Body image issue, where it shouldn’t exist in the first place

In the areas where people are struggling everyday to attain the basic food and water resources to survive, to have a place to rest and be sheltered from harsh weather, to be free from hunger, thirst, exhaustion, discrimination, hatred, war and violence, there won’t be such body image issue existing.

Meanwhile, in the modern commercialized society with higher technology and comfortable or fancy lifestyle, where economy and spending power is stable and strong, where basic and higher education came with various subjects and interests is accessible for everyone, where people have the luxury to indulge in physical and mental enjoyments of the senses of sights/visuals, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and thoughts/ideas/creativity/imaginations, where food is easily and excessively available in various forms and tastes, where food has gone beyond being a basic necessity of life but becoming an enjoyment of taste, where water and electricity supply and various modern facilities are available easily, where clothing is no longer a basic material to keep warm and be protected from insects and cuts but plays as an important role for self-image and self-esteem, where people are being presented with different choices of lifestyle and leisure activities, where people are interested in promoting health, beauty and fitness, and put importance into personal and general hygiene, where people can travel easily from one place to another, where people can have dreams and ambitions to be fulfilled, where countless opportunities are available for everyone, but then ridiculously, many people are being troubled by body image issue, which is truly unnecessary.

It doesn’t matter people are being knowledgeable, or intelligent, or talented and skillful in certain subjects, or highly educated, or having a successful career, or having a high profile in the community or society, or having a generous income and an easy comfortable high technology living standard, many people are being troubled very much by body image issue, unwittingly.

People’s state of mind, the sense of meaningfulness, confidence, self-esteem, happiness and sense of self-worth and well-being are very much determined by the body image consists of facial features, skin condition, hair condition, physical appearance, body shape, body composition, physical condition, physical ability and achievement, that they like or dislike, satisfied or dissatisfied with, based on a particular standard that they set for themselves to comply to.

People get depressed when they think they have a body image issue, that they are dissatisfied with and dislike their facial features, skin condition, body hair, hair condition and style, physical appearance, body shape, physical condition and ability as it is, that they prefer or desire their body to be something different from what it is now, according to what they think is better, nicer, healthier, fitter, stronger, younger, prettier, or more attractive.

To counter this body image issue, most people will try to achieve the body image that they would like to have, that they think is the best body image, that would give them the sense of satisfaction and good feelings about their bodies and themselves.

Even many of the yoga classes in the world are emphasizing on promoting improvement in physical appearance, physical condition and ability, to boost people’s self-esteem, confidence, sense of self-worth and well-being. And the yoga teachers/instructors aspire to portray a body image of ‘good’ or ‘fit’ or ‘healthy’ or ‘attractive’ or ‘high performance’ kind of physical appearance, condition and ability to inspire or motivate the yoga students to also achieve the similar form of body image (enhanced physical appearance, condition, ability and performance.) – “I can achieve this, so can you!” or “Yoga makes you look better and feel better!” But this is not the teaching and practice of yoga. This is empowering ignorance and egoism. It might give them momentary good feelings and confidence about their body and themselves (the ego) by achieving the kind of body image that they prefer, but it doesn’t help people to be free from the suffering of low self-esteem and depression derived from attachment and identification with the impermanent physical appearance, condition and ability to be who they are. Once the quality of the body image that they like, that they attached onto and identified with, that makes them feel good and confident about themselves starts to change into something else or is no longer available due to impermanence, they will suffer from disappointment, dissatisfaction, self-hate, self-criticism, low self-esteem, depression, self-harm, and so on.

When people think they are disturbed by body image issue, that is mainly due to ignorance and egoism. There is great identification and attachment towards the physical body and all that is related to the physical body, to be ‘I’, or what they think is who they are.

Realize yoga or selflessness, be free from identification and attachment towards the physical body, and body image issues won’t be existing at all. One will take good care of the well-being of the physical body, out of compassion, without attachment towards the impermanent physical appearance, condition and ability, without identification with the physical body as ‘I’, or ‘Who I am’. Be kind to the body, live a healthy lifestyle to benefit the physical body, and allowing the physical body to improve and change to be what it is, as it is, without any egoistic desire or intention or expectation to make or transform or change the physical body to be the way that ‘I’ would like it to be, so that ‘I’ will feel good, happy, satisfied and confident about ‘my’ body and ‘I’. This truly is loving our body, accepting the body as it is, while allowing all the changes to be there as they are, to be what they are.

Expecting the body to be the way that we like it to be, and constantly straining and forcing the physical body with intense physical training so that it will be able to do what we want it to do, and to look the way that we want it to look, to achieve the body image that we prefer/desire, is not loving our body, but it’s the ego loving what it likes and wants. “I want my body to be like this or to be able to do that.” Again, it’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their body, and how they want to treat their body.

Be free.

Are we really practicing yoga?

We are not really practicing yoga, if we are being conditioned by what our mind believes what things are.

Anything that we believe and think is ‘not good’ or ‘not perfect’ is conditioned by subjective ‘standards’ coming from our own perception and recognition about what things are, but it is not coming from the objects themselves.

In different cultural beliefs, being “fat” can be ‘not good’ for some people, but can be ‘very good’ for some other people. What we think is ‘not perfect’ can be ‘perfectly as it is’ for some other people.

Things that might seem like “big problems” for us, might be “no problems at all” for some other people.

It is up to us, how we want to conditioned our mind, or free our mind from conditions.

We either limit ourselves by generate a lot of “standards” and “qualities” for ourselves to live up to, or limit ourselves by allowing other people’s “standards” and “qualities” to determine us.

We also apply our own type of “qualities” and “standards” onto everyone and everything, expecting everyone and everything should also comply to these “qualities” and “standards”, and be judged by these “qualities” and “standards”. We categorize everyone and everything into categories according to our own “standards” of what is ‘good’ and ‘not good’.

The point is, we are free, until the moment we start to apply ‘beliefs’, ‘ideas’, ‘standards’, and ‘qualities’ onto ourselves and towards other people and everything. Expect ourselves, other people and things have to be like this or like that. Making ourselves not free, and disturbing other people as well.

Just by doing some yoga asana exercises and poses, or pranayama, or studying, discussing, talking, reading and hearing the philosophy of yoga, or chanting and praying in Sanskrit everyday, but without practicing the true meanings of non-dualism in everyday life, constantly being disturbed, affected and determined by the good and bad qualities of names and forms, and generate craving and aversion towards what we like and dislike, agree and disagree with, being influenced by discrimination, anger, hatred, dissatisfaction, disappointment, fear and worry, not knowing the practice of non-attachment and non-identification, then it is like performing lots of actions improving the function of the mind, the body, the hands, the feet, and the sense organs, having a good condition ‘vehicle’ with full tank of fuel, but we forgot to learn how to ‘drive’ this good condition ‘vehicle’ towards Freedom or Moksha.

Om shanti.

Intimidated by other people’s physical conditions and abilities in yoga (asana) practice?

If we have been putting in the same amount of time, discipline and effort into our daily yoga (asana) practice, just like those who have been spending lots of time, discipline and effort to keep the body and mind busy engaging in regular yoga (asana) practice, whether for spiritual growth, or for health and fitness reason, or for both;
we won’t have the free space in the mind, nor have the free time to be busy looking at other people’s ‘performance’ or result of a persistent and regular practice, and feel either envy, or intimidated by other people’s physical conditions and abilities, and spiritual improvement.

Although yoga, or unconditional love and peace is nothing to do with the levels of physical conditions and abilities, but naturally, there will be certain amount of improvement in physical conditions and abilities, as an ‘unavoidable’ side effect coming from regular yoga (asana) practice, whether we are aiming at it or not, or whether we like it or not.

We do not intent nor expect to gain any physical fitness, strength and flexibility while performing the yoga (asana) practice, as that is not the objective or goal of performing yoga (asana) practice, and our basic yoga practice is non-identification with the impermanent conditional physical body and the thinking mind. But the physical and mental effect coming from the regular yoga (asana) practice is still there.

The body will gain certain degrees of fitness, strength and flexibility, and the mind will gain certain degrees of calmness and peace. But that is not the end of our yoga practice. We need to use that physical condition and state of mind that is conducive for meditation, to contemplate upon the truth, to go beyond the body and mind, to remove ignorance, to be free from being conditioned by egoism, duality, qualities of names and forms.

We will never feel intimidated by anyone or anything, if we truly practice yoga and meditation.

Om shanti.

Give yourself 15 minutes, to get you going in daily yoga asana practice…

Before the start of yoga asana practice, it’s normal that our mind feels reluctant to move the physical body. We will give ourselves ‘reasonable’ excuses to escape a two hours of daily yoga asana practice.

The point is, even before we bring the body to perform daily yoga asana practice, to overcome that ‘laziness’ or ‘struggle’ is our real yoga practice.

To develop strong self-discipline in anything that we want to pursue is indeed our yoga practice. It’s not so much about how good we are in what we are doing. But to keep up the discipline is where the practice is.

It is only the first 15 minutes of physical movements that we feel ‘struggle’. After 15 minutes or so, it will turn into ‘enjoyable’ and ‘energizing’ that you don’t want to be disturbed until you finish your daily two hours routine.

That’s why I encourage anyone to do some yoga asana practice even just for 15 minutes (It’s a trick, but it works). Because that is what you need to get your body going. You will no longer need someone to ‘push’ you to ‘finish’ your daily 2 hours routine. As the energy fields in your body will tell you, “Yes! Keep going… 15 minutes is not enough.”

Om shanti.

Why being determined by life when we can make good use of life existence for benefiting ourselves and others?

Why being determined by life when we can make good use of life existence for benefiting ourselves and others?

It doesn’t matter our life condition is ‘good’ or ‘not so good’, or whether it is the way that we like it to be or not, we don’t have to be determined by it to be peaceful or not.

When our life is in ‘good’ condition, we take the advantage and opportunity to make good use of it for benefiting ourselves and others, without feeling proud and arrogant. Knowing that even this ‘comfortable’ condition will change and pass away.

When our life is in ‘not so good’ condition, we allow ourselves to accept the reality as it is, allow ourselves to be temporary excused from certain duty and responsibility, without feeling guilty, depressed or unhappy. Knowing that even this ‘difficult’ condition will change and pass away. We also allow other beings to show loving kindness and develop compassion towards those who are in ‘not so good’ conditions, and to be grateful and appreciate the ‘good’ condition that they have.

Appreciate this life existence, this body and this mind, and the time being, to do something beneficial and meaningful for ourselves and others. Such like, love ourselves and accepting ourselves as we are, stop criticizing ourselves and stop hurting ourselves with anger and hatred, fear and worry. And do the same towards other beings.

Time doesn’t really exist in reality. It is just the perception of the mind perceiving changes of the qualities of names and forms that is subject to impermanence. Time exists in the mind, but it doesn’t belong to the mind, or who we think we are. There’s no such thing as ‘my time’ or ‘wasting my time’. But then it seems like in this moment there is ‘time’ for us to spend freely to be doing something (performing beneficial actions that will promote harmony in ourselves and others) or doing nothing (refrain from performing harmful actions that will promote disharmony in ourselves and others).

Make good use of the thinking and reasoning power of the mind, the hands, the feet, the speech organ and the hearing organ, for ourselves and others.

When there are moments that we need to take a break from doing something, we enjoy doing nothing (such like when we don’t have any specific duty or responsibility to be carried out, or when our body experiences some illness or injuries, or any degeneration or malfunctions of the body and mind).

When we have the potential and opportunity to make use of this body and mind to do something good for ourselves and others, we perform all our actions with gratitude and joy, but without attachment or expectation towards the result of our actions. Be grateful that we are being given the opportunity to use the thinking mind, the creativity, the ideas, the hands, the feet and the speech organ for doing something good or nice for ourselves and others.

