Yoga practice and practice yoga?

What is yoga practice and practice yoga?

Yoga practice is a combination of different ‘mind cleansing’ tools and techniques to ‘clean up’/’purify’ the restless/impure egoistic mind to free the mind from ignorance and the by-products of ignorance. One who practices yoga is practically using those ‘mind cleansing’ tools and techniques to be engaging in a ‘mind cleaning up process’, constantly, inexhaustibly, determinedly and diligently, until the mind is free from ignorance, knowing the truth of impermanence and selflessness, knowing thyself.

Many yoga enthusiasts who identify themselves as ‘yoga practitioners’/’yoga teachers’ might have the ‘knowledge’ of the ‘yoga practice’ and might be doing some kind of ‘yoga practice’ or delivering the ‘knowledge’ of the ‘yoga practice’ to other people regularly, but not many are actually practicing yoga as it is (cleaning the mind efficiently, freeing the mind from restlessness, impurities, egoism, ignorance or suffering). There’s intense reluctance to let go worldly attachment/identification/thinking/belief/desire/relationship/objects/pleasurable enjoyments of the senses. There’s still attachment and clinging towards the world of qualities of names and forms with all kinds of ‘relationship’, ‘ties’ or ‘connection’, being determined very much by the presence and absence of certain qualities of names and forms, and the quality/condition of relationship/ties/connection to be confident/happy/meaningful, or not. There’s an identity/ego that longing to be empowered, acknowledged, understood, agreed with, empathized, pampered and loved. And there’s nothing wrong with it as that’s their freedom. But for those who truly want to practice and realize yoga, they will practice yoga as it is, to be determined to free the mind from ignorance, regardless of any amount of difficulties and obstacles.

Just like cleaning up a ‘rubbish dump’ that is full of rubbish. It’s not just about the cleaning process to clear away those existing rubbish, but more importantly, it’s about stop generating/bringing in more rubbish into that area as well.

The mind is sort of like a ‘rubbish dump’. The yoga practice is not just about ‘clearing away’ the existing ‘impurities’, ‘restlessness’, ‘egoism’, ‘ignorance’ or ‘suffering’ which is already a challenging task that requires great effort, discipline, initiative, patience, forbearance, perseverance and determination, but more importantly, it’s to stop generating/accumulating/empowering ‘impurities’, ‘restlessness’, ‘egoism’, ‘ignorance’ or ‘suffering’, to silent/annihilate the restless modification of the mind. And hence, the importance of the practice of silence and renunciation.

The difference between a ‘rubbish dump’ and the restless/impure egoistic mind is that the ‘rubbish dump’ can be cleaned up and maintained ‘rubbish free’ by many people working together, but, for ‘cleaning up’ the restless/impure egoistic mind, it can only be done alone by the mind itself, not even ‘God’, or ‘Guru’, or any amount of ‘good friends’ and ‘good teachers’ can help to ‘clean up’ this mind, to free this mind from ignorance and all kinds of suffering, as all the rubbish of ‘impurities’, ‘restlessness’, ‘egoism’, ‘ignorance’ or ‘suffering’ is ‘generated’/’accumulated/empowered’ from/by the mind itself, and no other can ‘take away’/’remove’/’eliminate’/’stop generating’/’stop accumulating’/’stop empowering’ those ‘rubbish’ except the mind itself.

Meanwhile, there are some benefits/side-effects/by-products of the yoga practice such as better physical health and fitness condition and the sense of well-being/confidence/goodness/meaningfulness/joyfulness/peacefulness that come along with the different yoga practice, but they are just like spraying a lot of air freshener and putting plenty of beautiful fragrant colourful flower petals that bring some freshness smell and appearance into the area of the ‘rubbish dump’, but it doesn’t really ‘clean up’ the ‘rubbish dump’.

Doing some form of ‘yoga practice’ regularly or teaching ‘yoga classes/courses’ to many other people for many years also doesn’t necessarily means that one is practicing yoga. Some even take the ‘image’ or ‘characteristic’ of certain ‘yogis’/’sadhus’ with a particular ‘yogi’/’sadhu’ appearance in particular position and gesture while enjoying the momentary ‘intoxication/hallucination/highness/calmness’ from taking certain drugs/substances or certain ‘yoga practitioners’/’yoga teachers’ enjoying intimate relationships with random people as what ‘yoga practice’ and ‘practice yoga’ is about.

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Non-duality in silence

‘Silence’ is a very common yet important word/teaching/practice/observation/realization in yoga and Buddhism.

