Yoga of the Buddha

The Yoga of the Buddha

By Desmond Yeoh Seng Cheong

Ceramic Products Manufacturer in Malaysia

Ceramic Products

Richard sat in his garden, enjoying the fresh morning air as he sipped a hot cup of coffee. The beautiful songs sung by the birds never fail to relax him. His mind turned towards his spiritual practices as he admired the colourful flowers his wife planted around the garden.

He started practicing Buddhism before he discovered Yoga and now he practices both teachings, taking techniques from both paths that appeal to him. Richard rubbed his chin as he contemplated how he had integrated both paths. So far, he had been doing it unconsciously but recently, he began to see a pattern; he began to see how both paths are are complementing each other.

Richard admired the spiritual independence taught by the Buddha. The Buddha taught that suffering has its causes. It is possible to be free from suffering and he showed the path that can lead to that freedom. However, he emphasised that One must make the effort to walk the path as no one else can do it for him. The Buddha refused to say if there is a Creator because he wanted his followers to be spiritually independent. He never solved the problems of his followers by performing miracles but instead, took the opportunity to help them understand themselves and the causes of their suffering. God help those who help themselves; the Buddha taught that principle in his own unique way.

When the Buddha died, his disciples asked him who he wished to appoint to be his successor. The Buddha said that the teachings he gave will be their new teacher. He told his disciplines not to build statues of him and not to pray to him. They can only find salvation by putting the teachings he taught them into practice.

Richard smiled and whispered to himself, “No one can solve our problems for us”. He finally understood. Our problems are caused by our bad habits and habitual thinking patterns. He recalled the experience of one of his friend: John had financial difficulties and went to pray for help. His prayer was answered and he won a lottery. That solved all his financial difficulties…temporarily. However, he never learnt to control his craving and end up spending all the money, and again, got himself into a financial crisis. That is why it is important for us to pray to the Divine for the wisdom to solve our problems rather than solving our problems for us.

Richard also admired the Buddha’s emphasis on the development of concentration and awareness, which leads to understanding the ‘Self’. The Buddha taught his disciples to strengthen their concentration by focusing on their breath. When their concentration was developed to a sufficient degree, they were able to be aware of their thoughts, emotions and senses. In everyday life, our thoughts, emotions and the stimulation of our senses occur rapidly and are bound tightly to each other like tightly strung prayer beads. This creates an illusion that an ‘entity’ exist. This entity is called the ego or Maya.

But as the practitioner maintains his awareness on his thoughts, emotions and senses, they slow down and begin to move apart. They start to leave gaps. As he continues to meditate, they move further and further apart. The practitioner starts to see more empty space than the beads. Eventually, he reaches the state of ‘no-mind’ and he does not see any bead at all. When he gets out of his meditation, he realises that the illusory entity temporarily disappeared during his practice. If he was truly that entity, he would by definition be dead. But because that entity is merely his thoughts, emotions and senses, that entity is pure energy that cannot die. Death is merely an illusion.

Richard could see how his Yoga practices are important for his spiritual evolution. During the Buddha’s time, his disciples were encouraged to become monks. As monks, they spend their day listening to the Buddha and meditating. Because they are not distracted, they do not waste as much prana or life force as compared to a householder.  Because the householder uses up a lot of prana while carrying out his daily responsibilities, he has very little left for his spiritual practices. When One lacks prana, One will find it difficult to maintain One’s awareness. Therefore, the householder needs Yogic practices that enable him to draw prana into his body. With sufficient prana, he is able to better maintain his awareness and gain wisdom.

Richard also acknowledged that we sometimes do not ‘see’ our bad habits. Richard recalled that he recently got very angry with a friend but later when he calmed down, he realised that what his friend did was not bad at all. He realised that he had a bad habit of getting angry and that habit merely made his friend a convenient target; perhaps because his friend was a safe target whom he knew would forgive him for his show of irritability. It took him many years to realise that he was the real cause of his anger. He also realised that his Yogic practices somehow managed to remove some blockages within him that enabled him to finally see that bad habit.

Richard laughed at himself. Sometimes, even when we ‘see’ the problem, our ego can come out with a thousand excuses for us to indulge in our bad habit. Richard knew that buying a new car could make it difficult for him financially but still went ahead to buy one because his desires and emotions got the better of him. He regretted that decision.

Richard realised that even with the wisdom to know the causes of suffering, he may succumb to bad habits if his awareness is not strong. Richard is aware that whenever he is possessed by strong negative emotion such as anger, it is very difficult to use wisdom and try to talk himself out of that anger. It is like using one part of his ego to fight with another part of his ego. Of course, the stronger habit will always win. Whenever, he is overcome by a strong negative emotion, he finds it effective to just be aware of the emotion and it will fade away quickly. After it fades away sufficiently, he will use his wisdom faculty to understand and learn from the incident.

He recently heard someone say that happiness is hard work. When he heard it, he laughed, not because he found it ridiculous but because he knew how true that statement was. We are unhappy because we developed habits and habitual ways of thinking that keep us unhappy. We need to undo that.

We need to develop habits and habitual ways of thinking that lead to happiness. An effective way is to develop contentment and the habit of being grateful for what we have. If we are constantly being thankful, we will have very little space left in our mind for craving and jealousy. All our problems stem from our desires; even anger which arises when we meet an obstacle to our desires. By being contented, there is no room for desire.

Richard looked forward to the day when all the spiritual paths and religions becomes an integrated whole but the practitioners can still pick from the whole, those practices that suits them best. When that time comes, there will be no more fights and wars in the name of religion. He knows that there is no such thing as the ‘best path’ but everyone must find the most suitable path for his mental make-up.

Related Articles: Spiritual Independence, The Best Kept Secrets of Maya, Why the Buddha Laughed when he reached Enlightenment, All Religions are Contents of the mind

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dr.Subhassh
    May 02, 2012 @ 15:47:10

    Dear Desmond,this article is like,for me,”a nail hit on the head”–on target.Quite some time now my mind is so focused on Buddhism, Buddha’s teaching,and Buddhist meditation.A bit,trying to integrate Buddha’s method of meditation and Kriya Yoga,and a monks way of spiritual path and the”householder”way of Kriya Yoga path.
    Your article was timely.I always wanted our Teacher/Guru Rudra to talk to us on this subject.As he has been in this situation once,and he was almost to become a monk,until BABAJI appeared to him.Our guru will be the best person to give us a first hand insight into,the like of Richard’s delima.
    Desmond,your article was like a intuitive reply to the answer I was looking for.
    Thank You Very Much.
    Dr.Subhassh

    Reply

  2. balachandran
    May 03, 2012 @ 10:14:32

    the suitable path rather then the right path,the mental make up defers from each individual,so dont take things lightly,just follow the way you like it to be.Intergreation of methods is fine if it comes from a true master.

    Reply

  3. mageswaran
    May 21, 2012 @ 16:43:45

    Sometimes or even most of the time its easy to read and even understand and then acknowledge what has been written but the whole substance of the matter is putting the right mental state,calmness and proper breathing into practice!I have a question in my mind.Where actually is the end of spiritual pursuit and when?

    Reply

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