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Thread: Present Moment

  1. #1

    Present Moment

    There is a lot in the spiritual world about the "power of now", "the wonderful present moment that is the key to eternal happiness". But what if your present moment is not about enjoying tea, pondering TNH quotes? What do you do if your present moment is hell? How much we want to resist it, bypas it, shift our attention to something else, something comforting, how difficult it is to accept the undesirable.
    I found that Shikantaza has this potential to spill into daily life. I have been also deeply inspired by Onka and her "doctor's appointments/hospital practice". As the day unfolds I try to bring the practice to the little moments of my "hell".
    Soaking in cold November rain, carrying heavy groceries in both hands, each step is arriving, each raindrop bouncing off my nose is the universe dancing. And even though I notice discomfort, desire to rush to warmth, these are only hiccups, passing clouds in my awareness, that also has space for unravelling beauty of the autumn evening.I have this deep feeling of arriving, being home even in the most un-homely situations.
    I travel to work every day by underground. It is busy, sticky hot air, some people wear masks, others don't, however I would move I breach the 2 meters social distancing rule. Whenever I sit in between other passengers I can feel their unease and sense of anxiety. I breath it in and I breath out imagined healing energy. I don't switch off by scrolling down my phone. I sit Underground zazen. I arrive in the perfectly imperfect place.

    Deep bows of gratitude to our Sangha. I learn so much from all of you.

    I acknowledge not being able to fit in 3 sentences.
    Gassho
    Sat

  2. #2
    As the day unfolds I try to bring the practice to the little moments of my "hell".
    Soaking in cold November rain, carrying heavy groceries in both hands, each step is arriving, each raindrop bouncing off my nose is the universe dancing. And even though I notice discomfort, desire to rush to warmth, these are only hiccups, passing clouds in my awareness, that also has space for unravelling beauty of the autumn evening.I have this deep feeling of arriving, being home even in the most un-homely situations.
    Beautiful

    Kokuu
    -sattoday-
    ------------------------------------
    Feel free to message me if you wish to talk about issues around practicing with physical limitations. This is something I have been sitting with for a fair while and am happy to help with suggestions or just offer a listening ear.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Ania View Post
    There is a lot in the spiritual world about the "power of now", "the wonderful present moment that is the key to eternal happiness". But what if your present moment is not about enjoying tea, pondering TNH quotes? What do you do if your present moment is hell?
    I've always felt that McMindfulness focuses so much on "happiness" and, as you say, the "now" moments, and often in a context of external circumstances that are positive, or at least conducive to converting the now to something blissful. As you say, there's a lot of hell in our lives, and these are the moments we need to deal with. Understanding that those hell moments are transitory, that they change, that the pain you feel now will be different in a minute, in an hour, in a day, or in a week, is what allows us - IMHO - to get through them. But it's also not attaching to them, not thinking that they are immutable, not allowing them color everything else that we do. Life is an alternating cycle of good and bad, heaven and hell, and whatever the now, we have to understand that it won't last.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    sat
    -----

    流文

    I know nothing.

  4. #4
    What a lovely teaching, thank you Ania!

    Gassho
    Jakuden
    SatToday/tried to LAH but just annoyed people


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    清 道 寂田
    SEIDO JAKUDEN
    She/her.
    I am a novice priest. Any resemblance my posts may have to actual teachings about the Dharma, living or dead, is purely coincidental (and just my attempt to be helpful).

