Hugging and touching?

In this era of the so called modern and highly developed society, most people perceive and observe the practice/habit/culture of ‘hugging’ and ‘touching’ as a form of showing love, acceptance and friendliness among beings, while they would feel awkward, bad and wrong, or even be offended, if some people don’t have or don’t observe the practice/habit/culture of hugging and touching.

Many yoga practitioners or spiritual seekers might also think and believe that ‘open mind’ and ‘loving kindness/warmness’ means people need to be affectionately hugging and touching one another to be showing non-discrimination, non-separateness, non-intimidation, love, acceptance and friendliness towards all beings, while the absence of hugging and touching is being perceived as ‘closed mind’ and ‘unloving-kindness’/’coldness’ that portrays the quality of discrimination, separateness, intimidation, lovelessness, non-acceptance and unfriendliness. Many also believe that the lack of hugging or touching by another being is highly detrimental to physical, mental and emotional health. They expect all beings, especially yoga practitioners or spiritual seekers should be constantly and actively hugging and touching all other beings that they come in contact with, to show that they are genuine yoga practitioners or spiritual seekers who embrace loving kindness, who are open minded and compassionate beings, while they would be puzzled by the very few of the yoga practitioners who don’t have or don’t observe such hugging and touching habit/culture.

For yoga practitioners who truly want to open their mind, is to be free from being conditioned by such worldly egoistic thinking, belief, values and practice, where the mind understands that ‘the existence and non-existence of open mind and compassion’ is nothing to do with ‘the presence and absence of physical hugging and touching another being’, where it’s nothing bad and there’s nothing wrong with the society having and observing the hugging and touching habit/culture, especially if the minds are pure and desireless, and it’s also nothing bad and there’s nothing wrong with those who don’t have or don’t observe the hugging and touching habit/culture either. Accepting all and everyone as they are, even though certain people behave in the way that goes against the thinking, belief, values and practice of the majority of the society.

Hugging and touching or not, doesn’t really determine the presence and absence of the quality of ‘non-discrimination’, ‘non-separateness’, ‘non-intimidation’, ‘love’, ‘acceptance’ and ‘friendliness’, while the quality of non-discrimination, non-separateness, non-intimidation, love, acceptance and friendliness aren’t necessarily have to be shown/portrayed by physical contact of hugging and touching one another.

Most people would feel rejected, unloved, left-out, depressed, lonely and meaningless upon the absence of physical/mental/emotional interaction of hugging and touching from some other beings. And hence, many people would think and believe that the solution is to be actively giving and receiving affectionate hugs and touches among beings.

It’s the ignorant egoistic passionate mind that has attachment and expectation towards the appropriateness and disappropriateness in social behavior and interaction that would feel rejected, unloved, left-out, depressed, lonely, meaningless, piteous or offended upon the absence or the lack of love and affection in the form of hugging and touching from other beings.

Contemplate upon why the ancient teachings/practice of yoga emphasized on the important observation of solitude and seclusion of non-physical/mental/emotional contact and non-physical touching with any other being, where yoga practitioners and spiritual seekers were being advised to observe solitude and seclusion for a prolonged period of time, to free the mind from the worldly habitual passionate desire of craving and clinging towards love and affection, to free the mind from ignorance and egoism, to silent/annihilate the modification of the mind.

One of the common practice/observation in the Ashrams is about none should be physically touching one another regardless of among the same or different gender, especially the swamis, monks and nuns. But, nowadays, in many of the ashrams, even many ‘modernized’ swamis, monks and nuns also don’t observe this practice anymore, and they mingling intimately with one another and the people who come to the ashrams, not to say many of the householders who identify themselves as ‘yoga practitioners’ or ‘yogis’. Many ‘yoga teacher training courses’ also emphasize on the physical hands on adjustment, where the many graduated ‘certified yoga teachers’ think and believe that it’s what a good and professional yoga teacher should be doing/practicing while teaching classes and while socializing/mingling with the students or the yoga community outside of the classes to develop stronger connection and relationship among one another.

