Tag Archives: illusion

No Past, No Future, No Problem

“When you say to someone ‘you’re history’ it doesn’t mean that you’re a part of it; it means that you’re obliterated. That’s what history means.”
— Unknown

I think my Change the Meaning of the Past post (on January 8th, 2012) was too brief & too fast. I got a few comments from readers that it was hard to catch all that Alan Watts was saying & they also wanted more to read. Well, I can’t slow Alan down & I can’t transcribe the whole video, but I can write a bit more about the topic & post an additional video for you.

The Alan Watts video that I embedded in this post gives a bit more detail & has good pacing. It’s quite relaxed & fun to watch (especially Alan’s printed pants).

To me, the bottom line of what Alan Watts is saying is: THE PAST IS THE RESULT OF THE PRESENT. I could probably talk about that sentence for an hour. Actually, I know I easily could. But for now, I want to take it in another direction. (Because you can watch the entire 6 part video on Alan’s view that I embedded above, & get almost an hour of talk about that sentence from him.)

I want to share a different take on: being, living in the present, & staying out of past/future based thinking.

To me, suffering is only possible if your mind is in the past or future. If you are truly in the present, suffering is not possible.

But someone might say: I am in extreme physical pain from an illness (or physical injury). I am completely present. This pain is happening right now, & I am suffering!

My question for you would be: but are you comparing how you feel right now to a time when you were not in pain? Are you comparing how you feel or how you look, to the past? Are you comparing the predicament you are in right now to a time when you were not in it? Are you adding to this moment thoughts about the future? Thoughts based on fear? Like: what if I never get better? What if this gets worse? What if I am never the same? Why is this happening? What if I die? What if this takes a long time? What if I lose what I have over this? What if I never feel good again? — Also, let me ask you: what is your point of reference for pain & pleasure? Is it not based on the past? So in my opinion, it’s not the pain (illness, injury, or situation) that is making you suffer — it’s you. It’s your thoughts. Thoughts overrun by past & future based thinking.

Try it out for yourself today. Or better yet, try it out for yourself this week. Set aside a piece of paper. Every time you get stressed, or feel uneasy, or feel that unwanted emotions are arising — make a note of it. I want you to write down what what you are feeling & thinking. Go into detail. After that, I want you to write down what is happening in the present. Write down where you are & what is TRULY happening in the present moment. Not what you are thinking is happening, but what is really happening. Just note the facts. Don’t paint a picture of them. Just write down the basic facts without adding meaning to them. At the end of the day, or end of the week. Go back & see if those detailed thoughts & feelings about the situation matched the basic facts of the present moment. And if any of the fears that were noted in the detailed thoughts were as scary, as uncomfortable, or as painful as you thought they would be.

Alan Watts has a quote that ties in nicely to what I was just sharing with you:
[Being free from the past] simply involves a change in your thinking. It involves in other words; your getting rid of the habit of thought whereby you define yourself as the result of what has gone before — and instead, get into the more plausible, and more reasonable habit of thought. In terms of which; you don’t define yourself in terms of what you’ve done before, but in terms of what you’re doing now. And that is liberation from the ridiculous situation of being a dog wagged by its tail.

Just remember: no past, no future, no problem! :) Stay present. See what is happening now as a gift.

[To watch the entire “Time and The More It Changes” video (in 6 parts) from Alan Watts, click here.]

[Photo of the “No Past, No Future” tattoo is from the F*ck Yeah, Tattoos! blog.]

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The Mind of Absolute Trust

I posted a few lines from The Mind of Absolute Trust, a zen poem by Seng-Ts’an translated by
 Stephen Mitchell on my Facebook page this week. If you want to read the entire poem, click here.

Today I feel like I want to share the same Seng-Ts’an poem, but instead of the translation by Stephen Mitchell, I want to post the Richard B. Clarke version. I definitely recommend reading both. The two poems paint a picture of the indescribable in their own unique way — yet both lead us equally to the same truth: truth beyond words.

Hsin-hsin Ming: Verses on the Faith-Mind

The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart. If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinions for or against. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind. When the deep meaning of things is not understood, the mind’s essential peace is disturbed to no avail. The Way is perfect like vast space where nothing is lacking and nothing is in excess. Indeed, it is due to our choosing to accept or reject that we do not see the true nature of things. Live neither in the entanglements of outer things, nor in inner feelings of emptiness. Be serene (without striving activity) in the oneness of things and such erroneous views will disappear by themselves. When you try to stop activity to achieve passivity your very effort fills you with activity. As long as you remain in one extreme or the other you will never know Oneness.

