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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Selfless actions influence others without the intention to change or control others

Selfless actions could influence others as well as the condition or situation in the world, but without the egoistic intention to change or control others and the condition or situation in the world to be the way that the egoistic minds would like it to be, or think and believe how it should be.

There’s no disappointment, frustration, anger, hatred, or depression when things are not ‘being’ or ‘changing’ to be the way that the egoistic minds would like it to be, if actions that could influence others and the condition or situation in the world are being performed out of selflessness and compassion, selflessly and intentionlessly, without ‘good intention’ to be performing ‘good actions’ that the egoistic minds ‘desire’ or ‘hope’ to ‘change’ others and the condition or situation in the world to be ‘good’ the way that the minds think and believe what is good.

Similarly, most of the time, when ‘good minds’ have ‘good intention’ to tell the truth of ‘something not good’ about somebody or some organization might provoke the dissatisfaction, frustration, anger and hatred in the egoistic minds where their desires or agendas are being affected directly or indirectly by ‘the intentional good action’ of ‘telling the truth of something not good’.

Just look at our everyday life interaction with people around us, especially those whom we know. When we see someone whom we know does something that we think is wrong out of ignorance, we might have ‘good intention’ to tell the truth of ‘someone is doing something wrong out of ignorance’ and the consequence of that is usually very ‘unpleasant’ as either the person might react with feelings of hurt, shame, guilt, regret or self-blame towards oneself if this person suffers from low self-esteem, depression or over sensitive, or this person might react with feelings of being insulted, humiliated, belittled, intimidated, anger and hatred, if this person suffers from pride and arrogance. Unless the minds are free from ignorance and egoism, and be able to see, or hear, or coming in contact with the truth and allowing the truth to be what it is, but if people would do something wrong/bad out of ignorance it also means that they are not free from ignorance. And the minds that are not free from ignorance don’t have the ‘understanding’ and ‘ability’ to deal with ‘the truth’ openly and peacefully.

Most of the time, ‘the truth of something not nice’ told by others appears to be something hard, or harsh, or cruel, or dislikable, or disagreeable, or offensive, or hurtful, or insulting, or humiliating, or inappreciative, or ungrateful, or unsupportive, or negative, or unloving, or unkind to the egoistic minds, including knowledgeable and intelligent minds. Most egoistic prideful minds prefer to hear ‘nice things’ or ‘kind words’ about themselves. Many people say, “Don’t say anything ‘not nice’.”

And hence, ‘the truth’ must be self-aware or self-realized.

More importantly, the truth is just what it is. It’s neither positive nor negative, neither right nor wrong, neither good nor bad, neither nice nor not nice. But impure egoistic minds that are functioning under the influence of duality interpret everything as positive and negative, right and wrong, good and bad, nice and not nice, and react spontaneously and emotionally influenced by the likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements coming from the egoistic mind based on the thinking and believe in the mind to judge and react towards all the perceived names and forms or experiences, to feel pleased or displeased.

That’s why the relation between ‘the truth’ and ‘silence’. And hence, the practice of ‘silence’ is very important and relevant in the path of yoga and Buddhism of self-inquiry and self-realization of the truth to attain liberation from ignorance and suffering.

This ‘silence’ doesn’t mean intentionally not seeing, not hearing, not smelling, not tasting, not feeling/sensing or not thinking ‘something that the mind thinks and believes as bad/wrong/negative/not nice’, or not performing any necessary actions. This ‘silence’ also doesn’t mean intentionally denying ‘the truth of something’.

Without any of the senses functioning, or without the idea of denying ‘the truth of something’, or being unable/unwilling to perform any physical or verbal actions doesn’t mean that the mind is free from the suffering of ignorance, egoism, restlessness and impurities. But, there’s no ego or ‘I’ being there to ceaselessly act and react out of ‘intention’ or ‘aspiration’ to change or control others or the world to be in certain ways, to be attaining or not attaining ‘certain qualities of names and forms’ that the ego desires or doesn’t desire to be identifying with or to be possessing when there is an ego, or the idea of ‘I’, existing and identifying with the modification of the mind, attaching onto and identifying with the actions and the fruit of actions (being passionate towards one’s actions and there’s attachment, identification and expectation towards the fruit of one’s actions.)

Be free from the idea or thinking of “I want others and the world to be like this and I don’t want others and the world to be like that.”

The practice of silence to conquer the restless mind

This teaching is for those who want to conquer the restless mind, but they realize that the mind is so difficult to quiet down, that there will be ceaseless distracting random thoughts occupying the mind, especially whenever they try to sit down quietly limiting the physical movements and refraining the senses from going out chasing after the object of the senses, to train the mind in concentration and meditation.

