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

Sunday, May 17, 2009

chapter 18 - Gratitude

Look at the people who complain most of the time, usually they have a good life and full of energy to be able to waste the time and energy in gossips and moan about everything all the time. There’s nothing wrong either. Everyone has the freedom to do what they want and how to spend their time and energy. Everyone is responsible for their own happiness and unhappiness, even if they are our family and friends.

Even though when we are so lucky enough to live in a war free and natural disaster free zone, some people are still not satisfied and not knowing how to appreciate the good condition of the environment that enable us to live easily and enjoy life. We have too much free time and energy instead of busy with making a living to feed ourselves and our family, and we create unnecessary problems in life for ourselves and for others. Or else, we will complain about being too bored in life.

Sympathy for those people who are living in a war zone and they are always in fear of their safety and have no time to think about anything at all.

As well as for the people who are living in hunger and thirst all the time, their only concern is to have food and water in their stomach to stay alive.

While we are living in a comfortable environment, we like to complain about many things such as being very fussy about food. Some people are being over-powered by the likes and dislikes towards taste or smell, and they will create so much unhappiness for themselves and other people when they don't get the food that they like or they don't like the food that is served to them. And some people complain about don't know what to eat even when there are so many choices and varieties of food in front of them just because they are bored with all these food already, while many people in the world out there are starving not having enough food to eat.

Some people are spending so much time and effort in arguing with themselves and other people about being a vegetarian or non vegetarian, and criticizing others who are not in their same category, while so many people out there have no choice at all about being 'vegetarian' or 'non vegetarian' because they are dying from hunger and malnutrition.

That’s why the cultivation of gratitude and appreciation is very important towards achieving peacefulness in the heart and happiness in life.

Senses are neither good nor bad. It’s because of their function we can see, hear, smell, feel, taste and think of so many good things and beautiful things in the world. We can experience so many wonderful things in life. We should be thankful and glad that we have all these senses that are working properly in our body.

Knowing that the mind is not us, the feelings and emotions are not us, the body is not us, the breathing, heartbeat, blood circulation, nervous system, hormone system and digestive system are not us, the mind perception of names and forms are not us, the ego is not us, the intellect is not us.

We don’t own them. They certainly don’t belong to us. Because if so, they will be under our command as we wish all the time, but they don’t. But at the same time we need to thank them to enable us to have a wonderful life experiences.

If we do not know how to stay detached from these senses and are being over-powered by them, or being the slave of the senses unwittingly, we will be suffering upon the presence of egoistic likes and dislikes, or desire of cravings and aversions.

For the people who are living in the modern city with plenty of distracting and tempting sensual pleasurable enjoyments, entertainments and excitements, it is difficult to be completely detached from our senses. But by having the correct understanding towards how the senses work, and how they affect us in the mind, will help us to be free from suffering that arise due to non-gratification of the desire of craving and aversion towards the selfless mind perception of names and forms perceived through the senses.

Such like we want to enjoy eating our food. There is not wrong and we should be enjoying all the food that we eat with gratitude and appreciation. But we should not be attaching too much to the likes and dislikes towards certain taste. If there's only certain type of food is available in certain areas at certain timing, we should not be too choosy and create problems/inconvenience and unhappiness to ourselves and other people who prepare and serve us the food.

We should be grateful and appreciate any food that is served in front of us, it doesn't matter if it is vegetarian or non-vegetarian, as long as it is edible and nutritious for our body and give us the energy to survive. If the food is unhygienic and poisonous, then we can not risk our health and lives, by thinking that we should not waste any food.

If we have the opportunity and convenience to have sufficient vegetarian food in our neighborhood, then we should try to avoid meat eating. It supports the idea of non killing - Ahimsa in Yoga practice. It is also more healthy to eat lots of fresh fruit, vegetables, grains and nuts than eating too much meat, especially most of the meat nowadays is full of injected hormones or has lower nutritional value because the animals are being treated badly and they are malnourished and living in a very unhappy and unhealthy environment.

If vegetarian food is not available in certain areas, or it is difficult to obtain fresh fruit and vegetables, then meat products are unavoidable for the people to consume energy and to survive. Under these conditions, meat eating is being appreciated, and we should eat with gratitude and gratefulness to the animal that had been sacrificed for us to survive.

At the end, it is not about eating pure vegetarian food that will lead us to liberation from ignorance and the suffering derived from ignorance, but the sincere practice of self control, dispassion, renunciation, self-inquiry, desirelessness, void of lust, pride, jealousy, anger and hatred, the detachment from duality and detached from the actions and the fruit of actions, that will lead us to attain self-realization and liberation from ignorance.

We should not put too much energy and effort into the argument of vegetarian and non-vegetarian, when there are many people don't even have enough food or nutrition to survive. Instead, we should be concentrating on the essential practice of the purification of the mind, the annihilation of ignorance and egoism, transcending duality, renunciation, dispassion, self control, self-inquiry, and the practice of real Ahimsa in our thoughts, actions and speech in everyday life, so that we will not generate any hurtful and evil thoughts, action and speech towards other people.

There is no meaning if we are eating vegetarian food but at the same time we are full of anger, hatred, jealousy, lust, greed, pride, arrogance, selfishness, discrimination, corrupted thinking, egoism and ignorance, constantly generating actions and reactions that hurt ourselves and others.

