be free, be happy, be peaceful

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

Friday, February 25, 2011

A little story about human's behavior...

In Malaysia, most people will take off their shoes and wash their feet before entering the house or the temple. This is to avoid dirts dirtying the house or the temples (as sacred and pure places). This is also to show respect to the people who live in the house. We are usually bare-footing inside our house. This has became an automatic behavior for most people.

But in most business centres, shops, schools or offices, we do keep the shoes on. There are many Malay's shops still keep this tradition of "No shoes in the shop". And we would and we should respect this traditional culture.

One day, I went to a photo shop in Pantai Cenang near our house to photocopy some documents.

It has been a very long time since the last time I went into this shop (more than a year ago).

I saw many pairs of shoes in front of the entrance of the photo shop and some people are inside the shop waiting to have their photos print out and to photocopy their documents.

Without any doubts I took off my shoes and stepped into the shop. Immediately my feet could feel the dirts on the floor. But I didn't bother about it. It's not surprised that there would be sand and dirts on the floor because here is a beach area. Sand would follow our feet and came into the shop.

I found a chair to sit down and wait for my turn. It was quite busy in the shop then.

Well, I could still barely remember that when the last time I was there, I didn't have to take off my shoes. Out of curiosity I started to look at the photo shop's owner's feet to see whether he had his shoes on or not. Well, he did had his shoes on.

But then I had another thought that maybe he was wearing a separate indoor shoes for working in the shop. And so, I went out and take a quick look at the door and the wall in front the shop to see whether he had a sign board stating like "Please take off your shoes" or "Please remove your shoes before entering" or "Barefoot inside" and etc...

I found no signs at all.

And so, I wore back my shoes and went in again, and sat down.

I continued to observe some more customers that came into the shop. No matter they were Chinese, or Malay, or even foreigner, they all took off their shoes automatically before entering. There were more shoes outside the door then.

This had shown that how many people would show respect to other people's culture, and also how many people are being very nice and obeying the rules in this Malaysian society. This is nothing wrong. But there's another thing here for us to reflect is, human beings are imitating creatures and easily being influenced by other people's behavior...

No body and no sign board was there to tell anyone to remove their shoes, but everyone would automatically removed their shoes just because they saw other people's shoes were outside the door. And we would think, "Okay, seems like no shoes are allowed inside, I need to remove the shoes before entering the shop then."

It all begun with the first person who took off the shoes (I guessed this person must have the habits to remove shoes before entering any buildings). And then the next person and all other people would automatically followed this same action to show respect to the culture. This is one of the patterns of the human's behavior or mind's reaction.

When it was my turn for photocopy my things, I took the chance to ask the shop owner whether it was a new rule now that shoes are not allowed in the shop? He smiled and shook his head saying that there is no need to take off the shoes to come into the shop. Because if it was a new rule, then I would apologized to him and leave my shoes outside the shop then.

Well, maybe I was the odd one there to reason should I do as all other people are doing (even though at the beginning I took off my shoes when I saw there were many shoes outside the door, to show respect to the shop owner for keeping his shop clean).

I guess, lots of people will think, "Well, since majority people are doing the same thing, then it must be something right and good for us then... And we should follow what most people are doing."

This is what happening in our society nowadays, isn't it? There are lots of violence, crimes, hatred and killings everywhere in the world now...

When one person points at a man and shouts out loud in a big crowd, "Hey! That man is a rapist and a murderer! He is evil!" Some people would start to react and spread the words from mouth to mouth, and everyone might start to believe that this man is really evil and get fired up (since everyone are also talking about it, it might be true then), and might be beating up this man to death even before reasoning about the truth...

Om shanti.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Forgetting and remembering...

We remember the body and the mind. We remember both the pleasant and unpleasant thoughts, feelings and emotions. We remember the good and bad experiences that we have been through. We remember who is nice to us and who is not nice to us. We try to remember faces that we saw and their names, who they are, and what they do. We remember the good and bad actions that we have done. We remember the good and bad actions that other people have done. We remember the insults and hurts that came from somewhere and someone. We remember the fearful or tearful or joyful experiences that we experienced in the past.

We remember the stories of the movies that we watched, and the stories of the books that we read. We remember the conversation that we had with somebody. We remember the incidents that we saw on the streets or images that we saw here and there through out the day. We remember our name, different relationships with everyone, our culture, our pride, arrogance, anger, hatred, jealousy, what we like and dislike, what we want and don't want, and so on.

There is nothing wrong with this function of the mind to remember all these perceptions of names and forms (inputs). It is very normal. And for most people in this world of interaction, socialization, communication and business, we try to remember all these things. We need to digest, analyze and remember our conversation with somebody either in personal affair or business affair, or else we will be defined as suffering from memory loss, or not paying attention to our surroundings and the people that we come in contact with, or we do not show appreciation or respect to the people that we are interacting with, or we are not good in socializing or doing business.

It is part of human's culture to sharpen our memory power to remember everything if possible, to remember what we have learned, and to make use of the memory of the accumulated information of what we have learned to be doing something in life. And people who have a sharp mind and good concentration would also have a good memory power. This is part of the effect of developing awareness and concentration.

Somehow this very normal behavior of us to remember everything that we come in contact with everyone and with the surrounding environment, generates strong imprint of ceaseless inputs into our mind. During our sleep, the mind will release all these imprints and generate dreams that are made up of partials of this and that which we perceived in the day, where we might remember some of these dreams and they also become part of the memory.

