The world of yoga

People asked us how come we don’t run/teach yoga classes and teachers training courses?

Yoga practice is about taming/quieting the restless mind to free the mind from suffering of restlessness and impurities derived from ignorance and egoism by realizing selflessness (birthlessness, deathlessness, attributelessness, namelessness, formlessness) through the practice of dispassion, renunciation, silence, self-inquiry, concentration, meditation, non-attachment, non-identification, non-craving, non-aversion, non-judgment, non-comparison and non-expectation that require a high degree of open-mindedness, right discrimination, intense yearning for liberation, will-power, perseverance, independence, self-control and discipline.

After one learned about the teachings and practice from someone who has direct experience of the teachings and practice, one implements these teachings and practice in everyday life, to free the mind from ignorance and egoism, which is nothing to do with attending regular ‘yoga classes’ or attending ‘yoga teachers training course’ to become ‘certified professional yoga teacher’ to teach/conduct ‘yoga classes’.

Most people don’t really interested to learn and practice yoga when they are interested in joining ‘yoga classes’, as they wouldn’t/couldn’t let go the thinking and belief which they think and believe is who they are (the main hindrance towards the realization of selflessness.) They just want to do some physical exercises to keep fit and be healthy, to feel good and look good. And it’s nothing wrong. Everyone has the freedom for what they want and don’t want, and what they think and believe.

Most ‘yoga classes’ are existing mostly as one of the healthy leisure activities for health and fitness enhancement by doing some yoga asana, relaxation and breathing exercises, just like any other personal/group fitness training exercise classes, which is a very healthy activity. It’s very good that people would love to do some form of physical exercise regularly for maintaining good health and vitality to enjoy a higher quality of life. And some highly talented people even transformed yoga asana practice into amazing acrobatic performance, it’s very inspiring for people to take up some physical fitness training to look good and feel good, and not spending time and energy in unhealthy/unwholesome activities.

The initial objective of ‘teachers training courses’ is about oneself learning and practicing the teachings of yoga to purify one’s mind, to awaken/realize the teacher within to become one’s own teacher, to discipline one’s mind to be free from ignorance and egoism. It’s not about training people who are interested in ‘teaching yoga classes’ or ‘running yoga courses’ to become ‘certified professional yoga teachers’ and issue/authorize them with ‘recognized certification’ to conduct yoga courses/teach yoga classes according to the different types of teaching style from different types of yoga school. It’s training one’s own mind to be it’s own teacher. Upon self-realization of yoga/oneness/selflessness, one might or might not share the direct experience with others.

‘Yoga retreats’ are also being ‘transformed’ into self-pampering/indulgence of the senses getaway that empowers the egoistic desires of carving and aversion, or being ‘transformed’ into ‘mystical healing’ camp. Even so, it’s neither right nor wrong. That is what most minds like and desire. It really doesn’t matter. In the end, yoga is still what it is, whether people are learning and practicing and teaching yoga as it is, or not. The truth won’t be affected/contaminated by any add-on/take-out elements, although the creative worldly minded can transform the teachings and practice of yoga into something that they prefer.

Most of the serious yoga practitioners don’t really run/teach ‘yoga classes’, or ‘yoga courses’, or ‘yoga teachers training courses’ although they might be teaching yoga to many others. Sharing the teachings and practice of yoga with others doesn’t necessarily has to be in the form of conducting yoga classes/courses/retreats. Some might have been teaching ‘yoga classes’ in the beginning, but after some time, they renounced the worldly social life and activities to concentrate on their own practice, upon realization that renunciation from worldly affair/interaction/activities/relationships is the greatest compassion towards oneself and all beings. Everyone is responsible for their own practice to look after their own mind, to discipline/quiet/purify their own mind, to deal with the consequences of their own ignorance, to become their own teacher, to free their own mind from ignorance, egoism and impurities via their own effort.

Meanwhile, ‘yoga teachers training courses’ are no longer about learning and practicing yoga to become one’s own teacher to be self-independent, to perform self-inquiry, to silent/annihilate the mind to attain self-realization, but the identity and qualification of a ‘yoga teacher’/recognition/authorization/certifications/association/commercial value/career value are the drive for conducting/participating yoga teachers training courses.

This is the world of yoga, and there’s nothing wrong or bad with it.

