be free, be happy, be peaceful

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

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Don't just make the mind happy by giving it what it likes and wants, but train it to remove the root cause of unhappiness...

By giving what the mind wants and likes when the mind feels unhappy, will make the mind feels happy and satisfied for a few moments, but it doesn't remove the root cause of unhappiness. The mind will still feel unhappy and dissatisfied ceaselessly, when the good and happy feelings that came from not getting what it doesn't want and doesn't like, or came from getting what it wants and likes, disappear. As egoism, ignorance, attachments, craving and aversion are still there in the mind.

If we really want to help this mind and be kind to it, we need to teach or train it how to remove the root cause of unhappiness, instead of keep giving it some momentary happy feelings that doesn't last long, and is just a false contentment or satisfaction.

If there is no unhappiness, there is no need to look for happiness. By realizing the truth after removing ignorance, egoism, attachments, craving and aversion, we will realize that suffering doesn't really exist. Suffering is a state of mind due to incorrect knowledge of the mind derived from ignorance. And thus there is no need to escape or to be free from suffering, as there is no suffering.

If we know some people who are being in a state of unhappiness or suffering, and we want to show loving kindness and be nice to them. We can give them what they like and want, and take away what they don't like and don't want. It is very good. As it will cheer them up and make them happy, and they will get some sorts of relief from unhappiness for a few moments. But it won't stop them from continue being disturbed by their own mind reactions towards whatever their mind perceives from moment to moment, due to egoism, ignorance, attachment, craving and aversion.

Suffering or unhappiness does not come from the objects of the senses or the names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses, of what it sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches and thinks.

People are suffering or unhappy is because of the mind is over-powered, or disturbed, or influenced, or determined by anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, pride, arrogance, agitation, depression, fear and worry, due to the reactions of the mind towards all the names and forms that it perceives from moment to moment. These reactions are derived from egoism, ignorance, attachments, craving and aversion.

If we really want to be kind and be able to help anyone efficiently, we show them how to remove the root cause of unhappiness, or how to be free from suffering.

Showing people how to plant rice and vegetables is more efficient than to give them some rice and vegetables for a meal or two.

To show people how to remove the root cause of diseases and ways of preventing diseases, will be more efficient than to give or provide medicine to them, as medicine might creates some other forms of complications while treating that specific disease. It doesn't really solve problems but might generates more other problems.

Om shanti.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Non-attachment? (2)

Non-attachment is nothing to do with how many things we have or don't have, or how less things we have.

It is about being undetermined nor affected by all these impermanent names and forms.

It is not attached to this life existence and the functions of this body and mind.

It is not attached to the physical conditions, appearance and abilities.

It is not attached to the states of mind (elevation, calmness, depression).

It is not attached to the qualities of names and forms.

It is about not being affected, nor disturbed, nor influenced, nor determined by what the mind perceives through the senses of what it sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches and thinks, and not generate craving towards names and forms that the mind likes and agrees with, and not generate aversion towards names and forms that the mind dislikes and disagrees with.

It is not attached to the thinking and beliefs in the mind that is conditioned and limited by the impermanent qualities of names and forms, and contaminated by the craving and aversion coming from egoism and ignorance.

It is about letting go of the ego. As all attachments are derived from selfish desires, intention and expectation, craving and aversion of the ego towards what it wants and doesn't want.

All kinds of unhappiness or suffering derive from attachments due to ignorance and egoism.

Remove ignorance and egoism brings us real non-attachment as well as realizing compassion, be free from restlessness, dissatisfaction, unhappiness or suffering, and be free from generating good and bad karma that binds us into countless birth and death.

Compassion is not separated from non-attachment, or egolessness, or selflessness.

Without non-attachment, all our actions and reactions are over-powered by fear, worry, anger, hatred, jealousy, possessiveness, self-protection, selfish desires, selfish intentions or motives, selfish expectation, and all sorts of irritation, frustration, agitation and depression. It is not possible to be compassionate when we are being over-powered by all these impurities due to attachments, ignorance and egoism.

There is no doubt that yoga practice is in life (it is not only to be found in seclusion), but it doesn't mean that we indulge in gratifying all the craving and aversion of the egoistic mind, and being over-powered by the ego to achieve whatever the ego wants and doesn't want. It is not yoga Sadhana, when we indulge in sensual enjoyments by keep feeding or giving what our body and mind wants and likes towards the worldly objects of names and forms, empowering the craving and aversion, or egoism. This is totally going against or towards the opposite direction of all yoga practice is to be eliminating the ego.

It is (egoistic lower)self-denial, and it's not empowering the (egoistic lower)self. When the ego is completely vanished, there is no 'I', or 'I am', or 'I want', or 'I don't want' attaching to all the actions and inactions coming from this body and mind, even if the intention or motive is 'good' and 'kind'. It is not pure action that is free from the bondage of Karma, if we still 'have' good intention to motivate us to perform action or inaction.

The sun, the air, the water, the earth and the space have no (good or bad) intention to be performing ceaseless actions of giving, providing and supporting everything and all beings to be exist. They have no expectation that anything or any beings will be existing and be grateful because of their existence and contribution. They are not affected nor determined by the reactions (gratefulness and ungratefulness) of any beings towards their existence and contribution. They have no discrimination of good beings or evil beings. They give to all and everything. That is egolessness, selflessness, non-attachment, or compassion.

It is living in the world but not being affected, nor influenced, nor determined by the world, letting go of selfish desires and expectation, perform selfless service without discrimination, and surrender, or give up, or renounce the fruit of all our actions. This is harder than being secluded from the world, as there are so many temptations in the world of names and forms that will be distracting the person from performing his or her Sadhana 'properly'.

It is not about trying to be a 'hero' or 'world saver' for humanity. That is an idea coming from the ego. Naturally when we take care of our Sadhana, when the ego is eliminated, there is unlimited and unconditional peace and love in ourselves. And with this unconditional peace and love in ourselves, we are benefiting the whole world, even without any intention nor expectation that the world will be benefited by this peace and love. Without the idea of 'I am benefiting the world', or 'My existence and actions are benefiting the world'.

It is whenever the mind comes in contact with the objects of the senses, we let go of the egoism, craving and aversion towards all these names and forms.

That is real non-attachment.

It is not about 'running away' or ' throwing away' all our duties and responsibilities, or what our egoistic mind thinks or believes as something not good, or unhappy, or suffering, or problems.

It is carry out all these duties, responsibilities, and being with what our mind believes as something not good, or unhappy, or suffering, or problems, but not being affected nor determined by all these names and forms.

It is being able to accept the reality as it is, not necessarily the way that we like it to be. Nor trying to control or change the reality that the mind doesn't like, to be something that it likes it to be.

It is being able to love and accept all and everyone as they are, including ourselves, even if our mind dislikes or disagrees with certain qualities of names and forms that it thinks is imperfect or not good.

The one who really knows non-attachment, though moving or living in the world, but will not be moved nor influenced by the world.

Om shanti.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Why being determined by life when we can make good use of life existence for benefiting ourselves and others?

Why being determined by life when we can make good use of life existence for benefiting ourselves and others?

It doesn't matter our life condition is 'good' or 'not so good', or whether it is the way that we like it to be or not, we don't have to be determined by it to be peaceful or not.

When our life is in 'good' condition, we take the advantage and opportunity to make good use of it for benefiting ourselves and others, without feeling proud and arrogant. Knowing that even this 'comfortable' condition will change and pass away.

When our life is in 'not so good' condition, we allow ourselves to accept the reality as it is, allow ourselves to be temporary excused from certain duty and responsibility, without feeling guilty, depressed or unhappy. Knowing that even this 'difficult' condition will change and pass away. We also allow other beings to show loving kindness and develop compassion towards those who are in 'not so good' conditions, and to be grateful and appreciate the 'good' condition that they have.

