Wise vs intelligent

The minds that are intelligent, upon coming in contact with something, will analyze it based on the accumulated knowledge under the influence of a particular thinking and belief to apply judgment of right or wrong/true or untrue/good or bad/positive or negative, and followed by asserting agreement (towards what is corroborating with the thinking and belief) and disagreement (towards what is contradicting with the thinking and belief), and generating liking, admiration and support towards the agreeable, while generating disliking, disgust and oppose towards the disagreeable. Being attached onto and identifying with the accumulated knowledge or what the mind thinks it knows (even though there are many things are unknown to the mind), the mind doesn’t bother to inquire the truth of something agreeable or disagreeable, that either corroborates or contradicts with the accumulated knowledge under the influence of a particular thinking and belief in the mind.

The minds that are wise, upon coming in contact with something, will be aware of or seeing the thing as it is, without generating liking, admiration and support or disliking, disgust and oppose, being free from agreement and disagreement based on judgment deriving from analysis that is limited by the accumulated knowledge under the influence of a particular thinking and belief. Via insight that is free from attachment or identification towards the accumulated knowledge under the influence of any thinking and belief, the mind is opened to inquire the truth of everything, including what it knows and doesn’t know, whether it is something corroborating or contradicting with the accumulated knowledge under the influence of a particular thinking and belief in the mind.

Being intelligent doesn’t guarantee that the mind is free from ignorance, egoism and impurities, or is free from disturb, restlessness and suffering.

Being wise allows the mind to be free from disturb, restlessness and suffering.

What the mind agrees with or disagrees with, is not necessary the truth or not the truth.

Yoga and meditation practice serves the purpose to transform the egoistic intellectual thinking into selfless intuitive insight, provided if yoga and meditation practice is being performed with the correct understanding and attitude. Otherwise, even after many years of yoga and meditation practice also doesn’t lead the mind into silence or towards liberation from ignorance and suffering, but instead empowering restlessness, egoism and ignorance.

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Learn to be alone and independent

If one wants to practice yoga and meditation, one needs to learn to be alone and independent, as well as allow others to also learn to be alone and independent, learning to look after oneself.

Somehow quite many people think and believe that ‘aloneness’ of solitude and seclusion is something ‘wrong’ and ‘selfish’. Many people, including health professionals and yoga teachers, would think and believe that it’s ‘abnormal’ and ‘unhealthy’ for the body and the mind if someone is being ‘isolated’ from other human beings for a prolonged period of time, that people would get sick and die due to loneliness and without any ‘physical touch/contact’ or ‘mental connection/interaction’ with other human beings. So they believe, and so they become. It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to think and believe.

For yoga practitioners, one must inquire the truth of everything. Do not blind-agreeing, blind-believing, blind-following, or blind-sharing any information of anything coming from anyone or any source.

Look into the history, of those who had been observing serious prolonged solitude and seclusion, voluntary being isolated from other human beings in the society to cut-off social activities, communication and interaction, to minimize mind inputs of worldly ideas, habits, thinking and belief, to quiet the restless modification of the mind, they were able to conquer their minds and attained the knowledge that liberates the mind from ignorance and suffering. These liberated minds were no longer be influenced or determined by all the others in the society of all kinds of thinking and belief and behavior.

Yoga practitioners who truly want to be free from ignorance and suffering, must inquire the truth of all those worldly thinking and belief coming from someone and somewhere, while letting go the worldly habit of minding other people’s worldly affair, allowing others to learn to be independent to look after their own minds, or not.

