Friday, September 25, 2009
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
One day I came across a young man who felt he had been insulted and mistrusted. He just smiled and said – ‘It’s okay, I am transparent’, although seeing tears in his eyes I know that he was hurt and felt sad.
Well, if we still haven’t detached from our ego and names and forms yet, we can use this saying to help us to go through difficult situations and to train ourselves to become strong and not bother about any insult or abuse.
Transparent might be used to explain namelessness and formlessness, but even being labeled as ‘transparent’ is also a name and form. It is still bound by name and form. The person who said this still felt hurt, but was also being strong at the same time. There is still “a word” or “a sound” or “an action” being recognized as an insult but the person tries to endure or ignore the insult. There is still a person giving the insult and another person receiving the insult.
If we practice namelessness and formlessness, we won’t give any values to words, sounds, or actions. We see all negative and positive intentions are equal, all praise and censure are equal. When a person says something bad to us in a language that we don’t recognize, what is there for us to perceive as an insult? When a person does something bad to us in the way that we don’t recognize, what is there for us to perceive as abuse?
It is because we, or our mind, gives good and bad valuations to everything that we see and hear and makes us feel praised or insulted. It is our ego that likes praise very much but strongly rejects insults. If we can stop identifying with our mind and the ego, we will not be affected by what we see or hear. That is similar to the meaning of namelessness and formlessness. It is not that we can’t see or hear anything. The action is there, the sound is there, but if we give them no value at all, then “where” is the praise and “what” is the insult? When we are selfless, then “who” is being praised or insulted? When we realized that we are not separated from all, then “who” is there giving praise or insults? If there is praise or insult, ‘I’ am the one who give it to ‘myself’.
We can’t deny that we have a body to experience pain and pleasure. We have a life to live. We have responsibilities that we need to carry out. We have family and friends that need our attention and love and care. We have happy feelings and unhappy feelings. Everyone, including rich and famous people, has to go through all these so called life experiences, including those people who chose to renounce the world and become a Sannyasin – a monk or a nun, except their responsibility now is towards everybody and not just towards their families and friends. Sannyasins also have feelings, but one of their duties towards themselves is to detach from their feelings and emotions and not be affected by them.
Not being affected by our feelings doesn’t mean ignoring them or suppressing them, but by not identifying with them and letting them pass away.
Please take note that real detachment is not about letting go of our relationship with our family or our partner, or being irresponsible towards our family and our work.
It is letting go of the expectations and judgments towards our loved ones, so that their actions and reactions will not affect our tranquility, clarity, faith, practice, self-improvement and self-control.
Real detachment is detachment from our own mind, our thoughts, our ego, our physical body and our senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch and thinking. Once we become detached from all these ‘things’ which are within our self, then whatever happens out there will not affect us at all. Everything out there will have no power to make us happy or unhappy.
And it doesn’t matter if we are with somebody or on our own, or whether we have a family life or are single and independent, or whether we renounce the world or stay in the world. Our faith and the meaning of life remain the same, our spiritual understanding and the goal of all spiritual practice remains the same.
It is not about neglecting or denying our life or what we are doing. It is about living in the world but not being affected by all the ups and downs in our life and all that is happening in the world. We see all beings are equal and everything that happens in the world is the same. Detach from the dualities of praise and censure, heat and cold, likes and dislikes, cravings and aversions, happiness and suffering, beauty and ugliness, young and old, strong and weak, healthy and ill, rich and poor, gain and loss, birth and death.
Detachment from duality and whatever we perceive with our mind and the senses is true detachment. We are being fooled and blinded by our own mind and the ego all the time. It is not the smart intellect that can give us peace of mind - in fact it gives us so many troubles, fears and worries.
Letting go of our fears and worries which make us so tense and anxious all the time is the real detachment.
To annihilate the ego is the essence of all detachment.
It is because of the ego that we need to practice detachment in order to transcend suffering. Without the ego, there is no suffering, there is no need for detachment and there is no need for Yoga practice. The world is okay, life is okay, everyone and everything is fine without this ego.
