Worldly identifications

One of the great obstacles or challenges for the yoga enthusiasts to be free from egoism is the intense attachment towards worldly identifications with some qualities of names and forms to be existing as ‘I’.

It’s ‘unthinkable’ for the egoistic minds to be ‘functioning’ or ‘aware of the mind perception of a worldly life of names and forms’ without any identifications with some qualities of names and forms to be acknowledged by oneself and others as ‘This is I’.

There’s great fear towards losing the sense of the existence of ‘I’, or ‘selflessness/’I’-lessness’, or being unable to be acknowledged by oneself and others as “I am this and that”, if without any of the identifications that the egoistic thinking mind would like to acknowledge itself and be acknowledged by others that “I exist as an (unique/special/distinctive/meaningful) individual being with such and such qualities of names and forms.”

Similarly, most minds have great fear towards letting go all kinds of superstitious thinking, beliefs, values and practices that were being ingrained into the minds from very young age by their elders, parents, relatives, friends, school teachers, religious teachers, the community and the society. Very few minds would question the truth of all those thinking, beliefs, values and practices, to inquire the truth of everything that was told or informed by everyone, and would just blind-believing, blind-following, blind-practicing and blind-passing on all these thinking, beliefs, values and practices. As most people would ‘label’ themselves or be ‘labeled’ by others as ‘bad person’ or ‘traitor’ towards one’s root and ancestor’s cultural background and family values, if they don’t embrace or follow or pass down those thinking, beliefs, values and practices.

For many people, this is the ‘normal’, ‘good’, ‘productive’, ‘positive’, ‘healthy’, ‘successful’, ‘meaningful’ and ‘rightful’ way of life or living.

Not only that there was a ‘basic identity upon birth’ that relates to a ‘given name’, a ‘gender’, a ‘family’, an ‘ethnicity’, a ‘birth place’, a ‘nationality’ and a ‘security ID number’, but everyone was growing up being conditioned by the society to identify oneself with a ‘sexual orientation’, a ‘personality’, a ‘physical appearance’, a ‘self-image’, a ‘body image’, a ‘physical condition’, a ‘mental state’, a ‘religion’, a ‘culture’, a ‘lifestyle’, a ‘trend’, and etc. Most minds are being ‘encouraged’ by the society to be constantly ‘developing’ and ‘possessing’ further more other qualities of names and forms to empower or strengthen that ‘self-identity’, that would allow the minds to feel proud, confident and meaningful towards the existence of ‘I’ under such identifications. Such like, “I am a ‘good’, ‘strong’, ‘healthy’, ‘fit’, ‘beautiful’, ‘attractive’, ‘stylish’, ‘successful’, ‘intelligent’, ‘knowledgeable’, ‘positive’, ‘multi tasking’, ‘talented’, ‘well-informed’, ‘well-behaved’, ‘inspirational’, ‘generous’ and ‘kind loving’ human being on top of all the identifications with a particular belief, religion, spirituality, culture, caste, sect, educational level, social status, community group, political views, profession, interests, qualifications, certifications, achievements, contributions, possessions, relationships, connections, and so on.

There are some common sayings such as –
“Be good, do good, and life will be all good and you will be happy.”
“Be nice and friendly to other people, and other people will be nice and friendly to you.”
That is not necessary true.

But everyone has been circulating that kind of sayings especially from the elders to the youngsters, or from the yoga teachers to the yoga students. Many people experiencing disappointment, depression and meaninglessness because they have such expectation towards life, where everyone and everything has to be in certain ways based on those sayings.

Many times, life is not necessarily all good and people are not happy even after they are being good and they have done many good. And it’s okay.

People don’t have to be happy all the time. Just be good and do good, and allow the fruit of actions to be what it is, not necessarily has to be the way that we would like it to be.

Sometimes, people are not being grateful or appreciative towards our kindness and friendliness, and are not being nice or friendly to us when we are being nice and friendly to them. And it’s okay.

