Attachment as in Yoga and Buddhism

“What is attachment?”

Due to ignorance, the mind is functioning/operating under the influence of egoism, where there’s attachment towards the mind perception of names and forms through the senses, that brings along multiple identifications/identities identifying with impermanent and selfless names and forms that representing ‘I’ and ‘my life’ and ‘my relationships with everyone and everything in my life’ that aren’t ‘the truth’ or don’t ‘exist’ (there’s neither ‘I’ nor ‘not I’ in selflessness) with boundless passionate worldly desires of craving and aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, which leads to all kinds of action and reaction and the fruit/consequences of action and reaction, activating the loop of endless births and deaths, and the consequence of all that – Restlessness, dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, hatred, jealousy, hurts, aggressiveness, defensiveness, offensiveness, fear, worry, stress, regret, guilt, grief, painful sorrow, or suffering/peacelessness exist within the modification of the mind, which are also subject to impermanence and selflessness, governs by the law of nature – cause and effect, action and the fruit/consequence of action.

The fundamental attachments that exist in most minds are worldly life existence attachment, individual being existence attachment (‘I am an existing individual being with certain quality of name and form’, ‘this is I/this is not I’, or ‘I am this/I am not that’), physical attachment, mental attachment, emotional attachment, relationship/companionship attachment, material/object/possession attachment, family/friends/relative/race/nationality attachment, thinking and belief attachment, life experiences attachment, social/cultural/spiritual/religious attachment, gender/sexual orientation attachment, connection/networking attachment, ability/achievement/jobs/contribution attachment, the sense of meaningfulness/positiveness/goodness/righteousness/happiness attachment, environmental/living condition attachment, and personal or group thinking/belief/values/practice/likes and dislikes/agreements and disagreements attachment.

From the idea of ‘I’, existing as an individual being of certain quality of name and form, there’s attachment towards the restless/selfless modification of the mind perception of a fleeting selfless worldly life existence of the impermanent and selfless decaying physical body and intellectual assertive thinking mind, attachment towards the physical activities/conditions/appearances/abilities/disabilities/limitations, the mental/thoughts/emotional activities/states/conditions/abilities/disabilities/limitations, the actions and reactions and the fruit/consequence of actions and reactions, the pleasant and unpleasant sensations, feelings and emotions, the sights/smells/tastes/sounds/feelings/sensations/thoughts, the relationships/connections/interactions/learning/memories/knowledge/talent/skill, the inputs/outputs/expressions/points of view/ideas/creativity, the accomplishment and non-accomplishment, the many individual/group/community/social/professional/cultural/spiritual/religious identifications/identities/images/status, the accumulation of possession towards objects and relationships, the ambitions/inspirations/aspirations, the instinct for creation and reproduction, the judgment and expectation from oneself and from others towards oneself and the world/society/environment, and so on.

When there’s attachment, the mind is unwittingly being determined and disturbed by all the impermanent and selfless perception/experience of names and forms. There’s craving/clinging/longing towards the names and forms or experiences or conditions that the mind desires, likes and agrees with, and there’s aversion towards the names and forms or experiences or conditions that the mind doesn’t desire, dislikes and disagrees with. The mind is being restless due to endless boundless desires waiting to be fulfilled/gratified, trying to satisfy not just the physical hunger and thirst, but also the endless mental hunger and thirst towards the sense of satisfaction, meaningfulness, positiveness, righteousness, goodness, togetherness, connection, happiness, accomplishment, confidence, well-deserving, well-loved, well-worthed and well-lived.

Absence of attachment, the mind perception of names and forms of all the impermanent and selfless desirable/undesirable, pleasant/unpleasant, agreeable/disagreeable worldly life experiences is just what it is, neither good nor bad, neither positive nor negative, neither right nor wrong, neither meaningful nor meaningless, neither precious nor preciousless, neither enjoyable nor suffering, neither peaceful nor peaceless. Dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, hatred, jealousy, hurts, aggressiveness, defensiveness, offensiveness, fear, worry, stress, regret, guilt, grief, painful sorrow, or suffering, don’t exist upon the void/absence of attachment.

The Yoga and Buddhism practice is all about silencing this restless modification of the mind, annihilating ignorance and egoism, of endless desire and attachment, and the consequences of that. And this is nothing to do with the different condition, situation, experience, learning, practicing, ability, disability, qualification, certification, limitation, strength, flexibility, stamina, fitness level, performance, intelligence, knowledge, talent, skill, title, status, skin colour, race, nationality, gender, spirituality, religion, culture, belief and disbelief, time, space and causation. It transcends all the names and forms, qualities, intellectual thinking and analysis, time, space and causation of duality, separateness, past/present/future, condition/situation, cause and effect, good/bad karma, birth and death.

The selfless yogis either renouncing and retreating from the world of worldly life, relationships, affairs and activities that based on egoism and feed egoism, or, performing actions in the world while living among the worldly society but without attachment, are neither selfish nor unselfish. All are impermanent and selfless.

In another term, when the state of the mind (under the idea of ‘I’) is being determined by the impermanent changes of the physical condition/appearance/ability/disability/performance and the modification of the mind of thoughts activities/feelings/emotions, where there’s presence of low or high self-esteem/confidence/self-value being determined by the relationships with everyone, being determined by the names and forms of desirable/undesirable experiences/conditions/situations and the likes and dislikes/agreements and disagreements towards what the mind perceives through the senses of whatever the mind experiences in this present moment, or remembering towards the past experiences, or projecting into the future, being determined by actions and the fruit of actions/achievement and non-achievement, being determined by the condition and situation in the world, being satisfied/dissatisfied, meaningful/meaningless, happy/unhappy, confident/non-confident, where there’s identification/acknowledgement of “I am good/not good enough/bad/positive/negative/optimistic/kind/unkind/unselfish/selfish/weak/strong/superior/inferior/hurt/healed.” that is attachment.

If there is attachment, identification, desire and expectation, there will be hurts, anger, disappointment, fear or regret upon coming in contact with undesirable/unpleasant/undeserving experiences/situations that are “not the way that I would like it to be or not the way that I think how it should be.”

If attachment, identification, desire and expectation are absent, there’s no hurts, anger, disappointment, fear or regret upon coming in contact with undesirable/unpleasant/undeserving experiences/situations that are “not the way that I would like it to be or not the way that I think how it should be.”

Ego, more than self-esteem, self-worth, pride and arrogance

In the world, ‘ego’ is mostly being interpreted as the quality of a prideful ambitious overly confident high self-esteemed and self-centered person who thinks and believes oneself possesses certain qualities or achievements that one and others would be proud of and should deserve respect, appreciation, acknowledgement, or glorification.

When people say, “He/She has a big/bad ego,” usually it refers to this is a proud and arrogant self-centered, self-obsessed, or overly confident and ambitious person that boasts and glorifies about one’s contributions or achievements.

When people say, “He/She doesn’t have an ego or he/she has a small/good ego,” usually it refers to this is a down to earth, humble and unselfish person, who keeps quiet about one’s contributions and achievements.

‘Ego’, is more than the reflection of self-esteem, self-worth, pride and arrogance of a person under the teachings of yoga and Buddhism. It’s not a quality to reflect whether a person is being arrogant and self-centered or being humble and non self-centered.

‘Ego’, is an idea of ‘I’ derived from ignorance and exists in the form of a continuous stream of thought-current in the thinking mind, that feeds on egoism, attached onto and identifies with certain qualities of names and forms to be existing as an individual being experiencing life, either enjoying pleasant/desirable/agreeable/joyful experiences or suffering unpleasant/undesirable/disagreeable/painful experiences, identifies as ‘the perceiver that perceives/experiences/thinks/feels’ and ‘the perceived names and forms of perceptions/experiences/thinking/feelings’ as well as ‘the performer of actions’ and ‘the receiver of the fruit of actions’, who desires and doesn’t desire, who agrees and disagrees, who fights and protects, who enjoys and suffers. It appears to be existing and real due to ignorance.