If we can maintain awareness of being aware of everything that we come in contact with, but being unattached towards all the perceptions of names and forms, without clinging, craving or aversion, and be undisturbed by all these inputs, then this is a progression in our yoga practice. But if we don't know how to stay unattached to all these inputs of the senses, and being affected or disturbed by all these inputs, and generate lots of reactions of likes and dislikes, craving and aversion, and generate strong impressions of all these names and forms into the mind, then this is not conducive for quieting the mind for meditation.

As soon as we sit down for meditation, restricting the inputs of the senses, all these impressions will start to bubbling up to the surface of the mind. For the experienced meditator who has developed strong detachment, they won't be disturbed nor affected by this thoughts currents. But for the less experienced meditator who still hasn't developed firm detachment yet, they will be distracted and disturbed very much by these bubbling thoughts currents that might need days/weeks/months/years to subside. During this period of calming the thoughts currents, irritation and frustration may arise in the mind.

That's why if we really want to do serious Sadhana (intense practice), like participating in a long course of silent retreat, we will be told to cut off any contacts, communications or interactions with the world and people (care less). We are also being restricted in action and speech, reducing and limiting the mind activities and expressions by observe silence in thoughts, actions and speech; and focus within ourselves, and refraining the mind from going out to the objects of the senses to reduce all kinds of inputs. Keep watching our own mind, and stop minding about other people's affairs. This will help us to quiet the mind and to contemplate on the Truth.

We know/remember everything in the worldly life experiences, but we don't know/remember who we really are, or who am 'I'.

When we start to go beyond the body, the mind, the self-image, the worldly-identity, the past worldly experiences, the future imaginations, all the perceptions of names and forms, all the objects of the senses, all the dualities, all the good and bad, all the happiness and unhappiness, all the positive and negative, and the idea of worldly existence of 'I'. We will start to know/remember who we really are (by removing all impurities from the mind, we will know who am 'I' or what we think is myself.)

Forget what we should be forgetting, remembering what we need to remember.

We think that we are "this" or "that", we are "good" or "bad", we are "happy" or "unhappy", we are "smart" or "stupid". We also think that "this" is mine or "that" is mine. We also think about my family, my career, my future, my feelings, my thinking, my knowledge, my study, my friends, my enemies, my partner, my children, my country, my pride, my reputation, my ability, my limitation, my rights, my religion, my culture, my believes, and so on.

Forget everything about "I", "my", "mine". There will be no more separateness. All are equal including this being whom we think is 'I' is also one of the beings, no superiority or inferiority. This will allow us to know what is selflessness and compassion.

We start to ask ourselves, "Who am I?" (not by asking other people, our teacher or God), and in the end we'll realize we are not all these names and forms that are impermanent.

This is the beginning of our search or quest for the real meaning of life existence.

Knowing who am 'I', will remove all the doubts, ignorance, attachments, wrong identifications, fear, worry, discontentment, disappointment, anger, hatred, greed, pride, arrogance, hurts, guilt, superiority, inferiority, separateness, loneliness, emptiness, painful sorrow, and etc.

There's only selfless compassion, peace and silence.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Little by little we'll gain strength on the path of yoga...

I heard many people saying that it is not easy to let go. It is not easy to not attached to what we perceive through the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind. It is not easy to be undisturbed or unaffected by our thoughts, feelings and sensations that we experience in our body and mind. It is not easy to reduce our desires. It is not easy to be not influenced by the craving and aversion. It is not easy to defeat the strong ego. It is not easy to let go of our many years of stubborn habits of the mind. It is not easy to be not judging, not comparing, not expecting. It is not easy to let go of the past (missing about something very happy that had already gone, and being disturbed and hurt by something very hurtful that had already ended). It is not easy to let go of the future, not worrying about anything...

First, may those who think that they are very weak in letting go of "what you think you cannot let go", may you see the great strength in you that is capable to attach so strongly onto everything. You are not weak at all. But you are very strong indeed... A person who is really weak, will not even has the strength to attach to anything...

Then, may those who think that you are just a little imperfect human being that is bound to be selfish and egoistic, may you realize the true essence in you, which is selfless and enlightened...

Last but not least, may those who want to believe that they are the pure Self but still trying hard to "reach" the Self, may you just be yourself as you are, you don't have to try hard to become the Self, because you are the Self...

If we think that we are sinful, we are weak, we are imperfect, we are not "qualified" to be the Self... This will hinders us from realizing we all are the Self, but we are being temporary deluded by different layers/levels of impurities (ignorance)...

To realize the truth, we just need to let go of ignorance/incorrect knowledge... But we are so afraid of losing what we "know".

To realize our true Self, we just need to let go of the little "I"... But we are so afraid of losing our "worldly self-identity".

It doesn't need any strength or effort to let go of the little "I", if we really want to... The problem is, we reluctant/don't want to let it go...

We all want to be "somebody" but are very afraid of being "nobody"... And thus, we don't want to let go. It is not that we are weak, but in fact, we are so strong holding on to the little self-image/self-identity that we create for ourselves...

Good things, we want...

Bad things, we don't want...

But when we don't have the discrimination of what is real and what is unreal, we'll keep chasing after the unreal objects which is transitory or impermanent that give us momentary happiness and momentary satisfaction. And soon when this momentary happiness and satisfaction are gone, emptiness and dissatisfaction kick in... We lost in disappointment and frustration... And then we will try to attain some other things (which is again transitory) to remove this discontentment... Again and again, we are lost in discontentment, never ending...

