Culturing our Mind

How meditation helps deal with ego, hot buttons, and letting go


Sathi explains how we can benefit from having a regular meditation practice. The end result is to help us be more mindful. This, in turn, allows us to:

  • Form a viewpoint that moves outside our own self
  • Cultivate compassion for others
  • Gain Harmonious Effort

Sathi answers a question on dealing with people who “push your buttons”.

He also answers questions about healing yourself as well as learning how to “let go”.

When we think about meditation or meditation practice, it is more about mind culture.

This is something we need to understand the process of
evolving in the outside world. We talk about civilized or more organized society.

In the civilized or organized society, people are taking care of each other. Instead of promoting anger, hatred, or fear, the civilized society, people promote compassion, generosity, sharing. If you really look at the way society has evolved in the last 1,000 years you can see that some societies in the past people value anger or hatred If somebody does something bad, that person deserves punishment. That is in an uncivilized society.

Society means a way of thinking. It is about the mind. What do they value in their mind? When people value generosity and compassion we recognize that those people are in a better way of thinking. A higher way of thinking. That is the result of a civilized, evolved world.

When you talk about just one lifetime, you can see how our way of thinking changes in our lifetime with less fear, with less anger. With less fear, anger, hatred, and with more generosity and compassion, your way of thinking is being changed. And also, you’ll find you are more settled and are a calmer person.

Just think about two different people. How do they respond to something? How do they respond to somebody’s argument? When you happen to have someone who is against you, Who says something against you. The way an uncivilized person would respond and the way a civilized person responds will be different. The a more settled person This is about Society and the outside world. The outside world functions due to those people’s inside.

So, what about meditation? What does meditation do? Meditation organizes this evolution of the mind. Buddha, an enlightened world means more evolved way of thinking. In that developed or evolved way of thinking their mind is full of compassion. Full of generosity. It is not about them. It is not about one individual person. It is not about anger. It is not about “myself”. We become smaller when we only think about ourselves. We become smaller when we start with our own anger. People expand their way of thinking and expand themselves when they become the big world instead of just one person. It is happening with our everyday actions.

Therefore, the meditator is having an effort to overcome their own self-based attachments. Or ego. Or self-based greed.

When somebody is talking about their own self. For a civilized, spiritual person that is, that is a good way of thinking. The civilized or spiritual person always tries to think of “us” instead of “myself”; “we” instead of “myself”.

With our practice, with our way of thinking, we often are better to check yourself “How am I living? How much am I only promoting myself and surviving with myself?” That way you can see how much your mind has evolved. Or, how much you mind has been exposed to this evolving process.

So, meditation practice is about cultivating those self-less qualities.

And recognizing these self-centered qualities and overcome those self-centered qualities. This has to be a continuous process. Then, each time when you recognize it, you are making an effort to overcome this.

We are talking about in the mind the eight-fold path, we talk about Harmonious Effort. Harmonious effort goes with the mindful person. That goes with the four steps Four different practices.

  1. Harmonious effort. Having the effort to promote goodness and selflessness.
  2. You are making an effort not to maintain this selfish and self-centered practices or efforts.
  3. You are recognizing those selfless, or open, actions that you can do and you are implementing them. Implementing those actions.
  4. When you happen to introduce into that selfish or ego-based life practices you are referred to not promote it and not to practice it.

I’ll repeat those four again.
#1 Recognize what you have been doing selfless, egoless activities. You are having referred to, promote it, and maintain it.
#2 You are recognizing all these selfish, ego-based things that you are doing and then having an effort not to maintain it anymore.
#3 Looking and finding those selfless, egoless things what you can introduce in your lifetime and then introducing them into your life. Having preferred to introduce this goodness.
#4 when you happen to introduced into those new selfish, ego-based, anger-based life practices, you are making an effort to not to do that no matter what happens.

Sometimes you find yourself that you are doing some strange thing due to some challenge. You’ll think, “Okay, this time I’ll have to be selfish with myself.” There you recognize “Okay, now I am being selfish because of this situation.” That is how we can introduce this harmonious effort. With harmonious effort, you can see huge changes in your life.

That is how meditation works. Any questions or thoughts?

[A meditator asks] Sometimes you run across people who will push your buttons [inaudible] How do you maintain that? [inaudible] Well, let me bring you an example. If you have a wound on your head, what do you do? You would put a plaster [bandage] over it. You don’t want your wound to be exposed. to the outside. Because you know that germs can get into the wound and make it worse. You would only do it if you know you have wound. If you don’t have a wound you would keep it to the outside and all the wound will be exposed to the germs. That will make your life miserable by letting it go to those germs.

