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

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

How to transcend suffering?

Pride and low self-esteem is a form of suffering. We will be craving for worldly success, spiritual achievements, social status, appreciations and recognition, love and attention, beautiful appearance and attractive personality, and wanting to achieve all our desires and being able to do what we like to do in order to give us the feeling of success, happiness and confidence.

Even though we are very successful in life and have done whatever we wanted to do in life, we will still be discontented and feel meaningless if we attached to the worldly achievements and happiness that are conditional and impermanent to make us feel good about ourselves and our life. Even if we attached to spiritual achievements that are also conditional and impermanent in order to make us feel meaningful and feel good will also bring us suffering. It is because all these will change and disappear.

Our sense of self-worth needs to hold on to certain thing or faith to makes us feel good and happy, or feel meaningful in life. This is very normal. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. But what will happen to us if this thing is not available to us anymore, or if the faith that we hold on to is not there anymore? We will collapse, unhappy, depressed and feel meaningless.

It is because there is an attachment. We attached to something that is perishable and not real in order to give us happiness, and to have a sense of self-worth or a meaningful life.

If we really want to transcend suffering, we need to learn how to become independent without attaching to anything at all in this world of limited mind perception of selfless impermanent names and forms to make us feel full, worthy, content and meaningful.

We don’t need to do anything to show to anyone and to prove to anybody that we are good, or we have certain values or purposes. We don’t need to feel that we are being needed by someone to have a sense of self-worth and to give us some meaning or purpose in life.

We don’t even need to crave for love from anybody, but can give pure love (void of selfish desire, lust and passion) without identification and expectation because we all are not separated from the unlimited love itself if we realized the Truth of selflessness. When we stop identity ourselves with the selfless body, the selfless mind, the non-existent ego, the selfless intellect, the selfless senses and our selfless life existence, this selfless impermanent existence is not different and not separated from the nature - the earth, the sun, the wind, the water and the space. The nature allows every living beings and everything to be in it and utilize its resources for the basic need to be existing. Nature gives unconditionally without beginning and without ending. Its power to be powering all and everything in this space of the universe, is unlimited and unconditional. There is no differentiation of likes and dislikes, birth and death, happiness and unhappiness, good people and bad people, good happenings and bad happenings, animals and human beings, beautiful and ugliness, or cleanliness and dirtiness. There is no duality - all and everything is the one same nature of selflessness and impermanence, no differences and no special privileges, no superiority or inferiority. The nature accepts everything as it is, not controlling anything, and has no selfish intention at all. The nature has no attachment or identification towards its actions, or its impermanent condition, or the consequences of its actions. It has no identity, no selfishness, no jealousy, no anger, no hatred, no differentiation, no ego, no pride, no self-esteem, no sense of purpose, no happiness, no unhappiness… it has no qualities at all. Everything is just being what they are. There is no past. There is no future.

If we, this ignorant thinking mind, realized this, there is no fear, worry, conflict, cravings and aversions, likes and dislikes, grief and sorrow, pleasurable enjoyment or painful suffering, happiness or unhappiness. Other people might still be disagreeing with us, and want to have conflict or argument with us, but we don’t have any conflict or argument with them, even if we disagree with them. We are full, content, and immovable. This unconditional peacefulness and contentment is not achieved by acquiring anything from the outside, but it's by letting go of everything, not controlling anything out there to be or not to be in certain way, but having firm self-control in our own thoughts, actions and speech. Our own self is the only thing that we can have control of, and will give us peace of mind if the thoughts, actions and speech are being well controlled. If we try to control anything other than our own thoughts, actions and speech, we will be in trouble and suffering. We will be creating problems for ourselves.

We cannot control the selfless impermanent changes in our body and outside our body - the breathing, the heart beat, the pleasant and unpleasant sensations that arise and pass away unceasingly, the senses coming in contact with the objects of the senses, the nature's law of cause and effect governing all and everything and the condition and situation in the world, and how other people think, feel, act, react, express and speak. The one thing that we can do is let them be, and let things being what they are. And then we will not generate any problem or conflict and unhappiness in ourselves and to other people.

We cannot stop the thoughts and feelings that keep arising and passing away unceasingly in our mind, but we can stay detached, not identify or associate with it. And then, let it disappears by itself eventually. Not trying to reject uncomfortable feelings or holding on to comfortable feelings. Just being aware of their existence, but give no value to them. Not to categorize them into ‘good’ and ‘bad’, ‘comfortable’ and ‘uncomfortable’, and not generate likes and dislikes, craving and aversion, and also no need to react towards them.

