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Thread: How little of the present do we know

  1. #1

    How little of the present do we know

    I was thinking the other day, how often do you find yourself thinking about other things in other times?

    I was walking somewhere, I don't remember where, maybe Walmart, and I was thinking about what I'd be doing later that night, about my work the next morning, about making dinner and when my wife would be home, what my bill priorities were when I got paid next week, etc. But no thought, at least not until I realized what I was doing, was spared for where I was when I was there.

    It makes me wonder, how much of our lives do we really, truly live, and how much do we spend watching the movie of what has already passed or what is yet to happen?

  2. #2

    Re: How little of the present do we know

    I realize those moments as well. It is amazing isn't it just how much our minds don't want to be present to the present. But I think it is a good thing to come to see those moments of not being present. Most won't even come to be aware of there not being awareness....


    _/_

    Seiryu

  3. #3

    Re: How little of the present do we know

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    I was walking somewhere, I don't remember where, maybe Walmart, and I was thinking about what I'd be doing later that night, about my work the next morning, about making dinner and when my wife would be home, what my bill priorities were when I got paid next week, etc. But no thought, at least not until I realized what I was doing, was spared for where I was when I was there.
    What makes you think that that was not your present? Your "at Walmart thinking about making dinner and bill priorities" present? How did you want to be more in the present? Why were you rejecting this "walmart thinking about dinner present" to try to be somewhere else, in some other "more present than my present" present?

    There is a time to stop and smell the roses ... a time to think about "what's for dinner". If one only smells roses ... dinner plans are never made. If one only worries about dinner ... one may miss the roses.

    Sometimes this practice is not to be "leaving the present to be present with the present" ... but just to be presently present with what the present presents as a gift-wrapped present. 8)

    how much of our lives do we really, truly live

    Well, all of it, of course!

    Gassho, J

  4. #4

    Re: How little of the present do we know

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    I was walking somewhere, I don't remember where, maybe Walmart, and I was thinking about what I'd be doing later that night, about my work the next morning, about making dinner and when my wife would be home, what my bill priorities were when I got paid next week, etc. But no thought, at least not until I realized what I was doing, was spared for where I was when I was there.
    What makes you think that that was not your present? Your "at Walmart thinking about making dinner and bill priorities" present? How did you want to be more in the present? Why were you rejecting this "walmart thinking about dinner present" to try to be somewhere else, in some other "more present than my present" present?

    There is a time to stop and smell the roses ... a time to think about "what's for dinner". If one only smells roses ... dinner plans are never made. If one only worries about dinner ... one may miss the roses.

    Sometimes this practice is not to be "leaving the present to be present with the present" ... but just to be presently present with what the present presents as a gift-wrapped present. 8)

    how much of our lives do we really, truly live

    Well, all of it, of course!

    Gassho, J
    The above post is important, I feel. So many folks try to be "in the present" so much they miss the present.

    There are times to be in the present experiencing just the present, and times to be in the present which is thinking about tomorrow or last Tuesday.

    So read it at least twice ... in the present, and then again in the present.

    Gassho, J

  5. #5
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: How little of the present do we know

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    So many folks try to be "in the present" so much they miss the present.
    This is one to frame...

  6. #6
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    Re: How little of the present do we know

    _/_

  7. #7

    Re: How little of the present do we know

    There is a time to stop and smell the roses ... a time to think about "what's for dinner". If one only smells roses ... dinner plans are never made. If one only worries about dinner ... one may miss the roses.
    I agree with this, but at the same time I wonder what you mean by it...We can be doing one thing and thinking about dinner with full awareness...we are aware of walking around, and we are aware of our minds jumping back and forth. Awareness doesn't have to mean only focus at one thing at a time...but we can also be walking around and not at all be present to either our walking or our minds...everything just moves on auto-pilot...I think it is these moments this post was addressing...those moments when we are not at all present to anything at all....

    So many folks try to be "in the present" so much they miss the present.
    _/_ I like this!!



