Worldly identifications

One of the great obstacles or challenges for the yoga enthusiasts to be free from egoism is the intense attachment towards worldly identifications with some qualities of names and forms to be existing as ‘I’.

It’s ‘unthinkable’ for the egoistic minds to be ‘functioning’ or ‘aware of the mind perception of a worldly life of names and forms’ without any identifications with some qualities of names and forms to be acknowledged by oneself and others as ‘This is I’.

There’s great fear towards losing the sense of the existence of ‘I’, or ‘selflessness/’I’-lessness’, or being unable to be acknowledged by oneself and others as “I am this and that”, if without any of the identifications that the egoistic thinking mind would like to acknowledge itself and be acknowledged by others that “I exist as an (unique/special/distinctive/meaningful) individual being with such and such qualities of names and forms.”

Similarly, most minds have great fear towards letting go all kinds of superstitious thinking, beliefs, values and practices that were being ingrained into the minds from very young age by their elders, parents, relatives, friends, school teachers, religious teachers, the community and the society. Very few minds would question the truth of all those thinking, beliefs, values and practices, to inquire the truth of everything that was told or informed by everyone, and would just blind-believing, blind-following, blind-practicing and blind-passing on all these thinking, beliefs, values and practices. As most people would ‘label’ themselves or be ‘labeled’ by others as ‘bad person’ or ‘traitor’ towards one’s root and ancestor’s cultural background and family values, if they don’t embrace or follow or pass down those thinking, beliefs, values and practices.

For many people, this is the ‘normal’, ‘good’, ‘productive’, ‘positive’, ‘healthy’, ‘successful’, ‘meaningful’ and ‘rightful’ way of life or living.

Not only that there was a ‘basic identity upon birth’ that relates to a ‘given name’, a ‘gender’, a ‘family’, an ‘ethnicity’, a ‘birth place’, a ‘nationality’ and a ‘security ID number’, but everyone was growing up being conditioned by the society to identify oneself with a ‘sexual orientation’, a ‘personality’, a ‘physical appearance’, a ‘self-image’, a ‘body image’, a ‘physical condition’, a ‘mental state’, a ‘religion’, a ‘culture’, a ‘lifestyle’, a ‘trend’, and etc. Most minds are being ‘encouraged’ by the society to be constantly ‘developing’ and ‘possessing’ further more other qualities of names and forms to empower or strengthen that ‘self-identity’, that would allow the minds to feel proud, confident and meaningful towards the existence of ‘I’ under such identifications. Such like, “I am a ‘good’, ‘strong’, ‘healthy’, ‘fit’, ‘beautiful’, ‘attractive’, ‘stylish’, ‘successful’, ‘intelligent’, ‘knowledgeable’, ‘positive’, ‘multi tasking’, ‘talented’, ‘well-informed’, ‘well-behaved’, ‘inspirational’, ‘generous’ and ‘kind loving’ human being on top of all the identifications with a particular belief, religion, spirituality, culture, caste, sect, educational level, social status, community group, political views, profession, interests, qualifications, certifications, achievements, contributions, possessions, relationships, connections, and so on.

There are some common sayings such as –
“Be good, do good, and life will be all good and you will be happy.”
“Be nice and friendly to other people, and other people will be nice and friendly to you.”
That is not necessary true.

But everyone has been circulating that kind of sayings especially from the elders to the youngsters, or from the yoga teachers to the yoga students. Many people experiencing disappointment, depression and meaninglessness because they have such expectation towards life, where everyone and everything has to be in certain ways based on those sayings.

Many times, life is not necessarily all good and people are not happy even after they are being good and they have done many good. And it’s okay.

People don’t have to be happy all the time. Just be good and do good, and allow the fruit of actions to be what it is, not necessarily has to be the way that we would like it to be.

Sometimes, people are not being grateful or appreciative towards our kindness and friendliness, and are not being nice or friendly to us when we are being nice and friendly to them. And it’s okay.

People don’t have to be grateful and appreciative, and be nice and friendly to others, if they don’t want to. Just be nice and friendly to others, without the expectation that other people should be grateful and appreciative, and be nice and friendly to us in return.

The most practical way in the yoga practice to eliminate egoism from the mind is via renunciation of what most minds being conditioned to think and believe as the ‘normal’ and ‘meaningful’ way of life. Moving the mind away from the egoistic worldly social cultural thinking and beliefs, ideas, relationships, connections, interactions and activities, and letting go novels, news and magazines reading, radio listening, movies watching and theater visiting. Be determined to observe seclusion and solitude for at least five or six years, cutting off all kinds of worldly social cultural inputs, ideas, connections, activities and interactions, to allow the mind to be free from being conditioned by worldly thinking and beliefs that are all about empowering worldly attachment and identification. Only then the mind can see the truth of names and forms as it is.

