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Thread: QUESTION FOR JUNDO

  1. #1

    QUESTION FOR JUNDO

    First let me apologize for asking something that I view as irrelevant and inconsequential. I just cannot resist the intellectual curiosity. While a historic zen master could show me the finger (not necessarily the index), I'm kind of hoping that you could help me approach this question: is the theory that everything disappears and reappears every instant just a metaphor, a sort of allegory? If the point of such theory is just that each instant is in some form separate from each other and that we are free to act in each instant, I get it. If the explanation is just something closer to reality than our cultural concept of time, I get it. I just can't buy that anything disappears and then pops up every moment; and I believe that any belief in such thing is just a belief, and that we could not possibly know that for sure.

    I think it's abusive to burden a teacher with questions that have no real impact on practice/life itself, but maybe I'm wrong and my curiosity is indeed a manifestation of bodhicitta and understanding such a far fetched theory could help my practice. After all, you helped me understand how I've always believed in Santa Claus, even though I couldn't explain it. Thanks

    Gassho

  2. #2

    Re: QUESTION FOR JUNDO

    Quote Originally Posted by HezB
    How fast can you blink? :lol:

    Regards,

    H.


    Not to pull us off topic because Alberto's question is a good one . . . our ideas about time are closely related.

    from Beck's Paper Tiger:
    We're just holding on to nothing
    To see how long nothing lasts


    From one of my songs:
    A moment lasts forever
    a moment goes real fast
    One moment you feel better
    one moment your the last
    A moment can stand still
    a moment can pass you by
    This moment you can feel
    this moment if you try
    A moment is a long, long time


    http://www.billswann.com/audio/BILL_SWANN-A_Moment.m3u

    From Einstein:
    ‘When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute. But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute – and it’s longer than any hour. That’s relativity.’

    Sorry for pulling us off topic a bit (Harry made me do it). :wink:
    Bill

  3. #3

    Re: QUESTION FOR JUNDO

    Quote Originally Posted by Alberto
    First let me apologize for asking something that I view as irrelevant and inconsequential. I just cannot resist the intellectual curiosity. While a historic zen master could show me the finger (not necessarily the index), I'm kind of hoping that you could help me approach this question: is the theory that everything disappears and reappears every instant just a metaphor, a sort of allegory? If the point of such theory is just that each instant is in some form separate from each other and that we are free to act in each instant, I get it. If the explanation is just something closer to reality than our cultural concept of time, I get it. I just can't buy that anything disappears and then pops up every moment; and I believe that any belief in such thing is just a belief, and that we could not possibly know that for sure.

    I think it's abusive to burden a teacher with questions that have no real impact on practice/life itself, but maybe I'm wrong and my curiosity is indeed a manifestation of bodhicitta and understanding such a far fetched theory could help my practice. After all, you helped me understand how I've always believed in Santa Claus, even though I couldn't explain it. Thanks

    Gassho
    Hi Alberto,

    Actually, your question is very important to Buddhist Practice, and "time" is one of the big topics for Buddhist philosophers such as Dogen.

    The "Alberto" who is reading this message now is not the same "Alberto" who wrote me a question, or even the same "Alberto" of an instant ago. There is constant change, and "Alberto" is constantly changing such that we might say that there is ever a new "Alberto" being born and passing away. The same for all other phenomena in the universe. Why is it important to learn to see things in this way?

    Well, first, as a medicine for the stubborn belief that "Alberto" is a fixed, separate "self", and that all other phenomena are steady, isolated "selfs". In Buddhism, Alberto's "self" bumping and banging into all the other "selfs" is a main cause of suffering in life. But to the extent that we can see through this "self" and all the "selfs", there is nothing to bump. Thus, Buddhism teaches that "Alberto" is something of an illusion created by the brain developing a "self" image based on sense data, and delineating a border (e.g., at the skin line) where "Alberto" begins and ends, and also the brain's pulling together instants of time into a sense of continuity, e.g., "Alberto" is a permanent, fixed thing. (I am listening to the Jill Bolte Taylor interviews, and her stroke made her lose that border and sense of "self"). You know, I once had a geologist explain to me that, if you did time lapse photography, even a stone mountain is a flowing liquid ... that the rocks, over thousands of years, are literally melting with gravity, like a Sundae on a hot day. So, even mountains are in constant change.

    So, first, we are trying to drop, in whole or part, this idea of a fixed, rigid, separate "self" bumping into other separate "selfs".

    Next, one other important perspective of Buddhism is that, since all things are "change", we should learn to flow with that change and not resist it. So often, we resist change ... our getting sick, our getting older, our house burning down, etc. We want everything to "last" (at least, we want the stuff we like to "last"). Buddhism teaches that nothing lasts, but that impermanence is NOT a problem ... unless we make it a problem in our reaction to it. So, seeing yourself as constantly changing is a step toward that acceptance of change.

