Surrendering desires, intention, expectation

When someone wants to join a ‘yoga course’ or ‘yoga retreat’, it’s normal that there’s a desire, or intention, or expectation towards the experience or the fruit/result of such effort/action being performed.

It’s mostly about “What will ‘I’ get or be benefited from doing this?”

“I am here to learn something that will lead me to freedom and peace.”
“I am here to attain peace and happiness.”
“I am here to be free from unhappiness and suffering.”
“I am here to heal myself (my body, my mind and/or my soul.)”
“I am here to be unwind/relaxed to feel good/peaceful.”

And that is also the reason why people keep going for courses and retreats again and again, but the mind is still desiring/expecting to learn ‘something that will lead me to freedom and peace’, or to attain peace and happiness, or to be free from unhappiness and suffering, or to be healed, or to be unwind/relaxed to feel good/peaceful.

Contemplate on the teaching of “The mind and the body is not I. I am not the body and the mind.”

Contemplate on what is intentionlessness. Neither good intention to motivate good actions nor bad intention to motivate bad actions, but good actions are being performed while bad actions are being refrained.

Contemplate on what is “There’s no ‘I’ perform actions, or ‘I’ receive the fruit of actions.” even though there are ceaseless actions and the consequences of actions, or cause and effect arising and passing away being the by-products of the impermanent existence/life maintenance of the body and the restless egoistic mind.

It’s the body and the mind performing the practice, and the body and the mind will be receiving the fruit/effect of the practice. And the body and the mind is impermanent and selfless regardless of being in good or bad condition/state. It’s not ‘I’ am performing the practice and ‘I’ will be receiving the fruit/effect of the practice.

In many of the ‘yoga classes’, the ‘yoga teacher’ would ask the students to create a good/kind/positive/happy/meaningful ‘intention’ or ‘aspiration’ in their mind before and/or after the class to achieve something that they desire through their efforts of performing the practice or ritual. Such like, “I am awesome!”, “I am positive!”, “I am strong!”, “I am healthy!”, “I am good!”, “I am enough!”, “I am perfect!”, “I am happy!”, “I am compassionate!”, “I am love or I am loved!”, “I wish the world be good!”, “I wish my children good health!”, or “I wish everyone love, peace, joy and happiness!”

It’s all about ‘I’ and what ‘I’ desire to be/to have, or what ‘I’ desire other people/the world to be/to have. That’s why the mind doesn’t progress any further after many years of ‘practicing yoga’ because the mind is still holding on strongly onto the idea of ‘I’ as well as ‘intention’ or ‘expectation’ that is about gratifying the desire of craving and aversion, because that is what they have been learning/practicing for many years by attending ‘yoga classes’ regularly. There is something that they desire and something that they don’t desire that they hope to be gratified from performing some kinds of action, practice, or ritual. Hoping that everything will be good the way that they like it to be, that they think/believe it should be, and nothing bad.

There’s nothing wrong, and it’s very good to have good and positive thinking/thoughts than to have bad and negative thinking/thoughts, but it can become a great obstacle on the path of yoga. Even though the mind and the body is getting the momentary effects/benefits of performing the practice regularly, the mind is not free because the mind is still under the influence of ignorance and egoism.

Surrendering any desire/intention/expectation and all that is related to the idea of ‘I’ and ‘my’, just do the best while performing actions/practice and allowing the fruit of actions/practice to be what it is, is the teaching and practice of yoga. This is real ‘non-attachment’ or ‘renunciation’.

Some people said, “I don’t really know why I am here. I have no intention to be here. I don’t know what to expect. But somehow, I’m here.” And that ‘allows’ their minds to be open towards any possibilities, without being bound/limited by any particular desire, intention, expectation, aspiration, anticipation, imagination, or projection.

Once the mind realized selflessness/desireless/non-craving and non-aversion, there’s no need to repeatedly attending ‘yoga classes’, or ‘yoga courses’, or ‘yoga retreats’ with the intention/expectation to learn something that will lead one to freedom and peace, or to attain peace and happiness, or to be free from unhappiness and suffering, or to be healed, or to be unwind/relaxed to feel good/peaceful, because this mind is free and peaceful as it is.

There’s no “I need to learn something that will lead me to freedom and peace.”

There’s no “I need to attain peace and happiness.”

There’s no “I need to be free from unhappiness and suffering.”

There’s no “I need to heal myself (my body, my mind and/or my soul.)”

There’s no “I need to be unwind/relaxed to feel good/peaceful.”

Meanwhile, it’s not as easy as it says for the mind to be free from ignorance and egoism, or be free from disturbs or suffering, and hence, most minds still need to go to someone/somewhere to learn and practice yoga.

Fine as it is

Most minds are being conditioned by the worldly thinking and belief about “One has to be happy in order to live life meaningfully, as well as one has to live life meaningfully in order to be happy.”

What is “live life meaningfully” and what the mind believes as “happiness” is different for different people.

Be free from the thinking and belief about one has to be happy to live life meaningfully, and vice versa, is a great liberation.

It’s okay that sometimes the mind is not okay, that the mind doesn’t feel happy in this present moment, or for some time. It’s impermanent, and it’s not ‘I’. It’s okay that sometimes the mind doesn’t feel living life meaningfully in this present moment, or for some time. It’s impermanent, and it’s not ‘I’. The mind doesn’t need to be happy or feel meaningful all the time.

People like to say “If there’s no happiness, life is meaningless.” and most people think and believe that happiness and meaningfulness is the presence of something good and positive and the absence of something bad and negative. Some people also say, “If there’s no good health, there’s no happiness.”

Many people relate “live life meaningfully” as being able to do what we like to do, go where we want to go, live where we want to live, have a healthy body, have a decent livelihood, live a good quality of life, have different varieties of social circles/networks, make a lot of friends, and either live a happy single life, or find a good life partner/spouse to set up a happy family.

