Ignorance and how to be free from ignorance

Most minds/people don’t like to be related to ‘ignorance’ or what they understood as ‘being stupid’ or ‘lack of knowledge’. But ‘ignorance’ in the teachings of yoga and Buddhism is not about ‘being stupid’ or ‘lack of knowledge’. As many of those who are not ‘stupid’ at all, who are very smart and intelligent and knowledgeable are not necessarily free from the veil of ignorance.

People would like to think and believe and be acknowledged by oneself and others as somebody who is nothing to do with ‘ignorance’, or ‘I am not ignorant’, which they think and believe that they are smart and intelligent enough, and are highly educated and knowledgeable enough to not be related to ‘ignorance’. They think and believe that only those whom they think and believe are somehow less smart or less intelligent than them, and are less educated or less knowledgeable than them are most probably related to ignorance, where they understood ‘ignorance’ as something to do with ‘bad/negative’ genetic inheritance, improper brain development, influence from bad surrounding environment, lack of knowledge/skill/talent, uneducated or insufficiency of education, incompetency, being lazy or demotivated to learn and acquire knowledge, being stupid, or lack of social interaction and connection, or lack of stimulation, or inability to comprehend something or solve problem, and so on.

‘Ignorance’ in the teachings of yoga and Buddhism is about the mind being ignorant towards or ‘not knowing’ the truth of names and forms/existence/suffering, or ‘not knowing’ Thyself or the misidentification with the mind and the modification of the mind perceiving a worldly life existence of names and forms that is subject to impermanence and selflessness as ‘I’, or ‘not knowing’ who/what is the ‘I’ that the minds identifying/acknowledging as who ‘I’ am, as an individual being possessing certain quality of names and forms that distinguishing oneself from all the others that are not ‘I’, or ‘not knowing’ who/what is the ‘God’ or what are the ‘gods’ that many minds have been believing in and praying to, or ‘not knowing’ the truth of all the social/cultural/spiritual beliefs and practice that have been passing down from generation to generation that influencing how the minds think, act, react, feel, judge, expect, behave and live life in certain way.

Many minds believe in certain beliefs just because it’s propagated by their ancestors, parents, teachers, leaders, favorite famous people, idols, friends, philosophers, or particular social/cultural/spiritual/religious background, and there’s great fear of ‘letting go’ those beliefs and practice, being afraid of ‘sin’, or ‘bad happening’/’punishment’ might happen to them or their life or their loved ones, if they cease believing in/respecting/following/propagating those beliefs and practice to think, behave and live life. And it has to come from the mind itself realizing the truth of all those beliefs and practice. It’s not hard to inquire the truth, but most minds reluctant to inquire the truth of the existing beliefs and practice in their minds or lives, and it’s unthinkable for them to question the truth of their beliefs and practice, as it means that they are ‘disrespecting’/’offending’ those ‘sacred’ beliefs and practice for inquiring into the truth of it, which is ‘sinful’ and ‘punishable’ according to those beliefs and practice.

Being talented/skillful/knowledgeable in certain things or many things doesn’t guarantee that the mind is free from ignorance, where the mind is being disturbed/offended/hurt/disappointed/dissatisfied/angry/frustrated/hating/fearful/intimidated/insulted/humiliated/bullied by names and forms that the mind perceives/recognizes as bad, wrong, negative, unpleasant, undesirable, undeserving, disappointing, frustrating, intimidating or hurtful, and out of these impurities, it might generate actions and speech that might cause further consequences to oneself and/or others.

The minds that are not free from ignorance might be unwittingly ‘following’ a set of ‘rules and regulations of certain social/cultural/religious/spiritual belief and practice’ to live life and behave in certain way, and might be proud of having a specific type of food consumption of what they eat and don’t eat for certain spiritual/cultural/religious/environmental/ethical/health/personal reason, and they could be expecting the others (as human beings) should also be following the similar rules and regulations to live life and behave, as well as following their specific type of food consumption, or else, it will be mocked/criticized by them as ‘bad’ and ‘wrong’, or ‘sinful’ way of life and behavior and food consumption.

