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

Sunday, April 21, 2013

You are not how you look, or what you think how you look, and definitely not how other people perceive or see and think how you look...

Just watched a "touching" video about how women see themselves vs how other people see them (the physical appearance, or how they think what they look like, or how they feel about themselves).

Our egoistic thinking and feeling mind identifies with our physical body as "I" or "who I am". The egoistic mind attached to the physical appearance, conditions and abilities to determine the sense of self-esteem, or self-confidence, or self-worth.

"I see myself so ugly, and I feel bad. But other people see me so beautifully, and I feel much better. I'm actually better or worth more than what I think I deserve. As this is what other people think of me. What I think about myself is incorrect, and what others think of me is what I really am."

I guess this is the message that the advertisement tries to inform us. It is a good message though for people who are suffer from low self-esteem.

But it doesn't help people to be free from being conditioned by "self-esteem" or "self-worth" that comes from a self-image which relates to the egoism.

What if other people see us worst than how we see ourselves? (Just like in another video of the men's version of this advertisement)

x x x x x x x x x x

Yoga and Buddhism practice are here for us to learn how to be free from being conditioned by "self-esteem" or "self-worth" which is a side product coming from the egoism.

"You are not how you look. You are not what you think how you look or who you are. You are not how other people see and think how you look or who you are. You are not this physical body. You are not how you feel. You are not this thinking and feelings. You are not this mind. The body and mind is not "who I am". There is no "I"."

This is the basic teaching and practice of yoga. This physical body and its appearance, its conditions and abilities, as well as the egoistic mind which perceives all the names and forms through the senses, who sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches, feels, thinks, acts and reacts, has likes and dislikes, along with certain personalities, behaviors and characteristics, are not "who I am". They are not "I". I am not the body nor the mind.

When we attached to the body and mind, and the qualities of names and forms, we identify ourselves with a self-image that is very much based on :-

- The physical appearance, conditions and abilities of what we can do and cannot do. We perceive and create a self-image for ourselves through the senses of what we see, hear, smell, taste and touch. There is an exception if any of the senses is not functioning, like those who are blind from birth, they do not perceive sights, but they might have a self-image for themselves through perception from the other senses.

- How we feel and think about ourselves, that is influenced by the egoism, pride, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-worth, self-criticism, believes, religion teachings, relationships, friendships, our family and educational background (how we were brought up and what we were told how we should think and behave), social network and cultural background (sense of belonging in certain group, culture or society), what we do in life, what we do for living, living standards, possessions, material belongings, enjoyments, likes and dislikes, ambitions, desires, achievements, expectations, judgments and etc.

x x x x x x x x x

The self-image is the reflection of the ego about our feelings, emotions, thinking, believes, characteristics and personalities in that present moment beside the qualities of the physical body.

Our self-image is also influenced by how other people perceive and judge about us through what they see, hear, smell, taste, touch, feel and think about us, based on our physical appearance, clothings and accessories, hair styles and grooming, facial features, body shapes, body language, facial expression, personal hygiene and tidiness, body smells, skin texture and complexion, thinking, ideas, believes, behaviors, emotions, speech, actions and reactions, things that they had heard about us from somewhere, their memories about us in the past, as well as physical contact and personal interactions with us in the present moment. But all these perceptions and judgments from other people are not necessarily the truth either...

Perceptions from our own mind or from other people's mind that are based on past memories and what the mind believes what things are, it is not necessarily the truth of things. When our mind is negative, then everything that we perceive will be contaminated by this negativity in the mind. When our mind is positive, then everything that we perceive will be contaminated by this positivity in the mind as well. But that is not what things really are. They are neither negative nor positive. They are just what they are. It is just the mind being positive or negative.

Some people who have not seen us for a long time, might still keep a strong image of us (either positive, negative, or mixture of positive and negative image, and whether they liked us or not in the past, whether they'll like us or not in the present moment) based on the memories from the last time they saw us many years ago, and judge us for who we are, which is not the truth of how we look, or how we feel, or how we behave in the present moment now. And most of the time, memories are distorted images. It was not the truth of things.

