Before, during and after the yoga class

Attending yoga classes is what most people do when they think they want to learn and practice yoga.

Naturally, many people would also make use of the opportunity of joining yoga classes to be interacting or socializing with other people, to be making friendships or mixing into a ‘yoga community’, especially before and after the yoga class. People like to talk or have a conversation with other people getting to know each other, before and after the yoga class, and sometimes even during the yoga class, due to the restless outgoing passionate mind. Though there’s nothing wrong with that, just that it’s not what yoga practice is about.

Many people attend yoga classes are mainly for doing some yoga exercises to attain the goal of fitness training. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that, just that it’s not what yoga practice is about.

Silencing the mind or transcending the mind perception of worldly life existence of impermanent names and forms (which is the annihilation of the thinking mind under the influence of ignorance, egoism and impurities) is the main objective of performing all kinds of yoga practice, whether people like or agree with it, or not.

Getting to know about this mind or what is going on in this mind is the practice.

Restraining the outgoing mind to turn the mind inward for self-introspection is the practice.

Quieting the restless busy mind is the practice.

Withdraw the senses from the objects of the senses is the practice.

Reducing and restricting mind activities and imprints (inputs and outputs) is the practice.

Reducing and restricting social interactions, conversations and activities is the practice.

Purifying the mind to free the mind from impurities is the practice.

Eliminating egoism of attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation is the practice.

Letting go worldly ideas, objects, thinking, belief and behavior is the practice.

Being dispassionate and disinterest towards worldly affairs, objects, ideas, activities, social interactions and relationships is the practice.

Going beyond the mind perception of names and forms of a worldly life existence that is impermanent and selfless (there’s no ‘I’ existing to be in control of all the impermanent changes) is the practice.

Transcending the idea of ‘I’ and all kinds of fear and worry that exist due to the idea of ‘I’ is the practice.

Contemplating upon what is real and unreal is the practice – All kinds of impermanent names and forms in this worldly life existence perceived under the function of the mind is unreal. When the mind is absence there’s no world. The nameless, formless, attributeless, changeless, beginningless, endless, birthless, deathless Brahman is real.

Before and during the yoga class, there might be some doubts in the minds of the yoga students, there might be some questions that they would like to ask the yoga teachers to get some answers to clear their doubts if possible.

During the yoga class, under the guidance of the teacher, everyone should be focusing on their own practice, being aware of and unattached towards the mind activities and reactions while performing the yoga practice according to the present condition of the body and the state of the mind, working diligently to quieting the restless outgoing passionate doubtful mind.

After the yoga class (Yoga practice that is about silencing the mind, freeing the mind from restlessness due to egoistic attachment, identification, craving, aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation), the minds that truly immersed into the practice will be in a momentary state of quietness, calmness and question-less, due to the effect of the practice of quieting the mind. They’ll find that there are no more questions in the mind (the mind is silent), and if there is still doubt existing in the mind (the mind is moving), they understood that the answers to all their questions must be coming from their own direct experience and self-realization, it’s not coming from asking other people (the teachers) to get some answers, as it won’t clear their doubts, because they will never know whether the answers coming from other people (the teachers) are true, or not.

Those who know this, will continue to evolve and transcend the egoistic impure thinking mind, regardless any amount of difficulties and obstacles that might arise during the practice, without the supervision or guidance of any external teachers (in human form), without judgment or expectation, leading the mind towards silence of the mind – pure consciousness.

Those who don’t know this, will be doing some forms of yoga exercises under the instructions of some other people (the teachers) regularly, but their minds might still be conditioned by worldly egoistic thinking, belief and behavior, being busy with the worldly affairs, objects, ideas, activities, social interactions and relationships, finding attention, love, support, acknowledgment, companionship, satisfaction, fulfillment and meaningfulness in this mind perception of a worldly life existence, while regularly attending the yoga classes, meeting up and mingling with other yoga enthusiasts/community, talking about the past, the present and the future, likes and dislikes, agreements and disagreements, intentions and expectations, aspirations and inspirations, inspiring and motivating each other, and planning outing, gathering and doing some social activities together. And that’s their freedom.

Be free.

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How to renounce worldly life?

