Selflessness – Being free from the ego (The idea of I) and egoism

The ego is the product of ignorance in the impure mind where there is an idea of ‘I’ exists as an individual being with certain qualities of names and forms, such like, personal worldly identity and status, personality and characteristic, thinking and belief, physical condition and appearance, gender and sexual orientation, physical and mental ability and achievement, interest and talent, knowledge and memory, aspiration and inspiration, actions and the result of actions, family and relatives, relationships and possessions, social network and interaction, and all that the mind thinks and believes and identifies as ‘This is me or I’.

Selflessness is nothing to do with non-existence, as some people might ‘interpret’ it as non-existence. It’s beyond existence and non-existence. When people ‘misinterpret’ selflessness as non-existence, they might perform actions that would hurt themselves and others by thinking and believing that there won’t be any consequences of actions, and so, they think they can do whatever they like and want.

There is no ‘I’ to be existing or non-existing. There is no ‘I’ to be selfish or unselfish. There is no ‘I’ enjoy or suffer. There is no ‘I’ being happy or unhappy. There is no ‘I’ being good or bad. There is no ‘I’ as this or that. It’s just the mind functioning and perceiving names and forms through the senses. But due to ignorance, there is an idea of ‘I’ arise in the mind, that ceaselessly generates attachment and identification towards the impermanent quality of names and forms, and it judges and compares, intends and expects, acts and reacts, likes and dislikes, agrees and disagrees, desires and doesn’t desire, creates and destroys, enjoys and suffers, aspires and inspires, being proud or humble, being happy and unhappy, feeling meaningful and meaningless, and etc.

The mind that is being free from the ego or egoism is a selfless mind or liberated mind. The entire yoga practice is MAINLY about freeing the mind from the ego or egoism to realize or attain selflessness, which is the nature of life existence. There is no ego in each individual cell in the body, or in the different life supporting systems, organs and glands, or in the sense organs and the senses, or in the oxygen, nutrients, minerals, water and energy that allowing the body and the mind to be existing and functioning, but, this ego that exists as an idea in the mind thinking that ‘I’ am the most important and the highest above all. “I want my body to be like this and be able to do that. I want my mind to be like this and achieve that. I want my life to be like this and accomplish that, and so on.” This ego is full of desires waiting to be fulfilled, and constantly pushing, forcing and hurting the body and the mind in order to gratify all its desires via the body and the mind. When its desires are not being gratified, or there’s some obstacles hindering the process of gratifying all its desires, the ego gets offended, humiliated, insulted, dissatisfied, disappointed, angry, hurt, unhappy, depressed, or suffer. And out of these impurities, the ego performs actions or inactions that would hurt the body and the mind, and/or other beings or objects.

Yoga practice is not about being able to perform this or that asana, or pose, or position, or movement, to gain health, beauty and fitness benefits, but it’s to train or purify the mind to eventually drop-off this idea of ‘I’, through annihilate egoism and the by-products of egoism of all sorts of impurities. When the mind is free from the idea of ‘I’ and ‘mine-ness’, there’s only pure awareness being in the present, being aware of all the perceptions of names and forms through the senses, and all the impermanent changes, functions and activities of the body and the mind, being free from desires of craving and aversion, selfish intention, expectation, attachment and identification.

There’s no ‘I’ being the performer of actions or the receiver of the fruit of actions. There’s no ‘I’ being the thinker or believer. There’s no ‘I’ being compassionate or uncompassionate. There’s no ‘I’ being ignorant or wise. There’s no ‘I’ being limited or unlimited. There’s no ‘I’ being free or not free. There’s no ‘I’ believe or disbelieve in God. There’s no ‘I’ am sinful or sinless.

There’s neither past nor the future. There’s neither good nor evil. There’s neither positive nor negative. There’s neither happiness nor unhappiness. There’s neither enjoyment nor suffering. There’s neither vegetarian nor non-vegetarian. There’s neither yogi nor non-yogi.

Be free.

Understanding unhappiness

“I am not happy is because of this. This is bad. This is wrong. This is hurting me. This makes me unhappy.”
“I am not happy is because of you. You are bad. You are wrong. You are hurting me. You make me unhappy.”

This is incorrect understanding towards unhappiness, or ignorant towards the truth of what is going on in the mind, that generates ceaseless reactions of unhappiness in our minds.

x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x

“I am not happy is because I don’t like this. I don’t agree with this. I don’t want this. It’s nothing to do with whether this is bad and wrong, or being hurtful. This doesn’t make me unhappy. It’s my ungratified desire of what I like and don’t like, what I want and don’t want, that makes me unhappy.”