No doubt that all living beings must depend on nature to provide the source of energy in the form of food, water and air for survival, and human beings living in the modern society are limited by necessary dependence on some others for certain things. Such as those who don’t farm or cook, will have to depend on those who involve in farming, transporting, food processing, handling and cooking, to allow food to be available to them. Or, people who don’t know how to build a house need to depend on house builders to build houses for them. Or, babies, toddlers and young children need the attentive care and guidance from others who are physically/mentally/emotionally matured. Or, those who have physical or mental limitation or illness, also need to depend on other people to look after their everyday living and to rehabilitate. Or, most people depend on clean treated running water, gas and electricity supply to their home for modern living convenience. Or people who are critically sick need to depend on health professionals who have the knowledge of medicines and treatments for all kinds of critical illness, and depending on the availability of the medicines or treatments to counter that particular illness.

Otherwise, most people could be physically, mentally and emotionally independent most of the time for most of the things in everyday life, but people just wouldn’t, where people are either reluctant to look after themselves physically, mentally and emotionally even when they could, but they rather depending on other people to be there for them physically, mentally and emotionally, or people have fear and aversion towards the sense of lovelessness, companionlessness, loneliness, boredom and meaninglessness.

Survival instinct, love seeking, companion seeking, loneliness, boredom and meaninglessness are some of the significant reasons why people don’t like or don’t agree with ‘aloneness’ and ‘independence’. Meanwhile there are selfish greedy people in the world also don’t like the society to be ‘independent’ as that means they can no longer easily ‘manipulate’ or ‘control’ the society to get what they want.

It’s common that many people want to think and believe that all human beings somehow NEEDING each other in life. People like to think and feel, “My children need me”, “My family needs me”, “My friends need me”, “My partner needs me”, “My students need me”, “My pets need me”, “My country needs me”, and so on. Or “I need my children/my family/my friends/my partner/my students/my pets/my country being there for me, or else my life is empty, lonely, bored, joyless and meaningless.”

It makes the egoistic minds feel good and meaningful about themselves when they think they are needed by other people or beings, that they can contribute something to other beings. If everyone is physically, mentally and emotionally independent and doesn’t really need anyone to be there for them physically, mentally and emotionally, then this ‘craving for needing one another in life’ will not be gratified. People are no longer be able to attain that kind of good and meaningful feelings coming from the perception of “I am needed by some others. I am a useful being. I can contribute to the family/society/country/world/humanity.” But, this is only because of ignorance and egoism.

The mind can be free from the idea of “I am needed by some others” or “I want to be there for some others” and be free from the craving for attaining good feelings and the sense of meaningfulness coming from being needed by others, but still being kind and generous and helpful to those who really need physical, mental and emotional care and support from others, unconditionally without discrimination of ‘superiority or inferiority’, ‘people whom I know or don’t know’, ‘people whom I like or don’t like’, or ‘people whom I agree with or disagree with’.

And then there are those who become physically, mentally and emotionally frustrated, exhausted and restless deriving from pushing oneself beyond one’s limitation to look after other people who want to or need to depend on the others physically, mentally and emotionally. This is because the egoistic mind would feel bad, guilty and regret if they think they are not always there or couldn’t be there for people who want to or need to depend on them. And if their body and mind breakdown due to over exhaustion from looking after others, themselves need to be looked after by some others. If one can’t even look after oneself properly, then how can one look after the others efficiently?

When the mind is free from ignorance and egoism, it can truly serve the world efficiently, selflessly and unconditionally, under a pure, calm, dispassionate, desireless and selfless mind.

In the International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre/Ashram, most people see the sequence of the teachings of Swami Sivananda as SERVE, LOVE, GIVE, PURIFY, MEDITATE, REALIZE. That is also what Swami Sivananda taught and had written in most of his books.

SERVE, LOVE, GIVE is when the mind turning outward performing selfless actions in the world (Karma Yoga) to serve the purpose of purifying the mind via the elimination of egoism through selfless service. While PURIFY allows the mind be free from impurities and restlessness to meditate and realize the truth of selflessness. MEDITATE is when the mind turning inward ceased all actions or studies in the world, stands as the silent witness towards the mind perception of a world of names and forms. And REALIZE is the fruit of meditation.