It depends on what does ‘worldly life’ means to different people. Different people give different meanings towards life existence and have different ways of life. If a particular ‘worldly life’ having a particular meaning with a particular way of life under the influence of a particular thinking and belief and values would lead the mind away from peace and harmony, or would lead the mind towards restlessness and unnecessary affliction, then one can take consideration to renounce the existing way of life under the influence of a particular thinking and belief and practice or behavior, to adopt a different way of life or changing the habitual mind behavior pattern, that would lead the mind towards unconditional peace and harmony, and have less or absence of restlessness and unnecessary affliction.

For some, one’s way of life is fine but there are too many unnecessary disturbance or distraction or difficulties that are energy, time and space consuming coming from the surrounding environment of people, activities and happenings, that generate great obstacle on the path of purifying and quieting the restless mind, then one can also take consideration of stepping back from coming in contact with all these worldly affairs and objects of names and forms, to allow the mind has the energy, time and space to focus on the practice.

Renouncing worldly life doesn’t mean that one is living outside the worldly minded society, to be alone in the wild. As even being alone in the wild, living in a simple and basic condition, it doesn’t guarantee that the mind will be or is peaceful, or be free from disturbance, restlessness and suffering due to ignorance, egoism and impurities.

It doesn’t mean that one needs to be in a space or place that is free from ‘worldly’ or ‘non-spiritual’ people and lives among a ‘non-worldly’ but ‘spiritual’ community, to be engaging in ‘non-worldly’ but ‘spiritual’ activities, like monks and nuns.

It also doesn’t mean that one abandons one’s worldly duties and responsibilities, not working to make a living to support one’s life and those under one’s care, but to live on the charity of others. Unless one’s worldly duties and responsibilities have come to an end, such as being free from looking after old parents or young children.

It’s about living in the world among the society as we are, no matter where and how we are and how is the environment, performing all our duties and responsibilities towards oneself and others under one’s care out of compassion, making an honest living that supports oneself and those under one’s care, but without attachment or identification towards any worldly social and cultural thinking and belief and practice or behavior, being free from egoism of passionate clinging onto worldly objects of names and forms, personal and community attachment and identification, desires of craving and aversion, judgment and expectation that based on particular worldly thinking, belief and values, while minimizing, reducing and restricting worldly social networking, interactions and activities and the accumulation of social connections and relationships, observing maximum seclusion and solitude while living and moving in the society among the worldly minded, without being affected or disturbed or determined by all the pleasant and unpleasant events or happenings in the world, without being affected or influenced by the worldly social and cultural thinking and belief and practice or behavior.

It’s renouncing or abandoning egoism and impurities.

It’s renouncing the passionate desires of craving and aversion, the attachment and identification with worldly social and cultural thinking, belief, values and habitual behavior pattern of judgment and expectation based on those thinking, belief and values. At the same time, respecting others to be what they are, to have their own different thinking, belief and values, and to behave, act and react as they are.

It’s going beyond all the impermanent qualities of names and forms of good and bad, right and wrong, positive and negative, pleasure and displeasure, pleasantness and unpleasantness, gain and loss, success and failure, praise and condemn, superiority and inferiority, achievement and non-achievement, auspiciousness and inauspiciousness, meaningfulness and meaninglessness, and so on.

It’s non-attachment and non-identification towards all actions and the fruit of actions. Performing all actions, duties and responsibilities out of wisdom and compassion, and allowing the fruit of actions to be what it is, being undetermined or uninfluenced by the actions and the fruit of actions.

If one can only find peace outside the worldly minded society, void of duties and responsibilities, being isolated from the worldly minded society that is functioning under ignorance, egoism and impurities, but then, while being in the world, living or moving among the worldly minded society and perceiving all the impermanent names and forms through the senses, one couldn’t remain equanimous, being disturbed or determined or influenced by the unpleasant, undesirable and disagreeable events or happenings or disturbance deriving from attachment towards the mind perception of names and forms, of the worldly social and cultural thinking, belief and practice or behavior that are under the influence of ignorance, egoism and impurities, and the consequences of that, then one hasn’t realize the truth yet, or one hasn’t realize yoga.

Live in the world but not let the world live in you.

