Eternal Now


“The days and nights of Brahman are spread out in time in rather the same way as a ball of thread an inch in diameter is unrolled to the length of a hundred yards. Its real state resembles the ball but to be presented to the human mind it has to be unrolled. For our idea of time is spatial; it has length, which is a spatial dimension. But eternity has no length, and the nearest thing to it in our experience is what we call the present moment. It cannot be measured, but it is always here.” [More excerpts]

— Become What You Are (Alan Watts)

What Is Tao?

what-is-taoTaoism regards the entire natural world as the operation of the Tao, a process that defies intellectual comprehension.

Taoists understand the practice of wu wei, the attribute of not forcing or grasping.

Jen – a human being will always be greater than anything they can say about themselves, and anything they can think about themselves.

Tao is a sort of nonsense syllable, indicating the mystery that we can never understand — the unity that underlies the opposites. […] Tao is a reality that we apprehend deeply without being able to define it. […] Anything that is expressed about the Tao is not the Tao.

We have been trying to fit the order of the universe to the order of words. And it simply does not work. The real basis of Buddhism is not a set of ideas but an experience.

When we say that we are trying to make sense out of life, that means that we are trying to treat the real world as if it were a collection of words. (Words are just symbols)

We are taught to figure things out, and our first task is to learn the different names for everything. In this way we learn to treat all of the things of the world as separate objects.

Humans get in their own way because they are always observing and questioning themselves. They are always trying to fit the order of the world into the order of sense, the order of thought and words.

Every stream, every road, if followed persistently and meticulously to its end, leads nowhere at all. […] Any place where we are may be considered the center of the universe. Anywhere that we stand an be considered the destination of our journey.

“The mystery of life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”

My Give-A-Shit bubble is shrinking

HattieI think I’m sliding off the back side of the culture bell curve. The list of pop culture events about which I give a shit is shrinking. Fast. Star Wars? Yawn. Super Bowl/World Series. No relevance to my life. Of late I’ve noticed it isn’t just pop culture. I’ve stopped caring about ‘important’ stuff.

ISIS seems to be a big deal these days. I know they’re doing bad things to innocent people but my level of shit giving is directly linked to how much I can do about the problem and the answer is, not much.

Gun violence in America? Bad. Very bad. But I don’t care as much as I did a year ago. Or a month ago. I get that this kind of apathy (?) contributes to the problem. Maybe if we had 1,000 people slaughtered every day that could move my meter again but what could I do about it? Climate change? Please. I’m kind of in car-going-over-a-cliff mode. Is there really any reason to keep my hands on the steering wheel?

Pretending (or really caring, for that matter) to care about seems to be important mostly to people who run things. Those in office and those who want to be. Making me care enough about the ‘right’ things can be very helpful to a politician or a political party. People at Trump rallies care. Same for the people lining up to see Bernie.

But Steve, you say, you’re looking at this from too high a level. There are lots of things you can do close to home to make a positive difference. To change things. And you’re right. That I’m not doing much of that suggests that I don’t much give a shit at all levels.

Let me assure you (too late?) that I’m not depressed for hopelessly forlorn. I’m surrounded by things that matter to me. My dogs. My sweetie. Good books. The view from the deck. So maybe my Give-A-Shit bubble is shrinking (as am I). Appears to be about 100 feet in any direction.

Meditation: 371 Days

After 371 consecutive days of meditation practice (starting December 4, 2014)… today I forgot. Battling pneumonia. Since I was getting a little too focused on my “string,” this is a good thing. The only important practice is the one I do today. I’ve been sitting for years but started keeping track with the help of an app called Equanimity.

Maya by Ray Alez

“The only thing that I have ever known was void. You could say that it surrounded me forever since there was no time before I created it. At first all I was was awareness, just the sense of consciousness with nothing else. Gradually, I started to think thoughts in the midst of this void. I’ve made up time and space. And once I was thinking in this emptiness I got horribly bored. So I’ve turned my thoughts into figures and images. I’ve imagined light, which turned into stars and galaxies and later – planets. And thus Maya was born.”

“On one of the planets I have created animals and humans, just in one whim of my desire. I could simulate the whole history of this universe starting with the Big Bang, but I didn’t bother, waiting for billions of years would be too boring, besides the time was made up anyway, so I’ve just skipped right to the interesting part – the year 1983, the moment my imagined humans invented the internet, and started their race towards singularity.”

“After a few years I got bored of observing this planet from the outside, so I’ve decided to jump in and play. I’ve made myself a human body, I’ve put it in front of the computer. There was no need to go through the whole process of birth, I’ve just made a grown man, and reedited the history retroactively, filled his head with memories and experiences, so that it would seem more realistic.”

“And I was still bored, horribly-horribly bored. As much as I’ve played with these ideas in my imagination, as realistic as they’ve seemed, I was always aware of the void. I knew that it all was just smoke and mirrors, just a very realistic lucid dream, and I knew that at any moment I could stop imagining it, and it would all disperse like a smoke, leaving only a point of consciousness drifting amidst the timeless spaceless thoughtless void.”

“So I’ve made a decision. I’ve decided to forget of the void. I’ve reedited my thoughts so that it would seem like my consciousness is just a property of my brain, and I’ve made my brain to forget about the void. Consciousness dimmed, my powers to change my imagined reality have disappeared. All that was left were thoughts, thoughts and memories inside of a brain, which believed in the reality of an imagined world.”

“And I have found myself staring at the computer, going through my daily routine, not knowing about the void, not knowing that it all was made up, just living in a physical body I’ve believed was real.”

“And I cared. I was finally not bored, I thought I’ve existed. I was engaged – I remembered my future and worried about my past. I had goals and memories, I had enemies and friends, I had family and loved ones, I had fears and dreams.”

“I was alive.”

Busyness is a kind of debt

“Having zero clutter is an entirely different experience than having a little clutter. The psychological effect of reducing any type of mess to zero is profound. It feels like a noisy fan has shut off. Now I love the feeling of being at zero, and I never want to be far from it. Every neglected possession, unanswered email or open browser tab is like a little hook in your brain. There isn’t a huge difference in how it feels to have six of these hooks in your brain versus having eighty, but there is a vast difference between having some and having zero.”

David Cain expands on this at Raptitude