Teaching yoga to others and performing one’s self-practice

Yoga teachers who teach yoga to other people must not neglect one’s self-practice.

Usually, one needs to perform one’s practice to attain self-realization, being free from ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering, then naturally, one can disseminate the teachings to others and guide others to perform the practice, which is nothing to do with attending yoga teachers training courses to learn how to teach yoga to other people or attaining yoga teachers training certification to qualify one to teach yoga to other people. And most people who have attended yoga teachers training courses and are teaching yoga classes to other people are not necessarily be free from ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering. As those who are free from ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering, they don’t need to attend ‘yoga teachers training courses’ to learn how to teach yoga, to attain some ‘internationally recognized certificates’ to conduct ‘yoga classes’ for them to disseminate yoga to other beings. And hence, even though one is teaching yoga classes because one has learned some knowledge on the yoga practice and possesses teacher training certification to teach yoga classes, one must take importance in one’s practice, to look after one’s mind, and be persevered and determined to silent the mind, to free the mind from ignorance, egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering.

Quite many people who teach yoga classes think that they don’t really need to perform their own practice, as they think they have been performing the yoga practice while teaching the many yoga classes for many times/hours everyday. Or, their body and mind are already too exhausted from teaching many classes everyday as well as engaging in many daily worldly activities or social interactions. Yoga teachers need to know how to conserve energy to focus on one’s practice.

When the yoga teachers demonstrating the yoga practice while teaching classes, it’s not the same as performing one’s practice in silence.

When teaching classes, the teachers turning the mind outward paying attention onto teaching others by talking and giving instructions while demonstrating the yoga practice and disseminating the teachings, and are observing or supervising the yoga students’ practice and ‘assessing their performance’. But, yoga practice is nothing to do with ‘good/bad performance’ at all.

During self-practice in silence, the body and mind retreat from worldly affairs, activities and interactions, one is fully immersed and relaxed into the yoga practice and paying full attention onto one’s practice by turning the mind inward, withdrawing the senses from the sense objects, which is what yoga practice is about.

It’s the same for the yoga students. After attending yoga classes following the instructions of the yoga teachers to learn about the yoga teachings and how to perform the yoga practice for some time, one must also develop one’s self-practice in silence, turning the mind inward while immersing and relaxing into the yoga practice, withdrawing the senses from the sense objects, without listening to instructions or looking at the yoga teacher demonstrating the yoga practice, without talking, discussion, debate or asking questions, without judgment or assessment towards the practice, not to say, it’s needless to be assessed by other people towards one’s performance about ‘whether I am good or not good’. Completely unattached towards one’s actions and practice or the result/fruit of actions and practice, just doing one’s best and allowing the result/fruit of actions and practice to be there as it is, which is what yoga practice is about.

The world of yoga

People asked us how come we don’t run/teach yoga classes and teachers training courses?

Yoga practice is about taming/quieting the restless mind to free the mind from suffering of restlessness and impurities derived from ignorance and egoism by realizing selflessness (birthlessness, deathlessness, attributelessness, namelessness, formlessness) through the practice of dispassion, renunciation, silence, self-inquiry, concentration, meditation, non-attachment, non-identification, non-craving, non-aversion, non-judgment, non-comparison and non-expectation that require a high degree of open-mindedness, right discrimination, intense yearning for liberation, will-power, perseverance, independence, self-control and discipline.

After one learned about the teachings and practice from someone who has direct experience of the teachings and practice, one implements these teachings and practice in everyday life, to free the mind from ignorance and egoism, which is nothing to do with attending regular ‘yoga classes’ or attending ‘yoga teachers training course’ to become ‘certified professional yoga teacher’ to teach/conduct ‘yoga classes’.

Most people don’t really interested to learn and practice yoga when they are interested in joining ‘yoga classes’, as they wouldn’t/couldn’t let go the thinking and belief which they think and believe is who they are (the main hindrance towards the realization of selflessness.) They just want to do some physical exercises to keep fit and be healthy, to feel good and look good. And it’s nothing wrong. Everyone has the freedom for what they want and don’t want, and what they think and believe.

Most ‘yoga classes’ are existing mostly as one of the healthy leisure activities for health and fitness enhancement by doing some yoga asana, relaxation and breathing exercises, just like any other personal/group fitness training exercise classes, which is a very healthy activity. It’s very good that people would love to do some form of physical exercise regularly for maintaining good health and vitality to enjoy a higher quality of life. And some highly talented people even transformed yoga asana practice into amazing acrobatic performance, it’s very inspiring for people to take up some physical fitness training to look good and feel good, and not spending time and energy in unhealthy/unwholesome activities.

The initial objective of ‘teachers training courses’ is about oneself learning and practicing the teachings of yoga to purify one’s mind, to awaken/realize the teacher within to become one’s own teacher, to discipline one’s mind to be free from ignorance and egoism. It’s not about training people who are interested in ‘teaching yoga classes’ or ‘running yoga courses’ to become ‘certified professional yoga teachers’ and issue/authorize them with ‘recognized certification’ to conduct yoga courses/teach yoga classes according to the different types of teaching style from different types of yoga school. It’s training one’s own mind to be it’s own teacher. Upon self-realization of yoga/oneness/selflessness, one might or might not share the direct experience with others.

‘Yoga retreats’ are also being ‘transformed’ into self-pampering/indulgence of the senses getaway that empowers the egoistic desires of carving and aversion, or being ‘transformed’ into ‘mystical healing’ camp. Even so, it’s neither right nor wrong. That is what most minds like and desire. It really doesn’t matter. In the end, yoga is still what it is, whether people are learning and practicing and teaching yoga as it is, or not. The truth won’t be affected/contaminated by any add-on/take-out elements, although the creative worldly minded can transform the teachings and practice of yoga into something that they prefer.

Most of the serious yoga practitioners don’t really run/teach ‘yoga classes’, or ‘yoga courses’, or ‘yoga teachers training courses’ although they might be teaching yoga to many others. Sharing the teachings and practice of yoga with others doesn’t necessarily has to be in the form of conducting yoga classes/courses/retreats. Some might have been teaching ‘yoga classes’ in the beginning, but after some time, they renounced the worldly social life and activities to concentrate on their own practice, upon realization that renunciation from worldly affair/interaction/activities/relationships is the greatest compassion towards oneself and all beings. Everyone is responsible for their own practice to look after their own mind, to discipline/quiet/purify their own mind, to deal with the consequences of their own ignorance, to become their own teacher, to free their own mind from ignorance, egoism and impurities via their own effort.

Meanwhile, ‘yoga teachers training courses’ are no longer about learning and practicing yoga to become one’s own teacher to be self-independent, to perform self-inquiry, to silent/annihilate the mind to attain self-realization, but the identity and qualification of a ‘yoga teacher’/recognition/authorization/certifications/association/commercial value/career value are the drive for conducting/participating yoga teachers training courses.

This is the world of yoga, and there’s nothing wrong or bad with it.

Many people think that they like and love yoga, but not really. When come to serious yoga practice, most people would turn away or justify that it is not yoga (the way that they think it should be.) And there’s nothing wrong, as all minds take their own pace and own path to evolve and realize.

In the silent meditation retreat that doesn’t charge any fees (donate as you like, or even nothing), quite many people would want to runaway or quit after a few days observing silence, for not being able to talk to other people, can’t have physical/eye contact with other people, not able to express as they like, can’t do what they usually like to do, can’t eat what they usually like to eat, no stimulating entertainment for the mind, sleeping on hard bed in basic accommodation, and they have to sit for meditation for more than 10 hours a day, while lots of physical/mental/emotional discomforts arise and random thoughts bubbling up to the surface of the mind. Some people would stay until the retreat finishes, but they don’t really observe silence throughout the entire retreat, such like they are still talking/whispering/making signs/interacting with their friends and keeping their phones with them, even though it’s not allowed. But, there’s nothing wrong with that either, as it’s how most worldly minds would behave, out of loneliness, boredom and meaninglessness derived from being refrained from their usual worldly stimulation/activities.

