the covering of ignorance so that the disciple can awaken into the true Existence. Through the help of the Master, the disciple removes the covering and awakens to the true Self at last.
Shri Mahayogi teaches this in the following:
“The real Guru is the Truth within yourself. However, since it appears to be the case that the fog of the mind covers the light thereof, until that light emerges from within yourself, you will need an external light. Once the fog clears, these lights become one. They will become indistinguishable from one another. It is One.”
An Awakened Being gives guidance to all impartially. It is like the rays of the sun shining upon the earth equally. The mind of an Awakened Being is always in the state of Satori, and the vibration from that pure mind is emitted silently towards its surroundings, purifying our minds. There is no one who is exempt from that divine light. And among them, the ones who seriously seek Yoga will be called disciples, and the Master will guide those disciples with unparalleled grace.
Yoga has been passed down from Masters to disciples without interruption. The Master appears in every place, in every era—to guide the disciples who seek the path.
The meeting with the Master takes place due to a mysterious power called “en”. [The word en is used in normal conversational context as “fateful connection” in Japanese, and originally in the Buddhist context it means “occasional cause.”] En is the result of our past actions, yet it has an invisible effect that determines which fork in the road one’s life takes. However, we ourselves make the choice of which path to take at each fork in the road.
The meeting with the Master can come about in various ways. Looking at the records of the great Holy Beings from modern times, Shri Ramakrishna or Ramana Maharshi, there are some who went through extreme hardship to find a Master, some who went to see a Master after hearing about him through word-of-mouth and being captivated by his magnetic force, some encountered them in ways that seem accidental, and others have been drawn by the mysterious power of the Master. Truly, there is no other way to describe it but en.
Even with the small number of cases I have witnessed with Shri Mahayogi, there are various types of encounters and there is no one set pattern. This is understandable because people’s minds are various. It is true that many did not necessarily come to Shri Mahayogi clearly seeking the path of Yoga. Rather, in most cases the person had no previous interest in Yoga, but after meeting with Shri Mahayogi and being fascinated by his holiness and pureness, they began to practice Yoga. Of course, they must have been seeking Yoga subconsciously.2
The meeting with the Master will determine the outcome of one’s entire life. It will be an encounter that you will never forget for as long as you live. All the thoughts, life habits, behaviors, and various currents that have been built up over one’s life will come to be transformed as if crumbling apart with a loud crash. The scenery of the encounter with the Master may seem ordinary. However, people experience something that is different from all of their previous experiences, something that is extremely pure. It is something that everyone is able to feel.
The moment of the encounter is perhaps the moment at which you meet your pure Self. Even if the mind may not be able to comprehend the Master due to the various notions of values and standards based on one’s previous experiences and knowledge, the pure heart hidden deep within resonates with the sacred vibration of the Master’s heart, and may touch its essence. That is pure joy. It is the joy of the parched tongue that finally finds pure water, or of the traveler on a lonely dark mountain path who finds a torch.3
“To continue to make a sincere effort solely to express the sacred consciousness and sacred actions through your body, while respecting yourself as a human being, and a sacred being at that—that is the greatest task of a disciple.”
The encounter with a holy being, regardless of whether the person knows the meaning of the encounter or not, leaves a sacred impression on that person’s heart and mind. However, it is up to each one of us whether we decide to disregard it as a passing experience or earnestly seek the teachings from the Master, actually exerting our energy to practice them and to realize Yoga.
“When the seeker is ready and prepared, the Master appears.” This is a famous axiom in India. But what is considered “ready and prepared?” For those of us who live in a modern society unlike that of ancient India, in which the highest value was placed on Satori, it may be a very rare case to seek the Truth and a Master from the beginning. Rather, after meeting with the Master, our souls slumbering deep within us begin to be activated. Unbeknownst to us, when the opportunity is ripe, the Master appears in front of our eyes and infuses our lives with his massive, auspicious influence.