It’s the mental renunciation from worldly thinking and belief and habitual action and reaction under the influence of egoism. One can live and move in the world, but not let the world influence or determine the state of the mind. It’s the state of the mind of how the mind reacts towards all the perception of names and forms, being undisturbed and remain equanimous, while performing necessary actions, duties and responsibilities towards oneself and/or others under one’s care. The well-trained mind is disinterested in worldly objects and affairs, while living and moving in the world. It is free from passionate clinging and desire towards worldly objects and affairs. It doesn’t chase after the object of names and forms of the senses to gratify desire, as it is desireless.

Those who are peaceful and remain equanimous under any difficult, unpleasant, undesirable and disagreeable worldly conditions or circumstances, are true yogis.

Have peace by taming the outgoing restless mind and annihilating ignorance and egoism and impurities, not by controlling or changing the mind perception of an impermanent world of names and forms to be the way that the ego expects or likes it to be.

If the mind is super sensitive and easily be disturbed or distracted by the mind perception of names and forms of worldly objects and affairs, as there’s no strong foundation of non-attachment towards the mind perception of names and forms, then it would be better for this mind to move away from the society for a prolonged period of time, to minimize as much as possible the coming in contact with worldly affairs and objects of names and forms, to allow the mind to be free from unnecessary disturbance and distraction to conserve energy and to turn the mind inward for self-introspection or self-inquiry. Until the mind develops a strong foundation of dispassion and non-attachment (which will be ‘tested’ while living in the world), then this mind can live and move among the worldly minded society and coming in contact with ceaseless inputs or impressions of impermanent names and forms, but the mind is undisturbed or uninfluenced by all these names and forms.

Be free.

Words of wisdom are neither good nor bad

Words of wisdom are neither good nor bad. They are just what they are. They have no intention or quality to be useful or useless, to be meaningful or meaningless, or to be enlightening or disturbing.

Words of wisdom can be useful and meaningful and enlightening for those who are aware of ignorance in oneself, but they are useless and meaningless and disturbing for those who are not aware of ignorance in oneself.

All minds that are under the influence of ignorance and egoism are being conditioned or influenced by many different types of thinking and belief that are being imprinted into the mind since the birth of this life existence coming from family and cultural background, religious background, parenting, schooling, social mixing and interaction, social medias, and all kinds of information sources, to live life, to think and feel, to act and react.

Most of the time, we don’t really inquire the truth of everything that were passed down to us from generation to generation, and everything that we come in contact with, and we usually put our ‘trust’ onto ‘reliable’ or ‘respectable’ sources to feed or occupy our minds with many different information and ideas, until we start to doubt about something and then we would question or investigate the truth of it, to find out whether it’s true, or not. But that usually won’t happen until we got into trouble and suffer for the consequences of our own ‘incorrect’ or ‘ignorant’ understanding, thinking, belief, way of living, conduct and behavior.

If people don’t question the truth of everything, everyone just live life, think and feel, act and react as how they were being told or informed or influenced by the elders, parents, caretakers, friends, society, communities, groups, associations, gangs, politicians, religious authorities, school teachers, philosophers, and so on.

In Yoga and Buddhism, one has to question the truth of everything including all the teachings or scriptures of yoga and Buddhism, of what all the teachers said and taught. The real teachers won’t be insulted or disrespected or humiliated when the students neither agree nor disagree with what the teachers or any sources informed them, but they would perform self-practice and self-inquiry to realize the truth of the teachings through self-effort and self-realization.

It’s okay if we don’t know many things. It won’t do any harm if we don’t know everything and we are aware of we are ignorant or don’t know the truth of something. But it would be very harmful to oneself and others, if we blind-believe in and blind-agree with and blindly sharing information and ideas that we don’t know whether they are true, or not.

So as there are many ‘yoga teachers’ teach yoga to other people according to what they have learned and heard from the yoga courses that they have attended, just because the books/scriptures/teaching manuals and their teachers say so. Some people don’t mind if the teachings are true, or not, as long as they have some ideas of yoga poses practice sequences with some technical information and interesting spiritual stories to teach in the yoga classes to satisfy the people’s enthusiasm and intention of joining the yoga classes, and earn a living. And there’s nothing wrong with that and it’s everyone’s freedom. One is willingly to present something that one doesn’t really know what does it really means, while others are willingly to follow something that they don’t know where it would lead them to.