In silence, there’s neither right nor wrong, neither good nor bad, neither positive nor negative, neither meaningfulness nor meaninglessness, neither enjoyment nor suffering, neither satisfaction nor dissatisfaction, neither attachment nor non-attachment, and so on. What and who is there to be arguing/complaining/moaning/mourning/unhappy/angry/disturbed/offended/hurt/belittled/disrespected/suffering/enjoying/craving/liberated in silence?

As long as the mind is still being conditioned by worldly egoistic thinking, ideas, beliefs, values and practice to act and react ceaselessly towards all the perceptions of names and forms (of agreeable/disagreeable, pleasant/unpleasant, desirable/undesirable experiences), and is functioning under the influence of ignorance and egoism, the mind couldn’t go beyond the mind perception of names and forms that generates the impression of duality, which doesn’t allow the mind to see the truth of things as it is.

And hence, the importance of renunciation from worldly affairs/family ties/relationships/connections/interactions/activities and observation of seclusion and solitude for a certain period of time when the mind is ready, to free the mind from being conditioned by worldly thinking, ideas, beliefs, values and practice unwittingly, where the understanding of the mind is being influenced by the subjective judgment towards everything based on a particular thinking and belief that conditioning how the mind analyzes, judges, feels, acts and reacts, where the mind is being ignorant towards the ignorance and egoism in the mind, even if the mind is being highly knowledgeable, super intelligent, talented and skillful in doing something or many things in the world, and having the good intention to be doing something good.

Being highly knowledgeable, super intelligent, talented and skillful, and having the good intention to be doing something good, also doesn’t guarantee that the mind is free from ignorance and egoism, and hence, unwittingly be disturbed or determined by the mind perception of names and forms through the senses of what the mind sees, hears, smells, tastes, senses/feels and thinks/understands, where the mind is unwittingly being over-powered by the passionate desires of craving and aversion towards the different qualities of names and forms that the mind likes and dislikes, agrees and disagrees with, wants and doesn’t want based on a particular thinking/belief/values/practice, that generates and determines the sense of satisfaction/dissatisfaction, happiness/unhappiness, goodness/badness, positiveness/negativeness, meaningfulness/meaninglessness, rightfulness/wrongfulness, completeness/incompleteness, accomplishment/non-accomplishment, appropriateness/inappropriateness, unloneliness/loneliness, worthiness/unworthiness, pleasurable enjoyment/painful suffering, and so on. The mind is not free.

It’s everyone’s freedom whether they think there’s a need to free the mind from ignorance and the by-products of ignorance, or not. The minds that are ignorant towards the ignorance in the mind, they don’t think there’s a need to be free from ignorance, and that’s their freedom of thinking and action. There’s nothing wrong if the mind perceives/experiences suffering but it doesn’t think there’s a need to be free from the cause of suffering. Some minds are aware of suffering and knowing its nature of impermanence, and be unattached towards the perception of suffering, or it hasn’t get tired of restlessness while enjoying momentary satisfaction derived from the gratification of its passionate desire of craving and aversion, or prefer to be getting momentary relief from suffering through taking drugs/substances and getting help/sympathy/love/support/attention from others, and it doesn’t think there’s a need to be free from suffering.

Only the dispassionate ones who are aware of ignorance and the by-products of ignorance, can understand the greatness of liberation from ignorance, the root cause of suffering/restlessness, and would have intense yearning for liberation and be determined to silent the restless modification of the mind to transcend the selfless existence and function of the restless egoistic impure modification of the mind derived from ignorance.

Unfortunately, majority of the society (including yoga enthusiasts and health professionals), where the minds are not free from ignorance and egoism, where the minds think, behave, analyze, judge, act, react and live life in a particular way according to what the worldly egoistic social/cultural/religious thinking/belief/values/practice categorized as ‘normal’, ‘right’, ‘good’, ‘healthy’ or ‘sane’, they would think/believe/categorize/condemn human beings who think/behave/act/react/life life differently from the ‘normal’ human beings, who don’t think, behave, act, react and live life like the majority of the society are ‘abnormal’, ‘wrong’, ‘bad’, ‘unhealthy’, ‘insane’ or ‘mentally ill’. There would be strong criticism or disagreement coming from the majority of the society of family/friends/relatives/community/health professionals towards the practice of silence as they can’t perceive/understand beyond what their minds know/believe and are being ignorant towards their minds are being conditioned by worldly egoistic thinking and belief to think, believe, act, react and behave in certain ways.