Appreciate this life existence, this body and this mind, and the time being, to do something beneficial and meaningful for ourselves and others. Such like, love ourselves and accepting ourselves as we are, stop criticizing ourselves and stop hurting ourselves with anger and hatred, fear and worry. And do the same towards other beings.

Time doesn't really exist in reality. It is just the perception of the mind perceiving changes of the qualities of names and forms that is subject to impermanence. Time exists in the mind, but it doesn't belong to the mind, or who we think we are. There's no such thing as 'my time' or 'wasting my time'. But then it seems like in this moment there is 'time' for us to spend freely to be doing something (performing beneficial actions that will promote harmony in ourselves and others) or doing nothing (refrain from performing harmful actions that will promote disharmony in ourselves and others).

Make good use of the thinking and reasoning power of the mind, the hands, the feet, the speech organ and the hearing organ, for ourselves and others.

When there are moments that we need to take a break from doing something, we enjoy doing nothing (such like when we don't have any specific duty or responsibility to be carried out, or when our body experiences some illness or injuries, or any degeneration or malfunctions of the body and mind).

When we have the potential and opportunity to make use of this body and mind to do something good for ourselves and others, we perform all our actions with gratitude and joy, but without attachment or expectation towards the result of our actions. Be grateful that we are being given the opportunity to use the thinking mind, the creativity, the ideas, the hands, the feet and the speech organ for doing something good or nice for ourselves and others.

Do not let the life conditions, the body and the mind to determine us, or to 'influence' us to be peaceful or not, or to be 'used' by the ego to magnify its false existence as 'I'. Instead, we make use of them to do something that is beyond our own belief, thinking or imagination of what we can do with this life opportunity.

When we perform actions with expectation, we are bound by our actions, and be determined by the result of the action. We are not free. This life existence is being used by the ego to accomplish its desires of craving and aversion.

If we know how to perform all actions whether it is for ourselves or for others, without attachment or expectation towards the result of the action, we are free. This life existence is being used for something beneficial for all beings.

When our mind starts to expand by cultivating compassion towards other beings and performing all our actions to benefit all beings, it will stop focusing on personal life problems. Personal life problems are still there, but it will become less and less important until it vanished from the mind. There's no problem or unhappiness at all, even though there are ups and downs, and obstacles in life.

Om shanti.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Reflection on reaction towards anything that we see or hear...


One moment we said to a person, "You are very nice."

Another moment we said to the same person, "You are not nice."

It is not about that person is being nice or not nice.

It is our own mind keeps changing from good mood to bad mood, and vice versa.

When our mind is in good mood, everything we see and hear is nice, good, and fine...

When our mind is in bad mood, everything we see or hear is not nice, irritating, and frustrating...

Whatever the mind perceives is a reflection of the mind itself. The mind is the projector of all the names and forms.

If the mind is full of errors or defilements, then whatever it knows is contaminated by these errors and defilements.

Purify the mind, remove all errors and defilements, all the names and forms are just what they are. They are neither positive nor negative, neither good nor bad, neither happiness or suffering.

Om shanti.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Trustworthy? Reliability? Betrayal? Disappointment? Hurts?


If we ever feel betrayed by somebody whom we trust, it is our own responsibility. We cannot be angry or blame that person for being unreliable.

The point is, we don't have to trust anyone. We don't have to not trust anyone also. But we deal with everyone as they are, not because how they were in the past, or how they will be in the future.

When we trust somebody, that is because we trust ourselves, to allow ourselves to trust that person. And when that person betrays our trust, we are disappointed by our own trust towards ourselves, not because that person is not reliable. It is our own responsibility to take the risk to trust someone and expect that person to be reliable.

If we truly want to rely on something, it will be only ourselves. And sometimes, or most of the time, we can't even trust ourselves (the one who we think we are). And so, free ourselves from this word 'trustworthy' or 'reliability', or expect ourselves or other people to be 'reliable'.

Before we know our true Self, we don't even know if this true Self exists or not, as we are ignorant. The thinking mind can't perceive something that is nameless and formless, without qualities, beginningless and endless. Just like the mind sees things through the eyes, but the eyes itself doesn't see, or it couldn't see the mind. The mind exists, but only when it is being aware of itself. If the mind is not aware of itself, then whatever the mind perceives through the senses, it takes the name and form of the objects of the senses. The mind becomes what it perceives. That's why the nature of the mind is forever changing and restless.

And so, we can't say to ourselves, "Trust ourselves", as this 'ourselves' who we think we are, is the thinking mind. It is impure, impermanent and will change. How can we rely on something that is always changing and not pure? We will only hurt ourselves if we rely on 'ourselves'. But, when we realize our true Self, beyond the thinking mind, that is not subject to impermanence of the qualities of names and forms, then we can say, "Trust our Self", or "Surrender to the higher Self", as this Self is unchanging, uncontaminated by the ignorance or impurities in the mind. It is beyond what our mind believes as good and bad, reliable or unreliable.

Be free.

Om shanti.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Home sweet home?

Some people say they miss their home a lot when they are away from home. Some people say that they don't like their home, or they are not happy at home, and they want to go away from their home.

Everyone wants to find where they 'belong'.

The individual consciousness might mistake this egoistic mind and all the experiences through its function of the perception of names and forms as itself, but this mind and all the perception of names and forms are perishable.

The egoistic mind might take the physical body, the conditions, the abilities, the family, the friends, the career, the wealth, the health, the house, the clothings, the books, the knowledge, the belongings, the relationships, the beliefs, the thinking, the feelings, the ideas, the achievements, or the entire life existence as its home, but all these are perishable.

As long as we are attached to a 'home' that will be filled with certain qualities of names and forms that we think where we 'belonged', we are not free. As this home that has certain qualities, names and forms, conditioned by impermanence, and is limited by time, space and causation.

If we realize our real 'home', then wherever we are, this 'home' is always there. It is nameless and formless, beyond qualities, impermanence, conditions, limitations, time, space and causation.

We don't 'belong' to this 'home', nor does this 'home' belong to 'I'.

Without the idea of possessiveness or belonging, we allow all beings and everything to exist in this 'home', sharing this endless unlimited space in this impermanent existence of beings which is limited and conditioned by time, space and causation.

If we say, this 'home' is 'ours', we are not free yet. We will be bound by the desire to be 'protecting' this 'object' or 'quality' that we call 'our home'.

It is 'home' for all beings with different qualities of names and forms, there's no discrimination. It is the origin or source of all beings. There's no possessiveness. There's no expectation that any beings should think or behave in certain ways. Every beings are free to be what they are and how they are.

This 'home' is not the home that we call 'my' home which is limited by impermanence, qualities, elements, time, space and causation, and conditioned by 'my' personality, likings, ideas, thinking, beliefs, desires, creativities, styles and tastes, which hosts most of 'my' things, 'my' belongings, 'my' possessions, 'my' memories, 'my' accumulated wealth, 'my' interests, 'my' studies, 'my' past achievements, and 'my' beloved family and friends.

This real 'home' is indestructible. Fire, wind, water, earth and space cannot touch it or destroy it. It's always there.

The moment we let go of the ego, the 'I', and all that belongs to 'I', the real 'home' full of unconditional and unlimited love and peace is right here. Wherever we are is home. It never leaves us. We never leave home.

Om shanti.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Home cooked vegetarian food recipe - Vegetarian Fried Rice

Here is another vegetarian dish that sometimes we prepare for our yoga retreat guests here in Langkawi.

