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May all find the teacher within to guide oneself towards unconditional love and peace

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How to transcend suffering?





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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Know thyself. There is no existence of 'I'. Everything is impermanent. Be free, be peaceful, be happy.

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Pantai Cenang, Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
My husband and I run ongoing yoga retreats in Langkawi Malaysia. We teach traditional Hatha Yoga - a combination of Asanas (postures) and Pranayama (breathing techniques) and relaxation, that has given benefit to millions of practitioners over thousands of years. Our yoga studio is situated in Langkawi. We also run yoga retreats in Europe and India.

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