Approaching a teacher asking to be accepted as student of yoga

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You are left alone now.” – Swami Sivananda

The yoga class

Teaching yoga or practicing yoga is nothing to do with money, ‘fees’, or ‘donation’. No one can sell or buy yoga, or peace, or compassion, or wisdom, or liberation from suffering with any amount of money, or ‘fees’, or ‘donation’.

Meanwhile, running ‘yoga classes’ or ‘yoga courses’ that involve a lot of expenses/maintenance/labour/management/coordination requires money in the form of ‘fees’ or ‘donation’ for it to be happening. It doesn’t necessarily mean that if the money received is in the form of ‘donation’, it means ‘non-commercialized yoga’ or ‘authentic yoga’, or if the money received is in the form of ‘fees’, it means ‘commercialized yoga’ or ‘inauthentic yoga’. Such a simple understanding, but due to ignorance, many minds/people do not understand this.

Yoga classes/courses based on ‘donation’ without requesting a specific fees are not necessarily pure and authentic, or it’s being free from any form of ‘corruptions’. While yoga classes/courses required specific amount of fees are not necessarily impure, inauthentic, or corrupted.

People would perceive ‘yoga classes’ based on ‘donation’ or ‘small amount of fees’ that they think is ‘appropriate’ or ‘acceptable’ as ‘authentic yoga’ conducted by ‘compassionate’ yoga teachers, while ‘yoga classes’ required ‘certain amount of fees’ that they think is ‘inappropriate’ or ‘unacceptable’ as ‘inauthentic yoga’ conducted by ‘money minded’ yoga teachers.

Yoga students come to the yoga teacher to study yoga and seek guidance from the teacher and they give some fees/money to the teacher to support the teacher’s living is nothing to do with ‘commercial’ or ‘inauthenticity’. It’s like grown up working children give their parents some money regularly to support their parents’ living, there’s nothing wrong and nothing commercial. It’s a form of love, kindness, generosity, sharing, gratitude and gratefulness, even though the parents bring up the children out of love, without expecting anything in return. If the children grown up and are working, but only want to keep all that they earn for themselves, for they own living enjoyments and social expenses, and they refuse to support their own parents’ living, or those who are grown up but are lazy to work or spent all their earned money on non-essential things and enjoyments, couldn’t support their own living and need to depend on other people’s charity for living, not to say to support their parents’ living, then that is something ‘absurd’.

Many people who only want to pay very little ‘fees’ to attend ‘yoga classes’ or who prefer to attend ‘free yoga classes based on donation’ would think and expect that ‘yoga teachers’ should all be beggars to beg for donation, food, clothing and shelter on the street while giving ‘yoga classes’ for free or on donation basis. This type of ‘yoga classes’ is most probably unwittingly empowering ‘ignorance’ and supporting ‘corruption’, supporting people who would spend money generously on their personal worldly indulgence/enjoyment/social life activities, but would think and believe that it’s ‘wrong’ or ‘inappropriate’ to pay certain amount of fees to attend ‘yoga classes’ or ‘yoga courses’.

There are some people who already have a good financial support for their living, where they don’t need to depend on receiving any ‘fees’ or ‘donation’ from teaching or running ‘yoga classes’ as a form of charity coming from them to other people. That’s very good, but not many people are having such financial-free living condition. Many people need to somehow ‘make a living’ to support themselves and also maybe some other people under their care. If the basic living necessity is not available, people need to be spending time and energy to ‘make a living’ in order to ‘survive’, not to say to have the spare money, time and energy to ‘organize’ charity yoga classes for people who want to enjoy cheap or free yoga classes.

Meanwhile, there are those who think and believe that they are ‘highly spiritual beings’, would perceive receiving ‘money’ in the form of ‘fees’ for conducting ‘yoga classes’ or ‘yoga courses’ as a form of ‘evilness’, ‘wrongfulness’, ‘impurity’, ‘corruption’, ‘greed’, ‘down fall’, or ‘non-spiritual’, that ‘yoga classes’ or ‘spiritual activities’ shouldn’t be ‘tainted’ by ‘money’ or ‘fees’. They don’t mind receiving ‘donations’ from anyone, but they don’t want to get involved in ‘money matters’ personally. They don’t want to be physically touching any money or keeping any money under their names, or keeping any money close to their body or their ‘spiritual practice space’, but they need some other people who look after them to handle the money in the form of ‘donation’ that support their living and all kind of expenses.