People who have a difficult life condition, or have been experiencing ill-treatment from other people, or have to deal with physical injury or health problems, or suffer from physical or emotional damages due to other people’s ignorance and ignorant behavior, or couldn’t make a living due to bad economy or oppression, or under went a painful divorce or break-up, or would love to have a family, but for some reasons, they couldn’t have a family, it doesn’t mean that they can’t live life meaningfully or be happy, disregards all the ordeals or difficulties that they have to go through. All these undesirable experiences don’t give rise to suffering or the sense of meaninglessness to those who truly practice yoga and realize yoga. Only those who are not free from ignorance and egoism, who attached onto qualities of names and forms to be happy and feel meaningful, or not, will be determined by all kinds of desirable and undesirable life experiences to be who they are, to be happy and feel meaningful, or not.

In yoga, it’s about freeing the mind from this conditional thinking and belief about the achievement and possession of certain qualities of names and forms to be the reasons for one to be happy, or to deserve happiness and to live life meaningfully, or else, the absence of the achievement and possession of those qualities of names and forms will result in no reason for one to be happy, or to deserve happiness and to live life meaningfully.

One doesn’t need to be happy or feel happy all the time, in order to feel meaningful or to live life meaningfully. One doesn’t need to feel meaningful or to live life meaningfully, in order to be happy. One is peaceful and happy as one is.

Those who are free, they do their best to do what they like and want to do, and achieve what they want to achieve in this life existence, but they are not defined by what they like and want to do, or what they want to achieve, and whether they are able to do what they like and want to do, or achieve what they want to achieve, or not, in order to be happy, or to feel meaningful and to live life meaningfully, or not.

There’s nothing wrong that many people believe that all human beings need to have motivation and expectation to keep pushing themselves, to keep improving, to attain success or higher and higher success in life, as well as to have faith in their religion or ‘God’, then they deserve happiness or will be blessed with happiness and living life meaningfully. Or else, they believe that those who are contented with the present moment as it is, or don’t have any religion practice, or don’t believe in ‘God’, they don’t deserve happiness or will not be blessed with happiness or don’t live life meaningfully. But, that’s not the truth, because people can still be unhappy and suffering from all kinds of impurities in their own minds, if their minds are not free from ignorance and egoism, even if people attain success in life from time to time, or have a healthy body, or have a higher quality of life, or have a religion practice and believe in ‘God’. Their minds will still be disturbed by something that they don’t like, don’t want and don’t agree with. There’s no peace.

If ‘God’ exists, and if ‘God’ is almighty and all love, ‘God’ bless all and everyone and everything to be sharing this space of the universe, disregards human beings believing or disbelieving in ‘God’, including all those that are non-human beings, that don’t have any particular thinking and belief of a religion or ‘God’.

While yoga practice is to inquire the truth of everything that the mind comes in contact with (including the teachings of yoga), and be free from being conditioned or limited by all kinds of worldly thinking and belief, freeing the mind from ignorance, egoism and impurities, being free from attachment, identifications, desire of craving and aversion, judgment and expectation, being free from anger, hatred, jealousy, dissatisfaction, disappointment, hurts, guilt, regret, violence, ill-will, animosity, speculation, anticipation, agitation, depression, sorrow, defensiveness, offensiveness, loneliness, anxieties, longing, fear and worry, being free from the pleasant and unpleasant past experiences and future imaginations, living in the present from moment to moment, to realize unconditional peace and love that is beyond all the worldly objects of different qualities of names and forms about what is and what is not “happiness” and “live life meaningfully”.

One doesn’t need to keep pushing the body and mind to go beyond its limitation in order to attain success, or higher success, in order to be happy, or to live life meaningfully. One can be very successful in everything that one wants to achieve, but one is not defined by the success or the achievements to be ‘I’, to be happy or to live life meaningfully.

One doesn’t need to be someone that will make oneself and other people feel proud of, to be happy or to live life meaningfully.

One doesn’t need to be good enough according to the worldly thinking and belief about what is “good enough”, to be happy, or to deserve happiness and live life meaningfully.

It doesn’t mean that one stops performing actions, but one doesn’t need any motivation or expectation to motivate one to perform actions that are wholesome to oneself and others. Actions are being performed without the need of motivation or intention, without attachment, identification or expectation towards the actions and the fruit of actions.

It’s okay if people don’t like this yoga teaching and practice. That’s their freedom.

Be free.

Self-esteem and confidence

Any issues regarding self-esteem and confidence shouldn’t and doesn’t need to be existing at all. But due to ignorance and egoism, many people depend on self-esteem and confidence to be who they are, to be happy and feel meaningful, or not. Many people are suffering from mild to severe low self-esteem or low confidence that leads to the sense of meaninglessness and depression. Even many mental and psychological related studies and professionals also preach, think and believe that the development and empowerment of self-esteem and confidence is very important in life existence as human beings and it’s the key to personal and global growth, success and happiness.

Real confidence has nothing to do with self-esteem or confidence that builds on physical appearance, condition, ability and achievement, or mental state, ability and achievement, or desirable and undesirable life experiences, or good and bad relationships with parents, family, friends and the rest of the world. It is beyond all these names and forms, when the mind has gone beyond the identification of what the mind thinks is ‘I’ and ‘my’, where this identification of ‘I’ and ‘my’ with the different qualities of names and forms is just a by-product of the worldly thinking and belief, or family, cultural, social and religious belief.

It’s the ego that feels it has to be good enough for something, or for somebody, or for oneself. It also feels that it might be not good enough for something, or for somebody, or for oneself, based on what the thinking and belief recognize as ‘good’ and ‘good enough’, or what is ‘self-esteem and confidence’, ‘success’, ‘happiness’ and ‘meaningfulness’, and the relationship between them, where most people think and believe that ‘high self-esteem and confidence’ is related to ‘success’, and ‘success’ is related to ‘happiness’, while ‘happiness’ is related to ‘meaningfulness’. And many people are suffering because of this thinking and belief or trying to live up to this thinking and belief for their entire life, and passing this thinking and belief from generation to generation.

It’s the idea of ‘I’, or the ego, that needs to feel good about oneself, and wants other people to perceive oneself as good enough, and needs to attain or possess certain qualities of names and forms to be identifying with, that would make one feels good and proud of oneself and also would make other people feel good and proud of oneself, in order to be happy and live life meaningfully.

