Retreat and quieting the restless outgoing pleasure/stimulation seeking mind

Some people asked us, “What are the fun holiday activities we can do during the free time between the yoga and meditation practice sessions in the yoga retreat?”

Many people might be unaware of the yoga practice are being carried out in every moment whether during the yoga practice ‘sessions’ and outside the yoga practice ‘sessions’ during a yoga retreat, or in everyday life.

Not that ‘doing/enjoying some fun holiday activities’ are wrong or bad, but the yoga practice is all about changing the worldly behavior pattern/habitual action and reaction of the mind, filtering/reducing/restricting/limiting the physical and mental activities, to withdraw the outgoing tendency of the mind, to be quieting the restless pleasure/stimulation seeking mind, while freeing the mind from egoism of attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, to prepare the mind for meditation, to see the truth of things as it is, be free from ignorance and suffering that derived from ignorance.

In a ‘retreat’, this yoga practice of restricting the activities of the body and the mind and quieting the restless modification of the mind is being put into practice, seizing the opportunity of participating in a ‘retreat’ for an extended period of time, to be retreating from all kinds of worldly physical and mental activities that gratify the desire of craving for pleasurable actions, adventures, thrills, achievements, enjoyment and stimulation. Retreat participants should make use of the free time in between the yoga practice ‘sessions’ or other than performing daily task such like tidying/cleaning the living space, taking meals and shower, to ‘take rest’ and ‘be quiet’ physically and mentally, as well as observing the habitual action and reaction and the desire of gross/subtle craving of the mind especially during the time ‘not doing anything particular physically or mentally’ not even doing some kind of physical or mental yoga practice to occupy the mind, or when ‘boredom’ and ‘the sense of meaninglessness’ starts to manifest in the mind urging the mind to go out there to be doing something to get rid of the ‘boredom’ and ‘the sense of meaninglessness’.

The untrained mind usually doesn’t like to ‘be quiet physically and mentally’ being in the present moment reducing/limiting/restricting the physical and mental activities or ‘doing nothing particular’ not even some kind of ‘spiritual practice’ or ‘healthy/meaningful activities’ to be occupying the mind with ‘something’, as the mind will get bored and feel meaningless, and hence, it needs to be constantly seeking actions/adventures/thrills/achievements, enjoyment and stimulation. And hence, the restlessness. And yoga practice is to free the mind from this worldly thinking/belief/practice/habit of ‘constantly need to occupy the mind with something to keep it busy/restless so that it doesn’t get bored or feel meaningless’.

We don’t just reduce/restrict/limit/retreat from worldly physical and mental activities during a ‘retreat’ for a few days or weeks, we also practice partial or maximum retreat from worldly social affairs, activities and interactions as much as possible in our everyday life to stop feeding the desire and the outgoing pleasure/stimulation seeking tendency of the mind.

Contemplate on this, and find out whether oneself is practicing yoga to free the mind from the habitual worldly behavior pattern, to quiet/silent the restless modification of the mind, by renouncing/retreating from worldly egoistic physical and mental activities that empower egoism and restlessness, or just doing some kinds of ‘yoga practice’ a few hours a day regularly to be gaining some impermanent/momentary physical and mental benefits to gratify the desire of craving and aversion of the mind, to feel good, healthy and meaningful. And there’s nothing wrong either if oneself is not practicing yoga to change the habitual worldly behavior habit of the mind, to free the mind from ignorance and egoism, to quiet/silent the modification of the mind. But for those who sincerely want to practice yoga, they can contemplate on this.

Purifying, calming and quieting the restless mind efficiently

All the different forms of external yoga practice must be accompanied by the internal yoga practice of annihilating egoism of attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, supported by the internal mental strength, flexibility and stamina of patience, perseverance, determination, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, adjustment, adaptation and accommodation, as well as cultivating the essential tools for self-inquiry and self-realization, such as awareness, dispassion, desireless, renunciation, self-discipline, self-reliance, seclusion, solitude, care-free, fearlessness and equanimity, to be efficiently purifying, calming and quieting the impure egoistic restless mind, to prepare the mind for spontaneous meditation into Silence (complete annihilation of the mind/birthlessness and deathlessness/attributelessness, namelessness and formlessness/oneness or non-separateness).

Even if one’s physical body is unable to perform any external yoga practice, it doesn’t stop the mind from performing internal yoga practice to annihilate egoism, impurities and restlessness, and be free.

