A retreat centre is a place for Sadhana, to retreat the mind from worldly habits of social interactions and activities to silent the restless mind. Live alone, sit alone, walk alone, eat alone, meditate alone. It’s not an open house for community social recreation activities making social connections hanging out together busy chatting and gossiping, plotting and planning to chase away boredom and loneliness and empowering worldly attachments and identifications. Even in everyday life, one observes silence as much as possible renouncing worldly social interactions and activities, immerse in solitude and seclusion to be determined to annihilate the modification of the mind. Very few people indeed have this understanding and determination.
The core/essential teachings and practice of yoga is about purification of the mind transcending the human egoistic nature/worldly thinking and belief/feelings and emotions/behavior/action and reaction, the impermanent condition, ability and limitation of the physical body of birth, growth, changes, sickness, weakness, old age and decomposition (death), the selfless function of the mind, the states of the mind, the modifications/activities of the mind, the mind perception of names and forms through the senses, the egoism, the impurities, the veil of ignorance and attaining liberation from the suffering of the mind perception of a worldly life existence that is subject to impermanence and selflessness.
In the process of the transformation from the lower human nature (selfishness/tendency to hurt oneself and/or others) to the higher human nature (unselfishness/tendency not to hurt oneself and/or others), and then transcending even the higher nature to go beyond the lower/higher or the bad/good human nature (selflessness/attributelessness), the thinking mind needs to be disciplined for developing certain essential qualities that allow the mind to go beyond the impermanent and selfless mind perception of a worldly life existence of qualities of names and forms.
These essential qualities are the basic foundation of both the practice of Yoga and Buddhism for mind purification, such like dispassion, correct understanding, right view, right effort, right livelihood, truthfulness, honesty, simplicity, austerity, contentment, non-attachment, non-identification, non-craving, non-aversion, non-judgment, non-comparison, non-expectation, intentionlessness, patience, perseverance, determination, acceptance, detachment/letting go, forgiveness, tolerance, forbearance, adjustment, adaptation, accommodation, one-pointedness, right concentration, care-free, fearlessness, renunciation, solitude, seclusion, calmness, self-discipline, self-control, self-inquiry, self-effort, self-realization, or being unaffected/undisturbed/undetermined/uninfluenced by the mind perception of pleasant/unpleasant, agreeable/disagreeable, likeable/dislikeable impermanent qualities of names and forms through the senses.
All these qualities existing in the mind are also reflecting as mental and emotional independence in a being. One will know how to deal with challenging or difficult condition and situation equanimously and solve problems by oneself.
One doesn’t need to rely on or depend on attaining/possessing, or experiencing, or coming in contact with the impermanent quality of names and forms of good condition, good environment, good life experience, good livelihood, good standard of living, good relationships, perfect unbroken family/society, good image, good reputation, social status, health status, possessions, knowledge, skill, gratification of desire (of getting what I like/not getting what I don’t like/not losing what I like/losing what I don’t like), achievements, physical and mental abilities, or getting attention, love, liking, agreement, support, appreciation, acknowledgment, kindness, respect, comfort, friendship, companionship from anyone or anything, to feel good, happy, confident, love and meaningful, or to perform necessary actions that would benefit oneself and/or others.
One is peaceful as one is, being mentally and emotionally independent, where the mind processes all the mind perception of names and forms or thought activities/feelings/emotions as it is, uninfluenced by egoism or worldly family/racial/social/cultural/religious/spiritual thinking and belief, being open-minded to inquire/question/investigate the truth of everything, including the teachings of Yoga and Buddhism, without blind-believing, blind-following, blind faith, or blind-actions and reactions, and being free from emotional exploitation/burden/blockage.
This is also what and why most people fear of – Mental and emotional independence in people could also means that those impure selfish greedy ambitious minds are losing the ‘power’ or ‘opportunity’ to control/influence/manipulate/exploit/threaten other people to be the way that ‘I’ like it to be, to help ‘I’ to get what ‘I’ want, or gratify ‘my’ desires, or achieve ‘my’ ambitions, or create the life/relationship/family/parenthood/business/career/community/society/politic/nation/world/security/enjoyment/situation that ‘I’ desire, that would help me to achieve what I want to achieve. Regardless whether this ‘I’ is a partner, a spouse, a parent, a child, a sibling, a friend, a teacher, a student, a member of the community/society, a citizen of a country, a leader of a country, a business person, an employer, an employee, a politician, a political party, a society, a group of people, an association, an affiliation, a company, and etc.