It’s a common reaction of all the untrained impure minds when the physical body is being restricted from bodily movements and the mental habitual activities is being restricted, there will be random thoughts bubbling up to the surface of the mind. It’s part of the purification process. People should continue the practice by learning how to be aware of all these random thoughts without association, attachment, identification, craving or aversion, judgment and expectation, and allowing all these random pleasant and unpleasant thoughts arising and passing away, to clear up the past accumulated imprints. People expect that when they meditate, the mind will be free from any thoughts, and so, they’ll get very disappointed and demotivated after a few attempts trying to concentrate or meditate, they realize that the modification of the mind is even more agitated and violent whenever they try to concentrate or meditate. And without correct understanding, many people would give up and prefer to just live everyday life as they are, ‘happy happy go lucky’, be good, do good, without the need to deal with the unpleasant behavior of the mind that they don’t like to confront with. And that’s their freedom.

The biggest element in aid to conquer the restless mind is the observation of silence, of seclusion, solitude and renunciation from worldly social relationships, activities and interactions.

Some people think that those who want to conquer the mind should take up the challenge of living and mixing among the society, in order to allow the mind to practice concentration and meditation in everyday life having to deal with all kinds of challenging condition and situation, distractions and disturbance, while learning how to remain equanimous without being affected or determined by all the challenging condition and situation in life, without generating craving towards the pleasant life experiences and without generating aversion towards the unpleasant life experiences. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But what happens? After many years of ‘trying’ to practice yoga and meditation to conquer the restless mind, but the mind is still restless, or even more restless under the influence of ignorance and impurities.

Some even say that it’s very easy to be calm and quiet being in solitude and seclusion without dealing with other beings and worldly affairs. They think that one doesn’t need to deal with pleasantness and unpleasantness, craving and aversion, distractions and disturbance, actions and reactions, when being in solitude and seclusion. What they don’t know is that most minds will runaway from solitude and seclusion after some time, like fish out of water, and the modification of the mind is even more agitated and violent being restricted from worldly social relationships, activities and interactions that keep the mind stimulated, entertained, busy, or restless. That’s why so many people will say that meditation is very difficult, or they can’t meditate, or they don’t like meditation, or they don’t like to observe silence, of solitude and seclusion.

Whether one is surrounded by many other beings and happenings, or one is alone in solitude away from happenings, this mind has to deal with the impermanent and selfless changes of the physical body and the ignorant impure egoistic modification of the mind. Whether the mind is free, or not free, it’s always right here and right now. When the mind practices concentration and meditation, it’s always alone, regardless of whether there are other people around, or not.

Do not blind-believing or blind-following any teachings from anyone or somewhere, including all the teachings here. Contemplate and inquire the truth of all teachings and attain self-realization of the truth of all the teachings via direct experience.

Take note that living in the world and mixing in the society are two completely different things. Geographically and biologically, one will have to and always be living in the world, otherwise, this body will not be able to survive for long, but at the same time, know the importance of observing silence, of maximum solitude and seclusion, renouncing worldly social relationships, activities and interactions, in short, refraining from mixing in the society.

While living in the world, one will still have to deal with the impermanent and selfless condition and situation in the world that is ever challenging, and developing the strength of non-association, non-attachment, non-identification, non-craving, non-aversion, non-judgment and non-expectation, and one learns how to conserve energy and not wasting energy into worldly affairs/activities/interactions that derived from ignorance and egoism, as well as empowering/feeding ignorance and egoism.

Observing maximum solitude and seclusion while living in the world, and renouncing worldly social relationships, activities and interactions doesn’t mean that one is completely isolated from the society and not performing any actions in the world. One can be performing unlimited selfless service in the world to benefit the society efficiently, but being free from mixing, or socializing, or accumulating relationships. One is care-less towards the worldly affairs, but can also be performing actions that benefit the world at the same time. Being compassionate towards all beings doesn’t mean that one has to be in a form of relationship with all beings. One can be kind to others without the need of knowing or contacting with the others. Contemplate on this, and be free to observe silence while living in the world and performing actions in the world.

For the ‘first class’ students of Dhamma, which are very few of them in this world, they don’t need to observe silence, of solitude, seclusion and renunciation from worldly social relationships, activities and interactions, as they are already grounded firmly in Dhamma. They can be mixing in the society like everyone else, behaving like everyone else, but their minds are ever pure and quiet. They don’t need to practice concentration or meditation at all. They are not separated from meditation. There’s no in or out of meditation.

For the other students of Dhamma, which is the majority of us, we do need to observe silence at some stage, of maximum solitude and seclusion, and renounce worldly social relationships, activities and interactions, as whether we are aware or unaware, the mind is constantly absorbing all the inputs of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and thoughts/imagination/projection/dreams, all the time, unwittingly. All these endless accumulated inputs are the ceaseless random thoughts that bubbling up to the surface of the mind during the practice of concentration and meditation, and many minds that haven’t develop a strong foundation of non-association, non-attachment, non-identification, non-craving, non-aversion, non-judgment and non-expectation will be greatly disturbed, distracted and demotivated by this purification process. And this will never come to an end, unless we start reducing and limiting all these unnecessary mind inputs deriving from all kinds of worldly relationships, activities and interactions.

