Go beyond self-esteem and self-worth

For those who are not really interested in the path of yoga, they don’t need to ‘practice yoga’. People can just live everyday life as they are, don’t need to do anything to purify the mind, to render the mind quiet, to free the mind from the influence of worldly egoistic ideas, thinking, belief, behavior, action and reaction, to free the mind from ignorance and the by-products of ignorance – egoism, impurities, restlessness and suffering.

People can continue being passionate towards improving the quality of a worldly life that mostly emphasize on the gratification of the desires of wants and don’t wants.

From young to old, it’s all about developing and enhancing the qualities of name and form that the thinking mind attached onto and identifies as ‘I’, to carry on or adopt a particular cultural/religious/spiritual belief and practice that influence the way of life, to be ‘educated’, to accumulate ‘knowledge’, ‘skills’ and ‘qualifications’, to empower a high self-esteem and self-worth that builds on personality, confidence, self-image, body image, charm and attractiveness, physical and mental ability and achievement, to be accumulating relationships and friendships, to broadening social networks, to establish a livelihood and a social/community life, to enjoy sights/sounds/tastes/smells/sensations/imagination, to aspire and be inspired, to fall in love, to find a life partner or some lovers, to reprocreate, to build a family, to enjoy easier and more comfortable life, to contribute to the society or the country or the world, to attain acknowledgement, recognition, support, praise and compliments, to attain ‘success’ in life, career and relationship, to attain the sense of existence, purpose, pride, happiness, joyfulness, blessedness, gladness and meaningfulness.

For those who sincerely want to practice yoga and realize yoga, then go beyond a worldly life that emphasizes on developing and enhancing ‘self-esteem’ and ‘self-worth’ that derived from ignorance and egoism that feed on worldly ideas, thinking, beliefs and practice.

The necessity or importance of developing and enhancing ‘self-esteem’, ‘self-worth’, ‘confidence’, ‘self-image’, ‘body image’, ‘charm and attractiveness’, ‘physical and mental ability and achievement’, ‘the sense of existence/purpose/meaningfulness’, and etc, are nothing but the play of ignorance and egoism.

The sense of self-esteem and self-worth that builds on the qualities of names and forms, such as “I know something”, “I can do something”, “I achieved something”, “I am good”, “I look good”, “I feel good”, “I am strong”, “I am healthy”, “I have family and friends”, “I am contributing something”, “I am acknowledged and supported”, “My life/career/relationship is good and meaningful” and so on, is conditional and impermanent. It will break.

Yoga practitioners are supposed to eliminate the egoism and not empowering the egoism. It’s the ego that needs to have a high self-esteem to achieve ‘success’ in life, career and relationship, to attain the sense of existence, acknowledgement, self-worth, confidence, purpose, or meaningfulness. And thus it performs actions out of intention and aspiration. It attached onto and identifies with its actions and the fruit of actions. It is being determined and bound by the actions and the fruit of actions.

For those who are aware of this, actions are being performed out of compassion, without the need/aspiration of ‘developing’ and ‘enhancing’ self-esteem to achieve ‘success’ in life, career and relationship, to attain the sense of existence, acknowledgement, self-worth, confidence, purpose, or meaningfulness. Though that is what most people including highly educated and intelligent minds strongly believe in and are practicing, and that’s their freedom.

“Well done!”

“That’s very good!”

“You should be proud of yourself!”

“I am so proud of you!”

Most people think and believe that all these words are very essential positive encouragement and acknowledgement towards somebody’s achievement to enhance their self-esteem and self-worth, so that they will be motivated to strive harder to improve and be better, to attain continuous positive feedback and acknowledgement, to attain the sense of self-worth, accomplishment, purpose, meaningfulness. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Those who are free from ignorance and egoism don’t need any ‘positive words of encouragement or acknowledgement’ from anyone to motivate them to perform actions that will benefit all and everyone, and are not disturbed or discouraged by any ‘negative words of discouragement or non-acknowledgement’ to be continuing performing actions that will benefit all and everyone.

‘Yoga teachers’ who truly teach yoga in the yoga class don’t empower the egoism in the yoga students but to allow the students to develop correct understanding and direct experience towards the practice of yoga to eliminate the egoism.

