Summary: Sathi presents four important qualities that will help change you into a more mindful person.
- Being mindful
- Cultivating joy, love, compassion, and equanimity
Determination[Sathi] Often I talk about qualities which will cultivate, practice meditation, which will help maintain a peacefulness of our mind.
One of the qualities I keep reminding [people of] is determination. When we hear this word, we all think we all know this word. We all think we have it. Except, we don’t have it.
Today I would encourage you to think a little more about determination and think of meditation practice as a mind workout. When you do a physical workout some days, most of you have the energy to do the workout. Some days you don’t have energy at all. If you are doing your meditation at home, every day, some days, you have total support from yourself to practice meditation. But, some days, you feel lazy. Or, you would say, “I’m very tired today.”
Some people don’t come to their weekly meditation class by saying, “Something else is going on. I have a game to watch.” Or, “I have a friend from out of town.” Or, “My family needed me today.” We find excuses.
Just like the excuses we find for our physical workout. Or the excuses we find for anything. Determination is a quality you need when you don’t have support from your inside or outside. The days you have energy, the days you have support, those days you don’t need any determination to practice meditation. You don’t need any determination to do your workout. You have inner support.
When do you need determination? When your mind is seeking an excuse not to do it. The days your body is not supporting you. That is when you need determination. The day you don’t have support from your environment, outside. From your family, the environment, from the weather, that is the day you need determination.
When you have determination, it will tell you how much you are committed. That commitment is needed for that internal achievements. We are not just maintaining our weaknesses or status of mind. With your meditation, peacefulness, you want to cultivate, achieve it more. Compassion, you want to achieve and you want to cultivate it more. Anger, frustration, and all the weaknesses, you want to remove from yourself.
In order to reshape yourself, you have to do things with extra effort. If you are expecting to see any changes in your body by maintaining the same lifestyle, that won’t happen until you become sick. Unless you become sick, that won’t happen naturally.
If you are expecting a change, you have to change something from your routine or from your daily activity. Without the change, the change will not happen. That is the reason we are talking about cultivating determination. As a meditator, continuously think about it. Find a way to cultivate this inner quality of determinations. Whenever you find that you are engaging with excuses, and they can be reasonable excuses, which everybody else will agree with. [But, ] those are judgments that come from the mainstream. As a meditator, you are practicing to go against the mainstream.
If you are organizing a party, I’m sure you will have many people. Even some people will complain if you forget to invite them to come. Even if they don’t complain they will have some unhappiness because they didn’t get the invitation.
Meditation is mostly a place that mostly nobody will support you to do. Rarely your family will do it, but, even though they like it they will say, “Let’s do it next week. You can do it next time.” That is how I mind would suggest, how others would suggest. Therefore, check with your determination whenever you get challenged or tested. Look, this is the time I need determination.
The second quality I have often mentioned is established virtues or the disciplined self. Most of you, now coming to this Monday night meditation class, where you have your regular weekly meditation.
When you have introduced that as part of your discipline, you are rooting. The strength of that disciplined person is that you are maintaining that discipline no matter what happens.
If you have certain routines in the morning after you wake up. After you get up and settled, you have your breakfast. If you happen to miss your breakfast, what happens? You will have an unsettled day. At first, why have we introduced such a way of discipline [routines]? Because we have found that this is the best for yourself.
The other part of this quality is that you are mindfully reshaping your lifestyle. Your discipline, your way of behavior. By knowing this is beneficial for me and this is not beneficial for me. When you happen to find something that is not friendly to you, you are mindfully making an effort to change it. When you happen to see something that really supports you and is beneficial, then you are preferred [not to] change it. That is how we are introducing the discipline. Once when you have introduced disciplines, you are trying to maintain them with full effort. That is the second quality that we often talk about which meditators need to maintain.
The third quality I often talk about is being mindful. Being mindful of your surroundings. Now, let us go a little beyond. Mindful of surroundings means you are mindful of what is happening to you.
Day by day you are losing what you have. Which we don’t want to think about. For the meditator, the mindful person, we call it wisdom. It is a good thing to know, the real story. What is happening to me? You age, beauty, strength, energy, abilities, and even the ability of your body. Your eyes, ears, are losing their sharpness.