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by kirkmc View Post
    I've always felt that McMindfulness focuses so much on "happiness" and, as you say, the "now" moments, and often in a context of external circumstances that are positive, or at least conducive to converting the now to something blissful. As you say, there's a lot of hell in our lives, and these are the moments we need to deal with. Understanding that those hell moments are transitory, that they change, that the pain you feel now will be different in a minute, in an hour, in a day, or in a week, is what allows us - IMHO - to get through them. But it's also not attaching to them, not thinking that they are immutable, not allowing them color everything else that we do. Life is an alternating cycle of good and bad, heaven and hell, and whatever the now, we have to understand that it won't last.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

    sat
    Thank you for this, this is really important. It's so easy to fall into the "McMindfulness" (hahaha, love it) way of seeing things and sometimes we do it without knowing it. After a few years of practice i'm just noticing now that something in me believed (and still believes somehow !) that, for example, anger, hate, fear, are "bad" things that you must NOT feel in a correct zazen practice. I don't know where i took this from, but i think it's a strong tendancy of our societies nowadays : everyone must be nice, comfortable with himself, well meaning, never angry, never sad, never this or never that... Well, screw it all, sometimes our lives feel like shit and it's still beautiful ; we can hate and love at the same time ; we have the right to be wonderful and contradictory piles of mess.

    Gassho,

    Uggy,
    Sat today
    LAH

  6. #6
    Oh, lovely, Ania.
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-09-2020 at 01:55 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    McMindfulness
    Kirk, What a fantastic word invention!

    After a few years of practice i'm just noticing now that something in me believed (and still believes somehow !) that, for example, anger, hate, fear, are "bad" things that you must NOT feel in a correct zazen practice.
    Uggy,
    I've just read an article about it today.
    "For a dharma teacher, there is an unspoken rule not to feel or express rage. Rage is considered unenlightened."
    https://www.lionsroar.com/awakening-...ampaign=buffer


    Gassho
    Sat

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Ugrok View Post
    Thank you for this, this is really important. It's so easy to fall into the "McMindfulness" (hahaha, love it) way of seeing things and sometimes we do it without knowing it. After a few years of practice i'm just noticing now that something in me believed (and still believes somehow !) that, for example, anger, hate, fear, are "bad" things that you must NOT feel in a correct zazen practice. I don't know where i took this from, but i think it's a strong tendancy of our societies nowadays : everyone must be nice, comfortable with himself, well meaning, never angry, never sad, never this or never that... Well, screw it all, sometimes our lives feel like shit and it's still beautiful ; we can hate and love at the same time ; we have the right to be wonderful and contradictory piles of mess.
    Well, it is human to feel most of those emotions, hard wired into our primitive animal brain.

    What we seek to do, as best we can (it is an art, like sailing a boat in sometimes stormy seas) is to not fall into EXCESS of such emotions, and to channel them better into positive or healthful directions. So, for example, a bit of fear when being chased by a tiger is natural, as is sadness when the dog dies. But to fall into endless panic attacks or clinical depression is not. To feel some constructive, righteous indignation at social injustice is one thing, but to be an angry and violent person who gets into drunken bar fights is another. Like that.

    We are not robots, but rather sailors who try to keep the boat in a good direction and upright in a storm, or bull riders who seek to ride the wild beast with grace.

    We also learn, in this practice, to taste the always fearless, angerless, lovely place of Emptiness and Absolute. However, down here on earth, sometimes we get a bit irritated and scared because that is just life.

    On mindfulness too, some Buddhist folks seem to go to extreme and idealized notions of what the goal of practice is. There is a time to be mindful, totally engrossed in one action in one moment, and a time to multi-task as we all must sometimes do in life. I am multi-taking tonight on 5 projects, so no time to do "just one thing." My "one thing" is doing this "5 things at one time." However, it is part of our Buddhist skill set to be able to do each in the appropriate moment (for example, today I went walking with my son for an hour, and completely tuned out all thought of the rest of my busy day. After, I went back to a million things to do, because I needed to get them done.)

    (please don't be angry that my comment ran long)

    Gassho, Jundo
    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-09-2020 at 01:54 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    Perhaps this is a bit morbid, but I try to remember my sister who passed four years ago and say to myself, "Although this isn't ideal, I get to experience this. She doesn't get to have any experiences any more. Maybe I can have this experience because she can't." I don't use this to justify harming myself or putting myself into unhealthy situations, mind you, I just find it useful to help me "get over myself" when my mind starts to complain about it being too cold out or carrying something being too heavy or a task being too tedious and maybe it's not the best strategy, but it does help me to ground my attention in the here-and-now and to judge these experiences less as good or bad and as things that are just happening.