It is because of the ego that we have likes and dislikes, anger, greed, lust, jealousy, arrogance, depression and low self esteem, feel good or feel bad about ourselves and towards other people. It is because of the ego, we think that we are very good or not good enough. It is because of the ego that we want ‘this’ and don’t want ‘that’.
All this makes us suffer and feel unhappy, whereas in fact ‘thinking’ that our suffering is the fault of people and events out there, is what make us suffer and unhappy.
It is due to fears and worries that we want to be in power and in control of everything. If we truly understand the law of nature, we will stop wanting to control how things are, because we will have no more fears and worries, but we will have control over our own self and not desire to control anybody or anything outside of us. Our willpower is stronger than our mind, the ego and everything that can influence us.
A wise man will not try to manipulate or hypnotize anyone to do anything, even if it is out of a good intention because if manipulation or hypnotization works, people in the world could easily be manipulated or hypnotized to be good, to do good and the world would be in peaceful harmony. There wouldn’t be any wars or crimes. Although there were many saints and sages, like Buddha, in the world before, they didn’t use their power of enlightenment to manipulate or hypnotize anybody to listen to them and turn everybody into good people and take away people’s suffering with their great power. There would be no suffering in this world and no bad people in the world if any enlightened being could manipulate and hypnotize everybody easily with the power of hypnotism, to make the world into a harmonious place.
They did not.
Because of the law of nature, the law of karma and the Truth do not run by this way.
No doubt that the positive energy from an enlightened person can touch people’s hearts but it is up to everyone to think on their own, to act and to speak on one’s will. Everyone is the choreographer of their own destiny. If Buddha could have stopped all wars and suffering with his influencing power, he would have done it. But he didn’t, he just couldn’t.
Any act that is other than working on our own self-control is not the real practice for achieving liberation. Any so called short-cut that uses a certain type of manipulation or hypnotism or drug therapy which acts as an external energy to influence our mind or to control our thoughts, actions and speech, but not through self-enquiry, self-effort, self-control, purification and detachment, is not the path of self realization.
If a person sees some kind of image or hears some kind of sound in his attempt for achieving enlightenment by using external forces to help him and becomes attached to these phenomena, he might still be miserable and crave for more supernatural experiences by using such external forces. This is very far away from the Truth and self-realization.
If a person does all sorts of actions under hypnotism or under the influence of drugs without his own willpower to control his body and mind, and cannot perform the same actions without this external force, then this is certainly not the practice for self-realization, even if that action is supposed to be good for him.
Hypnotism is about influencing the energy fields in the body and mind, and manipulating the mind – it is an external force and causes temporary effect. If our mind is being controlled or influenced by an external force, it is not self-realization.
It is worst when some people with evil intention use the technique of hypnotism to rob somebody’s money or belongings.
Anything that arises and passes away – momentary, impermanent or temporary, which changes, is not real. Using drugs or hypnotism to help someone to get temporary relief from painful feelings or to perform certain acts or to experience something that is supernatural is not wrong - but it is not the end of suffering or the goal of our practice simply because it can’t permanently remove our ignorance - the cause of suffering. It can’t root out our ego, fears, worries, attachment to likes and dislikes, and it doesn’t destroy all our karma. It can’t liberate us from the cycle of birth and death – the body of suffering.
It is intuitional wisdom that leads us to liberation.
It is willpower and self-control - beyond all attributes, qualities, energies, elements, actions and inactivity, dualities, names and forms, which will free us from suffering permanently.
Prana affects or moves the mind, the mind affects the action and speech, but we learn to go beyond the mind, purify and control the mind. When our willpower is stronger than the mind (through self-control or self-restraint), the Prana (energy) no longer influences the mind and our willpower is the total controller of our action and speech. The Prana is influenced by the 3 gunas – sattva, rajas and tamas. Sattva makes us feel calm and peaceful, rajas makes us feel passionate and energetic, and tamas makes us feel lazy and negative. Our body and mind are governed by these gunas (energy). Vedanta teaches us to go beyond these 3 gunas, go beyond the energy and have total self-control over the body and mind. We should continue practice until we are one with all, where there is no internal or external energy, because there is no difference anymore. Internal is us, external is also us.
