Retreat and quieting the restless outgoing pleasure/stimulation seeking mind

Some people asked us, “What are the fun holiday activities we can do during the free time between the yoga and meditation practice sessions in the yoga retreat?”

Many people might be unaware of the yoga practice are being carried out in every moment whether during the yoga practice ‘sessions’ and outside the yoga practice ‘sessions’ during a yoga retreat, or in everyday life.

Not that ‘doing/enjoying some fun holiday activities’ are wrong or bad, but the yoga practice is all about changing the worldly behavior pattern/habitual action and reaction of the mind, filtering/reducing/restricting/limiting the physical and mental activities, to withdraw the outgoing tendency of the mind, to be quieting the restless pleasure/stimulation seeking mind, while freeing the mind from egoism of attachment, identification, desire of craving and aversion, judgment, comparison and expectation, to prepare the mind for meditation, to see the truth of things as it is, be free from ignorance and suffering that derived from ignorance.

In a ‘retreat’, this yoga practice of restricting the activities of the body and the mind and quieting the restless modification of the mind is being put into practice, seizing the opportunity of participating in a ‘retreat’ for an extended period of time, to be retreating from all kinds of worldly physical and mental activities that gratify the desire of craving for pleasurable actions, adventures, thrills, achievements, enjoyment and stimulation. Retreat participants should make use of the free time in between the yoga practice ‘sessions’ or other than performing daily task such like tidying/cleaning the living space, taking meals and shower, to ‘take rest’ and ‘be quiet’ physically and mentally, as well as observing the habitual action and reaction and the desire of gross/subtle craving of the mind especially during the time ‘not doing anything particular physically or mentally’ not even doing some kind of physical or mental yoga practice to occupy the mind, or when ‘boredom’ and ‘the sense of meaninglessness’ starts to manifest in the mind urging the mind to go out there to be doing something to get rid of the ‘boredom’ and ‘the sense of meaninglessness’.

The untrained mind usually doesn’t like to ‘be quiet physically and mentally’ being in the present moment reducing/limiting/restricting the physical and mental activities or ‘doing nothing particular’ not even some kind of ‘spiritual practice’ or ‘healthy/meaningful activities’ to be occupying the mind with ‘something’, as the mind will get bored and feel meaningless, and hence, it needs to be constantly seeking actions/adventures/thrills/achievements, enjoyment and stimulation. And hence, the restlessness. And yoga practice is to free the mind from this worldly thinking/belief/practice/habit of ‘constantly need to occupy the mind with something to keep it busy/restless so that it doesn’t get bored or feel meaningless’.

We don’t just reduce/restrict/limit/retreat from worldly physical and mental activities during a ‘retreat’ for a few days or weeks, we also practice partial or maximum retreat from worldly social affairs, activities and interactions as much as possible in our everyday life to stop feeding the desire and the outgoing pleasure/stimulation seeking tendency of the mind.

Contemplate on this, and find out whether oneself is practicing yoga to free the mind from the habitual worldly behavior pattern, to quiet/silent the restless modification of the mind, by renouncing/retreating from worldly egoistic physical and mental activities that empower egoism and restlessness, or just doing some kinds of ‘yoga practice’ a few hours a day regularly to be gaining some impermanent/momentary physical and mental benefits to gratify the desire of craving and aversion of the mind, to feel good, healthy and meaningful. And there’s nothing wrong either if oneself is not practicing yoga to change the habitual worldly behavior habit of the mind, to free the mind from ignorance and egoism, to quiet/silent the modification of the mind. But for those who sincerely want to practice yoga, they can contemplate on this.

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Go beyond the fight for legal recognition or approval for being who/what you are

Before the existence of ‘authority’ and ‘laws’ being introduced into the world, everyone is free being who/what they are, what they want to think and believe or not thinking and disbelieving, and be able to live/travel/wander/migrate anywhere and everywhere, unrestricted by so called ‘authority’ and ‘laws’.

None need to be labelled as ‘such and such nationality/gender/race/class’. None need to be fighting for attaining ‘legal’ recognition or approval for being who they are/what they want to be. None need to fight for ‘equality’ or ‘equal treatment’ or ‘respect’. ‘Human rights’ and all kinds of ‘rights’ shouldn’t be existing at all. There needn’t be an ‘authority’ and ‘laws’ existing to ‘authorize/sanction/judge/criminalize/punish who and what have/don’t have ‘such and such rights’, or have more/less ‘rights’ than one another. Human beings just need to respect one another and be kind/thoughtful/tolerant/accommodating towards one another.