Some people even say that it is because there are too many people in the world, that's why there are not enough food for everybody, and they suggest that everyone should not produce any more new babies into the world, and some other people should die due to wars, natural disasters and diseases, so that there are less people in the world to share the limited food supplies with them.

What an ignorant thing to think and say like that, and so selfish of them to think like that in order to keep enough food in the world for their own survival. Why don't they sacrifice themselves to give their portion of food to other people instead of wishing other people to sacrifice for them? It's pure ignorance.

Every being has its own cause of being here as a sentient living being to be perceiving a selfless impermanent life existence, and to evolve on the path towards the liberation from ignorance.

In the beginning of our practice, if possible, we feed ourselves more with Sattvic food like milk, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables, nuts and grains that will help us to have a calm mind. And we should minimize Rajasic food like salt, sugar, onion, garlic, coffee, alcohol, too much spice, hot and pungent food that will agitate our mind and give rise to lust and desire, as well as minimizing Tamasic food such as meat, fish, eggs, mushroom, drugs, overly cooked food, and unfresh/rotting fruit and vegetables will make our mind dull, cloudy and lazy.

At the end, if we have developed a firm foundation in self control, dispassion and desirelessness, have weakened or subdued the ego and egoism - free from attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment and expectation, and eradicated lust, greed, anger, hatred, jealousy, pride and arrogance from the mind, and if we have transcended duality and have established a firm foundation in the practice of concentration and meditation, then the different types of energy deriving from different types of food will be irrelevant, as the mind is no longer being determined or influenced by the modification of the mind that is selfless and impermanent.

We eat food to maintain this physical body for us to walk the path of spiritual enlightenment, and not attached to the taste, smell, sight, sound, touch, sensation and thoughts/feelings/emotions. Detached from praise and censure, happiness and suffering, success and failure, birth and death, heat and cold, likes and dislikes, comfort and discomfort, craving and aversion. Detached from all the names and forms. These are the real detachments that we need to practice.

If we can have enough of vegetarian food in the world for everyone, then we don't have to sacrifice the lives of the animals to supply us with meat as food. And human beings don't need to hunt or kill animals for food.

When we show compassion towards the animals, how many of us also show compassion towards small little insects as well and protect them from being harmed? Those little insects that are living in our homes, usually they are not welcome and are killed by us human beings intentionally and unemotionally. These insects also have the will and the rights to live. They have the freedom to be anywhere on earth even in our homes. It doesn't mean that when we bought a house, we also own the space and the earth. These little insects have been living here at this space and on this earth for many generations long before there were any houses or buildings here. We think that these little insects are invading our property and space. But actually, we are the one who have invaded their space of living and destroyed their homes.

Shouldn't we respect these little insects and allow them to live harmoniously with us in our home, a place so called ''our house'' just because of a piece of document stating that ''we'' are the owner of this property and we have to pay lots of money to the bank.

Even though we do pay for the house, but we don't really own the earth and the space inside and outside this building. Who is the owner of the earth and the space at the very beginning? Not the developer, not the land office, not the government, not the people, not the animals, not the insects, not the plants, not the birds...

It belongs to nature, and it allows everything to be on it and in it, it allows every thing and every living beings to utilize its resources for survival. Nature didn't sell this earth and space to anybody, so how come someone had claimed ownership towards a piece of land, came to us and sold us the land, took our money and told us it is ours now?

All the plants, insects, birds and animals were living here and occupied this space for a long, long time before we human beings explored this place and took over the land, and built houses on it, and called it ''the homes of human beings''.

How come now after we have invaded their space of living, we are merciless to these little insects that came into our homes, and we try to get rid of them or kill them with chemical and poisons? Are they not living beings too? Maybe they are not as intelligent as human beings, but they do have the sense of taking care of their baby insects and feed them. They know what team work is, collect food for their whole community, share their food and protect themselves from danger and harm. This is far better than many selfish and ignorant human beings.

On top of non-harming (Ahimsa) to the animals and the insects, if every human being is being unselfish, wise and compassionate towards other living beings, then this world will be a truly Ahimsa place.

When we eat, whether vegetarian or non-vegetarian, we should eat with the awareness of gratefulness and thankfulness. It is because of the selfless existence of plants and animals was being sacrificed to fill up our stomach, give us the energy and keep us alive.

We need to be grateful for all kinds of food both vegetarian and non-vegetarian that are available to us here on earth and may we all utilize this limited physical body to do something good and serve humanity, and use the opportunity of having a human's mind to work diligently on attaining liberation from ignorance.

We need to be thankful for all our teachers, good friends and everyone who helped us to get through different stages in life.

Let us show gratitude and respect to the earth, the air, the water, the sun and the space. Without them, none and nothing exists.

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About Yoga

Know thyself. Everything is impermanent and selfless. There is no 'I'. There is no 'I am selfless'/'I am not selfless'. There is no 'I am hurt'/'I need to be healed from hurt'. Non-blind believing, non-blind following, non-blind practicing and non-blind propagating, but be open-minded to inquire the truth of everything. Be free. Be peaceful. Be happy.

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