Do not let the life conditions, the body and the mind to determine us, or to ‘influence’ us to be peaceful or not, or to be ‘used’ by the ego to magnify its false existence as ‘I’. Instead, we make use of them to do something that is beyond our own belief, thinking or imagination of what we can do with this life opportunity.

When we perform actions with expectation, we are bound by our actions, and be determined by the result of the action. We are not free. This life existence is being used by the ego to accomplish its desires of craving and aversion.

If we know how to perform all actions whether it is for ourselves or for others, without attachment or expectation towards the result of the action, we are free. This life existence is being used for something beneficial for all beings.

When our mind starts to expand by cultivating compassion towards other beings and performing all our actions to benefit all beings, it will stop focusing on personal life problems. Personal life problems are still there, but it will become less and less important until it vanished from the mind. There’s no problem or unhappiness at all, even though there are ups and downs, and obstacles in life.

Om shanti.

Strength and Flexibility?

The greatest strength and flexibility is realizing the truth of our true nature, which is wisdom and the unconditional love or compassion, which also manifested, or can be found or seen in patience, tolerance, perseverance, determination, forbearance, forgiveness, adaptation, accommodation, adjustment, acceptance, non-violence, non-hatred, non-discrimination, non-judgment, non-expectation, non-attachment, non-possessiveness, non-dualism, non-separateness, namelessness and formlessness, egolessness or selflessness, beyond the identification as ‘I’ and all the mind perceptions with all the different qualities of names and forms.

This can be illustrated as being free from egoism or ignorance, or being free from craving and aversion, or being free from all the impurities and restlessness, or being free from desires of want and don’t want, or being free from fear and worry, or being free from anger and hatred, or being free from being conditioned by the mind and the perception of names and forms through the senses of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching and thinking.

Realize this real strength and flexibility, there is even no need to forbear nor to endure anything that the mind thinks or believes as ‘bad’, ‘negative’, or ‘suffering’. There’s no longing nor clinging onto what the mind thinks or believes as ‘good’, ‘positive’, or ‘happiness’. As in truth, all the perceptions of good and bad, positive and negative, happiness and suffering, they don’t really exist at all. It is all manifested in the mind itself and will dissolve in the mind itself once the mind realizes its true nature, which is nameless and formless, attributeless, beginningless and endless, birthless and deathless.

The optimum physical strength and flexibility that we can attain through this physical body cannot be compared to this real strength and flexibility that allow us to be existing and living in this world of names and forms, but being able to ‘forbear’ and ‘withstand’ any ‘difficult’ and ‘discomfortable’ conditions and situations, and being unaffected, undisturbed, uninfluenced, undetermined by all these names and forms, but able to fully utilize this life existence, or the body and mind, to be performing some beneficial actions for all beings, but knowing that everything is impermanent, there is no attachment at all towards all the actions being performed and the fruit of the action.

There’s no disappointment nor depression about “Why bother and waste energy in performing actions, as everything is impermanent, everything will come to an end?”

In Buddhism, the monks spend lots of time, doing ‘something’ occupying the mind with ‘something’, so that the mind doesn’t have spare ‘space’ or ‘room’ for any ‘evil’ thinking, or speculation, or imagination, or projection. As the mind is being restrained to be in the present moment on the physical actions being performed.

Same as when we perform yoga asana practice, it is not so much about gaining some physical or mental benefits from spending some time and energy doing the practice, but mostly it’s to engage the body and mind in some wholesome activities, as there are energy in the body and mind that needs to be directed to ‘somewhere’. At the same time, refraining the body and mind from some unwholesome activities while engaging in the yoga asana practice. And that itself is a great purification process for the mind, as well as it is benefiting the whole world of life existence, as this body and this mind is not generating any harmful thoughts or actions into the world during that time being.

There is a very efficient practice in Buddhism about realizing and accepting impermanence, and practicing non-attachment and letting go. Everyone will spend lots of time and energy, sincerely and attentively to make ‘complicated’ and ‘beautiful’ mandala using coloured sand or different colours beans on the ground, and as soon as it is finished, they will mess it up with their own hand, to realize what is perform all our actions for the benefits of all beings, but without attachment towards the action or the fruit of the action.

If we don’t know the truth, we will feel very meaningless and wasting energy or effort to perform actions but then in the end it is nothingness or emptiness. But when we know the truth, there is no gain when we perform any action, nor there is any loss when the fruit of our actions experience impermanence and disappear. There is no wasting energy or effort at all. It is beyond creation and emptiness. There is nothing being created. There’s no actions being performed. Names and forms are not different from emptiness. Emptiness is not separated from names and forms.

Perform Karma yoga, or selfless service is what we can do for ourselves and others with this body and this mind, to make good use of them. Karma yoga is not just about performing beneficial actions for others, but it is not separated from performing beneficial actions for ourselves. There’s no difference whether the actions being performed is for ourselves or for others, there’s no priority nor less priority, superiority nor inferiority, as whether it is for ourselves or for others, it is the same and is benefiting everyone. There’s no intention to be good, or to do good, or to be benefiting anyone, or to be receiving anything good in return. Just perform action and let go. And that is selflessness or compassion.

It doesn’t matter everything will come to an end, we do our best and let go. As this body and this mind has some ‘spare time’ and ‘energy’ that doesn’t belong to them, to be spent without gaining or losing anything. Why not use it for something constructive and beneficial for all beings?

Om shanti.

How to practice non-attachment or non-identification with the body and mind?

There are many people who are interested in practicing yoga and meditation, but they say it is not easy for them to practice the basic teaching of non-attachment or non-identification with the body and mind. They will be easily being determined by the attachment towards the body and mind, and couldn’t help themselves being disturbed physically, mentally and emotionally all the time. They are affected, disturbed, influenced and determined very much by what they see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think. They want to have peace, but it seems like very difficult for them to be peaceful.

The body and the mind is just like a car and the driver. And the life experience in this world is like the experience of driving on the road.

We cannot expect everyone will drive, follow the same rules, act and react on the road like us. We can pay full attention on the road and try to drive safe, but we cannot have expectation onto other drivers also should do the same. We will be risking ours and other beings safety, and be very frustrated and disappointed, if we expect everyone to drive, follow the same rules, act and react on the road like us.

It’s the same in life. We cannot expect everyone to think, behave, act or react in the same way as we think, behave, act or react. We can do our best trying to perform what our mind believes is good and right, but we cannot expect other beings to have the same ideas and mentality. We cannot control or change other beings to think, behave, act and react like us. We will only hurt ourselves by getting disappointed, frustrated and angry, and will cause further tension and harmful effect onto other beings when we react out of disappointment, frustration and anger, if we expect other beings to be the way that we want them to be.

Without the car, there’s no need of a driver. Without a driver, the car doesn’t go anywhere. Having the car and a driver, but it still depends on fuel, battery, air, water, and all the parts of the car to be functioning properly, and etc for the car to be moving and go where the driver wants to go.

Without the body, there’s no need of a mind. Without the mind, the body is useless, it doesn’t act nor perceive anything. Having the body and a mind, but it still depends on energy, oxygen, water and nutrients for it to be functioning.

The car needs maintenance and so does the physical body. The car will have problems if it is being over-used and not well-maintained, so does the physical body. And no matter how well we take care of the car or the physical body, the car or the body will still be conditioned by impermanence, and will go through ‘old age’, ‘weakness’, ‘injury’, ‘illness’, and ‘death’ or ‘decomposition’. They belong to the elements of fire, water, wind, earth and ether. The car owner doesn’t own the car, and the mind (what we think we are) doesn’t own the body. It is the body that is made of elements and being conditioned by qualities who is experiencing impermanence and ‘death’. There is no ‘I’ being there to experience impermanence and ‘death’.

The driver needs to be endowed with certain qualities for him to drive the car safely and responsibly. Such like proper driving skill and ethics, calmness, attentiveness, responsibility, patience, thoughtfulness, clear vision, obeying the traffic rules and etc, so that his action of driving the car doesn’t cause any harmful casualties or damages to himself or to other beings, people, or the environment. If the driver is reckless and irresponsible, he is risking his own and other beings safety as well.

Same as the mind, it needs to be endowed with certain qualities for it to use the physical body, hands and feet, and the organ of speech, morally and responsibly. Such like purity of thoughts, calmness, concentration, responsibility, patience, forbearance, perseverance, self-control, self-discipline, thoughtfulness, respect, acceptance, adjustment, adaptation, accommodation, forgiveness, generosity, open-mindedness, loving kindness, clear thinking, right conduct or action, right speech, right view, right intention, right understanding or knowledge, right livelihood, right effort, right concentration. right mindfulness, and etc, so that its action and reaction through the physical body doesn’t cause any harmful damages to itself or to other beings, people, or the environment.

The one who needs to be purified, and who is performing yoga and meditation practice, is the mind. The one who needs to practice non-attachment and non-identification with the functions, conditions and abilities of the body and the states of mind, is the mind itself. The one who needs to let go of the egoism, is the mind itself. The one who needs to realize the truth and be free from ignorance, is the mind. The one who is observing the thoughts, action and reaction, feelings, emotions, and sensations, and not generate craving and aversion towards all these experiences or perceptions of names and forms, is the mind itself. But there is no ‘I’. There is no ‘I am’. There is no ‘I am performing action’. There is no ‘I am receiving the fruit of action’.

Ignorance causes the mind to attach and identify with the physical body. The mind thinks and believes that the conditions and the abilities of the physical body is what it is. It feels good and bad, happy and unhappy, positive and negative, being influenced and determined by the impermanent conditions and abilities of the physical body, as well as whatever it perceives through the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, skin and thinking.

The mind thinks and believes that the body belongs to it, and thus, it thinks and says, “This is my body. This body is mine”.

The mind thinks and believes that all the sensations, feelings, emotions, beliefs and thinking belongs to it, and thus, it thinks and says, “These are my sensations, my feelings, my emotions, my beliefs and my thinking”.

The mind attached to the appearance, conditions and abilities of the physical body as ‘I’, and thus, it thinks and says, “This is my look, my conditions and my abilities”. As well as attachment towards all the ideas of “This is my study, my knowledge, my pride, my confidence, my self-esteem, my culture, my religion, my country, my point of views, and etc”. And so, whatever changes and experiences that is happening in the body and in the mind, the mind attached to them and identified with them, and be disturbed, affected, influenced and determined by all these changes and experiences of the qualities of names and forms.

But all these pleasant and unpleasant, desirable and undesirable changes and experiences are impermanent and they don’t belong to the mind. They come and go as they like, without asking any permission from the mind. That’s why all the idea of ‘I’ and ‘my’, is incorrect understanding as all these names and forms don’t belong to the mind at all.

From the attachment towards the physical body, the mind attached to all the relationships that come in contact with this physical body, and thus, it thinks and says, “My family, my partner, my children, my friends, my enemies, and etc”. And this generates separation and distinction of superiority and inferiority, priority and less priority, likes and dislikes, wants and don’t wants. And hence, the mind is being conditioned by all kinds of relationships with people, animals, insects, plants, nature, material belongings, jobs, and etc, and be determined to be happy or unhappy according to the conditions of all these names and forms, whether they are something that the ego likes or dislikes, agrees or disagrees with.

And the mind becomes restless, anxious, agitated, depressed, dissatisfied, disappointed, frustrated, irritated, have fear and worry, as it attached to all the impermanent qualities of names and forms that it perceives from moment to moment.

The point is, all the different qualities of names and forms have no intention or power to affect, or disturb, or influence, or determine the mind to be happy or unhappy, to feel good or bad. All the names and forms are not something good or bad, positive or negative, happiness or suffering. It is coming from the mind itself, being attached to what the mind thinks and believes what things are, categorizing and labeling everything with the judgment of good and bad, positive and negative, happiness and suffering. And what the mind thinks and believes what things are, is not necessarily the truth of things. What the mind thinks and believes is being contaminated or influenced by ignorance and impurities, as well as likes and dislikes, agreement and disagreement coming from the ego.

