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.

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It’s better not to teach yoga than teaching yoga without correct understanding

Yoga and its practice is neither good nor bad. Teaching yoga is also neither good nor bad.

If people practice yoga with the correct understanding, and if people teach yoga to many more other people with the correct understanding, then yoga appears to be something good. There will be more wise people and less ignorant thinking and behavior in the world.

If people practice yoga without the correct understanding, and if people teach yoga to many more other people without the correct understanding, then yoga appears to be something not so good. There will be stronger ignorance in people with ignorant thinking and behavior in the world.

No doubt that there are many people interested in yoga and love to do yoga practice, and many are also interested in teaching yoga, but it’s not necessarily a good thing if the people have no correct understanding.

It’s normal and understandable that there are many people who think they love yoga are still very much under the influence of ignorance, they are not free from egoism and attachment towards worldly thinking and belief and behavior.

Many existing yoga teachers are teaching yoga to other people with what they think is yoga, that is influenced a lot by their worldly egoistic nature of social and cultural and spiritual thinking and belief and behavior that is full of passionate love and affection and clinging, desires of craving and aversion, personal and worldly identification, attachment and identification towards qualities of names and forms, attachment towards actions and the fruit of actions, and etc. And hence, they are actually feeding the world with deeper ignorance instead of wisdom, and empowering other people’s ignorance and egoism with their own ignorance and egoism.

Many yoga practitioners and yoga teachers mistaken worldly egoistic attachment and clinging of passionate love and affection as compassion.

For example, it’s normal for most people to fall in love with other people or animals or things. When someone meets another person who has something in common with mutual feelings of similar interest and liking towards each other, and they want to be friends, stay connected, be interacting with one another, see each other, talk to each other and do some activities together, know that it’s nothing to do with compassion. It’s just egoistic attachment and clinging of passionate love and affection towards something that the mind feels inclined or attracted to. Compassion is nothing to do with falling in love with people or animals or things.

Compassion is nothing to do with passionate love and affection towards people, animals or things that the mind likes and agrees with, that the minds perceives and recognizes as ‘cute’, ‘pretty’, ‘beautiful’, ‘adorable’, ‘friendly’, ‘lovely’, ‘good’, ‘positive’, ‘right’, ‘happiness’, or ‘meaningfulness’.

Compassion is nothing to do with sympathetic feelings towards people, animals or things that the mind thinks and believes as pitiful and sympathy deserving. Those who have lots of sympathy and affection towards certain people or animals that they like and love are not necessarily compassionate. There are people love and be nice to their friends and pets more than their own parents or children. They would treat their friends and pets like king and queen, but yet, they would neglect or abuse or abandon their parents and children.

People can be very kind and loving towards their own particular community but they would have animosity or ill-will towards other communities. People can be very sympathetic and loving towards someone’s suffering, and be very violent and hating towards those whom they think and believe are the ones who are responsible for the suffering of that someone. This is the manifestation of passionate love and affection that based on personal likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements. This is nothing to do with compassion.

Compassionate minds are free from attachment, identification, clinging, desires of craving and aversion, and are free from impurities of anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, hurt, regret, guilt, fear, worry, offensiveness, defensiveness, aggressiveness, depression, painful sorrow, grief, vengeance, ill-will and ill-thinking towards all and everything without discrimination of good and bad, superiority and inferiority.

Compassion is equanimity towards ‘good’ and ‘bad’ qualities, condition and situation. Free from craving or aversion towards ‘good’ qualities, condition and situation. Free from aversion or craving towards ‘bad’ qualities, condition and situation. Actions being performed out of compassion is free from ignorance and egoism and impurities. It’s not about “I will be nice to you and you will be nice to me.” There’s no craving or expectation to be receiving love and kindness or friendship and companionship from other beings.

