Approaching a teacher asking to be accepted as student of yoga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You are left alone now.” – Swami Sivananda

Looking after one’s mind living in the present embracing silence

In the path of yoga, looking after one’s mind, through observing maximum silence and seclusion, renouncing ‘worldly connections/relationships’, retreating from ‘worldly affairs/activities’, to be focusing on freeing one’s mind from ignorance, egoism, restlessness and impurities of pride, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, hurts, regret, guilt, desire, longing, craving, offensiveness, defensiveness, intimidation, hostility, agitation, depression, bitterness, misery, fear and worry, to be developing and maintaining the sanity, clarity and serenity of the thinking faculty, living in the present as it is, being at peace unconditionally, undetermined/undisturbed by the impermanent and selfless quality of names and forms, without violating/interfering/intruding all the different people/communities with different kinds of thinking/belief/disbelief/ideas/values/practice/way of life/behavior/action and reaction, without claiming ownership towards the world expecting ‘my world’ or ‘our world’ has to be in certain ways that the mind would like it to be, or the way that the mind thinks and believes how it should be, is the greatest form of selfless/unconditional love towards ‘the world’.

Many people including ‘yoga enthusiasts’ might disagree with this, where they perceive ‘silence’/’renunciation’/’non-association’/’dispassion’ as a form of ‘selfishness’/’irresponsibility’/’wrongfulness’, as they believe everyone’s duty of humanity is to be actively/passionately engaging in the worldly/social affairs/activities performing actions to ‘create’ a world/society the way that they like/desire/aspire, to ‘make’/’control’/’influence’ the world/society to be the way that they think how it should be, to be all ‘good’ and ‘right’ according to what they think and believe is ‘good’ and ‘right’, to be empowering/protecting/propagating their own particular ideas/visions/values, while either intentionally or unintentionally, condemning/interfering/intruding/oppressing/intimidating/eliminating/fighting/declaring war against others who are different from them, who don’t embrace the similar ideas/visions/values, who might be obstructing ‘my desire/aspiration towards ‘having’ a world that I think how it should be’. And that’s their freedom of thinking, action and reaction.

Looking after one’s mind embracing silence being at peace unconditionally free from ignorance, egoism, restlessness and all kinds of impurity, it’s the purest selfless/intentionless form of ‘karma yoga’ contributing to the society, even without much contact/involvement/association with the society and allowing the society being what it is.

Actions that arise/come from intention/desire/aspiration to ‘influence’/’change’/’control’/’create’ a world/society to be the way that ‘I’ desire it to be, that ‘I’ think and believe how it should be, are nothing to do with ‘karma yoga’, even if it’s out of what the mind thinks and believes as ‘good’ and ‘rightful’ intention/aspiration.

All and everything being here forming ‘the world’ being what it is, where the mind perceives ‘a world of names and forms through the senses’, but the world doesn’t belong to anyone or the mind. Once the mind generates attachment and claims possession/ownership towards the world, taking the perception of a worldly existence/manifestation of impermanent and selfless names and forms as ‘my world’ or ‘our world’, there will be intention/desire/expectation/aspiration/protectiveness to ‘make’/’influence’/’control’/’limit’ the world to be the way that the mind would like it to be, or the way that the mind thinks and believes how it should be, which unwittingly lead to the existence of all kinds of discrimination, interference, intrusion, intimidation, oppression, clash, conflict, violence, and etc.

Once the mind is free from ignorance and egoism, transcending all the different qualities of names and forms, being unattached towards or undetermined by ‘goodness’ and ‘badness’, ‘rightfulness’ and ‘wrongfulness’, ‘positiveness’ and ‘negativeness’, ‘meaningfulness’ and ‘meaninglessness’, this mind could be performing selfless/intentionless ‘actions’ in the world that promote peace and harmony effectively among the different names and forms, while allowing the world to be what it is, being impermanent and selfless, without possessiveness towards the world, without expectation/aspiration towards the world has to be in certain ways that ‘I’ like/desire/aspire, that ‘I’ think and believe how it should be, is truly ‘loving’ the world.

Peace manifest as it is when the mind transcends ‘goodness’ and ‘badness’, ‘rightfulness’ and ‘wrongfulness’, ‘positiveness’ and ‘negativeness’, ‘meaningfulness’ and ‘meaninglessness’, ‘action’ and ‘inaction’. But for that to happen, the mind needs to know how to look after itself that would free the mind from ignorance, egoism, restlessness and all kinds of impurity. Or else, the mind thinks and believes that everyone needs to perform actions to achieve ‘goodness’, ‘rightfulness’, ‘positiveness’ and ‘meaningfulness’ and getting rid of ‘badness’, ‘wrongfulness’, ‘negativeness’ and ‘meaninglessness’, in order to have peace and harmony in the world/society.

Beware of the hidden/subtle ‘ambition’/’desire’/’aspiration’/’intention’ that feed ignorance and egoism, that pulls the mind further away from yoga, while thinking and believing that “I am a good yogi performing lots of karma yoga to help the world to be a better place.”

Look into the world, where most countries need to have ‘authority’ and ‘law enforcement’ to ‘control’ the society to behave and not behaving in certain ways, to ‘create’ a world/society that conform to certain ideas/values/visions/beliefs/practice. Peace cannot be achieved by ‘controlling’ people to behave and not behaving in certain ways, or to think and not thinking in certain ways.

Peace is there as it is, when everyone has self-control out of own free-will, minding their own mind and have peace in themselves, without interference/intimidation/intrusion towards others who are being different from one another, and there’s no need the existence of ‘authority’ or ‘law enforcement’ to ‘control’ people should and shouldn’t behave or think in certain ways, that leads to further ignorant actions and reactions, violence, unrest and disharmony.

Be free.

Learn to be alone and independent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be free, we don’t need to be someone important to be happy and peaceful…

The one who needs to be and feel ‘I’ am someone important, and keeps looking forward to possess certain qualities of name and form to be attached onto and to be identified as who we are, to be better and greater, to feel meaningful and happy about oneself or one’s existence, is the ego.

The ego wants to be recognized, acknowledged and remembered as somebody ‘important’ or ‘great’. Some egos want to be recognized and remembered as bad and evil. As long as we attach onto either good or bad qualities to be who we are, we are not free.

Be free from the ego. We don’t need to be important or great, whether in good or bad qualities, to be who we are. It’s knowing how to love and accept the impermanent body and mind as they are, without expecting ourselves to be identified as somebody whom we are not, that makes everything meaningful. It’s not about ‘I’ want to be important, or ‘I’ want to do something great, or ‘I’ want to feel meaningful, or ‘I’ want my existence to be meaningful. We do our best by making use of the present condition and ability of the physical body and the thinking mind, to serve oneself and others, but without identification with all the qualities of name and form that we have or don’t have, without attachment towards the impermanent condition and ability of the body and mind, what the body and mind can do and can’t do, and all the past and present actions and inactions.

One can be free from the ego and still performing lots of beneficial actions in the world, for oneself and others, without identification of ‘I’ am good, or important, or great, without attachment towards ‘I’ am performing good, or important, or great actions. Without the desire or intention of ‘I’ want to serve humanity, or ‘I’ want to feel good and happy and meaningful.

Be free.

Selflessness and selfless service is not the same as self-sacrifice

Selflessness and perform selfless service is the main part of yoga practice. It’s about performing action without egoism. There is no ego or ‘I’, and hence, there’s no attachment or identification with the actions and the fruit of actions. Selflessness and selfless service is not about self-sacrifice. It’s not about sacrifice ‘myself’ to put other beings before ‘I’. They are two different things.

One can be performing many actions including yoga practice, rituals and self-sacrificed actions, but one isn’t practicing yoga if one doesn’t know what is performing action without egoism.

Be free from the idea of ‘I’ sacrifice ‘myself’ to put other beings and their benefits in front of ‘I’ and ‘my benefits’. But there’s no ‘I’ or ‘my benefits’ to be sacrificed for other beings. There’s no separation. There’s no this being and other beings. Be kind to others is being kind to oneself, and be kind to oneself is being kind to others.

There’s no sacrifice.

Om shanti.

‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ is part of the human cultural values and practice, it’s nothing to do with yoga…

‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ is part of the human cultural practice, it’s nothing to do with yoga.

Gratitude, gratefulness and thankfulness are not necessarily has to be expressed in words like ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’.

Selfless actions are not influenced by human cultural values and beliefs. It is being performed whether there is politeness, acknowledgement, appreciation, gratitude, gratefulness, thankfulness, or not, before the actions, in the process of the actions, and after the actions.

If people want to say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’, let them be. Our actions are not determined by these ‘words’ or ‘appreciation’ from anyone.

If people don’t say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’, let them be. Our actions are not determined by the absence of these ‘words’ or ‘in-appreciation’ from anyone.