When the mind comes in contact with what the mind recognizes as good, positive and happiness, the mind will feel good and happy. When the mind comes in contact with what the mind recognizes as bad, negative and suffering, the mind will feel bad and unhappy.

The car doesn’t belong to the driver. The driver doesn’t own the car, as it is not in his control of the function of the car. The car doesn’t drive the driver. The driver drives the car. The driver will be affected by the condition of the car, if the driver attached to the car. But the driver will not be affected by the condition of the car, if the driver doesn’t attach to the car. The driver make full use of the car for conveniences, but the driver shall not be determined by the car.

Same as the body and mind. The body doesn’t belong to the mind. The mind doesn’t own the body, as it is not in the mind’s control of the function of the body. The body doesn’t make use of the mind. The mind makes use of the body. The mind will be affected by the condition of the body, if the mind attached to the body. But the mind will not be affected by the condition of the body, if the mind doesn’t attached to the body. The mind makes good use of the body for performing meaningful and beneficial actions in the world, but the mind shall not be determined by the body. And there is no attachment towards all the actions being performed through the body. And thus, the mind is free from being conditioned by the action and inaction, and the fruit or the result of the action.

By understanding the truth of things and who we really are, there is no gain or loss whether it’s coming from action or inaction. There is no guilt or pride whether it’s coming from action and inaction. As this body and mind is not ‘I’, there is no ‘I’ being here to gain anything or lose anything. But this life, the body and mind, have all the opportunities to be doing something that is meaningful and beneficial for ourselves and others. There is also plenty of ‘time’ that doesn’t belong to ‘I’ waiting to be spent, without attachment, without expectation, without to give or to receive. Make good use of this life existence to do something meaningful without attachment or identification, and not being determined by life existence to be who we are and how we feel. There is no success or failure, gain or loss when we understand this.

There is no fear and worry about getting the things that we don’t like and don’t want, or not getting the things that we like and want, or losing the things that we love. There is no craving or clinging towards ‘good’ things, ‘good’ happenings, ‘good’ experiences, or happiness. There is no aversion or fear towards ‘bad’ things, ‘bad’ happenings, ‘bad’ experiences, or suffering.

Free from craving and aversion. Free from egoism. Free from being conditioned by the subjective conditional beliefs and thinking in the mind. Free from anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, pride, arrogance, agitation, depression, frustration, irritation, anxiety, defensiveness, offensiveness, fear and worry. Free from generating good or bad karma. Free from being conditioned by the qualities of names and forms. Free from being conditioned by the impermanent condition of the body and mind. Free from duality, attachment, judgment and expectation. Free from ignorance.

These are real freedom for the mind. And the mind will dissolve itself into its true nature of without qualities and dualities, without birth and death, without existence and non-existence.

The true nature of all beings doesn’t need to be liberated from suffering, as there is no suffering. The one who experiences suffering is the mind. The mind needs to be free from ignorance. The mind is not something good or bad. The mind is just being what it is, and it is not ‘I’. There is no ‘I’ being here to be liberated.

And thus, there is no attachment towards the mind or the identification as ‘I’.

Contemplate on this teaching and be free.

Om shanti.

Healing process is happening constantly even if we don’t have intention to heal anything…

The entire yoga and meditation practice is a purification process, or it has healing effects for physical, mental and emotional defilements, even if we have no intention at all to purify or to heal anything.

Just like each single cell in the physical body is unceasingly going through regeneration process, even if we are not aware of it. It is not in our control that how we want to regenerate this cell or that cell. It is happening naturally by itself.

That’s why we don’t really have to be intentionally to heal this or that, physically, mentally or emotionally, as healing process is happening from moment to moment. As we perform yoga and meditation practice, the energy fields within and without the body will perform its duty to heal anything that need to be healed, naturally. We don’t really need to set any intention, nor to be troubled and worried, nor wishing for some healing process to be happening onto the body and mind.

Just perform all our yoga and meditation practice without expectation that it will bring us any healing effects or benefits in return, but allow the healing process and benefits to happen naturally by itself, as it is. There’s no rush. There’s no expectation that “I want all injuries, pain, illness, weakness, old age and death to go away…”, nor “I don’t want to have any injuries, pain, illness, weakness, old age and death…”.

There’s no craving towards good conditions. There’s no aversion towards bad conditions. There’s no fear and worry towards so called “bad” or “undesirable” conditions, such like illness, weakness, injuries, pain, old age and death, which is actually the truth of all living beings, and it’s a natural process of the body and mind that we can’t avoid.

It is being aware of the reality as it is, not necessary the way that we like or want it to be, and allow the reality to be what it is.

We cannot blame the universal consciousness for all the “bad” happenings and “undesirable” conditions that all beings have to go through. And the universal consciousness has nothing to do with all these things that we don’t like and don’t want, nor will the universal consciousness does something about it, or to change it into something that we prefer it to be. It is our own ignorance, egoism, attachment and desires, and came into being, forming body and mind with the function of the senses, having this life existence to reap the effect caused from our action and reaction. It’s our own responsibility for all that our body and mind experiences in this life existence.

We do our best to try to attain and maintain the best condition of the body and mind as much as possible, by performing some physical exercises, spiritual practice, mental development practice, yoga and meditation practice regularly, and live a healthy lifestyle and observe a balanced diet, engage in wholesome activities, have self-control over our own action and speech or behavior, to benefit all beings, including ourselves. It is not because of having aversion, fear and worry towards old age, illness, injury, pain, weakness and death, or any “bad” conditions.

All the efforts that we spent to purify the mind and to improve the condition of the physical body is simply just to show appreciation towards this body and this mind, or this life existence, to make good use of this body and this mind, or this life existence to serve the universe, for humanity, for ourselves to evolve and to help other beings to evolve, out of compassion, without the intention or expectation that we will be receiving something good in return.

There is no need to have selfish desires and expectation to act as motivation force for us to perform actions or practice that will benefit the body and mind.

Totally surrender to the nature, or the universe, to take care of the result of our practice or our actions, or to heal anything that needs to be healed, and to bring us to ultimate freedom.

This impermanent body and mind is subject to impermanent changes. It is conditioned and limited by old age, illness, weakness, injury, pain, physical and emotional hurts, and death. And thus they need to go through certain healing process from time to time. But our birthless, deathless, attributeless true nature is not being conditioned nor limited by impermanent changes, old age, illness, weakness, injury, pain, hurts, or death. There’s no need to have any healing process, as there is nothing that need to be healed.

And thus, realize our true nature, and stop identifying with the body and mind, let go of egoism and attachment, and be free.

It is also pointless to expect certain healing process to be happening when we attend some yoga and meditation classes, hoping to heal something that is hurtful in our body and mind, if we keep generate tension and inflict hurtful damages into our body and mind, physically, mentally and emotionally in our everyday life experiences with all sorts of impurities like anger, hatred, jealousy, ill will, petty-mindedness, fear and worry, etc, due to ignorance and attachment.

If we really wish for efficient and complete healing, we need to learn how to stop hurting our body and mind, stop generating tension nor inflict hurtful damages into our body and mind, by practicing non-attachment and letting go in everyday life, letting go of our ego, not being disturbed, nor affected, nor influenced, nor determined by all the qualities of names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses, and have love and peace in us. And then, naturally the body and mind will heal itself even without us intentionally to be engaged in any healing process.

The biggest “disease” that every being have from the beginning of this life existence, is IGNORANCE. This is the cause of all the other physical and mental illness. Remove this “disease” of ignorance by immersed our body and mind in consistent yoga and meditation practice without attachment, and surrender everything else to the universe to take care of it.

Om shanti.

Yoga (Asana) Classes?

One of the yoga students requested the yoga teacher to give a “gentle” yoga asana session this morning, as after a few days of continuous yoga asana practice, the physical body was experiencing discomfort sensations like muscles fatigue, tightness and soreness.

This was what the teacher taught in the class today…

This is what yoga practice is about. It is being aware of the reality of the present moment now as it is, and accept the reality as it is, without generate craving or aversion towards the pleasant or unpleasant experiences… This physical body is now experiencing discomfortable sensations coming from a few days of yoga asana practice, is actually a great opportunity for us to learn how to accept the reality of the present moment now as it is, even though it’s not necessarily the way that we like it to be, nor the way that we think it should be. As well as we are learning, experiencing, observing and accepting about the truth that everything is impermanent. It doesn’t matter they are pleasant or unpleasant sensations, thoughts, conditions or feelings, they all are impermanent…

The yoga asana class is just being what it is. It is not an intense session nor a gentle session. In the same yoga asana class, there are some students might be very fit, strong and flexible physically, and some others might be less fit, less strong and less flexible… Those who have stronger physical condition and are familiar with the yoga asana poses and exercises, they will say this yoga asana session is an easy and gentle session (for them). While the others who have poorer physical condition and are not so familiar with the yoga asana poses and exercises, they will say that this yoga asana session is a difficult and intense session (for them). But the yoga asana poses and exercises in the yoga asana classes have no qualities nor intentions to be something easy or difficult, gentle or intense… The yoga asana class is neither a beginner level nor advance level class. When our body can do it, our mind will judge “it’s easy”, and when our body cannot do it (yet), our mind will judge “it’s difficult”. The same exercises everyone is doing, some will say it’s easy, and some will say it’s difficult, but the exercises itself has no quality or intention to be something easy or difficult…

Yoga, or peace and compassion, is not determined by how strong and flexible we are to perform the yoga asana poses, nor it is about how perfect we can perform the asana poses, nor how good we look and feel during and after performing the asana poses or exercises, nor whether we can perform all the yoga asana poses or not…

And performing the yoga asana poses and exercises in a yoga class is not about trying to attain good feelings or pleasant sensations, or to avoid unpleasant sensations… It is not about “I only want to do the yoga poses and exercises that I like to do, and I don’t want to do the yoga poses and exercises that I don’t like to do…”, or “I only want to do the exercises that will make my body feels comfortable, and I don’t want to do any exercises that will make my body feels uncomfortable…”

Yoga asana practice in yoga classes are here for us to find out what is the ego and how to be free from the ego, or how to let go of the ego… It is for us to practice non-attachment or letting go of attachment. It is for us to practice letting go of the identification with the body and mind. It is about letting go of craving and clinging onto the objects or conditions that we like and agree with, and letting go of aversion towards the objects or conditions that we don’t like and disagree with…

Yoga asana practice and its exercises are here for us to purify the mind, to remove impurities, to balance the mind, to calm the mind, to silent the mind and to channel or direct the mind to contemplate on the Truth of things, names and forms, and to inquire who am “I”… It is to eliminate ignorance to know the Truth… During the yoga asana class, we are limiting or restricting our thoughts, physical activities and speech by focusing on learning and performing the exercises and yoga poses. Most of the yoga poses request paramount of concentration being in the present moment, and letting go of fear, for us to be able to do it. And during this period of time our body and mind is being busy engaging in performing wholesome yoga asana exercises, and stop engaging in unwholesome thinking, physical activities and speech.

Attending yoga (asana) classes is not about expecting the teacher to give us something that we prefer, or what we like it to be, or what we can agree with… It is about learning to be open-minded to adapt and accommodate the exercises that we are not familiar with, and to adjust ourselves into any types of exercises with knowing our own physical limitations, and we do our best without forcing, nor trying to challenge our physical body to go beyond its limitations. We don’t have to force ourselves to perform all the exercises in the yoga class. We don’t have to look like other people in the yoga class, or be like the yoga teacher when we perform the asana poses, as we all have a different body and having different physical limitations. We should know when to take some rest and when to continue practice. We should know whether it is the ego rejects to continue the practice, or it is the physical body has come to its limitations and it needs to take some rest… We learn to become our own teacher and take full responsibility for taking care of the well-being of our body and mind.