Whether people are aware or unaware of themselves having personal goal/ambition/agenda, they don’t like the idea of mental and emotional independence, as it would threaten/obstruct their personal goal/ambition/agenda.
Most parenting methods and children psychological development/training and education are mostly about empowering egoistic human nature that is empowering/encouraging mental and emotional dependence, as mental and emotional independence is ‘threatening’ the egoistic worldly family/cultural/social/religious/political/commercial thinking/belief/values/behavior of attachment, identification, desires of craving and aversion and expectation in all the relationships/dealings among people.
Contemplate on these familiar worldly thinking/belief/practice/values -:
“Of course I want my children/my partner/my friends/my teachers/my students/my community/my employee/my employer/my clients/my followers/my disciples/my supporters to attached onto me, to hold on to me, to need me, to rely on me. They need me to be there for them. They need my presence, my attention, my love, my care, my affection and my guidance/advice/approval/agreement/consent/opinion/support/help/service. I am needed by them. I will feel so worthless, lonely, bored, unloved, demotivated, depressed, empty and meaningless if I am not needed by anybody.”
“I love my children and my children will love me.”
“I am nice to you and you will be nice to me too.”
“I am giving you something nice and you will give me something nice too.”
“I will be disappointed, unhappy and angry, and I won’t be nice to you, if you don’t love me, or are being ungrateful/unappreciative, or are not nice to me.”
“This is who you are. Don’t forget or abandon this. This is your root, your ancestors, your name, your gender, your role, your obligated behavior, your thinking, your belief, your culture, your spirituality, your religion, your God, your parents, your family, your friends and relatives, your community, your nationality, your motherland, your dignity, your pride, your duty and this is your life. All these are who and what you are. You need love and consent from all these that make you who you are, or else you will be sick and die due to lack of love, loneliness and meaninglessness. You need to attain love, support, agreement, acknowledgement, cooperation, companionship from them. You must love them and they will love you and bless you with your desires come true, happiness, goodness and prosperity. You should fight/hurt/destroy the threats upon you and them at all cost to protect all these values of what make you who you are.”
The impure egoistic possessive minds want and expect strong attachment and dependence among family members, community members, parents and children, siblings, friends, citizens, human beings, and etc. They encourage the development/empowerment of a strong personal/cultural/religious/family/worldly/community/national identity that build on mental and emotional dependence among each other. Mental and emotional independence appears to be something ‘wrong’, ‘unhealthy’, ‘bad, ‘crazy’, ‘inappropriate’, ‘sickness’, or ‘impossible’ for many people even though different people come from different backgrounds of culture/thinking/belief/practice. Reasoning, or analytical thinking, or questioning the truth of things are being considered as ‘bad’ and ‘wrong’ for many people who have personal goal/ambition/agenda that depend on the ‘support’ from other people.
There is no doubt that physical, mental and emotional independence can be limited and restricted due to circumstances. Such like infants and young children/physically or mentally ill or injured or disabled people/old people/emotionally or mentally disturbed people will need special attention and care, physical help, mental help, emotional support from other people to support and help them in their everyday living, to go through difficult moments, or need to be physically depending on other people for many things during the time of young age, sickness, injuries, weakness, old age, immobility, or suffering from mental or emotional disability.
One can be mentally and emotionally independent even though one is physically depending on other people for many things in life, unless one is suffering from mental and emotional disability. Just like those who are not suffering physical limitation or disability don’t need to rely or depend on others physically, so as, those who are not suffering from mental or emotional disability don’t need to rely on or depend on others mentally or emotionally. But then, how come so many people glorify and advocate mental and emotional dependence among each other, thinking that it’s not possible or it’s not good for human beings to be mentally and emotionally independent?
Solitude or aloneness is being perceived by many people as something terrible or wrong that can happen to a human being. That is because people’s minds are being conditioned to think and believe in that way. And there’s nothing to be argued about as people’s minds are thinking in certain ways and believing in certain beliefs. That’s how people are being taught and brought up by their parents or the society for how people think and what to believe.