Mindfulness is knowing that there are wounds in your life. Just keep it closed. Don’t let other people poke their fingers into those wounds. When you happen to walk by some people who have “pokey” pokes around, what would you do? You will walk carefully because you don’t want yourself to get hurt. By knowing that there are “poking” people, then, when you happen to exchange some words you will be very careful. You will not listen to those people and you will stay away. You do not have to respond with any words. That is how you use mindfulness to protect yourself.

So, when you meditate you need to work on your “wounds” not just covering it up, not just staying away. You have to realize, this is something that is treatable. Find a way to heal yourself. That is very important. Protecting yourself and finding a way to heal yourself.

That is how you can deal with those people. Sometimes your weakness can be anger. Your weakness can be anxiety. Your weakness can be fear. So, then, if somebody knows your weakness is fear, somebody will poke into fear and they will tell you things.

If you have weakness of healthcare, then, those people who know about it they will keep talking about it and if somebody is concerned about security, if somebody has little kids and is concerned about certain issues, then those people will keep talking about those. Just think how politicians are acting. They are finding people’s wounds. They are trying to address those wounds in order to get people to people’s attention to them.

[Meditator asks] Any quick words on how to heal those wounds? Number one will be knowing you have a wound.

Then, find a doctor or mindful person who should be a noble friend who can help you, who will listen to you, who will see, who can recognize those wounds and find ways to treat them. Any other thoughts?

[A meditator comments] I don’t want to think about how often walk around and I’m all scared [inaudible] Actually, that’s another interesting thing and you can see, there are some people. I mean, not some people, there are I’m sure we are dealing with some. And some time with a difficult pain, some people cut their hands So, just look at what is behind it. You enjoy by hurting yourself, but while you are doing it you don’t know you are hurting. That person is reeling in the head, in a helpless place, and doesn’t know what else to do and are trying to find comfort through that hurt.

Same way, when you walk with this wound, you want other people to poke into this wound and hurt you. That gives some comfort. That pain provides comfort. The simple example I use all the time, the people who eat spicy foods; chili. They look to chili for comfort. For somebody cannot eat chili, they think it hurts them. But eating chili is really hurtful. But, we enjoy that hurt. That gives you comfort. Eating salt also hurts, but we commonly we enjoy that hurt.

So, if you really some movies. Fighting and they are going after some revenge. Then sometimes people coming out from the movie theater are crying and saying, “It was a wonderful movie!” Why are you crying if it was a wonderful movie? Why do you have that much anger? “Ah finally, the villain is losing and… the hero is winning.” Just look. What is giving us power? It is an emotional buffet.

[A meditator asks] A common theme in the conversation lately has been the concept of letting go. And people say it but one asks “How to do it?” they come up short, myself included. Could you discuss how to do it? Is it breathing, is it just observing as a non-judgmental observer? Actually yeah, “letting go”. It is only two words, right?

It is a huge process. Here is something people cannot understand at all without meditation. And even this is something that people cannot understand with a one-day retreat. It definitely has to be a multiple day retreat just to understand what “letting go” means. Just think about how much that person has to let go to prepare themselves to come to a retreat. Not just the environment.

There are a lot of things that have to be prepared for an inside the mind. Then, if you really have a strong mind, then you are starting to arrange your surrounding. Then, a settledness of practicing meditation helps you see this mind preparedness.

Therefore, when people ask this question outside the meditation, I don’t usually talk about that. Because there is no, literally there is no hear it, “what is letting go” but it is not practical to explain or talk about that. Therefore, my advice is, if talking to non-meditators for example, small talk, there is no way of explaining. This is something you really have to understand with practical experience. But, for meditators, that is one of the examples to go with.

Especially with the “letting go” you can see that freedom. That freedom, that joyfulness comes out of freedom. That would be the result of “letting go”. When somebody can apply that to everything even letting go of anger.

Think of the freedom a person has letting go of the anxiety. This comes with a certain skill. Without this skill, you don’t know how to let go of this anger, anxiety, or fear. With training, you would learn how to let go of that. That ability you gain by training yourself.

In this part of the world, we use retreat, the word to describe “running away from your life.” But, there is no other English word to describe what we mean by “retreat”.

So, when we use this term, we are using it to describe that mind culture, or training your mind. Training your mind throughout some practical courses. That includes the physical activity that includes eating food, that includes observing your mind, observing your actions, That includes going through some thought process. With all that combination, we call it a retreat. It is not really about running away from your life but FINDING your life. It is a process. With that process, people understand what “letting go” means. That’s a good thing that society is talking about it. Then only a few seek it out.

Okay, I think we can stop here. It is very good to see all of you. Enjoy the end of the fall. Have a wonderful week. Thank you.