If we need to hear other people to say ‘Please’ for us to do something for them, or to give something to them, then only we will perform actions ‘happily’, then we are not really practicing yoga.

If we need to hear other people to say ‘Thank you’ to us for doing something for them, or giving something to them, then only we will feel satisfied and worthy, then we are not really practicing yoga either.

If it is something beneficial for everyone, without anyone says ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’, we will do it out of compassion.

If it is something detrimental for anybody, even somebody says ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’, we won’t do it out of compassion.

Perform all our actions, free from the influence of personal human cultural values and practice, free from egoism, identification, attachment, expectation, craving and aversion, go beyond worldly cultural thinking and beliefs.

There’s no ‘I’ to be ‘performing’ actions. There are no actions being ‘performed’. There’s nobody ‘benefited’ from ‘my’ actions. There’s no ‘I’ to be ‘receiving’ the fruit of actions. Although there are actions being performed through the mind and the body.

The elements of fire, wind, water, earth and ether don’t need any politeness, acknowledgement, appreciation, gratitude, gratefulness, thankfulness from anything and anyone to be performing their ceaseless actions of giving, providing and supporting everything and everyone to be existing.

Be free.

Contribution to the society begins with the realization of unconditional love and peace in oneself…

When one realizes the truth of names and forms, and has gone beyond all the qualities of names and forms, realizes unconditional love and peace in oneself, then naturally one radiates love and peace into the world, without intention, desire, identification, attachment, prejudice or discrimination.

Just by being oneself as it is, have love and peace in oneself, have self-awareness and self-control, being free from ignorance, egoism, attachment, identification, desires of craving and aversion, and impurities of pride, arrogance, anger, hatred, greed, jealousy, fear, worry, dissatisfaction, disappointment, feelings of hurt and guilt, violence, agitation, depression, judgment, expectation, prejudice, discrimination and etc, is the greatest contribution to the society.

One won’t be intentionally generate ill-thinking, ill-will, actions or speech that will promote unpeacefulness and disharmony in oneself and in others (human beings and non-human beings) who are sharing this space of the universe.

Whether one is able to be physically performing actions that will bring different types of selfless contribution to the society or not, it is something that will happen naturally as it is.

One who is free from ignorance and egoism is free from intention to be doing good or bad. Just like the elements of fire, water, wind, earth and ether. There’s no desire nor intention to benefit anyone nor to destroy anything, and yet, everything exists and stop existing influenced by these elements.

If we think we will be good enough if we are performing some actions or can have the opportunity to do something that we think is ‘contribution’ to the society, and we are not good enough if we are not performing some actions or can’t have the opportunity to do something that we think is ‘contribution’ to the society, then we are not free yet. Although by having such thinking will motivate us to be performing certain actions or to do something that will bring benefits to the society. But that is nothing to do with realization of the truth and be free from ignorance and egoism.

We can be performing none, or a little, or a lot of ‘selfless actions’ in this world, but there’s no intention, attachment, identification, desires, judgment or expectation towards all these actions and inactions. It doesn’t make us ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It doesn’t determine us to be ‘happy’ or unhappy, to feel ‘meaningful’ or ‘meaningless’.

Be free.

What do we want for ourselves and this life existence?

When we are asleep, the mind is busy with dreaming, unless it goes into deep sleep. When we are awake, the mind is always so busy with thinking, feeling, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, eating, playing, fulfilling desires, projection, imagination, anticipation, planning, creating ideas, generating agreements and disagreements towards what it comes in contact with, generating craving and aversion towards what it likes and dislikes, looking forward for social inputs, interactions, communications and expression, to know, to share, to be doing something all the time. It needs to get attention from the outside world, to acknowledge its existence and contribution in the world. Being restless all the time. Or else it gets bored, feels lonely and meaningless.

That’s why some people are spending lots of time in everyday life on yoga and meditation practice in solitude to calm down and quiet the mind, moving the mind away from worldly desires and activities, free the mind from restlessness, to render it one-pointed and stilled, to contemplate upon the truth. Using this body and mind to perform the greatest selfless service to the universe, which is our own liberation. If we are not free, how can we help other beings to be free, or expect the world to be free form suffering?

This is a natural activity to those who are disgusted with the restlessness of the mind, and sincerely want to be free from this conditional and limited worldly life existence of qualities of names and forms, be free from the offensive and defensive egoism, be free from limitless selfish desires and dissatisfaction, be free from suffering that arise from ignorance and impurities, egoism and attachment, cause and effect, birth and death.

When ourselves has attained liberation, realize the unconditional love and peace beyond the body and the mind, we may or may not, perform actions out of compassion and wisdom, to serve other beings, to help other beings to be free as well, without attachment nor obligation.

Without peace, wisdom or compassion, without non-attachment and non-expectation, we cannot fully help the world efficiently, even if we have great intention to make the world a better place, as we will be affected, disturbed, influenced and determined by other people’s actions and reactions, our own actions and reactions, and the result of our actions. We are contributing negativities into the world while trying to keep the world away from negativities that we don’t like and don’t agree with.

We want to be free to have our own choice, thinking, beliefs, and goals of life. We also need to allow other beings to have freedom of choice, thinking, beliefs, and having different goals of life. It is so contradicting when we want to have the freedom to be what we want to be, do what we want to do, but we try to control and change other beings who are different from us, whom we dislike and disagree with, expecting other beings to be the way that we think they should be, or the way that we like and agree with.

Those who love being restless, who like to enjoy worldly activities, who are passionate towards worldly affairs and objects, shall continue spending most of the time in everyday life being busy chasing after worldly objects of names and forms, to try to satisfy the limitless desires, or with great ambition to contribute to the world with some positive policies, creative ideas and talents, try to change the world to be the way that we like it to be, to make this life existence as meaningful as possible, as successful as possible.

There’s nothing wrong with ‘enjoying’ this life existence as much as possible before the function of this body and mind comes to an end. Be happy with ourselves, who we think we are, and what we want for ourselves. But with self-control that we do not generate harmful effects onto other beings while fulfilling our desires.

Most important, is knowing what we really want with this impermanent worldly life existence through the conditional and limited function of this body and this mind that is not in our control at all, totally depending on energy and elements to be functioning and existing.

No matter what we want for ourselves, we accept the consequences of all the choices and actions being performed through this body and mind. We accept reality as it is after doing our best for ourselves and for others.

Om shanti.

Yoga workshops?

Strength, flexibility, stamina and skills to perform the asana poses are not attained just by a few hours of practice in a workshop, but consistent practice regularly after attending a workshop, will bring tremendous improvement in all these elements.

Peace and compassion is not determined by how fit and strong we are physically, but with a strong and healthy body it allows us to perform yoga sadhana and karma yoga selfless service for ourselves and other beings to evolve in life.

Om shanti.

My life stories – Part 6

My life stories – Part 6
Stories from my past memories – childhood, family, friends, growing up, poverty, integrity, dreams come true, finding peace and happiness, Buddhism, Yoga, and now…

I continued my journey of yoga and Buddhism after the library finished. One day in April 2004, my employer from a dance studio where I had been teaching aerobics classes for many years had called me in the afternoon and asked me if it was possible for me to teach a yoga exercise class for her that evening. The yoga teacher couldn’t make it and it wasn’t the first time. Somehow, I was free that evening, even though I was always busy with teaching classes everyday. I took up the offer because it meant extra money for me. I had to continue to support my parents after I came back from the world sport aerobics championship in France. I had to teach many classes everyday to make a living at that time. The pay for aerobics instructor wasn’t very high.

I taught some yoga exercise classes in the past before, but not for long. I wasn’t interested at all in teaching yoga exercise classes. I thought yoga exercise class was really boring. I was more interested in disco dancing and vibrant cardio fitness exercises with energetic music. That was why I enjoyed doing and teaching aerobics dance very much. At that time, most of the yoga poses were contradicted with the rules and regulations of the fitness teaching industry. Lots of the yoga poses would be categorized as dangerous physical positions with high risk of injury. I didn’t think that I would be teaching yoga one day. Of course, there’s a huge difference between teaching yoga and teaching yoga exercise classes. We maybe doing some yoga poses everyday, but it doesn’t mean that we are practicing yoga. Vice versa, we maybe not doing any yoga poses everyday, but it doesn’t mean that we are not practicing yoga.

There was a situation in Malaysia around twenty five years ago, where the yoga teachers criticized the aerobics exercises were harmful to the physical body and the aerobics instructors criticized the yoga poses were promoting serious physical injuries. There were many women came to ask me why did the yoga people said that aerobics dance could cause their uterus to drop. There were rumours circulating in the fitness industry that doing yoga exercises could cause serious neck injuries, back problems, knee problems, blindness, stroke and some other side-effects. It was like a war of criticism between the aerobics fitness industry and the yoga industry for attacking their competitor, to get the people from the other side to support their products and services. As well as the aerobics instructors and the yoga instructors also tried to protect their source of income to get more people to join their classes and stop their existing clients from leaving to join other exercise classes by saying bad things about some other types of exercise that they don’t teach.