The ignorant impure egoistic mind unwittingly perceiving/experiencing a personal reality of a worldly life existence that consists of ‘I’ and everything that ‘I’ perceive/experience/know/acknowledge that the thinking mind refers as ‘this is me and my life experiences’ with all and everything that directly/indirectly relate to ‘I’ and ‘my life’, and perceives/experiences all kinds of duality derived from ignorance and the by-products of ignorance, and generate attachment and desire of craving and aversion towards the perceived reality of duality, not knowing Thyself or the truth of a worldly life existence of names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses, not knowing impermanence and selflessness of the mind perception of a worldly life existence, constantly being disturbed and determined very much by the mind perception of pleasant/unpleasant, agreeable/disagreeable, desirable/undesirable names and forms or life experiences, being restless swaying between satisfaction and dissatisfaction, happiness and unhappiness, pleasurable enjoyment and painful sorrow determined by the gratification and non-gratification of the desire of craving and aversion, ceaselessly.

Transcending this restlessness of ignorance, silencing the mind, annihilating the modification of the mind of restless countless births and deaths nurtured by egoism, desires and impurities, is the ultimate goal of yoga and meditation practice. Any other forms of benefits/effects derived from the regular yoga and meditation practice are just some momentary side-effects of better health/fitness condition and pleasant good feelings that are impermanent.

It’s everyone’s freedom for how/what they think, believe, act, react, feel, behave, live life, consume and desire, or not. There’s nothing wrong if people just want to live a particular lifestyle in accordance to certain belief and practice, and do some yoga exercises to attain better health/fitness condition and pleasant good feelings, even if they are momentary and perishable.

The minds that are ignorant towards ignorance, or thinking and believing that oneself is void of ignorance due to one’s intelligence, talent, skill, education, knowledge, ability or achievement in certain things, would not be interested in yoga practice of dispassion, renunciation, silence, seclusion and solitude for mind purification, self-discipline, self-inquiry and self-realization.

Renunciation is not about abandoning existing worldly duty and responsibility to be in a monastery/forest/cave to be full time monk or nun, but it’s renouncing or letting go worldly social/cultural/spiritual/religious thinking and belief, values and practice, to open the mind to allow the mind to see things as they are, regardless of living among the society or away from the society. If the mind is not opened, then even if living away from the society, but the mind is still very much being conditioned by the worldly thinking and belief, values and practice to perceive, think, analyze and judge towards everything, and couldn’t allow the mind to see things as they are, even after many years of performing yoga and meditation practice, and getting all kinds of momentary effect/benefit from that.

For those who want to know Thyself or inquire the truth of names and forms, who are aware of ignorance, who have intense yearning for liberation from restlessness of the impermanent and selfless modification of the mind, they can practice yoga of mind purification, self-discipline, self-inquiry and self-realization. The journey might appear to be long, hard and unpleasant due to the ‘stubborn’ veil of ignorance, but be determined to keep disciplining, purifying and silencing the restless impure egoistic modification of the mind.

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Appreciating what matter to us in life without attachment

Most of the time we don’t really know what matter to us in life until the moment we lost something that we didn’t realize it matters to us very much, or at the moment ‘death’ is approaching.

If we know what matter to us in life, and what doesn’t matter, we can have a clear direction of life and make all decisions without any doubt or regret.

We can put aside or go beyond many difficulties/challenges/fear because what matter to us in life is more important than anything else, but it also could lead us to the biggest fear/aversion towards losing what matters most to us.

That biggest fear towards losing what matters most to us in life can be overcome by being able to appreciate everything that matter to us in life in this present moment without attachment/clinging, which allows us to be able to let go what matter to us in peace, when impermanence strikes.

Many people would say that ‘appreciation without attachment’ is easy to say but difficult to do.

That’s why we need ‘practice’/’training’ and certain degrees of ‘patience’/’perseverance’/’determination’/’non-judgment’/’non-comparison’/’non-expectation’.

It takes time for the mind to be ‘trained’ to be unattached towards all the names and forms, and be undetermined/undisturbed by the truth of impermanence and selflessness, and things that are not necessarily the way that we would like it to be, and be able to let go everything in peace.

