Approaching a teacher asking to be accepted as student of yoga

Traditionally, when someone is interested in finding a teacher to learn, study and practice yoga and meditation under the guidance of this person (the teacher), one needs to approach the teacher humbly asking to be accepted as a student of yoga under this teacher, serving the teacher without asking/expecting “What am I getting from learning yoga under you?” or “What can you (the teacher) give me in return for offering fees/donations to you to be learning and practicing yoga from you and serving you?”

The teacher will then observe and test this person to see whether this person is fit to be a student of yoga. Once the person is accepted to be a student of yoga, this person will live closely to the teacher for many years, where in the first few years are merely doing some random ‘work/service’ in daily life, such like housekeeping/cooking/gardening/cleaning/washing serving the teacher (very important/efficient initial purification to eliminate worldly habits of egoism and impurities) before being initiated into the practice. There’s high degree of segregation/non-physical contact among the teacher and the student. It’s not like nowadays, most people are looking forward to be touching and hugging as the way to show friendliness, love and care.

The teacher doesn’t advertise/boast about “I am a certified/qualified/experienced/internationally recognized/affiliated yoga teacher” and “What kind of benefits/certification/qualification/result/achievement you will get if you attend my classes/courses learning yoga from me.” but instead, “It’s a hard-work. There will be lots of unpleasantness/pain and hardships/obstacles that you need to deal with by yourself. You have to walk the path alone by yourself. You need to be determined, persevered and vigilant to discipline your own mind until you attain self-realization.” And the students of yoga will be determined to finish their learning under the teacher no matter how much difficulties and obstacles arise during the physical/mental/emotional purification process, while developing discipline and independence in their own practice, as one day, they will have to leave the teacher, or the teacher will leave.

It’s not about to be ‘qualified’ as ‘yoga teachers/masters’, be ‘affiliated’ with ‘yoga alliance’ to be ‘conducting yoga classes’ to teach ‘yoga classes’ or ‘conducting yoga courses’ to be ‘training yoga teachers to teach yoga or conduct yoga classes/yoga courses to other people’. As a ‘yogi’ who knows yoga doesn’t need to be ‘trained’ to be ‘qualified’ to be ‘certified yoga teacher’ and ‘affiliated with’ such and such ‘yoga organization/alliance’ to be ‘recognized/authorized’ to teach yoga to anyone. It’s neither about ‘correct/proper physical alignments’, ‘teaching techniques’, ‘effects/benefits of the yoga practice’, ‘healing’, ‘connecting’, ‘sharing’, ‘hugging’ and ‘touching’.

Nowadays, this tradition is no longer be seen/practiced/appreciated. One of the reason would be the existence of ‘sincere teacher of yoga’ and ‘sincere student of yoga’ is very rare now.

In this modern commercialized world of ‘higher education and higher quality of life with worldly social values and practice’, the ‘yoga teachers’ have to ‘advertise’ or ‘boast’ about their ‘certification/qualification/recognition/affiliation/experiences/achievements’ and ‘to be presenting’ something ‘unique, enjoyable, innovative and attractive’ to attract people to be interested to come to attend the ‘yoga classes’ or ‘yoga courses’ conducted by them, while gratifying the people’s desire of craving and aversion, by giving them what they want/like and don’t give them what they don’t want/like, to make them feel treasured, appreciated, valued, pampered, satisfied and empowered. Both the teacher and the students also want to develop and maintain an inter-dependent ‘connection/relationship’ where the students ceaselessly need to receive attention, love, care, support, acknowledgement, advice or feedback from the teacher, while the teacher wants to ‘be close’ to the students, ‘be there’ for the students, ‘be connecting’ with the students, or ‘be loved/needed/glorified/supported/respected’ by the students.

Because most egoistic impure minds are being conditioned deeply by the worldly thinking behavior pattern, almost all of the ‘yoga enthusiasts’ or the ‘prospect/potential students/clients’ of the ‘yoga school/yoga studio/yoga centre’ will have some kind of ‘request’ or ‘expectation’ towards the ‘yoga school’, ‘yoga studio’, ‘yoga center’, ‘yoga classes’, ‘yoga courses’ or ‘yoga teachers’ to meet up their ‘requests’ and ‘expectation’ in terms of the ‘quality’ of the ‘professional profile/image’, ‘qualification’, ‘certification’, ‘recognition’, ‘affiliation’, ‘organization’, ‘experience’, ‘achievement’, or ‘result orientation’, and above all, “How much and what do I get from paying this amount of ‘fees’/’donation’ to the ‘yoga school’/’yoga studio’/’yoga centre’/’yoga teacher’ for attending the ‘yoga classes’/’yoga courses’.”

Many of the untrained worldly egoistic impure minds will have doubt/insecurity towards their own ‘determination’ being determined by whether they will like/enjoy ‘the teacher’s over-all presentation/image/charm/professionalism/credibility/teaching style’ or ‘the classes’ or ‘the practice’, or not, where they are unsure/unwilling to pay fees in advance which might be ‘non-refundable’ if they want to ‘give up’ when they experience discomfort or difficulty, or when they ‘don’t like/enjoy’ the ‘teacher/classes/practice’, while the truth of the purification process deriving from performing ‘serious/intense/persevered yoga and meditation practice to eliminate ignorance/egoism/impurities/restlessness’ is inevitably ‘unpleasant’ and ‘painful’ physically/mentally/emotionally for all egoistic impure minds. Even before the students come to the ‘yoga school/yoga studio/yoga centre’ to begin learning and practicing yoga under the teacher, the test/obstacle derived from the purification process already started. All kinds of obstacles manifest in the form of physical/mental/emotional discomfort and doubt.