Many people think that they like and love yoga, but not really. When come to serious yoga practice, most people would turn away or justify that it is not yoga (the way that they think it should be.) And there’s nothing wrong, as all minds take their own pace and own path to evolve and realize.

In the silent meditation retreat that doesn’t charge any fees (donate as you like, or even nothing), quite many people would want to runaway or quit after a few days observing silence, for not being able to talk to other people, can’t have physical/eye contact with other people, not able to express as they like, can’t do what they usually like to do, can’t eat what they usually like to eat, no stimulating entertainment for the mind, sleeping on hard bed in basic accommodation, and they have to sit for meditation for more than 10 hours a day, while lots of physical/mental/emotional discomforts arise and random thoughts bubbling up to the surface of the mind. Some people would stay until the retreat finishes, but they don’t really observe silence throughout the entire retreat, such like they are still talking/whispering/making signs/interacting with their friends and keeping their phones with them, even though it’s not allowed. But, there’s nothing wrong with that either, as it’s how most worldly minds would behave, out of loneliness, boredom and meaninglessness derived from being refrained from their usual worldly stimulation/activities.

Most minds would ‘cheat’ to be comfortable and not to be uncomfortable. It’s not about what’s right and what’s wrong. And it’s not about how good is one’s yoga practice and meditation experience, but it’s the ability to confront/deal with all the things that the mind doesn’t familiar with, doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with, while not coming in contact with the things that the mind familiars with, likes and agrees with, being free from craving and aversion, be able to forbear difficulties and unpleasantness equanimously, and free the mind from restlessness/impurities out of ignorance and egoism, that matters most.

The mind won’t evolve/progress and keeps running round and round in the loop of worldly ideas/thinking/belief, if it keeps swaying in between craving and aversion, running away from difficulties and unpleasantness and what it doesn’t like (the mind perception of the qualities of bad, negative, wrong, meaninglessness and unhappiness,) and chasing after what it likes and desires (the mind perception of the qualities of good, positive, right, meaningfulness and happiness,) even after many years of attending ‘yoga classes’ and ‘yoga retreats’ or doing yoga asana and breathing exercises regularly, or possessed many ‘yoga certifications’ and given ‘yoga classes’ to many people.

Be free.

People’s power?

People’s power is no doubt very powerful, of course. There’s no doubt that other than the greatest power of nature, it’s the people’s power that is so powerful and influential that it influences the condition or situation of the world, in a country, in a community, in a company, or in a family, through their thinking and behavior, making the world a better or worse place to be in. But what is influencing the people’s thinking and behavior is more powerful. And so, what happen if ignorance, egoism and impurities is the power that influencing many people in the world to think, behave, act and react?

Even those who think they are good people who want to be good, who do good actions and don’t do bad actions are not necessarily be free from the influence of ignorance and egoism and impurities. If the mind thinks and feels, “I am disturbed, disappointed, frustrated, threatened, depressed, angered or hurt by something that I think is bad, negative and wrong”, know that this is ignorance, though there’s nothing wrong with this reaction of thinking and feeling in such way reacting towards certain perceptions of names and forms that the mind believes as bad, negative and wrong. The power of ignorance is so great that the mind doesn’t even know it is under the influence of ignorance, thinking that it is wise or smart enough, or it is wiser or smarter than others. And the ego doesn’t like to hear or be pointed out that it is the product of ignorance, and would feel offended or humiliated or intimidated.

The wise won’t be disturbed nor determined by the ignorance of others of all sorts of ignorant thinking and behavior, or what the mind thinks and believes as bad, negative or wrong. If one will be disturbed and determined by the ignorance of others of their ignorant thinking and behavior, or what the mind thinks and believes as bad, negative and wrong, or be disturbed by the condition and situation of the world that is not how one would like it to be, then this mind is under the influence of ignorance.

One can choose not to be disturbed or determined by the ignorance of others of all sorts of ignorant thinking and behavior, or not.

The wise don’t have any intention to change the world. They allow everyone to be free from ignorance, or not, through everyone’s own interest and effort. If people are not interested in freeing their mind from ignorance, that’s their freedom.

Even the enlightened liberated beings can’t change the world or take away the ignorance in others or remove ignorance from the world. If not, the world is already be free from ignorant beings/thinking/behavior. One can only free one’s mind from ignorance through self-initiative, self-effort, self-discipline, self-inquiry and self-realization.

