Who am I?

The self-inquiry of “WHO AM I?” is the main teaching and practice of yoga and Buddhism.

Some people might interpret it as about finding the true ‘I’, or the original ‘I’, with a permanent identity of a specific quality or state of being/consciousness. They understand it as about remembering or reconnecting with or going back to a true or original identity of who they really are. For example, if there is a man who was a happy person with good behavior when he was younger, but now he is unhappy and behaves badly, people who know him would say, “You have changed. This is not who you really are. Your true self/original nature is happy and has good behavior.”

People think this is what “find out who we really are” is about, that there is a true self/original identity with a particular quality (that we prefer, that we think is better), but we have changed or have lost that original quality or have forgotten our root/true self/original identity, and we think that the inquiry of “WHO AM I?” means to find out or remember our root/original identity and to regain or reconnect with that identity.

For those who believe in the soul, they take the “soul” to be the real ‘I’. “I am the soul. The soul is immortal. I am immortal. The soul is purity. I am purity.”

Under the influence of ignorance and egoism, most people want their identity (whom or what they think is who they are) to be associated or identified with some qualities of names and forms that their minds believe as ‘pure’, ‘superior’, ‘good’, ‘not bad’, ‘right’, ‘positive’, ‘strong’, ‘honorable’, or ‘acceptable’ in their belief, or culture, or religion, or society, and people don’t want their identity to be associated or identified with some qualities of names and forms that their minds believe as ‘impure’, ‘inferior’, ‘bad’, ‘not good’, ‘wrong’, ‘negative’, ‘weak’, ‘dishonorable’, or ‘unacceptable’ in their belief, or culture, or religion, or society.

In yoga and Buddhism, the inquiry of “WHO AM I?” is about realizing the truth of selflessness or ‘I’-lessness or egolessness. That there is no ‘I’ existing as an immortal/mortal being or permanent/impermanent being. There is no ‘I’ to be identifying with any quality of name and form with an immortal/mortal identity or permanent/impermanent identity of “This is I” or “This is the true I” or “This is the immortal I” or “This is the permanent I” or “This is the pure I”. There’s neither true nor false identity. There is neither permanent nor impermanent identity. There is neither pure nor impure I. There is neither “I am suffering” nor “I am free from suffering”. It’s not even “I am nothingness” or “I don’t exist”. There is no ‘I’ to be this or not this. There is no ‘I’ to be existing or non-existing.

For example, someone from an Indian family with Hinduism background who was born and grew up in England is an English citizen and somehow not practicing Hinduism, those who know this person would tell this person, “Don’t forget who you really are, your native country, your original culture, your true religion and your people. You are an Indian and you are a Hindu, and Indians are your real family. Any others who are not Indian are not your people or family. When other people attack India, Indians and Hindus, they are attacking you. You must stand up to protect your country, your culture, your religion and your people or family.” But in truth, this person is neither ‘Indian’ nor ‘English’ or ‘non-Indian’, neither ‘Hindu’ nor ‘non-Hindu’.

Some says, “We all are human beings and one same family disregards all the different backgrounds and qualities of names and forms.” But, even this is not “who I really am”. There’s neither ‘human beings’ nor ‘non-human beings’, neither ‘one family’ nor ‘many different families’.

It’s just the mind functioning under the influence of ignorance that generates the idea of ‘I’ or ego of the existence of an identity which attaches to certain qualities of names and forms to be existing. The mind perceives and recognizes different qualities of names and forms, and experiences different states and takes different forms due to attachment and reaction towards all the perceptions of names and forms. When there’s attachment and desires arise in the mind, the mind experiences suffering when these desires are not gratified. The mind that experiences suffering wishes to be free from suffering. The mind finds a way or path to be free from the cause of suffering. If the mind realizes the truth, being free from ignorance and egoism (the cause of suffering), and that brings to the end of suffering. The mind forms and deforms (births and deaths) countlessly in different states or names and forms, ceaselessly, and all states or names and forms arising and passing away impermanently, endlessly. In one moment, the mind is calmed, loving, contented and peaceful. In another moment, the mind is disturbed, unloving, discontented and restless. But there is no ‘I’. There’s no ‘I’ am good or bad. There’s no ‘I’ am happy or unhappy. There’s no ‘I’ enjoy or suffer.

People might also interpret selflessness as a quality or a state of unselfishness.

In yoga and Buddhism, selflessness is beyond the quality or the state of unselfishness. There is no ‘I’ am being selfish or unselfish.

Go beyond the idea of ‘I’. Go beyond all the qualities of names and forms. Go beyond mortality and immortality. Go beyond existence and non-existence.

