Worldly identifications

One of the great obstacles or challenges for the yoga enthusiasts to be free from egoism is the intense attachment towards worldly identifications with some qualities of names and forms to be existing as ‘I’.

It’s ‘unthinkable’ for the egoistic minds to be ‘functioning’ or ‘aware of the mind perception of a worldly life of names and forms’ without any identifications with some qualities of names and forms to be acknowledged by oneself and others as ‘This is I’.

There’s great fear towards losing the sense of the existence of ‘I’, or ‘selflessness/’I’-lessness’, or being unable to be acknowledged by oneself and others as “I am this and that”, if without any of the identifications that the egoistic thinking mind would like to acknowledge itself and be acknowledged by others that “I exist as an (unique/special/distinctive/meaningful) individual being with such and such qualities of names and forms.”

Similarly, most minds have great fear towards letting go all kinds of superstitious thinking, beliefs, values and practices that were being ingrained into the minds from very young age by their elders, parents, relatives, friends, school teachers, religious teachers, the community and the society. Very few minds would question the truth of all those thinking, beliefs, values and practices, to inquire the truth of everything that was told or informed by everyone, and would just blind-believing, blind-following, blind-practicing and blind-passing on all these thinking, beliefs, values and practices. As most people would ‘label’ themselves or be ‘labeled’ by others as ‘bad person’ or ‘traitor’ towards one’s root and ancestor’s cultural background and family values, if they don’t embrace or follow or pass down those thinking, beliefs, values and practices.

For many people, this is the ‘normal’, ‘good’, ‘productive’, ‘positive’, ‘healthy’, ‘successful’, ‘meaningful’ and ‘rightful’ way of life or living.

Not only that there was a ‘basic identity upon birth’ that relates to a ‘given name’, a ‘gender’, a ‘family’, an ‘ethnicity’, a ‘birth place’, a ‘nationality’ and a ‘security ID number’, but everyone was growing up being conditioned by the society to identify oneself with a ‘sexual orientation’, a ‘personality’, a ‘physical appearance’, a ‘self-image’, a ‘body image’, a ‘physical condition’, a ‘mental state’, a ‘religion’, a ‘culture’, a ‘lifestyle’, a ‘trend’, and etc. Most minds are being ‘encouraged’ by the society to be constantly ‘developing’ and ‘possessing’ further more other qualities of names and forms to empower or strengthen that ‘self-identity’, that would allow the minds to feel proud, confident and meaningful towards the existence of ‘I’ under such identifications. Such like, “I am a ‘good’, ‘strong’, ‘healthy’, ‘fit’, ‘beautiful’, ‘attractive’, ‘stylish’, ‘successful’, ‘intelligent’, ‘knowledgeable’, ‘positive’, ‘multi tasking’, ‘talented’, ‘well-informed’, ‘well-behaved’, ‘inspirational’, ‘generous’ and ‘kind loving’ human being on top of all the identifications with a particular belief, religion, spirituality, culture, caste, sect, educational level, social status, community group, political views, profession, interests, qualifications, certifications, achievements, contributions, possessions, relationships, connections, and so on.

There are some common sayings such as –
“Be good, do good, and life will be all good and you will be happy.”
“Be nice and friendly to other people, and other people will be nice and friendly to you.”
That is not necessary true.

But everyone has been circulating that kind of sayings especially from the elders to the youngsters, or from the yoga teachers to the yoga students. Many people experiencing disappointment, depression and meaninglessness because they have such expectation towards life, where everyone and everything has to be in certain ways based on those sayings.

Many times, life is not necessarily all good and people are not happy even after they are being good and they have done many good. And it’s okay.

People don’t have to be happy all the time. Just be good and do good, and allow the fruit of actions to be what it is, not necessarily has to be the way that we would like it to be.

Sometimes, people are not being grateful or appreciative towards our kindness and friendliness, and are not being nice or friendly to us when we are being nice and friendly to them. And it’s okay.

People don’t have to be grateful and appreciative, and be nice and friendly to others, if they don’t want to. Just be nice and friendly to others, without the expectation that other people should be grateful and appreciative, and be nice and friendly to us in return.

The most practical way in the yoga practice to eliminate egoism from the mind is via renunciation of what most minds being conditioned to think and believe as the ‘normal’ and ‘meaningful’ way of life. Moving the mind away from the egoistic worldly social cultural thinking and beliefs, ideas, relationships, connections, interactions and activities, and letting go novels, news and magazines reading, radio listening, movies watching and theater visiting. Be determined to observe seclusion and solitude for at least five or six years, cutting off all kinds of worldly social cultural inputs, ideas, connections, activities and interactions, to allow the mind to be free from being conditioned by worldly thinking and beliefs that are all about empowering worldly attachment and identification. Only then the mind can see the truth of names and forms as it is.