By bringing the awareness focusing on the breath without trying to control the breath or change anything, and keeping the attention or focus in the present moment at all time, will help us to detach from any feelings and sensations that arise in our body and mind. Whenever we find that our awareness has wandered away to the thoughts or the feelings, without feeling frustrated, very gently we bring the awareness back to the breathing, back to the present moment, focusing on what we are doing now and where we are now. By keep doing this, we will find that actually there are no problem that is troubling us now, and there are no past pleasant and unpleasant memories and future wild anticipations and imaginations that can disturb us, disturb our tranquility and peacefulness.

The outgoing tendency of the mind will make us feel curious and anxious about the things outside. It wants to know, to see, to hear, to smell, to taste, to think and to feel about everything. It will continue to pull our attention away from what we are doing and where we are now at the present moment. We should not struggle with it, and patiently we bring the awareness back to what we are doing now. Slowly this exercise or training will become natural and effortless, and it doesn’t request much effort to keep the awareness to stay in the present moment. This is what gives us calmness. But even this state of calmness we also cannot attach onto, because this state of peacefulness will change also. If we attached onto the state of calmness, we will be very disappointed, irritated and unhappy when this state of calmness is being disturbed or disappeared.

If we can let go of the state of disturbance caused by unpleasant thoughts and feelings, and be able to let go of the state of calmness as well, then we will be in a state of unconditional peacefulness and happiness. We don’t need anything to give us the meaning of life, the sense of self-worth, or confidence. We are what we are. I am what I am.

It doesn’t matter at all with how other people think of us, do to us, or say to us. There is no praise or censure that can affect us or influence us. There is no need to have judgment, criticism, comparison and competition with other people or with our own self. We don’t need to challenge ourselves to do anything or to achieve anything. We don’t need to prove to ourselves or to other people.
In the beginning, we might need to have a faith to hold on to. Or else, we will be drifting all the time in search for something that will give us some meanings in life and give us some values about ourselves and our existence in this world. But this faith should be something real and imperishable. Then only this faith will be really firm and everlasting in our heart no matters what is happening in our life and when there are impermanent changes happening in our body and the mind. And we will not be lost or disappointed because this faith that we rely on is still there, it will not change or disappear.

If we depend on something that will change to be in happiness and to have the sense of self-worth, and are attaching strongly to that happiness and sense of self-worth, but when this dependency is being taken away by impermanence, we will be lost in disappointment and unhappiness. Such like, many people’s faith or happiness is built on material possession and enjoyment, accumulation of success and wealth, sensual pleasurable enjoyments, fame and popularity, being loved and admired by others, having strong and healthy physical body, intelligence and achievements in education, success in business or career, having good family ties, good relationship and friendship, and having a strong religion belief or spiritual practice under certain belief or teacher.

But all these are conditioned by our limited perception and impermanence, and will go through impermanent changes eventually, and is unsatisfying. We cannot be truly contented, if we rely on all these impermanent objects and names and forms to give us satisfaction and meanings of life.

When we teach yoga to other people, we are doing something very meaningful in life sharing the wisdom of Yoga with others and might be able to help some people to come out from suffering, but we also need to remain detached from our action of teaching yoga and the fruit of the action of teaching yoga. It is not that we deny ourselves, or being hard on ourselves, but it is the only thing that will free us from unhappiness and suffering.

If we feel good and happy about ourselves and our life existence when the students have learnt something from us, and they are being grateful, and will take Yoga practice more seriously from now on, this means we are still being conditioned by this attachment towards the  action and the fruit of actions. It is a good thing when the students are benefited after taking some lessons from us. And there is nothing wrong at all to feel great about that. But we should stay detached from all these as well. Then we will be 'safe', and not being caught up in the fruit of action.

When the students start to decline in their practice, or they criticize about our teaching, and didn’t have interest in our teaching, or they encounter difficulty in certain yoga practice and hurt themselves during taking classes under us, this will make us feel bad about ourselves and be guilty and unhappy, if we have attachment towards the fruit of our actions. And then, it will destroy our faith in Yoga and our practice, and destroy the sense of meaningfulness in ourselves and in life existence.

Of course we should be responsible for our action and the consequences of our action. If we are not experience enough, or made some mistakes, or being careless, then we should be responsible for the consequences that arise, and should make some corrections to improve ourselves.

But the real lesson is not about this.

It is about our self-worth or faith should not be depending on satisfaction and happiness coming from any type of success and achievement in any fields, or depending on recognition, agreement, compliment and appreciation from anybody.

If we think that our life is so meaningful and are happy because we feel that we had helped somebody by doing something really good and meaningful, then very soon we will be losing this feeling of meaningfulness and happiness when we receive some bad and negative feedback from the students, or when we are not able to share Yoga with others anymore due to certain unavoidable reason.