Most minds would ‘cheat’ to be comfortable and not to be uncomfortable. It’s not about what’s right and what’s wrong. And it’s not about how good is one’s yoga practice and meditation experience, but it’s the ability to confront/deal with all the things that the mind doesn’t familiar with, doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with, while not coming in contact with the things that the mind familiars with, likes and agrees with, being free from craving and aversion, be able to forbear difficulties and unpleasantness equanimously, and free the mind from restlessness/impurities out of ignorance and egoism, that matters most.

The mind won’t evolve/progress and keeps running round and round in the loop of worldly ideas/thinking/belief, if it keeps swaying in between craving and aversion, running away from difficulties and unpleasantness and what it doesn’t like (the mind perception of the qualities of bad, negative, wrong, meaninglessness and unhappiness,) and chasing after what it likes and desires (the mind perception of the qualities of good, positive, right, meaningfulness and happiness,) even after many years of attending ‘yoga classes’ and ‘yoga retreats’ or doing yoga asana and breathing exercises regularly, or possessed many ‘yoga certifications’ and given ‘yoga classes’ to many people.

Be free.

Not the kind of yoga retreat that most people expect it to be

We have been running yoga retreats in Langkawi for the past nine years. The retreat evolves over the years as we learn, as well as it changes to adapt the different condition and situation according to the circumstances that exist from time to time which are not in our control.

The main objective of running the retreats here is to allow those who truly want to learn and practice yoga to come here for a few days up to a few weeks to learn and practice yoga and meditation as much as possible, so that they can take away the basic understanding and direct experience of the teachings and practice of yoga, which allowing them to practice yoga and meditation practically and independently when they go home back into their everyday life, wherever they live, under any conditions or situations.

We don’t have intention to create an ‘out of the world’ place with holiday resort environment to pamper the guests with hotel customer service and resort facilities or pleasurable enjoyment and indulgence for the senses, to empower or gratify the egoistic desire of craving and aversion of the mind, to make the minds feel pampered, deserving, satisfied, good and happy momentarily by giving the mind maximum pleasurable enjoyments that it likes and wants.

We do our best to provide a simple, clean and tidy place for performing the yoga and meditation practice, and give maximum guidance to the people who sincerely want to learn and practice yoga and meditation to know what is going on in one’s mind, to transcend suffering, to free the mind from the cause of suffering – ignorance, egoism and impurities.

Non-commercial yoga and meditation practice is not what most people expect it to be. Most of the time, it’s not necessarily comfortable or fun. Instead, there is a lot of persevered ongoing hard work and the purification process is quite challenging for many, that many people would give up easily if they don’t have the basic correct understanding of the teachings of yoga and lack of determination, patience and forbearance to endure or withstand difficulties or discomforts that arise during the purification process to eliminate egoism and impurities, to transcend the mind perception of an impermanent and selfless worldly life existence of names and forms.

Most people would think and imagine, or expect and desire ‘yoga practice’ and ‘yoga retreat’ as one kind of pleasurable leisure health and fitness activity and enjoyment, to momentary unwind from stress, exhaustion and burnout, or to escape worldly everyday life and environment that is not necessarily the way that they like it to be, and hence, many of those who provide or conduct ‘yoga classes’ or ‘yoga retreats’ also make use of the trend/demand of ‘yoga classes’ and ‘yoga retreats’ to provide ‘yoga classes’ and ‘yoga retreats’ that are being marketed as a ‘pleasurable leisure health and fitness activity and enjoyment in an out of the world environment’ to meet up with the expectation and desire of many people.

Those who expect ‘yoga retreats’ that provide ‘pleasurable leisure health and fitness activity and enjoyment’ in an ‘out of the world’ holiday resort environment with all kinds of convenient service and facilities other than the basic facilities, and expecting to be receiving hotel customer service and indulging in pleasurable enjoyment and indulgence of the senses will be very disappointed when they attend the retreats here. This is definitely not the kind of ‘yoga retreat’ that they expect/desire it to be.

People who attend the retreats here need to ‘work’ on purifying one’s mind, letting go egoism, and to ‘endure’ any challenging discomfortable or undesirable condition or situation that may or may not arise, that is not necessarily the way that they like it to be. In the end, the mind realized that all the disturbance arise in the mind perceiving all kinds of challenging condition and situation is due to the reaction of craving and aversion in the mind itself, it’s nothing to do with the condition and situation being what it is. “I don’t agree with this. I don’t like this. I don’t want this.”

Only those who sincerely want to learn and practice yoga and meditation to know one’s mind, to transcend the mind perception of names and forms will ‘appreciate’ this kind of retreat that guides the mind to go beyond the gratification of the desire of craving and aversion of “only want to enjoy pleasurable indulgence of the senses as much as possible and don’t want to have any difficulties or discomforts”, but ‘working’ diligently to render the mind calm and quiet to allow the mind to see the ignorance, egoism and impurities in one’s mind, while living in the world as we are, dealing with everyday live conditions and situations that are not necessarily the way that we like it to be, that is not in our intention or control of how we like it to be.

We don’t expect everyone would appreciate this kind of yoga retreat or yoga practice. It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their life, body and mind, or how they perceive yoga and yoga practice.

This life is impermanent and it’s closer to death every moment. This is the truth of all living beings. Death is not something negative, bad, sad, sorrowful, inauspicious, fearful, or horrible, it doesn’t matter what is the scientific cause of death, or how and when it happens. Whether some die without much prolonged physical/mental painful suffering, while some die after much prolonged physical/mental painful suffering, it’s still death, neither good death nor bad death. The only difference is whether the mind is able to let go in peace, or not, confronting the process or moments of death.

Be happy.

Self-practice

Developing awareness and correct understanding along with self-discipline and determination, one doesn’t need to continuously attending yoga classes to be following the instructions of a yoga teacher/instructor to be performing the yoga practice, but out of own freewill and intense yearning for liberation, one retreats into seclusion and solitude to perform self-practice. One takes one’s natural pace to perform the practice at ease, without rushing or struggling or straining the body and mind beyond its limitation, and allowing the fruit of the practice to be there as it is.

Many people who attend yoga classes and those who provide yoga classes or other kind of yoga services, will look at or take consideration or give importance onto these factors –
– The qualifications/certifications/experience/background of the yoga teachers
– The professionalism and the ‘yogi’ look/appearance/image of the yoga teachers
– The atmosphere of the yoga practice space, such like the ‘spiritual/zen feel’, the decorations, the colour theme, the furniture, the fittings, the lighting, the plants, the sub-yoga products of ‘yoga attires’, ‘yoga mats’, ‘yoga accessories’ or ‘yoga health supplements’, the convenient facilities and other supplementary services, and/or other yoga family members of animals and pets.
– The surrounding environment of the yoga school or yoga studio, such like the scenery and the ‘quality’ of the neighbourhood.
– The degree of pleasantness of the enjoyment of the senses of sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and imagination/visualization/stimulation, and so on.
– The money-worth element of the fees in comparison with the services or enjoyments provided, and the rewards/benefits/effectiveness/recognition/qualification that one would be getting from attending the yoga classes or performing the yoga practice.

Meanwhile, yoga and the yoga practice has nothing to do with all these names and forms. If the yoga teachers or the yoga classes providers don’t get this or don’t understand this, then they don’t know what yoga is. In the process of yoga practice of silencing the mind or meditation, the eyes are either closed or the mind is focusing/restraining within, and all the other senses are restrained/withdraw from the objects of the senses. What kind of scenery or environment or atmosphere is irrelevant to one’s practice. So as all the other factors.