Many people never learn how to be alone by themselves and do nothing, without clinging onto other people, to be surrounded by other people to be interacting or communicating with them physically and mentally. They will feel lonely, left out, unloved, unworthy or bored, if there is a prolonged period of time that there are no people around them to be interacting with. They constantly looking/craving for physical and mental attention, love and companionship. A lot of time this is because the parents never teach or allow their children to learn how to be alone by themselves and do nothing, without feeling lonely, left out, unloved, unworthy or bored. The parents try to give maximum love and attention to their children and make their children always be busy with doing something and interacting with some other people, either mentally or physically, or both. They think this is good for them and to show that they love and care for their children very much.
That is also one of the important elements why there are people suffering from loneliness, low self-esteem, depression, boredom, unloved, unworthiness, meaninglessness, and so on. The children are being brought up in the way of building up intense attachment towards the love, attention and companionship from one or both of their parents or caretakers, but the parents or caretakers will not be always being by their side, and there will not be always somebody there to give them the attention, love and companionship that they like and want, that they cling onto and crave for. They never learn how to be alone by themselves and do nothing. Their minds are being used to interactive stimulation, receiving inputs and expressing outputs. These minds can’t stand being silence without any inputs or outputs for a few moments. The sense of loneliness, left out, unloved, unworthiness, depression, meaninglessness and boredom kicks in as soon as they are being away from family and friends that are always being close by physically, to interacting with and doing things together all the time.
Just like for the children without a father or both parents, people might think that by showing them lots of love and attention will help them and benefit them. People like to say, “People need love.” and they think that it means giving or showing love (affection) to other people who need love. But what people really need is realizing the unconditional unlimited love in themselves, without expecting love (affection) through receiving love (affection) from others. If people don’t know how to teach or allow the children to be independent, how to love themselves and how to be alone by themselves, that they can be happy and live life meaningfully as they are, even without one or both of the parents being by their side physically or mentally giving them personal love, attention and companionship, then if the children don’t get enough of love, attention and companionship from the people who are not being there for them all the time, these children will try to cling onto other people looking for attention, love and companionship.
It’s okay that one doesn’t have one or both of the parents being with them or to be there for them. Even if there is one or both of the parents being there for them, it doesn’t mean that the parents have to or will be there all the time, that there are times that one or both of the parents might not be there for them temporary or permanently. And it’s okay.
It’s okay that one doesn’t have anyone or friends and family members being with them or to be there for them. One can love oneself, whether doing something or doing nothing by oneself, and be happy and live life meaningfully being alone by oneself without anyone beside them to interact or communicate with physically or mentally. One has no craving for love, attention and companionship from other beings. One is peaceful as it is, being free from attachment and craving.
But all these children grow up without learning or knowing know how to be alone by themselves, and do nothing, without feeling lonely, left out, unloved, unworthy or bored. They suffer from loneliness, low self-esteem, unworthiness, boredom, depression and meaninglessness, if they think there’s no one there being with them or to be there for them, to interact with them, to give them love, attention and companionship.
Sooner or later, everyone will have to deal with solitude or aloneness at some stage in life whether we like it, or not. It is a natural process of life. It’s something wonderful if one knows the truth of aloneness or solitude. Only those who know this, will know.
Those who don’t know, they have strong aversion or fear towards solitude, afraid of being alone by themselves, and they will be suffering from loneliness, low self-esteem, unworthiness, boredom, meaninglessness and depression if there’s nobody being with them to be interacting or communicating with, physically or mentally. They think and believe that it’s because they are not good enough, that’s why they are being left out, unloved and being alone by themselves, that they are so pitiful without anyone, friends or family being with them, to give them love, attention and companionship, physically or mentally. They always feel that they are not good enough, that they need to be in competition with other people especially their brothers and sisters to get the maximum love and attention from their parents. They need other people to show thankfulness and appreciation for what they have done for others to feel that they and their effort of doing something are being appreciated and acknowledged. They always try very hard to please everybody to make everyone love them and acknowledge them that they are good enough and well-deserved with love and happiness. But, they don’t realize that they don’t have to please anyone to make other people love them. People who love them will love them as they are. Those who don’t love them will not love them even if they try to please these people. And many people will take advantage of the people who want or need to be loved by other people.