Unfortunately, there are quite many stories of ‘impure yoga teachers’ existing in the world ‘taking advantage’ of the attention/love seeking ‘yoga students’, where people looking forward to be ‘touched’, creating many forms of ‘corruption’, and then there are ‘impure yoga students’ who didn’t get what they like and want from the teachers and they criticized and bitched about the teachers with the intention to hurt/damage the teacher’s reputation, that makes it even harder and more challenging for ‘yoga enthusiasts’ to ‘surrender’ all doubts/insecurity, to be opened to approach a teacher to ask to be accepted as ‘student of yoga’ and to ‘serve’ the teacher without attachment, identification and expectation, to be effectively purifying and eliminating egoism and impurities, to free the mind from restlessness and the veil of ignorance.

There’s neither right nor wrong, neither good nor bad. It’s just how things are in this world.

Anyway, ‘sincere teachers of yoga’ and ‘sincere students of yoga’ will meet each other in due time and due cause. There’s no ‘attachment’, ‘identification’ or ‘expectation’ towards each other. The students/practitioners ‘serve’ the teacher humbly for years, surrendering the ego and worldly passionate desire/ambition/thinking/belief/social behavior pattern, and developing self-discipline. After learning/receiving the teachings from the teachers, the students retreat into seclusion and solitude, working diligently and independently towards purifying and silencing the modification of the mind, to perform self-inquiry upon the truth of everything, to attain self-realization and total annihilation of the mind or the mind perception of an impermanent and selfless worldly life existence of countless ‘births’ and ‘deaths’ of names and forms (thoughts/feelings/emotions/relationships) arising and passing away, of ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering.

“You are left alone now.” – Swami Sivananda

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Learn how to free the mind from all kinds of disturbs and hurts

When a mind/person feels disturbed, unhappy, angered, disappointed or hurt by something, usually the impulsive reaction will be expecting some kind of sympathy or empathy from other minds/people, and looking forward to be comforted, loved, looked after, acknowledged, or supported by other minds/people. And most minds/people would also think and believe that that is how people should react towards other people’s state of minds that are disturbed, unhappy, angry, disappointed or hurt, to be there to be listening to what they think is disturbing their minds and comforting these suffering minds/people by showing them love, care, acknowledgement and support, to be sharing and lessening their ‘unhappiness’ or ‘suffering’, in terms of generating a ‘loving kindness’ society/community. There’s nothing wrong with that and it might give the troubled/disturbed/unhappy/angry/disappointed/hurt minds certain degrees of relieve, to feel better, but it doesn’t help them to be free from the root cause of the suffering from disturbs, unhappiness, anger, disappointment, or hurts. Instead, most probably it might be unintentionally empowering or feeding the attachment, clinging, craving or expectation in people’s mind.

Just like giving sugary fizzy drinks to the unhappy kids might make them feel happy, but they would crave for more sugary drinks to make them feel happy. As once the craving is being gratified, it would only intensify the craving. And if their craving is not being gratified, they would be more unhappy. That’s not freedom at all.

There’s clinging, craving and expectation towards receiving sympathy, empathy, love, affection, care, acknowledgement, or support from others, even though there’s nothing wrong with receiving sympathy, empathy, love, affection, care, acknowledgement, or support from others, as this is what most worldly minds/people believe and expect the society/community/family/relationship/friendship should be, but the mind is not free. If for some reasons, the mind doesn’t get what it thinks and believes it deserves to be getting from others, it will be more disturbed/unhappy/angry/disappointed/hurt and would do things that would hurt itself and/or others. This is not freedom.

As well as most egoistic minds would want to feel that they are needed by others to feel good and meaningful about themselves and their life existence, that they are capable to give and show love, care, affection, sympathy, empathy, acknowledgment and support to others who ‘need’ them. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that, just that these minds would feel bad or meaningless if for some reasons they think that they are not needed by some others, or when they think that other people do not appreciate what they give. This is not freedom.

Only those who can go beyond worldly thinking and belief can penetrate the real meaning of this teaching and practice. It doesn’t mean that everyone in the society will become ‘cold’, ‘heartless’ or ‘lack of sympathy/empathy’, but the minds are free from clinging, craving or expectation towards receiving the ‘deserving’ love, care, affection, sympathy, empathy, acknowledgment and support from others to feel loved, cared, worthy, comforted, acknowledged or supported, to feel good and meaningful, by knowing what is going on in the mind and be free from ignorance and egoism, and thus, be free from all kinds of disturbs, unhappiness, anger, disappointment, or hurts. One doesn’t need anyone to be there to be listening to one’s ‘troubles’, ‘unhappiness’ or ‘hurts’, to be ‘comforted’, as there’s no trouble, unhappiness or hurt existing in this liberated mind. One also can give and show sympathy, empathy, love, care and support to others without the attachment, identification, craving, intention or expectation in order to attain good and meaningful feelings towards oneself or one’s life existence. That is true freedom and compassion.

Yoga practice such like cleansing technique, breathing exercises, yoga asana exercises, chanting, prayer, or concentration practice, can also give the effects of relieving certain degrees of disturbs, unhappiness, anger, disappointment or hurts in the minds, but again, it doesn’t stop the mind from continuing be disturbed, unhappy, angry, disappointed, or hurt by something that they don’t like, don’t want and don’t agree with, that they think is bad, wrong, disturbing, unhappy, frustrating, disappointing, or hurtful, if the mind is not free from ignorance, egoism and impurities.

Those who truly want to learn and practice yoga, it’s not about doing some forms of yoga practice to be getting some conditional and impermanent physical/mental/emotional benefits or getting some momentary relief from what they think is painful suffering, but they learn how to free the mind from the root cause of all kinds of suffering, of disturbs, unhappiness, anger, disappointment, or hurts.

Naturally, the society will have more physical/mental/emotional healthy minds/people, where the minds/people realized unconditional love from within, know how to look after themselves and love others unconditionally, being free from clinging, craving, aversion or expectation.

