be free, be happy, be peaceful

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

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My life stories - Part 11

My life Stories - Part 11
Stories from my past memories - childhood, family, friends, growing up, poverty, integrity, dreams come true, finding peace and happiness, Buddhism, Yoga, and now...

(Updated November 2020)

I wasn’t interested in getting into any love relationship or thought of getting married to someone, before I met my husband in 2005. I was nearly 35 years old and had never been in any relationship before, not even went out for a romantic outing with anyone. I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend or a husband.

I wasn’t and am not perfect. I didn’t and don’t intend to be one. I don’t have a nice personality or attractive appearance, and don’t know how to behave appropriately when being in a relationship. My personality and behavior were far away from ladylike and gentleness. For many people, being direct and straightforward are being seen as bad attitude or weakness for socializing and interacting in the society, particularly in a relationship. For countless times, I watched people always being friendly, polite and nice in front of other people, but they couldn’t hold their tongues to complain and criticize about other people behind their back. Of course that’s their freedom of thoughts, actions and speech. But, I would stay away from this type of social interaction and human relationship that is full of hypocrisy and back-biting as much as possible.

In the yoga practice, we keep purifying our minds until there’s no ill-will or ill-thinking about anyone, which would take a very long time for the mind to be purified. There’s nothing to complain or criticize about anyone for anything whether in front or behind their back. When we complain and criticize about others, it’s not because other people are being bad and wrong, or when we compliment and praise others, it’s not because other people are being good and right, but it’s our mind being impure and project impurities of good and bad qualities onto everyone and everything that our mind perceives through the senses, under the influence of personal likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements based on what our egoistic mind believes what things are and how things should be like. It’s not the truth of things as it is.

I never interested to make myself or my appearance to be attractive to attract anyone’s attention and liking. I don’t need that. If anyone doesn’t like me or disagree with my way of thinking and behavior, and if people feel intimidated or offended by my presence, I’ll let them be and I’ll stay away so that they will have peace.

Those who suffer from low self-esteem will easily feel intimidated or offended by anyone and anything, even though nobody is intentionally being intimidating or offensive towards anyone. It has to come from their own effort to be free from low self-esteem, which is part of the egoism. If anyone wants to create unnecessary problems, I’ll leave immediately, and let them take the responsibility for the consequences of their intentions and actions. If anyone doesn’t appreciate me or doesn’t want to be in my life anymore, I’ll let them go. I don’t expect anyone to be nice to me and love me. I never try to please anyone so that they will love me or be nice to me. People will be nice to me and love me if they want, as they like, out of their free will. I will be grateful and thankful for their love and kindness for me. I don’t need to receive love and kindness from other people, to have love or be happy, and to love and be kind to myself and others.

Compassion is not about trying to please everyone to make them feel good, happy and comfortable, by giving them whatever they like and want, to gratify their desires of craving and aversion. But it’s allowing everyone to be aware of what is going on in their minds, and realize the truth of the mind perception of names and forms to be free from ignorance, egoism and suffering. Unconditional love and peace is not coming from anyone or anything outside this body and mind, but it’s always there beyond the impermanent life existence, the function of the body and mind, all our actions and inactions, all the good and bad qualities of name and form, and all our relationships with everyone and everything. It’s there as it is when the mind is free from ignorance and egoism.

My husband said that I am a strange person and beyond confident. I rarely look into the mirror as I don’t mind at all how I look. I also don’t mind about how other people look at me and what they think of me. I am neither highly confident nor over confident, as I don’t need to feel or be confident at all. I don’t feel bad about myself, and I don’t think I am more superior or inferior than anyone. It’s okay if others want to look down on me, that’s their freedom, but I don’t look down on anyone. What others want to think, act and say about other people is their freedom of thinking, expression, action and speech, but what others think, express, act and say about me cannot determine what I am and am not. I don’t look up to anyone either. I respect all my teachers and appreciate those who inspire me, but I don’t try to become like them. I don’t need to agree or disagree with everyone with many different types of thinking, belief, values and behavior. I respect everyone as they are, even if my mind dislikes and disagrees with them based on the thinking and belief in my mind about what is good and bad, right and wrong. And I admire nobody, even when my mind thinks that they are great and wonderful, based on the thinking and belief in my mind about what is greatness and wonderfulness. Most of the time, I don’t comment about anything and anyone. Because everyone and everything are just being what they are, and they are impermanent.

