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

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Yoga?

When we think of yoga, it can be a picture of anything for different people.

Some may picture a happy face. Some may picture images of life related to joy and happiness. Some may picture a person or a group of people meditating in a particular meditation posture. Some may picture a person or a group of people performing some yoga asana poses, or breathing exercises, or cleansing techniques. Some may picture the character or symbol of 'OM'. Some may picture an Ashram or a famous great Guru. Some may picture men or women with weird design tattoos and dreadlocks. Some may picture vegetarianism. Some may picture the image of one or many different Hindu Deities. Some may picture a person or a group of people chanting and praying. Some may picture different types of brand names of yoga. Some may picture it as a form of acrobatic contortion exercises. Some people may picture it as money making business empire. It really can be anything depends on what people want to believe or think what it is.

Yoga and meditation practice can be something very 'good' and 'divine' for people's spiritual, physical and mental well-being, or it can be something very 'bad' and 'evil' for people who believe that the teachings of yoga and the asana exercise are detrimental for people's body and mind.

Even some people who are interested in practicing yoga, they also have doubts and intense fear and worry when they perform the yoga practice, being afraid of the yoga practice might cause injury or harmful effects on them. One part of them knows that yoga practice is very beneficial for their physical and mental well-being, but another part of them are reluctant to surrender themselves to the yoga practice, having so much fear and worry towards the yoga practice. Instead of releasing and letting go tension by performing yoga practice, they are in fact building up more tension into their body and mind.

Anyhow, it is up to our own realization about what yoga really is about.

Just by picturing, or imagining, or looking at other people performing some sorts of yoga practice through their body and mind, doesn't liberate us from ignorance, restlessness, impurities, or suffering. We have to be practicing yoga or meditation through our own body and mind with correct attitude and understanding, for us to realize the truth, eliminate ignorance and egoism, transcend the qualities of names and forms, and be free.

When the egoism disappears, we'll go beyond the qualities of names and forms, realize namelessness and formlessness, all is one or non-separateness. Birth is not different from death, death is not separated from birth. Happiness is not different from suffering, suffering is not separated from happiness. Everything is just what it is. It is neither good nor bad, positive nor negative, happiness nor suffering. When we realize this, all kinds of fear and worry disappear. Absence of fear and worry is great peace.

When we talk about yoga with qualities of names and forms, naturally we will relate it with some sorts of yoga practice. It can be anyone or combination of these practice - morality and right conducts observances and restraints, yoga asana practice, pranayama practice, withdrawal of the senses from the sense objects, chanting and prayers, concentration and meditation practice, karma yoga (selfless service), study and contemplation on the teachings of yoga, dispassion, discrimination of real and unreal, renunciation, non-attachment, solitude, silence, austerity, simplicity, loving kindness, non-violence, selflessness, patience, perseverance, forgiveness, forbearance, adjustment, accommodation, adaptation, and some other forms of practices. All these practices serve the purpose of purifying the mind, to remove ignorance and impurities, to eliminate egoism, to be free from craving and aversion, to be free from attachment, and to transcend suffering, or birth and death, or cause and effect, or the existence of body and mind.

It is beyond performing some good actions to attain good Karma to have a good life in return. It is beyond attachment towards what our mind believes is good and bad, positive and negative, happiness and unhappiness.

When a person is feeling happy in the present moment, it doesn't mean that he or she is free from ignorance and impurities. Craving and clinging onto good and happy life condition is not real freedom. Not coming in contact with bad people, bad condition, bad happenings, or bad experiences is not real freedom. Sitting in meditation posture try to meditate doesn't guarantee us liberation. Performing some yoga asana poses doesn't guarantee us liberation. Being a vegetarian doesn't guarantee us liberation. Having a strong and flexible, and healthy physical body doesn't guarantee us liberation. Being in an Ashram or having an enlightened Guru doesn't guarantee us liberation. And so on with all the other names and forms which our mind relate to yoga, or refer as yoga practice.

One thing for sure, yoga practice is not separated from life. The entire life existence is the yoga practice training ground to attain yoga, or self-realization, or non-separateness, or attributelessness, or namelessness and formlessness, or unconditional and unlimited peace.

Yoga practice exists for worldly beings to transcend life existence, or birth and death, or the existence of body and mind, to realize the true nature of all beings is non-separateness, attributelessness, namelessness and formlessness. As the entire life existence is happening through this body and mind. If there is no body and mind, there is no perception of worldly life existence with all the impermanent perception of physical sensations, feelings, emotions, thinking, action and reaction, likes and dislikes, craving and aversion, attachment towards the qualities of names and forms, and all the relationships connected with everything and everyone, and so on.

If there is no life existence, there is no birth and death, there is no body and mind, there is no egoism, there is no craving and aversion, there is no action and reaction, there is no ignorance, there is no impurities, there is no suffering, then there is no need of yoga or yoga practice.