But not many minds/people would understand and appreciate the greatness of this freedom. Most minds/people believe in and want a society/community/family/relationship/friendship that builds on ‘needing each other’ all the time to feel love, good, happy and meaningful, and to feel less lonely or to escape loneliness. That’s how people are being taken advantage by others who have selfish intention being in a relationship or friendship. Even in the world of yoga, some yoga teachers or so called ‘gurus’ take advantage of the yoga students for their vulnerability when the students longing or expecting to be receiving comfort, sympathy, empathy, kindness, love, care, affection, acknowledgment, or supports from the yoga teachers or ‘gurus’.

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they think or don’t think, believe or disbelieve, want and don’t want. People don’t have to practice yoga of freeing the mind from ignorance, egoism and impurities, but just want to do some yoga practice regularly and engaging in social/community activities, to attain some momentary physical/mental/emotional benefits or relief, to attain some kinds of conditional and impermanent good, positive, loving, happy and meaningful feelings.

Work diligently to free the mind from ignorance, egoism and impurities, if one wants to attain or realize this freedom.

Yoga retreats run by Yoga Now Malaysia in Langkawi

The teachers at Yoga Now Malaysia welcome anyone who is sincerely interested in learning and practicing yoga with them by participating in their yoga retreats or workshops, however, there might be people who want to join a retreat or workshop at Yoga Now Malaysia might not understand what the teachers teach in the yoga retreats or workshops here, assuming that the retreats or workshops to be in certain ways that they expect it to be, and they might not like the kind of retreats or workshops run by Yoga Now Malaysia, where they would feel regret or disappointed for joining a retreat or workshop here that is not what they anticipated what it is.

Everyone has the freedom to like or dislike something. The teachers respect everyone as they are for what they like and don’t like.

Yoga Now Malaysia don’t discriminate anyone by filtering everyone before accepting the retreat or workshop requests from anyone, but in order to avoid some people who might not understand what the teachers teach in the retreats and workshops, or what kind of retreats or workshops are running by Yoga Now Malaysia, but they sign up for a retreat or workshop without proper understanding of what the teachers teach in the yoga retreats or workshops here, and end up quitting the retreat or workshop half way, generating disharmony in themselves and wasting the time, energy and effort of both parties, it would be better if people understand a little more about what the teachers teach in the yoga retreats and workshops before they sign up for a yoga retreat or yoga workshop run by Yoga Now Malaysia in Langkawi Island.

The yoga retreats and workshops are for those who sincerely want to learn and practice yoga that is about freeing the mind from the cause of suffering – Ignorance and its by-products of egoism, impurities and restlessness. Some people might think and believe that they sincerely want to learn and practice yoga, but they don’t really want to practice yoga that is about yoga. They only love certain part of the yoga practice and the commercial retreat activities that they know, that they like, which they enjoy, that make them feel good, healthy, happy and meaningful. And there’s nothing wrong with that if people just want to do some yoga exercises and enjoy some social/community activities that make the minds feel good and meaningful.

The retreats and workshops teach yoga that allow people to know what is going on in their minds to know the root cause of all kinds of disturbs, dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, hurts, unhappiness, painful sorrow, fear, worry, loneliness, meaninglessness, or suffering, and work diligently to free their own minds from the root cause of all kinds of disturbs, dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, hurts, unhappiness, painful sorrow, fear, worry, loneliness, meaninglessness, or suffering. It’s not a pleasant process for most egoistic prideful minds upon coming in contact with the truth of what is going on in the mind as the ego is going to be eliminated/destroyed through the realization of the truth, where the truth is the opposite of everything that the ignorant egoistic mind used to think and believe what things are. There will be intense resistance coming from the egoistic prideful mind.

Those who never practice yoga before, and those who have been practicing yoga but they come with an open mind will appreciate the retreats and workshops as they are and will learn something invaluable for the rest of their life. Those who come with closed mind and expectation, or have doubt and hesitation towards the teachers or the retreat or workshop, will not be able to allow the retreats or workshops to be what they are and couldn’t learn anything. And there’s nothing wrong with people have doubts or hesitation towards the teachers that they never met before, and towards the retreat or workshop that they never attended before. But when the doubt and hesitation is too over-whelming, it will affect their perception towards everything.

Yoga Now Malaysia is a simple home based small yoga studio situated in a small village that run flexible dates retreats and workshops which are subject to availability and the teachers run retreats and workshops even if there’s only one person attending. Most of the retreats and workshops have only one person joining and occasionally there might be a few people over-lapping with one another during the same dates. The retreats are not fixed dates retreats with a group of people.

There is only one room available at Yoga Now. For those who want to stay at the accommodation at Yoga Now, they need to know that it will be only themselves staying there regardless of whether there are other people joining a retreat or workshop during those dates, or not.

People who truly want to learn and practice yoga should have no problem with living alone and being the only person in a retreat. As yoga practice or Sadhana is about live alone, eat alone, walk alone, meditate alone.

This is the first determination – learn to be by oneself.

Meals are not provided. Everyone needs to look after their own meals and there are many existing restaurants about 3 Kilometres away that cater to all budgets and tastes. Yoga Now Malaysia is not a hotel or guesthouse. There’s no room service or housekeeping for the accommodation at Yoga now. The teachers will clean up the accommodation thoroughly before the guests check-in and after the guests check-out. But, during the retreat, people who stay at the accommodation at Yoga Now need to be self-initiated and self-reliant to look after the cleanliness and tidiness of their living space. Those who arrange their own accommodation somewhere else also need to arrange their own transport between their accommodation and the yoga studio to attend the retreat sessions.

Some people say that they don’t want to join the retreat because there’s no food or transport included, they feel that it’s very inconvenient and troublesome. While some even say that they initially wanted to join the retreat at Yoga Now Malaysia, as they have heard or read about the food used to be provided at the yoga retreats at Yoga Now Malaysia was very good, but then they don’t want to come for the retreat when they found out that food is not included anymore. It shows that learning and practicing yoga with the teachers from Yoga Now Malaysia is not a priority, but food and all kinds of conveniences are more important to them.