Real beneficial action for anybody should be done by oneself, with one’s willpower and with complete self-awareness.
Self-reliance and self-control is the path for liberation, absolute freedom. If we need to depend on anybody or anything to be ‘liberated’, it won’t be real liberation. This is the advice from all the saints and sages in the past.
May we all attain true freedom.
Depression and low self-esteem is a form of suffering. We will be craving for worldly success, spiritual achievements, social status, appreciations and recognitions, love and attention, beautiful appearance and attractive personality, and wanting to achieve all our desires and being able to do what we like to do in order to give us the feeling of success, happiness and confidence.
Even though we are very successful in life and have done whatever we wanted to do in life, we will still be discontent and feel meaningless if we attached to the worldly achievements and happiness to make us feel good about ourselves and our life. Even if we attached to spiritual achievements in order to make us feel meaningful and feel good will also bring us suffering. It is because all these will change and disappear.
Our sense of self-worth needs to hold on to certain thing or faith to makes us feel good and happy or feel meaningful in life. This is very normal. There is absolute nothing wrong with this. But what will happen to us if this thing is not available to us anymore or if the faith that we hold on to is not there anymore? We will collapse, unhappy, depress and feel meaningless.
It is because there is an attachment there. We are attached to something that is perishable and not real in order to give us happiness and to have a sense of self-worth or a meaningful life.
If we really want to transcend suffering, we need to learn how to become independent without attaching to anything at all in this world of perception to make us feel full, valuable, content and meaningful.
We don’t need to do anything to show to anyone and to prove to anybody that we are good or we have value. We don’t need to feel that we are being needed by someone to have a sense of self-worth and give us some meaning in life.
We don’t even need to crave for love from anybody but can give pure love (no lust and passion) without identification and expectation because we are the love itself if we realized the Truth. When we stop identity ourselves with the body, the mind, the ego, the intellect, the senses and our life, we are not different and not separated from the nature - the earth, the sun, the wind, the water and the space. The nature allows every living beings and everything to be in it and utilize it resources for the need to be exist. It gives without beginning and without ending. Its power is unlimited and unconditioned. There is no differentiation of likes and dislikes, birth and death, happiness and unhappiness, good people and bad people, good happenings and bad happenings, animals and human beings, beautiful and ugliness or cleanliness and dirtiness. There is no duality - everything is same, no differences and no special privileges. The nature accepts everything as it is, not controlling anything and has no intention at all. The nature has no attachment to its actions or its impermanent condition or the consequences of its actions. It has no selfishness, no jealousy, no anger, no hatred, no differentiation, no ego, no pride, no happiness, no unhappiness… it has no qualities at all. Everything is just being what they are. There is no past. There is no future.
If we realized this, there are no more fears, worries, conflicts, cravings and aversions, likes and dislikes, suffering and happiness. Other people might still have conflicts or argument with us, but we don’t have any conflict or argument with them. We are full, content, and immovable. This peacefulness and contentment is not achieved by acquiring anything from outside, but by letting go of everything, not controlling anything out there but having firm self-control of our own thoughts, actions and speech. Our own self is the only thing that we can have control of and will give us peace of mind if the thoughts, actions and speech are being well controlled. If we try to control anything other than our own thoughts, actions and speech, we will be in trouble and suffering. We will be creating problems for ourselves.
We cannot control the changes in our body and outside our body - the breathing, the heart beat, the sensations that arise and pass away unceasingly when the senses get contact with the objects, the law of nature, the karma of the living beings and the world, and how other people think, feel, act and speak. The one thing that we can do is let them be and let things are. And then we will not generate any problems or conflicts and unhappiness for ourselves and other people.
