Radio: Thousands of people from all over Australia and overseas have arrived in Sydney for the Twentieth World Convention of the International Yoga Fellowship Movement. The man they have all come to see and learn from is Satyananda Paramahamsa, a highly enlightened soul living in the physical body to help earthly beings through his spiritual wisdom.
Satyananda Paramahamsa, the spiritual leader of a yoga movement which will have cataclysmic effects on the world, is not an ordinary man.
Swamiji: I would emphasize that I am an ordinary man. I can understand the difficulties, tensions and problems of this world. Having shared people's joys and sorrows, I am able to commune with them.
Radio: What are the special qualities which can be developed through yoga?
Swamiji: Creativity, alertness and awareness of the higher stages of human life, the states of mind which ordinary people cannot experience. In these spiritual and yogic states of mind one is in tune with the greater areas of one's personality, where communion with peace and bliss is experienced.
Radio: It is difficult to understand the full meaning of what you are saying.
Swamiji: You see, people in the east as well as in the west are limited by their perceptions and cognitions. The area of knowledge is limited and that is why they are not able to understand the possibility of a higher state of consciousness. By the process of yoga and meditation they are able to transcend the limitations of the ordinary mind and have greater cosmic awareness.
Radio: Do you have a distinct purpose, a mission in life?
Swamiji: I have certainly become aware of the purpose of my life. I have a definite twofold mission. The first is to become a means of alleviating the deep rooted suffering of humankind, and the second is to be one with the highest existent reality.
Radio: By meditation and mental control can you experience the fulfillment and pleasure that people get from eating wonderful food, indulging in sexual behaviour or whatever?
Swamiji: Pleasure is pleasure; it is only the degree of experience that differs. Pleasure is only the continuity of food, sex, and many other things. The mind has a kind of experience, a kind of sensation, a kind of reaction in the brain and its nerves. It is experienced by individuals in different degrees of enjoyment. But the pleasure derived from food is qualitatively not different from the pleasure derived from sex. There is only a difference in quantity.
Radio: After learning from your teacher in India for twelve years you went on a long pilgrimage in which you covered the entire Indian subcontinent. What did you want to achieve by doing this?
Swamiji: To see the people in the world and their difficulties, to discover how I could understand, serve and love them.
Radio: After living such a sheltered life were you distressed or surprised by the amount of problems that ordinary people were facing?
Swamiji: No. Even during those twelve years when I lived with my guru I was in touch with people of all continents, because my guru, Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, was a famous man. People from all over the world used to come to him and I used to meet them. I was, in a way, aware of the distress of humankind. Later when I was moving all over the continent and all over the world, I lived with people and shared their joys as well as their sorrows.
Radio: Did this practical experience change your view of life?
Swamiji: Well, I had to know how I could free people from their problems, how I could help them.
Radio: Is that why you spent three years in total isolation?
Swamiji: Yes, I retired and met no one for three years. I established the highest state of cosmic consciousness. By remaining in the deepest state of meditation for long hours without being aware of one's own existence or of time, space and objectivity – just being in complete awareness of totality, this state is stabilized. I was in this state for months and years. At the same time, I was reflecting, and investigating the mind as to the origin of passion, hatred, jealousy and nervous depression. Why does a person feel depression? What is pain? What is distress? I witnessed what people were suffering from. I wanted to discover their exact nature. For that purpose I retired for a few years.
Radio: How did you go about discovering the causes of what had puzzled humankind for thousands of years, the pain, the distress and nervous tension?
Swamiji: Through reflection you can visualize, recognize and become aware of the processes of the mind, by raising the level of awareness a little higher.
Radio: I hear the words you are saying, but I can't visualize it in my mind.
Swamiji: It is not possible now, but when you are able to evolve your mind to the psychic field you will understand. Just as the scientists are able to visualize on a scientific basis the laser waves and the electromagnetic fields which cannot usually be seen by the naked eye, likewise, the yogic scientists, the yogic thinker, visualizes an idea in the intuitive field or the psychic field.
Radio: When you are reflecting on the basic problems of man in this meditative way are you alone or do spiritual entities come in and give advice, help and support?
Swamiji: I believe that these spiritual entities are really my own higher faculties, which did help me.
Radio: How do these spiritual entities present themselves to you?
Swamiji: Each individual has dormant faculties. At a particular stage of development they manifest. They come in the form of voices, visions, angels of religion, and as sudden intuitive flashes. Since I am a master of the pen, I can write spontaneously for hours at a time. These divine, higher and spiritual faculties guide my pen, my speech and my emotions.
Radio: Do you see these as part of yourself and not as an outside element?
Swamiji: The mind is powerful. It can duplicate itself. You can see it in the form of a ghost, an angel or any object. The mind has infinite potentialities. It can create matter.
Radio: Do you believe it can create matter, or just create the hallucination that appears as matter?
Swamiji: It can create the hallucination too, but the more powerful mind can create matter.
Radio: During or after your three years in isolation did you experience any pain or frustration due to the lack of human contact?
Swamiji: Well, frankly speaking, my life has been missing only one thing. I have never had an experience of pain or frustration, disappointment or discontent. I have tried a number of times to impose these things on myself just to have an experience of them.
Radio: And you can't do it?
Swamiji: No, I think that somehow or other I have transcended them.
Radio: I understand that in your early life you did not believe in God, but subsequently changed your mind. Why did you do this? What persuaded you?
Swamiji: I used to particularly study philosophy, Indian and Western, including dialectical materialism. I thought that God and religion were rubbish, that they were created by some political brains or social thinkers. I refused to believe in God, the spirit, incarnation, ethics and morality. When I came to my guru I was an atheist. I thought that in meditation you could only experience shoonyata, that is a void and nothing else, a blank. That was my ultimate philosophy. But my master said, "No, meditation is not nothing, it is a totality of experience, it is a complete experience." He used the word ‘divine' and told me that I must have love, devotion and faith in God.
Radio: Did you believe him when he said that?
Swamiji: I heard him, but didn't believe. I accepted it, but didn't believe. For six years I was fighting with him.
Radio: What was it that changed your mind?
Swamiji: I had visions, I heard voices, I had instructions, and I knew that my guru was right and that I had been wrong these years. After this mystical experience, how could I, a puny person, deny without having the knowledge of the totality? There had to be a God, a creator, higher things in life, even though I may not have seen them.
Radio: Do you think that yoga is a way for the world to achieve harmony and understanding?
Swamiji: I have come to the conclusion that the people of the world who have been working for creativity and enjoyment will have to come to yoga in order to lead a better, fuller and more satisfying life. Yoga is not negation, it is acceptance.
—printed in YOGA, Vol. 15, No. 2 (February 1977)