There’s nothing wrong to give praise and compliment to other people to encourage people to do good and continue to improve in all aspects, but the one who needs encouragement of praise and compliment from other people to motivate it to do good and continue to improve is the ego. By giving the ego what it likes and wants won’t help to eliminate the ego, but it’s feeding and empowering the ego instead. That’s why in the traditional yoga classes, the teacher rarely gives praise and compliment, it isn’t that the teacher is arrogant or doesn’t appreciate the students’ good performance, but it’s not to feed and empower the ego of the yoga students. Those who truly practice yoga don’t need any praise and compliment from anyone to motivate them to do good and continue to improve. Naturally, they will do good and continue to improve, intentionlessly and selflessly, without attachment or identification towards their actions and the fruit of their actions.

In many families in the modern society, when the parents want to ask the children to be doing something for themselves or for other people, the parents will try to encourage or motivate the children by giving them something that they like and want as reward after they have done what they were asked to do. It’s about performing actions in exchange for something in return. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, this is completely the opposite of the teachings of yoga. The children will grow up with the idea that they will only be motivated to do something only if they can get something that they like and want in return. Or else, they won’t be motivated to do anything, even if it’s something beneficial for themselves. In yoga, we perform actions for ourselves and others out of free-will and loving kindness, without expecting something that we like and want in return, while allowing the outcome to be what it is.

And so, it’s not easy to be friend with me, not to say, to be in a relationship with me and shares life with me. I do my best to be kind to others, but not in the way that what other people expect kindness to be like. Instead, people might think that I am being unkind to them. But that’s their freedom of thinking and reaction.

After I did my first Vipassana silent meditation retreat in Dehradun, India, I went through a serious purification process where lots of rash and pimples appeared on my face and my whole body for more than one and a half years, I didn’t feel unhappy or worry, and didn’t try to do something to get rid of them. My husband arrived in Malaysia to be with me in 2007 and when he saw me in such condition for many months, he wanted to give me some money to go to a beauty salon to get some treatments, but I said to him, “No need. They will go away one day.” And they went away months later.

Since 2009, I only use hair shampoo once or twice a month and every day I take shower with water only. I use soap only for washing my hands. My travelling wash bag contains only a toothbrush and toothpaste.

I don’t need to celebrate new years, birthdays or anniversaries. I don’t have a wedding ring or wedding photos. My husband once made a ring out of straw that he picked up from the ground while we were travelling in Varanasi in 2008, and he gave it to me and told me that we were ‘officially’ married. On another time, he secretly put three Bodhi leaves in my diary because I told him it was my first time saw a Bodhi tree when we were travelling in Rishikesh. I only realized the Bodhi leaves were there when I opened my diary a few days later. He also gave me three river stones that he found at the riverbank of the Ganges in Rishikesh. My husband doesn’t need to give me material things as presents as I am not interested in material things or presents. He doesn’t need to give me anything or do something to show that he loves me, or for me to feel loved by him and for me to love him. I love him as he is. I only appreciate life every moment, from day to day.

I live every day as it is and step by step. I don’t have future plans for life. I might need to plan travelling itinerary ahead, such as booking flight tickets, but I allow changes to happen anytime. I don’t need to own properties or things. I don’t need to have enjoyments.

People like to say that we should do things that will make us happy, but I don’t need to do anything special that would make me happy, as I don’t need to feel or be happy. I am happy as I am.

I’ll share the stories from the past as it might help others to find a way to peace and freedom. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t help anyone. But, I leave the past at where they belonged, I don’t bring them into the present. Though the past cannot be changed, there will always be changes and unexpected happenings in life in the present moment. There will be some pleasant and unpleasant experiences, desirable and undesirable happenings, and people or things coming and going. I do my best to live life as it is and stay away from unnecessary energy wasting human-made troubles as much as possible, while channeling my life existence and energy into practicing and teaching yoga, and be in peace.

My husband is very different from me. He is gentle and romantic. Once, he tried to be romantic and sang a love song to me in a cafe, but I thought he was just humming a song for himself, and I didn’t pay any attention to him and his singing. When he told me about it later in disappointment, I told him that I would try to learn to be more sensitive towards his love and affection for me.

I had been living on my own for many years, but I never felt lonely. And I fully enjoyed those peaceful quiet moments living by myself and being with myself. I have some good friends when I was living in Kuala Lumpur, and occasionally, I would visit them at their homes or go out with them to have a coffee or lunch together. In the past, I didn’t have to tell or inform anyone about how I felt, what I was doing, where I was going, or when I would be coming back home, until my husband came to Malaysia to be with me. My parents never questioned me about all these things. It wasn’t that they didn’t care, but they didn’t need to worry for me at all.

