be free, be happy, be peaceful

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

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A letter to a student

When a person is REALLY detached from all the names and forms, and not being affected by all the things (positive and negative energy) out side, then eating vegetarian or not vegetarian will have no difference at all. But if a person is affected by the external energy from the surrounding and the energy from the food, then avoiding bad energy places, bad energy people and by eating vegetarian will help a person to become calmer and less negative, but it is not a guarantee for enlightenment.

No doubt that by not eating meat is supporting the idea of non-harming other being’s lives – Ahimsa. And yet the real Ahimsa is not just through what we eat but by protecting the lives of others including animals and insects, and also non-harming in our thoughts, actions and speech – so that we will not hurt anyone’s feelings or harming somebody’s live; inflict fear, pain, anger and hatred onto the being's mind.

Most important is the practice of detachment from craving for the taste that we like and aversion towards the taste that we don’t like. Along with detach from what we eat, detach from what we see, hear, smell, touch and think, is the real detachment.

What we need to take care of is the practice of self-control, patience, compassion, wisdom, selflessness, detachment and NOT HARMING in our thoughts, speech and actions. We must think carefully before we do something or want to say something, so that the intention is pure without the influence of arrogance and egoism. Do things and say things that are promoting peace and harmony among other people, and not promoting discomfort and unhappiness among other people.

Many people out there are not the same thinking and same understanding like us. We cannot explain to the people who don’t know what real detachment is, about eating vegetarian or not vegetarian. Basically, we want to promote vegetarian for everyone who are usually being affected by the energy from the food that we eat.

People are very much attached to the mind, the ego, the body, the life and the world – we are being influenced and affected by all the phenomena happenings within our body and in our everyday lives in the world. Whatever we come in contact with will influence and affect our mind. We are very much influenced by both the negative and positive energy surrounding us from the people in the society, the culture from our tribe, the many years of school education, the information that come from the media, the happenings in the world, the contents in books and movies, the teachings and advice from the elders and everything else that we come in contact with.

Our thinking is being influenced so much by others’ thinking from everywhere in the world but without us realizing it – ignorance. We think that we need to have “this” and “that” to be happy. We also need to do “this” and “that” to make us feel good about ourselves. Our self-worth is being determined very much by how other people think of us, how much others like us and whether others appreciate us and recognize what we do or not.

It is not easy for us to break out completely from that little “box” and long time thinking habit. Even though when we think that we are aware of this dharma but not many of us can really detach from all these “things” that are “truly” giving us all the “problems” that we “think” we are “having” now. People still have great fear of the unknown and worry about their future. If we are really detached from all these ignorance, there shall be no problems at all. There is no unhappiness. There is nothing to gain or lose. Once we attached to any of these ignorance, we will be in trouble. Everything is real and also unreal – everything is changing, arising and passing away, there is no past and no future. Everything is NOW, NOW is everything.

When a person has not really detached from duality yet, he is affected very much by the energy from the food that he eats – His mood and personality changes according to the energy that is released from the food that he eats. Then this type of people need to be careful of what they eat and should choose only the Sattvic food – that promote lightness and calmness (no meat, no fish, no onion, no garlic, no mushroom, no eggs, no coffee, no spices, no salt, no sugar, no alcohol, no drugs…) It is not just about meat. Many plants will have different types of effects on many people, like ganja, mushroom, over-ripe fruit and overly cooked vegetables are Tamasic – promote laziness, depression and dullness. While onion, garlic, coffee and chives are Rajasic – promote passion, agitation and aggressiveness.

For a Yogi who practice namelessness and formlessness without cravings and aversions, he doesn’t see the food as “meat” or “vegetables”, “good” or “bad”. What he eats is just food for him for maintenance of the physical body only. He does not eat due to the craving for the taste, even if it is vegetarian food. The energy from food cannot affect him, unless he is not yet detached from all the names and forms of all the things out there, such like praise and censure, happy and unhappiness, cold and heat, birth and death, success and failure.

If he is not detached from duality yet, if he still has fear and worries, he will still be affected by the energy from the food that he eats. Then it is better for him to eat vegetarian food without meat, fish, garlic, onion, eggs, mushroom and without any stimulative or depressive substances to help him in his practice.

