Yoga can be found in everywhere. It is not limited in yoga classes doing some yoga practice. It is in this present moment, if the mind is free from being conditioned by restlessness, impurities and suffering that derived from ignorance, egoism and attachment.
Everything and everyone is a Dharma teacher, exists to teach us and guide us towards liberation. Anything and anyone also can make us see, or realize the ignorance in ourselves, and allow us to contemplate upon the truth.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be a human being, or a person who called a ‘yoga teacher’, who is teaching ‘yoga’ in ‘yoga classes’ that can or will teach and guide us towards liberation.
Peace and compassion is not in the yoga practice, but it is our true nature. It’s always there, never increase nor decrease, no matter we realize our true nature or not. It is not contaminated by the good and bad qualities that one possessed through the body and mind. It is not contaminated by the actions and inactions done by this body and mind.
Yoga practice being practiced with correct attitude will help us to realize the truth, but by doing some yoga practice in yoga classes doesn’t guarantee us peace and compassion. It might bring some visible physical and mental benefits to our body and mind. The body will be healthier, and the mind will feel calmer and happier. But these by-products are just part of the effects of the yoga practice that is conditioned by impermanence, as they arise in the body and mind that is subject to impermanence.
The attainment of good condition of the physical body and calmness of the mind through the yoga practice, is not the end of our yoga practice. Although there’s nothing wrong with seeing this as the goal of our yoga practice.
It is going beyond the identification with the good and bad condition of the physical body, and all states of the mind, and realization of the truth via meditation with the calm and pure mind, and the elimination of ignorance and egoism that allows us to realize our true nature, the unconditional peace and compassion.
It is being free from attachment towards the limited thinking and beliefs in the egoistic mind that are conditioned by the likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements, craving and aversion from the ego, and be free from being conditioned or determined by the impermanent condition and abilities of the physical body, that allows us to be free from being conditioned by dualities, qualities of names and forms, separateness and discrimination, dissatisfaction and disappointment, fear and worry, pride and arrogance, frustration and irritation, anger and hatred, and all sorts of anxieties, doubts, painful sorrows, restlessness and suffering.
Yoga practice has some elements of Hinduism, but it is not a religion practice. It is not some religious ideas and commandments that we have to abide to, or else we will be judged as ‘bad’ yogis or ‘bad’ beings, and will be punished, or will be condemned to ‘hell’.
Yoga teachers are not here to convert anyone to believe in any religious beliefs, nor force anyone to be practicing yoga in certain ways that we think they should be practicing, nor trying to control or change other beings to behave the way that we think they should behave.
It is not that if we do not practice yoga correctly, or by stop practicing yoga will make us a ‘bad’ yogi, and we will be punished accordingly for not being a ‘good’ yogi.
It is up to us, whether to take up the practice seriously, or not. It is up to us, whether to let go of egoism and attachment, or not. It is up to us, whether to realize the truth to be free, or not.
There is no judgment, or comparison, or expectation, through out the journey, whether we are good ‘yogis’ or not.
No one can force, or control, or change another being to be practicing yoga accordingly to what it ‘supposed’ to be, or to make another one to be free from ignorance and egoism.
It is up to us, whether we want to be free from ignorance and egoism, or not.
It is our own free will and effort to practice, to purify our mind, to let go of attachment, to remove ignorance and egoism, to be free.
No one can remove or take away ignorance and egoism from anybody, but oneself.
No one can give liberation to anybody, but oneself.
If we are free from ignorance and egoism, we will be peaceful, and be free from suffering. We won’t generate action and reaction that will hurt ourselves and others intentionally, if we are peaceful, being free from impurities and suffering.
If we are not free from ignorance and egoism, we will be affected and disturbed, influenced and determined by whatever the mind perceives through the senses, we are not at peace. Without self-control, we might generate action and reaction that will hurt ourselves and others, being over-powered by anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, fear and worry.
This is real compassion. There’s no judgment, comparison, expectation, discrimination, criticism, condemn, or punishment. We are able to allow everything and everyone to be what it is, and accept everything and everyone as it is, even though we cannot agree with them, or it is not how we like it to be.
If we think we are better human beings than those whom we think and judge as ‘bad’ and ‘evil’, or we think we are good and compassionate beings who care for the world very much, we are angry with those who are ‘bad’ and ‘evil’ for their ‘bad’ and ‘evil’ behaviors that inflict suffering onto other beings, we criticize them, and condemn them to be punished accordingly so that they will suffer physically and mentally as what we think they deserve, then we are not any different from them, nor are we ‘good’ and ‘compassionate’ beings.
If we think, somehow we have better understanding of everything than some other people, and we live life ‘correctly’ and ‘healthily’, we are being proud of ourselves for what we think we know and what we do and don’t do, and we criticize others who are being different from us, we think they don’t live life ‘correctly’ or ‘healthily’, and we try to change them to be like us, then we are not any different from those whom we think they are being ‘ignorant’ for not living life ‘correctly’ or ‘healthily’.
We are the same, being influenced and over-powered by ignorance and egoism, even though we try to be good, do good and not doing anything bad, if we ever have any ill wills, or ‘sense of superiority’ towards any beings who is different from us, whom we disagree with, whom we think and judge as ‘ignorant’, ‘bad’ and ‘evil’.
If we are not free from ignorance and egoism, that is already a great suffering in us. There is no need of any additional ‘punishment’ to be inflicted onto us physically or mentally to punish us, if we are not ‘perfect’, or not being a ‘good’ yogi, or ‘good’ human being.
The ultimate meaning of yoga is liberation, or freedom from separateness, dualities, qualities of names and forms, conditions and limitations. If yoga and its practice will be conditioned and limited by worldly thinking and beliefs, be limited by specific rules and regulations, then it is not yoga anymore.
Even though in yoga, we have this teaching about the four basic requisites for us to be qualified as a Sadhaka, which are:
1.) Viveka (discrimination of the real and unreal),
2.) Vairagya (dispassion),
3.) Mumukshutva (intense yearning for liberation), and
4.) Shat-sampad (the six virtues)
a.) Sama – tranquility of the mind
b.) Dama – self-restraint or control of the senses
c.) Uparati – cessation from worldly activities
d,) Titiksha – forbearance or the power of endurance
e.) Sraddha – faith in God, Scripture and Self
f.) Samadhana – concentration or one-pointedness of mind,
but all these requisites have nothing to do with the physical conditions and abilities to perform the yoga asana exercises, or how much Sanskrit we know, or how many yoga courses we have attended, or how many ‘recognized certifications’ we have attained, or whether we can stand on our head, and balance on our hands and feet perfectly, or whether we are Hindus, or not.
If we ever hear this, “To be a good ‘yogi’ or ‘yoga teacher’, one needs to participate in some sort of yoga courses for how many hours, able to be strong and flexible enough to do some yoga asana with the perfect ‘correct’ alignment, able to do headstand or hand and leg balancing pose perfectly, able to chant a few chantings and prayers with perfect pronunciation, and attain some sort of qualifications and certifications that are recognized by such and such international yoga alliance, and we need to have certain ‘professional’ yogi image, behavior and appearance, and so on…” then take it as a good opportunity for us to reflect, and to find out what is the truth.
When we hear this, “You look like a yogi.” or “You don’t look like a yogi.” or “As a yogi, you should look like a yogi.” We allow other people to think and to believe in their own way, to act and react towards what they perceive, but we know that yoga is beyond all the qualities of names and forms.
There might be some people react strongly when they read this. Again, take it as an opportunity to reflect and find out who is reacting, and why?