By constantly giving the students ‘positive words of encouragement’ out of “good intention to encourage and motivate the students to be good, do good, to improve and be better” because the teacher thinks and believes that “the students who haven’t developed non-craving and non-attachment would be discouraged or lack of motivation to be good and do good, or to improve in their practice, if the teacher doesn’t give any ‘positive words of encouragement’ to the students”, don’t help to eliminate the egoism, but instead will only be empowering the egoism in the students. And if the students have already developed non-craving and non-attachment towards any kind of ‘positive words of encouragements’, then, ‘positive words of encouragements’ are needless in such yoga classes, as the students don’t need to hear any ‘positive words of encouragements’ to motivate them to be good, do good and to improve, neither the students will be discouraged or lack of motivation to perform their practice, to be good, do good and to improve, if the teacher never give any form of ‘positive words of encouragements.’

Be free.

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Good life?

Despite a small group of people in the world of ignorance, greed and selfishness who would wish for bad condition and situation in the world so that they can make profits/benefits out of the bad condition and situation of the world and other people’s suffering, painful sorrow, difficulties and hardships, most people would appreciate and be grateful and wish for good life, good condition and situation, good relationships and enjoyments for everyone.

There’s nothing wrong with joy and happiness, good life, good condition and situation, good relationships and enjoyments, just that it can easily become one of the great hindrances for those who are on the path of yoga to progress towards the highest aim of yoga of transcending the mind and the yearning for liberation is no longer the highest motivation for performing the yoga practice and would eventually disappear from the mind completely, unwittingly, where performing yoga practice is only one of the healthy leisure activities in life.

“Oh, what a wonderful life and beautiful world we have here. Good family, good friends, good condition, good activities and plenty of good enjoyments. We should just enjoy all the good things that we have as much as we can. We should make use of the opportunity of good life, good condition and situation to do so many things in this world. Why bother about all those unpleasant yoga practice about silencing/transcending the mind of letting go this beautiful wonderful happy world?”

Everything is impermanent. Because of the impermanent nature of everything, we should appreciate the precious moments of good life, good condition and situation, good relationships and enjoyments even though knowing that it’s impermanent, that it will change and pass away. And this statement is not something negative, or depressing, or bitter at all. It’s the truth of everything.

If people realize the fleeting impermanence of everything, it could inspire them to work diligently towards transcending the mind perception of worldly life existence even though they are enjoying good life, good condition and situation, good relationship and enjoyments that they know all are impermanent. If there’s no attachment towards all the impermanent good enjoyments and happy joyful moments, it’s fine. There’s no suffering when impermanence strikes. But, when there is attachment and suffering arise, how many people would cry, “OH! Dear God/Guru/anyone, help me please! Save me please! Take away all these suffering from me. I don’t want them. Please bring back the joy and happiness to me!”

Suffering, painful sorrow, bad condition and situation, disappointment, bad relationships, difficulties and hardships are not something negative, depressing or bitter at all, it’s indeed the great motivation/inspiration for people to let go the world (regardless good or bad condition/happy or unhappy experiences), to be determined to perform yoga practice to transcend the mind perception of an impermanent selfless worldly life existence of names and forms, and be free from the suffering of restlessness swaying in between satisfaction and dissatisfaction, happiness and unhappiness, due to endless desires of craving and aversion waiting to be gratified under the influence of ignorance, egoism and impurities.

“The world is unreal.” – The teachings of yoga.

This is not about shunning/condemning/pushing away/denying good life, good condition and situation, good relationships, activities and enjoyments, but to remind ourselves not to be drowned in impermanent pleasurable good condition, activity and enjoyment until we forgo the highest aim of yoga. Though it’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to do with their life, body and mind.

Be free.

In the end, it’s what matters most to oneself

For some people, to be able to contribute to humanity, to help and serve other beings selflessly is what matters most.

For some people, to be able to think and move freely, to go everywhere freely is what matters most.

For some people, to have peace and harmony is what matters most.

For some people, to have joy and happiness is what matters most.

For some people, to be able to love and be loved is what matters most.

For some people, to have good health is what matters most.

For some people, to have a shelter from harsh weather and be free from hunger and thirst is what matters most.

