Life is uncertain and Death is certain

Life is uncertain, but death is certain.

Death is a great teacher of life existence. The healthiest, the strongest, the happiest, the wealthiest, the kindest, the greatest, the most intelligent and knowledgeable, the most talented, successful and famous, or the most loved and respected, will also have to bow down to DEATH.

There’s no guarantee about anything in this worldly life existence of uncertainty, but for sure, death will come one day, sooner or later, regardless of whether it’s natural cause or unnatural cause, intentional or unintentional, expected or unexpected, slowly or instantly, wittingly or unwittingly, having none/few/many friends, having an easy life or difficult life, being ignorant or wise, have done none/few/many good actions or bad actions, have been good or bad/right or wrong/positive or negative/happy or unhappy/healthy or unhealthy. Everyone is dying immediately following the moment of birth, but most people either don’t realize this or they trying to be positive and hope for the best. Death is not a bad or negative thing at all.

“Tribute to my big brother who had lived a difficult but great honest life, who was content and generous, who was forbearing and forgiving, who had been smiling through all the hardships, who had delivered all his duties and responsibilities as a great son, a great brother, a great husband and a great friend to many beings, who had been sacrificed greatly to be looking after our family during the difficult time, and looking after our beloved bedridden father unconditionally for many years until he left the world. And now, my big brother had left this world without any painful suffering but with a smile on his face on the 30th of June 2019. Thank you brother.”

Want to attain peace through yoga and meditation practice?

If we want to have peace, it is not necessarily that we have to be attending some sort of yoga classes or yoga courses, or to learn yoga from some ‘yoga teachers’ or ‘Gurus’.

There are people who do not attend yoga classes or yoga courses, and never have a yoga teacher or Guru, but it won’t stop them from realizing the truth, realizing unconditional love and peace, and be free.

Peace is not only be found within certain types of spiritual practice, nor does it limited by time, space and causation. It is not attained from the outside through somebody’s else effort to give us peace.

Peace is always here within us. Wherever we are, whatever we do, peace has never left us.

Even Buddha, the enlightened one, couldn’t give enlightenment to anybody, or remove ignorance or suffering from anyone, or to give peace to anyone.

Buddha attained liberation, through his own effort and contemplation upon the truth, out of great will power, determination, and perseverance.

It is not necessarily that we need a teacher to be there to show us how to bring our mind to be in the present moment, or to be aware of what is going on in our mind.

We are our own teacher, when we are able to be aware of our own mind activities just by restricting the mind from its usual inputs and outputs for a period of time. We will start to understand and be aware of how our mind works, or functions. We can develop self-awareness and mindfulness through our own experience in our everyday life even without any teachers to teach us anything about reflection or contemplation.

Even if a teacher is in front of us, being very close to us, but the teacher cannot eliminate our ego for us. The teacher cannot purify our mind for us. The teacher cannot stop our mind from generating attachment, craving, clinging, and aversion.

Everything and everyone that we come in contact with, and every experience that we go through in life, is our natural Dharma teachers, whether all these different names and forms are something agreeable or disagreeable, pleasant or unpleasant, happy or unhappy, as we wish or not as we wish. They are here to ignite us to develop self-awareness and mindfulness, to reflect upon the truth.

Be our own teacher.

Without self-discipline or self-control, it is useless even if we have many teachers being here to guide and show us about many types of practices that can be helpful to us to conquer our own mind.

It isn’t necessarily that we have to be doing some yoga poses to be free.

It isn’t necessarily that we have to be performing some forms of ritual ceremonies to be free.

It isn’t necessarily that we have to know all the Sanskrit names and words to be free.

It isn’t necessarily that we have to know about anatomy and physiology to be free.

It isn’t necessarily that we have to be physically healthy, strong and flexible to be free.

And so on.

Being a person with such and such ‘educational backgrounds’, ‘social status’, ‘beliefs’, ‘cultures’, ‘qualities’, ‘personalities’, ‘experiences’, ‘qualifications’, ‘names and forms’, do not guarantee us liberation from ignorance and egoism.

Being able to debate about worldly or spiritual matters also doesn’t guarantee us peace and compassion.

It is all happening in our own mind, observing all the mind perception of names and forms, without generate attachment towards whatever the mind perceives through the senses, without generate reactions of craving and aversion. Being aware of reality as it is, without trying to control or change the reality that we don’t like or don’t want to be something that we like or want it to be.

Constantly inquire about ‘Who am I?’, or who is this one whom we identify as ‘I’, who we think is the doer of actions, and the enjoyer of the fruit of actions?

If we realize and see ‘God’ or the universal consciousness in everything, love and peace is beyond all the names and forms, unconditioned or uncontaminated by any good and bad qualities of names and forms. We will respect all beings as they are without discrimination, not necessarily that we are agreeing with everyone’s thinking and behavior.

No matter how many yoga classes or discourses we have attended in the past, or how many yoga books we have read, or how many times we have heard about the teachings of yoga and vedanta, or how many ‘yoga teachers’ or ‘Gurus’ we have, it all comes back to our own faith, determination, perseverance, will power, forbearance, patience, self-discipline, self-control, non-attachment, non-identification, non-judgment, non-comparison, non-expectation, letting go of the ego, desires, craving and aversion, to purify the mind, to stop stimulating the mind, to render the mind calm and pure, to be free from egoism, ignorance, attachment, restlessness and impurities, to contemplate upon the truth, to realize the truth by ourselves, and be free.

As we can accumulate and memorize all the knowledge or information that we gathered from reading and hearing, but it won’t free us from egoism and attachment. We will have doubts, as all these knowledge is not coming from our own self-realization. We will have pride and arrogance, if we attached to the knowledge that we have gathered through reading and hearing.

Until we realize the truth by ourselves, we will still be affected, disturbed, influenced and determined by all the qualities of names and forms due to ignorance and egoism, wrong identification and attachment towards the body and the mind, and being over-powered by impurities, such like anger and hatred, dissatisfaction and disappointment, pride and arrogance, fear and worry.

No body can purify our mind for us, or can take away fear and worry in us, or can give us unconditional peace and love, or can remove egoism and ignorance in us to realize the truth. We need to purify our mind to remove ignorance, to let go of egoism and attachment, and realize the truth which is already there in us, through our own effort and persistent practice, and be truly free.

