I wasn’t surprised when I heard about this.
Some yoga teachers are afraid to teach or talk about the philosophy, because they are afraid that the students will have strong reaction of aversion (resistance). And so, they just want to teach some yoga exercises for attaining physical fitness, physical health, good feelings and pleasant sensations that come from the yoga exercises. There is nothing wrong with this. Yoga is versatile and can suit everybody with different temperaments.
While some yoga teachers are lack of faith and confidence in the traditional teachings of yoga and its practice in daily life. I met some “yoga” teachers who are against the traditional teachings from the ancient Gurus, where they criticize the Guru’s personal life and way of teaching, and are criticizing about the teachings of traditional yoga philosophy and its practice in life are not up to date and are not suitable for the modern people in the modern world to practice in daily life. Well, if the teacher themselves have no faith and confidence in the teachings, or they don’t like and disagree with the teachings, then how can they expound the yoga teachings to anybody? There is nothing wrong with this as well, because just by teaching the yoga exercise without the philosophy is still something great and good for everybody.
When some people, or even most minds dislike and disagree with the teachings of yoga, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s something wrong with the teachings. It’s just that the teachings are contradicting with their existing worldly passionate egoistic social/cultural/religious/spiritual/educational thinking, belief, values and practice. Just as many people misunderstand what is selflessness and compassion, and people would get very disappointed and irritated with those who are selfless and compassionate, as they don’t behave in the way that worldly passionate egoistic minds expect them to behave according to what they think and believe is selflessness and compassion. Everyone has the freedom for how they think and what they understand and believe, and disagree with some or many of the teachings of yoga.
Some yoga teachers have strong attachment and identification towards their particular religious belief and practice, and they only want to practice and teach the yoga asana, pranayama, concentration and relaxation practice, as a form of healthy exercise to enhance physical and mental health condition, fitness level, immunity, ability, skill, memory, injury rehabilitation, focus, de-stress, sleep quality, and so on, that don’t contradict with their religious belief and practice. While they think it’s inappropriate for them to practice or teach the other practices, especially the teachings of yoga, the chanting and prayers, the self-inquiry, or even the meditation practice, as it might be contradicting with or disrespecting towards their existing religious belief and practice. That’s their freedom.
While some yoga teachers are still very unsure about the yoga philosophy. They haven’t realize the truth of the teachings through self-realization. If so, how can they share the essence of the yoga teachings with others? There is nothing wrong with this also, because we all have to start somewhere and we all are not perfect (if we are perfect, we wouldn’t be here in this existence). As yoga teachers, we all learn together with the students and evolve together. There is no superiority or inferiority. We share what we know/realized and what we had experienced through our own practice on the path of yoga. We all grow and move towards the realization of selflessness and compassion even though we all evolve at each different pace.
Some yoga teachers know very well about the yoga philosophy and they are practicing the yoga philosophy sincerely as well. But they also think that there are many people out there who come for the everyday yoga classes are not yet ready to know about the philosophy, or to be practicing the yoga philosophy, and that these people should be kept away from hearing about yoga philosophy and just give them some yoga exercises for the body until they are ready to receive the great knowledge of the yoga philosophy about the Self and the path of Self-realization. This is nothing wrong at all. These yoga teachers are being cautious. It is indeed very wise. This is to avoid those who are not ready for grasping the deep knowledge of the yoga philosophy to engage in criticizing and condemning the teachings of yoga, as well as condemning the yoga teachers who actually practice and teach the yoga philosophy to the yoga students.
But, take a look at all the books about yoga philosophy in the market that is written by famous yogis, saints and sages. The knowledge is out there for anybody to pick up, to read, to reflect and to know about the deep yoga philosophy, these books never have statement that says, “Please be cautious! If you are not ready yet, please don’t read this book. This book is only for those who are ready to receive the great knowledge of yoga.”
However, even if people have been reading a lot of books about yoga and hearing a lot of teachings from somebody, accumulating lots of information or knowledge about yoga, it doesn’t guarantee that the mind is free from ignorance and suffering, as all these accumulated information and knowledge doesn’t remove the ignorance in the mind, but only serve the purpose for the mind to reflect upon, to inquire towards the truth of everything under a purified intellect and calmed mind, to implement the teachings into the physical yoga practice and daily life, and attaining self-realization through direct experience, which will free the mind from ignorance.
Getting all kinds of physical and mental health and fitness benefits from performing the physical yoga practice without implementing the teachings of eliminating the ego and egoism, it doesn’t lead the mind towards liberation from ignorance and suffering. It’s like owning and sitting in a very good looking expensive car that oneself feels proud of and attracting other people’s attention and admiration, but the car has no functional engine and steering wheel as well as the fuel that allow oneself to drive the car to reach any destination.
And hence, the teachings and the practice cannot be separated. It’s like the handle and the blade of a knife. Both are equally important for the knife to be functioning. The person who uses the knife also needs to be equipped with the basic common sense of how to use the knife efficiently and safely. The knife itself has no intention to be good or bad. It’s not the responsibility of the knife whether people use it wisely or ignorantly.
More importantly, one doesn’t need to practice any teachings or practice that the mind dislike and disagree with, but one shouldn’t be disturbed by the teachings or practice of yoga that one doesn’t like or disagree with. Regardless of agreement or disagreement towards the teachings of yoga, the students of yoga shouldn’t blind-believing, blind-following, blind-practicing or blind-propagating, but to inquire towards the truth of everything, including all the teachings of yoga, to attain direct experience and realization.