Without the internal yoga practice of annihilating egoism and impurities which is nothing to do with the impermanent and selfless physical and mental condition, ability and limitation, the mind will always be disturbed by the mind perception of names and forms of all kinds of pleasant and unpleasant, desirable and undesirable, agreeable and disagreeable life experiences, where there’s clinging and craving towards pleasant/desirable/agreeable experiences and aversion towards unpleasant/undesirable/disagreeable experiences, even after many years and huge amount of external yoga practice that one has been performing or many years of teaching yoga and meditation practice to many other people, and getting all the momentary effects and benefits from the regular external form of yoga practice.

The mind might be rendered calm and quiet momentarily during and after all those external yoga and meditation practice, but it doesn’t last long, as very soon, the mind would unwittingly slip back into restlessness due to the stubborn egoistic mind habits of chasing after the objects of the senses, worldly enjoyments and stimulation, passionate desires of worldly and/or spiritual aspirations and ambitions, worldly social interactions and activities, and the ceaseless impurities generated through countless actions and reactions towards the mind perceptions of names and forms due to egoism of attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, where the mind is restless most of the time, even if the mind can attain certain degrees of relief from restlessness for a short period of time during deep sleep state, or during and after the different forms of external yoga practice.

By freeing the mind from egoism would allow the mind to be undetermined or undisturbed by the mind perception of names and forms, of quality and duality, or the good and bad/positive and negative/pleasant and unpleasant/desirable and undesirable life experiences, that allow the mind to be free from impurities and restlessness thoroughly.

And hence, the importance of the practice of silence for those who truly want to conquer the restless modification of the mind, to attain Silence.

After some time of practicing some kind of yoga and meditation practice regularly, one needs to perform self-introspection, “Is the mind still being determined or affected by the impermanent and selfless physical and mental condition, ability and limitation, as well as the worldly affairs, relationship, friendship, social activities and interactions, and worldly and/or spiritual achievements and acknowledgements to feel good, confident and meaningful, or not?” and “Is the mind still being determined by duality of good and bad/positive and negative/right and wrong/meaningfulness and meaninglessness/happiness and unhappiness, or all the mind perceptions of different qualities of names and forms, to feel good, positive, rightful, joyful and meaningful, or not?” or “Is the mind still being disturbed by what the mind thinks and believes as bad, wrong, negative, unhappiness and hurtful?” If the answer is yes, it means the mind is still not free, even if one has been performing yoga practice for a long time, or possessing many ‘yoga certifications’, and believing in ‘goodness’, ‘righteousness’ and ‘positiveness’.

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want and don’t want to practice.

Distraction, inattentiveness, boredom, irritability, impatience, intolerance and outgoing pleasure seeking tendency

Distraction, inattentiveness, boredom, irritability, impatience, intolerance and outgoing pleasure/fun/enjoyment/excitement/adventure/interaction seeking tendency are some of the obstacles for those who have interest or aspiration in learning and practicing yoga, especially when joining a serious yoga and/or meditation retreat which emphasizing on learning and practicing traditional yoga and meditation to quiet the restless mind, to purify the mind impurities, to eliminate egoism, to allow the mind to reflect upon the truth of names and forms and all the teachings, to allow the mind to know what is going on in the mind or to know thyself, to free the mind from ignorance and suffering, the by-products or consequences of ignorance.

Holding a position such as sitting forward bend for more than a few seconds would appear to be challenging or unbearable for these minds. The minds get bored, impatient and irritable when holding the sitting forward bend or in a lying position during the relaxation for a prolong period of time quietly in stillness. The minds also reluctant to proceed a little more or further in the entire practice once experiencing slight tiredness or discomforts, as they don’t want to forbear or tolerate slightest of tiredness or discomforts.

These minds enjoy very much constant movements of the physical body such like sun salutations, but only as long as there’s absence of tiredness or discomforts. They also prefer the back bending series or challenging balancing series more than the other positions as these movements excite/stimulate the energy fields or the mind, not so much of holding the positions for a prolong period of time, but just to get into the positions and out of the positions quickly. It’s the same as for all the other positions, these minds get into any positions quickly in a rush and don’t like to stay in the positions for longer than a few seconds and eagerly want to come out from the positions quickly. If they ‘have to’ stay in the positions, they won’t stay still for a second, they would move around, such like looking around or playing with their fingers, toes, skin, hair, or clothing.

These minds have intense dislike or aversion towards aloneness or being with people that don’t interest them; non-talking or talking about things that don’t interest them; non-interaction or interaction with people that don’t interest them; silence/quietness or noises/sounds/speech that they don’t like; mental and physical stillness or mental and physical training/practice/activity that they don’t like; restricting the thought activities or focusing the mind at one point for a prolong period of time; or listening to the teachings of yoga of the annihilation of ignorance and egoism, of desireless, dispassion and renunciation that appear to be non-interesting, or irrelevant, or disagreeable to the minds.