But if he has self control and is detached from duality; does things without any intention (good or bad), without egoism and knows clearly about what he is doing (no one will know but himself), then he can eat whatever the food is, as long as it can maintain his physical body and stay healthy to continue his practice towards self-realization.

As well as around the world, there are so many people are starving without enough food to eat. How can we sit here and argue about eating vegetarian or not vegetarian? Merely wasting time and effort in arguing on this issue and not working on the real practice of self-control over lust and desires, and the detachment of likes and dislikes, what is the meaning of our Yoga practice then?

We should respect everyone with their own choices for food consumption whether it is pure vegetarian or meat eating. If we have the opportunity to have pure vegetarian food, it will be our first priority option. But if pure vegetarian food is not available, we shouldn’t be so attached to the idea of “meat is dead animals and it is disgusting”. Some people are born without the enzyme to digest fruit and vegetables and have to eat meat only – does this make them bad people? Some people are born without the enzyme to digest meat and have to eat fruit and vegetables only – does this make them good people?

Food might be affecting the mind but it cannot determine the mind. It doesn’t determine our actions and speech. If it is determining the mind, we cannot have any self-evolution and there is no need to have any austerities and practices for us to achieve any spiritual goals. Because if it is mainly because of food energy a person will be good or bad, then by eating certain food, we will become evil and just by eating certain food we will become enlightened. That means we have no self-control at all and being driven by the energy in the food to determine what we think, what we do and what we speak. It is not like that. There is another element in us called will power, which is the force that can influence the energy (Prana) in our body and give us self-control over our thoughts, actions and speech.

If it is so easy to be good and happy; become enlightened and be free from suffering just by eating pure vegetarian food, then why do we need to do so many other hard works?

The mind and the ego like to blame on something else for their actions and not want to take any responsibilities for the consequences that arise following their actions, and they make excuses in order to achieve their cravings and desires.

It is our ability of self-control that determines the mind. It is our own effort to purify our mind and have total control of our actions and speech. It is our own self to determine what we want to do and say, and whether we want to be good or be bad.

Many people are turning to eat pure vegetarian food and some people turn it into an exotic and luxurious business of food industry. It is because pure vegetarian food not only can promote good health (although not necessary – people still suffer illness or cancer even though they have been eating so called pure vegetarian and healthy food), but many people are very much attached to the idea of keeping a slim body and want to achieve a beautiful physical appearance more than the idea of non-harming the lives of the animals.

Most people want to look good, stay slim and fit, and looking attractive – because it will make them feel good about themselves. They will feel bad about themselves and being unhappy when they think that they don’t look good, have put on some extra body weights and body fats. They will try to go on a diet, do lots of exercises trying to get rid of that few grams of fats, and make themselves feel good again. There is nothing wrong about this, but it is not the initial idea of being a vegetarian in Yoga practice and it is not what Yoga wants to teach us about not to attach to our physical body and the outlook of our appearance – in fact this idea to eat vegetarian food is due to the strong attachment towards the physical body.

If our happiness or our feelings is being determined by how we look – the physical appearance, the clothing, the skin texture, the facial features, the youthfulness and the fitness level, then this is very far away from detachment and the path of Yoga.

Some people do not want to kill any animals because they are afraid of committing sins or bad karma and afraid of seeing blood or dead body, and not out of great compassion towards these animals. While in everyday life they might be enjoying eating meat prepared by someone else. And some people are being a pure vegetarian but in everyday life, they are cursing or condemning somebody who they hate into hell; speaking lies and harsh words hurting some others’ feelings; slandering and mocking somebody behind people’s back; and being stingy and torturing their spouse, their parents or their children physically and emotionally with their action and speech… This is not Yoga.

Being a pure vegetarian or not, really doesn’t reflect about our true Self, if we still have likes and dislikes, attachments and cravings; if we still identify with the ego and the mind, and are attached strongly to our physical body and its conditions; and also if we are full of evil thoughts, actions and speech; as well as being unhappy and negative most of the time.

