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

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Empowerment for women?

Someone suggested that I write something about empowerment for women.

First thing that came into my mind was, why do we condition and limit ourselves as "women" or "men"? Why do we limit ourselves as "women" or "men", and condition ourselves that we should behave, think and express ourselves as "women" or "men", and can only be empowered in certain ways just for "women", or just for "men"?

If we practice Yoga Vedanta teachings about namelessness and formlessness, or non-dualism, or non-separateness, or "all is one", in our everyday life, there will be none or less problems than we think we have now in the world that derives from the perception of separateness due to attachment and wrong identification with the qualities of names and forms.

We can just be "who we are", unconditioned by the different sexual characteristics or physical appearances. We can think or act or express ourselves freely without conditioning ourselves that we can only think or act or express ourselves in certain ways restricted by the different sexual characteristics.

This is not about denying our sexuality as women or men.

We are aware of our physical body having female or male sexual characteristics and it is conditioned to have certain particular functions according to respective genital organs that our body has. But, the capability of our mind to think or to believe, can be free without being restricted by the differences of the sexual aspects and appearances.

We can also be aware of, and be able to accept the fact that there are certain things that the female or male physical body can and cannot perform. Different genital organs have their own duties to be performed or to be carried out.

Other than these restrictions due to having specific genital organs in our physical body influencing the hormonal system as well as our emotions and feelings, we can be free to be "who we are" without being restricted by the different genital organs and physical appearance that generate the qualities of names and forms that categorize us into "women" or "men".

We acknowledge and respect our body as it is, but we do not identify ourselves with the physical body and condition ourselves as "women" or "men", as our true nature is without qualities of names and forms. We are who we are. we are not "women" nor "men". We might recognize or identify ourselves as a species called "human beings", and even this name and form about "being human beings" is not the truth of who we really are.

Once we are free from being conditioned by the differences of qualities of names and forms, we are who we are or what we are. We are neither "human beings" nor "non-human beings". We are neither "women" nor "men". We are not determined by all these qualities of names and forms. We are not being conditioned by how worldly minds believe how "human beings" should behave, nor how "women" or "men" should behave.

Once we let go of attachment towards the identification of "I am a woman or a man, and I should think, act or behave like what a woman or a man should think, or act, or behave, then naturally we are just who we are". We are free.

Only when we are totally free to be who we are and not being restricted as "women" or "men" or "human beings". The sense of separateness disappears. We do not isolate ourselves from what we think or believe that is different from us, that are not the same species or category like us.

We accept ourselves as we are, without the need of having competition or comparison between "women" and "women", or between "women" and "men".

We start to accept everyone as they are , not because they are "women" and they behave like "women" or "good women", or they are "men" and they behave like "men" or "good men".

We let go of expectation that we, or other people, as "women" or "men", should think, act or behave in certain particular ways according to the type of sexual organs our physical body has.

This allows us to be free to be who we are, not because we are being "human beings", or being "women", or being "men".

And so, there is no difference in terms of how to be truly confident or be truly happy in life between "women" and "men".

If we are ignorant about the truth of who we really are, and condition ourselves or limit ourselves as "this" or "that", then there is no difference between "women" and "men" when the mind is under the influence of impurities due to ignorance. When we have craving and aversion, we are the same. When we are jealous or angry, we are the same. When we feel hurt and disappointed, we are the same. When we have fear and worry, we are the same.

We will be conditioned by thinking that we should think, act and express the way that we think or believe what a "good woman" or a "good man" should think, act and express, or else, we are "bad" or "not good" as "women" or "men"...

It doesn't matter whether we are human beings or non-human beings, women or men, young or old, healthy or unhealthy, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, having religion or not, or having different religions and beliefs, or having different cultural backgrounds or languages that we can understand and speak, or having different points of view and different ways of doing things, or having different nationalities, colours of skin, or body shapes, or sexual appearances, or having different lifestyles, personalities or characteristics, when we are under the influence of ignorance, we all are the same. When we realize the truth of things, it is the same. When we are in a state of happiness, or in a state of painful sorrow, it is the same.

By practicing Yoga Vedanta in life, we let go of what our mind is being educated or informed about what worldly "success" and "happiness" or "meaningful life" means. We let go of what our mind is being conditioned to believe or think what is "good and bad", "positive and negative", "happiness and suffering" etc, as the truth of things is that everything is just what it is. It is not something "good or bad", "positive or negative", "happy or suffering".

