Listen?

In the civilized cultured loving and caring society, people might take this word of ‘LISTEN’ to be “Someone or a voice needs to be heard or be listened, and people should being sympathetic in listening to someone else ‘agony’, or ‘difficulty’, or ‘misery’, or ‘unhappiness’, or ‘painful sorrow’, or ‘hurts’, or ‘broken heart’, or ‘suffering’, or ‘grumbling’, and etc.”

It’s normal for people to share each other’s life experiences, ideas, thoughts, feelings and emotions, either we want to tell our stories or we want ourselves to be listened by others, as well as we want to be a listener to listen to other people’s stories, whether it’s something ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘happy’ or ‘unhappy’. People like to connect and stay connect with other people by chatting regularly or catching-up once in a while to show that they care. And it would be seen as abnormal or inhuman or cold, if one doesn’t involve with such human social activities. We will feel lonely, isolated, abandoned, helpless, unworthy, unloved, not good enough, unhappy, depressed, disappointed, frustrated, or meaningless, if we think there’s nobody there to listen to us, or nobody wants to share with us.

People would think that as human beings, people should be caring and sympathetic to be there for other people when people need someone to be there to listen to what is troubling them. Caring people like to ask other people whom they think they might be ‘disturbed’, or ‘troubled’, or ‘hurt’ by something, “Do you want to talk about what is troubling/disturbing/hurting you? I’m here to listen. Maybe I can help you.” It’s selfish, uncaring, unthinkable, uncompassionate, inhuman, or wrong, if we don’t ask about other people’s ‘problems’, or ‘unhappiness’, or ‘painful sorrow’, or ‘suffering’, and etc. Or it’s ‘bad’ or ‘unhealthy’ if one observes silence of thoughts, actions and speech.

No doubt that by expressing, or talking, or grumbling, or bitching about our ‘frustration’, ‘disappointment’, ‘dissatisfaction’, ‘troubles’, ‘problems’, ‘difficulties’, ‘misery’, ‘grief’, ‘hurts’, ‘painful sorrow’, ‘agony’, or ‘suffering’, and etc, to other people may or may not give certain degrees of momentary relief to the ‘suffering’ or ‘unhappy’ or ‘troubled’ minds, but it won’t help the minds to be free from what they think is their ‘suffering’ or ‘unhappiness’, even if the people who listen to them might try to give them some ‘advice’, or ‘guidance’, or ‘care’, or ‘comfort’ that they think might can relieve their ‘pain’ or ‘solve’ their problems.

Sometimes, talking or complaining about what we think is our ‘problem’ to some other people actually creates further complication to the existing ‘problem’ and could generate some other unnecessary ‘problems’ to ourselves and other people. The listener of other people’s problems becomes a ‘problem maker’ or has a ‘problem’ in the end. We asked for advice from others, and someone was being very kind to listen to us and give us some advice and we took the advice, but when things didn’t turn out to be the way that we expect it to be, we blamed other people for giving us their ‘bad advice’, or we blamed ourselves for trusting the wrong person and taking the ‘bad advice’. This is due to most minds are impure, are not free from egoistic selfish desires, attachment, expectation and incorrect thinking.

In the path of yoga and meditation, we are learning to be a listener. It’s not so much about listening to other people’s ‘problems’ or ‘unhappiness’ to ‘share’ their ‘problems’ or ‘pain’, to say ‘nice things’ to comfort them, or to give them ‘good advice’ with the intention to help ‘solving’ their ‘problems’ (which is nothing wrong, but none can share, or solve, or take away another person’s ignorance and suffering), but it’s to learn how to open and quiet the mind to listen to the Dharma in here and now, and allow other people to also learn to listen to the Dharma, to be free from the root cause of all ‘problems’ and ‘unhappiness’. There’s no ‘problems’ that need to be solved at all.

People think that the person who is ‘troubled’ or ‘hurt’ needs a listener to listen to their ‘pain’, and this person will have less pain or no more pain, but in yoga, this person needs to be the listener, to know what is really going on in its own mind.

If one truly is ‘disturbed’, or ‘troubled’, or ‘hurt’ by something and they think that they need some help or guidance, instead of looking forward to talk and share about what they think is disturbing, or troubling, or hurting them, to be listened by some other people, to have someone there to share their disturbed feelings and thoughts, to get love and support from other people to feel better about themselves, one should learn how to be in solitude and silence, quiet the restless mind and try to LISTEN to the DHARMA.

