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Friday, September 7, 2012

What does "friends" means on the path of compassion?

In the path of yoga and meditation or Buddhism or compassion, friendliness is part of our practice. But we might get confused as at the same time, we also always read or hear about the practice of seclusion or retreat from active sociable lifestyle, for any sincere Sadhakas to be able to go deeper into our yoga and meditation practice.

At some stage in our life, we will need to let go of our worldly duties and live a secluded life to concentrate on our own Sadhana.

Being "friendly" towards all beings on the path of compassion, is different from the worldly perception of what "friends" means. In the worldly perception or understanding, "friendships" might means getting to meet up with other people, to know and interact with other people, making and accumulating "friends" with those who can share with each other, to care for each other, to support each other, to hang out with, to spend time with, to do some activities with, to eat, drink, play and chat with, to cry and laugh with, somebody to talk to, somebody whom we can count on and lean on, to help each other during difficulties, to be there for each other during good and bad times, to celebrate or to mourn together... Or we can only be "friend" with people whom we like and agree with, and we cannot be "friend" with whom we don't like and disagree with... Or "friends" means those who have similar believes, thinking, point of view that can "work" or "do things" together... And, anyone who are not in these "categories" or if they are very different from us, then they are "not friends" or they are "enemies". There are conditions in looking for "friends" or being "friendly" towards another being.

We have attachment towards "friends" or "friendships". We have so much expectation towards what a "friend" or a "good friend" or a "true friend" should be like... Such like when something not very nice happens, we would likely to say this, "You are "my" friend, why you treat me like this? You shouldn't do this to me..." We'll get disappointed by "our" friends many times, but that disappointment is coming from our own expectation towards how "our" friends should behave or treat us. It is not coming from "our" friends being not nice or not friendly to us or not being a "friend" for us... If we like "our friends" very much, we enjoy the times being together, we will generate clinging and craving towards this "friend" or this "friendship"... If we don't like "our friends", we didn't enjoy the times being together, we will generate aversion towards this "friend" or this "friendship"...

In the path of compassion, yoga, meditation or Buddhism (all these different names and forms are not different from each other - it's all about realizing egolessness or selflessness to transcend "suffering"), "friendliness" towards all beings means not having any ill-will or hatred or discrimination towards all beings whether "good or bad" beings, "human or non-human" beings, without judgment, expectation, likes and dislikes, agreement or disagreement... We are able to be kind and compassionate towards all beings...

In another terms, all are "friends" to us, we are "friends" for all beings, whether beings I like or not, whether beings I agree with or not, whether beings I know or not, whether human or non-human beings, whether "good" or "bad" beings, there is no difference... And not limited to social "friends" whom we like, whom we agree with, whom we know, whom we spend time with, share life with, do things with, hang out with, get together with, chat with, eat with, drink with, adventure with, growth with, enjoy with, suffer with and so on...

It also means, it is not necessarily that there have to be some people in our life whom we can hang out with, do things with, share life with and so on, to have "friends", to be "friendly"...

And there is a greatest friend or "being" for us to love, to share with, to be there for good and bad times, is ourselves... But, how many of us know about this friend... We keep looking out for another being as "friend" who will love and care for us... And when we try to "love" ourselves, we tend to become selfish, only think and concern about our own feelings, desires and benefits... We "love" ourselves with selfishness which is the cause of our own unhappiness...

If we know this selfless "friend" who is there with us all the time, there is no loneliness whether we have "friends" or not...

That's why being "friendly" to all beings and live in seclusion is not contradict with one another on the path of compassion...

Some people get confused with or reject towards some teachings or advice coming from some great Gurus or Yogis or saints and sages in the past telling us about practice "friendliness" and be "friendly" towards all beings, but don't "mix" with people or don't "make friends", live a secluded life concentrate on performing our own Sadhana... What it means is, treat all beings equally, respect all beings, have no ill-will or hatred towards any beings, no differences or separation between those I categorized as "my friends" or "not my friends"...

All these great saints and sages, those who were living in the world, doing a lot of karma yoga (selfless service) serving the world, being with and dealing with different types of beings, they were friends to all beings, but they "didn't" desire to make or accumulate "friends" to spend time with, to hang out with, to do things with, to chat with, to eat and drink with, to play with, to enjoy with, to share with, to practice with, and so on... And yet they are sharing with all beings all the time, they are "friendly" towards all beings, close or far away, known or unknown, be seen or unseen, in actions or in inactions...

