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Thread: On Quantification and Time Management

  1. #1

    On Quantification and Time Management

    Hello,

    First of all, a little re-introduction. I've been a member of Treeleaf since November of last year, and I've been practicing daily Zazen ever since. I participated in a couple of Zazenkai, but due to a mixture of anxiety and rationalization, I kept my practice private and didn't really participate in any discussion or sangha event. Now I'm feeling better, more open and willing to share my experiences and thoughts with fellow human beings . I vow to start being more active in the community and deepen my practice .

    Now to the main topic. I've always been the "overachiever", "goal-oriented" type. Planning and careful management of time were always top priorities, and I would always feel like I didn't have enough of it. I spent years trying to find the perfect productivity system. I believed that continuously optimizing my life was the only meaningful and ethic way of existing. This endless pursuit of "better and optimal" lead me to suffering from repeated panic attacks, huge amounts of anxiety and a feeling of powerlessness and unworthiness in general.

    A few weeks ago, I started to experiment with the concept of quantification and time. I tried "living without time". I changed the time of all my clocks. I let my Insight Timer 367 days-long zazen streak break (that hurted more than expected, those numbers make my ego feel proud!). I deleted my to-do list and timing apps. Basically, I tried to eliminate everything related to quantification, time management and tracking. Since then, I've been feeling a lot calmer. I stopped doing things that I now realize were self-imposed obligations that just boosted my ego. I'm sleeping better, as I'm not so worried about "sleeping eight hours". I've found myself practicing zazen and reading buddhist literature spontaneously and more often.

    These experiences have risen a few questions related to Zen and practice. What's the role of quantification in practice and life? Is it necessary to time my zazen? Is living "without time" a way of letting go of a lineal conception of it and embracing "being-time"? Would Dogen have a timer, a to-do list, daily and weekly goals with "actionable steps" if he were alive today ? Also, how has your relationship with time, goals and quantification changed since you started practicing Zen?

    I'm glad to be back (even though I never left).
    Gassho,
    Jero.

    Sat today.

  2. #2
    Hi Jero:
    First off, it would be great if you were to upload an avatar so we could see who we're talking with. And, secondly, congratulations on dropping all conditions on your sitting. Sitting Shikantaza, we have no expectations; enjoy the moment, go with the flow and dance to the vibrations. Imagine, all this while sitting still and being calm. Over time you begin to realize changes that are happening in the structure of your brain. Why question, just have faith in the practice. Sounds like you are headed on the right path.

    deep bows in gassho, Shokai
    stlah
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    May we all grow together in our knowledge of the Dharma

  3. #3
    Hi Jero,

    Why think "either/or" about this?

    Yes, Dogen would ring the bells at a certain time, sit Zazen for a certain time (they did not have mechanical clocks back then, but would judge by the sun and the time it took for a stick of incense to burn). There was a daily schedule, monks are busy with many tasks, the temple cook had to have the meals ready to serve right on time!!!!! .....

    ... AND ....

    ... Dogen forgot all about time, was not bound by time, let time be and had no goals at once.

    Both at once.

    By coincidence, I was working on my new book this morning (I alot time for that each day), and came to this section:

    What if we embraced an ancient Zen secret, namely, how …

    (i) … to experience radical goallessness, profound and abiding satisfaction, thorough acceptance of the present state of our world and life as it is now, a sense of no need for change in the least, a feeling that there is not one grain lacking from this world nor one more drop to add, that every moment is complete as it is, a knowing of total union and flowing with events and things …

    … while simultaneously …

    (ii) … maintaining cherished goals we work for, plans and dreams of a better future, a drive to work hard to attain them, a willingness to sometimes be humanly dissatisfied, a preparedness to feel the pains of sometimes losing as well as the joy of sometimes winning, an openness to not accepting all aspects of our sometimes difficult lives and frequently ugly world, a recognition that we can never solve all the problems and faults in this life and world, all while still seeking nonetheless to fix the problems and cure those faults which we can …

