The basic humanity of thoughtfulness and self-initiative to look after things

The prerequisite for someone to be fit to learn and practice yoga even before the four means of Viveka, Vairagya, Mumukshutva and Shat-sampat to qualify someone as a Sadhaka, is about some basic humanity of thoughtfulness and self-initiative to look after things, whether the things belong to oneself, or don’t belong to oneself, and maintaining tidiness and cleanliness of the surrounding environment out of free-will and self-initiative, whether it’s a personal space or a public space, even when nobody is obliged to perform such thoughtful selfless actions, or even when one has to pay some fees to be staying at a particular accommodation, to be at a particular place, for a particular reason.

Those who aren’t aware of this very basic of humanity, especially money minded people who believe in “I’ll get 2 cents back for every 1 cent that I’ve paid,” they are unfit to learn and practice yoga, even if they have a strong and flexible physical body to perform many of the yoga asana poses nicely in perfect alignment, or they have attended many ‘yoga courses’ and attained many ‘Internationally recognized yoga certifications’.

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The importance of restricting worldly physical and mental activities

All kinds of yoga practice serve the purpose of changing the restless habits of the egoistic mind to render the mind calm and quiet to prepare the mind for meditation by weakening egoism of attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment and expectation, and eventually annihilate egoism completely, rendering the mind pure and quiet being free from impurities and restlessness to see the truth as it is.

One of the important practice to change the restless habits of the mind to render the mind pure and quiet is by restricting the worldly physical and mental activities, even though it doesn’t guarantee that the mind will be free from ignorance and suffering, if the mind doesn’t know how to be free from egoism. Such as full body paralysis or unconsciousness doesn’t mean that the mind is free from ignorance and suffering.

Some yoga practitioners think that they don’t need to restrict the worldly physical and mental activities to silent the thought activities, as they believe that all their worldly physical and mental activities are good and righteous actions derived from good and righteous intention, and all these good and righteous actions will be transformed into virtues and merits that will only bring good karma in return and there won’t be any bad karma in the making, that all their life experiences will only be good, joyful, pleasant, desirable and enjoyable, and void of all kinds of suffering.

Some young, fit and healthy ‘yoga teachers’ even proclaim that by practicing yoga, their physical body can defy old age, decay, or illness. The physical body of Siddhartha Gautama Buddha and many enlightened Gurus in the past also had to go through the inevitable truth of impermanence and selflessness of decay, illness, old age and death/decomposition, even though the mind had attained liberation from the suffering of ignorance, egoism, impurities and restlessness.

One of the common reason for many yoga practitioners who ignore the importance of silencing the thought activities is, they (the ever restless mind) don’t like/want to be quiet, but instead, they want actions/stimulation endlessly. Not just that they aren’t interested in silencing the thought activities, but they enjoy or indulge in the restlessness of ceaseless worldly physical and mental activities. Restricting the mind from the worldly physical and mental activities appears to be meaningless, boring and suffering for the minds that enjoy ceaseless actions/stimulation all the time. After sitting quietly for a few minutes, the restless minds will start to be agitated and want to be in action as soon as possible, eagerly want to see, hear, talk, imagine, move, express, play, or interact. And that is the normal behavior of the untrained minds. Without judgment or expectation, don’t give up and keep practicing until the mind is resting in the silence of thought, action and speech.

Many would justify that by performing the yoga asana practice that they enjoy doing regularly is indeed a form of meditation in action, and their body and mind would feel good each time after the yoga asana practice, that makes them think that they have already reached the goal of yoga. That’s their freedom of thinking and action.

In the beginning of the process of purifying the mind, the mind can’t avoid needing some kind of stimulation to keep the mind busy. And hence, the yoga practice at this stage is to replace unwholesome activities with wholesome activities to keep the mind busy as well as improving the mind concentration, such as performing karma yoga, chanting and prayer, or pranayama and asana practice. These activities might generate momentary effects of calming the mind, but it doesn’t free the mind from restlessness completely. As there are those who are ‘addicted’ towards performing karma yoga, chanting and prayer, pranayama and asana practice, where the mind will be agitated or frustrated, or feel meaninglessness when it can’t perform karma yoga, chanting and prayer, pranayama and asana practice over a period of time. Though there’s nothing bad with that, but the mind is not free. Eventually, the mind needs to learn how to breakaway from the clinging/addiction towards both wholesome and unwholesome stimulation to keep busy, to learn to be at ease in silence. This doesn’t mean that one is discouraged from performing wholesome activities, but the mind is free from clinging/addiction onto performing actions to keep the mind busy with some kind of activities to avoid dullness, boredom, loneliness or the sense of meaninglessness. The mind is free as it is.

Make use of the yoga practice as a tool to render the mind pure and quiet to prepare the mind for meditation, but without attachment or addiction towards the yoga practice or the momentary effects deriving from the yoga practice.

