be free, be happy, be peaceful

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

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Home cooked vegetarian food - Tomato Fry

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

Tomato Fry (serves 4 people)


10 medium sized tomatoes, washed and cut each tomato into 6 even wedge shaped pieces

2-3 cloves

1 tablespoon of mustard seeds

1 teaspoon of turmeric powder

1 cinnamon stick or half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder

30-40 curry leaves, washed and dried

3-4 dried chilies (break into smaller pieces, remove excess seeds)

Optional 2-3 small red or green chilies, halved and remove seeds, depends on the spiciness that you prefer

Salt and black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons of cooking oil

*DO NOT ADD WATER
*DO NOT COVER WITH LID

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

Heat the oil at medium heat.

Add the cloves for a few seconds to flavor the oil and then remove them. It can be unpleasant if we accidentally bite into the cloves when eating.

Add mustard seeds, curry leaves, dried chilies, small chilies (optional), turmeric powder, cinnamon stick, or ground cinnamon powder. When the spices start to be fragrant, add tomatoes and stir well. Put the stove on high heat (this is very important). Add salt and black pepper according to your taste. Stir well. When the tomatoes begin to soften (the skin starts to detach from the tomatoes) and the juice starts to release from the tomatoes, remove from heat and serve hot.

The cooking process is less than 5 minutes.

After remove from heat, the tomatoes will continue to release more juice.

It is very good to eat with rice or chapati.

It is quick, economical and very tasty.

Bon Appétit!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Uparati - cessation from worldly activities

Uparati is one of the important practice or observation in yoga and meditation. It comes naturally when the time has come. it's doubtless, struggle-less and obligation-less.

It is renouncing family ties and friends, worldly duties and responsibilities, moving away from the social world, the society and worldly activities, and channel the entire life existence or energy into self-inquiry - to perform the greatest duty and responsibility towards oneself and the society. Although many people in the society might not like to hear this, or they would disagree with this.

The worldly minded won't be able to grasp the greatness of Uparati. It's unthinkable for those being conditioned in a worldly life made out of a society with social interactions. Our minds are being conditioned to think and believe that 'this' is who we are and what we are, and 'this' is how we should live, think and behave. Some would criticize those who renounce the society and worldly activities, especially if the person who renounces the social world is someone they know personally and close to in life. It's normal to have such reaction and it's their freedom of thinking, expression, action and speech.

Uparati appears to be an outdated extreme practice for many people, including many of those who think they love yoga and like to do yoga, and even many of those who teach yoga. Yoga enthusiasts who live in a modern comfortable living environment with modern technology, who enjoy social activities and interactions would criticize the practice of Uparati as something 'backward', 'old fashion', 'needless', 'uncaring' or 'cold'. As those who renounce the world would also renounce from teaching yoga to others. Some may see this as 'selfishness' - keeping the knowledge of yoga to oneself without sharing the knowledge of yoga with others, but then they don't like or criticize the essential yoga practice of renunciation. Those who practice Uparati also renounce family and friends circle. This would be criticized by their family and friends and the society as 'weird', 'unacceptable behavior', 'anti-social', 'craziness', 'betrayal' and 'selfishness', but then everyone keeps hurting themselves and the people whom they love out of impurities if they are not free from ignorance and egoism. This is ignorance.

If one is free from ignorance and egoism, one will encourage others to be free from ignorance and egoism as well.

Suffering derived from ignorance and egoism, and all kinds of names and forms are conditioned by the law of impermanence, whether in the ancient time or now. Having higher and greater knowledge of science and technology, and having comfortable living environment doesn't guarantee that one will be free from ignorance and egoism, or is free from suffering. One might still suffer from anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, feelings of hurts, guilt, grieve, depression, agitation, animosity, ill-will, fear and worry, due to egoism of attachment, identification, craving and aversion.

The practice of Uparati is impossible for those whose minds are still very much attached to the worldly life existence of names and forms. People with kind hearts and well-behave, who love lives and who have good intention to make the world to be a better place are not necessarily unattached towards worldly life existence of names and forms and be free from suffering, unless they are free from ignorance and egoism. Those who believe life cannot be without passionate desires, family ties, relationships, friendships, community or social interaction and contribution, community and personal success and achievements, and "Do what will make you happy" as the meaning and value of life existence might not appreciate the greatness of Uparati. There's nothing wrong with people choose to spend their lives in eat, drink, enjoy, interact and reproduce. It's everyone's freedom about what one wants to do with one's life, body and mind.

In yoga, if we truly love our family and friends and the world, we work diligently and be determined to free our minds from ignorance and egoism.

Those who are fit to observe Uparati are those who see this life existence in this world of impermanent names and forms as a precious time and space to transcend ignorance and suffering. All the other goals of life are secondary, and will only flourish and truly benefit one's life and the society when one has transcended ignorance and suffering. Or else, one's actions and the consequences of actions will always be influenced by ignorance and impurities, disregard how good is one's intention to be good, do good and hope for good.

One can live among the society, and perform wise actions out of compassion that would benefit the society, being free from egoism, unattached towards one's actions and the fruit of actions, after one has attained self-realization.

Be free.
It is very difficult to renounce family, children, relations, possessions, property, wealth. One in a million only can take to renunciation. - Swami Sivananda

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Home cooked vegetarian food - Coconut Milk Cauliflower

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

Coconut Milk Cauliflower (serves 3-4 people)

1 head of big sized cauliflower or 2 heads of small sized cauliflower. Rinse well and cut into bite-sized pieces of florets. Leave out the main stalk.