This is indeed practical in life, as we all will come in contact with something that our minds don’t like and don’t agree with, from time to time. The yoga practice is about non-attachment, non-craving and non-aversion in daily life that allows all the names and forms that our minds like and dislike, agree and disagree with, to be what they are, to be there as they are, without being determined or disturbed by names and forms that our minds don’t like and don’t agree with under the influence of our particular worldly social/cultural/religious/spiritual/educational thinking, belief, values and practice.
Anyway, if it’s really the truth, or the teachings that lead towards the liberation from ignorance and suffering, or the yogis that really practice yoga of selflessness and compassion, all these names and forms won’t be determined or affected by any amount of disagreement, criticism and condemn coming from worldly egoistic impure minds.
When we have the opportunity to come across with the yoga philosophy, it is the right time, even if we are still under the influence of ignorance, and can’t really grasp the essence of the teachings yet, as well as we might have lots of disagreement towards many of the teachings that seemingly contradicting with our worldly passionate thinking, belief, values and practice. If we are not ready yet, then no matter how much we want and need to know about the yoga philosophy for guiding us to transcend ignorance and suffering, we won’t be able to see it, hear it, or read it. (This actually happened to me. The Bhagavad Gita in Chinese version (a gift from a friend) was on my bookshelf for 15 years, but I didn’t realize that it was there with me all the time, until after I came back from India in 2005. When it was not the right time yet for me to read the Bhagavad Gita, I wouldn’t be reading it even though it was with me all the time.)
And also, who is qualified enough to say or judge who is ready and who is not? If the person himself thinks that he is not ready yet, then he can just take up some yoga classes that only do some physical exercises. There are many of these yoga classes out there. And these are very good fitness exercise classes just like some other forms of physical exercise classes. Even if we don’t mention about yoga philosophy, but the poses, the movements and the breathing exercises are there naturally influencing and balancing the energy field in the body, and unblocking any energy blockage in the system. And hence, this will influence and balance the state of the mind, and strengthening the entire systems and functions in the body.
It definitely needs direct experience, direct realization, truthfulness, compassion, fearlessness and non-attachment for anybody to be able to expound the teachings of yoga, the path of Self-realization, or the annihilation of the ego and the mind, to “all beings” without any discrimination (whether they are “ready”, or not), without hesitation, fear and worry. Meanwhile allowing everyone to welcome or reject the gift of Dharma.
What is so fearful and worried about disseminating the teachings about the path of realizing selflessness and compassion to transcend ignorance and suffering with all these people who come for the yoga class? Being afraid of offending somebody’s ego and they won’t come back for the yoga classes anymore?
Yoga is indeed about the realization of selflessness and compassion that leads to unconditional peace, and about how to realize selflessness and compassion through implementing the teachings in daily life and into the physical and mental yoga practice.
It is about the annihilation of the selfish prideful arrogant ego, or the lower self.
It is about mind purification removing all the impurities, restlessness and ignorance.
It is about letting go of the desire of craving and aversion.
It is about non-identification with the body and the mind, and any qualities of names and forms.
It is about being in the present moment now, being free from the past pleasant and unpleasant experiences as well as future wishful and unwishful imagination.
It is about knowing who we really are, or what is the mind, through self-inquiry and self-realization.
It is about non-dualism, non-separateness and attributelessness.
It is about renunciation and non-attachment.
It is about inquiring towards the truth of everything.
It is about dispassion and discrimination towards what is real and unreal.
It is about the intense yearning for liberation.
It is about seclusion and solitude.
It is about discipline and self-control.
It is about developing the basic elements of patience, determination, perseverance, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, adjustment, adaptation, accommodation, humility, openness, letting go, self-reliance, mental and emotional independence, and so on, that enable all the other practices to be happening.
What is there to be taught to the students if not all these yoga teachings?
It really doesn’t matter if some people are not “ready” yet, or will get very irritated by the philosophical part of yoga. They can continue to practice the yoga exercises without applying any philosophy onto it, even if the mind is not free from ignorance and suffering because they are not interested and never try to eliminate the ego and egoism. Be happy, and enjoy the exercise. The exercise itself is a very good and beneficial activity for anyone to do in life. It is the beginning stage of purification even though no body is mentioning or discussing anything about the philosophy. But, just by performing physical purification without mental purification of eliminating the ego and egoism doesn’t lead the mind to transcend ignorance and suffering. It’s like washing the car everyday, but didn’t look after the internal parts of the car, will give us a pleasant clean looking car, but the car might not be functioning well.
Some people are appreciative and grateful for the opportunity to be learning about the teachings of yoga in the yoga class, where they can implement the yoga teachings that they learned into their physical yoga practice and daily life, to free the mind from ignorance, egoism and impurities – the root cause of restlessness and suffering.
While some people get very irritated and disturbed upon coming in contact with the teachings of yoga in the yoga class, where they only want to do some physical yoga practice that give them some momentary calmness, good feelings and pleasant sensations, as well as some momentary relief from certain physical/mental/emotional tension. Out of their own particular reasons, they are not interested to be learning any teachings or practice about eradicating ignorance, egoism, and impurities – The root cause of tension, unhappiness, hurts, disturbs, restlessness and suffering. That’s their freedom.
In the same yoga class, some will feel calmed and relaxed as they let go of attachment, desire of craving and aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, while some are generating more tension as they are over-powered by strong attachment, desire of craving and aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation. It’s nothing to do with the yoga class being in certain way, or how the teacher conducts the class. It’s the same in daily life.
There’s nothing wrong with people don’t like yoga classes that teach about the teachings of yoga. It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want and don’t want to learn and practice, as well as agreeing or disagreeing with anything.
There’s nothing wrong also with yoga teachers who teach about the teachings of yoga in yoga class that is about yoga.