The ego exists and identifies/acknowledges itself as ‘I am good’ or ‘I am bad’, ‘I know’ or ‘I don’t know’, ‘I am confident’ and ‘I am not confident’, ‘I like, agree and desire’ or ‘I don’t like, don’t agree and don’t desire’, ‘I deserve’ or ‘I don’t deserve’, ‘I am proud’ or ‘I am humble’, ‘I am happy’ or ‘I am unhappy’, ‘I am positive’ or ‘I am negative’, ‘I am meaningful’ and ‘I am meaningless’, ‘I enjoy’ or ‘I suffer’, ‘I am selfish’ or ‘I am unselfish’, ‘I am highly confident, ambitious and self-centered’ or ‘I am non confident, non ambitious and non self-centered’, and etc.

The end of yoga or Buddhism practice, is upon the annihilation of the modification of the mind or restless thought-currents, when the veil of ignorance vanished, where the mind sees itself as it is, attaining Self-realization, or knowing thyself, or knowing who ‘I’ am, where the annihilation of the ego/the idea of ‘I’, or the realization of selflessness/egolessness/’I’lessness takes place, transcending ‘the wheel of births and deaths of the egoistic impure consciousness powered by ignorance and the by-products of ignorance that generates ceaseless cause and effect/good and bad karma that feeds the loop of births and deaths of ignorance and the by-products of that’, ‘returning’ to oneness, non-separateness, namelessness, formlessness, attributelessness, birthlessness, deathlessness, void of/untouched by cause and effect/good or bad karma/merits and virtues.

It’s not about trying to be as ‘good’ as possible, where a ‘soul/mind’ will be judged as a ‘good or bad soul/mind’ upon the death of the physical body based on accumulated virtues and merits or good/bad karma, either to be sent to ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’ or ‘somewhere in between’, or to be reborn into respective higher or lower realm of beings experiencing life existence via the mind perceiving pleasant/unpleasant names and forms through the senses that are all subject to impermanence and selflessness, to be continuously ‘ignorantly’/’helplessly’/’unwittingly’ generating further ceaseless good/bad actions along with the consequences of actions, or cause and effect, or good/bad karma, that keeps fueling the wheel of restless births and deaths (restless transitions of life existence reaping the fruit of good/bad actions) that is subject to impermanence and selflessness, regardless of good or bad, desirable or undesirable, enjoyable or sufferable transitions.

Forgo the momentary ‘pleasantness’, ‘happiness’, ‘meaningfulness’ or ‘goodness’ of a conditional fleeting worldly life existence of restless selfless transitions. Even so called ‘heaven’ or ‘higher realms’ are impermanent transitions reaping the fruit of ‘good’ actions. It’s not liberation at all. Know thyself, the beginningless and endless infinite silent witness of all impermanent and selfless transitions.

The ego constant acts and reacts to create a condition or a world that ‘I’ desires, based on the endless desire of craving (What I want) and aversion (What I don’t want). The silent witness neither act or react nor there’s an ‘I’ aspiring/desiring to create a condition or a world that ‘I’ desires. There’s neither “I will be or I am missing all the people of family and friends, or names and forms of the objects of the senses/qualities/conditions/things/actions/enjoyments/pets/places/realms/world that I love very much.” where only the very few dispassionate ones can go beyond all the worldly connections/relationships/names and forms transcending all kinds of worldly social/cultural/spiritual/religious thinking and belief, actions and achievements (the fruit of actions).

“The knowledge of the Self, or Self-realization, or the annihilation of the mind, or Samadhi, is the only way to be free from the wheel of births and deaths.” as taught by Swami Sivananda.

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.

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.

Self-esteem and confidence

Any issues regarding self-esteem and confidence shouldn’t and doesn’t need to be existing at all. But due to ignorance and egoism, many people depend on self-esteem and confidence to be who they are, to be happy and feel meaningful, or not. Many people are suffering from mild to severe low self-esteem or low confidence that leads to the sense of meaninglessness and depression. Even many mental and psychological related studies and professionals also preach, think and believe that the development and empowerment of self-esteem and confidence is very important in life existence as human beings and it’s the key to personal and global growth, success and happiness.

Real confidence has nothing to do with self-esteem or confidence that builds on physical appearance, condition, ability and achievement, or mental state, ability and achievement, or desirable and undesirable life experiences, or good and bad relationships with parents, family, friends and the rest of the world. It is beyond all these names and forms, when the mind has gone beyond the identification of what the mind thinks is ‘I’ and ‘my’, where this identification of ‘I’ and ‘my’ with the different qualities of names and forms is just a by-product of the worldly thinking and belief, or family, cultural, social and religious belief.

It’s the ego that feels it has to be good enough for something, or for somebody, or for oneself. It also feels that it might be not good enough for something, or for somebody, or for oneself, based on what the thinking and belief recognize as ‘good’ and ‘good enough’, or what is ‘self-esteem and confidence’, ‘success’, ‘happiness’ and ‘meaningfulness’, and the relationship between them, where most people think and believe that ‘high self-esteem and confidence’ is related to ‘success’, and ‘success’ is related to ‘happiness’, while ‘happiness’ is related to ‘meaningfulness’. And many people are suffering because of this thinking and belief or trying to live up to this thinking and belief for their entire life, and passing this thinking and belief from generation to generation.

It’s the idea of ‘I’, or the ego, that needs to feel good about oneself, and wants other people to perceive oneself as good enough, and needs to attain or possess certain qualities of names and forms to be identifying with, that would make one feels good and proud of oneself and also would make other people feel good and proud of oneself, in order to be happy and live life meaningfully.

And all these qualities of names and forms are impermanent and there is no ‘I’ to be found in any of these names and forms, or to be in control of the impermanent changes, to be the way that ‘I’ like it to be. No matter how much influences we can influence the condition of the physical body and the state of the mind, to maintain the function and the life span of the body and the mind, the body and mind will still have to go through inevitable changes of decay, old age, discomfort, illness, weakness, ceased functioning, and decompose, or death.

Once the mind fully understood this, it will be free from the bondage of self-esteem and confidence. There’s no ‘I’ being good or not good enough. There’s neither high nor low self-esteem. There’s neither high nor low confidence.

One doesn’t need to be somebody with particular appearance, condition, ability or achievement, or have certain good and positive life experiences, or good relationships with anyone, in order to feel confident, happy, satisfied or meaningful.

One can have and appreciate all the attention, affection, support, agreement, acknowledgement, love or companionship that is available in the present, but one doesn’t need other people’s attention, affection, support, agreement, acknowledgement, love or companionship in order to feel confident, love, happy or meaningful. If all these qualities of names and forms are not available, one is still happy and peaceful as one is. One doesn’t feel lack of something or missing out anything, or one is not good enough to deserve love, happiness and meaningfulness.

And that’s real confidence. One doesn’t need to be confident or satisfied about oneself at all. One doesn’t need to feel proud of oneself, and doesn’t need other people to feel proud of oneself, to be ‘I’, or the good ‘I’, the successful ‘I’, the happy ‘I’, the meaningful ‘I’. One is happy and peaceful as one is, without any identification with any quality as ‘I’.

There is no thinking or identification of “I am a good and kind human being. I want to do good and be kind and be able to contribute towards humanity.” but goodness, kindness and contribution towards humanity are being manifested and performed through the body and mind out of wisdom and compassion.