Those who truly want to conquer the restless egoistic impure mind to free the mind from the root cause of suffering (renouncing both good and bad karma that give rise to ceaseless births and deaths of life existence of the impermanent and selfless body and mind), they understand that all goodness, pleasantness and enjoyment in this worldly life of names and forms are impermanent and selfless, including the momentary pleasant effects deriving from performing the yoga practice, and hence they are aware of the importance of attaining liberation from the suffering of ceaseless births and deaths of the impermanent and selfless body and mind, and so, they would take all the practice of silencing the thought activities seriously.

Being aware of the preciousness of the fleeting impermanent and selfless life existence of this body and mind to attain liberation from suffering, they renounce both good and bad karma to transcend ceaseless births and deaths, by realizing the essence of inaction in all actions from the realization of selflessness, non-separateness, oneness, namelessness, formlessness, attributelessness and intentionlessness.

Those who love their worldly life existence with all the physical and mental worldly activities that they enjoy very much, will stop at the intention of performing good actions that bring good karma/consequences in return, and won’t be interested in silencing the thought activities or the modification of the mind, to transcend the restless and ceaseless births and deaths of the impermanent and selfless existence and function of the body and mind. And that’s their freedom.

Knowledge, talents and skills

Having some knowledge, talents and skills is very useful and helpful for people to be doing something in life. But it’s okay and one doesn’t need to feel bad about oneself, if one thinks oneself doesn’t have much knowledge, talents or skills to be doing something in life.

As by having knowledge, talents and skills also doesn’t guarantee that the mind is free from ignorance and suffering, or is peaceful and be able to forgive and let go something that the mind perceives as ‘wrong’, ‘bad’, or ‘hurtful’. The mind might still be disturbed or determined by all the qualities of names and forms that are impermanent and selfless. Some people even use the knowledge, talents and skills that they have to be doing something that cause damages or harmful effects in the world.

Regardless of whether one is knowledgeable, talented and skillful to be doing something constructive/destructive in life, or not, it’s about whether the mind is or isn’t free from ignorance and egoism, that determines whether the mind will be disturbed or undisturbed by all the mind perceptions of names and forms, and whether the mind will have peace, being free from impurities, restlessness and suffering, or not.

People might have the knowledge, talent, skill or money to build the most beautiful functional house to live in, and people might attain some momentary satisfaction and happy feelings for being able to build a beautiful functional house to live in, but it doesn’t guarantee that the people who build the house and those who live in the house are all free from ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering, or won’t be disturbed by all the perceptions of names and forms, and are peaceful and compassionate and be able to forgive and let go something that the mind perceives as ‘wrong’, ‘bad’ and ‘hurtful’.

Make good use of the knowledge, talents and skills that one have to be doing something constructive in life, if possible, but without attachment and identification towards the knowledge, talents and skills as ‘who I am’, without pride or the sense of superiority, and without being determined by one’s action and the fruit of one’s action coming from the knowledge, talents and skills that one have, to feel meaningful and happy, or not.

Teaching yoga to others and performing one’s self-practice

Yoga teachers who teach yoga to other people must not neglect one’s self-practice.

Usually, one needs to perform one’s practice to attain self-realization, being free from ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering, then naturally, one can disseminate the teachings to others and guide others to perform the practice, which is nothing to do with attending yoga teachers training courses to learn how to teach yoga to other people or attaining yoga teachers training certification to qualify one to teach yoga to other people. And most people who have attended yoga teachers training courses and are teaching yoga classes to other people are not necessarily be free from ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering. As those who are free from ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering, they don’t need to attend ‘yoga teachers training courses’ to learn how to teach yoga, to attain some ‘internationally recognized certificates’ to conduct ‘yoga classes’ for them to disseminate yoga to other beings. And hence, even though one is teaching yoga classes because one has learned some knowledge on the yoga practice and possesses teacher training certification to teach yoga classes, one must take importance in one’s practice, to look after one’s mind, and be persevered and determined to silent the mind, to free the mind from ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering.

Quite many people who teach yoga classes think that they don’t really need to perform their own practice, as they think they have been performing the yoga practice while teaching the many yoga classes for many times/hours everyday. Or, their body and mind are already too exhausted from teaching many classes everyday as well as engaging in many daily worldly activities or social interactions. Yoga teachers need to know how to conserve energy to focus on one’s practice.

When the yoga teachers demonstrating the yoga practice while teaching classes, it’s not the same as performing one’s practice in silence.

When teaching classes, the teachers turning the mind outward paying attention onto teaching others by talking and giving instructions while demonstrating the yoga practice and disseminating the teachings, and are observing or supervising the yoga students’ practice and ‘assessing their performance’. But, yoga practice is nothing to do with ‘good/bad performance’ at all.

During self-practice in silence, the body and mind retreat from worldly affairs, activities and interactions, one is fully immersed and relaxed into the yoga practice and paying full attention onto one’s practice by turning the mind inward, withdrawing the senses from the sense objects, which is what yoga practice is about.