But we can’t put traditional yoga asana practice and aerobics dance exercise in the same category, or apply the same rules and regulations on them. They are completely two different forms of practice. Yoga asana practice is very slow pace, gentle, stilled body positions, very few repetitive movements, non-competitive and almost without impact. Meanwhile aerobics dance exercises are fast pace, violent, lots of high speed repetitive movements, competitive and with much higher impact. Above all, yoga asana practice is not about fitness training, although it enhances people’s health and fitness level as one of the by-products when it’s being practiced regularly. But there’s nothing wrong when people use the yoga asana exercises as a form of fitness training. Just that enhanced physical health and fitness level have nothing to do with the realization of unconditional love and peace. One can be very healthy and fit physically, but the mind might be not free from egoism, ignorance, impurities and suffering.

I honestly told the students in the replacement yoga class that I wasn’t a trained or certified yoga teacher, but I knew some yoga poses that I could guide them as an exercise class. I didn’t know that yoga was about self-evolution, peace and compassion, which wasn’t any different from the teachings and practice of Buddhism. I thought yoga was just some stretching exercises originated from India to promote good health, fitness and beauty. That was what I learned from the yoga classes at the yoga and aerobics dance academy in Petaling Jaya where I had worked more than twenty five years ago. In those forty five minutes yoga exercise classes, they only taught some yoga poses as a form of physical exercise and never talked about any yoga teachings or philosophy at all.

The response from the students in the replacement yoga class was very good and the majority of them had requested me to teach them once a week of yoga exercise class. I told them again that I was only a qualified aerobics instructor, that I wasn’t a yoga teacher, but they said that they didn’t mind.

So I started teaching yoga exercise classes once a week and getting higher pay than from teaching aerobics classes. Initially my intention for teaching yoga classes was to earn more money. But very soon that intention was gone and replaced with gratitude and loving kindness to share yoga with many others.

I learned that there’s a huge difference between the aerobics students and the yoga students. The behavior of the people was different. The atmosphere of the classes was very different. It was calm and peaceful in the yoga class and everyone seemed to be happy and content. I was calm, relaxed and refreshed after teaching a yoga class. I could feel the energy in my body was vibrating differently from teaching aerobics classes.

One day, one of the yoga exercise class students had doubted my qualification and asked me what type of yoga I was teaching and what were the Sanskrit names of the yoga poses and what were their benefits. I was very honest, and told her that I didn’t know what type of yoga it was, and I guessed the yoga exercises were to promote good health, fitness and beauty, and I didn’t even know what were the names of the yoga poses in English, not to say in Sanskrit.

I didn’t feel bad at all for being questioned about my qualification because I knew I wasn’t a yoga teacher. I didn’t pretend to be one. But that little conversation had initiated a strong desire in me to look for a yoga school to learn yoga. I wanted to know what yoga is. I wanted to teach yoga classes because I thought they were very good for me and everyone, and I wanted to be a responsible yoga teacher.

Besides teaching once a week of yoga exercise class at that dance studio, I also conducted a few yoga exercise classes at my own studio, where the response was very good as well. This had encouraged me deeper to pursue my wish to learn all and everything about yoga. I am thankful to everyone who had been influencing me, supporting me and encouraging me to learn and practice yoga.

It was September 2004. My sport aerobics mentor cum partner helped me to search through internet for Sivananda Ashram in India which was recommended by a yoga teacher in Singapore. I was in Singapore for a couple of weeks to update myself on the latest aerobics dance exercises in one of the famous fitness clubs in Singapore. Many years ago they started with one fitness studio and then they had maybe seven branches everywhere in Singapore years later. The lady boss was a very smart and kindhearted person. She wanted to employ me as her instructor when we met for the first time, but I wasn’t interested to work in Singapore. Once every two or three years, I went there to update myself by attending different types of fitness classes under many different fitness instructors. It also allowed me to have a break and not getting burnout from teaching classes all the time. That year, I attended most of the yoga classes as well, which I never did before in the past years. I never thought that one day I would be teaching yoga or practicing yoga. Unfortunately, many of the yoga teachers there didn’t know what they were doing. They had to keep looking at a notebook while giving the instructions to the students in the yoga classes. But then there was a particular yoga teacher who actually knew what she was doing, and I felt the calmness flowing through her that spread over everyone in the class, including me. So, I asked her for advice about where could I go to learn yoga. She didn’t say much but just gave me a name ‘Sivananda’. But that was already helpful enough.

I didn’t have a computer and never surfed the internet before. I knew nothing about information technology. I didn’t have an email account. My mentor said that he could help me to search the internet for ‘Sivananda’. He found the website for International Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Ashram in Kerala, South India, and printed out the registration form for me. Without any hesitation, or tried to look for some other yoga schools to compare, immediately I filled up the form and sent it off with the 300 USD deposit the next day, hoping to get a place for the yoga teachers training course in January 2005. The 300 USD was all the savings I had at that time. But I didn’t worry about how I could get the rest of the money.

I needed more than 15,000 Ringgit for me to go to India – the course fee, the flight ticket, the money for my parents and my car installment. My mother was ill at that time. She had a stroke for the third time and became paralyzed. Every month, I gave 1,800 Ringgit to my parents and left a few hundred Ringgit for my own living. Knowing that my sister might take away the money that I gave to my parents to pay her debts and bills, we didn’t tell my sister how much money I gave to my parents every month. Only my uncle knew about this because sometimes I passed the money to him to bring to my parents who were living with my sister in another town about an hour drive from where I lived.

Though initially I didn’t have all the money for the rest of the course fee, I never asked the Ashram to give me any discount, or asked for any special rates.

There are many people involved in running the Ashram and the courses. They contribute their time and effort in making the courses to be available to the people. The fees that we give to the Ashram is supporting the Ashram to be able to continue doing what they are doing – giving opportunities to many people to come to the Ashram to learn and practice yoga. It isn’t about give and take. It’s not about paying some fees or working as a volunteer for the Ashram in exchange for something that we want in return. When people volunteer to work in the Ashram is not about in exchange for free food and accommodation and free yoga classes, or to gain credits of working and teaching experiences to put into their profile as experienced yoga teacher who had been working and teaching in an ashram, though many people come to the Ashram with such intention. It is merely performing selfless service without selfish intentions and desires, without expecting anything in return, to eliminate the ego. At that time, people need to pay 200 USD per month to the Ashram if they want to live and work as volunteers in the Ashram. It’s not about what can I get from paying some fees to you or volunteering for you. There’s no guarantee that after we paid the fees or volunteering for the ashram, we will attain peace and happiness, and be free from ignorance and suffering.

People who are volunteering in the Ashram aren’t perfect either. If we feel disturbed by their imperfection it isn’t because they are not good enough or they didn’t do things right, but it’s because we expect them to be perfect, to be the way that we think they should be. We are disappointed by our own expectation that they should be wise and compassionate beings in order to work in the Ashram. But they are just like everyone else who try to do their best for themselves and for others. They also will have bad days and bad moods. They also need other people to be patient and compassionate towards them for being imperfect.

My mentor didn’t only help me in making my dreams come true, but he had also helped me in the connection with yoga. The first few emails between the Ashram and me were sent through his email address. He would inform me whenever the ashram sent me an email and he would reply the email for me. For all that he had done for me without asking anything in return, I am always grateful and indebted to him. He also looked after me when I was in financial difficult moments where my income from teaching aerobics classes wasn’t enough to support my family. He would pay for my food when we ate together after our sport aerobics training sessions. Sometimes my brothers would borrow money from me for them to have food to eat. During the worst days, I gave all my scarce savings to my brother who had no money for food, and I was using the coins in my piggy bank to get my own food. Less than two hundred Ringgit of coins was all that I had for the month until I get my next pay, and that was enough for me to survive for one whole month.

I decided to close down the aerobics dance studio before I left for India. I called my cousin in Singapore and asked him if he could lend me a few thousand Ringgit if I didn’t manage to get enough money when January arrived. Though he wasn’t rich he said he would help me out if I needed the money, but it turned out that I didn’t have to borrow any money from him or anyone at all.

Not long after I made the phone call to my cousin, some students started to recommend me to teach yoga classes and aerobics classes in some other studios. From my usual income about two thousand five hundred Ringgit a month, it had increased to about seven thousand Ringgit for the next three months. I had earned the biggest amount of money that I had ever earned before. Though I had to work very hard by teaching a lot more classes within that few months, I managed to save enough money to go to India.

