Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on September 30, 2014

Yesterday it was like Indian Summer here and today it is not. A little rain, some arctic air, and here we are right on the verge of frost. Winter will be a while yet, but the subpoena has been delivered. I got it. My first reaction today was to make a huge pot of vegetarian chili, with lots of celery in it. Being indoors all day is tough; closing the windows so air does not flow through the house is tougher. As they say, "The frost is on the pumpkin," well, almost anyway. We are bringing in the house plants.

What follows is not an essay, but just some of my musings, so I hope they can be accepted for what they are. I have been thinking about this present moment.

If we read even a little Tibetan Buddhism, we can't get away from its focus on the present moment. As mentioned in earlier blogs, the Buddhists are not worried about "Being Here Now" as Baba Ram Das pointed out, but rather with not altering the present in any way. And of course they rule out the past and the future as just something seen from the present darkly. They only really say one thing.

Allow the mind to rest in the present, just as it is.

These Tibetans are seldom wrong, so they must be on to something. It is clear to me that this is much easier said than done or else we would all be rinpoches by now, and we're not. The Buddhists are all about staying close to the source, the present moment. "Resting in the moment," what does that mean?

Instead of falling into reminiscence or wondering about the future, this present moment is where things are happening. Things done in the present moment are fresher. Obviously they are "of the moment."

And it's all good because this moment is the latest news from within and it has arrived right now, too soon for us to have a view or attitude about it. It is as yet unaltered by perspective or anything else. This present moment may not be better than what happened an hour ago, but it has the virtue of being (for the moment) authentic or real, about as authentic as things can get.

And the source of change always appears in the present moment, always now, and never then. It is like drinking directly from the hose or the faucet when we were kids. The present has all the virtues of the moment, and at least for the moment is authentic. It has not yet been altered or tampered with.

To the Buddhists, resting in the moment does not mean standing at the station waiting for the next train of thought either. Been there, done that. We are not going for a thought ride because we have already arrived right where we want to be, here in the present. Distractions are tiring.

The present moment informs us of change. The meditation masters say not to alter the present, which is easy to understand. Don't monkey with the mind. Let it speak for itself, just like the oracle that it is. It can't be improved by embellishment or alteration on our part. Our afterthoughts are just that, post-it notes on experience that we should be having fresh instead of just having had them. We can't step into the same river twice, so why not take the plunge.

A lot of meditation training involves learning to leave off with annotation, constant comments, tagging, and even reflection. Reflection does not require effort any more than a mirror does. It just is. As they say: rest as it is.

Allowing the mind to rest does not mean that everything comes to a halt or that the mind suddenly stops moving. That's not it. It means that we stop attempting to alter the mind and learn to let it be (rest) as it already is and always has been. Getting rid of our ingrained habit of altering everything is like trying to remove a piece of silk from our arm right out of the dryer. It clings.

And we all know exactly what it means to come to rest. Drop a ball, spin a coin, allow a drop of water to fall in a still pond… They all gradually come to rest, which does not mean that life does not go on. It does. Only the alterations from the effort we make die out as the mind comes to rest. At long last we allow the mind to just rest as it is.

When we allow the mind to rest naturally, nothing is different except we have removed our shaky hands from the eyepiece of thought we look through. The result is greater clarity. In fact, we are no longer looking "through" anything, but rather are aware of our own awareness and just rest in that. It is luminous.

This is why meditation is an iterative affair, increasingly learning to leave off with effort and to ever more gently allow the mind to come to rest, just as the bouncing ball ultimately stops bouncing and the coin on the table stops spinning. Everything falls to rest, eventually, even our busy mind. It takes practice.

The learning technique of meditation itself has to be deconstructed before true meditation can occur, just as when we finish a building, we remove the scaffolding. We eventually stop practicing and just start meditating. We couldn't practice all the time, but we can learn to meditate all the time or most of it.

If we are thinking in the past, well, we are not present, except presently in the past. Same for the future. Both past and future are seen through the present. So, where are we going to go? Not far, for sure.

The past is too murky and the future is not here at all, so we sit around the well of the present telling stories like these and fishing things out of the mind. What else is there?

[Graphic put together with my help.]