Due to ignorance and egoism, people try very hard to search for a ‘true/original identity’ to be identified as ‘who I am’ or ‘This is who I really am’, but they won’t find it no matter how, because there’s no ‘I’ to be identified with a particular identity as ‘who I am’. Upon the realization of selflessness/I-lessness/egolessness, the mind realized the truth of ‘who I am’ and be free from all sorts of restlessness and suffering derived from ignorance and egoism.

Contemplate on this, and be free.

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The mind only knows what it knows, and what it doesn’t know, it doesn’t know…

What is precious for the dispassionate is being perceived as worthless for the worldly minded, and what is meaningless for the dispassionate is being perceived as meaningful for the worldly minded.

Noble yoga practice such like renouncing the world being dispassionate and disinterest towards worldly matters, activities and social interactions, and the observation of noble silence, seclusion and solitude restricting the mind’s inputs and outputs quieting the restless mind, to divert the entire energy and attention onto the sublimation of the mind, is being recognized or seen as ‘abnormal’, ‘wrong’, ‘not good’, ‘uncivilized’, ‘outdated’, ‘rude’, ‘selfish’, ‘unfriendly’, ‘uncaring’, ‘inhuman’, ‘crazy’, ‘unhappy’, ‘suffering’, and so on, by the worldly minded and so called ‘civilized’ society especially family, friends and relatives, including some of those who think they like yoga and are practicing yoga.

Everyone has the freedom of thinking, belief, opinion, expression, action, speech and way of life. What is ‘abnormal’ to the society, is very much based on something that is unfamiliar and unenjoyable for the majority, or something that is being different from the majority. Such like most people live a ‘normal’ life of mingling, mixing and socializing with other human beings building relationships, networks, connections, engaging in social interactions and activities. That is what they think is the progressive way of life to build a progressive world and society.

Meanwhile, there are some people who prefer to live a quiet life without mixing into the society. They have no intention to be different from anyone else, neither do they object or criticize other people’s way of life that are different from them. They are happy as they are and they don’t have to be doing something ‘fun’ or ‘enjoyable’ to make them feel happy or enjoying life. But those who attached strongly onto their particular thinking and belief and the way of life that they think is ‘normal’ and ‘good’, they might not know how to respect other human beings who are different from them, who live a way of life that is different from the majority. They expect every human beings should also follow the way of life that they think is ‘normal’ and ‘good’. If others are not interested in the way of life that they live, they will criticize these people who live a different way of life as ‘abnormal’, ‘not good’ or ‘wrong’.

They think that those who renounce the world, who stay away from the society to observe silence, seclusion and solitude, and being dispassionate and disinterest in worldly matters and social interactions and activities must be ‘mad’, ‘mentally sick’, ‘unhappy’, ‘miserable’, ‘lonely’ and ‘suffering’ people, because themselves don’t enjoy or don’t like being in silence, seclusion and solitude, or being by oneself without social mingling and interaction with some other human beings. They are like fish out of water. They will feel so uncomfortable, unhappy, miserable, lonely and suffer if they have to be away from mingling, socializing and interacting with some other human beings for a period of time. And so, this makes them think that those who observe silence, seclusion and solitude must be ‘crazy’, ‘mentally sick’, ‘unhappy’, ‘miserable’, ‘lonely’ and ‘suffering’.

The worldly minded expect all human beings should conform to their worldly thinking and beliefs about all human beings should act and react or behave according to what they believe as socially acceptable behavior and proper way of life.

Such like, they think and believe that people should live life passionately towards worldly social life and activities which they believe that is what a meaningful and happy life is about, or else, life must be meaningless, dull and unhappy for those who are dispassionate and disinterest towards worldly objects of names and forms. They think that people should be doing something that they believe as ‘fun’ and ‘enjoyable’ or achieving something that they think and believe as something ‘good and meaningful’ to be happy and meaningful, that will make them and other people to feel proud of themselves. This is nothing wrong and it’s their freedom of thinking and belief and what they want to do with their life.

“It’s abnormal to not mix into the society and not having ‘friends’ to socialize with or not being passionate towards anything. You must be so miserable and lonely.” People said.

“It’s crazy to not interact or do things with other human beings. It’s so ridiculous to not do something ‘fun’ and ‘enjoyable’ that will make you happy. You must be so unhappy and suffering.” And they said.

“It’s rude to not talking to another human being. This is so wrong, uncivilized, unfriendly and selfish behavior.” So they said.

These are so called ‘normal’ thinking and belief of the worldly minded. They label those who don’t think like them or don’t believe in what they believe, who don’t live life or do things like them, who don’t act and react or behave like them, as ‘abnormal’, ‘crazy’, or ‘uncivilized’ people.

Different minds find their own paths to transcend the modification of the mind. Different minds eliminate egoism and ignorance through different paths. Some yearn for ultimate liberation, while many don’t. And it’s okay.

There’s nothing to be argued about.

The mind only knows what it knows, and what it doesn’t know, it doesn’t know. And it’s okay.