Many good people who try to be good and do good and work very hard to make an honest living in this world are not exempted from the suffering of poverty or hunger/thirst and exploitation by others. People want to enjoy cheap goods, enjoyments, conveniences and services, and that’s how all kinds of exploitation started in this world of commercialism.

People who are busy in life need the existence of the convenience and service of shops/eateries, which rely on the people who devote their time, effort, attention and money into running shops/eateries to provide the convenience and service to the people while taking the risk of running business. The existence of shops/eateries also need to depend on other people who work or run business that provide everything from farming and harvesting to transportation and providing all kinds of shop, kitchen and dining equipment, that allow the shops to put goods on their shelves for people to buy and allow the eateries to put meals on the table for the people to consume. Even though it’s a business or work involved with money transactions, but still it’s a form of ‘convenience and service’ that benefits many people. If nobody interested in taking the risk of running a business and devoting their time, energy and money into starting a shop/eatery, or if nobody is involving in farming/harvesting/transportation/providing shop, kitchen and dining equipment, or food production is not available due to any natural/technical cause, people won’t be able to enjoy such convenience and service. It doesn’t mean that any form of ‘business’ involved with money transaction is ‘non-giving to the society’ or ‘non-compassionate’.

Compassionate actions are not necessarily have to be free from any involvement with ‘money’. Even when there are some good and kind people want to help other unfortunate people in this world, they also need to gather money in the form of donation/contribution/funding from somewhere in order to help other people. Selfless actions are also not necessarily have to be free from the involvement of ‘money’, it’s about non-attachment and non-identification towards one’s actions and the fruit of the actions. It doesn’t mean that when people are working and getting some monthly salary for living, or people who run business and getting some yearly profits for living, that their action of contributing their time, energy, attention, knowledge, skill or talent into their work or business is nothing to do with ‘selfless service’. If everyone doesn’t work or run any business, this society that builds on social economy that provides all kind of conveniences and services will collapse.

Any kinds of work, or duty and responsibility towards oneself and others, or business, can turn into a form of selfless service even when there are involvement of ‘money’, if people know what is performing actions without egoism. Volunteering work doesn’t necessarily means ‘selfless service’ when it’s done with attachment and identification. Non-expectation also doesn’t mean that ‘not receiving anything in return’. As all actions will bring the fruit of actions as it is, whether people have expectation, or not. Those who are free from expectation, they allow the fruit of actions to be what it is, it’s not about ‘I don’t want any fruit of actions after I performed actions’. That is ignorant understanding influenced by egoism of ‘I want to give without getting anything in return as it’s not selfless service anymore if I am getting something in return’.

People don’t really need to attend any ‘yoga classes’, or ‘yoga courses’, or ‘yoga retreats’ to be learning and practicing yoga, or to be peaceful, compassionate, wise, forgiving and be able to let go what the world categorize as ‘bad’, ‘wrong’, or ‘hurtful’. People can be attending many yoga classes and yoga courses regularly for many years, or teaching yoga for a long time, but still, the mind is not free from ignorance, egoism, impurities and restlessness, still being determined by worldly idea, thinking, belief and practice, and are under the influence of the desire of craving and aversion towards dualities and qualities of names and forms very much, as the mind still couldn’t go beyond the mind perception of the duality of ‘good and bad’, ‘right and wrong’, ‘positive and negative’ and ‘happiness and unhappiness, and hence, unwittingly chasing after what the mind categorizes as ‘goodness’, ‘rightfulness’, ‘positiveness’ and ‘happiness’, while rejecting what the mind categorizes as ‘badness’, ‘wrongfulness’, negativeness’ and ‘unhappiness’. The mind couldn’t see things as they are, or allow everything to be what they are, as they are. That’s nothing wrong, as the mind misunderstood the teaching of yoga about ‘positive thinking’. Many yoga enthusiasts, including ‘yoga teachers’, think and believe that it’s about influencing/making/changing everything to become ‘positive’ or ‘good’. But actually it’s merely about when the mind is over-powered by ‘negative thinking’, then the mind can cultivate positive thinking to counter negative thinking, and when the mind is free from negative thinking, there’s no need of positive thinking, as everything is just what they are, neither positive nor negative, neither good nor bad.

