Self-righteousness is not yoga practice (2)

Teaching yoga, or practicing yoga, is not about ‘I am an unique spiritual being’ being chosen by ‘God’ or ‘Guru’, being initiated/assigned/given a righteous ‘duty’ from ‘God’ or ‘Guru’, being ‘self-righteous’ for helping ‘God’ or ‘Guru’ to patrol/judge/control/criticize/discipline/punish other people’s actions and reactions, or to be interfering with other people’s thinking/belief/behavior/practice that are different from one’s thinking/belief/behavior/practice, that the mind thinks and believes as ‘bad’ and ‘wrong’, and interfering with other people’s different ways of life, actions and reactions, mental and physical activities that one’s mind doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with, that one’s mind thinks and believes as ‘contradicting’ with the teachings and practice of yoga.

As all these ‘thinking’ and ‘actions’ coming from the mind acting and reacting towards the world of names and forms that the mind comes in contact with/perceives/experiences/acknowledges are nothing but the play of egoism born out of ignorance. Although most minds would think and believe that they are being the ‘good spiritual beings’ acting on behalf of ‘God’ or ‘Guru’, or upholding what they think and believe is ‘supremacy’, ‘authority’, or ‘righteousness’.

Teaching yoga is merely sharing the knowledge derived from one’s direct experience and self-realization, to give guidance to those who come to them to seek guidance to be learning and practicing yoga, while allowing everyone to be what they are, whether they want to take the guidance, or not; whether they want to learn and practice yoga as it is, or not; whether they want to develop awareness, correct understanding, initiative and self-discipline to discipline their own minds, or not; whether they are aware of all the egoistic urges/intentions behind all their actions and reactions, or not; whether they want to restrict their own mental and physical activities, to purify their minds to be free from egoism, impurities and restlessness, to silent the modifications of the mind, or not; and whether they want to perform inquiry towards the truth of everything and be free from ignorance, or not.

There’s no egoistic idea/desire/intention of “I want to be a yoga teacher to teach yoga to other people.” or “I am a yoga teacher performing action of teaching yoga to other people.”

Practicing yoga is also about allowing everyone and everything to be what they are, that everyone and everything are impermanent and selfless, while ‘working’ diligently to free one’s mind from ignorance and the consequences of ignorance.

Those who understand this, either they don’t need to perform any practice at all as they are peaceful as they are where their minds are free from ignorance, egoism and impurities, or if they are aware of the existence of ignorance, egoism and impurities in the minds, they will mind their own practice to discipline, to purify and to silent their own minds, while allowing all the other minds to be what they are, to be evolving as they are.

If ‘God’ or ‘Guru’ exists, they are ‘the selfless/mindless silent witness of pure consciousness’, being undisturbed/unaffected/uninfluenced/unchanged/unbothered by all the existing impermanent and selfless names and forms of different thinking/belief/behavior/way of life/actions/reactions of everyone and the consequences of that, or whatever is happening in ‘the world of ignorant egoistic impure minds functioning under ignorance, egoism and impurities’. If ‘God’ and ‘Guru’ exist, they don’t have egoism, or the ‘self-righteous’ urge or intention derived from egoism to be interfering with/patrolling/judging/controlling/criticizing/disciplining/punishing anyone or anything. If they have egoism, or the ‘self-righteous’ urge or intention derived from egoism to be interfering with/patrolling/judging/controlling/criticizing/disciplining/punishing everyone or everything, making sure everyone and everything ‘to be the way that I think it should be’, then they are not really God or Guru.

Such like some people would inflict anger, hatred, ill-will and violence towards others out of the excuse of ‘upholding peace’ or ‘upholding righteousness’. This is not yoga practice, although it’s everyone’s freedom for what they think and believe, and how they behave, act and react.

“In the name of God, I condemn you to hell.” or “These are bad and evil people, I hope that they will be punished with great suffering that they deserved.” Quite many minds/people would think and speak in such way ‘proudly’. No wonder, many of the saints and sages in the past renounced the world and retreated from the society/community to avoid wasting energy from dealing with such affairs.

Those who truly practice yoga, they withdraw the outgoing tendency of the mind, turning the mind inward to be ‘working’ diligently towards attaining/reaching that ‘pure consciousness of the selfless/mindless silent witness’, where they go beyond the egoistic urge/intention of interfering with/patrolling/judging/controlling/criticizing/disciplining/punishing anyone or anything.