Usually, these minds will feel regret for participating in such retreat and eagerly want to give up half way through the retreat and think of many ‘reasonable’ excuses to ‘runaway’ from the retreat.

“It’s so fun and pleasurable when we can be attending parties/celebrations/festivals, dancing and listening to upbeat loud musics, eating, drinking and smoking while talking, flirting, gossiping and laughing with many like-minded ‘friends’ and enjoying outdoor adventurous activities while looking at beautiful scenery are so much more enjoyable and meaningful and well-worth money spending than participating in these kind of ‘retreats’ about holding some tiring, boring and discomfortable positions in closed eyes and observing the breath without moving, talking or interaction for many hours for many days, and have to be listening to some ‘boring’ and ‘ridiculous’ teachings of ‘disciplining/restricting our thinking/actions/speech’, to be quiet, to be still, to be dispassionate and letting go our passionate desires and what we like to enjoy very much.”

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their life, body and mind.

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’.

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.

The world of yoga

People asked us how come we don’t run/teach yoga classes and teachers training courses?

Yoga practice is about taming/quieting the restless mind to free the mind from suffering of restlessness and impurities derived from ignorance and egoism by realizing selflessness (birthlessness, deathlessness, attributelessness, namelessness, formlessness) through the practice of dispassion, renunciation, silence, self-inquiry, concentration, meditation, non-attachment, non-identification, non-craving, non-aversion, non-judgment, non-comparison and non-expectation that require a high degree of open-mindedness, right discrimination, intense yearning for liberation, will-power, perseverance, independence, self-control and discipline.

After one learned about the teachings and practice from someone who has direct experience of the teachings and practice, one implements these teachings and practice in everyday life, to free the mind from ignorance and egoism, which is nothing to do with attending regular ‘yoga classes’ or attending ‘yoga teachers training course’ to become ‘certified professional yoga teacher’ to teach/conduct ‘yoga classes’.

Most people don’t really interested to learn and practice yoga when they are interested in joining ‘yoga classes’, as they wouldn’t/couldn’t let go the thinking and belief which they think and believe is who they are (the main hindrance towards the realization of selflessness.) They just want to do some physical exercises to keep fit and be healthy, to feel good and look good. And it’s nothing wrong. Everyone has the freedom for what they want and don’t want, and what they think and believe.

Most ‘yoga classes’ are existing mostly as one of the healthy leisure activities for health and fitness enhancement by doing some yoga asana, relaxation and breathing exercises, just like any other personal/group fitness training exercise classes, which is a very healthy activity. It’s very good that people would love to do some form of physical exercise regularly for maintaining good health and vitality to enjoy a higher quality of life. And some highly talented people even transformed yoga asana practice into amazing acrobatic performance, it’s very inspiring for people to take up some physical fitness training to look good and feel good, and not spending time and energy in unhealthy/unwholesome activities.

The initial objective of ‘teachers training courses’ is about oneself learning and practicing the teachings of yoga to purify one’s mind, to awaken/realize the teacher within to become one’s own teacher, to discipline one’s mind to be free from ignorance and egoism. It’s not about training people who are interested in ‘teaching yoga classes’ or ‘running yoga courses’ to become ‘certified professional yoga teachers’ and issue/authorize them with ‘recognized certification’ to conduct yoga courses/teach yoga classes according to the different types of teaching style from different types of yoga school. It’s training one’s own mind to be it’s own teacher. Upon self-realization of yoga/oneness/selflessness, one might or might not share the direct experience with others.

‘Yoga retreats’ are also being ‘transformed’ into self-pampering/indulgence of the senses getaway that empowers the egoistic desires of carving and aversion, or being ‘transformed’ into ‘mystical healing’ camp. Even so, it’s neither right nor wrong. That is what most minds like and desire. It really doesn’t matter. In the end, yoga is still what it is, whether people are learning and practicing and teaching yoga as it is, or not. The truth won’t be affected/contaminated by any add-on/take-out elements, although the creative worldly minded can transform the teachings and practice of yoga into something that they prefer.

Most of the serious yoga practitioners don’t really run/teach ‘yoga classes’, or ‘yoga courses’, or ‘yoga teachers training courses’ although they might be teaching yoga to many others. Sharing the teachings and practice of yoga with others doesn’t necessarily has to be in the form of conducting yoga classes/courses/retreats. Some might have been teaching ‘yoga classes’ in the beginning, but after some time, they renounced the worldly social life and activities to concentrate on their own practice, upon realization that renunciation from worldly affair/interaction/activities/relationships is the greatest compassion towards oneself and all beings. Everyone is responsible for their own practice to look after their own mind, to discipline/quiet/purify their own mind, to deal with the consequences of their own ignorance, to become their own teacher, to free their own mind from ignorance, egoism and impurities via their own effort.