If there are people have the great ambition to be ‘superhero’ to change and save the world, that’s their freedom.

The YTTC or Yoga Teachers Training Courses is about being a platform for truth seekers who are interested in attaining liberation from ignorance and suffering to learn and practice yoga to become their own teacher to perform self-practice/Yoga Sadhana, to attain self-realization and independence, and when one is free from ignorance and suffering, the world will have less a being under the influence of ignorance. And one can share one’s self-realized knowledge of yoga with others, where yoga asana practice is one of the many practices to purify and quiet the mind to prepare the mind for meditation. But nowadays, many YTTC are not about developing serious self-practice or Yoga Sadhana to free oneself from ignorance and egoism, but, it’s mainly about to be equipped with some ‘teaching technical information’ for ‘teaching yoga (asana exercise) classes’ to most people who are not really interested in the elimination of egoism through the practice of silence, desireless, dispassion, self-discipline, self-inquiry and self-realization, but more interested in empowering egoism and gratifying their worldly passionate desires of craving and aversion especially towards enhancing physical health and fitness level, physical appearance and ability through performing the yoga asana exercises, while some others are interested towards developing mental psychic power for different reasons or intentions.

“I have been doing some yoga regularly for some time. Now, I want to learn and do more yoga. Can you teach me?”
“Really?”
“Yes! I am really interested to learn to do all the yoga poses that I am still not able to do. I also want to know what are the different muscles groups that we use in the different yoga poses and their specific benefits related to health and fitness. I hope to become a yoga teacher to teach yoga classes someday. I need to make my body healthier, fitter, stronger and more flexible so that I can do lots of the yoga poses to be qualified to join the yoga teacher training course. I also want to feel better about myself, because right now, I am not very happy with myself, my yoga practice, my physical appearance, my health and fitness level, my job, my life and my relationship. Many yoga teachers say yoga can gives us lots of benefits to improve health and fitness, and make us look good and feel good about ourselves, and become superhuman with superpower to do anything that we want to do with our body and mind. They say yoga can make our body stay young and strong, that we won’t get sick and we can defy aging. They say by doing yoga we can defy gravity and we can fly. And they say practice yoga can also have all our desires come true. I want a better life, a better body, a better relationship and a better job. I really want to learn and do yoga!”
“I can teach you yoga. But first, you will need to let go all these desires of what you want and don’t want.”
“This is not the yoga that I want to learn and do.”
“Be happy then.”

What muscles groups are being used in the yoga poses has nothing to do with the realization of yoga or selflessness

There are many ‘yoga teachers training courses’ emphasize on training the ‘yoga teachers’ with the knowledge or information about anatomy and physiology for performing and teaching the yoga poses, while there are yoga teachers who emphasize on explaining the different types of muscles group that are being used in the different yoga poses or exercises, as well as the different types of benefits of the yoga poses in their yoga asana classes, and there are yoga practitioners who want to know what type of muscles group that they need to engage in order to perform the yoga poses, and of course, they want to know the different types of benefits that they would get from performing the different yoga poses.

There’s nothing wrong or bad with this emphasis on the knowledge of the mechanism of the physical body and the benefits of the different exercises in fitness training, but this is pulling the mind away from the yoga teachings and yoga practice about letting go egoism of attachment and identification with the existence and the function of the body and the mind, and letting go attachment and identification with the actions and the fruit of actions, to annihilate ignorance and egoism to transcend suffering, to realize yoga or selflessness or unconditional peace and compassion, where all these realization has nothing to do with the physical condition, appearance, fitness level, performance, ability and limitation, or the knowledge of fitness training and its benefits.

One doesn’t need to know the names and forms of the muscles and their specific function, to have peace and be compassionate.

One doesn’t need to know which muscles groups are being engaged in order to hold a spoon and pick up a spoonful of food and put the food into the mouth and chew the food and swallow the food. One doesn’t need to know how to engaged a specific muscles group to move the legs forward or backward to walk or run or kick or jump or turn upside down. One doesn’t need to know which muscles to be engaged to smile or to frown.