And all these qualities of names and forms are impermanent and there is no ‘I’ to be found in any of these names and forms, or to be in control of the impermanent changes, to be the way that ‘I’ like it to be. No matter how much influences we can influence the condition of the physical body and the state of the mind, to maintain the function and the life span of the body and the mind, the body and mind will still have to go through inevitable changes of decay, old age, discomfort, illness, weakness, ceased functioning, and decompose, or death.

Once the mind fully understood this, it will be free from the bondage of self-esteem and confidence. There’s no ‘I’ being good or not good enough. There’s neither high nor low self-esteem. There’s neither high nor low confidence.

One doesn’t need to be somebody with particular appearance, condition, ability or achievement, or have certain good and positive life experiences, or good relationships with anyone, in order to feel confident, happy, satisfied or meaningful.

One can have and appreciate all the attention, affection, support, agreement, acknowledgement, love or companionship that is available in the present, but one doesn’t need other people’s attention, affection, support, agreement, acknowledgement, love or companionship in order to feel confident, love, happy or meaningful. If all these qualities of names and forms are not available, one is still happy and peaceful as one is. One doesn’t feel lack of something or missing out anything, or one is not good enough to deserve love, happiness and meaningfulness.

And that’s real confidence. One doesn’t need to be confident or satisfied about oneself at all. One doesn’t need to feel proud of oneself, and doesn’t need other people to feel proud of oneself, to be ‘I’, or the good ‘I’, the successful ‘I’, the happy ‘I’, the meaningful ‘I’. One is happy and peaceful as one is, without any identification with any quality as ‘I’.

There is no thinking or identification of “I am a good and kind human being. I want to do good and be kind and be able to contribute towards humanity.” but goodness, kindness and contribution towards humanity are being manifested and performed through the body and mind out of wisdom and compassion.

If one doesn’t know this, one will always looking for or craving for attaining and possessing certain qualities of names and forms that one would like to relate oneself with, to be identifying with, to feel good and satisfied about oneself, to boost up one’s self-esteem and confidence to be who ‘I’ am, thinking that by attaining and possessing such qualities of names and forms will also make other people to give them the attention, affection, support, agreement, acknowledgement, love or companionship that they want from other people, in order to be happy and feel meaningful. But then one is not free. And that’s one’s freedom of thinking and action.

Be free.

The importance of renunciation, seclusion and solitude

This is not about against happiness or meaningfulness. But it’s about being free from attachment towards names and forms that give rise to the sense of happiness and meaningfulness, to realize unconditional peace that is unconditioned by names and forms that are impermanent, that is beyond the sense of happiness and meaningfulness.

All minds will feel good, happy, meaningful, loved and blessed when one is in the company of other people or family and friends who are like-minded and engaging in interactive activities with other people, appreciating good people, good company, good condition, good relationship/friendship and meaningful life. Though the mind might not necessarily be free from loneliness, meaninglessness, missingness, unhappiness and longing for interaction, when one is unable to be with other people, family or friends who are like-minded, and is not engaging in interactive activities with other people for a period of time, if there is attachment, clinging and craving towards good people, good company, good condition, good relationship/friendship and meaningful life.

It’s not difficult for us to feel happy and loved when we are constantly surrounded by people who are like-minded and engaging in some forms of interactive activities together, doing something that we enjoy doing, and it makes us feel good, happy, contented, loved and blessed. But when we are unable to see or be with the people whom we love for a prolonged period of time, and we are not doing something that we like to do together for some time, we’ll start to miss each other, missing the presence or togetherness or companionship and doing the things that we like to do together, and then the sense of loneliness, meaninglessness, missingness, unhappiness, and longing for interaction with other people, family and friends start to manifest in the mind. This is normal, but it also indicates that the mind is not free from ignorance and egoism, even though the mind might feel good, happy, contented, loved and blessed when we are being with other people, family and friends, whom we love to be with, and engaging in interactive activities together from time to time.

There’s attachment towards love and affection, supports and interactions from people around us. This is normal for most people, but this is also the cause of suffering.

There’s nothing wrong with the mind feels loved, blessed and happy when we are being with people whom we like and doing activities that we enjoy doing together. We should appreciate all the good condition, good people, good company, good relationship/friendship and meaningful life. But, a well-trained mind is free from loneliness, meaninglessness, missingness, unhappiness or longing for interaction, when it is not coming in contact with people, things and activities that it loves and enjoys.

If yoga practitioners want to know how much we have improved in the yoga practice, we can try practicing seclusion and solitude for a prolonged period of time, renouncing social activities and cutting off all sorts of communications with other people, especially family and friends whom we love very much, as well as refraining from worldly interactive activities that we enjoy doing on regular basis, for at least two to three years, or extended to five or six years. It’s normal that worldly minded people are strongly against and disagree with the practice of seclusion and solitude, and that’s their freedom of thinking and belief. Those who still have young children or old parents that they need to take care of, they are not ready to practice renunciation. They need to perform their worldly life duties. They can practice seclusion and solitude later.

When the mind is being isolated from people, things and activities that it likes and enjoys for a prolonged period of time, most minds would want to run back into our daily pleasure of being together and interacting with other people, family and friends who are like-minded, and whom we miss very much if we don’t see them or be with them for some time. These minds have not advanced in the path of yoga, even though they might have been doing some forms of yoga activities that they enjoy doing for years, and they have learned about the teachings of yoga, and they feel happy, meaningful, loved and blessed for having nice people around them and doing things that they enjoy doing regularly, but they have not yet apply the teachings of yoga into everyday life practically, if their minds depend on being with people whom they loved and doing things that they enjoy doing to feel happy, meaningful, loved and blessed. The mind that practices yoga, that is free, will still be happy as it is, even if there are unkind and disagreeable people around, and for some reasons, it is unable to do what it would like to do. This mind doesn’t need to feel loved or blessed or meaningful at all.

