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

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Surrendering desires, intention, expectation

When someone wants to join a ‘yoga course’ or ‘yoga retreat’, it’s normal that there’s a desire, or intention, or expectation towards the experience or the fruit/result of such effort/action being performed.

It’s mostly about “What will ‘I’ get or be benefited from doing this?”

“I am here to learn something that will lead me to freedom and peace.”
“I am here to attain peace and happiness.”
“I am here to be free from unhappiness and suffering.”
“I am here to heal myself (my body, my mind and/or my soul.)”
“I am here to be unwind/relaxed to feel good/peaceful.”

And that is also the reason why people keep going for courses and retreats again and again, but the mind is still desiring/expecting to learn ‘something that will lead me to freedom and peace’, or to attain peace and happiness, or to be free from unhappiness and suffering, or to be healed, or to be unwind/relaxed to feel good/peaceful.

Contemplate on the teaching of “The mind and the body is not I. I am not the body and the mind.”

Contemplate on what is intentionlessness. Neither good intention to motivate good actions nor bad intention to motivate bad actions, but good actions are being performed while bad actions are being refrained.

Contemplate on what is “There’s no ‘I’ perform actions, or ‘I’ receive the fruit of actions.” even though there are ceaseless actions and the consequences of actions, or cause and effect arising and passing away being the by-products of the impermanent existence/life maintenance of the body and the restless egoistic mind.

It’s the body and the mind performing the practice, and the body and the mind will be receiving the fruit/effect of the practice. And the body and the mind is impermanent and selfless regardless of being in good or bad condition/state. It’s not ‘I’ am performing the practice and ‘I’ will be receiving the fruit/effect of the practice.

In many of the ‘yoga classes’, the ‘yoga teacher’ would ask the students to create a good/kind/positive/happy/meaningful ‘intention’ or ‘aspiration’ in their mind before and/or after the class to achieve something that they desire through their efforts of performing the practice or ritual. Such like, “I am awesome!”, “I am positive!”, “I am strong!”, “I am healthy!”, “I am good!”, “I am enough!”, “I am perfect!”, “I am happy!”, “I am compassionate!”, “I am love or I am loved!”, “I wish the world be good!”, “I wish my children good health!”, or “I wish everyone love, peace, joy and happiness!”

It’s all about ‘I’ and what ‘I’ desire to be/to have, or what ‘I’ desire other people/the world to be/to have. That’s why the mind doesn’t progress any further after many years of ‘practicing yoga’ because the mind is still holding on strongly onto the idea of ‘I’ as well as ‘intention’ or ‘expectation’ that is about gratifying the desire of craving and aversion, because that is what they have been learning/practicing for many years by attending ‘yoga classes’ regularly. There is something that they desire and something that they don’t desire that they hope to be gratified from performing some kinds of action, practice, or ritual. Hoping that everything will be good the way that they like it to be, that they think/believe it should be, and nothing bad.

There’s nothing wrong, and it’s very good to have good and positive thinking/thoughts than to have bad and negative thinking/thoughts, but it can become a great obstacle on the path of yoga. Even though the mind and the body is getting the momentary effects/benefits of performing the practice regularly, the mind is not free because the mind is still under the influence of ignorance and egoism.

Surrendering any desire/intention/expectation and all that is related to the idea of ‘I’ and ‘my’, just do the best while performing actions/practice and allowing the fruit of actions/practice to be what it is, is the teaching and practice of yoga. This is real ‘non-attachment’ or ‘renunciation’.

Some people said, “I don’t really know why I am here. I have no intention to be here. I don’t know what to expect. But somehow, I’m here.” And that ‘allows’ their minds to be open towards any possibilities, without being bound/limited by any particular desire, intention, expectation, aspiration, anticipation, imagination, or projection.

Once the mind realized selflessness/desireless/non-craving and non-aversion, there’s no need to repeatedly attending ‘yoga classes’, or ‘yoga courses’, or ‘yoga retreats’ with the intention/expectation to learn something that will lead one to freedom and peace, or to attain peace and happiness, or to be free from unhappiness and suffering, or to be healed, or to be unwind/relaxed to feel good/peaceful, because this mind is free and peaceful as it is.

