2022-12-27 Ready to Change (2 of 5) Softness, Malleable, and Workable
6:51PM Jan 1, 2023
So, hello and to the second talk on these five wholesome states, of receptivity of softness, these are five areas of inspiration, that are considered wholesome mental states, to develop to evoke. And, and these are the kind of focus of states which are self protecting, meaning that as we cultivate these, they protect us from the opposite. So, yesterday that theme was a readiness or receptivity, that, if we try too hard to be ready strain or something to be receptive, we actually diminish the receptivity, the readiness, the readiness has to have within it, a kind of letting go of a certain kind of straining and tense unwholesome effort. So, today, the topic is the wholesome state that are really helpful for this process of the practice, even listening to the dharma, preparing ourselves for the deepening today's wholesome state is malleability. Sometimes the word is sometimes it's translated as soft. So, becoming the, the, the, the beeswax become soft enough that it can be made into something shaped into something. And I love telling the story. So, some of you have heard it many times, so I apologize. But the, when my son was in kindergarten, once a week, they would make little animals with beeswax, and the beeswax that they were going to use was up on the shelf. And when they went to get it, it was always very hard. And you couldn't really shape it. And they were instructed to hold it in the palms of both hands and have to hold the beeswax between the two hands. And then the teacher would proceed to tell the story. And by the time the story was finished, the beeswax was soft enough for them to malleable enough to, to make into something beautiful little animal. So same with our mind, if we can hold it in the embrace of awareness of mindfulness, without reacting without forcing, without doing but just really stay there. The whole being will begin to relax, the mind will beginning to relax and relaxing the body is a way of softening the mind. So it's very important not to undervalue, the relaxed body undervalue relaxation itself, we want to become acutely sensitive in this practice, to tension to strain to any kind of stress involved in how we practice. So it can be relaxed and soft, but not so relaxed, that we fall asleep or that we are become kind of complacent. There is a kind of wonderful balance between being upright, being alert, physically and mentally. And letting that alertness relax, letting that kind of soften not collapse, but kind of settle deeply and but staying alert. And so one of those qualities of this kind of wholesome mind is a malleability, softness. It's sometimes often in the Buddha's teachings, it's paired up with a word that means workability, sometimes translated as a weakness, but the ability to make something with the mind the word the words come from the word come to make. And, and so there's a time and meditation practice when the mind is so it's ready, peaceful. We're so present with here, and there's a feeling or now I can start kind of plying my attention with more freedom with more ease. It's not a struggle, there's not preoccupation, you know, are the strong tendencies to be caught up in thought. Now I'm really here. And with cause I'm here, there's a the mind the attention the awareness, has a a wheel DNS, its workability it can be applied it can be engaged there some kind of way in which the whole mind becomes malleable. And the example I like for this malleability is, in my early years being a Zen student, we would sit in a very particular kind of posture, very upright, very straight. And, and very balanced posture, kind of a yogic posture almost. And we got up very early in the morning, sometimes, like, four 430, in the morning, were awake in the monastery, and we went to bed at maybe nine o'clock. So, you know, I people were often tired. And, but there was a custom of teachers to walk around and adjust people's postures during meditation, you know, just make the case, it wasn't just lined up, it was leaning or slouching or something. And, and we would be, you know, the teachers would come from behind, we were sitting. And what they would do is gently put their hands on the back of our shoulder, one shoulder, just to let us know they were there. And then they would proceed with both hands to kind of chill usually from the back the shoulders or the back, to adjust it. And all done silently during meditation. And there was an interesting phenomena that if I was preoccupied in my thoughts during meditation, and I felt that hand on my shoulder, I would startle. And it was like a physical startle reflex. But if I was really present, I was not preoccupied in thoughts, then it would still be just a surprise to feel the hand on my shoulder, I wasn't expecting it, I didn't just come out of the blue, but it would touch my shoulder. And immediately my whole body would become softer, and receptive. And it would be this kind of softness, that they're just like, almost like I was already soft, and just ready to kind of flow and move with it, whatever movement the teacher wanted to put on me. So I learned from that the impact of being preoccupied that when I'm preoccupied in thought and concerns that I don't become so fluid, so flexible, I become inflexible, I come fragile, I become startle. And so to learn to, to not be preoccupied, is a very important part of this process. And it helps by taking time not to dismiss being preoccupied and caught up in thought, but rather to see it as a valid area to be mindful of, to when you do feel yourself really caught up in thoughts and ideas is to start feeling the mind feeling the body to feel how it might be tight, how it might be tense, how it might be assertive, or there's pressure in it, or stress in it. All these things that kind of would be not malleable, not soft, it's kind of that thing that something is hard. And get to know that because if you know it, that's like taking the beeswax off the shelf, and holding it in your hand. So take the hardness of the mind and attention the pressure and don't make it a problem. But make it something that you are willing to kind of hold with warmth, with kindness with receptivity with. The very thing we're trying to develop this malleability this workability of this receptivity, see if you can bring that to places in your mind where you're not that way. See if that will soften it. If it's easy enough to relax it, relax. Many people will meditators will learn to let go of thoughts without learning to relax or soften the underlying pressure to think and so you can let go of thoughts all your wish. And that pressure will just pump out more thoughts. So take time to soften and begin to appreciate then the softer mind the receptive mind the malleable mind, the mind that something surprising happens. And it's the mind is not stunned or shocked or or frozen. It's like the mind can just go with whatever's happening. Oh, okay. Like that. You know, I think that certain activities we do like maybe sports or playing music or maybe taking a walk in nature, being outdoors
within a reasonable reasonable way. There's there's a way in which new things arise and it can be easily folded in and in including this malleable, wieldy, soft, receptive mind. And it just kind of included as part of the whole. So this cultivating and developing and appreciating a soft mind, a malleable mind, a wheel the mind a workable mind. And to know that this is a radical difference between a hard mind and a soft mind and unreceptive mind and a receptive mind, a, and be inspired by the possibility of a soft mind and malleable mind workable mind. Attention awareness, which has that quality awareness that maybe is like mine, maybe a little bit like soft butter, and whatever happens just like a knife going through soft butter, just you know, pressures needed. Or maybe as your hand moves through water, the water doesn't really offer much resistance. And it just there kind of too softly there's softness in water to let the hand move through. So in the same way, the awareness in the mind, let that be soft for things to happen and occur. Being ready for anything surprised by nothing. Just kind of available. And, and part of the theme for this week is that these are states of inspiration, something that's beautiful qualities of mine, that So is there some way that you can be inspired by these, the softness, some ways you can cultivate it, some appreciate it. So I'd like to propose for homework today that that all of you assume that into some degree, you can evoke a softer mind than you have in any given moment. You can make it more malleable, softer, more receptive, and take some times through the day to make it so don't think it's dramatic. But what it requires is pausing. It requires taking some time to do this. And I know for some of you taking time to do something like this is very expensive, at the release interrupts the efficiency of doing a lot of things and doing the things that you're under pressure to do. But I think it's well worth the investment, to take the time, quality time, to just even if it's just like two minutes to see if you could kind of soften the mind some and, and get a sense and feel that even small movements in that direction. Because in the long run, we we live our lives much more effectively with this soft, malleable mind that's receptive and it's a more creative mind. And so I hope that this is something you can have some feel for and some ability to tap into. And this would be a great day to do it. So thank you very much.