Yoga is in the moment regardless of the mind perception of different qualities of names and forms, environment, experience, time and space. It is not confined in a particular quality of name and form, environment, experience, time and space. If one can only find oneself or peace or the truth in a particular yoga practice environment, experience, time and space, such like being in the nature of forest or mountain or seaside, and doing a particular yoga asana practice or nature activity, then one doesn’t know what yoga is even though one might feel good and peaceful and meaningful being in that particular environment, experience, time and space, and doing that particular yoga asana practice or activity. The truth/yoga is always there as it is, regardless one is doing a particular kind of yoga asana practice or physical/mental activity, or not, and being in what kind of environment, experience, time and space. Peace, compassion and the ability to forgive and let go what that the mind perceives as ‘wrong’, ‘bad’, ‘hurtful’, ‘painful’, or ‘sorrowful’, is nothing to do with the mind perception of different qualities of names and forms.

There’s nothing wrong and it’s very common that most people who attend yoga classes will expect the yoga teacher/instructor to be looking at them and their practice, to tell them to do this and don’t do that, to correct their postures, to help them to push/challenge themselves beyond the limitation of their body and mind to make the body become more fit/strong/flexible and be able to do more ‘challenging’ yoga asana poses, to give positive feedback about their practice, to give encouragements of praise and compliments to motivate them to be continuing their practice, to be interacting in some kind of social conversation, to be involving in some form of social community activities together. Just that they haven’t learn/realize what yoga really is about, even after many years of attending many hours of yoga classes regularly, and performing the yoga asana practice in perfect alignment and attaining better health condition, developing fitter, stronger and more flexible physical body, being able to perform many complicated yoga asana poses, and generating momentary good, positive and meaningful feelings in their minds due to the effect of the yoga practice.

All these names and forms are nothing but the modifications of the conditional thinking and belief and behavior of the worldly egoistic impure minds. Yoga practice is mainly to free the mind from all these conditional thinking, belief and behavior of the worldly egoistic impure mind modifications.

One only needs a simple clean space free from dust or insects/animals to be practicing external yoga practice of yoga asana and pranayama practice. If there’s no clean space available to be practicing yoga asana and pranayama practice, or if the weather doesn’t permit such practice (extreme weather condition), or the environment is not suitable for such external practice (causing inconvenience to other beings), then one doesn’t have to be practicing external yoga practice of yoga asana or pranayama practice, but it doesn’t stop one from the unconditional unlimited internal practice of maintaining a calm and quiet mind, allowing the perceived reality/experience/qualities of names and forms that is not necessarily the way that the mind likes it to be, as it is, and be able to forgive and let go something that the mind perceives as ‘wrong’, ‘bad’, ‘hurtful’, ‘painful’ or ‘sorrowful’, without craving or clinging towards ‘good’ condition or pleasantness, without aversion towards ‘bad’ condition or unpleasantness.

Contemplate on this and be free.

Sadhana advice from Swami Sivananda

If you give up idle talk and gossiping and idle curiosity to hear rumours and news of others and if you do not meddle with the affairs of others you will have ample time to do meditation.

Environments are not bad but your mind is bad. Your mind is not disciplined properly. Do not complain against bad environments but complain first against your own mind.

Train your mind first. If you practice concentration amidst unfavorable environments, you will grow strong, you will develop your will force quickly, you will become a dynamic personality.

Know things in their proper light. Do not be deluded. Emotion is mistaken for devotion. Violent jumping in the air during Sankirtan for divine ecstasy. Falling down in a swoon on account of exhaustion from too much jumping for Bhava Samadhi. Rajasic restlessness and motion for divine activities and Karma Yoga. A Tamasic man for a Sattvic man. Movement of air in rheumatism in the back for ascent of Kundalini. Tandri and deep sleep for Samadhi. Manorajya or building castles in the air for meditation. Physical nudity for Jivanmukta state. Learn to discriminate and become wise.

Do not utter such words as are calculated to bring your own self-glorification. You must forget at once what is bad. But you must not forget any good done to you by others. There is no expiation for that man who is ungrateful. Forget your good qualities. Forget the bad qualities of others. Forget the enmity of those who are inimical to you. Forget the good actions that you have done to others.

Do not be afraid of any other devil. Fear itself is the greatest devil. Kill this devil first. All other devils will take to their heels. All troubles are only imaginary. Fear comes of ignorance. There is fear where there is duality.

When you remain in the world, association with worldly persons is unavoidable. Cut short the conversation and the period of mixing with them.

The worldly duties are not ties. The world is the best teacher. You are not require to renounce the world and take shelter in the Himalayan cave to claim back your lost divinity. The world cannot stand in the way of your God-realisation. Live in the world but allow not the world to live in you. He, who living in the midst of temptations of the world attains perfection, is true hero.

If a yogi or a Sannyasin who is able to keep up serenity of mind while living in a cave in the forest, complains of disturbance of mind when he lives in the bustle of a city, he has no control of mind. He has no inner spiritual strength. He is not a practical Vedantin. He has no Self-realisation. He has not attained the goal of life. He is still within the domain of Maya.

A real yogi or a practical Vedantin is one who can keep perfect calmness of mind while performing intense activities amidst the bustle of a city. This is the central teaching of the Gita.

By destroying Vasanas and Sankalpas, you melt or annihilate the mind. By annihilating the mind, you kill egoism. By killing egoism, you know the Self. By knowing the Self you attain Self-realisation. By attaining Self-realisation you become free from all sorts of pains, tribulations and miseries. You enjoy supreme unalloyed bliss of the eternal and become That.

Destroy the Vasanas (of body, world and booklore). Withdraw the mind. Identified yourself with the Sakshi (silent witness of the mind).

You cannot wash the mind with soap and water to get rid of its impurities but if you eradicate desires and attachment, the mind will be purified of itself.

This Atman is Silence. The best conception of God is ‘Silence’. Therefore learn to be silent. Make the mind silent, waveless, thoughtless and desireless. This is real silence.

The world is a big wheel. It is revolving unceasingly. The mind is the nave of this wheel. Those who are egoistic, proud, passionate and greedy are caught up in this wheel. If you can stop the mind from moving, the world-wheel will come to a standstill and you will be freed from the round of births and deaths. If you wish to stop the mind from moving, you will have to annihilate egoism, pride, desire and greed.

Truth dawns by itself upon the mind of the tranquil who are equally good and friendly to all beings. Tranquillity of the mind is attained by eradication of desires and thoughts. Mind is agitated by desires and thoughts. When desires and thoughts are controlled, the mind becomes as calm as the lake which is not agitated by the winds. Tranquillity cannot be attained within a week or a month. Practice for a long time is essential.

Do not enter into heated discussion with people. Restrain the senses. Annihilate Raga-Dvesha (likes and dislikes). Extend compassion to all creatures. You will soon attain immortality.

A real aspirant who thirst for Self-realisation should be absolute honest in every dealing. Honesty is not only the best policy in him, but also a strict rule of daily conduct.

Life is not a misery. One should live for hundred years by performing action without attachment. Life is not a bondage when it is looked with the proper light. Such a man of proper knowledge looks on all beings as his own Self and his self as all beings. To him everything is his own Self, and he is not affected by grief, delusion or sorrow of any kind.

The Atman is not born, nor does it dies. It has not come from anywhere and it has not become anything. Unborn, constant, eternal, primeval, this one is not slain when the body is slain. This Atman is hidden in the deep core of the heart of beings. It cannot be attained by any amount of reasoning, study or instruction. It comes only through the Supreme grace. A man of bad conduct, who has not ceased from crookedness, cannot hope to attain the Atman.

The road to Supreme is clothed with pricking thorns. It is sharp like the edge of a razor, hard to tread, a very difficult path! It can be trodden only with the help of knowledge obtained from men of wisdom. Knowing That, one is liberated from the terrible mouth of death.

