The practice of silence to conquer the restless mind

This teaching is for those who want to conquer the restless mind, but they realize that the mind is so difficult to quiet down, that there will be ceaseless distracting random thoughts occupying the mind, especially whenever they try to sit down quietly limiting the physical movements and refraining the senses from going out chasing after the object of the senses, to train the mind in concentration and meditation.

It’s a common reaction of all the untrained impure minds when the physical body is being restricted from bodily movements and the mental habitual activities is being restricted, there will be random thoughts bubbling up to the surface of the mind. It’s part of the purification process. People should continue the practice by learning how to be aware of all these random thoughts without association, attachment, identification, craving or aversion, judgment and expectation, and allowing all these random pleasant and unpleasant thoughts arising and passing away, to clear up the past accumulated imprints. People expect that when they meditate, the mind will be free from any thoughts, and so, they’ll get very disappointed and demotivated after a few attempts trying to concentrate or meditate, they realize that the modification of the mind is even more agitated and violent whenever they try to concentrate or meditate. And without correct understanding, many people would give up and prefer to just live everyday life as they are, ‘happy happy go lucky’, be good, do good, without the need to deal with the unpleasant behavior of the mind that they don’t like to confront with. And that’s their freedom.

The biggest element in aid to conquer the restless mind is the observation of silence, of seclusion, solitude and renunciation from worldly social relationships, activities and interactions.

Some people think that those who want to conquer the mind should take up the challenge of living and mixing among the society, in order to allow the mind to practice concentration and meditation in everyday life having to deal with all kinds of challenging condition and situation, distractions and disturbance, while learning how to remain equanimous without being affected or determined by all the challenging condition and situation in life, without generating craving towards the pleasant life experiences and without generating aversion towards the unpleasant life experiences. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But what happens? After many years of ‘trying’ to practice yoga and meditation to conquer the restless mind, but the mind is still restless, or even more restless under the influence of ignorance and impurities.

Some even say that it’s very easy to be calm and quiet being in solitude and seclusion without dealing with other beings and worldly affairs. They think that one doesn’t need to deal with pleasantness and unpleasantness, craving and aversion, distractions and disturbance, actions and reactions, when being in solitude and seclusion. What they don’t know is that most minds will runaway from solitude and seclusion after some time, like fish out of water, and the modification of the mind is even more agitated and violent being restricted from worldly social relationships, activities and interactions that keep the mind stimulated, entertained, busy, or restless. That’s why so many people will say that meditation is very difficult, or they can’t meditate, or they don’t like meditation, or they don’t like to observe silence, of solitude and seclusion.

Whether one is surrounded by many other beings and happenings, or one is alone in solitude away from happenings, this mind has to deal with the impermanent and selfless changes of the physical body and the ignorant impure egoistic modification of the mind. Whether the mind is free, or not free, it’s always right here and right now. When the mind practices concentration and meditation, it’s always alone, regardless of whether there are other people around, or not.

Do not blind-believing or blind-following any teachings from anyone or somewhere, including all the teachings here. Contemplate and inquire the truth of all teachings and attain self-realization of the truth of all the teachings via direct experience.

Take note that living in the world and mixing in the society are two completely different things. Geographically and biologically, one will have to and always be living in the world, otherwise, this body will not be able to survive for long, but at the same time, know the importance of observing silence, of maximum solitude and seclusion, renouncing worldly social relationships, activities and interactions, in short, refraining from mixing in the society.

While living in the world, one will still have to deal with the impermanent and selfless condition and situation in the world that is ever challenging, and developing the strength of non-association, non-attachment, non-identification, non-craving, non-aversion, non-judgment and non-expectation, and one learns how to conserve energy and not wasting energy into worldly affairs/activities/interactions that derived from ignorance and egoism, as well as empowering/feeding ignorance and egoism.

Observing maximum solitude and seclusion while living in the world, and renouncing worldly social relationships, activities and interactions doesn’t mean that one is completely isolated from the society and not performing any actions in the world. One can be performing unlimited selfless service in the world to benefit the society efficiently, but being free from mixing, or socializing, or accumulating relationships. One is care-less towards the worldly affairs, but can also be performing actions that benefit the world at the same time. Being compassionate towards all beings doesn’t mean that one has to be in a form of relationship with all beings. One can be kind to others without the need of knowing or contacting with the others. Contemplate on this, and be free to observe silence while living in the world and performing actions in the world.