Yoga practitioners who think there’s no need to practice non-attachment, as they are very happy enjoying a good life and they are enjoying doing some forms of yoga activities regularly, they don’t have to practice seclusion and solitude. They can continue their everyday life the way that they like it to be.

Some think that they have given up worldly activities, enjoyments and community, but then they don’t realize that they have attached onto what they call ‘spiritual’ or ‘non-worldly’ activities or enjoyments or community. It’s still a form of attachment that will lead to suffering, whether it’s worldly attachment or non-worldly/spiritual attachment. In worldly life, the mind feels unhappy and meaningless when it doesn’t get to see or be with or interacting with people from its community, family and friends, and then in spiritual life, the mind feels unhappy or meaningless when it doesn’t get to see or be with or interacting with its spiritual community, family and friends.

Just like letting go an unhealthy lifestyle but then attaching onto a healthy lifestyle, is not the end of suffering. For many people, they don’t see or can’t understand that attachment towards a healthy lifestyle would also lead to suffering. But, when the healthy lifestyle that they love very much is inaccessible for some unforeseen circumstances, they will then understand. Just like people get very upset and frustrated when the good things that they love very much are being damaged or destroyed by some other people, or there’s obstacles that obstruct them from getting the good things that they love and want.

Yoga practitioners who think non-attachment is indeed a very important element in the path of yoga, but they think they don’t have attachment towards what they like to do and enjoy in everyday life, they can try to practice seclusion and solitude for a prolonged period of time, to see how much the mind has developed in non-attachment.

Unattached towards both worldly and non-worldly/spiritual activities, enjoyments and community.

If the mind is well-developed in non-attachment, this mind can live in the world as it is and appreciate all the good people, good company, good condition, good relationship/friendship and meaningful life, but it’s free from clinging and longing, and suffering. It’s unconditioned or undetermined by the impermanent qualities of name and form, whether it’s in the form of worldly or non-worldly/spirituality. When all these good and meaningful names and forms changed and disappeared or are unavailable, there’s no suffering.

Who is being unhappy and wants to be happy?

It’s the ego that is being unhappy and wants to be happy. Minds that are free from ignorance and egoism is peaceful and joyful as it is and don’t need to feel good and meaningful, or to be happy.

Most minds will try to do something that they like and enjoy, and to achieve something that they want to achieve, to feel good and happy and meaningful.

There’s also nothing wrong with people want to do good and be kind to others because it makes them feel good and happy, but, that’s not the teaching or practice of yoga.

Yoga practice is not about trying to do something to make the ego feels good and happy and meaningful (as this is empowering the ego and egoism) but, it’s to remove the root cause of unhappiness – ignorance and egoism. Once the root cause of unhappiness is eliminated, one will be happy as one is.

When the mind is free from egoism of attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, and expectation, one will be peaceful and happy as one is. One doesn’t need to do something, or not do something, to feel good and happy or meaningful. One doesn’t need to take intoxication/alcohol/drugs or to achieve certain results, social status and network, health condition, fitness level, body image, physical and mental ability and good relationships, to feel good and happy and meaningful. One doesn’t need other people’s love, acceptance, support, acknowledgment, recognition, friendliness and companionship, or any entertainment, enjoyment, achievement and success to be happy or feel good and meaningful.

The teaching and practice of yoga is to abandon all these egoism, one will be peaceful and happy as one is. One can perform good actions and be kind to others out of compassion, without selfish intention or expectation of “I am doing all these because I want to feel good and meaningful and be happy.”

Be free.

“Do things that will make you happy” is not yoga practice

There’s nothing wrong with “Do things that will make you happy”, just that it is not yoga practice.

The one who needs to do or achieve something that it thinks will make it happy in order to be happy, is the ego. This happiness coming from doing or achieving something that will make the egoistic mind happy, is impermanent. It’s everyone’s freedom whether people choose to enjoy impermanent conditional happiness, or people wish to realize unconditional peace and happiness.

At one moment people celebrate and be happy about something that they like and agree with, at another moment people mourn and suffer about the same thing that has changed into something that they dislike and disagree with.

Yoga is the realization of selflessness, being free from egoism, or the ego, or the idea of ‘I’ and the desires that derive from ‘I’.

By feeding the egoistic desires or the fulfillment of the desires of ‘I’ might give the egoistic mind momentary happy feelings and satisfactory, but it doesn’t take away the unhappiness or dissatisfaction that derives from unfulfilled desires and losing the possessed happiness and satisfactory.

Yoga practice is to stop feeding the ego and its desires.

Be free from the ego, there’s no need to rely or depend on any impermanent qualities of names and forms (objects, experiences, actions, results, possessions, kindness, knowledge, acknowledgements, supports, connections, relationships, companionship, conditions, abilities, and etc) to be happy, or not.

The selfless being doesn’t need to find happiness or be happy. One is happy as it is.

‘Good people’?

The term ‘good’ might mean differently for different people. What is ‘good’ for some people might not be ‘good’ for some other people, and vice versa.

What happens when we recognize some people as ‘good people’, and we tell them, “You are a good person.”? Usually it’s when our minds perceive and feel touched by some qualities in these people which our minds recognize and agree as ‘good’ qualities based on the thinking and belief in our minds about what are ‘good’ qualities. What are ‘good’ qualities for some people might be different for some other people.

Most of the time, when people act and react or behave in the way that our minds like and agree with, our minds would identify and categorize these people as ‘good people’. For example, when someone gives us what we want, or when someone gives us the help that we needed, or when someone fulfills our desires, or when someone shows agreement/ approval/support/encouragement/appreciation/gratefulness/thankfulness towards something that is directly or indirectly concerning ourselves, our lives, our thinking, our beliefs, our values, our visions, and our actions, then our minds will react with delight, and will acknowledge and identify this person as one of the ‘good people’. We will tell this person, “Oh, you are such a good/nice/wonderful person.”

