Summary: The Metta Meditation Practice contains the phrase
May all living being be well, happy, skillful, and peaceful. Sathi explains what the term “skillful” means in this context.
If you see a fire outside, then you need to find a solution for outside. Not inside where there is no fire. What is happening is we bring the fire that is outside into ourselves. Then we struggle. A skillful person will not do this.
Being skillful means that even if the situation is angry, do not become angry. Remain who you are. Even if the situation causes sadness. Remain as who you are without losing yourself into sadness. Even if the situation is causing frustration. Remain who you are without losing yourself into frustration. That is the way of living for a skillful person.
[Meditator] Can you talk through what skillful means in the Metta Meditation? [Sathi] I hope everybody heard the question. Skillfulness means [as used in the Metta Meditation] Normally when we hear this word, we just hear the skills that you have regarding your work or career. Or some other skills that you have that others don’t have.
As a meditator, with a focus on the Buddhist practice, it is about becoming a skillful one. This is skillful one is different than other skills we talk about in everyday life.
Let me explain this. Often we use the term maturity, mature. Hmmm? When you talk about a kids the way of behavior of kids and mature people are two different behaviors. What do you expect from a mature person? You are expecting from a mature person not to respond or react as a kid. When an adult acts like a kid you would say, “Oh, something is wrong with this person. It is not normal.” And then you are encouraging that person to be an adult. Now, a skillful one will go beyond that. But, it will start from right there. which is, when you become a skillful one, you are able to handle things better than others and also you will not lose yourself due to others reactions. A skillful one can handle their own self.
A mature person can handle their own self than an immature person. Kids will say anything. But, a mature person will not say things to the wrong person. In front of neighbors, you behave well. But kids don’t know how to behave in front of neighbors sometimes. You will know what to tell and what not to tell in front of neighbors and strangers. We consider that as an action or behavior of a mature person. A mature person can handle, and not react. So, let’s come back to meditation. Or how we become this skillful one through meditation. The base is that as this mindful person you are training to see things as they are. [You can] Recognize what is happening rather than seeing experiences through your emotions or expectations. When you are able to see things as they are, you will not react. But, you will respond at the right time in the perfect way. That is what you will do as a mentally mature one in your practice.
If I going beyond with another example, just imagine when you happen to be angry or when you happen to be anxious or when you happen to react with fear. We normalize that feeling by thinking, “Well, you have to be angry because of the situation.” You will think you have the right to be angry. It’s okay to be anxious due to the situation. But, what can your anger or anxiety do? What can your fear do? When you are attacked by your fear, anger, or anxiety, you will lose yourself. You will lose your peace of mind. Thereafter, you won’t be able to respond. You will react. Now, this is the nature of an unskillful person.
When you talk about the Metta Meditation, we say can you remain as a calm person even when the situation is angry. Even if the situation makes you angry, can you remain as who you are, as a calm person? That is the action of the skillful one. We think that there is no situation to be angry, then no. If there is no situation for being angry, then you don’t need any special skill not to be angry. If there is no situation for fear, then you don’t need the skills to know fear. But, you have to have skills to face into those situations.
As a skillful person, even a situation causes you to be angry, as a skillful person you will not become angry. When you happen to see something on TV that really makes you scared, the skillful person will not be scared. Unfortunately you will not be able to enjoy horror movies hereafter, [laughing] because you know that it is a movie and there is a huge crew behind it and that is a story they are creating and you are seeing it as a creation. You will not be into the story.
So, I don’t want to ruin your movies [laughing], but here is the situation, how can you become this skillful one? We are justifying our emotions. We are justifying our feelings. While you are justifying your feelings and emotions you are supporting yourself to maintain those weaknesses with you. With wisdom, you are realizing it. You are cultivating wisdom to see it.
To recognize, “Okay, this is my weakness.” The wonderful thing with this skill is that you are happy to see your weakness. Most of the time we don’t want to see our weakness. We are defensive. We are saying, “No, I’m not.” But, for this one wise person, we are happy to see it. “Oh yes, this is my weakness.” Now, once when you see it. Now once that you see it you will want to overcome it. You will want to get rid of that weakness. Then, you will take action. When you have frustration, you will not bury yourself in that frustration.
An unskillful person will justify the frustration and will bury themselves in it. But, a skillful person, when you see your frustration, you will see frustration as frustration. Then, you will find yourself saying, “Being here is not healthy for me.” What is happening? When you say, “I have a right to be angry.” You are saying you are weaker than the situation. “I cannot maintain myself as who I am with this type of situation. This situation is bigger than me.” When you become a skillful person everything that is happening around you is going to be smaller than you. You will not lose yourself.
Going beyond, you are going to apply this wisdom and this skill with others. When somebody happens to do something wrong, if you think that person should be perfect and not do such a thing, you can think, “How foolish am I?” But when those people cannot act as you expect them to act, when they cannot perform up to your standards, then you will know, “Oh, they are not up to my standards.” You will have compassion instead of anger. But, if you think that they should be perfect and should not act in such a way, then you lose yourself. You will become angry and you will think, “They should not do such a thing.” But, if you think, “They are not as smart or skillful as I thought.” then you will not lose yourself through other’s mistakes.
Just imagine having a kid who is screaming at you and throwing things you will not respond. You will treat him or her as a kid. This person will see kids in adult bodies. When adults act like kids. When adults scream, when they respond, when they lose themselves this is a child’s behavior in an adult body. You will not lose yourself over this. This is the behavior of the skillful one.
