Sunday, August 5, 2018

Right now

I can see that many people follow a habit of feeling up or down.  I have been wondering if one habit or the other works better. Of course, under given circumstances, being happy or being engaged in fixing a situation makes sense.  I have not had the habit of seeking happiness but have more often been engaged in some project that seemed important at the time. I have read "Stumbling on Happiness" by Dan Gilbert and watched his TED talk about how our predictions of what will make us happy are often overestimates of what we will feel if a given event occurs.  

I have Kindle notes on some relevant books, such as Karen Maezen Miller's "Paradise in Plain Sight."  The notes are a record of what spoke to me at the time I read the book. Looking over them, I found several that referred to staying more in the present and spending less thought on the past or the future.  I think that other life forms are less capable than humans at reminiscing, fantasizing about something much better than the actual present, or hoping to reach a situation that will be more satisfying than the present.  

The Buddha is said to have gotten tired of beating up on himself in the hope of achieving a better mental state and simply deciding he would sit under a tree and not get up until he became enlightened and understood life.  After several days, he realized that people suffer and that they need not. He came to focus on what are called the four Noble Truths but I have been concentrating on the role of time. Buddha and others emphasized that change is always happening and that what we don't like will change and what we do like will also change.  They are quite aware of the power of our liking in all that.

Both Maezen Miller and the author Eckhart Tolle ("The Power of Now" and "Practicing the Power of Now") emphasize that quite a bit of our suffering comes from regret over past events and longing for future events.  When we drop the imagined future and what we can remember of the past, we are left with this conscious instant. The more accurately and completely and honestly I can see what I am feeling right now, the more I can see whether I am back in time or forward in time, both of which are ok places to visit mentally but neither are real.  It can be a real gift to stand in the now, right now. Am I in pain? Do I have complaints? I can be afraid of the future (that might not arrive in the shape I fear) or feel sorry or guilty about the past (which has gone). But how are things right now?

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