If one doesn’t know this, one will always looking for or craving for attaining and possessing certain qualities of names and forms that one would like to relate oneself with, to be identifying with, to feel good and satisfied about oneself, to boost up one’s self-esteem and confidence to be who ‘I’ am, thinking that by attaining and possessing such qualities of names and forms will also make other people to give them the attention, affection, support, agreement, acknowledgement, love or companionship that they want from other people, in order to be happy and feel meaningful. But then one is not free. And that’s one’s freedom of thinking and action.

Be free.

Be strong?

One doesn’t need to be strong or stay strong.

One just needs to embrace and accept oneself as one is.

Sometimes we think we are strong or strong enough, while sometimes we think we are not strong or not strong enough, and it’s okay. We don’t have to be strong at all, and we don’t have to be able to stay strong all the time.

Sometimes there are things that the body or the mind can do or achieve, while sometimes there are things that the body or the mind can’t do or achieve, and it’s okay. The body and the mind don’t have to be able to do or achieve all and everything all the time.

Most important, there is no attachment or identification with what the egoistic impure mind thinks and perceives about itself and/or others.

Whether the mind thinks ‘I’ am strong or not strong, and whether the body and the mind are able to do or achieve anything and everything, or not, all these qualities are impermanent, and it’s not who we think we are. It’s just the ego.

The ego is the one who enjoys and suffers, who wants that and doesn’t want this, and who feels satisfy or dissatisfy, happy or unhappy, fulfilled or disappointed, calm or disturbed, love or hate, and who feels hurt, offended, insulted, humiliated, disrespected, annoyed, frustrated, threatened, insecure, oppressed, discriminated, belittled, lonely, meaningless, low self-esteem, unconfident, doubt, guilty, regret, shameful, and so on. It is the one who needs to possess or attach onto certain qualities of names and forms to feel good, proud, confident and meaningful about itself and life. It is the one who would do anything that might hurt the body and the mind and others in order to attain or fulfill or protect all its desires of want and doesn’t want, or craving and aversion.

One just do one best within one’s ability, making use of the present condition and ability of the body and the mind, to do and achieve what is possible, and let go what is impossible in the present moment, being free from egoism of attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgment and expectation.

It is the ego that wants to be strong and stay strong. It is the ego that wants the body and the mind to be able to do and achieve all and everything that it desires. It is the ego that wants to believe that everything is possible and nothing is impossible.

Be free from this ego. Be kind to the body and the mind, by embracing and accepting the body and the mind as they are. They don’t have to be good all the time. They don’t have to be perfect or to be the way that the ego would like them to be. It is okay that sometimes there are things that are possible and sometimes there are things that are impossible. Such like, it is impossible to undo the past, or to control everything to be the way that the ego likes it to be. And it’s okay.

It’s just the ego that needs to achieve and attach onto some qualities of names and forms that it likes and wants (what it thinks and believes as good, positive, happiness, success and meaningful), and rejecting the qualities of names and forms that it doesn’t like and doesn’t want (what it thinks and believes as bad, negative, unhappiness, failure and meaningless). Be free from this ego, there’s no need to depend on good qualities, good conditions, good abilities, good achievements, good results, good relationships, good life, good reputation, good image, good feelings, positive feedback, support and acknowledgement, to be peaceful, to be happy, to be confident, or to feel meaningful about the worldly life existence, or what we think is ‘I’. There is no ‘I’.

Be free from this ego, there’s no ‘I’ being strong or not strong. There’s no need to be strong. There’s no need to be confident. There’s no need to feel meaningful. It doesn’t matter how is the world and how is life and whatever experiences we go through from birth to death in this life existence, there is peace, right here and now. And this is liberation.

Liberation is not about fighting, changing and eliminating what we think is bad, evil, unjust, inequality and wrong in the world. Whatever we think is bad, evil, unjust, inequality and wrong in the world, is the product/consequence of ignorance and egoism in all beings, including those who think they are good and right, who think they are better than others and deserve better treatments from others. None can fight or change or eliminate ignorance and egoism in other beings, to change or control the world to be the way that we think is all good, evil-less, just, equal and right. Not even Buddha or any Gurus can change or remove ignorance and egoism of others.

Liberation is being free from ignorance and egoism in one’s mind. One will be peaceful as one is, which is nothing to do with whether the world and our life experience is all good, evil-less, just, equal and right, or not. It’s being undisturbed and undetermined by the products/consequences of other people’s ignorance and egoism.

The mind is being hardwired by worldly thinking and belief that based on egoism

Many people are not interested in letting go of the ego, while there are people who are interested in letting go of the ego, but they find that it’s not that easy to be free from the ego or egoism. This is because the mind is being hardwired by worldly thinking and belief that based on egoism.

The moment we were born into this world we were being nurtured under the worldly thinking and belief that based on egoism to identify this life existence of a body and a mind with certain qualities of names and forms to possess a strong worldly personal identity of “This is I”, “This is what I am”, “This is who I am”, “This is where I came from/belong”, “This is what I should believe”, “This is how I should think, behave, act, react and feel”, “This is good and right” or “This is bad and wrong”, “This is successful and meaningful” or “This is failure and meaningless”, “This is happiness” or “This is unhappiness”, and etc. We were being told that “This is who I am”, and if we behave like this and achieve this ‘quality’, then “I am good” or “I deserve happiness”, while if we behave like that and don’t achieve this ‘quality’, then “I am bad” or “I don’t deserve happiness”.

Human beings are being hardwired by the worldly thinking and belief that are influenced by a particular heritage/cultural/religious/political/social belief, values and ethics to feel good or happy or proud/meaningful about oneself or one’s existence if one conforms to that particular thinking and belief to live life, to behave, to act and react, or to think and feel. As well as to feel bad or unhappy or guilt/shameful about oneself or one’s existence if one doesn’t conform to that particular thinking and belief to live life, to behave, to act and react, or to think and feel.

The sense of belonging is one of the characteristics of the ego. Human beings are being hardwired to think and believe that everyone should attached onto and identified themselves with a personal identity as well as a group identity that make them feel that this is “who I am” and “where I belong”. It’s very difficult for many people to understand that the life existence of a body and a mind doesn’t really need any identifications or sense of belonging to be ‘somebody’, to feel secured, proud, good, confident or meaningful. Even ‘psychologists’ who deal with psychology problems (especially low self-esteem and depression), believe that human beings need to/should attached onto and identify themselves with a ‘strong’ personal identity as well as a group identity that make them feel that this is “who I am” and “where I belong”, to feel secured, proud, good, confident and meaningful about themselves. There’s nothing wrong with that, just that it doesn’t stop people from continuously be disturbed or determined by craving and aversion towards all the perceptions of names and forms, and experience suffering. As people are still not free from the root cause of all kinds of affliction and suffering – ignorance and egoism.

Ignorance doesn’t allow the mind to know that it can be free, peaceful, happy and live life meaningfully as it is, without any personal identifications or sense of belonging, being free from all kinds of insecurity, low self-esteem, meaninglessness, void, loneliness, craving, fear, affliction or suffering that arise due to ignorance and egoism.

Ignorance and egoism stop people from letting go of the ego or worldly personal identity with some qualities of names and forms. There is huge fear of the unknown. The mind doesn’t know why, but there is great fear or resistance towards not being ‘somebody’ that will make ‘I’ and other people to feel proud of.

Based on the thinking and belief that was being hardwired into the mind about what is good and bad, right and wrong, should and shouldn’t, that influence how one should think and behave and feel, the ego constantly judges itself as well as others, and has great expectation towards oneself and others to conform to that thinking and belief to think and behave and feel towards everything that the mind perceives or experiences through the senses. The ego ceaselessly looking for acceptance, approval, support, acknowledgement, agreement, attention, liking, love, respect, praise and compliment from the world or the society that it thinks it belongs to. The ego doesn’t want to possess or be related to anything that doesn’t conform to that thinking and belief. It will feel bad or shameful about itself and others who doesn’t conform to that thinking and belief. It wants to build a worthy reputation as well as would do anything to protect that reputation at any cost.

