Vairagya and Mumukshutva – dispassion and intense yearning for liberation

Mumukshutva is the intense yearning for liberation transcending the wheel of births and deaths of conditional impermanent and selfless worldly life existence of inevitable physical/mental/emotional restlessness and suffering powered by ignorance and egoism.

It’s the objective or goal of all forms of yoga practice and meditation. Many years of performing yoga practice and meditation without Vairagya and Mumukshutva, but enjoying and indulging in the momentary goodness of yoga and meditation practice and the pleasant fruit of ‘good karma’ deriving from ‘good actions’, is like gathering and keeping accumulated pure and clean food in a ‘bottomless’ and contaminated container.

Vairagya (dispassion) and Mumukshutva are the two sides of a coin. They co-exist together as one. It’s the ‘under current’ that pulls/leads the mind towards liberation.

Ignorance and egoism and worldly passionate desire/love/attachment/clinging is the ‘under current’ that generates/powers the whirlpool of Samsara, where the mind attaching onto/’loving and enjoying’ the wheel of births and deaths of countless worldly transitions of names and forms that is subject to impermanence and selflessness, where the mind gets lost in the boundless desires of craving and aversion, seeking love, pleasure, goodness, righteousness, kindness, comfort, satisfaction, meaningfulness, sense of purpose, conditional freedom and limited good condition in the modification of the mind perception of an impermanent and selfless worldly life existence of names and forms, of worldly physical/mental/emotional/sensual activities/interactions/enjoyments/relationships/community support while unwittingly ‘indulging in’ the momentary physical/mental/emotional/sensual satisfaction and pleasure deriving from the gratification of the passionate desires, ignorantly mistaking egoistic passionate love/attachment/sympathy/empathy/clinging/charity/sacrifice as compassion.

Worldly people, including many yoga practitioners and yoga teachers who think they love yoga very much that they find yoga is something very meaningful and see themselves practicing yoga and teaching yoga to other people as the meaning/purpose of their life existence, would mistake Vairagya and Mumukshutva as a form of ‘negative thinking/behavior’, or ‘depression’, or ‘madness’. That shows how great is the power of ignorance.

“Neither charity, nor sacrifice, nor fame, nor fasting, nor begetting a good son, nor control of breath, nor victory over the enemy, nor the society of friends, nor Siddhis like Anima can stand in comparison with realisation of the Self.

You may cross the sea by walking or float in the air or support on hands the great mountain Maha Meru or drink poison like milk or eat fire like fried grains or fly in the sky or stand on fire or break iron or get wealth by the power of magic ointment. Yet can all these give you liberation?

You can become a king or Indra or a Sannyasin. You can stun others by Mantra-sakti or aim accurately or know the past, present and the future.

You can reduce anger by destroying lust or eradicating greed. Yet can all these help you in the attainment of liberation?

You might have conquered pride, delusion and envy. You might have dwelt in Brahma-loka or Vaikuntha-loka or Kailasa. Yet can all these stand in comparison with liberation? He is fit for liberation who regards all these as nothing.

You took bath in the Ganga, you did all the sixteen kinds of charity. You did crores of Japa. What is the use of all these things if you do not attain Self-realisation?

Can you acquire eternal bliss and supreme peace from the attainment of vast erudition or from possession of immense wealth or from the enjoyment of beautiful young ladies? No. The supreme undying bliss can be obtained only by realisation of the Self.

Who is wife? Who is son? Who are you? Wherefrom did you come? How wonderful is this Samsara? How are you related to one another? Think deeply on these matters.

Who are you? Who am I? Wherefrom have we come? Who is mother? Who is father? Think deeply on all these. Leave off this world which is a dream and seek the eternal.

Vairagya is the rein by which the uncontrollable mind is restrained. Ripe Vairagya is intense attachment to Atman bliss and strong dispassion for anything other than Atman.

If one considers even the position and happiness of Brahma as the dung of a cow, then only he has developed a real lasting Vairagya. Temporary fleeting dispassion is not Vairagya. It will not help the aspirant in the attainment of Self-realisation.