Sufficient amount of solitude, silence, renunciation from worldly activities, such like, giving up newspaper or magazine reading, novel reading, movies watching, partying, mingling, publicity, arguing, criticism, slandering, vain talk, telling lies, gossiping, backbiting, boasting, avoid too much eating, fasting, sleeping, awaking, idling, moving, walking, talking, or heavy physical activities, are all important practice for render the mind calm and clear, which is nothing to do with attending yoga and meditation classes or courses from a teacher.

This is not being shallow-minded or closed-minded, as this is a common basic teaching from many different saints and sages who have walked the path before us.

We think we are so great and smart. We think that we are now living in a modern world, and all these old-fashioned practice are no longer suitable to be practiced in modern life society, and we criticize all these traditional teachings as outdated and useless. We (the egoistic mind) love the world so much. We care about what is going on in the world and we want to be the world saver. We want to demolish all the bad people, stupid people, bad things, corruption, injustice, violence, and all other evil doings. Well, if we think we are so right and so good, then be happy with the ‘modern’ lifestyle and ‘modernized’ spiritual practice, and what we believe is the best to ‘save’ the world from getting worst.

As all the saints and sages in the past never insisted on trying to persuade, or to convert anyone to be like them. It is everyone’s freedom to do what they want to do, live how they want to live their life, believe in what they want to believe, and be what they want to be.

Om shanti.

“Are yoga teachers happy?”

There was this search word came to my blog, “Are yoga teachers happy?”

Not all ‘yoga teachers’ or ‘yoga practitioners’ are happy in everyday life experiences, or are happy with themselves, or are happy with the world and the environment, as it is. Not all of them are free from unhappiness. Whether we are free from unhappiness, are happy or not, is not determined by ‘who we are’ nor determined by ‘what we do’.

We don’t have to be a ‘yoga teacher’ to be happy, nor being a ‘yoga teacher’ will make us happy.

Just like a ‘mother’ or a ‘father’ can be a happy ‘mother’ or ‘father’, or can be an unhappy ‘mother’ or ‘father’. It is very personal and vary from person to person, on how they deal with every situation and condition in life.

The ‘yoga teachers’ that we think we know, are normal human beings also, they are not any different from ‘other human beings’ who have good and bad feelings, who have certain degrees of egoism and ignorance, certain desires and attachments, certain degrees of anger, dissatisfaction, disappointment, fear and worry. Everyone is still in the process of experimenting life existence, and in search of the truth, or liberation, or real happiness, or peace.

There is nothing wrong when unhappy feelings arise in the mind due to certain unpleasant experiences, but most important is that if we are practicing yoga and meditation with the correct mentality and attitude, we should be able to be aware of all the activities in the mind, be aware of all the action and reaction of the mind towards the objects of the senses, without identification with the body and mind, without being over-powered by all these thoughts activities, feelings and emotions, and not generate attachment to them, without craving for pleasant or happy feelings, without aversion towards unpleasant or unhappy feelings.

As long as the mind is still functioning, as long as the ego is there, there will be perception of different qualities of names and forms that are pleasant and unpleasant. There will be reactions coming from the mind towards what the ego likes and doesn’t likes, agrees and disagrees with. There will be pleasant and unpleasant feelings arise due to this process in the mind. But, if we have developed certain degrees or strength of awareness from our persistent yoga and meditation practice, which is going beyond all these mind perceptions and activities, we do not generate attachment, craving or aversion towards all these perceptions and activities in the mind. That itself is liberation.

There are many ‘yoga teachers’ and ‘yoga practitioners’ in the world nowadays as ‘yoga’ seems to be a ‘trendy’ thing to do, and there are so many demands for ‘yoga classes’ everywhere especially in the big cities, especially ‘yoga classes’ that are marketed, designed and catered for fitness, beauty and health. But whether the ‘yoga teachers’ or ‘not yoga teachers’ are liberated or not, is not to be judged by anyone from their appearance, behavior, action and reaction. As liberation is not a thing that can be judged by the qualities of names and forms. Attributelessness, namelessness and formlessness, is beyond the qualities of names and forms that our mind can perceive.

Only ourselves will know whether we are liberated or not. Nobody needs to justify themselves whether they are liberated or not.

We don’t need a ‘certificate’ to certified us that we are liberated, if that is what we are.

We can pretend to be happy beings and disguise as liberated beings, in front of other people, but we can’t hide the truth from ourselves, if we are not free yet, we are still affected and determined by egoism, ignorance, impurities and suffering in our mind.

Happy or not really depends solely on the state of mind, or how pure is the mind. There are many different elements or factors influencing the state of mind from moment to moment.

It also depends on how we want to define ‘happiness’? It can be anything for different people.

In yoga and meditation, one who has conquered his or her own mind and the ego is eliminated, is indeed free from unhappiness or suffering. It is not necessarily one has to be happy all the time. The moment we are free from unhappiness, that moment is peace, is liberation.

Most of us are having a mixture of happy and unhappy feelings, swaying back and forth from one extreme to the other extreme. Sometimes we have more happy feelings and less unhappy feelings. Sometimes we have more unhappy feelings and less happy feelings. Sometimes we are easy to be happy. Sometimes we are difficult to be happy.

Our behaviors, action and reaction are very much influenced by the state of our mind, which is not pure and not free yet. And our behaviors, action and reaction will bring us some happy and unhappy consequences in return.

Happy or unhappy is a pleasant or unpleasant feeling or thought that arise in the mind, that will stay for a while, and will change and disappear from the mind. It is impermanent.

A person who knows the truth, will be aware of all these pleasant and unpleasant feelings, without generate craving, clinging or aversion, and allow all these feelings to come and go in the mind, without judgment, without expectation. As we don’t own the mind, or any activities in the mind.

The one who knows the truth doesn’t need to be happy, or to be positive, and there is nothing that can induce unhappiness or negativity in his or her mind.

Everything is just what they are. All the names and forms has no intention or power to make us happy or not happy, to give us happiness or unhappiness. It is all coming from our own mind, depends on how much we attached to the mind, the thinking, the beliefs and the feelings, and how much the mind attached to the qualities of names and forms, and be affected and determined by them.

There is nobody being there feeling happy or unhappy. There is no ‘I’ being there to feel happy or unhappy. It’s just some happy or unhappy feelings arising and passing away in the mind.

It depends on how much our mind is being affected, or disturbed, or influenced, or determined by all the names and forms that it perceives through the senses.

It depends on how efficient is the practice of non-attachment in the mind towards all the pleasant and unpleasant feelings, without generating craving, clinging and aversion.