For some people, to have a complete and happy family is what matters most.

For some people, to have a successful career that support a stable income and comfortable living is what matters most.

For some people, to have one or many good friends to support each other is what matters most.

For some people, to be able to achieve all their ambitions, to do whatever they like to do and enjoy whatever they want to enjoy is what matters most.

For some people, to accumulate wealth and power is what matters most.

For some people, they want to have all and everything, if possible.

For some people they don’t know what they want or what matters most.

For some people, they thought they know what they want and what matters most, but not really.

There’s neither right nor wrong, it’s just about what matter to oneself in the end.

For those who practice yoga and meditation, to live in the present being free from desires of craving and aversion, to free the mind from ignorance and egoism and the suffering of the consequences of ignorance and egoism, is what matters most.

For many people, “If people don’t kill themselves out of tiredness, restlessness, unhappiness, depression, dissatisfaction, disappointment, loneliness, boredom, hurts, guilt, regret, painful sorrow and meaninglessness, and be grateful for being alive and appreciating life, family and friends, be positive keep on fighting for the values of life or what they think is ‘humanity’, try to create or contribute to a ‘better world’, and be optimistic never give up searching for happiness, satisfaction and meaningfulness through engaging in ‘constructive’ ideas/objects/relationships/friendships/activities in this impermanent worldly life existence, it’s good enough for existing as a ‘human being’.”

There’s nothing wrong with passionate worldly desires/ambitions/relationships/activities, as it’s what most people think and believe what (lively and meaningful) life existence is about. In the end, it’s what matters most to oneself.

Meanwhile, for those who sincerely want to practice yoga and realize yoga, silencing/annihilating the mind to attain Self-realization to know the truth of the mind/thyself/what the mind thinks is ‘I’, or liberation from ignorance/suffering, is what matters most.

Stop feeding worldly passionate thinking/beliefs/ideas/objects/ambitions/social interactions/activities/relationships/desires to the mind, to annihilate the idea of ‘I’ existing in a selfless worldly life existence of the objects of the senses of impermanent names and forms, is the essence of the traditional yoga practice. For many people, including yoga practitioners and yoga teachers, would perceive this kind of yoga practice of dispassionate/disinterest towards ‘worldly life of ambitions, enjoyments, relationships, interactions and activities’, and renouncing ‘worldly social affair and family life’ as ‘lifelessness’ or ‘meaninglessness’, and they would not like to practice ‘this kind’ of yoga.

One can think and believe that one has been practicing many different types of yoga practice for some time or a long time, and receiving the many benefits of the regular and persist ‘yoga practice’, but at the same time, the mind is still very much engaging/entangling in the passionate worldly life of worldly affairs/objects/activities/thinking/beliefs/ideas/ambitions/relationships/desires under the influence of egoism of attachment and identification towards certain qualities of names and forms, then this mind is not free, even though one might feel good, happy and satisfied with having certain desirable achievements and relationships in the present, upon coming in contact with the qualities of names and forms that the mind likes and desires, and not coming in contact with the qualities of names and forms that the mind doesn’t like and doesn’t desire.

Some yoga practitioners would think and believe that they are quite ‘dispassionate’ and ‘being unattached’ towards all the worldly affairs/contacts/objects/ideas/relationships/activities/interactions while they are living/mingling among the society/community and actively engaging in ‘what/how all ‘good, normal and healthy’ human beings do in everyday life.’

If one wants to know the truth of one’s mind, one can practice serious solitude and seclusion for at least 5 to 6 years, being away from all kinds of worldly affairs/contacts/ideas/objects/activities/relationships/interactions, and one will see the truth of this mind. Fear, doubt, loneliness, emptiness, boredom and meaninglessness kick in and most minds will want to run away from the practice of solitude and seclusion after a prolonged period of time due to the under current of ignorance and subtle attachment and identification towards worldly life of names and forms. They will tell themselves and others that it’s not necessary to practice solitude and seclusion as part of the yoga practice, and it’s better and more meaningful to practice yoga of living a ‘good, normal and healthy’ everyday life just like all the other ‘normal’ human beings, building relationships and accumulating friendships, enjoying and engaging in worldly interactions and activities, mingling into the society to ‘serve other beings’, do some work to make a living, do some yoga and breathing exercises, do some meditation practice, do some healthy recreation activities, go for holidays from time to time to unwind.

