It’s okay even when the mind is not free from ignorance

Although there are not many yoga practitioners can completely be free from ignorance and egoism even after long time of practicing yoga, but it’s okay, as long as the mind is aware of it is ignorant towards certain things or many things and be able to accept the reality as it is, that in this present moment now, the mind is not free from ignorance and disturb, and it’s okay, because even this ignorance and disturb is impermanent, and it’s not ‘I’, it’s just the mind. And that is already a great liberation.

For those who have doubt towards the truth of many things, but somehow don’t know how to purify and quiet the mind to inquire the truth of things, then just keep this in mind, “Everything is impermanent and selfless, including happiness and unhappiness or pleasure and suffering. Regardless of good people or bad people, good things or bad things, meaningfulness or meaninglessness, excitement or painful sorrow, selfishness or unselfishness, togetherness or separateness, all will change and disappear.” One will be okay in life dealing with many things that are not necessary the way that the mind would like it to be.


Untruthfulness and dishonesty

Whether we like it or not, most people have been being untruthful or dishonest every once in a while or regularly. It’s a habit that has been building up since childhood where the children are being brought up by their parents or elders with the habit of fictional and fantasized stories making and telling (untrue), joking (untrue), white lies (untrue), hypocrisy (untrue), boasting (not necessarily true), pleasing (most probably untrue), or acting (untrue) as something ‘normal’, ‘appropriate manners’ or ‘play safe’ to be interacting with other people in the family, in the relationships, in the society, in the social media, in the politics.

The children are being taught to be untruthful, dishonest and hypocrite by telling (white) lies, boasting, joking, pleasing or acting so that they do not upset or offend other people, or they should please other people, as one of the manners/politeness/appropriate behavior in their cultural and social practice.

A lot of time, untruthfulness and dishonesty is the by-product of fear.

Whenever the children are being aware of they might have done something they shouldn’t be doing that they think it would upset their parents or their friends, and most probably, out of fear of being criticized, or scolded, or punished, or unloved by their parents or their friends, and fear of losing the supportive treatments from their parents or their friends, children would tell lies to hide the truth, being untruthful or dishonest. And this untruthful and dishonest behavior becomes a natural habit to ‘play safe’ and to ‘please other people’ in their childhood and continue to follow them into their adulthood.

When the children have the initiative to tell the truth or admit to their parents that they might have done something that they think it might upset their parents, and if the parents react with anger and aggressiveness towards the children or the incident, or inflict punishment onto the children, the children will tend to be untruthful or dishonest from then on. Instead, if the parents react with calmness, acceptance, forgiveness and letting go, knowing that by getting upset and angry won’t undo what had happened, then the children will tend to be truthful and honest from then on. It also allows the children to learn to appreciate truthfulness and honesty, and learn about acceptance, forgiveness and letting go. Children making mistakes is a great learning process for both the parents and the children, to become responsible compassionate people, who accept and love themselves and other people as they are, even though they are not perfect.

Truthfulness and honesty is one of the important basic practice in yoga. Without it, numerous of other yoga practice are meaningless. But for many people who grew up under that kind of parenting or upbringing to behave ‘appropriately’ and ‘politely’ in their relationships with everyone, in the family, in the school, in the workplace, or in the society, being untruthful and dishonest is something ‘right’ and ‘good’, while being truthful and honest is something ‘wrong’ and ‘bad’. They think that it’s needless to abandon untruthfulness and dishonesty when they take up yoga practice, thinking that it’s the ‘normal’ and ‘correct’ way of living and interacting with everyone in the society in order to have ‘healthy’ and ‘happy’ relationships with everyone.

How many conversations between people don’t contain any untruthfulness or dishonesty?

Many people who are under the influence of the ego are either don’t like the truth or being afraid of the truth. As most of the time, the truth is something difficult or unpleasant or painful for the untrained minds.

When people try to tell the truth of a ‘good son’ to his parents that their ‘good son’ isn’t really good, the parents say, “No. Don’t tell us (the truth). We don’t want to know about it. Our son is all good. We brought him up to be good. He is a good boy.”

People can’t live and interact with other people ‘normally’ in this world without being untruthful or dishonest a little bit here and there.