If one thinks one is full of love and kindness towards ‘all beings’, including animals, and has lots of love and affection towards particular animal, that one is keeping the animal as pet, receiving the pet animal as a family member, accepting all the good and bad of the pet animal as well as taking full responsibility towards the consequences of keeping a pet animal, showing lots of love and affection towards the pet animal and enduring the potential difficulties that may arise due to the pet animal’s imperfect nature and behavior, but one couldn’t respect other beings for being different from oneself, one couldn’t accept and love all human beings as they are, including those whose one’s mind perceives, recognizes, thinks and believes as ‘wrong’, ‘selfish’, ‘bad’ and ‘evil’, one discriminates towards other people whom one doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with, and being impatient, frustrated, angry and hating towards certain people’s imperfection and the consequences of their imperfect thinking and behavior, having ill-will and ill-thinking towards people who inflict problems and troubles and damages to one’s life existence, wishing these people to be punished and suffer for their imperfect thinking and behavior, that one doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with, but then one doesn’t mind at all for all the troubles and problems and damages that the pet animal brings into one’s life existence, as one has so much love and affection towards the pet animal to tolerate and accommodate the imperfection of the pet animal, then know that this is not what compassion or loving kindness towards all beings is about.

Most people, including many yoga practitioners and yoga teachers would disagree with this teaching and practice of yoga, and generate intense disgust and aversion towards this very important yoga practice of renouncing all kind of worldly attachment and clinging of passionate love and affection. People will give themselves many reasonable excuses to avoid this teaching and practice. There’s nothing wrong with people’s such reaction and it’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their life existence and how they want to react and feel about everything.

In yoga, one needs to be able to abandon ‘worldly attachment and clinging of passionate love and affection’ if one wants to realize unconditional love or compassion. Or else, one couldn’t be truly compassionate even one would like to be compassionate, as one ignorantly mistakes ‘worldly attachment and clinging of passionate love and affection’ as compassion.

Yoga is about dispassion. Dispassion leads to wisdom and compassion. Wisdom and compassion leads to liberation from suffering.

Compassion doesn’t bring painful sorrow and suffering, but ‘worldly attachment and clinging of passionate love and affection’ will lead to painful sorrow and suffering.

In yoga practice, when one is truly and sincerely yearning for liberation, one not just renounces the worldly attachment and clinging of ties and relationships with other human beings and things, and cutting off all kind of social connections, interactions and activities, to retreat into seclusion and solitude to silent the mind, but one also renounces attachment and clinging of passionate love and affection towards all kind of animals, insects or nature.

If one thinks one is practicing yoga of renunciation of seclusion and solitude by staying away from other human beings and worldly connection of social interactions and activities, but one feels so lonely and bored being away from other human beings and social interactions and activities, and wants to keep one or few pet animal in one’s life to accompany and entertain oneself so that one doesn’t feel so lonely and bored, as well as to feel love and connection with the pet animal, then one isn’t practicing yoga at all.

Those who can’t bear to see or hear or come in contact with all kind of suffering that exist in the world, and feel very disturbed by one’s suffering and other’s suffering, and be offended by all kinds of ignorant behaviors that lead to great suffering in oneself and other beings, then know that it’s not compassion, but it’s mere passionate love and affection.

Not many yoga practitioners are yearning for liberation. They just want to get some good feelings and benefits from doing the yoga practice. And that’s their freedom.

Contemplate on this and be free.

My life stories – Part 1

My life stories – Part 1
Stories from my past memories – childhood, family, friends, growing up, poverty, integrity, dreams come true, finding peace and happiness, Buddhism, Yoga, and now…

Me and my second elder brotherPhotos taken at Kampong Manggis.

I was very fond of music since I was a baby. That was what my parents told me.

When they wanted to put me to sleep, they just had to switch on the radio or the cassette player, and played some music. As soon as they switched it off I would wake up naturally. They said I shook and bounced my body trying to dance any time that I heard music. I think most babies have the same reaction when they hear music. Babies are naturally connected with music. That connection becomes less and less for most people as they grow older. But for some they will continue to stay connected with music. I am very grateful to be one of them. That’s why I love dancing so much when I grew into a young girl and somehow I became an aerobics dance instructor for over twenty years.

Part of the earliest memories that I still remember is when I was maybe 3 years old, my family moved from Kampong Manggis to another village nearby called Kampong Pinang less than two kilometres from where we were. Kampong Pinang was built on top of an abandoned tin mine situated at the borderline of Kuala Lumpur and Southern Petaling Jaya where the older generations named that area Petaling Tin.