Most parents or caretakers don’t realize that it’s how they bring up the children that had caused the children to think and believe like that, to be suffering from love seeking, attention seeking, lack of something, missing something, or craving for something, and suffering from loneliness, low self-esteem, depression, boredom, meaninglessness, and so on, through out their entire life, unless/until they realize the truth that they don’t have to think and believe and suffer in such way. When they have their own family, that is also how they are going to bring up their children the way that how their parents brought them up, and most probably, their children will also end up like them, unless the children start to think for themselves and realize what is unconditional love from oneself towards oneself.
People also perceive the state of fullness or non-separateness, where one doesn’t need any other beings to be there to show love, attention and companionship, to be interacting with, to feel loved and meaningful, as something horrible or wrong. They think that these people who don’t need other beings being with them to be there for them, without feeling lonely, unloved, unworthy, meaningless, left out or bored, are impossible or insane or hard, and that these people must be so lonely and unhappy and live life meaninglessly for not needing anybody being there for them, where in truth, these people are peaceful, happy and live life meaningfully without being depending on other beings’ love, attention and companionship to life live meaningfully, or to feel loved and worthy, or to be free from loneliness and boredom.
Those who think and believe that they need to have other people’s love, attention and companionship to feel loved and worthy and meaningful, to not feel lonely and bored, are not free at all. But people don’t see that. And that’s their freedom of thinking and believe.
Doesn’t need anyone to be there for one to be happy and live life meaningfully, doesn’t mean that one is rejecting love and companionship from others, but, one will enjoy and appreciate all the love and companionship from others that are available in the present moment, without craving or clinging onto the love and companionship from others to be who they are, to feel happy and meaningful, or not. And when there is absence of love and companionship from others, one is still peaceful and happy and live life meaningfully as one is.
If people still can’t understand this, no one can make them understand. One has to realize this by oneself through direct experience and self-realization. Even some yoga and meditation teachers also don’t understand this. They teach about in order to counter loneliness, boredom, meaninglessness, depression, low self-esteem, or unworthiness, people need to have more friends to interact with, to play with, to communicate with, to share with. And it’s okay.
This is not about against happiness or meaningfulness. But it’s about being free from attachment towards names and forms that give rise to the sense of happiness and meaningfulness, to realize unconditional peace that is unconditioned by names and forms that are impermanent, that is beyond the sense of happiness and meaningfulness.
All minds will feel good, happy, meaningful, loved and blessed when one is in the company of other people or family and friends who are like-minded and engaging in interactive activities with other people, appreciating good people, good company, good condition, good relationship/friendship and meaningful life. Though the mind might not necessarily be free from loneliness, meaninglessness, missingness, unhappiness and longing for interaction, when one is unable to be with other people, family or friends who are like-minded, and is not engaging in interactive activities with other people for a period of time, if there is attachment, clinging and craving towards good people, good company, good condition, good relationship/friendship and meaningful life.
It’s not difficult for us to feel happy and loved when we are constantly surrounded by people who are like-minded and engaging in some forms of interactive activities together, doing something that we enjoy doing, and it makes us feel good, happy, contented, loved and blessed. But when we are unable to see or be with the people whom we love for a prolonged period of time, and we are not doing something that we like to do together for some time, we’ll start to miss each other, missing the presence or togetherness or companionship and doing the things that we like to do together, and then the sense of loneliness, meaninglessness, missingness, unhappiness, and longing for interaction with other people, family and friends start to manifest in the mind. This is normal, but it also indicates that the mind is not free from ignorance and egoism, even though the mind might feel good, happy, contented, loved and blessed when we are being with other people, family and friends, whom we love to be with, and engaging in interactive activities together from time to time.
There’s attachment towards love and affection, supports and interactions from people around us. This is normal for most people, but this is also the cause of suffering.
There’s nothing wrong with the mind feels loved, blessed and happy when we are being with people whom we like and doing activities that we enjoy doing together. We should appreciate all the good condition, good people, good company, good relationship/friendship and meaningful life. But, a well-trained mind is free from loneliness, meaninglessness, missingness, unhappiness or longing for interaction, when it is not coming in contact with people, things and activities that it loves and enjoys.