SERVE, LOVE, GIVE are supposed to help in the elimination of egoism while performing karma yoga/selfless service, however, it’s because most minds are not free from ignorance and egoism, that’s why they need to be purified. While SERVE, LOVE, GIVE under the influence of ignorance and egoism could actually empowering ignorance and egoism, and would generate more impurities and restlessness into the mind than to purify the mind, which in fact, hindering the mind to meditate and realize.

And so, the more efficient way might be first taking care of PURIFY (by turning the mind inward via dispassion, renunciation, solitude, seclusion and silence), MEDITATE and REALIZE, and then this mind that is free from ignorance and egoism can truly SERVE, LOVE, GIVE through performing selfless actions or Karma Yoga in the world, efficiently, selflessly and unconditionally. At this point, even though the body and mind is performing actions in the world, but the mind is unmoved/unaffected/undetermined by the actions and the fruit of actions. This mind is void of restlessness or exhaustion. This is INACTION in ACTIONS that doesn’t bind the mind to karma.

In fact, meditation practice being done with the correct understanding and attitude is the best mind purification, as during the time of sitting quietly by oneself, moving the body and mind away from worldly interactions and activities, turning the attention inward, withdrawing the senses from the sense objects, witnessing/observing the mind activities without association/identification with the modifications of the mind, without craving, aversion, judgment and expectation, without intention, the mind is being purified naturally and efficiently.

PURIFY, MEDITATE, REALIZE is indeed the mind SERVING, LOVING, GIVING the mind itself, and thus, purifying itself. Upon the realization of Selflessness, this mind can truly SERVE, LOVE, GIVE to others.

And hence, the importance of silence, solitude and seclusion, aloneness and independence for those who truly want to practice yoga and realize yoga.

One must look after one’s mind before one can truly benefit the others.

Those who disagree with this don’t have to take up this teaching. Be free.

The essential of seclusion and solitude in yoga

Inquiry towards why the practice of seclusion and solitude is so important in yoga.

Many people, including yoga practitioners, might think that the practice of seclusion and solitude is only limited to those who renounce worldly life completely to be a monk or nun. Even monks and nuns might not be practicing seclusion and solitude when they live in a community with other monks and nuns. Being a monk or nun doesn’t mean that one is not getting in touch and mingling with the society/family/friends/relatives, or not engaging in social connections, interactions and activities.

There’s nothing wrong or bad with worldly life of family, relatives, friends and community. There’s nothing wrong with social connections, interactions and activities.

But for those who want to quiet/silent the restless mind, to realize/see the truth of things, to be free from ignorance and suffering, to transcend the mind perception of an impermanent selfless life existence of births and deaths and the suffering of a physical body that is subject to change, decay, aging, injury, illness and death/decomposition, then the practice of seclusion and solitude is a very important and most practical efficient way to quiet/silent the restless mind, to free the mind from restlessness and ignorance, and be free from the mind perception of suffering.

For many people who are not interested at all in transcending the impermanent selfless worldly life existence of body and mind, and are very passionate towards the worldly life existence with all the relationships and activities, constantly decorating the body and pampering the mind with sensual enjoyment through the senses, and be contented with ceaseless gratification of the desires of craving and aversion to feel good, happy, confident and meaningful, then the practice of seclusion and solitude is irrelevant to them.

The mind is receiving inputs through the senses ceaselessly, whether with awareness or without awareness, wittingly or unwittingly, remember or don’t remember. There’s constant input of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and thoughts, unwittingly, not to say additional human worldly passionate egoistic conversations, interactions and activities. All these accumulated imprints from the ceaseless inputs of the senses continuously bubble up to the surface of the mind during concentration/meditation causing great distraction/hindrance to the mind to be silent, especially in the novice.

And hence, retreat from the worldly social/community/family life to cut down or cut off getting in touch/coming in contact with worldly minded people of worldly relationships and social medias, and cutting down or cutting off all kinds of physical and mental worldly social connections, communications, conversations, interactions and activities is so important for those who sincerely want to conquer the restless modification of the mind to realize yoga.