It’s the same for the yoga students. After attending yoga classes following the instructions of the yoga teachers to learn about the yoga teachings and how to perform the yoga practice for some time, one must also develop one’s self-practice in silence, turning the mind inward while immersing and relaxing into the yoga practice, withdrawing the senses from the sense objects, without listening to instructions or looking at the yoga teacher demonstrating the yoga practice, without talking, discussion, debate or asking questions, without judgment or assessment towards the practice, not to say, it’s needless to be assessed by other people towards one’s performance about ‘whether I am good or not good’. Completely unattached towards one’s actions and practice or the result/fruit of actions and practice, just doing one’s best and allowing the result/fruit of actions and practice to be there as it is, which is what yoga practice is about.

Go beyond the impermanent selfless physical body

It’s normal and nothing wrong that many people are being determined by everything that is related to their physical body to be who they are, being determined by the condition, ability/disability and appearance of the physical body to feel satisfy, confident, meaningful, good and happy, or not.

There is expectation towards the physical body to be the way that they desire it to be. And if their physical body doesn’t turn out to be the way that they expect it to be, they feel disturbed, disappointed, dissatisfied, unhappy, frustrated or depressed about themselves and their life. This is truly unnecessary if one practices yoga and knows what is yoga.

For those who truly want to practice yoga and realize unconditional peace, the non-attachment and non-identification with the impermanent selfless physical body is one of the important teaching and practice of yoga, alongside the non-attachment and non-identification with the thinking mind, the cultural and social thinking and belief, the feelings and emotions, the desires and all the perceptions/experiences of names and forms.

Go beyond the impermanent selfless physical body and realize unconditional peace.

The mind that perceives all the names and forms through the senses via the physical body won’t be determined or disturbed by the impermanent changes of health condition/strength/flexibility/ability/performance/energy level/appearance/aging/decaying/mortality of the physical body.

The youthfulness, good health, great strength, super flexibility, skillful abilities, high performance, high energy level and desirable appearance of the physical body cannot avoid/defeat/conquer impermanent selfless changes, decay, sickness, injuries and mortality. The strongest and healthiest person in the world would also breakdown instantly if being hit by a strong impact, or poisoned, or infected by life threatening viruses.

The world greatest super talented, fit and skillful sportsmen/sportswomen and incredibly strong and flexible acrobatic performers and world class gymnasts also would suffer from disappointment, depression, hurts, painful sorrow, sickness, injuries, degeneration, old age and death.

Seek not identity, satisfaction, confidence, sense of meaningfulness and happiness in the existence and function of this impermanent selfless physical body.

For the yoga or peace seekers, this life existence of the impermanent selfless physical body is just a momentary transition to allow the selfless restless mind under the influence of ignorance and egoism to be liberated from the suffering of ignorance, egoism and restlessness through transcending/silencing the modification of the mind.

Non-attachment and non-identification with the physical body and the thinking mind as ‘who I am’ doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t appreciate the existence and function of the physical body and the thinking mind, or does not maintain the well-being of the physical body and the thinking mind, but out of compassion, one appreciates and maintains the good condition of the physical body and the clarity/sanity of the thinking mind for performing yoga and meditation practice without attachment, identification and expectation towards the existence and function/the ability and disability of the physical body and the thinking mind.

This is the basic practical yoga practice that would bring the mind towards the realization of unconditional peace, not by performing lots of physical yoga asana exercises. By performing/practicing/teaching lots of yoga asana exercises regularly for many years, possessing the knowledge of the yoga asana exercises and gaining the maximum benefits from doing the yoga asana exercises doesn’t guarantee that the mind will have peace, if one has attachment, identification and expectation towards the existence and function of the physical body and the thinking mind as ‘who I am’, to feel good, happy, satisfy, meaningful and confident, or not.

Those who couldn’t or don’t do any yoga asana exercises for some reasons, they will have peace if they know what is non-attachment, non-identification and non-expectation towards the impermanent selfless physical body and thinking mind, being undetermined and undisturbed by the selfless impermanent changes of the body and mind.

When the mind knows how to be undetermined and undisturbed by the impermanent changes of the body and mind, the mind would also know how to be undetermined or undisturbed by the mind perception of all the different qualities of names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses, of what it sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches/feels/senses and thinks.

That is what yoga is about, resting in peace in the NOW while experiencing all the ups and downs, pleasantness and unpleasantness, agreeable and disagreeable life experiences, or happy and unhappy relationships through this selfless impermanent mortal life existence of the function of the body and mind perception of a worldly life of impermanent names and forms of beings, relationships and things.

One doesn’t need to momentarily escape unhappiness or tension by taking any substances of drugs or intoxicants that could give many damaging side-effects to the function of the body and the thinking mind. One doesn’t need to rely on attaining/possessing ‘good and positive’ qualities and the gratification of desires of craving and aversion to feel good, happy, meaningful and confident, or not. That is real freedom or liberation.

Yoga is not about possessing great virtues and merits from performing good actions and accumulating good karma to have a better rebirth to a better/easier/less suffering next life experience, or self-punishing to inflict physical pain/injury to remove sins, or to be ‘migrating’ to a place called ‘heaven’ after death. Though that is people’s freedom if that is what they believe in and that’s what they want.