If one is aware of this ‘self-righteous’ thinking and behavior existing in one’s mind, and is aware of oneself constantly feels dissatisfied, or frustrated, or disturbed, or angered, or offended by other people’s different thinking/belief/practice/behavior/way of life/actions and reactions that one’s mind dislikes and disagrees with, and couldn’t help oneself being over-powered by the ‘self-righteous’ urge or intention to be interfering with other people’s different thinking/belief/practice/behavior/way of life/actions and reactions, then either one can try to help oneself by developing will-power to free one’s mind from this self-righteous thinking and behavior, or one can try to seek ‘professional helps’ from the many ‘psychiatric professionals’, to have peace in oneself and stop generating ‘disharmony’ and ‘unrest’ into the surrounding environment, being free from restless impurities of dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, hatred, jealousy, possessiveness, authoritarianism, offensiveness, defensiveness, hurts, hostility, animosity, aggressiveness, violence, ill-will, ill-thinking, fear and worry. That itself is a great contribution towards peace in oneself and peace in the world.

Look after one’s mind before it’s too late where one might be completely losing the reasoning power that allow yoga practice to be taking place, even if one is interested in yoga, or strongly believe in ‘God’ or ‘Guru’. One might be doing some form of ‘yoga practice’ or ‘rituals’ regularly, but couldn’t help being busy looking at other people and shouting at other people, “You people should be like this and shouldn’t be like that,” expecting everyone and everything ‘to be the way that I think it should be’. That’s everyone’s freedom of thinking and behavior. It’s everyone’s freedom whether to look after one’s mind, or they prefer to be busy minding about other people’s minds, and losing the sanity of their own mind being lost in ignorance.

Be free.

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Go beyond worldly social thinking and beliefs

Most minds are not interested in the teaching of yoga about going beyond worldly social thinking and beliefs. For them, “Why do people want to do that? It’s strange and crazy for anyone to have such idea or practice.” and “Social relationships, activities, mingling and interactions are very good and positive for improving friendship, bonding, understanding and harmony among each other in the society.”

Just like many passionate minds would think and believe that “Being sociable is similar to friendliness and being non-sociable is similar to unfriendliness.”

In yoga, “Being sociable and non-sociable is irrelevant to friendliness and unfriendliness. One can be friendly and kind towards all without selfish intention or discrimination of likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements, good people and bad people, friends and not friends, while at the same time being non-sociable or disinterested towards social relationships, activities, mingling and interactions. On the other hand, being actively sociable doesn’t mean that the mind is being friendly and kind towards all without any selfish intention or discrimination of likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements, good people and bad people, or friends and not friends.”

In the path of yoga to eliminate ignorance, egoism, impurities and restlessness from the mind, one needs to learn how to go beyond all the worldly social thinking and beliefs by renouncing social relationships, activities, mingling and interactions, as all these social relationships and activities will only empower or feed the ignorance and egoism of attachment, identification, desires of craving and aversion, judgment, expectation, restlessness and impurities, unless the mind is already being free from ignorance and egoism, then one can mix freely into the society without being influenced by the society, without being disturbed by what is happening in the world, and without being entangled in the worldly ideas, thinking, beliefs, values, practices, relationships and activities.

It’s not that the social thinking and beliefs, relationships, activities, mingling and interactions are something ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’, but for the yoga enthusiasts who are sincerely seeking liberation from suffering, or more precisely, to be free from the cause of suffering – Ignorance, the minds need to go beyond all kinds of worldly ideas of social thinking, beliefs, values and practices by renouncing social relationships, activities, mingling and interactions, as all these social activities are feeding/empowering ignorance, egoism, passions and restlessness, which hinders the mind to see the truth of names and forms, to be free from ignorance and the product of ignorance – Suffering. If the mind is not free from ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering, the mind is not free, even after many years of practicing ‘yoga’ or teaching ‘yoga’ to others.

Some of the common social thinking and beliefs such as,

“Everyone needs to have family, relatives, friends and community, to enjoy life, to be happy and feel meaningful. It’s hard, pitiful, unfortunate, lonely, joyless and meaningless to be by oneself without family, relatives, friends and community.”
*In yoga, one is not determined by having or not having family, relatives, friends and community, to enjoy life, to be happy, or to feel meaningful, or not, in order to be free from ignorance and suffering, or not. The mind that is free from ignorance and egoism doesn’t need to enjoy life, or to be happy, or to feel meaningful. One is peaceful as one is, when the mind is free from ignorance and egoism and its by-products of boredom, loneliness, fear, clinging, expectation, dissatisfaction, disappointment, hurts, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, animosity, pride, hostility, painful sorrow, unhappiness, emptiness, incompleteness and meaninglessness.