A few weeks after I sent in my registration form, the people in the ashram informed me that I was confirmed a place and that I should prepare myself by reading the Bhagavad Gita. I had no idea what it was and I didn’t know where to get it. A few days later, an Indian woman came to join my aerobics classes. I talked to her about my wish to study yoga in India and asked her if she knew anything about the Bhagavad Gita. And she told me that her husband was a direct disciple of Swami Sivananda since he was a little boy, and he had been studying the Bhagavad Gita everyday. She told me that he would be happy to lend me the book.

It was two months before the course. I got the book of Bhagavad Gita commented by Swami Sivananda (published in 1989) which I finished reading within a few days. It had touched my heart deeply. I could naturally understand and resonate with all the teachings in the Bhagavad Gita. I realized that the teachings of yoga wasn’t any different from the teachings of Buddhism. It was what I always believing in and practicing all the time. This realization had strengthened my faith in the path of yoga and Buddhism, and had no fear to go to India for the first time by myself.

My departure flight to India was just two weeks after the deadly tsunami which hit Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, the Andaman Islands, Thailand and Northern Malaysia on the 26th of December 2004 that caused so much damages and casualties. Many people said that it was a bad timing to go to India as there were many diseases brewing not long after the tsunami. But it didn’t stop me from going. I was determined.

Initially the course was fully booked for more than two hundred participants, but many people didn’t turn up or had cancelled their trip to India because of the tsunami. And so there were about one hundred and sixty something people turned up for the course. My husband, whom I haven’t met at that time, actually was on the waiting list, and he got a place in the end because of the many cancellations. That was also how we got to know each other while attending the same course.

There was purification process happening in our body and mind when we went through intensive learning and practicing yoga in a course like that. There were past accumulated physical, emotional and mental blockages being released during the course. Different people experienced different types of purification. Most people cried a lot. Some of them went to the teacher for explanation because they didn’t understand why they feel like crying after the yoga practice even though they weren’t unhappy about anything. Some people got very impatient and agitated about many things. Some people had diarrhea, while others had constipation problem. Some people kept missing classes because they felt physically and mentally exhausted from the intensive practice and the disciplined daily schedule. Some of the students would get angry with the teachers when they didn’t get what they want and like. Some strongly disagreed with the teachings of yoga because they had strong attachment and identification with their own thinking and beliefs that were different from the teachings of yoga, and they even shouted at the teachers with bad words in front of the class. There was so much anger and hatred in these people. Again, that’s their freedom for what they wanted to think and feel and react, and it was part of the purification process.

Yoga is about attaining peace and harmony in oneself through respecting many other different types of thinking and beliefs that are existing in the world, even if we can’t agree with them. And we don’t have to agree with them, but we don’t have to be disturbed, or angry and hating either. But for some people, they believe that only their particular way of thinking and beliefs are right and good, while any other thinking and beliefs that are different from theirs, are wrong and bad. And they get irritated, angry and hating other people for being different from them. May them be free from anger and hatred, and find peace and harmony.

Some people left the course halfway because they didn’t agree with the teachings and they were really unhappy to be continuing the course. They came to learn yoga but it wasn’t the yoga that they were looking for. They wanted to learn yoga that wasn’t yoga. Some people even insisted that the yoga taught in the Ashram is not real yoga, but the yoga exercise classes that they attended at home that didn’t talk about any yoga teachings is real yoga. People can think and say what they want, and manipulate yoga into something that they prefer, but yoga is still yoga. While some others left the course because they didn’t want to go through the unpleasant purification process, and some felt that it was too intense for them to follow all the disciplines. In the end there were around one hundred and fifty five people had completed the course.

I was sicked for the first three weeks, but I never missed any classes. I didn’t ask for any medicine or go to a doctor. I knew that it was part of the purification process. I just observed and endured the inconvenience and discomforts coming from being sicked during that three weeks.

One evening after the dinner, I was studying the teachings of yoga in the office area as there was better lighting in the office than in the dormitory. There was also a proper bench and desk to do some writing. And then there were a few female students came in to see the teacher. They had some problems with some other yoga students that they wanted to complain to the teacher. The teacher looked at me, and then told them, “Look at her. She looks after herself. She doesn’t need to come to the teacher to complain about anything.”

After I came back from India, I found the Chinese version of the Bhagavad Gita on my book shelf. It was given to me more than sixteen years ago as a present from an ex-aerobics student. I never had any interest at all to pick up that book to read, but somehow I still kept it on my book shelf. And then, I realized that the Bhagavad Gita (the essence of yoga) was always with me, but I didn’t know. And now, this Chinese version of the Bhagavad Gita is with somebody who is at the right time to have it.

I wasn’t a person who liked to read books, but I read many of Swami Sivananda’s books after I came back to Malaysia, and they were all strongly connected to my heart. It was like a direct teaching from Swami Sivananda. Like all the other Dhamma teachers I had never met in person, I always feel that he is with me all the time, guiding me in silence. The Dhamma passes through this body and mind to other beings who need guidance to find their way back to their nature of unconditional love and peace.

Some people might criticize my classes and myself as a person for being very intense because I practice and teach about letting go of egoism. It makes no difference to me whether people compliment or criticize me. Everyone has the freedom to like or dislike anybody. That’s their freedom of thinking, action and speech. Those with strong ego and attached strongly onto certain qualities of name and form to be identifying as who they are, and they take pride in being who they think they are, they don’t like to hear the teachings of yoga about eliminating the ego. But I don’t and can’t teach what other people expect me to teach, and I can’t not teach what other people don’t like and don’t want to learn or practice. I teach yoga. Everyone who comes for the yoga classes is learning how to identify the ego and let go of the ego. Of course, it’s up to their own free will whether they want to practice yoga as it is, or not. I can only tell the students if there are some teachings or practice that they don’t like and don’t agree with, that they don’t want to learn or practice, they don’t have to learn or practice them and they can just put them aside. If one day they think they want to take up those teachings and practice, then they can come back for them.

If people don’t like to practice yoga about letting go of the ego, attachment and identification, no one can force them. The teachings of yoga teach about respecting everyone’s freedom of thinking, actions and speech, for what they want to do with themselves, their lives, their bodies and minds. Everyone takes the responsibility for the consequences of their own actions and inactions, for what they believe and disbelieve, for what they want and don’t want. No one can control or purify other’s mind. It is up to everyone’s own effort and free will to control and purify one’s mind. The teachings of yoga never condemn anyone who doesn’t like the teachings of yoga, or who doesn’t want to practice yoga as it is, or who misunderstands about yoga, or who criticizes yoga. Anyone can take up any yoga practice and practice anyway that they like, or do whatever they like with yoga, or they can stop practicing yoga for any reasons. There’s no condemn, or sin, or punishment.

Those who practice yoga, they don’t condemn nor criticize. Vice versa, those who condemn and criticize, they don’t practice yoga. We share yoga out of compassion, not out of egoism thinking that “Yoga is good for everyone. Everyone should practice yoga, and practice properly in a particular way, or else they are insulting the sacredness and purity of yoga.” One type of medicine may cure a person’s illness but may not necessarily has the same effect on another with the same illness, or would it cure some other form of illnesses. People react differently towards the same medicine and have different tolerance towards certain side-effects of that medicine which appear differently on different people. Some people may be a good friend for many others, but may not be a good partner or good parent. There are people dislike and disagree with the teaching and practice of yoga. That is their freedom. We can’t expect or force everyone to like yoga and practice yoga as it is. There are people who never heard about the teachings of yoga and don’t do any yoga practice in a particular name and form, but they are selfless, compassionate and peaceful beings. And if yoga is something sacred and pure, how can it be insulted or contaminated by anything at all?

Some people kept modifying the traditional yoga practices into many different new styles and versions to suit the preferences of what people like and don’t like, what they want and don’t want. Though there’s nothing wrong with that in terms of business marketing strategy and customer service and value, but then the yoga teachers are not really teaching yoga, and the students are not really practicing yoga. Instead it is empowering the egoism, attachment, identification, worldly thinking, ideas and habits, and encouraging the desires of craving and aversion of the egoistic mind. When we practice yoga, we stop giving the egoistic mind what it likes and wants. No doubt that sharing yoga is about sharing love and happiness. Yoga teachers are there to guide the yoga students on how to attain unconditional love and happiness by letting go the egoistic desires of craving and aversion. It’s not about giving them what they like and want, or don’t give them what they don’t like and don’t want, to gratified their desires of craving and aversion, to make them feel loved, satisfied and happy. They feel satisfied and happy is because they are getting something that they like and want, and not getting anything that they don’t like and don’t want. It doesn’t help them to be free from the desires of craving and aversion, to realize unconditional love and happiness. Once they don’t get what they like and want, and are getting something that they don’t like and don’t want, they will feel dissatisfied, disappointed, unhappy, or miserable. This is moving away from what yoga is about.

