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Friday, January 1, 2010

About Tapas - Austerity



Tapas (austerity) is all the practices that will help us to attain one pointedness in concentration and meditation for us to achieve self-realization or enlightenment. It doesn’t mean extreme hardship or disciplinary in the path of yoga or self-realization. But it is having correct understanding about what is self-control over the thoughts, actions and speech; how to control the senses, the mind and the ego; and to have self-discipline and strong determination in the path towards self-realization.

It is about non-attachment towards all the worldly objects; sensual enjoyments and material enjoyments. It is non-attachment towards all the dualities; names and forms; comfort and discomfort; likes and dislikes; craving and aversion. And to develop strong willpower to control the anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, lust and arrogance. It is to be the controller behind the chariot of the mind, the senses, the intellect and the ego; and not being the slave of these things.

It is all the practices that can help us to still the mind to allow wisdom to arise to know the Truth.

Observing the basic Yama and Niyama (observance and restraint – things that we should do and shouldn’t do) is Tapas.

Live a simple and self-reliance life style is Tapas. Withstand all the discomforts sensations, feelings and thoughts that arise in the body and in the mind.

Control over the senses – the sight, the hearing, the smell, the taste, the touch and the thinking; not craving for the objects that we like; and not rejecting the objects that we don’t like is Tapas. It is not attach to suffering and not attach to happiness as well. It is transcending both suffering and happiness. It is the middle path. Enlightenment is not attained through suffering nor happiness. It is neither suffering nor happiness. Because both suffering and happiness are also transitory.

Cheerfulness, patience, courage, willpower, determination, perseverance, adaptation, adjustment, forgive, loving kindness, self-independent, self-discipline, positive thinking, correct understanding, tranquility, selflessness and non-attachment are the fuel for us to walk the path of self-realization; and to perform all the practices like yama, niyama, asana, pranayama, pratyahara, dharana, dhyana and samadhi. All these practices are Tapas.

Do good and stop doing bad is Tapas.

Perform selfless service (karma yoga) without attach to the fruit of action is Tapas.

Devote our heart to serve God and see God in everyone is Tapas.

For householders, being faithful and loyal towards our spouse or partner in life; and give love and care without any conditions is Tapas.

It is not about starving ourselves till death nor torturing our physical body till injured. It is appreciating this life, this body, this mind and the senses for us to be here to experience so many things; and to learn what is selflessness; love; peace; compassion and wisdom; and return to our true nature, the Self – the pure consciousness which is attributeless; without negativity and positivity; without good and evil; without birth and death; without beginning and ending; unlimited and unconditioned by time, space and causation.

From the state of impurity and work ourselves towards the state of purity; and all the actions that we do or don’t do along the path towards self-realization are Tapas (austerity). And it is all about purification; self-control and non-attachment. All these qualities is to allow the wisdom to arise within us.

The dawn of wisdom is the end of ignorance and suffering. It is the state of enlightenment which is nameless and formless without any identifications.

May we all observe Tapas and be free from all conditions.

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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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