We cannot stop the thoughts and feelings that crop up unceasingly in our mind, but we can stay detached, not identify ourselves with it. And then let it disappear by itself eventually. Not trying to reject uncomfortable feelings or hold on to comfortable feelings. Just be aware of their existence but give no value to them. Not to categorize them into ‘good’ and ‘bad’, ‘comfortable’ and ‘uncomfortable’, and not generate likes and dislikes, craving and aversion, and also no need to react to them.
By bringing the awareness focusing on the breath without trying to control the breath or change anything, and be at the present moment at all time, will help us to detach from any feelings and sensations that arise in our body and mind. Whenever we find that our awareness has wonders away to the thoughts or the feelings, without feeling frustrate, very gentle we bring the awareness back to the breathing, back to the present moment, on what we are doing now and where we are now. By keep doing this, we will find that actually there are no problems troubling us now, and there are no past memories and future imaginations that can disturb us, disturb our tranquility and peacefulness.
The outgoing tendency of the mind will make us feel curious and anxious about the things outside. It wants to know, to see, to hear, to smell, to taste, to think and to feel about everything. It will continue to pull our attention away from what we are doing and where we are now at the present moment. We should not struggle with it and patiently we bring the awareness back to what we are doing now. Slowly this exercise or training will become a habit and it doesn’t request much effort to stay at the present moment. This is what gives us calmness. But even this state of calmness we also cannot attach to, because this state of peacefulness will change also. If we attached to the state of calmness, we will be very unhappy when this state of calmness is being disturbed or disappeared.
If we can let go the state of disturbance caused by thoughts and feelings, and let go of the state of calmness as well, and then we will be at a state of real peacefulness and bliss. We don’t need anything to give us the meaning of life, the sense of self-worth or confidence. We are what we are. I am what I am.
It doesn’t matter at all with how other people think of us, do to us, or say to us. There is no praise or censure that can affect us or influence us. There is no need to have judgment, criticism, comparison and competition with other people or with our own self. We don’t need to challenge ourselves to do anything or to achieve anything. We don’t need to prove to ourselves or to other people.
We need to have a faith to hold on to. Or else we will be drifting all the time in search for something that will give us meanings in life and give us value about ourselves and our existent in this world. But this faith should be something real and imperishable. Then only this faith will be really firm and everlasting in our heart no matters what is happening in our life and when there are changes happening in our body and the mind. And we will not be disappointed because this faith that we rely on will not change or disappear.
If we depend on something that will change to be in happiness and to have sense of self-worth, and are attached strongly to that happiness and sense of self-worth, but when this dependence is being taken away by impermanence, we will be lost in disappointment and unhappiness. Such like, many people’s faith or happiness is built on material enjoyment, accumulation of wealth, sensual pleasure enjoyments, having fame and popularity, being loved and liked by others, having strong and healthy body, intelligence and achievements in education, success in business or career, having good family ties, good relationship and friendship, and having a strong religion belief or spiritual practice under certain belief or teacher.
But all these are conditioned by our perception and impermanence, and will go through changes as time goes by and is unsatisfying in it essence. We cannot be content anyhow if we rely on these impermanent objects to give us satisfactory and meanings.
As a Yoga teacher, we are doing something very meaningful thing in life sharing Yoga with others and helping many people to come out from suffering, but we really need to remain detached from our fruit of action. It is not that we deny ourselves or being hard on ourselves, but it is the only reality that will free us from unhappiness and suffering.
If we will feel good and happy about ourselves and our lives when the students have learnt something from us and they are grateful and will take Yoga practice more seriously from now on, this means we are still being conditioned by this attachment towards the fruit of our actions. It is a good thing when the students get benefited after taking lessons from us. And there is nothing wrong at all to feel great about that. But we should stay detached from all these as well. Then we will be okay and will not be caught up in the fruit of our action.
When the students start to decline in their practice or they criticize about our classes and didn’t have faith in our teaching, or they encounter difficulty in Yoga practice and hurt themselves during taking classes under us, this is going to make us feel bad about ourselves and be depress if we are still attached to the fruit of our actions. And then it will further on destroy our faith in Yoga, and destroy our sense of value in ourselves and in life.