The mind and the senses always run outwards. Only the man of self-discipline and perseverance can gaze inward and experience the state of Atman as it really is. The childish who have no knowledge of the Truth, run after external pleasures and they fall into the widespread of death. Only the wise, knowing the state of Immortality, seek not the stable Brahman among things which are impermanent here.

The Atman or the Brahman has no connection with the world of change. The goodness, the light, the pleasure and the beauty of the world is not to be found there even in name. That State is experienced when the senses cease to work together with the mind and when the intellect does not move, and when there is mere consciousness. When all desires which are lodged in the heart are liberated, then the mortal becomes immortal. Herein he attains Brahman.

Brahman is Truth, Knowledge, Infinity, Bliss. Brahman is Bhuma where one sees nothing else, hears nothing else and understands nothing else. It rests on nothing else. On it everything else rests. One who knows this rejoices in his own Self and rests contented in his own Self.

Sacrifice cannot bring salvation. They are mere temptations which bind one to birth and death. The deluded people think that mere sacrifice and charity constitute eternal blessedness. They are mistaken. What is not the effect of action is not attained by any amount of action. Brahman which is not done cannot be attained by what is done. Having scrutinised the nature of the world, a wise man should arrive at indifference and dispassion. He must approach a preceptor and learn Brahma-Vidya from him. Such a fortunate soul rends asunder the knot of ignorance.

There is no other duty for man except meditation on the Self. Dismissing all else, one should establish himself in the Self. There remains nothing to be done or attained, when the Self is experienced. There is nothing but Brahman. All this is Brahman.

Existence alone was in the beginning. This was one alone without a second. From that everything else was produced. The modifications of it are only apparent. There is no world except mere names and forms, mysteriously connected with one another. There is no sun or moon except mere colours or fictitious forms. When the colours are distinguished, the sun loses it sunhood, the moon loses its moonhood, things loses their thingness. Brahman alone exists.

The Self alone is dear. One who loves something other than the Self loses what he loves. The Self is the Absolute. One who knows this becomes indestructible. He is only a beast who considers he and his God are different. Not for the sake of this all this is dear, but for the sake of the Self this all is dear. By knowing that Self, everything else becomes automatically known, for the Self indeed is this all.

The Self is an ocean without a shore and a surface. It is mere Existence, Consciousness and Bliss. Where there is duality as it were, one can speak to the other, see the other and understand the other, but where everything is just one’s own Self, then who can speak to whom, who can see whom, who can understand whom? This is the Supreme end. That is the Supreme blessing. That is the Supreme Bliss. On a part of this Bliss other creatures are living.

He who is without desire, who is freed from desire, whose desire is satisfied, whose desire is the Self – his Pranas do not depart. He being Brahman Itself, becomes Brahman immediately.

One who sees His own Atman in all beings, and all beings in his own Atman – he becomes fearless. He is not deluded by the objects of the senses. He is not particularly attached to any object or being. Time and space bow before him and withdraw. He lives in the one Great Present. There is neither a past nor a future for him. There is neither a ‘here’ not a ‘there’.

The apparent change does not belong to the Atman. Nay, even death is not the end. It is but another apparent change. Life continues beyond. Man sleeps with one encasement and wakes up after a short while with another encasement! Death has lost its dread for him! He has achieved the impossible – he has eluded the grasp of Death itself!

The senses have been created with a natural tendency to flow out towards the objective universe. This externalisation dissipates the rays of the mind, weaken the intellect and blind the eyes of intuitive perception. Unity is falsely represented as diversity, the untrue appears to be True, pain appears to be pleasure, and shadows holds out greater charms that the Substance Itself. This is the path of ‘Preya’ (the Pleasant) which the dullwitted ignorant man pursues.

The Atman is Akarta, non-doer. It is Abhokta, non-enjoyer! Realisation of this Truth enables man to transcend Samsara or the cycle of births and deaths.

Renunciation is necessary, but inner renunciation born out of true knowledge that the Atman is Akarta and Abhokta, and that it is not affected by the actions of the sense-organs, is considered preferable to external renunciation of physical actions. Man should perform his duties, in the proper spirit. Such actions do not bind him, but on the other hand they help him to liberate himself.

The deluded attachment to men and women, friends and relatives, money and gold, has to be ruthlessly burnt to ashes! All the so-called duties of the world have to be kicked away for the sake of that glorious state of Self-realisation.

Kick off the world ruthlessly. Enough of tea and coffee, enough of soda, lemonade and crushes, enough of novels and cinemas, enough of races and aeroplanes, enough of father, mother, brothers, children, friends and relatives! You came alone and you will go alone.

A worldly-minded fashionable wife (or husband) is a sharp knife to cut off the life of the husband (or wife). Be wedded to Santi and have Vairagya as as the sons, and Viveka the magnanimous daughter and eat the delicious divine fruit of Atma Jnana which can make you immortal!

Application of soap to the body, oil to the hair, powder to the face, looking into the mirror a thousand and one times a day, wearing rings on the fingers – these and many like these will intensify your attachment to the body. Therefore give up all these things ruthlessly.

The cause of pain is love of pleasure. The cause of death is love of sensual life. Death is a horrible thing to him who is intensely attached to sensual life. Words like cremation, murder, death, corpse, burial, make the sensualist shudder at heart, for he is extremely attached to the body and the objects of the senses. “How to part with the sensual objects?” is his great cause of misery. Pity!

According to vedanta, annihilation of Adviya or ignorance leads to Samadhi. According to Patanjali Rishi, the aspirant attains Samadhi by removing the hold of Prakriti by practice and discipline.

The Vedantin enjoys the eternal bliss and natural easiness of Sahaja Samadhi. He remains as Sakshi or silent witness. He does not make any serious attempt to control the psychic stream or thought-current. He raises the Brahmakara Vritti by meditating on the significance of “Tat Tvam Asi” Mahavakya.

The Samadhi in the Jnani is effortless and spontaneous. Wherever the mind goes, there it experiences Samadhi. He rests in Samadhi always. There is no “In Samadhi” and “Out of Samadhi” for a sage. He enjoys freedom, bliss and peace, in all moments of his life.

Yogic Samadhi is analytical and discriminative. In this Samadhi greater stress is laid upon the discrimination between the Prakriti and the Purusha. In Jnana Samadhi, no discrimination is needed. Brahmakara Vritti, raised by an attempt to become identical with the Supreme Self or Brahma Chintana, destroys Avidya and dies by itself.

No more words. Enough of discussions and heated debates. Retire into a solitary room. Close your eyes. Have deep silent meditation. destroy the Sankalpas, thoughts, whims, fancies and desires when they arise from the surface of the mind.

You are left alone now. You have nothing to see and nothing to hear. There is none to cheer you. You will have to depend on yourself. Do not look backward. Forget the past. Forget the body and the world.

“Gathering his mind, the Yogi should retire to a mountain-cave, a temple or a secluded room. He should not associate with anything through mind, speech and action, for accumulation of and association with things cause misery to Yogis. He should cultivate indifference towards everything. He should be regular about his diet. Worldly gain should cause him no pleasure, nor worldly loss any sorrow. He should look upon one with an equal eye, both who censures him and one who bows before him. Whether good is happening to anybody or evil, he should not reflect. When there is gain he should not be besides himself with joy, nor should he worry when there is loss. He should look upon all beings with an equal eye and should remain unattached like the air. He who thus keeps his mind in health, works for others, cultivates an equal eye towards everything and everybody and lives for six months a regular disciplined life, can realise Brahman and attain Brahmanhood (Nirvikalpa Samadhi) himself.” (Mahabharata – Santi-Parva)

“Humility, unpretentiousness, harmlessness, forgiveness, rectitude, service of the teacher, purity, steadfastness, self-control, dispassion towards the objects of the senses, insight into the pain and evil of birth, death, old age and sickness, unattachment, absence of self-identification with son, wife, or home, and constant balance of mind in wished-for and unwished-for events, unflinching devotion to Me by Yoga, without other objects, resort to sequestered places, absence of enjoyment in the company of men, constancy in the wisdom of the Self, understanding the object of essential wisdom, that is declared to be real wisdom, all else is ignorance.” (Bhagavadgita)

It’s all about self…

It’s all about self.