It’s like people want to eat Nasi Lemak, and they come to a Nasi Lemak restaurant ordered and paid for a plate of Nasi Lemak, but then they are disappointed and angry when the Nasi Lemak is not what they expect it to be. They didn’t like coconut milk, or pandanus, or chillies, or cucumbers, or peanuts, or onions, or anchovies, or egg, or rice, or Nasi Lemak as it is. May it be due to allergic reason, or taste-wise, or the type of ‘Nasi Lemak’ that they had eaten before is nothing to do with Nasi lemak as it is. Out of ignorance, some even demand a refund, and then give ‘bad review’ to this restaurant for serving and selling Nasi Lemak that is not what they expect it to be. Some even want to stop the restaurant from serving or selling Nasi Lemak as it is to other people who want to eat Nasi Lemak as it is. It’s okay if one day nobody wants to eat Nasi Lemak as it is, and nobody wants to prepare, cook or serve Nasi Lemak as it is.
Teaching the yoga students about yoga or performing some yoga practice without the teachings of yoga, is like giving a cup of ‘bitter-gourd water’ to the yoga students without the bitter-gourd juice, and tell them, “I am giving you bitter-gourd water to taste. This is bitter-gourd water, even though I deliberately omit the bitter-gourd juice as I’m afraid you might not like the taste of bitter-gourd juice.” There are quite some people don’t like the taste of bitter-gourd, and that’s their freedom. Just by drinking the water without the bitter-gourd juice is good also. Although the bitter-gourd juice provides certain elements that the water doesn't have. But when people come to us and are asking for bitter-gourd water because they know they can get bitter-gourd water from us, we give them bitter-gourd water with the bitter-gourd juice, and not giving them ‘bitter-gourd water’ without the bitter-gourd juice, or replacing the bitter-gourd juice with sweet lime juice or orange juice pretending to be ‘bitter-gourd water made with bitter-gourd juice’, and let them decide whether they want to drink the bitter-gourd water, or not, even if they might not like the taste of bitter-gourd in the beginning, but they might get use to it after some time and see the goodness of it, or maybe not. Some even have strong averse reaction towards it, and never want to try it again. That’s their freedom.If people only want water, they are not interested in bitter-gourd juice, they can get water easily in many other places. As this place is particularly about supplying bitter-gourd water.
Some suggest that adding some sugar or other sweet juice in it, so
that it’s more acceptable to most people’s taste, but, it won’t be the
same as pure bitter-gourd water. It’s because the people only like the
additional sweetness from the sugar and not liking the bitter-gourd
taste itself, and no matter how long they have been liking to drink
bitter-gourd water with added sugar, but once we stop adding sugar, they
wouldn’t want to drink it anymore.
Just like many yoga teachers modify the yoga class and/or the yoga practice to gratify people’s desire of craving and aversion to attract people’s interest in doing some form of the yoga practice, as well as emphasizing on the usage of ‘non-offensive suggestive words’ that are more pleasing to the ego, that doesn’t irritate the ego so much, it doesn’t really help them to be free from ignorance and egoism, but it empowers ignorance and egoism of the people. And that’s their freedom as well.
The ‘words’, or the ‘tones’, or the ‘volumes’ have no quality of ‘offensive’ or ‘non-offensive’. It’s the degree of sensitivity coming from the minds that project ‘offensive’ or ‘non-offensive’ onto the different words, tones and volumes. Without teaching the minds how to be free from the ego, egoism and duality, but instead, trying to please, protect and pamper the ego of the minds, to avoid anything that might appear to be ‘offensive’ to the ego, it doesn’t help to eradicate the ego, but empower it.
The adjustment, adaptation and accommodation in the teachings of yoga, is not about to make adjustment in the names and forms to adapt and accommodate the prideful egoistic mind, but it’s the egoistic mind needs to make the adjustment to adapt and accommodate all the mind perception of names and forms being what they are, as they are.
If the prideful egoistic minds refuse to let go of the ego even before learning the physical yoga practice, and have strong aversion towards the teachings of yoga, and only want to do the physical yoga practice, it’s their freedom, even if they are not really practicing yoga. Only the minds that are willing to let go of the ego, the practice of yoga begins as it is, even without any intention or expectation.
When we modify the yoga practice or the yoga class to accommodate the desire of craving and aversion of the egoistic minds, people only like yoga being the way that they desire, they don’t really like yoga as it is. No matter how long people have been enjoying doing yoga that is being modified to the way that they desire, but then once they are being asked to practice yoga as it is, they wouldn’t want to practice yoga anymore. Some people have been practicing yoga for many years and even possessed many yoga teachers certifications, but they complaint about many things that they think it’s the cause of their unhappiness, disturbs, hurts, disappointment and suffering.
In the end, yoga is about Silence. Many minds want to be in silence, but most minds are too restless to be in silence. Many people complaint that their minds can’t concentrate or be quiet, which they believe is due to external ‘disturbance’ and ‘distraction’.
What hinders the mind to be silent, is restlessness, or violent thought currents, or ‘disturbance’ and ‘distraction’ arising from within the mind due to ignorance and egoism. The mind couldn’t be quiet, even if the surrounding environment is completely quiet. And hence, all the teachings are there to help the minds to be free from restlessness, to quiet the ever-restless thought currents, or to annihilate ‘disturbance’ or ‘distraction’ from within the mind.
Out of ignorance, many people misunderstand about annihilating ‘disturbance’ or ‘distraction’ means avoiding names and forms that they think is ‘disturbing’ or ‘distracting’ the mind. The ‘disturbance’ and ‘distraction’ in the mind is deriving from the mind itself, constantly and autonomously reacting towards the mind perception of names and forms through the senses, due to egoism of attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation. It’s not because of the names and forms, or the experiences, or the surrounding environment that the mind perceives through the senses being ‘disturbing’ or ‘distracting’.