Only those who are determined to free the mind from ignorance and the by-products of ignorance where the mind is functioning under the influence of worldly egoistic thinking/belief/values/practice/action/reaction to think, act, react, behave and live life in a particular way that the worldly minded egoistic society think and believe as something normal/right/good/healthy/sane for all human beings, can renounce the world effortlessly regardless of any amount of difficulties and obstacles. In the past, Siddhartha Gautama Buddha and many other saints and sages ‘had to’ renounce/retreat from the society to be in seclusion and solitude for many years, to be able to ‘conquer’ the restless modifications of the mind and successfully attained Silence or liberation, not to say in this era.

A better meaningful way of life?

For many people, spending most of the time being with other people (family, friends, community and other communities), focusing on bonding, socializing, interacting, connecting, sharing, knowing, eating, drinking, talking, listening, looking, laughing, playing, empowering, encouraging, aspiring, inspiring, remembering, projecting, anticipating, expecting, creating, planning, plotting, suggesting, contributing, commenting, complimenting, criticizing, gossiping, complaining, entertaining, enjoying, doing social/community activities together, upgrading their quality of life/standard of living, fulfilling passionate desires and achieving personal worldly ambitions and spiritual or religious goals, getting involve with achieving a world that complies to a particular vision, to attain the sense of in control, satisfaction, goodness and meaningfulness, is living life. For them, “This is a better meaningful way of life.”

For some people, being by oneself most of the time, as much as possible, focusing on one’s action, practice, duty and responsibility, talk less or talk nothing, without commenting on worldly affairs, or gossiping about other people’s affairs, or criticizing/interfering with other people’s different ways of life, thinking, belief, action and reaction, minding one’s life and one’s mind, being at peace unconditionally, respecting everyone being what they are, as they are, neither admiring/praising certain qualities that appear to be superior than others nor condemning/criticizing certain qualities that appear to be inferior than others, and stop contributing impurities, unhappiness, unrest, anger, hatred, jealousy, dissatisfaction, disappointment, grudges, conflicts, discrimination, violence, disharmony and disturbance into the surrounding environment or the world, is living life. As for them, having peace in one’s mind free from desire/hostility/animosity/fear/intimidation/offensiveness/defensiveness is the highest form of contribution to the society or the world peace. It’s nothing to do with “This is a better meaningful way of life.” or “Other ways of life is less good and meaningless.”

There’s nothing selfish about that at all, though for many people, the part of ‘not mingling/mixing with the society without getting involve in any form of social activities’ might appear to be ‘selfish’ or ‘rude’ or ‘unhealthy’ or ‘non-progressive’ for those who believe in a better world is about ‘all human beings should be getting involve with the social activities’, ‘community contribution’ and ‘worldly activism’, where they need as many other people as possible to get involve in their social activities to be supporting, cooperating or working with them to create a ‘better’ world that they think how it should be.

Whether wittingly or unwittingly, there will be some people would want to interfere with others who are different from them, whom they dislike and disagree with, and they would try to influence/control/covert/discipline/condemn/punish other people who don’t support or follow their vision for creating a world that they desire, that complies to their liking, values, vision, thinking and belief.

Yoga and meditation practitioners is about having unconditional peace in oneself as contributing peace into the world by focusing on looking after, purifying and quieting one’s mind, and it’s never about trying to influence/control/convert/discipline/condemn/punish others to also be like oneself to make a ‘better’ world that complies to one’s liking, values, vision, thinking or belief, especially those who have realized Impermanence and Selflessness.

The world doesn’t belong to anyone. Many people would think and believe that the world belongs to everyone, and hence, it’s everyone’s duty and responsibility to ‘cooperate together’ to make the world ‘a better place’, but how true is that? The standard and meaning of ‘a better place’ is according to whom and what? Different people desire a world with their own particular way of life according to their own liking, values, vision, thinking and belief. If everyone insist on making the world to be the way that they desire, that they think how it should be, what will happen in the world? People are getting frustrated and fighting against one another, to over-powered one another, in order to create a world that they desire. Even so, it’s everyone’s freedom for their thinking, belief, desire, action and the consequences of their action.

Swami Sivananda taught, “Even if all the leaders are taken out of the world now, the world will run on smoothly, probably more smoothly. Even if all the people retire into the forest, the world will go on.”

The world is so quiet and peaceful when everyone have gone to sleep and there’s nobody performing any actions in the world with the great aspiration to make the world to be in any particular way that different people desire and think how it should be.

In yoga, it’s not about the sense of duty and responsibility towards the world, but out of compassion, love the world as it is, not necessarily the way that ‘I’ desire it to be. One doesn’t claim possession/ownership towards the world being ambitious to make the world to be the way that ‘I’ desire it to be and the way that ‘I’ think how it should be. One just do one’s best to look after one’s mind, to stop contributing impurities and unrest into the world, and respecting the law of nature – Impermanence and Selflessness.

