Sathi talks about how each meditator is reshaping themselves to become more compassionate and less responsive to anger and irritation. He gives several practical examples including how we deal with children acting out and adults who are “acting out.
A meditator asks about responding to a spouse who triggers non-compassionate behavior. Another meditator talks about being with a group of angry people who are uncomfortable being around a calm, non-angry person.
Hi, this is Peter Johnson. At the beginning of this podcast, Bhante is closing off the meditation session with the Metta Meditation. He introduces this and talks about it at the beginning of his teachings.
As the guided meditation ends…[Sathi] Let it cultivate freely within your heart: May all living beings, be well, happy, skillful, and peaceful. May all living beings, be well, happy, skillful, and peaceful. [singing bowl rings]
Sathi Explains Closing With a Metta Meditation
At the end of the breathing meditation we were trying to introduce some thoughts which you already have. But, we are placing those thoughts simply into this empty mind. Because you are trying not pay attention to your thoughts. But, afterward we are planting some thoughts.
We are better if we understand this process. Just think…. Well, the example that comes to my head which is common for most of you. Just think about wine. If you keep wine a longer time, to ferment. Then, you will have a better wine. Right? If you keep it a longer time, then, according to wine tasters, and drinkers, you will have a good tasting wine.
Did you add anything from outside? No, you just keep the same wine a longer time. What is happening? It ferments by itself. It is cooking by itself. It is making itself.
Similar to that, you are cooking your mind by yourself Even though while you are sleeping or while you are thinking, while you are doing certain things, you keep reshaping yourself. It is fermenting, or whatever word you want to choose, that is what is happening to your mind.
Now, with this meditation, what is happening is you are planting the seed and then you are allowing it to grow by itself. Then, often a meditator will find a new surface of compassion, or a new surface of boundless love, after the meditation. So you are fermenting or cooking yourself with that boundless compassion or boundless love.
By knowing most of the time, you have love, or you have compassion. But, that compassion or love is based on certain conditions. We have conditional-based love. Conditional-based compassion. Even conditional-based anger. Conditional-based frustration, fear.
Expanding Your Safe Space
Some people they are scared of the dark They aren’t scared of the light. Some of you are really comfortable staying in your house while it is dark out. But, maybe you don’t want to stay somewhere else outside. Think about how much our feelings and emotions are being conditionally based. So, if I bring the same example to describe this those who are not scared to stay in their house when it is dark, if they can make the entire world, their house. Then they will not be scared to live anywhere in the world. Because the entire world becomes their house. Their comfort base. That is how you are removing those conditions. You are making yourself bigger.
What is happening when you go against this compassionate self, or when you go against this kind self, you are making yourself smaller. Your universe, your world is going to be smaller. You are going to limit yourself or a few people around you. Whenever you happen to go beyond those few people you will feel uncomfortable. With a compassionate heart, a kind heart, you are expanding your world. You are expanding your house. You are expanding your comfort zone. And, if I go a little beyond. Why do you get into you, or why are you limiting yourself into a smaller world that is a world you trust. That is the world where you don’t have fear. That is the world you have comfort because you know that they or anybody in that world, will not judge you, no matter what happens. Or will not harm you no matter what happens. You don’t have fear or are not scared of any judgement. Even though they judge you, you are not bothered by it. You will not feel powerless That is how you find comfort.
Most of the time, when you feel uncomfortable, you just want to be with yourself. What is behind this? You do not want anybody else to judge you. When you have this compassionate heart, or kind heart, what is happening is you will begin to trust people around you. And, you will begin to see everyone else as your friends. You will have boundless compassion for them and once when you have boundless compassion, you will think, that they will have compassion for you. That is how we are bringing this comfortable universe into you. You will feel safe anywhere. So, when Buddha was talking about enlightened beings, Buddha was saying that enlightened beings have totally overcome fear. Fear, anger, frustration, and self-centeredness. They don’t have these things anymore.