There wasn’t anyone living on that land at that time. My parents and some friends spotted the empty land and built their own houses on it. Everyone built a fence with barb wires to marked their own piece of land. My parents built their dream house with the help from some friends and relatives. They also planted many kinds of trees, flowers, fruit trees and vegetables on the land. I still remember some of my memories about my mother spreading the cement over the floor of our house while carrying me on her back by wrapping me in a piece of cloth around her body.

Our house was very big, especially coming from the eyes of a little girl. It was built with bricks and wooden planks and zinc roof. It had two big separate living halls, a dining hall, five spacious bedrooms, a huge open space kitchen, a washing area with a well, a bathroom and a separate traditional squatting toilet with septic tank. The entire compound surrounding the house was very large too.

We didn’t have clean water supply from the government in the house for the first few years. We used the water from the well for washing and showering. We also collected rain water in big plastic barrel for washing. Because the land was a tin mine previously, the water from the well was orange. Our hair and skin became orange from using the well water for showering everyday for many years. We called ourselves the orange people.

My parents built a water filter with a big earthen pot. They filled it with layers of sand, gravels, stones, charcoals and dried leaves. We had to get water for drinking and cooking in buckets and water containers at a communal pipe a few hundreds metres away. We washed all the laundries by hand. There was no electricity. We used kerosene lamps at night in the beginning. But then we had a generator to generate electricity for the fridge and to watch television. After many years living there our villagers got together and applied for electricity and water supply from the government.

Very soon all the other empty plots on the land were filled with other houses and eventually it became a big village. There was a Chinese primary school built by the boss of the old tin mine factory. The school is still operating but it’s in a complete different setting now. It should be more than forty years old at this date. I didn’t go to that school because my parents wanted to send me to a better school in PJ Old Town which was a few kilometres away from our home. I am thankful and grateful that my parents had chosen to send me to that school to spend my early childhood with good friends and great teachers. For me, good friends don’t mean that people whom I like to hang out with and have some happy time together, but people who have good and positive influences on my personal growth and well-being, and people who inspire and uplift me to be a better and kinder person.

I learned about the basic humanity of morality, truthfulness, honesty, humility, responsibility, discipline, initiative, tolerance and respect from the Chinese primary school which I truly appreciate. I also learned about all these qualities from my parents whom had allowed me and my brothers and sister to have absolute freedom to do whatever we wanted to do, without abandoning the traditional Chinese cultural values, such like self-control, acceptance, adjustment, adaptation, forbearance, generosity, forgiveness, gratefulness and appreciation. We were allowed to do whatever we liked to do, but we were not allowed stealing, speaking harsh words and telling lies. Once, my brothers were punished by my mother rubbing hot chilies onto their mouth because they had spoken bad words. We were free to go anywhere by ourselves. We could have any ambitions and we were free to express all our thoughts and feelings. Though my parents only earned enough for our living, they did their best to provide us with everything they could possibly give to support us to pursue all our dreams.

Nothing is perfect. There are pros and cons in this type of complete freedom parenting. If we don’t know how to utilize this freedom wisely, we could end up with lots of unnecessary problems in life. But then there is nothing wrong about it as well because we will learn from our own mistakes and grow wiser eventually.

I grew up in the village house until sixteen years old. The government wanted to demolish all the illegal squatter houses in and around Kuala Lumpur to turn it into a modern city with high rise concrete buildings, shopping malls, flats, apartments and condominiums.

I remember during the twelve years we were living in Kampong Pinang, there was no such thing as petty theft or crime happening in our village. Everyone knew each other and were nice to each other. We looked after one another. We let the doors, windows and the front gate wide opened throughout the day and night without the need of locking the doors or closing the gate. My parents had no fear of letting us went out with friends to play outside the house at the nearby sand hills, the riverbank and the fields in the village. Sometimes they left us at home by ourselves.

Nowadays, it isn’t the same anymore in the big city. There is so much fear in everyone whether at home or outside their homes. Everyone locks themselves in with thick metal grills on all doors and windows. There are very few people who know or have interactions with their neighbours, especially those who are living in the modern high density apartments and condominiums with higher security.

People don’t feel safe to hitch hike a ride like what we used to do in the past. Drivers don’t feel safe to stop their cars to pick up strangers, or if they see someone needs help at the roadside. Children are not allowed to go outside to play by themselves without the supervision of the adults.