Although there’s nothing wrong with sincerely looking for a teacher to learn and practice yoga, to seek guidance of how to free the mind from ignorance and its by-products of egoism, impurities and restlessness – the root cause of suffering.

It’s everyone’s freedom for what they want to think, believe, behave, act and react.

Contemplate on this, and be free.

Surrendering desires, intention, expectation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The world of yoga

People asked us how come we don’t run/teach yoga classes and teachers training courses?

Yoga practice is about taming/quieting the restless mind to free the mind from suffering of restlessness and impurities derived from ignorance and egoism by realizing selflessness (birthlessness, deathlessness, attributelessness, namelessness, formlessness) through the practice of dispassion, renunciation, silence, self-inquiry, concentration, meditation, non-attachment, non-identification, non-craving, non-aversion, non-judgment, non-comparison and non-expectation that require a high degree of open-mindedness, right discrimination, intense yearning for liberation, will-power, perseverance, independence, self-control and discipline.

After one learned about the teachings and practice from someone who has direct experience of the teachings and practice, one implements these teachings and practice in everyday life, to free the mind from ignorance and egoism, which is nothing to do with attending regular ‘yoga classes’ or attending ‘yoga teachers training course’ to become ‘certified professional yoga teacher’ to teach/conduct ‘yoga classes’.

Most people don’t really interested to learn and practice yoga when they are interested in joining ‘yoga classes’, as they wouldn’t/couldn’t let go the thinking and belief which they think and believe is who they are (the main hindrance towards the realization of selflessness.) They just want to do some physical exercises to keep fit and be healthy, to feel good and look good. And it’s nothing wrong. Everyone has the freedom for what they want and don’t want, and what they think and believe.

Most ‘yoga classes’ are existing mostly as one of the healthy leisure activities for health and fitness enhancement by doing some yoga asana, relaxation and breathing exercises, just like any other personal/group fitness training exercise classes, which is a very healthy activity. It’s very good that people would love to do some form of physical exercise regularly for maintaining good health and vitality to enjoy a higher quality of life. And some highly talented people even transformed yoga asana practice into amazing acrobatic performance, it’s very inspiring for people to take up some physical fitness training to look good and feel good, and not spending time and energy in unhealthy/unwholesome activities.

The initial objective of ‘teachers training courses’ is about oneself learning and practicing the teachings of yoga to purify one’s mind, to awaken/realize the teacher within to become one’s own teacher, to discipline one’s mind to be free from ignorance and egoism. It’s not about training people who are interested in ‘teaching yoga classes’ or ‘running yoga courses’ to become ‘certified professional yoga teachers’ and issue/authorize them with ‘recognized certification’ to conduct yoga courses/teach yoga classes according to the different types of teaching style from different types of yoga school. It’s training one’s own mind to be it’s own teacher. Upon self-realization of yoga/oneness/selflessness, one might or might not share the direct experience with others.

‘Yoga retreats’ are also being ‘transformed’ into self-pampering/indulgence of the senses getaway that empowers the egoistic desires of carving and aversion, or being ‘transformed’ into ‘mystical healing’ camp. Even so, it’s neither right nor wrong. That is what most minds like and desire. It really doesn’t matter. In the end, yoga is still what it is, whether people are learning and practicing and teaching yoga as it is, or not. The truth won’t be affected/contaminated by any add-on/take-out elements, although the creative worldly minded can transform the teachings and practice of yoga into something that they prefer.