If we can just stop "wanting"... If we can just stop "not wanting"...

We will be free from this cycle of momentary contentment and discontentment... And be truly content.

The one and only real "thing", is something that will not change or disappear. And that is our true Self... Everything can be unreal and non-existing, but we cannot deny or negate our true Self who is the knower of everything is unreal and non-existing... Who is this knower about everything is unreal and non-existing, if it is not "yourself"?

We cannot rely on anything that is perishable/impermanent/unreal. Or else we'll be disappointed...

We can only rely on "that" which is imperishable/permanent/real. And "that" is who we really are...

Be patient, be persevere, be natural, be yourself...

You will gain the strength to be unaffected by all impurities, and eliminating all the impurities effortlessly day by day...

When there are thick clouds above us, the sunshine cannot shine through and we cannot see the sun and we see the entire space is darkening... When the clouds disappear, the sunshine will illuminate the entire space, we can see the sun and the space is bright... But the sun is always there shining... The space is still the same space... (The impurities are like the clouds which is the obstacle. The sunshine is like the wisdom which is already there. The darkness and brightness is like the duality, comes from the impurities. The entire space is the Self which is still the same, it is not good nor bad. It is not increasing nor decreasing (unchanging) due to the existence (arising) and non-existence (passing away) of the impurities. It is untouched, undetermined, unaffected by the impurities...)

Remember, you are the Self...

Be happy.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Try changing the habits of the mind by learning another foreign language or adopting new interests...

For those who are being troubled and influenced strongly by negative emotions and feelings (such like anger, jealousy, depression, anxiety, fear, worry, low self-esteem and etc...), and don't know how to come out from it because we don't know how to stay detached from all these activities in the mind, then we may try to change this stubborn habit of attachment in the mind towards these negative feelings and emotions by learning and speaking another language that we are not familiar with, or adopting new interests...

It will shift something in the brain and without any expectation, we might find ourselves suddenly or gradually becoming more positive and cheerful...

If we are not interested in learning languages, then we can try to learn something new and interesting that we are not familiar with (of course these new interests should be something that will bring positive effects and peaceful harmony to our body and mind)...

Or gradually break a long term stubborn habit of our behavior (such like switch on the TV as soon as we step into the house, or open the door of the fridge even though we know there is nothing that we want from the fridge, or looking at the watch frequently, or have the need of a cup of coffee at specific time, and etc)...

Or try to perform some selfless service (to ourselves and other beings without discrimination and attachment) without asking any rewards in return. Just give and let go...

It will still give the same effect of changing the habits of the mind. Of course it takes time, patience and perseverance to see any result (without expectation).

Give it a try, if we are tired of negative feelings and emotions that persistently troubling us, and we really want to make a change of ourselves, want to be kind and compassionate towards ourselves, and want to live to the fullest, be more positive and cheerful...

Be happy.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A message concerning the terms of our business license in Langkawi Malaysia


This is a message we sent to a Muslim yoga practitioner who is concern about the terms of our business license about we are not allowed to receive any Muslims of any origins for our yoga classes and yoga retreats in Langkawi, Malaysia.

Hi there - hope all is well with you and that you are enjoying married life.

Noticed a few comments about our "situation" on your Twitter page.

We don't think we are being particularly "vocal" about the matter - we are merely obeying the laws of the country we have chosen to live in.

Just to be clear - we are legally obliged to refuse Muslims by the business licensing department in Langkawi. I have attached a copy of the relevant document.

This is not a case of us merely deciding to apply "the fatwa". As you know, a fatwa is not legally binding. However, a business license is legally binding.

It is the last thing we want to cause offense to anyone (whether Muslims who want to learn and practice yoga or the city council).

The gentleman who wrote to us (and to you) seems to have taken it very personally. Even when we explained that this was not about the fatwa, he still insisted that this didn't apply to him since he has been practicing yoga for 4 years (in Malaysia).

There are 1.8 billion Muslims on the planet and unfortunately this document applies to all of them.

Of course Muslims won't be punished if they came to our classes or retreats but if we were to accept Muslims then we would lose our license and would no longer be able to legally teach yoga here and Marc would not be allowed a work permit to teach yoga either.

In the year and a half we have been based here we have had requests from a total of exactly 4 Muslims (including you) to attend classes or retreats. we have explained the situation as clearly as possible to each of them.

We still want to be able to teach yoga in Langkawi to all other people who are non-Muslim. As stated in the license - if we fail to respect the terms of our business license then our license will be cancelled.

Hope that everything is going well for you and that you are keeping up your yoga practice and improving your French.

Take care and all the best.

Warm regards,

Marc and Meng Foong



May all Muslims who are offended by this term in our business license please accept our apologies for this "ridiculous" situation.

For us, yoga is for all without any discrimination. We do not have any intention to refuse any Muslims of any race. Teaching yoga also is nothing to do with business license actually. Yoga is not a business and should not be limited by any "laws" or "terms". Just like Buddhism Dhamma is for all beings, but in Malaysia all Dhamma books must have a printed notice stating "FOR NON-MUSLIMS ONLY". And meditation retreat centres in Malaysia also have to refuse Muslim's participants. We were also "told" to put up a sign in front of our studio, stating "FOR NON-MUSLIMS ONLY".


Peace and light to all of you.

Yoga is unlimited, unconditioned. It's already within everyone regardless of our race, sex, culture, religion, good or bad behavior. Yoga is every moment in our heart in our life experience, and it's not just limited to a yoga class doing some yoga exercises. Yoga is in life, how we deal with our own mind, our own ego, and it's about non-attachment and how to become selfless and compassionate. Everyone and anyone can practice yoga at anytime, anywhere. Yoga is not only to be found in a yoga studio that is limited by some local authority with terms and conditions...