It depends on how fast or how easy for the mind to be able to let go of unpleasant or unhappy feelings. The mind can be happy or unhappy for a few years, or months, or weeks, or days, or hours, or minutes, or seconds, or a moment, or not at all.

Anyone, whether ‘yoga teachers’ or not, human or non-human beings, if they know the truth of this mind or themselves, and are being compassionate as they are (not about try to be compassionate), then naturally there will be no unhappiness or suffering can exist in them. Their mind is free from all sorts of impurities that arise due to the absence of compassion. And absence of compassion is due to egoism and ignorance. If the mind is free from egoism and ignorance, and realize compassion, peace is there. Peace is nothing to do with the existence of pleasant and happy feelings.

We want to think and believe that all ‘yoga teachers’ are supposed to be enlightened beings who have transcended suffering and life existence, to be here to guide us (the unliberated or ignorant ones) to be liberated from suffering or unhappiness. If so, we will be very disappointed. As there are not many ‘yoga teachers’ are in such level of pure consciousness.

The ‘yoga teachers’ that we see, who are giving instructions in ‘yoga classes’ for performing some forms of yoga asana exercises or yoga practice with different types of brands and names, are not necessarily as perfect as what we think they should be. And it’s okay.

There are many people who ‘teach’ yoga classes after attended some ‘yoga teachers training course’ and attained a few ‘certificates’ and ‘qualifications’, but not all are already completely be free from impurities, egoism, ignorance, attachment, craving and aversion, or had transcended life existence, the body and mind, suffering and ignorance. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

If we expect all ‘qualified yoga teachers’ should be enlightened and liberated before they give yoga classes or teach yoga to other people, then there will be very few such ‘yoga teachers’ in the world. As those who are enlightened and liberated are not necessarily ‘yoga teachers’ or are giving ‘yoga classes’ in the yoga studios, or yoga centres, or yoga fitness clubs. But that doesn’t mean that they do not share their wisdom and compassion with other beings.

Do not criticize nor look down on these ‘yoga teachers’ who seem to be not perfect nor liberated yet, as all and everyone are the same consciousness without qualities, without name and form, beyond birth and death, but in the moment we are veiled by egoism and ignorance about who we really are.

As yoga students, we are not looking forward to be like our ‘yoga teachers’. We don’t have to find a perfect liberated ‘yoga teacher’ for us to imitate and become like him or her. Even if a liberated teacher is here guiding us, it is up to our own realization about the truth of ourselves. The liberated teacher cannot give us liberation.

Open our mind and be patient, and wait, if we really want to find a real ‘yoga teacher’ that we can’t recognize from his or her behavior, appearance or certificates. As ‘yoga teachers’ are not defined by their personalities, behaviors, appearances, actions and reactions, nor are being stamped on their forehead with the tag ‘yoga teacher’, nor whether they were graduated from an internationally recognized and affiliated yoga school of yoga teacher training courses.

The universe will bring the teacher and the student together at the right time and the right place. And this yoga teacher is not necessarily in a form of human beings. It can be right in front of us, or it is within us already. In fact, it is our own Self. As all the other ‘yoga teachers’ are also a manifestation from our own mind.

Om shanti.

Yogi? Guru? Yoga school? Ashram?

A (real) yogi is not determined by all the qualities of names and forms, nor to be judged by their actions and speech, personality or behavior, physical conditions or appearances, attires or accessories, actions or inactions…

If anyone try to look out for a yogi, or try to identify a yogi, and start looking at all these qualities of names and forms to judge and determine whether this or that being is a yogi or not, or is a “good” yogi or not, then we will never find it…

The real search is to find the “yogi” in ourselves… It is not looking out to see who is yogi and who is not… It is finding or realizing the highest teacher in us, and it’s not looking for teachers from the outside to set as an example, or to give us a lift, or to motivate us, or to push us to realize what we are here for.

That is what yoga practice is about. It is for us to realize the attributeless Self unconditioned by the qualities of names and forms, in us, beyond our egoistic thinking mind, conditioned and limited physical body, impermanent physical conditions and abilities, appearances, features, shapes, colours, language, personality, characteristic, actions and inactions, short lived or long lived, solitude or amongst the world, real or unreal, as all are here to serve the universe…

Real yoga practice is not necessarily to be found and learned from some other people (so called yoga teachers, or Gurus, or yogis), or from yoga schools, or from Ashrams. As the entire (pure) teachings of yoga is already within us, as our true nature is identical with the universal consciousness… This is the fundamental essential teachings of yoga. Our higher pure Self will guide the impure lower self when the time is right. And when the lower self become pure (the ego is eliminated) and it becomes one with the higher Self, there is no more separation or duality. There is no pure or impure self, higher or lower self, inferiority or superiority, good or evil, wise or ignorant, compassionate or selfish…

All our experiences through this body and mind, whatever we feel, see, hear, smell, taste, touch and think are our Gurus. When we experience suffering and painful sorrow, that is where the teachings and practice is. We don’t need to ask somebody else to inflict pain or suffering on us for us to learn about something or to realize about the Truth. Our own egoistic mind itself is the cause of all sorts of pain and suffering.

It is not about looking out at other beings, trying to find out, or judge, or determine each and everyone as good beings or bad beings, as saintly beings or evil beings, as selfish beings or selfless beings, as enlightened beings or ignorant beings, as compassionate beings or uncompassionate beings, as yogi or not yogi, as pure yogi or impure yogi, as Guru or not Guru, as real Guru or fake Guru, as yoga teacher or not yoga teacher, as good yoga teacher or bad yoga teacher, and so on…

Look within. That is the only real and pure yogi, Guru, yoga teacher, yoga teachings, yoga practice that we can rely on…

Take care of our own mind, our own actions and speech, why bother or be disturbed by other people’s mind, their actions and their speech?

Om shanti.