Once the mind is free from being conditioned by worldly egoistic thinking and beliefs, it is no longer being determined by any of the worldly identifications with qualities of names and forms to be existing as ‘I’. There’s no need to feel proud, confident or meaningful towards “I am somebody endowed with this and that prideful, superior and meaningful qualities.”

There’s no ‘I’ being there that needs to be empowered, be acknowledged, be motivated, be inspired, be loved, be proud, be confident and be meaningful. There’s no ‘I’ being there to be strong, be weak, be happy, be unhappy, be positive, be negative, be good, be bad, be hurt, be healed, be pleased, be displeased, be praised, be insulted, be selfish, be unselfish, be unfree or be free.

While the entire world emphasize on the empowerment of a strong self-identity nurtured with the qualities of names and forms of particular social/cultural/ethnicity/nationality ideas/values/practices, yoga practice is mainly to free the mind from all these identifications with any qualities of names and forms.

Even the idea of “I am a yoga practitioner practicing yoga of annihilating ignorance, egoism, impurities and restlessness” and the desire of “I want to practice yoga to be free from ignorance and suffering” vanished from the minds that know thyself.

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Selfless actions influence others without the intention to change or control others

Selfless actions could influence others as well as the condition or situation in the world, but without the egoistic intention to change or control others and the condition or situation in the world to be the way that the egoistic minds would like it to be, or think and believe how it should be.

There’s no disappointment, frustration, anger, hatred, or depression when things are not ‘being’ or ‘changing’ to be the way that the egoistic minds would like it to be, if actions that could influence others and the condition or situation in the world are being performed out of selflessness and compassion, selflessly and intentionlessly, without ‘good intention’ to be performing ‘good actions’ that the egoistic minds ‘desire’ or ‘hope’ to ‘change’ others and the condition or situation in the world to be ‘good’ the way that the minds think and believe what is good.

Similarly, most of the time, when ‘good minds’ have ‘good intention’ to tell the truth of ‘something not good’ about somebody or some organization might provoke the dissatisfaction, frustration, anger and hatred in the egoistic minds where their desires or agendas are being affected directly or indirectly by ‘the intentional good action’ of ‘telling the truth of something not good’.

Just look at our everyday life interaction with people around us, especially those whom we know. When we see someone whom we know does something that we think is wrong out of ignorance, we might have ‘good intention’ to tell the truth of ‘someone is doing something wrong out of ignorance’ and the consequence of that is usually very ‘unpleasant’ as either the person might react with feelings of hurt, shame, guilt, regret or self-blame towards oneself if this person suffers from low self-esteem, depression or over sensitive, or this person might react with feelings of being insulted, humiliated, belittled, intimidated, anger and hatred, if this person suffers from pride and arrogance. Unless the minds are free from ignorance and egoism, and be able to see, or hear, or coming in contact with the truth and allowing the truth to be what it is, but if people would do something wrong/bad out of ignorance it also means that they are not free from ignorance. And the minds that are not free from ignorance don’t have the ‘understanding’ and ‘ability’ to deal with ‘the truth’ openly and peacefully.

Most of the time, ‘the truth of something not nice’ told by others appears to be something hard, or harsh, or cruel, or dislikable, or disagreeable, or offensive, or hurtful, or insulting, or humiliating, or inappreciative, or ungrateful, or unsupportive, or negative, or unloving, or unkind to the egoistic minds, including knowledgeable and intelligent minds. Most egoistic prideful minds prefer to hear ‘nice things’ or ‘kind words’ about themselves. Many people say, “Don’t say anything ‘not nice’.”

And hence, ‘the truth’ must be self-aware or self-realized.

More importantly, the truth is just what it is. It’s neither positive nor negative, neither right nor wrong, neither good nor bad, neither nice nor not nice. But impure egoistic minds that are functioning under the influence of duality interpret everything as positive and negative, right and wrong, good and bad, nice and not nice, and react spontaneously and emotionally influenced by the likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements coming from the egoistic mind based on the thinking and believe in the mind to judge and react towards all the perceived names and forms or experiences, to feel pleased or displeased.

That’s why the relation between ‘the truth’ and ‘silence’. And hence, the practice of ‘silence’ is very important and relevant in the path of yoga and Buddhism of self-inquiry and self-realization of the truth to attain liberation from ignorance and suffering.

