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

Sunday, April 21, 2013

You are not how you look, or what you think how you look, and definitely not how other people perceive or see and think how you look...

Just watched a "touching" video about how women see themselves vs how other people see them (through the physical appearance, or what they think about how they look, or how they feel about themselves based on their physical look).

Our egoistic thinking and feeling mind identifies with our physical body as "I" or "who I am". The egoistic mind attached onto the physical appearance, conditions and abilities to determine the sense of self-esteem, or self-confidence, or self-worth.

"I see myself so ugly, and I feel bad. But other people see me so beautifully, and I feel much better. I'm actually better or worth more than what I think I deserve. As this is what other people think of me. What I think about myself is incorrect, and what others think of me is what I really am."

I guess this is the message that the advertisement tries to inform people. It is sort of an 'encouraging' message for people who are suffering from low self-esteem.

But it doesn't help people to be free from being conditioned by "self-esteem" or "self-worth" that built out of a self-image that derived from ignorance and egoism.

What if other people see us worst than how we see ourselves? (Just like in another video of the men's version of this advertisement campaign)

x x x x x x x x x x

Yoga and Buddhism teachings and practice are here for us to learn how to free the mind from being conditioned by "self-esteem" or "self-worth", which is a side product deriving from ignorance and egoism.

"You are not how you look. You are not what you think how you look. You are not even what you think is who you are. You are not how other people see and think about how you look or who you are. You are not this physical body. You are not how you feel. You are not this thinking and feelings. You are not this mind. The body and mind is not "who I am". There is no "I". It's just the limited body and mind being conditioned by selfless impermanent changes and decay under the nature's law of cause and effect."

This is the basic teaching and practice of yoga. This physical body and its appearance, its conditions and abilities, as well as the egoistic thinking mind that perceives all the names and forms through the senses, who sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches, feels, thinks, judges, desires, expects, acts and reacts, who has likes and dislikes, that comes along with certain personalities, behaviors and characteristics, are not "who I am". They are not "I". The body and mind are merely selfless impermanent names and forms that constantly changing and decaying.

When there is attachment and identification towards the body and the modification of the mind, and the qualities of names and forms, the mind (what we think is ourselves, or "I"), identifies itself with a self-image that is very much based on :-

- The physical appearance, conditions and abilities of what we can do and cannot do. We perceive and create a self-image for ourselves through the senses of what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch, think and feel. There is an exception if any of the senses is not functioning, such like those who are blind from birth, they might not perceive sights/images/shapes/colours, but they might have a self-image for themselves through the perception from the other senses.

- How we feel and think and judge about ourselves, that is influenced by the egoism, pride, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-worth, self-criticism, beliefs, religious teachings, relationships, friendships, family and educational background (how we were brought up and what we were told about how we should think and behave), social network and cultural background (the sense of belonging in certain group, culture or society), what we do in life, what we do for living, lifestyle and living standards, possessions, material belongings, enjoyments, likes and dislikes, ambitions, desires, achievements, expectations, judgments, and etc.

x x x x x x x x x

The self-image is the reflection of the ego, or the non-existence "I", that built on our feelings, emotions, thinking, beliefs, characteristics, personalities and all kinds of experiences in that present moment other than the qualities of the physical body.

Our self-image is also being determined by how other people perceive and judge about us through what they see, hear, smell, taste, touch, feel and think about us, based on our physical appearance, attires and accessories, hair styles and grooming, facial features, body shapes, body language, facial expression, personal hygiene and tidiness, body smells, skin texture and complexion, expression of thinking, ideas, beliefs, behaviors, emotions, speech, actions and reactions, things that they had heard about us from somewhere, their memories about us in the past, as well as direct contact and personal interactions with us in the present moment. But all these perceptions and judgments from other people are not necessarily the truth of "I" either.

Perceptions from our own mind or from other people's mind that are based on past memories and what the mind thinks, believes and judges what things are, it is not necessarily the truth of things. When our mind is influenced by negative thinking, then everything that we perceive will be contaminated by this negativity in the mind. When our mind is influenced by positive thinking, then everything that we perceive will be contaminated by this positivity in the mind as well. But that is not what things really are. They are neither negative nor positive. They are just what they are. It is just the mind being positive or negative.