“One needs to be ‘educated’ and ‘knowledgeable’ to be confident to achieve success in everything, to enjoy a higher quality good life with loving and supportive family and relationships, in order to achieve happiness and meaningfulness.”
*In yoga, being educated and knowledgeable doesn’t guarantee that the mind is free from ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness, disturbs and suffering. Wisdom of being free from ignorance, egoism, impurities and restlessness, is nothing to do with ‘worldly education’ and ‘worldly knowledge’. Wisdom, or knowing the truth of names and forms, allows the mind to have peace, being free from disturbs and suffering, regardless of whether the mind is ‘educated’ and ‘knowledgeable’, or not; whether life is good and comfortable, or not; whether there’s loving and supportive family and relationships, or not. The liberated mind doesn’t need to be confident to achieve success in everything to have a higher quality good life. Neither by having or not having a higher quality good life is related to having loving and supportive family and relationships, or not. Neither by having or not having loving and supportive family and relationships is related to the attainment of the sense of happiness and meaningfulness. Neither by attaining or not attaining the sense of happiness and meaningfulness is related to whether the mind is free from ignorance and egoism, or not. The mind that is free from ignorance and egoism, doesn’t need to attain the sense of happiness and meaningfulness. One is happy and peaceful as one is, being free from ignorance and egoism, being unconditioned and undetermined by the quality of names and forms.

“One needs to aspire and be inspired to be somebody endowed with certain qualities of names and forms that make oneself and others be proud of, to attain love, acceptance, respect, support and acknowledgement from oneself and others.”
*In yoga, the mind that is free from ignorance and egoism doesn’t need to aspire or be inspired to be ‘somebody’ that would make oneself and others be proud of. Neither does one need to attain love, acceptance, respect, support or acknowledgement from oneself or others.

“One needs to keep setting higher and higher expectation/goal towards oneself in order to keep pushing oneself beyond one’s limitation to achieve higher success and better result.”
*In yoga, the mind that is free from ignorance and egoism doesn’t need to have any expectation/goal towards oneself, anyone or anything, or to push oneself beyond the physical/mental limitation that is impermanent and selfless, but still perform countless actions of what is possible in the present that would benefit oneself and others, or to keep improving, intentionlessly, while allowing the fruit of the actions to be what it is.

“One should help others so that one will receive help from others in return.”
*In yoga, one helps others unconditionally regardless of whether others will be grateful and show appreciation, or will give help to oneself in return, or not.

“Be kind to others and others will be kind to you in return.”
*In yoga, one be kind to others unconditionally without selfish intention/expectation to be receiving kindness or friendship in return. Be kind to all without discrimination even when others are being unkind to oneself, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

“Everyone needs continuous/on going inspirations, positive encouragements, love, supports and acknowledgements from others to be doing something good for oneself and others, or to refrain from doing something bad to oneself and others.”
*In yoga, the selfless/egoless mind doesn’t need any (continuous/on going) inspirations, positive encouragements, love, supports and acknowledgements from anyone to be doing something good for oneself and others, or to refrain from doing something bad or hurtful to oneself or others. It’s the prideful egoistic impure idea of ‘I’ or the ego that needs continuous inspirations, positive encouragements, love, supports and acknowledgements from others to motivate oneself to be good and do good, or to refrain from be bad and do bad. If the egoistic minds don’t get such ‘motivations’, they are reluctant to be good and do good, or refrain from be bad and do bad. That’s not freedom at all.

“Everyone needs love and affection. Give love and affection to others, and others will have love to love themselves and love others. Giving love to others will make oneself feels good and meaningful.”
*In yoga, when the mind is free from ignorance and egoism, one doesn’t need to receive love and affection from anyone to feel loved, or to have love. Everyone just need to realize unconditional love in oneself, where there’s no lack of love/craving for love/aversion towards loveless and there’s no separateness of ‘I’ and ‘others’. There’s no ‘I’ am ‘giving love’ to ‘others’, or ‘others’ are ‘receiving love’ from ‘I’, but out of compassion, teach and allow everyone to be free from ignorance and egoism to realize unconditional love in oneself, where everyone doesn’t need to receive love from others to feel loved or to have love, and everyone doesn’t need to feel good and meaningful from the action of ‘giving’ and ‘loving’.

“Everything is possible. Nothing is impossible.”
*In yoga, everything is possible, including both possibility and impossibility. Possibility is possible. Impossibility is also possible. It’s okay sometimes things are not possible, such like one couldn’t stop the physical body from impermanent changes of aging, decaying and death/decompose, or one couldn’t undo the past, and whether it’s possibility or impossibility, all are impermanent.