I wasn’t and aren’t skillful in social interaction or to engage in any social conversations. Most probably it’s because I was never interested in socializing, mingling or accumulating personal friendships. Socializing, mingling and chit-chatting are good for worldly social interaction and public relation, but it is detrimental for yoga and meditation practice. It stimulates the thought waves and strengthens the worldly egoistic attachments, identifications and ideas, and empowering the desires of craving and aversion. We can list out what people usually talk about in a social conversation, and see how much our minds are being influenced and affected by all those daily conversations about worldly ideas and affairs, where restlessness and tension built up physically and mentally until people need to do something or go somewhere to relax and unwind from time to time.

In most conversations, many people talk about the past and the future. Most people want to be friendly and making friendship by starting a social interactive conversation, where they want to talk about themselves and also to hear other people talk about their stuffs. People want to express their opinions and also want to hear other people’s opinions. People want to know about each other and learn from one another. There’s nothing wrong with the worldly social interactions between human beings. But in terms of yoga practice, it’s about knowing thyself. It’s not about knowing other people or want to be known by other people. Minds that are being conditioned by worldly thinking, belief and ideas might think that it is a form of selfishness and rudeness when some people don’t show interest to know about other people. As one of the basic teachings of yoga, one practices dispassion and disinterest towards worldly affairs as well as other people’s affairs. It isn’t that yoga practitioners don’t care about what is happening to the world and other people, but one must look after one’s mind first before one can care for the world and the others efficiently.

When one’s mind is free from ignorance, egoism, attachment, identification, desires of craving and aversion and all sorts of impurities, and realizes unconditional love and peace in oneself, being firmly resting in peace undisturbed by all the impermanent qualities of name and form, then naturally, without any intention or expectation, one will be contributing peace into the world by stop generating unrest and disharmony into the world. By looking after oneself and being peaceful in oneself, is actually loving and caring for the world and the society.

One must learn about oneself and know about oneself by quieting and purifying the mind through self-introspection and self-discipline, and then one will know how to love and care for oneself, before one can actually know about others, and love and care for others. The entire society will become more peaceful and harmony when everyone learns about oneself, knows oneself, and loves and cares for oneself.

Instead of wasting energy in socializing or talking about worldly ideas and affairs, I conserve energy for practicing and teaching yoga. Talking about worldly ideas and affairs won’t help anyone to be free from worldly identifications and attachments towards worldly names and forms, and it won’t make the world to be a better place. In fact, talking about this and that will stimulate the mind, and it doesn’t help to quiet the mind. Yoga and meditation practice is mainly for quieting the mind. The condition of the world will change towards peace and harmony only if each and everyone who are existing and living in the world has self-awareness and self-control, to make an effort to change themselves, to purify and quiet their minds, to be free from ignorance and egoism. The world is just what it is. It is neither good nor bad. It’s the occupants in the world that are projecting good and bad qualities into the world and contributing peace or unrest into the world. The one who is free from good and bad qualities, perceives the world as it is.

Though I am not interested in accumulating personal social friendships, I do my best to be friendly to all. I don’t discriminate people into friends or not friends. There’s no special treatment towards certain people. Those who think they deserve to be treated in certain ways that they think they should be treated, they will be disappointed by their own expectation. It’s everyone’s freedom if people want to discriminate everyone into friends and not friends, and have expectation towards how other people should act and react, behave and response according to their own thinking, belief, values and practice. If people feel annoyed or offended by other people who have different actions and reactions, different behaviors and responses under the influence of different thinking, belief, values and practice, that is their own reaction and responsibility.

In the teachings of yoga, friendliness is about being kind and compassionate towards all and everyone without discrimination, prejudice or bias towards everyone with different thinking, belief, values and practice. We have self-control over our actions and speech to stop generate actions and speech that will cause unrest and disharmony in other people or in the society. We constantly be aware of the impurities in our minds, and unceasingly purify our minds to be free from all sorts of impurities, so that we won’t hurt ourselves and others out of the influence of impurities like anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, pride, arrogance, desires, lust, feelings of hurts, doubt, fear and worry. It’s nothing to do with accumulating personal friendships everywhere with those who are like-minded and agreeable with one another.

There’s no possessiveness or attachment towards anyone to be ‘my friend’. There’s no expectation towards friendships for getting something that we want, such as love, affection, acknowledgement, companionship, interaction, trust, care and support, or getting rid of something that we don’t want, such as loneliness and boredom. There’s no expectation towards other people that they have to be friendly and nice to us. We allow everyone to be friendly and nice to us, or not. We don’t feel offended when we don’t get the appropriate reactions that what most people expect to be getting from other people. We don’t expect people should react and behave in certain ways according to our own thinking, social ethics, cultural values, belief and practice. We respect all and everyone to be different from us for having different personalities, characteristics, behaviors, opinions, values, policies, thinking and beliefs. We don’t try to interfere with, or to control, or to change other people to be differently from what they are, to be the way that we think they should be, but allowing and respecting everyone to be the way as they are. That is real friendliness.