We learn to forbear or withstand certain amount of physical “discomforts” coming from performing the yoga exercises (this discomfortable sensation is not the same as the sharp painful sensations coming from muscular tendon injuries due to pushing our body over its limitations, which is an alarm warning us that we should not go beyond that limitation), and allow the physical body to improve its stamina, strength and flexibility gradually as we practice regularly. And allowing the physical body to continue to practice the exercises that it doesn’t familiar with until it can adjust and adapt into all these yoga exercises.

Unless the physical body is experiencing or suffering from certain injuries or illness, then we should allow the physical body to take some rest and avoid performing certain physical activities that will stimulate or exaggerate the injuries or illness. In order to improve physical fitness level, we need to “push” the physical body to its maximum limits, but not beyond its limitations, so that we can train the body to become fitter, stronger and more flexible without injuring it…

In the beginning of our yoga asana practice, it is normal that our body will feel discomfort, struggle, tiredness and soreness from time to time, as the physical body needs regular practice to adjust and adapt into the physical activities that it doesn’t familiar with, and it needs to take sufficient rest in between practices. Then only the physical body can improve its overall fitness level with continuous regular practice… Eventually as we continue performing the exercises while enduring some discomfort sensations due to the unfamiliar physical activities, the stamina, strength and flexibility will improve, and all these muscles fatigue, tightness and soreness will become less and less… Our body will develop stronger endurance, stamina, strength and flexibility.

This practice of non-attachment is not just being observed or practiced in yoga classes while performing the yoga exercises, but it is every moment in our heart, in our life, we are practicing non-attachment. We learn to accept the reality of the present moment now as it is, even though it is not what we like it to be. We accommodate the discomfortable or difficult situations or conditions. It is not about trying to change the situations or conditions that we don’t like, into something that we like it to be to accommodate us, but we are able to adjust and adapt ourselves into any discomfortable, or difficult conditions or situations. When we experience some discomfortable situations or difficult conditions in life, we do not, or cannot ask life to be easy and gentle on us… Instead we accept the reality as it is, adjust and adapt ourselves into any discomfortable or difficult conditions and situations, and accommodate the present conditions or situations that we don’t like or disagree with, in peace…

This is the inner strength and flexibility that we want to develop in our yoga practice while performing the yoga asana exercises… It is about life. It is not just in a yoga class performing some yoga asana poses, and telling ourselves and other people that we are practicing yoga, or we have done our yoga practice everyday, but then in life, we attached to the body and mind, over-powered by the ego, and we are constantly being affected, disturbed, influenced, determined by our craving and aversion towards the situations and conditions that we like and dislike, agreeable and disagreeable… It is about being able to be undisturbed, unaffected, uninfluenced or undetermined by the qualities of names and forms that our mind perceives through the senses of what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think, without generating craving and aversion… It is knowing and accepting the truth of things as they are. Knowing that everything is just what they are… They are not something good or bad, positive or negative, happy or suffering…

Compassion is not just about performing some good and kind actions in the world. It is about accepting the reality as it is, and accepting everything and everyone as they are… There is no fear, no worry, no anger, no hatred, no greed, no dissatisfaction, no selfish desires, no selfish expectation, no discrimination towards all the different qualities of names and forms, no preferences of likes and dislikes, no attachment towards the qualities of names and forms, no jealousy, no possessiveness, no pride, no arrogance, no disappointment, no criticism, no condemn, no attachment towards the actions and the result of the actions… It is realizing what is non-duality, namelessness and formlessness, oneness, non-separateness, and being free from dissatisfaction, restlessness, unpeacefulness or suffering that comes along with impurities or ignorance…

In the process of learning and trying to perform the yoga practice and yoga asana poses or exercises in yoga classes, we are actually developing inner strength and inner flexibility. These are the positive qualities that will allow us to realize unconditional peace and compassion that will free us from ignorance, doubts, impurities, restlessness, dissatisfaction, anger, hatred, disappointment, fear, worry, unhappiness or suffering.

The physical strength and flexibility are just a side product coming from performing the yoga exercises. It is not the main purpose of performing the yoga practice.

We should be developing patience, perseverance, determination, will-power, forbearance, withstand, acceptance, tolerance, adjustment, adaptation, accommodation, cheerfulness, courage, positive thinking, observation, mindfulness, awareness, thoughtfulness, humility, concentration, being in the present moment, one-pointedness, self-disciplinary, non-judgment, non-comparison, non-expectation, non-identification, non-attachment and letting go of the ego, during the process of learning and practicing the yoga asana poses, breathing exercises, chanting, studying or contemplating on the yoga teachings, selfless service, self-control or self-restraint, concentration exercises and meditation practice.

These positive qualities act as a medium, or a tool, or an instrument for us to render the mind calm and pure, for meditation or contemplation upon the Truth, to realize our true nature as it is, which is unconditional peace and compassion.

Without these positive qualities, it is not easy for us to realize peace and compassion, as we will be easily be annoyed, frustrated, irritated, angry, disappointed or hurt by the objects of the senses or names and forms that we don’t like and disagree with. There is no peace, as we are constantly being affected, disturbed, influenced, determined or over-powered by all the impurities that arise in the mind coming from the reactions of the egoistic mind towards what it perceives through the senses, from moment to moment.

When we hear the yoga teachings about “Go beyond the physical body”, it doesn’t mean that we challenge our physical body to go beyond its limitations to make it stronger and more flexible than what it is now, but it is about go beyond the attachment or identification with the physical body. Let go of the identification with the impermanent conditions and abilities of the physical body as “I”, as making the body stronger and more flexible, or being able to perform many asana poses, is not a guarantee of peace and compassion… Peace and compassion doesn’t come from being physically strong and flexible…

Being a “vegetarian” or “non-vegetarian” is not a guarantee of peace and compassion…

Being a good person or bad person is not a guarantee of peace and compassion…

Performing good actions or bad actions is not a guarantee of peace and compassion…

Being highly educated or having limited education is not a guarantee of peace and compassion…

Being artistic or not, creative or not, intelligent or not, is also not a guarantee of peace and compassion…

Being in good conditions or bad conditions in life, is not a guarantee of peace and compassion…

Having a good physical condition or poor physical condition is not a guarantee of peace and compassion…

Peace and compassion is our true nature as it is. It is realizing the Truth, realizing namelessness and formlessness, or attributeless-ness, or non-duality, or oneness, or non-separateness…

It is going beyond the attachment towards all the qualities of names and forms that will allow us to realize our true nature which is unconditional peace and compassion.

Yoga is not about being positive… It is about not attached to the qualities of names and forms, or to go beyond what our mind believes is positive and negative, happiness and suffering, good and bad… As it is not the truth of what things really are. Everything is just what it is. They have no qualities or intentions to be good or bad, positive or negative, happiness or suffering… All these “qualities” are coming from our own mind, what our mind wants to believe what things are…

And so, allow the teacher to teach whatever the teacher wants to teach in the yoga class, without expecting the yoga class to be something that we prefer or what we like it to be… But we adjust and adapt ourselves into the practice that are new to us, or being different from what we familiar with… In the same session, some students will prefer more gentle form of exercises, and some will prefer more intense form of exercises, even if the class is stated “gentle yoga class” or “intense yoga class”… As we all have different expectation or projection towards what types of gentleness is “gentle” and what is not, or what types of intensity is “intense” and what is not… A gentle class can be too gentle for certain people or might not be gentle enough for some other people. An intense class can be too intense for certain people or might not be intense enough for some other people… Everyone has different types of physical stamina, strength and flexibility, different types of physical limitations, and different types of likes and dislikes towards certain asana poses or exercises…

The physical exercises and its effects that come from attending yoga (asana) classes are here for us to be aware of our ego, and not being influenced by craving and aversion that comes from the ego…

Om shanti.

Confidence? Success? Happiness?

In this world of names and forms, when we talk about happiness, somehow we will relate it to how successful we are in life, which also leads to how confident we are in order to be happy, whether we relate happiness to being successful in life or not…

As what we usually believe in our mind, is that success is very much relate to confidence even though confidence is not a guarantee of success. We believe that confidence is the key to success. But, sometimes, we are not confident at all, but still we are able to be successful in what we want to do, unless we don’t act at all… Sometimes maybe we are very confident, but it doesn’t mean that we will be successful in all the things that we want to do…. Above all, whether we will be successful in what we want to do or not, we still can be confident without being affected by whether we are successful in what we want to do or not…

Confidence doesn’t guarantee success, and success doesn’t guarantee happiness. Why? As long as we identify ourselves with the impure mind and the selfish ego, we will still be affected by ignorance and impurities in our mind, affected by craving and aversion coming from the ego, then no matter how successful we can be, we will still be in miseries, full of fear and worries, anger and hatred, pride and arrogance, dissatisfaction and disappointment. There is no peace. How can there be happiness?

In the untrained mind, usually we will feel good and happy (or confident) when we are able to do what we want to do, or attain what we want to attain, or else, we will be feeling bad and unhappy (or not confident) if we couldn’t do what we want to do, or couldn’t attain what we want to attain… But this is not real happiness. This is just impermanent good feelings that fluctuate according to the qualities of names and forms, or determined by the conditions and abilities of the body and mind…

There is nothing wrong to put some make up on the face or the body, or to wear certain style of clothing, or decorate the face and body with some accessories and ornaments.

Just know that all these qualities of names and forms that we apply onto the face and body, are just some appearances with certain style of image that we try to apply onto this physical body and telling ourselves and the world, “Hey! This is me…”, but it doesn’t determine us for who we really are.

We can allow our ego to enjoy itself by changing the physical appearance through changing how we look and what we wear, but without attaching to the ego to identify as who we are, nor allowing the ego to determine whether we will be happy or not, as confidence, thinking and feelings are “products” derived from the ego attaching to the qualities of names and forms to think and feel good or not. But know that this is just the function of the ego. It is not who we really are.

We are who we are. We are not the ego. The ego is not us.

The ego needs to look good to feel good. The ego needs to be successful to be confident. Our true nature doesn’t need to look good to feel good. Our true nature doesn’t need to be successful to be confident. It is always peaceful and truthful as it is. It doesn’t need to be confident, to think positive, or to feel good.

If we attached to the ego, or identifying with the ego as us, then we will believe or think that we need to depend or rely on how we look, or what we wear, or what we can do and attain, to be confident, to feel good and be happy about ourselves and our life, and we don’t know the unconditional true confidence which is not coming from the physical appearance, physical condition and physical ability, nor determine by how the mind feels whether it is positive or negative feelings. That real confidence is our true nature being aware of the truth of things as they are, and not being determined by all the impermanent changing qualities of names and forms, nor being determined or influenced by the impurities that are arising and passing away in the mind.

The conditional confidence that comes from physical condition, ability and appearance, and which is influenced by the state of mind as well as achievements or success that we could attain in life, is impermanent. It is forever fluctuating and will fade away eventually. It is not real.

How can we hang on to something that is not permanent, not real, to be “somebody” who we identify as who we are, or what we like us to be?

True confidence is a state of being that is being free from ignorance or impurities like doubts, anger, hatred, jealousy, pride, arrogance, dissatisfaction, disappointment, craving, aversion, fear and worry, etc… It is not what we think “confidence” is, which built on how we look, how we feel, what we have, what we know, what we can do, where we are, or who we think we are…

It is only when we are not attached to all these impermanent qualities of the condition and ability of the physical body and its appearance, stop identifying with the ego, stop identifying with the qualities of names and forms, then our whole being will be naturally “confident” as it is, which is unchanging or unmovable. We don’t need anything nor do something to give us confidence. There is nothing can take away this unconditional confidence which is our true nature, because it is the truth, being free form ignorance, doubts or any impurities, uncontaminated by the qualities of names and forms.

