be free, be happy, be peaceful

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

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Is yoga a religious practice? (3)

In most religious teachings, the followers or the practitioners are not allowed to question the truth of the teachings. Where else in the teachings of yoga, is all about self-inquiry and self-realization without blind-believing in anything, including the teachings of yoga. Even if there's a vision of 'God' image appears in front of the practitioner, the practitioner is unattached, unmoved, undisturbed, and let it passes away.

In religious teachings, people must believe in God, or else it is regarded as sinful or evil if one disbelieves in God. Where else in the teachings of yoga, one can either believe or disbelieve in God, it makes no difference. In the end, liberation from ignorance has nothing to do with believing in God, or not. Beyond all the different selfless and impermanent names and forms, all is one.

In religious teachings, people will be condemned and criticized for having inappropriate or wrong conducts based on what the teachings categorize as appropriate and inappropriate conducts, right and wrong conducts. Where else in the teachings of yoga, there's no condemn or criticism even if the practitioners do not practice yoga correctly according to the Scriptures, or their thinking and behavior are not perfect, or they abandon their practice. It's one's freedom and responsibility for what we want and don't want, what we do and don't do, what we think and don't think, what we feel and don't feel, what we know and don't know, what we achieve and don't achieve, and how we act and react.

In religious teachings, people will be judged by 'God'. If one is 'good', one will be rewarded with all kinds of goodness blessed by 'God', and if one is 'bad', one will be punished with painful punishment accordingly in the name of 'God' or sanctioned by 'God'. Meanwhile in the teachings of yoga, there's no judgment or punishment from 'God', but each and everyone either suffer or enjoy the consequences of their actions. There's no 'God' interference with the consequences of one's actions. For those who have gone beyond egoism, all actions being performed are selfless and are not bound by the fruit of actions, or karma. There's no doer of actions and there's no enjoyer of the fruit of actions.

In religious teachings, 'God' is the controller of all manifestations, being extremely 'busy' minding all big and small life events of all beings. Whether it's something good or bad, people would put the responsibility onto God, saying that it's God's will. In the teachings of yoga, the universal consciousness exists in all and doesn't control anything, but all and everything exist, change and stop existing in accordance to the law of impermanence. Good or bad is deriving from each individual egoistic impure mind. It's nothing to do with God.

Above all, yoga is about dealing with the mind and its modifications that are under the influence of ignorance, impurities, egoism, attachment, desires of craving and aversion, where restlessness and suffering arise due to all these defilements, and yoga shows a way to transcend the mind, ignorance, impurities and suffering. Yoga is universal or non-discriminate, beyond all kinds of religions and cultural beliefs and practices.

All minds, except those that are already free from ignorance and suffering, are under the influence of ignorance and impurities and would experience suffering, disregard whether the minds are religious or non-religious, spiritual or non-spiritual, highly intelligent or less intelligent, highly knowledgeable or less knowledgeable, good or bad personality and behavior, positive or negative thinking, happy or unhappy mood, and so on.

Be free.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Is yoga a religious practice? (2)

No doubt that in the history of yoga, there are many Hinduism influenced sources, stories, sages and teachings, and many past and present Gurus came with Hinduism background and they practice(d) Hinduism, but, upon the realization of selflessness, one's liberation has nothing to do with Hinduism or non-Hinduism, spirituality or non-spirituality, religious beings or non-religious beings, good beings or bad beings, good karma or bad karma.

One might think that "Since I have done many good actions accumulating lots of good karma, I will be free from suffering." But, it's not necessarily so. One might still experience suffering even after performing many good actions accumulating lots of good karma, as long as the mind is not free from ignorance, egoism, attachment, identification, craving and aversion, and be over-powered by impurities like anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, animosity, ill-will, feelings of hurt, fear and worry.

Yoga is the annihilation of the mind and its modification, transcending all the names and forms, it doesn't matter what types of qualities of names and forms that keep arising and passing away, influencing the impermanent existence, condition and function of the body and the mind.

Suffering and the end of suffering (liberation) is all in the mind, it is not in a particular name and form that the mind perceives through the senses.

When we think we are not peaceful or are suffering, ask ourselves, why we are not peaceful or are suffering.

One starts practicing yoga when one starts to be aware of what is going on in the mind, and the mind takes full responsibility for all the actions and reactions of the mind towards all the names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses.