If people feel hurt or disturbed by other people’s action and reaction, that is their own responsibility coming from how their minds react towards all the perceptions of names and forms, influenced by their egoism of attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion and expectation based on their own particular conditioned thinking and belief. Those who are free from egoism of attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion and expectation based on certain conditioned thinking and belief, will not be hurt or disturbed by anything or anyone.

Being in a relationship and to share living space with another person was a great challenge for me in the beginning. There were lots of things I needed to learn, to adjust, to adapt, to accommodate, to tolerate, to forbear, to accept, and to let go selfishness and the ego. All these are indeed our yoga practice. And I am always learning.

My husband is a good man and a good husband. He is very friendly, kind-hearted and generous. It is very good karma to have him in my life. He loves me very much. I appreciate his love for me and being in my life.

Before we knew each other, I was teaching aerobics dance classes in and around Kuala Lumpur for making a living, while he was working in a refuge in the Pyrenees in France.

We met each other for the first time in the Sivananda Dhanwantari Yoga Vedanta Ashram in South India, where we did the International Yoga Teachers Training Course in January 2005.

Without any intention, we had conversation about yoga and Buddhism for a few times during the one month course. In those conversation, I never asked him where he came from, where he lived, what he did in the past, what he was doing then, or who he was in general. I didn’t even know what nationality he has. I never interested in knowing about the past, or try to know anyone about where they come from, or what they do, or who they are.

He stayed back in the Ashram for another few months after the course ended, while I came back to Malaysia, continued to teach aerobics dance classes and yoga classes. I wrote him a letter sent to the Ashram after I came back, as I felt that he needed Dhamma at that time. The letter was all about Dhamma, there’s nothing romantic at all. He told me later that the letter meant a lot to him, and he had kept the letter with him all the time wherever he went, until now.

Without any intention, we both attended the Advance Teachers Training Course in February 2006. My initial plan was to stay back in the Ashram to perform selfless service for three months after the course ended. I would stay longer if I had more money. But the savings that I had was only just enough for the course and for staying in the Ashram for three more months. I didn’t know that my plan would change, and changing my life too. A few days after we met again for the second time, he asked me if I wanted to travel with him in India learning more yoga and meditation under different schools and teachers after the course finished. I didn’t answer him at that time because I wanted to stay in the Ashram after the course, and I couldn’t afford to go travelling somewhere else. We kept a distance with each other in the Ashram as we respect the Ashram’s rule of male and female students’ segregation, and we didn’t say anything about it anymore.

Just a few days before the course finished, a spontaneous thought arose in my mind during the evening Satsang meditation session, that if he came to me right after the meditation finished and asked me to travel with him in India, then I would go with him. But if he didn’t come to me that night and didn’t ask me that question at that time, then I wouldn’t go with him, but to stay in the Ashram for the next three months. And miraculously, as everyone was leaving the meditation hall, he was waiting for me at the exit and he grabbed my hand and pulled me to the side and asked me in the dark, “Do you want to travel with me in India?” And I said yes. And so, we went travelling together in India after the course ended. He paid most of the travelling expenses and the fees for the yoga course.

We spent two and a half months together, where we came to know each other deeper. We both got really sick from food poisoning for a month from the first day we arrived in Delhi. During that time, we took turn to take care of each other at our worst condition.

Then he went back to France, while I came back to Malaysia without any expectation that we would see each other again. I mentioned to him before, that he could come to Malaysia to teach yoga with me if he wanted. We didn’t really have any contact since then.

He went back to India for the third time in the end of 2006 after finished working at the refuge, while I was in Malaysia. I didn’t go to India. Nine months later after the last time we saw each other, he called me from India one afternoon, telling me that he had booked a flight to come to Malaysia arriving the next day. He came in February 2007 and never left. We got married in the end of 2008.

All relationships and life experiences will have ups and downs. It’s subject to impermanence or changes. When two people who come from different cultural backgrounds with different personalities come together, there will be some conflicts arise from time to time. It depends on the depth of our understanding, acceptance, adaptation, adjustment, accommodation, tolerance, forgiveness and letting go, for us to be able to stay cheerful and happy in life, regardless of all the agreements and disagreements, likes and dislikes, ups and downs in life and in the relationship. But most important is that we need to know what we really want in life for ourselves.