The practice of seclusion, it doesn't mean that we have no more friends and be lonely being alone by ourselves without any friends... But there is no loneliness and all are friends, without the "necessity" of having a so called "social life" which means having some "friends" or people whom we missed without their presence in our life, whom we want to spent time with or hang out with or do things with, for us to attain some sort of excitement or to remove unhappiness or loneliness... There is no distractions of anything that can cause restlessness... There is no vain talks, gossips, slandering, back-bitting, criticisms, judgments, discriminations, complaints, hypocrisy, lies, untruthfulness, politics, exploitations, and etc that generate disharmony in ourselves and in others...

Our Guru Swami Sivanandaji told us to be "care-less" in order to succeed in our Sadhana, it doesn't mean that we don't care for other beings, but it means "Care for all beings without attachment, without being disturbed, nor distracted, nor affected, nor influenced by other beings and social activities, which derives from knowing what is real "friendliness"... He also mentioned in his books or teachings repeatedly many times, about don't make or accumulate "friends" or do not mix, as one of the important observations in order to be succeed in meditation, it is not contradictory with the practice of "friendliness" and compassion at all, as "friendliness" and compassion is not about having a social life or accumulating "friends"... It is free from ill-will or hatred towards all beings whether they are "good" or "evil", whether we like them or not, agree with them or not, or whether they like us and agree with us or not...

Evil is "evil" as it appears to be opposite to what is "good and kind" to allow us to be justified as good and kind, and so, "evil" is not really evil... And "good" is not really good when there is hatred towards "evil" as hatred is associate with "evil"...

Of course, there is nothing wrong with having a "social life" and involved with "social activities" as long as there is no attachment... As social life and activities don't give us "distractions" unless we (the mind) are being distracted and influenced by them...

As we can be having many "friends" in life, but not necessarily that we are completely be free from ill-will or hatred towards other beings... By making and accumulating many "friends" also doesn't guarantee that we will be free from "loneliness" or we are being "friendly"...

We might be "friendly" towards those whom we like and agree with, but we might not necessarily be "friendly" towards those whom we dislike and disagree with, especially those whom we "think" that they are "bad" or "evil" or "wrong", those who are not nice and not kind to us and others, and those who hurt us and others physically or emotionally... Look at ourselves, how often that we are easily being disturbed or angry with somebody that we don't know personally, nor who comes in contact with us personally, but whom we "think" or "heard" that they are "bad and evil" beings who perform "bad and evil" actions but it is not necessarily the truth as what we think it is...

Restlessness, anxieties, agitation, depression, fear, worries, disturbs, troubles, conflicts, arguments, debates, anger, dissatisfaction, disappointment, violence, ill-will, energy deprivation, jealousy, envy, desires, distractions or lack of concentration that derives from worldly "social life" and "social activities" which are the main obstacles in the path of yoga and meditation, can be reduced to minimum when we practice seclusion from "social lifestyle" and yet living in the world performing actions serving the world without attachment and distractions... Especially those of us who are still easily being distracted, or disturbed, or influenced, or affected, or determined by other beings and social activities due to lack of non-attachment or detachment, lack of wisdom and compassion... As we are still being over-powered by ignorance, desires, craving and aversion and all other impurities like anger, hatred, greed, dissatisfaction, jealousy, pride, arrogance, fear, worry, expectation, and etc...

We can try to meditate everyday but still, our mind is restless, our ego is strong... We continue to experience suffering or unhappiness, and be miserable... We keep judging ourselves and others as good or bad... We keep having expectation towards ourselves and others about this and that... We still have ceaseless desires to be fulfilled, to be satisfied... Forever restless...

Until one day, when the ego and selfish desires have completely vanished, then there is no difference at all whether having an active social lifestyle or not, as by then we are no longer being distracted or influenced by anybody or anything, and we can mix freely with anybody whether positive or negative beings, active or inactive beings, wise or ignorant beings, happy or unhappy beings... We are always full of energy and yet be in calmness... We might be performing actions in life for other beings, but we also have time and space for our own Sadhana, not neglecting ourselves nor being distracted from perfoming our own Sadhana...

Not performing any actions for other beings doesn't mean that we didn't perform karma yoga as part of our practice. It's because by taking care of our own Sadhana is the greatest karma yoga selfless service being perform onto ourselves and will be benefiting other beings naturally, when we have peace and compassion in us.

Again, this practice is only an advice to those who are sincere to transcend "suffering", to be free from restlessness, discontentment, low self-esteem, anger, hatred, fear, worry, and etc...

Om shanti.

Be happy.

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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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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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