Even those who are practicing yoga, would also identify themselves as ‘such and such’ yogi, ‘I’ practice ‘such and such’ yoga, ‘I’ came from/belong to ‘such and such’ yoga lineage/school/group/community/affiliation, or ‘I’ have ‘such and such’ certifications and qualifications and years of experience.

It’s up to everyone’s self-inquiry and self-realization whether one will realize what is going on in this mind and be free from ignorance and egoism, or not.

Do cheerful people only have happy feelings and don’t have any unhappy feelings?

Being cheerful doesn’t mean that there is not any unhappy feelings and there’s only happy feelings all the time.

There’s nothing wrong with happy and unhappy feelings. It’s part of the normal function of the mind to react upon coming in contact with the objects of the senses that the mind likes and dislikes, agrees and disagrees with. Or, due to mood swing caused by hormones imbalanced. But cheerful people know that all these feelings are impermanent. They do not have clinging or craving towards happy feelings, or aversion towards unhappy feelings. When happy feelings are absent, they are still cheerful as they are. When unhappy feelings arise in the mind, they are still cheerful as they are.

Those who know non-attachment towards happy and unhappy feelings, they are not being determined by all these fleeting happy and unhappy feelings to be who they are, to be happy or not, to be confident or not, and to feel meaningful or not.

Cheerful people might have unhappy feelings when their minds come in contact with the objects of name and form that the mind dislikes and disagrees with, or when they are not getting the names and forms that the mind likes and wants. Or, when their hormones are imbalanced. But, they know how to let go of unhappy feelings more easily and quicker than those who have attachment towards all the perception of names and forms to be determining them to be who they are, to be happy or not, to be confident or not, and to feel meaningful or not.

The lesser and weaker attachment towards any names and forms, there will be less reasons or lower chances to be unhappy, and vice versa.

Those who have less demand and less expectation, who are less fussy and easily content, who are patient, tolerant, generous, forgiving, adaptable, adjustable and accommodating will have less trigger of unhappy feelings, and vice versa.

Go beyond the identification of ‘happy being’ and ‘unhappy being’.

Keep practicing non-attachment without expectation until the mind is completely be free from any impurities that derived from ceaseless reactions towards objects of name and form influenced by the desires of craving and aversion.

We will realize unconditional peace that is beyond all kinds of happy feelings, and undetermined by any qualities of name and form, when we are free from the desire of want to feel happy and want to be a ‘happy being’, or don’t want to feel unhappy and don’t want to be an ‘unhappy being’. But, allow all the happy and unhappy feelings to come and go without generate attachment or identification, without craving or aversion.

Love ourselves as we are even though the mind is not being happy all the time.

Be free.

My life stories – Part 11

My life Stories – Part 11
Stories from my past memories – childhood, family, friends, growing up, poverty, integrity, dreams come true, finding peace and happiness, Buddhism, Yoga, and now…

I wasn’t interested in getting into any love relationships or thought of getting married to someone, before I met my husband in 2005. I was nearly 35 years old and had never been in any relationship before, not even went out for a romantic outing with anyone. I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend or a husband.

I wasn’t and am not perfect. I didn’t and don’t intend to be one. I don’t have a nice personality or attractive appearance, and don’t know how to behave appropriately when being in a relationship. My personality and behavior were far away from ladylike and gentleness. For many people, being direct and straightforward are being seen as bad attitude or weakness for socializing and interacting in the society. For countless times, I watched people always being friendly, polite and nice in front of some other people, but they can’t hold their tongues to complain and criticize about other people behind their backs. Of course that’s their freedom of thoughts, actions and speech. But, I’ll stay away from this type of social interactions of hypocrisy and back-biting as much as possible.

In yoga practice, we purify our minds until there’s no ill-will or ill-thinking about anyone. There’s nothing to complain about or criticize anyone whether in front or behind their backs. When we criticize about others, it’s not because others are bad and wrong, or when we compliment others, it’s not because others are good and right, but it’s our mind being impure and project impurities of good and bad qualities onto everyone and everything that our minds perceive through the senses, under the influence of personal likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements based on what our egoistic minds believe what things are.

I never interested to make myself or my appearance to be attractive to attract anyone’s attention and liking. If anyone doesn’t like me or disagree with my way of thinking and behavior, and if people feel intimidated or offended by my presence, I’ll let them be and I’ll stay away so that they will have peace. Those who suffer from low self-esteem will easily feel intimidated or offended by anyone and anything, even though nobody is intentionally being intimidating or offensive towards anyone. It has to come from their own effort to be free from low self-esteem, which is part of the egoism. If anyone wants to create unnecessary problems, I’ll leave immediately, and let them take the responsibility for the consequences of their actions. If anyone doesn’t appreciate me or doesn’t want to be in my life anymore, I’ll let them go. I don’t expect anyone to be nice to me and love me. I never try to please anyone so that they will love me or be nice to me. People will be nice to me and love me if they want, as they like, out of their free will. And I will be grateful and thankful for their love and kindness for me.

Compassion is not about trying to please everyone to make them feel good, happy and comfortable, by giving them whatever they like and want, to gratify their desires of craving and aversion. But it’s to allow everyone to be aware of what is going on in their minds, and realize the truth to be free from ignorance and egoism, and transcend suffering and realize unconditional love and peace that is not coming from anyone or anything outside this body and mind, but it’s beyond the impermanent life existence, beyond the body and mind, beyond all our actions and inactions, beyond all the good and bad qualities of name and form, and beyond all our relationships with everyone and everything. It’s from within oneself unconditionally when one is free from ignorance and egoism.

My husband said that I am a strange person and beyond confident. I rarely look into the mirror as I don’t mind at all how I look. I also don’t mind about how other people look at me and what they think of me. I am neither highly confident nor over confident, as I don’t need to feel confident at all. I don’t feel bad about myself, and I don’t think I am better than any others. It’s okay if others want to look down on me, that’s their freedom, but I don’t look down on anyone. What others want to think, act and say about other people is their freedom of thinking, action and speech, but what others think, act and say about me cannot determine what I am and am not. I don’t look up to anyone either. I respect all my teachers and appreciate those who inspire me, but I don’t try to become like them. I don’t need to agree or disagree with everyone with many different types of thinking and behavior. I respect everyone as they are, even if my mind thinks that they are not good and not right based on what my mind believes what is good and bad, right and wrong. And I admire nobody, even when my mind thinks that they are great and wonderful, based on what my mind believes what is great and wonderful. Most of the time, I don’t comment about anything and anyone.

There’s nothing wrong to give praise and compliments to others to encourage people to do good and continue to improve, but the one who needs encouragement of praise and compliments from others to motivate it to do good and continue to improve is the ego, and by giving the ego what it likes and wants won’t help to eliminate the ego, but it’s feeding and strengthening the ego instead. That’s why in traditional yoga classes, the teacher rarely gives praise and compliments, it isn’t that the teacher is arrogant or doesn’t appreciate the students’ good performances, but it’s not to feed and strengthen the ego of the yoga students. Those who are really practicing yoga don’t need any praise and compliments from anyone to motivate them to do good and continue to improve.