Be free.

Selflessness?

Just like ‘Self-inquiry’ and ‘Impermanence’, ‘Selflessness’ is one of the common words we come across in the teachings of yoga and Buddhism.

The ‘I’, where there’s a continuous stream of thinking/thought in the mind acknowledges as ‘I’ am an individual being with a physical body and thinking mind experiencing life, doesn’t exist. Out of ignorance, there arise the idea of ‘I’ exist as part of the modification of the mind acknowledging as an individual being, attaching onto/possessing such and such qualities of names and forms to be identified/recognized as this is what/who ‘I’ am, claiming ownership towards the physical body and the thinking mind (this is my body and my mind) and all kinds of connection with everyone and everything that the mind comes in contact with (my family and my belongings and etc), and at the same time also identifying with the physical body and the thinking mind as ‘I’ (This physical body and this thinking mind is ‘I’).

‘Selflessness’ is not something to be attained by accumulating certain amount of ‘merits and virtues’ or ‘good karma’ after performing many ‘good/righteous actions’ or ‘karma yoga/selfless service’, but it’s the ‘realization’ upon the mind seeing the truth of what is this ‘I’ where there’s a thinking in the mind thinks and believes as ‘I’. As long as there’s an idea, acknowledgement and identification of “I am a selfless being performing good actions or karma yoga/selfless service” the mind is still functioning under the influence of egoism.

The mind needs to be free from egoism, impurities and restlessness to realize ‘Selflessness’, where there’s no ‘I’ existing to enjoy or suffer, to be born or die, to know or don’t know, to desire or don’t desire, to be the performer of action and the receiver/enjoyer of the fruit of action, to be ignorant or be free from ignorance. It’s just the modification of the thinking mind perceiving all the names and forms through the senses via the sense organs of the physical body. It’s just the mind functioning and perceives, sees, hears, smells, tastes, feels, senses and thinks. There’s no ‘I’ existing to claim possession/ownership/control of the selfless modification of the mind or the ceaseless impermanent changes of the modification of the mind perceiving all the names and forms that are also impermanent and selfless. It’s coming from the mind being aware of the modification of the mind, while purifying and quieting itself to be free from restlessness, impurities and egoism, to be free from ignorance. It’s not something else ‘separated’ from the mind called ‘I’ being there to be aware of ‘my mind’ or to purify and quiet ‘my mind’, to free ‘my mind’ from restlessness, impurities, egoism and ignorance.

“I am not the mind. The mind is not ‘I’.” is not about ‘I’ am an existing being/soul separated/distinct from the mind. The mind is just being what it is, functioning as it is selflessly, where there’s no ‘I’ in the function of the mind which is supported/influenced by energy to be existing and functioning. Just like there’s no ‘I’ in all the cells/bones/muscles/organs/systems that forming the entire structure of the physical body which depend on nature to provide support that allows the physical body to be existing and functioning. The body and mind constantly functioning or performing actions selflessly, and there are also the consequences of actions following the actions (cause and effect). But, somehow, out of ignorance, there’s an idea of ‘I’ existing in the form of thinking claiming a personal identity and possession/ownership towards this and that, to desire and don’t desire, to agree and disagree, to enjoy or suffer, to aspire and expect, and so on. There’s an idea/identification of “I am the performer of my actions and I am the enjoyer of the fruit of my actions.”

It’s difficult/challenging for the egoistic mind that attached strongly onto a worldly self-identity attaching onto certain qualities of names and forms as this is ‘I’ or what ‘I’ am, to realize ‘Selflessness’. The egoistic mind that ‘possesses’ a self-identity thinks and believes that ‘I’ exist as an individual being experiencing life, this is ‘I’, this is my life, my body, my mind, my thinking, my belief, my feelings, my emotion, my idea, my creativity, my energy, my health, my fitness, my strength, my flexibility, my ability, my disability, my achievement, my failure, my look, my talent, my knowledge, my education, my house, my belonging, my pet, my family, my friends, my relationship, my duty, my responsibility, my rights, my aspiration, my inspiration, my sacrifice, my happiness, my suffering, my vision, my desire, my actions, my fruit of actions, my religion, my ‘God’, my world, my country, and so on. Not only there’s a personal identity, but there’s also a group identity, such like our family, our life, our thinking, our belief, our culture, our religion, our ‘God’, our action, our fruit of action, our achievement, our failure, our world, our country, our vision, and so on.