When we realize the truth of things and are able to accept the reality as it is, without judging or categorizing the objects of names and forms as "good or bad", "positive or negative", "happy or suffering", then we will not be affected, or influenced, or determined by the forever changing qualities of names and forms that our mind perceives and experiences from moment to moment, through the senses of what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think. We will not generate attachment towards the qualities of names and forms. There is no craving or clinging to what our mind used to believe or perceive as something "good", "positive", or "happy". There is no aversion towards what our mind used to believe or perceive as something "bad", "negative", and "suffering".

This is the state of non-duality, or namelessness and formlessness.

This is because real peace and happiness, or confidence is unconditional or unlimited. It doesn't come from the qualities of names and forms that are subject to impermanence. It's not determined by the different appearances, or conditions of the physical body, or the objects that we come in contact with.

Real peace and happiness and confidence is not attained from what we think or what we want to believe as "success" or "achievement". We think and believe "success" or "achievement" is related to peace, happiness and confidence, that if we attain the "achievement" or "success" that we want, we will be peaceful, happy and confident. We are being conditioned to think and believe that only when we are able to do what we want to do, go where we want to go, be what we want to be, we will be peaceful, happy and confident. Or else, if our wishes are not being gratified and if we don't get what we like and want, we won't be peaceful, or happy, or confident.

We also have different points of view about what is categorized as "achievement" and what is not. Some people take being successful in relationships as "achievement" in life. Some take being successful in career as "achievement" in life. Some take doing volunteer works as "achievement" in life. Some take accumulating wealth as "achievement" in life. Some take having a happy marriage or happy family as "achievement" in life. Some take having a "beautiful", "healthy", "strong and flexible" body or "fit" body as "achievement" in life. And so on.

There is nothing wrong with setting all these "objects" or "qualities" as goals that we want to achieve in life. But then we will be conditioned and limited by all these impermanent qualities of names and forms to be happy, or not.

If we can let go of the conditioned way of thinking and belief about what we think we are and how we should think and behave, then our confidence about ourselves will not be determined by whether we are "women" or "men", whether we are "good" or "not good" according to the standard that we categorize everything into "good" and "not good", whether we are "successful" in life or not, or how we look, or what is our worldly self-image, or how many "achievements" we had attained, or how other people think of us or judge us as "this" or "that".

We are limited by what our mind wants to believe things are. If we identify with the mind and associate with the egoistic likes and dislikes, we will be determined by all these conditions that come from our own mind, to be happy or not, to be confident or not, to feel meaningful or not.

For example, we are being educated, or told, or informed that having fair and smooth skin is "beautiful" in Asia, and if our skin is dark and not smooth, then we think we are not "beautiful". If we attached to what "beautiful" means in this commercial world of beauty products, naturally we will be conditioned by the term "beautiful", and we want to look and feel "beautiful". We will be determined by our skin colour and texture to determine whether we are "beautiful", or not. We will have low self-esteem, be dissatisfied and unhappy about ourselves if our physical body image and appearance does not fall into the worldly standard of what is "fit and beautiful".

If we are free from this ignorance about what is "beautiful" and let go of the desire of looking forward to be "beautiful", whether it is to feel good about ourselves, or to attract other people's attention, or for pleasing other people so that they will like us and love us, or to get support and acknowledgment from certain people or groups to feel confident and meaningful about ourselves and our life existence, then we will be happy and confident as we are. We accept ourselves as we are, no matter whether we possess the quality of "beautiful", or not. We don't need to be "beautiful". We are neither "beautiful" nor "not beautiful". We are what we are, and we accept and love ourselves as we are.

True confidence is unconditional. When we realize true confidence, we can perform all our duties and responsibilities without fear and worry. We are not determined by "success" or "failure" to be happy or not. We can do our best in whatever we want to do, but without being affected or determined by the result, or the fruit of our actions.

Real peace, happiness and confidence are not determined by whether we are "successful" in life or not, whether we achieve what we want to achieve or not, whether we can do what we want to do or not, whether we get what we like and want or not, whether we live in "good" conditions or not, whether our relationship with somebody is "good" or not. And so on.

Real peace, happiness and confidence are unconditional and unlimited. By knowing the truth of things and about ourselves, we accept and love ourselves and other people as we are, as they are, without expecting ourselves to be what we want us to be, or expect other people to be what we want them to be.

Be happy.

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

Om shanti

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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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