So, what is the real and important practice then?

The practice of patience, perseverance, compassion, wisdom, cheerfulness, fearlessness, detachment and letting go. Purifying the thoughts, actions and speech; eradicate lust, greed, anger, jealousy and hatred. Observe truthfulness, sincerity, forgiveness and tolerance. Detach from our physical body – the changes in our physical health, strength, flexibility, ability and appearance. Detach from the ego and the mind. Detach from our senses and the worldly objects. Detach from all the names and forms, and duality. Detach from likes and dislikes, craving and aversion. Being at the present moment at all time, not hold on to the past and not project into the future.

We don’t have to justify ourselves about what we are doing to anybody who doesn’t understand what real detachment and non-duality is, if we are REALLY detached from duality – likes and dislikes, craving and aversion; and have no fear at all.

You already have quite a good understanding about Yoga practice, but we should watch our mind all the times and remind ourselves not to let the pride and ego over power our thoughts, actions and speech. When we start to think – “I am better than you”; “I know already”; “I know more than you do”; “I want to do this or that”; “I am helping someone”; “I am doing good”; “Don’t you think I know”; “Who do you think I am?” and either “I am not good” or “I am very good” – then we have to be very careful, know that it is the ego and the pride want to express themselves.

If we think or believe that we need to be at certain place; or need to do certain thing; or need to be “somebody”; or need to possess certain thing or need to be in control of anything other than our own self, in order to make us feel good or feel better about ourselves, then know that it is just the mind and the ego being unsatisfied and need “those things” to make us feel good and feel happy about ourselves – Our self-worth and happiness is being determined by where we are; who we are; what we have; what we do and how others think about us.

If this happens on us, we should be careful so that we are not caught up in this condition of the mind. We should detach ourselves from the condition that will determine whether we are good people or not, successful or not – Either we will want to show off or want to prove to ourselves and others that we are good enough; or will feel good and feel happy about ourselves and our lives only if we are able to do the things that we like to do or want to do, or else we will feel bad and unhappy with ourselves and our lives if we can’t do the things that we like to do and want to do.

All these conditions mean that we are still identifying with our ego. We are still very much attached to our mind, the likes and dislikes, craving and aversion.

This is not easy for many people to understand and to be able to do it. Even though some people understand this but find it very difficult to practice it in everyday life. It takes a long time for us to master this detachment and yet we will still be caught up many times repeatedly with the mind and the ego no matter how hard we try to stay detach. But fear not, not to be disappointed with ourselves and keep on practice detachment.

Never say that this will never happen to any one of us, it will – sooner or later… just keep watching our mind; what is going on in there, but do not project into the future or keep thinking that – “the ego and the pride is going to over power us”. And when it does happen, be aware, don’t let it gain control over us. We should move on with greater understanding and stronger self-control, and become more selfless – until one day, the ego is powerless completely. We become selfless but are identified with the unlimited and unconditioned universal Self, and until then we will be safe…

There is no more “my life”; “my feelings’”; “my strength”; “my happiness”; “my achievements”; “my friends”; “my family”; “my ambitions”; “my liking”; “my Yoga”; “my practice”; “my knowledge”; “my duty”; “my job”; “my future”; “my past”; “my students”; “my house”; “my center”; “my reputation”; “my problems”; “my opinion” and so on…

There is no need for us to have any self-protection from any so called bad and negative energy, and we don’t need to attack others with actions and speech beforehand in order to protect ourselves because we anticipate that we will be attack by these people due to fear and low self-esteem in us.

We don’t need to anticipate any problems – Because there is no “me” or “I”, there is nobody being attacked or need any protection.

There is no fears and worries. There is nothing.

Anyway, we are practicing Yoga every moment in life even though when we do “nothing” (not doing Asana or not sitting for meditation). Everything is Yoga – eating, drinking, breathing, sleeping, walking, playing, working and resting (so-called worldly activities), but we remain total awareness of whatever we are doing. When we need to do something, we do it. When we don’t need to do anything, we don’t do anything. But it doesn’t mean that we are in a state of non-action or action-less. When the body is energetic, we move and do physical activities. When the body is tired, we take rest and do something that doesn’t require physical strength.