Most of the serious yoga practitioners don’t really run/teach ‘yoga classes’, or ‘yoga courses’, or ‘yoga teachers training courses’ although they might be teaching yoga to many others. Sharing the teachings and practice of yoga with others doesn’t necessarily has to be in the form of conducting yoga classes/courses/retreats. Some might have been teaching ‘yoga classes’ in the beginning, but after some time, they renounced the worldly social life and activities to concentrate on their own practice, upon realization that renunciation from worldly affair/interaction/activities/relationships is the greatest compassion towards oneself and all beings. Everyone is responsible for their own practice to look after their own mind, to discipline/quiet/purify their own mind, to deal with the consequences of their own ignorance, to become their own teacher, to free their own mind from ignorance, egoism and impurities via their own effort.

Meanwhile, ‘yoga teachers training courses’ are no longer about learning and practicing yoga to become one’s own teacher to be self-independent, to perform self-inquiry, to silent/annihilate the mind to attain self-realization, but the identity and qualification of a ‘yoga teacher’/recognition/authorization/certifications/association/commercial value/career value are the drive for conducting/participating yoga teachers training courses.

This is the world of yoga, and there’s nothing wrong or bad with it.

Many people think that they like and love yoga, but not really. When come to serious yoga practice, most people would turn away or justify that it is not yoga (the way that they think it should be.) And there’s nothing wrong, as all minds take their own pace and own path to evolve and realize.

In the silent meditation retreat that doesn’t charge any fees (donate as you like, or even nothing), quite many people would want to runaway or quit after a few days observing silence, for not being able to talk to other people, can’t have physical/eye contact with other people, not able to express as they like, can’t do what they usually like to do, can’t eat what they usually like to eat, no stimulating entertainment for the mind, sleeping on hard bed in basic accommodation, and they have to sit for meditation for more than 10 hours a day, while lots of physical/mental/emotional discomforts arise and random thoughts bubbling up to the surface of the mind. Some people would stay until the retreat finishes, but they don’t really observe silence throughout the entire retreat, such like they are still talking/whispering/making signs/interacting with their friends and keeping their phones with them, even though it’s not allowed. But, there’s nothing wrong with that either, as it’s how most worldly minds would behave, out of loneliness, boredom and meaninglessness derived from being refrained from their usual worldly stimulation/activities.

Most minds would ‘cheat’ to be comfortable and not to be uncomfortable. It’s not about what’s right and what’s wrong. And it’s not about how good is one’s yoga practice and meditation experience, but it’s the ability to confront/deal with all the things that the mind doesn’t familiar with, doesn’t like and doesn’t agree with, while not coming in contact with the things that the mind familiars with, likes and agrees with, being free from craving and aversion, be able to forbear difficulties and unpleasantness equanimously, and free the mind from restlessness/impurities out of ignorance and egoism, that matters most.

The mind won’t evolve/progress and keeps running round and round in the loop of worldly ideas/thinking/belief, if it keeps swaying in between craving and aversion, running away from difficulties and unpleasantness and what it doesn’t like (the mind perception of the qualities of bad, negative, wrong, meaninglessness and unhappiness,) and chasing after what it likes and desires (the mind perception of the qualities of good, positive, right, meaningfulness and happiness,) even after many years of attending ‘yoga classes’ and ‘yoga retreats’ or doing yoga asana and breathing exercises regularly, or possessed many ‘yoga certifications’ and given ‘yoga classes’ to many people.

Be free.

Root out pride and arrogance

For some reasons people are aspired to attain or possess certain qualities in order to be eligible or qualified to feel proud and arrogant towards themselves and/or others.

People are being encouraged to cultivate pride and arrogance as well, as somehow they think it’s very good/important to be able to be proud and arrogant about something that they think it deserves to be proud of, that would make them feel somehow more stand out, unique and better than some others.

“Do something and be someone that make yourself and other people feel proud of.”

People like to encourage and support other people to stay motivated and to be better by telling people, “I’m so proud of you!” People grew up with the thinking/belief/values/aspiration of need to be attaining or possessing certain qualities to feel proud of themselves and also make other people feel proud of them.

“I want to be proud of myself. I want other people to be proud of me.”

People would feel inferior, bad, depressed and disappointed towards themselves when they think they haven’t or couldn’t attain or possess certain qualities that allow themselves and others to feel proud of.