    … together with …

    (iii) … keeping moderation in our desires, making wiser choices as to the healthful and truly beneficial directions to head in life, seeking to live with less grasping, anger and forsaking violence, coupled with a profound appreciation of the simple things in life?
    First, we need a schedule to get things done. You have to get to school by 9am, to the 2pm doctor's appointment by 2pm, etc. However, let go and relax even as you get there on time. (I like to tell the story of the time I had a flat tire in the rain heading to an important appointment ... I was late ... I got wet ... it was okay).

    Second, sit Zazen each day dropping all thought of time or measure. I wrote about that here:

    SIT-A-LONG with Jundo: Why Zen Folks FAIL!! (5) - Watching The Clock Rackin Up Points
    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...ckin-Up-Points

    ... then, getting up from the cushion, see if you can still keep some of that "no time, no measure" in your heart EVEN AS you rush around with places to go and many things in life to measure. BOTH AT ONCE!

    Gassho, J

    STLAH

    PS - The busy busy life of a Zen monk ...



    Last edited by Jundo; 07-28-2019 at 12:51 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  4. #4

    On Quantification and Time Management

    Quote Originally Posted by Jero View Post
    Hello,

    First of all, a little re-introduction. I've been a member of Treeleaf since November of last year, and I've been practicing daily Zazen ever since. I participated in a couple of Zazenkai, but due to a mixture of anxiety and rationalization, I kept my practice private and didn't really participate in any discussion or sangha event. Now I'm feeling better, more open and willing to share my experiences and thoughts with fellow human beings . I vow to start being more active in the community and deepen my practice .

    Now to the main topic. I've always been the "overachiever", "goal-oriented" type. Planning and careful management of time were always top priorities, and I would always feel like I didn't have enough of it. I spent years trying to find the perfect productivity system. I believed that continuously optimizing my life was the only meaningful and ethic way of existing. This endless pursuit of "better and optimal" lead me to suffering from repeated panic attacks, huge amounts of anxiety and a feeling of powerlessness and unworthiness in general.

    A few weeks ago, I started to experiment with the concept of quantification and time. I tried "living without time". I changed the time of all my clocks. I let my Insight Timer 367 days-long zazen streak break (that hurted more than expected, those numbers make my ego feel proud!). I deleted my to-do list and timing apps. Basically, I tried to eliminate everything related to quantification, time management and tracking. Since then, I've been feeling a lot calmer. I stopped doing things that I now realize were self-imposed obligations that just boosted my ego. I'm sleeping better, as I'm not so worried about "sleeping eight hours". I've found myself practicing zazen and reading buddhist literature spontaneously and more often.

    These experiences have risen a few questions related to Zen and practice. What's the role of quantification in practice and life? Is it necessary to time my zazen? Is living "without time" a way of letting go of a lineal conception of it and embracing "being-time"? Would Dogen have a timer, a to-do list, daily and weekly goals with "actionable steps" if he were alive today ? Also, how has your relationship with time, goals and quantification changed since you started practicing Zen?

    I'm glad to be back (even though I never left).
    Gassho,
    Jero.

    Sat today.
    Hi Jero,

    Everything that we do in this life time has to do with fear of and avoidance of death. This is a more painful process in those with higher levels of anxiety who tend to be thinking about the future.

    People with anxiety use the controlling defense mechanism because when the world is more predictable life hurts less. I think that it is great that you have recognized that the need for control causes you more pain than necessary and are learning to let go.

    Time is a mental construct that only exists if we will it so with our minds. If you go into a coma and come out 2 years later and you ask me how long you been out and I lie and say one week then I just created 2 years for you in you life. Another way to look at it is that time is a measurement of the distance between 2 objects. In emptiness distinct stand alone objects do not exist such as the earth rotations related to the sun or moon. This is what Dogen means when he says time-being. Since objects are not separate in emptiness, time (object), you (object), sun (object), moon (object), eyes necessary to read the clock (object), thoughts necessary to interpret time (object) and me to give right or wrong opinions (object) do not exist. There is just one object (emptiness).