Some people like to ask us “how often do you practice yoga?” – In fact they want to know how often that we practice Asana. Actually they asked the wrong question or they have no right understanding about what is Yoga. Yoga practice is not separated from our everyday lives. It is nameless and formless. It is maintaining peacefulness and calmness every moment and not being affected, influenced or disturbed by all the phenomena that is happening around us. It is every moment watching our mind; observing the thoughts and feelings; detaching from the senses, the mind and the ego, and all the names and forms – detaching from duality.

Put it in a simple term – If we are happy and cheerful all the time disregard what is going on inside our body and the mind, and it doesn’t matter what is happening outside our body in the world that we perceive through the senses – no matters if it is something “good” or something “bad”. Everything is just fine. Everything is okay just the way as it is. Heat, cold, praise, censure, rich, poor, young, old, pretty, ugly, healthy, not healthy, action, non-action, birth, death, good feeling, bad feeling, gain, loss, agree, disagree, success, failure, fast, slow, “good people”, “bad people” – all make no differences and are the same. They don’t give us happiness or unhappiness. And this is Yoga.

But this doesn’t mean that we can kill animals and eat their meat because we like to eat meat. Or eat shit and sand; and drink poisons because being challenged by some very ignorant people saying that “since there is no differences and everything are the same, we can eat shit and sand; and drink poison; jump off from the cliff; cut ourselves with knife; burn ourselves with fire; and do all sorts of things to hurt other beings.” – This is huge ignorance. This is not what our Guru wanted to teach us about non-duality and how to transcend happiness and suffering; and be truly happy in life.

Our happiness and unhappiness has got nothing to do with anyone or anything out there.

It doesn’t matter how are the other people’s actions and reactions towards us. It is our own mind and the ego that is feeling happy or unhappy towards other people’s actions and reactions. Nobody can make us happy or unhappy. If we still think that someone is hurting us; something is still troubling us; then we need to look at ourselves and we will see that it is our own self had attached to the happenings out there, and the ego is feeling hurt and unhappy. Then we know that we are still not detached from our ego yet. And so, we need to work on our detachment and not blaming others for our unhappiness.

Many people still confuse about Yoga means Asana and pranayama practice. They are just part of the Yoga practice (with certain name and form) that helps us to achieve a calmer mind and a stronger body. Certainly they are not the whole of Yoga. As long as we are still being affected by all the elements and energy we need Asana and pranayama as well as wise company – Satsanga and pure vegetarian food to help us in the spiritual path. Yogis who are not affected by the elements and energy – they have total control over themselves – not being influenced or affected by anyone and anything, and thus they don’t need to perform any “practices” that have a certain name and form. Their practice has become nameless and formless. If they do perform certain practice, it is for showing to the people who need to have a guidance to follow and to practice.

The mind is always in actions even though when we don’t move or talk. Every moment we should be watching our mind and stay detached from every thought that arises. This is the ongoing action for us. Even when we dream, we still practice watching our mind to stay detach from the dream. This is action in non-action.

When we are doing something good and beneficial for other people and ourselves, we should not have the idea that we are doing some good actions – “I am doing something good”; or “I am giving something good to others”; or “goodness will return to me”. This is the meaning of non-action in action.

In every deals or actions or doings – There is “nobody” giving, there is “nobody” receiving and there is “nothing” being “given” or “received”.

This is the highest meaning of Yoga.

Detach from the fruit of action.

Everything that we do now and did before shall be nameless and formless.

Detach from all the names and forms.

Free ourselves from name and form, good and evil, positive and negative.

Free ourselves from rewards and karma – cause and effect.

Free ourselves from the bondage of all the elements that is creating the energy and affecting the mind.

Free from the duality that causes the likes and dislikes, craving and aversion.

Contemplate on these teachings and be free. If we know this dharma, there is no more fear and worries.

We were taught by our elders and the society that if we do good now, good things will happen to us in the future and do not do anything that doesn’t give us any rewards in return – this is correct in the eyes of worldly minded people.

It is true that if we do bad, bad will happen to us, while if we do good, good will happen on us. This is the law of karma – cause and effect.