Be happy.

A conversation about death...

[Yoga Kee]
Some of my yoga friends posted something in their Facebook about a senior yoga teacher passed away.

[You]
Tell me about how you feel when you heard about a young yogi passed away...
From your heart.

[Yoga Kee]
Life is unpredictable and very short.

And so... Be grateful of what we have.

Yogi is also human being.... People are born, will get ill and will die.
Impermanence.

[You]
What is death? Who is dead? Is death something not good? Is it something sad?

[Yoga Kee]
For me... I don't think so...

As it is the nature of life.

Of course for those who know him, they might feel sad for the loss...
But not everyone can accept death easily.

[You]
What is the difference between die young or die old?

What is the difference between people who practice yoga and do not practice yoga?

What is death?

"Who" is "dead"?

[Yoga Kee]
The body died.

Die young or die old, is still die... Just the matter of time...

People who do not understand that this is the circle of life, they will be affected and attached to the loss.

And that's the difference of people who practice yoga and do not practice yoga... It's the level of understanding about the nature of life... Whereby there should not be any differences between yogi and non-yogi.

And what is death... It is part of the process.

Our life process.

Talk is easy, but to practice is another thing. But without the knowledge of all these dharma, we will be even more suffer when it happens. But at least with the dharma, it will help us to attain the understanding and guide us through our sorrow.

[You]
There is no "death". "Death" doesn't exist. The true Self is never born, never die. The body and the mind, and our life experience is just forming and deforming due to karma, cause and effect. When there is no identification with the body and mind, there is no "I", no "my life", no "death", no "birth". No matter it is a yogi who is enlightened or a person who is not enlightened, this body is still a product of energy and element, it will come to an end sooner or later. Death is not something good nor bad. There is a cause of birth, there is a cause of death. There is no sorrow, no grief. Die in a horrible way or in a very nice way, there's no difference. Die young or die old also no difference. Yogi or not yogi no difference.

If we think that death is something natural, it is still not enough to not being affected by the effects of "death", because death is there (existence of death). Pain is there, suffering is there, fear and sorrow is there. But when we know that there is no death, then there will be no pain and suffering, no fear and sorrow.

[Yoga Kee]
Kee is nodding her head.

[You]
To know the truth about the true Self is not affected by birth and death of the body and the end of this life existence, but we (who we really are) are beyond birth and death, and we are never born or die, then there is no fear, sorrow, pain and suffering.

[Yoga Kee]
Kee is nodding her head again...

[You]
"Death" for the worldly mind perception means separation from something, the body, our life, our family and friends, our belongings, our accumulated wealth and success, and etc... That's why there is sorrow, when we experience "death" or when our loved ones experience "death"... The stronger the attachment and clinging towards all these things is, the stronger the sorrow it will be.

When we know our true self (selflessness), we will know that we are not separated from everything else (oneness). There is no separation. What is there to be sad or missed about? No sorrow, no sadness, no grief.

We never gain anything when we come into this world with this body and mind. We lose nothing when we leave this world, this body and mind...

A real yogi has no fear nor grief towards what is defined as "death" in the worldly mind perception...

[Yoga Kee]
True.

[You]
;)


* It is nothing wrong as well when people feel sad and cry for the loss of their loved ones. It is good to cry to relieve the sad feelings and not suppressing them, and let it go... It is very healthy to cry when we feel sad. It is not a bad or negative reaction to cry. But do not attach to this sad feeling and get lost in it. Accept the truth as it is and let go...


When a yogi is pure and selfless, there is no "death" can determine him or affect him of who he really is. There is no "death". It is just the end of a life existence and transition into another realm or another level of consciousness. The awareness that is witnessing the death of the physical body, has no painful suffering when this yogi had firmly established in selflessness or who knows the truth of his true Self.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The ego feeds on agreement and support from other egos...

Have you ever came across this type of feeling; When someone says something that is supporting what we think and say, and when someone is agreed with what we think and say, we’ll be feeling so great, so right, so successful and superior?

We will have this feeling; Yes! I’m right! Because some other people also agree with what I think and say.

Know that this is the reaction that comes from the ego.

Beware…

Especially when we are talking something bad about another person, or criticizing somebody about this and that. We will feel that we are a better person and that we are right about somebody’s imperfection, when someone else is also talking bad about the same person and is criticizing the same person just like what we have been doing.

We will have this thought and will say; Look! It’s not just me thinking and saying like this. Another person is also thinking like that and saying the same thing. This proves that I’m right about this.

And this makes us (the ego) feel so good about ourselves…

The people (the egos) who like to engage and indulge in criticism and slandering about other people to feel good about themselves, are not any better than those whom they criticize and slander…

And hence, we should move away from criticism and slandering…

Those who forbear, endure or withstand any amount of criticism and slandering, and not utter a single bad word about those who criticize or slander about them, they are the real yogis, great saints and sages…

Sunday, February 13, 2011

May love grows in your heart infinitely...

Happy Valentine’s day to all of you. May love grows in your heart infinitely… Whether it is a relationship with somebody or with your own self…

http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle

My little “love story” with my husband is featured in the national newspaper today – The Star.