“Helping/sharing with others makes me happy, good family relationships and friendships makes me happy, being with family and good friends makes me happy, experiencing or doing this makes me happy. They give me the sense of meaningfulness in life existence.” What happens when all the ‘names and forms’ that make me happy and give me the sense of meaningfulness changed into something else and is no longer available?

Some people had the ability and opportunity to do all the things that they wanted to do, went and travel everywhere that they wanted to go, met with many other people and experienced many different cultures, obtained the vast knowledge of many things in this world, attained great success in their career and had a nice family and friends circle and wide social networks, being admired by many people in the world, had a comfortable lifestyle, but still, the mind was not free from suffering.

Be free.

Ignorance, egoism, suffering and selflessness, free from ignorance, egoism and suffering

Due to the ignorance in the mind, there is an existence in the mind perception of a self-identity of an individual being (the ego, what the mind thinks is ‘I’) that consists of the body and the mind, and many others would also include the soul, where they believe that the body and the mind is mortal and impermanent (The impermanent I), while the soul is immortal and infinite (The permanent I), even when people have no idea what is the soul and whether the soul exist or non-exist. Just because many different religious scriptures say so, and people would just believe that it must be true.

People believe that after the death of the body and the mind (decomposed / stop existing), the soul (the silent consciousness/witness that is infinite/immortal) will be responsible for the consequences of all the actions and inactions of the body and the mind from birth till death, and be judged by ‘God’, and be sent to heaven or hell, to enjoy or suffer, for all that is nothing to do with the soul, if it exists. For example, if the mind is evil and being the ‘driver’ or ‘master’ of the body, it performs evil actions through the body, and somehow, the innocent soul will be punished for those evil doings and be sent to hell to suffer. Again, it’s everyone’s freedom for what they believe or disbelieve. It’s also up to everyone’s self-inquiry into the truth of everything to know the truth to attain self-realization.

In Buddhism, Buddha never mentioned about God or the soul. There’s deliberate non-comment over the existence or non-existence of God and the soul. This itself is a great teaching, where Buddha didn’t interfere with people’s believe or disbelieve in God or the soul. It doesn’t matter. Whether someone believes God and the soul exist or non-exist, it doesn’t free this being from the perception or experience of suffering if there’s egoism.

Buddha taught everyone to inquire into the truth of everything through deep mind purification via the eight fold path, self-control, self-discipline, self-inquiry, desireless, non-attachment, observing and respecting the law of impermanence, selflessness, renunciation, and silence. If the mind experiences or perceives suffering, it’s in now. It’s neither in the past nor the future. This is important. It doesn’t matter people believe that there’s only one life, or there’s continuous transitions of life infinitely, the only existence is now, and liberation from suffering is neither in the past nor in the future, is in now. In one moment, the mind experiences suffering when there’s attachment, and in one moment this mind is free from suffering when there’s no attachment. Suffering and liberation from suffering has nothing to do with any beliefs that one inherited from birth or adopted later in life.

This self-identity (the ego) comes along with egoism of desires, attachment, identification, clinging, longing, intention and expectation, and it thinks it is the one who performs actions and it is the one who receives the fruit of actions, and it’s the one who enjoys and suffers, where all kinds of impurities of satisfaction/dissatisfaction, fulfillment/disappointment, contentment/greed, admiration/jealousy, calmness/anger, love/hatred, respect/discrimination, friendliness/animosity, joy/hurts, innocent/guilt, pleased/regret, pride/shamefulness, low self-esteem/arrogance, excitement/boredom, fullness/emptiness, meaningfulness/meaninglessness, courage/fear and peace/worry, and etc, arising and passing away in the mind reacting towards all the perception of names and forms through the senses, based on what ‘I’ think what things are, and what ‘I’ like and dislike, what ‘I’ agree and disagree with, what ‘I’ want and doesn’t want. The egoistic mind perceives suffering/emptiness/unhappiness/dissatisfaction, when some or all of its desires are not being gratified, and hence the ego desires to escape or avoid or be free from suffering/emptiness/unhappiness/dissatisfaction.