My mother tongue is Cantonese, and my second languages are Mandarin and Malay. Before my husband came to Malaysia living with me, I seldom spoke English in daily conversations except when I taught classes I used very simple and minimal English. My husband and I had many misunderstanding especially in the beginning because my English comprehension was really limited and I also have bad hearing due to constant shouting when teaching aerobics classes under the loud music. My husband speaks very softly. I had to ask him to repeat his sentences again and again. It was frustrating for him. I used to talk very loud and fast, which was really difficult for my husband because he has sensitive hearing and suffers from tinnitus. He suffered a lot from my loud speaking. As years passed by, I started to speak more softly, and slowly. My husband had to keep correcting my English pronunciations and the usage of tenses. It took me few years to learn to pronounce words like egg, eight, three, world, girl, file, wild, duck, abdomen, buttocks, wrists, necessarily, vocabulary, probably, and etc. Even after many years speaking in English, I am still having trouble pronouncing words like thought, thigh, they and there. When I speak in English, I am actually translating directly from Chinese. And there are no tenses in Chinese language. My husband said that he couldn’t understand me and constantly misunderstood what I wanted to say because I didn’t know how to use the correct pronunciation and tenses to tell my stories or when I wanted to say something. But we understood and we learned to be patient and accommodate each other whenever we communicate.

It didn’t and doesn’t matter to me about how other people perceive me, as I am what I am. I accept and love myself as I am. I don’t live my life according to the worldly thinking and belief and the current trends, to fulfill other people’s expectation. Neither will I try to please anyone by pretending to be somebody else whom I am not. If people don’t like something or everything about me, it’s their freedom. Everyone is responsible for their own happiness and unhappiness. Nobody can make another person happy or unhappy. If people want to be happy, no one can make them unhappy. If people want to be unhappy, no one can make them happy. When people feel happy is because they are getting something that they like and want, and are not getting what they don’t like and don’t want. When people feel unhappy is because they are getting something that they don’t like and don’t want, and are not getting what they like and want. It’s not because things or people are being good or bad, nice or not nice. My husband’s personal likes and dislikes and his mind perception about me also cannot determine me or change me, for what I am and how I think, act and feel.

We are happy as we are. I can’t make my husband happy. Neither can he make me happy. We can only do our best to be kind to one another.

Most of the time, the truth is not something agreeable or pleasant to the minds that are not free from attachment and identification towards certain conditioned thinking and belief under the influence of ignorance and egoism. Most people perceive their own reality under the influence of particular conditional thinking and belief, they don’t see the truth as it is. Those who are not free from ignorance and egoism might have heard about the truth from others, but they might not like the truth and don’t agree with the truth realized by others, because it’s not their own realization. People perceive everything influenced by the judgment based on their own particular thinking and belief, and they live in their own personal reality. Those who practice yoga and Buddhism don’t blind-believe in the truth realized by others, even if it’s coming from Buddha or any saints and sages. Everyone has to realize the truth by themselves.

People want and expect the truth to be something that they like and want that is agreeable to their own personal worldly thinking and belief. Everyone who attached to different thinking and belief would perceive their own personal reality differently from one another. Everyone has their own perception of reality that is being different from one another and there’s nothing wrong with that. But the universal truth is still the one same truth whether people like and agree with it, or not, whether people think and believe it’s the truth, or not. As the truth is not a belief, or intellectual analysis. It’s the way of everything being what they are, as they are, and constantly changing. But most people don’t want things to be what they are, but they want things to be the way that they like and want it to be, or the way that they think it should be.

Things that matter very much for many people, might not matter to me at all. When people are sad and crying about something, I might not react the same. When people are happy and cheering about something, I might not react the same. I don’t expect anyone to be like me, or to accept me. I don’t expect people to react or don’t react in certain way. I don’t need anyone to like me or agree with me, but allowing everyone to like and dislike, to agree and disagree about anything and anyone, as they are. 

Most people would perceive this as ‘hard’, or ‘stubborn’, or ‘self-centred’, or ‘selfish’ according to the passionate worldly thinking and belief, and that’s their freedom of thinking. Buddha didn’t change to be something else that he was not, according to what everyone liked and disliked, agreed and disagreed with. Buddha lived in the truth and allowing everyone realizing the truth, or not. There’s no desire/intention/aspiration/ambition of “I need to do something to get as many people as possible to realize the truth.”

This also shows that how kind and loving is my husband for him to love me and accept me as I am. It’s a great challenge for him to be in a relationship with me and to share life with me.