That is happening on your cushion. That is happening through your meditation. Because you are finding this fearless place in your heart. You are expanding it. You will see everybody as a friend.
Responding to Childish Behaviors
If you see somebody who doesn’t see you. Or, if you see somebody who is being unpleasant, imagine, you have a little grandkid, or a little kid who is being unpleasant. How do you respond to that little one? Would you respond in the same way how you would respond to an adult who has the same manners? No, for the adult you will have a reaction. But, for a kid you will have forgiveness right away. You don’t want to punish the kid. But, for the adult, you may be angry with the adult. Why do we have two different reactions for those two? Because in your mind, you know, one person is little and you think the little kid doesn’t understand anything. When you think that the adult understands everything, then you [form] an attitude against that person.
For compassionate person, for the meditator, when an adult acts like a kid, you will see it as a kid’s behavior. When an adult gets into that frustration, or anger. You see how much this person is caught up in this emotion. How much this person has lost their own self. You will have compassion right away. You will not fight or do anything against. You will only have forgiveness and compassion. Through compassion comes from your heart. When you don’t become an “enemy”, that person will not see you as an enemy. But, if you become as an enemy for somebody who is expressing anger, that person will begin to see you as an enemy. That is not what the meditator is creating. The meditator will be a friendly person to this nasty, or to this bad emotional person.
So, if you go a little beyond you can see in that way, the meditator will not lose their own happiness or calmness or serenity. Because the outside is not strong enough to destroy you. The outside is not big enough to eliminate your happiness or compassion. That outside anger is going to be smaller, powerless.
There are a lot of examples from the enlightened community. One of Buddha’s disciple when he was walking on the street, there was a man who made everyone angry for fun. He heard that enlightened monks do not get angry. He wanted to check this. What did he do? He just came from the back and hit the monk hard on his back. And the monk, just looked back and he was thinking that there was something wrong with this person. He had compassion so [the monk] just walked away. The man was surprised. [The man] came to the Buddha and asked, “How do you train these people? Even they” don’t defend themselves. How do you tame these people?” Buddha said, “They don’t have to defend themselves.” “They don’t defend themselves when they don’t need to.”
Most of the time we are trying to defend ourselves when you don’t need to. You don’t have to save yourself when you are not losing yourself. You only have to save yourself when you are losing yourself. You are losing yourself when someone “gets into” you and changes you. That is when you are losing you.
So, become that stronger person. Mindfulness is a base. With mindfulness you are becoming a strong person and your compassionate, kind heart will be stronger than outside anger, frustration, fear, anxiety, or anything. Then, nobody can get into you or damage your stronger compassion or your stronger happiness, joyfulness.
So, we are planting those seeds at the end of the meditation and you are allowing it to grow. So, you are fermenting yourself in a good way. With compassion. Even compassion if it is _____ is good. Any questions or thoughts?