Suffering and the end of suffering (liberation) doesn't discriminate towards all the different qualities of names and forms which the mind thinks that is who and what it is.

It is due to ignorance, egoism, attachment, identification, craving and aversion towards all the impermanent qualities of names and forms, that generate suffering in the mind.

It is knowing the truth, egolessness, non-attachment, non-identification, non-craving and non-aversion towards all the impermanent qualities of names and forms, that free the mind from suffering.

Suffering and liberation is nothing to do with different types of religion, spirituality, culture, education, society, tribe, race, gender, sexual orientation, worldly success and achievements, physical condition and abilities, and etc.

Be free.

Is yoga a religious practice?

This is a common question about yoga and yoga practice.

It's common that many people, including some of the yoga practitioners might relate yoga teachings and the yoga practice with Hinduism, as yoga has it roots in the land of India, where majority of the people embrace Hinduism.

Though yoga originated from a land that is rooted in Hinduism, not all Hindus practice yoga, and yoga practitioners don't have to be Hindus to practice yoga.

Many of those who have their own personal religious or cultural belief and they also practice yoga, there might be some elements of their own religious or cultural practice being mixed into their yoga practice. And it's okay. But, it doesn't mean that yoga is a religious or cultural practice.

Meanwhile, in many of those who practice Buddhism, there might be some elements of their own personal religious or spiritual belief and practice being mixed into their Buddhism practice. And it's okay. But, it doesn't mean that Buddhism is a religious or spiritual practice.

The essential teachings of yoga is not different from the teachings of Buddhism. The essential teachings of yoga and Buddhism are the law of impermanence, selflessness, non-dualism, oneness, non-separateness, attributelessness, namelessness and formlessness. These teachings are neither religious nor spiritual.

Both the teachings of yoga and Buddhism is about transcending the egoistic mind and its modifications, to be free from ignorance and egoism, to know the truth of names and forms, to realize selflessness, and be liberated from impurities and suffering that derives from ignorance and egoism. It is beyond all the subjective intellectual thinking, worldly education, personal religious and cultural belief that exist in the mind and influencing the mind.

There's nothing wrong when some people refer yoga as a spiritual practice with some religious practice influences, and meanwhile, many people refer yoga (asana practice) as merely one type of physical exercise for health and fitness, as everyone is free to think and believe what they want to think and believe. But, yoga is neither spiritual nor non-spiritual, neither physical exercise nor non-physical exercise. It is beyond spirituality and physical exercise. It is freedom transcending all the qualities of names and forms. It is unconditioned and unlimited by names and forms consist of different worldly thinking and belief, religious and cultural practice, and personal interest or motivation.

Whether one is religious, or not; whether one has a particular religion belief, or not; whether one is spiritual, or not; whether one belongs to a particular religion or spiritual community, or not; whether one believes in God existence, or not; whether one thinks oneself is a good being or a bad being, everyone (all minds) can practice yoga and realize yoga.

One can take up yoga practice, whether partially or completely, appropriately or inappropriately, and one can also abandon yoga practice. It's one's freedom about what one wants to do with one's body and mind. There's no judgement or punishment. It's one's effort whether one will attain liberation via yoga practice, or not. There's no success or failure.

Om shanti.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Negate what is not 'I' is the basic yoga practice to realize Selflessness

Yoga and meditation practice is for one to realize the truth of Selflessness through self-inquiry under a calm and pure mind.

Suffering doesn't exist upon the realization of Selflessness. Liberation from suffering doesn't mean that making all the 'bad', 'negative', 'wrong', 'unhappy' names and forms to be disappearing from the perception of worldly life existence, and only 'good', 'positive', 'right' or 'happy' names and forms exist in this life existence.

Based on the yoga teachings of Selflessness, one keeps negating what is not 'I' until one realizes Selflessness.

'I' am not this. 'I' am not that. None of this or that is 'I'.

Everything is merely impermanent objects of names and forms under the mind perception through the senses.

Be free from all kinds of worldly identifications with different qualities of names and forms, whether it's 'good' or 'bad', 'positive' or 'negative', 'kind' or 'unkind', 'whole' or 'incomplete', 'infinite' or 'finite', 'spiritual' or 'non-spiritual', 'beings' or 'non-beings', and so on.

There's no freedom, as long as there's attachment towards certain qualities of names and forms to be identifying as 'I', even if one thinks and believes that 'I' am all perfect, good, positive, kind, whole, infinite, spiritual beings.