But what happens when people don’t act and react or behave in the way that our minds like and agree with, or they act and react or behave in the way that our minds dislike and disagree with, our minds would identify and categorize these people as ‘not good people’. What happens when a person doesn’t give us what we want, or doesn’t give us the help that we needed, or doesn’t fulfill our desires, or doesn’t show agreement/ approval/support/encouragement/appreciation/gratefulness/thankfulness towards something that is directly or indirectly concerning ourselves, our lives, our thinking, our beliefs, our values, our visions, and our actions? Our minds will react with dissatisfaction, disappointment, unhappiness and resentment. Our minds will categorize and identify this person as ‘not a good person’ or ‘not a nice person’, just because they don’t give us what we want or they give us what we don’t want, or our desires are not being gratified, or we are not getting what we like and want in the way that we think it should be or the way that we would like it to be.

This shows that in many cases, what our minds think and recognize and identify as ‘good people’ and ‘not good people’ can be impulsive judgments based on our desires of likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements, and wants and don’t wants, and based on a particular thinking and beliefs about how people should and shouldn’t act and react or behave.

We can perform inquiry by applying this mind behavior of judging what is ‘good’ and ‘not good’ onto anything that we can think of – ‘good citizen’, ‘good teacher/student’, ‘good father/mother’, ‘good son/daughter’, ‘good brother/sister’, ‘good husband/wife’, ‘good friend/lover’, ‘good man/woman’, ‘good Buddhist/Christian/Muslim/Hindu/and others’, ‘good yogi’, and so on… And we will see, most of the time the judgment about what is ‘good’ and ‘not good’ is based on what pleases us, or not, according to our thinking and beliefs about how everyone should/shouldn’t behave, our personal likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements, and the way that we think it should be and what we want them to be.

For example, when our teacher gives us what we like and want, we will say, “This is a good teacher.” and when our teacher doesn’t give us what we like and want, we will say, “This is not a good teacher.”
Or, when our husband/wife behave in the way that we want them to behave and gives us what we want, we will say, “You are a good husband/wife.” and when our husband/wife doesn’t behave in the way that we want them to behave and doesn’t give us what we want, we will say, “You are not a good husband/wife.”

When people feel happy and satisfied as they are pleased when we gratified all their desires and they tell us, “You are such a good/lovely/nice person.” we can ask them, “Let’s see if I couldn’t please you when I can’t gratify all your desires of what you want and don’t want, will you still think and say that I am a good/lovely/nice person?”

The teachings and practice of yoga and meditation is to free the mind from all sorts of worldly attachment and identification with qualities of names and forms, and be free from impulsive judgements based on desires of craving and aversion under the influence of personal thinking and beliefs.

‘Good people’ who ‘want’ to be good and do good, who want to be recognized/labeled as ‘good people’, are not necessarily ‘peaceful and happy’ if there is egoism, attachment, identification, desires of craving and aversion, and expectation. The possession of some ‘good’ qualities in oneself and the identification as ‘good people’ doesn’t determine that one will be peaceful and happy.

It doesn’t mean that one has to be in good mood and behave ‘nicely’ or ‘appropriately’ all the time, so that one will not be disqualified as ‘good people’. Those who do their best to be good and do good might not be always ‘right’ and ‘know best’ all the time, or won’t make any mistakes and bad decisions in life. It’s okay that we are not always right and we could be wrong some of the times, that we don’t know best, that we are not in good mood all the time or we might not behave ‘nicely’ and ‘appropriately’ some of the times, and that we might make mistakes and bad decisions in life, as long as we are aware of the ‘wrong’, ‘deficiency’, ‘bad mood’, ‘bad behavior’, ‘mistakes’ and ‘bad decisions’, without denial or self-criticism towards all these ‘not good’ qualities, without attachment and identification, and are not being over-powered by pride and arrogance to justify the ‘bad’ qualities relate to oneself, or try to blame some other people or things for the qualities that we don’t like about ourselves.

Most people growing up and living their entire lives being told or disciplined to be ‘good’, to do ‘good’ and to be ‘good people’, or to have a ‘good and meaningful life’ according to particular guidelines or standards about what is ‘good’ and ‘good people’, about what is ‘good and meaningful life’. Many people ended up being disappointed and unhappy with themselves or other people for not being able to be perfectly ‘good’ or live a ‘good and meaningful life’ as what they expect themselves and other people to be.

Peace and happiness is not determined by whether we think we are ‘good people’ or ‘not good people’ and whether we live a life that is ‘good and meaningful’, or not. It is whether we think we are ‘good’ and ‘good enough’, and having a ‘good and meaningful’ life, or not, there is no egoism, attachment, identification, desires of craving and aversion, and expectation. When we perform actions that we think and believe are ‘good’ actions or when we behave in the way that we think is ‘good’, it’s not because we want to be ‘good people’, or we want to live a ‘good and meaningful’ life. It’s not because we want to be recognized and acknowledged by ourselves or other people as ‘good people’.

There’s nothing wrong and it’s okay if other people don’t recognize/acknowledge us as ‘good people’ or they recognize/acknowledge us as ‘not good people’ when they feel unhappy, dissatisfied, disappointed and resent when we didn’t give them what they want, or didn’t fulfill their desires of craving and aversion, or we didn’t act and react or behave in the way that they expect us to be. That’s their freedom of reaction, thinking and expectation.

Everyone is just what they are, and they act and react or behave as they are. It’s neither good nor not good, neither nice nor not nice, neither right nor wrong.

Allowing everyone to be what they are, as what our minds think whether they are ‘good people’ or ‘not good people’, it’s not the truth of who they are. What our minds think and what other people think whether ourselves are ‘good people’ or ‘not good people’, it’s not the truth of who we are.

There’s no ‘I’ to be identify as ‘good people’ or ‘not good people’.

Be free.

“Do I love myself, unconditionally?”

Whenever we think and feel that “I am hurt by this or that” we need to ask ourselves, “Do I love myself, unconditionally?”

If we love what we like and want more than loving ourselves as we are, then we will only be happy and satisfied when everything is the way that we like it to be, by having all our desires fulfilled. But when things are not the way that we like it to be, and we are not able to gratified our desires, we will feel hurt, unhappy and angry. This is because we don’t love ourselves as we are, as we are not able to accept ourselves as we are, being dissatisfied and disappointed with the reality that we don’t like, that we don’t want. We are hurt by our own dissatisfaction and disappointment towards ungratified desires or unfulfilled expectation towards ourselves and everyone else.