This ‘silence’ doesn’t mean intentionally not seeing, not hearing, not smelling, not tasting, not feeling/sensing or not thinking ‘something that the mind thinks and believes as bad/wrong/negative/not nice’, or not performing any necessary actions. This ‘silence’ also doesn’t mean intentionally denying ‘the truth of something’.

Without any of the senses functioning, or without the idea of denying ‘the truth of something’, or being unable/unwilling to perform any physical or verbal actions doesn’t mean that the mind is free from the suffering of ignorance, egoism, restlessness and impurities. But, there’s no ego or ‘I’ being there to ceaselessly act and react out of ‘intention’ or ‘aspiration’ to change or control others or the world to be in certain ways, to be attaining or not attaining ‘certain qualities of names and forms’ that the ego desires or doesn’t desire to be identifying with or to be possessing when there is an ego, or the idea of ‘I’, existing and identifying with the modification of the mind, attaching onto and identifying with the actions and the fruit of actions (being passionate towards one’s actions and there’s attachment, identification and expectation towards the fruit of one’s actions.)

Be free from the idea or thinking of “I want others and the world to be like this and I don’t want others and the world to be like that.”

Perform self-inquiry towards all the doubts in one’s mind

There’s nothing wrong with reading and memorizing and studying the teachings from the ancient scriptures of Yoga or Buddhism. Just that one needs to know how to unattached towards all the teachings in the scriptures, even if some or all of the teachings might seem to be agreeable or disagreeable to the mind based on what the mind thinks it knows, without blind-agreeing/disagreeing, blind-believing, or blind-following, but be determined to purify the mind to free the mind from egoism and impurities, to allow the mind to perform inquiry/investigation to inquire the truth of all these teachings whether they are true, or not.

At the same time, when the mind is still under the influence of ignorance, egoism and impurities, the mind might generate disagreement or dislike towards some or all of the teachings, and out of the egoistic habit of the mind, it might feel disturbed or resentment towards the teachings that the mind disagrees with or dislikes. The disturbed mind would want to argue or debate or discuss about the truth of this and that, which the mind itself isn’t sure what it is. The mind that ‘knows’, would be in silence, allowing others to ‘understand’ or ‘interpret’ this and that in their own ways/versions.

It’s not so much about whether the teachings in the scriptures are all true, or not. Or whether there’s some misinterpretation coming from the impure mind while studying and analyzing the teachings, or there’s some misleading coming from those who ‘prepared’ the scriptures while putting the teachings into words/texts in a particular language, or there’s some imperfection while describing/translating the teachings into a particular language.

Any kinds of written texts or verbal words in any particular form of language is imperfect. That’s why the truth can only be realized through self-realization under a pure mind, and it can never be described/translated into the form of verbal or written words/texts of any languages. Buddha already stated that the truth can only be attained through self-realization via a pure and quiet mind reflection for the mind reflects upon itself to know thyself, it’s never through reading/studying/analyzing/debating/discussing or getting answers from anyone by asking questions, as one will never know whether all the answers from anyone is true, or not, unless one realizes the truth by itself.

Dhamma cannot be written down in words of any languages, and if the teachings had to be passing down through verbal form and be translated into other languages in verbal or written form, and be kept in the form of texts/words in any particular languages, it’s not perfect. Everyone who sincerely wants to follow the path of yoga or Buddhism, must work diligently on purifying and quieting the restless mind to allow the mind to inquire/reflect the truth of everything, including all the teachings from all the scriptures (any kind of teachings in text form or in verbal form of any particular language.)

And it’s not important at all whether the agreements and disagreements coming from the impure mind towards the teachings are true, or not. But it’s about the mind develops non-attachment towards all the teachings as well as all the impure mind reactions of agreements and disagreements towards everything based on ‘what the mind thinks it knows or understands’, without being disturbed by something that the mind disagrees with or dislikes, without being attached onto something that the mind agrees with or likes, remain equanimous being free from craving and aversion towards the duality of what the mind thinks and believes or understands as ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, or ‘true’ and ‘untrue’, that is upmost important.

Any form of argument, debate and discussion that derived from impure minds are useless as the minds are functioning under the influence of impurities. If the mind is free from impurities, there’s no argument, debate or discussion. Swami Sivananda mentioned repeatedly many times in many of his books – Abandon all forms of argument, debate and discussion. Purify and silent the mind. Meditate and realize. Ajahn Chah mentioned in his teachings – There’s only one book to read – the heart, look within and know thyself. Buddha’s teaching – Do not blind-believing or blind-following, investigate the truth of everything via self-realization through purification of the mind and the annihilation of ignorance and egoism – attachment, identification, the desire of craving and aversion.