People don’t have to be grateful and appreciative, and be nice and friendly to others, if they don’t want to. Just be nice and friendly to others, without the expectation that other people should be grateful and appreciative, and be nice and friendly to us in return.

The most practical way in the yoga practice to eliminate egoism from the mind is via renunciation of what most minds being conditioned to think and believe as the ‘normal’ and ‘meaningful’ way of life. Moving the mind away from the egoistic worldly social cultural thinking and beliefs, ideas, relationships, connections, interactions and activities, and letting go novels, news and magazines reading, radio listening, movies watching and theater visiting. Be determined to observe seclusion and solitude for at least five or six years, cutting off all kinds of worldly social cultural inputs, ideas, connections, activities and interactions, to allow the mind to be free from being conditioned by worldly thinking and beliefs that are all about empowering worldly attachment and identification. Only then the mind can see the truth of names and forms as it is.

Once the mind is free from being conditioned by worldly egoistic thinking and beliefs, it is no longer being determined by any of the worldly identifications with qualities of names and forms to be existing as ‘I’. There’s no need to feel proud, confident or meaningful towards “I am somebody endowed with this and that prideful, superior and meaningful qualities.”

There’s no ‘I’ being there that needs to be empowered, be acknowledged, be motivated, be inspired, be loved, be proud, be confident and be meaningful. There’s no ‘I’ being there to be strong, be weak, be happy, be unhappy, be positive, be negative, be good, be bad, be hurt, be healed, be pleased, be displeased, be praised, be insulted, be selfish, be unselfish, be unfree or be free.

While the entire world emphasize on the empowerment of a strong self-identity nurtured with the qualities of names and forms of particular social/cultural/ethnicity/nationality ideas/values/practices, yoga practice is mainly to free the mind from all these identifications with any qualities of names and forms.

Even the idea of “I am a yoga practitioner practicing yoga of annihilating ignorance, egoism, impurities and restlessness” and the desire of “I want to practice yoga to be free from ignorance and suffering” vanished from the minds that know thyself.

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The world of discrimination

Inquire the truth of discrimination.

Discrimination of all kinds, have always been existing in the world of names and forms from the past to the present, and will continuing to be existing endlessly, unless all existing minds are free from ignorance and egoism.

As long as the mind (actually most minds) has the desire/aspiration/intention/ambition/pride/identification to be ‘somebody’ who possessed certain superior qualities and void of certain inferior qualities based on their particular thinking and belief about what are superior qualities and inferior qualities, there will always be discrimination towards all the different names and forms that exist in the world.

Even a ‘good person’ who identifying oneself as ‘good being’ who performs ‘good actions’ and doesn’t perform ‘bad actions’ and attached to the result of one’s actions, while being influenced by particular thinking and belief to judge everything that the mind perceives through the senses, and will generate discrimination towards all the different qualities of names and forms, unwittingly. Most minds reluctant to let go the sense of superiority that they attained from possessing certain qualities that they think and believe as ‘superior’ and ‘higher quality’ than some other qualities that they think and believe as ‘inferior’ or ‘lower quality’.

People will fight to their death to defend their superior status that they think they have in the society, being afraid of being discriminated by others once the superior status is gone, as themselves have been discriminating others just because they strongly think and believe that they are somehow more superior than all the others who are different from them.

“I want myself to be like this, and not like that.”
“I want other people to be like this, and not like that.”
“People should be like this, and not like that.”
Free the mind from this kind of worldly egoistic habitual thinking, desire and expectation, is part of the yoga practice that will free the mind from generate discrimination towards oneself and others, and be undetermined and undisturbed by the existing discrimination generated/projected by other minds that are under the influence of ignorance and egoism.

Most people want to possess what they think and believe as ‘superior qualities’ to feel good, confident, proud and meaningful towards themselves, and want to be able to amaze/attract other people to gain liking and support, to be acknowledged, accepted, praised, respected, or glorified by other people for being ‘somebody’ with such and such ‘superior qualities’. People don’t want to possessed or be related to certain qualities that they and other people think and believe as ‘inferior qualities’, ‘lower qualities’, ‘bad qualities’, ‘unattractive qualities’, or ‘negative qualities’.