Reacting to a Spouse[Meditator] When I hear it it sounds good [Sathi laughing] but sometimes and my husband will say something and I’ll react. And then, I come back and get down on myself. How do you get yourself clear from making mistakes vs. getting down [on yourself]? [Sathi] So, just think about this. Think about the same example I brought up in the beginning. When a kid does something, only kids respond. That is why kids fight. And they are fighting for their toys but, adult see this as a kids activity, and you are trying to help them, you don’t get involved in it. So, remember, kids get involved with kids reactions. When your husband does something to you, then you give him the same place. But, if you can remain who you are, you will not react to this. But, as you said, yes, it is easy for me to say. I totally agree with that. It is easy for me to say. It is easy for you to say to someone else. But, when you are in it you don’t see it. That is why you are cultivating this mindfulness to see it. Once when you see, then you can remain who you are. You can remain as an adult. Spiritual adult. Not physically, Not after 18 [years old] not biologically adult person. But, spiritually you are becoming an adult. When you become then you can see it. Sometime you can smile at yourself. You can look at your past and are seeing some past reactions. You can simply laugh at yourself. We can laugh at our foolish actions in the past. Yes? [Meditator] I’m also discovering that this is a few long, subtle process. With my generation I’m used to instant gratification, things happening fast. But, I’m seeing this subtle change over a long time. My spouse just got very, very angry at me a couple of weeks ago and I weathered that storm. It was like the rain was pelting me. But, I said to myself, “Am I going to yell at the storm?” [Laughing] And I stayed calm and it was very effective. But, I couldn’t have done that six months or a year ago. But, it is really subtle change. [Sathi] I’m glad you are seeing it. But, especially when you see it you can see how beneficial that is and how helpful that is for the other person. How much it helpful for the other family members. [Meditator] It still hurts. The hurt is still there. But, I could look at the hurt and see “I’m hurt.” But, I didn’t have to throw it back. I felt good about it. It was a good piece. But, it is hard. [Sathi] Good observation. Good job. [Meditator] I’ve done meditation a few years back and I and I was younger and she said the worse person is in your head. [inaudible] “I’ll do it, grrrrr!” It wasn’t quick, but just to repeat it, you know, not feeding into all the other stuff, but just, spending that and how much it helped me as the person [inaudible] at all which has helped me put it in perspective and [inaudible] from him and made it more so I [inaudible] Now I’m here and I found it helped it in a way that didn’t affect my day-to-day [inaudible] I had reason to feel angry, that’s why [inaudible] [Sathi] The other important thing is that an unmindful person, seeing a reason to be angry. And reasons to be unhappy. Or reason to react. But, for a mindful person will not see it in the same way. The mindful person will see that it is a weakness to be angry. You are minimizing the power from outside you are making it powerless. Just think there is a saying in the Buddhist texts. It says The unwise person thinks anger is power. But, a wise person sees how weak that is. All of us, when we are angry, we think it is a power. We have many names for this anger. Because we think that anger is beneficial. Some people say, “Well, without my anger I don’t know how to handle my spouse. How to handle my kids.” That’s how some people think. “And I don’t know how to control them…” Because we see power in there. But, once you happen to be on the other side then you happen to notice “Well, anger is weakness. It is not a powerful thing.”
Being Calm with a Group That Uses Anger as Their Power[Meditator] Is it normal than to have moments when you are around someone who uses that anger as their power and you don’t get angry back. This makes them uncomfortable. They see you as, “How can you not get angry?” And, it makes them extremely uncomfortable. That’s just part of being a mindful person? Making those angry people extremely uncomfortable? [group laughing] This happens so often now. [Sathi] Well, that is normal for certain people. If I go back to my original example when kids meet kids, it is normal for them to find toys and play. If you ask is it normal for an adult? Maybe no. They do something else. What is happening? It depends on the maturity of the culture of the group. For some groups it is normal for them to be angry all the time. For some groups it is normal to be frustrated all the time. Some groups are fearful all the time. They are talking about something very fearful. So, you can see depending on certain groups and certain people, there are certain behaviors. For the people who are living in fear all the time, that is not normal for them not to have fear sometime. It is not normal for them.
The question is, what kind of “normal” person do you want to be? What do you appreciate most? Who do YOU want to be? What kind of qualities do you want to have within?
So, with this meditation practice what is happening, we are changing this normal person into this compassionate person. You are opening your heart to have boundless love for all living beings. That is going to be your normal life. Your normal self. Once you become that normal person, it is your nature.
So, the people who don’t have compassion, that is who they are. That is their normal life.
I hope I answered your question.
I think we can end for today. It is wonderful to have all of you and may you have a wonderful, compassionate week. Especially I would wish you not to lose yourself this week. May you see the weakness as weakness, may you recognize anger as a weak thing. Frustration as a weakness. May you not lose yourself into those weak places. Have a wonderful week!
Recorded on August 19, 2019 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Mankato, Minnesota.
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