There is nothing wrong to have this type of mentality – wanting to do good because we are longing for good rewards and good life in the future, but this can not free us from the bondage of birth and death, because we will be continuing being bound by karma – cause and effect.

Dharma and Vedanta teach us not to wish for any rewards in return when we do good and not to do any bad as well, and thus this will free us from the bondage of birth and death. It is intention-less or pure intention that will free us from the bondage of karma. It is ego-less or selflessness that will free us from the bondage of birth and death.

There is no need to aim for going anywhere after this life. We don’t need to go anywhere. Here at this present moment now is the only reality. The past and the future doesn’t exist. If we still have longing to go to heaven; or go to a better place; or to have a better next life; or we still have fear of ending up in hell or going to have a bad next-life; then we are still caught up in these names and forms, and are not free and have no peace of mind at all. We will have great fear and worries until this life ends and will continue having these fear and worries in the next life-form.

When we are dreaming, we are doing lots of actions in our dream. But this will not generate any karma for us.

If we know what “non-action in action” is and practice it in life when we are awake, we will not generate any karma too. We shall be free from the bondage of karma.

When we are awakened from this impermanent worldly life existence – Our physical body; our worldly life; our needs and wants; our appearance and all our experiences; we will know that all these are just temporary phenomena. And by stop identify with this physical body, the senses, the mind and the ego, this worldly life existence is not any different from a very long dream. We will still experience pain, pleasure, heat, cold, good looking, bad looking, sweet sound, annoying sound, nice smell, bad smell, good taste, bad taste, positive thoughts, negative thoughts through our senses, but we are not being influenced or affected by them anymore. They have no values of good and bad; positive or negative; happiness or suffering.

There is no more karma in the past – Sanchita, all the accumulated karma; in the present – Prarabdha, past karma that is responsible for the present body and until this body drop-off; and in the future – Agami, current actions that generate karma to be reaped off in the future. There is no past and future. There is no time, no space and no causation. This is the proclamation made by all the saints and sages when they attained enlightenment.

If we start to think that we are doing something when we are in action, or thinking that we are not doing anything when we are action-less, be mindful… It is the ego that is doing the thinking. Because the real us will have no idea of “doing good” or “doing bad”; “doing something” or “doing nothing”.

This knowledge is applicable to the student naturally when she or he already have achieved deep understanding about what is real detachment and have good morality and a pure mind. We ourselves also must practice it in life, in our heart. Or else it will create problems and confusions for the student and for us, if the student misunderstood that “no good and no bad” and “non-action in action” mean that they can do anything that they like and they will have no morality at all and will be doing lots of bad actions harming other beings thinking that there is no bad karma being generated. Those who are ignorant will think that this knowledge will allow them to do all the evil actions and no need to be responsible for their actions.

We don’t do evil actions because when our mind is pure, there is no reason for us to harm any beings and we don’t have the “urge” of wanting to cause any destruction and suffering to others. We also do not identify ourselves that we are the doer for any good and beneficial actions. We are not longing for a good life or greed for good karma or rewards in return. We are just being at the present moment, not longing to be in the past nor project into the future; and not longing to be at anywhere else. The present moment is now and right here. This is beyond both good and evil.

If the student has not yet understand this verse of “non-action in action”; if he or she is attached strongly to the mind and the ego; and his or her mind is not pure yet, then we shall begin with guide them into the practice of purification of the mind – to eradicate negative and evil thoughts and replace them with positive and good thoughts. Guide them to detach from the ego and duality; detach from likes and dislikes; free from cravings and aversions; detach from both negative and positive – become pure. Guide them to strengthen their self-control and develop insight. This may takes years or a lifetime. But this is the basic practice if we want to walk the path towards enlightenment; and to free ourselves from the cycle of birth and death.

May we all attain purity and be free. Both negative and positive thoughts, good and evil actions do exist in this life existence of names and forms. But what we want to practice is to go beyond both negative and positive; and transcend both good and evil. We do not commit any negative actions and not identify with any positive actions. It is neither negative nor positive. It is free from both negative and positive.

