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.

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.

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.

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.

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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.

Suffering is not due to bad karma, but ignorance

Not everyone believe in karma, but there are quite some people believe in karma, especially in Asian culture.

A lot of time, people would relate or refer any kind of suffering as the result of bad karma (the consequences of bad actions). If someone is going through some kinds of difficult situation or very unpleasant condition or painful experiences in life, where the body and/or the mind has to go through certain difficulty or pain, people would say, “Oh, this is due to bad karma. And it’s good to go through suffering to burn-off the past accumulated bad karma.” Although by saying so, it might make the person who is suffering feels a little better and make it easier to deal with suffering, but most suffering is unnecessary and can be avoided if we know how to avoid behaving ignorantly.

People like to give their opinion and say, “Oh. Such a terrible bad karma exists in your family. Your family has to go through all these suffering is because of your family past bad karma. You all must have done lots of bad things in the past. That’s why your family has to suffer so much for it in this life.” This is such ignorant thinking and belief and saying.

Even good people who have been doing a lot of good and right actions, and didn’t do much bad or wrong in this world, and for those who believe that they have been accumulated lots of good karma in their past life are not excluded from experiencing physical, emotional and mental suffering if their minds are not free from ignorance and egoism. People like to say, “You are such a good person. You don’t deserve all these suffering. It must be bad karma from your past life.” And this is ignorant thinking and belief and saying.

For the strong ego, it would prefer to blame on past life bad karma for its suffering, than to acknowledge and admit that it’s due to its ignorance in the present.

Those who know about suffering and the cause of suffering do not blame on past life and bad karma. It’s ignorant behavior of actions and reactions in this life existence that people end up in many unnecessary suffering.

Most suffering is truly unnecessary, and the cause of these suffering is ignorance that gives rise to ignorant behavior, that leads to the consequences of ignorant behavior, which is unnecessary suffering that doesn’t has to be existing in the first place.

For example, if a person is suffering from an illness, which is treatable and not too complicated, if the illness is being treated properly and immediately, but for some reasons, due to ignorance, one is not getting the proper treatment immediately, and this person has to suffer more painful consequences that could be avoided in the first place, and/or it might be too late to do anything even though one tries to get the proper treatment later on.

Another example, one who ignores the little small problems that arise in life which could be solved easily and immediately, but for some reasons, due to ignorance, all the unattended little small problems would turn into serious unsolvable big problems. And it might be too late to do anything even if one realizes and regrets towards one’s ignorance.

Another example, one who knows that by mixing with those who have strong influence in getting into unnecessary troubles and by taking certain substances to get high can turn into addiction that would cause many forms of complication in health, life and relationship with others, but still want to take those substances to get high and hang out with those who have strong influence in getting into unnecessary troubles, and ends up in unnecessary suffering and troubles. That’s pure ignorance.

And for another example, due to the strong ego, one pushes the body and mind beyond its limitation to achieve what the ego wants to achieve, and causing unnecessary damages into the body and mind, losing one’s mobility and sanity, and requiring intensive care from others. This is not because bad karma. It’s purely ignorance.

Due to ignorance, egoism and impurities of dissatisfaction, disappointment, lust, desires, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, hurt, guilt, offensiveness, defensiveness, pride, arrogance, fear and worry, and so on, one would generate actions and reactions that give rise to unnecessary suffering onto oneself and affecting others either directly or indirectly.

Even the most intelligent or virtue person in this world also can’t escape the fundamental suffering of a life existence that is under the function of the physical body and mind perception of names and forms that is subject to impermanent changes and selflessness (All the impermanent changes and perception of names and forms are not in the control of an ‘I’, or how ‘I’ would like it to be).

If one is free from ignorance, then even though one is going through some kind of physical and/or mental suffering, one will not generate or react with further ignorant reactions that would bring further ignorant consequences. One would know how to transcend or go beyond the difficult condition, or unpleasant and painful experiences with correct understanding, wisdom and compassion, and remain equanimous being at peace, being undisturbed or undetermined by it, while being aware of the difficult condition, or unpleasant and painful experiences are impermanent and it’s not ‘I’.

Past life and karma (whether good or bad, easy or difficult) doesn’t mean anything to the one who has realized unconditional peace and love, who is free from ignorance. There’s no fear or aversion towards difficult condition, or unpleasant and painful experiences. There’s no clinging or craving towards easy condition, or pleasant and enjoyable experiences.