By avoiding coming in contact with certain names and forms or environment that the mind thinks is being ‘disturbing’ or ‘distracting’ might induce momentary conditional calmness/quietness or ‘silence’ to the mind, but, that is conditional and impermanent. It’s not the unconditional silence that is always there being undetermined by all the impermanent names and forms arising and passing away, which is there as it is, upon the mind is free from restlessness deriving from ignorance and egoism of attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation.
And hence, out of compassion, the teacher guides the students in the way that allows them to develop the correct understanding and be equipped with the essential practice that can help to free their minds from ignorance and egoism through their own will, effort, discipline, inquiry, direct experience and realization. Whether the students will be successfully developing the correct understanding, or make use of the essential practice, or be free from ignorance and egoism, or not, it’s not the teacher’s responsibility.
If the students are never being given the opportunity to come in contact with the teachings, to reflect upon the teachings, to try to practice the teachings, regardless of whether they will be successful, or not, as the teachers decided that they don’t want to teach about the teachings of yoga to all or some of the students selectively, expecting that all the students will eventually be free from ignorance, egoism, restlessness and suffering at their own cause just by participating in ‘silent yoga practice’ in the yoga class without the need of expounding any teachings for them to reflect upon, to implement into their yoga practice and daily life, then it’s the responsibility of the teachers for not teaching yoga with the teachings to the students that allow them to at least have the opportunity to decide whether they want to practice the teachings of yoga as it is, or not.
After the teachers have done their best to deliver the teachings and practice to the students, then it's the responsibility of the students themselves whether to practice the teachings and practice, or not, and whether they will be free from ignorance and suffering, or not. Some yoga enthusiasts have been 'loving' yoga and 'practicing' yoga for many years, but they are still under the influence of ignorance and egoism very much, and that's their own responsibility. Everyone takes their own pace to evolve. It's neither good nor bad, neither right nor wrong. As people can be 'practicing' and 'teaching' yoga for their entire life under certain 'Guru' or 'lineage' with the intense yearning to be free from ignorance and suffering, but not everyone attains 'the highest goal', but it's okay. More importantly, it's the non-attachment, non-identification, non-craving, non-aversion, non-judgment, non-comparison and non-expectation towards the effort and the fruit of the effort that allows the mind to have peace, regardless of how much challenges, obstacles, difficulties or limitations arise on the path, while being aware of the presence of ignorance and suffering in itself, or in the world. That is already a 'success' in the yoga practice.While some people never practice yoga might be free from ignorance and suffering, as they know what is non-attachment, non-identification, non-craving, non-aversion, non-judgment, non-comparison and non-expectation.
There are very few minds are at higher level of consciousness where they don’t need to practice anything or let go anything, as they are already free from ignorance and egoism, restlessness and suffering. They don’t need to attend yoga classes to learn or practice anything. These people don’t need to practice yoga or meditation, at all, and they are wise, compassionate and peaceful unconditionally. But, most minds are under the influence of ignorance and egoism, and they are in need of the help of the teachings to be reflecting upon, to implement into the yoga practice and daily life, to find out what is going on in their minds, to eradicate egoism and impurities, which will free the mind from restlessness, that allows the mind to know Thyself, to see the truth of names and forms as it is.
Those who are free from restlessness and suffering, they don’t need to learn, understand or practice the teachings of yoga. Those who are not free from restlessness and suffering, but they are not interested to be free from restlessness and suffering, that’s their freedom. While those who want to be free from restlessness and suffering, who are interested to learn and practice yoga to transcend restlessness and suffering, they need to be able to surrender the ego, pride and arrogance, to be humble, patient and determine to learn, study, inquire and practice the teachings of yoga by implementing into the yoga practice and daily life.
After attended classes humbly receiving or learning the teachings of yoga to be reflecting upon, even repeatedly hearing the same teachings over and over again, until the basic foundation is firmly built, to be implementing into the yoga practice and daily life, one retreats into seclusion or solitude, without the need of supervision, or instruction, or help, or encouragement from a teacher, to perform self-practice independently in silence, without attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgment, comparison, or expectation, without being determined by the surrounding environment, or the mind perception of names and forms, or the fruit of the yoga practice.
Those who said they want to learn and practice yoga, as they want to be free from restlessness and suffering, but they are too proud and impatient to learn, study, inquire and practice the teachings of yoga, but just interested in getting the momentary relief, calmness and good feelings deriving from performing some physical yoga practice in silence, or getting the momentary satisfaction from gratifying their desire of craving and aversion, and are not interested to free the mind from the root cause of restlessness and suffering, that’s their freedom.
Many yoga practitioners or teachers are still not free from ignorance, egoism, restlessness and suffering even after many years of attending ‘silent mindfulness yoga classes’ that deliberately doesn’t deliver any forms of teachings about freeing the mind from the ego and egoism, with the intention to minimize ‘distraction’ or ‘disturbance’ as much as possible, to allow the students to pay full attention of ‘mindfulness’ to look into their own minds and they will know Thyself. After many years of performing yoga practice in silent yoga class that doesn’t talk about the essential teachings and practice of letting go the ego and egoism, the minds are still being determined and disturbed by all the mind perception of names and forms, being disturbed by ungratified desires, because they never practice how to free the mind from ignorance and egoism.