“I eat, I drink, I play, I work, I rest, I aspire, I inspire, I think, I believe, I feel, I express, I laugh, I cry, I learn, I share, I give and receive, I love and beloved, I perceive, I experience, I act, I react, I achieve, I live, I die. I am existing. How can it be possible that ‘I’ don’t exist?” It’s unthinkable for the egoistic mind about ‘Selflessness’ – ‘Egolessness’ – ‘I-lessness’.

That’s why it’s very essential for the mind to let go the attachment and identification towards any qualities of names and forms, especially the worldly conditioned egoistic way of thinking and belief in the mind that influence how the mind analyzes, judges, feels and reacts towards all and everything, as well as letting go attachment and identification towards the physical appearance/condition/ability/disability/achievement/non-achievement before the mind can reflect upon the truth of ‘Selflessness’.

Once the mind is free from the attachment and identification towards the impermanent and selfless qualities of names and forms as ‘I’, including the function of the physical body and the thinking faculty, naturally the mind will realize the truth of ‘itself’ or ‘the modification of the mind’, that there’s no ‘I’, knowing thyself. There’s neither “I know” nor “I realize” nor “I am free from ignorance” nor “I am free.”

As long as the mind is still mingling among the worldly passionate egoistic minds, that keep empowering/feeding the idea of ‘I’ and ‘the world of egoism of all kinds of attachment and identification’, it’s very difficult and almost impossible for the mind to be free from ignorance and egoism. And hence, the important practice of renunciation, seclusion, solitude and silence.

According to the teachings of Swami Sivananda, the mind just needs to spend at least five to six years in seclusion and silence being away/cutting off from the worldly affairs/activities/society/family/friends/relatives/connections/interactions that feeds/empowers egoism/restlessness/impurities/ignorance, the mind will realize the truth of ‘the mind perception of a worldly life existence of impermanent and selfless names and forms’. Although it doesn’t guarantee that everyone who try to practice silence in seclusion and solitude for a prolonged period of time will be free from ignorance and attain self-realization, as the mind might still be influenced by gross and subtle egoistic worldly/spiritual attachment hindering the mind from seeing itself/knowing thyself. And not many people are suitable for such practice, as most passionate minds would ‘go crazy’ after being in seclusion and solitude for some time. Worldly passionate minds can’t live or be without seeing/touching/communicating/interacting with other beings for even a short period of time, not to say for a prolonged period of time. That’s why it requires certain degrees of dispassion and right discrimination for someone to practice silence in seclusion and solitude, to allow the mind to realize ‘Selflessness’/’Oneness’/’Non-separateness’/’Namelessness’/’Formlessness’, where ‘suffering’ and ‘the end of suffering’ doesn’t exist.

Many people might understood ‘Selflessness’ as ‘an existing name and form such as a being/soul/mind that is free from selfishness, who is unselfish’, such as “I am a selfless/unselfish being/soul/mind”, or “I am performing selfless action to benefit other beings and other beings will be benefited from my selfless actions.”

If it’s selfless, then what/who is that ‘I’ being there acknowledging and identifying as “I am selfless/unselfish”? It’s just impermanent selfless function of the body and mind generating actions and the consequences of actions ceaselessly until the annihilation of the modification of the mind takes place, there’s no ‘I’ being there to be acknowledging/identifying as “I am selfless/unselfish.” or “I am good/bad.” And hence, silent the mind, or as Swami Sivananda taught, “Kill the mind.”

Selflessness is nothing to do with unselfishness. Regardless of living beings or non-living objects, all are impermanent and selfless or I-less, where there’s no ‘I’ within all the impermanent changes. There’s no ‘I’ existing to be identified as ‘I am selfless’, ‘I am a selfless being’, ‘I am unselfish’, ‘I am performing selfless service and other beings are benefited from my selfless service’, ‘I am kind and compassionate’, ‘I aspire to inspire others to be selfless, kind and compassionate’, and so on. There’s no “I want to be selfless.” or “I am becoming selfless.”

‘Selflessness’ is the realization of there’s no self or ‘I’, it’s not about training the mind to become ‘selfless’ or ‘unselfish’. None/nothing can train to become ‘selfless’, as there is no self or ‘I’ from the beginning. Everyone and everything is just selfless as it is. It’s due to ignorance, there is the idea of ‘I’ arise in the thinking mind materializing itself via egoism influencing the thinking pattern of the mind, where the idea of ‘I’ feeds on attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, to desire and don’t desire, to aspire and expect, to enjoy and suffer, to love and be loved, to be continuing ‘existing’ in the form of thinking possessing a worldly self-identity with certain qualities of names and forms.

