Cultivating Self Respect
Summary: Sathi talks about respecting yourself. It begins with the understanding that your skills and physical self will not last forever. The mindful person recognizes this and uses their abilities with compassion and generosity because if you waste an hour, you can never regain it. This is how you can become a self-respecting person.
Sathi also explains how to learn from your past and move forward by reshaping your lifestyle.
He encourages you to find something new to invest in your life based on compassion and generosity. Commit to doing things outside of yourself.
[Sathi] The success of the meditation practice, and the changes of the meditator, is totally depending on how much you are respecting yourself.
Most of the time, we want others to respect us. We are expecting others to recognize us. To the meditator, it is basically how much you are respecting yourself. This respect comes with a certain background.
One of the basics of this background is that you are understanding the reality of yourself. What is this “reality of yourself”? You have a physical body, which has limited skills. Whatever you can do today is not going to be forever. The ability of your physical body will is impermanent. Strength, beauty, the senses, are impermanent.
The person that respects themselves begins to ask, “How can I best use these limited skills or impermanent powers? How can I use these without misusing or without losing it before I lose it?”
Think about it, sometimes, we keep postponing things that you really want to do. We think: our eyesight is there forever. The ability of our body will last forever. Beauty stays forever. When we have those that physical health, beauty, and strength those things have a capacity to blind you. The person who does not respect themselves will get blinded faster than the people who respect themselves.
Not Respecting Yourself
What happens when they get blinded? They misuse those abilities. They will invest those abilities for something that is wrong. Not for their benefit or not for other’s benefit. They use those abilities to either destroy themselves or destroy others. Others could be destroying nature. Who’s doing that? The people who do not know how to respect themselves.
The reason is, again, that you [can] get blinded by the abilities you have.
Number two, if you get blinded by greed, lust, or anger you may use these skills against yourself. Against your own well being.
This can happen to somebody who does not respect themselves. But, unfortunately, this person wants others to respect him or herself. Expecting respect from outside.
So, what is happening to a person, or, what does a person do when somebody begins to respect themselves.
That person recognizes those things [the skills, senses, beauty] that they have. That person asks, “How can I use these things while I have them? Before I lose them? How can I best use my strength? Health? Youth? Energy? How can I best invest these impermanent things before I lose them?”
Imagine someone that is not using [these abilities] at all. How long will they last? Only a few years. Therefore, someone who respects themself will find how to use these abilities. Not [using them] to destroy yourself or others. [Keeping aware of] the well being of themself as well as the well being of others.
Secondly, the person who respects themself will not have the desire of others respecting them. Because they already have enough respect for themself. That person has become a humble person and does not seek any respect [or approval] from outside. Because they already have as much as they want because they are giving enough respect to themselves.
People always seek respect from others when they do not have respect for themself. People who respect their own self will not seek respect from others. Others cannot hurt them by being disrespectful. It is their weakness. This wise person would not get involved with it.
Only that kind of person can establish meditation. Because that person [is asking] “How can I use this mind to support me? Or how can I allow myself to cultivate this mind for my own well being and the well being of others? How can I become a bigger person? Not for others, but, for myself?”
What is the meaning of bigger? What is contained in that “bigger” person? Instead of anger, compassion will be there. Instead of greed, generosity will be there. Humbleness. All these appreciative qualities will be there. You can support and cultivate it. Your heart will contain those qualities. That person will recognize the value of these things.
That person will see the value of compassion and the de-value of anger. But, what is happening to the person who is not mindful? When another person gets angry you see the devalue. When you get angry, you see the reason. [As an unmindful person] you justify it, “Oh, I had a right to get angry.” That is not the comment of a mindful person. A mindful person would never say, “I have the right to be angry. I have the right to be greedy.”
The mindful person feels shame for those thoughts. Because anger makes a person weak. Greed makes you weak. Anxiety and fear make you weak. When you happen to see it, the mindful person works hard to overcome the power of those qualities. That is the base for the meditator. When you build that base you will begin to respect yourself. When you respect yourself you will respect your own time, your own energy, and your own responsibilities. And, you can see how you are forming your life around those qualities.
Meditation is not just sitting on the cushion. Sitting on the cushion you are gaining the ability that you can apply after you get up from the cushion. The meditator does not find a time when you don’t have to practice mindfulness. You can even fight mindfully. You can argue mindfully. If you happen to be involved in an argument mindfully you will end up not harming others. You’ll end up by not throwing tools and containers toward others. [laughing] Even if you happen to go to a bar mindfully, you will end up by not drinking. [Laughing] because you will mindfully know where you are and get yourself out quickly. Because you are mindful. If you happen to associate with somebody who is angry. You will mindfully not engage with any conversation with that person.
If you are a mindful person you will never have political arguments. You will share your opinion but there is no point in arguing. If you are a mindful person you will never say, “My religion is better than other people’s religion.” There is no point in saying this.
So, check how mindful are you? Whenever you see that you have lost your mindfulness, that is a jewel for the meditator. Because you happen to catch your weakness. “Oh, I lost myself right here. I lost my mindfulness with this situation.” A person who respects themself will never justify their own weakness.