“I am not happy is because I don’t like something about you. I don’t agree with you. I don’t want you to behave in such way. It’s nothing to do with whether you are bad and wrong, or being hurtful. You don’t make me unhappy. It’s my ungratified desire of what I like and don’t like, what I want and don’t want, that makes me unhappy.”

This is the correct understanding that will free our minds from experiencing unhappiness due to ignorance.

Be free.

Who is being unhappy and wants to be happy?

It’s the ego that is being unhappy and wants to be happy. Minds that are free from ignorance and egoism is peaceful and joyful as it is and don’t need to feel good and meaningful, or to be happy.

Most minds will try to do something that they like and enjoy, and to achieve something that they want to achieve, to feel good and happy and meaningful.

There’s also nothing wrong with people want to do good and be kind to others because it makes them feel good and happy, but, that’s not the teaching or practice of yoga.

Yoga practice is not about trying to do something to make the ego feels good and happy and meaningful (as this is empowering the ego and egoism) but, it’s to remove the root cause of unhappiness – ignorance and egoism. Once the root cause of unhappiness is eliminated, one will be happy as one is.

When the mind is free from egoism of attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, and expectation, one will be peaceful and happy as one is. One doesn’t need to do something, or not do something, to feel good and happy or meaningful. One doesn’t need to take intoxication/alcohol/drugs or to achieve certain results, social status and network, health condition, fitness level, body image, physical and mental ability and good relationships, to feel good and happy and meaningful. One doesn’t need other people’s love, acceptance, support, acknowledgment, recognition, friendliness and companionship, or any entertainment, enjoyment, achievement and success to be happy or feel good and meaningful.

The teaching and practice of yoga is to abandon all these egoism, one will be peaceful and happy as one is. One can perform good actions and be kind to others out of compassion, without selfish intention or expectation of “I am doing all these because I want to feel good and meaningful and be happy.”

Be free.

Truthfulness and worldly social mingling and interaction

To practice truthfulness (one of the basic practice of yoga), we learn how to minimize as much as possible from engaging in worldly social mingling and interaction, because these worldly social activities empower egoism and strengthen worldly ideas, which is the opposite of yoga practice.

If we analyze our daily interactions and conversations with other people, we will see that it’s mostly about the empowerment of egoistic personal and worldly attachment, identification, judgment, comparison, expectation, desires of craving and aversion, the past and the future. Yoga practice is to free the mind from all these mind activities of egoism. There is also intentional and unintentional hypocrisy, untruthfulness and ego flattering elements in many of the social interactions and conversations.

It’s a normal cultural social politeness for many people to be HYPOCRITE and UNTRUTHFUL and FLATTERING when interacting with other people, to maintain ‘good relationship’ with everyone in the society and this game of hypocrisy and untruthfulness exists even among family members, couples and friends.

Most people don’t want to know the truth as the truth is not necessarily something that they like or agree with.

Since little, everyone was being taught to be polite, to be good and say only good thing in front of everyone, to please other people, to gain love and liking, and acknowledgment/acceptance/recognition from other people, to maintain ‘good relationship’ with everyone, but then, behind people’s back, there’s complaints, gossips, slandering, back-biting, criticism, blame, or bitching. There are many this type of ‘good relationships’ everywhere in the worldly life. And this is being perceived as the ‘correct’ behavior or ‘normal’ way of life in the society and in the family. People don’t like truthfulness and straightforwardness. Being truthful and straightforward is something very rude and wrong.

Truth seekers don’t waste energy, time and effort in this worldly egoistic game of accumulating and cultivating such type of ‘good relationships’. And hence, the practice of silence comes into everyday life to minimize involving in unnecessary social game of hypocrisy, untruthfulness and flattering of the ego of oneself and others. Performing selfless service in a huge community, is not about cultivating and accumulating personal friendships or relationships at all, if one truly knows what is selflessness and selfless service.

There are not many ‘yoga and meditation enthusiasts’ have the understanding, initiative and willpower to cut down or cut off worldly passionate social activities. It’s a painful and contradicting process for the mind to retreat from worldly social activities, as it is going against ‘normal cultural thinking and behavior’. There are lots of ‘justifications’ coming from the egoistic mind to avoid or give up renunciation from a passionate worldly life of social activities.