It’s really nothing to do with whether everything is the way that we like it to be, or not. Or whether other people love us, or not. Or whether other people treat us the way that we think it should be, or not. Or other people’s behavior is wrong and hurtful, or not.

Loving ourselves is different from selfishness. When we truly love ourselves, it’s not being selfish at all. It’s not about gratification of the desires of craving and aversion, or self-indulgence without restriction, but there is self-discipline, self-restriction and self-control to free the mind from being influenced or over-powered by egoistic desires of craving and aversion. It’s about being compassionate towards ourselves and everyone else. We stop hurting ourselves and others out of ignorance, selfishness and impurities.

May all learn how to love ourselves, unconditionally, and be free.

Unconditional happiness beyond qualities of names and forms

Most people are looking for happiness, or want to be happy. Those who are happy, they don’t need to look for happiness, or desire to be happy. When we think and feel we want to be happy, it’s because we are not happy. We are not happy is because we think we are not free. We think we are not free is because ignorance.

Under the influence of ignorance, we think happiness is coming from freedom of thinking, action and speech, and doing what we like to do, be who we want to be, achieve what we want to achieve, receive love and support from other people, be acknowledged and approved by other people, have good health, good livelihood and good living condition, and being with people whom we loved and who love us. But, all these qualities of names and forms will only give us momentary happy feelings that are impermanent. We fall into great misery and painful sorrow when impermanence strikes, when we lose all the good qualities that we think will make us happy, if we are determined by all these names and forms to be who we are, to be happy, or not. It’s not the unconditional happiness that is beyond all the qualities of names and forms, when the mind is free from ignorance and egoism.

When we seek happiness through certain qualities of names and forms that we like and desire, and we will feel happy when we get what we like and want, it doesn’t mean that we won’t experience unhappiness anymore, or we will be free from impurities of anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, pride, arrogance, feelings of hurt, guilt, regret, fear and worry. By achieving happiness through doing and getting what we like and want doesn’t mean that our surrounding living environment will be free from names and forms that we don’t like and don’t want. And thus our minds are constantly restless being in a mixture state of happiness and unhappiness. There’s no permanent satisfaction. The craving for what we desire and the aversion towards what we don’t desire is what hinders the mind from realizing the unconditional happiness beyond qualities of names and forms.

If we know how to be free from the desire of craving and aversion towards happiness and unhappiness that comes from ignorance and egoism, we will be happy as we are. We do not rely on any qualities of names and forms to be happy, or not. Even when there is restriction or limitation of thinking, action and speech, and we are unable to do what we like to do, unable to be who we want to be and not achieving what we want to achieve, or, we are not receiving love and support from other people, unacknowledged and disapproved by other people, not having good health, good livelihood and good living condition, and not able to be with people whom we loved and who love us, we are still happy as we are. This happiness isn’t determined by or coming from any qualities of names and forms.

Ignorance is not knowing the truth of names and forms.

To free the mind from ignorance, we need to free the mind from impurities. To free the mind from impurities, we need to free the mind from egoism. To free the mind from egoism, we need to free the mind from ignorance, as egoism derives from ignorance. It is a loop that has no beginning or ending.

Due to ignorance and egoism, the ego attached towards the impermanent physical condition and ability, the impermanent states of the mind, likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements based on certain conditional thinking and belief, knowledge, achievements, possessions, and all kinds of relationships, to be identifying as ‘I’. This ‘I’ is constantly disturbed by the craving and aversion towards all these impermanent qualities of names and forms, and being restless and experience suffering when the craving and aversion is not being gratified the way that it likes it to be. The ego is determined by the gratification of its craving and aversion to be happy, or not. There is no possibility for contentment and peace, due to the truth of impermanence in all the names and forms, as well as this ‘I’ is a false understanding and identification. This constant restlessness hinders the mind to be free from ignorance.

That’s why it’s not an easy task to be free. But, it’s possible if we know how to discipline and purify the mind by restricting the mind activities and quieting the mind by moving the mind away from worldly objects of names and forms, to breakdown this loop of ignorance. And hence, retreat for observing silence exists to help to discipline and purify the mind efficiently.

Retreat for the observation of silence is to disconnect with our worldly life connections, family and friends, social interactions, habits, personal or religious and cultural belief and practice. It doesn’t mean that we abandon our life, family and friends, and our personal or religious and cultural belief and practice, but, it’s to allow our minds to have the opportunity to be free from the contact with the objects of names and forms that are directly and indirectly related to restlessness, distractions, cares and anxieties, and allowing the mind to be opened for contemplation on the truth.

It’s normal that people have fear towards letting go certain religious or non-religious thinking and belief that influence the way of life and conduct, self-image and personal identity. There is fear of the unknown consequences of letting go those thinking and belief. There is fear of exile, criticism and condemn from the ‘group’ that we think we belong to. There is fear of being unaccepted by the society. There is fear of non-existence. The ignorant minds constantly seek recognition, agreement, approval, support and acknowledgement from the society to be who we think we are, or who we want to be. This is one of the obstacles that hinders the mind to see the truth of names and forms as it is.

Those who have gone beyond the idea of ‘I’, or the identification with qualities of names and forms to be identifying as ‘I’, they don’t even attach onto their devotion towards the teachings and practice of yoga to identify oneself as ‘yogi’, not to say to attach onto certain conditional worldly thinking and belief. Meanwhile other beings can have the freedom of thinking to refer or label them as ‘yogi’.

Many people who think they love yoga and practice yoga might think and believe that yoga is to connect with all and everything. We think we need to connect with other people or something that we think is not ‘I’, which are separated from ‘I’, is ignorance. Upon the realization of selflessness and non-separateness, there’s no connection with anything that is not ‘I’, as there’s no ‘I’ that generates separateness. Just like when people think they want to make connection with God, it’s because they think they are something separated from God. Oneness is beyond connection that consists of more than one party.