And it’s not selfish at all.

Self-reformation, self-evolution, self-cultivation, self-transformation, self-practice, self-awareness, self-control, self-discipline, self-restraint, self-realization, without judgment nor expectation…

One must be able to take care of oneself, then only one can truly benefit others, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

It’s not about convert others, reform others, control others, discipline others, restrain others, correct others, with judgment and expectation…

Om shanti.

My life stories – Part 9

My life Stories – Part 9

Stories from my past memories – childhood, family, friends, growing up, poverty, integrity, dreams come true, finding peace and happiness, Buddhism, Yoga, and now…

I drove more than 2000 Km on a road trip in the last three weeks. I was taking a break from running yoga retreats and to know more about Malaysia. I also wanted to concentrate on my own yoga practice and share yoga with some old friends.

My husband wanted to participate in a 3 days Vipassana silent meditation retreat in the newly opened vipassana centre at Penang Hill in Penang Island. It was the centre’s first course only for old students. It’s like a trial course to ensure the centre is ready to run longer courses.

We left Langkawi a few days earlier to visit a few historical towns in Malaysia before going into Penang.

We picked up our car from the car ferry port in Kuala Kedah and took the scenic old road (K1) driving at around 60 Km an hour towards Sungai Petani. It was really a nice drive as the road was in good condition, and the scenery was beautiful and calmed over looking the green paddy fields, with hills and trees along the way.

We had a quick stop at Pantai Merdeka. There’s not much to say about the place, except the nice sea breeze. There’s no beach for swimming. We also went to Bujang Valley or Lembah Bujang in Malay to visit the historical site of Malaysia where the archaeologists and researchers found historical traces of Hinduism and Buddhism artifacts dated more than 2000 years old. It was an eye opener for me to know about the history background of Malaysia.

We stayed in Sungai Petani for two nights in a new budget boutique hotel called T+ Hotel located opposite the Pantai Medical Hospital near the Sungai Petani exit from the North South Highway. It was a very nice and reasonable priced hotel. There was big enough space in the room for me to do some yoga asana practice.

We left Sungai Petani and arrived in Penang two days before the meditation retreat. We found a guesthouse called Red Inn Heritage in Love Lane off Lebuh Chulia. It was a very nice backpackers place with very friendly and helpful staff. They gave us a small room with outside shared toilet, but it doesn’t matter as long as I could continue my yoga asana practice in the room – a space about 3 x 6 feet.

We got up at 4.00 am. My husband made use of that coolest time of the day to do some writing in the common sitting area of the guesthouse. He was writing for a collection of short stories to be published in Malaysia soon. Meanwhile I did my personal yoga asana and pranayama practice in our room for about two and a half hours.

Later when the gentle morning sunlight came, we went for a walk around the streets of George Town. It’s the best time to walk outdoor in the early hours to enjoy the cooler temperature in Malaysia. We enjoyed Penang very much walking along the main streets and side streets in the old heritage site of George Town, and tasting the local street food and fresh fruit juice. The nutmeg juice, passion fruit juice and amra juice were fantastic.

After the morning walk and breakfast, we drove around the island via Tanjung Bungah and Batu Ferringhi heading towards Balik Pulau and came back through Bayan Lepas. It was a nice drive. We also visited an old Nutmeg confectionery on the road, where my husband tasted the homemade nutmeg juice. His lips went numb for awhile after drinking the juice. It was a harmless mild reaction towards nutmeg. Nutmeg juice is believed to be good for digestion and wind relieving.

We came back to the guesthouse and took a nice shower and continued to walk along the streets exploring George Town. We enjoy walking. We walked a lot everywhere we go – in the city or the country side. It is a very good gentle exercise for everyone of any age.

In the evening, my husband started to complained about pain in one of his ankles. This was probably because of walking too much over these two days. It depends on our body conditions. Sometimes too much exercise within a short period of time isn’t necessarily good for the body. Everything has to be balanced. If we feel muscle tightness or soreness, or easily get tired after a short and gentle exercise, then it’s the body is telling us we need to do more regular physical exercise to improve overall fitness. It might be a sign of Calcium deficiency as well.

Because of the discomfortable pain in his ankle, my husband wanted to see a doctor before attending the silent meditation retreat. I asked the man at the fruit juice stall for recommendation of a good Chinese Medicine Therapist in Penang. He recommended us a Chinese “Tit Da” who has a small consultation room inside a food court in Lebuh Kimberly.

A very kind couple sitting next to us overheard our conversation. They offered to send us to the place with their car. We took their offer as my husband felt so much pain in his ankle on every step he took. The couple was very helpful by leading us to the Chinese doctor and introduced us. It seemed like he was quite well-known for the locals in Penang. The price for consultation and massage for the local people who suffer muscular-tendon injuries is also very reasonable.

While the doctor was rubbing some medicine oil onto my husband’s leg and massaging his foot, he looked at my feet and said to me, “Your life is very hard. You had to work and support your family ever since you were very young.”

I smiled and replied, “Yes, I know. But it doesn’t matter as long as I am happy.”

He said, “It is very lucky that you can let go everything easily, or else it would be very suffering for you.”

I smiled.

He then looked at my feet again, and said, “Your parents don’t love you.”

I laughed and replied, “My parents love me very much.”

He said, “Nope. Your parents don’t love you or care for you, but they only concern about the money you bring back home to them.”

I kept quiet and smiled, as I didn’t need to argue with him whether my parents love me or not, or whether how much my parents love me to determine how much I will love them in return. What he told me didn’t make me unhappy or upset. I am not influenced by what other people say. I am also not determined by how much other people love me, or how other people treat me, or what is the response from other people towards my love and care for them, for me to be kind to them. But, it gave me a reflection about there are many people easily being disturbed and manipulated by what other people say.

There are people who are easily being disturbed or influenced by what other people say, especially words coming from a fortune teller, or religious person, or spiritual person, or respected person, or good friend. How many people’s life or relationships were damaged because the fortune teller told them something that made them feel bad, angry, unhappy, have fear and worry, and have doubts towards the people whom they loved even though nothing is happening?

If a fortune teller told a woman about her husband will leave her one day for another woman, this woman will be so unhappy from then on, and doesn’t trust the husband anymore, even though the husband is very loving and doesn’t have any intention or interest to have any love affair with another woman. Eventually, this woman becomes paranoid and will generate lots of tension in the relationship, and cannot trust or love the husband sincerely. she is always worrying that the husband will be with another woman. Eventually if the husband couldn’t take it anymore and breaks down, and gives up this relationship, it’s not because the prediction from the fortune teller is true, but it’s the woman herself being so ignorant that she would rather believes in a fortune teller’s word than believing in herself and her husband who loves her very much and sincerely. It’s a pity. How many relationships were broken because of this cultural practice of fortune telling?

Everyone has the freedom to say what they want to say, but we don’t have to believe in what other people say, or be influenced and determined by what other people say. We don’t need to go to fortune tellers or astrologers, to ‘know’ about the future if we know how to live in the present, be free from craving and aversion, fear and worry. We would do our best in life, and allow life to be what it is, without expecting life to be the way that how we like it to be, or not to be the way that we don’t like it to be.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

It’s true that my life was very hard. He was right about that. That was what I perceived in the past too. A hard life, poor me.

It’s true that if I wasn’t able to let go easily, I would be very unhappy and miserable having such a ‘hard life’.

He was right when he said that my parents were expecting money from me all the time. That was because they had no choice but to depend on me to bring home some money, because my sister and brothers are living in difficult conditions. I am the only one that they could count on for helping out the living expenses of the family. There’s nothing wrong with supporting our parents if we are capable to do so. I had been supporting my parents since I was fifteen years old until now. But, I am very glad that I was given the opportunity to be kind and compassionate towards myself and other beings, as this family is also one of the beings. It doesn’t mean that my parents don’t love me when they expect me to support their living. They loved me and everyone in the family very much.