But then ignorance hinders the mind from knowing the truth of the root cause of suffering/emptiness/unhappiness/dissatisfaction, where it thinks all its suffering/emptiness/unhappiness/dissatisfaction is caused by the quality of the objects of names and forms that it comes in contact with (the presence of certain names and forms) or doesn’t come in contact with (the absence of certain names and forms), and the mind thinks that it could escape or avoid or be free from suffering/emptiness/unhappiness/dissatisfaction through continuously and determinedly gratifying all its desires, by experiencing or coming in contact with certain qualities of names and forms, that it likes and wants and agrees with, that it thinks they have the quality that contribute pleasure, satisfaction, meaningfulness and happiness, such like doing something that makes it feels good, satisfied, happy and meaningful, and smoking/eating/drinking/touching/smelling/hearing/seeing/watching/reading/imagining something that will make it feels good, satisfied, happy and meaningful, while avoiding the experience or contact with certain qualities of names and forms that the mind doesn’t like, doesn’t want and doesn’t agree with, that it thinks they have the quality that contribute unpleasantness, dissatisfaction, meaninglessness and unhappiness, that will make it feels disturbed, dissatisfied, unhappy or meaningless. And hence, the mind is suffering from restlessness.

The real cause of all suffering/emptiness/unhappiness/dissatisfaction is not in the quality of names and forms that the mind perceives or doesn’t perceive through the sense, but it’s the ignorance and egoism that generates the idea/existence of ‘I’ that attached onto and identifying with the body and the mind, and the soul (for those who believe in the soul), where there are desires of craving and aversion and attachment towards what the ego likes and dislikes, agrees and disagrees with, wants and doesn’t want. Suffering exists is due to the existence of desires and attachment in the mind. If desires and attachment cease existing in the mind, suffering doesn’t exist.

The impure minds might interpret selflessness as non-existence of ‘my’ worldly life existence, where they think if ‘I’ doesn’t exist, then ‘my’ entire worldly life existence consisting the body and the mind in this world doesn’t exist at all. If people think or believe that is the truth, they will think that they can just do whatever they like as it doesn’t matter because all these worldly life experiences are not real, and they won’t suffer for the consequences of their actions. And so, all kinds of human suffering are not real, or non-existing. They believe that this worldly life existence is one long dream or a continuous flow of many dreams. In dreams, we can do anything that we want, but once we woke up, we are not responsible for whatever we did or experienced in all the dreams. There’s no consequences of actions in dreams, where we could experience death and injury in dreams, we could kill other people and be killed by others, and still, once we woke up from the dreams, we are still alive and non-injured, and there’s no responsibility of any consequences of actions performed in the dreams, as none of those actions or experiences are real. It’s just mere imaginations of the mind. If they feel satisfied in this dream of a worldly existence, they hope to stay in the dream (live forever in this life existence), and will be reluctant to be awaken in a different reality that is unknown to them (death of this life existence or next life). And if they are dissatisfied with this dream, they hope to be awaken in a different but better reality that is unknown to them (heaven or a better life in a better world).

And if all worldly experiences are not real, and suffering are not real, then there’s no need to talk about any kind of practices to be free from suffering, where everyone would be more selfish and immoral, and wouldn’t have self-control to refrain one’s behavior from causing harm to oneself and others.

But then this ‘understanding’ doesn’t bring people liberation from the suffering of the consequences of their actions in their worldly life existence (An existence in now that is subject to impermanence and consequences of actions), as the body and the mind continues to experience suffering even though there is the ‘interpretation’, or ‘understanding’, or ‘idea’ in the mind about worldly life existence is just a dream, all is not real. In dreams, everything might not be logical and are disorientated most of the time, such like old memories and fresh memories and wild imaginations might appear together at one time in a dream, and it’s okay, as once we woke up, we will know that all those images/experiences are not real, no matter how scary or painful or excited or violence was the dream. But, in this worldly life existence, in now, one will be treated as mentally ill, if one’s mind perceives mixed up images of some old memories with fresh memories and wild imaginations, and believes that all these images are real, and this will influence one’s behavior and affect one’s relationship with other people. It doesn’t matter if one strongly believes or disbelieves that this life existence is just a dream, all is not real, but if suffering arise due to attachment, suffering is here, it doesn’t disappear if we don’t like or don’t want this suffering.