For the ‘first class’ students of Dhamma, which are very few of them in this world, they don’t need to observe silence, of solitude, seclusion and renunciation from worldly social relationships, activities and interactions, as they are already grounded firmly in Dhamma. They can be mixing in the society like everyone else, behaving like everyone else, but their minds are ever pure and quiet. They don’t need to practice concentration or meditation at all. They are not separated from meditation. There’s no in or out of meditation.

For the other students of Dhamma, which is the majority of us, we do need to observe silence at some stage, of maximum solitude and seclusion, and renounce worldly social relationships, activities and interactions, as whether we are aware or unaware, the mind is constantly absorbing all the inputs of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and thoughts/imagination/projection/dreams, all the time, unwittingly. All these endless accumulated inputs are the ceaseless random thoughts that bubbling up to the surface of the mind during the practice of concentration and meditation, and many minds that haven’t develop a strong foundation of non-association, non-attachment, non-identification, non-craving, non-aversion, non-judgment and non-expectation will be greatly disturbed, distracted and demotivated by this purification process. And this will never come to an end, unless we start reducing and limiting all these unnecessary mind inputs deriving from all kinds of worldly relationships, activities and interactions.

It’s like someone tries very hard to clean up the rubbish bin, but somehow, rubbish keep pouring into the bin, from someone and somewhere, endlessly. The bin will never be cleaned. The untrained impure egoistic mind is like a rubbish bin, taking in all kinds of rubbish (mind inputs) ceaselessly, unwittingly. And yoga and meditation practice of silence, solitude, seclusion and renunciation, is the most effective and practical way to free the mind from being a rubbish bin, and it’s not about to be a clean rubbish bin, but to realize its nature of namelessness, formlessness and attributelessness, that it is neither a dirty rubbish bin nor a clean rubbish bin.

Perform this test to know how the mind works. Sit down without moving the body and limbs, closing the eyes, and observe the natural breath coming in and going out for a few minutes. Very soon, unwittingly, random thoughts will arise and occupying the mind. And one will realize that all these random bubbling thoughts are the strongest imprints during the day, or from the last few days, or even from weeks/months/years before, or even forgotten.

Even Siddhartha Gautama Buddha and Swami Sivananda also had to retreat from the society to be focusing on their practice for some years in solitude, restraining the modification of the mind and attaining liberation. And then they came back to the society to disseminate the Dhamma to the other suffering minds whom in need of the Dhamma to be free from suffering.

By reducing and limiting the mind inputs not just allowing the mind to be purified effectively, but it also helps to develop a great mental strength that allows the mind to be uninfluenced, unaffected, undisturbed and undetermined by all the names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses. At this stage, the mind is safe and free to be mixing in the society and live everyday life like everyone else, but the mind is ever pure and quiet.

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to think and believe, and what they want or don’t want to practice.

Advertisements

Conflict between the practice of influencing the state of the mind and observing the mind perception as it is?

Some people get confused by the yoga asana, pranayama and concentration practice that is about influencing the state of the mind (intentionally changing the state of the mind to be something different by purifying and rendering the impure restless wandering mind to be pure and calm and focus) and the practice of observing the mind perception of names and forms/thought activities and allowing the mind perception of names and forms/thought activities to be there as it is, without attachment, identification, judgment, expectation, craving or aversion towards the function/modification/thought activities of the mind, and allowing all the impermanent changes of all the names and forms to be there, as they are.

It seems like a contradiction of practice, but it’s not really.

The mind is like the lake and the state of the mind is like the surface of the lake. The reflections are being reflected as they are when the surface of the lake is still, and the reflections are contorted when the surface of the lake is moving. By rendering the state of the mind calm and still will allow the mind to see things as they are or allowing the perception of names and forms to be reflected as it is, but it doesn’t change the truth of the names and forms being what they are.

The modification/thoughts activities/perception of an individual reality of the mind is like the image/reflection of the sky or the sun or the moon being reflected on the surface of the lake, and no matter the images reflected on the lake is as they are or are contorted, (and if the lake has an egoistic thinking mind of likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements, craving and aversion towards the reflection of the sky, the sun or the moon on itself, and desires to change the sky, the sun or the moon to be the way that it likes it to be,) the lake doesn’t change the sky or the sun or the moon. And if the lake doesn’t exist, there’s no reflection of the sky, the sun or the moon, it still doesn’t affect the sky, the sun or the moon being there as they are.