Om shanti.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

"Where is 'I'?"

"Where is 'I'?", or more relevantly, the question should be "Where is the mind?"

If the mind doesn't exist, it isn't here or there. It's nowhere.

If the mind exists, then it is 'here', where it is.

No matter where the mind is, it is always 'here', and it's impermanent. The mind is where it is and constantly changing. It can be anywhere and everywhere. It wanders back and forth between the past memories, to the present experiences being busy with the perception of names and forms through the senses, and to the future imaginations, and alternately, it goes into dream state and deep sleep state.

The question of "Where is 'I'?" is invalid, as there is no 'I'. What the mind thinks is 'I', it's actually the mind itself being ignorant of itself and generates the idea of 'I'.

If the mind knows itself and if 'I' exists, surely this mind or this 'I' knows where the mind is, or where 'I' am. One doesn't need to ask another person, "Where is the mind?" or "Where am 'I'?"

If the mind is ignorant about itself and the existence of 'I', then even by getting an 'answer' from somebody or from reading books and scriptures, the mind will still be in doubt about the truth of the answers, or information, or knowledge that it gets from books, scriptures and other people, because all these answers, information and knowledge is not coming from one's self-realization. We will never know whether it's true, or not.

It's normal to have many questions, or doubts, or curiosities in the mind towards existence, mind perception and consciousness when one starts to walk on the path of yoga. One starts to explore into what is unknown to the mind.

Even though we gathered many information and knowledge through reading many books about yoga and meditation, and hearing other people talking about the teachings of yoga and their realization through direct experience, it won't remove the ignorance or doubt in us. We shouldn't blind-believe in all the information and knowledge that we gathered from here and there. We need to inquire the truth through our own direct experience. Upon self-realization, all doubts will disappear naturally.

Through meditation, the mind connects with the truth. But an impure and fluctuating mind cannot see the truth, even though the truth is always here, in this moment. And hence, yoga practice is here to help to purify and silent the mind, to prepare and allow the mind to meditate. When meditation happens, there's no reading books or asking questions to another person to get some answers, but it's seeing the truth as it is from within the mind itself when the mind is pure and calm.

If 'I' don't know where 'I' am, or who 'I' am, then ask ourselves and contemplate, why 'I' am ignorant of where and who 'I' am.

Om shanti.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Self-inquiry is beyond being skeptical about everything

To inquire the truth of everything without blind-believing in anything that we come in contact with, is an important part of the yoga and meditation practice. Some may interpret this as being skeptical about everything.

Self-inquiry is beyond being skeptical about everything, but it's allowing the mind to be opened, uninfluenced by any thinking and belief, to allow the mind to see the truth of things as it is.

Being skeptical is doubting and reasoning everything that the mind perceives to find out whether the mind should believe it as true or false, right or wrong, or whether it is something agreeable or disagreeable, acceptable or unacceptable for the mind, based on the existing knowledge, thinking and belief in the mind that is influencing the mind to perform the action of doubting and reasoning. This is still under subjective reasoning.

The truth is not a belief. It is beyond reasoning based on the subjective thinking and belief in the mind about what is true and false.

Open-mind, is going beyond what the mind thinks and believes what things are. It is perceiving everything as it is, without judgment or expectation towards all the names and forms based on any existing knowledge, thinking and beliefs in the mind. It's not about looking into everything to see whether the mind thinks and believes it's true or false, or whether the mind should agree or disagree with it. The mind doesn't need to agree or disagree, or to believe it's true or false, but just seeing the truth as it is. It's nothing to do with doubting, judging and categorizing everything as true or false, right or wrong, or what is agreeable or disagreeable, or what is acceptable or unacceptable, based on what the mind knows, expects, thinks and believes what things are, or how things should be like.

What the mind thinks and reasons towards what it perceives under the influence of what the mind believes as true and false, right and wrong, agreeable and disagreeable, acceptable and unacceptable, is not necessarily the truth of what things are.

Om shanti.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Want to teach yoga? (6)

There's nothing wrong with teaching yoga (asana / exercise / fitness) classes without implementing the teachings of yoga about dispassion, renunciation, right discrimination and self-inquiry to free the mind from ignorance, egoism, attachment, identification, desires of craving and aversion, but, it is the responsibility of the yoga teachers for what they deliver to the yoga students, although what the yoga students pick-up and take-in, and how the yoga students progress on the path of yoga, is not the responsibility of the yoga teachers, but it's the responsibility of the yoga students themselves.