This ‘interpretation’ or ‘understanding’ of selflessness or non-existence of ‘I’, is the outcome of the impure ignorant minds attached onto and identifying with the body and the mind as ‘I’ or ‘Who I am’. And so, these minds couldn’t go beyond the understanding of the body and the mind are existing and functioning in this present moment, and it’s mortal and impermanent, but then the existence and the function of the body and the mind is selflessness, that there’s no ‘I’ existing as an individual being to be mastering or in control of the impermanent existence, function, condition and state of the body and the mind. It’s just the mind functioning and perceiving all kinds of names and forms through the senses in the present, and the mind might keep jumping back and forth between the past memories and future wild imaginations and the perceptions through the senses in the present, and all these thoughts perceptions/activities, whether pleasant or unpleasant, desired or undesired, the perceiver (the mind), the perceived (the objects of names and forms), the past memories, the present experiences and the future wild imaginations, are impermanent and there’s no ‘I’ in control of the impermanent changes. All these experiences are here, in now, the only existence. The past doesn’t exist in now, just some remembrance of past experiences. The future doesn’t exist, just some wild imaginations, and they all are impermanent, and there’s no ‘I’ existing as the perceiver or the experiencer of all the pleasant and unpleasant, desirable and undesirable experiences in the present, or remembrance of the past, or wild imaginations of the future, in now.

This ‘I’ that the mind think is ‘who/what I am’ doesn’t exist or non-exist. There is injury in the body, the mind perceives this sensation of pain in the body, in now, and this sensation of pain is impermanent, and there’s no ‘I’ am in pain, or ‘I’ am suffering from painful sensation. There’s no disappointment or dissatisfaction when this painful sensation is here. There is pleasant sensation in the body, the mind perceives this pleasant sensation in the body, in now, and this pleasant sensation is impermanent, and there’s no ‘I’ am pleasant, or ‘I’ am enjoying pleasant sensation. There’s no disappointment or dissatisfaction when this pleasant sensation changed into something else or disappeared.

Once the ego is annihilated, there’s no one there to initiate desires of craving or aversion towards all the perception of names and forms, and hence, there’s no tension or restlessness in the egoless and desireless mind, there’s no one here to react with dissatisfaction, disappointment, greed, jealousy, anger, hatred, pride, low self-esteem, animosity, hurts, regret, guilt, fear and worry, and etc. The mind is aware of all the perceptions of names and forms (the past memories, present moment and future imaginations), in now, but it’s free from tension and restlessness, or suffering. There’s no clinging or aversion towards all the names and forms that are present in now, and there’s no craving or longing or aversion towards names and forms that are absent in now. It’s at peace, disregards all the perception of names and forms being here, as what they are. And all these names and forms have no intention or quality to contribute pleasure or suffering to the mind. There’s no ‘I’ being there to enjoy or suffer. There are actions being performed through the body and the mind, and there are consequences of actions, but there is no ‘I’ being there performing actions and to enjoy or suffer for the consequences of actions.

Just like all the internal organs and every single cells in the body, they are performing actions ceaselessly to support the existence and function of this body until they are worn out, but there’s no egoism in each of them to discriminate each other, to like or dislike and agree or disagree with each other, to be superior or inferior than one another, to be identified as the performer of actions or the receiver of the fruit of actions. But this egoism exists in the thinking mind due to ignorance, that initiates all kinds of suffering to itself, which is truly unnecessary.

Be free.

The importance of renouncing worldly life for those who want to realize yoga

Renunciation is an important part of yoga sadhana for those who are aware of the consequences of ignorance and egoism in oneself, who sincerely want to realize yoga to be free from ignorance and suffering. Those who just want to do some yoga exercise to gain some benefits to look good and feel good about oneself, who enjoy being passionate towards worldly life and social activities, who think ignorance doesn’t exist in them, they don’t have to follow the path of renunciation.

After learning and practicing yoga for some years having developed a certain degrees of non-attachment and correct understanding of the teachings and practice of yoga, yoga practitioners who want to realize yoga will have to eventually renounce the worldly life and retreat into solitude and seclusion for a prolonged period of time.