Somehow, somewhere, some people, with the excuse/aspiration of ‘protecting the welfare of the world/society and keeping the world/society in order’, certain people self-proclaimed ownership and authority towards lands, areas, space and the society/community, set up boundaries, labels, laws and punishments to limit/control all and everyone have to comply to certain rules and regulations based on particular thinking/belief/disbelief/ideas/values/practice/behavior/way of life or culture/religion/spirituality, and in the name of humanity for developing/protecting ‘goodness and righteousness’ and fighting/eliminating ‘badness and wrongfulness’, to uphold peace and harmony/social stability and prosperity in the world/society, and to keep the society in a ‘particular order’ that complying to a particular thinking/belief/ideas/values/practice, either by force, or by conversion, or by temptation, to be recruiting or building a majority of the society/community that support, empower and comply to such ‘system’ that gives power to certain people being ‘the authority’ to ‘control’ all the others who are ignorantly and wittingly supporting that ‘system’ to be ‘controlled legally’ by an ‘authority’ and be limited by ‘legally’ binding laws, from some ‘simple rules and regulations for keeping order in the society and for the benefits of all humanity’ but eventually/gradually being evolved into many ‘selfish corrupted rules and regulations for propagating certain agendas and protecting the benefits of certain people’, that gives rise to all kinds of discrimination, prejudice, unjust, corruption, oppression, intimidation, offense, punishment, restriction, intrusion, unrest, hatred, fear and violence.

A world/society that needs to be ‘governed’/’supported’/’protected’ by ‘human rights’ and all kinds of ‘rights’, that needs to be ‘controlled’ under ‘an authority’ and ‘laws’ to be in a ‘particular order’ will never going to be ‘healthy’.

A healthy world/society comes from correct education/understanding that allows people to be opened to allow and respect all and everyone being different from one another without discrimination/prejudice/unjust/hatred/intrusion/interference/hostility or trying to over-powered one another, without the sense of superiority and inferiority, where people have the correct understanding/matured mentality to be thinking properly/calmly/clearly, being who/what they are and respect others being who/what they are, without the need of ‘authorization’, or ‘recognition’, or ‘legality’, or ‘approval’, or ‘acknowledgement’ from such and such ‘authority’ and ‘laws’, without anyone/authority claiming ownership/possessiveness/authorization over anything that approves/disapproves anyone being here or anywhere in this space of the universe that doesn’t belong to anyone or any ‘authority’. People are being free to inquire the truth of things, having the freedom of thinking/action/expression/belief/disbelief/opinion, but also having awareness and self-control over one’s actions and be responsible for one’s actions and the consequences of one’s actions, not to say to be selfless and compassionate, but being thoughtful, forgiving and accommodating, where all kinds of discrimination/corruption/intrusion/unjust/hatred/hostility/violence have no reason to be existing in the world/society.

Unfortunately, due to deep ignorance and human’s survival instinct, not everyone could have the correct understanding or proper/calm/clear thinking to be open to respect one another, to allow everyone being what they are, as they are, being different in many ways and have their own thinking/belief/disbelief/way of life/behavior/action and reaction.

Out of survival instinct, most people will be selfish to protect their lives, livelihood, home, family, tribe, community, lands/areas, privilege and supremacy. Even the self-proclaimed ‘good and righteous human beings’ would want to protect what they think and believe is ‘goodness’ and ‘righteousness’, and fight against what they think and believe is ‘badness’ and ‘wrongfulness’.

When people try to fight for ‘certain rights’, ‘equal treatment’, ‘legal approval for doing something or going somewhere or living somewhere’ and ‘legal recognition towards particular identity or belief/disbelief or way of life or sexual orientation’ from an ‘authority’, people are unaware of they are actually acknowledging, supporting, approving and empowering the ‘system’, unwittingly being part of the game of the ‘system’. Most people think and believe that, “We all live in the system and are part of the system. We have to comply to the system controlled by ‘the authority’ and ‘laws’ to keep everything in the ‘correct’ order. If we want to be ‘who we are/what we want to be’, we need approval and recognition from the system. We need to support the system to keep the society in order and to keep the economy alive for us to have a livelihood to survive.” That’s their freedom of thinking/belief.

While in yoga/Buddhism/science, all and everything live in the solar system and are part of the solar system being determined by the law of nature to be surviving and existing, or not, and all are subject to the law of impermanence and selflessness and the law of cause and effect, which is nothing to do with the system of ‘human authority’ and ‘human regulated rules and regulations’ that give power to certain people to keep everyone under their control to think/believe/behave/live life in certain ways.