    Seiryu

  8. #8

    Re: How little of the present do we know

    Breath in and hold your breath
    Eventually you have to let go or lungs will explode
    Its the same with thinking
    hold onto it too tight or too long
    And your mind will explode

    The diamond sutra says
    as thoughts arise do not attach to them

    But there is nothing wrong with breathing or thinking

  9. #9

    Re: How little of the present do we know

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    So many folks try to be "in the present" so much they miss the present.
    I agree. As an avid reader of Thich Nhat Hanh I tried for years to be "present." I made so many mistakes it is ridiculous. Once, at work, I almost ran over another worker with a forklift because I was focusing so intensely on being present with the sound of the machine and the feel of the wheels on the concrete and so on. Stupid! Another time I almost wrecked a car by trying so hard to be present with the act of driving. Heck with all that! I'm present at all times. My thoughts might be going this way and that way, but my body is always just right here, right now. This whole "NOW" thingy seems a bit New Age. You don't have to be enlightened to be present. You just have to be alive. :shock:

    gassho
    Greg

  10. #10

    Re: How little of the present do we know

    But I wonder, not to say that we should be walking around thinking, "I must be mindful of each step I take....I just stepped on that blade of grass...and that one......now a wind is blowing and my left sock has slipped down my ankle again...."

    But shouldn't we allocate a time and place for things, and remember to be where we are while we are there, to be aware of the situation and place which we find ourselves in? I don't mean to say we should be so focused on being mindful that we loose touch with the experience of our lives, but I don't think we should spend as much time as we do, mentally, somewhere, somewhen else.

  11. #11

    Re: How little of the present do we know

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    But I wonder, not to say that we should be walking around thinking, "I must be mindful of each step I take....I just stepped on that blade of grass...and that one......now a wind is blowing and my left sock has slipped down my ankle again...."

    But shouldn't we allocate a time and place for things, and remember to be where we are while we are there, to be aware of the situation and place which we find ourselves in? I don't mean to say we should be so focused on being mindful that we loose touch with the experience of our lives, but I don't think we should spend as much time as we do, mentally, somewhere, somewhen else.
    Hi Chris,

    I feel that, after a time in this practice, I found a kind of inner switch that I can push to be "IN THE NOW" when appropriate, when I want to be.

    I recall when I was a teenager, getting up before dawn one morning to drive to the beach and "experience the sunrise".

    I recall sitting on the beach, trying so hard to be "One with the Sun" and to "just be here" and "have a perfect experience" and find the "meaning of the sunrise" ... Well, you can imagine what a mess it was, and what separations I was creating between me and the whole experience.

    Then, some years later I learned to just let sunrises be sunrises, not thinking about whether they were "perfect" sunrises or not, not thinking of before or after or anything at all. Ahhhhh ... Just this, no place else in need of goin' ... no me, no horizon ... Just One Rising Sun ... Cool.

    And that is a switch I click many times during my little day ... in all kinds of moments (especially when my mind starts jumping with thoughts like "I wish this experience were more better" or "I wish I were somewhere else, living a life like in the magazines" or "life is racing by ... where is life?")

    But it is not a switch to push constantly, I feel ... like a morphine drip ... because then this life can be missed in another way.

    So, if one is standing in "Wal-Mart thinking about paying bills" but feeling dis-ease because one is standing there hoping for a "more authentic experience" or wondering "where is life, where is the present?" ... one is truly missing life and being in the present.

    Flip that switch for a moment ... not thinking "before" or "after" or any place else to be, seeing the wondrous wonder of where one stands ...

    and One Rising Sun Stands in Wal-Mart Thinking About Paying Bills! Ahhhh.

    Something like that.

    Then just get on with the shopping, cause there's milk and soup and plastic shoes to buy, and the disposable diapers are on sale. Something like that. 8)

    Gassho, J

  12. #12

    Re: How little of the present do we know

    Quote Originally Posted by Seiryu
    There is a time to stop and smell the roses ... a time to think about "what's for dinner". If one only smells roses ... dinner plans are never made. If one only worries about dinner ... one may miss the roses.
    I agree with this, but at the same time I wonder what you mean by it...We can be doing one thing and thinking about dinner with full awareness...we are aware of walking around, and we are aware of our minds jumping back and forth. Awareness doesn't have to mean only focus at one thing at a time...but we can also be walking around and not at all be present to either our walking or our minds...everything just moves on auto-pilot...I think it is these moments this post was addressing...those moments when we are not at all present to anything at all....
    My take on this might be ... there are times to switch off the auto-pilot, times to fly on auto-pilot. In any case, have a good flight!