There’s nothing wrong with the worldly egoistic thinking, belief, values and practice that propagates widely about “Everyone needs love, affection, hugs and touches.” But that is not yoga practice at all, as that is indeed empowering ignorance and egoism. It’s not any different from keep feeding sugary drinks to the children or keep providing drugs to the people to make them feel ‘happy and good’ from the momentary effects of sugary drinks or drugs and from the gratification of desires by giving people what they like and want. The yoga practice is to free the mind from ignorance and egoism, to realize selflessness/oneness/non-separateness, where there’s absence of needing/craving/clinging towards physical/mental/emotional love, affection, hugs and touches from other beings. There’s no need of developing stronger connection or relationship between ‘I’ and ‘the others’ in selflessness/oneness/non-separateness, as connection or relationship doesn’t exist in selflessness/oneness/non-separateness. There’s neither ‘I’ nor ‘the others’. There’s no ‘I’ need to be healed by ‘spiritual healing hugs and touches’.

A truly ‘healthy and compassionate’ society exists along with the minds that are free from ignorance and egoism. Everyone can be kind and loving towards one another out of selfless compassion, not because everyone ‘needs’ to give and receive love and affection to and from one another through certain action in order to make the egoistic minds feel good, happy, love and meaningful, or not to feel rejected, unloved, left-out, depressed, lonely, meaningless, piteous or offended upon the absence/lack of love and affection through certain action from other beings, as the ignorant egoistic minds think and believe that it’s so bad and terrible if there’s absence/lack of any form of love and affection among one another.

Be free.

Friendliness towards all beings without discrimination, intention and expectation

This teaching is a contemplation for those who are interested in learning and practicing yoga and meditation, to silent the restless impure egoistic mind. Those who are not interested in practicing yoga or meditation to silent the mind don’t need to observe or contemplate on this teaching.

Friendliness in yoga is nothing to do with sociable talkative personality or behavior, or being sociable to be accumulating personal connection and friendship with as many people as possible.

Being friendly to all beings doesn’t mean that one has to be sociable and talkative, or accumulating many personal friendships that involve engagement in physical/verbal/mental interactions and activities from time to time.

Being sociable and talkative doesn’t necessarily mean that one is being friendly towards all beings without the influence of egoistic discrimination of likes and dislikes, selfish intention and expectation.

Quite many people, including health professionals think and believe that being quiet or not being talkative, especially in young children, is something ‘sick/unhealthy’, ‘bad’, ‘negative’, or ‘wrong’. The best time for yoga and meditation practice is when everyone else has gone to sleep. Why? Because it’s the only precious time of quietness and peacefulness available on earth in that time zone without people doing things, playing, arguing, negotiating, making noises, shouting, or talking. Does that quietness and peacefulness on earth when everyone/the minds being away in sleep, being non-interacting, non-talking, or non-action causes more chaos in the world? Nope. Instead, when people/the minds are awake, many people criticize other people who don’t talk much as being unhealthy, disturbing, rude and unfriendly?

The friendliness in yoga and meditation practice is about respecting all beings as they are, being free from superiority or inferiority, without egoism of attachment, identification, possessiveness, discrimination of likes and dislikes, desire of craving and aversion, intention or expectation, without dissatisfaction, disappointment, hurt, fear, offensiveness, hostility, ill-thinking, or ill-will towards all beings, be undisturbed and without interference towards other people being different from oneself, or having different thinking, belief, practice, values, behavior, action and reaction from oneself, without intention of accumulating friendships or companionship from other people to get rid of boredom or loneliness, or to be accessible to support and help whenever one needs one, without expecting other people have to behave, act or react the way that one thinks it should be, or expecting other people to treat oneself the way that how one would like to be treated.

People who would feel disturbed or offended if other people do not join in their conversation, or are disinterested in their invitation to a function or event, are due to their own expectation towards how other people should response towards their ‘friendliness’. People get unhappy, disappointed or offended when they don’t get the response that they expect to be getting from other people. Those who are truly friendly won’t mind at all if other people are not interested to participate in any conversation or event.

Those who are truly friendly, it’s not necessarily that they are sociable, or talkative, or actively interacting with other people. They might be very quiet and mind their own things. But, they have no ill-will, ill-thinking, ill-talking, judgment, criticism, condemn, gossip, slander, disrespectfulness, animosity, offensiveness, interference or expectation towards other people’s different way of life, thinking, belief, practice, values, behavior, action and reaction.