Those who want to attain liberation must contemplate on all these worldly social cultural thinking/belief/expectation, to see the truth of it. All these are nothing but the play of egoism – It’s merely the ego that needs to feel proud and needs others to feel proud of ‘I’ in order to feel satisfied, loved, motivated, appreciated, acknowledged, good, happy, confident and meaningful.

Meanwhile, some people think and believe that they are not at all proud and arrogant, as they are aware of the downside of pride and arrogance, and they don’t want to be associated with pride and arrogance, but they aren’t aware of themselves are already being over-powered by pride and arrogance. Without awareness, people can be proud of the thinking of ‘I am not a proud and arrogant person. I practice humility. I am very humble.’

In Yoga, pride and arrogance is the by-product of egoism born out of ignorance. It’s one of the great obstacles that hinders the mind to be opened to learn and practice yoga and meditation, to inquire the truth.

If we sincerely want to learn and practice yoga and meditation, we need to first learn how to identify pride and arrogance and free the mind from it. But, it’s really not easy for people to let go pride and arrogance, as it is a part of their strong identity of themselves.

Even many ‘graduated/certified/qualified/experienced yoga teachers’ are being proud and arrogant towards themselves for having attended one or many ‘yoga teachers training courses’ attaining one or many certifications or qualifications in this or that, that they had studied and practiced yoga under one or many ‘famous’ or ‘popular’ yoga teachers/Gurus/schools, as well as their years of experience in practicing and teaching yoga, or they have recruited certain numbers of yoga students, or they had taught in certain yoga schools or yoga centres or yoga festivals or yoga conventions, or they had participated in some ‘yoga competitions’ and won certain awards, or they have done such and such charity works, or they have been contributing articles of yoga or being ‘interviewed’ in such and such magazine or social media, and so on. Most people would justify that their intention of getting all the attention, admiration and publicity is for promoting yoga to more people in the world. But, how pure and true is that?

Two of the common characteristics of pride and arrogance that exist in many yoga practitioners who already have been practicing certain style(s) of yoga for some time, or ‘graduated/certified/qualified/experienced yoga teachers’ who have attained many certifications/qualifications/experiences from attending different yoga courses and have been teaching ‘yoga classes’ or ‘yoga courses’ for some time :-

“I am experienced/qualified/knowledgeable/advanced yoga practitioner/yoga teacher. I know enough and I have long time experience in practicing/teaching yoga. I don’t need someone to lecture me about yoga/yoga practice/teaching yoga, or tell/teach me the many things that I already knew.”

“This is different from the yoga that I have been learning/practicing/teaching for many years. I don’t agree with this, I don’t like this. I don’t want this.”

When there is such pride and arrogance, the mind is closed, being unable to be opened to inquire/investigate the truth of something that is beyond what the mind thinks it knows, or something that is different from or contradicted with the existing familiar practice, thinking and belief in the mind, that the mind doesn’t know or doesn’t familiar with. We won’t/can’t learn anything that we actually didn’t know but we think and believe that we already knew very well, even if there’s a great teacher or great teaching in front of us.

Be free.

The ego exists in all and everyone and anyone

The ego exists in all and everyone and anyone, whether educated or non-educated, intelligent or non-intelligent, knowledgeable or non-knowledgeable, religious or non-religious, wealthy or poor, men or women, young or old, vegetarian or non-vegetarian, yoga practitioners and non-yoga practitioners, yoga teachers and non-yoga teachers, and so on.

If the ego can easily be eradicated, then the entire world would be in peace and harmony.

Though it’s not easy, fear not. Keep practicing. Root out the ego and egoism, patiently and diligently.

The entire worldly cultural, educational, religious, spiritual, social and political system is all about empowering the ego and egoism. It is normal and the right thing to do for human beings to empower self-identification, self-image and self-achievement. It would be wrong and strange if one abandons self-identification, self-image and self-achievement.