Those who aren’t really interested in the path of yoga and meditation to free the mind from the root cause of all suffering – ignorance and egoism, they don’t have to practice truthfulness or dispassion or renunciation from worldly social activities.

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their life existence, and what they want to think and believe.

Listen?

In the civilized cultured loving and caring society, people might take this word of ‘LISTEN’ to be “Someone or a voice needs to be heard or be listened, and people should being sympathetic in listening to someone else ‘agony’, or ‘difficulty’, or ‘misery’, or ‘unhappiness’, or ‘painful sorrow’, or ‘hurts’, or ‘broken heart’, or ‘suffering’, or ‘grumbling’, and etc.”

It’s normal for people to share each other’s life experiences, ideas, thoughts, feelings and emotions, either we want to tell our stories or we want ourselves to be listened by others, as well as we want to be a listener to listen to other people’s stories, whether it’s something ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘happy’ or ‘unhappy’. People like to connect and stay connect with other people by chatting regularly or catching-up once in a while to show that they care. And it would be seen as abnormal or inhuman or cold, if one doesn’t involve with such human social activities. We will feel lonely, isolated, abandoned, helpless, unworthy, unloved, not good enough, unhappy, depressed, disappointed, frustrated, or meaningless, if we think there’s nobody there to listen to us, or nobody wants to share with us.

People would think that as human beings, people should be caring and sympathetic to be there for other people when people need someone to be there to listen to what is troubling them. Caring people like to ask other people whom they think they might be ‘disturbed’, or ‘troubled’, or ‘hurt’ by something, “Do you want to talk about what is troubling/disturbing/hurting you? I’m here to listen. Maybe I can help you.” It’s selfish, uncaring, unthinkable, uncompassionate, inhuman, or wrong, if we don’t ask about other people’s ‘problems’, or ‘unhappiness’, or ‘painful sorrow’, or ‘suffering’, and etc. Or it’s ‘bad’ or ‘unhealthy’ if one observes silence of thoughts, actions and speech.

No doubt that by expressing, or talking, or grumbling, or bitching about our ‘frustration’, ‘disappointment’, ‘dissatisfaction’, ‘troubles’, ‘problems’, ‘difficulties’, ‘misery’, ‘grief’, ‘hurts’, ‘painful sorrow’, ‘agony’, or ‘suffering’, and etc, to other people may or may not give certain degrees of momentary relief to the ‘suffering’ or ‘unhappy’ or ‘troubled’ minds, but it won’t help the minds to be free from what they think is their ‘suffering’ or ‘unhappiness’, even if the people who listen to them might try to give them some ‘advice’, or ‘guidance’, or ‘care’, or ‘comfort’ that they think might can relieve their ‘pain’ or ‘solve’ their problems.

Sometimes, talking or complaining about what we think is our ‘problem’ to some other people actually creates further complication to the existing ‘problem’ and could generate some other unnecessary ‘problems’ to ourselves and other people. The listener of other people’s problems becomes a ‘problem maker’ or has a ‘problem’ in the end. We asked for advice from others, and someone was being very kind to listen to us and give us some advice and we took the advice, but when things didn’t turn out to be the way that we expect it to be, we blamed other people for giving us their ‘bad advice’, or we blamed ourselves for trusting the wrong person and taking the ‘bad advice’. This is due to most minds are impure, are not free from egoistic selfish desires, attachment, expectation and incorrect thinking.

In the path of yoga and meditation, we are learning to be a listener. It’s not so much about listening to other people’s ‘problems’ or ‘unhappiness’ to ‘share’ their ‘problems’ or ‘pain’, to say ‘nice things’ to comfort them, or to give them ‘good advice’ with the intention to help ‘solving’ their ‘problems’ (which is nothing wrong, but none can share, or solve, or take away another person’s ignorance and suffering), but it’s to learn how to open and quiet the mind to listen to the Dharma in here and now, and allow other people to also learn to listen to the Dharma, to be free from the root cause of all ‘problems’ and ‘unhappiness’. There’s no ‘problems’ that need to be solved at all.

People think that the person who is ‘troubled’ or ‘hurt’ needs a listener to listen to their ‘pain’, and this person will have less pain or no more pain, but in yoga, this person needs to be the listener, to know what is really going on in its own mind.