That’s also why I am never interested in joining any ‘groups’. I am free to be who I am, as I am. And I am free from getting involve in gossips, vain talks, conflicts, condemn, criticism, argument, and so on. When we have bad things to say about others, it’s not because other people are being bad and wrong, but it’s because our minds are not pure. If our minds are pure, there’s no bad thing to say about others, even if we are aware of something that isn’t good and right about someone based on what our minds believe as good and bad, right and wrong.

Worldly minded people might think that being silent towards things that are bad and wrong is supporting all those bad and wrong things. But, what people think and believe as good and bad, right and wrong, is very subjective, it’s not necessarily the truth of what things are. By being vocally and physically violent towards something that is bad and wrong won’t change the reality of those things being bad and wrong. But everyone must develop self-awareness and self-introspection in themselves to be aware of their own minds, to be initiative to make an effort to purify their own minds, and have self-control over their own thinking, actions and speech.

By telling people that they are ignorant or wrong and bad, won’t make people stop being ignorant or wrong and bad. It has to come from everyone’s self-awareness, self-realization and self-control to be free from ignorance or bad and wrong thinking and behavior.

Although I don’t belong to any groups, but I respect everyone has their own groups, where they think they belong to, or if people feel there’s a need to attach onto certain quality and identification and to obtain certain acknowledgment, recognition and authorization to be who they are. Some people think that they need to mix into certain groups and do anything to be accepted by those groups, to feel that those are the places where they belong, to be interacting and sharing something in common among the people in those groups.

Some people join certain groups for getting some personal gains, or business exchange and benefits. But then they will complain that they are not free to be who they are, and are being ‘pressured’ or ‘forced’ to do things the way that the groups believe how things should be done. As by joining certain groups, there are some standards and qualities, or rules and regulations in the groups that the members have to comply and be recognized as being one of them, or else they will be criticized, or condemned, or expelled. One will have to be like them or behave like them, and one is not free to be oneself anymore. Oneself and one’s life are being watched and interfered by the others all the time, and is being bound to play by the rules of the games once one joined any groups.

Some people don’t like and don’t agree with the way we are, as they can’t understand why we want to keep very low profile, that we are not eager to promote our yoga retreats, and they would try to give us many advice about how we should run our yoga retreats and how to live our lives, even though we never asked anyone for any advice. We let them be free to express their minds to give their opinions. But then when they realize that we are happy with the way as we are and have no interest to follow any of their advice, they would feel offended and disrespected. This is the world, full of such action and reaction. People constantly interfering with other people and easily be offended when things are not being the way that they like it to be. In yoga practice, we refrain ourselves from the egoistic action and reaction under the influence of worldly thinking, belief and ideas.

I have no greed to get any helps or benefits from any ‘groups’ to enhance or improve our social life, or life condition, or income. If I need to do something or to attain something, I depend solely on my own effort to get things done. Or else, I don’t. It doesn’t matter if I didn’t get what I wanted. I also don’t need to attain any encouragement, acknowledgement, support, or companionship from some other people or friends to motivate me to do something that I want to do.

I do things in my own ways and at my own pace. There’s no stress or tension. I’m not ambitious to run a bigger retreat centre with higher capacity and income. We did everything by ourselves (my husband and I) within our own capacity. We didn’t need to rely on any ’employees’ to run the yoga retreats. As it wouldn’t be the same. It would become a business, with higher expenses and costs. We did all the teachings, cooking, driving, accommodation arrangement, emails response, website updates, cleaning, washing, maintenance, and shopping all by ourselves.

If some people don’t understand about what we do, we don’t expect that they should understand. If people aren’t really interested in the traditional yoga practice about quieting the mind through the annihilation of ignorance and egoism, and they don’t have the humility to learn and practice yoga as it is, but they are only interested in joining some fitness yoga exercise classes, and they are not interested in our yoga retreats or what we teach, that’s their freedom. We will suggest to them to go to some other yoga fitness centres that might provide cheap and cheerful yoga exercise classes. As these people are not really interested in learning and practicing yoga. There are many yoga asana instructors in the world that will provide fitness yoga exercise classes to these people who only interested in doing some stretching, strength and flexibility fitness workout, to be able to do many yoga asana poses that they want to be able to do, and to look good and feel good about themselves. There’s nothing wrong with that and it’s their freedom. We would appreciate very much to have the free time to focus on our own personal practice.

Many people said that they are interested in yoga and they want to learn yoga, but when they hear the teachings of yoga about dispassion, renunciation and letting go of egoism of attachment, identification, desires of craving and aversion, and expectation, either their minds will start to be opened towards what they didn’t know before, and be able to see what is going on in their minds, or their minds will be rejecting what they don’t know, or what is contradicted with their existing thinking and belief, and they want to run away from what their minds don’t like and don’t agree with. The stronger the ego is, the stronger the rejection towards the teachings of yoga about the annihilation of the ego will be. Everyone has the freedom for what they want and don’t want. People don’t have to practice yoga that is not the way that they like it to be.