It is common to have dispassion for some particular objects by some cause or other. But by having dispassion for all objects at all times, one will get knowledge of the Self. You may get Atma-Jnana soon by the grace of the Guru, by devotion to him, and by practice of what he instructs.”

– Swami Sivananda

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Ego, more than self-esteem, self-worth, pride and arrogance

In the world, ‘ego’ is mostly being interpreted as the quality of a prideful ambitious overly confident high self-esteemed and self-centered person who thinks and believes oneself possesses certain qualities or achievements that one and others would be proud of and should deserve respect, appreciation, acknowledgement, or glorification.

When people say, “He/She has a big/bad ego,” usually it refers to this is a proud and arrogant self-centered, self-obsessed, or overly confident and ambitious person that boasts and glorifies about one’s contributions or achievements.

When people say, “He/She doesn’t have an ego or he/she has a small/good ego,” usually it refers to this is a down to earth, humble and unselfish person, who keeps quiet about one’s contributions and achievements.

‘Ego’, is more than the reflection of self-esteem, self-worth, pride and arrogance of a person under the teachings of yoga and Buddhism. It’s not a quality to reflect whether a person is being arrogant and self-centered or being humble and non self-centered.

‘Ego’, is an idea of ‘I’ derived from ignorance and exists in the form of a continuous stream of thought-current in the thinking mind, that feeds on egoism, attached onto and identifies with certain qualities of names and forms to be existing as an individual being experiencing life, either enjoying pleasant/desirable/agreeable/joyful experiences or suffering unpleasant/undesirable/disagreeable/painful experiences, identifies as ‘the perceiver that perceives/experiences/thinks/feels’ and ‘the perceived names and forms of perceptions/experiences/thinking/feelings’ as well as ‘the performer of actions’ and ‘the receiver of the fruit of actions’, who desires and doesn’t desire, who agrees and disagrees, who fights and protects, who enjoys and suffers. It appears to be existing and real due to ignorance.

The ego exists and identifies/acknowledges itself as ‘I am good’ or ‘I am bad’, ‘I know’ or ‘I don’t know’, ‘I am confident’ and ‘I am not confident’, ‘I like, agree and desire’ or ‘I don’t like, don’t agree and don’t desire’, ‘I deserve’ or ‘I don’t deserve’, ‘I am proud’ or ‘I am humble’, ‘I am happy’ or ‘I am unhappy’, ‘I am positive’ or ‘I am negative’, ‘I am meaningful’ and ‘I am meaningless’, ‘I enjoy’ or ‘I suffer’, ‘I am selfish’ or ‘I am unselfish’, ‘I am highly confident, ambitious and self-centered’ or ‘I am non confident, non ambitious and non self-centered’, and etc.

The end of yoga or Buddhism practice, is upon the annihilation of the modification of the mind or restless thought-currents, when the veil of ignorance vanished, where the mind sees itself as it is, attaining Self-realization, or knowing thyself, or knowing who ‘I’ am, where the annihilation of the ego/the idea of ‘I’, or the realization of selflessness/egolessness/’I’lessness takes place, transcending ‘the wheel of births and deaths of the egoistic impure consciousness powered by ignorance and the by-products of ignorance that generates ceaseless cause and effect/good and bad karma that feeds the loop of births and deaths of ignorance and the by-products of that’, ‘returning’ to oneness, non-separateness, namelessness, formlessness, attributelessness, birthlessness, deathlessness, void of/untouched by cause and effect/good or bad karma/merits and virtues.

It’s not about trying to be as ‘good’ as possible, where a ‘soul/mind’ will be judged as a ‘good or bad soul/mind’ upon the death of the physical body based on accumulated virtues and merits or good/bad karma, either to be sent to ‘heaven’ or ‘hell’ or ‘somewhere in between’, or to be reborn into respective higher or lower realm of beings experiencing life existence via the mind perceiving pleasant/unpleasant names and forms through the senses that are all subject to impermanence and selflessness, to be continuously ‘ignorantly’/’helplessly’/’unwittingly’ generating further ceaseless good/bad actions along with the consequences of actions, or cause and effect, or good/bad karma, that keeps fueling the wheel of restless births and deaths (restless transitions of life existence reaping the fruit of good/bad actions) that is subject to impermanence and selflessness, regardless of good or bad, desirable or undesirable, enjoyable or sufferable transitions.