‘Non-attachment’ manifest as it is, naturally/effortlessly/intentionlessly, when the mind is free from ignorance, knowing the truth of impermanence and selflessness.

It’s okay that there are things that matter to us more than some other things and there are things that don’t matter at all to us, despite that we would more likely hearing many people say that everything matters. As surviving life is already challenging enough for many people. Sometimes we need to let go certain things to allow the mind/the thinking faculty to maintain certain degrees of sanity and clarity.

In the end, everything is equally matters and doesn’t matter at the same time upon realization of selflessness.

It’s good that human beings have the loving kindness for helping and supporting one another, but it’s okay that there are times we can’t help, or we can’t help as much as we would like it to be. We also need to allow everyone to learn how to look after themselves and take responsibility for their desires/actions and the consequences of their desires/actions.

Meanwhile some people don’t mind being attached strongly onto everything and suffering for the loss of what matter to them very much, or suffering for the things that are not necessarily the way that they would like it to be, as they think and believe that “That’s life and life should be like that.” And that’s their freedom of thinking/feeling/action/reaction.

Self-impose imaginary imprisonment of fear

what the mind categorizes asMost minds appear to be calmed and relaxed when they are being in a space or environment that is within their comfort zone and familiarity. But once they are out of their comfort zone and have to confront with a space or environment that is unknown or unfamiliar to them, and dealing with the condition and situation that is not the way that they like it to be, all kinds of fear will over-powering the mind in the form of imagination, anticipation, speculation and projection. They are no longer calmed or relaxed being outside of their comfort zone.

Yoga practice isn’t limited to be performing some yoga practice in a calming, relaxing and hassle-free environment, that make the mind feels safe, convenient, good and comfortable, but, yoga practitioners should learn how to confront with condition and situation that is not necessarily the way that they would like it to be, that is outside their comfort zone, and still be able to be calmed and relaxed outside their comfort zone.

Most minds feel good, calmed and relaxed when they attend a retreat in a ‘safe’, ‘hassle-free’, ‘protected’, ‘convenient’ and ‘enjoyable’ environment. But then the minds will not progress further in yoga, if they prefer not to step outside their comfort zone, and didn’t learn how to be ‘okay’ under challenging condition and situation that is outside their comfort zone and familiarity.

Fear towards the unknown, unfamiliarity and what the mind categorizes as ‘unsafe’ environment is indeed a self-impose imaginary imprisonment from the mind to itself, even when there’s nothing ‘fearful’, ‘bad’, or ‘dangerous’ really happening in the present moment.

Even though the minds might feel calmed and relaxed performing the yoga practice and be able to perform the yoga practice nicely and effortlessly, and feel ‘safe’ and ‘comfortable’ being in a space within their comfort zone and under a ‘safe’ environment, but the minds are not free at all, as the minds won’t be calmed and relaxed anymore once it’s out of their comfort zone having to deal with condition and situation that is not necessarily the way that they like it to be.

Those who are free from being over-powered by fear of all kinds of fearful imagination, they deal with whatever needs to be deal with that is existing in the present moment, calmly. The mind is free from all kinds of ‘fearful’ imagination, anticipation, speculation and projection towards something that isn’t existing in the present moment.

People who really want to practice yoga and know what is yoga, must allow themselves to step outside their comfort zone, to confront with condition and situation that they don’t feel comfortable with, that they aren’t familiar with, and learn to be ‘okay’ outside their comfort zone and familiarity. Though there’s nothing wrong if people reluctant to step outside their comfort zone. Be happy.

Expectation

Though it’s just a simple word, ‘expectation’ is one of the greatest influence in the human minds towards almost all and everything in the impermanent and selfless life existence. It gives motivation, hope and the sense of achievement and meaningfulness to many people.

Expectation from oneself towards oneself, towards the physical and mental ability or achievement, one’s effort and the outcome of one’s effort, and all kinds of relationship/connection with different beings and things.

Expectation from oneself towards other people, the society, the environment, or the world, to be the way that how one would like it to be, that one thinks and believes how it should be, and not to be the way that one thinks it shouldn’t be.