I just do my best within my ability and limitation. Some people being optimistic and they think and believe that they can change the world, that’s their freedom. Even Buddha never claimed that being enlightened and be free from ignorance and suffering could change the world. Buddha didn’t have intention to change the world or had expectation that the world will be changed by his enlightenment, his presence or the teachings of Buddhism. He just shared the path towards liberation.

No doubt that the existence of everything and everyone are inter-dependent on many others. But, everyone has to work independently towards liberation. When serious Sadhaka advance in their practice, they will renounce the world and go into seclusion for at least five or six years cutting off all kinds of communication with family and friends completely. Nowadays, many people who identify themselves as ‘yoga practitioners’ or ‘yogis’, who say that they love yoga and like doing a particular style of yoga asana practice, they are not really interested in dispassion and renunciation. And that is their freedom of what they want to do with their life existence.

I believe in the one same nature in everything, which is the truth of impermanence and selflessness. I see the same nature in everything, despite all the different qualities of name and form that exist in everyone, that generate separateness, discrimination, likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements. From separateness, there arise craving and aversion, conflicts, discrimination, fear, anger, hatred and jealousy in us. Though I do things in my own way, I don’t feel myself as an individual being separated from any other beings even though I don’t join any groups or attach onto certain identifications to be who I am. I don’t need to obtain any recognition or support from any social groups to be somebody.

What I do and don’t do is just actions and inactions, it’s not I. Whatever I experienced in the past and am experiencing now, it’s not I. Whatever qualities I had or didn’t have in the past, and what qualities I have or don’t have in the present, it’s just part of the impermanent and selfless modification of this mind. There’s no I. The many ‘I’s that exist in the entire blog about My Life Stories telling all the stories here is just the impermanent and selfless mind.

This mind has no expectation towards this life existence, or towards itself and other minds, or in its relationships with anyone. Neither will it be disappointed with itself or other minds, as it doesn’t expect anything. By having expectation won’t change the reality that it doesn’t like into something that it prefers, and this mind is not interested at all to change other minds to be the way that it thinks they should be.

And so, it’s really not easy to deal with or to live with a person like me. As I can be very ‘stubborn’ or ‘hard’ in my own way. I let people think what they want to think, and say what they want to say, and I am still what I am. I never try to please anyone and I don’t need anyone to please me. I don’t try to interfere with others’ freedom to be what and how they are. I let people to be happy or unhappy, and to take full responsibility for themselves. I have no intention to make anyone unhappy or to hurt anyone deliberately. I can wish everyone peace and happiness. I can wish everyone be free from unhappiness and suffering. But I can’t and don’t make people become peaceful and happy. People are peaceful and happy is because they are free from ignorance and they allow themselves to be peaceful and happy. I let everyone to be what they are. I can’t control or dictate their thinking and feelings, what they like and dislike, what they want and don’t want. If they want to be ignorant or unhappy, and attach onto qualities of name and form to be who they are, I’ll let them be.

I do my best to help people who need help, like my family and friends and people who come to learn about yoga, but I can't help anyone if people don't want to help themselves. If people don't help themselves, I'll let them be, even if they are my family and friends. It's their freedom of what they want to do with themselves and their lives. If I can't help due to some limitation, I'll let it be. It's not necessarily that everyone will like and agree with the way that I try to help other people, as I help other people not necessarily in the way that they expect it to be according to the worldly passionate thinking and belief. I don't take away or solve people's problems, but allowing them to realize the cause of their problems, to learn how to not attach to their existing problems and stop generate unnecessary problems. Some people appreciate that while many people won't appreciate that, as most people expect help in the way where someone can take away or solve all their problems for them.

Nowadays, many people who think they are mentally and emotionally disturbed and hurt by something hurtful, they feel and believe that they are suffering from mental and emotional hurts and suffering, and they are looking forward to be receiving some kind of 'spiritual healing' treatment from someone 'spiritual' to heal them, to take away their painful hurts and suffering. Meanwhile, there are many different kinds of 'spiritual healing' being 'advertised' in the world claiming to be able to 'heal' people's mental and emotional hurts and suffering, including in the world of yoga. That's their freedom. Getting certain 'healing treatment' or receiving certain 'comforting love and affection' from some other beings might relieve certain degrees of mental and emotional pain, but it doesn't stop the mind to be continuing perceiving/experiencing/feeling 'hurts' and 'suffering' mentally and emotionally whenever people think and believe they are 'experiencing' and 'disturbed by' some kind of 'hurtful' and 'suffering' experiences.