The reflection on the surface of the lake doesn’t belong to the lake. The modification of the mind or the mind perception of pleasant/unpleasant/agreeable/disagreeable names and forms doesn’t belong to the mind.

Just like all the contents of good and bad qualities of names and forms existing in this space cannot affect the space and they don’t belong to the space. Neither will the space has desire to interfere with all the contents in it.

The space and the mind is still what it is, whether the mind perceives something as good or not good existing in the space. The space and the mind is still what it is, whether the mind perceives pleasant smells or unpleasant smells in the air. The space and the mind is still what it is, whether the mind perceives beautiful happening or disgusting/horrible happening in this space.

Different minds perceive its personal/individual reality differently under the same condition and situation. Such like, different minds feel differently while being in a place full of ‘good’ happenings or being in a place full of ‘bad’ happenings. Death is neither good nor bad. Some people are sad and mourn for the death of the leader of the country/party/ideal/vision that they supported, while some other people are glad and celebrating it. Positive minds perceive names and forms positively, while negative minds perceive names and forms negatively, but it’s not the truth, as all the names and forms are just what they are, they are neither positive nor negative. The reality is just what it is, but qualities are being projected onto the perceived reality of the mind perception of names and forms out of the different states of the mind.

The modification/thought activities/perception of an individual pleasant or unpleasant reality, is like the reflections on the surface of the lake. The state of the mind (pure or impure, peaceful or peaceless, with good/bad attributes or attributeless) influences how the mind understands/reacts towards the perception of names and forms perceived through the senses, or life experiences, but all the perception of names and forms, or life experiences, or the understanding/reactions/modifications/activities cannot affect/hurt/disturb/change the mind, except due to ignorance and egoism, there’s a false identity in the mind (the ego) is being disturbed and determined by all the perception of names and forms, and has the desire/idea of changing the perceived reality to be the way that it likes it to be.

The practice of yoga asana, pranayama, concentration and self-inquiry serves as the tool to maintain and render the mind pure and calm to be fit for higher realization of freedom from ignorance and suffering. The yoga asana and pranayama practice is to prepare the mind to be fit/ready for self-inquiry and meditation by balancing the restless/agitated/dulled state of the mind via body positions/movements (yoga asana practice) and control of the breath (pranayama practice), to render the mind calm and quiet.

The concentration practice/exercises/training is to restraint the mind to focus at one point for a prolonged period of time, and to keep the mind in the present refraining the mind from wandering into the past or the future, or getting lost in random ceaseless thinking and imaginations. Meanwhile the practice of renunciation/solitude/seclusion is to free the mind from getting entangled in the mind perception of a worldly life existence.

These practice/training are developing the awareness to be aware of or to observe the modifications of the mind, rendering the mind to be calm and quiet, to be free from restlessness and to be open to inquire the truth/nature of everything, preparing the mind for meditation – seeing the truth as it is.

The inquiry into the truth/nature of names and forms will help to strengthen dispassion, right discrimination, non-attachment, non-identification, free from craving and aversion, judgment and expectation, and this will lead the mind to be less disturbed or completely undisturbed by all the perception of names and forms of a worldly life existence, and generate less impurities or completely be free from impurities, which eventually lead to the annihilation of ignorance and suffering of the mind perception of a worldly life existence of impermanence and selflessness.

The pure egoless mind stands as a witness witnessing/observing the mind perception of a reality as it is, or observing the mind perception of names and forms/the states of the mind/the activities in the mind/the thoughts/the feelings/the physical sensations, condition, ability and limitation/all the selfless impermanent changes, as they are, without interfering with all these modifications of the mind.

Whatever the mind perceives through the senses or comes in contact with, all the perceptions of names and forms/thoughts activities/images/individual reality, and all states of the mind are just what they are. They are impermanent and selfless. They don’t belong to the mind. The worldly life existence perceived by the mind is impermanent and selfless. It doesn’t belong to the mind. It’s neither ‘I’ nor ‘mine’. Suffering and all kind of corrupted thinking and behavior arise when there is ignorance, egoism and impurities in the mind that generate attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment and expectation, thinking and believing that there’s ‘I’ and ‘mine’.