Once the mind is free from being conditioned by worldly egoistic thinking and beliefs, it is no longer being determined by any of the worldly identifications with qualities of names and forms to be existing as ‘I’. There’s no need to feel proud, confident or meaningful towards “I am somebody endowed with this and that prideful, superior and meaningful qualities.”

There’s no ‘I’ being there that needs to be empowered, be acknowledged, be motivated, be inspired, be loved, be proud, be confident and be meaningful. There’s no ‘I’ being there to be strong, be weak, be happy, be unhappy, be positive, be negative, be good, be bad, be hurt, be healed, be pleased, be displeased, be praised, be insulted, be selfish, be unselfish, be unfree or be free.

While the entire world emphasize on the empowerment of a strong self-identity nurtured with the qualities of names and forms of particular social/cultural/ethnicity/nationality ideas/values/practices, yoga practice is mainly to free the mind from all these identifications with any qualities of names and forms.

Even the idea of “I am a yoga practitioner practicing yoga of annihilating ignorance, egoism, impurities and restlessness” and the desire of “I want to practice yoga to be free from ignorance and suffering” vanished from the minds that know thyself.

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Untrained mind is being conditioned by remembrance of past experiences

The untrained minds are being conditioned and determined by the remembrance of the past desirable and undesirable, pleasant and unpleasant, happy and unhappy, or good and bad experiences to think, behave, desire, act and react in the present moment now, constantly missing and longing towards the past experiences that were desirable, pleasant, happy or good, while continuously being disturbed by the past experiences that were undesirable, unpleasant, unhappy or bad, influencing the relationships and interactions with the others in the present, as well as projecting/anticipating into the future longing for experiencing the similar desirable, pleasant, happy and good experiences, while rejecting towards experiencing the similar undesirable, unpleasant, unhappy and bad experiences, full of tension and anxiety derived from aversion and defensiveness or self-protection.

It’s not about trying to erase or forget all the past memories of all kinds of pleasant/unpleasant experiences, but it’s about the ability of being unattached towards all the past desirable/undesirable experiences and live in the present without being conditioned or determined by the past happy/unhappy experiences influencing one’s relationships and interactions with other beings in the present, being free from missing and craving towards something ‘nice’ that doesn’t exist in the present, being free from fear and aversion towards something ‘not nice’ whether it’s existing or non-existing in the present.

Many people who have been through broken relationships in the past, and are continuously being affected and disturbed by the past undesirable/unpleasant/unhappy/bad experiences of the broken relationships, will more or less be determined by the past experiences to influence how one thinks, behaves, desires, acts and reacts in the new relationship with somebody else in the present, full of tension and anxiety being over-powered by defensiveness/self-protection being in the new relationship. Oneself is not peaceful while generating unnecessary tension into the new relationship, for being unable to be relaxed and immersed into the new relationship with some other people in the present even when other people are being genuine and loving towards oneself. There’s no peace in this kind of relationship where one or both party is being conditioned or determined by the past undesirable relationship with some other people.

There’s this thinking in the mind, “Oh, I am a victim of other people’s selfish unloving and wrongful behavior. I was so nice and loving to the person in the relationship with me, but this is what I got in return. I am ill-treated. I am hurt. I am broken. I am vulnerable. That’s why I feel like this and behave like this. I deserved sympathy and empathy and loving kindness from other people. I need to learn how to protect myself from being hurt again.” This mind is not free, even though there might be many people think and believe that by showing sympathy and empathy and loving kindness towards this ‘suffering’ mind will relieve the pain in this mind, and this mind might feel ‘better’ and ‘loved by others’ via receiving sympathy and empathy and loving kindness from others, but it doesn’t take away the ignorance in this mind, unless the mind starts to see the truth of what is going on in the mind.

Some minds also try to redeem what they think they deserved in return for all their love and sacrifices that they had put out in their past broken relationship while being in the new relationship with somebody else. Some minds even redirect their frustration and anger that they had been accumulated from their past broken relationship towards the person in the present relationship with them.

Be free.

Subtle greed towards developing connections

There is this teaching that some yoga practitioners/teachers might have neglected –

不要攀缘 也不要贪缘

It means – Do not greed for developing or building connections

Because ‘developing or building connections’ with as many beings as possible or 结缘 is being perceived in the world as something good and righteous, such as ‘performing good actions’ and ‘sharing something good with others’ will bring friendship, love, support, help, happiness, prosperity and meaningfulness in return, quite many yoga practitioners/teachers are not aware of the subtle greed towards developing or building connections with as many beings as possible for many ‘good reasons’.