Om shanti.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Monday, February 7, 2011

mind conquest - yoga chitta vritti nirodhah

YOGA CHITTA VRITTI NIRODHAH… (Yoga Sutras by Patanjali)

The path of yoga is about mind conquest. Dispassion, discrimination, renunciation, meditation are the means to destroy the mind. Eradicate all desires, thoughts, likes and dislikes, craving and aversion. Mind is the dividing wall between the individual soul and the Supreme soul. If the mind is destroyed, the individual soul becomes identical with the Supreme soul.

Conquest of Mind – Swami Sivananda

This is nothing to do with whether our body is flexible and strong enough to be able to perform some “acrobatic” asana poses or not...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mind conquest - 10 important methods from Swami Sivananda

Mind is a bundle of desires, thoughts, imaginations, likes and dislikes. Annihilation of the mind is Mano-Nasa. Manolaya is temporary absorption of the mind. This cannot give Moksha. The mind can come back again and wander in sensual objects. Manonasa alone can give release or Moksha.

1. BY VICHARA - Self-inquiry (enquiry of "Who am I?")

This is the best and most effective method. This will annihilate the mind. This is the Vedantic method. Realize the unreality of the mind through philosophical thinking.

2. BY ERADICATION OF EGO

Eradicate the feeling of egoism. Ego is the seed of the tree of mind. "I" thought is the source of all thoughts. All thoughts are centred on the little "I". Find out what the little "I" is. This little "I" will dwindle into airy nothing. It will be absorbed in the infinite "I" or Para Brahman, the source of the little "I" or Ahamkara (egoism).

The sun of Self-realization is fully seen when the cloud of ego disappears.

3. BY VAIRAGYA - Dispassion

Distaste for objects of sense-pleasures by finding out the defects in the sensual life. Objects are perishable. Sensual pleasure is momentary and illusory.

4. BY ABHYASA - Practice of ceaseless meditation

Concentrate the mind by fixing it on Brahman. Make it steady. Abhyasa is ceaseless meditation. This leads to Samadhi.

5. BY NON-ATTACHMENT

Asanga or non-attachment is a sword to destroy the mind. Take the mind away from objects. Detach attach. Detach it from the objects and attach it to the Lord. Do this again and again. The essence of the seed of the sprout of world-experience, which is desire, can be destroyed by the fire of non-attachment.

6. BY VASANAKSHAYA - renunciation of desires

Vasana is desire. Renunciation of desires leads to Vasanakshaya. This will lead to annihilation of the mind (Manonasa). Desire for objects of pleasures is bondage; giving it up is emancipation. Desire is the most essential nature of the mind. Mind and egoism are synonymous.

7. BY PRANAYAMA

Vibration of Prana causes movement of the mind. It gives life to the mind. Pranayama or control of Prana will stop the activities of the mind. But it cannot destroy the mind to its roots like Vichara.

8. BY CONTROL OF THOUGHTS

Avoid imagination or day-dreaming. The mind will be annihilated. Extinction of thoughts alone is Moksha. The mind is destroyed when there is no imagination. The experience of the world illusion is due to your imagination. It vanishes away when imagination is completely stopped.

9. BY EQUANIMITY AND BALANCE

Mental renunciation of possessions is another method. The absolute experience can be realized if you learn to be in a state of thought-suspending Samadhi.

Attainment of equanimity is another method. Be balanced in pain and pleasure, heat and cold, etc.

10. BY DEVOTION AND SERVICE

Japa, Kirtan, prayer, devotion, service of Guru and study are also means to annihilate the mind.

He alone experiences everlasting peace and Eternal Bliss who has transcended the mind and rests in his Own Satchidananda Atman.

- Conquest of mind, Swami Sivananda

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Yoga teacher who doesn't like to hear or talk about the practice of yoga philosophy in daily life...

Most people who had came for some yoga classes and yoga retreats with us, they really appreciate our yoga classes that emphasize on the teachings of yoga or yoga philosophy and it's practice in daily life. And they said that in the yoga classes that they usually went to in their countries, the yoga teachers didn't teach or talk much about the yoga philosophy. And some of them completely haven't heard about any yoga philosophy in the yoga classes that they have been going to.

I wasn't surprised when I heard about this.

Some yoga teachers are afraid to teach or talk about the philosophy, because they afraid that the students will have strong reaction of aversion (resistance). And so, they just want to teach some yoga exercises for attaining physical fitness, physical health, good feelings and pleasant sensations that come from the yoga exercises. There is nothing wrong with this. Yoga is versatile and can suit everybody with different temperaments.

While some yoga teachers are lack of faith and confidence in the traditional teachings of yoga and its philosophy. I met some "yoga" teachers who are against the traditional teachings from the ancient Gurus, they criticize the Guru's personal life and way of teaching, and are criticizing about these teachings of traditional yoga philosophy and its practice in life are not up to date and are not suitable for the modern people in the modern world to practice in daily life. Well, if the teacher themselves have no faith and confidence in the teachings, then how can they expound the yoga teachings to anybody? There is nothing wrong with this as well, because just teaching the yoga exercise without the philosophy is still something great and good for everybody.

While some yoga teachers are still very unsure about the yoga philosophy. They haven't realize the truth of the teachings through self-realization. If so, how can they share the essence of yoga teachings with others? There is nothing wrong with this also, because we all have to start somewhere and we all are not perfect (if we are perfect, we wouldn't be here at the first place in this existence). As yoga teachers, we all learn together with the students and evolve together. There is no superiority nor inferiority. We share what we know and what we had experienced through our own practice on the path of yoga. We all grow and move towards selflessness and compassion together.

