“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Saturday, July 30, 2011

“In the Moment”

This is a much abused phrase. It is taken to mean “in the now,” “refusing to stray in one's awareness beyond the present.” What the heck is that? How big is the window? Five seconds? Ten years? Zeno's paradox alert.

Think of how mindfulness has been reduced to sport (the Zone) or feats of neurological prowess, however impressive those may be.

But if you take it to mean what Heidegger means (right after the line I just posted on), you see something very interesting.

Again, there is an uncanny parallel to Buddhism. It's called the fourth moment in Dzogchen. There is the present, the past, the future. Then there is the fourth moment. This is the moment at which the nature of mind is happening. Shamatha type mindfulness experience has a “nowness” to it that might function as a gate into this fourth moment.

Now unless you've received mind transmission it's pretty easy to dismiss this as a Platonic illusion of some beyond. But I assure you this fourth moment is possible to experience and is in fact much more intimate than the common sense of “being in the present.” It is much more like “being outside of time.” It's indescribable but real.

Talking of indescribable, Trungpa Rinpoche writes a magnificent piece on it here.

So-called sudden enlightenment needs enough preparation for it to be sudden. Otherwise, it can’t happen at all. If you have a sudden accident in your motor car, you had to have been driving in your car. Otherwise, you can’t have the accident.



zareen said...

Trungpa Rinpoche also seems to share Heidegger's concern with space, particularly when he describes the breathing exercises for shamatha-mindfulness---breathing out mindfulness, dissipating mindfulness into the air with the breath. And then moving into vipashyana-awareness. Reminds me of dwelling.

Ted Bagley said...

not sure I buy the Teacher's explanation of sudden enlightenment, unless one is driving the car in order to crash in the first place! haha!