“Retreat from the society, renounce the world, stay away from politics/debates/gossips/vain talks.” This is the common teaching/advice from many teachers in the past.

Siddhartha Gautama Buddha taught, “Dharma will disappear from the world.” He didn’t teach, “Save Dharma from disappearance at all cost, don’t let it disappears from the world.”

Swami Sivananda taught, “Even if all the leaders are taken out of the world now, the world will run on smoothly, probably more smoothly. Even if all the people retire into the forest, the world will go on.”

If people truly wish for everyone being non-discriminated in this world, it’s not about fighting for everyone to be given ‘equal rights’ by ‘the authority’ that created ‘a system of discrimination’, but it’s by abandoning all the ‘rights’ and ‘privilege’ that generates all kinds of discrimination being given by ‘the authority’ that were not given to some other people due to ‘the system of discrimination’ or ‘the laws say so’. But in reality, not many people want ‘everyone’ to be treated equally or be given ‘equal rights’, because they want to enjoy the benefits from the ‘rights’ and ‘privilege’ that they have, but others don’t have, and most people won’t give up all the ‘rights’ and ‘privilege’ that were given to them to fully support those who were not given any rights or have less rights than others being discriminated by ‘the system of discrimination’. Because of ‘the system’, people are afraid of having ‘no rights’ or ‘legal documentation’, as one who has no rights or legal documentation cannot be here or anywhere on earth ‘legally’ and naturally is a ‘criminal against the law who would be punished by law’ under ‘the laws’ made by human beings for the sake of keeping the world in a particular order. How absurd is that.

Before the realization of selflessness, you are who you are/what you want to be, regardless of whether it’s recognized/approved/acknowledged/authorized by an ‘authority’ and ‘laws’, or not.

Upon the realization of selflessness, there’s no ‘I’ being there that needs to be identifying as ‘somebody with a particular identity of a quality of name and form’ longing to be recognized/approved/acknowledged/authorized by oneself, or anyone, or anything.

Be free.

Changing the conditioned thinking pattern of the mind

The thinking pattern of the untrained minds is unwittingly being conditioned by certain worldly social cultural or religious/spiritual thinking/belief/disbelief/ideas/values/practice, including the minds that think and believe that they are ‘good minds’ or ‘good beings’ with ‘good ideas’, ‘good merits’, ‘good virtues’, ‘good belief’, ‘good conduct’, ‘good personality’, or ‘good characteristic’, that identify themselves as ‘good people’ with ‘good and righteous behavior’ in the world, or the minds that think and believe that they are not ‘good enough’ and they aspire to be ‘good enough’ to be identified/recognized/acknowledged as ‘good minds’, ‘good beings’, or ‘good people with good and righteous behavior’.

Not that ‘being good’ or ‘doing good’ or ‘good behavior’ is something bad or wrong, but the minds that are free from ignorance and egoism, are free from such identification/recognition/acknowledgement attached onto any quality of names and forms complying to certain worldly/social/cultural or religious/spiritual thinking/belief/disbelief/ideas/values/practice about what is good and bad, right and wrong, positive and negative, or meaningfulness and meaninglessness.

Those who sincerely want to transcend the modification of the mind, who are determined to free the mind from ignorance and all kinds of suffering that derived from ignorance, need to work diligently on changing the thinking pattern of the mind, freeing the mind from such conditioned thinking/belief/values/practice/identification.

Those who just want to do some yoga practice regularly to attain some impermanent physical and mental health and fitness benefits, as well as those who just want to be good and do good to accumulate good karma/virtues/merits as much as possible hoping to have a better next life ‘transition/incarnation’ or entering ‘blissful heaven’, they don’t need to inquire into this basic yet important teaching and practice of yoga.

The untrained ignorant egoistic minds are like a ‘sponge’ that absorbs everything that is possible whether wittingly or unwittingly, while thinking and believing and identifying itself as ‘the sponge that filled with whatever it absorbs/contains/holds’, such like, ‘I am a good sponge that absorbs/contains/holds all the good elements’ or ‘I am a bad sponge that absorbs/contains/holds all the bad elements’.

The selfless minds are free from such thinking/belief/identification.

Contemplate on this, and be free.

Appreciating what matter to us in life without attachment

Most of the time we don’t really know what matter to us in life until the moment we lost something that we didn’t realize it matters to us very much, or at the moment ‘death’ is approaching.