And some yoga teachers know very well about the yoga philosophy and they are practicing the yoga philosophy by hard as well. But they also think that there are many people out there who come for the everyday yoga classes are not ready yet to know about the philosophy or to be practicing the yoga philosophy, and that these people should be kept away from hearing about yoga philosophy and just give them some yoga exercises for the body until they are ready to receive the great knowledge of the yoga philosophy about the Self and the path of Self-realization. This is nothing wrong at all. These yoga teachers are being cautious. It is indeed very wise. This is to avoid those people who are not ready for the deep yoga philosophy to engage in criticizing and condemning the teachings of yoga, as well as condemning the yoga teachers who actually teach the yoga philosophy to the yoga students.

But, take a look at all the books about yoga philosophy in the market that is written by famous yogis, saints and sages. The knowledge is out there for anybody to pick up, to read and to know about the deep yoga philosophy, these books never have statements that says, "Please be cautious! If you are not ready yet, please don't read this book. This book is only for those who are ready to receive the great knowledge of yoga."

When we come across with the yoga philosophy, it is the right time. If we are not ready yet, then no matter how much we want to know about the yoga philosophy, we won't be able to see it, hear it or read it... (This actually happened to me. The Bhagavad Gita in Chinese version (a gift from a friend) was on my bookshelf for 15 years, but I didn't realize that it was there with me all the time, until after I came back from India... When it was not the right time yet for me to read the Bhagavad Gita, I wouldn't be reading it even though it was with me all the time.)

And also, who is qualified enough to say who is ready and who is not? If the person himself thinks that he is not ready yet, then he can just take up some yoga classes that only do some physical exercises. There are many of these yoga classes out there. And these are very good exercise classes just like some other forms of physical exercises. I was an aerobics fitness instructor before for twenty years. I experienced different types of fitness exercise training. Yoga exercises are really good for overall fitness and for rehabilitation from physical injury or for countering health problems and psychology matters. Even though if we don't mention about philosophy, but the poses, the movements and the breathing exercises are there naturally influencing and balancing the energy field in the body, and to unblock any energy blockage in the system. And hence, this will influence and balance the state of the mind, and strengthening the entire systems and functions in the body.

Well, it definitely needs direct experience, truthfulness, compassion, fearlessness and non-attachment for anybody to be able to expound the teachings of yoga, the path of Self-realization or the annihilation of the ego and the mind, to "all beings" without any discrimination (whether they are "ready" or not), without fear and worry!

What is so fearful and worried about sharing the philosophy about the path of selflessness and compassion with all these people who come for the yoga class?
Being afraid of offending somebody's ego and they won't come back for yoga classes anymore?Yoga is indeed about selflessness and compassion, and about how to become selfless and compassionate through the yoga practice. It is about annihilation of the selfish arrogant ego or the lower self. It is about purification removing all the impurities and ignorance. It is about letting go of craving and aversion. It is about non-identification with the body and the mind. It is about being at the present moment now. It is about knowing who we really are (Self-inquiry). It is about non-dualism. It is about non-attachment. It is about dispassion and discrimination (what is real and unreal). What is there to be taught to the students if not all these yoga teachings?
It really doesn't matter if some people are not "ready" yet, or will get very irritated by the philosophy part of yoga. They can continue to practice the yoga exercises without applying any philosophy into it. Be happy, and enjoy the exercise. The exercise itself is a very good and beneficial activity for anyone to do in life. Actually it is the beginning stage of purification even though no body is mentioning or discussing anything about the philosophy.

Just as Swami Sivananda had told us in his teachings, "The Truth alone will triumph. No fear! No worry! The one who knows the Truth has no fear, no worry..."

Here is one of my own experience while giving yoga classes which emphasizing on the practice of yoga philosophy in daily life from moment to moment.

There was a yoga teacher who came to join one of my yoga class here in Langkawi.

She was very surprised and annoyed by how I conduct the yoga lesson.

The one question that she asked me after the class was, "Thank you for the class, but don't you feel tired talking so much?" (in an irritated tone...)

I told her, "If I think I (the ego) am the one who is doing the teaching, then I will be exhausted teaching many classes and doing so much talking. I'll be losing lots of energy. But I have no selfish intention or selfish expectation from giving the yoga classes or talking about the philosophy. I have no attachment towards the action of teaching the class and the fruit of the action. I am not disturbed by the reactions of the students whether they are grateful and appreciate or not, whether they are benefited from the teachings or not. I am just there doing what I am doing, and I let it go as soon as I did what I did. And most people get benefited from the classes and are having a complete different perspective of life. Some are getting the "knowledge" instantly after one session, and some are getting the "knowledge" after a few sessions of "struggle" and "fighting" with the intense resistance coming from the intellect and the ego. Some still didn't get the "knowledge" yet, but they are still trying to grasp the meanings of yoga..."

And some people were getting very irritated or agitated by the talking about the philosophy,
wanted to stand up and runaway, shouting, "I don't want to hear this! Why are you talking about me? You don't know about me! I don't need to hear this! I know all these already! I don't need you to tell me all these things! I just want to do some exercises. What yoga are you teaching? This is not the yoga class that I want!"

All I can say to everyone is, "Be happy. Please don't get upset by what you have heard. Leave it aside if your mind doesn't like to hear and doesn't agree with all these yoga teachings... Let it go."
(Even though it is the Truth, because not everybody can accept the Truth as it is. Most of the time, the Truth is not what we like and what we want it to be.)