We recognize the weakness as a weakness and then contain it. Not supporting it or not justifying it.
If you are a good friend of another person, don’t ever justify that person’s wrongdoing. If there is no reason for condemning it, keep your mouth shut. Don’t give approval to that. Because, with that approval, your friend will remain to continue that mistake.
That is how this mindful person is going to practice and maintain their mindfulness throughout their life. That brings the respect.
So, learn and expand the respect you have for yourself.
Any questions or any thoughts?
Examples to Practice to Build Self Respect
[Meditator] What are some examples of ways we can start practicing having more respect for ourselves?
[Sathi] One of the basic thing you can do in your day-to-day life, just find out how you are wasting your time. That is one of the major things. We might waste our time with some conversations, with unnecessary or unsupportive TV shows, and some other associations. But, you can find out where you will waste your time.
Number two, find some useless habits you are following. Daily or on a weekly basis. Those are the major ways. So, when you happen to notice those things, then you will see how much you are not respecting yourself by keep doing it by the time that is spent.
Just think, somebody, wasted one hour of today. Now, can you expand for one hour from your death? Can you push your death out another hour? You have limited time to live. [Ask yourself, ] “How am I going to use this time?”
Think about what you are investing in that time. That can be a healthy one hour. A healthy hour is much more beneficial than an unhealthy one. Maybe [you are] somebody that is young, healthy, and strong. You have mindfulness and not having any trouble. How much value can you have in one hour? If you happen to waste it, it is something that you cannot earn again. You completely going to lose it. If you really see the value of that hour, then you will never [waste] it.
But, again, the mindful person will not regret [past actions]. Learn from the past. Learn from your mistakes. Don’t blame your past, “Oh yeah, I was doing that a long time. Bad me.” Then you are only blaming yourself for your past [actions]. That is not the action of a mindful person who respects themself.
What you do, you learn from your past and move forward by reshaping your lifestyle. Habits and the time you are wasting in your life. Those are the two major. And, you’ll be surprised how much time you are wasting every day.
[Meditator] I think a lot of us get comfortable, too comfortable, with the time-wasting, “Oh, I don’t see any consequences today, so why not just….’ Is there any way to push yourself out of that comfort?
[Sathi] Well, the word for that situation we call ignorance. You don’t see anything because you are caught up into it and are justifying it. That is not the mindful way. But, when you have mindfulness you say, “Oh, here is what I am doing.” You can catch yourself.
Really, when you have that moment when you catch yourself, you can really laugh at yourself. Those are the moments you should enjoy very much. Because you caught yourself. Not because someone else is showing you. [But, ] because you see it clearly.
Think about the moment[s] when you justify yourself. When you justify your actions. If you happen to catch yourself, you are going to enjoy that moment very much. Because you can laugh at yourself, “Oh, this is what I was doing. I’m so foolish.” Not somebody else showing you, it is you who is going to see it. Those are the times your life changes.
So, in the present world, we are so caught up with comfort. Anybody who is addicted to anything started with that comfort. Addicted to any simple thing. We become a slave to it. Then, even you lose control. Because you become a slave to the situation. That is why we are bringing these excuses to cover [our addiction] up.
So, looking for comfort is a trap. We trap ourselves.
[Another meditator] I think a good action is by doing something for somebody else.
[Sathi] That’s a good action. Yes.
[The meditator] So, if I’m playing video games all the time, I can turn that around and say, “What can I do with this time?” And then do something for somebody else.
[Sathi] But, this depends on different people. For some people, generosity works. You are using generosity, you are being generous with your time. You are being generous with your knowledge, with some action, and you are enjoying it while you are doing it. That is a good way.
For other people, they base their activities on compassion. You can see some people don’t even think of themselves when they get caught up in it, they will do a lot of social work. Supporting others and investing a lot of time/energy in supporting kids, maybe supporting somebody who needs help.
What is behind this? It can be generosity or compassion. These are the most common. You can find something to do, outside, for others.
I find a lot of people who do voluntary work. But, the meditator is also practicing that commitment. Because, again, with the lack of mindfulness a person is not committed. Let’s say you promise somebody that you will give them a ride. Out of your compassion. But, that [unmindful] person, when something else comes up, “Oh, sorry, I cannot do it.” But, the person who has their own self-respect, respect for their time and commitment. You will make time [in your schedule] and you will do your best.
Generosity is the same way. [The unmindful person may say, “Oh, I lost my job. I can’t do that anymore.”
The generous [mindful] person does not think like that. “This was my commitment. How can I make it?”
You can see the qualities underneath [this behavior]. [As a mindful person] you are maintaining those inner qualities. That makes who you are.
Find something new to invest in your life based on compassion and generosity. Something outside [of yourself]. There are a lot of opportunities you will find around your life. If you can’t find anything just go to a food shelf and support them.
[A meditator] Or, come to my house and shovel snow.
[Sathi] That’s a good idea too!
[Meditator] Come to the Center and shovel snow!
[Sathi] Yes! Which I did this morning.
Okay, I think today we can stop here. It is good to see all of you and hope to see you again.
Recorded on February 10, 2020, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Mankato, Minnesota.
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