Going a little further… with these skills you will keep shaping yourself. You will keep re-shaping yourself into this well, mature person. In the Buddhist practice and teaching we talk about the Awakened One. We commonly use the term Enlightened One. I would say that’s the wrong English word. I would say Awakened One. Awakened One means That means the fully matured person. Once you become fully matured, nothing can change you. No one can change you or your peace of mind. Nothing will go beyond you. That is the meaning of it. With your practice and your training, you are cultivating these skills and you will become a skillful one
moment by moment.
Check yourself from time to time. Check yourself with your responsive. You will find the way you are reacting to certain experiences in your life. With your family. With other people. You can really check in with yourself. If you happen to know some people as foolish ones, I’m sure you would not react as you used to. They don’t know. Most people, they don’t know. They may see an innocent one in many people. And you will laugh at yourself. These poor people don’t know that they are suffering. People are suffering without knowing.
Just think, when somebody is angry that person is really burdening themselves. They are living in a fire. They are suffering. They are living in pain. But, why do you feel more pain by adding more fuel to that fire. That is the action of an unskillful one. Once you become a skillful one you will try to stay away from the fire. You will not get burned by it.[Meditator] One more question. You mentioned that being skillful when other persons are doing that wrong [inaudible] But, can we [inaudible] in meditation you mentioned that [inaudible] [inaudible] So, if you know that one person [inaudible] [Sathi] Thank you for the question. It is a good question. Just think about the way you handle a kid. When a kid is doing something wrong, or even doing something harmful to their own self. What would you do as an adult. you will do certain things to protect that kid. If you say, “Oh, I don’t care what they do.” Maybe the kid would go into danger. Or harm themselves. So, the skillful person won’t stay away from society at all. You will engage. But, you will engage in a wise way. That is the action of the skillful person. You will find the best way to engage in the situation and [determine] how you can protect that person. At the same time, a mature adult will not lose and sometime when adults will scream and cry, that is not the action of a mature one.
A mature one will know how to handle the situation and how to protect this child from this danger. You will do exactly the same way with other situations. You will know exactly what to say, at the right time. When and how, and you will do it. Sometimes your best moment is to be silent and you will come back at the right time to address the situation in the right way. Especially, you will not do that for you. That is the important thing. Sometimes we want to talk to other people because we get hurt. It is because of your feelings. But, it is not about you.
If you see a fire outside, then you need to find a solution for outside. Not somewhere where there is no fire. What is happening to us is we bring the fire that is outside into ourselves. Then we struggle. That is our struggle. A skillful person will not do this. Any other thoughts or questions?[meditator] Another aspect of seeing someone as unskillful or immature, there is a real danger there. I think the danger is that I will come to think that I am better than them. [Sathi laughing] Ah ha [Meditator] Just going beyond that. That’s reaction. That’s something I didn’t even think about assume it without thought I think that. We talked a couple weeks ago about cultivating humility, the danger of pride, and that is a very real risk. “Who do I think I am? that I’m any better than that?” It reminds me of a country song “I used to be an angel. Now, I’m like everyone else, I left my halo in the gutter, my wings on the shelf.” [Laughing] You know, that’s something to watch for. Bob Dylan wrote a line too, in a song, “We killed John Kennedy when after all it was you and me.” [Sathi] Thank you. Thank you for bringing this up. This is a special quality of this skillful one. When you practice it you can think about this. Being humble. When you are not humble that trouble will be there. If you are humble, then as a humble person you will not engage in ego by comparing others by thinking I am better than them or I am lower than them. If you are not humble. You will either put yourself underneath others or, most of the time, you will put yourself above others. I am better than them.
I have seen this at the meditation classes. People say, “I am practicing meditation a few years. Are you young? I am better than you. I can sit better than you.” So, I am a good meditator [laughs]. We encourage people to not judge yourself in that way. Those are not good thinking you are better or lower than others. That has to be part of your practice: being humble. When you have this practice in your, you will not have that challenge. But, thank you for bringing this up. This can easily happen to us. If you happen to have this ego, then you will become blind, and not see what is happening. You will live in your head. Others will see you as living on another galaxy.[Meditator] Just last comment. I heard a story about a school or some teachers that wanted to integrate mediation into their classroom and they raised a whole bunch of, get ready… religious objections. And, you can imagine what those might of various sides. It reminded me of the saying, “I do believe.” That is, that you use what you learn from Buddhism and meditation, not to become a Buddhist, but to become a better of whatever you are. That is the value of meditation. That’s the value of Buddhism, of whatever it is. Whatever religious practice you have or don’t have meditation still helps. [Sathi] Yes. This skillfulness will become the skillfulness of the Society. Society is maturing too. Just think about a hundred years ago, or even two hundred years ago, there were we. Now we are here. Imagine the next 50 years. Next 100. In 800 years those people will look at all of us as fools. Just as we look at the people being skillful one.
I will repeat again. Even if the situation is angry remain not to be angry. Remain who you are. Even if the situation is sadness. Remain as who you are without losing yourself into sadness. Even if the situation is causing frustration. Remain who you are without losing yourself into frustration. That is the way of living for a skillful person.
Thank you very much for being here. It is good seeing all of you.
Recorded on September 1, 2019 at the Meditation Center in Chaska, Minnesota.
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