Vegetarian Fried Rice (serves 2-3 people)

About 3 cups cold cooked Basmati rice

10 baby sweet corns, halved and cut into about an inch long

About 4 long beans, cut into an inch long, or chopped coarsely

1 carrot, peeled and chopped coarsely

About 6 sweet peas, halved

About an inch cube of ginger, chopped finely

About 5-6 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

1 small red or green chilly, deseeded and chopped finely

A bit of cooking oil

1 egg (optional)

Salt and black pepper to taste

Sesame oil (optional)

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Heat up the non-stick wok and oil in medium heat. Add ginger, garlic and chilly. Fried until fragrant.

Add baby sweet corns, stir evenly for about 1 minute. Add long beans and carrots, a bit salt and pepper, and stir for another few moments.

Add sweet peas and cooked rice. Stir evenly until all mixed well. If the rice is too dry, can add a tiny splash of hot boiling water. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Turn the heat to low, make an empty space in the centre of the wok, add an egg. After a few seconds, turn the heat back to medium and mixed the rice into the egg and stir for a few more moments mixing the egg evenly into all the rice.

Turn off the heat and serve hot immediately.

If you like sesame oil, you can add a little bit into the fried rice before serving.

Bon Appétit!

Home cooked vegetarian food recipe - Stir-fried Lady's Fingers or Okra

Here is another vegetarian dish that sometimes we prepare for our yoga retreat guests here in Langkawi.

Stir-fried Lady's Fingers or Okra (serves 2-3 people)

About 20 pieces of Lady's Fingers or Okra, rinsed and cut diagonally into 3 or 4 sections

4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

1-2 small red chillies, removed seeds and chopped finely

A bit of cooking oil and sesame oil

A bit of hot boiling water

Salt and black pepper to taste

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Heat up the wok at medium heat. Add cooking oil. When the oil is hot enough, add garlic and chillies. Stir evenly until garlic is browned and fragrant.

Add Lady's Fingers or Okra. Stir evenly, add salt and pepper to taste.

Do not cover.

Stir occasionally, add a bit of hot boiling water. Keep stirring until the Lady's Fingers are softened. It takes about 3-4 minutes. Add sesame oil, and turn off the heat.

Serve hot immediately with rice and other dishes. It goes well with the sambal too.

Bon Appétit!

Meditation?


When we are 'stuck' at somewhere (at home, or else where), no matter due to any reasons (sickness, injuries, storm, riot, haze, and etc), when our physical body and our mind is being restricted in a certain situation or condition, that's the great opportunity or moment for us to contemplate or meditate on the truth, be aware of the reality in the present moment now, and accepting the reality as it is, without generate craving towards something that is not here, that our mind likes. Without generate aversion towards something that is here, that our mind doesn't like...

Meditation is bringing the mind turns inward, quieting the mind or thought waves, refrain it from running out chasing after names and forms. It's not about looking outside at all the names and forms, colours and shapes, concrete buildings, or beautiful forest or scenery, and generate thoughts of likes and dislikes, wants and don't wants towards all these perceptions of names and forms.

Meditation is not only can be practiced in beautiful nature, or in a quiet environment, or in a meditation retreat centre, or in an Ashram, but it is everywhere and every moment where our awareness is.

It's being aware of the reality of the present moment now, and accepting the reality as it is, not necessarily the way that we like it to be.

Om shanti.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Yoga courses or classes is not a business trading object or service that we can sell or buy, even if there is some fees involved...

If we went to an Ashram or a yoga school and found that it is a very good place with good teachers, convenient facilities and conducive environment for learning and practicing yoga, naturally without the people in the Ashram or yoga school asked us to recommend the Ashram or the yoga school to anyone, and without any intention to expect any kind of incentive in return, we will recommend other people who are interested in learning and practicing yoga to go there, but we will never ask for any commission from the Ashram or yoga school for us to do this, nor will we ask for any discounted fees for ourselves to be taking courses there.

As yoga or yoga courses is not a business trading object. It is not like because we like the service from a massage spa centre and we are motivated to recommend it to other people, but we expect the massage spa centre to give us some commission in return or expect them to give us special rate on our future visits for their services. Then this action of recommending something good to other people is not genuine anymore. There are selfish motives or intention behind the action of recommendation, even though it is something good.

We never went to a massage spa near our yoga studio. But due to many of our retreat guests went there before, and had very nice experience, we would recommend it to any other of our guests who ask for recommendation for a good massage spa. We never received any commission from the massage spa centre for us to recommending so many people to go there for massage. We never intend to ask any commission from them, nor do we expect them to recommend anyone to come to us for yoga retreats, nor expect them to give us some sort of discounted rate for us to use any of their services. We recommend it because it has good reputation. If it has bad reputation, we won't be recommend it to anyone, even if they want to give us commission or discount. We do not ask nor expect anything in return for recommending something good to anybody.

If we are looking for some sorts of commission or discounted fees from the Ashram or yoga school by recommending people to go there, as we think that yoga and yoga courses is like a business trading object or service, then we don't really know what yoga is about (even though we have been practicing 'yoga' for a long time). We had no idea what is the yoga practice about selfless service, compassion, loving kindness, generosity, true charity, non-attachment, intention-less, non-expectation and renounce the fruit of action.

It is great virtue and merit for anyone to be supporting an Ashram or yoga school to run yoga courses or classes, to allow other people to be learning and sharing the greatness of yoga, provided that if they give their supports without attachment, without expectation towards any rewards or incentives in return.

An Ashram, or a yoga school doesn't sell yoga, or wisdom, or compassion, or peace, or liberation. They can only provide teachers, teachings, disciplines, schedule or program, methods, guidance, supports, facilities and conveniences to the people to be learning and practicing yoga. It is up to the people's own responsibility, discipline, effort and sincere practice, to realize or attain yoga, or wisdom, or compassion, or peace, or liberation.

The fees or donations from the people is not a business exchange of selling and buying a product or service, but mainly to support the cost or expenses that couldn't be avoided in providing such courses, facilities, conveniences and environment to allow ourselves and other people to be learning and practicing yoga and become our own teacher. At the same time we also provide some supports to the teachers who need to support their own living and perform their own practice. What a great merit, even if we do not greed for attaining any merits by performing great virtue.

I never asked for any discounted rate for the fees of the yoga courses in the Ashram or from any other yoga schools when I didn't have enough money to pay for the total expenses in the beginning, including course fee, flight ticket and visa fees, and my parents living and medical expenses. But I didn't worry, and the money came to me on time when I needed it for paying all the expenses to go to the Ashram in India to learn and practice yoga. As I know yoga or the 'fees' for the yoga courses is not something to be negotiate nor trade about. It is not like we paid some money to a hotel for a hotel room, and expect certain types of service that worth 'how much we had paid' in return.

If we don't have strong self-discipline to follow the tight schedule and curriculum, if we don't have will-power and determination to forbear any difficulties or discomforts physically, mentally, or emotionally that arise in the process of purification, we will give up easily, or drop out and not finishing the course, no matter how much money we had paid for the course or it is a free course.

Especially in real yoga practice about eliminating the egoism is really not a very pleasant experience, it's not like going to a spa massage which is about paying for a service that will give us momentary enjoyment and pleasant experiences, but it doesn't help us to eliminate the egoism, craving and aversion, but in fact, it is empowering them.

Attending 'real' yoga courses is not about chasing after pleasant experiences, or learning to do a few challenging yoga asana poses. It is about letting go of craving towards pleasant experiences and aversion towards unpleasant experiences. It's about letting go of pride and arrogance towards what we think we know about ourselves and things. It's about letting go of what our mind believes what things are. There will be lots of discomforts and aversion manifested physically, mentally and emotionally during the purification process of eliminating the egoism, impurities and ignorance.