About yoga teachers and teaching yoga…

“Yoga teachers” are those who had found the inner teacher within themselves, and are free from ignorance and restlessness, and are sharing the path of unconditional love and peace with some other beings, out of compassion, without attachment. They don’t need to tag themselves as “yoga teachers” or “certified yoga teachers” or “certified yoga teachers with many years of experience” or “yoga teachers who came from which yoga school” or “yoga teachers who learn under which Guru”… As all these names and forms and qualities are irrelevant. There is nothing wrong or bad with all these worldly perception of names and forms and qualities for “sharing” the path towards unconditional love and peace, but they mean nothing to those who have gone beyond names and forms and qualities…

The worldly minded need to see or hear all these names and forms and qualities about so and so, about this and that, but all these names and forms and qualities are meaningless on the path towards unconditional love and peace. As even though all beings have different backgrounds or experiences, and have different levels or degrees of ignorance or realization, but the unconditional love and peace in all beings is the same, no differences… It doesn’t change, nor increase, nor decrease, nor disappear due to the different degrees of impurities or ignorance… It is not affected nor contaminated by our actions and inactions in life experiences… And thus there is no judgment towards anyone or anything. As even a so called “good person” who did a lot of good actions and didn’t do any bad actions, is not guaranteed with peace and happiness, or be free from ignorance, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, pride, arrogance, dissatisfaction, disappointment, fear and worry…

It is about not attach to what is called “good” and what is called “bad”…

It doesn’t mean that we can do a lot of “bad” actions but will be free from the consequences… Some people misunderstood this teaching and take it as an excuse to justify our wrong doings that will hurt ourselves and other beings, and do whatever we feel like doing but being irresponsible for our actions. But what we didn’t know is that we did all the “good” or “bad” actions with the identification as the doer and the enjoyer of the actions, and we have selfish intentions coming from the ego with attachment and expectation towards our actions and the result of our actions… “I did this..” or “I didn’t do that…” or “He/she/they did this…” or “He/she/they didn’t do that…”

Whether our intention or expectation to perform or not to perform any “good” or “bad” actions is to attain some sort of good feelings, or excitement, or satisfaction, or pleasant sensations, or to express unhappiness, dissatisfaction, anger, jealousy, disagreement, or due to reactions out of fear and worry, we are still being affected and disturbed by our/other people’s actions and inactions, and the result of our/other people’s actions and inactions…

That’s why even though if we did a lot of good actions, try to be good and do good and try not to do any bad actions, we can still be not peaceful, unhappy and constantly being disturbed by anger, hatred, jealousy, pride, arrogance, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, restlessness, fear and worry that arise in our own mind, which has nothing to do with all the qualities of names and forms that we perceive through the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind…

We “expect” that, if we do good, we will “receive” something good in return, and we will not “receive” any bad in return… But when this is not happening according to what we think it should be, we will be so disappointed and unhappy… We identified ourselves as “good” people who do good, and being proud and arrogant about ourselves for being good, and we might also expect other people to do good, and if other people don’t do good, we’ll get unhappy and frustrated, and judge them as “bad” people, and we are “good” people who do good, and we deserve to be here, and those who are “bad”, they don’t deserve to be here… And so on… Being so unhappy being disturbed by what other people do (bad actions) and don’t do (good actions)…

Just like in a yoga class while everyone is doing the same exercise but not everyone will be looking the same as everyone has a different body type with different degrees of strength and flexibility and different types of physical limitations. But all these differences of qualities and names and forms cannot determine whether one is peaceful and another one is not. Love and peace is nothing to do with whether we can perform all the yoga exercises in a “perfect body alignment” or not… It is not about if our feet is pointing at certain degrees and angle, and we will be guaranteed peace, or else if our feet is not pointing at that certain degrees and angle, and we will not have peace…

Teaching yoga is sharing the wisdom of yoga with anyone who is looking for unconditional peace, and guiding other beings on how to find the inner teacher within themselves and be free from ignorance and restlessness… If we haven’t realized our own inner teacher yet, and have not found peace and are not free from ignorance, then how can we “teach” or “guide” other beings to be free? Even if we have an enlightened Guru sitting in front of us, to teach us or guide us, but it is still our own effort to realize love and peace… If we are reluctant to let go of ignorance, nobody can remove ignorance for us, not even an enlightened being can take away another beings suffering or ignorance…

Real yoga teachers don’t need the title of “yoga teachers”. They don’t need to be “trained” to “become” “yoga teachers”… They don’t need a specific time and space to share and teach yoga… They are naturally “yoga teachers” when they are in peace and they have the “opportunity” to be there guiding other beings towards unconditional love and peace…

Out of compassion, it is a very natural action to share and guide other beings onto the path towards unconditional love and peace…

It is not so much about “I want to be a yoga teacher and I want to teach yoga…” or “I want to teach these people and these people will learn from me and will be benefited from my teaching and sharing…” and then we go to a yoga school, to learn how to do some yoga poses and some other yoga practice, and learn how to organize a yoga school or to teach a yoga class, and then pass the exam, get one or many recognized certificates, and start teaching yoga or run a yoga school…

There is nothing wrong or bad to have a specific time and space for people to participate in yoga classes performing yoga practice, as the “conditioned” lifestyle in the world nowadays, as well as the “limited” time and space that people have in their working and living conditions, there is a need to have some sort of organized time and space for people to come together to learn and practice yoga… But love and peace is beyond that conditioned and limited time and space of the timing and the hall for performing yoga practice… Yoga practice is happening in our heart wherever we are, at anytime, in any situations and conditions, every moment…

It is not so much like “Oh, it’s a one hour class, and it is a “certain style” of yoga, and so, I have to teach this class with these certain practices in such style within an hour…” or “Oh, it’s the day for “certain” practice, and so, today I perform this “certain” practice…” or “Oh, today our intention/Sankalpa is forgiveness, and let’s practice forgiveness today…”

Beside having a fixed “routine” that we perform everyday to gain maximum result by performing repetitive practice of the same “routine” and to develop continuous and steady mind concentration, to make it into a natural habit for yoga practice regularly, yoga practice is being performed according to the present condition and situation of what the body and mind need in this present moment… It can be very different from moment to moment… If we have nose blocked now, we stop performing heavy asana practice, do some light practice and maybe perform neti kriya to help to ease the nose blocked. And if we are low energy now, we can perform some asana practice that will boost up our energy level… If we are agitated now, we can perform some yoga practice that will calm down our mind and balance the energy field… Maybe in the same class, some people need to do more forward bends, and some people need to do more backward bends, and some need to perform longer relaxation, in that present moment… And all the yoga practice is to develop non-attachment towards the body and mind by letting go of the ego, develop mindfulness, concentration and steadiness, to allow the mind to be quiet to meditate upon the Truth… And this is not limited by specific time and space… It is happening from moment to moment continuously…