Those who want or need to attend classes, as they can’t or don’t want to perform self-practice in seclusion and solitude, as they want to be accompanied by and interacting with some other people, and they need some guidance or instruction from someone to be performing the yoga practice, or they have the desire to be getting or learning something (that they want) from the teacher, while expecting the teacher to teach or not teaching the class in certain way, and they cannot allow the teacher to teach what they teach and how they teach, where they only want to do some physical yoga practice the way that they like, but at the same time, they get very agitated, disappointed, dissatisfied and disturbed when the yoga class is not being the way that they expect it to be, where they would get very irritated by the yoga teacher disseminating the teachings of yoga in the yoga class, or they have strong aversion towards hearing about the same teachings repeatedly, or performing the same practice repeatedly that they think they already know very well, and they think it’s the fault of the yoga teacher or the yoga class being bad and wrong for the presence of agitation, disappointment, dissatisfaction and disturbance in their minds, it indicates that they still have a lot to learn.
While some people get frustrated and irritated is because they only want to do some physical yoga practice in silence throughout the entire yoga class, but the teacher is disseminating some yoga teachings in the yoga class for the students who want to learn about the teachings of yoga, which irritates them very much. The irritation arise in their minds is due to their desire is not being gratified, where the yoga class is not being the way that they want it to be. It’s not the fault of the yoga teacher or the yoga class being what it is, if someone doesn’t like how the teacher teaches the class, or doesn’t like the yoga class that is about disseminating and practicing the teachings of yoga about eradicating the ego and egoism while performing the yoga practice and in daily life.
A yoga class is for people to come to learn about yoga and practice yoga under the guidance of a teacher. If people don’t need to learn any teachings or don’t need any guidance from a teacher, as they think they already know enough about the teachings and practice, and they want a mindful silent yoga practice without any guidance, they should be performing self-practice in seclusion and solitude. Why are they attending the yoga class that is supposed to be a teacher giving some teachings and guidance, but then they get irritated with the yoga class for being what it is? Unless it is a specific silent yoga class where all and everyone already know how to perform the yoga practice without the need of any teachings or guidance.
This is what happens when people are being taught to perform yoga practice in silence without being taught about the essential teachings and implementing the teachings into the physical yoga practice. Those who truly understand about yoga and the yoga practice, they won’t be disturbed, frustrated, disappointed or angry when things are not being the way that they would like it to be.
Even if the mind is being disturbed by something, the well-trained mind
understands what is going on, and knows how to just observe the
disturbance, without attachment or identification, without judgment or expectation, knowing that it's
impermanent, and will pass away.
Those who truly understand what is mindfulness, they are being mindful under any conditions and situations, regardless of all the names and forms arising and passing away, without attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgment, or expectation, without being determined or disturbed by the presence or absence of certain desirable or undesirable names and forms in the present moment, without trying to ‘control’ anything to be in certain way, allowing everything to be there as they are, which then allows them to be mindful unconditionally and effortlessly, while performing or not performing certain action. It’s not about selectively choosing a particular subject or object that they want to be mindful about, and get very frustrated when they feel they are being disturbed or distracted by the presence of any other names and forms that they don’t want to be mindful about. Such as, they think they cannot practice mindfulness when the teacher is disseminating the teachings of yoga while they want to be mindful towards the physical yoga practice in silence, that irritates them very much.
Hearing and reflecting upon the teachings of yoga, and implementing the teachings into the physical yoga practice doesn’t make the minds agitated or restless. It’s the reaction of aversion and disagreement coming from the mind towards the teachings being disseminated that give rise to the disturb/irritation/restlessness in the mind, from the mind itself.
It’s the craving and expectation towards “Yoga is about mindfulness in silence. I need to be mindful towards the physical yoga practice in silence without any external disturbance or distraction,” and the aversion towards the presence of undesirable/disagreeable sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations, feelings and thoughts are not being gratified, that gives rise to the disturb/irritation/restlessness in the mind, from the mind itself. Because these minds have not come in contact with any teachings about going beyond the modification of the mind and how to free the mind from egoism of attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, that allows all the other practices to be happening simultaneously and effortlessly.
Meanwhile, out of worldly passionate egoistic sympathy or empathy, there are many ‘yoga teachers’ are either wittingly or unwittingly empowering the ignorance and egoism in the students by carefully handling their easily be hurt and offended ego by not doing, or saying, or teaching anything that they don’t like and don’t agree with, and empowering the prideful ego with praise and compliment and things that they like and agree with, while gratifying their desire of craving and aversion, to please, comfort and satisfy their minds by giving them what they desire, and avoid giving them what they don’t desire, as well as encouraging mental and emotional dependence among one another, comforting and supporting one another, so that both the teachers and the students will feel love, good, joyful and meaningful through such bonding or connection, that is also conditional and impermanent.
Compassion, that allows the minds to be free from ignorance and suffering, is being seen as ‘coldness’ and ‘harshness’ by the worldly passionate egoistic sympathetic and empathetic minds, not knowing that the act of ‘sympathy and empathy’ void of wisdom and compassion is actually empowering ignorance and egoism, which hinders the minds to be free from suffering from the root. The same yoga teacher who gives the same teachings in the same class is being perceived as ‘compassionate’ by some students and ‘mean’ by some other students under the different states of mind. Meanwhile, the yoga teacher is just what it is, neither compassionate nor mean.
The teachings of yoga and the practice doesn’t discriminate anyone, regardless of whether people only want to practice some of the practices, or disagree with some of the teachings and practices, or misinterpreting the teachings, or modifying the practices, or only want to do the physical practice without any teachings, or adding in one’s worldly ideas, belief and practice, or commercialized it, or claimed authorization over it, or trademarking certain names and forms, or using it to gain selfish desire, or whatever human minds can do with it. And whatever human minds do with it, agree or disagree with it, take it or leave it, practicing or stop practicing, realizing something or haven’t realize anything, being peaceful or disturbed, being liberated from suffering or not, it doesn’t determine or affect the teachings and its practice being what it is.