It isn’t a pleasant experience when one learns the truth of one’s impure egoistic mind. Most people would want to runaway. Those who have the courage to confront the impurities in the mind will also need strong discipline and will-power to purify the mind. The mind purification process requires tremendous patience, perseverance, determination, tolerance, forbearance, forgiveness, adjustment, adaptation, accommodation and acceptance. The entire practice is all about letting go of the egoism, attachment, identification, desires, craving and aversion, and eventually seeing the truth of things as they are and be free from egoism, ignorance, impurities and suffering. All these teachings and practices seem to be anti-social and unpractical in the modern society for the worldly minded people.

Even when some people think that they love yoga and like to practice yoga, but actually what they really love is what they like and want, and what they can get from yoga. And there’s nothing wrong with that either.

There are many different paths in yoga to suit many people with different personalities and temperaments. But in the end, all are leading us back to oneness or non-separateness. If some people wanted to do yoga that is easy and pleasant for the egoistic mind, there’s nothing wrong with that. Enjoy doing the easy and pleasant yoga, and be happy. If people aren’t interested in attaining liberation from ignorance and suffering, that’s their freedom.

Teaching yoga is not about trying to convince other people to believe in the teachings of yoga, or to persuade other people to like yoga and practice yoga, or recruiting many people to be our yoga students and joining our yoga classes, or to set as an example for others to imitate us, or to build a yoga empire. The students shouldn’t follow or imitate the teacher, or blind-believe in the teachings of yoga or what the teacher taught them. It’s guiding the students to be free from egoism, and allowing them to be free from attachment and identification towards any thinking and beliefs including the teachings of yoga, but to investigate into the truth of everything, to attain self-realization. Everyone may or may not need some guidance, but it’s up to everyone’s free will to change their own thinking and behavior by developing self-control and self-discipline over their own thinking, actions and speech, and attain self-realization be free from ignorance, and realize unconditional love and peace, and stopped hurting themselves and others. The teacher doesn’t and can’t control or change the students, but can only give them guidance and encouragement. The teacher and the student will meet at the right time and the right place naturally when the time has come, without the influence of egoistic selfish desires.

There’s nothing wrong when people think that when they feel unhappy or angry, feel hurt and disappointed, it’s nothing to do with their own ignorance and egoism, but instead, it’s everyone and everything that they come in contact with, that are bad and wrong, that cause them unhappiness and suffering. There’s nothing wrong when people believe in God or disbelieve in God. It is everyone’s freedom of thought, actions and speech. But when one starts to have strong attachment and identification with what they think and believe, there will be separateness, discrimination, prejudice, hatred, violence, fear and unrest in their minds towards others who are different from them. Some people even enjoy being angry and violent. They won’t feel good unless they get angry and violent.

I came back to Malaysia after the yoga teacher training course, finished all my savings, without any money left to buy food. My students who knew that I came home with no money left, they invited me to their home and also brought me out for food for many days. But, very soon I started earning my living again by teaching classes at home and a few other dance and fitness studios. I continued to teach aerobics classes and yoga classes, but with deeper understanding about yoga. I also immersed myself into regular yoga practice.

In February 2006, I went back for the advance teachers training course which was more for our own personal practice, or Sadhana, than to teach classes, which was another great learning process for me. Again, somehow I managed to save enough money, which was about 18,000 Ringgit, to go to India for four months this time.

Coincidentally, I met my husband again in the same course and we went travelling together in India after the teachers training course, to learn more yoga and meditation from other schools and teachers. We attended a three weeks long yoga course with Iyengar teachers, Swati and Rajiv Chanchani, in Dehradun. We also attended Vipassana silent meditation retreat in Dehradun after the Iyengar yoga course. During this meditation retreat, I went through a very intense purification process where lots of pimples broke out on my whole body and my face as well. I didn’t bother about it. It had lasted for one and a half years before it cleared out from my system completely.

We also went to Gangotri, Rishikesh and Dharamsala after the courses.

On the way to Gangotri, we stayed a night at the Gangnani hot springs. We wanted to do the pilgrimage walk towards Gaumukh from Gangotri along the hilly paths of the mountains, but my husband felt sicked after about three hours walk. He wanted to go back to the hotel in Gangotri to take rest and he asked me to follow the other pilgrims to continue walking towards Gaumukh, and he would wait for me at the hotel. I couldn’t let him going back by himself as he was complaining dizziness and fatigue. And so, I insisted to go back with him, taking over the backpack he was carrying, and slowly we walked back to Gangotri. On the way, I told my husband that I wished to see snowing, as I never saw it before. And surprisingly a few minutes later, snow flakes started falling down from the sky. By the time we arrived at out hotel, the weather became bad where hailstorm were raging. We were lucky to have came back down to Gangotri that day and didn’t continue our walk. There were others pilgrims came back later in the evening, all wet and tired, and it was freezing cold below zero degree. Some of the women were trembling in shock, as they were caught in the hailstorm and there were landslides and rocks falling down in front of them. And they had to turn back as the path was blocked by huge rocks. We didn’t stay the night at Gangotri in the end, as it was too cold and the hotel didn’t have a heater. We went back to Gangnani hot springs to stay the night instead. We also visited the Sivananda Kutir in Uttarkashi on the way to Rishikesh the next day.

My husband and I got very sicked from food poisoning that lasted for a month from the first day we arrived in Delhi after we left the Sivananda Ashram, where both of us took turn to take care of each other at our worst condition. We knew each other a lot deeper during that two and a half months traveling together, which led my husband came to Malaysia to be with me in 2007, and we got married in 2008.

My husband had left India before me, as he had to go back to France working for a refuge in the Pyrenees. I had another two weeks in India by myself before my flight back to Kuala Lumpur. I took the train from Delhi to Trivandrum which took more than 54 hours. I stayed a few nights in Kovalam, and then I went to stay in an ashram that looked after underprivileged children in Trivandrum until the day I flew back to Malaysia. These children were not orphans, but their parents were either too poor or didn’t have the time or effort to look after them properly at home. And so, they came to stay in the ashram and were given food, accommodation and educational support until they reached eighteen years old.

While I was in Trivandrum, I went to a shop ran by an Indian woman who was being friendly to me initially, but when I told her that I had been travelling with my husband (my boyfriend at that time) in India for the last couple of months, she was so disturbed and angry that she spat on me because my husband and I weren’t married at that time. I learned about other people’s different thinking and cultural belief and practice, and I wasn’t disturbed by her reaction but respected her cultural belief and practice. I left in peace and wished her be in peace too.

Though there is a very significant teaching of yoga about seeing God in all and everything, that God exists in all and everything, but one doesn’t need to believe in God or spirituality to practice the teachings of yoga. For those who don’t believe in God, this teaching can be taught as seeing the one same universal consciousness of all and everything, which is the truth of impermanence and selflessness, that there’s no ‘I’ or individual existence exists in everything or in all the impermanent changes. For those who don’t believe in God or the one same universal consciousness, this teaching can be taught as seeing the element of teacher in all and everything to teach us something to attain higher understanding about worldly life existence, and be grateful and thankful for all kinds of good and bad experiences. Those who truly implement this teaching in everyday life wouldn’t be disturbed or determined by all the pleasant and unpleasant experiences, and wouldn’t generate anger or hatred towards anyone or anything, but they would respect the law of impermanence in all the different qualities of name and form, and respect all the different types of thinking, belief and behavior that exist in the worldly community as they are. This teaching leads us to peace and harmony in ourselves and not generating violence, anger and hatred in ourselves and into the world. But if our minds are over-powered by strong egoism and have pride and arrogance about ourselves and our thinking and belief, we would find this practice impossible or very difficult, unless we are ready to let go of the ego, pride and arrogance.

Peacelessness and disharmony exist in our minds is due to the strong egoism, pride and arrogance, attachment and identification, craving and aversion, greed and discontentment, fear and worry, and all kinds of impurities empowered by ignorance or corrupted thinking and belief in the mind. One also generates restlessness and disharmony into the surrounding environment when one isn’t peaceful and harmony. If every being is free from ignorance, egoism and impurities, naturally the society will be free from separateness, discrimination, prejudice, hatred, violence, fear and unrest. If we want peace in the world, we must have peace in ourselves. Having peace and harmony in oneself is the only effective way to help the world to have peace and harmony among all the different qualities and diversities. By being violent, angry and hating others and happenings that we don’t like and disagree with, and provoke anger and hatred in other people to also be angry and hating those whom we think they are bad and wrong, it wouldn’t help the world to be peaceful and harmony as how we would like it to be, but instead, we contribute so much restlessness and disharmony into the world, it doesn’t matter how good and right we think we are.

After I came back from the advance teacher training course, I retired from teaching aerobics classes and focused on teaching yoga. I learned that aerobics dance exercises were very good for fitness, but it didn’t help people to come out from miseries. And yoga would lead us to self-transformation besides giving health and fitness benefits to the regular practitioners. Though myself was quite physically fit I never emphasized on the physical ability to perform the yoga asana practice. I emphasized on disseminating the Vedanta teachings in all the yoga classes.