There’s nothing wrong if people are interested to know the names and forms and the functions of the different muscles and muscles groups, and there are many books about fitness training, anatomy and physiology or biology for them to study about the mechanism and function of the physical body, and all these knowledge can be helpful in the improvement of the quality of life, but the realization of yoga or liberation from suffering has nothing to do with the accumulation of knowledge or the quality of life. People might be highly knowledgeable and have a higher quality of life, but might not necessarily be free from ignorance and egoism and suffering.

The doctors can use their medical knowledge of the physical body to cut open the body to find out the disease inside the body, and take it out for us, and fitness instructors can use their fitness training knowledge to provide us with health and fitness advice and an efficient health and fitness training program to make the physical body fitter and healthier, but no physician or fitness instructor can cut open our mind to find out the ‘disease’ inside the mind, and take out the ‘disease’ for us. Having a super fit and healthy physical body also doesn’t guarantee that our mind will be free from ignorance, egoism and suffering.

Ask a physician or fitness instructor, “Which muscles groups are being engaged in order to free the mind from ignorance and egoism and suffering, to know the truth, to realize selflessness, and be peaceful and compassionate?”

Be free.

Body image issue, where it shouldn’t exist in the first place

In the areas where people are struggling everyday to attain the basic food and water resources to survive, to have a place to rest and be sheltered from harsh weather, to be free from hunger, thirst, exhaustion, discrimination, hatred, war and violence, there won’t be such body image issue existing.

Meanwhile, in the modern commercialized society with higher technology and comfortable or fancy lifestyle, where economy and spending power is stable and strong, where basic and higher education came with various subjects and interests is accessible for everyone, where people have the luxury to indulge in physical and mental enjoyments of the senses of sights/visuals, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and thoughts/ideas/creativity/imaginations, where food is easily and excessively available in various forms and tastes, where food has gone beyond being a basic necessity of life but becoming an enjoyment of taste, where water and electricity supply and various modern facilities are available easily, where clothing is no longer a basic material to keep warm and be protected from insects and cuts but plays as an important role for self-image and self-esteem, where people are being presented with different choices of lifestyle and leisure activities, where people are interested in promoting health, beauty and fitness, and put importance into personal and general hygiene, where people can travel easily from one place to another, where people can have dreams and ambitions to be fulfilled, where countless opportunities are available for everyone, but then ridiculously, many people are being troubled by body image issue, which is truly unnecessary.

It doesn’t matter people are being knowledgeable, or intelligent, or talented and skillful in certain subjects, or highly educated, or having a successful career, or having a high profile in the community or society, or having a generous income and an easy comfortable high technology living standard, many people are being troubled very much by body image issue, unwittingly.

People’s state of mind, the sense of meaningfulness, confidence, self-esteem, happiness and sense of self-worth and well-being are very much determined by the body image consists of facial features, skin condition, hair condition, physical appearance, body shape, body composition, physical condition, physical ability and achievement, that they like or dislike, satisfied or dissatisfied with, based on a particular standard that they set for themselves to comply to.

People get depressed when they think they have a body image issue, that they are dissatisfied with and dislike their facial features, skin condition, body hair, hair condition and style, physical appearance, body shape, physical condition and ability as it is, that they prefer or desire their body to be something different from what it is now, according to what they think is better, nicer, healthier, fitter, stronger, younger, prettier, or more attractive.

To counter this body image issue, most people will try to achieve the body image that they would like to have, that they think is the best body image, that would give them the sense of satisfaction and good feelings about their bodies and themselves.

Even many of the yoga classes in the world are emphasizing on promoting improvement in physical appearance, physical condition and ability, to boost people’s self-esteem, confidence, sense of self-worth and well-being. And the yoga teachers/instructors aspire to portray a body image of ‘good’ or ‘fit’ or ‘healthy’ or ‘attractive’ or ‘high performance’ kind of physical appearance, condition and ability to inspire or motivate the yoga students to also achieve the similar form of body image (enhanced physical appearance, condition, ability and performance.) – “I can achieve this, so can you!” or “Yoga makes you look better and feel better!” But this is not the teaching and practice of yoga. This is empowering ignorance and egoism. It might give them momentary good feelings and confidence about their body and themselves (the ego) by achieving the kind of body image that they prefer, but it doesn’t help people to be free from the suffering of low self-esteem and depression derived from attachment and identification with the impermanent physical appearance, condition and ability to be who they are. Once the quality of the body image that they like, that they attached onto and identified with, that makes them feel good and confident about themselves starts to change into something else or is no longer available due to impermanence, they will suffer from disappointment, dissatisfaction, self-hate, self-criticism, low self-esteem, depression, self-harm, and so on.