Meanwhile some people are having children because they believe and expect their children would and should support their living later in life in return. They expect their children to carry out the duty of a child towards parents, to look after and take care of them when they are old. While the children are being told that it is an obligation to support their parents and family in return. Those who think they are obliged to support their parents and family, but they are not willingly to do so, or they are not capable to do so, will be very unhappy, under pressure and exhausted. Some might feel guilty or blame themselves for being unable to give or support their parents. While some people want to feel good about themselves by supporting their family, as it makes them feel proud about themselves for being able to give, for being a ‘good’ child, or ‘good’ human being. They give is not for the sake of giving, but to gain some sorts of satisfaction about themselves in return. There’s nothing wrong with all these conventional thinking and beliefs, but yoga practice is to free the mind from these conditional thinking and beliefs.

No one is obliged to support their family, as what traditional family would believe so. But people would willingly to support their family, especially their old parents, unconditionally, out of love, not out of obligation, if they are capable to do so. There is no stress or ill-feelings in this act of kindness. People shouldn’t feel bad about themselves if they are not able to give.

All the hardships were in the past. I let go of hardships. I don’t hold onto hardships.

Although I still need to support my father and my brother who has to take care of my father 24 hours a day and he cannot work at the same time, but it really doesn’t matter as long as I am still able to give. I am grateful that somebody who is dear to my father whom my father feels comfortable with, is taking good care of him. I won’t feel bad or unhappy if one day I am not able to give anymore, I will let them go.

I don’t need to continue to feed the past unhappy memories that doesn’t exist anymore, or let them influence how I should think and feel, to behave, to act or react in the present moment now. These past memories can’t determine the future either. I freed myself from being the slave of past happenings or memories. But by sharing my past stories might bring some light to someone who is going through hardship or is unhappy in life just like what I had went through.

There’s no secret and it’s not difficult to be free. Just keep practicing letting go. Forgive and let go.

In the past when I was deluded by ignorance, I felt and thought that my parents didn’t love me or care for me. But that couldn’t determine that my parents were bad parents or had treated me badly because of what I felt and thought. It was all my own delusion and personal projection about them being unloving and unfair to me. I was really miserable, angry and full of hatred because of my own projection resulted in wrong understanding. I had shouted at my parents ruthlessly hurting their feelings many times, but they never angry with me for my heart-breaking behavior and accepted me as I was, and they allowed me to express how I felt and thought. Even if they had treated me badly which they didn’t, it really doesn’t matter. I can still love them and care for them out of compassion.

After I understood about life and realized love and peace in myself, I stopped seeing there’s any problems or unhappiness in my life. I only feel gratefulness and contentment for the unconditional love and formless support that my parents and the universe had been giving me even though at certain times, I felt and thought that they didn’t love me or care for me in the past out of my own projection.

Sometimes our parents caught up in some difficult moments in life to support our living until they can’t pay much attention to their children, and they are physically and mentally exhausted by working very hard to provide the family with a better life condition or just to make enough for a living, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t love their children. I can truly understand it now, but not in the past though. That’s why I was very unhappy and angry. In the past, even though my father earned very little salary every month, he still afforded to bring us to the seaside for picnic on every weekend or brought us to the cinema for a movie, to spend his free time with his family. He doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, and doesn’t go out for entertainment at all, except with us, with his family. It was only after the financial crisis in our family started, it’s no longer affordable for us to have such outing anymore. There were times during the difficult moments, we didn’t have food or money for the next meal.

When life is hard and there is no food on the table to feed their children, how could anyone think about some other things, not to say to provide some leisure enjoyments to their children? It doesn’t mean that the parents don’t love their children. When they can provide the basic necessities for living out of love, they will also want to give the best education and living environment to their children to have a better life and brighter future. But, sometimes in the process of striving to give as much as they can give to their children, they can’t manage to take care of everything at one time. They only have one head, two arms, two legs and one body. While working hard for living they cannot be with their family all the time.

Some unhappy and angry children who hate themselves or hate their life and their parents, they might blame their parents for given birth to them while they were not financially stable enough to feed their children and couldn’t afford to bring them up in a good environment. But, take a look at so many financially stable families with children, are they all happy or in peace and harmony? It’s not necessarily that being financially stable is a guarantee that the children will be happy and well loved. Without a high income also doesn’t determine that the children in that family will be unhappy and unloved. Love is not measured by money. It’s ourselves, individually how we are able to cope with different living environments and conditions.

It’s not necessarily the fault of the parents when the children continue to be angry and unhappy about life as they grow into adulthood.

Maybe in some cases of an unhappy family are because of irresponsible parents who neglect or abuse their children deliberately, but the grown up children should learn to take responsibility for themselves and their life no matter how much hardship they had been through in their childhood. There are people who came from broken family or had had some very bad childhood experiences with their parents, they can be very successful and happy in life now. It really depends on ourselves whether we want to be disturbed and determined by our parents ignorance and be miserable all the time, or we can forgive and let go, and move on our life, and be free.

Whether the parents had succeeded or failed in giving what the society thinks and believes is appropriate growing up condition to their children, as their children we should be thankful and grateful for all their sacrifices and hardships that they had went through. Sometimes our parents had done their best, but still life could be very hard on them. They might also feel depressed, disappointed and frustrated with life, and when they come home from work, if the children complain, shout, cry and demand for this and that, or misbehave, it can be very tough for the parents as well.

Some children understood the sacrifices and hardships that their parents had went through, and be grateful and appreciate what life had brought to them. They strive to do well and be happy in life to repay their parents with love and understanding, and provide a happy environment for their parents. There are also children who couldn’t understand their parents sacrifices and hardships, and be angry and hating their parents for neglecting them, or didn’t support them, or didn’t give them what they want, or put too much pressure on them to do well in life while they were growing up. And they continue to be unhappy, angry and dissatisfied in life after growing up and after having their own family, and they blame their parents to be the reason why they are unhappy in life.

It’s rare to have parents who can have a flexible or short hour job to support a family and give maximum attention to their children at the same time. My mother was a full time house wife who took care of us whole time before our family financial crisis. Then she had no choice but to go out to do some business to help out the living expenses during the financial crisis. She worked wasn’t because she was greedy or being ambitious, or wanted to be a successful business woman, and neglected us to chase after her own dream.

Even if she was chasing after her own dream after having a family, there’s nothing wrong with that. A woman, whether single or married, with or without children, should be able to have her dreams come true and has her own time doing something that she likes to do, even if she has certain duty and responsibility towards her family. Everyone will be busy at some stage in life and we might not be able to do everything at one time. Tolerance, adjustment, understanding and support should come from the children towards their parents as well, and it doesn’t has to be merely coming from the parents towards their children.

It’s not easy to be parents, especially when they try to do their best to be good parents. Some children complain about their parents didn’t support them enough. Some complain what their parents give them is not what they want. Some complain about the parents didn’t care for them or didn’t pay enough attention to them. Some complain about the parents pay too much attention on them and make them feel pressured. Some complain about the parents didn’t love them while some complain the parents love them too much. One expectation clashes with another expectation. Parents have expectations towards the children while children have expectations towards the parents. This is all the play of ignorance and egoism.

Nobody can give me stress or put pressure on me, as nobody can influence me with their expectation or projection onto me. I don’t have to bother about other people’s expectation on me, as I didn’t even have expectation for myself. As this me is just an impermanent name and form. It’s neither something good nor bad. It’s just what it is.

I don’t need to behave as what others think I should behave.