It is also not so much about going to one particular yoga centre and attending one specific type of yoga class, nor it is about going to different yoga centres attending different types of yoga classes, follow whatever the teacher/teachers tell us to do in the class, but it is more about getting to know the practice through our own experience, and realize the inner teacher within us (we are our own highest teacher), and know what we are doing and what we suppose to do, without the need of following instructions from the teacher for us to perform our practice. This requires inner strength and flexibility like self-discipline, perseverance, determination, adjustment, adaptation, acceptance, accommodation, tolerance, cheerfulness, truthfulness, and etc…

It is not about “I can only practice yoga in a yoga centre, in a yoga class under the instruction of a teacher, or in certain type of comfortable condition, or else I can’t practice yoga or I don’t know what should I do by myself…”

A real yoga teacher is allowing the students to learn to be their own teacher and stop depending on him or her to practice yoga… This might be contradicted with the policy of many yoga schools and yoga centres as that is part of their source of income, sustaining people to keep coming back for the classes, as well as attracting new people to join the classes and continuing to come regularly… And some might bring up more different types of new “yoga practice” or “yoga classes” to make more “interesting” courses for attracting more people to “invest” into ongoing refresher courses or further studies… And some like to use the phrase of “There is no ending of learning, and we need to keep learning until our last breath…” Well, that is similar to “There is no ending of suffering, and we are born to be suffering forever… There’s no way out…”

But yoga is to allow people to come to a point that they can stop “learning” and “practicing”, and it is possible to be free from ignorance and realize unconditional love and peace at anytime…”

We need to look for peace and happiness (for example, performing yoga practice), because we are not peaceful and are not happy… If we are peaceful and happy, we don’t need to do anything to be peaceful and happy (end of yoga practice)… As we are peaceful and happy. It is our true nature. It is not coming nor accumulating from doing something or not doing something… It is by stop attaching or identifying with the body and mind, which is not “us”…

Teaching yoga is the person himself or herself has realized the Truth about unconditional love and peace from within, and be free from ignorance, and naturally he or she knows what and how to share with other beings who are looking for unconditional love and peace, by guiding them on how to realize the inner teacher within themselves that will lead them towards unconditional love and peace… Yoga teachers cannot “give” love and peace to the students, and “make” them peaceful and happy…

Maybe by showing loving kindness to people can “make” them feel good and being loved for sometimes, but it won’t take away their root cause of unhappiness – ignorance… Everyone has to remove ignorance through their own effort and be free from unhappiness that derives from ignorance, and realize the unconditional love and peace within themselves, and be truly happy… When a person is truly happy from within, then whether other people are nice to him/her or not, he/she will still be happy… Because his/her happiness is not coming from the conditional impermanent objects from the outside… When a person has not found the happiness from within, even when other people are nice to him/her, even though he/she is “smiling” and “laughing” in front of other people, he/she will still be unhappy being dissatisfied or disappointed with him/herself, or with other people, or with life, or with the world, and etc…

Some people might think that only those who have been practicing yoga for some time and they already know about yoga, and are having a strong and flexible physical body to be “good” in performing most of the yoga poses, are qualified to attend yoga teachers training course… But it’s not really like that. Anyone who doesn’t know anything about yoga, or have never done any yoga practice before, or doesn’t have good physical strength and flexibility, can go to a yoga school or ashram and participate in a yoga teachers training course, as the objective is not about trying to become a yoga teacher, but to learn more about yoga and its practice, and devote ourselves into the practice and realize the effects or benefits of the practice through our own effort and realization, and to realize unconditional love and peace from within, and be free from ignorance, and then naturally we’ll know how to guide other beings on how to be free form ignorance and realize unconditional love and peace…

We don’t “learn” to “become” yoga teachers, nor “learn” how to teach yoga, nor “learn” how to “become” a “good” yoga teacher… We don’t need to call ourselves “yoga teachers”, nor judging/tagging ourselves as “good” or “bad” yoga teachers… If we still have doubts in our own practice, then obviously we are not ready to “teach” or “guide” others towards liberation from ignorance, but of course we can still teach other people to perform some yoga exercises for attaining health and fitness benefits… If we know what we are doing, then even though we are not “perfect”, we can share our knowledge and experience with others, as we are walking on the path of yoga together, learning, practicing and sharing at the same time… At one moment, one might be the teacher of the others, and at another moment, another one is the teacher of us… There is no superiority nor inferiority…

It is not like “Oh, I read lots of books and know more than you, you should listen to me and learn from me…” or “Oh, My teacher is an enlightened Guru, so you should listen to me and learn from me…” or “Oh, I have been practicing yoga longer than you, so you should be learning from me…” or “Oh, I know how to do all the yoga poses and know all the names and terms in Sanskrit, so you should learn from me…” or “Oh, I can stand on my head and you can’t, and so you should listen to me and learn from me…” and etc… It is more likely to be “Oh, you are so peaceful, please tell me and teach me how to attain peace as well…” or “Oh, you are free from suffering, you can teach me how to be free from suffering…”

But then everyone and everything is our teacher, not only people in a specific manners and background can be our teachers, nor only things that are in specific conditions can teach us something… But above all, look beyond all these qualities of names and forms, and find the inner teacher (the higher Self) within us (the lower self), who is the only one and always there every moment with us, for us, guide us towards unconditional love and peace… When we realize this inner teacher within us, all and everything is our great teacher (including the people and things that we don’t agree with and don’t like…).

It is not about teaching a yoga class according to the guidance and informations written or printed in the books, or teaching the class by imitating some other yoga teachers styles of teaching, but teaching the yoga class with the wisdom that we realized from our own sincere practice, knowing what are the effects of the yoga practice, and how these yoga practice can help us in realizing the unconditional love and peace that is already there in us… It is not about “Well, according to what the teachers said or what the books told us, and this is the Truth we should all believe in…”

If we still need to rely on doing something, or experience something, or possess something, or attain something, or eat something, or drink something, or smoke something, or see something, or hear something, or smell something, or taste something, or feel something, or think about something that we like and agree with, for us to feel good, or to be happy, or to be confident, or to be meaningful, then know that we still need to keep practice or keep purify the mind to realize the wisdom of unconditional love and peace that is not coming from all these external worldly names and forms with different qualities that our mind likes and dislikes, agrees and disagrees with…

It is not about to feel good, or to be happy, or to be confident, or to feel meaningful… It is going beyond the attachment towards the intention and expectation to feel good, to be happy, to be confident and to feel meaningful…

Here is a link to a blog post written by one of the students who is now teaching and sharing yoga with many others – http://yogakee.blogspot.ie/2012/06/becoming-yoga-teacher.html

Om shanti.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Om shanti.