Most of you who are over 40 know about this situation [laughing]. Most of you who are not 40 they think, “Oh, what is he talking about?” [Laughing] Wait, you will see. Your hair, beauty. All of those [things] we are losing. But, as a mindful person, you are happy to know that this is what I have. How can I use this while I have it? Not wasting it? How can I use this energy wisely to bring something good to me and the world? Not in a harmful way to myself or others?
Your skill of thinking, your ability to apply your thinking and your skills, how can I apply this? This is your mindfulness. You are mindfully aware of what you have. Then, you mindfully apply them to your own benefit and the benefit of others.
Remember to use those things while you have them. If you don’t use it well, then, later you will have regret. Use it properly while you can. As a meditator, you are mindfully aware, “This is when I can.”
As an example, when a meditator comes to me, “Can I not come today for meditation.” Or, “I can’t come to this retreat this time. I will come next time.” I don’t say, “Okay.” to them when they say [these things]. Often, if they are very friendly to me I will say, “It is okay to postpone it only if it is okay for you to postpone your death. If you can postpone your aging.” Because what happens, most of us know already, when your body ages your physical body cannot handle certain things. By the time it is too late to have some experiences. That’s why the meditator [needs to be] mindful. Mindful of the surroundings.
Meditators are not practicing to run away from life. You are being aware of what is happening. Then, you are managing to bring yourself to where you are simply by bringing yourself into the present. When you are meditating, you are trying to meditate. When you are eating, you are mindfully eating. While you are doing dishes, you are mindfully doing dishes. While you are having chat, you are mindfully maintaining the chat with your friends. While you are watching TV, you are watching TV. Not watching TV while you are eating food, or not [laughing] eating food while you are watching TV.
You have to think about what you are doing. Sometimes people don’t do either, while they are watching TV you are eating food but if somebody asks, “What did you eat?” maybe you don’t know how to answer. If somebody asks, “What happened in that show?” [You may answer, ] “Oh, I don’t know, I was just watching it.”
Be mindful. Maintain your mindfulness. That is a skill you are maintaining. Then, when you come to meditation, you manage to keep yourself there totally.
That’s the third quality.
Cultivate Joy, Love, Compassion, and Equanimity
The fourth quality is to cultivate yourself in society with joyfulness and happiness.
As an example, when you are recognizing other people, and people around you, you are trying to bring the uniqueness of yourself by supporting to cultivating joy, love, compassion, and equanimity. You are supporting yourself to cultivate those qualities.
Whenever you happen to have a challenge from others… just think about this: anger is contagious. Frustration is contagious. All those negative qualities are contagious. Not only negative qualities, [but] positive qualities are also contagious. But, you have to have strong senses to recognize it.
We often say that the positive qualities are part of immunity. Compassion would be understood by people who are compassionate. Generosity is understood by people who are generous. People who don’t understand compassion will say, “They are fools. Why do they do that?” They don’t understand it. They don’t have the sense to recognize it.
Joyfulness? Some people will die without recognizing it.
Those are the qualities only experienced by higher minded people. You have to have the spirituality inside to access those. We call it updated human beings.
When we cultivate ourselves, we begin to experience those. Remember, if you are talking about all these positive, higher qualities, you will not experience unhappiness. You will not experience unhappiness through compassion. You will not experience unhappiness through joyfulness nor generosity.
When you are practicing those it will bring happiness or joyfulness or more settledness. Those are the four qualities we are supporting and cultivating and generating with our meditation practice. These help us to deepen ourselves with a strong settledness and calmness. Simply called peacefulness. Peacefulness is something you can achieve. It is not something that will come to you automatically.
Nobody will have peacefulness automatically. You have to achieve that state of mind. Joyfulness is a state of mind you have to achieve. True happiness is a state of mind you have to achieve. You cannot earn it. You cannot buy it.
So, as a mediator, we are making an environment to cultivate. I encourage you to check [in] with yourself once in a while. How is my generosity going? How is my compassion? How many things have I done in the last week or the last month?
Check with your mind. How is my mind now? Be aware of it.
All of those things you can do once you work with your basics. Therefore, check your basics more often. Determination, discipline, mindfulness, and the ability of your mind will come after.
So, my New Year wish [to you] is Happy New Year. May you be able to check yourself more often and may you be able to cultivate those qualities during this year.
Recorded on January 6, 2020 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Mankato, Minnesota.
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