Teaching yoga is definitely not a job. It’s sharing and learning at the same time. It’s in everyday life. It’s in every relationship we have with everyone and everything. Everyone and everything is an instrument for passing the Dhamma from one to another to purify all kinds of impurities.

Before my own self-transformation, I perceived the world as a suffering place, and I was very angry and disappointed and feeling meaningless most of the time. But after the transformation, I didn’t see that there was anything bad or good about this world. Unhappiness is here, happiness is here too. Hell is here, heaven is here too. They are not out there in the names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses. They are right here, right now, in our mind, upon how the mind reacts towards all the names and forms being perceived through the senses.

This was the story about how I had changed from teaching aerobics classes to teaching yoga. Everything was already there on the path for everyone. It was just waiting for the right time. Whether there were some good or bad experiences, they were all learning process for us to realize selflessness and compassion.

When we know what is yoga, we will know that teaching yoga has very little to do with qualification and certification coming from attending yoga teachers training courses. Yoga teachers training courses are for people to learn to become their own teacher. When one realizes the teacher within oneself, one will know that everything and everyone are teachers to teach everyone something. One will be free from discrimination and hatred towards anyone and anything, and will respect everyone and everything as they are. And naturally, one can also guide other people to become their own teachers to realize unconditional love and peace, without the need of any certifications, or authorization, or acknowledgement from anyone or any organizations.

It doesn’t matter whether we know the names of the yoga poses in English or Sanskrit, or not, and what type of yoga we practice and what are the benefits of the yoga exercises, because yoga practice is not about gaining the benefits from the yoga exercises at all, and knowing the names of the yoga poses and which type of yoga we practice have nothing to do with the realization of unconditional love and peace. It’s about letting go of egoism of attachment, identification, expectation, craving and aversion towards all our actions and the fruit of actions, or towards the yoga practice and the result of the yoga practice.

Yoga is about realizing compassion and selflessness through the practice of dispassion towards worldly objects and ideas, discrimination of what is real and unreal, eliminating the ego and quieting our own mind, and be free from all kinds of attachments, identifications, desires, craving, aversion and impurities. And all these practice have nothing to do with the impermanent condition and ability of the physical body to perform the yoga poses, or how many years we have been doing yoga exercises, or how much yoga exercises we had done, or how many yoga poses we can perform and whether we can perform the yoga poses in perfect alignment, or not. It’s also nothing to do with all the physical health and fitness benefits that come along as side-effects from the yoga practice. All these names and forms cannot guarantee or determine whether we know about yoga or not, whether we are practicing yoga or not, whether we can teach yoga or not, and whether we are free from ignorance and egoism, and be liberated from suffering, or not.

Many people including many yoga enthusiasts don’t like to hear about the practice of dispassion. They give themselves many reasons to justify themselves that they don’t need to be dispassionate, instead they promote passionate way of thinking and living. They said follow all our desires and live passionately. There’s nothing wrong with having desires and being passionate towards worldly life existence, self-image, ideas, ambitions and social activities, and everyone has the freedom to choose what they want to do with their life existence, but then it isn’t what yoga practice is about.

Dispassion towards worldly objects, ideas and activities helps to render the mind calm and quiet to be able to perform self-inquiry to know who we really are, or, who we are not. Passion invigorates strong attachment and identification with worldly life existence, the function and ability of the body and mind, and passionate desires of craving and aversion. Instead of quieting the mind, annihilating the worldly ideas and eliminating the ego, it is stimulating the mind, strengthening the worldly ideas and empowering the ego. Passion hinders the mind to see the truth of things as they are. But if people enjoy being passionate and don’t mind being restless, that’s their freedom.

Dispassion doesn’t mean that we have no love. It is loving the world and everyone as they are, without selfish desires or expectations, discrimination of likes and dislikes, attachment, identification, craving and aversion, not necessarily it’s the way that I like it to be, or the way that I think it should be.

Passion is loving the world and people with selfish desires and expectations, discrimination of likes and dislikes, attachment, identification, craving and aversion. It’s I love my world to be the way that I like it to be, or the way that I think it should be.

When one is free from ignorance and egoism, then there’s no difference between passion and dispassion. As one can live and perform actions passionately in the world, but is undisturbed and undetermined by one’s actions and the fruit of actions.

The realization of selflessness will allow us to be undisturbed or undetermined by whatever the mind perceives through the senses, and remain equanimous and be at peace unconditionally. When one has realized unconditional love and peace, one won’t be intentionally generating thoughts, actions and speech that will hurt oneself and others under any circumstances, which is compassion. And the realization of unconditional love and peace has nothing to do with the knowledge about anatomy and physiology, or the physical condition and ability and alignment to do the yoga poses.

Everyone can practice yoga and share the wisdom of yoga and its practice with anybody, when they are free from ignorance and egoism and have realized unconditional love and peace through their own persist and sincere practice. They don’t need a piece of commercialized paper to allow them to share love and peace with others. Those who haven’t realized unconditional love and peace in themselves, they can’t share love and peace with others even if they have been attending many yoga courses and possess many pieces of certifications. Those who think and believe that they need to attend professional yoga courses and acquire a few pieces of paper to accumulate credits to allow them to share love and peace with other people, then they don’t really know what is yoga. But their minds are influenced by worldly ideas and qualities of name and form.

All kinds of different yoga practices serve the purpose of influencing and purifying the mind preparing the mind for self-inquiry, or contemplation upon the truth of “Who am I?”

To practice yoga is not necessarily that we have to be doing some yoga asana exercises. Yoga asana practice is one type of the many yoga practices. Some people just do Japa and chanting alone. The practice of Japa and chanting generates harmonious vibrations to serve the purpose of influencing and purifying the mind. Some people just perform selfless service to eliminate egoism and attachment. Some just practice living in the present moment as they are. Some spend most of their time on contemplation. Some focus on observing their thoughts and have self-control over their actions and speech at all time. Same as all the other practices. Some people combine a few practice. Some practice all of the different practice. But in the end, all the different practice are related to one another when being practiced with non-attachment, non-identification, dispassion, right discrimination, desireless and free from craving and aversion. Ultimately is to free the mind from impurities to see the truth of names and forms as it is, and be free from suffering that derived from ignorance.

There are yoga centres that teach traditional yogic and meditation practices combine with the practice of dispassion, right discrimination, six fold virtues and the yearning for liberation that would gradually lead to the annihilation of egoism and ignorance. But most of the yoga classes we come across everywhere in the world are only about yoga asana and pranayama practice, and many are about using yoga asana practice as a form of fitness training to achieve fitness results, which is neither bad or wrong.

By doing some yoga asana and pranayama exercises regularly without the practice of dispassion, right discrimination, six fold virtues and the yearning for liberation, will bring some physical and mental benefits to the practitioners, but it doesn’t lead to the annihilation of egoism and ignorance, or be free from unhappiness and suffering. And thus, although people might have been practicing yoga and pranayama practice regularly, but if they still have strong attachment and identification with the worldly existence of the body and mind and are over-powered by the desires of craving and aversion, and have attachment towards their action and inaction and the fruit of action, then they would still be disturbed and determined by all the perceptions of name and form and have no peace, as the mind is in a state of restlessness being disturbed by ceaseless impurities arising and passing away in the mind due to the constant reactions coming from the ego towards all the perceptions of name and form generating craving and aversion towards what it likes and dislikes, agrees and disagrees with.

It’s not about how much good health, good feelings, physical strength and flexibility that we gain from practicing yoga, but whether there are less impurities and restlessness in the mind. There are less anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, pride, arrogance, ill-will, feelings of hurt, fear and worry. There is more peace and harmony. In the end, there’s only unconditional love and peace, being free from egoism, ignorance, desires, craving, aversion and suffering.

Traditionally, yoga asana practice is about holding a few different basic postures in stillness and at ease for as long as we are comfortable at. It’s knowing and respecting the limitation of this physical body without generating attachment, identification, craving and aversion towards its impermanent condition and ability. The skill, stamina, strength and flexibility will gradually develop as we practice regularly. In the beginning, when we first put our bodies and minds in certain positions that they aren’t familiar with, there will be certain degrees of discomfort or struggle and we need to exert great effort to perform the yoga asana practice. We need to endure the discomforts and be patient and persevere in our practice until one day the practice becomes steady and we can hold each position effortlessly for a prolong period of time.