Nowadays, most of the yoga classes conducted in yoga centres or yoga clubs are very much based on yoga asana practice. There is nothing wrong with this, as all these physical exercise does bring some physical and mental benefits, and we can make good use of the good condition coming from the yoga asana practice to improve the quality of life and to serve other beings. It would be better, if we implement the teaching of yoga into the asana practice, such like non-attachment and non-identification with the body and mind, as well as not looking forward to the benefits or effects of the yoga asana practice. Perform all our actions or yoga practice without attachment towards the actions or the yoga practice, and renounce the fruit or the result of our actions or yoga practice.

Naturally, as we perform yoga asana and meditation practice regularly, the physical body will gain some benefits and improvement of physical health, stamina, strength and flexibility. And the mind will gain some sorts of peaceful calmness and joyfulness. This will motivate us to continue to perform yoga asana and meditation practice, as it makes our body and mind feels good, or it helps to relieve certain illness, or discomfort, or weakness, or pain, or anxiety, or depression and etc. But this is not the objective of performing the yoga asana and meditation practice. Most important, it is through a calm and pure mind that derives from the purification process due to the regular yoga asana and meditation practice, we are able to perceive the truth of names and forms as they are, not being contaminated by any impurities, or incorrect judgment, or selfish desires and expectation, and then all kinds of attachment towards all kinds of names and forms will start to disappear or dissolve, naturally. It is going beyond the clinging and craving from the ego towards the benefits, or the effects, or the pleasant feelings and sensations coming from performing the yoga asana and meditation practice, and going beyond the aversion from the ego towards what it doesn't like and disagrees with.

Physical health, stamina, strength and flexibility mean nothing, if we are influenced by egoism, ignorance and impurities in the mind, not knowing the truth of names and forms, and are determined by all the qualities of names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses, constantly being affected and disturbed by sights, sounds, smells, taste, sensations and thinking. And physical health, stamina, strength and flexibility, are some impermanent qualities or conditions, that is subject to change. We don't really, and can't 'possess' physical health, stamina, strength and flexibility. No matter how much effort we put into to maintain the good condition of this body, it is still subject to illness, pain, injuries, weakness, stiffness and eventually it will stop functioning, and decompose. But the impermanent condition and abilities of the physical body doesn't contaminate nor determine the true nature in all beings.

The greatest 'strength and flexibility' that everyone already has, or 'possessed', disregard how is the physical condition, is compassion, the unconditional love and peace, which is the true nature of all beings. Compassion allows us to be able to accept the reality of everything as it is and not being disturbed nor determined by all these impermanent changes and experiences. It allows us to perform unlimited actions for the benefits of all beings, without attachment, without identification, without selfish desires or intentions, without expectation, and is free from generating Karma, or cause and effect.

We are disconnected with this compassion in us due to egoism and ignorance. And thus, we have, and are disturbed and affected by fear, worry, anger, hatred, anxiety, dissatisfaction, disappointment, hurts, and all the other undesirable or unpleasant experiences that arise in our own mind, coming from ignorance and egoism. If we realize compassion, it also means that we are free from egoism and ignorance. There is no fear, worry, anger, hatred, jealousy, desires, greed, dissatisfaction, frustration, irritation, agitation, depression, anxiety, disappointment, hurts, pride, arrogance, discrimination, separateness, judgment, expectation, selfishness and all types of defilements that derive from egoism and ignorance, which generate so much tension and restlessness in ourselves and into the environment.

It is our own responsibility for everything that we experience in this life existence. If there is no such cause, there is no such effect.

Yoga is about realizing namelessness and formlessness, or non-duality, or non-separateness, or egolessness or selflessness, or compassion, and knowing how to accept and love ourselves as we are, be kind and compassionate towards ourselves, stop hurting ourselves with ignorance and egoism, and then extend this unconditional love towards other beings, able to accept and love other beings as they are.

And this is nothing to do with the good or bad condition and abilities of the physical body, or how many things that we know from reading or hearing, or how intelligent is the mind, as by having a good physical condition and abilities, and knowing a lot of things, and being highly intelligent doesn't guarantee us peace and liberation. It is through the help of the yoga and meditation practice, unceasingly purifying the mind with the correct attitude and understanding to eliminate egoism and ignorance, that allows us to be free from being conditioned by our own mind and life existence.

Just by doing some yoga and meditation practice without the correct attitude and understanding, it doesn't bring us any further than enjoying some impermanent benefits, pleasant sensations and good feelings that come from performing the yoga practice, but we are not free from egoism and ignorance, and be influenced by impurities like anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, hurts, pride, arrogance, craving, aversion, fear and worry, and etc. There's no peace or real happiness, forever restless swaying between momentary good feelings and bad feelings. It's just like regularly attending yoga classes to attain relaxation or to release tension from the body and mind won't bring us liberation, if we keep generating more tension and impurities into the body and mind all the time. Any good things that we put into an uncleaned pot will be contaminated by the impurities in the pot.

Om shanti.

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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

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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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