And look, this is how the mind and the ego reacts to what it hears or sees or experience. It reacts strongly to the things that it likes and doesn't like. This is what we are practicing. Observe what is happening in our mind, know who is getting upset and irritated, learn how to deal with the reactions in the mind, and learn how to let go, not being disturbed by our own mind and not being over-powered by our own ego... And not by looking out at what other people do and say, and be affected or disturbed by what other people do and say...

Not everybody can have the patience to listen to some speech that seems like it is "talking" about our problems or "pointing out" our imperfection, and it is like somebody there keeps telling us about we should be like this and like that. Of course, If we are attached strongly to the ego, then the resistance and resentment will be stronger as well. It is very normal that there will be somebody gets very annoyed and offended, while some other people in the same class are really interested and glad to know more about the yoga philosophy. Actually nobody offends anybody. Nobody has the intention to offend anybody personally. We feel that we are being offended by what other people do and say, is because our own attachment towards our own mind and the ego, and the attachment towards all the perceptions of names and forms.

I know that it was the initial talk of the yoga philosophy (last about an hour) that had made her (the yoga teacher) very irritated. Usually on the first session, there will be a longer talk on the basic yoga philosophy.

These are some of the basic teachings that I talk about in the yoga class;

- about selflessness and compassion

- about contentment and simplicity

- about humility and gratitude

- about accepting ourselves as we are at the present moment now

- about true happiness and true confidence

- about developing inner strength and inner flexibility

- about the practice of letting go of craving and aversion while performing all the exercises

- about non-attachment towards the body and the mind while observing whatever the body and the mind is experiencing at the present moment now

- about not being disturbed nor affected by whatever the mind perceives through the senses of what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think

- about non-identification with the body and the mind

- about being a witness or an observer towards whatever the body and the mind is experiencing at the present moment now

- about letting go of the past and the future, being at the present moment now from moment to moment

- about letting go of fear and worry

- about non-reaction towards pleasant and unpleasant experiences, remain equanimous towards all the dualities of good and bad

- about non-judgment, non-comparison and non-expectation

- about the habits of the mind, the intellect, the ego and the meanings of all the yoga practice is about purification of the mind, calming the mind, stilling the mind and go beyond the mind

- about eradicate the ego, remove ignorance and attain wisdom or insight to know the Truth of ourselves and everything (the world of names and forms) that we can perceive in the mind through the senses

- about how to deal with the mind and the ego

- about how to be free from fear and worry

- about how to attain true happiness and be free from all conditions of the limited body and mind, and undisturbed by the condition of the life existence and the condition of the world that we are living in, by performing all these yoga practice of asana, pranayama, concentration, meditation, selfless service, study of the philosophy, chanting and prayer, the foundation of morality and right conduct, purifying the mind and allow wisdom to arise...

And we actually apply and practice all these teachings while performing all the yoga asana practice, the pranayama practice, the concentration and meditation practice, and the relaxation practice, in the entire yoga class.

These are the Dharma that I practice every moment in my heart. I teach what I practice. I share what I experienced with the students. I am just being "me". I don't need to prepare myself for a speech or what to teach in the yoga class. I share what I am to the people. What I don't practice, I couldn't share with the people.


And most people will have this same thought arise in their mind, "Why are you talking about me?"
(This was what some of the students who came to me and told me after the class)

But the truth is I was only talking in general about the habits of the mind and how to deal with the mind with the practice of the yoga philosophy. I didn't know their personal life problems. I don't need to know either. I never intentionally pointing at anyone and I have no intention to teach anybody about whether they should be like this or like that. I'm just there to deliver the teachings and let go. It depends on each individual about how they want to take it or leave it, and whether they will get some benefits from it or not. I never plan what I'm going to teach or to say in the yoga class. Everything flows naturally. In some classes I could be saying nothing at all...

It's because all minds are having the similar habits and characteristics, such like, attachment, clinging, egoism, like and dislike, want and don't want, craving and aversion, happiness and unhappiness, fear, worry, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, irritation, frustration, agitation, depression, excitement, boredom, pride and arrogance, self-image, self-identification, self-protection, selfishness, ignorance, impermanence, and etc... That's why when a group of people with different personalities and experiences in life are listening to the same speech at the same time, we automatically will relate the speech as something that is talking about us or it is like revealing our inner most feelings which we don't really want to confront with.

She (the yoga teacher) said to me, "I had an ex-boyfriend who talks a lots about the yoga philosophy all the time, but he never practice it. People who talk about philosophy, only know how to play around with the intellectual and don't really practice the philosophy, and what's the meaning of doing all these talking about the yoga philosophy?" (This ex-boyfriend of her must had disappointed her very much some how, I guess it was very normal that she was angry when I talked about the philosophy. It reminded her of him...)

She has the rights to feel "angry" with people who only preach and talk loud about yoga philosophy but they actually "just talk talk" only, and never really practice what they preach. Of course there will be people who like to talk loud about philosophy but their personality might be worst than anybody who doesn't know about anything about philosophy. But this is very normal. We shouldn't have any expectation towards the people who talk about philosophy that they will also be practicing the philosophy at the same time. Talk is easy, practice is not so easy...

This is what I said to her, "Your ex-boyfriend likes to talk about philosophy and doesn't practice the philosophy as it is, that is his own problem, not yours. You have the freedom to be angry and disappointed with him, but you don't have to. You don't have to be disturbed by it at all... It shouldn't stop you from practicing the philosophy and let him take away your own faith in expounding the Dharma as a yoga teacher..."