There are many different variations of yoga poses that sprung from six basic positions. Yoga asana practice combines with the practice of pranayama serves the purpose of influencing the mind in different ways without using any external influences such like drugs or from another being, but using our own physical body and the breath as the tools. The purpose is mainly to balance and calm the mind so that the mind isn’t being overly elevated or depressed, while purifying the energy centres and channels, and unblocking any blockages, releasing physical, emotional and mental blockages. Instead of exerting energy in strengthening worldly ideas, desires and identifications, yoga practice is channeling the energy for realization of the truth, rendering the mind calm and pure to perceive the truth as it is.

The six basic positions are:-
1.) Inversions like headstand, shoulderstand and plough.
2.) Forward bends like sitting forward bend and standing forward bend.
3.) Backward bends like fish pose, cobra pose, locust pose and bow pose.
4.) Twists like sitting twist, standing twist and lying twist.
5.) Balancing positions like crow pose, peacock pose and tree pose.
6.) Side bends like standing side bend and sitting side bend.

Yoga asana practice is very different from the commercialized yoga fitness exercise classes. It’s beyond the physical fitness training. It isn’t about training the body to be able to perform complex exercises or challenging the physical body to go beyond its limitation to become super fit, flexible and strong. We don’t have to be physically fit, strong and flexible to perform yoga asana practice. But it’s using the physical body and the breath as tools to control our mind, to balance the mind, to purify the mind, to calm the mind, and eventually allowing the mind to be able to perceive the truth of things as they are under a pure and calm mind, and be free from egoism and ignorance, to go beyond the body and mind, to transcend suffering and have peace.

Yoga asana practice helps us to develop awareness and acceptance towards the reality that is not necessarily the way that we would like it to be. Being aware of all the impermanent changes in the physical body and the state of the mind, and allow all the changes to be what they are – accepting the impermanent condition of the physical body and the state of the mind as it is, from moment to moment. We learn to be undetermined by what our body can do and can’t do in the present moment. We learn to let go of pre-judgment that based on our past experiences. We let go of attachment and identification with the thinking and beliefs in the mind. We stop judging, comparing and expecting. We let go of attachment and expectation towards the existence and function of the body and mind. We let go of craving and aversion, passionate worldly desires, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, fear, worry, feelings of hurt, guilt, pride and arrogance. It’s letting go of the ego, and be free from ignorance and suffering that derived from egoism.

Though I didn’t have the rest of the money for paying the total expenses for me to go to India after I paid the 300 USD deposit payment for the course, the money came to me naturally when I needed it, without me worrying for it. But of course I had to work harder and work more to earn the money. It didn’t just fall down from the sky and land in front of me.

Yoga is not for sale, but the fees are important to support and allow other people to have the opportunity to come to the Ashram to learn about yoga. There are basic expenses that keep the Ashram running, to provide classes, food and accommodation for the students, and also to provide living and travel expenses, food and lodging for the many live-in ashram care takers as well. I never see teaching yoga as a job, or a business, but the fees coming from the students is supporting our living and enable us to have the time and space to perform our own practice, besides paying the cost to run the yoga retreats and maintaining the yoga studio. This allows us to continue doing what we are doing and allows some other people to come to us. It doesn’t matter if one day there will be nobody want to come to us to learn yoga from us. That is up to the universe. I didn’t have any intention to teach yoga, or to own a yoga centre, or to recruit yoga students.

Om shanti.


Want to learn and practice yoga? Put down the ego first…

In the old times when a person approached a yoga Guru or yoga teacher with the intention to learn about yoga and wanted to practice yoga, he would be very humble and patient to serve this Guru or teacher for many years.

It was actually a great process of purification for the mind, as well as eradicating the ego.

The Guru or the teacher didn’t teach him any so called yoga and meditation practices, not until his ego was eradicated and his mind was free from impurities. He would only be asked to observe some code of conducts (morality) and to do any works in the house or in the ashram as selfless service or Karma yoga (unattached to the action and the result of the action), to purify the mind and to eradicate the ego – This is also the practice of non-attachment.

By this stage, he had actually finished most of his yoga practice (attaining the state of selflessness), which was through purifying the mind, and be free from the ego and impurities. Naturally he would already have the wisdom and a clear mind to digest and absorb whatever the Guru or the teacher wanted to teach him.

And with a desire-less, pure and calm mind that didn’t wavering here and there, he could easily meditate in a firm and steady asana seat, his breath was naturally rendering calm, he could observe the mind and go beyond the mind effortlessly, not being disturbed by all the names and forms (sights, sounds, smells, taste, touch and thoughts), and attain the highest state of pure consciousness, pure existence, pure knowledge and pure bliss.

That’s why Sat Guru Swami Sivananda taught us to mind our own fundamental practice of purifying the mind and eradicating the ego, and everything will fall into place for us naturally when the mind is free from impurities and when the ego is eradicated.

When the mind is free from impurities and the ego is eradicated, we are our own Guru, our very own teacher… Here is where the path of Self-realization begins.

If we still need a Guru or a teacher to tell us and guide us what do we need to do or to answer the doubts in our mind due to ignorance, then we are still on the outside of the path of Self-realization.

Yoga = Selflessness = Ego-less = Unconditional and unlimited compassion and wisdom = Eternal peace = Yoga

If our “yoga and meditation practice” did not bring us towards ego-less or selflessness, compassion and wisdom, then that is because we haven’t go through the initial process of purification of the mind and eradication of the ego yet. It’s like a container without a closing bottom underneath, no matter how much water we pour into the container, the container can never hold any water in it.

If we put some very tasty food into a bowl that is full of dirts and impurities, then the food will be contaminated and doesn’t taste good anymore. Clean the bowl first, then we can put any food into it, and the food will be free from contamination of dirts and impurities, and will taste as good as it is.

Purify the mind, and all our doubts about everything will be disappearing by itself. The Truth will reveal itself to us naturally when the mind is calm and free from impurities. We will perceive everything as it is, not necessary the way that we want it to be perceived, or the way that we want it to be…

When the mind is pure, there is nothing can affect, or disturb, or influence, or determine us. We are what we are, as we are. We are not “this”, we are not “that”. We are not “happy” nor “suffering”. We are not “good” nor “bad”.

Being at the present moment

Before we start to learn any physical movements in performing any yoga practices, we must know what is yoga all about. All the yoga practices like asana, pranayama, concentration, meditation, yama, niyama, selfless service, chanting and etc, are there to help us to develop self-awareness and non-attachment.

The purpose of the asana practice is not about trying to achieve a perfect body, perfect strength and flexibility, or trying to go beyond the physical limitations.

The asana practice and pranayama, the breathing exercises are there to influence the energy, balance the energy, purify the energy, conserve the energy, stimulate the energy centers, restore the energy, and unblock any energy blockages in our system. This will directly influence the state of the mind and make the mind free from tensions, being calm and balanced.

When the mind is calm and balanced, wisdom will arise. We will know the truth of ourselves and everything else. When we know the truth, all kinds of ill-wills, ignorance and suffering will disappear. The world is still being what it is, but we will not be influenced by the world anymore whether to be happy or unhappy.

The very basic practice is to learn how to be at the present moment, observe the present moment, accept the present moment, and let go of the past instantly without attachment. Not project into the future. Not being disturbed or affected or influenced by the past experiences or the future imaginations.

Not being disturbed, or affected, or influenced by what the mind perceives through the senses of what we see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think. Remain equanimous, calm and at peace not being disturbed by all the happenings and experiences in the body, in the mind, in our life, in the surrounding, and in the world.

We are not the body, the body is not us and it doesn’t belong to us. We are not the mind, the mind is not us and it doesn’t belong to us either. The body and the mind is subject to impermanence. It is not in our control to want it to be the way that we like it to be. By understand this, we stop attaching to the body and the mind. We truly appreciate and be grateful of having this body and the mind for us to be here to experience so many things, to learn, to share, and to realize our true nature is not different from the universal consciousness. We take good care of this body and the mind without attachment, so that we can fully make good use of this life existence to be in the world to do so many things and to perform selfless service for ourselves and for all other beings.

This body and this mind doesn’t belong to us and what to say about relationships and all other things in the world that we can attain? We cannot control all these things to be the way that we want it to be. All these things are subject to impermanence. They will change and sooner or later they will be apart from us. we can only appreciate and enjoy while we are still being with all these things, temporarily. Once they have changed or gone, we have to let them go. If we couldn’t let go, that will create so much suffering and unhappiness in us.

Not attach to the body and the mind. Not attach to the thoughts, feelings and sensations that come from the body and the mind. Not attach to the likes and dislikes that come from the ego. Not attach to whatever the mind perceives through the senses. Not attach to what is happening in our life and in the world.

That is real non-attachment. There is no judgment, no comparison, no competition, no expectation towards ourselves or other people and things. All these judgment, comparison, competition and expectation come from the ego.

It doesn’t mean that we become selfish and doesn’t care for the world, and runaway from our duty and responsibility just like there are many people misunderstanding about the terms of non-attachment. It doesn’t mean that we ignore or deny the world, or don’t care for ourselves and other beings in the world.