There’s no “I need to learn something that will lead me to freedom and peace.”

There’s no “I need to attain peace and happiness.”

There’s no “I need to be free from unhappiness and suffering.”

There’s no “I need to heal myself (my body, my mind and/or my soul.)”

There’s no “I need to be unwind/relaxed to feel good/peaceful.”

Meanwhile, it’s not as easy as it says for the mind to be free from ignorance and egoism, or be free from disturbs or suffering, and hence, most minds still need to go to someone/somewhere to learn and practice yoga.

The practice of surrendering…

What do we surrender in the practice of surrendering?
Or what are we giving up or letting go?

  • The egoism
  • Worldly self-image and identifications with qualities of names and forms
  • Attachment and possessiveness
  • Craving and aversion
  • Desire of wants and don’t wants
  • Dissatisfaction and disappointment
  • Feelings of hurt and guilt
  • The past and the future
  • Greed and stinginess
  • Anger and hatred
  • Pride and arrogance
  • Jealousy
  • Lust
  • Fear and worry
  • Petite-mindedness
  • Conditioned thinking and beliefs
  • Ill-will and ill-thinking
  • Criticism, gossip, slander, condemn, back-biting, vain talk, boasting, argument, politic, plot, scheme, scam
  • Hypocrisy, untruthfulness, indirectness and lies
  • Justification and glorification
  • Intention and expectation
  • Judgment and comparison
  • Racism, discrimination, prejudice, bias, violence, intolerance
  • Worldly passionate desires and sensual enjoyment, achievements, name and fame, social status and power
  • Day dreaming, imagination, anticipation, projection, speculation
  • Control or change the reality to be the way that we like it to be
  • Longing for attention, affection, approval, support, praise, compliment, acknowledgement, recognition and appreciation
  • Restlessness
  • Over-eating, over-sleeping, over-talking, too much physical and mental activities
  • Spiritual achievements
  • The fruit of actions

Om shanti

Initial understanding about daily yoga practice

People frequently ask us about do we have a fixed “yoga practice routine” on certain time during the day to do our own yoga practice beside teaching yoga classes, to maintain our physical strength and flexibility as well as to upkeep our “skill” in performing the asana poses.

This is what I tell them.

Yoga is not about the physical strength and flexibility but it’s about the inner strength and inner flexibility.

Someone who is not strong and is not flexible, and who cannot perform any physical activities like asana practice or cannot perform sitting postures for meditation due to physical limitation or injuries or illnesses are still able to be practicing yoga. While someone who is very fit physically, and can perform lots of complicated movements or skillfully required kind of yoga poses may not be practicing yoga at all.

Yoga is nothing to do with the condition or the ability of the physical body to perform such and such actions. It is nothing to do with what our bodies can do and cannot do.

No doubt that yoga practices are important sequences or steps for helping us to reach to the higher state of consciousness, but they are not the guarantee of true happiness if we didn’t know what is the law of impermanence, non-attachment, acceptance, letting go and surrendering the ego.

But a person who is constantly practicing non-attachment, acceptance, letting go and surrendering the ego, is the guarantee of true happiness even if this person doesn’t know or cannot perform any “yoga practices”, such like asana practice, pranayama and meditation.

Non-attachment, acceptance, letting go and surrendering the ego are the real meditation in our heart from moment to moment in everyday lives.

Even if we practice a lot of asana poses and our bodies become very strong, flexible and healthy, this still won’t change the truth of impermanence and the law of cause and effect. We will still be affected by our past accumulated karma and are affected by all the impermanent changes in our bodies and minds all the time, unless we are practicing non-attachment, acceptance, letting go and surrendering the ego. This body will still have to go through impermanence, changes, decaying, weakening, illnesses, pain and decomposition sooner or later, no matter how much we try to preserve it through the good and beneficial yoga practices. The mind is still going through impermanence, changes, experiencing happiness and unhappiness, having craving and aversion, and is continuing having tensions that derive from impurities like anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, arrogance, dissatisfaction, disappointment, irritation, frustration, expectation, fear and worry.