    When are you not on the flight? (In fact, from a Buddhist perspective ... when is the flight and the whole darn plane not you? Where is it all heading to anyway, on this flight? I once did a talk on that)

    Flying Air Buddha
    viewtopic.php?f=23&t=3036

    So, in a nutshell ...

    If one is on a beach watching a sunset, or in a Wal-Mart thinking about paying for the Insurance bills ... just be there. That is the present, that is life. Just be there.

    Sometimes, one can push the "IN THE NOW" button and experience total awareness that "just this moment on the beach, or in the Wal-mart canned goods aisle" is "The Present, Life, Ahhhhhh.". That is the present, that is life. Just be there.

    And sometimes one can just make a sand castle while thinking about this morning's fight with the ex-wife, or buy soup while rather worried about the insurance payments. It is okay even, once in awhile, to be so preoccupied with thinking of the insurance payments that on stumbles into and knocks over that pyramid of jelly jars that one didn't see! Don't try, and no need, to be particularly more aware of anything! ** When knocking over jelly jars, just do that. That is the present, that is life. Just be there.

    ** (with the small proviso that, yes, through this practice one wants to develop an increasing awareness of, for example, when one is falling into the traps of "anger" toward the ex-wife, or excessive resistance and fear for the uninsured future, so as not to get so tangled in such mental traps!)

    However, if one is in the Wal-Mart wishing they were somewhere else, perhaps on a
    perfect" beach without the insurance and ex-wives where everything in life will be like in the magazines ...

    Well, that is still "the present, and life" ... but you do not realize it, you are not "being there".

    So, when on a beach ... be on the beach. When in Wal-Mart (apart from all the harmful economic, ecological and social considerations of shopping there ... but that is a subject for another day! :evil: ) ... just be in Wal-Mart.

    The True Lovely Beach of our Way sweeps in both little sandy beaches in Tahiti and Wal-Marts.

    Something like that.

    Gassho, J

  13. #13

    Re: How little of the present do we know

    Gassho, Jundo.

    I catch myself often in that seemingly idyllic place. Watching the sunset over the mountains, listening to a thunderstorm; I try so hard to be there, that for some reason THIS IS IT! THIS IS THE MOMENT TO BE TRANQUIL! and the effort comes, forcing myself to try to be lost in the view or the sound, and it all tastes a little fake. Sweet like splenda but not quite like sugar.

    Too much trying to do non-doing! A interesting conundrum :P

    Gassho to all,
    Taylor

  14. #14

    Re: How little of the present do we know

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    Gassho, Jundo.

    I catch myself often in that seemingly idyllic place. Watching the sunset over the mountains, listening to a thunderstorm; I try so hard to be there, that for some reason THIS IS IT! THIS IS THE MOMENT TO BE TRANQUIL! and the effort comes, forcing myself to try to be lost in the view or the sound, and it all tastes a little fake. Sweet like splenda but not quite like sugar.

    Too much trying to do non-doing! A interesting conundrum :P

    Gassho to all,
    Taylor
    Sweet like splenda.

    I am going to steal that line!

    I hope you found some beautiful beaches (amid the industrial waste dumps you described too) of Madagascar.

    From Taylor's blog ...

    I mean, less than 10% of the rainforest remains and some of the officials I spoke to said it would all be gone in 25 years. Madagascar is very green, but most of the landscape is degraded, barren, and void of native species.
    http://wallstarer.blogspot.com/2011/06/ ... frica.html

    Yes, humankind needs to clean that up. That is where all the plastic junk from Wal-Mart goes.

    Remember too that "being in the now" "at one with things as they are" and "just sitting" does not mean just sitting on our rump complacently accepting things as they are!