And hence, discrimination started within oneself towards certain qualities that one doesn’t like and doesn’t want, and this further influences the mind to discriminate other people who possessed certain qualities that one doesn’t like and doesn’t want, that one thinks and believes as ‘inferior qualities’, ‘lower qualities’, ‘bad qualities’, ‘unattractive qualities’, or ‘negative qualities’.

The minds that are free from this egoism of being attracted to and be proud of certain qualities and being repulsive towards and discriminating/hating certain qualities, are free from discrimination towards the qualities that come along with the existence of the body and mind, and towards others who possess different qualities from one another.

Unfortunately, this kind of egoless, selfless, desireless and dispassionate minds are very rare in this world. Look around us, most minds are influenced deeply by worldly egoistic ideas, thinking and belief, restlessly striving very hard to be ‘somebody’ that themselves and other people can agree with, respect, look up to and feel proud of. Most minds reluctant to let go the sense of superiority of possessing certain ‘superior qualities’. There’s nothing wrong with that, just that that’s how discrimination started towards all the different qualities that one’s mind recognizes as ‘good and bad’, ‘right and wrong’, ‘positive and negative’, ‘superiority and inferiority’. Ironically, these are the ones who don’t like to be discriminated by others and who protest against discrimination in the world, but they aren’t aware of, or didn’t realize that discrimination exist in their own minds towards all the different qualities that the minds perceive through the senses.

If one’s mind is free from attachment and identification towards qualities of names and forms to be identifying as ‘I’, this mind will also naturally be free from discrimination towards any qualities of names and forms, regardless of whether one possesses some of those qualities and doesn’t posses some of the other qualities. This mind won’t discriminate towards itself or towards any other beings/people/objects that carry with them many different qualities of names and forms.

The world will only be free from discrimination, if all minds are free from ignorance and egoism. And hence, discrimination will always exist in this world, as it’s a challenging work to annihilate ignorance and egoism from one’s mind, not to say, none can remove ignorance and egoism of others. And many minds aren’t interested in the annihilation of ignorance and egoism, even though they are interested in a better and peaceful world that is free from discrimination, hatred and violence.

Though discrimination of all kinds will always be existing, one’s mind can still be free, if one knows how to free one’s mind from craving/aversion/discrimination towards all the impermanent and selfless qualities of names and forms in oneself and in others. Whether all the other minds will be free from ignorance and egoism, and the world will be free from discrimination, or not, it’s their own responsibility. This mind won’t be determined or disturbed by all the many kinds of discrimination existing in the world deriving from minds under the deep influence of ignorance and egoism. This mind won’t be discriminating towards all those existing discrimination, and be free from the wishful thinking/expectation towards ‘the world should be free from discrimination’. This mind won’t be in a state of disappointment/frustration/anger/meaninglessness/hopelessness upon being aware of so much discrimination is happening here and there, endlessly.

Self-righteousness is not yoga practice

Self-righteousness is part of the egoism acting in conjunction with worldly thinking and belief about what is right and wrong/good and bad, it’s not part of the yoga practice. In yoga practice, the mind disciplines itself to be free from the cause of suffering – Ignorance, egoism and impurities, to see the truth as it is, going beyond all kinds of thinking and belief about what is right and wrong/good and bad, being free from egoism of attachment, identification, craving and aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation. This is not the same as egoistic self-righteousness that is based on particular worldly thinking and belief about what is right and wrong/good and bad, to judge, criticize, discipline and punish oneself and/or others, or out of the sense of pride and superiority, one interferes with other minds/people, with intention to influence/control/change/discipline/punish other minds/people that one doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with.

Under the many different cultures, many people growing up being encouraged to develop self-righteousness to uphold what they believe as right and good. It’s regarded as a ‘good quality’ that someone should possess, to discipline oneself. It’s fine if people just stop at ‘disciplining’ oneself in accordance to one’s belief and practice about ‘what is right and wrong/good and bad’. But most people don’t just stop there, but they also want to self-appoint themselves as ‘morality guardian/hero’ to ‘discipline’ others whom they know or don’t know, whom are different from them, whom they dislike and disagree with, whom they think and believe are ‘wrong’ and ‘bad’ in accordance to their own cultural/religious/social/political/personal thinking and belief or practice.