One might also being bound/determined by expectation from other people/the society towards oneself and unwittingly want to meet up with the expectation from other people/the society towards oneself, in order to earn liking, love, attention, respect, praise, compliment, agreement, acknowledgement, support, friendship, companionship, and etc, from other people/the society.

To many people, ‘expectation’ is a positive necessity or important motivation for making progress/improvement or to excel in the life of human beings. People think and believe that human beings need to have certain degrees of expectation from oneself and/or others to push oneself and/or other people around to progress, improve or excel in everything of life, throughout the different life stages of childhood, adulthood, parenthood, middle age, old age, education, learning, building social network, friendships, relationships, career, family, or contribution towards the society, the world, or life existence, and so on.

To those who see the truth of the mind perception of a worldly life existence that is impermanent and selfless, ‘expectation’ is unnecessary when the mind is free from ignorance and egoism, as ‘expectation’ is merely part of the egoism of attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment and comparison that relates to restlessness, dissatisfaction, disappointment, unhappiness, frustration, anger, hurt, greed, fear and worry, which leads to the accumulation of physical and mental tension that gives rise to tension/stress related physical and mental illness, abusive behavior towards oneself and others, family and relationships problems, social problems, and etc.

Those who have some basic correct understanding towards life existence that is impermanent and selfless, who know the ability and limitation of their body and mind, who are endowed with dispassion, non-attachment, non-identification, non-craving/aversion, non-judgment, non-comparison and intentionlessness, being unattached towards the actions and the fruit of actions, they don’t need any ‘expectation’ from oneself and/or others to motivate or push them to perform necessary and wholesome actions, to do good or improve.

They don’t have expectation towards other people, life, the society, or the world, ‘hoping’ or ‘expecting’ that everyone and everything to be in certain ways, but they just do their best according to the ability and limitation of the body and mind, make use of the available knowledge, skill and opportunity to perform necessary and wholesome actions through the body and mind for the well-being of oneself and/or others, but they allow the result of their actions or efforts to be there as it is, being undetermined by their actions/efforts or the fruit of their actions/efforts.

In the worldly egoistic thinking and behavior pattern, there is intention to inspire or motivate one to perform actions, then expectation towards the fruit of actions comes along. If the mind can realize the truth and be free from this worldly egoistic thinking and behavior pattern, that’s a great liberation, even though the life existence of the body and mind is still bound by the law of nature – Cause and effect, impermanence and selflessness. If the mind doesn’t realize this and is determined by this worldly egoistic thinking and behavior pattern, then one is not free, even though one can attain all the relationships and things that one would like to have in life, as one will always be disturbed/dissatisfied/disappointed by something that is not the way that how one thinks it should be, that one doesn’t like, doesn’t want and doesn’t agree with.

Ask ourselves honestly about what is the motivation/intention that makes us think and feel that we need to have ‘something’ or ‘someone’. And once we have that ‘something’ or ‘someone’, naturally we have expectation towards that ‘something’ or ‘someone’ to ‘deliver’ what we expect to be ‘getting’, to ‘fulfill’ or ‘gratify’ the motivation/intention/reason/desire of why we need or want to have that ‘something’ or ‘someone’. What are we so afraid of if we don’t have that ‘something’ or ‘someone’ being there existing in our life, or if we lose that ‘something’ or ‘someone’?

“Do good, because it makes you feel good and happy.”
“Give, and you will receive more in return.”
“Do good, and goodness will return to you.”
“Be nice to other people, other people will be nice to you too.”
“I did this for you/I gave you this/I helped you, you should be grateful and thankful.”
“I help you, you help me too.”
“Be generous and help other people, and people will return your generosity and help.”
“Pray to God, and God will bless you with what you desire.”

Why not just be kind, be friendly, be generous, be helpful and be supportive, or just pray to God, without any intention/motivation/expectation?

Those who know, they will be kind/friendly/helpful/supportive towards all and everything according to one’s ability, without discrimination of ‘friends’ or ‘not friends’, and there’s no motivation/intention/expectation to be receiving something desirable/help/support/kindness/goodness/friendliness/friendships in return for being kind/friendly/helpful/supportive.