When we think we are yoga teachers who teach yoga to other people, there are a few things that we need to question ourselves about teaching yoga.

Do we teach yoga classes that could help the restless minds to be free from worldly attachments, identifications and desires of craving and aversion, and moving the mind away from worldly objects of names and forms to turn the mind inwards for self-introspection, or do we teach yoga classes that promote and encourage worldly attachments, identifications and desires of craving and aversion, and indulging in worldly objects of names and forms?

Are the yoga practice in the yoga classes leading the minds to be free from ignorance, restlessness and impurities, or are the yoga practice in the yoga classes empowering ignorance, restlessness and impurities in the minds?

Are the yoga classes guiding and helping the yoga students to deprive and eliminate their egos, or are the yoga classes flattering or feeding both the egos of the yoga teachers and the yoga students instead?

In many of the yoga (asana / exercise / fitness) classes, whether the teachers are aware or unaware of it, whether intentionally or unintentionally, instead of helping oneself and the yoga students to eliminate egoism, but actually it's feeding and flattering the egoism of oneself and the yoga students.

Teaching yoga (for self-realization) is nothing to do with pleasing the yoga students, to make them feel good about themselves, or to uplift their self-confidence by gratifying their desires of craving and aversion and achieving certain results from the yoga practice. It's also not about the yoga teachers feel good about themselves for making the yoga students feel good about themselves, or when the yoga students make some progression in the yoga (asana / exercise / fitness) class.

The one who feels good about oneself, who needs to feel good about oneself, who needs to have higher self-esteem or self-confidence, who needs motivation, support, encouragement, appreciation, acknowledgment, praise and compliment from other beings to perform actions, to improve, to be confident, to feel happy and meaningful, is the ego.

Yoga practice is mainly to eliminate this ego. Once the ego is eliminated, there is no 'I' existing who would feel bad about oneself, or doesn't feel good about oneself, or suffers from low self-esteem and low confidence, who wants to be pleased, who needs to be motivated, supported, encouraged, appreciated, acknowledged, praised and compliment by some other beings to perform actions, to improve, to feel good, or to be confident, or to be happy and feel meaningful.

Most untrained egoistic minds will appear to be nice and kind if the mind is happy and satisfied when it is getting what it likes and wants, and doesn't get what it doesn't like and doesn't want. But these minds will become hurtful, violent and cruel, and might generate actions and speech that is hurtful or harmful to oneself and others, when the mind is unhappy or dissatisfied when it is not getting what it likes and wants, but it is getting something that it doesn't like and doesn't want.

Yoga practice is not about making the mind happy all the time by gratifying the desires of craving and aversion of the mind, by giving it what it likes and wants, or not giving it what it doesn't like and doesn't want, but, it is training the mind to remain equanimous and kind under any circumstances, so that it doesn't generate actions and speech that is hurtful or harmful to oneself and others when it doesn't get what it likes and wants, or when it is getting something that it doesn't like and doesn't want.

The ego feels flattered and happy when it achieves something that it wants to achieve, and it feels disappointed and unhappy when it doesn't achieve what it wants to achieve.

Whether we are aware, or unaware of it, the physical and mental healing process of the yoga practice happens naturally without the need of any intention or expectation. The one who has attachment, identification, intention and expectation towards the healing process of the body and the mind, is the ego.

The one who could be hurt and feels hurt by something that the mind recognizes as hurtful, and the one needs to be healed, is the ego and is out of ignorance. When the ego is eliminated and the mind is free from ignorance, there's no one existing to be hurt or feel hurt by something, or needs to be healed.

Are we helping and guiding the yoga students to eliminate the ego and ignorance, or are we feeding and strengthening the ego and ignorance of the yoga students, in the yoga (asana / exercise / fitness) classes?

Om shanti.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Right discrimination and non-discrimination in yoga

In the teachings of yoga, we would come in contact with the term 'right discrimination' and 'non-discrimination'. Sometimes, the yoga teacher says - Develop 'discrimination' of the real and unreal, and some other times the yoga teacher says - Be free from 'discrimination' towards all the different qualities of names and forms. Some people might get confused.

Non-discrimination actually derives from right discrimination.

Right discrimination is the ability to inquire, to reason, to reflect upon the truth of names and forms. That all and everything is impermanent and selfless, or 'I'-less.