The essential yoga practice of silence, is to retreat and disconnect the mind from the society and all sorts of worldly life connections and social activities. Retreat from worldly life connections and social activities, and isolation from other people including family and friends, help tremendously to turn the mind inward for self-introspection and self-inquiry to see the truth of names and forms, to be free from ignorance, and thus be free from unhappiness and suffering.

Though freeing the mind from ignorance is the greatest contribution to the society and world peace, the practice of silence in solitude and seclusion might appear to be ‘selfishness’, ‘anti-social’ or ‘abnormal behavior’ by the worldly minded people who attached to worldly life conditioned by certain thinking and beliefs about how human beings should and shouldn’t behave. Most minds would want to runaway after a few days of observing the practice of silence in solitude and seclusion, not to say to be completely cut off from the social world for many years.

In the tradition of yoga, to be isolated from the society and be in seclusion for a long period of time for at least five to six years is a very important observation. One should learn how to be happy and comfortable with oneself in solitude, being isolated from all other beings, before one mixes into the society, or gets involve in any kind of relationships with anyone, without expecting someone or something that is not ‘I’ to make us happy, or give us happiness. Or else we generate so much tension and unhappiness in ourselves and those whom we want to love and be loved.

When one is free from ignorance and egoism, one doesn’t need to be loved, be supported, be acknowledged, be approved, or be connected, to feel meaningful or be happy. One will be free whether being in a relationship, or not. There’s no loneliness. When one knows how to be happy as one is, the society will be benefited tremendously by the existence of this being, without any intention from this being to benefit anyone or anything.

But, many yoga practitioners nowadays who attached strongly to their worldly social life don’t just not interested in observing this traditional practice, but they condemn this practice. And that is their freedom of thinking, action and speech.

Be free.

Seeking freedom through the knowledge of life

Why does my family has to suffer so much even though they are really good and kind-hearted people? They don’t do bad things and they have helped many people whom they know and don’t know from the past until the present. They give and give without discrimination and never expect gratefulness or rewards in return for the kindness and friendliness they shown to others, or from those who receive kindness and friendliness from them. Friends and relatives and strangers took advantage of my family’s kindness and friendliness, until they got themselves into lots of unnecessary problems and troubles where everyone in the family is affected physically, mentally, emotionally and financially.

Why did my childhood best friend kill herself even though she had everything she ever wanted? She came from a wealthy family background. She was intelligent, highly educated and knowledgeable. She had a high paid job and was financially independent. She had a wide social network, friends and family in her life. She did all the activities that she liked to do and went for holidays in places that she liked to go. She also had her childhood dream came true about having her own children as the greatest achievement and happiness in life.

It’s because happiness and freedom from suffering is nothing to do with being good and kind-hearted, or do good and don’t do bad, or attaining high level of education and accumulating knowledge, or having high income and success in career, or having dreams come true and achieving whatever we want to achieve that we think it will make us happy, or give us happiness.

Education and knowledge might provide the useful information, facts and skills for people to do something in life to live and survive and interact with other beings in this world, and to build a society with all the high-tech conveniences coming from the latest technologies, engineering and inventions. They might help to improve quality of life and influence our way of life and conduct. But receiving education and accumulating knowledge as well as different types of qualifications and certifications doesn’t guarantee that the mind will be free from ignorance, confusion, corrupted thinking and selfishness, or know how to make wise decisions, or won’t behave selfishly and ignorantly, or won’t experience suffering and unhappiness.

Educated people are not necessarily be free from dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, feelings of hurt, and fear, or won’t be engaging in immoral conducts and violent behavior. There’s no guarantee that those who have been receiving education on morality will uphold morality. It’s a personal awareness and conscience with self-control and self-restraint that one would refrain oneself from engaging in immoral conducts or activities.

For example, there are laws in some countries that would punish convicted thieves by cutting off their hand(s). The risk of getting their hands cut off will not stop the thieves from committing theft, although if the thieves are caught and prosecuted under those laws, it might be physically challenging for them to commit theft again without their hands. But, there are thieves that don’t need to perform theft at the scene personally, or with their hands physically, and theft are still existing everywhere and anytime. With their hands cut off under those laws might let them experience inconvenience in everyday life in return for their actions of stealing, just like how they cause financial, physical, mental and emotional damages and inconvenience to those whom they steal from, but it doesn’t necessarily remove greed from their minds, or stop them from stealing again and again. Those who disagree with inhumane treatment or physical punishment for criminal say that people needs to receive proper education to reduce crime rate in the society. But receiving proper education on ‘Do good and don’t do bad’ doesn’t necessarily will remove ignorance, greed, desires of craving and aversion, and the urge to cheat and steal from the criminal minds. Meanwhile, all kinds of inhumane treatment and physical punishment also don’t guarantee that the criminals would be free from ignorance and won’t commit crime again and again.

Living in the world of many ignorant minds that generate all kinds of stupidities in the society intentionally and unintentionally, we might feel frustrated and annoyed by many things that are not in our control to be the way that how we would like it to be. We feel angry or disturbed by some thinking and behavior that are contradicted with our thinking and belief about what is right and wrong, good and bad, acceptable and unacceptable, appropriateness and inappropriateness.

We think we are more intelligent than other people that we can change the world or the society to be the way we think it should be. The more we try to change the world to be the way that we want it to be, the more frustrated and disappointed we become. It’s because none can change another being’s ignorant behavior. None can free another being from ignorance. Study under the greatest teacher in the world and receiving all kinds of worldly knowledge also doesn’t guarantee that one will be free from ignorance and suffering. One can only change and improve oneself, and free oneself from ignorance through one’s effort of persistent self-discipline, self-control, self-awareness, self-inquiry and self-realization.

The cause of suffering and unhappiness is ignorance. Ignorance is not knowing the truth of life existence, or who we really are. Suffering, and the freedom from suffering is unrelated to whether we think we are good or not, knowledgeable or not, well-educated or not, religious or not, spiritual or not, well-cultured or not, and believing in God existence or not.