People are being encouraged to develop a strong self-identity/family identity/national identity/cultural identity/religious identity/political identity/social identity and have strong sense of pride towards their identity of that particular thinking and belief, values and practice, and then based on that particular thinking and belief, values and practice, people judge all and everything, and expect themselves and others in the society or the world to somehow comply to that particular thinking and belief, values and practice to think, to behave and to live life the way that they can agree with/accept.

People also like to talk about personal/family/social/national/global ‘development’ and ‘peace and happiness’, but mostly are being influenced by self-righteousness based on their particular cultural/religious/social/political/personal thinking and belief, values and practice about what are ‘good/right/positive/progressive development’ and ‘peace and happiness’ to them. It’s not so much about universal selfless development, peace and happiness for all kinds of diversity beyond all the different names and forms, unlimited by any particular cultural/religious/social/political/personal point of view, thinking and belief, values and practice.

If someone truly/sincerely wants to have peace in oneself and wish to contribute peace into the world that one is living in, the mind needs to be free from self-righteousness based on a particular values of life existence, way of life and conduct, thinking and belief about what is right and wrong/good and bad.

Though it’s not necessary, but most minds/people think and believe that as ‘an individual among the species of human beings’, they need to rely/attach onto a particular values, way of life and conduct, cultural/religious/social/political/personal thinking and belief to nurture/build a personal/worldly identity to be existing as who they are, and to think, to behave and to live life complying to that particular values, way of life and conduct, cultural/religious/social/political/personal thinking and belief.

Most minds/people don’t just keep their values of life existence, way of life and conduct, cultural/religious/social/political thinking and belief only to themselves, but they want to interfere with others who are different from them. Out of survival instinct and fear of extinction, people want to gather/invite more other people into their ‘group’ to form a ‘strong and powerful group’ by converting/recruiting many others to ‘join’ their group, to adopt and support their vision. People also have the tendency of self-righteousness to control/change/condemn/punish others for being different from themselves, which they dislike and disagree with, where they feel that their values, belief and practice are being threatened/intimidated by the other values, beliefs and practices.

  • The idea of ‘I’.
  • Attachment and identification onto certain qualities of names and forms to ‘support’ the existence of a self-identity of ‘I’.
  • Possessiveness and pride towards the self-identity and the possessions of ‘my life’, ‘my body’, ‘my mind’, ‘my thinking and belief’, ‘my culture’, ‘my religion’, ‘my God’, ‘my wealth and health’, ‘my success and happiness’, ‘my accreditation and reputation’, ‘my virtues and merits’, ‘my home’, ‘my family’, ‘my parents’, ‘my partner’, ‘my relationship’, ‘my children’, ‘my friends and relatives’, ‘my country’, ‘my world’, ‘my practice’, ‘my contribution’, ‘my teacher’, ‘my students’, and so on.
  • Desire of craving and aversion of “I want ‘I’ and all that is ‘mine’ to be like this and I don’t want ‘I’ and all that is ‘mine’ to be like that.”
  • Fear of losing the identity of ‘I’ and all that is ‘mine’ the way that ‘I’ like it to be.
  • Defensiveness/protection towards the identity of ‘I’ and all that is ‘mine’.

“This is my home/my country/my world. I want my home/my country/my world to be like this and not like that. I don’t like and don’t agree with all the others who are different from me, who’s vision is contradicting to my vision of the perfect home/country/world that I want to have. I want everyone to comply to my values of life existence, way of life and conduct, thinking and belief. If they don’t, I won’t be able to have my home/my country/my world exactly the way that I want it to be. And I don’t want that. I don’t want these people being here ‘polluting’ my beloved home/my good country/my beautiful world.”