That is unconditional confidence that is beyond the qualities of the body and mind…

Realize this and be free, be truly confident as we are, not because who we think we are, or how we look, or how we feel, or what we have, or what we know, or what we can do, or where we are…

I am that I am. I am not this nor that. Without qualities. Fearless. Doubtless. Unconditioned and unlimited by names and forms…

We don’t need to be “pretty”, or “beautiful”, or “slim and fit”, or “strong and flexible”, or “successful”, or “famous and influential”, or “in good health”, or “in good relationships”, or be “positive”, or be “happy”, or be anything that we relate to what we think “confidence” comes from.

Om shanti.

Empowerment for women?

Someone suggested that I write something about empowerment for women.

First thing that came into my mind was, why do we condition and limit ourselves as “women” or “men”? Why do we limit ourselves as “women” or “men”, and condition ourselves that we should behave, think and express ourselves as “women” or “men”, and can only be empowered in certain ways just for “women”, or just for “men”?

If we practice Yoga Vedanta teachings about namelessness and formlessness, or non-dualism, or non-separateness, or “all is one”, in our everyday life, there will be none or less problems than we think we have now in the world that derives from the perception of separateness due to attachment and wrong identification with the qualities of names and forms.

We can just be “who we are” unconditioned by the different sexual characteristics or physical appearances. We can think or act or express ourselves freely without conditioning ourselves that we can only think or act or express ourselves in certain ways restricted by the different sexual characteristics.

This is not about denying our sexuality as women or men.

We are aware of our physical body having female or male sexual characteristics and it is conditioned to have certain particular functions according to respective genital organs that our body has. But, the capability of our mind to think or to believe, can be free without being restricted by the differences of the sexual aspects and appearances.

We can also be aware of, and be able to accept the fact that there are certain things that the female or male physical body can and cannot perform. Different genital organs have their own duties to be performed or to be carried out.

Other than these restrictions due to having specific genital organs in our physical body influencing the hormonal system as well as our emotions and feelings, we can be free to be “who we are” without being restricted by the different genital organs and physical appearance that generate the qualities of names and forms that categorize us into “women” or “men”.

We acknowledge and respect our body as it is, but we do not identify ourselves with the physical body and condition ourselves as “women” or “men”, as our true nature is without qualities of names and forms. We are who we are. we are not “women” nor “men”. We might recognize or identify ourselves as a species called “human beings”, and even this name and form about “being human beings” is not the truth of who we really are.

Once we are free from being conditioned by the differences of qualities of names and forms, we are who we are or what we are. We are not “human beings” nor “non-human beings”. We are not “women” nor “men”. We are not determined by all these qualities of names and forms. We are not being conditioned by how worldly minds believe how “human beings” should behave, nor how “women” or “men” should behave.

Once we let go of attachment towards the identification of “I am a woman or a man, and I should think, act or behave like what a woman or a man should think, or act, or behave, then naturally we are just who we are”. We are free.

Only when we are totally free to be who we are and not being restricted as “women” or “men” or “human beings”. The sense of separateness disappears. We do not isolate ourselves from what we think or believe that is different from us, that are not the same species or category like us.

We accept ourselves as we are, without the need of having competition or comparison between “women” and “women”, or between “women” and “men”.

We start to accept everyone as they are , not because they are “women” and they behave like “women” or “good women”, or they are “men” and they behave like “men” or “good men”.

We let go of expectation that we, or other people, as “women” or “men”, should think, act or behave in certain particular ways according to the type of sexual organs our physical body has.

This allows us to be free to be who we are, not because we are being “human beings”, or being “women”, or being “men”.

And so, there is no difference in terms of how to be truly confident or be truly happy in life between “women” and “men”.

If we are ignorant about the truth of who we really are, and condition ourselves or limit ourselves as “this” or “that”, then there is no difference between “women” and “men” when the mind is in a state of unhappiness or restlessness due to ignorance. When we are angry, we are the same. When we feel hurt and disappointed, we are the same. When we have fear and worry, we are the same.

We will be conditioned by thinking that we should think, act and express the way that we think or believe what a “good woman” or a “good man” should think, act and express, or else, we are “bad” or “not good” as “women” or “men”…

It doesn’t matter whether we are human beings or non-human beings, women or men, young or old, healthy or unhealthy, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, having religion or not, or having different religions and beliefs, or having different cultural backgrounds or languages that we can understand and speak, or having different points of view and different ways of doing things, or having different nationalities, colours of skin, or body shapes, or sexual appearances, or having different lifestyles, personalities or characteristics, when come to being ignorant, we all are the same. When it comes to realizing the truth of things, it is the same. When we are in a state of happiness, or in a state of painful sorrow, it is the same.

By practicing Yoga Vedanta in life, we let go of what our mind is educated or informed about what worldly “success” or “happiness” or “meaningful life” means. We let go of what our mind is conditioned to believe or think what is “good and bad”, “positive and negative”, “happiness and suffering” etc, as the truth of things is that everything is just what it is. It is not something “good or bad”, “positive or negative”, “happy or suffering”…

When we realize the truth of things and are able to accept the reality of things as they are, without judging or categorizing them as “good or bad”, “positive or negative”, “happy or suffering”, then we will not be affected, nor influenced, nor determined by the forever changing qualities of names and forms that our mind perceives and experiences from moment to moment, through the senses of what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think. We will not generate attachment towards the qualities of names and forms. There is no craving or clinging to what our mind used to believe or perceive as something “good”, “positive” or “happy”. There is no aversion towards what our mind used to believe or perceive as something “bad”, “negative” and “suffering”.

This is the state of non-duality, or namelessness and formlessness.

This is because real peace and happiness, or confidence is unconditional or unlimited. It doesn’t come from the qualities of names and forms that are conditioned by impermanence, nor determined by the different appearances or conditions of the physical body or the things that we come in contact with.

Real peace and happiness or confidence is not attained from what we think or what we want to believe “success” or “achievement” means. We think that “success” or “achievement” has a similar meaning to peace, happiness and confidence, that if we attain the “achievement” or “success” that we want, we will be peaceful, happy and confident. We are conditioned that when we are able to do what we want to do, go where we want to go, be what we want to be, only then we will be peaceful, happy and confident. Or else, when our wishes or what we want to attain is not gratified, we will be not peaceful, not happy and not confident.

We also have different points of view about what is categorized as “achievement” and what is not. Some people take being successful in relationships as “achievement” in life. Some take being successful in career as “achievement” in life. Some take doing volunteer works as “achievement” in life. Some take accumulating wealth as “achievement” in life. Some take having a happy marriage or happy family as “achievement” in life. Some take having a “beautiful”, “healthy”, “strong and flexible” body or “fit” body as “achievement” in life… And so on.

There is nothing wrong with setting all these “objects” or “qualities” as goals that we want to achieve in life… But then we will be conditioned and limited by all these names and forms to be happy or not.

If we can let go of the conditioned way of thinking about what we are and how we should think and behave, then our confidence about ourselves will not be determined by nor come from whether we are “women” or “men”, whether we are “good” or “not good” according to the standard that we categorize things into “good” and “not good”, whether we are “successful” in life or not, or how we look, or what is our worldly image, or how many “achievements” we had attained, or how other people think of us or judge us as “this” or “that”…

We are limited by what our mind wants to believe things are. If we identify with the mind and associate with what our ego likes and doesn’t like, then we will be determined by all these conditions that come from our own mind, to be happy or not, to be confident or not.

For example, we are educated, or told, or informed that having fair and smooth skin is “beautiful” in Asia, and if our skin is dark in colour and not smooth, then we are not “beautiful”. If we are attached to what “beautiful” means in this commercial world of beauty products, then very naturally we will be attached to the term “beautiful”, and want to look and feel “beautiful”, then we will be determined by our skin colour and texture to determine whether we are “beautiful” or not. We will have very low self-esteem, be dissatisfied and unhappy if our physical body image and appearance does not fall into the category of being “fit and beautiful”.

If we are free from this ignorance about what is “beautiful” and let go of the desire of looking forward to be “beautiful” whether it is to feel good about ourselves, or to get other people’s attention, or for other people to like us, or love us, or to get support and acknowledgment from certain people or groups, and to feel confident and meaningful about ourselves, then we will be happy and confident as we are. We accept ourselves as we are, no matter whether we fall into the category of “beautiful” or not according to the worldly standard about qualities for being “beautiful”. We don’t need to be “beautiful”. We are not “beautiful” nor “not beautiful”. We are what we are, and we accept and love ourselves as we are.

True confidence is unconditional. When we know this true confidence, we can perform all our duties and responsibilities without fear and worry. We are not determined by “success” or “failure” to be happy or not. We can do our best in whatever we want to do, but without being affected nor determined by the result, or the fruit of our actions.

Real peace, happiness and confidence are not determined by whether we are “successful” in life or not, whether we achieve what we want to achieve or not, whether we can do what we want to do or not, whether we get what we want to get or not, whether we live in “good” conditions or not, whether our relationship with somebody is “good” or not… And so on.

Real peace, happiness and confidence are unconditional and unlimited. By knowing the truth of things and about ourselves we accept and love ourselves and other people as we are, as they are, without expecting ourselves to be what we want us to be, nor expect other people to be what we want them to be.

Be happy.

Unconditional peace and happiness beyond good conditions of life and worldly knowledge…

It doesn’t matter what is the condition and ability of this physical body and the state of this mind, as long as we are still attached to this body and this mind, and being conditioned and influenced by the selfish egoistic mind with all the impurities like attachment towards sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and thinking, being over-powered by likes and dislikes, craving and aversion, desires, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, pride, arrogance, fear, worry, depression, agitation, restlessness, judgment, expectation, doubts, ignorance and etc, we are not free…

How could we be truly “happy and peaceful” when we are being over-powered by all these impurities even though we try to attain “peace and happiness” through practicing yoga and meditation, and learning about the anatomy and physiology about this physical body, and learning about the techniques to perform the asana poses and breathing exercises, and knowing the benefits of performing the asana poses and breathing exercises?

There is no doubt that by attaining what we like and want to attain, we will feel (momentary) good, excited and happy. But these good and happy feelings and excitement don’t last long, it will change and disappear, and non-satisfying…

There is no doubt that by having a healthy, strong and flexible physical body and being knowledgeable will bring us towards a better quality of life and for us to be able to make good use of this good condition of the physical body and the knowledge that we have to serve ourselves and other beings in the world to improve. But even by having a healthy, strong and flexible physical body, and worldly knowledge cannot guarantee us peace and happiness if we are identified with the selfish egoistic impure mind, if we didn’t try to let go of the ego… We will be disturbed and affected all the time by the reactions of the mind towards whatever it sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches and thinks, and be conditioned by the craving and aversion coming from the egoistic mind towards what it likes and dislikes, agrees and disagrees with…

If we know how to not identify with the body and the mind, if we know how to observe the reactions of the mind without associating with it, and let go of the craving and aversion coming from the ego, undisturbed and unconditioned by whatever the body and the mind is experiencing from moment to moment, we will know what is unconditional peace and happiness that is not conditioned by any impermanent qualities of names and forms…

Through sincere and consistent practice of yoga and meditation with the right effort and attitude, it can help us to develop non-attachment or non-identification towards the body, the egoistic mind and whatever the mind perceives through the senses, rendering it pure and calm to be free from impurities and restlessness, to be able to observe the reality of thing as it is…

When a being is free from the ego, there is no argument or justification or criticism towards anything that seems to be “different” from what it is, or what it thinks and believes, as all the dualities and qualities had disappeared from the mind perception of names and forms… There is no “agreement” nor “disagreement”. Everything is just being what it is. They are not something good or bad. They are not something positive or negative. They are not something happy or suffering. They have no power or intention to be good or bad, to be positive or negative, to make us happy or suffer.