There are many good and kind and friendly intellectual people in the world, but Satsanga (the company of the wise and liberated beings) that will lead the mind towards silence is very few. Quite many yoga practitioners mistaken worldly good and kind and friendly intellectual people as Satsanga on the path of yoga. All the good, kind and friendly intellectual people will give the mind lots of suggestions, advice, encouragement and ideas of doing this and that in the world to achieve something that they believe as the meanings of life based on their cultural/social/religious/political thinking and belief, and pull the mind away from the path of yoga of silencing the mind.

Most people think and believe that this is selfishness and irresponsibility towards the family, friends and society. Many think that this is madness/abnormality. That’s their freedom of thinking and belief.

Yoga enthusiasts who think the practice of seclusion and solitude is ‘wrong’ and ‘meaningless’ will say that, “This is not the yoga that I know, that I want.”

What they don’t know is that transcending the modification of the mind to be free from ignorance, is the greatest form of duty, compassion and contribution towards all beings and the entire life existence of this body and mind.

Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, Swami Sivananda and many other saints and sages in the past were in some kind of seclusion and solitude away from the worldly society/relationships/connections/interactions/activities for many years until they successfully attained the goal of what they were looking for.

Meanwhile some might had tried to practice seclusion and solitude, but after short period of time being cut off from seeing, talking, communicating and interacting with other human beings of family, friends and relatives, they gave up seclusion and solitude and run back into their everyday relationships and interactions with the world due to missingness, loneliness, meaninglessness, boredom and fear.

Due to passionate attachment and identification towards worldly life existence and relationships, many people including yoga practitioners and yoga teachers give themselves many justification/excuses to avoid the practice of seclusion and solitude, mostly thinking that “It’s so wrong and selfish to not seeing or talking to our family, relatives and friends to care for everyone in our life, or not socializing or interacting with other human beings in the society, to show love and care for others. It’s so meaningful and wonderful to have family, friends and community that care for each other.” And when they experience great physical, mental and emotional suffering and painful sorrow, they would cry and seek blessing from ‘God’ or ‘superhuman Guru’. That’s everyone’s freedom of thinking and belief and choice of living.

That’s also why serious yoga practitioners choose to move away from such worldly life of worldly beings that might generate unnecessary interference, distraction or hindrance to those who want to take yoga and meditation practice seriously. It’s indeed a journey alone on the path of transcending the mind and the suffering of ignorance.

The Guru said, “You have now received all the teachings. You are left alone now. Retreat yourself and practice and realize.”

Peace in silence?

The untrained minds might want to have some ‘peace in quietness’ once in a while when they feel that they need to be unwind and rejuvenate from restlessness and tiredness derived from over-activities, over-stressed and over-stimulation. But, after a few moments or a few days of ‘peace in quietness’, the minds want to get back into the daily routine of actions, stimulation and adventure as soon as possible. The minds need some sorts of excitement, stimulation, interaction of inputs and outputs, the sense of accomplishment or achievement, and acknowledgement from others, to feel good and meaningful about life and about themselves of what the minds think and believe as who they are, or who ‘I’ am.

Some say, people just need to know how to balance between quietness/relaxation and excitement/stimulation. Most minds like to hear this. Many yoga teachers also preach about this – The balance of everything.

“Come for yoga class/yoga retreat and do some yoga exercises when you feel restless/tensed/tired/burn-out and need to be unwind/relaxed/rejuvenate/re-energized from restlessness, tension, over-tiredness, or burn-out.”

Though there’s nothing bad or wrong with that, yoga practice is more about learning how to free the mind from ignorance and egoism to minimize/reduce/stop generating unnecessary restlessness, tension and exhaustion into the body and mind, so that one doesn’t need to be unwind or relaxed at all, than to do some yoga practice once in a while to unwind and relaxed, then generate more tension and tiredness in everyday life, and then come back again for more yoga practice to unwind and relax, repeatedly and ceaselessly.

