Summary: Sathi talks about insightful mindfulness. The next level developed as a result of using meditation to settle your mind. The intention behind meditation and being mindful is to gain insight into yourself.
The power of mindfulness. The ability to recognize, when to close yourself and when to open yourself. How to observe what is actually going on inside yourself.
Any questions or suggestions for discussion?[Meditator] I was reading recently about concentration. How important concentration is with mindfulness. Developing them both. I feel like my mindfulness is more developed than my concentration. I was wondering if you could talk a little about concentration? [Sathi] I hope everyone heard the question. This question is about concentration and mindfulness. All of you are meditators. The reason I remind you of that just think about, people who are swimmers. There are a lot of books about swimming. Especially some writers write books without doing. When somebody talks about something without doing, you can see a lot of controversy and confusing ideas there. But, when somebody starts to swim, that person does not have to start with all those controversial and confused ideas.
I would encourage you to do the same thing with meditation. By knowing you are meditators. As a meditator, how do we begin? Where is our mind? What do we do with our mind? First of all, we are settling ourselves with some amount of concentration. We are focusing on our posture. We are focusing on the surroundings. We are focusing on what to do. That leads us to concentrate on something. Then, we are concentrating on our breath. You are observing your in breath and out breath.
We can concentrate on something outside of ourself. When you are concentrating it is easy to concentrate on something outside of yourself. When you observe or concentrating on your breath, what is happening? You are finding something outside of you.
Mainly, you are recognizing your feelings. The feeling that coming into your body and coming out. That is where you are finding a place to observe [your breath].
Now the question is, what does this concentration do? It doesn’t do anything. But, it is a base. It helps you to keep your mind at one place. Think about somebody doing an experiment in the lab. That person is concentrating on one particular thing. Once you concentrate on something you will have full attention.
As a meditator you are having full attention to your breath. When you have full attention to your breath then only you can see how your breath begins, how it is happening, and how it ends. What happens in between this in breath and out breath. Then you have full attention to your entire breath. That is the heart of concentration. When you are concentrating on one particular thing you will have full attention to that. But, whenever you concentration breaks, what happens? It drops. But, with your concentration, you can be mindful of your breath and also this ability allows you to recognize when you break your concentration.
Again, think about the person in the lab and that person forgets to pay attention to the experiment. What does remind the person about it. That is mindfulness. You are mindful of your forgetting and you bring yourself back to the experiment.
The same way, when your mind goes off of your focus then your mindfulness will remind you and you are bringing yourself back into your breath. What does mindfulness do? Mindfulness allows you to see what is happening with you and to you. That is what mindfulness does.
Now, if I go a little beyond, when you have insightful mindfulness, will remind you what is behind this mindfulness. Or, what is the intention of this mindfulness. Or, what is the intention of this intention. It will go beyond it. That is where you analyze yourself. That is where you ask yourself the question, “Oh yeah, why am I doing this?” When you happen to have a certain emotion you ask yourself, “Why am I experiencing this certain emotion now? What is behind it?”
You have to have this insightful mindfulness in order to recognize it.
You can see that most of the time we stand on the side. We want to protect ourself. Therefore, we do our interpretation based on our protection. You are justifying your emotion. Even though you know anger and frustration or any of those negative emotions are bad, you want to defend yourself.
But, with this insightful mindfulness, you neither want to defend yourself or blame yourself. You will see clearly what the cause of it is. You will see clearly what is the basis of the anger. Without blame or without protection, you will see it.
That is the basic idea for this meditator. Concentration, the mindfulness, is bringing us to the base of meditation. To see clearly what is happening with you.
That stage we call harmonious mindfulness. Without this insightful mindfulness, you will not get yourself to that state. Once you come to this harmonious mindfulness, remember that you are not judging yourself or you are not blaming yourself. You don’t even complain to yourself for anything. You just see clearly what is happening and what is going on and what is the reason. The benefit of having this harmonious mindfulness is that it will help you to beautify yourself. It is like you are recognizing, when you look around, your house or your living room, you are recognizing things that are no longer useful to yourself. Then you are comfortable removing it. Or, if you think, “Oh this is a good place for this particular thing. Even though this was given to me by” my grandmother” and you are recognizing your sentimental connection and attachment, you say, “This is not working.”