Om shanti.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Encouragement for sharing Yoga with all

I noticed that many Yoga students are struggling with uncertainty, lack of confidence and depression. Even as Yoga teachers we are still a student and are learning unceasingly and going through lots of turbulances.

This is a common mind ‘disease’ that is affecting lots of us. But actually it is nothing wrong and very normal for everybody.

Sometimes we feel good about ourselves, and sometimes we feel bad about ourselves. This is nothing wrong at all if we understand that this is the characteristic of all minds. It is not us. It is just a temporary flow of good feeling or bad feeling arising and passing away in our mind. All we need to do is (actually we don’t need to do anything) just observing these feelings of up and down and let them pass by and disappear without attaching to them, nor identify with them, and not generate any reaction, like and dislike according to these feelings.

But people who don’t understand this will see this happening of so called ‘mood swing’ as something not good, bad, or craziness. They categorize this mood swing is some kind of madness. It is because sometimes we are behaving nicely due to good mood and sometimes we are behaving nastily due to bad mood. At one moment we are laughing and another moment we are crying according to what we encounter with. It does look like madness. In fact everyone is having this ‘madness’ in our mind whether we show it through our facial expressions and bodily actions or not.

It is very normal that we will react to how we feel at the moment, or even react to how we felt in the past. Sometimes when we think of an unhappy incident that had happened many years ago, we will still feel some emotional pain and feel unhappy.

It is like we will judge someone with the past experiences or events that had happened before. It is because we still identify ourselves with our feelings and emotions, we are still identifying with the mind and the ego. It is also because we still caught up in the past, we haven’t realized that the only existent is the present moment.

It also depends on our level of attachment towards the past experiences or memories that determines our wrong view or ignorance about which is real and which is unreal? We are in confusion most of the time. Everything seems unclear to us.

Sometimes we feel happy and feel everything is easy for us when our mood is good, but we feel bad and feel everything is difficult for us when our mood is bad.

If this condition of mood swing continues to go on, there is possibility that we might get lost in these feelings of up and down, and become really crazy one day, when we lost the ability to control our feelings and emotions, and we are lost in the past memories and imaginations. We will be laughing, or crying, or angry, or depress due to the thoughts arising and passing away in our mind, even though in the present moment, in real there is nothing happening. We will be talking to our own self or shouting into the space thinking that there is someone there.

And so, we should be watchful about the mind all the time and maintain the ability to control over our mood swing, before it is too late.

Why shouldn’t we judge someone with the past experiences or events?
It’s because everything is changing all the time. Every mind is changing all the time. Personality is changing. Likes and dislikes are changing all the time. Everyone including ourselves is changing from time to time, from good to bad, from bad to good. From ignorance to wisdom, it can happen just within a single moment and from wisdom to ignorance, it can change within a second.

We are always changing from moment to moment even without us being aware of it. Sometimes we love someone very much but sometimes we feel disgust towards this same person. Sometimes we don’t love someone but one day we could be falling in love with that same person.

Everything that we like and dislike is ever-changing impermanent, whether if it is our sense of taste, smell, touch, seeing, hearing or thinking.

This is happening to everybody until the moment we stop identifying with the mind and the ego. And as long as we identify with our feelings and emotions, we will be moody all the time and not peaceful.

For example, a man that had been a very good person before can become very selfish and wicked after sometimes we didn’t see him. Or a man, who did something very bad in the past, might have become a very good person now. Or a person who have been very ignorant but might have gained wisdom after some time and a man who used to be wise might become deluded now.

So how can we judge anybody at all, including ourselves?

At this present moment, ‘this’ action will bring ‘this’ effect, and ‘that’ action will bring ‘that’ effect. Everything is a cause and effect. That’s all.

If a person told a lie before and people don’t trust him anymore, it is because of his action and he had created such cause for himself. He deserves not being trusted by other people due to his action, but this doesn’t determine that he is a liar or he will tell lies forever. Even though someone who is very honest in the past will not determine that he will not tell lies at all.

If we can stop mixing the past experiences (good or bad) with what we are doing now, it will reduce so much obstacle, unhappiness, doubt, fear and worries.