In many families in the modern society, when the parents want to ask the children to be doing something for themselves or for other people, the parents will try to encourage or motivate the children by giving them something that they like and want as rewards after they have done what they were asked to do. It’s about performing actions in exchange for something in return. There’s nothing wrong with that. But, this is completely the opposite of the teachings of yoga. The children will grow up with the idea that they will only be motivated to do something only if they can get something that they like and want in return. Or else they won’t be motivated to do anything, even if it’s something beneficial for themselves. In yoga, we perform actions for ourselves and for others out of our free-will and loving kindness, without expecting something that we like and want in return.

And so, it’s not easy to be friend with me, not to say for anyone to be in a relationship with me and shares life with me. I do my best to be kind to others, but not in the way that what other people expect kindness to be like. Instead, people might think that I am being unkind to them. But that’s their freedom of thinking and reaction.

Once, I went through a serious purification process where lots of rash and pimples appeared on my face and my whole body for more than one and a half years, I didn’t feel bad or worry, and didn’t try to do something to get rid of them. My husband saw me in such condition for many months, and he wanted to give me some money to go to a beauty salon to get some treatments, but I said to him, “No need. They will go away one day.” And they went away months later.

I only use hair shampoo once or twice a month and everyday I take shower with water only. I use soap only for washing my hands. My travelling wash bag contains only a toothbrush and toothpaste.

I don’t need to celebrate birthdays or anniversaries. I don’t have a wedding ring or wedding photos. My husband once made a ring out of straw that he picked up from the ground while we were travelling in Varanasi and he gave it to me and told me that we were ‘officially’ married. On another time he secretly put three Bodhi leaves in my diary because I told him it was my first time saw a Bodhi tree when we were travelling in Rishikesh. I only realized the Bodhi leaves were there when I opened my diary a few days later. He also gave me three river stones that he found at the riverbank of the Ganges in Rishikesh. My husband doesn’t need to give me material things as presents as I am not interested in material things or presents. He doesn’t need to give me anything to show that he loves me, or for me to feel loved by him, or for me to love him. I love him as he is. I only appreciate life every moment, from day to day. I live everyday as it is and step by step. I don’t have future plans. I don’t need to own properties or things. I don’t need to have enjoyments. People like to say that we should do things that will make us happy, but I don’t need to do anything special that can make me happy, as I don’t need to feel happy. I am happy as I am.

I’ll share the stories from the past if it would help others to find a way to peace and freedom. But, I leave the past at where they belonged, I don’t keep them in the present. There will always be changes and unexpected happenings in life, some pleasant and unpleasant experiences, and people coming and going. I do my best to have peace in myself and stay away from meaningless and energy wasting human-made troubles as much as possible, and channel my life existence and energy to practice and teach yoga, and cultivate thoughts of may all be free from ignorance and have peace.

My husband is very different from me. He was gentle and romantic. My husband once tried to be romantic and sang a love song to me, but I thought he was just humming a song for himself, and I didn’t pay any attention to him and his singing. When he told me about it later, I said to him that I would try to learn to be more sensitive towards his love and affection for me.

I had been living on my own for many years, but I never felt lonely. And I fully enjoyed those peaceful and quiet moments being with myself. I have some good friends, and occasionally, I would visit them at their homes, or go out with them to have a coffee or lunch gathering. In the past, I didn’t have to tell or inform anyone about how I feel, what I am doing, where I am going, or when I will be coming back home, until my husband came to Malaysia to be with me in 2007. My parents never questioned me about all these things. It wasn’t that they didn’t care, but they didn’t need to worry for me at all.

I wasn’t and aren’t skillful in social interaction, or to engage in any social conversations. Most probably it’s because I was never interested in socializing, mingling, or accumulating personal friendships. Socializing, mingling and chit-chatting are good for worldly social interaction and public relation, but it is detrimental for yoga and meditation practice. It stimulates the thought waves and strengthens the worldly attachments, identifications and ideas, and empowering the desires of craving and aversion. Just list out what people usually talk about in a social conversation, and see how much our minds are being influenced and affected by all those daily conversations about worldly matters. And we might realize what is the cause for our minds being over stimulated and suffer from restlessness, and from where we have been accumulating lots of physical, emotional and mental tension that we need to de-stress or unwind ourselves from time to time. I never need to do something special to unwind myself, as I seldom accumulate unnecessary tension.

In most conversations, many people like to ask or want to know about the past and the future. Most people want to be friendly by starting a social interactive conversation, where they want to talk about themselves and also to hear other people talk about their stuffs, they want to give their opinions and also to hear other people’s opinions, they want to know about other people and want to be known by other people as well. There’s nothing wrong with the worldly social interactions between human beings. But in yoga practice, it’s about knowing oneself. It’s not about knowing other people or want to be known by other people. Minds that are conditioned by worldly thinking and ideas might think that it is a form of selfishness when some people don’t show interest to know about others. But in yoga, one practices disinterest in worldly affairs as well as other people’s affairs. It isn’t that yoga practitioners don’t care for what is happening to the world and other people, but one must take care of one’s mind first before one can care for the world and others efficiently.

When one’s mind is free from ignorance, egoism, attachment, identification, desires, craving, aversion and all sorts of impurities, and realizes unconditional love and peace in oneself, being firmly resting in peace undisturbed by all the qualities of names and forms, then naturally, without any intention or expectation, one will be contributing peace into the world by stop generating unrest and disharmony into the world. By taking care of oneself, to have peace in oneself, is actually loving and caring for the world and the society.

One must learn about oneself and know about oneself by quieting and purifying the mind through self-introspection and self-discipline, and then one will know how to love and care for oneself, before one can actually know about others, and love and care for others. The entire society will become more peaceful and harmony when everyone learns about oneself, knows oneself, and loves and cares for oneself.

Instead of wasting energy in socializing or talking about worldly ideas and affairs, I conserve energy for practicing and teaching yoga. Talking about worldly ideas and affairs won’t help anyone to be free from worldly identifications and attachments towards worldly names and forms, and it won’t make the world to be a better place. In fact, talking about this and that will stimulate the mind, and it doesn’t help to quiet the mind. Yoga and meditation practice is mainly to quiet the mind. The states of the world will change towards peace and harmony only if each and everyone who are existing and living in the world has self-awareness and self-control, to make an effort to change themselves to purify and quiet their minds, to be free from ignorance and egoism. The world is just what it is. It is neither good nor bad. It’s the occupants of the world that are projecting good and bad qualities into the world and contributing peace or unrest into the world. The one who is pure, being free from good and bad qualities, perceives the world as it is.

Though I am not interested in accumulating personal social friendships, I do my best to be friendly to all. I don’t discriminate people into friends or not friends. There’s no special treatment towards certain people. Those who think they deserve to be treated in certain ways that they think they should be treated, they will only be disappointed by their own expectation. But it’s people’s freedom if they want to discriminate everyone into friends and not friends, and have expectation towards how other people should act and react, behave and response according to their own practices, beliefs and values, and they feel annoyed or offended by other people who have different actions and reactions, different behaviors and responses being influenced by different practices, beliefs and values.

In the teachings of yoga, friendliness is being kind and compassionate towards all and everyone without ill-will, prejudice or bias towards anyone and without discrimination of friends and not friends, likes and dislikes, good or bad behavior people. We have self-control over our actions and speech to stop generate actions and speech that will cause unrest and disharmony in others or in the society. We constantly be aware of the impurities in our minds, and unceasingly purify our minds to be free from all sorts of impurities, so that we won’t hurt ourselves and others out of the influence of impurities like anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, pride, arrogance, desires, lust, feelings of hurts, doubt, fear and worry.