Those who don’t know, there is fear. Fear of not getting what they want and fear of losing what they want or getting what they don’t want. Fear of the unknown, nothingness, hardship, difficulty, boredom, loneliness, meaninglessness, helplessness, unloved, left-out, companionless, non-acknowledgement, and so on. There’s is this idea or thinking – “I deserve this and that in return for my efforts/kindness/helpfulness/friendliness/generosity/contribution.”

“I want to be good enough for myself and other people. I want to be able to accept myself being the way that I want myself to be, and I want other people to accept me being the way that they want me to be.” But why do we think that we need to be good enough/be in certain ways in order to be accepted by ourselves, or other people, or the society, or the world? We don’t have to.

Those who know the truth, who realized unconditional love and peace, being free from ignorance, egoism and impurities, or being free from attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, longing, judgment, comparison, expectation, boredom, loneliness, meaninglessness, depression, dissatisfaction, disappointment, unhappiness or suffering, they don’t need to do something, or be someone, or have something, to make them feel good, happy, confident, meaningful, thankful or grateful. All their actions are pure actions being performed out of compassion and selflessness.

Be free.

Suffering is the greatest motivation for the path of liberation

People might think that love, happiness, kindness and all kinds of goodness are inspiring people to take up yoga practice. Though it’s true, but they are not the motivations to motivate people to live a life of dispassion to transcend the mind perception of a worldly life existence of names and forms that is subject to impermanence and selflessness.

Suffering is the greatest inspiration or motivation for people to be determined to work diligently and seriously towards liberation from the mind perception of a worldly life existence of names and forms, or the modifications of the mind under the influence of ignorance, egoism and impurities.

Just like a country that is full of corruptions, it’s similar to a fruit tree that is sicked from the root to the branches to the leaves and to the flowers and the fruits. Nothing is going to change, or move forward towards liberation from corruptions, when everyone is enjoying the fruits of the sicked tree, even though they are bitter and sour and are infested by worms, but at least it can feed their hunger. They are reluctant to let go of this tree as they don’t know if there will be another tree that can provide them with enough fruits that can feed their hunger, and so, they are ‘comfortable and satisfied enough’ to hang on to this tree, even though they would complain about the fruits are bitter and sour and have worms in them.

The condition or situation has to be so bad, so bad that there’s no fruit at all for anyone, not even bitter and sour fruits with worms, or the tree dropped dead completely, then everyone will have no choice but to abandon this tree to look for some other fruit trees that might provide them fruits to feed their hunger. Or else, they will keep watering the tree keeping the tree alive, hoping the tree continues to provide them with enough fruits, even if they are bitter and sour and are infested by worms. From time to time, they might consider giving up the tree out of frustration and disappointment, but in the end, they won’t give it up, as long as the tree will continue to provide them with the ‘fruit’ that can feed their hunger, especially sometimes the tree would occasionally give fruits that might still infested by worms, but they are less bitter and sour, and even slightly sweet. As everyone is already used to the fruits with worms, and so, they are very happy and satisfied with the less bitter and sour, and sweeter fruits once in a while.

Under good life condition and not too much difficulties in the moment, when the life situation is not very good but not too bad either, where people can still ‘enjoy life’ even though there are many problems or corruptions everywhere due to ignorance, egoism and impurities, people would just enjoy the seemingly ‘good condition’ of comforts, enjoyments and conveniences in life, even though all these are impermanent, hoping that the good life condition will last as long as possible, or will become even better, and they will be reluctant to let go all the impermanent comforts, enjoyments and conveniences to tread the path that is not necessarily pleasant, while it could be very unpleasant and challenging, but would lead them towards highest liberation.

It’s only when the beings experience great suffering, not just a little suffering or unhappiness, then they would be inspired, or be motivated, or be determined to work their very best seriously for attaining liberation from suffering of a worldly life existence of a limited body with an impure egoistic thinking mind that is impermanent and selfless.

The experience or the perception of great suffering is not a bad thing at all when it motivates the beings to live a life of dispassion that leads towards highest liberation from the modifications of the mind, or the mind perception of an impermanent and selfless worldly life existence of names and forms.

Be free.