Yoga Now Malaysia doesn’t advertise anywhere and doesn’t have any signboard. Upon confirmation of the yoga retreat, directions to the yoga studio will be given to those who need to arrange their own transport to the yoga studio. They need to be self-reliant to follow the directions that Yoga Now gave them and not depending on taxi drivers to bring them here, as taxi drivers don’t know where the yoga studio is even when people give them an address. Address doesn’t mean anything to the taxi drivers, as it is a house in a village where there’s no street/road name. People who followed the directions would have no problem finding the yoga studio, only those who refused to follow the directions but depend on the taxi drivers would have problem finding it.

Those who really sincerely want to learn and practice yoga with the teachers from Yoga Now Malaysia, food is not that important and there’s nothing too much troublesome and inconvenient that would stop them from coming to learn and practice yoga with the teachers.

This is the second determination – learn to be self-initiated and self-reliant.

The retreats or workshops don’t teach any particular style of yoga, or any particular kind of yoga practice designed specifically for particular type of rehabilitation of physical injuries or illnesses, neither it’s for any kind of ‘healing’ or ‘detoxification’. It’s also not a fitness yoga camp to attain physical fitness/strength/flexibility/ability to do some yoga poses. But everyone do their best to perform the practice without attachment or expectation, and allowing the result or the fruit of practice to be there as it is, while learning how to be aware of what is going on in their own minds. And eventually, they become their own teacher, when they developed awareness, openness, correct understanding, self-reliance and self-discipline, then everyone and everything and all the pleasant and unpleasant experiences are there to teach us something.

In the yoga retreats or workshops here, people learn to allow their mind to be opened, to inquire the truth of everything, including all the teachings of yoga, regardless of whether they like or dislike, agree or disagree with some of the teachings and practice, and whether they want or don’t want to practice some of the teachings and practice.

They learn about not to blind-believing, not to blind-following, not to blind-practicing, not to blind-agreeing or not to blind-preaching/sharing about anything that they read, or heard from somewhere and someone, even from this yoga retreat or workshop that they attended, but to purify and quiet the mind, to inquire or investigate the truth of everything, and realize the truth by themselves, to be free from ignorance.

They learn to perform inquiry towards the yoga teaching of “The body is not I, I am not the body. The mind is not I, I am not the mind.” and let go of attachment and identification with the impermanent and selfless body and mind as who they are. All kinds of problems and suffering that people think they have, started with the ignorant egoistic attachment and identification with the impermanent and selfless existence and function of the body and mind as ‘I’.

They learn how to unattached towards any particular thinking and belief in the mind that influenced them how they judge and react towards everything that the mind comes in contact with, or experiences, or perceives, which is not necessarily the truth of things. Quite many people do not like this teaching or practice of letting go the attachment and identification towards their particular thinking and belief that they have been identifying with as who they are, for a long time.

This is the third determination – learn how to unattached and unidentified with particular thinking and belief or any qualities of names and forms to be who they are, developing awareness, openness, correct understanding, self-reliance and self-discipline, and becoming their own teacher.

In the yoga retreat or workshop, people learn to develop awareness, self-discipline, self-reliance and self-control, to take full responsibility for all their actions and reactions and the consequences of their actions and reactions. How the mind reacts towards all the mind perception of names and forms is it’s own responsibility, whether the mind reacts and feels good or bad, happy or unhappy, satisfied or dissatisfied, positive or negative, like or dislike, agreement or disagreement, want or doesn’t want, pleased or displeased, loved or unloved, pleasant or unpleasant, motivated or demotivated, calm or disturbed, peaceful or peaceless, enjoy or suffer.

They learn to take full responsibility to look after themselves, the well-being of the body and the mind, and be free from clinging onto and longing or craving for love, care, support, encouragement, praise, compliment, acknowledgement, achievement, agreement, friendship, companionship, relationship, connection, or interaction, being immersed in solitude and silence, being in the present, being free from boredom, loneliness, unhappiness, low self-esteem, unworthiness, guilt, regret, pride, arrogance, craving, aversion, longing, the sense of meaninglessness and all kinds of dissatisfaction, disappointment, hurts, anger, hatred, jealousy, fear, worry, offensiveness, defensiveness, agitation, depression, painful sorrow, or suffering.

This is the fourth determination – learn to take full responsibility towards one’s actions and reactions and the consequences of one’s actions and reactions, and look after the well-being of one’s body and mind.

They learn how to observe any physical injuries or illnesses that they have and the existence of any kinds of ‘hurts’ or ‘disturbs’ or ‘painful sorrow’ or ‘suffering’ in the mind by letting go of egoism, without generating attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, and learn to see the truth of impermanence and selflessness. Once the mind realizes or sees the truth of impermanence and selflessness, there is no need of any kinds of ‘healing’. All the good and bad condition of the physical body, and all the different states of the mind of all kinds of thought activities of reactions towards all the mind perception of names and forms, and all kinds of pleasant and unpleasant life experiences, are just what they are, that they are neither good nor bad, neither positive nor negative.

They learn to perform all their actions, practice, duties and responsibilities without attachment and identification, and allowing the result or the fruit of actions to be what they are, without attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgment, comparison or expectation. Being undetermined by the actions or the fruit of actions.

This is the fifth determination – learn to free the mind from egoism of attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, while do one’s best to perform any necessary actions, duties and responsibilities.

All the yoga practice in the retreat sessions are to purify and quiet the mind, to free the mind from egoism, impurities and restlessness, to prepare the mind for meditation, to allow the mind to reflect or inquire upon the truth of everything and be free from ignorance, and thus be free from the by-products of ignorance – All kinds of disturbs, dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, hurts, unhappiness, painful sorrow, fear or suffering.

This is the sixth determination – learn how to free the mind from ignorance, egoism, impurities and restlessness, to allow the mind to see the truth of names and forms – Impermanence and selflessness.