    Gassho, J

  15. #15
    disastermouse
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    Re: How little of the present do we know

    "What at this moment is missing?". - Lin Chi (Rinzai)

  16. #16
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Re: How little of the present do we know

    I came across this book today:


    http://www.amazon.com/Minding-Closely-F ... 1559393696

    It seems to me that this sort of practice (you can look at the table of contents to get a good idea) is obsessive mindfulness. While this is very useful for relaxation - I've done MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) exercises of this type - I don't see it as a really useful meditative technique, because of the expectation that this kind of mindfulness is the goal. Anyone have any other thoughts on this?

  17. #17

    Re: How little of the present do we know

    Just a small addition/anecdote to my previous post:

    The kitchen in the house I just moved into is (well, was) filthy. So, I decided today was cleaning day. So I popped in my headphones, grabbed a rag, and scrubbed the ever-loving s***t out of the floor (pardon the adjective, but really, it was intense).

    So what's wrong with this picture?

    Well, nothing actually. I realized that I used to push away listening to music while cleaning or working because I didn't think it was "Zen" enough. You don't see monk's with their iPod's running while scrubbing the monastery, do you? But that's not the point. The point, I feel, is that what I feel like listening to music, I'll listen to music! If I'm running away from the experience, i.e. trying to somehow make it "more complete" by adding background noise, well that may be a different story. I feel as though the intention we come with to an experience, whatever it may be, defines whether we are attaching to or avoiding a situation. I can clean just fine without music, but today I wanted to experience it. And experience it I did.

    Nothing Holy, nothing to gain. Everything Holy, everything to gain. Or something along those lines.

    Gassho,
    Taylor

  18. #18

    Re: How little of the present do we know

    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    Just a small addition/anecdote to my previous post:

    The kitchen in the house I just moved into is (well, was) filthy. So, I decided today was cleaning day. So I popped in my headphones, grabbed a rag, and scrubbed the ever-loving s***t out of the floor (pardon the adjective, but really, it was intense).

    So what's wrong with this picture?

    Well, nothing actually. I realized that I used to push away listening to music while cleaning or working because I didn't think it was "Zen" enough.
    Hi Taylor,

    Yes. Please sometimes clean while listening to music.

    Please also sometimes clean while not listening to music, and just being present with the cleaning.

    Both fine ways to clean ... try each from time to time.

    In all cases, however, clean to attain making the room clean, while simultaneously dropping all thought of "clean vs. dirty" and anything to attain.

    Also, even though part of your heart may wish to be on a sunny beach instead of cleaning a dirty kitchen, simultaneously drop any thought of somewhere else to be or where you need/can be.

    Gassho, J

  19. #19
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Re: How little of the present do we know

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by Taylor
    Just a small addition/anecdote to my previous post:

    The kitchen in the house I just moved into is (well, was) filthy. So, I decided today was cleaning day. So I popped in my headphones, grabbed a rag, and scrubbed the ever-loving s***t out of the floor (pardon the adjective, but really, it was intense).

    So what's wrong with this picture?

    Well, nothing actually. I realized that I used to push away listening to music while cleaning or working because I didn't think it was "Zen" enough.
    Hi Taylor,

    Yes. Please sometimes clean while listening to music.

    Please also sometimes clean while not listening to music, and just being present with the cleaning.

    Both fine ways to clean ... try each from time to time.

    In all cases, however, clean to attain making the room clean, while simultaneously dropping all thought of "clean vs. dirty" and anything to attain.

    Also, even though part of your heart may wish to be on a sunny beach instead of cleaning a dirty kitchen, simultaneously drop any thought of somewhere else to be or where you need/can be.

    Gassho, J
    [youtube] [/youtube]
    _/_

  20. #20

    Re: How little of the present do we know

    Hi,

    I picked up some of the themes of this thread for the 'present' sit-a-long ...

    SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: HOW TO CLEAN THE KITCHEN
    viewtopic.php?f=17&t=4062&p=58358#p58358

    Gassho, J

  21. #21
    Senior Member Heisoku's Avatar
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    Re: How little of the present do we know

    Just an anecdote to Taylor's post.
    My wife sometimes works (as a theatre nurse) with a cardio specialist who performs heart surgery with the Chilli Peppers on full wacK..such that shew thinks it to check that the anaesthetist doesn't fall asleep! Pretty mindful of something!