It’s like someone tries very hard to clean up the rubbish bin, but somehow, rubbish keep pouring into the bin, from someone and somewhere, endlessly. The bin will never be cleaned. The untrained impure egoistic mind is like a rubbish bin, taking in all kinds of rubbish (mind inputs) ceaselessly, unwittingly. And yoga and meditation practice of silence, solitude, seclusion and renunciation, is the most effective and practical way to free the mind from being a rubbish bin, and it’s not about to be a clean rubbish bin, but to realize its nature of namelessness, formlessness and attributelessness, that it is neither a dirty rubbish bin nor a clean rubbish bin.

Perform this test to know how the mind works. Sit down without moving the body and limbs, closing the eyes, and observe the natural breath coming in and going out for a few minutes. Very soon, unwittingly, random thoughts will arise and occupying the mind. And one will realize that all these random bubbling thoughts are the strongest imprints during the day, or from the last few days, or even from weeks/months/years before, or even forgotten.

Even Siddhartha Gautama Buddha and Swami Sivananda also had to retreat from the society to be focusing on their practice for some years in solitude, restraining the modification of the mind and attaining liberation. And then they came back to the society to disseminate the Dhamma to the other suffering minds whom in need of the Dhamma to be free from suffering.

By reducing and limiting the mind inputs not just allowing the mind to be purified effectively, but it also helps to develop a great mental strength that allows the mind to be uninfluenced, unaffected, undisturbed and undetermined by all the names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses. At this stage, the mind is safe and free to be mixing in the society and live everyday life like everyone else, but the mind is ever pure and quiet.

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to think and believe, and what they want or don’t want to practice.

Self-transformation

Self-transformation in the world is about changing the ‘qualities’ of the body and mind (what the mind identifies as ‘I’) from what the worldly thinking and belief categorize as bad, wrong and negative into what the worldly thinking and belief categorize as good, right and positive, in order to enhance one’s self-esteem, self-image, attractiveness, confidence, productivity, knowledge, skill, ability, physical and mental performance, social networking, or success in career, life and relationships, to attain what most people’s thinking and belief categorize as ‘good’, ‘easy’, ‘comfortable’, ‘enjoyable’, ‘successful’, ‘prosperous’, ‘happy’ and ‘meaningful’ life.

Self-transformation in the teachings of yoga is about reforming the thinking pattern of the mind to free the mind from being conditioned by the worldly egoistic thinking and belief that influences how the mind thinks, acts and reacts towards all the mind perception of names and forms, to free the mind from ignorance, egoism, restlessness and impurities, to be free from suffering that exists due to ignorance. Being free from attachment towards qualities of names and forms and being free from identification with the impermanent selfless existence and function of the body and mind as ‘I’, realizing selflessness or ‘I’-lessness, unlimited by any qualities of names and forms.

If the mind is surrounded by the company of the worldly minded and constantly receiving all kinds of worldly input and influence of worldly ideas, thinking and belief, and being influence by all the ceaseless trends in the world to make decisions and live life, then it’s very difficult for the mind to practice yoga of the annihilation of ignorance and egoism (even if the mind likes to perform some forms of yoga practice), as the mind will disagree with many of the teachings of yoga that are contradicted with the worldly thinking and belief, and unable to be opened to inquire the truth of something that is unknown to the mind or something that is disagreeable to the mind that is under the influence of the worldly thinking and belief to analyze and judge what is agreeable and disagreeable.

And hence the importance of retreating or moving the mind away from the worldly way of life, behavior, habits, thinking and belief, to renounce worldly inputs and influences, relationships, interactions and activities, to allow the mind to see things beyond the limited worldly thinking and belief that influences the mind to judge everything, act and react, that empowers ignorance, egoism, impurities and restlessness.

Does the mind still think that ‘this’ is something ‘good’, and everyone should do ‘this’, and ‘that’ is something ‘bad’, and everyone shouldn’t do ‘that’? Does the mind still think that “To live a good and meaningful life, I need to be like this and not like that. Other people also need to be like this and not like that to live a good and meaningful life?” Does the mind still amazed by and admire towards someone or something that the mind perceives as amazing, wonderful and meaningful, that the mind would like to be like that someone and to have/experience that something? Does the mind still want to be able to inspire or amaze other people? If the answer is ‘yes’, then this mind is not free, even though this mind only wants to perform ‘good’ actions and doesn’t want to perform ‘bad’ actions, and living everyday life being in certain ways and not being in certain ways, according to what the mind thinks and believes as ‘good and bad’ or ‘meaningfulness and meaninglessness’ based on the worldly thinking and belief about what is ‘good and bad’ or ‘meaningfulness and meaninglessness’.

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

Wise vs intelligent

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

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

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

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

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

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