Yoga practice is about letting go of the past good or bad/happy or unhappy/pleasant or unpleasant/desirable or undesirable/agreeable or disagreeable experiences, to free the mind from continuously being disturbed or determined by the past good or bad/happy or unhappy/pleasant or unpleasant/desirable or undesirable/agreeable or disagreeable experiences. And without attachment towards all the good or bad/happy or unhappy/pleasant or unpleasant/desirable or undesirable/agreeable or disagreeable experiences in the present moment now, being undetermined by all the mind perception of names and forms through the senses, and remain equanimous without clinging/craving towards the pleasant experiences, without aversion towards the unpleasant experiences. Also to free the mind from attachment and the desire of craving and aversion towards the future that doesn’t exist and being determined by the imagination/anticipation/projection/expectation towards the future.

And hence, the yoga teachers are not interested to be engaging in worldly social conversations and won’t be asking the guests about their past of what were their thinking and feelings/what they did or didn’t experience, or talking about the past experiences and projecting into the future, or what was/is their physical condition, ability and limitation, or how they think and feel in the present, to allow the guests to stop feeding or empowering the attachment and identification towards the past experiences and all the impermanent and selfless qualities of names and forms that are not who they are, and be aware of all the modifications of the mind in this present moment without attachment or identification, without desire of craving and aversion.

This is the seventh determination – learn how to be in the present, free the mind from being conditioned and determined by the past experiences or the future imagination. And without attachment towards all the pleasant and unpleasant experiences in the present moment as even this present moment is impermanent.

Yoga practice is about silencing the ever restless mind, or the annihilation of the modifications of the mind. It’s not important whether the physical body is in good or bad condition, or whether life is good or not good/easy or difficult, or what the body can do or cannot do, or whether the body is comfortable or uncomfortable, or whether the body suffers from certain injuries or illnesses, or not. It’s to go beyond the attachment and identification with the body and mind, but looking after the well-being of the body and mind out of compassion, not out of egoistic desire of “I want my body and mind to be like this, and I don’t want my body and mind to be like that.” and with the correct understanding of performing the yoga practice within one’s ability in the present and without forcing the body to go beyond its limitation. Allowing the practice and the fruit of the practice to be what it is. Allowing the body to be changing or improving naturally, without attachment and expectation. Without clinging onto or craving for injury-free/illness-free or good condition of the physical body, without aversion towards injury/illness or the bad condition of the physical body.

No matter how much limitation of physical movements and discomforts due to the existing injury or illness, one be determined to attend all the sessions even without much physical practice/movements, but just being aware of the limitation and discomforts without generating attachment, identification, craving and aversion, remain equanimous. And that’s already a great practice, greater than doing many yoga asana poses/exercises in the sessions that people enjoy doing, that make them feel satisfied and happy, but full of attachment, identification, judgment, comparison, expectation, craving and aversion.

This is the eighth determination – develop patience, perseverance, determination, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, adjustment, adaptation and accommodation.

Not that the teachers don’t care about the students, when they don’t ask about the students’ well-being, as it is not important at all about how is the physical condition (injuries/illness/ability and limitation) or the state of the mind (happy or unhappy/positive or negative), when one truly understands what is yoga and is truly practicing yoga. And more importantly, it’s to allow the students to be unattached towards and undetermined by the impermanent and selfless condition and function of the body and mind, and learn to be independent, to observe what is going on in their body and mind, to realize the truth of impermanence and selflessness, to look after the well-being of their body and mind by themselves, to realize wisdom and unconditional love from within, be free from clinging and craving for receiving love, help, support or kindness from others, allowing others to show love, help, support and kindness to oneself, or not, without being determined by other people’s actions and reactions, where they don’t need to rely on a teacher, or anyone to be there for them, to be practicing yoga, to be doing something beneficial for themselves or others, to feel loved and supported, to feel being helped or looked after, to be motivated, to be acknowledged, or to feel meaningful.

There’s no need to have somebody there to comfort oneself, to be listening to one’s ‘problems’ or ‘complaints’, as there’s no ‘problem’ or ‘complaint’ when one knows yoga, when the mind is free from ignorance and egoism.

This is compassion and liberation, although many people might not understand or agree with this. It’s normal that most people who attached strongly onto the worldly passionate thinking and belief couldn’t understand this teaching and practice particularly and have strong disagreements towards this teaching and practice, unless they go beyond all the worldly passionate thinking and belief. And that’s their freedom of thinking, actions and reactions.

Those who don’t understand, they have expectation towards everyone and everything to be in certain ways that they like and agree with. They expect the teachers should behave or treat them in certain ways. They expect the retreat should be run in certain ways. They feel offended, disappointed and hurt when people or things are not being the way that they want it to be, or when they are getting what they don’t like and don’t agree with, or when they are not getting what they like and agree with, and when something that they like has changed into something that they don’t like, or is being disturbed, or is no longer existing or available. As long as the mind is still functioning under the influence of ignorance, egoism and impurities, people would keep hurting themselves and others out of ignorance, egoism and impurities.

This is the ninth determination – to realize compassion or unconditional love, to stop hurting oneself and others out of ignorance, egoism and impurities.

All these practices and realization are nothing to do with the impermanent and selfless physical condition, physical appearance, physical ability and limitation; or the impermanent and selfless state of the mind; or how strong and flexible is the physical body to perform the yoga poses; or how many yoga poses the body can perform nicely and comfortably; or how long they can hold a particular yoga pose comfortably; or whether they perform the yoga poses in so called ‘perfect alignment’, or not; or whether they believe or disbelieve in God (existence); or whether they have or don’t have a religion belief and practice; or what type of religion belief and practice that they have; or what type and style of yoga they are practicing; or how long they have been practicing yoga; or who are their yoga teachers; or what type of food that they eat or don’t eat; or whether the minds think they are good or not good, positive or negative, happy or unhappy.