The truth won’t be contaminated or changed by anything. All is impermanent and selfless.
It’s up to oneself.
Some yogis might have already transcended ignorance, who are selfless and compassionate, but they are not interested at all to teach yoga to anyone, as the ignorance in the minds of the world are too deep even for igniting the initial process of purification. They renounce worldly actions and are resting in Silence. There’s nothing selfish or wrong with that.
Minds that are smart, intelligent and knowledgeable, might not have the interest, humility or patience to learn, study, inquire and practice the teachings of yoga.
Many intellectual people might have come across with the term of “the practice of dispassion and non-attachment” for many times, but they don’t know what is dispassion and non-attachment, and still have strong passion and attachment towards all the selfless impermanent names and forms, and are not free from disturbs, hurts, offensiveness, frustration, anger, disappointment, fear, worry, guilt, regret, painful sorrow and suffering even after many years of practicing some physical yoga practice in silence because they never inquire towards what is dispassion and non-attachment, never practice dispassion and non-attachment, and not knowing how to free the mind from passion and attachment.
Such as the basic teaching and practice of “letting go” – “If it’s too painful to hold a burning hot object, just put it down and let it go,” and “If one doesn’t want to let go and continues to feel hurt by something that is hurtful, it’s one’s own responsibility.” Most people understand what these sentences mean literally, but still, many people struggle very hard with “letting go”, or couldn’t let go something that they think is “disturbing” or “hurtful”, even after many years of trying to let go, because they have no interest and patience to get to know and practice the teachings that guide them on how to inquire towards the truth of what they think is “disturbing” or “hurtful”, even if they are smart, intelligent and knowledgeable. And that’s their freedom.
Even the teachers who repeatedly mention the term of “letting go” for many times to their students in their yoga class, if without knowing how to inquire towards the truth of “letting go” and “the object of letting go”, they themselves also couldn’t let go of something that they think is disturbing or hurtful. They might be learning how to let go certain physical tension during the physical yoga practice session, and physical, mental and emotional tension are inter-related to one another, where mental and emotional tension will also be released when the physical tension is released, but they couldn’t let go mental and emotional tension from the root as well as they are continuing accumulating tension in daily life, as they didn’t inquire towards the truth of all those tension.
Those who realized selflessness and compassion, there is nothing to let go, there’s no need to let go of anything, as there is nothing being accumulated that need to be letting go, and there’s no one there that needs to let go anything. But in the process of attaining that realization, the ignorant egoistic passionate mind needs to let go many things.
Inquire the truth of everything.
Just as Swami Sivananda had mentioned in his teachings, "The Truth alone will triumph. No fear! No worry! The one who knows the Truth has no fear, no worry."
Here is one of my own experience while giving yoga classes which emphasizing on disseminate the teachings of yoga for the practitioners to reflect upon and implementing the practice of yoga philosophy in daily life from moment to moment.
There was a yoga teacher who attended one of my yoga class here in Langkawi.
She was very surprised and annoyed by how I conduct the yoga lesson.
The one question that she asked me after the class was, "Thank you for the class, but don't you feel tired talking so much?"
I told her, "If I think I (the ego) am the one who is doing the teaching, then I will be exhausted teaching many classes and doing so much talking. I'll be losing lots of energy. But I have no selfish intention or selfish expectation from giving the yoga classes or disseminating the philosophy. I have no attachment towards the action of teaching the class and the fruit of the action. I am not disturbed by the reactions of the students whether they are grateful and appreciative, or not, whether they are benefited from the teachings, or not. I am just there doing what I am doing, and I let it go as soon as I did what I did. And most people get benefited from the classes and are having a complete different perspective in life. Some are getting the "knowledge" instantly after one session, and some are getting the "knowledge" after a few sessions of "struggle" and "fighting" with the intense resistance coming from the impure intellect and the prideful ego. Some didn't get the "knowledge" yet, but they are still trying to grasp the meanings of yoga."
While some people were getting very irritated or agitated by the talking about the philosophy, they wanted to stand up and runaway, and shouting, "I don't want to hear this! Why are you talking about me? You don't know about me! I don't need to hear this! I know all these already! I don't need you to tell me all these things! I just want to do some exercises. What yoga are you teaching? This is not the yoga class that I want!"
And look, this is how the mind over-powered by the assertive prideful ego reacts towards what it hears, or sees, or experiences. It reacts strongly and violently towards the things that it doesn't like and doesn't agree with. This is what we are practicing. Observing what is happening in our mind, know who is getting upset, irritated, hurt, offended and disturbed, learn how to deal with the reactions in the mind, and learn how to let go, not being disturbed by the impurities in our own mind and not being over-powered by our own ego. It's not by looking out at what other people do and say, or what other people don't do and don't say, and be affected or disturbed by what other people do and say, or don't do and don't say.
Not everybody can have the patience to listen to some speech that seems like it is "talking" about our problems, or "pointing out" our imperfection, or "telling" us that our mind is ignorant, and it is like somebody there keeps telling and reminding us about we should be like this and like that. Of course, if the ego is very strong, and there's pride towards one's thinking and belief, then the resistance and resentment will be stronger as well. It is very normal that there will be somebody gets very annoyed and offended, while some other people in the same class are really interested and glad to know more about the yoga philosophy, while coming in contact with the same teachings. Actually nobody offends anybody. Nobody has the intention to offend anybody personally. We feel that we are being offended/attacked/belittled by what other people do and say, is because our own attachment and identification towards our own modification of the mind, our particular thinking and belief, the impure intellect and the assertive prideful ego, as well as the attachment and desire of craving and aversion towards all the perceptions of names and forms.