If we know what matter to us in life, and what doesn’t matter, we can have a clear direction of life and make all decisions without any doubt or regret.

We can put aside or go beyond many difficulties/challenges/fear because what matter to us in life is more important than anything else, but it also could lead us to the biggest fear/aversion towards losing what matters most to us.

That biggest fear towards losing what matters most to us in life can be overcome by being able to appreciate everything that matter to us in life in this present moment without attachment/clinging, which allows us to be able to let go what matter to us in peace, when impermanence strikes.

Many people would say that ‘appreciation without attachment’ is easy to say but difficult to do.

That’s why we need ‘practice’/’training’ and certain degrees of ‘patience’/’perseverance’/’determination’/’non-judgment’/’non-comparison’/’non-expectation’.

It takes time for the mind to be ‘trained’ to be unattached towards all the names and forms, and be undetermined/undisturbed by the truth of impermanence and selflessness, and things that are not necessarily the way that we would like it to be, and be able to let go everything in peace.

‘Non-attachment’ manifest as it is, naturally/effortlessly/intentionlessly, when the mind is free from ignorance, knowing the truth of impermanence and selflessness.

It’s okay that there are things that matter to us more than some other things and there are things that don’t matter at all to us, despite that we would more likely hearing many people say that everything matters. As surviving life is already challenging enough for many people. Sometimes we need to let go certain things to allow the mind/the thinking faculty to maintain certain degrees of sanity and clarity.

In the end, everything is equally matters and doesn’t matter at the same time upon realization of selflessness.

It’s good that human beings have the loving kindness for helping and supporting one another, but it’s okay that there are times we can’t help, or we can’t help as much as we would like it to be. We also need to allow everyone to learn how to look after themselves and take responsibility for their desires/actions and the consequences of their desires/actions.

Meanwhile some people don’t mind being attached strongly onto everything and suffering for the loss of what matter to them very much, or suffering for the things that are not necessarily the way that they would like it to be, as they think and believe that “That’s life and life should be like that.” And that’s their freedom of thinking/feeling/action/reaction.

Respect everyone being what they are

For the minds that attached onto and identified with the qualities of names and forms to be who/what they are, ‘respect’ is about showing admiration or acknowledgement towards oneself or others who possess or achieve certain qualities of names and forms that the minds think and believe as ‘superior quality’, ‘higher ability’, or ‘higher achievement’ that deserve ‘respect’ from others or the world. Most people ‘work’ very hard throughout their life to earn or gain ‘respect’ or ‘admiration/acknowledgement’ from the world, or others, especially those who are ‘related’ to them in their personal/community/social/professional life.

Whether wittingly or unwittingly, there is discrimination towards the different qualities, abilities/disabilities and achievement/non-achievement determining what and who are worthy or unworthy to be receiving respect from oneself and others.

Most people think and believe that showing/giving ‘respect’/’admiration’/’acknowledgement’ towards certain higher/superior quality, ability and achievement is a form of generosity/kindness/goodness or positive encouragement to motivate oneself or other people (to be continuously) to strive to be good or be better.

For the minds that (truly) practice yoga, that are free from attachment towards and identification with any qualities of names and forms, that are free from discrimination towards all the different qualities of names and forms, ‘respect’ is not about showing admiration or acknowledgement towards ‘higher’ or ‘superior’ quality, ability or achievement, but instead, it’s abandoning such worldly thinking and belief, values and practice that empowers egoism and ignorance. It’s transcending the discrimination towards what the worldly egoistic thinking and belief categorizing as ‘respectable’ and ‘non-respectable’. The mind is free from the desire of craving and aversion towards the worldly idea/values/practice of ‘respect and disrespect’, ‘praise and condemn’, ‘superiority and inferiority’, ‘meaningfulness and meaninglessness’, and so on.

The one who needs to earn or gain ‘respect’/admiration’/’acknowledgement’ from others or the world, by possessing or attaining certain higher/superior quality, ability or achievement, in order to be motivated (to be continuously) to strive to be good or be better, the one who needs ‘positive inputs/influences’, ‘positive thinking’, ‘positive encouragements’ and ‘the sense of meaningfulness’, is the ego. Those who are free from the ego and egoism don’t need to be receiving ‘respect’/’admiration’/’acknowledgement’ from anyone for anything, to motivate them (to be continuously) to be good, or be better. The selfless/egoless minds don’t need to have ‘positive inputs/influences’, ‘positive thinking’, ‘positive encouragements’ and ‘the sense of meaningfulness’.