Of course we should be responsible for our presentation and teaching. If we are not experience enough or made some mistakes or being careless, we should be responsible for the consequences that arise and should make some corrections to improve ourselves.
But the real lesson is not about this.
It is about our self-worth should not be depending on happiness that comes from any type of success and achievements in any fields, or depending on compliments and appreciations from anybody.
If we think that our life is so meaningful and are happy because we feel that we had helped somebody and doing something really good, then very soon we will be losing this feeling of meaningful and happiness when we receive some bad feedback from the students or when we are not able to share Yoga with others anymore due to unavoidable reason.
Unless we are not attached to any of these things at all, then we will not be affected by all the good and bad results that come from our actions.
That is real detachment and free from unhappiness.
True happiness is not the happy feelings that we feel when something good is happening or when our wishes come true. This happiness will come to an end and disappear after some times, and we will be unhappy and feel meaningless when this feeling of happiness is gone.
If we need to do something good to make us feel meaningful and we will feel meaningless if we are not doing those actions, then we are being bound by this dependence and caught up in dissatisfaction and unhappiness.
It is like our Prana is being influenced by the food that we consume and by the body movement that we are in – such like in Yoga Asana. The position of the body is influencing the Prana, and this Prana is influencing our mind and feelings. There is nothing wrong to eat good food to make us feel happier and calmer. There is nothing wrong to practice Yoga Asana to make us feel good and relaxed. But Yoga teaches us to go beyond both good and bad feeling, go beyond the energy, not rejecting bad sensations and bad feelings, and not craving for good sensations and good feelings too. The energy influences the body and mind, but we are not the body or the mind. We (will power) are stronger than the body and the mind. And if we do not identify with the body and the mind, we can transcend suffering and not affected by any energies and impermanence. Because energy and impermanence only affect the body and the mind, but it cannot affect the Self (our true self).
Or else we will feel good, only if we eat good food and doing Asana. But we will feel bad if good food is not available to us and we are not doing any Asana practice.
Become totally selfless and independent from everything in this world of perception of the senses, detached from the fruit of our actions, which will bring us peace of mind and steadiness in our faith that will gives us true happiness and real meaning of life – eternal and imperishable bliss, fulfillment and contentment.
The meaning of life is not by depending on something that we do or not do, or depending on the feeling of self-worth and happiness that arise from what we do, what we have and what we experienced, but by realizing our true nature and be free from our egoistic dissatisfying mind and the binding karma that arise from our thoughts, actions and speech.
If we depend on someone’s love and affection, this will change.
If we depend on our good feelings, this will change.
If we depend on our strength, youthfulness, attractiveness, beauty and good health of the physical body, all these will change.
If we depend on our teacher, our parents, our partner, our children, and our family and friends, all these will change.
If we depend on success, achievements, intelligence, worldly knowledge and good memory, all these will change.
If we depend on anything at all that is conditioned by this body and the mind, the senses and all the objects in this worldly life, everything will change.
So, what is the real thing that will not change?
It is our true Self. It is the only real existence – no birth and no death, no beginning and no end, no good and no bad, unconditioned, independent, free from impurities and elements. It is full and whole, pure existence, pure knowledge and pure bliss.
Let us stop identify with our impermanent physical body and the ever changing mind. We are not this body, we are not this mind. This body is not ours, this mind is not ours. They don’t belong to us. This body is just an instrument for us to be here to learn and to go back to our real essence – which is indestructible, undecay and eternal.
Go beyond our mind and the ego. Go beyond the dualities that we perceive through our senses.
Identify ourselves with this true Self now. We will have no more fears and worries. We will be free from all the turbulences of feelings and emotions, all the ups and downs in life, good and bad experiences in life.
At the end, it’s all just like a movie or a very long dream that we have, which gives us some experiences of fears, pain, excitements, enjoyments, happiness and unhappiness.
May we all be free.
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