When people think they are disturbed by body image issue, that is mainly due to ignorance and egoism. There is great identification and attachment towards the physical body and all that is related to the physical body, to be ‘I’, or what they think is who they are.

Realize yoga or selflessness, be free from identification and attachment towards the physical body, and body image issues won’t be existing at all. One will take good care of the well-being of the physical body, out of compassion, without attachment towards the impermanent physical appearance, condition and ability, without identification with the physical body as ‘I’, or ‘Who I am’. Be kind to the body, live a healthy lifestyle to benefit the physical body, and allowing the physical body to improve and change to be what it is, as it is, without any egoistic desire or intention or expectation to make or transform or change the physical body to be the way that ‘I’ would like it to be, so that ‘I’ will feel good, happy, satisfied and confident about ‘my’ body and ‘I’. This truly is loving our body, accepting the body as it is, while allowing all the changes to be there as they are, to be what they are.

Expecting the body to be the way that we like it to be, and constantly straining and forcing the physical body with intense physical training so that it will be able to do what we want it to do, and to look the way that we want it to look, to achieve the body image that we prefer/desire, is not loving our body, but it’s the ego loving what it likes and wants. “I want my body to be like this or to be able to do that.” Again, it’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their body, and how they want to treat their body.

Be free.

Fitness yoga exercise classes?

Yoga practitioners who live in the big city and wish to engage more time into their personal yoga practice by teaching some fitness yoga exercise classes in the big city to make a living to support their lives that also allow them to have the free time and space to perform their own yoga practice shouldn’t be bothered by what other people say about “These fitness yoga exercise classes are not about yoga and they are just a commercial ‘money making’ thing.” or “It’s wrong to modified traditional yoga asana practice into modern physical fitness exercise classes to make a living.”

Even if the fitness yoga exercise classes didn’t mention anything about the aspect of ‘spirituality’ whether intentionally or unintentionally, and it’s not about letting go of the egoism, desires, attachment, identification, craving and aversion at all, they do provide excellent and efficient physical fitness workout that can benefit many people disregard their personal cultural belief and religion practice, especially those who live a busy city lifestyle with limited personal time and space.

Although many yoga practitioners and teachers try to explain that yoga is universal, but, when we apply the name and form of ‘spirituality’ onto something that we believe is universal, then, not everyone will agree with ‘spirituality’ is universal friendly to all and everyone. As different people might have belief and disbelief about ‘spirituality’. Among those who believe in ‘spirituality’, different people or groups will have different names and forms of ‘spirituality’ that they think is belonged to them, and their ‘spirituality’ is better or purer than other forms of ‘spirituality’.

If something that is truly universal, it is free from being conditioned by any names and forms. It is nameless and formless beyond qualities of names and forms.

Fitness yoga exercise classes that don’t involve any aspects of ‘spirituality’ can bring the yoga practice to many levels and diversities of the society. As there are people do not wish to involve in the world of ‘spirituality’, which we can understand why, as there are many ‘weird’ people and ‘weird’ happenings going on in the world of ‘spirituality’ which are not necessarily what spirituality is about.

Not involving in the world of ‘spirituality’ doesn’t determine whether one is spiritual, or not. Just like not identifies oneself as good person, nor associating with other good people, doesn’t determine whether one is good, or not.

Without touching the aspect of ‘spirituality’, it is like any sports activities, it’s universal friendly. Anyone whether with or without a particular religion belief, being spiritual or non-spiritual, can take part in any kind of sports activities, if one is interested. Although great achievements and excellency in sports activities doesn’t guarantee anyone liberation from ignorance, egoism and suffering.

Living among the society, whatever people do and don’t do, there will always be somebody or some group in the society reacts towards something that they don’t like and don’t agree with, and criticize or condemn about this and that. Why should anyone be bothered?

Every living being comes into existence as a living being by oneself alone (even if there are multiple birth) and will leave this world by oneself alone (even if the life of multiple living beings is finished at the same moment). Self-realization or liberation from ignorance is attained by oneself alone. It has nothing to do with another being or group, not even all our past and present teachers and Gurus, or family and friends.