If one TRULY LISTENS to the DHARMA that is here and now, with an open and quiet mind, one will realize or see the truth of the real cause of all their misery, trouble, problem, unhappiness, grief, painful sorrow, agony, or suffering. One doesn’t need to talk or complain about anything or doesn’t need anyone to be there to share or listen to one’s ‘problems’ or ‘suffering’, as there is none.

Being yoga teachers teaching yoga and meditation to others, is about teaching and guiding them on how to see and listen to Dharma, or how to perform self-inquiry to attain self-realization to be free from the cause of suffering – ignorance, egoism and impurities. This is wisdom and compassion. Or else, talking and listening to each other among the teachers and the students can easily turn into a scene of ‘corruption’ and ‘complication’, especially if the minds are not yet free from ignorance, egoism and impurities.

For example: The teacher is being ‘loving’ and ‘caring’ to share and listen to the ‘troubled’, or ‘heart broken’ and ‘vulnerable’ student’s ‘problems’ and disturbed ‘feelings’ and ’emotions’, and this ‘troubled’ or ‘heart broken’ and ‘vulnerable’ student feels a lot of affection, love and care from the teacher, and unwittingly ‘fall in love’ with the teacher. Or, the student becomes sensitive and suspicious towards what the teacher says and does, as the student would feel ‘disturbed’, ‘betrayed’, or ‘attacked’, when the teacher talks about the similar issues in front of other students as part of the teachings in general, but the student might think that the teacher is talking about him or her personally, and is exposing his or her personal issues, feelings and emotions that he or she doesn’t want to be exposed to any other people.

In yoga, the teachers don’t really need to know what are the students’ personal issues that they think they have. It doesn’t mean that the teachers don’t care about other people’s suffering. It’s because all issues derived from the same root of ignorance, egoism and impurities. The teachers just need to guide the students on how to free their minds from the root cause of all ‘problems’ and ‘suffering’ – ignorance, egoism and impurities, and allow the students to work their own way in their own pace and effort towards self-realization and liberation, without the need to ‘know’ or ‘listen’ to each individual’s different types of ‘issues’ that are ‘troubling’, or ‘disturbing’, or ‘hurting’ them.

When we attend a silent meditation retreat, there’s no talking or discussion with another person or teacher about what we think is our ‘problems’ or ‘suffering’, all we do is quieting the restless mind to allow the mind to see the truth of things as it is. It’s about knowing one’s mind and realizing the truth of suffering and rooting out the root cause of suffering. The past and the future doesn’t exist. No matter all our experiences from the past to the present were/are good or not good, happy or unhappy, pleasant or painful, deserving or undeserving, the only reality is the present moment, and even this present moment is impermanent. It’s about letting go egoism of all forms of attachment, identification, clinging, craving, aversion, desires, judgment and expectation, and thus be free from all sorts of impurities, and hence be free from suffering.

If people think they have ‘issues’ that involve other people whether in a relationship, or in a family, or in the workplace, or in the community, people should try to talk directly to the person/people involved to find the best solution. By talking or bitching or complaining behind people’s back to a third party doesn’t help, even though one might get some sympathy, agreement and supports from the third party who doesn’t really know what is going on. People who are truly practicing yoga and meditation should stay away from such worldly activities.

We think and believe that “I have ‘serious’ problems in my life that are really difficult to deal with, that are more important than anything else. I deserve some sympathy and love and care and support from other people. If not, I’ll feel depressed and hopeless and I think I want to ‘hurt’ myself to end my suffering.” It’s the ego that thinks ‘my problems and suffering’ are bigger and more important than anyone else problems and suffering. If we practice yoga and meditation, we allow the mind to be opened and we will see that what we think is our ‘serious’ life problems are truly nothing being compared to many other people’s suffering in the world. We’ll start to let go what was troubling us that we thought we couldn’t let go before. And this is the beginning of compassion.

If people couldn’t understand this teaching, or if people don’t agree with this teaching, that’s their freedom of thinking and belief.

Practice yoga of self-inquiry and self-realization, and be free.

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How are you? Are you okay?