Forgo the momentary ‘pleasantness’, ‘happiness’, ‘meaningfulness’ or ‘goodness’ of a conditional fleeting worldly life existence of restless selfless transitions. Even so called ‘heaven’ or ‘higher realms’ are impermanent transitions reaping the fruit of ‘good’ actions. It’s not liberation at all. Know thyself, the beginningless and endless infinite silent witness of all impermanent and selfless transitions.

The ego constant acts and reacts to create a condition or a world that ‘I’ desires, based on the endless desire of craving (What I want) and aversion (What I don’t want). The silent witness neither act or react nor there’s an ‘I’ aspiring/desiring to create a condition or a world that ‘I’ desires. There’s neither “I will be or I am missing all the people of family and friends, or names and forms of the objects of the senses/qualities/conditions/things/actions/enjoyments/pets/places/realms/world that I love very much.” where only the very few dispassionate ones can go beyond all the worldly connections/relationships/names and forms transcending all kinds of worldly social/cultural/spiritual/religious thinking and belief, actions and achievements (the fruit of actions).

“The knowledge of the Self, or Self-realization, or the annihilation of the mind, or Samadhi, is the only way to be free from the wheel of births and deaths.” as taught by Swami Sivananda.

Verbal diarrhea?

The yoga and meditation practice are supposed to be quieting the restless outgoing talkative mind. Usually after a complete session of traditional yoga practice or a meditation sitting in silence, the mind would be rendered so quiet that there’s nothing to say, or talk, or share, or complain about, especially for the next few hours or so. However, there are some restless minds that are suffering from ‘verbal diarrhea’ might can’t stop talking immediately after the practice session finished, after being restrained from talking during the 2 – 3 hours of yoga practice or 1 – 2 hours of meditation sitting in silence. This is a common behavior (sort of a side-effect) of the restless mind especially after people finish a long silent yoga and/or meditation retreat. Sincere yoga practitioners need to know how to free the mind from ‘verbal diarrhea’, especially after a long time observing silence.

Yoga practitioners need to be aware of whether their minds are suffering from ‘verbal diarrhea’, which is a sign of a seriously restless mind.

Meanwhile, there are some people who don’t really know/understand about the meaning of yoga and meditation practice which is mainly to silent/quiet the restless outgoing talkative mind, and they would want to engage in social conversation with other people immediately after the ‘yoga class’ finished, they might feel offended by some people whose minds are in silent mode after the yoga and meditation practice, where they are not interested in engaging in social conversation with anyone, but would rather be isolated from the rest of the people, to be alone, to be ‘resting’ in the state of quietness for as long as possible.

Those who attend sincere ‘yoga retreat’ that is about quieting the mind should have an understanding about this, so that they wouldn’t feel offended by some people who’s minds are in silent mode after the practice, and try not to ‘disturb’ these minds that are resting in silence during and after the yoga and meditation practice, which is the ‘precious’ state of mind for sincere yoga and meditation practitioners.

Majority of the people in the society who encourage ‘active engagement in conversation or talking with other people’ for promoting a ‘happier’ state of mind or ‘better’ physical/mental/emotional health, might not understand the greatness of silence, where the mind is free from all kinds of disturbs, unhappiness or suffering, being in the present moment free from desire of craving and aversion, being undisturbed/undetermined by pleasant/unpleasant or agreeable/disagreeable experiences, where people have nothing that they need to be ‘talking’, ‘sharing’ or ‘complaining’ about to other people.

Selflessness?

Just like ‘Self-inquiry’ and ‘Impermanence’, ‘Selflessness’ is one of the common words we come across in the teachings of yoga and Buddhism.