Even in the world of yoga which is ‘supposed’ to be all about starving the ego and eradicating egoism and separateness, but now mostly is all about empowering the ego and fueling egoism and separateness.
“I am a yogi.”
“I am a healer.”
“I am an experienced/good yoga practitioner.”
“I am an experienced/good yoga teacher.”
“I am X or Y brand yogi.”
“I am a Christian/Muslim/Buddhist/Hindu/Atheist/… yogi.”
“I am a certified and qualified yoga teacher.”
“I am a yoga teacher affiliated with such and such yoga alliance or yoga association or yoga school.”
“I have been practicing and teaching yoga for how many years and have taught in such and such yoga schools/ashrams and have taught how many yoga students.”
“These are my yogi family/friends/brothers/sisters/gangs.”
And all kinds of ‘yoga brands’, ‘yoga lineage’, ‘yoga schools’, ‘yoga festivals’, ‘yoga retreats’, ‘yoga courses’, ‘yoga healing products’, ‘yoga health food’, ‘yoga apparels’ and ‘yoga accessories’, and so on.

“Do not associate. Do not build ashrams. Do not hoard disciples. Do not mix. Live alone. Walk alone. Eat alone. Meditate alone.” – Swami Sivananda

Words of wisdom are neither good nor bad

Words of wisdom are neither good nor bad. They are just what they are. They have no intention or quality to be useful or useless, to be meaningful or meaningless, or to be enlightening or disturbing.

Words of wisdom can be useful and meaningful and enlightening for those who are aware of ignorance in oneself, but they are useless and meaningless and disturbing for those who are not aware of ignorance in oneself.

All minds that are under the influence of ignorance and egoism are being conditioned or influenced by many different types of thinking and belief that are being imprinted into the mind since the birth of this life existence coming from family and cultural background, religious background, parenting, schooling, social mixing and interaction, social medias, and all kinds of information sources, to live life, to think and feel, to act and react.

Most of the time, we don’t really inquire the truth of everything that were passed down to us from generation to generation, and everything that we come in contact with, and we usually put our ‘trust’ onto ‘reliable’ or ‘respectable’ sources to feed or occupy our minds with many different information and ideas, until we start to doubt about something and then we would question or investigate the truth of it, to find out whether it’s true, or not. But that usually won’t happen until we got into trouble and suffer for the consequences of our own ‘incorrect’ or ‘ignorant’ understanding, thinking, belief, way of living, conduct and behavior.

If people don’t question the truth of everything, everyone just live life, think and feel, act and react as how they were being told or informed or influenced by the elders, parents, caretakers, friends, society, communities, groups, associations, gangs, politicians, religious authorities, school teachers, philosophers, and so on.

In Yoga and Buddhism, one has to question the truth of everything including all the teachings or scriptures of yoga and Buddhism, of what all the teachers said and taught. The real teachers won’t be insulted or disrespected or humiliated when the students neither agree nor disagree with what the teachers or any sources informed them, but they would perform self-practice and self-inquiry to realize the truth of the teachings through self-effort and self-realization.

It’s okay if we don’t know many things. It won’t do any harm if we don’t know everything and we are aware of we are ignorant or don’t know the truth of something. But it would be very harmful to oneself and others, if we blind-believe in and blind-agree with and blindly sharing information and ideas that we don’t know whether they are true, or not.

So as there are many ‘yoga teachers’ teach yoga to other people according to what they have learned and heard from the yoga courses that they have attended, just because the books/scriptures/teaching manuals and their teachers say so. Some people don’t mind if the teachings are true, or not, as long as they have some ideas of yoga poses practice sequences with some technical information and interesting spiritual stories to teach in the yoga classes to satisfy the people’s enthusiasm and intention of joining the yoga classes, and earn a living. And there’s nothing wrong with that and it’s everyone’s freedom. One is willingly to present something that one doesn’t really know what does it really means, while others are willingly to follow something that they don’t know where it would lead them to.

The wise never aspire or intent to make other beings to see what they see, or to know what they know. The teachings are everywhere for everyone to take it (practice and realize), or leave it.

Be free and be happy.

Introduction, briefing, or orientation before the yoga classes or yoga courses?

Generally, it is normal that in most occasions or courses, whether it is yoga practice, or fitness training, or educational and corporate training, there will be some sorts of introduction, or briefing, or orientation before the course starts, mostly it’s about what the course is all about, what to expect from the course, whether it’s the course format or structure, or the type of practice or training, or the qualification or affiliation that is related to the course, and the possible results or benefits that they are going to achieve at the end of the course.