    Gassho
    Kyōsen
    Sat|LAH
    橋川
    kyō (bridge) | sen (river)

  10. #10
    I guess what's difficult is to find the way to express correctly, and without harming others, those emotions that we feel, without shutting them down or denying their existence. Still haven't found how to do it skillfully. But i also know that bottling it all inside without ever expressing what you feel is wrong or what pisses you off is not a good way of dealing with it (and it is a good way to fall in the extreme examples you mentioned, Jundo). And i notice i did that a lot, thinking that expressing what i felt was always wrong and unimportant because it would bother others for nothing or cause unnecessary suffering to others. Also has to do with the trust you have towards other people, i guess... It's a real question for me, because i often read in buddhist books that you should not express your feelings, or that expressing them reinforces them, or things along that way. Well, i don't know, really. I think skillfull expression of feelings and emotions can also lead to people taking care of each other, and that's important too.

    Damn, sorry, derailing the thread, and being too long.

    Gassho,

    Uggy,
    ST LAH
    Last edited by Ugrok; 12-09-2020 at 02:07 PM.

  11. #11
    Powerful. Thank you, Ania

    Gassho,
    Washin
    stlah
    Kaido (有道) Every Way
    Washin (和信) Harmony Trust
    ----
    I am a novice priest-in-training. Anything what I say must not be considered as teaching
    and should be taken with a 'grain of salt'.

  12. #12
    Member Seikan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ania View Post
    Soaking in cold November rain, carrying heavy groceries in both hands, each step is arriving, each raindrop bouncing off my nose is the universe dancing. And even though I notice discomfort, desire to rush to warmth, these are only hiccups, passing clouds in my awareness, that also has space for unravelling beauty of the autumn evening.I have this deep feeling of arriving, being home even in the most un-homely situations.
    This is a lovely, poetic perspective Ania. Thank you so much for sharing.

    We truly do have to make space for both life's beauty and life's hiccups. The more I practice, the more I realize that the space itself, neither good nor bad, is home.

    Gassho,
    Rob

    -stlah-

  13. #13
    thank you, Ania.



    aprapti

    std

    Let silence take you to the core of life (Rumi)


    Aprāpti (अप्राप्ति) non-attainment

  14. #14
    Thank you Ania for sharing.

    For me, Itís great on the cushion recognising those different emotional states and seeing them for what they are. The aimless aim of the practice, I guess, is maintaining the same equilibrium or poise in the face of fear, conflict, challenges. Or at least accept that this is the way it is Now and, as on the cushion, this too shall pass. A lifetime or ten of practice though.

    Tom
    ST

  15. #15
    Thank you Ania for sharing

    Underground Zazen has a ring to it! I've noticed that the ability to let zazen infuse our difficult life experiences is a sign of it reshaping us slowly, like water smooths the rocks in a stream.

    Dental Zazen has been profound for me, especially with sensitive teeth.

    Gassho, Chris satlah

  16. #16
    I think in "How to Cook Your Life" by Uchiyama Roshi he made mention of the idea that when we find ourselves in hell, then hell must become our home until we're no longer in hell. (I hope I'm not butchering how he said it). When I think of being in the moment, it's more about acceptance of the present moment, even when it sucks.

    On the topic of negative emotions, I think it was in the book "Full Catastrophe Living", or perhaps "Why Buddhism is True" that I saw the analogy of a boulder at the top of a hill. The boulder represents our negative emotion, it begins to start rolling down the hill, but if we take notice soon enough we can catch it before it picks up speed and we lose any chance of slowing it down. We're not necessarily getting rid of them, just preventing them from getting out of control.

    Apologies for going over.


    Evan,
    Sat today, lah
    Just going through life one day at a time!

  17. #17
    Thank you for that,Ania. What you say hits home in some ways and as goals of mine in others.