This is compassion. This compassion is nothing to do with the impermanent conditions, qualities and abilities of this physical body, whether we are being “good” or “not good”, “healthy” or “not healthy”, “perfect” or “imperfect”, performing many “actions” or not performing any “actions”, whether being “vegetarian” or “non-vegetarian”, being able to perform the asana poses or not, being knowledgeable or not, knowing anatomy and physiology or not, knowing all the names and terms in Sanskrit or not, knowing all the Scriptures, Sutras, chanting and prayers or not…

As by being “good” or “healthy” or “perfect”, or performing many “actions”, or being “vegetarian”, or being able to perform the asana poses, or being knowledgeable, or knowing anatomy and physiology, or knowing all the names and terms in Sanskrit, or knowing all the Scriptures, Sutras, chanting and prayers, is not a guarantee of peace and happiness…

And by being “not good” or “not healthy” or “not perfect”, or not performing any “actions”, or not being “vegetarian”, or being unable to perform the asana poses, or not being knowledgeable, or not knowing anatomy and physiology, or not knowing all the names and terms in Sanskrit, or not knowing all the Scriptures, Sutras, chanting and prayers, it doesn’t mean that there will be no peace and happiness…

Even an “uneducated” or “unintelligent” or “physically disabled” person can attain peace and happiness if this person know what is non-attachment, dispassion and egolessness… It is through purifying the impure restless mind, and through this pure and calm mind, realizing the truth of thing as it is, that allows us to be free…

By knowing, hearing, seeing, reading, understanding the words about “peace and happiness” won’t guarantee us peace and happiness. It is by realizing it through realizing the truth…

By knowing or having a lot of things and worldly knowledge won’t guarantee us peace and happiness, but knowing the truth of things will bring us to peace and happiness.

Having the best doctor and best medicine to cure the most difficult physical illness also will not remove ignorance and suffering, nor give us peace and happiness. That’s why Swami Sivananda let go of being a medical doctor and plunged into Yogic Sadhana and meditation to attain the wisdom to be a “mind doctor” to help other beings to be free from ignorance and suffering.

Throw away all our relationships and material belongings also won’t guarantee us peace and happiness.

It is by realizing selflessness or compassion, being free from the attachment towards the perception of names and forms, qualities and dualities, being free from ignorance and impurities, that allow us to be in peace and happiness.

We need to “heal” ourselves when there is something that need to be “healed” as we experience “hurt” and “painful sorrow” due to ignorance and wrong identification with the body and mind. When we are free from ignorance, there is nothing that need to be “healed” as there is no “hurt” and “painful sorrow”…

The physical body and the mind will experience “suffering”, restlessness and dissatisfaction from time to time, due to ignorance, desires, craving and aversion, impurities and impermanence, but there is no “I” being there to experience any “suffering”… Suffering exists when we think that we are this physical body and this thinking mind, there is “I” being here experiencing suffering. Suffering doesn’t exist when we realize the truth about there is no “I” nor “me” nor “mine”.

Even though when we think we know a lot about this and that, believe in what we think is “right” and “good”, but as long as we are still being disturbed and affected by anger and hatred towards something that our mind couldn’t accept or couldn’t agree with, still want to argue and hating towards something that is different from what we think we know and believe, then we are not free yet… It means that the ego, pride and arrogance are still very strong… Then we still need to observe many rules and observations, and keep practice until we realize what is compassion, selflessness, beyond the ego, beyond the perception of names and forms, non-attachment, desire-less, dispassion, non-duality, non-separateness, unconditional peace, and end of suffering…

Realize this, and be free.

Om shanti.

Keep practice…

A yoga student was very excited coming into headstand after practicing regularly and told his teacher, “Teacher, I can stand on my head now!”

The teacher asked him, “Are you now free from anger, desires and worries?”

The student answered, “Not really…”

The teacher compassionately said to him, “Keep practice…”

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

This is reflecting about peace, desire-less, compassion and wisdom is nothing to do with whether we can stand on our head or not, or whether we are able to do and achieve what we want to do and achieve or not…

“Keep practice” also doesn’t necessary mean keep practicing the asana poses until we manage to perform the asana poses, or we can hold the poses longer than before, but what it really means is, keep practicing non-identification and non-attachment, and even after we devote lots of time, efforts and energy into our yoga asana practice, we are not attached to the efforts nor the fruit of the efforts…

What’s the point if we are now able to perform the asana poses that we were not able to perform in the past, but we are not free from continue being disturbed and conditioned by anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, ignorance, fear and worry that derive from attachment and identification with the body and mind?

When anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, ignorance, fear and worry are subjugated due to non-identification and non-attachment towards the body and mind, the yoga student doesn’t even need to announce that he is now free from impurities… So as yoga asana practice. The yoga asana practice is supposed to be rendering our mind calm and pure, to prepare the mind for meditation upon the Truth… It is not about how good we look and how good we feel in performing the asana poses… it is accepting the physical ability in the present moment now as it is, and knowing that even this condition and the ability of the physical body now whether it is in good or bad condition, it is impermanent… We do not identify with this impermanent condition and ability of the physical body to perform the yoga asana poses… There is nothing to be excited about when our body is able to perform certain asana poses after some practice, and there is nothing to be frustrated about when our body is not able to perform the asana poses even after a long time of practice…

After we are able to catch our feet with our hands in the sitting forward bend, we’ll ask, “What next?”

After we are able to balance on our hands in Bakasan or Kakasan, we’ll ask, “What next?”

After we are able to stand on our head and our hands in headstand and handstand, we’ll ask again, “What next?”

Then we try to stand on the head without hands support, and we’ll ask, “What next?”

Maybe we can try to invent more challenging poses then? Such like “one finger handstand” since many yoga teachers like to say that “everything is possible”, just need to keep practice… Kindly note that this physical body has its limitations and is conditioned by impermanence. We cannot force the body to go beyond its limitations or else we will be injuring the body, but what the sentence “everything is possible” means, we can go beyond the identification with the physical body and be free from being conditioned by the conditions and ability of the physical body, that we are not determined by this physical body, as we are not this body and this body is not us. It is just an instrument for us to realize this Truth…

This craving for “What next?” can keep going until the moment our body is not able to do any poses any more… Then we’ll start to realize that this ceaselessly chasing after the sense of achievement that come from being able to perform the asana poses, is not what we are looking for, after spending years and years in trying to perform all the yoga asana poses…

This voice that keep asking “What next?” is coming from the never satisfied nature of the mind…

That’s why even though if our physical body is capable to perform many complicated asana poses, it never bring us to real unconditional contentment, as we have wrong identification with the impermanent body and the dis-satisfactory mind… Always not satisfied, always wanting more and more, just like drug and alcohol abuse, one dose is not giving any effects anymore, we need double dose, and then triple dose, and so on….

As all these achievements in performing the asana poses are “dis-satisfactory” in its nature – impermanence”.

If during and after the yoga asana practice, whether we are able to perform the yoga asana poses or not, but we are not identified with the ability of the physical body in performing the asana poses, and there is no expectation whether our body will be more flexible and strong or not after the practice, nor expecting our body will be able to perform the asana poses much better in the next or future practice, nor expecting what are the benefits from performing the asana poses, nor expecting ourselves will be more peaceful and calm… But, allowing all the benefits, strength and flexibility, skills to perform the asana poses, peacefulness and calmness to come by itself naturally as it is, not because we are expecting any of these to happen the way that we want it to be, then this will bring us towards unconditional peace…

In traditional yoga class, the teacher doesn’t tell the students what are the benefits when they perform the asana poses, as yoga asana practice is supposed to help us in developing non-identification with the body and mind, and non-attachment towards our actions or efforts, not attaching to or not expecting for the fruit of our actions or efforts. And even if the students don’t know what are the benefits from doing the asana poses, the benefits will still be there as it is, it won’t disappear nor decrease…

The practice of intention-less which is the key to the practice of non-expectation and non-attachment, is to let go of any intentions, even if it is good intention… If there is a good intention, we attach to the idea of “we are doing something good”, and will “expect” someone will be benefited from this good intention, and “expect” something good in return… Attachment is there… We are not free yet.

This is to eliminate the craving habit of the egoistic mind of “I want something good… I don’t want something bad…”

And by practicing yoga asana together with the practice of non-attachment in the mental level, will definitely bring us towards freedom, or unconditional peace and real happiness that is not being conditioned by any qualities of names and forms…

This is the yoga practice while performing the asana poses or while trying to learn to perform the asana poses…

Able to accept the condition and the ability of the physical body in the present moment now as it is and allow the benefits to come and improvement to happen naturally as we practice regularly everyday few hours a day, without identification, attachment, judgment, comparison and expectation…

This is Karma Yoga being perform onto ourselves… Being kind and compassionate towards ourselves by bringing our body and mind to concentrating in a few hours of yoga asana practice daily… As all the yoga asana poses require huge amount of concentration in the present moment now, and this will not let the mind wanders into the past or the future within the time of practice, and there is no opportunity for the body and mind to get involve in immoral or unkind thoughts, actions and speech… During the time of practice, we are controlling and restricting our thoughts, actions and speech, and this is already benefiting the world by not committing any selfish, harmful or negative thoughts, actions and speech into the surrounding environment. This is being kind and compassionate towards the world…

Beside controlling and restricting the thoughts, actions and speech as our main practice by devoting our energy, effort and time into yoga practice as many hours as possible everyday in life, another main reason to perform all the yoga practices (Not limited to Yama, Niyama, Asana, Pranayama, Pratyahara, Dharana, Dhyana, Samadhi, Kriyas, study of the scriptures, chanting and prayers, selfless service, developing divine qualities such like patience, perseverance, will-power, determination, courage, positive thinking, cheerfulness, generosity, truthfulness, straightforwardness, sexual energy conservation and channeling for spiritual realization, acceptance, adjustment, accommodation, adaptation, forgiveness, non-judgment, non-comparison, non-expectation, non-attachment, non-identification, letting go, and etc…) is to purifying, unblocking, balancing, conserving, generating, and channeling the energy fields in the body for spiritual realization or self-realization…

But all these practice has to work with letting go of desires and attachments that come from the ego… Such like, having the idea of “I am doing this practice, so that I will gain such and such benefits or achievements…” or “I am practicing “non-attachment”, so that I will be free from suffering and unhappiness…” It doesn’t bring us to peace…We can be performing all these yoga practices for many hours everyday for many years, but as long as we have attachment and identification with the doer of the actions and the enjoyer of the fruit of the action, we are not free and be restless being disturbed by what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think…

The body and the mind will be benefited in performing the yoga practice, but… Our true nature doesn’t need all these benefits to be what it is or to “make” it peaceful… It is unconditional peace… The mind needs the yoga practice to experience peace, but our true nature is always peaceful…

There is no “I”. There is no practice. There is no fruit of the practice. There is no “I” am doing the practice. There is no “I” will be enjoying the fruit of the practice…

The ego gets a momentary excitement and the sense of success or achievement when it gets the benefits or results as what it was expecting while performing any actions… And the ego gets disappointment and frustration and sense of failure when it doesn’t get the benefits or results as what it was expecting while performing any actions…

Such like, “I did a lot of yoga practice, and thus I am healthy, strong and flexible and I feel good…” or “I didn’t practice much or didn’t practice at all, and thus I am not so healthy, not strong and not flexible, and I don’t feel good…” As all these identification and expression is coming from the egoistic mind – the idea of “I” and all that “I” experience and all that “I” get and don’t get from “my” actions and inactions, good and bad actions… It is the mind feels good or doesn’t feel good… It is not us. We are just the observer or the witness being aware of what the mind is experiencing from moment to moment through the body with the functions of the sense organs and the senses, which is being conditioned by impermanence, the qualities of names and forms, thought patterns, actions and inactions, and speech…

So, whether our body can perform all the poses level by level or not, or our body cannot perform many of the yoga poses, it really doesn’t matter… As What the body capable to do and not capable to do, it is just the body… And the condition and ability of the physical body to do this or that, is nothing to do with the unconditional real peace that comes from our true nature…

A person who’s body cannot perform headstand or handstand can still be selfless, peaceful, wise and compassionate…

Some people ask, “Why some people can do all the “complicated” yoga poses and some people cannot do the “simplest” yoga poses?”