Those who do not live in the single Way fail in both activity and passivity, assertion and denial. To deny the reality of things is to miss their reality; to assert the emptiness of things is to miss their reality. The more you talk and think about it, the further astray you wander from the truth.

Stop talking and thinking, and there is nothing you will not be able to know.

To return to the root is to find the meaning, but to pursue appearances is to miss the source. At the moment of inner enlightenment there is a going beyond appearance and emptiness. The changes that appear to occur in the empty world we call real only because of our ignorance. Do not search for the Truth; only cease to hold opinions.

Do not remain in the dualistic state — avoid such pursuits carefully. If there is even a trace of this and that, of right and wrong, the Mind-essence will be lost in confusion. Although all dualities come from the One, do not be attached to this One. When the mind exists undisturbed (in the Way) nothing in the world can offend, and when a thing can no longer offend, it ceases to exist (in the old way).

When no discriminating thoughts arise, the (old) mind ceases to exist. When thought-objects vanish, the thinking-subject vanishes, as when the mind vanishes, objects vanish. Things are objects because of the subject (mind); the mind (subject) is such because of things (object). Understand the relativity of these two and the basic reality — the Unity of Emptiness. In this Emptiness the two are indistinguishable and each contains in itself the whole world. If you do not discriminate between coarse and fine you will not be tempted to prejudice and opinion.

To live in the Great Way is neither easy nor difficult, but those with limited views are fearful and irresolute — the faster they hurry, the slower they go — and clinging (attachment) cannot be limited; even to be attached to the idea of enlightenment is to go astray. Just let things be in their own way, and there will be neither coming nor going.

Obey the nature of things (your own nature), and you will walk freely and undisturbed. When thought is in bondage the truth is hidden, for everything is murky and unclear, and the burdensome practice of judging brings annoyance and weariness. What benefits can be derived from distinctions and separations?

If you wish to move in the One Way do not dislike even the world of senses and ideas. Indeed, to accept them fully is identical with true Enlightenment. The wise man strives to no goals but the foolish man fetters himself. There is one Dharma (Truth, Law), not many; distinctions arise from the clinging needs of the ignorant. To seek Mind with the (discriminating) mind is the greatest of all mistakes.

Rest and unrest derive from illusion; with enlightenment there is no liking and disliking. All dualities come from the ignorant inference. They are like dreams or flowers in air — foolish to try to grasp them. Gain and loss, right and wrong — such thoughts must finally be abolished at once.

If the eye never sleeps, all dreams will naturally cease. If the mind makes no discriminations, the ten thousand things are as they are, of single essence. To understand the mystery of this One-essence is to be released from all entanglements. When all things are seen equally, the timeless Self-essence is reached. No comparisons or analogies are possible in this causeless, relational state.

Consider movement stationary and the stationary in motion, and both the state of movement and the state of rest disappear. When such dualities cease to exist, Oneness itself cannot exist. To this ultimate finality no law or description applies.

For the unified mind in accord with the Way all self-centered striving ceases. Doubts and irresolutions vanish and life in true faith is possible. With a single stroke we are freed from bondage; nothing clings to us and we hold to nothing. All is empty, clear, self-illuminating, with no exertion of the mind’s power. Here thought, feeling, knowledge, and imagination are of no value.

In this world of Suchness there is neither self nor other-than-self. To come directly into harmony with this reality just simply say when doubt arises, “Not two.” In this “not two” nothing is separate, nothing is excluded. No matter when or where, enlightenment means entering this truth. And this truth is beyond extension or diminution in time or space; in it a single thought is ten thousand years.

Emptiness here, Emptiness there, but the infinite universe stands always before your eyes. Infinitely large and infinitely small — no difference, for definitions have vanished and no boundaries are seen. So too with Being and non-Being. Don’t waste time in doubts and arguments that have nothing to do with this.

One thing, all things — move among and intermingle, without distinction. To live in this realization is to be without anxiety about non-perfection. To live in this faith is the road to non-duality, because the non-dual is one with the trusting mind.

Words!
The Way is beyond language,
for in it there is
no yesterday
no tomorrow
no today.

By Seng-ts’an (520? – 606?)
Translation by Richard B. Clarke
The original translation as published in ZEN BOW 1968.

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Change the Meaning of the Past

“We must abandon completely the notion of blaming the past for any kind of situation we’re in, and reverse our thinking and see that the past always flows back from the present — that now is the creative point of life. So you see, its like the idea of forgiving somebody, you change the meaning of the past by doing that. Also, watch the flow of music. The melody as it’s expressed is changed by notes that come later. Just as the meaning of a sentence — you wait till later to find out what the sentence means. The present is always changing the past.”
Alan Watts

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