    Understanding that linear time (object) is but a mental construct (object) makes it easier to let go of the attachment to it and strong attachments cause more pain then necessary. Donít forget to pay your taxes though!

    :-)

    Gasho, Jishin, __/stlah\__
    Last edited by Jishin; 07-29-2019 at 11:09 AM.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    Hi Jero,

    Everything that we do in this life time has to do with fear of and avoidance of death. This is a more painful process in those with higher levels of anxiety who tend to be thinking about the future.

    People with anxiety use the controlling defense mechanism because when the world is more predictable life hurts less. I think that it is great that you have recognized that the need for control causes you more pain than necessary and are learning to let go.

    Time is a mental construct that only exists if we will it so with our minds. If you go into a coma and come out 2 years later and you ask me how long you been out and I lie and say one week then I just created 2 years for you in you life. Another way to look at it is that time is a measurement of the distance between 2 objects. In emptiness distinct stand alone objects do not exist such as the earth rotations related to the sun or moon. This is what Dogen means when he says time-being. Since objects are not separate in emptiness, time (object), you (object), sun (object), moon (object), eyes necessary to read the clock (object), thoughts necessary to interpret time (object) and me to give right or wrong opinions (object) do not exist. There is just one object (emptiness).

    Understanding that linear time (object) is but a mental construct (object) makes it easier to let go of the attachment to it and strong attachments cause more pain then necessary. Don’t forget to pay your taxes though!

    :-)

    Gasho, Jishin, __/stlah\__
    Wonderful!

    Meitou
    satwithyoualltodaylah
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Jishin View Post
    Hi Jero,

    Everything that we do in this life time has to do with fear of and avoidance of death. This is a more painful process in those with higher levels of anxiety who tend to be thinking about the future.

    People with anxiety use the controlling defense mechanism because when the world is more predictable life hurts less. I think that it is great that you have recognized that the need for control causes you more pain than necessary and are learning to let go.

    Time is a mental construct that only exists if we will it so with our minds. If you go into a coma and come out 2 years later and you ask me how long you been out and I lie and say one week then I just created 2 years for you in you life. Another way to look at it is that time is a measurement of the distance between 2 objects. In emptiness distinct stand alone objects do not exist such as the earth rotations related to the sun or moon. This is what Dogen means when he says time-being. Since objects are not separate in emptiness, time (object), you (object), sun (object), moon (object), eyes necessary to read the clock (object), thoughts necessary to interpret time (object) and me to give right or wrong opinions (object) do not exist. There is just one object (emptiness).

    Understanding that linear time (object) is but a mental construct (object) makes it easier to let go of the attachment to it and strong attachments cause more pain then necessary. Don’t forget to pay your taxes though!

    :-)

    Gasho, Jishin, __/stlah\__
    Thank you for this


    Gassho
    krissy
    sattoday

  7. #7
    Shokai, Jundo, Jishin,

    Thanks for your wonderful teachings.


    Jero
    sattoday

  8. #8
    Hi Jero,

    I deactivated all kinds of statistics in Insight Timer. All I use is the timer.

    When I lost weight I kept track of calories, size and weight, but I forgot all about it. Now I am able to keep track of what I eat just by instinct and by listening to my body.

    When I began doing yoga, I kept track of the days of practice, but now I simply do it 3 times per week.

    I think to keep track of time, projects and even our practice is good and useful... as long as you don't obsess about it and let it all go when it all becomes part of your life. We do need to quantify in this human life, but at the same time we can't allow ourselves to be consumed by statistics, charts and numbers.

    But I could be wrong.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Sat/LAH
    Hondō Kyōnin
    奔道 協忍

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