Then she said, "But not everybody is ready for listening to all these philosophy... People will get annoyed or will reject strongly..."

I didn't want to irritated her with further debates. I just said to her to let go of whatever that was irritating her at that moment. She doesn't need to be disturbed by what she thinks is not right whether it's from me or from anyone else.

Well, if there is somebody who is not ready yet, then no body is really ready for yoga at all. From the moment that we have the awareness of this life existence and we experience happiness and suffering, we all are ready to practice yoga (with the philosophy).

Yoga practice without the philosophy, is like a picture with "God" image in it... It is nice, it is beautiful. But can this picture gives me salvation and takes away my unhappiness and suffering?

For those people who couldn't stand the philosophy part of the yoga lesson, and get irritated by the "philosophy talk" very much (actually it's the ego gets irritated and being unhappy listening to the practice of the philosophy in daily life). They said it is impossible to practice the philosophy about non-attachment in everyday life. And thus why still want to bother about the non-practical idealistic philosophy? Why waste their time listening to all these "rubbish", and why not just do the exercise only which will make them feel good and relaxed for a few hours after that? (I could understand why they think this way...)

They came for the yoga class because they want to release tensions and stress (there is nothing wrong with having this intention. In fact that is the basic effect and benefit of doing yoga exercises). And in the daily yoga class, we will emphasize on deep relaxation for the body and the mind, to let go of any tensions physically, mentally and emotionally, especially during the final relaxation at the end of the class. It is part of the class format. We understand that most people cannot avoid generate tensions and stress from everyday life experiences, and they really need this relaxation to let go of all these accumulated tensions and stress.

But the point is, "yoga" does not just stops here. This is not the goal of the yoga practice. The body and the mind will get relaxed after the practice and will get a momentary good feeling from the practice is only part of the "side effect" of the practice. Just like the physical body will become more healthy, more flexible and strong, the mind will become calm and relaxed, are only part of the "side effect" of the yoga practice, but they are not the end of practice, nor the goal of doing yoga.

We should not rely nor depend on the yoga practice to feel good and attached to that momentary good feeling that comes from the yoga practice, and have craving and clinging towards this pleasant and calm feeling. If we attached to it and when we couldn't perform some yoga practice due to certain reasons, then we will be so frustrated and don't feel good anymore. There is nothing wrong but this is not the true happiness that we are looking for. We are still caught up in the craving and clinging towards the condition of our body and the mind.


We need to learn how to not generate tensions at the first place by practicing real non-attachment, dispassion towards worldly objects and enjoyments, and discrimination of what is real and unreal. We need to learn how to over-power the mind and the ego, and not being over-powered by them. We need to learn how to go beyond the body and the mind, and not attached to nor affected by the states of the mind that is subject to impermanence and which is constantly changing from good to bad, from bad to good, due to the energy field is being influenced by all the inputs of sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and thinking.

One time, there was a girl who had actually verbally stopped me from talking in the class when I was talking about the philosophy for about 15 minutes. She shouted loudly, "Excuse me, can you please stop talking about all these things? I knew all these things already, I don't need you to tell me about it. You are like my parents, telling me what I should do and should not do. I don't need to hear all these... The yoga classes that I went to in my country, the teacher doesn't talk..." She was really angry. (If she really knows about all these teachings of yoga, she would be patient and humble enough to be opened and listened, and not getting so furious about it, even if she didn't agree with it at all.) May she be in peace. I wasn't disturbed by her at all, but being compassionate towards her mind being unhappy and disturbed.

Well, if a yoga teacher also will be annoyed by the talk of yoga philosophy in a yoga class, then for sure there will be many people will likely to react the same way as well... Anyway, we all are imperfect human beings try to learn and practice yoga. No judgment, no expectation, no problems, just keep going...

May all be happy and be free...

Swami Sivananda's lessons for mental peace - Conquest of mind

Don't's

1. Don't expect; don't hope


2. Don't keep in the heart any injury done by others.

3. Don't mix with rich people.

4. Don't compare.

5. Don't build castles in the air.

6. Don't brood over the past.

7. Don't plan your future.

8. Don't get angry on any account.

9. Don't expect any return for your services or help.

10. Don't multiply your acquaintances.

11. Don't be familiar with anybody.

12. Don't keep any bad company.

13. Don't squander your wealth.

14. Don't think too much of yourself.

15. Don't make mountains out of little moles.

16. Don't be extravagant.

17. Don't make much of trifling things.

18. Don't forget God.


*********************
Do's

1. Take recourse to solitude.

2. Live alone.

3. Keep 4 clothes. 1 blanket, 1 Lotta.

4. Eat 2 or 3 things only - Dhall, Rottie, or Dhall, rice and vegetables.

5. Observe Mauna (silence).

6. Practice Asanas and Pranayama.

7. Do Japa and meditation.

8. Study the Yoga Vasishtha, the Gita, the Upanishads, the Avadhoota Gita and the Viveka Chudamani.

9. Have Satsanga.

10. Possess Santosh or Sattvic contentment.

11. Destroy desires - Nishkama state.

12. Destroy anger - Akrodha state.

13. Destroy hatred - Nirvaira state.

14. Have equal vision - Samata state.

15. Practice constant Vichara - Self-inquiry.

16. Develop strong patience.

17. Have Kshama (forgiveness), Titiksha (endurance), tolerance, Daya (mercy), Karuna (compassion), Udarata (magnanimity ; generosity), benevolence, universal love.

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About Yoga

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

Om shanti

About Me

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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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