If we are able to forbear and withstand all these discomfortable manifestations that arise in our yoga and meditation practice, and be determined to continue the practice until we realize the truth, we will realize the unconditional joy and peace that comes from realizing the truth of things and ourselves, and being free from attachment, ignorance and egoism, craving and aversion, cause and effect, birth and death. There's no fear and worry, anger and hatred, pride and arrogance, dissatisfaction and disappointment, hurtful thinking and feelings, or painful sorrow and suffering.

If our yoga students or retreat guests feel that the yoga courses or retreats were very good for them even though they had to forbear some discomforts during the course, and naturally recommending the yoga courses or retreats to other people, not because with the intention to bring us more 'business', and not because with the intention to get some incentive, commission or discount, but to allow other people to be sharing something really meaningful, then this type of recommendation is welcome.

If somebody says to us, "I love your yoga course/retreat. I will write you a very good review about my experience in your yoga course/retreat, and recommend other people to come to your place, but how much commission or discount can you give me in return?" We will tell them, we don't need 'good' reviews that are not genuinely coming from the heart, nor interested in advertising the yoga courses or retreats to bring in more 'business'.

You may read the story about why and how I went to India to learn and practice yoga with this link - http://mengfoonglai.blogspot.com/2011/11/my-life-stories-part-6.html

Om shanti.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Elimination of the egoism requires great forbearance, determination and perseverance...

To make the mind happy is not very difficult, we just need to give the mind what it desires, likes and wants. But the mind seems like always dissatisfied and greedy. Its desires, likes and wants are endless.

To let go of the identification with the egoistic mind that is swaying between craving and aversion all the time, and to eliminate egoism (realizing selflessness, and unconditional love and peace), is not as easy as making the mind happy. In fact, the mind will experience extreme pain and discomfort in the process of letting go of attachment. There will be great aversion and resistance coming from the mind (the ego).

It really takes great amount of patience, perseverance, determination, will-power, non-judgment, non-comparison, non-expectation, self-discipline, self-control, self-introspection, humility, acceptance, adjustment, accommodation, adaptation, cheerfulness, faith and courage, for us to realize unconditional peace and love.

Adequate amount of discrimination of the real and the unreal, and dispassion towards worldly objects and enjoyments are also very important.

Truly, if we attached strongly towards what our mind is being conditioned to believe what things are (being closed minded), and are strongly rooted in ignorance, dualism and egoism (self-righteousness - having strong aversion and hatred towards what is contradicted and different from our own beliefs), even though we would like to learn and practice yoga, but when we go deeper into this path of eliminating the egoism, to realize unconditional peace and love through yoga and meditation practice, it is like drinking extreme bitter medicine. It is not a pleasant experience.

It is a process of self-destruction of the lower impure self (the egoism). There will be lots of struggles and topples. If we don't have strong self-discipline, forbearance, will-power or determination, we might give up yoga and meditation practice, and would rather chase after momentary satisfaction that comes from keeps giving the mind what it likes and wants.

The easier path to eliminate the egoism is Karma yoga (selfless service without attachment towards the action and the fruit of action) and Bhakti yoga (complete surrender or devotion towards the highest consciousness). But even so, obstacles may arise to test our faith, forbearance and perseverance.

The truth is not coming from intellectual analyzing, thinking or beliefs. It is being aware of the reality of things as they are, when ignorance and egoism is removed, when the mind is calm and free from impurities. Just like a still and clean mirror will reflect the image of the object placed in front of it as it is. If the mirror (the mind) is shaking (desires, craving and aversion, action and reaction) and dirty (impurities like anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, fear and worry, etc), then the image of the object appears on the mirror will be distorted.

There are many people really love and enjoy the 'effects' of the yoga asana practice, but there is also intense fear and aversion in us in letting go of the ego, or the worldly identification as 'I'. We are reluctant to let go of what we think who we are. We are afraid of losing this 'I' and all that belongs to 'I'. Just like all living beings have fear towards death and the unknown, the ego has fear towards self-extinction.

Those who can forbear any obstacles, difficulties and discomforts, and know that only by destroying the lower impure self (the egoism), we will then be truly free being who we really are, as we are, not because 'I' am somebody with such and such qualities, will persist in the practice and reach the end of practice. All kinds of fear and dissatisfaction will disappear, due to the presence of wisdom and compassion, when the veil of ignorance is removed along with the extinction of egoism.

As now, who we think we are (the ego), is being conditioned and determined by our worldly self-image, physical appearance, physical condition and abilities, social status, material belongings, relationships with family and friends, career, as well as the conditioned and limited perceptions of names and forms, knowledge, thinking, culture, religion and beliefs in the mind, to be who we are.

All these objects and qualities are conditioned and limited by impermanence, ignorance and impurities. It is non-satisfactory and emptiness in its nature. Even though occasionally we will feel good, satisfied and happy when we give the mind what it likes and wants, but due to attachment towards all these impermanent qualities to be who we are, we are full of pride and arrogance, fear and worry, greed and dissatisfaction, anger and hatred, frustration and disappointment, restlessness, craving and aversion, action and reaction that are bound by cause and effect, or Karma, or birth and death.

In the end , it is up to ourselves about what we really want with this life existence. Maybe we just want to enjoy life as much as we can, and are not interested about transcending suffering, birth and death. That's our choice and our own responsibility. If we don't want to let go of the self-identification that has a worldly image with certain qualities of who we think we are, then be happy, and continue to be that 'person'.

If we are getting tired of the restless and dissatisfied egoistic mind, being aware of the fleeting impermanence or emptiness in worldly objects, the body and the mind, and realizing all our 'problems' and 'suffering' is derived from egoism, ignorance and attachment, craving and aversion, action and reaction, and thus, we are determined to realize something that is real and unconditional, then we shall persist in our yoga and meditation practice until we are free from ignorance and egoism, transcend the body and mind, birth and death.

Om shanti.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Teaching yoga, neither good nor bad...

The truth is the same, no matter we realize the truth from which type of yoga practice or meditation techniques. It doesn't matter if it was realized by some beings in many thousands years ago, or if it is realized by some beings in this very moment. It's the same egolessness, wisdom and compassion in all beings.

There is a slight difference, when we haven't realize the truth yet, but we teach yoga according to the truth or the teachings that we have heard from attending some yoga teachers training courses or yoga classes, or from yoga books that we have read, or when we teach yoga from what we have realized through our own effort from our own practice.

When we realized the truth by ourselves, it is the same as the truth as the other beings had realized. There's no separateness nor contradiction when we realized our true nature as it is, nameless and formless, beginningless and endless, birthless and deathless, attributeless and non-separateness. Unless we thought we had realized the truth, but we haven't really realize the truth yet.

If we really had realized the truth as it is, and realized wisdom and compassion, all kinds of fear and worry disappears. Restlessness and dissatisfaction disappears. Anger and hatred disappears. Craving and aversion disappears. All doubts and afflictions disappears. All these impurities doesn't exist in the presence of wisdom and compassion. They can only manifest themselves when wisdom and compassion is absent. And so, if we are still not free from all these impurities yet, then know that we still need to keep practice until we are completely free from all these impurities, or realize wisdom and compassion.

Some might can memorize most of the teachings from hearing, reading, learning and studying, and some may not have good memory towards what he or she had heard or read, learned or studied, but when come to practical experiences in everyday life condition and situation, whether our mind is free from attachment and will stay calm, uninfluenced and undetermined by the qualities of names and forms, be free from craving and aversion, anger and hatred, fear and worry, that will be a complete different story that is nothing to do with how much we know in our mind.

As knowing the truth of things and knowing many things is a different story.

One is knowing the truth and share with other beings, and the other one is borrowing the teachings and share with other beings. Even though there's a difference, but it is still sharing a great wisdom (whether realized or borrowed) with many other beings. And sometimes the teacher has not realized the truth yet, but the students might realize the truth through their own practice according to the teachings they learn from the teacher.

