Retreat and quieting the restless outgoing pleasure/stimulation seeking mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be free.

Changing the conditioned thinking pattern of the mind

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contemplate on this, and be free.

Appreciating what matter to us in life without attachment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Looking after one’s mind living in the present embracing silence

In the path of yoga, looking after one’s mind, through observing maximum silence and seclusion, renouncing ‘worldly connections/relationships’, retreating from ‘worldly affairs/activities’, to be focusing on freeing one’s mind from ignorance, egoism, restlessness and impurities of pride, anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, dissatisfaction, disappointment, hurts, regret, guilt, desire, longing, craving, offensiveness, defensiveness, intimidation, hostility, agitation, depression, bitterness, misery, fear and worry, to be developing and maintaining the sanity, clarity and serenity of the thinking faculty, living in the present as it is, being at peace unconditionally, undetermined/undisturbed by the impermanent and selfless quality of names and forms, without violating/interfering/intruding all the different people/communities with different kinds of thinking/belief/disbelief/ideas/values/practice/way of life/behavior/action and reaction, without claiming ownership towards the world expecting ‘my world’ or ‘our world’ has to be in certain ways that the mind would like it to be, or the way that the mind thinks and believes how it should be, is the greatest form of selfless/unconditional love towards ‘the world’.

Many people including ‘yoga enthusiasts’ might disagree with this, where they perceive ‘silence’/’renunciation’/’non-association’/’dispassion’ as a form of ‘selfishness’/’irresponsibility’/’wrongfulness’, as they believe everyone’s duty of humanity is to be actively/passionately engaging in the worldly/social affairs/activities performing actions to ‘create’ a world/society the way that they like/desire/aspire, to ‘make’/’control’/’influence’ the world/society to be the way that they think how it should be, to be all ‘good’ and ‘right’ according to what they think and believe is ‘good’ and ‘right’, to be empowering/protecting/propagating their own particular ideas/visions/values, while either intentionally or unintentionally, condemning/interfering/intruding/oppressing/intimidating/eliminating/fighting/declaring war against others who are different from them, who don’t embrace the similar ideas/visions/values, who might be obstructing ‘my desire/aspiration towards ‘having’ a world that I think how it should be’. And that’s their freedom of thinking, action and reaction.

Looking after one’s mind embracing silence being at peace unconditionally free from ignorance, egoism, restlessness and all kinds of impurity, it’s the purest selfless/intentionless form of ‘karma yoga’ contributing to the society, even without much contact/involvement/association with the society and allowing the society being what it is.

Actions that arise/come from intention/desire/aspiration to ‘influence’/’change’/’control’/’create’ a world/society to be the way that ‘I’ desire it to be, that ‘I’ think and believe how it should be, are nothing to do with ‘karma yoga’, even if it’s out of what the mind thinks and believes as ‘good’ and ‘rightful’ intention/aspiration.

All and everything being here forming ‘the world’ being what it is, where the mind perceives ‘a world of names and forms through the senses’, but the world doesn’t belong to anyone or the mind. Once the mind generates attachment and claims possession/ownership towards the world, taking the perception of a worldly existence/manifestation of impermanent and selfless names and forms as ‘my world’ or ‘our world’, there will be intention/desire/expectation/aspiration/protectiveness to ‘make’/’influence’/’control’/’limit’ the world to be the way that the mind would like it to be, or the way that the mind thinks and believes how it should be, which unwittingly lead to the existence of all kinds of discrimination, interference, intrusion, intimidation, oppression, clash, conflict, violence, and etc.

Once the mind is free from ignorance and egoism, transcending all the different qualities of names and forms, being unattached towards or undetermined by ‘goodness’ and ‘badness’, ‘rightfulness’ and ‘wrongfulness’, ‘positiveness’ and ‘negativeness’, ‘meaningfulness’ and ‘meaninglessness’, this mind could be performing selfless/intentionless ‘actions’ in the world that promote peace and harmony effectively among the different names and forms, while allowing the world to be what it is, being impermanent and selfless, without possessiveness towards the world, without expectation/aspiration towards the world has to be in certain ways that ‘I’ like/desire/aspire, that ‘I’ think and believe how it should be, is truly ‘loving’ the world.

Peace manifest as it is when the mind transcends ‘goodness’ and ‘badness’, ‘rightfulness’ and ‘wrongfulness’, ‘positiveness’ and ‘negativeness’, ‘meaningfulness’ and ‘meaninglessness’, ‘action’ and ‘inaction’. But for that to happen, the mind needs to know how to look after itself that would free the mind from ignorance, egoism, restlessness and all kinds of impurity. Or else, the mind thinks and believes that everyone needs to perform actions to achieve ‘goodness’, ‘rightfulness’, ‘positiveness’ and ‘meaningfulness’ and getting rid of ‘badness’, ‘wrongfulness’, ‘negativeness’ and ‘meaninglessness’, in order to have peace and harmony in the world/society.

Beware of the hidden/subtle ‘ambition’/’desire’/’aspiration’/’intention’ that feed ignorance and egoism, that pulls the mind further away from yoga, while thinking and believing that “I am a good yogi performing lots of karma yoga to help the world to be a better place.”

Look into the world, where most countries need to have ‘authority’ and ‘law enforcement’ to ‘control’ the society to behave and not behaving in certain ways, to ‘create’ a world/society that conform to certain ideas/values/visions/beliefs/practice. Peace cannot be achieved by ‘controlling’ people to behave and not behaving in certain ways, or to think and not thinking in certain ways.

Peace is there as it is, when everyone has self-control out of own free-will, minding their own mind and have peace in themselves, without interference/intimidation/intrusion towards others who are being different from one another, and there’s no need the existence of ‘authority’ or ‘law enforcement’ to ‘control’ people should and shouldn’t behave or think in certain ways, that leads to further ignorant actions and reactions, violence, unrest and disharmony.

Be free.