The idea of ‘I’ can be annihilated by eliminating egoism from the mind. As the ‘I’ appears to be ‘real and existing’ is nothing but the thinking pattern of the mind functioning under the influence of egoism, and upon annihilation of egoism or the veil of ignorance, the idea of ‘I’ will vanish naturally.

Upon the realization of impermanence and selflessness, naturally the mind also realizes ‘timelessness’. Time doesn’t exist, it’s just ‘what the mind perceives’, and ‘both the mind (the perceiver) and what the mind perceives (the perceived)’ constantly changing, and the ceaseless impermanent changes as well as due to the function of memory, there’s remembrance towards the impermanent changes generate the false impression of ‘time’ or ‘I’. The mind is going through countless births and deaths of ceaseless thoughts arising and passing away generating the different states of the mind. The body is going through countless births and deaths along with all the impermanent changes that are happening in the physical body generating the different condition/appearance of the body. The mind and the body is never remain the same mind or the same body even for a moment until the body and the thinking faculty ceased functioning and existing.

There’s no “I am performing yoga practice. I am a yoga practitioner. I will be receiving the benefits of the yoga practice. I am free or not free from ignorance.” It’s just the mind performing the practice, and whether the mind will be free from ignorance, or not.

Be free.

Approaching a teacher asking to be accepted as student of yoga

Traditionally, when someone is interested in finding a teacher to learn, study and practice yoga and meditation under the guidance of this person (the teacher), one needs to approach the teacher humbly asking to be accepted as a student of yoga under this teacher, serving the teacher without asking/expecting “What am I getting from learning yoga under you?” or “What can you (the teacher) give me in return for offering fees/donations to you to be learning and practicing yoga from you and serving you?”

The teacher will then observe and test this person to see whether this person is fit to be a student of yoga. Once the person is accepted to be a student of yoga, this person will live closely to the teacher for many years, where in the first few years are merely doing some random ‘work/service’ in daily life, such like housekeeping/cooking/gardening/cleaning/washing serving the teacher (very important/efficient initial purification to eliminate worldly habits of egoism and impurities) before being initiated into the practice. There’s high degree of segregation/non-physical contact among the teacher and the student. It’s not like nowadays, most people are looking forward to be touching and hugging as the way to show friendliness, love and care.

The teacher doesn’t advertise/boast about “I am a certified/qualified/experienced/internationally recognized/affiliated yoga teacher” and “What kind of benefits/certification/qualification/result/achievement you will get if you attend my classes/courses learning yoga from me.” but instead, “It’s a hard-work. There will be lots of unpleasantness/pain and hardships/obstacles that you need to deal with by yourself. You have to walk the path alone by yourself. You need to be determined, persevered and vigilant to discipline your own mind until you attain self-realization.” And the students of yoga will be determined to finish their learning under the teacher no matter how much difficulties and obstacles arise during the physical/mental/emotional purification process, while developing discipline and independence in their own practice, as one day, they will have to leave the teacher, or the teacher will leave.

It’s not about to be ‘qualified’ as ‘yoga teachers/masters’, be ‘affiliated’ with ‘yoga alliance’ to be ‘conducting yoga classes’ to teach ‘yoga classes’ or ‘conducting yoga courses’ to be ‘training yoga teachers to teach yoga or conduct yoga classes/yoga courses to other people’. As a ‘yogi’ who knows yoga doesn’t need to be ‘trained’ to be ‘qualified’ to be ‘certified yoga teacher’ and ‘affiliated with’ such and such ‘yoga organization/alliance’ to be ‘recognized/authorized’ to teach yoga to anyone. It’s neither about ‘correct/proper physical alignments’, ‘teaching techniques’, ‘effects/benefits of the yoga practice’, ‘healing’, ‘connecting’, ‘sharing’, ‘hugging’ and ‘touching’.

Nowadays, this tradition is no longer be seen/practiced/appreciated. One of the reason would be the existence of ‘sincere teacher of yoga’ and ‘sincere student of yoga’ is very rare now.

In this modern commercialized world of ‘higher education and higher quality of life with worldly social values and practice’, the ‘yoga teachers’ have to ‘advertise’ or ‘boast’ about their ‘certification/qualification/recognition/affiliation/experiences/achievements’ and ‘to be presenting’ something ‘unique, enjoyable, innovative and attractive’ to attract people to be interested to come to attend the ‘yoga classes’ or ‘yoga courses’ conducted by them, while gratifying the people’s desire of craving and aversion, by giving them what they want/like and don’t give them what they don’t want/like, to make them feel treasured, appreciated, valued, pampered, satisfied and empowered. Both the teacher and the students also want to develop and maintain an inter-dependent ‘connection/relationship’ where the students ceaselessly need to receive attention, love, care, support, acknowledgement, advice or feedback from the teacher, while the teacher wants to ‘be close’ to the students, ‘be there’ for the students, ‘be connecting’ with the students, or ‘be loved/needed/glorified/supported/respected’ by the students.