Without a calm and quiet mind, when the mind is in a state of impurity and restlessness due to egoism and impurities, it’s impossible for the mind to inquire the truth of things to be free from ignorance, as whatever is being perceived/understood through the senses are under the influence of or being contaminated by the impurities and restlessness. Just like a dirty, dusty and moving mirror cannot reflect the image of an object placed in front of it as it is. The mirror also cannot/doesn’t see itself without the help of another ‘mirror’ or ‘reflector’. And all the dirt, dust and movements don’t belong to the mirror. All the yoga, pranayama and concentration practice act as the tool to render the mind to be free from impurities and restlessness (cleaning up and stilling the ‘mirror’ to reflect the images as they are), and meditation is the ‘mirror’/’reflector’ to allow the pure and calm mind to see itself, as it is, beyond all the modifications of the mind.

That’s why it is very important to render the state of the mind pure and calm, in order to allow the mind to inquire the truth of names and forms, to be free from ignorance, and thus, allowing all the names and forms to be what they are. Or else, the ignorant egoistic minds desire to interfere with the names and forms that it doesn’t like to change/control it to be the way that it likes it to be, and there arise all sorts of suffering of discrimination, intolerance, interference, offensiveness, defensiveness, hostility, hatred, fear, violence, wars and etc.

It’s up to everyone to work on their own liberation through their own effort and pace.

Silent Retreat…

Silent retreat.

A period of renunciation.

Retreat from worldly affairs, social activities, personal duties and responsibilities, and from other beings.

To perform the greatest duty and responsibility of mankind.

To focus on oneself.

To take care the well-being of oneself.

To find peace within, to make peace with oneself and others.

Some don’t like it. It’s normal.

Some have fear and anxiety towards the idea and practice of silence. It’s normal too.

Some have high expectation from it. It’s okay.

Some runaway from it. It’s okay too.

Some fall in love with it. Not surprise either.

Some neither like nor dislike it. It’s just another experience.

Whatever it is, it’s the mind.

Attending one or many silent retreat(s) doesn’t guarantee anything.

The mind can be even more restless and turbulent for being restrained in silent retreat.

Confronting impurities in our own mind can be quite unpleasant.

It’s like try to clean up a long time blocked drainage system.

As we begin the cleaning process, more unpleasant stuffs being released and come up to the surface during the process.

Keep cleaning up the existing blockage little by little, and stop building up more blockage.

Fear not.

Be bold.

Be indifferent.

Be determined.

May all be free, be peaceful, be happy through silencing one’s very own restless mind.

Who is being compassionate?

“I am compassionate. I am a compassionate being. I am compassionate towards other beings suffering. I am disappointed, frustrated and angry with other people who are not compassionate towards other people suffering.”

“I am compassionate” doesn’t mean anything.

Before the egoism is eliminated, there’s no compassion. There might be sympathy and empathy, but it’s not compassion.

If the ego is absent upon annihilation of egoism, who is there to identify as a compassionate being and being compassionate, and condemn others for being compassionate-less?

Compassion is free from the influence of egoism and all the egoistic qualities and its side products of impurities.

Compassion is spontaneous and natural.

Compassion is unconditional without any discrimination.

Compassion is free from attachment and identification.

Compassion is free from intention and expectation.

Compassion is free from judgment, criticism, blame and condemn.

Compassion is free from influences of anger, frustration and disappointment.

Compassion is free from influences and discrimination of religion, politic, region, nationality, professionalism, gender, age, sexual orientation, cultural belief, background, behavior, physical and mental condition, personal interest and benefit, personal likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements.

Compassion is undetermined by feelings and emotions, praise and condemn, compliment and criticism, success and failure.

Compassion is beyond separateness, qualities, names and forms, action and action-less.

Compassion is perform action (including action-less) without attachment, identification, intention, expectation, and renounce the fruit of all actions (including action-less).

There’s no “I am good. I want to be good. I want to do good. I perform good action. The result of my good action must be good.”

There’s no expectation “Everyone should be good, do good, perform good actions, and the result of good actions must be good.”

Perform all actions, abandon the doer-ship, and allow the fruit of actions to be what it is.

Even though we might not be completely compassionate, but it doesn’t matter. Just by intentionally doing some good actions to benefits other beings is already very good for humanity. We don’t have to be a superhero that can clear away all the suffering in the world. Even enlightened beings also cannot remove the ignorance and suffering in other beings. We can just do our best for what we can do, to be kind to ourselves and others, without attachment and expectation.

Be happy.

Yoga practice for emancipation…

“I am not the body, the body is not mine.
I am not the mind, the mind is not mine.”