The wise never aspire or intent to make other beings to see what they see, or to know what they know. The teachings are everywhere for everyone to take it (practice and realize), or leave it.

Be free and be happy.

Feel disturbed by other people’s behavior that the mind thinks as ‘inappropriate’ or ‘wrong’?

There’s nothing wrong with people feel disturbed by and be unhappy about other people’s behavior that the minds think as ‘inappropriate’ or ‘wrong’, that are different from one’s cultural practice and belief.

Those who practice yoga are aware of the different types of behavior that the minds think as ‘inappropriate’ or ‘wrong’, that are different from one’s cultural practice and belief, but they will not be disturbed by it or be unhappy about it.

Go beyond the conditioned worldly thinking and belief. Allow all the worldly thinking and beliefs to be there and to be what they are, but without attachment or identification, craving or aversion towards any of these worldly thinking and belief, no matter how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ the mind think they are.

The truth is always here as it is, when the mind is free from being conditioned by worldly thinking and belief.

See how the ego reacts, and tame this ego, not other people’s thinking, belief and behavior.

If one doesn’t know this, and is constantly reacting with craving or aversion towards all the perceptions of names and forms whether wittingly or unwittingly, be disturbed by what the mind doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with, and trying to ‘influence’ or ‘control’ or ‘change’ other people’s thinking, belief and behavior, then even though one might thinks one loves yoga and is practicing yoga for a period of time by doing some form of yoga practice, but one is not practicing yoga at all.

Everyone is free to think, believe and behave about how they want to think, believe and behave, whether they practice yoga, or not. Or whether those who practice yoga are truly practicing yoga, or not. If people think they rather be disturbed by things that they don’t like and don’t agree with than to have peace, and that they prefer not to practice yoga, but be happy with the restless mind of dissatisfaction, disappointment, anger, bitterness, hatred, envy, defensiveness, offensiveness, fear and worry, that is their freedom.

There’s no intention to ‘influence’ or to ‘inspire’ anyone to improve, or to be better, or to do good and be good, or to be free from suffering, the teachings of selflessness and compassion are being disseminated without attachment and identification, but allowing everyone whether to develop their own awareness and realization of selflessness and compassion, or not.

Be free.

Yoga retreat?

‘Retreat’ is a period of special time and space of solitude for us to be with ourselves, to retreat from worldly social interactive activities, to allow the mind to have the opportunity to move away from restlessness and its usual habits, to turn the outgoing mind inwards for introspection, for self-inquiry, to know our-Self, even if there are other people being in the same retreat.

Real (spiritual) retreats are not designed for socializing or mingling. It’s an opportunity for us to practice solitude. As solitude is an important element in conquest of mind or fear. Some people’s mind are fear of being with people, they want to be alone to feel safe. While some people’s mind are fear of being alone, they want to be surrounded by some other people all the time. But both of them also is about fear. Fear derives from ignorance and attachment. There’s no peace in ourselves, always thinking that something bad is going to happen on us, or somebody is going to hurt us, either when we are alone, or when we are being with some other people. We generate so much tension into the environment.

If we are afraid of being with ourselves even just for a few days, and ‘have to’ cling onto other people in the retreat all the time, please be considerate that we still have to respect other people in the retreat centre who purposely coming here to have their own time and space for themselves for some personal spiritual practice. As we are disturbing other people’s precious time and space to be with themselves being in the retreat centre.

But, we cannot expect everyone to be understanding this simple and basic principle about ‘retreat’. As there are many other yoga retreats in the world that are not really about silence the mind for self-inquiry, but more like commercialized luxury pleasurable enjoyment and socializing kind of yoga holidays.

In the end, it’s about compassion. Being compassionate towards those who are influenced by ignorance and whose mind is out of their own control, being over-powered by fear. Spiritual practice are here for beings who have fear, to learn to deal with fear, and to let go of fear. But, most of us refuse to confront with the fear in us, and choose to avoid what we are fear of.

Most important is being compassionate towards ourselves by letting go of fear.

Om shanti.