But that's the greatest part of it.

It is not about the teacher has to realize the truth before the students, nor the teacher gets any priority or superiority than the students. All are equal beings, all are the students of Dharma or Dhamma, striving to eliminate the ego and ignorance. The teacher will realize his or her own ego during the action of teaching. The students will realize their ego during the action of learning. One compliments one another, and is helping each other to eliminate the ego, without intention nor expectation.

The teacher who is not free yet, doesn't need to feel low confident nor feel bad, as this is nothing wrong at all, as long as the teacher knows that he or she is not perfect yet, and is humble to learn and be sincere in his or her own practice while sharing with other beings to walk the path of liberation together.

But, if the teacher is not free yet, but with the ego thinks himself or herself is knowing more than the students without being aware of his or her own pride and arrogance, and expect the students to 'behave' in certain ways, and to 'response' to his or her teaching accordingly, then there'll be some problems might arise.

But again, it is all a learning process for both the students and the teacher. The students actually will learn a lots from practicing under a teacher who is not perfect yet, and learn about action and reaction of the mind, likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements coming from the ego. They will learn and realize about non-attachment, non-judgment, non-expectation, egolessness and compassion, through his or her own observation towards his or her own mind reactions towards the teacher's imperfection.

The teacher's realization has nothing to do with the student's realization. Same as the student's realization is nothing to do with the teacher's realization. Everyone is responsible for their own realization. A liberated teacher doesn't guarantee all his or her students will be liberated. A teacher who is not free yet, won't stop the students from attaining liberation.

In the beginning, Buddha had many different teachers, and some of them might not completely free yet then, but that didn't stop Buddha from realizing the truth. As everyone and everything is our teacher. It is not limited in a liberated being in human form. And the greatest teacher above all, is our own Self.

Buddha was liberated, but he never intended and couldn't make other beings to be liberated. He was peaceful and was free from suffering, but he couldn't make other beings peaceful, nor could he make other beings suffering to disappear.

That's why there is no good or bad teachers, nor good or bad students. Everyone is here to help each other to evolve, to transform, to be free from our own egoism and ignorance.

Om shanti.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Strength and Flexibility?

The greatest strength and flexibility is realizing the truth of our true nature, which is wisdom and the unconditional love or compassion, which also manifested, or can be found or seen in patience, tolerance, perseverance, determination, forbearance, forgiveness, adaptation, accommodation, adjustment, acceptance, non-violence, non-hatred, non-discrimination, non-judgment, non-expectation, non-attachment, non-possessiveness, non-dualism, non-separateness, namelessness and formlessness, egolessness or selflessness, beyond the identification as 'I' and all the mind perceptions with all the different qualities of names and forms.

This can be illustrated as being free from egoism or ignorance, or being free from craving and aversion, or being free from all the impurities and restlessness, or being free from desires of want and don't want, or being free from fear and worry, or being free from anger and hatred, or being free from being conditioned by the mind and the perception of names and forms through the senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking.

Realize this real strength and flexibility, there is even no need to forbear nor to endure anything that the mind thinks or believes as 'bad', 'negative', or 'suffering'. There's no longing nor clinging onto what the mind thinks or believes as 'good', 'positive', or 'happiness'. As in truth, all the perceptions of good and bad, positive and negative, happiness and suffering, they don't really exist at all. It is all manifested in the mind itself and will dissolve in the mind itself once the mind realizes its true nature, which is nameless and formless, attributeless, beginningless and endless, birthless and deathless.

The optimum physical strength and flexibility that we can attain through this physical body cannot be compared to this real strength and flexibility that allow us to be existing and living in this world of names and forms, but being able to 'forbear' and 'withstand' any 'difficult' and 'discomfortable' conditions and situations, and being unaffected, undisturbed, uninfluenced, undetermined by all these names and forms, but able to fully utilize this life existence, or the body and mind, to be performing some beneficial actions for all beings, but knowing that everything is impermanent, there is no attachment at all towards all the actions being performed and the fruit of the action.

There's no disappointment nor depression about "Why bother and waste energy in performing actions, as everything is impermanent, everything will come to an end?"

In Buddhism, the monks spend lots of time, doing 'something' occupying the mind with 'something', so that the mind doesn't have spare 'space' or 'room' for any 'evil' thinking, or speculation, or imagination, or projection. As the mind is being restrained to be in the present moment on the physical actions being performed.

Same as when we perform yoga asana practice, it is not so much about gaining some physical or mental benefits from spending some time and energy doing the practice, but mostly it's to engage the body and mind in some wholesome activities, as there are energy in the body and mind that needs to be directed to 'somewhere'. At the same time, refraining the body and mind from some unwholesome activities while engaging in the yoga asana practice. And that itself is a great purification process for the mind, as well as it is benefiting the whole world of life existence, as this body and this mind is not generating any harmful thoughts or actions into the world during that time being.

There is a very efficient practice in Buddhism about realizing and accepting impermanence, and practicing non-attachment and letting go. Everyone will spend lots of time and energy, sincerely and attentively to make 'complicated' and 'beautiful' mandala using coloured sand or different colours beans on the ground, and as soon as it is finished, they will mess it up with their own hand, to realize what is perform all our actions for the benefits of all beings, but without attachment towards the action or the fruit of the action.

If we don't know the truth, we will feel very meaningless and wasting energy or effort to perform actions but then in the end it is nothingness or emptiness. But when we know the truth, there is no gain when we perform any action, nor there is any loss when the fruit of our actions experience impermanence and disappear. There is no wasting energy or effort at all. It is beyond creation and emptiness. There is nothing being created. There's no actions being performed. Names and forms are not different from emptiness. Emptiness is not separated from names and forms.

Perform Karma yoga, or selfless service is what we can do for ourselves and others with this body and this mind, to make good use of them. Karma yoga is not just about performing beneficial actions for others, but it is not separated from performing beneficial actions for ourselves. There's no difference whether the actions being performed is for ourselves or for others, there's no priority nor less priority, superiority nor inferiority, as whether it is for ourselves or for others, it is the same and is benefiting everyone. There's no intention to be good, or to do good, or to be benefiting anyone, or to be receiving anything good in return. Just perform action and let go. And that is selflessness or compassion.

It doesn't matter everything will come to an end, we do our best and let go. As this body and this mind has some 'spare time' and 'energy' that doesn't belong to them, to be spent without gaining or losing anything. Why not use it for something constructive and beneficial for all beings?

Om shanti.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Advancing or improving in yoga and meditation practice?

How do we know if we are advancing or improving in our yoga and meditation practice?

When somebody come to a yoga class, we all want to know the different levels of yoga classes and what level are we being categorized into.

Nowadays in most of the yoga clubs, yoga centres or yoga studios, yoga (asana) classes are being separated into beginner level, intermediate level and advance level. And usually the different levels of these yoga classes are being categorized, or determined, or judged by the degrees of difficulty or complexity of the yoga asana poses that requires certain degrees of skills, physical fitness level, stamina, strength and flexibility.

The yoga students are being categorized into beginner level, intermediate level or advance level by themselves or by the yoga teachers based on their physical condition and abilities to perform the yoga asana exercises. The people who are physically fit and are able to perform the complicated yoga asana poses are being put into advance level yoga class, and call themselves advance yoga practitioner. And those who has a weak and inflexible physical body, and are only able to perform some simple and easy yoga asana poses, they are being put into beginner level yoga class, and call themselves beginner yoga practitioner. But this is not what yoga practice really is about.

A person who has a very fit, strong and flexible physical body, who only goes to 'advance level yoga classes' can still be a very 'beginner' yoga practitioner even after many years of 'advance yoga practice'.

A person who doesn't has a fit, strong or flexible physical body, who can only goes to 'beginner level yoga classes' can be a very 'advance' yoga practitioner even he or she hasn't done many, or never done any 'yoga practice' before.