Good experiences might make us feel proud and lack of full effort in pursuing what we are doing now. And bad experiences might make us feel low self-esteem and full of negative thinking towards ourselves and other people.

As a Yoga teacher, at the beginning of teaching classes, we might not be so experienced yet in the technique of teaching classes. And due to nervousness we might make some mistakes in giving the instructions. We might get some feedback or criticism from the students. Sometimes the students stop coming for the classes. There maybe a lot of gossip about us and our classes.

Even though some people have been teaching for years and taught very good classes before, still sometimes we will still make mistakes or teach a lousy class.

So what? Are we going to be defeated and feel bad about ourselves and reluctant to teach classes anymore and feel low self esteem for the rest of our life, telling ourselves that we are not a good teacher? If we think like this, it means we are really not a good Yoga teacher because we don’t understand the true meaning of Yoga.

What the students really need to learn from us is detachment and cheerfulness. Not the quality of an Asana class. Asana class is ultimately teaching us about Vedanta philosophy, not just about learning how to perform the Asana. If a Yoga teacher can teach us how to thin out our ego, and show us what is detachment and non-dualism, then he or she is a good Yoga teacher. If a Yoga teacher can give a very good Asana class, performing and teaching many difficult acrobatic movements but doesn’t know what detachment is and doesn’t teach us about non-dualism and how to thin out the ego, then he or she is just a good physical fitness teacher only.

How are we going to cheer up others, encourage others and correct others wrong views if we ourselves have wrong views and low self esteem? Actually it is the ego feeling embarrassed and feels bad when we react to any feedback or criticism from anybody, whether it comes from the students or from our teacher or from other people.

Anyway lots of people who attend Yoga classes might not truly understand the meaning of Yoga and they will react to other people’s performance especially towards bad performance. It’s because they have a worldly minded habit of judging and criticizing everything that they come in contact with. They still have strong attachment to likes and dislikes.

One day they will like this teacher or the classes taught by this teacher, and one day they will dislike this same teacher and dislike the classes taught by this teacher. Also, sometimes they will like themselves and sometimes they don’t like themselves. So, why do we allow ourselves to depend on these people’s judgment or being determined by these people’s point of view based on a few classes that they have attended?

And if one day we teach a ‘good class’ and the students give us some good feedback and compliments, will that make us feel good and proud, and longing to teach the next class? If that’s the case, then we really are ignorant and being controlled by our ego. What Yoga are we going to teach to the students if we are affected by our own strong ego?

If a person truly understands the meaning of Yoga, he or she will not judge or criticize anything or anyone at all. Real Yoga practice will eventually lead us to stop judging and criticizing others and our own self, because we know how to detach from duality. When we detach from duality, there will be nothing out there for us to judge, to complain about, to criticize, to compare or to like and dislike.

He or she will be full of compassion and patience to accept both our abilities and weaknesses, and allow us to grow and improve in a slow process. A city is not being built within one day or one month. It takes years.

This is the essential learning for all Yoga students if they want to learn what Yoga really is.

This is also the same philosophy that all the Yoga teachers who want to be a good Yoga teacher should learn and practice - detach from duality, have compassion and patience, accept the abilities and weaknesses of the students, allow them to grow and improve in a slow process without any judgment, criticism, comparison, complaint and have no preferences or likes and dislikes.

Most important is that we accept our ability at this present moment and accept that we have weaknesses that need to be improved. We want to improve ourselves because we want to become a better human being and a better Yoga teacher, and not because we are being criticized by others and being challenged by our own ego.

In the end, what matters is not whether the students like our classes or not. It is not whether we can teach a good class or not. It is not about many people attend our classes or not.

What matters is the detachment from our teaching and our actions, detachment from judgment and criticism, detachment from the reactions from anybody and detachment from all the students.

Keep in mind that, every single hero or champion or successful person in the world, started his journey step by step, gained experience over time and learnt from many mistakes. We need to keep an open mind about any complaints, criticism and judgment from anybody, but not let these worldly acknowledgments affect us and our self-confidence at all. If we make a mistake, it doesn’t mean that we are not good. It doesn’t mean that we won’t improve and become better. It doesn’t matter if we make lots of mistakes and receive lots of criticism. Do not let it determine our ability and our path towards self evolution.