My life stories – Part 2

My life stories – Part 2
Stories from my past memories – childhood, family, friends, growing up, poverty, integrity, dreams come true, finding peace and happiness, Buddhism, Yoga, and now…

I went to an English medium preschool kindergarten for one year before I entered a Chinese medium primary school for six years. I met and mixed with other children who were same age as me and from multi races. I made some good friends and learned about life from these friendships.

Whether I was born this way, or I was brainwashed and taught to be like this, there is something that I always strongly believe in – truthfulness and honesty. I was always very careful about not committing any wrong or immoral doings. If I realized I did something that I believed was wrong, I would admit my wrong doings and ask for forgiveness immediately. Though during the two years when I was disturbed by unhappiness, anger and hatred, I had intentionally hurt other people through my thoughts, actions and speech, especially to my parents.

Sometimes I forgot to do my homework, I went to inform the teacher that I hadn’t done my homework and gave my palm to the teacher to discipline me with a stroke of caning. When the marked exam paper came back to us, I would go to the teacher and asked for remarking and to deduct the extra points if I found out that the teacher mistakenly gave me more points than it should be. We don’t take what doesn’t belong to us. This might be referred as “stupid honesty” by some people, but it’s a great virtue in the teachings of Buddhism and Yoga.

If I found something left unattended in the school compound, I would bring it to the teacher. When the cashiers in the shops carelessly gave me extra change, I would give it back to them so that they wouldn’t get into trouble for losing money from the cash machine. I wouldn’t take anything that doesn’t belong to me. I wouldn’t accept any gifts or receive help from anyone, unless I knew the person who wanted to give me something or help me was pure and sincere.

I was very self-independent and self-initiative. I didn’t need my parents to wake me up in the morning to prepare myself to go to school. I was always punctual and be responsible for myself and all my duties. I always kept my promises that I made to other people. I would show up on time after I had arranged a date to meet up with my friends, even if the date was months later. I would do what I said I wanted to do for myself or for others. That’s why I don’t simply make promises to anybody unless I know I can do it.

My primary school’s class teacher was aware of the truthfulness and honesty in me. One day, she granted me an honour for being honest – In front of all the classmates, she stood up for me and guaranteed that I am an honest and truthful person who won’t tell lies or steal anything, to defend my innocence because of a little incident that happened in our classroom that day.

Someone in the class had been stealing things from most of the classmates from time to time. Things had been missing from our bags or desks. My colour pencils and water bottle also went missing.

One day, my classmate who sat in front of me told our teacher that his exercise book was missing. And so, our teacher called upon everyone and asked whoever took his exercise book to come forward and return the book. He or she would be excused and be forgiven. But there was nobody stepped forward or said anything. The entire class was never been so quiet. Then the teacher asked everyone to search their bags to see if there might be a chance that the exercise book was in one of our bags. I didn’t know what happened, but surprisingly, I found the exercise book in my bag.

Without any fear or guilt I told the teacher and everyone that the exercise book was in my bag and I honestly didn’t know why it was in my bag. I might have put it in my bag accidentally, or someone might had put it into my bag unintentionally or intentionally. For me, it really didn’t matter because I knew I didn’t take it or steal it. But then everyone had the same reaction of thinking that I must be the thief who had stolen the exercise book. The entire class went from silent to noisy. Everyone was pointing their fingers at me and whispering to each other, as if I was guilty for stealing the book. But because I was always being truthful, honest and straightforward, my teacher immediately stood up for me and defend my innocence. She asked everyone to believe in me that I was innocent and I was an honest and truthful person that I wouldn’t tell any lies or steal anything, and she would guarantee that. And so, everyone stopped judging me, but respected me for being a truthful and honest person from that moment.

Since then, my belief about being truthful and honest became stronger than before. By observing truthfulness and honesty will gain such trustworthy and respect from everyone. If somebody who was jealous of me tried to accuse me for something that I wasn’t responsible for, or if someone questioned about my honesty, the people who knew me would believe in me and stood up for me. That’s the power of truthfulness and honesty.

For the first three years in the primary school, I was very bad at Mandarin, but I was good at Malay and English. This was because I had went to an English medium kindergarten. I was good at mathematics and science too. I always paid attention in the class and would asked the teacher immediately after class if there was anything that I missed out or didn’t understand. I seldom study after school, but I could get good results for the examinations.

I was never being close to my two brothers and my sister. We seldom played together when I was growing up. I guess one of the reasons was because there were many years difference between me and them. It’s also because they went to English and Malay medium’s school. They didn’t know Chinese at all. And so, they couldn’t help me in my homework and study as all my subjects were in Chinese. Anyway, I didn’t need anyone to help me in my homework and study. I never needed to go for extra tuition classes like most of my classmates.

I also had very good image memory to remember what I had read. I didn’t need to revise what the teachers taught us in school everyday. I just needed to go to sleep early on the night before the exam, and got up at three in the morning. I browsed through the text book while listening to some music. I would remember page by page of what I had read and could answer the questions exactly like a print out from the book. Though I never bothered about the results and placing in the class, I often had very good results from the examinations. Maybe it was because my parents never pressured us and we didn’t feel that we needed to compete with other people or among our siblings. I never felt that I needed to be good enough so that I would receive love and attention from my parents. My parents never tried to bribe us with things or presents to encourage us to get good results in school examinations. They just told us to do our best. Even though my parents never pressured me to achieve good results, I was self-initiated to do well most of the time, not that I needed to prove to my parents or myself, but naturally, I just did well because I wanted to. My parents loved us the same even though my brothers weren’t very smart and always failed in most of the subjects in school examinations. I am really glad we have such parents.

On one of the celebration days where everyone cooked and ate glutinous rice dumpling, my family had came together to tease me. The lesson was we shouldn’t eat too much glutinous rice dumpling at one time no matter how delicious they are, as eating too much glutinous rice is indigestible and will cause drowsiness. When I came back from school that afternoon, I ate a few of the dumplings my mother made for the family and they were really delicious. Not long after eating, I felt really drowsy and I went for a nap which turned into a deep sleep for a few hours.

Then my mother came to my room to wake me up and told me that it was time to go to school. I was still in a very drowsy condition. I was blur-blur. I didn’t know what was going on and I believed what my mother said to me. I turned to look at the clock, it was six something. Usually the school bus came around that time in the morning to pick me up. At that moment, I heard the bus went passed our house.