While yoga is about the truth. No matter how difficult or unpleasant or painful is the truth, one has no fear of the truth.

And hence, those who truly practice yoga, they stay away from the society and observe seclusion and solitude, to avoid unnecessary untruthfulness and dishonesty.

Teach the children to accept and love themselves as they are

If we want to help to build a more peaceful and compassionate society, it’s very important to have young generations that are selfless, peaceful, wise and compassionate, and hence, how the parents or caretakers and the influence of the surrounding environment for the children growing up to be adults/leaders that are endowed with awareness, self-discipline, self-control, independence, truthfulness, honesty, peace, wisdom and compassion is very crucial.

We need to teach the children how to accept and love themselves as they are, to develop awareness, independence, self-discipline and self-control, to inquire the truth of everything, to realize the truth of impermanence and selflessness, to be free from craving and aversion, to have unconditional peace and compassion, so that they don’t need to depend on the qualities of names and forms that are impermanent to be who they are. They don’t need to depend on receiving other people’s love, kindness, acknowledgement, compliments, supports, friendships, relationships and companionship, or depending on a wishful desirable perfect world, to be who they are, to be proud, to be confident, to feel meaningful, to be happy, and to perform actions that are wholesome to themselves and others, out of free-will, out of compassion towards oneself and others, without attachment or identification towards the actions and the result of the actions to be who they are.

They know what are their ability and limitation. They are not defined by their ability and limitation to be who they are. They do their best to achieve what they want to achieve, but they have no attachment or identification towards the ability or limitation, the achievement or non-achievement. They allow other people to think, to judge, to compare, to expect, to like and dislike, to agree and disagree with towards their ability and limitation, but they are not affected or defined by other people’s thinking, judgment, comparison, expectation, likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements.

Being free from pride and arrogance, they know how to take consideration towards other people’s advice, but without taking other people’s advice blindly, and they know how to make use of the opportunity that is available to make decision and perform actions that they think are the best, without attachment or expectation towards the outcome of the decision made and the actions performed.

They can work in a group, cooperating with all levels and respecting all levels as equally important, without the sense of superiority or inferiority, knowing that the entire system requires every levels to work together for it to be functioning, but at the same time, they can work independently as well, when cooperation from others is not available.

The society will naturally have more peace and harmony by having less personal, family, relationship, social, political and religious problems if the children grow up to be adults/leaders in the society who are endowed with peace, wisdom and compassion, being free from ignorance, egoism and impurities.

Unfortunately, most people who became parents are not free from ignorance, egoism and impurities, and are being conditioned and influenced by worldly, cultural, social and religious thinking and belief to live their life and how they bring up their children. Many children grow up to be adults/leaders living in the society with some sorts of psychological issues and behavior problems, full of discrimination, pride, arrogance, dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, hatred, greed, jealousy, selfishness, aggression, violence, corruption, untruthfulness, dishonesty, offensiveness, defensiveness, animosity, depression, low self-esteem, hurts, regret, guilt, fear and worry. And then, when they try to runaway from or cover up what they think is not good or bad or negative or imperfect about themselves, that they don’t like about themselves, that they don’t want any others to know about it, they might create further and deeper problems for themselves and others, in their life and relationships, and in the society.

This is due to many parenting are influenced by the worldly, cultural, social and religious thinking and belief that emphasizing on empowering the ego of the children to boost their self-esteem or self-confidence or self-image by giving them praise and compliment and rewards to motivate and encourage them to be what the parents expect them to be and by giving them criticism and threat and punishment to discourage them to be what the parents don’t want them to be, telling them that they need to do well and be good but also always be better and better, so that they can please other people, to attain praise and compliment, love, support, approval, agreement, acknowledgement and friendship or relationship from others to be who they are.

Whether they are aware of unaware of it, many parents bring up their children by emphasizing on the empowerment of the worldly egoistic nature with great attachment and identification towards the qualities of names and forms, to be somebody that the children and their parents and other people would be proud of. This empowerment of egoism generates separateness and discrimination, that give rise to many personal, family, relationship and social problems in one’s life and in the society.