The children have very little freedom to do what they like to do, or choose what they want to become when they grow up because their parents have already decided for them what they shall become. The parents who have better income will arrange their children to attend extra tuition classes and activities that the parents think are good for the children’s future, hoping that they will become successful people in the society, or in another term, to be able to find a secure good income job and attain a higher standard of living. But, how many people are truly happy with themselves and what they do, or in harmony with the world that they are living in? Why do some people need to depend on doping or drugs to relax themselves, or to feel good, or to escape from something that they aren’t happy about?

Some parents send their children to dance and music lessons even though the children aren’t interested in dancing or music because the parents want to revive their own childhood unfulfilled dreams that they hadn’t accomplished when they were young. They want to fulfill their own dreams through their children. Of course there are children who love to take up dance and music lessons, but the parents can’t afford it. Most children don’t have enough playtime like what we used to have in the old days, especially outdoor activities in the nature, as the children are too busy with studying the school text books preparing for exams because of so much expectation coming from their parents and from themselves, so that they will be able to compete and survive in a competitive materialistic society when they finish study.

I really loved that old house very much. When we saw the house and all the fruit trees and vegetable garden were all gone after the housing developer sent in the bulldozers, I felt so sad, and cried. My parents couldn’t hold their tears too.

We had big area inside and outside the house to play and run about. There were trees surrounding the house and beautiful garden with colourful flowers. We had a vegetable garden and lots of fruit trees – durian, rambutan, mango, chiku, guava, papaya, custard apple, pineapple and starfruit.

My father built two concrete fish ponds beside the house. He loves fishing. Sometimes he brought me and my brothers with him, and we went fishing at the big pond not too far from our house. The big pond was part of the abandoned tin mine where the garbage trucks and the villagers threw the rubbish at. There were lots of Tilapias and cat fish in the pond. If we were lucky we would get a few Tilapias, my mother would cook them for dinner on that same evening. If not, my father would keep the fish that were still alive in the two little fish ponds beside our house. There were more than a hundred of Tilapias and cat fish living in the fish ponds before we moved to Pantai Dalam long house.

I still remember the Tilapias tasted like mud. My father said it was because they grew up eating the mud in the rubbish pond. It is so expensive to eat fish like Tilapias nowadays, but back then they were just a common food on the table for poor people.

There was a big carport for my parents’ cars and a big open store room beside the house. Though my father only worked as a mechanical fitter, my parents could afford two Ford Cortinas when we were living in the old house. One was white and the other one, blue. One for my father and one for my mother. There were not many women who could drive around at that time. Once my father had a Volkswagen Beetle which we called it the frog car in Chinese. My father adored all the cars like his family.

Once my mother asked someone to build a big chicken cage behind the house to breed live chicken for sale and for our own consumption. I remember my mother had to watch out for Monitor lizards as they like hunting for chicken. She also needed to monitor the temperature inside the cage so that the chicken wouldn’t get heat stroke. She would spray the ceiling of the cage with water from time to time when the weather was hot. She kept the cage as clean as possible to keep away diseases. Some of the chicken died of heart-attacked during new years and other kinds of celebration days because of the loud noise coming from the villagers playing the firecrackers. My mother buried those dead chicken at the back of the garden. She said that dead chicken were not good for eating as chicken had to be slaughtered while they were alive. I watched my mother many times when she slaughtered the live chicken. After my mother tided the chicken’s legs with string and hanged the chicken upside down, she gently hold the chicken head back with one hand and she used a knife cutting just a little of the chicken’s throat with the other hand, to allow the blood drained-off completely while the chicken was still alive.

My parents also grew beansprouts to sell at the local vegetables market. They bought a few big earthen pots with several holes at the bottom of the pots to allow water-draining. They lined the bottom of the pots with a hemp sack and place the mung beans over the hemp sack. Then they place another layer of hemp sack over the mung beans to give a little bit of pressure on the beans, so that they wouldn’t grow long and thin, but fat and short as the texture would be much better and crunchier when eaten. My parents needed to water the beansprouts every two hours, even during the night, as the mung beans wouldn’t sprout nicely and evenly if they didn’t get enough water, and the sprouted mung beans would rot from the heat built up under the hemp sack, if they didn’t get watering on time to cool down the temperature.