Those who know yoga aren’t interested at all towards the worldly idea/values/practice of ‘one must work hard to be earning or gaining ‘respect’/’admiration’/’acknowledgement’ from oneself or others by possessing or attaining certain higher/superior worldly or spiritual quality, ability and achievement, and void of lower/inferior quality, disability and non-achievement.

In yoga, ‘respect’ is part of the effortless manifestation of compassion derived from a selfless ‘open-mind’ that unattached towards any quality of name and form, being ‘non-discriminative’ towards all and ‘accepting’ everyone being what they are, as they are, regardless of all the different higher and lower worldly or spiritual qualities, abilities and disabilities, achievements and non-achievements that present or absent in everyone, even if the worldly minds think and believe and recognize that there is the presence of certain qualities of ‘bad’ and ‘wrong’ and the absence of certain qualities of ‘good’ and ‘right’ based on a particular social/cultural/religious/spiritual/political/philosophical thinking and belief about what is good and bad, what is right and wrong, where the minds generate dislike and disagreement, where the minds think and believe that they are ‘unworthy’ of receiving ‘respect’/’admiration’/’acknowledgement’ from anyone.

Respecting everyone being what they are doesn’t mean that one is agreeing and supporting others’ thinking, belief, behavior, values and practice that the minds think and believe as ‘bad’ and ‘wrong’, but one is undetermined or undisturbed by the existing and non-existing higher/lower quality, ability/disability, achievement/non-achievement that the world think and believe are ‘worthy’ or ‘unworthy’ of ‘respect’, without interference/discrimination/intimidation towards everyone being what they are, as they are. And all are impermanent.

Being ‘non-discriminative’ and ‘respectful’ towards all and everyone, or the mind is being ‘open’, doesn’t mean that one should be generously showing/giving ‘supports’ towards all kinds of thinking, belief, behavior, values and practice in the world, or blind-following, blind-practicing, blind-preaching and blind-promoting all the different kinds of thinking, belief, behavior, values and practice, but it’s about being unattached towards or non-associating with all the different kinds of thinking, belief, behavior, values and practice, regardless of whether the worldly thinking and belief referring something as ‘good and right’ or ‘bad and wrong’, while being non-discriminative ‘respecting’ and ‘allowing’ all these different kinds of thinking, belief, behavior, values and practice being there existing in this world as they are.

This kind of ‘respect’ of non-discriminative/non-interference/non-intimidation towards everyone regardless of all the different qualities of names and forms is essential for maintaining peace and harmony among all in the world. Be free from the worldly egoistic thinking/belief/practice of “Certain people deserve (higher) respect from others while some others don’t, being determined by who/what they are, of their particular background, gender, sexual orientation, way of life, race, belief/disbelief, position, status, caste, profession, ability, achievement, behavior, action and reaction, including what the world think is merit and virtue.”

Seeing the truth of names and forms as they are. They are just what they are, neither good nor bad, neither right nor wrong, neither positive nor negative, neither meaningful nor meaningless.

Those who truly want to realize yoga of selflessness/oneness/compassion/unconditional peace need to be aware of the subtle attachment, identification and desire of craving and aversion towards the quality of names and forms projected by the ignorant impure egoistic mind. Learn how to transcend the modification of the mind of all kinds of thinking/belief/values/practice/behavior/habit/desire/intention/expectation/action and reaction.

The freedom of being free from ignorance and the suffering of the consequences of ignorance is attained through the realization of selflessness/oneness/attributelessness/namelessness/formlessness by transcending/going beyond/subjugating the modification of the mind that generates the separateness/duality manifested in the form of thinking and belief that gives rise to the notion of a worldly life existence consisting of ‘I and all the others’, ‘I and my world’, ‘I and my life’, ‘good and bad’, ‘right and wrong’, ‘positive and negative’, ‘meaningfulness and meaninglessness’, ‘respectable and non-respectable’, ‘praise and condemn’, and so on.

Those who know this, they allow everyone being what they are, including whether people want to show ‘respect’ towards one another, or not. Those who don’t know this, they would feel disappointed, offended, disrespected, humiliated, belittled, hurt and angry when they think they aren’t getting the ‘respect’ that they expect to be getting, and they expect all ‘good’ human beings should behave in certain way to show ‘respect’ to one another, or else, those who don’t behave in such way would be labeled/condemned as ‘bad’ human beings.

Be free.