    To return to your question, are all these perspectives "just a metaphor, a sort of allegory?" Well, I think they are just as real as our daily view of watching the clock and calendar, seeing the days and years pass, seeing time and life as "long" or "short", well spent or "wasted", seeing things change and resisting that fact, thinking that "Alberto" now is the same "Alberto" as in 1980, etc. Those views are perhaps much more arbitrary and artificial.

    Now Master Dogen added some other twists on Buddhist time. These are some of the "simultaneously true" yet seemingly conflicting perspectives I often talk about. Thus, Master Dogen said that, although each moment is ephemeral, constantly born and fading away, also it is perfectly what it is and self-sufficient (and each "Self", although a dream, is perfectly real too and self sufficient). So, for example, Master Dogen might teach us to witness our house burning down in this way: The house before burning was perfectly the unburned house, perfectly what it is with nothing to add or take away. The house on fire is perfectly on fire. The house reduced to ash is perfect a house of ash, with nothing to add or take away. It is another way to embrace both "change" and the completeness of each moment. Thus we embrace change in this way too.

    I once described Dogen's perspectives on time in a post ...

    As to Dogen's conception of Being-Time. I can give that to you in a nutshell. ... Here is my quick version. It helps to realize that Dogen was always proposing Reality from several perspectives at once, some seemingly contradictory (X exists, X does not exist), but just different vantage points, each true in its way:

    So, we usually think that time flows past to present to future, and that events over 'here' and 'now' are not events over 'there' and 'then'. Well, that is true in its way. But Dogen also pointed out that the past is just a memory of the mind (it was, after all, just the 'present' back then), and the future is just a dream of the mind (what future has there been yet?). In that way, 'past' and 'future' are just dreams. So, without there truly being a 'past' or 'future', what need have we even for the word 'present' (which only exists as a concept in contrast to what is -not- the present)? If we compare it a little to a 'river', it is a little like saying that there is no 'upstream' or 'downstream' or 'here' to the river, if we just see it all as a single 'just-the-river'.

    And because every place on the river is 'just the river', every drop of the river is 'just the river', everything happens SIMULTANEOUSLY! Both the top and bottom of the river are present simultaneously and are one. Because everything that is of the river is just the river, everything that happens 'here' happens 'here' 'there' and 'everywhere' too. (I don't like overly connecting modern physics to Dogen, but there are parallels: For example, we think of the 'Big Bang' as something that happened in the past, but in some mathematical models, it is happening right now and every time too. Furthermore, where in the universe is the 'Big Bang' not happening(?), because all came out of the Big Bang at once).

    Further, there is a past and future too (there is, and there is not). But the future flows into the present which flows into the past. It is a little like saying that, though a river flows from upstream to downstream, you cannot have downstream without upstream. Downstream also flows into the upstream. Modern physics has come intrigingly close to this by saying that all timelines actually can be seen as running in two directions (the dominoes falling down can also be seen as the dominos 'unfalling up').

    And every drop of the river flows into every other drop of the river, so that what happens to Drop X is the time and being of Drop Y. If you drink a cup of coffee, it is the whole universe drinking a cup of coffee. And if you are doing it here and now, the whole universe is here and now.

    Furthermore, everything in the universe had its own 'time'. (Again, by coincidence perhaps, EInstein stumbled upon a model something like this a few centuries later). My clock is not your clock.

    We also think of time as 'long' or short' ... but would a creature that lives its lifetime in a day or a creature with a lifetime of 10,000 years view time the same way as mankind? Are not 'long and short' subjective judgments of men, and is not 'time' just" time' (just what it is, not long or short)? And can we not say too that every moment is an eternity unto itself? .

    And, of course, time is not separate from being, and being is not separate from time ... In other words, all of the above is just YOU!

    And on and on it goes. It is just another way of seeing life and being as of one piece with all of space and time, with all Reality. It is just another way too of tossing a monkey wrench in our normal way of seeing events and who we are.

    Now, I am out of time ... so time to stop.
    All important new ways to look at life and who "Alberto" is.

    Gassho, Jundo

  4. #4

    Re: QUESTION FOR JUNDO

    I really appreciate your question and thanks for asking - you ask for me also. Here is what seems a similar puzzle which I look into often enough. Jundo gives clarity for me.

    Based on knowing that my conditioned perceptions are not exactly correctly able to lay out clearly for me what is at any given moment, I then ask what I might even presume to call "IT". Or sometimes this: If the physics of the situation clearly dictate no inherent existence, then who am I to add some concrete unchanging existence, and with a Name too, no less, to some inherently existent object only thought to be There. What, exactly, would naming it be worth - even knowing that I will do so? It is at this juncture that I understand how the Buddha could say: "We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world." I only just like to "sit " with this one because answering it for myself is only just the same trap to me. Isn't this where knowing knows itself? This is when I'm very content to not be "The Decider."

    best,
    kshetra

  5. #5

    Re: QUESTION FOR JUNDO

    Thanks Alberto for making very important post

    Thanks for the nice explanation Jundo

    Gassho, Shui Di

  6. #6

    Re: QUESTION FOR JUNDO

    Ok, ok, there is no problem in living the fact that each moment fades away and here is a new one and everything has changed ( frequently in a manner that cannot be perceived). All of that I get and has actually brought me great peace.