If children start early to develop correct understanding towards the thinking and behavior pattern, actions and reactions, craving and aversion, feelings and emotions, all sorts of mind activities and impurities, the ego and egoism, and train to eradicate egoistic thinking and behavior that give rise to restlessness and the impurities of dissatisfaction, disappointment, greed, anger, hatred, jealousy, corruption, untruthfulness, dishonesty, violence, animosity, offensiveness, defensiveness, hurts, regret, guilt, fear and worry, they can be kind and compassionate towards other beings, but without expecting or craving for love and kindness and appreciation from other people in return, without clinging onto other people’s love and kindness and appreciation to be who they are.

Children growing up suffering from low self-esteem is because of the parents make them think and believe that they have to be in certain ways and achieve certain qualities, in order to be accepted and be loved by their parents and other people. They were told that they don’t deserve love and they shouldn’t love themselves if they are not good enough, that they shouldn’t accept themselves as they are, as they need to be better and better, and never stop being better. There will never a point that they are good enough so that they can accept and love themselves, as they are. Because the parents are so afraid that their children will stop improving themselves if they think they are good enough. And so, the parents make sure that their children never think that they are good enough.

When these children couldn’t be in certain ways or achieve certain qualities, their parents will show dissatisfaction, disappointment and aggressiveness towards them, and this make them think and believe that they are not good enough, that they don’t deserve acceptance and love from their parents and other people, or even from themselves. They don’t know how to love themselves and they also don’t know how to accept or love other people as they are, as they will also be like their parents, that they will also have expectation towards other people to meet up with their expectation towards other people, that they have to be in certain ways and achieve certain qualities, to be good enough, but they will never be good enough, as they need to be better and better.

If the children grow up knowing how to accept and love themselves as they are, unconditionally, they will always accept and love themselves as they are, regardless they are being in the way that their parents or other people expect them to be, or not, and whether they achieve the qualities that their parents and other people expect them to achieve, or not. And they will also know how to accept and love other people as they are, without expecting other people have to be the way that they think they should be, or to achieve certain qualities that they like and agree with.

It’s not easy to guide children. Parents or caretakers who devote their time, effort, patience, love and acceptance towards the children unconditionally, is a great yoga practice. They don’t need to be regularly doing some forms of yoga exercise, or breathing exercise, or chanting and prayer, or ritual, or to call themselves yoga practitioners or yogis, but by nurturing young children to grow up becoming responsible, peaceful and compassionate members of the family and the society, without egoism of attachment, identification and expectation, just do their best, and let go of the outcome, allowing the children to learn and evolve as they are, and love them as they are, unconditionally, is a great yoga practice and great contribution to humanity.

Be free.

Be compassionate towards suffering minds

It’s not as easy as we would like it to be, to free the mind from suffering.

Though people might show sympathy towards other people’s suffering, those who have always been having a good life condition, might not truly understand the suffering that some other people are going through physically, mentally and emotionally, due to some traumatic painful life experiences.

We can’t tell people, “Hey, be grateful for all the little good things that you have. Stop being miserable.”

We can’t tell people, “Hey, be positive. Everything will be all good and nothing bad.”

We can’t tell people, especially when our life is in good condition, “Hey, life is so good. Don’t be so unhappy and bitter.”

People are allowed to be unhappy or bitter, especially when they are going through some difficult moments. It’s everyone’s freedom for whether they want to be free from unhappiness and bitterness, or not.

People might have gone through or are going through some really difficult or disturbing or painful moments, where we might have no idea how hard it is to be in their place. Even though people might smile, make jokes and laugh like everyone else, but deep in their mind, there might be some painful suffering that other people are unaware of.

It’s not difficult for those who have realized the truth to be able to let go even the most difficult and painful experiences, without vengeance. But it’s not easy for those who haven’t realized the truth to let go what was/is deeply troubling their minds.

It’s perfectly understandable that some of the suffering minds have become ‘hard’ and ‘bitter’, and we should be compassionate towards these minds that have become ‘hard’ and ‘bitter’ unwittingly, due to having been through some difficult traumatic life experiences that are not in their control and not what they wish for.