We care a lot for ourselves and for all other beings, out of great compassion without selfish intention. We can perform so many beneficial actions for the well-being of ourselves and other beings. We can do whatever is possible to help the world to evolve and to become a better place. But without attachment. Without the intention to help ourselves, to help other beings or to help the world. Intention-less. Without the expectation that we or other beings or the world be will benefited from our compassionate actions. Non-expectation.

Just like the sun, the air, the water, the earth and the space. They just give, provide and support all living and non-living beings unlimitedly, unconditionally, unceasingly, tirelessly, inexhaustibly without discrimination of good or bad beings, ignorant or wise beings, pure or impure beings, happy or unhappy beings, ancient or modern beings… They embrace all and everything.

Without intention, they give. Without expectation, they give. Without attachment, they give…

That is selflessness, compassion, non-attachment…

We need to be able to take care of ourselves, know how to love and be kind and compassionate towards ourselves unselfishly, then only we can take care of others and will know how to love, be kind and compassionate towards all other beings. If we ourselves are not peaceful, not happy, full of selfishness, anger and hatred, don’t even like or love our own self, then how are we going to help others and share love, happiness and peace with others?

Without the expectation for the result of all our actions. Renounce the fruit of action. We perform all the actions that need to be done, but let the nature or the universal consciousness to take care of the result.

Just like shooting the arrow from the bow in our hand. We aim the arrow to the target with full attention, full sincerity, full effort. And then we let go of the arrow. Once we let go of the arrow, it is not in our control anymore whether the arrow will hit the target or not. There might be strong wind blew the arrow to the side. Maybe the target fall onto the ground due to certain reason. Maybe a bird just came in between the arrow and the target unexpectedly and got hit by the arrow…

And this is what we say, do our duty and carry out our responsibility sincerely with full attention and effort but without the identification as the doer of the action (merely performing action in serving the universal consciousness selflessly) and without attaching to the fruit of the action. Let the universal consciousness to take care of the result.

Without the identification as the doer of all these actions, this is actionless or more precise, inaction in action. This will stop the wheel of karma, the wheel of cause and effect, the wheel of birth and death.

Intentionless, non-expectation of the result, renounce the fruit of action, non-identification as the doer of the action. This is non-attachment that we are practicing all the time unceasingly in our heart, in our life, from moment to moment.

Observing everything at the present moment now as it is. Accept everything in the present moment now as it is. But at the same time allow changes or impermanence to happen, without resistance. Allow the opportunity for ourselves and everything to evolve, to improve and to become better, but without attachment, clinging, craving and aversion.

Without the intention to make things better, we are making things better. Without expectation for the result, we bring love, peace and happiness into people’s hearts. Without fear, worry, dissatisfaction and disappointment, we perform all our duty and responsibility. Free from tensions and unhappiness.

This will free us from the condition of the body and the mind, the condition of our life existence and the condition of the world that we are living in. The body and the mind is still being what it is, the life is still being what it is, the world is still being what it is, but we are not being disturbed, or affected, or influenced by all these things. There is no more fear, worry, doubt, irritation, frustration, dissatisfaction, disappointment, craving, aversion, unhappiness and ill-will etc…

When we are free from all tensions, the mind is calm and at peace. Wisdom will arise within us. With the presence of wisdom, ignorance disappears. We will know the truth of everything and able to accept the reality of everything as it is. We will become fearless and worry-less.

Without fear and worry, true happiness is here. Long and lasting peacefulness that is not subject to impermanence, is here. This true happiness and peacefulness is beyond the three states of the mind (actionless and dullness, action and passionate, calmness and lightness).

The states of the mind is subject to impermanence. They will change and disappear. But true happiness and peacefulness which is within ourselves all the time, they never disappear or change. They are always here in us. But when we are being disturbed by all the impurities in the mind, we are disconnected with this happiness and peacefulness which is our true nature. It is our true Self. It is not something that we attain from the outside, nor something that is given to us by somebody.

Our true Self is nothing but love, peace, compassion and wisdom. All these nature are not a quality. They are always here from before life existence, during and after life existence. They are always here unaffected by impermanence, qualities of good and bad, positive and negative, pleasant and unpleasant. They are always here uninfluenced by elements and energy. They are always here undisturbed by whatever the mind perceives through the senses, undisturbed by the thoughts, feelings and sensations, undisturbed by all the names and forms.

It is beginningless and endless. It is beyond birth and death. It is beyond name and form. It is beyond happiness and unhappiness.

It is pure existence, pure consciousness, pure knowledge, pure bliss.

If we know our true Self, we will be free from all the impurities that arise in the mind.

Nothing in the world can guarantee us true and lasting happiness. Not the knowledge, wealth, health, beauty, youthfulness, strength, mobility, relationship, success and achievement that we can attain in the world with this body and mind. It’s because the happiness that comes from all these things are subject to impermanence, it will change and disappear. They are dissatisfaction in nature from the beginning and until the end of life existence.

We can never be satisfied with the present knowledge, wealth, health, beauty, youthfulness, strength, mobility, relationship, success and achievement, because they will change and these changes are not in our control whether they will be the way that we want them to be. The more we try to resist or avoid impermanence, or try to stop impermanence to happen, the more disappointed, dissatisfied and unhappy we are.

When we understand the truth of impermanence, we will stop looking for momentary satisfaction or happiness that comes from things that are subject to impermanence. If we do, we will be disappointed and frustrated all the time.

Be grateful and thankful for the existing good things that we have now and appreciate every little good things and opportunity for us to evolve and to perform selfless service to serve all.

And what is the one thing that is not changing, not subject to impermanence?

Our true Self. Eternal, full, whole and content. Nameless and formless. Beginningless and endless. No good, no bad. No positive, no negative. No happiness, no unhappiness. No craving, no aversion. No suffering, no cause of suffering, no path of remove suffering, no end of suffering. No ignorance, no end of ignorance. No birth, no growth, no decaying, no illness, no pain, no old age, no death. No body, no mind. No eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no skin, no thinking. No thoughts, no feelings, no sensations. No pleasant, no unpleasant. No success, no failure. No gain, no loss. No superiority, no inferiority. No existence, no non-existence. No creation, no destruction.

Realize our true Self. Go back to our true Self. Take refuge and rest in peace eternally in our Self.

How to go back to our true Self? Stop identifying with the body and the mind. Stop identifying with the ego. Rise above the ego. Be stronger than the ego. Not let the ego controlling us. Practice real non-attachment every moment in ourselves, at sleep, at awake, at lying, at standing, at sitting, at walking, at moving, at non-moving… This is real meditation.

Contemplating on the nameless and formless Self without attachment, craving, aversion, intention and expectation. Not attach to the mind. Constantly being aware of what is happening in the mind. Observing or witnessing the mind as it is. Go beyond the mind and not lost within the mind.

Without the mind, there is no perception of names and forms. There is no sights, no sounds, no smells, no taste, to touch, no thinking. What is happiness and unhappiness? What is good and bad? What is positive and negative? What is ignorance and the end of ignorance?

Only pure love, peace, compassion and wisdom present in the present moment now.

Realize our true Self of who we really are. We are not this, we are not that. We are who we are. Beyond all the qualities. Beyond all the names and forms. Beyond the body and the mind. Beyond the perception of the mind. Beyond all states of the mind.

We are not good, we are not bad. We are just who we are.

There is no past, no future. The only existence and reality is now, from moment to moment. The past and the future doesn’t exist at the present moment now. Once we understand this, time disappears, it doesn’t exist.

Keep the mind concentrate at the present moment now, not wanders to the past memories or to the future imaginations. There is no fear and worry at this present moment now. Fear and worry only exist when the mind wanders to the past or to the future.

* * * * * * * *

Yoga is not about the ability of the physical body to perform such and such actions. It is about able to observe everything as it is and accept the reality of things as it is. It is not about challenging the body to go beyond its physical limitation.

Physical ability, strength and flexibility cannot give us true and lasting happiness or peace but only momentary fleeting satisfaction about our own egoistic worldly image that we built for ourselves.

If our happiness and confidence is based on physical appearance, good health, ability, strength and flexibility, we will be so tensed trying to maintain the appearance, good health, ability, strength and flexibility in order to keep our ego satisfied and feel good, and to upkeep our false confidence about ourselves through all these impermanent names and forms. And when impermanence strikes, all these things will change and be gone no matter how much we want to retain them. We will be so disappointed, frustrated and unhappy.

* * * * * * * *

Yoga is being aware of everything without attachment, clinging, craving and aversion… Free from tensions, anxiety, fear, worry, ignorance, ill-will…

And thus, peacefulness is right here, at this present moment now, where we are beyond the mind and the perception of the mind…

Beyond all the good and bad qualities.

Beyond duality.

That is yoga.

Peace to all.