Our living was close to a self-contained way of life. If it wasn’t because of my sister and her late husband needed money for starting a business and had failed in every business that they ventured, as well as the government had taken away our house and the land we lived on, we wouldn’t have financial problems later on.

My father was a mechanical fitter for Avery weighing machine company for forty years from sixteen years old until the day he retired. He was the longest working employee for Avery Malaysia and was very loyal to the company (that’s what he told me) and never work for any other companies. He was very passionate about his job and he was very thankful to his English boss who had employed him when he was only sixteen years old and without any educational background. When I was little, my father told me that he always felt indebted to his English boss for being very kind to him. The boss trained my father for his assigned job and also taught him how to read and write in English. That was also the biggest reason why my father never left the company because he treated the company like his home. But during the last ten years or so after the English boss had retired and went back to England, my father was very disappointed and unhappy with the new Malaysian boss whom my father said that he was a very arrogant, selfish and unthoughtful man who never care for the welfare and well-being of the employees.

My father was born in Johor and grew up during the Japanese war time in Malaysia. Like many other children who grew up at that time, he didn’t receive any formal education. His widowed mother brought up six children by washing clothes for the Japanese army quarters somewhere in the Southern Malaya at that time. My father said he had studied Japanese at the Japanese army camp for two weeks when he was a small boy, but he didn’t know why he was sent there to study Japanese.

My mother was born in Perak. She was the eldest daughter and had to her her parents to take care of her six younger brothers and sisters when she was growing up. My mother told us that she went around a few wealthy families to wash their laundry everyday helping out my grandparents financially when she was just nine years old. She said that she had to bring her toddler brother with her and carried him on her back while she washed the laundry.

Like my father, she didn’t receive any formal education, but both my parents learn to read and write in Chinese through self-effort. My parents first met each other while attended Chinese language class at a night school in Kuala Lumpur for a few months when my father was sixteen, while my mother was fourteen. My father had just arrived in Kuala Lumpur to find a job at that time. My mother’s parents house happened to have a vacant room to rent. And so, my father was renting the room from my grandparents and my parents were fond of each other. My grandparents had no objection and were very happy when my father told them that he liked my mother very much and asked for permission to have a relationship with my mother. My grandparents also liked my father very much as he was a very down to earth and hardworking young man. Whenever my parents went out for a movie, my father would take my mother with his bicycle to the cinema first, and then came back to take my grandmother. When the movie finished, he would send my grandmother back first and then went back for my mother. On the way back, they would take-away fried noodles for my mother’s whole family for supper. That was their love story that my parents told us.

My mother was a good house wife. She was very talented and independent. She did many types of small business to help out our family living expenses. She was a tailor, a driver sending children to school, a hawker selling many types of local delicacies, a vegetables seller, a chicken livestock seller and some other works. She was an active member of Amway and was very active participating in local community activities and services. She was a very good cook. She made most of our clothes and school bags. She also cut the hair for the entire family.

Even though my mother never went to school, but she had a huge collections of books written in Chinese about cooking, tailoring, parenting, healthcare and medicine.

My parents were down to earth, honest and modest people. They were very generous towards other people and had helped countless people who were injured in road accidents. They sent the injured people to the hospital in their car. It didn’t matter to them when the car seats were tainted by blood. They also helped many of the villagers countless times. May it be someone needed a car ride to somewhere, or there were emergency cases and someone had to go to the hospital. There weren’t many people had cars in the village those days. Because of my parents’ generosity, there were many people always came to them for help and to borrow tools, food or money, even though my parents weren’t rich.

I remember there were snakes frequently coming into our house or the neighbour’s house. Every time our neighbour came to ask for my mother’s help to chase away the snakes. My mother was a fearless woman. Sometimes she had to kill the snakes. This was something that she regretted when she got older in life. That was what she told me before she died.

My parents never asked anything in return from the people they had helped. When people wanted to give them some presents to repay their kindness, my parents didn’t want to accept the presents at all.