I know that it was the initial talk of the yoga philosophy (lasted about an hour) that had made her (the yoga teacher) very irritated. Particularly on the first session of the yoga retreat, there will be a longer dissemination of the basic teachings of yoga to the students who want to learn about yoga even before they start performing the physical yoga practice of Asana, Pranayama, concentration, relaxation, or meditation, where people can practically implement the teachings into the entire yoga practice and daily life, without attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, which will allow them to be aware of and understand what is going on in their body and mind, and realize the truth of the teachings through their own direct experience and self-realization, if they want. It's also people's own choice and freedom if they don't want to implement the teachings into the physical yoga practice and in daily life, and continuously being determined or disturbed by their attachment and desire of craving and aversion towards the mind perception of names and forms.
These are some of the basic teachings that I talk about in the yoga classes for the yoga practitioners to reflect upon while performing the yoga practice and in daily life, to know about what is going on in their minds, to know the truth of names and forms, and to know Thyself, if they want;
- about selflessness and compassion
- about contentment and simplicity
- about humility and gratitude
- about accepting what we think is ourselves (the body and the mind) as we are and everything as it is, in the present moment now
- about accepting all and everything are impermanent and allowing impermanent changes to be what they are and constantly changing
- about true happiness and true confidence
- about developing inner strength and inner flexibility of patience, determination, perseverance, forbearance, tolerance, acceptance, adjustment, adaptation and accommodation
- about the practice of letting go of craving and aversion while performing all the exercises
- about non-attachment towards the body and the mind while observing whatever the body and the mind is experiencing at the present moment now
- about not being disturbed or affected by whatever the mind perceives through the senses of what it sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches, feels and thinks
- about non-identification with the body and the mind
- about being a witness or an observer towards whatever the body and the mind is experiencing in the present moment now
- about letting go of the past and the future, being at the present moment now, from moment to moment
- about letting go of fear and worry, hurts and disappointment
- about non-reaction towards pleasant and unpleasant experiences, remain equanimous towards all the dualities of good and bad, right and wrong, positive and negative, meaningful and meaningless
- about non-judgment, non-comparison and non-expectation
- about the habits of the mind, the intellect, the ego, and the purpose of all the yoga practice is about purification of the mind, calming/quieting the mind, stilling the mind and going beyond the mind, unattached towards the mind perception of a selfless impermanent worldly life existence, renouncing worldly objects/ideas/affairs/relationships/connections/interactions/activities, preparing the mind for self-inquiry and meditation, to attain self-realization and complete annihilation of the modification of the mind
- about eradicating the ego, removing ignorance and attaining wisdom or insight to know the Truth of ourselves (the selfless perceptive mind or thinking faculty) and everything (the selfless mind perception of a selfless impermanent worldly life existence of names and forms) that the mind perceives through the senses, selflessly
- about how to deal with the restless impure modification of the mind and the assertive prideful ego
- about how to be free from fear and worry, hurts and disappointment, guilt and regret, low self-esteem and unworthiness, loneliness and meaninglessness
- about non-attachment, non-identification, non-judgment and non-expectation towards the actions and the fruit of actions
- about how to attain unconditional peace and true happiness, and be free from being determined by all the impermanent good or bad conditions of the limited body and mind, and being undisturbed by the impermanent condition of the selfless life existence and the world that we are living in, by implementing the teachings of yoga in daily life, while performing all the internal and external yoga practice of Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, concentration, meditation, silence, selfless service, study of the philosophy, chanting and prayer, the foundation of morality and right conduct, purifying and quieting the mind and allowing wisdom to arise as it is, without attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation
These are the Dharma that I practice every moment in life. I teach what I practice. I share what I experienced with the students. I teach what I am. I don't prepare myself for a speech or what to teach in the yoga class. I share what I am to the people. What I don't practice, what I am not, I couldn't share with the people. It's up to everyone whether they take it or leave it, understand or don't understand, agree or disagree with, and practice or don't practice.
And most people will have this same thought arise in their mind, "Why are you talking about me?"
(This was what some of the students who came to me and told me after the class)
But I was only talking in general about the habits of the mind and how to deal with the mind with the practice of the yoga philosophy. I didn't know their personal life problems. I don't need to know either. I never intentionally pointing at anyone and I have no intention to teach anybody about whether they should be like this or like that. I'm just there to deliver the teachings and let go of it, immediately. It depends on each individual about how they want to take it or interpret it, and whether they will get some benefits from it, or not. I never plan what I'm going to teach or say in the yoga class. Everything flows naturally. In some classes I could be saying nothing at all.
It's because all minds are having the similar habits and characteristics, such like, impurities and egoism of attachment, identification, clinging, expectation, like and dislike, want and don't want, agreement and disagreement, craving and aversion, happiness and unhappiness, fear, worry, hurt, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, impatient, irritation, frustration, agitation, depression, excitement, boredom, regret, guilt, shame, pride and arrogance, self-image, self-esteem, self-protection, selfishness, ignorance, impermanence, mental and emotional dependence, longing for love, interaction, acknowledgement, appreciation, support, sympathy and empathy, and etc. That's why when a group of people with different personalities and experiences in life are listening to the same teachings at the same time, we automatically will relate the teachings as something that is directing towards us, or talking about us personally, or it is like revealing our inner most unpleasant insecure feelings which we don't really want to confront with.