Take a look into most of the usual conversations among people, we will see that these conversations are mostly full of talking about hanging onto the past, projecting into the future, planning, plotting, scheming, worldly/personal attachment, worldly/personal identification, pride, desire, fear and worry, and lots of complaint, moaning, dissatisfaction, disappointment, blame, ill-will, ill-thinking, ill-talking, criticism, condemn, gossip, slander, back-biting, story telling, untruthfulness, justification, boasting, manipulation, as well as interference or expectation towards other people’s way of life, thinking, belief, practice, values, behavior, action and reaction. Not that all these activities are bad or wrong, but the yoga and meditation practice is to free the mind from all these worldly habits of physical/verbal/mental/emotional activities/restlessness of impurities.

It’s very common that when people want to talk to other people and they expect other people to talk to them in response to their ‘friendliness’, but then they would feel greatly disturbed or offended if other people don’t response to their ‘friendliness’, or when other people talk about things that they don’t like and don’t want to hear, that they disagree with.

The most effective way to help oneself or anyone to be free from all the ‘problems’ or ‘suffering’ that one thinks and believes is what disturbing one’s mind that one feels and thinks that one needs to talk to other people to talk about one’s problem or suffering to seek help or advice, is to be quiet and listen. Listen to the Dhamma that is here and everywhere when the mind is quiet, and the mind sees the truth of ‘unhappiness’, ‘problems’, or ‘suffering’. It’s not about expecting someone, or other people, or guru, or God to be there to listen to one’s problems, unhappiness, dissatisfaction, disappointment, frustration, hurt, fear, worry, complaint, blame, moaning, or bitching about other people that one feels angry or unhappy with, that one doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with, so that one will feel slightly relieved or feel better about oneself for a few moments, but then the mind continues to be restless and disturbed by the ongoing worldly life experiences that are not necessarily the way that one likes it to be, or the mind perception of names and forms that the ego doesn’t like, doesn’t want and doesn’t agree with, while thinking and believing that one’s ‘unhappiness’, ‘problems’ or ‘suffering’ are caused by the experiences or qualities of names and forms that the mind thinks and believes as ‘bad’, ‘wrong’, or ‘negative’.

Performing yoga and meditation practice, especially attending silent meditation retreats or courses, will allow people with a disturbed/unhappy/suffering mind to learn to be quiet and listen to or seeing the Dhamma that will free the mind from ignorance, egoism and impurities, and thus be free from all kinds of ‘unhappiness’, ‘problems’ or ‘suffering’, and one doesn’t need to talk/complain/boast about anything. One doesn’t need someone, or other people, or guru, or God to be there to listen to one’s complaints, as there’s none. The mind is silent and peaceful, so as the surrounding environment is also undisturbed by a silent peaceful mind. That is true friendliness towards all beings and the environment.

Be free.

Feel offended by other people’s ‘non-sociable’ personality or practice of silence?

Walk alone, live alone, eat alone and meditate alone. Cut off all connections ruthlessly. Hide yourself away. Do not build ashram. Do not hoard disciples. Do not mix. Do not associate.

– Swami Sivananda (excerpts from Concentration and Meditation)

Many friendly sociable good people who are interested in yoga and meditation practice, but somehow, they don’t really understand the core teachings and practice of yoga and meditation of silencing the mind, would feel very intimidated or offended by the teachings and practice of turning the mind inwards for self-introspection and silencing the mind, through the practice of seclusion and solitude (cutting off from all social interactions and connections), where the sociable friendly good people would feel very uncomfortable and intimidated being with those who do not engage in social interactive activity and conversation. They criticize people who observe silence, seclusion and solitude as being ‘unfriendly’, as their minds are being conditioned by certain ideas and standards to categorize people into ‘friendly people’ or ‘unfriendly people’ in the social world based on what they think is friendliness and unfriendliness.

Those who don’t talk much, or don’t engage in a social interactive conversation with other people, or don’t invade or interfere with other people’s way of life, thinking and behavior, who don’t comment or acknowledge about other people (whether it’s something good or bad), are being recognized as ‘unfriendly’ or ‘uncaring’ in the sociable society.

“People in a room do not talk to each other is so wrong.” This is the thinking and belief of the worldly minded people.

People attending a ‘silent meditation retreat/course’ complain about people in the retreat/course are so unfriendly because they don’t talk or interactive with one another?!

But what kind of bad actions have these people who are being perceived by friendly sociable good people as ‘unfriendly and uncaring people’ done to other people? Nothing. In fact, they are helping the world to have less conflict and have more peace by observing silence when they do not go around judging or expecting other people to be in certain ways that they think it should be. They do their own things and don’t invade or interfere with other people’s way of life and do not generate inconvenience for other people. That is already a great contribution to the society. We should be grateful and thankful to them.