    Dave

    SAT/LAH

  18. #18
    I like this a lot Ania,
    Thanks

    Gassho

    Steve

    sat:today

    Sent from my Pixel 4a (5G) using Tapatalk

  19. #19
    Lovely, thank you Ania. I know underground zazen very well although not for the last 10 months.

    Gassho,

    heiso.

    StLah.

    Sent from my RMX2001 using Tapatalk

  20. #20


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  21. #21
    A great guide to living the ups and downs of life.
    🙏
    SatToday

  22. #22
    Kyotai
    Guest
    Last week, a patient in the ICU where I work as a cleaner informed me that he only had a few days left. As it happened we were both from the same small town, though he had moved away in 1968. "its gonna be all she wrote" he said, without an ounce of self pity. So we had a nice chat. His acceptance of his circumstances were quite obvious to me. Though uncomfortable, he seemed content and at peace. In fact, the way he laughed and seemed to enjoy the conversation, i'm not sure he would have described his own circumstance as "up or down." What I saw was a wise man arriving in each moment.

    Gassho, Kyotai
    ST

  23. #23
    Thank you, Ania and all for these thoughts.

    -Matt / Kaishin
    -sT

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyotai View Post
    Last week, a patient in the ICU where I work as a cleaner informed me that he only had a few days left. As it happened we were both from the same small town, though he had moved away in 1968. "its gonna be all she wrote" he said, without an ounce of self pity. So we had a nice chat. His acceptance of his circumstances were quite obvious to me. Though uncomfortable, he seemed content and at peace. In fact, the way he laughed and seemed to enjoy the conversation, i'm not sure he would have described his own circumstance as "up or down." What I saw was a wise man arriving in each moment.

    Gassho, Kyotai
    ST
    That has been my experience - that being "in the moment" only brings happiness if the moment is happy, but it can bring contentment no matter what the situation is. Bad days are still bad, pain still hurts (and maybe even more so since one is not trying to gloss over it or push it away), but there's an ease knowing life is being experienced "as it is." It's possible to be unhappy and content, even through tears.

    Sat Today
    Shinshou (Daniel)

  25. #25

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyotai View Post
    Last week, a patient in the ICU where I work as a cleaner informed me that he only had a few days left. As it happened we were both from the same small town, though he had moved away in 1968. "its gonna be all she wrote" he said, without an ounce of self pity. So we had a nice chat. His acceptance of his circumstances were quite obvious to me. Though uncomfortable, he seemed content and at peace. In fact, the way he laughed and seemed to enjoy the conversation, i'm not sure he would have described his own circumstance as "up or down." What I saw was a wise man arriving in each moment.

    Gassho, Kyotai
    ST
    I just want to say that, because of interchanges like this, the cleaning staff in a hospital is also part of patient care, not just keeping the place healthy and sanitary. When I was on a ward, both as patient and as an aide, I saw many times that the cleaning folks would bring real human contact to the patients.

    Bodhisattva Work!

    Gassho, J

    STlah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  27. #27
    This is a beautiful thread that I am grateful for having been able to experience.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    On mindfulness too, some Buddhist folks seem to go to extreme and idealized notions of what the goal of practice is. There is a time to be mindful, totally engrossed in one action in one moment, and a time to multi-task as we all must sometimes do in life. I am multi-taking tonight on 5 projects, so no time to do "just one thing." My "one thing" is doing this "5 things at one time." However, it is part of our Buddhist skill set to be able to do each in the appropriate moment [emphasis added] (for example, today I went walking with my son for an hour, and completely tuned out all thought of the rest of my busy day. After, I went back to a million things to do, because I needed to get them done.)
    To be, with whatever this moment is for; isn't this the main thrust of our practice? When we sit, this moment is for sitting. When we juggle, this moment is for management of the five balls (or pins, or beanbags, or whatever). Am I maybe being too sophomoric?

    (apologies for the extra lines)

    Gassho,
    Nengei
    Sat today. LAH.

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