For example, in this world of names and forms. The world thinks that I should behave like a “woman” or a “42 years old woman”. Or I should behave like a “yogi” or a “yoga teacher”. Or I should behave like a “Chinese”, a “wife”, a “daughter”, a “citizen of a country”, a “Buddhist”, a “sister”, a “friend”, a “human being”, a “good person”. Or I should behave as what I think I should behave because I project myself as this and that. Or I should behave like what other people think I should behave because other people project me as this and that. In the end of life, who cares how others think and judge about “me”? I don’t mind.

A mad person and a liberated being, they both might behave the same, they both don’t mind how the world thinks or judges about them, but one is without awareness or self control, and is restless, but the other one is with awareness and self-control, and is peaceful.

I was, and I am grateful for what life had brought to me in the past, and what life gives me in the present moment. Even if the experiences was not, and is not always pleasant or easy.

I am not affected, nor influenced, nor determined by other people’s thinking and behaviors, or how others treat me. Not even my parents, or my partner in life can determined me for how I should behave or feel, to act or react. “I” am not even responsible for “my” life existence, how can anybody else be responsible for my life? This life belongs to all the elements and energy, influenced by the impurities in my mind, my thoughts, my actions and my speech. But they don’t belong to “I”. “I” don’t own this life. One day this life will come to an end. It’s not in the control of “I” about how long this body and mind will continue to be functioning and existing. Anytime the heart will stop beating, the lungs will stop breathing, and the body will decompose.

Just like I don’t own happiness. And certainly I do not create happiness. Peace is always there whether I am aware of it, or not. “I” or the ego can be miserable sometimes even though peace never come or go, never increase or decrease. “I” or the ego is always too busy with the impurities in the mind, being busy with reactions towards all the perceptions of name and form through the senses.

Nothing is more important than being happy and grateful towards ourselves, and to love ourselves as we are. Whether we think there’s nobody loves and cares for us, or there is really nobody to show love and care for us, or we are being treated badly or unfairly by others, as long as we know how to love ourselves, unselfishly, unconditionally, compassionately, everything will go into their respective places. Loving ourselves is the initial manifestation of compassion. And compassion is the key to ultimate freedom from suffering.

I stopped looking for love and attention from the world or from anybody. I don’t need to look for love and attention from others for me to feel loved. Loneliness doesn’t exist in me, wherever I am, alone or being with somebody. Some people still feel lonely even though they have family and many friends being with them. Because loneliness isn’t coming from being alone. It is a feeling of emptiness or void that is nothing to do with whether there is some other people being with us, or not. Many people don’t like or have fear towards loneliness or emptiness. If we want to be free from loneliness, we need to know the Truth of who we really are, and realize non-separateness or oneness. Loneliness doesn’t exist because ‘I’ don’t really exist. The mind perceives loneliness as the mind thinks it’s separated from what it perceives. Physically and mentally there is a sense of separateness, and is limited by time, space and causation. But beyond the body and the mind, and perception of names and forms, there is no separateness.

I am grateful and appreciate all the love existing in the world and in all beings.

Everyone has the freedom to apply judgment onto anything and anyone, but we don’t need to be determined by other people’s judgment, not even judgment coming from our own mind towards ourselves.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

It’s needless to be jealous or admire somebody else who have a better life conditions than us. There are many others who have worst life conditions than us, like those who live in war zones, who live in anger and hatred, fear and worry, or those who suffer hunger, thirst and diseases.

What is there to be complained about and to generate hatred and disharmony among people, when life existence is depending on the universe to provide all beings with the basic necessities and supports for life existence, especially when we have a good quality of living environment? What is good life and bad life, if there is no element of fire, air, water, earth and space?

What is pride and arrogance, when death is approaching nearer and nearer since the first moment of birth?

It’s all ignorance. In the process to strive for peace and humanity, we are generating more hatred and killings in the world. In the process to strive for more happiness and enjoyments, we are damaging the existing happiness and enjoyments. In the process to strive for better health conditions, we are damaging the existing good health condition.

Good condition, good health, money, power or intellect cannot guarantee us peace of mind. Peace is freedom from ignorance, egoism, selfishness, attachment, craving, aversion, greed, anger, hatred, jealousy, discontentment, disappointment, pride, arrogance, fear and worry.

In our personal yoga practice, there’s no need to be jealous or admire some others who have attained higher spiritual understanding or achievement than us. We just need to keep practicing letting go of the egoism and attachment, without any expectation towards the fruit of our practice.

Poverty, difficult moments, obstacles, failures, and not getting any love, support and attention cannot stopped us from being peaceful and happy.

But, ignorance, egoism, attachment, greed, anger, hatred, jealousy, discontentment and expectation, will pull us away from peace and happiness.

Once we are free from ignorance, once we let go of egoism, attachment, greed, anger, hatred, jealousy, discontentment and expectation, there is nothing that can make us suffer or happy, or give us suffering or happiness. Old age, pain, weakness, stiffness, sickness or death of this mortal physical body cannot give us suffering or make us suffer. Youthfulness, pleasant sensations, strength, flexibility, good health or longevity of this mortal physical body cannot give us happiness or make us happy.

Our true nature is always peaceful as it is, unconditioned by any qualities of names and forms.

When we have gone beyond dualities of good and bad qualities, there is no hard or easy, good or bad, happiness or unhappiness, success or failure, auspiciousness or inauspiciousness, praise or condemn, action or inaction.

When suffering disappears, there is no need to look for happiness.

Be forgiving. Be generous. Be compassionate. Not attach to any names and forms. If there is attachment, we learn to let go. We will know what is true happiness that is unconditional, that isn’t coming from any physical, or mental, or worldly achievements, conditions or objects. It is from within unconditionally.

Life will always be kind to us when we are able to let go of all the dissatisfaction and greed, let go of expectation towards life, ourselves and others.

There is no fear, no worry. Without fear and worry is happiness. It isn’t about being able to do what we want to do, go where we want to go, getting what we like and want, or not getting anything that we don’t like and don’t want.

Take good care of our own thoughts, actions and speech, and everything will be taken care of naturally. For example, I can decide I want to be happy no matter how is the condition of life and this physical body. That is the freedom coming from my will power, undetermined by the impermanent conditions of name and form. Or, I can decide that I want to control my speech, be silent for certain hours or days, or only utter kind words whenever I speak. If my mind wants to express violence through my physical body and speech organ, I can decide that I don’t move the body or don’t speak. This is the practice of self-control. We are the master of our own mind and not being the slave of the impurities in the mind. Be aware of the mind but not involve or associate with the mind. This is yoga. This is meditation.

Whether it is good and happy experiences or bad and unhappy experiences, all experiences are part of the purification process. I am grateful and thankful, and appreciate all kinds of experiences in life.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

While my husband was participating in the silent meditation retreat, I drove the car on my own towards Kuala Lumpur. I stayed 4 nights in a budget hotel called De Nice Inn in OUG square at Old Klang Road. It’s an okay hotel with helpful staff, but they don’t have non-smoking rooms. Anyway, I let the room air out for one whole day and the smell of cigarettes was gone. The room was small, but I managed to squeeze in my usual yoga asana practice while staying here.

Besides doing my own practice in the hotel room, I had arranged to meet up with some old students and friends in their home to practice yoga asana with me during my few days in Kuala Lumpur, to encourage them to develop self-practice at home. Their lives are very busy with many responsibilities of a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend, a charity club member, a community member, a full time mother, driver and tuition teacher to their children, as well as the maid for the house doing all the cleaning, washing, laundry, cooking and shopping.

After four nights in Kuala Lumpur, I drove back to Penang to meet up with my husband and continued our journey back to Kuala Lumpur as my husband wanted to attend a monthly reading session in Bangsar runs by Sharon Bakar.

We stayed for two nights in Taiping at a reasonable priced new hotel called Taiping Perdana. The room was big and the staff were very efficient and nice. We walked into the town and tasted some local hawker’s food. We also went to the Lake Garden and enjoyed a splash in a river nearby called the Burmese Pool. Taiping is a very peaceful town.