Most minds are outgoing and desire to be engaged in community or worldly affair with very strong self-righteousness towards how the community or the world should be like, where they feel proud towards their thinking and belief and towards their identification with that thinking and belief as who they are, that they believe that they are being ‘assigned’ with the responsibility to ‘save’ the world (their world the way that they prefer) by ‘disciplining’ or ‘teaching’ others about what is right and wrong/good and bad based on their particular thinking and belief, to eliminate what they think and believe as ‘wrong’ and ‘bad’ from the society or the world.

Yoga practice is turning the mind inward, focusing on eliminating ignorance and egoism in this mind, to go beyond all the ‘right and wrong’/’good and bad’/’positive and negative’, to free this mind from being limited by any thinking and belief, values and practice (including the teachings of yoga) judging all and everything including this body and this mind, or expecting oneself and/or others and the world to be in certain ways that the egoistic mind likes/agrees with/desires based on those thinking and belief, values and practice. It’s not about enhancing health and fitness, to look good and feel good, or to create a ‘good’ world with everyone behaving in the way that we think it should be. Though there’s nothing wrong with that aspiration, but all these qualities of names and forms are impermanent, and it’s not the goal of yoga practice.

The freedom of being free from being limited or determined by any thinking and belief or identification with qualities of names and forms is unthinkable/unperceivable for the minds that attached strongly onto the thinking and belief to be who they are.

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their life, body and mind, and whether to practice yoga, or not.

Be free.

Root out pride and arrogance

For some reasons people are aspired to attain or possess certain qualities in order to be eligible or qualified to feel proud and arrogant towards themselves and/or others.

People are being encouraged to cultivate pride and arrogance as well, as somehow they think it’s very good/important to be able to be proud and arrogant about something that they think it deserves to be proud of, that would make them feel somehow more stand out, unique and better than some others.

“Do something and be someone that make yourself and other people feel proud of.”

People like to encourage and support other people to stay motivated and to be better by telling people, “I’m so proud of you!” People grew up with the thinking/belief/values/aspiration of need to be attaining or possessing certain qualities to feel proud of themselves and also make other people feel proud of them.

“I want to be proud of myself. I want other people to be proud of me.”

People would feel inferior, bad, depressed and disappointed towards themselves when they think they haven’t or couldn’t attain or possess certain qualities that allow themselves and others to feel proud of.

Those who want to attain liberation must contemplate on all these worldly social cultural thinking/belief/expectation, to see the truth of it. All these are nothing but the play of egoism – It’s merely the ego that needs to feel proud and needs others to feel proud of ‘I’ in order to feel satisfied, loved, motivated, appreciated, acknowledged, good, happy, confident and meaningful.

Meanwhile, some people think and believe that they are not at all proud and arrogant, as they are aware of the downside of pride and arrogance, and they don’t want to be associated with pride and arrogance, but they aren’t aware of themselves are already being over-powered by pride and arrogance. Without awareness, people can be proud of the thinking of ‘I am not a proud and arrogant person. I practice humility. I am very humble.’

In Yoga, pride and arrogance is the by-product of egoism born out of ignorance. It’s one of the great obstacles that hinders the mind to be opened to learn and practice yoga and meditation, to inquire the truth.

If we sincerely want to learn and practice yoga and meditation, we need to first learn how to identify pride and arrogance and free the mind from it. But, it’s really not easy for people to let go pride and arrogance, as it is a part of their strong identity of themselves.

Even many ‘graduated/certified/qualified/experienced yoga teachers’ are being proud and arrogant towards themselves for having attended one or many ‘yoga teachers training courses’ attaining one or many certifications or qualifications in this or that, that they had studied and practiced yoga under one or many ‘famous’ or ‘popular’ yoga teachers/Gurus/schools, as well as their years of experience in practicing and teaching yoga, or they have recruited certain numbers of yoga students, or they had taught in certain yoga schools or yoga centres or yoga festivals or yoga conventions, or they had participated in some ‘yoga competitions’ and won certain awards, or they have done such and such charity works, or they have been contributing articles of yoga or being ‘interviewed’ in such and such magazine or social media, and so on. Most people would justify that their intention of getting all the attention, admiration and publicity is for promoting yoga to more people in the world. But, how pure and true is that?