When people come to us, we don't give them 'spiritual healing' treatment. We don't take away or remove what people think and believe is their mental or emotional painful hurts and suffering. We teach and guide everyone to contemplate upon or look into their own minds to know what is going on in their minds, that allows them to see the truth of hurts and suffering, to realize the root cause of hurts and suffering, to realize selflessness and compassion. We don't heal anyone, but it's coming from people themselves willingly to let go all the ignorant perception about everything that will liberate them from any kind of 'so called' mental and emotional 'hurts' and 'suffering'.

If people are not willing to learn about what is going on in their own minds, and reluctant to open their minds, where they insist that all their painful hurts and suffering are caused by somebody and something that is being hurtful and suffering, and feel greatly insulted and offended when being told to 'identify' and 'see' the ignorance and egoism in their own mind, then the teaching and practice is useless to them.

I don't need to 'heal' anyone, and I don't 'heal' anyone. All kinds of 'hurts' and 'suffering' ceased existing or vanished from the mind when the mind is free from ignorance and egoism, upon knowing thyself and knowing the truth of names and forms. 'Hurts' and 'suffering' don't exist upon the realization of the truth, and nobody needs to be 'healed' from 'hurts' and 'suffering', as nobody is being there to perceive or experience 'hurt' and 'suffering' upon the realization of selflessness and compassion. That is real freedom.

Non-attachment and letting go towards actions and the fruit of actions is the essence of the yoga practice. One can be performing many actions but is not determined by the actions or the fruit of actions. There's no success or failure, no praise or condemn, that can motivate or demotivate me to perform actions, or not. There's no need any acknowledgment, recognition, approval, appreciation, gratefulness and thankfulness from anyone to motivate one to perform actions, to feel happy and meaningful, or not.

I am peaceful as I am. This is why I am always cheerful and lighthearted even if there’s some challenging situations arise in my life, as I am not disturbed or determined by the pleasant and unpleasant life experiences, and undetermined by other people’s judgments, opinions, likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements. If my mind is ever being disturbed by certain names and forms, I could let it go very fast.

I take full responsibility for the consequences of my decisions and actions made. There are no regrets. If the consequences of my decisions or actions are unpleasant, I take them as they are. Most of the time, what we think and believe as good and right decisions and actions are not necessarily bringing pleasant consequences. Life experiences can be very unpleasant and difficult, but it doesn’t mean that we did something wrong or bad.

Yoga and meditation and Buddhism practice is practical in every moment in life while we experience what we recognized as happiness and unhappiness, pleasant and unpleasant experiences in life and in relationships with anyone. The practice is in the present moment now, being aware of the reality as it is and accepting the reality as it is, without generate attachment or identification, without craving or aversion towards the impermanent qualities of name and form that our mind perceives through the senses. There’s no such idea as “I did a lot of yoga and meditation practice in the past”, or “I do lots of yoga or meditation in the present”, or “I am going to practice yoga and meditation in the future”.

I share what I am with the guests who come for our yoga retreats. I don’t teach yoga according to what we learned from the yoga teachers training course curriculum or the teaching manual, or from reading yoga books, or from hearing from somebody else about what is yoga and how they teach yoga.

Whatever I am and am not, whatever I do and don’t do, it’s not I. It’s all nothing but selfless impermanent changes of some qualities of name and form.

Before this mind realized love and peace in itself and was full of unhappiness and behaving terribly, hurting itself and others out of deep ignorance and egoism, it needed help and it was inspired and influenced by particular person (Madonna), teacher (Buddha, Ajahn Chah, Swami Sivananda) and teaching (Buddhism, Yoga) to change itself, to uplift itself, to discipline itself, to see the ignorance and the consequence of ignorance in itself. After this mind realized what is suffering and the cause of suffering, it is what it is. I am what I am. Impermanent and selfless. This mind stops blaming, longing, expecting. All is itself and the consequence of itself. All is impermanent. All is selfless.


For more stories about our relationship, there's an article in the newspaper, you can read on this link Love Came Slowly

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About Yoga

Know thyself. Everything is impermanent and selfless. There is no 'I'. There is no 'I am selfless'/'I am not selfless'. There is no 'I am hurt'/'I need to be healed from hurt'. Non-blind believing, non-blind following, non-blind practicing and non-blind propagating, but be open-minded to inquire the truth of everything. Be free. Be peaceful. Be happy.

About Meng Foong

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