Those who see the preciousness of renouncing worldly ideas, passionate desires, social interactions and activities, and turning the mind inward and enjoying the silence, have nothing to be argued about with those who don’t see what they see. They respect everyone to be what they are and have the freedom of thinking, belief, expression, opinion, judgment, behavior and way of life.

If majority people observe silence and take care of their own minds, and be free from egoism and ignorance, being free from desires, lust, greed, jealousy, resentment and fear, the world will be more peaceful having less human’s discrimination, prejudice, clashes, conflicts, arguments, crimes, hatred and violence, that are due to impure minds under the influence of ignorance and egoism. And this has nothing to do with ‘God’ or ‘religions’ or ‘spirituality’.

Om shanti.

“Let the world have its own ways. Mind your own affairs. Clean your mental factory. That man who does not interfere with others is the most peaceful man in the world.” – Swami Sivananda

Still looking for teachers?

The one who thinks one enjoys and suffers, is oneself.

The one who thinks one believes and disbelieves, is oneself.

The one who thinks one performs actions and inactions, is oneself.

The one who thinks one receives the fruit of actions and inactions, is oneself.

The one who is and isn’t aware of the impurities in one’s mind, is oneself.

The one who identifies with the impurities in one’s mind, is oneself.

The one who is over-powered by the impurities in one’s mind, is oneself.

The one who purifies and annihilates the impurities in one’s mind, is oneself.

The one who attaches and detaches, is oneself.

The one who is passionate and dispassionate, is oneself.

The one who is ignorant, is oneself.

The one who can free oneself from ignorance, is oneself.

The one who perceives good and bad, positive and negative, is oneself.

The one who goes beyond dualities, is oneself.

The one who perceives suffering, is oneself.

The one who can free oneself from suffering, is oneself.

The one who is and isn’t influenced by anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, lust and fear in oneself, is oneself.

The one who feeds and starves anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, lust and fear in oneself, is oneself.

The one who lacks of self-discipline and self-control, is oneself.

The one who is determine and persevere, is oneself.

The one whose mind is disturbed and restless, is oneself.

The one whose mind is calm and content, is oneself.

The one who meditates and realizes, is oneself.

What teachers are you still looking for?

‘Good people’?

The term ‘good’ might mean differently for different people. What is ‘good’ for some people might not be ‘good’ for some other people, and vice versa.

What happens when we recognize some people as ‘good people’, and we tell them, “You are a good person.”? Usually it’s when our minds perceive and feel touched by some qualities in these people which our minds recognize and agree as ‘good’ qualities based on the thinking and belief in our minds about what are ‘good’ qualities. What are ‘good’ qualities for some people might be different for some other people.

Most of the time, when people act and react or behave in the way that our minds like and agree with, our minds would identify and categorize these people as ‘good people’. For example, when someone gives us what we want, or when someone gives us the help that we needed, or when someone fulfills our desires, or when someone shows agreement/ approval/support/encouragement/appreciation/gratefulness/thankfulness towards something that is directly or indirectly concerning ourselves, our lives, our thinking, our beliefs, our values, our visions, and our actions, then our minds will react with delight, and will acknowledge and identify this person as one of the ‘good people’. We will tell this person, “Oh, you are such a good/nice/wonderful person.”

But what happens when people don’t act and react or behave in the way that our minds like and agree with, or they act and react or behave in the way that our minds dislike and disagree with, our minds would identify and categorize these people as ‘not good people’. What happens when a person doesn’t give us what we want, or doesn’t give us the help that we needed, or doesn’t fulfill our desires, or doesn’t show agreement/ approval/support/encouragement/appreciation/gratefulness/thankfulness towards something that is directly or indirectly concerning ourselves, our lives, our thinking, our beliefs, our values, our visions, and our actions? Our minds will react with dissatisfaction, disappointment, unhappiness and resentment. Our minds will categorize and identify this person as ‘not a good person’ or ‘not a nice person’, just because they don’t give us what we want or they give us what we don’t want, or our desires are not being gratified, or we are not getting what we like and want in the way that we think it should be or the way that we would like it to be.

This shows that in many cases, what our minds think and recognize and identify as ‘good people’ and ‘not good people’ can be impulsive judgments based on our desires of likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements, and wants and don’t wants, and based on a particular thinking and beliefs about how people should and shouldn’t act and react or behave.

We can perform inquiry by applying this mind behavior of judging what is ‘good’ and ‘not good’ onto anything that we can think of – ‘good citizen’, ‘good teacher/student’, ‘good father/mother’, ‘good son/daughter’, ‘good brother/sister’, ‘good husband/wife’, ‘good friend/lover’, ‘good man/woman’, ‘good Buddhist/Christian/Muslim/Hindu/and others’, ‘good yogi’, and so on… And we will see, most of the time the judgment about what is ‘good’ and ‘not good’ is based on what pleases us, or not, according to our thinking and beliefs about how everyone should/shouldn’t behave, our personal likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements, and the way that we think it should be and what we want them to be.