From Taiping to Kuala Lumpur, we took the old road (K5) as well, but it wasn’t a nice road with lots of potholes. We stopped by at Kuala Selangor for dinner and decided to join the fire-flies watching boat tour. We almost turned back halfway as the road to the fire-flies watching jetty was very dark and narrow, and the signs were not very clear. There were many people waiting to go on the boats, so we decided not to do the trip this time as we might arrive in Kuala Lumpur too late for my friend to meet us in their home. The traffic from Kuala Selangor to Subang was congested. We found out the next day from newspaper that the congestion was because Klang was hit by a flood that day.

On this second trip to Kuala Lumpur, we stayed with my friend and her family in their home in Subang USJ. It was a very beautiful home stay experience. It was a very lovely harmonious home. They both are very loving and cheerful couple. So are their children – open-minded and cheerful. We received warm welcome from the entire family and had a few days of great sharing. My husband had a wonderful time being with the kids and chatting with my friend’s husband. The elder daughter who is only nine years old, but already played piano for four years. She was practicing and played a very nice piece of music on our first night there. Both the children speak excellent English and communicate very well with my husband. They were very self-discipline on taking care of themselves for their homework and studies. No wonder they always attained very good results in school.

I did a yoga asana practice session with my friend. The children also tried to imitate what we were doing for fun.

After 17 days of travelling, we finally headed back to Langkawi. It was a long journey from Kuala Lumpur to Kuala Kedah. We took the North South Highway (E1) this time. As usual we made a stop-over at Penang for one night and the next day, we continued driving towards Kuala Kedah to send the car to the car ferry-port before 1.00 pm. And we made it for the 1.30 pm passenger ferry from the ferry-port next to the car ferry-port.

Nice to be back to our little simple home in Langkawi.

We will be busy with retreats again in the next few weeks.

Om shanti.

PS:/ Anyway, the ‘Tit Da’ Chinese doctor mentioned that my husband loves and cares for his wife very much. That’s very true. I truly appreciate my husband’s love and care for me, without intention, without expectation, without attachment, without craving and clinging. Love and peace to all of you.

Develop self yoga practice outside of yoga classes or yoga centres, beyond names and forms, time and space…

Real yoga practice starts in our own home, in our every moment living space. We should be able to develop self-practice at home, at work, at play, during holiday, being alone or being with somebody, when we are busy or when we are free, because yoga is not to be found only in yoga classes or yoga centres, but in our everyday living space, not separated from our everyday life experiences. Yoga practice is in our heart, in our living space, in our work place, in our playground, on the street, in the shopping malls, in the nature, in the world, wherever our awareness is, in this present moment…

Yoga practice is there when our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind come in contact with the objects of the senses, where the perception of names and forms and qualities begins, where judgment and comparison of good and bad begins, where craving and aversion towards what we like and dislike, agree and disagree, want and don’t want begins, where impurities arising and passing away… Every moment purifying our mind, and letting go of the ego…

And yoga practice is not just limited in doing some yoga asana exercises… It’s about dispassion, detachment, self-control and self-independence, which are found in our every moment of existence and awareness, unlimited by names and forms, time and space…

What stop us from having self asana practice at home, is self-discipline… It’s not about limited space or having distractions from other people who live in the same house, or distractions from all sorts of comforts, enjoyments, interactions and inputs from TV, phones, Internet access, emails, facebook, neighbours and friends, and etc… Even in the tiny space in the kitchen or in the hallway can also be our practice ground… It is an excuse, if we say there is no space in our house for asana practice… If we are really determined, we can let go of the space for the TV or the couch, and make room for a space for our practice…

If everyday we can give ourselves a few moments to be away from Internet access (emailing or chatting or blogging or facebooking), not watching TV, not listening to radio or music, switch off the phone, not reading novels, magazines or newspapers, not talking, not socializing, not speculating or planning anything, not try to do something, just be in the present moment, whether sitting, or lying, or standing, or walking, observe our mind, our thoughts, observe our body and mind’s reactions for being restricted, observe our natural breath, no need to perform any asana exercises, no need to have a specific space for any physical practice, letting go of what we think we cannot let go, letting go of all the identifications with what we think who we are, not try to be somebody, not try to be good or bad, not looking for peace and happiness, and those are the great moments of yoga practice…

There is nothing wrong with practicing yoga under a teacher’s guidance and doing yoga practice under instructions in yoga classes provided by yoga centres and yoga schools… Especially for those who have no idea what is yoga and what are the practices…

If we think we cannot practice yoga at home, and need to be in a yoga class or yoga centre to practice “yoga”, so that we can be temporary move away from our life and duties, so that we can do what we are told to do, depending or relying on the yoga teacher to give us instructions on what to do now and what to do next, then we still haven’t connected with the real yoga practice yet, even though everyday, or a few times weekly or monthly we spend 1 or 2 hours in yoga classes in yoga centres, following the instructions of the yoga teacher, doing some “yoga practices”…

If we still need to depend or rely on yoga teachers to give us instructions to be practicing yoga, or rely on the teacher to tell us are we “good” or “not good”, or depending on the space in a yoga studio to provide a suitable space for us to practice yoga, even though after years and years of going to yoga classes, then know that we are not getting any further than where we were from the start, even though physically and mentally we are getting some benefits from doing all the physical yoga exercises in the yoga classes, and our body and mind feels great after the yoga classes. We might be practicing yoga for many years but we are still not really peaceful, we are not free from being over-powered by low self-esteem, craving and aversion, anger and disappointment, fear and worries…

It’s because we are still attached to the body and mind, still identifying with the body and mind looking for pleasant sensations and good feelings coming from the yoga exercises… There is nothing wrong with this idea of “in love with doing yoga exercises for getting good feelings and pleasant sensations”, but know that this is also a form of attachment and craving… Once we don’t get to do some yoga exercises, our body and mind feels bad and being agitated… We should learn to go beyond attachment towards the momentary conditional pleasantness coming from doing yoga exercises.

Anyone, after going for some yoga classes learning from yoga teachers, we should be able to develop self-practice already. It is about developing inner observation, self-awareness, self-discipline and non-attachment…

If after many years of learning and practicing “yoga” in yoga classes or yoga centres, and still cannot have self-practice without being in yoga classes or yoga studios, without getting instructions from yoga teachers, then obviously we didn’t learn anything at all in those years of “learning” and “practicing” yoga…

No doubts that even there are many yoga teachers still have to go to other people’s classes, continue in attending courses after courses, upgrading and improving themselves in all aspects, because we are not “free” yet, we are still learning and being humble, and want to improve in our own practice and our teaching skill… This is nothing wrong… But no matter how many classes and courses that we have attended, it all comes back to our own self-practice and self-realization that derived from self-discipline, self-control and self-awareness that will free us from ignorance, the cause of restlessness and unpeacefulness and be free…

Only in those who are already free, all actions ceased… There’s no “teaching”, no “learning”, no “practicing”, even though the actions of teaching, learning and practicing are there… There’s no more differences or separateness between actions and inactions…

If there is no “pain”, do we still need to do something to remove “pain”?

If our sense of well-being or self-worth or confidence or happiness is coming from how successful we can perform the asana poses that we couldn’t perform before, or how many yoga asana poses that we can perform, or how good we look and feel while performing the asana poses, or how good we look and feel after performing the asana poses, or how much we are benefited from the asana poses physically, mentally and emotionally, then we are still a great distance away from our true Self… It indicates that we are identified with the body and mind, and is identified as the doer and the enjoyer of the actions and inactions generated by the body and mind…

We are not the body, we are not the mind. The body is not us, the mind is not us. The thinking, the sensations, the feelings are not us. We are not the thinking, the sensations, the feelings…

We are neither the doer nor the enjoyer of all the actions and inactions… There is neither gain nor loss…

Om shanti.