If we stop doing what we are doing just because we think that we are not good enough, or we received criticism saying that we are not good enough, then this is not Yoga practice. Yoga is to thin out the ego, detach from duality, detach from praise and censure, good and bad feelings. Keep going, never give up.

The Truth is no one will be good enough in any field in this world. But everyone also is good enough to do anything that they want to do and to express themselves freely. Everyone has the opportunity to learn and be better. It doesn’t matter if everyone prefers to go right but you prefer to go left. Be brave to explore something that we don’t know. Everything is uncertain in this world, except birth, growth, old age, illnesses and death.

Weaknesses and mistakes are not bad things at all. They make us humble and let us learn and improve ourselves in life.

We need to accept our weaknesses with an open heart and learn from our mistakes, and listen to other people’s suggestions to improve ourselves but not to be too sensitive about other people’s criticism and point of view until it affects our self-confidence and it becomes an obstacle for us in the path towards enlightenment and sharing Yoga with others.

Yoga practice is a self-healing and purification process. If we are doing the right practice it is an energetic and cheerful approach. Even though sometimes, during the purification process, lots of negative thoughts and feelings that were hidden deep in the subconscious mind will come up to the surface.
We might feel very low energy or feel bad, but it is just a temporary process. We should be careful not to identify ourselves with this negativity, not to generate reactions and let them go eventually.

There will be lots of good and bad feelings and emotions crop up during our regular and intense Yoga practice. As a Yoga teacher, we need to be able to recognize the purification process that we are going through from time to time and we should be able to heal ourselves emotionally, physically and mentally. Then only we can help others and guide others to do self-healing as well.

Sometimes we feel like crying and are depressed. Sometimes we feel angry and violent. Sometimes we feel lustful and full of desires. Sometimes we have very strong craving for certain things. Sometimes we have strong disgust for certain things. Sometimes we feel everything is against our wishes. Anything can come up to the surface to be released and to unblock our energy channels, and to help us evolve spiritually, if we are really sincere and regular in our Yoga practice.

Do not be afraid of the purification process. It is a step for everyone to go through if we want to know the Truth.

Many people stop their practice because they have fear when they encounter an intense purification process. Sometimes the purification process manifests itself not just emotionally but also physically and mentally. We might have pain or sickness in the physical body. Sometimes it manifests in our dreams as well. During this time, it is important to have the guidance of a teacher to explain and to encourage the students to continue practice and guide them how to deal with those difficult times, and support them during the purification process.

After each purification process, we will feel lighter and easier in our practice. We will gain more strength emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually. Everything will become clearer and more understandable for us. We will be able to let go some of the attachments that we couldn’t let go in the past. We will become more confident and calmer. Fear and worries will become less. We will become more energetic and cheerful than before.

Just remember that Yoga practice is purification and detachment. Keep working on these two elements. You will be fine at anytime, anywhere and doing whatever, if you know how to stay detached.

Our mind likes to express itself through judgment, criticism and comparison towards others. Some of the ideas might be constructive for people, but most of the time they are destructive and will pull down other people’s spirit and self-esteem. Most of the time our ego is being jealous or unhappy about other’s performance and ability, and it wants to attack other people with judgment, criticism and comparison.

As Yoga students, when we want to judge or criticize ourselves or others, when we start to compare ourselves with ourselves in the past or in the future, or compare ourselves with others, or compare other people with one another, know that this is not Yoga practice. Keep watching what our mind and the ego want us to do, and then let go the idea of wanting to judge, to criticize and to compare, especially about our teacher. It doesn’t matter if we are more experienced than the teacher, we should respect the teacher and support the teacher who wants to learn and improve, like all of us.

As Yoga teachers, there shouldn’t be any comparison and competition between Yoga teachers or between ourselves and the students. And Yoga classes are not a business that is in competition among different Yoga centers.
May we all develop wisdom, compassion and patience.

May all beings be happy.

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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.

About Meng Foong

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