Most people are merely “skilled.” To be “skillful” is something quite different. Skillful is what is good for one and also good for all. This is also the main difference between a fighter and a warrior: A fighter is skilled; a warrior is skillful.

Hence, the Buddha’s use of the word, samma sati, “right” mindfulness.[1] Not just mindfulness, but right mindfulness. A sniper is also mindful and focused; but sniper’s mindfulness will not pass the Buddha’s test of “right” mindfulness.

The Gītā defines yoga in the same manner: Yoga is skillfulness in action योगः कर्मसु कौशलम् (2.50). Earlier in 2.48, the Gita had defined yoga as samatā, “equanimity:” समत्वं योग उच्यते.

After all, mindfulness is nothing if not equanimous. The exact parallel between “samma” of samma sati and “samatā” of the Gītā is noteworthy.

Skillfulness has a moral valence–right in the right measure. It is just right. It is right in the dual sense: it is equanimous and non-harming. Since it is equanimous, it is also non-harming.

Only such right mindfulness can harbor “peaceful co-existence of all species.”

The ultimate fulfillment of human life lies in making it worthy for Self-Knowledge/Realization. Accordingly, the usefulness of an idea, an ideology or a book depends upon how far it succeeds in helping us attain this supreme goal. The rest is spiritual entertainment or spiritual tourism.

[1] Right Mindfulness is the seventh of the eight path factors in the Noble Eightfold Path, and belongs to the concentration division of the path. See: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-sati/index.html

 

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