It is about the state of mind. It's about how pure is the mind and how well the mind is tamed. Even if the physical body can be trained to perform many 'difficult' asana poses, but it doesn't determine whether the mind is well-controlled as well.

In the end, beyond names and forms, there's no level at all.
x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

If the mind is becoming more peaceful, cheerful, clear and open-minded, whether being in comfortable or discomfortable condition and situation. The mind starts to be able to be balanced in both pleasure and pain;

If calmness of the mind is able to sustain for longer period of time, being less disturbed, or less affected, or less determined, or less influenced by the qualities of names and forms, likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements;

If the ego (the idea of 'I' and 'mine', pride and arrogance) is getting smaller or weaker;

If selfish desires, or wants and don't wants are getting less;

If attachment is becoming less, while non-attachment is getting stronger;

If impurities like anger, hatred, jealousy, fear, worry, disappointment, dissatisfaction, frustration, irritation, agitation, aggressiveness, pride, arrogance, craving and aversion are becoming less, and are losing their strength to influence our action and reaction, and eventually all these impurities are disappearing from the mind;

If argument, criticism, complaint, defensiveness, offensiveness and self-justification are becoming less and disappearing;

If greed, possessiveness, ill will, petty-mindedness, hypocrisy, evil thinking, actions and speech are becoming less and disappearing;

If patience, perseverance, determination, forbearance, forgiveness, humility, contentment, acceptance, adaptation, adjustment, accommodation and tolerance are getting stronger;

If we start to becoming more aware of all the activities in the mind, without identification or association, without judgment or expectation;

If we start to be able to accept the reality of everything as it is, even if the reality is not something that we like it to be, and stop trying to control or change the reality that we don't like into something that we prefer;

If the mind starts to turn inward and performs self-introspection towards the mind activities, and less going outward chasing after worldly objects of names and forms, material and sensual enjoyment;

If we start to see our own defilements and being aware of the ego, and know how to take full responsibility for our own physical and mental well-being, happiness and unhappiness;

If we are able to respect everyone as they are, without discrimination or trying to change other beings to be the way that we like them to be, or what we think they should be;

We are able to have certain types of beliefs, disciplines or principles of life, but we keep it to ourselves, and allow other beings to have different types of beliefs, disciplines or principles of life from us;

We are able to let go of emotional turbulence a little faster and easier than before;

We can go to sleep without being worried or mentally disturbed by what we had experienced in the day;

We have less projections into the future, less imagining or anticipating about what is going to happen next;

We start to be able to forbear or withstand insults, criticism or condemn without generate anger and hatred;

The mind can be in the present easier and longer than before; And etc;

Then we are advancing or improving in yoga and meditation practice. It doesn't matter if it is a huge improvement, or just a small little improvement.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Even though our physical body fitness level and health condition are improving due to the regular yoga asana or pranayama practice; and the body is developing physical stamina, strength and flexibility, and is capable of performing many of the yoga asana poses that it couldn't perform before; but due to certain 'reasons' that the mind has not been getting any of the above mental and spiritual improvements significantly, then we are not really improving in the yoga and meditation practice.

If so, we need to find out why we haven't really improve anything at all, and work on it. Without judgment or expectation, nor comparing with other yoga practitioners, just keep practice.

As during and after the yoga practice, the mind might feels good and experiences some sorts of contentment, or pleasant sensations, or relaxation in the physical body, but very soon this contentment, pleasant sensations and good feelings will be disturbed and disappearing, and there are more tension continue to be accumulated in the body and mind coming from our everyday life experiences, or derived from the reactions of the egoistic, impure and untrained mind towards what it likes and dislikes, agrees and disagrees with, of what it sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches and thinks.

The mind is constantly swaying between the states of elevation, calmness and depression, being restless and dissatisfied even though sometimes it experiences momentary contentment and peacefulness coming from performing the yoga and meditation practice.

This is because we haven't really been practicing yoga in our everyday life experiences.

We didn't know what is non-identification with the body and mind, but instead we attached strongly to the body and mind, and identified with the body and mind as 'I'. We didn't know what is perform all actions without attachment, or what is renounce from the fruit of action, but instead we attached strongly to our actions, and have great expectation towards the fruit of action, and be determined by the fruit of action to motivate or demotivate us to perform action.

We think, "The thinking mind is 'I'. The physical body is 'I'. 'I' am the one who sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches and thinks. 'I' am the one who feels good or bad, happy or sad. 'I' am a good person. 'I' do good actions and 'I' will be receiving something good in return. 'I' am a yogi. 'I' am a meditator. 'I' am the one who is performing all these yoga and meditation practice, and 'I' will be getting the benefits from performing the yoga and meditation practice."

How many people who practice yoga will think and say this, "I practice yoga. I have been practicing yoga for how long. I am a yoga practitioner or a yogi. I am a yoga student or yoga teacher. I love yoga. I can do this yoga asana. I cannot do that yoga asana. I like this yoga asana pose. I don't like this yoga asana pose. I like to do this. I don't like to do this. I am not strong or flexible. I want to be strong and flexible. I want to be like him or her. I like this type of teaching and classes, I don't like this type of teaching and classes. I prefer a more gentle practice. I prefer a more intense practice." And so on.

We didn't know what is the ego or how to let go of the ego, but instead we are constantly empowering the ego while performing our yoga practice. We didn't know what is letting go of craving and aversion, but instead we are generating more craving and aversion in our yoga practice, towards the yoga asana poses that we like or dislike.

We didn't know what is real and unreal, but instead we are being over-powered by ignorance and selfish desires, constantly chasing after for the unreal or impermanent objects of the senses, such like pleasant sensations and good feelings, and good condition of the physical body, which are the 'side effects' of the yoga practice, but not the main objective of performing the yoga practice.

We didn't know what is non-judgment, but instead we are constantly judging ourselves and other people, and judging the practice all the time while performing the yoga practice, and be determined and troubled by our own judgment about everyone and everything. We judge the yoga class or yoga session as good or bad. We judge the yoga teacher as good or bad. We judge the type of yoga teachings or practice being taught in the class as good or bad. We judge our performance as good or bad. We judge the yoga asana exercises as good or bad.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Yoga and meditation practice is not limited in a yoga or meditation class, but to be practiced in everyday life existence.

As the entire yoga and meditation practice is a purification process for the mind to eliminate impurities, ignorance and egoism. It is about conquering our own mind, changing the conditioned habits of the mind, realization of the truth, going beyond the qualities of names and forms or duality, be free from craving and aversion, and be free from restlessness or affliction that derived from attachment towards the body and the mind, and the qualities of names and forms. This is not determined by the fitness level, or health condition, or strength and flexibility of the physical body.

Purification of the mind, controlling the mind, eliminating the egoism and ignorance, eliminating craving and aversion, is not a 'pleasant' experience for most people. Especially during the purification process. The egoistic mind will rejects, generates great resistance towards its own destruction. And this resistance is manifested in the physical body as discomfortable sensations, or tiredness, or low energy level.

In fact, the purification process is quite discomfortable, or even painful or difficult for some people. Depending on the strength of the ego, and the past accumulated tension, impression or impurities in the body and mind, there will be different layers of physical, mental and emotional discomfort manifesting in the body and mind. We need to have patience and perseverance to forbear or endure all these discomfortable experiences being part of the purification process of eliminating the egoism and ignorance.

The mind will see a lot of 'ugly' sides of itself. Sometimes due to pride and arrogance, the mind does not want to admit or confront with all these defilements, and wants to avoid or reject the purification process coming from yoga and meditation practice. It will give itself many excuses or reasons why the body and mind should not continue practicing yoga and meditation, or to take a break from the practice for some time. This is a common obstacle in the journey towards realization of the truth.