If one truly is ‘disturbed’, or ‘troubled’, or ‘hurt’ by something and they think that they need some help or guidance, instead of looking forward to talk and share about what they think is disturbing, or troubling, or hurting them, to be listened by some other people, to have someone there to share their disturbed feelings and thoughts, to get love and support from other people to feel better about themselves, one should learn how to be in solitude and silence, quiet the restless mind and try to LISTEN to the DHARMA.

If one TRULY LISTENS to the DHARMA that is here and now, with an open and quiet mind, one will realize or see the truth of the real cause of all their misery, trouble, problem, unhappiness, grief, painful sorrow, agony, or suffering. One doesn’t need to talk or complain about anything or doesn’t need anyone to be there to share or listen to one’s ‘problems’ or ‘suffering’, as there is none.

Being yoga teachers teaching yoga and meditation to others, is about teaching and guiding them on how to see and listen to Dharma, or how to perform self-inquiry to attain self-realization to be free from the cause of suffering – ignorance, egoism and impurities. This is wisdom and compassion. Or else, talking and listening to each other among the teachers and the students can easily turn into a scene of ‘corruption’ and ‘complication’, especially if the minds are not yet free from ignorance, egoism and impurities.

For example: The teacher is being ‘loving’ and ‘caring’ to share and listen to the ‘troubled’, or ‘heart broken’ and ‘vulnerable’ student’s ‘problems’ and disturbed ‘feelings’ and ’emotions’, and this ‘troubled’ or ‘heart broken’ and ‘vulnerable’ student feels a lot of affection, love and care from the teacher, and unwittingly ‘fall in love’ with the teacher. Or, the student becomes sensitive and suspicious towards what the teacher says and does, as the student would feel ‘disturbed’, ‘betrayed’, or ‘attacked’, when the teacher talks about the similar issues in front of other students as part of the teachings in general, but the student might think that the teacher is talking about him or her personally, and is exposing his or her personal issues, feelings and emotions that he or she doesn’t want to be exposed to any other people.

In yoga, the teachers don’t really need to know what are the students’ personal issues that they think they have. It doesn’t mean that the teachers don’t care about other people’s suffering. It’s because all issues derived from the same root of ignorance, egoism and impurities. The teachers just need to guide the students on how to free their minds from the root cause of all ‘problems’ and ‘suffering’ – ignorance, egoism and impurities, and allow the students to work their own way in their own pace and effort towards self-realization and liberation, without the need to ‘know’ or ‘listen’ to each individual’s different types of ‘issues’ that are ‘troubling’, or ‘disturbing’, or ‘hurting’ them.

When we attend a silent meditation retreat, there’s no talking or discussion with another person or teacher about what we think is our ‘problems’ or ‘suffering’, all we do is quieting the restless mind to allow the mind to see the truth of things as it is. It’s about knowing one’s mind and realizing the truth of suffering and rooting out the root cause of suffering. The past and the future doesn’t exist. No matter all our experiences from the past to the present were/are good or not good, happy or unhappy, pleasant or painful, deserving or undeserving, the only reality is the present moment, and even this present moment is impermanent. It’s about letting go egoism of all forms of attachment, identification, clinging, craving, aversion, desires, judgment and expectation, and thus be free from all sorts of impurities, and hence be free from suffering.

If people think they have ‘issues’ that involve other people whether in a relationship, or in a family, or in the workplace, or in the community, people should try to talk directly to the person/people involved to find the best solution. By talking or bitching or complaining behind people’s back to a third party doesn’t help, even though one might get some sympathy, agreement and supports from the third party who doesn’t really know what is going on. People who are truly practicing yoga and meditation should stay away from such worldly activities.

We think and believe that “I have ‘serious’ problems in my life that are really difficult to deal with, that are more important than anything else. I deserve some sympathy and love and care and support from other people. If not, I’ll feel depressed and hopeless and I think I want to ‘hurt’ myself to end my suffering.” It’s the ego that thinks ‘my problems and suffering’ are bigger and more important than anyone else problems and suffering. If we practice yoga and meditation, we allow the mind to be opened and we will see that what we think is our ‘serious’ life problems are truly nothing being compared to many other people’s suffering in the world. We’ll start to let go what was troubling us that we thought we couldn’t let go before. And this is the beginning of compassion.

If people couldn’t understand this teaching, or if people don’t agree with this teaching, that’s their freedom of thinking and belief.

Practice yoga of self-inquiry and self-realization, and be free.