For example, when our teacher gives us what we like and want, we will say, “This is a good teacher.” and when our teacher doesn’t give us what we like and want, we will say, “This is not a good teacher.”
Or, when our husband/wife behave in the way that we want them to behave and gives us what we want, we will say, “You are a good husband/wife.” and when our husband/wife doesn’t behave in the way that we want them to behave and doesn’t give us what we want, we will say, “You are not a good husband/wife.”

When people feel happy and satisfied as they are pleased when we gratified all their desires and they tell us, “You are such a good/lovely/nice person.” we can ask them, “Let’s see if I couldn’t please you when I can’t gratify all your desires of what you want and don’t want, will you still think and say that I am a good/lovely/nice person?”

The teachings and practice of yoga and meditation is to free the mind from all sorts of worldly attachment and identification with qualities of names and forms, and be free from impulsive judgements based on desires of craving and aversion under the influence of personal thinking and beliefs.

‘Good people’ who ‘want’ to be good and do good, who want to be recognized/labeled as ‘good people’, are not necessarily ‘peaceful and happy’ if there is egoism, attachment, identification, desires of craving and aversion, and expectation. The possession of some ‘good’ qualities in oneself and the identification as ‘good people’ doesn’t determine that one will be peaceful and happy.

It doesn’t mean that one has to be in good mood and behave ‘nicely’ or ‘appropriately’ all the time, so that one will not be disqualified as ‘good people’. Those who do their best to be good and do good might not be always ‘right’ and ‘know best’ all the time, or won’t make any mistakes and bad decisions in life. It’s okay that we are not always right and we could be wrong some of the times, that we don’t know best, that we are not in good mood all the time or we might not behave ‘nicely’ and ‘appropriately’ some of the times, and that we might make mistakes and bad decisions in life, as long as we are aware of the ‘wrong’, ‘deficiency’, ‘bad mood’, ‘bad behavior’, ‘mistakes’ and ‘bad decisions’, without denial or self-criticism towards all these ‘not good’ qualities, without attachment and identification, and are not being over-powered by pride and arrogance to justify the ‘bad’ qualities relate to oneself, or try to blame some other people or things for the qualities that we don’t like about ourselves.

Most people growing up and living their entire lives being told or disciplined to be ‘good’, to do ‘good’ and to be ‘good people’, or to have a ‘good and meaningful life’ according to particular guidelines or standards about what is ‘good’ and ‘good people’, about what is ‘good and meaningful life’. Many people ended up being disappointed and unhappy with themselves or other people for not being able to be perfectly ‘good’ or live a ‘good and meaningful life’ as what they expect themselves and other people to be.

Peace and happiness is not determined by whether we think we are ‘good people’ or ‘not good people’ and whether we live a life that is ‘good and meaningful’, or not. It is whether we think we are ‘good’ and ‘good enough’, and having a ‘good and meaningful’ life, or not, there is no egoism, attachment, identification, desires of craving and aversion, and expectation. When we perform actions that we think and believe are ‘good’ actions or when we behave in the way that we think is ‘good’, it’s not because we want to be ‘good people’, or we want to live a ‘good and meaningful’ life. It’s not because we want to be recognized and acknowledged by ourselves or other people as ‘good people’.

There’s nothing wrong and it’s okay if other people don’t recognize/acknowledge us as ‘good people’ or they recognize/acknowledge us as ‘not good people’ when they feel unhappy, dissatisfied, disappointed and resent when we didn’t give them what they want, or didn’t fulfill their desires of craving and aversion, or we didn’t act and react or behave in the way that they expect us to be. That’s their freedom of reaction, thinking and expectation.

Everyone is just what they are, and they act and react or behave as they are. It’s neither good nor not good, neither nice nor not nice, neither right nor wrong.

Allowing everyone to be what they are, as what our minds think whether they are ‘good people’ or ‘not good people’, it’s not the truth of who they are. What our minds think and what other people think whether ourselves are ‘good people’ or ‘not good people’, it’s not the truth of who we are.

There’s no ‘I’ to be identify as ‘good people’ or ‘not good people’.

Be free.

The practice is in the moment observing or witnessing impermanent states of the mind

The states of the mind are impermanent. Whether it’s calmed or disturbed, kind or unkind, grateful or ungrateful, forgiving or unforgiving, positive or negative, happy or unhappy, it’s impermanent.

The practice is in the moment observing or witnessing impermanent states of the mind, without generate attachment, identification, judgment, expectation, craving or aversion towards any pleasant or unpleasant states of the mind.

Be free.