2-3 cloves

1 tablespoon of mustard seeds

1 cinnamon stick or half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder

30-40 curry leaves, washed and dried

3-4 dried chilies (whole)

Optional 2-3 small red or green chilies, halved and remove seeds, depends on the spiciness that you prefer

4-5 cloves of garlic, chopped finely

10-15 slices of peeled ginger

3-4 kaffir lime leaves if available, washed and crush them in your hand to get the flavor out

Salt and black pepper to taste

2 tablespoons of cooking oil

about 300 ml of thick coconut milk

*Do not cover with lid during cooking, as the vegetables will become soggy.

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

Heat up the oil in medium heat.

Put in the cloves for a few seconds to flavor the oil and take them out from the oil. It's not nice if we accidentally bite into the cloves when eating.

Add mustard seeds, curry leaves, dried chilies, small chilies (optional), garlic, ginger, cinnamon stick or powder. When it starts to fragrant, add cauliflower florets and stir-fry for about 30 seconds. Add salt and black pepper according to your taste. Stir well. Add coconut milk and kaffir lime leaves. Put the heat on high.

Add a little bit of water if needed (no more than 100 ml). No need too much water. The thick coconut milk will be diluted by the liquid coming out from the cauliflower.

Cooked for about 2-3 minutes or until the cauliflower cooked to your preferred texture. Some like it crunchy, some like it soft. Remove from heat and serve hot.

It is very good eating with rice.

Bon Appétit!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Friday, May 6, 2016

Knowledge is neither good nor bad

Knowledge itself is neither good nor bad, but it's whether one uses the knowledge selflessly, wisely and compassionately, or not. Some use the knowledge to be performing actions that would promote peace and harmony in oneself and others, while some might use the knowledge to be performing actions that would generate unrest and disharmony in oneself and others.

Knowledge is neither positive nor negative, but due to different mentality or states of the mind, different people generate different actions and reactions towards the knowledge that they come in contact with.

Knowledge doesn't guarantee anyone be free from ignorance and egoism or suffering, or to have peace and be compassionate. One can be extremely knowledgeable, but still be influenced by ignorance, egoism and impurities, and would experience unhappiness and suffering.

As long as there's attachment and identification and feeling proud and arrogant about the knowledge we know or have, or towards the result of our actions being performed based on the knowledge we know or have, then we are not free.

Purify the mind, be free from ignorance and realize selflessness, one can make use of any knowledge selflessly, wisely and compassionately, without attachment or identification with the knowledge, and being undetermined by the knowledge, or the actions performed based on the knowledge and the result of the actions.

Be free.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Non-attachment?

Minds that perceive and react towards all the names and forms under the influence of ignorance and egoism according to worldly thinking and beliefs, might interpret the practice of non-attachment means being actionless, that we don't care for anything, whether it's about ourselves or the world that we live in, that we shouldn't perform any actions to improve the well-being of our body and mind, and the world we live in, as our mind thinks that all our actions or efforts to improve ourselves and the world are meaningless because the mind gets depressed and frustrated about the impermanent conditions of the worldly existence, that everything will decay and come to an end eventually, no matter how much actions we performed and how much improvement we could achieve, as well as the mind is being depressed about situations that we can't control or change to be the way that we think it should be, or how we would like it to be. But this is just the ego being depressed and feels meaningless and demotivated due to its own attachment, identification and expectation towards it's actions and the fruit of its actions, this is not what the practice of non-attachment is about.

Just like keeping calm doesn't mean being actionless. It's the same as being actionless doesn't mean that the mind is calm and peaceful. One's body and mind can be performing actions but the mind is unattached towards the actions and the fruit of actions, and thus it's unaffected, undisturbed and undetermined by the actions or the fruit of actions, and allowing the fruit of actions to be what it is.

Realize what is non-attachment and be free, disregard whether the body and mind is performing action, or not.

Without attachment or identification with the impermanent worldly existence of the body and mind as who we are, and without attachment or possessiveness towards the world and its impermanent conditions and situations that 'This is my/our world and I/we want my/our world to be like this and not like that', we can be performing actions to maintain or improve the well-being of the life existence of this body and mind and the world we live in, but we do not attach towards the actions and the fruit of the actions, and be unaffected, undisturbed and undetermined by the actions and the fruit of actions. There's neither motivation, pride and arrogance nor depression, frustration, dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, meaninglessness or demotivation.

If we don't know what is non-attachment and if we perform actions out of egoism with attachment, identification, intention and expectation, then we (the minds) will be affected, disturbed and determined by our actions and the fruit of actions, we will feel motivated, proud and arrogant when we see the results that we want to see, and we will feel depressed, dissatisfied, disappointed, frustrated, angry and demotivated when after we performed actions, we don't see the results that we would like to see, or the conditions and situations are not improving or changing into the way that how we would like it to be, or the way that what we think it should be. We either think that we are not good enough, or we criticize other beings are not good enough, when we don't get the support or cooperation from other beings that we think we should be getting, that we think all beings are obliged to support and perform the actions that we think we all should be performing.

There is nothing wrong when we think we are good beings, we want to be good beings, we want to do good, we think what we do is good, we want the world to be good, and we expect the world to be good the way that we think it should be, but this is not what yoga is about.

Be free to perform actions for ourselves and the world, but without attachment, identification, intention and expectation.

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About Yoga

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

Om shanti

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

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