I panicked. I was never late for anything. I quickly jumped off the bed and ran to the bathroom. I washed my face and brushed my teeth, ran back to my room and changed into my school uniform, took my school bag and ran out to the gate, and stood there waiting for the school bus to come back for me. I remembered that I was telling myself, “I haven’t done all my homework yet!”

When I was running to the bathroom which was located at the back of our house, I passed by the living hall and the kitchen. I saw my brother was in the living hall pumping the kerosene lamp for the house. Our house didn’t have electricity supply yet at that time. Meanwhile, my mother was cooking in the kitchen. Usually they wouldn’t be awake and do all these things in the early morning. When I ran out to the gate I also saw some children were talking and playing around. Usually nobody would be playing and making noise in the early hours. It all didn’t make sense, but I didn’t suspect anything because I was panicking about being late for school. I still hadn’t a clue what was going on. I was so blurred by the drowsiness and so naive to believe what my mother said to me – “It’s time to go to school.”

I was standing in front of the gate in my school uniform with my school bag.

A few moments later, everyone started to look at me and laughed. My mother came out from the house, grabbed me with her strong arms and carried me back into the house while telling me the truth that it was evening time, not morning! It was dinner time. That’s why there were children playing out there! That’s why my mother was cooking and my brother was pumping the kerosene lamp to light up the house! And the school bus that I heard was sending school children back home.

Until now we still remember what happened that day and we would laugh about it.

I was an outgoing girl who liked to ride my bicycle and went everywhere. I danced most of the time, climbed up the trees, and played with boys and fought with them playing “kung fu fighting”. I played football, basketball, baseball, badminton, flying kites and catching butterflies. I also played rope jumping, hide and seek, slippers throwing, hopscotch, ‘five stones’, and etc. I liked to hang out on the sand hills and the wood factory on top the hill opposite our house. Sometimes I hung out at my friend’s house. I was the leader of the gang of our friends in the village. Among of them were two sisters named Ya Li and Ya Fang. They lived further inside the village closer to the Klang river. There was a Sikh family who had a small cowshed near the river. They bred some cows for fresh milk and sold it in a big milk can placed on top of a bicycle going around the village. I liked to organize games like playing court case, where each of us played a character in the court. We also liked to sing in the school bus. Because of my energetic activities, I had several scars on my knees coming from falling onto the ground while playing and fell off the bicycle many times.

One day, I went to my friend’s house to sleep over. I brought my own pillow and bolster with me. I walked to her house which was about 200 meters away from our house. I was seven years old then. I was so embarrassed that day because I had peed on her bed in the middle of the night. I apologized to her parents the next morning. Everyone knew about it and teased me for that incident and laughed about it for some time. Though this childhood good friend of mine whose name was Lye Wan didn’t go to the school that I went to, she and I had spent so much time together as we grew up together in Kampung Pinang. We lost contact for more than 23 years after the village was gone. One day, she found me on Facebook in 2009.

I befriended a few other kids who were living in the same village, but not from the same school or taking the same school bus. I was good friend with a girl named Shi Huey who was five years younger than me whose house was right behind our house. She always came over to my house to play with me. She fell down on our terrace and lost two of her front teeth on my twelfth birthday’s party. I also knew a girl named Sally who was one year older than me. She came from a Catholic family. I spent lots of time hanging out with her for many years. She became a hairdresser and had her own hair salon near Old Klang Road. I even rented a room in her hair salon to set up my first aerobics dance studio when I was eighteen years old.

There was a Punjabi girl named Sonny who lived opposite my house had picked up Cantonese from being friend with me. We spent lots of time together cycling in and around the village. Sometimes I went to her house for Punjabi meal and she also came to our house for Chinese meal.

I was good friend with a brother and sister named Ah Sang and Ah Fong who were a few years younger than me. They lived next door to our house and we have the same surname. Our surname ‘Lai’ was not a common surname. In the Chinese tradition, those who have the same surname will treat each other like brother and sister even though they might not related to each other. They always came over to our house and we liked to climb up the big cherry tree in our garden. I even organized a ‘bank saving account’ game. I was the banker and a few of my friends would save some coins with me every day. I kept a note book and wrote down the amount of money that they gave me, or took out. Sometimes we would use the total savings to buy some snacks and shared among ourselves. Those were such happy days.

All these childhood happy days disappeared when my family suffered from financial problem for some reasons related to my sister and her late husband, which made me very angry and unhappy for more than two years. Anyway, he died from a horrific work accident years later.

During the financial difficult moments in our family, I had shut myself off from everybody. I was full of anger and hatred and I was very depressed. I didn’t want to talk to my family for a long time. I locked myself in the bedroom and danced every night for a few hours to release my unhappiness. I developed a very special affection for small insects during that time and would prefer to talk to little insects especially bugs, than talking to people. I went out in the middle of the night and sat on the hilltop by myself watching the stars in the sky. I was not afraid of anything.

It is true that a person who is full of anger and hatred will not be afraid of anything, not even God, Devil, or Hell. When a person has intense anger and hatred in the heart, he or she doesn’t believe in anything at all. And so, what is hell and what is God are meaningless to this person. I prayed to Devil when I was very angry and I cursed everything and everyone, including my parents, my family, the people on the street, the sun, the moon, the stars, and God, even though all these things, people and the universe has nothing to do with my unhappiness. I was so unhappy, angry and full of hatred.

My second elder brother was three years older than me. He was also disturbed by our family financial problems and became very cold and rebellious. He couldn’t forgive our parents and our sister and her late husband for many years. I left school a year before the secondary school final year, which was a pity, but I never regret about it because in the end, wisdom and peace and happiness are not coming from school education, but it’s coming from within ourselves through life experiences and self-realization. No doubt that school education is very important to learn how to read and write and communicate, to learn about different languages, cultures, religions, sports, morality, geography, history, mathematics, science and professional skills for living, but how many schools teach us how to be happy and have peace, or teach us how to transcend suffering and be free from unhappiness, ignorance, anger, hatred, greed, fear and worry?

We may have read a lot of books, have many talented skills, speak many languages, know about many things, have been to many places in the world, and have many friends, but it doesn’t guarantee that we will be free from suffering of anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, doubts, fear and worry, and will have peace and be happy in life.