The truth is there as it is when the mind is pure and quiet, being free from the influence of duality, being free from ignorance and the by-products of ignorance – egoism, impurities and restlessness of the modification of the mind. The truth is not a belief. The truth is just what things are. The truth is still the truth, that all are impermanent and selfless, including what the impure mind perceives as pleasurable enjoyment or painful suffering, regardless of what the mind thinks it knows or doesn’t know, or whether the mind agrees or disagrees with what it perceives based on what it thinks it understands, or whether the mind thinks itself is perfect or imperfect, or whether the world that the mind perceives through the senses appears to be pleasant or unpleasant, or whether the mind is happy or unhappy.

Those who had never read or come in contact with any scriptures or teachings, can still attain self-realization and be free from ignorance and suffering, when the mind is pure. Being free from ignorance and suffering doesn’t change the truth of impermanence and selflessness in all the names and forms, or doesn’t change all the names and forms to be the way that the impure egoistic minds would like them to be.

Go beyond self-esteem and self-worth

For those who are not really interested in the path of yoga, they don’t need to ‘practice yoga’. People can just live everyday life as they are, don’t need to do anything to purify the mind, to render the mind quiet, to free the mind from the influence of worldly egoistic ideas, thinking, belief, behavior, action and reaction, to free the mind from ignorance and the by-products of ignorance – egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering.

People can continue being passionate towards improving the quality of a worldly life that mostly emphasize on the gratification of the desires of wants and don’t wants.

From young to old, it’s all about developing and enhancing the qualities of name and form that the thinking mind attached onto and identifies as ‘I’, to carry on or adopt a particular cultural/religious/spiritual belief and practice that influence the way of life, to be ‘educated’, to accumulate ‘knowledge’, ‘skills’ and ‘qualifications’, to empower a high self-esteem and self-worth that builds on personality, confidence, self-image, body image, charm and attractiveness, physical and mental ability and achievement, to be accumulating relationships and friendships, to broadening social networks, to establish a livelihood and a social/community life, to enjoy sights/sounds/tastes/smells/sensations/imagination, to aspire and be inspired, to fall in love, to find a life partner or some lovers, to reprocreate, to build a family, to enjoy easier and more comfortable life, to contribute to the society or the country or the world, to attain acknowledgement, recognition, support, praise and compliments, to attain ‘success’ in life, career and relationship, to attain the sense of existence, purpose, pride, happiness, joyfulness, blessedness, gladness and meaningfulness.

For those who sincerely want to practice yoga and realize yoga, then go beyond a worldly life that emphasizes on developing and enhancing ‘self-esteem’ and ‘self-worth’ that derived from ignorance and egoism that feed on worldly ideas, thinking, beliefs and practice.

The necessity or importance of developing and enhancing ‘self-esteem’, ‘self-worth’, ‘confidence’, ‘self-image’, ‘body image’, ‘charm and attractiveness’, ‘physical and mental ability and achievement’, ‘the sense of existence/purpose/meaningfulness’, and etc, are nothing but the play of ignorance and egoism.

The sense of self-esteem and self-worth that builds on the qualities of names and forms, such as “I know something”, “I can do something”, “I achieved something”, “I am good”, “I look good”, “I feel good”, “I am strong”, “I am healthy”, “I have family and friends”, “I am contributing something”, “I am acknowledged and supported”, “My life/career/relationship is good and meaningful” and so on, is conditional and impermanent. It will break.

Yoga practitioners are supposed to eliminate the egoism and not empowering the egoism. It’s the ego that needs to have a high self-esteem to achieve ‘success’ in life, career and relationship, to attain the sense of existence, acknowledgement, self-worth, confidence, purpose, or meaningfulness. And thus it performs actions out of intention and aspiration. It attached onto and identifies with its actions and the fruit of actions. It is being determined and bound by the actions and the fruit of actions.

For those who are aware of this, actions are being performed out of compassion, without the need/aspiration of ‘developing’ and ‘enhancing’ self-esteem to achieve ‘success’ in life, career and relationship, to attain the sense of existence, acknowledgement, self-worth, confidence, purpose, or meaningfulness. Though that is what most people including highly educated and intelligent minds strongly believe in and are practicing, and that’s their freedom.

“Well done!”

“That’s very good!”

“You should be proud of yourself!”

“I am so proud of you!”