From moment to moment our bodies are going through changes. The condition of the physical body may vary from time to time. How can we have a fixed “routine” to meet the requirement of the different conditions of the physical body. Everyday we may be doing different practices at different timing to adapt to the needs of the present condition of the body and mind.

Of course all the asana poses, pranayama, concentration exercises and meditation practice are there to help us to balance up the energy in our bodies and minds, to help purifying the body and mind, so that the body and mind get relieved from physical and mental tensions and becoming calm and relax. But what is the meaning of making effort to relieve tensions, when we continue to generate tensions into the body and mind all the time if we don’t know what is non-attachment, acceptance, letting go and surrendering the ego?

If we are practicing non-attachment, acceptance, letting go and surrendering the ego from moment to moment, and are at peace, free from tensions, undisturbed by all the changes that are happening in our bodies and minds, unaffected by whatever is happening in our lives and in the world, then what are the “fixed routines” that we need to “practice” everyday?

Non-attachment is not about running away from our lives, our families, our responsibilities and duties, but it is about not attaching to the body and mind, not attaching to our actions, not attaching to what the mind perceives through the senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and thinking), remain equanimous and peaceful not generating craving towards the pleasant experiences or aversion towards the unpleasant experiences.

Acceptance and letting go are not about giving up ourselves and not improving ourselves, but it’s about accepting the truth or reality as it is without any dissatisfaction and yet continue to strive for improvement to become better without any tensions that derive from expectation, fear and worry. When we cannot accept the truth as it is, and are dissatisfied with the present moment now of how we are, who we are and where we are, and we are looking for changes or try to runaway from what we don’t like about, then we will be full of tensions that derive from judgment, comparison, expectation, dissatisfaction, fear and worry. And so, we again try to free ourselves from tensions by doing some yogic practices but at the same time, we are continuing generating more tensions into the body and mind endlessly. The bucket that has a big hole underneath can never fill up whatever we want to put in.

Surrendering the ego is not about negating or neglecting ourselves and put ourselves in a bad condition, but it is about letting go of selfishness, fear and worry, and allowing the universal consciousness to take care of everything. We just do our best in whatever we are doing for the benefits for ourselves and for other beings, but without the identification as the doer of the actions without any judgment and expectations. Just like the sun, the air, the water, the earth and the space. They give, provide and support all and everything to be exist in the world motivelessly, intentionlessly, selflessly, endlessly, unlimitedly, unconditionally, tirelessly, without any discrimination of good and bad beings, and without any expectation for the results or rewards.

All these are great compassion and wisdom. These are the essence of yoga practice. This is the goal of yoga practice.

So, does the sun or the air or the water or the earth or the space practice any so called “yoga routines” everyday? Or are they performing nameless and formless compassionate actions all the time unceasingly?

Doing adequate of yoga exercises for maintaining the good health and the fitness level of the physical body is certainly a very good thing to do, so that we can appreciate this body and its life existence for us to continue to perform selfless service to ourselves and to other beings. We follow whatever the needs of the body and mind are, when it is needed, and practice accordingly to the present condition of the body and mind. And when the time comes for us to let go of this body, we have no clinging towards this body and the relationships with others that spring from this body and its life existence.

Never see ourselves as separated or different from other beings. There is no superiority or inferiority. There is no giver and receiver. There is no “teacher” and “student”. There is no “I’m helping somebody” and “somebody is benefited from my action”. There is no motive and expectation. Every action is out of compassion and egoless. We wish all beings be free from ignorance and be happy including “this” being. Be compassionate towards all beings including “this” being also. “This” being is also one of all beings.

Be the witness witnessing whatever the body and the mind are experiencing from moment to moment. The mind feels good or bad, it’s just the mind, not us. The mind feels comfortable or discomfortable, it’s just the mind, not us. The mind gets agitated, it’s just the mind, not us. The mind feels peaceful and happy, it’s just the mind, not us. The body is in pain and is ill, it’s just the body, not us. We are the witness of all these phenomena but we are not identifying nor associating nor affected by them.

Be the witness of the body and mind, and not being overpowered by the body and mind.

This is the yoga practice that we all are practicing unceasingly from moment to moment. There’s no trace of “doing yoga practice” and no one knows nor needs to know but “myself”.

Be Happy.