The nature of those who observe silence appear to be ‘not fun’, non-concerning and non-engaging with other friendly sociable people who expect all human beings should be fun to hang out with, should be active in social interaction, to be talkative, to be engaging and connecting with other human beings physically and verbally, it’s not surprised that why people feel ‘wrong’, ‘awkward’, ‘unwelcome’, ‘disrespected’, ‘hurt’, ‘offended’, ‘intimidated’, ‘unconcerned’, ‘unnoticed’, ‘unacknowledged’, and so on, when they come in contact with those who observe silence. All these reactions of a disturbed state of the mind are coming from their own minds reacting towards something that they dislike and disagree with, and it’s nothing to do with whether other people are being ‘friendly’ to them, or not.

People would feel disturbed and offended by other people whom they think are not being ‘friendly’ enough towards them, as they expect friendly treatment from others the way that they think it should be. There’s an issue with themselves, not with other people. Other people have the freedom to be friendly or unfriendly towards anyone.

Because of most friendly sociable good people would feel greatly disturbed and offended by other people who observe silence of the mind, that’s why it’s better for yoga and meditation practitioners to retreat from the society to observe seclusion and solitude.

‘Friendliness’ in the path of yoga and meditation is nothing to do with accumulating friendships, constantly visiting each other to stay connecting, to be hanging out from time to time to do some social activities together, and get into worldly conversation of commentary, criticism, mocking, flirting, boasting, story telling, mourning, grumbling, debate and discussion, and so on. ‘Friendliness’ in Yoga is when the mind is being free from ill-thinking, ill-will, anger, hatred, jealousy, dissatisfaction, disappointment, fear, offensiveness, defensiveness, judgment, expectation, interference, invasion, violence or hostility towards all and everyone, free from discrimination of friends or not friends, superiority or inferiority that based on personal likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements.

When people don’t do anything that intentionally to hurt us, or disturb our peaceful life, or cause inconvenience to us, or interfere with our freedom of thinking, action and speech or way of life and conduct, that is what true friendliness is about.

When people in the society who think they are friendly people criticizing or mocking those whom they think are unfriendly people, then they don’t know the true meaning of friendliness, as themselves are being unfriendly, by having such ill-thinking and criticism towards other people whom they feel offended or intimidated by their silence of action and speech, and they interfere with other people’s freedom of actions, to act or not to act (whether to talk to another being, or not talking to anyone, where not talking to other people when there are people around expecting people should talk to one another is being perceived as unfriendly, offensive and wrong for the worldly friendly sociable good people.)

There is nothing wrong, offensive or intimidating when people have no interest to engage in any ‘friendly’ and ‘caring’ conversation with us. But the expectation from us towards other people that all ‘normal’ and ‘good’ people must somehow be engaging in interactive conversation with us to show friendliness to us, is what make us feel offended, intimidated, or wrong, when we don’t receive the interaction the way that we expect it to be. We are the one who is intimidating and offending other people’s freedom of behavior. But we don’t see it this way.

If people truly love the world and want to build a peaceful harmony society, it’s not about expecting other people to conform to our own way of life, thinking, belief, culture and behavior that we think is the way it should be. But it’s to respect everyone to be different and allowing everyone to be different, without invading or interfering with other people’s way of life, thinking, belief and behavior that are different from ours.

It’s okay if people don’t want to be sociable with other people. It’s okay if people are not interested in engaging in some forms of interactive activities or conversation with us. It’s okay if people keep to themselves and are not interested to connect with anyone to live a quiet secluded life. At least they don’t do anything intentionally that would hurt or disturb our life or the environment. If we feel disturbed is because we are disturbed by our own mind reaction towards their behavior that we dislike and disagree with.

When people talk too much, or talk non-sense or subject that we aren’t interested in, especially when we want some quiet time to ourselves, or people want to know too many things that we prefer to keep to ourselves, we complain about them for being overly warm and too friendly and busybody.

When people don’t talk to us or interact with us, and don’t ask anything about us that we would like to share with other people, we also complain about them for being ‘cold’ and ‘unfriendly’ and ‘uncaring’.

Be free.