In the world of business, career or entertainment, people have the need to develop or build as many ‘good connections’ or ‘friendships’ as possible in order to attain the highest success in life, career or business. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Just that it can become an obstacle on the path of yoga towards the annihilation of ignorance and egoism. Some yoga practitioners/teachers are not aware of the mind is being over-powered by the subtle spiritual greed to build ‘yoga schools’, or ‘yoga centres’, or ‘yoga ashrams’, or ‘yoga empire’. The mind would think that it’s for the sake of ‘sharing yoga’ with as many people as possible. It’s a great teaching why Swami Sivananda mentioned that – “Do not build ashrams. Do not hoard disciples. Do not associate. Live alone. Walk alone. Eat alone. Meditate alone.”

“I am kind to others so that they will also be kind to others.” This is not yoga, even though there’s nothing bad or wrong with that. There’s egoism of attachment, identification, desire and intention or expectation towards something that the mind perceives as ‘good’ and ‘right’. The mind is not free.

Contemplate on this teaching and be free from the subtle greed towards connections building. Be free from the longing for friendship, love, support, help, happiness, prosperity or meaningfulness deriving from ‘performing good actions’ and ‘sharing something good with others’. Be free from intention or aspiration. One might be ‘performing good actions’ and ‘sharing something good with others’, but all actions are intention-less. It’s free from the subtle/hidden greed or craving towards developing or building ‘good connections’ with as many beings as possible.

Just be kind to others. Whether other people want to be kind to others, or not, that’s their freedom.

Just do good in the world. Whether the world will be good, or not, allow it to be what it is, as it is.

It’s okay even when the mind is not free from ignorance

Although there are not many yoga practitioners can completely be free from ignorance and egoism even after long time of practicing yoga, but it’s okay, as long as the mind is aware of it is ignorant towards certain things or many things and be able to accept the reality as it is, that in this present moment now, the mind is not free from ignorance and disturb, and it’s okay, because even this ignorance and disturb is impermanent, and it’s not ‘I’, it’s just the mind. And that is already a great liberation.

For those who have doubt towards the truth of many things, but somehow don’t know how to purify and quiet the mind to inquire the truth of things, then just keep this in mind, “Everything is impermanent and selfless, including happiness and unhappiness or pleasure and suffering. Regardless of good people or bad people, good things or bad things, meaningfulness or meaninglessness, excitement or painful sorrow, selfishness or unselfishness, togetherness or separateness, all will change and disappear.” One will be okay in life dealing with many things that are not necessary the way that the mind would like it to be.

Knowledge, talents and skills

Having some knowledge, talents and skills is very useful and helpful for people to be doing something in life. But it’s okay and one doesn’t need to feel bad about oneself, if one thinks oneself doesn’t have much knowledge, talents or skills to be doing something in life.

As by having knowledge, talents and skills also doesn’t guarantee that the mind is free from ignorance and suffering, or is peaceful and be able to forgive and let go something that the mind perceives as ‘wrong’, ‘bad’, or ‘hurtful’. The mind might still be disturbed or determined by all the qualities of names and forms that are impermanent and selfless. Some people even use the knowledge, talents and skills that they have to be doing something that cause damages or harmful effects in the world.

Regardless of whether one is knowledgeable, talented and skillful to be doing something constructive/destructive in life, or not, it’s about whether the mind is or isn’t free from ignorance and egoism, that determines whether the mind will be disturbed or undisturbed by all the mind perceptions of names and forms, and whether the mind will have peace, being free from impurities, restlessness and suffering, or not.

People might have the knowledge, talent, skill or money to build the most beautiful functional house to live in, and people might attain some momentary satisfaction and happy feelings for being able to build a beautiful functional house to live in, but it doesn’t guarantee that the people who build the house and those who live in the house are all free from ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering, or won’t be disturbed by all the perceptions of names and forms, and are peaceful and compassionate and be able to forgive and let go something that the mind perceives as ‘wrong’, ‘bad’ and ‘hurtful’.

Make good use of the knowledge, talents and skills that one have to be doing something constructive in life, if possible, but without attachment and identification towards the knowledge, talents and skills as ‘who I am’, without pride or the sense of superiority, and without being determined by one’s action and the fruit of one’s action coming from the knowledge, talents and skills that one have, to feel meaningful and happy, or not.