Simply it’s because whether their body can do or cannot do these poses… And through constant practice, their body will gain physical and mental strength, flexibility, stamina, confidence, faith and courage, and might be or will be able to perform some or all of the asana poses, simple or complicated… But whether their body can do or cannot do these poses, is nothing to do with whether they will be peaceful or not…

Another effect that comes from holding the body being in the yoga poses for a period of time, can help to influence the energy fields in the body effectively, either activating, stimulating, energizing or calming and balancing… And this will make the body and mind feel good during and after the practice, but again this is just the body and mind experiencing some impermanent conditional good feelings… And if the mind is rendered calm and still during or after the asana practice, that is the moment to meditate and contemplate on the Truth, and not lost in attachment towards that good feelings and pleasant effects of the asana practice…

And to render the mind calm and still doesn’t need to have a strong and flexible body to perform the most complicated asana poses, but just by performing some very simple poses that even a sick person with weak bones and muscles also can perform will give the same effects of calming and stilling the mind… It is through will-power and breath control…

People who are flexible and strong can be peaceful if they know non-identification and non-attachment… People who are inflexible and not strong can also be peaceful if they know non-identification and non-attachment…

People who are flexible and strong can be not peaceful if they don’t know non-identification and non-attachment… People who are inflexible and not strong can also be not peaceful if they don’t know non-identification and non-attachment…

At the end, no need to compare or compete with anybody in the yoga asana practice, as liberation or peace is not attain through comparison or competition… It is not like, “I am better than you in performing the asana poses, and I can do more asana poses than you can, and so, I should be more peaceful, selfless, wise and compassionate than you…”

This is the test – If now everything happened is all good and according to what we wished for, and so we are peaceful and happy… But if one day, we experience some “bad” things that we don’t want and don’t like in our life, and we will be disturbed or determined by it, and are not peaceful and not happy anymore, then know that we still need to keep practice…

Om shanti.

Let go of attachment towards this impermanent physical body, but with appreciation for it…

Yoga is not about challenging the physical body to go beyond its limitation, to become super strong and flexible, but it is about going beyond the identification with the body and mind, and going beyond the impermanent conditions and limitations of the body and mind…

This physical body is mortal. It is subject to impermanence, growth, changes, old age, decay, sickness and decomposition (death)… This is the Truth of this physical body, and no matter how much we spend our life time, money and effort to train the physical body to make it strong and flexible, and no doubt that we can make good use of this strong and flexible body as much as possible in our life, but we cannot change the Truth that this physical body will be losing it strength and flexibility (whether instantly due to accidents and injuries, or gradually due to the decaying effect of old age) and one day this body will stop functioning (decompose)…

Look at all the yogis in the past except those who left the world at young age… Most of them had developed the incredible super human strength and flexibility to perform all the complex yoga asana poses when their body was still young, but as their body grew older, their body were no longer as strong and flexible as they were before, and slowly losing their strength and flexibility, and their body started to show decaying effects, losing their youthfulness, losing their muscles tone and skin elasticity, losing their teeth and sense of taste and smell, losing their hearing and eye sight, losing their memory, losing their stamina, and gradually their body stopped functioning (decompose)…

That is the greatest teaching from all the yogis in the past, about the Truth of this physical body is impermanence, and it is conditional and limited…

There is a greater meaning for performing the yoga asana practice beside developing physical strength and flexibility, which is to render the body and mind pure and still for meditation, for higher spiritual realization, to be liberated from having birth and death, from having a mortal physical body and impure egoistic mind that is being conditioned and limited by impermanence and qualities of names and forms…

The physical strength and flexibility that come from the yoga asana practice is only one of the “side-effects” of the practice, it is not the main objective of performing the yoga asana practice…

It is the self-discipline and self-control that we develop by devote ourselves into the daily yoga asana practice that will change the habits or the thought currents of the mind… That is the objective of performing the yoga asana practice… It is the different body positions stimulating different energy centres (not coming from the physical strength and flexibility), the concentration and stillness being in the asana poses, and the breath control that is influencing the energy fields and thus influence the state of the mind…

The entire yoga asana practice is a process of purifying, stimulating, balancing, conserving, calming, unblocking and channeling the energy fields for approaching the source within, to go back to our purest consciousness before the existence of the body and the egoistic impure mind…

This is nothing to do with whether our body is super strong and flexible or not… It only requires a minimal strength and mobility to put our body into the different yoga asana poses, and we will still get the same effects of purifying, stimulating, balancing, conserving, calming, unblocking and channeling the energy fields. We don’t have to be super strong and flexible to do some complex asana poses to have these effects… Even if some people have no physical strength and flexibility at all to perform any asana practice, through visualization and the chanting of OM verbally or mentally will also have the same effects of doing the yoga asana practice…

A strong and flexible body is just an instrument for us to be able to perform selfless service for ourselves and other beings to evolve towards higher consciousness, apart from having a better quality of life… There is nothing wrong with enjoying a better quality of life and having better condition of health, minimize illnesses, and extend youthfulness and life span to the maximum, but these are not the main objective of performing yoga practice…

Just by having a physical body as strong and flexible as a world class athlete, cannot guarantee to liberate us from ignorance, birth and death and suffering…

Even if the physical body is extremely strong and flexible, and able to perform many complex yoga asana poses, it doesn’t guarantee that this mind is in good condition… And even if the mind is in a good condition in this present moment now, it is still subject to impermanence… It will change… That’s why we are practicing non-attachment to go beyond all the impermanent states of the mind, and not identifying with the mind…

Just like the conditions and abilities of this physical body is subject to impermanence, this egoistic thinking mind is also subject to impermanence, changes, experiencing feelings and emotions of up and down, having reactions and attachments towards the qualities of names and forms, having likes and dislikes, wants and don’t wants, craving and aversion, being ignorant of the Truth, having doubts and wrong identification with the body and mind, and being conditioned by the perception of names and forms, having endless dissatisfaction, disappointment, agitation, depression, greed, desire, anger, hatred, jealousy, pride, arrogance, fear and worry… Constantly being in a state of restlessness…

Unless we start to deal with the mind… Then only we can be free from being conditioned by our own mind and the physical body, whether our physical body is strong and flexible or not…

Being a physically fit world class athlete with super human strength and flexibility doesn’t liberate us from suffering, birth and death… It is being free from impurities like egoism, selfishness, attachment, ignorance, anger, hatred, greed, jealousy, pride, arrogance, desire, dissatisfaction, disappointment, agitation, depression, anxiety, craving, aversion, fear and worry, and etc, and be free from being conditioned by impermanence, that will liberate us…

It is realizing that there is nobody there that exist as “I”, there is nobody there to accumulate and possess wealth, health, knowledge, happiness or love, but the only existence is the awareness of being aware of the present moment now…

Attachment… What a great ignorance… A great impurity that will bind us without us being aware of its bondage… We think that we are being loving and kind, and we are showing love and affection towards the “object” that we love… But actually it is mere attachment towards the object of the senses…

There is a huge difference about being compassionate towards “something”, and being attached to and show affection towards “something”.

If it is mere compassionate loving kindness, there is no attachment. No disappointment. No expectation. No possessiveness. No unhappiness. No suffering… There is no sense of possessiveness, like “This is my… and it is mine…”. There is no desire or expectation of getting any sense of satisfaction, achievement, acknowledgment, appreciation, pride, interaction, love and attention from any objects…

When the mind gets in contact with any objects of the senses that it likes, whether it is a human being, an animal, an insect, a plant, a shirt, a phone, a car, a house, a pillow, a movie, a photo, a piece of music, a cup, an apple, a view, a scenery, a sensation, a memory, a book, a letter, a finger nail, a yoga mat, a yoga pose, a feeling, a relationship, a friendship, a brand of something, knowledge, personal image, or anything that we can think of, within the body and outside the body, the mind will generate attachment, clinging and craving, and will want to possess these objects and show affection and love for these objects… But, all these objects are impermanent. They don’t stay unchanged forever as what the mind like it to be… They will change into something different that the mind doesn’t like nor appreciate… The mind starts to get dissatisfaction and disappointment due to the impermanence of all these objects. It wants something else. It keeps looking for new attachments that will bring some pleasant sensation of satisfaction… But, it will never be satisfied… When something happens to the objects that it loves, it becomes so annoyed, angry, upset, disappointed and unhappy…

The mind feels satisfied and happy now, because something that the mind likes and wants is there… But, when this object that the mind likes and wants is not there anymore, or when this object changed into something that the mind doesn’t like and doesn’t want, will the mind still be satisfied and happy? Nope… It becomes very disappointed and unhappy or depressed…

The stronger the attachment or “love and affection” towards any objects, the stronger the disappointment, dissatisfaction and unhappiness will be…

For example, if I broke a cup, just a normal cup, not “my favorite cup”, not “somebody else’s favorite cup”, then I won’t be unhappy about it and there’s no body is going to be bother about it… But, if somebody broke “my favorite cup”, or “somebody else’s favorite cup”, I might get very upset and angry, or somebody is going to be very upset and angry about it… That’s the power of attachment…

Another example, somebody else’s son passed away, we will feel sympathy and will let it go very easily… But, if it is “my son” had passed away, I will be very upset and depressed, and not so easy to let it go… And if there is somebody who is responsible for “my son” to passed away, I am not just upset and depressed, but I will also be very angry and hating towards that person who is responsible for “my son”s death… That’s the power of attachment…

And the Truth is we don’t own anything, we don’t possess anything, not even this body and this mind… It is a complete delusion of having the idea that “This is my…” and “This is mine…”

All we can do is, appreciate the present moment now, for what we have and where we are and how we are…

The entire path of yoga and meditation is about letting go of attachment… Letting go of the body, the mind, the ego, the intellect, the objects of the senses, all the names and forms, sights, sounds, smells, taste, touch (sensations) and thinking (thoughts)… But with appreciation of all these things…

And the biggest attachment since we were born into this world, is the attachment towards our physical body and our egoistic thinking mind… Once we let go of all these attachments, we are what we are, we are not determined nor conditioned by any qualities of names and forms, including this body and this mind…

It is from the attachment towards the body and mind, all impurities, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, desires, pride, arrogance, craving, aversion, agitation, depression, restlessness, fear and worry arise…

When there’s no attachments, there’s no impurities…

When there’s no impurities, peace is there…

Fully appreciate and make good use of this physical body for us to be here to learn, to experience, to evolve, but without attachment…

Be free…

Om shanti.

Teaching yoga asana class – Put ourselves into the student’s physical condition and abilities…

There are different people with different physical fitness levels and physical limitations that come to a yoga asana class. Some of them might be very flexible and some of them are not so flexible. Some of them might be very physically fit and have no physical limitation, and some of them are not so physically fit and might have some physical limitations. It doesn’t matter what are their fitness level, strength, flexibility, stamina, ability, and physical limitation, everyone has to perform the asana exercises according to their own physical conditions and abilities.

Even though everyone is doing the same exercises, but, not necessarily that everyone will be looking the same in the exercises. Some might need to adjust a little with the feet slightly point out or the hands slightly turn out. Some might need to keep their legs slightly apart, while some might need to keep their legs together. Some might not be able to keep their body and head at the exact “angle” like what the teacher demonstrates. Some might not be able to extend their leg completely straight. Some might not be able to sit up right, maintaining the spine as straight as what the teacher usually ask them to be. And it’s okay.