Worldly minds, including many yoga enthusiasts, are functioning under the influence of the social thinking and beliefs perceiving everyone and everything as ‘good or bad’, ‘right or wrong’, ‘positive or negative’, ‘normality or abnormality’, ‘meaningfulness or meaninglessness’, ‘appropriateness or inappropriateness’, ‘friendliness or unfriendliness’ and ‘nice or not nice’.

“This is a good/bad person.”
“This is so positive/negative.”
“This is so meaningful/meaningless.”
“This is a friendly/unfriendly person.”
“This is a nice/not nice person.”
“Yoga teachers/practitioners need to ‘be positive’ and say only ‘positive words’ to influence/encourage others also to be positive.”
And so on.

In yoga or Buddhism, it’s not necessarily so. Upon knowing what is going on in the mind and seeing the truth of impermanence and selflessness in all the names and forms, naturally, one stops judging and labeling everyone and everything into ‘this’ and ‘that’, upon perceiving/experiencing all kind of different experiences, thinking, beliefs, actions, reactions and behaviors.

“You are being nice to me, but it doesn’t mean that ‘you are a nice person or your are not a not nice person’.”
“You might not behave in a good way, but it doesn’t mean that ‘you are a bad person or you are not a good person’.”
“You are feeling happy or unhappy in this moment, but it doesn’t mean that ‘you are a happy person or you are an unhappy person’.”
“Yoga teachers don’t need to ‘be positive’ or say only ‘positive words’, they just need to teach yoga as it is, and the teachings are neither positive nor negative, although many impure minds might not like or agree with the teachings, and perceiving and judging everything as ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ according to the worldly thinking and beliefs, while passionate minds might be disturbed by the teachings that they dislike and disagree with, that is not necessarily something that they think it should be.”

The minds that are free from ignorance and egoism are not ‘passionate’ or ‘interested’ towards the attainment and accumulation of worldly objects of names and forms, the cultivation and achievement of worldly passionate desires/ambitions and the engagement in all kinds of human social relationships, activities, interactions, excitement, enjoyment and entertainment because these minds are void of the by-products of ignorance and egoism, where the minds are free from the sense of low self-esteem, low confidence, negativeness, unhappiness and meaninglessness.

These selfless/egoless minds don’t need to develop or empower the sense of high self-esteem, self-worth, confidence, positiveness, happiness and meaningfulness through the attainment and accumulation of worldly objects of names and forms, or the cultivation and achievement of desires/ambitions, or the engagement in social relationships, activities, interactions, excitement, enjoyment and entertainment, in order to chase away the sense of low self-esteem, low self-worth, low confidence, negativeness, unhappiness and meaninglessness. It doesn’t mean that these minds don’t perform any actions to improve or be successful in whatever they venture, but all actions are free from attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation.

These quiet peaceful liberated minds might be perceived by the other majority of the society, including passionate sociable ‘yoga practitioners/teachers’ and health professionals as a form of ‘unhealthiness’, ‘selfishness’, ‘abnormality’, or even, ‘insanity’, as these minds don’t think and behave, act and react, and are not interested towards engaging in the worldly passionate sociable family/community way of life like all the other majority in the society. They are peaceful as they are, being free from ignorance, egoism, passions, discrimination, dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, hatred, jealousy, animosity, violence, fear, boredom, loneliness, longing, hurts, meaninglessness, incompleteness and restlessness, being immerse in silence, seclusion and solitude, allowing the world and everyone to be what they are, as they are, and all are impermanent and selfless, which the worldly passionate sociable minds perceive as a form of ‘unhealthiness’, ‘selfishness’, ‘abnormality’ and ‘insanity’.

It’s everyone’s freedom for how they perceive, think, feel, act and react, and what they want to do with their life, body and mind.

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.

Learn to be alone and independent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Retreat?

A retreat centre is a place for Sadhana, to retreat the mind from worldly habits of social interactions and activities to silent the restless mind. Live alone, sit alone, walk alone, eat alone, meditate alone. It’s not an open house for community social recreation activities making social connections hanging out together busy chatting and gossiping, plotting and planning to chase away boredom and loneliness and empowering worldly attachments and identifications. Even in everyday life, one observes silence as much as possible renouncing worldly social interactions and activities, immerse in solitude and seclusion to be determined to annihilate the modification of the mind. Very few people indeed have this understanding and determination.