If we are able to forbear or endure all the discomfortable manifestations during the purification process without any expectations, it will be followed by unconditional and unlimited joy and peace, and real contentment or satisfaction coming from being free from attachment, egoism, ignorance and impurities.

Om shanti.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Go beyond positive and negative, there's no craving or aversion, there's no fear and worry...

Yoga is not really about being positive, or try to think positive, or want to attract positive things into our life by thinking positively. Although there's nothing wrong with want to be positive, and having positive things in our life.

Even if we don't have intention to find a teacher to teach us something, naturally the teacher will be there when the time is right.

When we say the thoughts in our mind will determine our life experiences, it actually means that the positive or negative thinking will determine how our mind perceives all the names and forms that the mind comes in contact with through the senses. If our mind is positive, then it will perceive everything positively. If our mind is negative, then it will perceive everything negatively. But the mind being positive or negative doesn't really make the objects to become something positive or negative. Everything will still be what it is. It is neither positive nor negative.

If the mind is positive and endowed with good qualities, it can't change the world or other beings to become positive or good, just like Buddha was peaceful and free from suffering, but he couldn't change the world or other beings to be peaceful and be free from suffering.

Same as if the mind is negative and endowed with evil qualities, it can't change the world or other beings to become negative or evil. Just like there are many people doing bad and evil actions in the world, but there are still many people performing good and kind actions in the world.

The point is, once the mind is purified, and ignorance, impurities and egoism are eliminated, and it realized the truth about all the names and forms, and goes beyond dualities or judgment of good and bad, positive and negative, happiness and suffering that come from what the mind believes what things are, but which is not the truth of things of what they really are, then naturally there will be no craving towards something that the mind believes as 'good', 'positive' and 'happiness'. There will be no aversion towards something that the mind believes as 'bad', 'negative' and 'suffering'.

That is real freedom.

If we try to avoid negative thinking, and try to cultivate positive thinking, as we believe that if our mind is having negative thinking, it will attract negative things into our life. And if our mind is having positive thinking, it will attract positive things into our life. We only want to have positive things, and don't want to have negative things in our life. It shows that we are not free.

We are being conditioned by what the mind believes what things are (categorizing and labeling everything into positive and negative), and have craving towards the 'positive' things, and have aversion towards the 'negative' things. Our mind also will be tensed all the time, as we have fear that once there is some 'negative' thinking appears in the mind, then something negative will come into our life sooner or later. There is no peace, as fear arise in the mind due to attachment (craving and aversion) towards the qualities of good and bad, positive and negative, happiness and suffering, which is not the truth of what things really are.

In yoga and meditation practice, we are letting go of attachment towards the qualities of names and forms, and stop generating craving towards qualities that our ego likes and agrees with, and stop generating aversion towards qualities that our ego doesn't like and disagrees with.

Being aware of all the qualities of names and forms, but not being affected, nor disturbed, nor influenced, nor determined by the qualities of names and forms. And allow all the names and forms with different qualities to be what they are, and allow everything with different qualities to be exist at the same time under the perception of worldly existence.

There is no fear and worry towards bad experiences, negative things or suffering.

When fear disappears, compassion will be there naturally. When we realize compassion, fear will disappear naturally. They don't exist at the same time. If one of them manifests in the mind, the other one disappears from the mind.

When there is attachment towards the qualities of names and forms of the body, the mind, the ego, the intellect, relationships, actions and objects exists in the mind, fear follows tightly, and compassion is absent. When all kinds of attachment disappear from the mind, fear disappears as well, and compassion takes over our life existence.

Om shanti.

Friday, June 7, 2013

How to practice non-attachment or non-identification with the body and mind?

There are many people who are interested in practicing yoga and meditation, but they say it is not easy for them to practice the basic teaching of non-attachment or non-identification with the body and mind. They will be easily being determined by the attachment towards the body and mind, and couldn't help themselves being disturbed physically, mentally and emotionally all the time. They are affected, disturbed, influenced and determined very much by what they see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think. They want to have peace, but it seems like very difficult for them to be peaceful.

The body and the mind is just like a car and the driver. And the life experience in this world is like the experience of driving on the road.

We cannot expect everyone will drive, follow the same rules, act and react on the road like us. We can pay full attention on the road and try to drive safe, but we cannot have expectation onto other drivers also should do the same. We will be risking ours and other beings safety, and be very frustrated and disappointed, if we expect everyone to drive, follow the same rules, act and react on the road like us.

It's the same in life. We cannot expect everyone to think, behave, act or react in the same way as we think, behave, act or react. We can do our best trying to perform what our mind believes is good and right, but we cannot expect other beings to have the same ideas and mentality. We cannot control or change other beings to think, behave, act and react like us. We will only hurt ourselves by getting disappointed, frustrated and angry, and will cause further tension and harmful effect onto other beings when we react out of disappointment, frustration and anger, if we expect other beings to be the way that we want them to be.

Without the car, there's no need of a driver. Without a driver, the car doesn't go anywhere. Having the car and a driver, but it still depends on fuel, battery, air, water, and all the parts of the car to be functioning properly, and etc for the car to be moving and go where the driver wants to go.

Without the body, there's no need of a mind. Without the mind, the body is useless, it doesn't act nor perceive anything. Having the body and a mind, but it still depends on energy, oxygen, water and nutrients for it to be functioning.

The car needs maintenance and so does the physical body. The car will have problems if it is being over-used and not well-maintained, so does the physical body. And no matter how well we take care of the car or the physical body, the car or the body will still be conditioned by impermanence, and will go through 'old age', 'weakness', 'injury', 'illness', and 'death' or 'decomposition'. They belong to the elements of fire, water, wind, earth and ether. The car owner doesn't own the car, and the mind (what we think we are) doesn't own the body. It is the body that is made of elements and being conditioned by qualities who is experiencing impermanence and 'death'. There is no 'I' being there to experience impermanence and 'death'.

The driver needs to be endowed with certain qualities for him to drive the car safely and responsibly. Such like proper driving skill and ethics, calmness, attentiveness, responsibility, patience, thoughtfulness, clear vision, obeying the traffic rules and etc, so that his action of driving the car doesn't cause any harmful casualties or damages to himself or to other beings, people, or the environment. If the driver is reckless and irresponsible, he is risking his own and other beings safety as well.

Same as the mind, it needs to be endowed with certain qualities for it to use the physical body, hands and feet, and the organ of speech, morally and responsibly. Such like purity of thoughts, calmness, concentration, responsibility, patience, forbearance, perseverance, self-control, self-discipline, thoughtfulness, respect, acceptance, adjustment, adaptation, accommodation, forgiveness, generosity, open-mindedness, loving kindness, clear thinking, right conduct or action, right speech, right view, right intention, right understanding or knowledge, right livelihood, right effort, right concentration. right mindfulness, and etc, so that its action and reaction through the physical body doesn't cause any harmful damages to itself or to other beings, people, or the environment.

The one who needs to be purified, and who is performing yoga and meditation practice, is the mind. The one who needs to practice non-attachment and non-identification with the functions, conditions and abilities of the body and the states of mind, is the mind itself. The one who needs to let go of the egoism, is the mind itself. The one who needs to realize the truth and be free from ignorance, is the mind. The one who is observing the thoughts, action and reaction, feelings, emotions, and sensations, and not generate craving and aversion towards all these experiences or perceptions of names and forms, is the mind itself. But there is no 'I'. There is no 'I am'. There is no 'I am performing action'. There is no 'I am receiving the fruit of action'.

Ignorance causes the mind to attach and identify with the physical body. The mind thinks and believes that the conditions and the abilities of the physical body is what it is. It feels good and bad, happy and unhappy, positive and negative, being influenced and determined by the impermanent conditions and abilities of the physical body, as well as whatever it perceives through the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin and thinking.