This is not about going for a short term of a few days or few weeks of yoga retreat holidays where people indulge in yoga related activities that they enjoy doing, that make people feel good and meaningful, spending time being with people who are like-minded, connecting and interacting with people who share the same ideas and values, while being able to stay connected and interacting with family and friends and the world, but it’s about renouncing the worldly life of all sorts of relationships with people or animals or things and social activities, and retreating into solitude and seclusion for at least 5 – 6 years. Allow everyone and everything to be what they are, as they are, without interference with anyone or anything expecting/wishing them to be the way that we think they should be.

Renunciation from worldly life or retreating into solitude and seclusion for a prolonged period of time might be perceived by many people, including those who think they love yoga and are practicing yoga, as ‘running away from life or the world’, or ‘being selfish and uncaring’ towards family, friends and the society, as most minds are being conditioned by worldly thinking and belief of a strong attachment and identification towards certain values of life consist of family and friends, social interactions and worldly affairs.

Our worldly life consists of all relationships and things and activities is what we think is what we are, and we take all these names and forms to be the highest value/meaning of life existence (family and friends, culture and spirituality or religion, what we do or don’t do, what we have or don’t have, what we achieve and don’t achieve, and what we contribute or don’t contribute to the society). For many people, it’s ‘wrong’, ‘bad’, ‘inappropriate’, ‘inhuman’, ‘selfish’ and ‘crazy’ to not connecting or interacting with family and friends, or the society. And it’s okay. Everyone has the freedom for how they perceive and understand and think about everything.

But this is also why people perceive/experience all kinds of suffering in this worldly life existence. And it’s okay, because people rather choose to go through suffering than to find out how to be free from suffering.

We might not like suffering and we don’t want suffering or what we think and believe as ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’, but we are not aware of the root cause of all suffering, and we don’t like or disagree with the teaching/practice that will lead us to realize the cause of suffering and how to be free from suffering, due to deep rooted ignorance and egoism.

At one moment, we feel good, happy, meaningful and contented when things are the way that we like it to be or how we think it should be, when our wishes and desires are being gratified. At another moment, we feel hurt, annoyed, frustrated, agitated, disappointed, dissatisfied, upset, unhappy, angry, hating, fear and worry when things are not the way that we like it to be or how we think it should be, when our wishes and desires are not being gratified. And we tell ourselves and others that this is life, this is human nature, this is normal for all human beings. But then, whether intentionally or unintentionally, we constantly do and say things that would cause damage and disharmony in oneself and in the world, out of hurt, annoyance, frustration, agitation, disappointment, dissatisfaction, upset, unhappiness, anger, hatred, animosity, fear and worry.

Whether we like and agree with it, or not, the entire practice of yoga is about the annihilation of egoism of attachment, identification and the desires of craving and aversion, to free the mind from impurities, to be free from ignorance, to transcend suffering.

Although one has been doing yoga practice for a long time and has heard about selflessness, but one cannot realize yoga (selflessness), if one doesn’t work on freeing the mind from the egoistic attachment and identification with the worldly life existence as ‘I’, ‘This is who and what I am’, ‘This is my body’, ‘This is my mind’, ‘This is my thinking/belief/culture/religion/ethnicity’, ‘This is my life’, ‘This is my family’, ‘These are my children’, ‘These are my friends’, ‘These are my brothers and sisters’, ‘This is where I belonged’, ‘This is my country’, and ‘This is my world’. All these names and forms are just what they are, they are impermanent, they don’t belong to ‘I’, and they are not ‘I’.

The ego constantly straining the body and the mind expecting the body and mind to be like this or like that, to be able to do this or that, to be able to achieve what ‘I’ like and what ‘I’ want. ‘I’ want my body and my mind to be like this, ‘I’ don’t like them to be like that. ‘I’ want my body and my mind to be able to do this and achieve that. And we think we love our body and mind, but we don’t. We just want the body and the mind to gratify all my desires or wishes of what I like and what I want.

When one realized yoga or selflessness, there’s no separateness of ‘I’ and what the mind perceives as ‘my family’, ‘my friends’, ‘my brothers and sisters’, and so on. There’s no ‘We are one big family’, ‘We are all human beings’, or ‘We are connected together’. There’s no ‘we’.