If yoga practitioners want to know how much we have improved in the yoga practice, we can try practicing seclusion and solitude for a prolonged period of time, renouncing social activities and cutting off all sorts of communications with other people, especially family and friends whom we love very much, as well as refraining from worldly interactive activities that we enjoy doing on regular basis, for at least two to three years, or extended to five or six years. It’s normal that worldly minded people are strongly against and disagree with the practice of seclusion and solitude, and that’s their freedom of thinking and belief. Those who still have young children or old parents that they need to take care of, they are not ready to practice renunciation. They need to perform their worldly life duties. They can practice seclusion and solitude later.
When the mind is being isolated from people, things and activities that it likes and enjoys for a prolonged period of time, most minds would want to run back into our daily pleasure of being together and interacting with other people, family and friends who are like-minded, and whom we miss very much if we don’t see them or be with them for some time. These minds have not advanced in the path of yoga, even though they might have been doing some forms of yoga activities that they enjoy doing for years, and they have learned about the teachings of yoga, and they feel happy, meaningful, loved and blessed for having nice people around them and doing things that they enjoy doing regularly, but they have not yet apply the teachings of yoga into everyday life practically, if their minds depend on being with people whom they loved and doing things that they enjoy doing to feel happy, meaningful, loved and blessed. The mind that practices yoga, that is free, will still be happy as it is, even if there are unkind and disagreeable people around, and for some reasons, it is unable to do what it would like to do. This mind doesn’t need to feel loved or blessed or meaningful at all.
Yoga practitioners who think there’s no need to practice non-attachment, as they are very happy enjoying a good life and they are enjoying doing some forms of yoga activities regularly, they don’t have to practice seclusion and solitude. They can continue their everyday life the way that they like it to be.
Some think that they have given up worldly activities, enjoyments and community, but then they don’t realize that they have attached onto what they call ‘spiritual’ or ‘non-worldly’ activities or enjoyments or community. It’s still a form of attachment that will lead to suffering, whether it’s worldly attachment or non-worldly/spiritual attachment. In worldly life, the mind feels unhappy and meaningless when it doesn’t get to see or be with or interacting with people from its community, family and friends, and then in spiritual life, the mind feels unhappy or meaningless when it doesn’t get to see or be with or interacting with its spiritual community, family and friends.
Just like letting go an unhealthy lifestyle but then attaching onto a healthy lifestyle, is not the end of suffering. For many people, they don’t see or can’t understand that attachment towards a healthy lifestyle would also lead to suffering. But, when the healthy lifestyle that they love very much is inaccessible for some unforeseen circumstances, they will then understand. Just like people get very upset and frustrated when the good things that they love very much are being damaged or destroyed by some other people, or there’s obstacles that obstruct them from getting the good things that they love and want.
Yoga practitioners who think non-attachment is indeed a very important element in the path of yoga, but they think they don’t have attachment towards what they like to do and enjoy in everyday life, they can try to practice seclusion and solitude for a prolonged period of time, to see how much the mind has developed in non-attachment.
Unattached towards both worldly and non-worldly/spiritual activities, enjoyments and community.
If the mind is well-developed in non-attachment, this mind can live in the world as it is and appreciate all the good people, good company, good condition, good relationship/friendship and meaningful life, but it’s free from clinging and longing, and suffering. It’s unconditioned or undetermined by the impermanent qualities of name and form, whether it’s in the form of worldly or non-worldly/spirituality. When all these good and meaningful names and forms changed and disappeared or are unavailable, there’s no suffering.
Some feel hurt when they think there’s no one love them. Some feel hurt when they think they love someone whom they don’t really love. Some feel hurt when they are loved by someone who doesn’t really love them. Some feel hurt when they aren’t getting the love that they want. Some feel hurt when they are losing the love that they like. No matter what, people will feel hurt, whether they want to love someone, or they want to be loved by someone.
There’s nothing wrong with ‘love’. People say ‘love’ hurts and advise other people not to love, if they don’t want hurt. This is incorrect understanding.
It’s the desires of craving towards ‘love’ and the aversion towards ‘love-less’, and the expectation towards how ‘love’ should be like, is why people feel hurt, or lonely, dissatisfied, disappointed, unhappy, depressed, meaningless, miserable, or suffer, when they want to love or be loved by someone.
Realize what is ‘love’ and learn how to love, is yoga.
Be free from craving for love, whether from family, love relationship, friendship, community, or any other forms of beings and objects of names and forms.
When the mind is free from craving for love, there is peace, it doesn’t matter one is loving someone, or not, and whether one is loved by someone, or not.