Yoga, or in another terms – peace, is nothing to do with whether our body can perform the yoga exercises “perfectly” or not. So called “perfect” asana poses cannot determine or guarantee a person will be free from ignorance and suffering or not, or will be peaceful or not. If a person can be free from ignorance and suffering and attain self-realization by being very strong and flexible physically, and is able to put the body in many different types of complicated positions, then all the world class athletes, gymnasts and contortionists would already be free from ignorance and suffering and are peaceful, and be free from impurities, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, pride, arrogance, animosity, ill-will, fear, worry, or suffering. Maybe some of them are liberated from suffering and are peaceful, but it isn’t coming from their physical conditions and abilities. Because if the peacefulness is coming from certain conditions and abilities of their physical body, then this peacefulness will change according to the impermanent changes of the condition and ability of the physical body. It is not the real peace that is unconditional.

We don’t have to be physically “perfect”, or healthy, or fit, or strong, or flexible, to have peace. Peace can be realized by anyone under any conditions as long as they know what is non-attachment, selflessness and compassion, when they know how to go beyond their own body and mind, not identifying with the body and the mind as ‘I’, and be free from craving and aversion and all sorts of impurities and ignorance. Real peace is being free from anger, hatred, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, animosity, envy, jealousy, pride, arrogance, ill-will, ill-thinking, feelings of hurt, guilt, regret, doubt, offensiveness, defensiveness, agitation, depression, fear and worry.

Whether we can stand on our head or not, we all can have peace.

Whether we can touch our toes with our hands or not, we all can have peace.

Whether we can put our heels down on the floor completely or not, when we perform the downward dog, we all can have peace.

Whether we can bend our body forward with our body and face completely resting on the legs or not, we all can have peace.

Whether we speak the same language or not, have the same cultural practice and religious belief or not, we all can have peace.

Whether we live a simple lifestyle or a luxurious lifestyle, we all can have peace.

As long as we know what is non-attachment.

Whether we are thin or fat, looking good or not looking good, smart or not smart, fit or unfit, flexible or not flexible, strong or not strong, healthy or not healthy, rich or poor, educated or uneducated, success or failure, young or old, men or women, single or not single, being alone or with many people around us, have an easy life or a difficult life, being here or there, doing something or not doing anything, being able to see, or hear, or smell, or taste, or touch, or think, or read, or write, or walk, or sing, or dance or not, and so on, we all can have peace.

Real peace is nothing to do with all these impermanent qualities of names and forms. Peace is already there in everyone, unconditioned and unlimited by all the qualities of names and forms. Ignorance is what makes the mind thinks it is suffering or not peaceful. We just need to free the mind from ignorance and all sorts of impurities, and go beyond the ego, the intellect, the conditional worldly thinking and belief, and be free and be at peace, resting in the one selfless, attributeless, nameless and formless nature of all the names and forms.

People who cannot sit up right due to certain physical limitations, or who cannot move the body or the limbs to perform any yoga asana poses, also can have peace if they want to, and know how to be in peace. And if a person can sit up right and perform many yoga asana poses, but doesn’t know anything about non-attachment, he or she cannot “find” peace even though he or she is “looking” for peace.

While teaching yoga asana classes, naturally I will put myself into the student’s physical conditions and limitations. I demonstrate the positions and movements in the way to suit the condition of the students physical body and their physical limitations. Such like some of them might have back problems, or knee problems, or neck injury, or muscle tightness or soreness, or flu, or nose blocked, or headache, or any physical discomforts and limitations, or just simply being unfit, lack of stamina, strength or flexibility, or have fear, I will guide them to perform the poses or movements according to their physical conditions and abilities.

The physical condition and ability in this present moment now is impermanent, it will change from moment to moment. Sometimes the body is more energetic, more strong and flexible, and sometimes the body is less energetic, less strong and flexible. We need to perform the exercises according to the condition of the body at that present moment and according to the needs of the body and the mind in the present moment.

Maybe the body needs to do more forward bending to calm down the energy field. Maybe the body needs to do more backward bending to stimulate and energize the energy level. Maybe the body is recovering from certain injuries, and we need to make some adjustment to adapt the poses or to modify some of the asana exercises. Maybe we were able to perform certain poses easily and comfortably in the past, but in the present moment, our body cannot do it comfortably. Maybe certain exercises that we didn’t feel comfortable doing in the past, but in this moment, our body can do it easily and comfortably. We let go of all the pre-judgment about what our body can do and cannot do from the past experience, and be very open-minded for what the body can do and cannot do in the present moment.

We can’t be teaching the same variations of yoga asana exercises to all the students and ask them and expecting them to be able to perform all the same asana exercises according to the “standard” of what is called “perfect asana poses or sequence”. There is no “perfect asana poses or sequence”. Everyone is “perfect” in their own way of doing it and is “perfect” being able to accept themselves as they are, and respect their body as it is, and be comfortable and relaxed in all the asana exercises, being in the present moment, be free from the past and the future, be free from judgment, comparison, expectation, craving and aversion, and be in peace.

Performing all the asana exercises or poses without judgments, comparisons and expectations, no matter what types of conditions of the physical body is, in the present moment. And from moment to moment, the conditions of the physical body is constantly changing, impermanent. We are able to observe and be aware of the present condition of the body, and are able to accept the condition of the body as it is, that in this present moment now, this is what the body can do and cannot do. Knowing that this is impermanent, without attachment towards the physical condition and ability in the present moment, we allow all the impermanent changes to be there as they are. Not comparing ourselves with anybody, not even with our own self in the past experiences.

Everyone performs the exercises or the yoga asana practice according to each individual’s present condition of the physical body, out of selflessness and compassion, without any intentions or expectations to gain any benefits from doing the practice, but allow the benefits to be there as they are, not because “I” want to gain some sorts of benefits, or want to become more healthy, or more strong, or more flexible, or more peaceful, or more happy. Not even longing to become more wise and compassionate. Wisdom and compassion is not “something” that we can gain or learn from the outside, but it’s through realization of the truth, when all the impurities and the ego is annihilated. Merely by performing the asana poses “perfectly”, or “precisely”, or in “perfect alignments”, cannot guarantee nor determine that we will be free from impurities or the ego, and be free from suffering.

Most of the time, I won’t be demonstrating the asana poses as what I usually do in my own personal practice. I will put myself into their position. I will demonstrate and perform the exercises according to what their body are capable to do and be comfortable at, allowing them to be able to relax into all the exercises without trying to imitate or compare with the teacher who are more strong and flexible than them physically. And allow them to gradually develop courage, faith, physical stamina, strength and flexibility as they practice from time to time. By showing them that even if I “cannot” extend my legs completely straight or even if I “cannot” reach forward “properly” in a forward bend, it is okay, and it doesn’t mean that we are not good at yoga, or we are not suitable to practice yoga asana exercises. We still can be in peace even though we cannot perform the yoga asana exercises or poses “nicely” or “perfectly”.

When the students are able to accept their body as it is, and be comfortable with themselves in doing the yoga asana exercises without judging themselves or comparing with anybody, and they are able to relax into the asana poses without forcing or struggling to go beyond their physical limitations, I will then show them that as they practice, the physical strength and flexibility will be improving, and they will be able to stretch their body and limbs further, and slowly they will be able to come into the asana poses which require certain degree of strength, flexibility, stamina, faith and courage.

As yoga teachers, we are there to guide the students for what their body can do in the present moment, and it changes from moment to moment. It’s not about showing them what we (our body) can do.

We cannot set a goal for the students, telling them that they have to be able to do this and that after a specific time. Everyone takes their own time to develop the fitness level of the physical body and the skills to perform the exercises. Everyone takes their own time to let go of fear and worry. Yoga asana practice is not some fitness training that everyone sets a goal for themselves, that they want to be able to achieve “such and such results” in a certain period of time. Realization won’t “happen” even though if we set ourselves 3 months, or 3 years, or 30 years time to attain realization, if we didn’t practice with the correct understanding, attitude and mentality. If we perform the practice with the right understanding and attitude, realization of the truth will happen naturally even though we didn’t have the intention or expectation to attain self-realization.

Just like when we do the yoga exercises, even though if we don’t know anything about the benefits of the exercises, the benefits will still be there. The benefits won’t change, or become more when we have expectation for the benefits. The benefits won’t disappear or become less, even if we don’t know what are the benefits of doing the exercises and without any expectation for the benefits. It will still be there.

I’ll explain to the students before they start learning and performing the yoga poses and exercises, about the pose or the exercise itself, is not something “easy” or “difficult”. It is subject to our own each individual physical condition and ability. When our body can do it and feel comfortable, our mind will judge “this is easy”. And when our body cannot do it and feel uncomfortable, our mind will judge “this is difficult”. But, the same exercise everyone is doing, some will say it’s “easy” and some will say it’s “difficult”. But, the exercise itself has no intentions or qualities to be easy or to be difficult. It is all coming from the subjective judgment in our own mind upon how our body and mind react towards the exercises. By understanding this, we learn to let go of any judgments towards everyone and everything in the world. That they are not something “bad”, and they are not something “good”. Everyone and everything is just being what it is.

After the class finished, there is no “good class” or “bad class”, as all our experiences in the class is different in each individual. Some might say its a “good class”, but, some might say its a “bad class”. Again that is nothing to do with the class itself. It is coming from each individual state of their mind. Positive mind projects everything positively. Negative mind projects everything negatively. Those who know how to go beyond positive and negative, they project everything neither positively nor negatively.

Whether it is a “good class” or a “bad class”, it is not coming from the teacher or the class. Even if the teacher taught a “great” or “awful” class.

There are many conditions that will “influence” each individual whether they will think or “judge” it is a “good class” or not. For example, maybe some people still don’t know how to let go of the ego yet, having judgment, comparison and expectation while doing the exercises, and forcing themselves to go beyond their physical limitations, and struggling in performing the exercises without respecting the conditions of their own body. They get discomfort, pain and soreness, and building up more tensions during the practice, instead of letting go of tensions and be relaxed and peaceful during and after the practice. Some people might have some physical and mental purification process going on, and they experience so much discomforts or resistance during the practice, instead of being in peace and harmony with the practice.

If we experienced a “good class” and “gain” some mental peace or physical relaxation from the practice in the class, we appreciate that present moment of how the body and mind feels, but without attachment, without craving or clinging. Know that even that peaceful moment and good feeling is momentary, it’s impermanent. It will change, be disturbed and disappear.

If we experienced a “bad class” and not “gaining” any mental peace or physical relaxation from the practice in the class, we don’t have to force ourselves to appreciate that unpleasant experience, but, just be aware of it without attachment, without generate aversion towards that “bad” experience, and let it go. Know that no matter how unpleasant it is, all are impermanent. It will change and disappear.

This understanding will lead us to be undisturbed, or unaffected, or uninfluenced, or undetermined by what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think. Because all the names and forms are not something “good” or something “bad”. “Good” and “bad” is coming from our own mind, it’s not coming from the objects.

This will lead us to true happiness and real peace that is unconditioned and unlimited by any qualities of names and forms or impermanence.

With this unmovable peaceful state of consciousness or awareness, we are able to perform lots of selfless compassionate actions in the world to help ourselves and the world to evolve, but, without being disturbed, or affected, or influenced, or determined by the world and the law of impermanence, and all the conditional qualities of names and forms.

Out of compassion, we perform selfless actions, and let go. Without attaching to our actions and the fruit of the actions. Without attaching to our yoga practice and the result of the yoga practice. Allow the fruit of actions and the result of the yoga practice to be there as it is. Without judgment, comparison or expectation. And be free.

Om shanti.