Because most egoistic impure minds are being conditioned deeply by the worldly thinking behavior pattern, almost all of the ‘yoga enthusiasts’ or the ‘prospect/potential students/clients’ of the ‘yoga school/yoga studio/yoga centre’ will have some kind of ‘request’ or ‘expectation’ towards the ‘yoga school’, ‘yoga studio’, ‘yoga center’, ‘yoga classes’, ‘yoga courses’ or ‘yoga teachers’ to meet up their ‘requests’ and ‘expectation’ in terms of the ‘quality’ of the ‘professional profile/image’, ‘qualification’, ‘certification’, ‘recognition’, ‘affiliation’, ‘organization’, ‘experience’, ‘achievement’, or ‘result orientation’, and above all, “How much and what do I get from paying this amount of ‘fees’/’donation’ to the ‘yoga school’/’yoga studio’/’yoga centre’/’yoga teacher’ for attending the ‘yoga classes’/’yoga courses’.”

Many of the untrained worldly egoistic impure minds will have doubt/insecurity towards their own ‘determination’ being determined by whether they will like/enjoy ‘the teacher’s over-all presentation/image/charm/professionalism/credibility/teaching style’ or ‘the classes’ or ‘the practice’, or not, where they are unsure/unwilling to pay fees in advance which might be ‘non-refundable’ if they want to ‘give up’ when they experience discomfort or difficulty, or when they ‘don’t like/enjoy’ the ‘teacher/classes/practice’, while the truth of the purification process deriving from performing ‘serious/intense/persevered yoga and meditation practice to eliminate ignorance/egoism/impurities/restlessness’ is inevitably ‘unpleasant’ and ‘painful’ physically/mentally/emotionally for all egoistic impure minds. Even before the students come to the ‘yoga school/yoga studio/yoga centre’ to begin learning and practicing yoga under the teacher, the test/obstacle derived from the purification process already started. All kinds of obstacles manifest in the form of physical/mental/emotional discomfort and doubt.

Unfortunately, there are quite many stories of ‘impure yoga teachers’ existing in the world ‘taking advantage’ of the attention/love seeking ‘yoga students’, where people looking forward to be ‘touched’, creating many forms of ‘corruption’, and then there are ‘impure yoga students’ who didn’t get what they like and want from the teachers and they criticized and bitched about the teachers with the intention to hurt/damage the teacher’s reputation, that makes it even harder and more challenging for ‘yoga enthusiasts’ to ‘surrender’ all doubts/insecurity, to be opened to approach a teacher to ask to be accepted as ‘student of yoga’ and to ‘serve’ the teacher without attachment, identification and expectation, to be effectively purifying and eliminating egoism and impurities, to free the mind from restlessness and the veil of ignorance.

There’s neither right nor wrong, neither good nor bad. It’s just how things are in this world.

Anyway, ‘sincere teachers of yoga’ and ‘sincere students of yoga’ will meet each other in due time and due cause. There’s no ‘attachment’, ‘identification’ or ‘expectation’ towards each other. The students/practitioners ‘serve’ the teacher humbly for years, surrendering the ego and worldly passionate desire/ambition/thinking/belief/social behavior pattern, and developing self-discipline. After learning/receiving the teachings from the teachers, the students retreat into seclusion and solitude, working diligently and independently towards purifying and silencing the modification of the mind, to perform self-inquiry upon the truth of everything, to attain self-realization and total annihilation of the mind or the mind perception of an impermanent and selfless worldly life existence of countless ‘births’ and ‘deaths’ of names and forms (thoughts/feelings/emotions/relationships) arising and passing away, of ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering.

“You are left alone now.” – Swami Sivananda

The important teachings/practice of yoga

These are the important teachings/practice of yoga to subjugate the modifications of the mind, to remove the veil of ignorance, to eliminate the idea of ‘worldly existence’, to annihilate the ego/the idea of ‘I’, to transcend quality of names and forms/duality/time, space and causation/cause and effect, but yet, these teachings/practice are also being disliked/disagreed/criticized/ignored/denied/abandoned/least practiced by many of the yoga enthusiasts/practitioners/teachers.

