A Pali word, from the Buddhist Theravada tradition of Thailand, “sati”. It is the quality of being present with everything. This sense of reception is not a passive one, nor is it our hum drum sense of awareness, but a simple, clear seeing what is. The immediacy of being. Rather than distancing yourself from reality, it s more a way of reclaiming one’s aliveness and essence without all the drama and chaos that most of us live in. Sati also has the quality of remembering. It comes from the verb “sarati” – to remember, and implies a breadth of mind that can be with what is, with ease, and in that way find it natural to remember those moments we experience with ease. Sati also implies that we move into our experiences of dis-ease, of discomfort, a radical acceptance to whatever arises (and what shall pass away). In Theravada, sati is compared to climbing a tower, this image of detached observation from a great height; I like the image from the Dvedhavitaka Sutta of the cowherd who watches over his cows closley to prevent them from straying from the fields where the crops were ripe. Once the crop was harvested, he could simply relax sit under a tree, and watch over them from a distance. This feeling of quiet watching, ready to take action if needed, but in the pause is sati. Bringing this quality into the practice on the mat might mean an acknowledgment of tight groins, or low back pain, a mind that struggles to stay present. In this, a seeing clearly what is, and rather than be carried on the current of self-criticism, our story line around groins, backs, our mind, our pain, we pause and breathe, we watch carefully. We can also be present to the artful movement of body, the sense of being connected with ourselves and all that is, the remembering of ease, and our willingness to participate fully. ~ (excerpts from Mary Paffard and Kim Wagaman)
Consider the quality of sati and our considerations of death. A practice in savasana last week and this week.
From the Tao Te Ching
Knowing others is intelligence;
knowing yourself is true wisdom.
Mastering others is strength;
mastering yourself is true power.
If you realize that you have enough,
you are truly rich.
If you stay at the center
and embrace death with your whole heart,
you will endure forever.
~ Lau Tsu