Unless we have no attachment towards any of these things at all, then we will not be affected by all the good and bad results deriving from our actions.

That is real detachment, and is free from dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

True happiness is not the happy feelings that we feel when something good is happening or when our wishes come true. This momentary sense of happiness will come to an end and disappear after some times, and we will be unhappy and feel meaningless when this feeling of happiness is gone.

If we need to do something good to make us feel meaningful, and we will feel meaningless if we are not doing those good actions, then we are being bound by this dependency, and caught up in dissatisfaction and unhappiness.

It is like our Prana is being influenced by the food that we consume and by the body movement and position that we are engaging in – such like being in certain Yoga Asana. The position of the body is influencing the Prana, and this Prana is influencing our state of mind and feelings. There is nothing wrong to eat good food to make us feel happier and calmer. There is nothing wrong to practice Yoga Asana to make us feel good and relaxed. But Yoga teaches us to go beyond both good and bad feelings, go beyond the states of the mind, go beyond the energy and energy fields, not rejecting unpleasant sensations and bad feelings, and not clinging onto or craving for pleasant sensations and good feelings. The energy influences the body and the states of the mind, but the body or the states of the mind is not 'I'. The will power in the selfless thinking mind is stronger than the body and the states of the mind. And if, there is no attachment or identification arising in the mind towards the body and the states of the mind, this selfless mind that is void of the idea of 'I', is void of suffering, resting upon the selfless consciousness, and not being affected by any type of energy fields and selfless impermanent changes. Because energy and impermanence can only affect the body and the states of the mind, but it cannot affect the selfless Self, or the selfless consciousness.

If this mind doesn't know this, we will feel good, only if we eat good food and are doing certain Asana practice. But we will feel bad or don't feel good anymore, if good food is not available to us and we are not doing any Asana practice.

Realize selflessness, free from the idea of 'I', and be independent from depending of anything in this impermanent world of mind perception to be happy and confident, or not, detached from the actions and the fruit of actions, that will lead to true happiness and the real meaning of life – realizing the truth of selflessness and impermanence.

The meaning of life is not something depending on what we do or don't do, or depending on the sense of self-worth and happiness that arise from what we do and don't do, what we have and don't have, and what we experience or don't experience, but by realizing the true nature in all and everything, which is selflessness and impermanence, and be free from the ever dissatisfying passionate egoistic mind and the binding of the fruit of actions that arise from our thoughts, actions and speech.

If we depend on someone’s love and affection, this will change.

If we depend on our good feelings, this will change.

If we depend on our strength, flexibility, youthfulness, attractiveness, beauty and good health of the physical body, all these will change.

If we depend on our teacher, our parents, our partner, our children, and our family and friends, all these will change.

If we depend on success, achievements, intelligence, worldly knowledge and good memory, all these will change.

If we depend on anything at all that is limited and conditioned by this selfless body and the selfless mind, the selfless senses and all the selfless objects of the senses in this worldly life of impermannece, everything will change.

So, what is the real thing that will not change?

It is the selfless Self that all and everything rest upon, that doesn't belong to anyone and anything. It is not 'I', or 'my Self'. It is the only real permanent independent existence – no birth and no death, no beginning and no end, no good and no bad, unconditioned, unlimited, independent, free from qualities, impurities and elements. It is full and whole, pure existence, pure knowledge and pure bliss.

Let us, or this thinking mind under the influence of ignorance and egoism, stop identifying with the impermanent physical body and the conditional function and restless modification of the selfless mind. We are not this body, we are not this mind. This body is not ours, this mind is not ours. They don’t belong to us. And there is no 'us' or 'I'. This body and mind is just a selfless impermanent instrument being here to learn and return to the nature of everything – which is indestructible, non-decay and eternal.

Go beyond the selfless body, the selfless mind, the selfless intellect, the selfless senses, and the non-existing ego or the idea of 'I'. Go beyond the duality that the mind perceives through the senses.

Realize the truth of selflessness in all and everything. Realize the selfless changeless timeless birthless deathless universal Self now. There will be no more fear and worry. The mind will be free from all the turbulence of impermanent feelings and emotions, all the ups and downs in life, good and bad experiences in life.

At the end, it’s just like a very long movie, or a very long dream that we have, which gives the selfless perceptive thinking mind some experiences of impermanent changes, agreeable and disagreeable relationship and interaction, satisfaction and dissatisfaction, fear, confusion, pain, sorrow, excitement, enjoyment, suffering, happiness and unhappiness.

May we all be free.

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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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