It is possible to learn about many of these cases. How were the disciples of Shri Ramakrishna influenced by their Master? How were the devout disciples of Ramana Maharshi transformed through the Master’s grace? One gaze from the Master changed their entire lives afterwards. You will never see any other human relationship stronger and purer than the one between a Master and a disciple.
Those who study Yoga as disciples under a Master will come to make spiritual progress that would be impossible to achieve through ordinary life experience, even if one tried for lifetimes. At first, this begins with a sacred vibration that emanates from the Master, which is the direct guidance called “darshan,” and the mind of a disciple will be influenced by the still and pure mind of the Master. Ordinarily, we tend to feel joyful around others who are joyful, and we tend to become very unhappy around those who are full of anger. Humans are easily influenced by others’ minds, and our minds tend to resonate with other minds. Because the mind of a holy being is pure and powerful, the disciples receive good influences from the Master. That is what happens initially, and in almost all cases it provides definitive guidance.
A Master of Yoga, unlike an academic teacher, does not only provide intellectual knowledge. In Yoga, knowledge is not that important. Yoga is not like chemistry or physics, where you need to know theorems or formulas in order to proceed. The purpose of Yoga is to eliminate the disturbances of the mind, and since the mind’s disturbances arise from concepts and knowledge, putting in new knowledge will only create a new disturbance, and that will not solve the fundamental problem. The Master silently calms the waves of the disciple’s mind. It is as if the flickering candle flame is only visible in the dark, but before the blazing sun, the candle flame becomes invisible: [when we are surrounded by the divine light of the Master for a moment,] in that second we are temporarily enveloped by the Master’s divine light, we forget the world that was created by the ego and we can feel our true Essence. This Self-awareness becomes an extremely strong driving force as one progresses on the path of Yoga.4 Rather than going towards the world created by the mind, the mind goes towards its root cause—the center of the mind. In this way, the Master shepherds the disciples’ minds towards the pure Self.
What is important next is actually a very simple thing: to learn the teachings of the Master, think deeply about them, and practice them. The teachings of Truth given by the Master will have a large influence on your former ways of thinking about various things, notions and values. You will then come to check all the thoughts, words and deeds that have been unconsciously following the mind up until that point against the teachings of the Master. This practice will become the first spiritual discipline of the disciple. Various problems and anxieties that trouble the mind in daily life will be swiftly cleared up and resolved through the teachings of the Truth from the Awakened Being. This is because the disciple notices [and therefore works on] the erroneous thinking and the actions that are not based on the Truth, and they swiftly disappear. That is to say, the cause of ignorance will be removed and the ripples of the mind will gradually subside. Therefore, the most important thing in Yoga practice is to receive the teachings from the Master. Physiological training, such as asana or pranayama, is only the early stage, although it is an important practice, of course. The most vital thing is to receive the teachings directly from the Master, to ponder them, and to actualize them through experiencing them in meditation. Without the guidance of the Master, Yoga practice has almost no effect. Not only that, but there is a danger of going in the wrong direction. The Master bestows the most appropriate guidance according to each disciple’s temperament and state of mind.5 This guidance cannot be obtained from books. The Master watches over and leads the disciples with extreme care. It is like a farmer protecting the sapling when it is first planted.
The loving guidance of the Master is given with such integrity as to even go beyond a parent’s concerns for a child. However, the Master will not allow the disciple to know that. Because the Master is so humble, he will not guide the disciples in a way that they will be overpowered only to revere him in awe. Since the Master sees that in Truth, the disciples and he are one and the same Existence, and that he is simply trying to take away the disciples’ covering of ignorance, the Master will never behave in an overpowering manner towards the disciples.
We, the disciples, must open ourselves up entirely to the Master, humbly receive the teachings, and actually put them into practice. There is no need to blindly follow the teachings of the Master. However, do refrain from casually interpreting the Master’s teachings with your own incomplete knowledge. We must compare and contemplate whether our thinking or the Master’s teachings are the Truth, and meditate on them thoroughly to arrive at the answer.