This is the tenth determination – to free the mind from being conditioned and determined by qualities and dualities and any thinking and beliefs.

It’s important as part of the yoga practice for the fees must be paid fully before the start of the retreats or workshops. Fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. In case of sickness or emergency that one couldn’t finish the retreat, one can replace the unattended retreat sessions on some other time in the future when retreat or workshop is available. The fees is about the retreat guests showing sincerity and determination to attend the yoga retreat or workshop, as well as to show appreciation and gratitude towards the yoga teachers and supporting the maintenance of the retreat centre to conduct such retreats and workshops to allow other people to learn and practice yoga to be free from ignorance and suffering. This is very important as part of the yoga practice of elimination of ignorance and egoism.

It’s not about paying some money in exchange for some customer services or commercial products in return. It’s about one gives before receive anything or even doesn’t receive anything in return. It’s not about one will ‘give’, after one received something that one likes and desires, and one will be reluctant to ‘give’ if one thinks one didn’t receive something that one likes or desires.

The teachings and practice of yoga is available anywhere and anytime that is nothing to do with ‘fees’ at all, such like anyone who visit this Blog can learn and practice yoga from all the posts about yoga here if they want, for free, but the daily/weekly/monthly/yearly maintenance of the living space and practice space of a retreat centre that allow people to come to learn and practice yoga under the teachers needs to be maintained by fees/money, to pay rental, bills, business license fee, building permit fee and lots of maintenance to upkeep the entire place. Even when there’s no retreat or workshop happening, when the teachers don’t teach classes or receive any fees, the teachers are still ‘working’ everyday to upkeep the entire place. But people don’t see this. They think that the teachers only ‘work’ when they are teaching classes. The teachers will be teaching as long as somebody sincerely wants to come to learn and practice with them. Sooner or later, even if someone wants to come to learn and practice yoga, the teachers will not be here anymore.

All the teachings, practice and realization are invaluable. It’s not something that one can buy or pay with some money and one will be free. But the fees in the form of money has its important function. Some people are not aware of they are exploiting the yoga teachers when they negotiate the fees with the teachers to get discount so that they can spend the saved money on something else, or thinking that the yoga teachers shouldn’t receive any fees as they believe that teaching yoga should be something charitable or as a service, expecting that all yoga teachers should have some full time or part time job or business, or beg for donations from the public to support their living and perform selfless service to teach yoga for free or at very low fees. That’s how people started to exploit yoga teachers thinking that that’s the way it should be. Even some yoga teachers would think like that. But it’s not. What they don’t understand is that the fees is not about paying for the teachers for their actions of teaching yoga, but it’s for many things that allow the teachers to be available here to teach yoga to other people at a particular time and space. If the teachers or the time and space are not available due to some reasons, then even though somebody want to pay some fees to the teachers, the teachers also cannot be here to teach yoga to anyone.

The retreat guests need to have certain degrees of determination and open mind to surrender all the doubts and hesitation towards paying non-refundable fees before the start of the retreat or workshop to be determined to finish the retreat or workshop regardless of any physical or mental discomforts/dislike/disagreement/aversion towards some of the teachings or practices and also due to the physical/mental/emotional purification process that may arise during/before/after the retreat or workshop, without forcing the body beyond its limitation, without hurting the body. If it’s too tired or sicked to perform any physical practice, one doesn’t need to do any form of physical practice, but still be practicing yoga by being present in the retreat sessions. But many people don’t get this. They would want to quit as soon as there’s some tiredness, dislikes, disagreements, discomforts or sickness.

Usually when there’s doubt or hesitation towards paying the fees before the retreat started is due to there are a lot of ‘what if’ over-powering people’s mind, and they afraid of they might regret or don’t like the retreat and will loose their money if they want to quit and won’t get any refund for quitting. They prefer to play safe by trying out without payment, and if they like it then they will pay. Or else they won’t pay if they don’t like it. But this type of petite mentality is one of the hindrance in the yoga practice. One should be determined to finished something that one started no matter how challenging it appears to be by putting aside all the impulsive likes and dislikes, craving and aversion.

Not about asking anyone to be compared with myself, but just to let people know that it’s possible to be determined to finished everything that we have started no matter how much challenges and obstacles and difficulties are there. Initially, I didn’t have enough money to pay for the yoga teachers training course when I paid the deposit to sign up for the course, but I never asked for any discounted rate or special rate from the Ashram, and somehow I managed to earn enough to pay for the fees and flight ticket and other expenses as well as supporting my parents’ living by working hard. My body was sicked for more than three weeks during the one month course when I was attending the first yoga teachers training course at Sivananda Ashram in 2005, but I never missed any classes, or quit. Neither did I expect to be receiving sympathy, empathy, attention, love and care from anyone. I looked after myself and knowing that it’s part of the purification process and it’s impermanent. And the next year, after came back from the advanced teachers training course and attended my first silent Vipassana meditation retreat, my whole body and face suffered from some kind of serious skin rash for more than one and half year. Again, it didn’t bother me at all. When I was young, the so called ‘astrologer’ said that I will never be a champion no matter how hard I try, but I managed to be a champion twice, and be qualified to represent Malaysia for competing in world championship in Sport Aerobics Competition. It’s all about determination, perseverance, discipline, focus, patience, forbearance, hardworking and independence.

For those who have developed a strong foundation of correct understanding towards the teachings and practice, where they have become their own teacher, then naturally and effortlessly, they are dispassionate towards a worldly passionate way of life and would renounce worldly social affairs, desires, relationships, connections, activities and interactions, immersing into the practice of silence, solitude and seclusion, to be focusing in their own practice to attain complete annihilation of the modification of the mind.

This might be the last but not least determination – to attain complete annihilation of the modification of the mind.