Two of the common characteristics of pride and arrogance that exist in many yoga practitioners who already have been practicing certain style(s) of yoga for some time, or ‘graduated/certified/qualified/experienced yoga teachers’ who have attained many certifications/qualifications/experiences from attending different yoga courses and have been teaching ‘yoga classes’ or ‘yoga courses’ for some time :-

“I am experienced/qualified/knowledgeable/advanced yoga practitioner/yoga teacher. I know enough and I have long time experience in practicing/teaching yoga. I don’t need someone to lecture me about yoga/yoga practice/teaching yoga, or tell/teach me the many things that I already knew.”

“This is different from the yoga that I have been learning/practicing/teaching for many years. I don’t agree with this, I don’t like this. I don’t want this.”

When there is such pride and arrogance, the mind is closed, being unable to be opened to inquire/investigate the truth of something that is beyond what the mind thinks it knows, or something that is different from or contradicted with the existing familiar practice, thinking and belief in the mind, that the mind doesn’t know or doesn’t familiar with. We won’t/can’t learn anything that we actually didn’t know but we think and believe that we already knew very well, even if there’s a great teacher or great teaching in front of us.

Be free.

The consequences of pride and self-righteousness

Intelligence + education + knowledge + awareness + ability + opportunity
+ passion + ambitious + idealistic positive thinking to create a ‘perfect’ world the way that ‘I’ think it should be + craving and aversion + impurities of anger, hatred, frustration, dissatisfaction, disappointment, hurt, guilt, fear and worry + pride + self-righteousness + trying to ‘educate’ or ‘change’ other people’s thinking, belief or behavior that ‘I’ don’t like and don’t agree with to be the way that ‘I’ like and agree with
= egoistic actions derived from selfish intention and aspiration based on personal thinking, belief, desires, ideal, attachment, identification, judgment, expectation
= the possibility of a more messy world with more impurities and ignorant behavior/actions/reactions

Intelligence + education + knowledge + awareness + ability + opportunity
– passion – ambitious – idealistic positive thinking to create a ‘perfect’ world the way that ‘I’ think it should be – craving and aversion – impurities of anger, hatred, frustration, dissatisfaction, disappointment, hurt, guilt, fear and worry – pride – self-righteousness – trying to ‘educate’ or ‘change’ other people’s thinking, belief or behavior that ‘I’ don’t like and don’t agree with to be the way that ‘I’ like and agree with
= selfless actions derived from selflessness, wisdom and compassion
= the possibility of a less messy world with less impurities or ignorant behavior/actions/reactions

When we don’t like and disagree with the world being what it is and want to change the world to be the way that we think it should be, when we think there are people in the world are ignorant and selfish who behave ignorantly and selfishly, and we try to perform ‘good’ and ‘righteous’ actions to ‘educate’ or ‘change’ those whom we think are ignorant and selfish, with intention or hope or expectation to change their thinking, belief and behavior to be less ignorant and selfish (because we think we are better than them or we know better than them), will only provoke/generate more impurities and ignorant behavior in the world. This is because due to ignorance, selfishness and pride, people don’t like to be ‘educated’ or ‘changed’ or ‘controlled’ or ‘interfered’ by anybody, they will be very offended and feel being challenged or insulted or humiliated, and hence, they will react under the influence of unhappiness, dissatisfaction, defensiveness, pride and anger, and be inclined/provoked to perform more ignorant actions and selfish behavior.

None can take away another being’s ignorance. It has to come from oneself being aware of ignorance in oneself and self-initiated to be free from ignorance.

If we really want (to help) the world to be free from all sorts of ignorant thinking, belief and behavior, then mind our own mind, to free one’s mind from ignorance and ignorant thinking, belief and behavior, is the most efficient way to help the world to have less ignorant beings and less ignorant thinking, belief and behavior.

Have peace in oneself if we want (to help) the world to have (more) peace.