A disciple must be worthy of receiving the teachings from the Master. What is most important is one’s passion for Satori. That passion may grow a little at a time. It may not be fully ignited all at once. The conviction and the determination to fulfill the goal is essential. Swami Vivekananda teaches, “You will not succeed in Yoga unless you have faith, humility, obedience, and respect towards the Master within your heart.”
A disciple loves the Master not because he bestows guidance, but because he is the Truth itself, and one cannot but love him. The Master is the one and only Existence, the Absolute Brahman (God) manifest on the earth. The Master is no other Existence than “That.” To see the Master is to see Brahman or the Truth; merely by seeing the Master, the disciple realizes Satori. The practice of Yoga is only a means to an end. That is the very reason why it is crucial to find a true Master. Once one has met with a real Master, it is the certain destiny of the seeker to be guided towards the Truth. The teachings that will be bestowed upon the disciple by the Master are imperishable. They will never come to an end. The mind of the disciple will be filled with the Master—that is the Truth. The Master truly gives all of himself to the disciple. Many Masters lead their disciples until the last moment of the existence of the Masters’ physical bodies. The Master does not have any selfish desires towards the world, and his only wish is to guide the disciples to the Truth. The disciples’ wish is the same, and they offer everything to the Master (Truth). Between them, only Truth exists—That is all.
The essence of Yoga is in the guidance of the Master. Even if you read many books explaining Yoga, or have studied and practiced alone and gotten some experiences, you will not be able to go beyond the realm of personal experience. The guidance of the Master, nay, the Master himself, is the Existence that thoroughly and concretely manifests Yoga, and there is no Yoga without the Master. For seekers on the path, the Master is an irreplaceable Existence. For having the good fortune to be able to walk upon this earth with the Master, and breathe the same air as him—I cannot help but be grateful from the depths of my heart. I prostrate at the feet of the immortal Master, who has passed down the path from long ago, from the ancient times. May we all receive the glory of Yoga.
Om Tat Sat Om
1 Meeting a true Master is said to be as difficult and as extremely rare as finding a precious gem among all the grains of sand in the holy Ganges. Even so, it is said that a seeker must find the Master by spending his or her entire life seeking, because finding and meeting a Master is considered to practically be the equivalent of completing the journey on the path.
2 Everyone seems to be seeking for something. Some have concrete goals, while others are unsatisfied with the current condition and want something else, albeit vague. Then, there are those who seek Satori as their goal, which seems at a glance to be beyond the dimensions of daily life. When the word “Yoga” is used, it tends to get classified into some special category, but it is understood that the unconscious seeking of Truth that everyone engages in, such as to realize real happiness or to know oneself, is the starting point of Yoga. Looking at it that way, everyone is subconsciously seeking Yoga (Truth). It is just that the true Yoga is not correctly known to them.
3 How do we discern whether a master is a real Master or not? Due to our unripe state, it seems that we do not yet possess the ability to discern this. However, that is not the case. Swami Vivekananda explained, “The sun requires no torch to make him visible, we need not light a candle in order to see him. When the sun rises, we instinctively become aware of the fact (Bhakti Yoga, Chapter 5).” Actually, our unripe knowledge, like that of a lamp, is not useful; however our divine Self, which we have forgotten, will not let a true Master escape unnoticed. With its intuition, it knows the true Master.
4 When you try to meditate by sitting for a while at a time when you have not yet fully practiced Yoga, then you will notice that you cannot control the mind at all, and thoughts chaotically continue to arise. However, by just sitting close to the Master, our minds become immediately stilled. The practice of Yoga is impossible without this wondrous guidance. What a great impetus it can be to be able to sense one's True Essence! That motivation is the driving force that can never be gained from books in any way whatsoever.
5 The “Master's Teaching” is bestowed through “taikiseppo”—[a traditional method of teaching according to the respective moment, condition and situation of each disciple]; therefore, there are many diverse facets that are the core teachings, yet that extends even to our daily behaviors. There is no such thing as a set of "teachings," but disciples learn from observing and absorbing the words and actions in the words the Master speaks and the way in which he behaves.
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