By learning, knowing and gathering lots of information, facts and skills about this and that doesn’t mean that the mind is free from ignorance. We can be highly educated and knowledgeable about many things in the world that we live in, we can read and write and speak many different languages, we can be kind-hearted, friendly and sociable, we can be doing many good actions and not doing anything that we believe as bad actions, we can be very talented and creative, but because of ignorance, we might still be determined, disturbed and affected by what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think, whether it’s something that we like or dislike, agree or disagree with, and we experience suffering of unhappiness, grief, frustration, irritation, depression, discontentment, disappointment, greed, anger, hatred, jealousy, pride, feelings of hurt, guilt, regret, animosity, humiliation, insult, ill-thinking, ill-will, doubt, fear and worry.

Knowing how to build a beautiful and practically functional house doesn’t guarantee one and those who live in the house will be peaceful and happy. Knowing how to save lives through advanced medical skills and effective medicines doesn’t guarantee one and those whose lives were saved will be free from ignorance, unhappiness and suffering. Those who perform charity and those who receive charity also doesn’t mean that they will be free from feelings of hurt, anger, jealousy, discontentment, disappointment, fear and worry, and be peaceful and happy.

It doesn’t matter who we think we are, or what we are, we will experience suffering and restlessness if the mind is functioning under the influence of ignorance.

Ignorance brings along egoism, attachment, identification, desires of craving and aversion, and all sorts of impurities which is why we experience suffering and restlessness. It is nothing to do with whether our lives, or the world, is the way that we think it should be, or not.

It doesn’t matter what kind of social status we think we have in the society, and what we know or don’t know, our minds constantly react towards all the perception of names and forms through the senses of what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think, based on the conditional thinking and belief in the mind under the influence of ignorance. Suffering and restlessness is the responsibility of the mind itself for being ignorant of the truth of names and forms, when it generates attachment, identification, craving and aversion towards all the impermanent names and forms that it perceives, or comes in contact with.

Whenever the mind comes in contact with the objects of names and forms that it likes and agrees with, it generates clinging and craving towards them. Whenever the mind comes in contact with the objects of names and forms that it dislikes and disagrees with, it generates aversion towards them. When the craving and aversion is not being gratified – when it is getting what it doesn’t like and doesn’t want; when it doesn’t get what it likes and wants; when it is losing what it likes and wants, the mind reacts with all sorts of impurities like dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, hatred, jealousy, animosity, feelings of hurt, fear, worry, and so on. The mind is suffering from its own reactions of impurities.

By learning how to free the mind from ignorance and impurities, and attaining the knowledge of life through mind purification, self-inquiry and self-realization, will lead us to unconditional peace and happiness, disregards what is the condition of our lives and the situation of the world we live in. We will have peace and be happy as we are, undetermined by the impermanent changes of names and forms, pleasant and unpleasant experiences, and different types of thinking and behavior that our minds agree or disagree with. We adjust ourselves to adapt and accommodate any life conditions and situations, and not expecting life to change into something that can accommodate all our desires of craving and aversion.

If the mind is under the influence of ignorance and egoism, and generates attachment, identification, craving and aversion towards all the impermanent qualities of names and forms to be identifying as ‘I’ and ‘my life’, then even though everything might be the way that we like it to be, or nothing is the way that we don’t like it to be, our minds will still be restless and anxious if there is attachment towards what we like and don’t like, as we will have fear towards losing the things that we like and want, and we don’t want the things that we like and want to change into something that we don’t like and don’t want, even when they are not happening or don’t exist in the present moment. There is fear towards old age, sickness, separation from our loved ones, coming in contact with the ones whom we don’t like and disagree with, not getting what we want, losing what we like, getting what we don’t want, disability, and death. And everything will change and pass away, whether we like it, or not.

It is the awareness of being able to see the truth of things as it is and allowing the truth to be what it is, and being free from egoism, attachment, identification, craving and aversion and all sorts of impurities, that allow the mind to be in peace, disregards all the impermanent changes that are happening ceaselessly inside and outside this body and mind, which are not in the control of ‘I’ to be the way that how ‘I’ would like it to be. The body and mind depends on so many elements to be existing and functioning, they don’t belong to ‘I’, not to say all the pleasant and unpleasant experiences perceived through the senses.

We make use of the existing knowledge, information, facts, skills, talents and creativity that we have to perform actions that we think and believe would be beneficial to ourselves and the society, but without attachment towards our actions and the results of our actions. We are not determined by our actions and the results of our actions to be who we are. We just do our best for what we think is the best, and allow the world to evolve in its own way and rhythm.

Freedom from ignorance, egoism, attachment, identification, craving and aversion is the real freedom of unconditional peace and happiness beyond all the impermanent qualities of names and forms.

The world is just what it is. It is neither good nor bad, neither positive nor negative, neither a happy place nor a suffering place. It’s how the mind reacts towards all the names and forms that it perceives through the senses that generates the ignorance of duality, personal identity and separateness. All sorts of fear and anxieties arise from duality, personal identity and separateness. It’s not because of the names and forms that we perceive or experience are being bad, or wrong, or negative, or unhappiness, that generates restlessness and suffering in us. The attachment, the identification and the desires of craving and aversion towards all the names and forms that the mind believes as good and bad, right and wrong, positive and negative, happiness and unhappiness, is the real cause of suffering.

Suffering exists as long as the mind is under the influence of ignorance. Suffering doesn’t exist when the mind is free from ignorance.

Freedom of the mind is beyond the freedom of thinking, actions and speech in the society, or beyond any physical and mental limitations. We might be restricted by some forms of physical and mental limitations, and are unable to think, or do, or say what we would like to think, or do, or say in our personal life, or in the society, but it doesn’t stop us to achieve freedom of unconditional peace.

There is a saying of “Do what will make us happy” circulating in the world of social media. Somehow, freedom to do whatever we like to do that we think will make us happy, is not the real freedom, as there are people who find happiness, or enjoyment, or excitement in performing actions that hurt themselves or other beings, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

May all be free.