The ‘I’, where there’s a continuous stream of thinking/thought in the mind acknowledges as ‘I’ am an individual being with a physical body and thinking mind experiencing life, doesn’t exist. Out of ignorance, there arise the idea of ‘I’ exist as part of the modification of the mind acknowledging as an individual being, attaching onto/possessing such and such qualities of names and forms to be identified/recognized as this is what/who ‘I’ am, claiming ownership towards the physical body and the thinking mind (this is my body and my mind) and all kinds of connection with everyone and everything that the mind comes in contact with (my family and my belongings and etc), and at the same time also identifying with the physical body and the thinking mind as ‘I’ (This physical body and this thinking mind is ‘I’).

‘Selflessness’ is not something to be attained by accumulating certain amount of ‘merits and virtues’ or ‘good karma’ after performing many ‘good/righteous actions’ or ‘karma yoga/selfless service’, but it’s the ‘realization’ upon the mind seeing the truth of what is this ‘I’ where there’s a thinking in the mind thinks and believes as ‘I’. As long as there’s an idea, acknowledgement and identification of “I am a selfless being performing good actions or karma yoga/selfless service” the mind is still functioning under the influence of egoism.

The mind needs to be free from egoism, impurities and restlessness to realize ‘Selflessness’, where there’s no ‘I’ existing to enjoy or suffer, to be born or die, to know or don’t know, to desire or don’t desire, to be the performer of action and the receiver/enjoyer of the fruit of action, to be ignorant or be free from ignorance. It’s just the modification of the thinking mind perceiving all the names and forms through the senses via the sense organs of the physical body. It’s just the mind functioning and perceives, sees, hears, smells, tastes, feels, senses and thinks. There’s no ‘I’ existing to claim possession/ownership/control of the selfless modification of the mind or the ceaseless impermanent changes of the modification of the mind perceiving all the names and forms that are also impermanent and selfless. It’s coming from the mind being aware of the modification of the mind, while purifying and quieting itself to be free from restlessness, impurities and egoism, to be free from ignorance. It’s not something else ‘separated’ from the mind called ‘I’ being there to be aware of ‘my mind’ or to purify and quiet ‘my mind’, to free ‘my mind’ from restlessness, impurities, egoism and ignorance.

“I am not the mind. The mind is not ‘I’.” is not about ‘I’ am an existing being/soul separated/distinct from the mind. The mind is just being what it is, functioning as it is selflessly, where there’s no ‘I’ in the function of the mind which is supported/influenced by energy to be existing and functioning. Just like there’s no ‘I’ in all the cells/bones/muscles/organs/systems that forming the entire structure of the physical body which depend on nature to provide support that allows the physical body to be existing and functioning. The body and mind constantly functioning or performing actions selflessly, and there are also the consequences of actions following the actions (cause and effect). But, somehow, out of ignorance, there’s an idea of ‘I’ existing in the form of thinking claiming a personal identity and possession/ownership towards this and that, to desire and don’t desire, to agree and disagree, to enjoy or suffer, to aspire and expect, and so on. There’s an idea/identification of “I am the performer of my actions and I am the enjoyer of the fruit of my actions.”

It’s difficult/challenging for the egoistic mind that attached strongly onto a worldly self-identity attaching onto certain qualities of names and forms as this is ‘I’ or what ‘I’ am, to realize ‘Selflessness’. The egoistic mind that ‘possesses’ a self-identity thinks and believes that ‘I’ exist as an individual being experiencing life, this is ‘I’, this is my life, my body, my mind, my thinking, my belief, my feelings, my emotion, my idea, my creativity, my energy, my health, my fitness, my strength, my flexibility, my ability, my disability, my achievement, my failure, my look, my talent, my knowledge, my education, my house, my belonging, my pet, my family, my friends, my relationship, my duty, my responsibility, my rights, my aspiration, my inspiration, my sacrifice, my happiness, my suffering, my vision, my desire, my actions, my fruit of actions, my religion, my ‘God’, my world, my country, and so on. Not only there’s a personal identity, but there’s also a group identity, such like our family, our life, our thinking, our belief, our culture, our religion, our ‘God’, our action, our fruit of action, our achievement, our failure, our world, our country, our vision, and so on.