There’s nothing wrong with many people who ‘do yoga’ on regular basis just want to attain some physical and mental benefits from performing the yoga practice and engaging in some yoga community activities to feel good, healthy and meaningful. Only those who have firmed determination or intense yearning for liberation can understand and treasure the importance of these teachings/practice.

For the minds that are deep rooted in worldly ideas, all these teachings/practice are being seen as ‘abnormality’, ‘selfishness’, ‘craziness’, ‘wrongfulness’, ‘negativeness’, ‘inappropriateness’, ‘unhealthy’, ‘regression’, ‘inhumane’, and etc. But in fact, all these teachings/practice practically and effectively lead to compassion/peace.

Silencing the modifications of the mind annihilating ignorance and egoism is the great compassion of embracing and upholding peace and harmony in the world.

If one single person in the world attained ‘silence/annihilation of the mind’ or ‘liberation from ignorance and egoism’, there’s less a person in the world generates ‘impure intention’, ‘egoistic desire/ambition’, ‘ill-feeling’, ‘disappointment’, ‘hurts’, ‘anger’, ‘hatred’, ‘fear’, ‘ill-thinking’, ‘ill-will’, ‘discrimination’, ‘prejudice’, ‘corruption’, ‘unrest’, ‘violence’, ‘disturbance’, ‘negativity’, ‘disharmony’, ‘tension’, ‘unhappiness’, ‘meaninglessness’, ‘destructive behavior’, ‘ignorant actions and reactions’, and so on, into the world.

It’s the most practical effective way to contribute peace and harmony into the world.

People might think and believe that they are kind and compassionate beings who embrace and uphold ‘peace and harmony in the world’, while aspiring or trying to create/empower/influence a society/community that behave in certain ways that they think and believe is ‘good’, ‘right’, ‘positive’ and ‘appropriate’, but unwittingly, everyone keeps contributing ‘unrest’ into the world out of the name of ’embracing and upholding peace and harmony in the world’, by fighting against those whom they think are destroying or obstructing ‘peace and harmony in the world’.

Most people want ‘peace and harmony’ that comply to some requirements and conditions, influenced by their own particular personal/social/cultural/religious/spiritual/philosophical/political way of thinking/belief/values/vision/practice/living, that unwittingly contributing to all kinds of discrimination and wars.

For those who truly wish for ‘peace and harmony in the world’ as it is, they can inquire and implement these teachings/practice of yoga –

Dispassion/indifference/dissociate/disinterest

Renunciation towards worldly attachments/identifications/affairs/ideas/objects/thinking/belief/values/practice/habits/relationships/connections/associations/mingling/interactions/activities/actions and the fruit of actions

Abandoning/renouncing worldly enjoyments of the senses/stimulation of the mind/longing/ambitions/fame/status/authority/pride/supremacy/glory

Desirelessness

Aloneness

Solitude

Seclusion

Silence

Transcending duality of good and bad, right and wrong, positive and negative, meaninglessness and meaningfulness, praise and condemn, gain and loss, heat and cold, pleasantness and unpleasantness, happiness and unhappiness, likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements, appropriateness and inappropriateness

Uninfluenced by the past desirable/undesirable experiences and the future imagination/anticipation/speculation/projection

Allowing all and everyone to be what they are, free from expectation/interference/control towards all human beings that ‘all human beings should and shouldn’t think/believe/feel/behave/act and react in certain ways’

Respecting the law of nature/impermanence

Inquire the truth of ‘selflessness’

Annihilation of the modification of the mind/the existence of ‘I’

“Passionately loving the world and claiming ownership/responsibility/authority towards the condition of the world by expecting/desiring/aspiring the world to be in certain ways that the minds think and believe how it should be, and being disturbed, frustrated, offended and hurt by the condition of the world that is not the way that the mind would like it to be, doesn’t help the world to have peace.

Letting go of passionate love towards the world, without claiming ownership/responsibility/authority to expect/desire/aspire the condition of the world to be in certain ways that the minds think and believe how it should be, without being disturbed, frustrated, offended or hurt by the condition of the world that is not the way that the mind would like it to be, and have peace in oneself, is the selfless compassion that will help the world to have peace.”

By performing all kinds of ‘yoga practice’ regularly for many years, but without implementing all these teachings/practice, the mind will still be disturbed, frustrated, offended and hurt by something that the mind doesn’t like, doesn’t want and doesn’t agree with. There’s no peace in this mind.

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their life and what they want/don’t want to think and believe. People don’t have to implement these teachings/practice of yoga, if they don’t like or don’t agree with these teachings/practice of yoga.

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.

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.