Everyone has the freedom to decide what they want or don’t want to practice after learning about the teachings and practice of yoga in the retreats or workshops, there’s nothing wrong if they don’t want to practice some of the teachings or practice, but more importantly, they learn to allow their mind to be opened, to be undisturbed by something that their mind dislikes, disagrees with, and doesn’t want to practice, but at the same time, allow the mind to be opened to inquire or investigate the truth of everything that the mind agrees or disagrees with, being aware of whatever the mind agrees or disagrees with are not necessarily the truth. That is already getting into the practice, even if they dislike, disagree with and don’t want to practice some of the teachings or practices of yoga. Then in everyday life, dealing with many people and things that are not necessarily that they like or agree with, but they are not disturbed by what they don’t like and don’t agree with, and have peace.

That is true compassion towards oneself and others, where one stops hurting oneself or others out of all kinds of impurities of dissatisfaction, disappointment, offensiveness, defensiveness, frustration, unhappiness, depression, pride, arrogance, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, hurts, regret, guilt, craving, aversion, impatience, intolerance, ill-will, animosity, unrest, fear or worry, under the influence of ignorance and egoism.

One is peaceful as one is, regardless of all kinds of mind perception of pleasant or unpleasant experiences, and all the impermanent changes of the different states of the mind, the mental achievement, ability and limitation; the physical achievement, ability and limitation, and the impermanent and selfless physical condition of aging, decaying, weakening, pain, illness and eventually stop functioning and decompose.

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their life, body and mind, but also be responsible for all their decisions and desires, actions and reactions, and the consequences of their decisions, desires, actions and reactions.

Be happy.

Learn to be alone and independent

If one wants to practice yoga and meditation, one needs to learn to be alone and independent, as well as allow others to also learn to be alone and independent, learning to look after oneself.

Somehow quite many people think and believe that ‘aloneness’ of solitude and seclusion is something ‘wrong’ and ‘selfish’. Many people, including health professionals and yoga teachers, would think and believe that it’s ‘abnormal’ and ‘unhealthy’ for the body and the mind if someone is being ‘isolated’ from other human beings for a prolonged period of time, that people would get sick and die due to loneliness and without any ‘physical touch/contact’ or ‘mental connection/interaction’ with other human beings. So they believe, and so they become. It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to think and believe.

For yoga practitioners, one must inquire the truth of everything. Do not blind-agreeing, blind-believing, blind-following, or blind-sharing any information of anything coming from anyone or any source.

Look into the history, of those who had been observing serious prolonged solitude and seclusion, voluntary being isolated from other human beings in the society to cut-off social activities, communication and interaction, to minimize mind inputs of worldly ideas, habits, thinking and belief, to quiet the restless modification of the mind, they were able to conquer their minds and attained the knowledge that liberates the mind from ignorance and suffering. These liberated minds were no longer be influenced or determined by all the others in the society of all kinds of thinking and belief and behavior.

Yoga practitioners who truly want to be free from ignorance and suffering, must inquire the truth of all those worldly thinking and belief coming from someone and somewhere, while letting go the worldly habit of minding other people’s worldly affair, allowing others to learn to be independent to look after their own minds, or not.

No doubt that all living beings must depend on nature to provide the source of energy in the form of food, water and air for survival, and human beings living in the modern society are limited by necessary dependence on some others for certain things. Such as those who don’t farm or cook, will have to depend on those who involve in farming, transporting, food processing, handling and cooking, to allow food to be available to them. Or, people who don’t know how to build a house need to depend on house builders to build houses for them. Or, babies, toddlers and young children need the attentive care and guidance from others who are physically/mentally/emotionally matured. Or, those who have physical or mental limitation or illness, also need to depend on other people to look after their everyday living and to rehabilitate. Or, most people depend on clean treated running water, gas and electricity supply to their home for modern living convenience. Or people who are critically sick need to depend on health professionals who have the knowledge of medicines and treatments for all kinds of critical illness, and depending on the availability of the medicines or treatments to counter that particular illness.

Otherwise, most people could be physically, mentally and emotionally independent most of the time for most of the things in everyday life, but people just wouldn’t, where people are either reluctant to look after themselves physically, mentally and emotionally even when they could, but they rather depending on other people to be there for them physically, mentally and emotionally, or people have fear and aversion towards the sense of lovelessness, companionlessness, loneliness, boredom and meaninglessness.

Survival instinct, love seeking, companion seeking, loneliness, boredom and meaninglessness are some of the significant reasons why people don’t like or don’t agree with ‘aloneness’ and ‘independence’. Meanwhile there are selfish greedy people in the world also don’t like the society to be ‘independent’ as that means they can no longer easily ‘manipulate’ or ‘control’ the society to get what they want.

It’s common that many people want to think and believe that all human beings somehow NEEDING each other in life. People like to think and feel, “My children need me”, “My family needs me”, “My friends need me”, “My partner needs me”, “My students need me”, “My pets need me”, “My country needs me”, and so on. Or “I need my children/my family/my friends/my partner/my students/my pets/my country being there for me, or else my life is empty, lonely, bored, joyless and meaningless.”

It makes the egoistic minds feel good and meaningful about themselves when they think they are needed by other people or beings, that they can contribute something to other beings. If everyone is physically, mentally and emotionally independent and doesn’t really need anyone to be there for them physically, mentally and emotionally, then this ‘craving for needing one another in life’ will not be gratified. People are no longer be able to attain that kind of good and meaningful feelings coming from the perception of “I am needed by some others. I am a useful being. I can contribute to the family/society/country/world/humanity.” But, this is only because of ignorance and egoism.

The mind can be free from the idea of “I am needed by some others” or “I want to be there for some others” and be free from the craving for attaining good feelings and the sense of meaningfulness coming from being needed by others, but still being kind and generous and helpful to those who really need physical, mental and emotional care and support from others, unconditionally without discrimination of ‘superiority or inferiority’, ‘people whom I know or don’t know’, ‘people whom I like or don’t like’, or ‘people whom I agree with or disagree with’.