Somebody I know, having sentimental attachment to this pitcher given by their grandmother. But, it is leaking. But still it is being used to hold flowers in the middle of the living room. I ask them, “Don’t you want to remove this and change it?” “No, this was given to me by my grandmother. This is the first gift from my grandmother.” Think about this… It doesn’t matter. Think on how many things we have that we give value to things in our life which is something we do not need. But, for us, we think, “Oh, but this is very important to me.”
It is a huge business these days. And, some people they want to keep things. “Oh, this picture belonged to such a President” “Oh, this car was used by this person.” People pay a lot of money to own this car. To own that particular thing. Really, where is the value? Why do people give that much value to something? But, if you happen to tell this to somebody, they will say, “Oh those meditators are crazy, they don’t understand.”
But, realistically, we are recognizing this not to blame ourselves, but to recognize how we give power into ignorance, without knowing, without seeing this ignorance, we are giving lots of power, energy, into ignorance. Then, we keep it. We are giving value to it. We are decorating it.
With this harmonious mindfulness ability will allow us to see. This ability will begin by observing your breath, your body, and whenever you get stuck somewhere, thinking something is very important and valuable, but there is no value you in it, this harmonious mindfulness will allow you to see this. While you are cleaning and purifying yourself, what is happening? You will recognize the garbage as garbage. Something you don’t want to use becomes garbage.
Let me tell you another example. I’m sure all of you have an email account. And I’m sure most of you have thousands and thousands of emails in your inbox. But, those emails in your inbox that might be ten years old, five years old. But, when you look at them, you say, “Oh, I need that.” But, how many times have you opened that email? But you think, when you open that email, “Oh, I want to keep it.” But, what is the reality. How many times will you really need that email? Or open that email? This is the nature of we are maintaining. We keep things, but the reality is that we don’t need it. Now letting go can come from this. Letting go is the ability and skill we are introducing and practicing. What is the reality of these things?
How many times, maybe not any more, that you have to give up your computer, the hardware, before it stops working. You think, I need this, I need these files. But, even afterwards the computer is corrupted or destroyed, still, you are surviving. Did you know you could survive before that happened? So, let’s catch our mind. What are we doing?
This is what this harmonious mindfulness is doing. It will allow you to see this. When you come to this stage the concentration and mindfulness is nothing because those two helped bring you
to this point. That is what those things, mindfulness and concentration, are doing to us. But, especially, all of you are meditators.
Therefore, you don’t have to think about concentration anymore. Or even mindfulness anymore. Those are primary. What I would encourage you to do is use the practice to get into yourself. Go beyond those words [mindfulness and concentration], go beyond those concepts. Just be with yourself. Get into yourself. And see things through your self. Without doing it, what would happen you would hang around on the surface, bouncing around, here and there, looking at yourself outside of yourself. We don’t have to do that anymore. You can look at yourself inside.
The key is meditation. Finding yourself within. Once you find yourself within, then you are slowly starting to clean yourself and building yourself. By knowing this is important for me. By knowing why.
Then, you keep adding things by knowing why. You will stop doing things that you don’t know why. When you don’t know why, that means, ignorance is there. Don’t ever say, “I want to do this, but, I don’t know why.” “I’m doing it but I don’t know why. I’m just doing it.” That is not the sound of a meditator. If you think you want to do something and you don’t know why, just do it but keep your attention. Just observe. Ask, “What am I taking from this?” Then, you will become the person that says, “Oh, this is my anger. I’m doing this with my anger.” Another improvement for the mindful meditator is you will learn how to be friendly with your anger. Not to be friendly with your anger. Be friendly with your anger. Nice to your anger. That is how you can change the mood of anger. Be friendly with your anger, anxiety, or fear. That is the approach of the meditator. Harmonious mindfulness will allow you to see the goodness of the anger.