I was lucky to be able to transform myself and came out from misery that had kept me in two years of darkness. I started to talk to my parents again and showed love and care for them. But my brother was continuing to be very unhappy for many years. Only until recently he forgave my family and started to care for my parents again just a couple of years before my mother died, which was good for him and my parents. Or else, he would regret for the rest of his life, if he hadn’t forgave my parents before my mother died, and she wouldn’t have peace as well.

Though I wasn’t a sociable person at school I made a few true and sincere friends after spending six years together in the same class at the primary school. We continued to be friends and kept in touch with each other once in a while after we finished primary school. Sadly, one of them killed herself in 2004 just before I went to India for the Yoga Teachers Training Course. Her sudden death gave me a great reflection about life, suffering and happiness.

She was born into a broken family. Her father was a wealthy businessman. Her parents were forced to get married as her mother was pregnant with her at young aged. They were separated when my friend was just a few months old and both of them had formed another family after their divorce. Both her parents abandoned her. Her grandmother took her in and looked after her. She was very grateful for that and she loved her grandmother very much, which was also the reason why her depression became more serious when her grandmother passed away. She was one of the top graduates of higher education. She worked as a marketing manager in a big advertising company, and smoked at least 2 packets of cigarettes a day.

Her first marriage lasted for one year. She married to the man whom she thought she knew very well after being best friend for 10 years. The husband was well-educated and had a high income nine to five office job, just like some other well-educated men.

Not long after they were married, she then realized her newly-wed husband was like a complete stranger to her. She started to discover many things that she didn’t know about him. She was so shocked with the truth of his real personality and was deeply disappointed with their relationship and marriage. She didn’t know that he was such an irresponsible man until they lived together sharing a life under the same roof. She found out that her husband was addicted to gambling seriously. She knew he gambled occasionally just like all the other Chinese community, but she thought that was just one of the leisure activities that most Chinese like to engage with. He liked to go to Genting Highlands Casino for gambling. Unfortunately, he lost a lot of money and started to borrow money from the loan sharks money lender. He lost all the money borrowed from the loan sharks and didn’t have the money to pay back the loan. He secretly went to her father and borrowed a lot of money from him. He lied to her father about why he needed to borrow so much money and convinced him not to let her know about it. He took all the money borrowed from her father to Genting Highlands again for more gambling hoping to win back what he had lost, but instead, he lost everything he had. He couldn’t pay back the loan sharks and was in debt with the father-in-law. And so, what he did? He ran away without telling her and went missing for many months without any contact from him.

What worst was, he didn’t just run away. He also took all her savings in cash which she kept in the house. She didn’t want to keep money in the banks. She said she didn’t trust the bank. She taught she could trust her husband, but she was wrong.

She only found out the truth about her husband when the loan sharks came to her house looking for the husband, and threatened her to pay back the money borrowed by her husband who had ran away shamelessly. She also found out about the husband had borrowed lots of money from her father. She was completely heartbroken.

Meanwhile she found out that she was pregnant, which the husband had no idea about it. She was supposed to be very happy for having to be pregnant because she always wanted to have her own children ever since she was a young girl. She strongly believed that a woman’s life wouldn’t be complete until she had her own children to form a perfect family. She was very worried for her unborn child to have such an irresponsible, selfish and shameless father. She made a very heart-breaking decision. She went for an abortion out of great anger and disappointment. She felt guilty for that afterwards and had regretted it for the rest of her life. She filed a divorce after her husband’s disappearance for many months. He showed up one day to sign the divorce paper, but seeing him again was like putting salt onto the existing wounds.

Few years later she met another well-educated man also with a decent high income job. She fell in love and got married again. Not long after they were married, she got pregnant not once, but twice. She was very happy to have her own children that she always dreamt of. She was determined to quit smoking while she was pregnant for the sake of the baby’s health. She continued her two boxes of cigarettes every day as soon as she stopped breast feeding.

She suffered post natal depression after the first baby. She recovered, but not for long. She wanted another baby to fulfill her wish to have a few children to complete her perfect happy family life. She was pregnant again two years later and gave birth to another baby boy. We went to her house to visit her and the baby. She didn’t talk about her problems. She seemed happy with her wishes came true and was very loving towards her new born baby boy. Her husband seemed like a good gentleman.

A few months later, one of our classmates called me in great distressed and told me that she had passed away about a month ago. The three of us used to hang out together frequently before her second marriage and the two pregnancies. We didn’t know what had happened to her or how she died. Nobody knew anything about her sudden death, not any of our classmates. The husband didn’t inform anyone of us about her death and the funeral. I had called her and texted her many times before and after her death, but there was no reply. Then only I knew why she hadn’t returned my calls and messages. Because she was dead. We couldn’t keep in the dark and wanted to find out what had happened to her.

My friend called her husband. The husband didn’t want to tell her anything about her death, but just said that the two boys were living with his parents in Penang. We were looking for an answer. Finally, we found our answer from an old newspaper dated November 9th, 2004. It was really heart-breaking and painful for us to read the article about her death. The article was about how she had jumped from her 15th floor apartment’s balcony and fell to her death instantly in the morning about 10.30 a.m. on November 8th, 2004. The neighbours told the reporters that they always heard arguments from her apartment about money issues.

We knew about her death in December 2004, and I went to India in early January 2005. I was very sad about her death, but I was more determined to find out the truth about suffering and the path of liberation from suffering. She had chosen what she wanted to do with her life. I respect her decision.

That was the past. I continued my journey in search for real peace and happiness.

Thanks to the Dhamma, Madonna and everyone who had inspired and helped me to come out from miseries. Thanks to my parents who didn’t question me for my bad behaviour and they didn’t abandon me and were very patient with me, and continued to love me and care for me, gave me their supports to pursue my dreams in dancing, and for me to have the opportunity to teach aerobics classes for making a living to support myself and my parents.

My mother was the driver who sent me everywhere to teach aerobics classes. She waited in the car park until I finished teaching and then sent me back home because I didn’t learn how to drive yet, not until I was thirty three years old. I had fear of crossing the road and fear of driving in the past because I was involved in a few car accidents as a passenger when I was a child. It would take me very long time to cross over the road. I would wait until there was completely no cars in sight to cross the road. But now it’s a different story. I love and enjoy driving very much. I’m free from fear. After I learned how to drive and bought a small car to travel in and around Kuala Lumpur, I managed to teach a lot more aerobics classes which led to a higher income that allowed me to have a little bit of savings for myself after giving money to support my parents’ living every month.

And thanks to myself, who had uplifted and loved myself and saved myself out of the ocean of ignorance and suffering.

READ ON…

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”.