Friendliness is about respecting everyone to be different from oneself, to be what they are, as they are

Friendliness doesn’t necessarily mean making social contacts or personal friendships and hanging out together, connecting, interacting and socializing with other like-minded people. It is about respecting everyone, whom we know or don’t know, to be different from oneself, to be what they are, as they are, being free from discrimination, judgment, expectation, superiority/inferiority and self-righteousness.

Those who are open-minded and free from egoism will not interfere with other people’s thinking and belief that are different from them, and won’t be disturbed or offended by other people’s thinking and belief that one doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with, and have peace and harmony in oneself. And they allow other people to dislike or disagree with their thinking and belief, being undisturbed and not be offended or insulted by other people’s dislike and disagreement towards oneself. But not many are open-minded and egoless. Lots of conflict, argument and violence derived from closed-minded and egoistic mind reactions towards what the ego doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with, being disturbed and offended by one’s dislike and disagreement towards other people’s thinking and belief that is different from oneself, or be disturbed and offended or insulted by other people’s dislikes and disagreements towards one’s thinking and belief which one thinks is right, or true, or superior.

Putting the blame onto other people’s thinking and belief and behavior that our minds think and believe as wrong and bad, that we don’t like and don’t agree with, for the peacelessness and disharmony in us, is ignorance. It’s how the ego reacts towards something that it doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with, that causes the peacelessness and disharmony in the mind.

In yoga or Buddhism, friendliness is the ability to be able to be aware of all the different qualities of names and forms in different people or beings, and be able to respect everyone as they are, even though we might not like or agree with them of their thinking, their beliefs, or their behavior, without judgment or criticism, without trying to change or control those whom we dislike or disagree with to be what we would like them to be, or to be the way that we think they should be. Instead, we have self-awareness, self-discipline and self-control over our own thoughts, actions and speech, being free from discrimination or prejudice that based on our personal likes and dislikes or agreements and disagreements influenced by our own personal thinking and belief about what things are and how things should be like.

One can keep one’s personal thinking and belief as well as what one practices or doesn’t practice to oneself, and allows other people or beings to have their own thinking and belief, and what they practice or don’t practice that are different from oneself, without interfering with other people’s freedom of thinking, actions and speech, even if their thinking, actions and speech might cause disturbs or harmful damages to themselves and other beings. But, allowing everyone to develop self-awareness, self-discipline and self-control over their own thoughts, actions and speech via self-realization for the well-being of themselves and others.

The pride and arrogance towards ‘I’ am better and more superior than all the others is why the ego constantly judging and criticizing and interfering with other people or beings that one doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with. The thinking and belief of ‘I’ am good and right, ‘I’ want the world to be good and right, ‘I’ want other people to be good and right, ‘I’ should correct these people or beings whom ‘I’ think they are not good and wrong, whom I think their thinking and belief and behavior are inferior than mine, is merely coming from the ego, it’s not the teachings or the practice of yoga.

In yoga and Buddhism, if one truly wants to do good and be good and wants the world to be good, one focuses and works diligently on self-inquiry by taming and quieting one’s mind through self-discipline and self-control, to be determined to free one’s mind from ignorance and egoism, and allows everyone to be what they are, as they are, and allows the world to be what it is, as it is. If everyone knows this and frees their minds from ignorance and egoism, the world will be free from all kinds of discrimination, prejudice, hatred, jealousy, greed, possessiveness, fear, exploitation, conflict, war, or violence. All these affliction arise due to people want to interfere with other people’s thinking, belief and behavior that one doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with.

Find out what really happens when there is conflict or argument or unrest between two people? May it be between the parents and their children, the husband and the wife, two friends, two strangers, two neighbours, two religions, two communities, or two countries. It’s all deriving from ignorance and egoism and impurities of dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, possessiveness, exploitation, selfish desires and expectations, feelings of hurt and insult, pride and arrogance, offensiveness and defensiveness, or fear and worry. It’s not because one party is ‘good and right’ and the other party is ‘bad and wrong’. If either one party is truly ‘good and right’, there’s no conflict or argument at all. There will be peace and harmony in oneself even when the mind perceives and is aware of something is ‘not good or wrong’ based on the thinking and belief in one’s mind.

If people want to believe or disbelieve in God, that’s everyone’s freedom.

Be truly friendly. Only when one knows what is true friendliness, one will also know what is compassion. Or else, even though one talks about and promotes compassion, and wants to be compassionate, but one couldn’t be truly compassionate if one’s mind isn’t free from ignorance and egoism yet.

Be free.