If we truly know what yoga practice is about, then all these introduction, briefing or orientation (derived from the worldly idea of names and forms) are irrelevant to what yoga practice is.

Yoga is about training the mind to be free from ignorance and egoism to know the truth of the mind and the perception of names and forms, and be free from identification and attachment. It’s about living in the present moment now, be free from the past experiences and future anticipation or speculation. It’s about realizing the only existence is in the present moment now, that is full of uncertainties or impermanent changes that are not in the control of “I”. It’s about training the mind to be in the present moment now confronting with all the uncertainties of life existence, and to rise above the qualities of names and forms that is subject to impermanence.

If we believe in the existence of God, or the creator of the universe, God or the creator of the universe didn’t brief us, nor explained to us about life before we came into this world of life existence, to give us some ideas or anticipation towards life experiences. God or the creator of the universe didn’t tell us nor inform us about what is going to happen in our life, what are we going to become, how we should act and react, what type of life experience we are going to have, what to expect from this life existence, what are we going to achieve from this life existence, and so on.

We came to this world as we are. We learn as we are. We confront every uncertainty as it is in the present moment now. We learn from our own direct experience of coming in contact with suffering that derived from ignorance, egoism, attachment and expectation, for us to to let go of egoism, attachment, expectation, and to purify and control the mind, to know about the truth and to attain liberation.

As yoga practice is in the present moment now, it’s not being prepared before hand in the past, it’s not anticipation of the future. Confront every moment of existence that is impermanent and non-self, within this present moment with a calm mind that is free from being influenced or determined by the past and the future, free from identification and attachment, free from anticipation, speculation and projection, free from judgment, comparison and expectation.

It’s training the mind to let go of the egoism, and perform all actions, practice, duties and responsibilities without attachment towards all these actions and renounce the fruit of actions. It is letting go of expectation towards the result or the fruit of actions or yoga practice, and allow the result or the fruit of actions or yoga practice to be what it is, without attachment, per-conception, projection, or anticipation.

It’s training the mind to be in the present moment now, and allow all the uncertainties in the present moment now to be what they are with a calm and liberated mind.

If we apply the similar type of worldly commercial training procedure or technique into conducting any yoga courses, then this is actually going to the opposite direction against the means of yoga practice. It is empowering the ignorance and egoism by strengthening the worldly ideas and attachment, instead of eliminating ignorance and egoism by letting go worldly ideas and attachment.

Om shanti.

Yoga courses or classes is not a business trading object or service that we can sell or buy, even if there is some fees involved…

If we went to an Ashram or a yoga school and found that it is a very good place with good teachers, convenient facilities and conducive environment for learning and practicing yoga, naturally without the people in the Ashram or yoga school asked us to recommend the Ashram or the yoga school to anyone, and without any intention to expect any kind of incentive in return, we will recommend other people who are interested in learning and practicing yoga to go there, but we will never ask for any commission from the Ashram or yoga school for us to do this, nor will we ask for any discounted fees for ourselves to be taking courses there.

As yoga or yoga courses is not a business trading object. It is not like because we like the service from a massage spa centre and we are motivated to recommend it to other people, but we expect the massage spa centre to give us some commission in return or expect them to give us special rate on our future visits for their services. Then this action of recommending something good to other people is not genuine anymore. There are selfish motives or intention behind the action of recommendation, even though it is something good.

We never went to a massage spa near our yoga studio. But due to many of our retreat guests went there before, and had very nice experience, we would recommend it to any other of our guests who ask for recommendation for a good massage spa. We never received any commission from the massage spa centre for us to recommending so many people to go there for massage. We never intend to ask any commission from them, nor do we expect them to recommend anyone to come to us for yoga retreats, nor expect them to give us some sort of discounted rate for us to use any of their services. We recommend it because it has good reputation. If it has bad reputation, we won’t be recommend it to anyone, even if they want to give us commission or discount. We do not ask nor expect anything in return for recommending something good to anybody.

If we are looking for some sorts of commission or discounted fees from the Ashram or yoga school by recommending people to go there, as we think that yoga and yoga courses is like a business trading object or service, then we don’t really know what yoga is about (even though we have been practicing ‘yoga’ for a long time). We had no idea what is the yoga practice about selfless service, compassion, loving kindness, generosity, true charity, non-attachment, intention-less, non-expectation and renounce the fruit of action.

