I wanted to share parts of an article that I read in Tricycle back in Fall 2013. I picked up the old magazine and had bookmarked it. It was written by Andrew Olendzski, a PhD scholar at the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies.
Olendzski starts out by talking about mind moments, or how many experiences the human mind processes at given points in time. Of course this is a variable, since we sometimes process things really fast or really slow, and our amount of sleep can affect the numbers.. but roughly the human mind processes:
6 moments of cognition per second;
360 a minute;
21,600 per hour;
about 356,400 mind moments processed a day;
about 10 billion moments over a lifetime!
If you figure there are roughly 7 billion people in the world, about 2.5 trillion mind moments are processed across the globe per minute… the author points out that the exact number doesn't matter, the fact that it exists and is so large is astounding.
So what does this mean aside from the obvious? According to some traditional Buddhist theories, it makes Nirvana and Enlightenment a case of math- if you have more skillfully, wholesomely used mind moments in your life than negative, your rebirth is better. If you have negative mind moments, it's worse. An Arahat uses each moment wholesomely.
The Buddha is attributed to saying in the Samyutta Nikaya (47:19) "Looking after oneself, one looks after others; looking after others, one looks after oneself."
When we work on our thoughts, and we work on our moments and reactions, we are doing a greater good. We create a positive environment for others to enter and be awakened/inspired/safe. Sometimes negative events can inspire a great outpouring of compassion and love and goodness. If we gradually purify our thoughts and actions, it helps the collective human experience.
This isn't really anything new, just a new perspective for me to look at it through. For instance, at multiple points today I heard people complain about things, to the effect of "well, there goes my day… it's all downhill from here." Is that really necessary? Most negative experiences are actually short lived, at least the day to day ones- it's how our mind grabs onto them and processes them that lingers. That goes back to the book Buddha's Brain, about how neurons fire and get trapped in habitual cycles that actually carve paths into our brain.. People take negative experiences and sometimes let them linger due to habit. But really, can't we use the remaining 300,000 mind moments of the day positively? I've tried to be aware of this since I read Buddha's Brain a few years ago, and I've become more aware when other people hold on spirals of that sort (and I still do too, of course, more than I should- work in progress.)
Anyways, we have a finite number of mind moments, but that number is astronomically huge.. think of how amazing it would be to use every moment skillfully! I know it blows my mind
Sorry for the long silence on my part. Hope everyone is well!