The mind thinks and believes that the body belongs to it, and thus, it thinks and says, "This is my body. This body is mine".

The mind thinks and believes that all the sensations, feelings, emotions, beliefs and thinking belongs to it, and thus, it thinks and says, "These are my sensations, my feelings, my emotions, my beliefs and my thinking".

The mind attached to the appearance, conditions and abilities of the physical body as 'I', and thus, it thinks and says, "This is my look, my conditions and my abilities". As well as attachment towards all the ideas of "This is my study, my knowledge, my pride, my confidence, my self-esteem, my culture, my religion, my country, my point of views, and etc". And so, whatever changes and experiences that is happening in the body and in the mind, the mind attached to them and identified with them, and be disturbed, affected, influenced and determined by all these changes and experiences of the qualities of names and forms.

But all these pleasant and unpleasant, desirable and undesirable changes and experiences are impermanent and they don't belong to the mind. They come and go as they like, without asking any permission from the mind. That's why all the idea of 'I' and 'my', is incorrect understanding as all these names and forms don't belong to the mind at all.

From the attachment towards the physical body, the mind attached to all the relationships that come in contact with this physical body, and thus, it thinks and says, "My family, my partner, my children, my friends, my enemies, and etc". And this generates separation and distinction of superiority and inferiority, priority and less priority, likes and dislikes, wants and don't wants. And hence, the mind is being conditioned by all kinds of relationships with people, animals, insects, plants, nature, material belongings, jobs, and etc, and be determined to be happy or unhappy according to the conditions of all these names and forms, whether they are something that the ego likes or dislikes, agrees or disagrees with.

And the mind becomes restless, anxious, agitated, depressed, dissatisfied, disappointed, frustrated, irritated, have fear and worry, as it attached to all the impermanent qualities of names and forms that it perceives from moment to moment.

The point is, all the different qualities of names and forms have no intention or power to affect, or disturb, or influence, or determine the mind to be happy or unhappy, to feel good or bad. All the names and forms are not something good or bad, positive or negative, happiness or suffering. It is coming from the mind itself, being attached to what the mind thinks and believes what things are, categorizing and labeling everything with the judgment of good and bad, positive and negative, happiness and suffering. And what the mind thinks and believes what things are, is not necessarily the truth of things. What the mind thinks and believes is being contaminated or influenced by ignorance and impurities, as well as likes and dislikes, agreement and disagreement coming from the ego.

When the mind comes in contact with what the mind recognizes as good, positive and happiness, the mind will feel good and happy. When the mind comes in contact with what the mind recognizes as bad, negative and suffering, the mind will feel bad and unhappy.

The car doesn't belong to the driver. The driver doesn't own the car, as it is not in his control of the function of the car. The car doesn't drive the driver. The driver drives the car. The driver will be affected by the condition of the car, if the driver attached to the car. But the driver will not be affected by the condition of the car, if the driver doesn't attach to the car. The driver make full use of the car for conveniences, but the driver shall not be determined by the car.

Same as the body and mind. The body doesn't belong to the mind. The mind doesn't own the body, as it is not in the mind's control of the function of the body. The body doesn't make use of the mind. The mind makes use of the body. The mind will be affected by the condition of the body, if the mind attached to the body. But the mind will not be affected by the condition of the body, if the mind doesn't attached to the body. The mind makes good use of the body for performing meaningful and beneficial actions in the world, but the mind shall not be determined by the body. And there is no attachment towards all the actions being performed through the body. And thus, the mind is free from being conditioned by the action and inaction, and the fruit or the result of the action.

By understanding the truth of things and who we really are, there is no gain or loss whether it's coming from action or inaction. There is no guilt or pride whether it's coming from action and inaction. As this body and mind is not 'I', there is no 'I' being here to gain anything or lose anything. But this life, the body and mind, have all the opportunities to be doing something that is meaningful and beneficial for ourselves and others. There is also plenty of 'time' that doesn't belong to 'I' waiting to be spent, without attachment, without expectation, without to give or to receive. Make good use of this life existence to do something meaningful without attachment or identification, and not being determined by life existence to be who we are and how we feel. There is no success or failure, gain or loss when we understand this.

There is no fear and worry about getting the things that we don't like and don't want, or not getting the things that we like and want, or losing the things that we love. There is no craving or clinging towards 'good' things, 'good' happenings, 'good' experiences, or happiness. There is no aversion or fear towards 'bad' things, 'bad' happenings, 'bad' experiences, or suffering.

Free from craving and aversion. Free from egoism. Free from being conditioned by the subjective conditional beliefs and thinking in the mind. Free from anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, pride, arrogance, agitation, depression, frustration, irritation, anxiety, defensiveness, offensiveness, fear and worry. Free from generating good or bad karma. Free from being conditioned by the qualities of names and forms. Free from being conditioned by the impermanent condition of the body and mind. Free from duality, attachment, judgment and expectation. Free from ignorance.

These are real freedom for the mind. And the mind will dissolve itself into its true nature of without qualities and dualities, without birth and death, without existence and non-existence.

The true nature of all beings doesn't need to be liberated from suffering, as there is no suffering. The one who experiences suffering is the mind. The mind needs to be free from ignorance. The mind is not something good or bad. The mind is just being what it is, and it is not 'I'. There is no 'I' being here to be liberated.

And thus, there is no attachment towards the mind or the identification as 'I'.

Contemplate on this teaching and be free.

Om shanti.

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.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Home cooked vegetarian food recipe - Oven Roasted Courgettes & Carrots

Here is another vegetarian dish that sometimes we prepare for our yoga retreat guests here in Langkawi.

Oven Roasted Courgettes & Carrots (serves 3-4 people)

3 carrots, rinsed, peeled and cut into bite size chunks

1 green courgette, rinsed and cut into bite size chunks

1 yellow courgette, rinsed and cut into bite size chunks

8-10 cherry tomatoes

6-8 garlic cloves (optional, if you don't like garlic)

About 3-4 tablespoons olive oil

About 2 heaped teaspoons of mixed herbs

Salt and black pepper to taste

Hot boiling water

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Boil the carrots with hot boiling water for 5-6 minutes and drained.

Pre-heat the oven at 250 degrees Celsius.

Put the courgettes, cherry tomatoes, garlic cloves and boiled carrots into an oven dish.

Add in olive oil, mixed herbs, salt and black pepper. Mix well.

Put into the oven for about 35-40 minutes. Stir from time to time, to make sure the vegetables are cooked evenly.

Serve hot.

Bon Appétit!

Home cooked vegetarian food recipe - Stir-fried Chinese Cabbage with baby sweet corns

Here is another vegetarian dish that sometimes we prepare for our yoga retreats guests here in Langkawi.

Stir-fried Chinese Cabbage (serves 3-4 people)

One whole Chinese Cabbage rinsed and drained well, and cut into 1 inch width

About 10 baby sweet corns, halved

2-3 small red or green chillies, seeds removed

About 10 slices of peeled and sliced ginger, cut into matchsticks

2 tablespoons of cooking oil

1 tablespoon of sesame oil

Salt and black pepper to taste

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

Heat up the wok at medium heat. Add cooking oil.

Add sliced ginger and chillies, sautéed until fragrant.

Add baby sweet corns. Add a bit of salt and black pepper. Stir evenly for about 1 minute.

Add Chinese cabbage. Stir evenly for a few seconds. Add salt to taste. Keep stirring until cabbage turn soft. Add sesame oil, stir well and turn off the heat.

There will be a little bit of juice coming out from the cabbage, there's no need to add water at all.

Serve hot immediately with rice, or just as a snack on its own.

Bon Appétit!

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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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