Most people think and believe that all these words are very essential positive encouragement and acknowledgement towards somebody’s achievement to enhance their self-esteem and self-worth, so that they will be motivated to strive harder to improve and be better, to attain continuous positive feedback and acknowledgement, to attain the sense of self-worth, accomplishment, purpose, meaningfulness. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Those who are free from ignorance and egoism don’t need any ‘positive words of encouragement or acknowledgement’ from anyone to motivate them to perform actions that will benefit all and everyone, and are not disturbed or discouraged by any ‘negative words of discouragement or non-acknowledgement’ to be continuing performing actions that will benefit all and everyone.

‘Yoga teachers’ who truly teach yoga in the yoga class don’t empower the egoism in the yoga students but to allow the students to develop correct understanding and direct experience towards the practice of yoga to eliminate the egoism.

By constantly giving the students ‘positive words of encouragement’ out of “good intention to encourage and motivate the students to be good, do good, to improve and be better” because the teacher thinks and believes that “the students who haven’t developed non-craving and non-attachment would be discouraged or lack of motivation to be good and do good, or to improve in their practice, if the teacher doesn’t give any ‘positive words of encouragement’ to the students”, don’t help to eliminate the egoism, but instead will only be empowering the egoism in the students. And if the students have already developed non-craving and non-attachment towards any kind of ‘positive words of encouragements’, then, ‘positive words of encouragements’ are needless in such yoga classes, as the students don’t need to hear any ‘positive words of encouragements’ to motivate them to be good, do good and to improve, neither the students will be discouraged or lack of motivation to perform their practice, to be good, do good and to improve, if the teacher never give any form of ‘positive words of encouragements.’

Be free.

Untrained mind is being conditioned by remembrance of past experiences

The untrained minds are being conditioned and determined by the remembrance of the past desirable and undesirable, pleasant and unpleasant, happy and unhappy, or good and bad experiences to think, behave, desire, act and react in the present moment now, constantly missing and longing towards the past experiences that were desirable, pleasant, happy or good, while continuously being disturbed by the past experiences that were undesirable, unpleasant, unhappy or bad, influencing the relationships and interactions with the others in the present, as well as projecting/anticipating into the future longing for experiencing the similar desirable, pleasant, happy and good experiences, while rejecting towards experiencing the similar undesirable, unpleasant, unhappy and bad experiences, full of tension and anxiety derived from aversion and defensiveness or self-protection.

It’s not about trying to erase or forget all the past memories of all kinds of pleasant/unpleasant experiences, but it’s about the ability of being unattached towards all the past desirable/undesirable experiences and live in the present without being conditioned or determined by the past happy/unhappy experiences influencing one’s relationships and interactions with other beings in the present, being free from missing and craving towards something ‘nice’ that doesn’t exist in the present, being free from fear and aversion towards something ‘not nice’ whether it’s existing or non-existing in the present.

Many people who have been through broken relationships in the past, and are continuously being affected and disturbed by the past undesirable/unpleasant/unhappy/bad experiences of the broken relationships, will more or less be determined by the past experiences to influence how one thinks, behaves, desires, acts and reacts in the new relationship with somebody else in the present, full of tension and anxiety being over-powered by defensiveness/self-protection being in the new relationship. Oneself is not peaceful while generating unnecessary tension into the new relationship, for being unable to be relaxed and immersed into the new relationship with some other people in the present even when other people are being genuine and loving towards oneself. There’s no peace in this kind of relationship where one or both party is being conditioned or determined by the past undesirable relationship with some other people.

There’s this thinking in the mind, “Oh, I am a victim of other people’s selfish unloving and wrongful behavior. I was so nice and loving to the person in the relationship with me, but this is what I got in return. I am ill-treated. I am hurt. I am broken. I am vulnerable. That’s why I feel like this and behave like this. I deserved sympathy and empathy and loving kindness from other people. I need to learn how to protect myself from being hurt again.” This mind is not free, even though there might be many people think and believe that by showing sympathy and empathy and loving kindness towards this ‘suffering’ mind will relieve the pain in this mind, and this mind might feel ‘better’ and ‘loved by others’ via receiving sympathy and empathy and loving kindness from others, but it doesn’t take away the ignorance in this mind, unless the mind starts to see the truth of what is going on in the mind.

Some minds also try to redeem what they think they deserved in return for all their love and sacrifices that they had put out in their past broken relationship while being in the new relationship with somebody else. Some minds even redirect their frustration and anger that they had been accumulated from their past broken relationship towards the person in the present relationship with them.

Be free.