And then there are those who become physically, mentally and emotionally frustrated, exhausted and restless deriving from pushing oneself beyond one’s limitation to look after other people who want to or need to depend on the others physically, mentally and emotionally. This is because the egoistic mind would feel bad, guilty and regret if they think they are not always there or couldn’t be there for people who want to or need to depend on them. And if their body and mind breakdown due to over exhaustion from looking after others, themselves need to be looked after by some others. If one can’t even look after oneself properly, then how can one look after the others efficiently?

When the mind is free from ignorance and egoism, it can truly serve the world efficiently, selflessly and unconditionally, under a pure, calm, dispassionate, desireless and selfless mind.

In the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre/Ashram, most people see the sequence of the teachings of Swami Sivananda as SERVE, LOVE, GIVE, PURIFY, MEDITATE, REALIZE. That is also what Swami Sivananda taught and had written in most of his books.

SERVE, LOVE, GIVE is when the mind turning outward performing selfless actions in the world (Karma Yoga) to serve the purpose of purifying the mind via the elimination of egoism through selfless service. While PURIFY allows the mind be free from impurities and restlessness to meditate and realize the truth of selflessness. MEDITATE is when the mind turning inward ceased all actions or studies in the world, stands as the silent witness towards the mind perception of a world of names and forms. And REALIZE is the fruit of meditation.

SERVE, LOVE, GIVE are supposed to help in the elimination of egoism while performing karma yoga/selfless service, however, it’s because most minds are not free from ignorance and egoism, that’s why they need to be purified. While SERVE, LOVE, GIVE under the influence of ignorance and egoism could actually empowering ignorance and egoism, and would generate more impurities and restlessness into the mind than to purify the mind, which in fact, hindering the mind to meditate and realize.

And so, the more efficient way might be first taking care of PURIFY (by turning the mind inward via dispassion, renunciation, solitude, seclusion and silence), MEDITATE and REALIZE, and then this mind that is free from ignorance and egoism can truly SERVE, LOVE, GIVE through performing selfless actions or Karma Yoga in the world, efficiently, selflessly and unconditionally. At this point, even though the body and mind is performing actions in the world, but the mind is unmoved/unaffected/undetermined by the actions and the fruit of actions. This mind is void of restlessness or exhaustion. This is INACTION in ACTIONS that doesn’t bind the mind to karma.

In fact, meditation practice being done with the correct understanding and attitude is the best mind purification, as during the time of sitting quietly by oneself, moving the body and mind away from worldly interactions and activities, turning the attention inward, withdrawing the senses from the sense objects, witnessing/observing the mind activities without association/identification with the modifications of the mind, without craving, aversion, judgment and expectation, without intention, the mind is being purified naturally and efficiently.

PURIFY, MEDITATE, REALIZE is indeed the mind SERVING, LOVING, GIVING the mind itself, and thus, purifying itself. Upon the realization of Selflessness, this mind can truly SERVE, LOVE, GIVE to others.

And hence, the importance of silence, solitude and seclusion, aloneness and independence for those who truly want to practice yoga and realize yoga.

One must look after one’s mind before one can truly benefit the others.

Those who disagree with this don’t have to take up this teaching. Be free.

Children grow up without a father or a mother or both parents

Of course, it would be good if the children grow up in an environment that they are being loved and supported by both ‘loving’ parents.

If due to unforeseen circumstances, one of the parents is not there to love and support the children as they grow up, it would be good if at least there is a ‘loving’ father or mother being there to love and support the children.

If due to unforeseen circumstances, both of the parents are not there to love and support the children as they grow up, it would be good if they can depend on some other people’s charity, love and support until they become independent.

If due to unforeseen circumstances, there’s nobody being there to love and support the children as they grow up, that they have to depend on themselves and nature, it would be good if the children know how to love themselves and be independent without self-pity, self-blame and bitterness, no matter how difficult and harsh it can be.

If due to unforeseen circumstances, the children grow up in an environment where one or both of the parents or the care taker, is ignorant, unloving, selfish and abusive, it would be better if the children grow up without the parents or any care takers. Growing up in an environment surrounded by and under the influence of ignorant people with ignorant behavior can be worst than being alone not be surrounded by ignorant people with ignorant influences. Children grow up under the care of one or both of the parents are not necessarily well brought up to have the correct understanding of life and be free from unhappiness and suffering, who won’t hurt themselves or other beings out of ignorance and egoism, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

If life appears to be challenging and difficult, most important is that one knows how to love oneself, and has peace and compassion. It’s not a suffering or unfortunate if one grows up being abandoned or unloved or unsupported or being abused, if one has self-awareness and self-realization, be free from ignorance and egoism. There’s no need of self-pity, self-blame, anger, hatred, envy, bitterness, defensiveness, offensiveness, fear or worry.

Being alone, by oneself, of solitude, is not something ‘bad’ or ‘difficult’ or ‘hardship’ or ‘suffering’. It’s indeed a great ‘fortune’ to immerse into the silence of solitude, of peace and compassion, being free from ignorance and egoism.

Many people are surrounded by some or many other people, of family and friends, but they are not necessarily peaceful and be free from suffering.

Be free.

The yoga students and the yoga teacher…

A doctor can diagnose ailments and prescribe medication for patients, but since the doctor might not suffer from the same condition the doctor won’t need to take the medication prescribed.

Nor will the doctor prescribe the same medication for every patient as they might have different diseases or conditions. Even patients with a similar condition might react differently towards a particular medication or therapy. In this case the doctor will need to adjust the dosage or prescribe something different.

If the doctor also suffers from a medical condition then medication might be required, but even if the doctor recovers through use of a particular medication, it doesn’t mean that this medication will be suitable for all other patients.

This is similar to the case of yoga students and a yoga teacher.

There is no need to look at others, not even our teachers, but concentrate on our own path and practice.

Be happy.

Om shanti.