    My petty qualm (purely intellectual and irrelevant) comes from something more specific: the "theory of the instant universe" as stated by Nihijima Roshi in the 13th chapter of "the True Dragon" book. This theory states that life is a series of moments (of course), and that each moment life, the universe and us appear and disappear. Sorry, Small Self (yours truly) just can't buy this. Little I doesn't think it's necessary to believe that the entire universe disappears. Nah. Things don't physically disappear and reappear, but they change and therefore are not the same. I'm guessing that from a strict semantical standpoint yes, indeed, the cup of water on the table is not the same it was an instant ago since a molecule has evaporated.

    Never mind, I think that just answered it: Nishijima never meant that the cup (and the entire universe!) in its entirety disappears and then reappears, only that it changes. The moment is indivisible from the universe at that very moment; the first change determines the vanishing of the moment, and if the moment is the universe in a certain order, well yeah, the universe/moment as such has disappeared (but not the universe itself!). A new universe/moment is here. Now another, and another (Just a matter of not blinking, right, Harry? :roll: )

    I'm just looking for a clarity that lets me share these critical facts with any person, mainly those like me that will never believe in the literal existence of hungry ghosts, heavens with several stories and a penthouse, and other folkloric formations.

    Thanks for your patience and compassion. Gassho, the dude formerly known as Alberto.

  7. #7

    Re: QUESTION FOR JUNDO

    But where does one moment end and the other begin? And what is happening in-between? Is it moment/moment/moment/moment................or is all past and future included in just one single MOMENTthe moment—immutable and perfect, no matter how we perceive it?

  8. #8

    Re: QUESTION FOR JUNDO

    Guys Guys Guys!

    Please don't get all caught up in a tangled intellectual analysis of a very simple point:

    All is constantly changing instant by instant, and in that way, we can say that all is born anew instant by instant. Nothing is frozen and standing still. So, life is constantly changing and "Alberto" too, instant by instant.

    Don't worry if the universe (and Alberto ... not two things by the way) is literally popping in and out of existence each moment. That is not the meaning.

    The bottom line is that "Alberto" appears to himself be a fixed entity, with continuity, who thinks of himself each morning in the shaving mirror, "I am Alberto". But, that is not the only way to see "Alberto".

    Gassho, Jundo in this Instant

    PS- In fact, some of the weirder aspects of Quantum Mechanics and stuff might imply that the universe is, in fact, popping in and out of existence each moment ... but that is not what we are talking about here necessarily.

  9. #9

    Re: QUESTION FOR JUNDO

    Quote Originally Posted by Alberto
    is the theory that everything disappears and reappears every instant just a metaphor, a sort of allegory? If the point of such theory is just that each instant is in some form separate from each other and that we are free to act in each instant, I get it. If the explanation is just something closer to reality than our cultural concept of time, I get it. I just can't buy that anything disappears and then pops up every moment
    Not disappears/reappears. Just dynamic, in flux, change.

    In nature, things that appear to be in equilibrium are actually constantly changing. It's just that if you took a snapshot of everything in an infinitesimally small timescale, you'd see the most populated state and it looks static. On the other hand, if you followed a single entity (atom, molecule, etc.) through infinite time, it would eventually be everywhere but it spends the most time in the most energetically favorable state. How's that for impermanence? *crickets chirping* ops:

  10. #10

    Re: QUESTION FOR JUNDO

    Quote Originally Posted by TracyF
    Quote Originally Posted by Alberto
    is the theory that everything disappears and reappears every instant just a metaphor, a sort of allegory? If the point of such theory is just that each instant is in some form separate from each other and that we are free to act in each instant, I get it. If the explanation is just something closer to reality than our cultural concept of time, I get it. I just can't buy that anything disappears and then pops up every moment
    Not disappears/reappears. Just dynamic, in flux, change.

    In nature, things that appear to be in equilibrium are actually constantly changing. It's just that if you took a snapshot of everything in an infinitesimally small timescale, you'd see the most populated state and it looks static. On the other hand, if you followed a single entity (atom, molecule, etc.) through infinite time, it would eventually be everywhere but it spends the most time in the most energetically favorable state. How's that for impermanence? *crickets chirping* ops:
    And she actually has a degree in this stuff, and a white coat.

    Gassho, Jundo in this other instant

  11. #11

    Re: QUESTION FOR JUNDO

    Guys Guys Guys!
    :lol: :lol:

    if you followed a single entity (atom, molecule, etc.) through infinite time, it would eventually be everywhere but it spends the most time in the most energetically favorable state. How's that for impermanence? *crickets chirping*
    Cool.

    G,W

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