It is great virtue and merit for anyone to be supporting an Ashram or yoga school to run yoga courses or classes, to allow other people to be learning and sharing the greatness of yoga, provided that if they give their supports without attachment, without expectation towards any rewards or incentives in return.

An Ashram, or a yoga school doesn’t sell yoga, or wisdom, or compassion, or peace, or liberation. They can only provide teachers, teachings, disciplines, schedule or program, methods, guidance, supports, facilities and conveniences to the people to be learning and practicing yoga. It is up to the people’s own responsibility, discipline, effort and sincere practice, to realize or attain yoga, or wisdom, or compassion, or peace, or liberation.

The fees or donations from the people is not a business exchange of selling and buying a product or service, but mainly to support the cost or expenses that couldn’t be avoided in providing such courses, facilities, conveniences and environment to allow ourselves and other people to be learning and practicing yoga and become our own teacher. At the same time we also provide some supports to the teachers who need to support their own living and perform their own practice. What a great merit, even if we do not greed for attaining any merits by performing great virtue.

I never asked for any discounted rate for the fees of the yoga courses in the Ashram or from any other yoga schools when I didn’t have enough money to pay for the total expenses in the beginning, including course fee, flight ticket and visa fees, and my parents living and medical expenses. But I didn’t worry, and the money came to me on time when I needed it for paying all the expenses to go to the Ashram in India to learn and practice yoga. As I know yoga or the ‘fees’ for the yoga courses is not something to be negotiate nor trade about. It is not like we paid some money to a hotel for a hotel room, and expect certain types of service that worth ‘how much we had paid’ in return.

If we don’t have strong self-discipline to follow the tight schedule and curriculum, if we don’t have will-power and determination to forbear any difficulties or discomforts physically, mentally, or emotionally that arise in the process of purification, we will give up easily, or drop out and not finishing the course, no matter how much money we had paid for the course or it is a free course.

Especially in real yoga practice about eliminating the egoism is really not a very pleasant experience, it’s not like going to a spa massage which is about paying for a service that will give us momentary enjoyment and pleasant experiences, but it doesn’t help us to eliminate the egoism, craving and aversion, but in fact, it is empowering them.

Attending ‘real’ yoga courses is not about chasing after pleasant experiences, or learning to do a few challenging yoga asana poses. It is about letting go of craving towards pleasant experiences and aversion towards unpleasant experiences. It’s about letting go of pride and arrogance towards what we think we know about ourselves and things. It’s about letting go of what our mind believes what things are. There will be lots of discomforts and aversion manifested physically, mentally and emotionally during the purification process of eliminating the egoism, impurities and ignorance.

If we are able to forbear and withstand all these discomfortable manifestations that arise in our yoga and meditation practice, and be determined to continue the practice until we realize the truth, we will realize the unconditional joy and peace that comes from realizing the truth of things and ourselves, and being free from attachment, ignorance and egoism, craving and aversion, cause and effect, birth and death. There’s no fear and worry, anger and hatred, pride and arrogance, dissatisfaction and disappointment, hurtful thinking and feelings, or painful sorrow and suffering.

If our yoga students or retreat guests feel that the yoga courses or retreats were very good for them even though they had to forbear some discomforts during the course, and naturally recommending the yoga courses or retreats to other people, not because with the intention to bring us more ‘business’, and not because with the intention to get some incentive, commission or discount, but to allow other people to be sharing something really meaningful, then this type of recommendation is welcome.

If somebody says to us, “I love your yoga course/retreat. I will write you a very good review about my experience in your yoga course/retreat, and recommend other people to come to your place, but how much commission or discount can you give me in return?” We will tell them, we don’t need ‘good’ reviews that are not genuinely coming from the heart, nor interested in advertising the yoga courses or retreats to bring in more ‘business’.

You may read about the story about why and how I went to India to learn and practice yoga with this link – https://mydailyyogapractice.wordpress.com/2011/11/28/my-life-stories-part-6/

Om shanti.