This self-image comes from our own perception, or come from how other people perceive us, is impermanent. It is constantly changing. Our feelings and thinking change. Our physical appearance, conditions and abilities change. Our likes and dislikes, personalities, believes or behaviors change. Everything about us (who we think we are - the mind and the body) change. If our being is determined by all these impermanent qualities, then "I" will be in a state of restlessness and dissatisfaction all the time.

Sometimes the mind doesn't want to see things as they are, but projects an imaginary image of what it prefers to be. This is what the teachings of yoga said, "The mind only sees and hears what it wants to see or hear..."

No one can argue with one another about each individual mind perceptions about the qualities of names and forms. As each may perceives distinctively or differently from one another on every names and forms that we come in contact with. That's why judgment of good and bad, positive and negative, happiness or suffering are different in each individual about what things are. All these judgments about good or bad, positive or negative, happiness or suffering, are not the truth of what things really are, but it is coming from our own mind perceptions based on what our mind thinks and believes what things are.

What we see as beautiful might be something ugly for other people, and vice versa.

The video of this advertisement helps people to realize that the reality of our physical appearance or image, is not really what we think how we look, as what we see ourselves is very much influenced by how we feel about ourselves, which is true. But we are still relying on a self-image that based on how we think and feel about ourselves, and how other people think and feel about us, to identify that self-image as "I". This reliance on a self-image with certain qualities of names and forms to identify as who we are, which is the opposite of the teachings of yoga.

"Who we really are, is attributeless, nameless and formless."

x x x x x x x x x

There is nothing wrong to feel better and happier about ourselves, whether it is coming from our own mind perception or from other people's mind perception, and to feel that we actually "worth" more than what we think we deserve. But this only strengthens and empowers the egoism and the attachment towards the physical appearance, the qualities of names and forms, and how other people judge us, to determined the sense of self-worth, self-esteem or self-confidence of the ego. This is completely going to the opposite direction of the path of yoga and Buddhism towards selflessness, attributeless-ness, namelessness and formlessness.

What happen to our ego, when other people see us worst than how we see ourselves, if we are being determined by all these perceptions of names and forms, and judgments coming from our own mind or other people's mind?

We don't need to feel or think that we "worth" a million to feel good about ourselves. We don't need to feel good either. We are peaceful and confident as we are, not how the mind feels and thinks.

Yoga and Buddhism practice is about letting go of this identification with the physical body and the egoistic thinking mind, as "who I am".

There is no doubts that our confidence, thinking and feelings are influencing our self-image from the appearance, and vice versa. When our mind feels really bad or really great, it does reflect on our appearance. The self-image that we see ourselves or give to ourselves, are most likely not the same as how other people perceive us. And if we are affected by how other people perceive us differently, our believe and self-confidence about ourselves that built on a self-image will shatter easily.

Sometimes we didn't dressed up "nicely", without any make up or accessories, our physical body is not in a great form, but we will see ourselves looking good as we feel great, confident and happy. And mostly, it is because we like and love ourselves as we are. Vice versa, even though we dressed up "nicely", put on some beautiful make up and accessories, our physical body is in a great form, but we don't see ourselves looking good, as we feel down, lack of confidence and unhappy. And mostly, it is because we don't like and don't love ourselves as we are.

If we have true confidence (it comes from knowing the Truth), that is unconditioned and unlimited by the qualities of names and forms, then it doesn't matter what is the conditions, abilities and appearance of this physical body, what the mind thinks or feels about ourselves, it will not influence nor determine us as who we are. Even though sometimes our mind feels sad or down due to certain reasons, but it won't deter nor change who we really are.

When we know how to let go of the identification with the body and mind, then it doesn't matter how we see ourselves or how other people perceive us, we are who we are, undetermined nor conditioned by the outlook or appearance, whether it is perceived through our own eyes, or through other people's eyes.

Om shanti.

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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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