Meanwhile, ‘yoga teachers training courses’ are no longer about learning and practicing yoga to become one’s own teacher to be self-independent, to perform self-inquiry, to silent/annihilate the mind to attain self-realization, but the identity and qualification of a ‘yoga teacher’/recognition/authorization/certifications/association/commercial value/career value are the drive for conducting/participating yoga teachers training courses.

This is the world of yoga, and there’s nothing wrong or bad with it.

Many people think that they like and love yoga, but not really. When come to serious yoga practice, most people would turn away or justify that it is not yoga (the way that they think it should be.) And there’s nothing wrong, as all minds take their own pace and own path to evolve and realize.

In the silent meditation retreat that doesn’t charge any fees (donate as you like, or even nothing), quite many people would want to runaway or quit after a few days observing silence, for not being able to talk to other people, can’t have physical/eye contact with other people, not able to express as they like, can’t do what they usually like to do, can’t eat what they usually like to eat, no stimulating entertainment for the mind, sleeping on hard bed in basic accommodation, and they have to sit for meditation for more than 10 hours a day, while lots of physical/mental/emotional discomforts arise and random thoughts bubbling up to the surface of the mind. Some people would stay until the retreat finishes, but they don’t really observe silence throughout the entire retreat, such like they are still talking/whispering/making signs/interacting with their friends and keeping their phones with them, even though it’s not allowed. But, there’s nothing wrong with that either, as it’s how most worldly minds would behave, out of loneliness, boredom and meaninglessness derived from being refrained from their usual worldly stimulation/activities.

Most minds would ‘cheat’ to be comfortable and not to be uncomfortable. It’s not about what’s right and what’s wrong. And it’s not about how good is one’s yoga practice and meditation experience, but it’s the ability to confront/deal with all the things that the mind doesn’t familiar with, doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with, while not coming in contact with the things that the mind familiars with, likes and agrees with, being free from craving and aversion, be able to forbear difficulties and unpleasantness equanimously, and free the mind from restlessness/impurities out of ignorance and egoism, that matters most.

The mind won’t evolve/progress and keeps running round and round in the loop of worldly ideas/thinking/belief, if it keeps swaying in between craving and aversion, running away from difficulties and unpleasantness and what it doesn’t like (the mind perception of the qualities of bad, negative, wrong, meaninglessness and unhappiness,) and chasing after what it likes and desires (the mind perception of the qualities of good, positive, right, meaningfulness and happiness,) even after many years of attending ‘yoga classes’ and ‘yoga retreats’ or doing yoga asana and breathing exercises regularly, or possessed many ‘yoga certifications’ and given ‘yoga classes’ to many people.

Be free.

Getting the benefits of doing yoga exercises regularly but didn’t eliminate ignorance, egoism and impurities?

What it’s like if we are getting many health and fitness benefits from doing the yoga exercises regularly, but we didn’t eliminate ignorance, egoism and impurities?

It’s like a beautiful garden with lots of nice fragrant flowers blooming and filling the air with really nice fragrance, but there were also smells of cat shits/pees and decapitated rotting dead body parts of birds and frogs that the cats killed for fun and left behind in the garden here and there.

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with that.

Some say, “It’s okay. I love cats. I don’t mind the smells of cat shits/pees and decapitated rotting dead body parts of birds and frogs that the cats killed for fun. I can still smelling the fragrance of the flowers. The nice fragrance of the flowers can ‘sort of’ cover those smells. I don’t need to do anything.” That’s their choice of freedom.

Some say, “The nice fragrance of the flowers don’t really cover or remove the smells of cat shits/pees and rotting dead body parts of the birds and frogs killed by the cats and being left behind in the garden. The air is filled with the mixture of the fragrance from the flowers and the smells from the consequences of cats’ behavior. The fragrance of the flowers is no longer a nice fragrant, but it’s contaminated by the smells of the consequences left behind by the cats. What is there to be enjoying about? I have to clean up all these existing cat shits, wash away the pees, and take away all the dead body parts of birds and frogs, and then I’ll do my best to keep the cats away as much as possible. Then I can truly enjoy the nice pure fragrance of the flowers in the garden.” This is similar to the essential purification process of performing the yoga practice.

It’s not so much about attaining and accumulating the benefits of the yoga exercises, and making the body and mind feels good momentarily after doing the yoga exercises, or accumulating virtues and merits by doing lots of ‘good actions’, but more important, is to clean up the ceaseless generation and accumulation of ‘rubbish’ in the mind – The annihilation of ignorance, egoism and impurities.

Huge amount of accumulated virtues and merits are nothing if ignorance, egoism and impurities are ceaselessly ‘occupying’ and ‘contaminating’ the mind.

Be free.