There’s no possessiveness or attachment towards anyone to be ‘my friend’. There’s no expectation towards friendships for getting something that we want, like attention, acknowledgement, companionship, interaction, trust, care and support, or getting rid of something that we don’t want, like loneliness and boredom. There’s no expectation towards others that people have to be friendly and nice to us. We allow everyone to be friendly and nice to us, or not. We don’t feel offended when we don’t get the appropriate reactions that what most people expect to be getting from other people. We don’t expect people should react and behave in certain ways according to our own thinking, social ethics, cultural values, belief and practice. We respect all and everyone to be different from us for having different personalities, characteristics, behaviors, opinions, values, policies, thinking and beliefs. We don’t try to interfere with, or to control, or to change other people to be the way that we think they should be, but allowing everyone to be the way as they are.

If people feel hurt or disturbed by other people’s actions and reactions, that is their own responsibility coming from how their minds react towards all the perceptions of names and forms, influenced by their egoism, attachment, identification, craving, aversion and expectation based on their own particular conditioned thinking and beliefs. Those who are free from egoism, attachment, identification, craving, aversion and expectation based on certain conditioned thinking and beliefs, will not be hurt or disturbed by anything or anyone.

Being in a relationship and to share living space with another person was a great challenge for me in the beginning. There were lots of things I needed to learn, to adjust, to adapt, to accommodate, to tolerate, to accept, to let go of selfishness and the ego. But all these are parts of our yoga practice. And I am still learning.

My husband is a good man and a good husband. He is very friendly, kind-hearted and generous. It is very good karma to have him in my life. He loves me very much, and I appreciate his love for me and I love him as he is.

Before my husband came to Malaysia to be with me, I was teaching aerobics dance classes in and around Kuala Lumpur for living, while he was working in a refuge in the Pyrenees in France.

We met each other for the first time in the Sivananda Dhanwantari Yoga Vedanta Ashram in South India, where we did the International Yoga Teachers Training Course in January 2005.

Without any intentions, we talked about yoga and Buddhism for a few times during the one month course. I never asked him where he came from, where he lived, what he did in the past, what he was doing then, or who he was in general. I didn’t even know what nationality he has. I never interested in knowing about the past, or try to know anyone from where they come from, or what they do, or who they are.

He stayed back in the Ashram for another few months after the course ended, while I came back to Malaysia, continued to teach aerobics dance classes and yoga classes. I wrote him a letter sent to the Ashram after I came back, as I felt that he needed Dhamma at that time. The letter was all about Dhamma, there’s nothing romantic at all. He told me later that the letter meant a lot to him, and he had kept the letter with him all the time wherever he went, until now.

Without any intentions, we both attended the Advance Teachers Training Course in February 2006. My initial plan was to stay back in the Ashram to perform selfless service for three months after the course ended. I would stay longer if I had more money. But the savings that I had was only just enough for the course and for staying in the Ashram for three more months. I didn’t know that my plan would change, and my life too. A few days later after we met again for the second time, he asked me if I wanted to travel with him in India learning more yoga and meditation under different schools and teachers. I didn’t answer him at that time because I wanted to stay in the Ashram after the course, and I couldn’t afford to go travelling somewhere else. We kept a distance with each other in the Ashram as we respect the Ashram’s rule of male and female students’ segregation, and we didn’t say anything about it anymore.

Just a few days before the course finished, a spontaneous thought arose in my mind during one of the evening Satsang meditation sessions, that if he came to me right after the meditation finished and asked me to travel with him in India, then I would go with him. But if he didn’t come to me that night and didn’t ask me that question at that time, then I wouldn’t go with him, but stay in the Ashram for the next three months. And miraculously, as everyone was leaving the meditation hall, he was waiting for me at the exit and he grabbed my hand and pulled me to the side and asked me in the dark, “Do you want to travel with me in India?” And I said yes. So, we went travelling together in India after the course ended. We spent two and a half months together, where we came to know each other deeper. We both got really sick from food poisoning for a month from the first day we arrived in Delhi. During that time, we took turn to take care of each other at our worst condition.

Then he went back to France, while I came back to Malaysia without any expectation that we would see each other again. I mentioned to him before, that he could come to Malaysia to teach yoga with me if he wanted. We didn’t really have any contacts since then.

He went back to India for the third time in the end of 2006, while I was in Malaysia. I didn’t go to India. Nine months later after the last time we saw each other, he called me from India one afternoon, telling me that he had booked a flight to come to Malaysia. He came in February 2007 and never left. We got married in the end of 2008.

All relationships and life experiences will have ups and downs. It’s subject to impermanence or changes. When two people who come from different cultural backgrounds with different personalities come together, there will be some conflicts arise from time to time. It depends on the depth of our understanding, acceptance, adaptation, adjustment, accommodation, tolerance, forgiveness and letting go, for us to be able to stay cheerful and happy in life, disregard all the agreements and disagreements, likes and dislikes, ups and downs in life and in the relationship. But most important is we need to know what we really want in life for ourselves.

My mother tongue is Cantonese, and my second languages are Mandarin and Malay. Before my husband came to Malaysia living with me, I seldom spoke English in daily conversations except when I taught classes I used very simple and minimal English. My husband and I had many misunderstanding especially in the beginning because my English comprehension was really limited and I also have bad hearing due to constant shouting to teach aerobics classes under the loud music. My husband speaks very softly. I had to ask him to repeat his sentences again and again. It was frustrating for him. I used to talk very loud and fast, which was really difficult for my husband because he has sensitive hearing and suffers from tinnitus. He suffered a lot from my loud speaking. As years past by, I started to speak more softly and slowly. And my husband had to keep correcting my English pronunciations and the usage of tenses. It took me few years to learn to pronounce words like egg, eight, three, world, girl, file, wild, duck, abdomen, buttocks, wrists, necessarily, vocabulary, probably, and etc. Even now after many years speaking in English, I am still having trouble pronouncing words like thought, thigh, they and there. When I speak in English, I am actually translating directly from Chinese. And there are no tenses in Chinese language. My husband said that he couldn’t understand me and constantly misunderstood what I wanted to say because I didn’t know how to use the correct pronunciation and tenses to tell my stories or when I wanted to say something. But we understood that very well, and we learned to be patient and accommodate each other when we talked to communicate.

It didn’t and doesn’t matter to me about how other people perceive me, as I am what I am. I accept and love myself as I am. I don’t live my life according to the worldly thinking, beliefs, and current trends, to meet up other people’s expectation, neither will I try to please anyone by pretending to be somebody whom I am not. If people don’t like something or everything about me, it’s their freedom. Everyone is responsible for their own happiness and unhappiness. Nobody can make another person happy or unhappy. If people want to be happy, no one can make them unhappy. If people want to be unhappy, no one can make them happy. When people feel happy is because they are getting something that they like and want, and are not getting what they don’t like and don’t want. When people feel unhappy is because they are getting something that they don’t like and don’t want, and are not getting what they like and want. It’s not because things or people are being good or bad, nice or not nice. Even my husband’s likes and dislikes, and his mind perception about me also cannot determine me, or change me, for what I am and how I think, act and feel. And I can’t make my husband happy. Neither can he make me happy. We are happy as we are.

Most of the time, the truth is not something agreeable or pleasant to the minds that are not free from attachment and identification towards certain conditioned thinking and beliefs influenced by ignorance and egoism. Most people perceive their own reality under the influence of conditional thinking and beliefs, they don’t see the truth as it is. Those who are not free from ignorance and egoism might have heard about the truth from others, but they might not like the truth, or don’t agree with the truth realized by others. Because they haven’t realized the truth through their own realization. They perceive everything based on their own thinking and beliefs and they live in their own personal reality. And people shouldn’t believe in the truth realized by others, even if it’s coming from Buddha or any saints and sages. Everyone has to realize the truth by themselves.