When a peaceful being prefers to be in solitude away from the society and keeps the path of liberation to oneself, and has no intention or interest in ‘teaching’ or sharing’ the path of liberation with any other beings, there will be criticism and condemn from somebody or some group about this being is selfish.

When a peaceful being has the intention or interest for ‘sharing’ the path of liberation with other beings, and tries to ‘teach’ or ‘guide’ other beings about the path of liberation, there will also be criticism and condemn from somebody or some group about one is not ‘teaching’ or ‘guiding’ other beings in the ‘correct and appropriate’ way according to what they think it should be.

Let them be. These minds that like to find faults in everything, and take pride and joy in criticism and condemn are restless. Most untrained minds are restless, or else there won’t be any criticism or condemn from anyone or anywhere about anything. The world will be very quiet and peaceful. Be compassionate towards all these restless minds, they are so unhappy and peaceless. Those who know non-attachment and non-identification will not be influenced by the points of view, thinking and beliefs of these restless minds. One shares what one is, or not, and it’s nothing to do with what others want and don’t want, like and dislike.

Among many forms of fitness exercises for attaining good health and fitness level, these yoga exercises adapted and modified from traditional yoga asana practice provide huge varieties and efficient fitness workouts for all levels of different physical conditions and abilities, to cater the personal requirements, the likes and dislikes of many different types of people, can promote fitness and obtain higher energy level, to induce good mood and relaxed state of the mind, to develop positive and clear thinking, to lower risk of injuries or contracting illnesses, to improve and maintain good physical and mental health condition, to improve quality of life, relationships, self-esteem and sense of meaningfulness. Although all these qualities of names and forms are still subject to impermanence, and don’t guarantee anyone liberation from ignorance and suffering.

The world will definitely be a better place with more people having a ‘cool and relaxed’ state of mind through performing yoga exercises regularly, there will be less conflicts and violence. It is better than taking some substances that might also can induce a momentary ‘cool and relaxed’ state of mind, but might bring other forms of side effects.

Eventually by obtaining and maintaining a well-balanced and ‘cool and relaxed’ state of mind through regular practice of some yoga exercises, naturally one can be evolving towards purity and higher consciousness, without any intention nor interest to involve in ‘purity’, or ‘higher consciousness’.

It is absolutely fine if people are not interested at all in the teachings of yoga about the elimination of egoism, desires, attachment, identification, craving and aversion. It’s definitely nothing wrong when there’s no mention about these yoga teachings in the fitness yoga exercise classes, but instead it is moving away from all these yoga teachings, whether intentionally or unintentionally, such like, strengthening the attachment and identification towards self-image, physical conditions and abilities, the empowerment of likes and dislikes, craving and aversion, the judgment and expectation towards the performance, and results orientated, and etc.

It isn’t being disrespectful towards the Gurus and the teachings of yoga when yoga (asana) practice in the world has been transformed into something that is very little to do with what yoga is about, which is to free the mind from egoism, attachment, identification, desires, craving, aversion and all sorts of impurities, to know the truth of names and forms, to eliminate ignorance and transcend suffering. And all these have nothing to do with whether one is spiritual, or not, whether one has a religion belief, or not, and whether one believes in the existence of an Almighty God or an individual soul, or not.

Yoga practice is to free the mind from ignorance, egoism, desires, impurities and suffering. And this alone is universal. Untrained minds are influenced by ignorance, egoism, impurities and experience suffering. A well-trained mind is free from the influence of ignorance, egoism, impurities and doesn’t experience suffering. An impure unrest mind creates havoc into the surrounding environment. A pure and peaceful mind doesn’t generate havoc into the surrounding environment. A closed mind generates offensiveness towards everything. An opened mind embraces all and everything.

It doesn’t matter where we come from, where we are now, who we are, what we are and how we are, we all have a mind and there are countless mind activities going on every moment, whether consciously or unconsciously. Without knowing this mind and its modifications, one generates disharmony in oneself and into the surrounding environment. Know thyself, is knowing this mind and its modification. There is no ‘I’.

May all be free, be peaceful, be happy.

If anyone doesn’t want to be free, or peaceful, or happy, let them be.

Om shanti.