A simple example. Think of somebody that you don’t like at all. As a meditator, what do you do with that person? As a mindful meditator you will find some goodness in that person. If you cannot find any goodness in this person, then you will go back into their past, “Oh, in the past, this person had this goodness. This person was doing a lot of good things in the past.” Even if you cannot find anything good in the present and you are going back into the past to recognize it. Or, if you cannot find anything in the past or present. Then you can say “Oh, this person has the potential of doing these good things.” You are changing your approach in seeing this person. The same thing can apply with your anger or frustration. But, once you become a fully friend of you anger, it is not there as anger anymore. So, you are changing the picture of that emotion.
Any questions or thoughts?[meditator] It is easy to not be angry with my anger when I don’t have it. [Sathi] Mmm mmm. yes! [laughing] [meditator] But in that case it really is in that moment. And so right now, I feel like, being here, Ah, I’m in a friendly state of mind right now. And this state of mind is just the state of mind I have when I’m angry. and there are two things that I’m hearing. One, don’t make my anger worse by adding to it, like being angry is one thing but, being angry at yourself is another. And, I can see, that when I’m observing that I’m anger, that it can give me a little bit of space, and that I can be really mindful and let a little bit of space where there is a little bit of a room for a question of “Why am I angry?” or, “Where is this anger coming from?”
I don’t know if the friendliness [with anger] begins with a pause, or begins with a question, or with the understanding behind it, or with the whole I think we are going to talk about that friendliness like “Ohh!” Initially it is a fault. But, I don’t know. It is easier to think about it but, if I want to plan for it, practice it, to really turn it on when my mindset is not.[Sathi] We will talk about this in more details next week. But, for today, when you talk about ourself, in the Buddhist teachings, we talk about three layers of this very famous discussion between philosophers. Those three layers are in Pali, mano, viñnana, and chitta. Three concepts. Mano means “self” or you. Viñnana is direct translation “consciousness”. That means who you are, how you think, and your past experiences. Your expectations and all of those. Chitta is a reaction. That is the third step. When you talk about being angry, anxious. All of those things are the reaction. We often ask where does anger come from? Of course, when you come back to yourself you say it comes from inside of you.
But, ordinarily we are thinking, this anger comes from the outside. That is why we want to change the outside. Change the environment. Change the people around you. You think, “This person really makes me angry.” “This thing makes me angry.” You want to change it.
But, with harmonious mindfulness when you notice, “Oh, this makes me angry. Why?” Then, you go back and see that your expectations, or interpretation, or you are past experience, the way you are thinking, all of these things contribute to your reaction. Because you don’t want to see… the reaction comes with anger. When you don’t want to see that you are powerless then you have fear. With the powerful way, anger. So, different reactions.
Where does this happen? It comes from inside of you. Now, is it bothering others? Of course, it is bothering others. But, first it is bothering you. And your peacefulness. Your body is not settled. Your mind is not settled. First it destroys you before it comes out. That makes us uncomfortable. That is why you stop.
You want to change the surroundings to stop it. But, this harmonious mindfulness will allow you to see it clearly. Then, you will have strength to separate yourself. We don’t have that shield, before this harmonious mindfulness.
With this harmonious mindfulness you will have a shield around you so you can know, “This is where I can stop myself from engaging. I cannot control this anymore.”
When you heard about some person’s saying, it makes you angry. Can you stop that person from opening their mouth? No. You can stop. You can stop right here. Not, out there. You have the switch right here, to stop closer to you. And see, recognize that this is out of your control.
That ability, we call, the power of mindfulness. The ability to recognize, when to close yourself and when to open yourself. By knowing this reaction part. That will be a good topic for to discuss next week in more detail. Okay, I think it is time to stop for today and it is good to see all of you.
Recorded on September 7, 2019 at the Mindfulness Center in Chaska, Minnesota.
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