People want and expect the truth to be something that they like and want, that is agreeable to their own personal worldly thinking and beliefs. Everyone who attached to different thinking and beliefs would perceive their own personal reality differently from one another. Everyone has their own perception of reality that is being different from one another and there’s nothing wrong with that. But the universal truth is still the one same truth whether people like and agree with it, or not, whether people think and believe it’s the truth, or not. As the truth is not a belief, or intellectual analysis. It’s the way of how things are, as they are. But most people don’t want things to be what they are, but they want things to be the way that how they like and want it to be, or the way that they think it should be.

This also shows that how kind and loving is my husband for him to love me and accept me as I am. It’s a great challenge for him to be in a relationship with me and to share life with me.

That’s also why I am never interested in joining any ‘groups’. I am free to be who I am, as I am. And I am free from getting involve in gossips, vain talks, conflicts, condemn, criticism, and so on. When we have bad things to say about others, it’s not because others are being bad and wrong, but it’s because our minds are not pure. If our minds are pure, there’s no bad thing to say about others, even if we are aware of something that isn’t good and right about someone based on what our minds believe as good and bad, right and wrong. Worldly minded people might think that being silence towards things that are bad and wrong is supporting all those bad and wrong things. But, what people think and believe as good and bad, right and wrong, is very subjective, it’s not necessarily the truth of what things are. By being vocally and physically violent towards something that is bad and wrong won’t change the reality of those things being bad and wrong. But everyone must develop self-awareness and self-introspection in themselves to be aware of their own minds, to be initiative and make an effort to purify their own minds, and have self-control over their own thinking, actions and speech.

By telling people that they are ignorant or wrong and bad, won’t make people stop being ignorant or wrong and bad. It has to come from their own self-awareness and self-control.

I do things in my own ways and at my own pace. There’s no stress or tension. I’m not greedy to run a bigger retreat centre with higher capacity and income. We do everything by ourselves (my husband and I) within our own capacity. We don’t need to rely on any ’employees’ to run the yoga retreats. As it won’t be the same. It will become a business, with higher expenses and costs. We do all the teachings, cooking, driving, accommodation arrangement, emails response, website updates, cleaning, washing, maintenance, and shopping all by ourselves.

If some people don’t understand about what we do, we don’t expect that they should understand. If people aren’t really interested in the traditional yoga practice about quieting the mind through the annihilation of ignorance and egoism, and they don’t have the humility to learn and practice yoga, but they are only interested in joining some fitness yoga exercise classes, and they are not interested in our yoga retreats or what we teach, that’s their freedom. We will suggest to them to go to some other yoga fitness centres that might provide cheap and cheerful yoga exercise classes. As these people are not really interested in learning and practicing yoga. There are many yoga asana instructors in the world that will provide fitness yoga exercise classes to these people who only interested in doing some stretching, strength and flexibility fitness workout, to be able to do many yoga asana poses that they want to be able to do, and to look good and feel good about themselves. There’s nothing wrong with that and it’s their freedom. We would appreciate very much to have the free time to focus on our own personal practice.

Many people said that they are interested in yoga and they want to learn yoga, but when they hear the teachings of yoga about letting go of egoism, attachment, identification, desires, craving and aversion, either their minds will start to be opened towards what they didn’t know before, and be able to see what is going on in their minds, or their minds will be rejecting what they don’t know, or what is contradicted to their existing thinking and beliefs, and they want to runaway from what they minds don’t like and don’t agree with. The stronger the ego is, the stronger the rejection towards the teachings of yoga about the annihilation of the ego will be.

I am responsible for my own thoughts, actions and speech within my own efforts, with self-awareness, self-discipline and conscience. I am always truthful to myself and others. I accept myself as I am, and I love myself as I am. I don’t need to be hypocrite or tell lies to justify myself to anyone. I respect other people who have their own different thinking, beliefs and behaviors. I don’t apply my own way of thinking, belief and behavior onto other people. I allow everyone to be different from me, and from one another. If other people don’t like the way that I am, or disagree with the teachings of yoga, that’s their freedom.

I just do my best within my ability and limitation. Some people being optimistic and they think and believe that they can change the world, that’s their freedom. But even Buddha never claimed that being enlightened and be free from ignorance and suffering could change the world. Buddha didn’t have intention to change the world or have expectation that the world will be changed by his enlightenment, his presence, or by the teachings of Buddhism. He just shared the path towards liberation. Naturally, one will be contributing peace and harmony into the world and stop contributing unrest and disharmony into the world, when one attains unconditional love and peace being free from ignorance and suffering.

Although I don’t belong to any groups, but I respect everyone has their own groups, where they think they belong to, or if people feel the need to attach onto certain identifications and to obtain certain recognition to be who they are. Some people think that they need to mix into certain groups and be accepted by those groups, to feel that those are the places where they belong, to interact and share something in common among the people in those groups.

Some people join certain groups for getting some personal gains, or business exchange and benefits. But then they will complain that they are not free to be who they are, and are being ‘pressured’ or ‘forced’ to do things the way that the groups believe how things should be done. As by joining certain groups, there are some standards and qualities, or rules and regulations in the groups that the members have to comply to and be recognized as being part of them, or else they will be criticized, or condemned, or expelled. You’ll have to be like them or behave like them, and you are not free to be yourself anymore. You and your life are being observed by others all the time, and are bound to play by the rules of the games or activities once you joined any groups.

Some people don’t like and don’t agree with the way we are, as they can’t understand why we want to keep very low profile, that we are not eager to promote our yoga retreats, and they would try to give us many advices about how we should run our yoga retreats and how to live our lives, even though we never interested to ask anyone for any advice. We let them be free to express their minds to give their opinions. But then when they realize that we are happy with the way as we are and have no interest to follow any of their advices, they would feel offended and disrespected. In yoga practice, we refrain ourselves from this type of egoistic action and reaction with attachment and expectation influenced by worldly thinking, concepts and ideas.

I have no greed to get any ‘helps’ or ‘benefits’ from any ‘personal’ or ‘groups’ to ‘enhance’ or ‘improve’ our social life, or life condition, or income. If I need to do something or to attain something, I depend solely on my own effort to get things done. Or else, I don’t. It doesn’t matter if I didn’t get what I wanted. I don’t let other people to determine or control my life and my freedom about how I should live life and how I should feel and express myself. I also don’t need any encouragement, acknowledgement, support, or companionship from some other people or friends to motivate me to do something that I want to do.

No doubt that the existence of everything and everyone is inter-dependent on many others. But, everyone has to work independently towards liberation. When serious Sadhaka advance in their practice, they will renounce the world and go into seclusion for at least five or six years cutting off all kinds of communications with family and friends. Nowadays, many people who identify themselves as ‘yoga practitioners’ or ‘yogis’, who say that they love yoga and like doing a particular style of yoga asana practice, they are not really interested in dispassion and renunciation. And that is their freedom of what they want to do with their life existence.

I believe in the one same nature in everything, which is the truth of impermanence and selflessness. I see the same nature in everything, despite all the different qualities of name and form that exist in everyone, that generate separateness, likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements. From separateness, there arise craving and aversion, conflicts, discrimination, fear, anger, hatred and jealousy in us. Though I do things in my own way, I don’t feel myself as an individual being separated from any other beings even though I don’t join any groups or attach onto certain identifications to be who I am. I don’t need to obtain any recognition or support from any social groups to be somebody.

What I do and don’t do is just actions and inactions, it’s not who I am. Whatever I experienced in the past and am experiencing now, it’s not who I am. Whatever qualities I had or didn’t have in the past, and whatever qualities I have or don’t have in the present, it’s not who I am.

I have no expectation towards life, or towards myself and other people, or in my relationships with anyone. Neither will I be disappointed with myself or other people, as I don’t expect anything. By having expectation won’t change the reality that I don’t like into something that I prefer, and I am not interested at all to change other people to be the way that I think they should be.