These were the values my parents had showed to us. My grandparents taught my parents about living everyday life with enough food on the table for that day, and needless to worry about tomorrow. We must always live in the present moment and be grateful for every little thing. They also taught us to stay humble all the time and be grateful for other people’s kindness and generosity and never forget to repay them. My parents insisted that we must repay other people’s kindness to us, but we should let go of what we had done for others.

We learned from our parents about the practice of letting go of our ego. We don’t ask to be credited or be acknowledged after we have given something to others, or have done something for others, or have helped other people in actions or speech. This is exactly the spirit of the teachings and practice of yoga. Nowadays, in the worldly society, most people expect other people to show appreciation and be thankful, and they expect to be credited or acknowledged for what they have done for others, or else they will be disappointed and unhappy. They will only be happy to give or do something for others only if other people say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ to them, or else, they aren’t pleased to give or do something for others. There’s nothing wrong with this kind of worldly social ethic and cultural practice, but it is not what yoga practice is about. We don’t need anyone to say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ for us to give or do something for somebody. We don’t need to be credited or acknowledged for what we have done. We renounce the fruit of actions.

We were satisfied and contented with simple life and weren’t greedy to make lots of money or to have any material enjoyments.

Before the financial crisis, my father liked to bring us to the beach in Morib or Port Dickson to have picnics and enjoy the sea breeze on the weekends. But then we couldn’t afford to have such leisure anymore during the financial crisis.

Though my parents made just enough money for our living, they still managed to bring up the four of us and provide us with enough basic education and some other moral supports that money couldn’t provide. They loved us so much. Though my mother would discipline us if we did something really wrong, which I appreciate very much. My mother didn’t have to discipline me at all, as I was very self-disciplined and be careful with my actions and didn’t want to commit so called ‘wrong doings’. My father never scolded anyone of us even when we were playful and broke something in the house. Only once I overheard my parents arguing over some money issues after we all had went to bed that night. I still remember I felt very sad and cried under the blanket as I never saw or heard my parents arguing before.

Although our family had went through some financial difficult time and everyone was very unhappy and frustrated, but we were fine. We didn’t steal, or rob, or cheat anyone.

There were days that we didn’t have any money left for food. We were in debt because of some other people’s selfishness and greed. One day, when my father sent me to school, he was crying with tears down his cheeks telling me that he didn’t have money to give me to buy food at school because we have no more money left. It was the first time I saw my father cried. At that moment, I was very sad and very angry as well because we didn’t do anything bad to other people and we were always kind to others, but somehow all the bad luck and hardship came to our family. That moment had inspired me to do well in life, so that I could look after my parents and my family. Those few years of hardship was the reason why I am not a fussy health food freak. I am always grateful to be able to have food on the table everyday, that I don’t have to suffer hunger like some other people out there.

There aren’t many Chinese families that have such openness to allow their children to have the freedom to do whatever they like to do and make their own choice to be what they want to be. Though I was very angry with the financial problems in my family because I was ignorant at that time, I am always glad to be born in this family. I didn’t understand about life and suffering at that time. But when I realized the truth about life and suffering, I surrendered my ignorance and unhappiness to forgiveness, acceptance and compassion. Since then I was very glad to have this family and was grateful to have such parents to love me, to accept and support me as I am.

My mother passed away in 2006 on the day before Christmas. She loved me so much and gave me the freedom and guidance to grow and to be what I am now.

Most of the conservative Chinese people from the older generations might think and believe that dancing is something bad and evil for girls, that we must be bad girls if we dance. It’s because dancing is usually being associated with night clubs where there were ladies who wear sexy clothing and heavy make-up, and they would dance with any men to make a living. And in many artistic dance performances, dancing is a form of bodily intimate expression of feelings and emotions. And hence, for the people who have conservative thinking, dancing is something immoral and indecent. But my open-minded parents had no problem with my enthusiasm for dancing and they encouraged and supported me to pursue my dreams to dance and taking part in many dance competitions.

Dancing was something very spiritual for me. I felt like I was dancing for life, for nature, for the whole universe. I danced from within. There’s no specific steps, or rules, or styles. It didn’t matter what types of music I heard, I just moved and danced to the music. Even when there was no music, I danced in my own rhythm in silence.

This is part of my scattering memories about my parents and the old house that I grew up in. A childhood in a village called Kampong Pinang from 1974 – 1986.

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