Misconception towards self-love or self-compassion

Self-love or self-compassion is related to being self-centered in yoga.

While self-centered is being referred as self-obsessiveness by certain worldly thinking and belief as pampering oneself with enjoyments and laziness and fulfilling all desires at any cost, even if it would cause harmful damages in oneself and others.

There’s nothing wrong if people want to be selfish and lazy, it’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their life. It’s just that those who are selfish and lazy, but can’t help feeling guilty for being selfish and lazy, would feel better by justifying to themselves and others that they are practicing self-love or self-compassion.

In the teachings of yoga, being self-centered has nothing to do with self-obsessiveness/self-pampering/laziness. It’s about being centered in the truth of selflessness (the state that is void of selfishness or unselfishness), performing all duties and responsibilities without being influenced or determined by the action and the fruit of action, and being compassionate towards the suffering in one’s mind and others without being influenced, or disturbed, or determined by the suffering and the cause of suffering, which is ignorance and egoism, as well as all sort of impurities, thinking, belief, behavior, values and expectation that are under the influence of ignorance and egoism. It’s nothing to do with self-pampering with enjoyments and laziness and the fulfillment of all desires.

Self-compassion is being persevered and determined to free one’s mind from ignorance and the consequences of ignorance.

Being compassionate doesn’t mean that sacrificing oneself in pursue of helping others or making others to be happy. None can make another to be happy. When others are happy it’s because their desires of craving and aversion are being gratified by giving them what they like and want, and don’t give them what they don’t like and don’t want. It’s the ego thinking that ‘I’ am good and happy when ‘I’ can make others to be happy. It’s about doing one best performing action without forcing oneself beyond limitation and be able to let go without guilt or regret, if one couldn’t help as much as one would like to help. None can’t help those who enjoy being ignorant and swimming in the pool of suffering, who are reluctant to help themselves, but only complain about all sorts of dissatisfaction and expect sympathy and help from others to gratify all their desires of craving and aversion.

The thinking of “I am not good enough to help or make others to be happy, and thus, I am unable to be compassionate and I am unhappy because others are unhappy.” is due to the egoism of attachment, identification, judgment and expectation out of ignorance. It’s nothing to do with compassion.

Be compassionate towards suffering minds

It’s not as easy as we would like it to be, to free the mind from suffering.

Though people might show sympathy towards other people’s suffering, those who have always been having a good life condition, might not truly understand the suffering that some other people are going through physically, mentally and emotionally, due to some traumatic painful life experiences.

We can’t tell people, “Hey, be grateful for all the little good things that you have. Stop being miserable.”

We can’t tell people, “Hey, be positive. Everything will be all good and nothing bad.”

We can’t tell people, especially when our life is in good condition, “Hey, life is so good. Don’t be so unhappy and bitter.”

People are allowed to be unhappy or bitter, especially when they are going through some difficult moments. It’s everyone’s freedom for whether they want to be free from unhappiness and bitterness, or not.

People might have gone through or are going through some really difficult or disturbing or painful moments, where we might have no idea how hard it is to be in their place. Even though people might smile, make jokes and laugh like everyone else, but deep in their mind, there might be some painful suffering that other people are unaware of.

It’s not difficult for those who have realized the truth to be able to let go even the most difficult and painful experiences, without vengeance. But it’s not easy for those who haven’t realized the truth to let go what was/is deeply troubling their minds.

It’s perfectly understandable that some of the suffering minds have become ‘hard’ and ‘bitter’, and we should be compassionate towards these minds that have become ‘hard’ and ‘bitter’ unwittingly, due to having been through some difficult traumatic life experiences that are not in their control and not what they wish for.

It’s normal that the suffering minds that are ‘hard’ and ‘bitter’ would feel very uncomfortable or irritable, disturbed and disgusted when hearing the teachings of yoga about letting go, forgiveness and compassion. It might take them a long time to be able to allow the mind to be open, to be aware of the suffering, without identification with the suffering, but to stand as a witness towards all the painful life experiences, and be compassionate towards the mind has to unwittingly go through some difficult traumatic life experiences, and suffers. And as yoga teachers, we can only be compassionate towards these suffering minds without judgment, but with thorough understanding and acceptance, knowing that none can take away another person’s suffering, but the mind itself to free itself from ignorance and egoism, the root cause of all suffering.