Many people like to greet another person with this common greeting sentence “How are you?” or “Are you okay?”

Most people don’t really interested to know how we are, but it’s just a common natural greeting sentence when we see somebody. It is not a question at all.

There are some people who really care and they really mean it, when they ask “How are you?” or “Are you okay?”

Some people don’t just ask people “How are you?”, but also to the other beings, like insects and animals, or plants, or even things.

Are we ready to listen, when we ask somebody “How are you?” or “Are you okay?”

Some people don’t mind when sharing other people’s stories and feelings that are uplifting and cheerful, but they mind when other people start to complain and mourn about negative things.

As there will always be somebody who needs to talk to someone, and needs someone to be there to listen to them about how they feel and what is troubling them, especially when they feel disturbed and unhappy.

Sometimes we only feel comfortable to talk about what is going on in our life and how we really feel, to someone who we know close enough that we feel comfortable to share with.

But sometimes, we rather talk to somebody who don’t really know about us, about what is going on in our life and how we really feel. We just want to let out some frustration, to get some relieves from stress, without being judged, nor getting more unnecessary troubles coming from gossips among family and friends who know us.

Sometimes complete strangers who are selfless and wise can be good listeners. They are the third party who don’t really involve in what is going on in our personal life, who will not give one-sided judgment and opinion. It’s not an obligation for them to be listening to our frustration, unhappy feelings and problems. They don’t really get any incentive or advantage from listening to our problems, but spending their time and energy to listen to our frustration, unhappy feelings and problems. They also have to withstand the negative vibrations from us for being unhappy and frustrated. They also will wish for us all the kind wishes without expecting anything in return.

Anybody whom we know or don’t know, who is selfless and wise, can be a good listener. Their presence for being there, and their free will to share our ‘unhappiness’ by being a listener, will help us to reduce and minimize our ‘problems’, or to be free from what we think is ‘problem’.

Somebody whom we know or don’t know, who is impure, might not be a good listener. Their presence and their sharing our ‘unhappiness’ by listening to our ‘problems’, might not help us to reduce or minimize our ‘problems’, but might make our ‘problems’ become greater.

How many of us truly care for other people and ask them “How are you?” or “Are you okay?” when we see them?

Are we just saying it as a greeting sentence, but we are not really interested in knowing what is happening to them, or how they actually feel?

Are we having selfish intention and expectation by showing ‘care’ to other people, by expecting something in return? Such like expecting someone to be there for us in return, when we need to talk to somebody, or when we feel lonely and bored.

Are we doing it for any personal benefits or business incentive in return, when we show interest to know about other people’s stories of their life and how they feel?

Are we just being busybody and like to gossip about other people’s problems in life, when we expect someone to talk about themselves by asking them “How are you?” or “Are you okay?”

Or are we being compassionate and sincerely want to show care for anybody whom we meet in the present moment now, really care to know if they are fine and at peace? Being ready to spend some of our time and energy to be there for these people if they need to talk to us, who happen to ask them “How are you?” or “Are you okay?”

Out of compassion, without any selfish intention, without any expectation, without judgment, without getting attached, nor disturbed, nor influenced, nor annoyed by listening to other people’s unhappy feelings and problems, just be there for somebody who needs a good listener to release what is troubling them at that very moment. Sometimes they will know what they need to do after the relief from talking to somebody. They don’t need a judge or an adviser.

About twenty years ago, there was a woman who suffered long term depression. Whenever somebody greeted her with “How are you?”, she would burst into tears and started to talk about her problems and unhappiness in life. But, gradually nobody wanted to greet her with “How are you?” anymore. They just said “Hi!” or “Good morning or good afternoon” to her. Some people even tried to avoid her when they saw her coming. Such is the world.

Be ready, even if we are not really interested in knowing about what is going on in other people’s life or how they feel, when we greet them with this sentence “How are you?” or “Are you okay?”, as somebody might breakdown in tears and couldn’t stop talking about their problems, frustration and complaints. Be compassionate, as that is why we are the one to be there for that person, at that moment. Be unattached, just be a listener.

Sometimes people want to share their success, joy and happiness with us when we greet them with “How are you?” Then be happy for them. Be a good listener. Do not feel intimidated nor be jealous about other people’s success, joy and happiness.

This is part of our yoga practice.

Om shanti.