  22. #22

    Re: How little of the present do we know

    So, basically, one cannot live one's whole life in zazen, even though all of life is zazen, and besides, what life and what zazen?

  23. #23

    Re: How little of the present do we know

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    So, basically, one cannot live one's whole life in zazen, even though all of life is zazen, and besides, what life and what zazen?
    BINGO!

    Someone else wrote me this week about wanting to feel "more Buddha more of the time" when sitting Zazen (and, I suppose, in all of life). Feeling no gaps, no frictions with life, whole and complete. I responded (adding some things here) ...


    So, you want to "feel" Buddha? Well, for me, "Buddha" ... when he is doing his job ... is very much like breathing. Breathing just happens, balanced and naturally. Yes, sometimes we can draw our attention to breathing and think "Oh, I am breathing, I can feel the air moving in and out" (that is good to do sometimes, as it reminds us how precious life and breathing is even though we pay it no attention most times). Sometimes we become aware of breathing when something is wrong ... such as an aesthma attack or when visiting the high Himalayas (that also reminds us how precious life and breathing are, and how we rely on Buddhas and breathing to sustain us). But usually, the most "just breathing" breathing is just there, happening on its own.

    In fact, panting in fear is breathing ... holding one's breath is breathing ... being out of breath with illness is breathing ... sobbing in great bursts at a funeral is breathing ... all breathing, all LIFE even though we prefer and like the kind of short, clear easy breaths on peaceful, healthy days.

    What's more, from a Buddhist perspective ... True Breath does not come in or go out, sweeps from the farthest stars to the small atoms. Dogen quoted his teacher: "My late teacher Tendo said, “The inhaled breath reaches the tanden; however, it is not that this breath comes from somewhere. For that reason, it is neither short nor long. The exhaled breath leaves from the tanden; however, it is not possible to say where this breath goes. For that reason, it is neither long nor short

    viewtopic.php?p=35376#p35376

    In Shikantaza practice, when the mind starts demanding "I need more, I need to feel like Buddha" ... well, then it may be looking in the wrong way for some "Buddha". Then "Buddha" becomes another drug if we demand to feel "All Buddha All The Time".

    Maybe only Buddhas feel like Buddha all the time. I cannot promise you that (nor do I consider that a particularly healthy way to live ... like being conscious of breathing all the time). The most I can guaranty you is to feel Buddha sometimes ... when you want to, sometimes at surprising times (I can promise that). Other times, Buddha may be no where around (even when you look sometimes). But Buddha is always breathing nonetheless. Something like that.

    In fact, in this crazy-brilliant Shikantaza way ... the less one looks for Buddha, the easier to find Buddha. The less one "tries to breath", the easier one breathes. We are like the man riding the donkey needing to look real hard for the donkey by riding here and there on the donkey in search of the donkey. Our Shikantaza way is just to ride, knowing that the donkey is there all along ... sometimes noticed, sometimes not. Like the breath.

    Gassho, J

  24. #24

    Re: How little of the present do we know

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    So many folks try to be "in the present" so much they miss the present.
    That sentence is a quote to remember. I put it as a signature quote in my emails :!: Thanks

  25. #25

    Re: How little of the present do we know

    Quote Originally Posted by JohnsonCM
    So, basically, one cannot live one's whole life in zazen, even though all of life is zazen, and besides, what life and what zazen?
    I like to say:

    Your life is zazen, but zazen is not your life. But same words really

    Gassho,
    Taylor

  26. #26

    Re: How little of the present do we know

    Hi,

    A very lovely little essay on this same theme ... finding Buddha in the kitchen ... is in Katagiri Roshi's book "Each Moment is the Universe" (essays on Dogen's Being-Time).

    Now, before you run out to buy this book, please read my little "mini-review" here (where I describe the book generally as "a lovely, sacred mess"):

    viewtopic.php?p=56127#p56127

    However, the following essay is very clear and complete, I feel, teaching through carrots and cabbages. Please read the essay "Living In Real Time" from pages 117 to 123 here:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=vJH8a0 ... &q&f=false

    The missing pages 121 and 122 are here:

    http://books.google.com/books?id=mBP3_U ... &q&f=false

    Gassho, J

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