Non-discrimination is upon the realization of selflessness and seeing the one same nature in all and everything beyond all the impermanent different qualities of names and forms, the mind is free from subjective discrimination towards all and everything based on personal likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements, wants and don't wants under the influence of certain conditional thinking and belief.

Without right discrimination, one sees all the different qualities in the different names and forms, and generates subjective discrimination towards all and everything based on personal likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements, wants and don't wants under the influence of certain conditional thinking and belief.

Without right discrimination and non-discrimination, one will always be restless or peaceless, as the mind will always be affected, disturbed and determined by the personal likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements, craving and aversion of the mind upon coming in contact with the objects of the senses, even if one identifies oneself as a yogi or yoga practitioner who has been practicing yoga and meditation regularly for a long time.

Om shanti.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Want to teach yoga? (5)

One must be free from ignorance and suffering, and has peace, before one can help or guide others to be free from ignorance and suffering, and have peace.

Teaching yoga is without attachment or identification, guiding other beings onto the path of self-inquiry and self-realization to be free from ignorance, egoism, attachment, identification, craving, aversion, and all sorts of impurities, and this leads to the liberation of transcending suffering.

Liberation is nothing to do with freedom of thinking, actions and speech, or gratifying all our desires of what we want and don't want (craving and aversion), but it's being free from ignorance and the consequences of ignorance, which is suffering. Suffering exists when ignorance exists. Suffering doesn't exist when ignorance is absent. One can attain liberation even when one's thinking, actions and speech are limited or restricted.

Teaching yoga has nothing to do with righteousness, or changing the world to be the way that we think is good and right, or saving other beings from suffering, or freeing the world from the bad and evil, but it's allowing everyone to go through mind purification or self-evolution in their own pace, and be free from ignorance and egoism, transcending the impermanent worldly life existence through realizing selflessness, and thus, there's no egoistic attachment towards the impermanent world of names and forms.

It's not about expecting the world to be free from what we believe as negative, bad and wrong, or changing everything and everyone to become what we believe as positive, good and right, to give us peace.

It's not about "This is my world. I love my world. I don't want anything negative, bad and wrong to be in my world. I want my world to be what I believe as positive, good and right. I don't want objects and beings that I don't like and don't agree with to exist in my world."

Though the world doesn't belong to anyone or anything, but everyone and everything, whether our minds believe as good or bad, right or wrong, has the right to be existing and sharing this space of the universe.

Peace is there when one's mind is free from ignorance, egoism and impurities. It has nothing to do with whether everything and everyone in the world that we are living in is the way that how we like it to be, or not. Unconditional peace has nothing to do with whether everything and everyone in the world is positive, good and right, or not.

Upon realization of selflessness, there is no identification with the limited impermanent life existence of the body and mind as 'I'. The body is not me, I am not the body. The mind is not me, I am not the mind. There is no 'I' exist to be selfish or unselfish. There's no 'I' to be good or bad. There's no 'I' to do good or bad. There's no 'I' performing action or inaction. There's no 'I' to be giving and receiving the fruit of actions. There's no 'I' to be experiencing happiness or unhappiness. There's no 'I' to enjoy or suffer.

The unconditional peace is always there, undetermined and uncontaminated by any impermanent qualities of names and forms. There's no egoistic attachment towards the qualities of names and forms. There is no attachment towards the physical condition and the function of the mind. There is no clinging or craving towards what the mind believes as positive, good and right. There is no aversion towards what the mind believes as negative, bad and wrong.

Once one is free from ignorance, egoism, attachment, identification, craving and aversion, one will know how to guide others to be free, without the need of acquiring qualification or certification from yoga teachers training courses to be a 'recognized' or 'certified' yoga teacher to teach yoga. Teaching yoga is beyond the worldly thinking and commercial values that are created by the worldly minded for the worldly minded, which is not about eliminating ignorance and egoism, but it's empowering ignorance and egoism.

Om shanti.

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

Om shanti

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Pantai Cenang, Langkawi, Kedah, Malaysia
My husband and I run ongoing yoga retreats in Langkawi Malaysia. We teach traditional Hatha Yoga - a combination of Asanas (postures) and Pranayama (breathing techniques) and relaxation, that has given benefit to millions of practitioners over thousands of years. Our yoga studio is situated in Langkawi. We also run yoga retreats in Europe and India.

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