Some people who have not seen us for a long time, might still keep a strong image of us (either positive, or negative, or mixture of positive and negative, and whether they liked us or not in the past, whether they'll like us or not in the present moment) based on the memories from the last time they saw us many years ago, and judge us for who we are, which is not the truth of who we are, how we look, how we feel, or how we behave in the present moment now. And most of the time, memories are distorted images. It is not the truth of things as it is.

This self-image comes from our own perception, or from how other people perceive us, is partial and impermanent. It is constantly changing. Our feelings and thinking change. Our physical appearance, conditions and abilities change. Our likes and dislikes, personalities, beliefs, or behaviors change. Everything about us (who we think we are - the mind and the body) change. If this momentary selfless existence is being determined by all these impermanent qualities, then "I" will be in a state of restlessness and dissatisfaction all the time.

Sometimes the mind doesn't want to see things as they are, but projects an imaginary image of what it prefers to be. This is what the teachings of yoga talked about, "The mind only sees and hears what it wants to see or hear..."

No one can argue with one another about each individual mind perceptions about the qualities of names and forms. As each may perceives distinctively or differently from one another on every names and forms that we come in contact with. That's why judgment of good and bad, positive and negative, happiness or suffering, are relatively and subjectively different in each individual about what things are. All these judgments about good or bad, positive or negative, happiness or suffering, are not the truth of what things really are, but it is coming from our own mind limited perceptions based on what our mind thinks, believes and expects what things are.

What we see as beautiful might be something ugly for other people, and vice versa.

The video of this advertisement campaign might help people to realize that our physical appearance or image, is very much being influenced by how we think and feel about ourselves, which is true. But then, in this campaign, people are still relying on a self-image that based on how we think and feel about ourselves, and how other people think and feel about us, to determine that self-image as "This is I". This attachment towards a self-image with certain qualities of names and forms to be identifying as who we are, is the opposite of the teachings of yoga.

There is no "I" being there to be identifying as this or that quality.

x x x x x x x x x

There is nothing wrong to feel better and happier about ourselves, whether it is coming from our own mind perception or from other people's mind perception, and to feel that we actually "worth" more than what we think we deserve. But this only strengthens and empowers the egoism and the attachment towards the physical appearance, the qualities of names and forms, and how other people judge us, to determine the sense of self-worth, self-esteem, or self-confidence of the ego. This is completely going to the opposite direction of the path of yoga and Buddhism towards the realization of selflessness, attributelessness, namelessness and formlessness.

What happen to our ego, when other people see us worst than how we see ourselves, if we are being determined by all these perceptions of names and forms, and judgments coming from our own mind or other people's mind?

We don't need to feel or think that we "worth" a million to feel good about ourselves. We don't even need to feel good. Peace is there as it is, undetermined by how the mind feels and thinks under the influence of ignorance and egoism.

Yoga and Buddhism practice is about letting go of this identification with the physical body and the egoistic thinking mind, as "who I am".

There is no doubt that our confidence, thinking and feelings are influencing the projection of a self-image from the appearance, and vice versa. When our mind feels really bad or really great, it does reflect on our appearance. The self-image that we see ourselves or give to ourselves, are most probably not the same as how other people perceive us. And if we are affected by how different people perceive us differently, our belief and self-confidence about ourselves that built on a projected self-image will be broken easily and frequently.

Sometimes we didn't dressed up "nicely", without any make up or accessories, our physical body is not in a great form, but we will see ourselves looking good as we feel great, confident and happy. This is because we like and love ourselves as we are. Vice versa, even though we dressed up "nicely", put on some beautiful make up and accessories, our physical body is in a great form, but we don't see ourselves looking good, as we feel down, lack of confidence and unhappy. This is because we don't like and don't love ourselves as we are.

If we have true confidence (coming from knowing the Truth of impermanence and selflessness), that is unconditioned and unlimited by the qualities of names and forms, then it doesn't matter what is the conditions, abilities and appearance of this physical body, and what the mind thinks or feels about ourselves, it will not influence or determine us as who we are. Even though sometimes our mind feels sad or down due to certain reasons, but it won't determine or change the truth of selflessness and the unconditional peace.

When the mind knows how to free itself from any identification with any qualities of names and forms, then it doesn't matter how it perceives itself, or how other minds perceive this mind, the mind is just what it is, being undetermined or unconditioned by the impermanent physical appearance/condition and state of the mind.
Om shanti.

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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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