I live in the present moment. I don’t have much desires, almost none. I am contented as I am. I allow the universe to bring me whatever and wherever. I have no fear and worry towards ‘what’s next’ or ‘what if’. I let the universe to take care of everything. I just need to do my best, perform all my duties and responsibilities. I do my best to help people around me within my ability, like my family and friends and people who come to learn about yoga, but I can’t help anyone if people don’t help themselves. If people don’t help themselves, I’ll let them be. It’s their freedom of what they want to do with themselves and their lives.

I am not determined by the result or the fruit of actions. There’s no success nor failure, no praise nor condemn, that can motivate or demotivate me to perform actions, or not. I don’t need any acknowledgment, recognition, approval, appreciation, gratefulness and thankfulness from anyone to motivate me to perform actions, to feel happy and meaningful, or not.

And so, it’s really not easy to deal with or to live with a person like me. As I can be very ‘stubborn’ or ‘hard’ in my own way. Or some might say this is self-centred. I let people think what they want to think, and say what they want to say, and I am still what I am. I never try to please anyone and I don’t need anyone to please me. It’s not that I don’t care for others. But I don’t try to interfere with others’ freedom to be what and how they are. I allow people to be happy or unhappy, and to take full responsibility for themselves. I have no intention to make anyone unhappy or to hurt anyone deliberately. I wish everyone peace and happiness. I wish everyone be free from unhappiness and suffering. But I can’t and don’t make people become peaceful and happy. People are peaceful and happy is because they are free from ignorance and they allow themselves to be peaceful and happy. I let everyone to be what they are. I can’t control or dictate their thinking and feelings, what they like and dislike, what they want and don’t want. If they want to be ignorant or unhappy, and attach to qualities of name and form to be who they are, I’ll let them be.

I am happy as I am. This is why I am always cheerful and lighthearted even if there’s some challenging situations arise in my life, as I am not disturbed or determined by my pleasant and unpleasant life experiences, and undetermined by other people’s judgments, opinions, likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements. If my mind is ever being disturbed by certain names and forms, I could let it go very fast.

I take full responsibility for the consequences of my decisions and actions. There are no regrets. If the consequences of my decisions or actions are unpleasant, I take them as they are. Most of the time, good and right decisions and actions are not necessarily bringing pleasant consequences. Life experiences can be very unpleasant and difficult, but it doesn’t mean that we did something wrong or bad.

Yoga and meditation and Buddhism practice is practical in every moment in life while we experience happiness and unhappiness, pleasant and unpleasant experiences in life and in relationships with anyone (including the relationship with ourselves, our body and mind). The practice is in the present moment now, being aware of the reality as it is and accepting the reality as it is, without generate attachment or identification, without craving or aversion towards the qualities of name and form that our mind perceives through the senses. There’s no such thing as “I did a lot of yoga and meditation practice in the past”, or “I do lots of yoga or meditation”, or “I am going to practice yoga and meditation in the future”.

I share what I am with the guests who come for our yoga retreats. I don’t teach yoga to other people according to what we learned from the yoga teachers training course curriculum or the teaching manual, or from reading yoga books, or from hearing from somebody else about what is yoga and how they teach yoga.

Whatever I am and am not, whatever I do and don’t do, it’s not who I am. It’s all nothing but impermanent changes of qualities of names and forms.

May all be free, be peaceful.

Om shanti.

For more stories about our relationship, you can read on this link Love Came Slowly

Being strong vs real strength…

We think that we need to be strong, hard and aggressive to protect ourselves from being bullied or hurt by other people… But if we are really that strong, why do we still need to “be” strong, hard and aggressive to “protect” ourselves?

That means we are not really strong. We “pretend” to be strong. This is due to low self-esteem, not trusting ourselves, and need to depend on some external “protection shields” of being hard and aggressive to “protect” or to defend ourselves from potential bullies and hurts. Because of this sense of defensiveness, we will become offensive even before other people try to “bully” or “offend” us. In fact, nobody has the intention to bully us, it is our own fear and projection, thinking that “All these people are going to bully me, and so, I have to defend myself, I need to be strong and aggressive, so that I attack them first before anyone attacks me…”

Those who are truly strong, they don’t need to show that they are strong by being hard, aggressive, offensive or defensive. Instead their whole being projects gentleness and calmness.

Real strength comes from compassion and wisdom. It is being compassionate and wise. It is being free from doubts, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, pride, arrogance, low self-esteem, aggressiveness, violence, offensiveness, defensiveness, agitation, depression, fear, worry, craving, aversion, and attachment towards qualities of names and forms… There is no fear towards other people’s harshness, aggressiveness, bully or “potential” bully, offensiveness, arrogance, jealousy, criticism, condemn, slander, unfriendliness, and etc…

We are able to tolerate, adjust, adapt, accommodate, withstand, forbear and accept…

We are able to accept the reality of the present moment now as it is, not necessarily the way that we like it to be. We are able to adjust, adapt, accommodate, withstand and forbear any uncomfortable conditions and situations that we don’t like or disagree with…

We are able to perform actions without being influenced by any impurities in the mind. We are able to perform actions to help everyone including ourselves to evolve, to be peaceful and happy…

We are able to perform all our duties and responsibilities without attachment, without judgment, comparison and expectation. We perform actions and renounce from the result or the fruit of actions…

This is real strength.

We don’t need to be hard, aggressive, offensive or defensive to “protect” ourselves from getting bully or hurt from anyone…

It doesn’t matter what are the behaviors, actions and reactions of other people towards us, it is our own ego doesn’t like or disagree with their behaviors, actions and reactions, and feels irritated and unhappy about them. It is our ego that feels that we are weak, but we don’t like to be weak and don’t want other people to think that we are weak, and so we “pretend” to be strong, by being hard and aggressive to defend ourselves from any potential “attacks” from anyone…

No one can bully or hurt us but our own mind creations of fear. It is our own mind being ignorant and influenced by impurities… It is absence of compassion and wisdom.

Whenever we feel irritated or getting angry about other people’s offensive behavior, it is ourselves being defensive… We feel offended by other people’s actions and speech… It is coming from being low self-esteem and feel being intimidated by other people’s confidence all the time. This intimidation is not coming from other people. No one can intimidate us unless we allow that to happen by being low self-esteem. It is our own low self-esteem thinking that other people are trying to press us down, or bully us, or hurt us… Even if other people have the intention to intimidate us, but it won’t affect us if we are truly confident…

If  we don’t like other people to contradict with our actions and speech, we like and want other people to agree and support our actions and speech, as we will feel irritated, frustrated and unhappy when other people don’t like and disagree with us or our actions and speech, but out of our own offensiveness and defensiveness, we constantly contradict with other people’s actions and speech, criticize and attack other people with harsh speech and aggressiveness, then how can we expect other people not to be offended by our own offensiveness and aggressiveness? And when other people feel offended by our own offensiveness and aggressiveness, and react by being aggressive towards us, and we criticize them as “aggressive people” who bully and hurt us, and blame them for causing us painful sorrow and unhappiness?

When we start to attack other people with aggressiveness to show that “I am stronger than you, and I won’t let you bully or hurt me…”, then make sure that we will take full responsibility towards the consequences of our aggressive behavior… Don’t blame other people for being aggressive towards us.

And if there’s somebody is being aggressive towards us even though we didn’t offend anyone intentionally, we can choose to be gentle and remain calm, and move away… Allow this person to express what he or she wants to express, and let him or her be irritated and unhappy for being aggressive. We don’t have to disturb our own peace and happiness by throwing back aggressiveness towards him or her… Or we can choose to feel offended and start to be aggressive and offensive to defend ourselves and be irritated, frustrated and unhappy.

Om shanti.