This is the basic teaching and practice of yoga. But, for some, it seems to be almost impossible for the mind to be free from ignorance, to go beyond names and forms, to be free from being conditioned by the idea of “I” and all that is related to “I”.

It is up to everyone to inquire or investigate into the truth of this teaching and all the other teachings from anywhere, and realize the truth through our own Self-inquiry.

Some people want to be able to go beyond all the names and forms, but find it difficult to practice non-attachment in everyday life. Many people don’t want to go beyond the body and mind, to be undetermined by the impermanent changes of the body and mind to be “I”, and be free. They rather cling onto the idea of “I” and life existence, being passionate about “I” and everything that is related to “I”. They are determined by the impermanent body and mind, and all the qualities of name and form that they perceive through the senses to be “I”, whether wittingly or unwittingly. They give themselves reasonable excuses why it is not necessarily to practice non-attachment or to renounce the world, to be peaceful and happy. They believe that life should be full of passionate desires waiting to be fulfilled to keep life going and meaningful, or else it isn’t life. Dispassion and desire-less is unbearable and wrong for them. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s their freedom of choice for what they want to do with their life.

For those who are determined to be free from suffering, to be able to help other suffering beings efficiently, they will focus their entire life time and existence into the path of emancipation, gradually moving away from worldly ideas and passionate desires.

Due to the veil of ignorance, the ego, or the idea of “I” in the mind, generates attachment and identification with all these qualities of names and forms to be “This is I”, to be existing, to be acknowledged, to be known. There’s strong attachment and identification with the thinking, the belief, the knowledge, the state and the ability of the mind, and the condition, the ability and the appearance of the physical body, as well as all the relationships with other beings and objects, to be “I”.

We are being determined by the impermanent qualities of the body and mind, and the relationships with other beings and objects to be confident, to be satisfied, to be happy, to be worthy and meaningful, or not. And all these qualities of name and form are subject to impermanence. And hence, the mind is constantly restless and dissatisfied. The stubborn attachment and identification doesn’t allow the mind to be free from the idea of “I” and all that is related with “I”. And this doesn’t allow the mind to see the truth of existence, which is I-lessness.

Upon the realization of the truth of I-lessness, the mind will be liberated from all sorts of suffering that derived from ignorance.

From the attachment and identification with qualities of name and form to be existing, the egoistic mind generates ceaseless desires of wants and don’t wants, craving and aversion, where all sorts of suffering arise.

“Is it necessarily to renounce the worldly social life and activities to be free from ignorance and suffering?” Well, it depends on each individual whether we have strong self-discipline and an undistracted mind, or not.

If our mind has rooted firmly in non-attachment, and is undistracted or uninfluenced by whatever the mind comes in contact with, or interacts with, being undisturbed or unaffected physically, mentally or emotionally, then we can mix freely into the society and involve with social activities freely, unrestricting the activities of the body and mind, while having the strong self-discipline and concentration maintaining one-pointedness towards the complete annihilation of ignorance.

If our mind has not yet develop a strong foundation of non-attachment, and is easily distracted and be influenced by whatever the mind comes in contact with, or interacts with, easily being disturbed and affected physically, mentally and emotionally, then we will need to renounce worldly social activities for a period of time, to allow the mind to be quiet and still for a sustained period of time to be able to reflect upon the truth as it is.

If emancipation is not what we are looking for, then be free to live a passionate and unrestricted worldly life. Be happy with what we want for our life. But then when we experience disappointment and suffering, and feel hurt, disturbed, angry, or depressed about the reality that we don’t like and don’t agree with, it is our own choice as well.

Anyway, there are no shortage of New Age ‘yoga teachers’ in the modern world teach about “Follow all your desires, be passionate and indulge in worldly sensual enjoyment” as liberation. Why bother about renunciation to perform Sadhana that is so wrong, unnatural and painful for the worldly egoistic mind. As even when someone tries to renounce the world, it doesn’t guarantee that this being will be liberated, if there’s no real renunciation.

Some might think that we are now existing in an new era, renunciation is outdated. Some people who love their yoga and meditation practice might think that there’s no need to renounce the world, they have already gotten the benefits that they wanted from their yoga and meditation practice. Some think that they are somehow smarter than those past enlightened beings who all had went through renunciation, seclusion and intense Sadhana for many years to attain liberation, and then came back to the world to help other beings to attain liberation. It’s our own freedom for what we want for our lives.

Be happy.