“I eat, I drink, I play, I work, I rest, I aspire, I inspire, I think, I believe, I feel, I express, I laugh, I cry, I learn, I share, I give and receive, I love and beloved, I perceive, I experience, I act, I react, I achieve, I live, I die. I am existing. How can it be possible that ‘I’ don’t exist?” It’s unthinkable for the egoistic mind about ‘Selflessness’ – ‘Egolessness’ – ‘I-lessness’.

That’s why it’s very essential for the mind to let go the attachment and identification towards any qualities of names and forms, especially the worldly conditioned egoistic way of thinking and belief in the mind that influence how the mind analyzes, judges, feels and reacts towards all and everything, as well as letting go attachment and identification towards the physical appearance/condition/ability/disability/achievement/non-achievement before the mind can reflect upon the truth of ‘Selflessness’.

Once the mind is free from the attachment and identification towards the impermanent and selfless qualities of names and forms as ‘I’, including the function of the physical body and the thinking faculty, naturally the mind will realize the truth of ‘itself’ or ‘the modification of the mind’, that there’s no ‘I’, knowing thyself. There’s neither “I know” nor “I realize” nor “I am free from ignorance” nor “I am free.”

As long as the mind is still mingling among the worldly passionate egoistic minds, that keep empowering/feeding the idea of ‘I’ and ‘the world of egoism of all kinds of attachment and identification’, it’s very difficult and almost impossible for the mind to be free from ignorance and egoism. And hence, the important practice of renunciation, seclusion, solitude and silence.

According to the teachings of Swami Sivananda, the mind just needs to spend at least five to six years in seclusion and silence being away/cutting off from the worldly affairs/activities/society/family/friends/relatives/connections/interactions that feeds/empowers egoism/restlessness/impurities/ignorance, the mind will realize the truth of ‘the mind perception of a worldly life existence of impermanent and selfless names and forms’. Although it doesn’t guarantee that everyone who try to practice silence in seclusion and solitude for a prolonged period of time will be free from ignorance and attain self-realization, as the mind might still be influenced by gross and subtle egoistic worldly/spiritual attachment hindering the mind from seeing itself/knowing thyself. And not many people are suitable for such practice, as most passionate minds would ‘go crazy’ after being in seclusion and solitude for some time. Worldly passionate minds can’t live or be without seeing/touching/communicating/interacting with other beings for even a short period of time, not to say for a prolonged period of time. That’s why it requires certain degrees of dispassion and right discrimination for someone to practice silence in seclusion and solitude, to allow the mind to realize ‘Selflessness’/’Oneness’/’Non-separateness’/’Namelessness’/’Formlessness’, where ‘suffering’ and ‘the end of suffering’ doesn’t exist.

Many people might understood ‘Selflessness’ as ‘an existing name and form such as a being/soul/mind that is free from selfishness, who is unselfish’, such as “I am a selfless/unselfish being/soul/mind”, or “I am performing selfless action to benefit other beings and other beings will be benefited from my selfless actions.”

If it’s selfless, then what/who is that ‘I’ being there acknowledging and identifying as “I am selfless/unselfish”? It’s just impermanent selfless function of the body and mind generating actions and the consequences of actions ceaselessly until the annihilation of the modification of the mind takes place, there’s no ‘I’ being there to be acknowledging/identifying as “I am selfless/unselfish.” or “I am good/bad.” And hence, silent the mind, or as Swami Sivananda taught, “Kill the mind.”

Selflessness is nothing to do with unselfishness. Regardless of living beings or non-living objects, all are impermanent and selfless or I-less, where there’s no ‘I’ within all the impermanent changes. There’s no ‘I’ existing to be identified as ‘I am selfless’, ‘I am a selfless being’, ‘I am unselfish’, ‘I am performing selfless service and other beings are benefited from my selfless service’, ‘I am kind and compassionate’, ‘I aspire to inspire others to be selfless, kind and compassionate’, and so on. There’s no “I want to be selfless.” or “I am becoming selfless.”

