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

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

About Yoga Teachers

There are many yoga teacher training schools and yoga teachers in the world nowadays. It is a good thing to encourage more people to be involving in yoga practice and sharing yoga with many others.

Basically anyone also can walk the path of Yoga as well as sharing the journey, the joy and wisdom, and the benefits of Yoga with other people. It's not necessarily that everyone who wish to share their very own personal experiences and insights that they acquired from their sincere practice of Yoga have to go through a so called recognized yoga school or ashram, to attain some paper certificates or recognition to qualify or allow them to share Yoga with others. Because self-realization or enlightenment is not to be found in any school or ashram, but it is within us, our inner Self, and it cannot be issued or guaranteed by anyone or any organizations, but it depends on our very own sincere practice and self-inquiry. A person who doesn’t know how to read and write or speak any languages, or hasn’t gone to any formal educational or training school, may still attain self-realization from within.

The real school, real ashram, real teacher and real 'God' is all these that the mind is perceiving now. There is no need any paper certifications, or recognition, or qualifications for an enlightened mind to share Yoga or Dharma with any living beings within the world or out of the world. We don’t learn compassion and wisdom from a school or ashram, but it is in our life and in our own practice and realization. No one taught us about happiness and suffering, no one can give us happiness and suffering, it is all within our own mind. Attachment and non-attachment, likes and dislikes, happen every moment in our mind. It has nothing to do with our teachers, the schools or the ashrams.

But yoga schools and ashrams are a place for anybody who wish to learn about yoga and to build a firm foundation for our own practice, not so much about the skill of teaching yoga to others. Because as we advanced in our own practice and attained insights or direct realization, naturally we will know how to guide others into yoga practice and sharing the wisdom of yoga with others. We all are naturally a “yoga teacher” if we want to call ourselves with such a name, if we have loving kindness, compassion and wisdom, and are sincerely and selflessly helping others to come out from miseries and to walk the path towards self-realization. In the journey of Yoga, we will learn how to go beyond all the qualities of names and forms, and realize selflessness.

Most important is that, anybody who wants to become a yoga teacher need to have correct understanding, purity and compassion for sharing the knowledge of yoga and the practice with other living beings. It doesn’t matter if we are not perfect yet.

But before we are able to share this knowledge with others, we should have had a deep understanding of the yoga philosophy and have had direct personal experiences in the yoga practice before we can actually guide others onto the path of yoga. We should be teaching and not preaching.

Teaching yoga is definitely not a worldly profession or a job like being a fitness instructor in a fitness club teaching exercise classes for passion, money and fame (though there is nothing wrong with this), but it is to be able to share the wisdom of yoga with other people who are in search for true happiness and to guide them how to transcend suffering – as a selfless service to all the living beings even though we may be receiving some fees/payment from teaching classes to maintain our living and for ourselves to continue learning.

Yoga classes are part of the practice for self-evolution, self-purification and self-transformation regardless of whether we are having different spirituality and religious belief and practice from one another, or not having any spiritual or religious belief and practice at all, and not just stopping at the surface of physical trainings or fitness activities.

The main practice is self-control, discipline, self-reliance, self-inquiry, dispassion, renunciation, silence, purification, concentration and meditation. All these will lead us to attain wisdom and self-realization.

Purification is about eliminating ignorance and egoism, restlessness and impurities from the mind, such like selfishness, anger, hatred, lust, greed, jealousy, dissatisfaction, disappointment, hurt, resentment, pride, arrogance, attachment, identification, craving, aversion, expectation, evil thinking, actions and speech, grief, regret, guilt, fears and worries, and etc.

The main teaching of Yoga is truthfulness, self-realization, selflessness, non-separateness, non-duality, non-attachment, non-identification, and control of the mind, which also leads to control of the actions and speech.

Selflessness is the nature of everything. The mind will realize selflessness through eliminating the ego and egoism, non-attachment and non-identification with the body and mind, desire of craving and aversion, as well as renouncing from the fruit of actions.

Non-duality is about non-attachment towards the impermanent good and bad qualities of names and forms, the likes and dislikes or craving and aversion of the body and mind upon coming in contact with comfortable and dis-comfortable/agreeable and disagreeable names and forms perceived through the senses. It is going beyond what the mind perceives as good and bad, positive and negative, pure and impure, success and failure, praise and censure, happiness and suffering, meaningfulness and meaninglessness.

As yoga teachers, we should possess the qualities of truthfulness, cheerfulness, patience, loving kindness, compassion, wisdom, open-mindedness, self-independence, equanimity, courage, humility, gratitude, adaptation, tolerance, correct understanding, right effort, respect, acceptance, forgiveness, non-judging, non-comparing, non-competing, non-criticizing, non-expecting, calmness, peacefulness, selflessness, purity of thoughts, actions and speech, non-attachment, non-identification, desirelessness, dispassion, fearlessness and worry-lessness.

It is not so much about achieving perfection of the strength and flexibility of the physical body (because no matter how strong and flexible we are and can we perform highly skillful and complicated Asana poses, this physical body will still have to go through old age, decay, illness and death (impermanence) – there should be void of identification with the physical body and the mind as 'I'), while appreciating the good health and the strong and flexible body to be performing selfless service and for our own self-inquiry to be attaining self-realization.

It doesn’t matter about what type of qualifications or certifications that a yoga teacher had acquired from which school or ashram, it doesn’t really indicate that we are good and genuine yoga teacher or not. It doesn’t guarantee us self-realization or enlightenment (it depends mainly on our own effort, understanding, practice and direct experience). It is not that someone who has been giving yoga classes for a long time will be more experienced or is better than someone who had just started practicing and teaching. It depends very much on his or her own practice and correct understanding towards the teachings of Yoga, and also his or her pure intention to share yoga with all. There’s no such thing as “good yoga teacher” or “bad yoga teacher”. There should be no comparison, no competition, and no criticism among yoga teachers. Yoga schools and yoga centers are not supposed to be a money making business and having competition and jealousy among themselves. Everyone are sincerely sharing the wisdom of yoga with different people who have different conditions, personalities, needs and wants.
We all are merely the instrument to help spreading the teachings of yoga to other living beings who are interested in the path of Yoga. We all are learning from each other and whatever we do, it should be ego-less, renounce from the fruit of actions and to go beyond all the qualities of names and forms. There is no superiority as a yoga teacher or advanced practitioner, and there is no inferiority as a yoga student or beginner practitioner. Beyond all the different qualities of names and forms, beyond the veil of ignorance and egoism, we all are the same, selfless and impermanent, attributeless, beginning-less and endless.

May we bring peace and happiness to all living beings and move towards self-realization together. Our duty is to promote unconditional love, peace and harmony into the world of ignorance and suffering deriving from ignorance

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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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