Most minds don’t really like the teachings of yoga about quieting the restless mind to be in silence, to annihilate the modification of the mind completely, not just for a few moments or a few days of quietness to be unwind from restlessness and exhaustion, but then the minds eagerly want to get back into worldly activities of interactions, stimulation and excitement, as the restless egoistic mind can’t stand being in quietness for too long. The minds that are used to restlessness and stimulation will feel unease, bored, lonely and meaningless after being in quietness, away from restlessness of physical and mental activities of interactions of inputs and outputs, stimulation and excitement for some time.

There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just the common behavior/reaction of the ever restless ‘I-ness’ mind.

Yoga and meditation practice is training the mind to eventually drop-off the ‘I-ness’ being immersed in quietness. There’s no unease, boredom, loneliness and meaninglessness. And hence, the mind doesn’t need to be engaging in any sort of physical or mental activities to get excitement, stimulation, interactions of inputs and outputs, the sense of accomplishment or achievement, and acknowledgement from others, to feel good and meaningful. The ‘I’-less/selfless mind rests in peacefulness and quietness, as it is.

Self-inquiry into the truth of who/what am ‘I’

– Inquire the truth of all the names and forms that the mind thinks and believes, and identifies as ‘I’, such like the life existence, the existence and function of the mind, the states of mind, the thinking/thoughts, the feelings/emotions, the mind perception of names and forms through the senses, the belief, the vision/ambition, the inspiration/aspiration, the self-esteem/confidence, the self-image, the culture, the race, the nationality, the pride, the shame, the ‘good’ qualities, the ‘bad’ qualities, the species, the religion, the practice, the behavior, the personality, the family/relatives/friends relationship, the social network, the social status, the titles, the talents, the skills, the learning/education, the knowledge, the qualifications, the memories, the experiences, the career, the energy field/level, the mental health condition, the desires of craving and aversion, the likes and dislikes, the agreements and disagreements, the positive and negative thinking, the standard of right and wrong, the sense of meaningfulness and meaninglessness, the existence and function of the physical body, the physical look/appearance, the different stages of growing and aging, the gender, the sexual orientation, the facial feature, the skin tone and colour, the hair, the body shape, the physical ability and disability/limitation, the physical health condition, the different bodily systems, the clothing and accessories, the life style, the living condition, the interests/hobbies, the food option, the actions and the result of actions, the possessions/belongings, the livelihood, the wealth, the achievements, the contributions, the sacrifices, the expectations, the satisfaction/dissatisfaction, the guilt/regret, the hurts/disappointment, the happiness/unhappiness, the sorrow/grief, and so on.

– If this is ‘I’, then it should belongs to ‘I’ and it should be in the control of ‘I’ about how ‘I’ would like/want it to be. If it’s not in the control of ‘I’ about how ‘I’ would like/want it to be, it doesn’t belong to ‘I’, then it’s not ‘I’ or ‘mine’.

– Negate what is not ‘I’.

– Realize selflessness. There is no ‘I’. Just impermanent changes of names and forms, arising and passing away.

Suffering and restlessness exist because of the ‘existence’ and ‘identification’ of the ego/’I’ in the mind/the thinking. Realize the truth of ‘I’, there’s no suffering or restlessness. Absence of suffering and restlessness is peace. If ‘peace’ comes from experiencing/perceiving ‘good’ and ‘positive’ qualities of names and forms, or due to everything is the way that the thinking would like it to be, then this ‘peace’ is ‘conditional peace’ that is impermanent. The real peace derived from knowing the truth of ‘I’, being free from ignorance and egoism, is unconditional and undetermined by all the life experiences/the mind perceptions of different qualities of names and forms of ‘good and bad’/’positive and negative.’