‘Selflessness’ is the realization of there’s no self or ‘I’, it’s not about training the mind to become ‘selfless’ or ‘unselfish’. None/nothing can train to become ‘selfless’, as there is no self or ‘I’ from the beginning. Everyone and everything is just selfless as it is. It’s due to ignorance, there is the idea of ‘I’ arise in the thinking mind materializing itself via egoism influencing the thinking pattern of the mind, where the idea of ‘I’ feeds on attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, to desire and don’t desire, to aspire and expect, to enjoy and suffer, to love and be loved, to be continuing ‘existing’ in the form of thinking possessing a worldly self-identity with certain qualities of names and forms.

The idea of ‘I’ can be annihilated by eliminating egoism from the mind. As the ‘I’ appears to be ‘real and existing’ is nothing but the thinking pattern of the mind functioning under the influence of egoism, and upon annihilation of egoism or the veil of ignorance, the idea of ‘I’ will vanish naturally.

Upon the realization of impermanence and selflessness, naturally the mind also realizes ‘timelessness’. Time doesn’t exist, it’s just ‘what the mind perceives’, and ‘both the mind (the perceiver) and what the mind perceives (the perceived)’ constantly changing, and the ceaseless impermanent changes as well as due to the function of memory, there’s remembrance towards the impermanent changes generate the false impression of ‘time’ or ‘I’. The mind is going through countless births and deaths of ceaseless thoughts arising and passing away generating the different states of the mind. The body is going through countless births and deaths along with all the impermanent changes that are happening in the physical body generating the different condition/appearance of the body. The mind and the body is never remain the same mind or the same body even for a moment until the body and the thinking faculty ceased functioning and existing.

There’s no “I am performing yoga practice. I am a yoga practitioner. I will be receiving the benefits of the yoga practice. I am free or not free from ignorance.” It’s just the mind performing the practice, and whether the mind will be free from ignorance, or not.

Be free.

Life is good and meaningful?

There’s nothing wrong when the mind perceives or acknowledges that ‘life is good and meaningful’ because of ‘the presence of something good and meaningful or the absence of something bad and meaningless’, or when the mind perceives or acknowledges that ‘life is bad and meaningless’ because of ‘the absence of something good and meaningful or the presence of something bad and meaningless’.

Just that the mind is still being determined by the presence and absence of ‘certain qualities of names and forms’. There’s no freedom, as there’s attachment towards the presence or the absence of certain qualities of names and forms to feel good and meaningful, or not. Even when the mind thinks and believes that ‘life is so good and meaningful’ or ‘life is so bad and meaningless’ due to ‘the presence and absence of certain qualities of names and forms’, all are subject to impermanence and selflessness. Whether it’s ‘good and meaningful’ or ‘bad and meaningless’, all and everything will pass away.

Yoga and meditation practice is to allow the mind to see things as they are, and be free. Life is just what it is, as it is. Life is neither ‘good and meaningful’ nor ‘bad and meaningless’ being undetermined by the presence or absence of certain qualities of names and forms that are subject to impermanence and selflessness.

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they think and believe, and whether they want to be free, or not.

Some minds actually enjoy the state of restlessness, enjoy being determined by all the names and forms that are impermanent and selfless, where they would find moments of calmness, joyfulness, goodness and meaningfulness from time to time during those moments of ‘life is good and meaningful’ due to the presence or absence of certain qualities of names and forms, while trying their best to avoid coming in contact with anyone or anything that they perceive/believe/acknowledge as ‘bad’, ‘negative’ and ‘meaningless’, where they believe it will bring ‘badness’ or ‘negativity’ into their life if they come in contact with certain qualities of names and forms that they believe as ‘bad’ and ‘negative’. That’s their freedom, even though that’s no freedom at all.