She (the yoga teacher) said to me, "I had an ex-boyfriend who talks a lots about the yoga philosophy all the time, but he never practice it. People who talk about philosophy, only know how to play around with the intellectual and don't really practice the philosophy, and what's the meaning of doing all these talking about the yoga philosophy?"
She has the freedom to feel "angry" with people who only preach and talk loud about yoga philosophy but they actually "just talk talk" only, and never really practice what they preach. Of course there will be people who like to talk loud about philosophy, but their personality and behavior might be worst than anybody who doesn't know anything about philosophy. But this is very normal. We shouldn't have any expectation towards the people who talk and teach about philosophy that they will also be practicing the philosophy at the same time. Talk is easy, practice is not so easy. But, we shouldn't be determined by other people's understanding, practice, action, reaction and behavior, for how we understand and behave, or how we practice yoga or teach yoga to other people.
This was what I said to her, "Your ex-boyfriend likes to talk about philosophy and doesn't practice the philosophy as it is, that is his own problem, not yours. You have the freedom to be angry and disappointed with him, but you don't have to. You don't have to be disturbed by it at all. It shouldn't stop you from practicing the philosophy and let him take away your own faith in expounding the Dharma as a yoga teacher."
Then she said, "But not everybody is ready for listening to all these philosophy. People will get annoyed or will reject strongly."
I didn't want to irritate her with further debates. I just said to her to let go of whatever that was irritating her at that moment. She doesn't need to be disturbed by what she thinks is not right, whether it's from me, or from anyone else.
If there is somebody who is not ready yet, then no body is really ready for yoga at all. From the moment that we have the awareness towards this life existence and we experience unhappiness and suffering, we all are ready to practice yoga (with the philosophy).
Yoga practice without implementing the philosophy or teachings, is like a picture with "God" image in it. It is nice, it is beautiful. But can this picture gives me salvation and takes away my unhappiness and suffering?
For those who couldn't stand the philosophical part of the yoga lesson, and get irritated by the "philosophical talk" very much (actually it's the ego gets irritated and being unhappy/impatient listening to the practice of the philosophy in daily life), they said it is impossible and non-practical to practice the philosophy about non-attachment in everyday life. And thus why still want to bother about the non-practical idealistic philosophy? Why waste their time listening to all these "rubbish", and why not just do the exercise only which will make them feel good and relaxed for a few hours after that? (I could understand why they think this way.)
They came for the yoga class because they want to release tensions and stress. There is nothing wrong with having this intention. In fact that is the basic effect and benefit of doing the yoga asana, pranayama, concentration and relaxation exercises. And in the daily yoga class, we will emphasize on deep relaxation for the body and the mind, to let go of any tensions physically, mentally and emotionally, especially during the final relaxation at the end of the class. It is part of the class format. We understand that most people cannot avoid generate tensions and stress from everyday life experiences, and they really need this relaxation to let go of all these accumulated tensions and stress, even though it's just a momentary relief, and people might keep accumulating unnecessary physical, mental and emotional tension in daily life, as either they don't know what is non-attachment and dispassion, or they know what is non-attachment and dispassion, but they refuse to practice them.
But, "yoga" does not just stop here. This is not the goal of the yoga practice. The body and the mind will get relaxed after the practice and will get a momentary good feeling from the practice is only part of the "side-effects" of the practice, that will change and disappear. Just like the physical body will become more healthy, more flexible and strong, the mind will become calm and relaxed, are only part of the "momentary side-effects" of the yoga practice, but they are not the end of yoga practice, or the goal of doing yoga. Though there's nothing wrong with some people take that as the goal of their yoga practice.
We should not rely on the yoga practice to feel good and attached onto that momentary good feeling that comes from the yoga practice, and generate craving and clinging towards this pleasant and calm feeling. If we attached onto it and when we couldn't perform some yoga practice due to certain reasons, then we will be so frustrated and don't feel good anymore. There is nothing wrong but this is not the true happiness that we are looking for. We still caught up in the craving and clinging towards the impermanent good condition and pleasant sensations of the body and mind.
We need to learn how to not generate tensions at the first place by practicing real non-attachment, dispassion towards worldly objects, relationships, interactions, activities and enjoyments, and discrimination towards what is real and unreal. We (the thinking mind) need to learn how to be the witness of the modification of the mind, the intellect and the ego, and not being over-powered by them. We need to learn how to go beyond the body and the modification of the mind, and not attached towards or be affected by the selfless states of the mind that is subject to impermanence, which is constantly changing from good to bad, from bad to good, due to the energy field is being influenced by all the inputs of sight, sound, smell, taste, sensation, feeling and thinking.
One time, there was a girl who actually verbally stopped me from giving the teachings in the class when I was talking about the philosophy for about 15 minutes. She shouted loudly, "Excuse me, can you please stop talking about all these things? I knew all these things already, I don't need you to tell me about it. You are like my parents, telling me what I should do and should not do. I don't need to hear all these. The yoga classes that I went to in my country, the teacher doesn't talk." She was really angry.
If a yoga teacher who has been teaching 'yoga classes' for many years also will be annoyed by the talk of yoga philosophy in a yoga class, then for sure there will be many people will likely to react the same way as well. It's a form of mental blockage/disturbance, and it will turn into a form of mental illness, if we don't have awareness and don't know how to look after our minds. More and more people are suffering from mental blockage or illness, but very few are aware of it, and do something about it. There are many 'violent damaging behavior' existing in the world either inflicted upon oneself or other people, because quite many people would easily feel irritated, angry, hurt, disturbed, offended, disrespected or insulted in everyday life due to they have strong aversion towards something that they dislike and disagree with.
May all be happy and be free.