Connection exists only when there is still the perception of separateness of different individuals, that two or more separate objects/particles/souls/beings connect together. Connection doesn’t exist in oneness, or non-separateness. When there is connection, there is disconnection. It is still within the perception of duality. And the main teaching and practice of yoga is to realize non-duality, or oneness, or non-separateness. One doesn’t need to stay connected with any other beings to feel that we are connected to each other.

Those who really want to know what is yoga, they will realize it when the mind experiences complete silence being in solitude and seclusion, being cut off from the worldly life of all relationships with everyone and everything, and worldly objects and activities that the mind loves and familiars with, for a prolonged period of time.

We like to say we love yoga and we think we have been practicing yoga for a long time, and we feel satisfied, confident, good and happy when our body becomes stronger and more flexible and is able to do many of the yoga asana poses that we want to be able to do, but then we would give ourselves many ‘reasonable’ excuses about why we don’t need or don’t want to renounce worldly life to cut off all the tendencies of all kinds of attachment, clinging, longing and craving.

Some yoga practitioners would have no difficulty to perform their daily routine of yoga asana and pranayama practice regularly, and gaining great improvement in physical health and fitness level, strength and flexibility and skill to perform many of the yoga asana poses, and attaining momentary good and happy feelings, sense of self-worth, confidence and meaningfulness in the mind due to the effects and achievements from performing the yoga practice regularly, being able to live the life that they want, but not many are interested in observing complete silence in solitude and seclusion for a prolonged period of time, to be isolated from people and things that they love and the worldly life and activities that they are familiar with. The ego needs to feel loved and be connected with the world, to feel good, happy, confident, or meaningful.

Some people will have no difficulty to go into a silent retreat centre for a few weeks, and stop connecting and interacting with other people and stop doing the activities that they like to do for that few weeks, as they know this is just a very short term restriction, but when the mind has to go through a prolonged period of time being cut off from people and things and activities that they love and like, there will be pain/suffering arise in the mind.

Meanwhile, some people might think that they have developed a good foundation of non-attachment and detachment, because they can let go certain things in life, but most probably that is because the mind has found some other new attachment to cling onto, such like new friends, or new relationships, or ‘new toys’ to play with, or new activities to do in life.

While some people love to go for weeks and months of ‘yoga retreat’, but know that most of the yoga retreats in the world are not about silencing the mind, but it is about living with a community that are like-minded, doing activities and interacting with other people who share the similar ideas and values, which makes the ego feels comfortable, good, happy and meaningful, but this doesn’t help the mind to be free from ignorance and egoism.

Only when the mind can live in solitude and seclusion for a prolonged period of time, when the mind no longer needs to attach onto any beings or objects or activities to feel loved and connected, to feel good, happy, confident and meaningful about itself and life existence and the world, then this being can live and mix freely in the society, love everyone and everything unconditionally, care for humanity and benefit the world efficiently. There’s no loneliness, boredom, longing, clinging, craving, dissatisfaction, incompleteness, emptiness, void, meaninglessness, or fear in this mind.

“Do good to others, help others, give love and care to others, because it is meaningful and it makes us feel good and happy for being able to do good and give help, love and care to others.” – This is not the teaching of yoga at all. This is the ego needs to attach onto certain qualities of names and forms to feel good and happy and meaningful about itself and life existence. This is empowering the ego. It’s not freedom. The one who is free from the ego, simply just do good, just give help, love and care to others, NOT because ‘I’ want to or need to feel good and happy and meaningful about myself and my life for being able to do good, to give help, love and care to others.

The minds that are free from ignorance and egoism remain equanimous, peaceful and kind towards all beings without discrimination under any difficult conditions, situations and circumstances. These minds don’t need to renounce worldly life to retreat into solitude and seclusion, as they are free from egoism of attachment, identification, desires and impurities, and they are undisturbed/undetermined by all the perceptions of good and bad qualities of names and forms, and hence being free from all kinds of disturbs or suffering. These minds don’t need to display any yoga asana poses through the physical body to show that they are practicing yoga.

Be free.