It’s normal that the suffering minds that are ‘hard’ and ‘bitter’ would feel very uncomfortable or irritable, disturbed and disgusted when hearing the teachings of yoga about letting go, forgiveness and compassion. It might take them a long time to be able to allow the mind to be open, to be aware of the suffering, without identification with the suffering, but to stand as a witness towards all the painful life experiences, and be compassionate towards the mind has to unwittingly go through some difficult traumatic life experiences, and suffers. And as yoga teachers, we can only be compassionate towards these suffering minds without judgment, but with thorough understanding and acceptance, knowing that none can take away another person’s suffering, but the mind itself to free itself from ignorance and egoism, the root cause of all suffering.

There’s nothing wrong or bad with ‘bad’, ‘negative’ or ‘unhappy’ feelings and emotions

It’s normal to have unpleasant feelings or emotions in us from time to time. There’s totally nothing wrong or bad when there are feelings or emotions that the worldly thinking people label them as ‘bad’, ‘negative’ and ‘unhappy’ feelings and emotions.

Many people would ‘advise’ those who are going through some difficult time or emotional moments to stop being emotional as if emotions and being emotional is something not good, or bad, or wrong, or weak.

It’s not about “Hey, you should look around you, count your blessings, and be grateful for all the little good things that you have or the bad things that you don’t have. Stop being so ungrateful, negative and unhappy. Don’t waste your life, time and energy in all these ‘bad’ feelings and ‘negative’ emotions. It’s not good for you and the people around you.”

Yoga and meditation practice is not about push away or avoid certain emotions and feelings that the mind recognizes as ‘bad’, ‘negative’, or ‘unhappy’. Yoga and meditation practice is not about cultivate good and happy feelings and emotions, and fill the mind with only ‘good’ and ‘positive’ feelings and emotions. It’s not about don’t allow any ‘bad’ and ‘negative’ feelings and emotions to arise or exist in the mind.

The teachings of yoga never criticize or tease people who feel low, bad, sad, angry, negative, depress or unhappy from time to time, or once in a blue moon, or most of the time. The teachings of yoga never judge or label any kinds of feelings and emotions as something ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘positive’ or ‘negative’. It is normal and okay for the mind to experience different types of pleasant and unpleasant feelings and emotions from time to time.

We allow our minds and other people’s minds to perceive feelings and emotions that are unpleasant, that are unhappy. It’s okay sometimes we don’t feel like talking and want to have some time just for ourselves. It’s okay sometimes other people don’t feel like talking and want to have some time just for themselves. It’s okay that we are not always happy all the time. We don’t have to be happy all the time.

What we are practicing in yoga and meditation is to be aware of any feelings or emotions, without generate identification with these feelings and emotions as ‘I’ or ‘mine’; without judging these feelings or emotions as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘negative’ or ‘positive’; without judging the mind as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘positive’ or ‘negative’; without expectation that ‘I’ only want to feel ‘good’ and have ‘positive’ emotions, and ‘I’ don’t want to feel ‘bad’ or have any ‘negative’ emotions; without generate craving or aversion towards certain feelings or emotions that the mind likes or dislikes; without being over-powered by these pleasant and unpleasant feelings and emotions to influence our actions and speech; knowing that no matter they are pleasant or unpleasant feelings and emotions, they all are impermanent, that they will pass away; and allowing all these impermanent feelings and emotions to arise, to be there, to change and passing away.

Whether we like it, or not; attach to it, or not, they all will pass away sooner, or later. Just observe, without attachment, identification, judgment, craving, aversion, or expectation.

It’s not about not welcoming or pushing away the ‘bad’ and ‘negative’ feelings and emotions. It’s not about welcoming and cultivating or retaining ‘good’ and ‘positive’ feelings and emotions. They are neither good nor bad, neither positive nor negative, and they are impermanent. And it’s not ‘I’.

Accepting the reality in the present moment now as it is, whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant, whether it’s the way that we like it to be, or not. It’s impermanent. Allowing all the impermanent changes to be there as they are. Whether the mind is at peace, or disturbed and unrest, it’s impermanent and it’s not ‘I’.

Om shanti.