Monthly Archives: March 2017

6,400,099,980

Standard

“In “The Merits of Home-Leaving,” which is the title of Chapter 86 of his book Shōbōgenzō, Zen Master Dōgen   praises his young monks for their commitment to a path of awakening and explicates the granular nature of time: the 6,400,099,980 moments that constitute a single day. His point is that every single one of those moments provides an opportunity to reestablish our will. Even the snap of a finger, he says, provides us with sixty-five opportunities to wake up and to choose actions that will produce beneficial karma and turn our lives around.”
~ Ruth Ozeki, A Tale For The Time Being

#01, How long is NOW?

I am obsessed with the Dōgen’s number (I am even thinking of getting it tattooed) that I first came across when reading the book mentioned in the opening paragraph. I remember how I tried to imagine it all, but never really had time to sit down and look at it in more details. So let’s look at it together, NOW, shall we?

Let’s start with some maths (sigh)…
A day has 24 hours, which adds to 1440 minutes,  (24 x 60), which makes 86400 seconds (1440 x 60).
So when we accept Dōgen’s figure as representative enough for the purpose of establishing the duration of the present moment (now), in each second, there is 74075 present moments (6400099980÷86400).

To establish how long does the present moment lasts would require opposite division, 86400÷6400099980, which would make a pretty small number, 0.00001349978 of a second to be precise. Almost unimaginable. Unmeasurable by our brain. Unnoticeable.

#02, From now to know

I am in love with mathematics after reading Jim Holt’s book, Why does the world exist?.
I am trying to live as mindfully as possible and if you have been through some books, websites about living the best life, you must have come across the idea of “LIVING IN THE NOW”.

I guess there’s some kind of obsession with that amongst certain circles, but let’s not go too far here. It’s a pretty neat concept, but for people like me, hard to understand. Thank God for the mathematics though, it can help to explain many things. Apparently it’s kind of a religion and as far as being religious goes, I’d say to love mathematics might as well be the most beautiful way of being it.

So,
I struggled to grasp the whole “EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING IN NOW” concept for a long long time. Only after reading the book from Ruth Ozeki and the one about how our world came into existence (which is advertised as an existential detective story and it really is) I started to understand it.
First of all, let’s look at the way we process what is happening.

We have certain amount of senses (we are taught that the human body has five senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. But many neurologists identify nine or more senses, and some list as many as 21) and through these we interact with the outer and internal worlds. But the thing is, when we actually sense something, when our brain translates the sense’s sensation into a feeling, recognisable experience, the event has already happened, so we’re constantly behind THE NOW, as we need time for our neural paths to get the information from receiving sensors into our beautiful brain.

So then, how it is even possible to live in the now when we’re constantly behind it?
I guess it’s about the way we look at time. We have been taught that time is linear. Which it doesn’t seem to be (check the first paragraph, apparently time is granular).

We all can mind-travel in time. Recall past events, dream about future ones. Isn’t that also part of our living, inseparable from our attempts to be constantly present with our feelings? Is it really bad to rewind, or to fast forward? How is that experience different to the one we’re describing as the present when every presence we observe is actually a past by the time we have a chance to realise it?

So I am not too keen on advocating living in the now. If you’d say, living in the closest proximity of now as we can, then yes, perhaps. But no one lives in the now. No one, not all the time. Actually, make it never. It’s our separating of the past, presence and future that somehow makes the presence the automatic winner here. But what if they cannot be separated?

#03, Embracing the time / Frame of reference

NOW is AN IDEAL.
An unreachable, yet poetically beautiful concept. So I understand why people love it as an idea. It’s kinda cool and, I’d say, trendy at the moment.
But here’s a heretic thought.
This is the most beautiful statement I read about the life and living to the fullest. It’s from another book, with absolutely stunning title, The Two Kinds Of Decay, by my friend Sarah Manguso and it has nothing to do with now. Funnily I understood it much later on after I read her book.

“This is suffering’s lesson: pay attention. The important part might come in a form you do not recognize.

You might not know to love it. But to pay attention is to love everything. To see the future as brightness.

Everything that happens is the last time it happens. We see things only as their own fatal brightness, and there is nothing after that brightness.
You can’t learn from remembering. You can’t learn from guessing.


You can learn only from moving forward at the rate you are moved, as brightness, into brightness.”
And that’s that.

You don’t need to know how long is now.
How to explain it.

It’s much simpler.
Just…

P
A
Y


A
T
T
E
N
T
I
O
N

Know that, whatever happens, happens only once.
Nothing happens again in exactly same way.
Every moment is the paradox of birth and death, we’re simply living and dying at the same speed.
Speed of love. Speed of life.

I personally think, knowing this, the inescapable fact of life being unrepeatable is much easier way of appreciating your own being here as the most beautiful mystery than any attempts to describe how to live in the now.

Pay attention.
Pay attention.
Pay attention.

Then you love everything.

THEN YOU LOVE EVERYTHING.


Advertisements

Pay attention, the important part might come in a form you do not recognize

Standard

“This is suffering’s lesson: pay attention. The important part might come in a form you do not recognize. You might not know to love it.  But to pay attention is to love everything.  To see the future as brightness. Everything that happens is the last time it happens. We see things only as their own fatal brightness, and there is nothing after that brightness. 

You can’t learn from remembering. You can’t learn from guessing. You can learn only from moving forward at the rate you are moved, as brightness, into brightness.”
~ Sarah Manguso,  The Two Kinds Of Decay

#01, Juggling

It’s a rainy Sunday afternoon and I am tired after the rushed morning where I simply juggled more balls than I planned.

Or actually,
did I plan any of what happened? I don’t think so. Much of what happened, simply happened because, as Sir Isaac Newton wisely noted, for every action, there’s equally big reaction and as I left the house and started to interact with the world, the world responded to my actions.

It was quite interesting thing to observe and at some points, I actually shifted from being the one affected by what’s happening an I just kind of let it all touch me as if I was a wild animal that somehow let its own curiosity win over its fear of the unknown.

The reality that was then created might not have been immediately recognizable as a direct result of my morning actions (plus there might be more actions that I have taken long before today that we also necessary for all of this to happen), but I truly believe it is so. That much, if not everything, that happened today reflected the shift in my willingness to open myself as a active being to the outer environment and don’t be afraid that it will respond back in pretty much unpredictable way.

If I disattach from the story and distill the essence of it, it was as if I was living a dream that I didn’t even know I had. On occasions it felt kind of surreal.

I had this strange feeling, that if I haven’t read the book by Sarah, I wouldn’t be able  to recognise that right in front of me, life is manifesting itself in a very interesting and beautiful way and it is worth noticing.

#02, Remembering

I have chosen the excerpt from the book “The Two Kinds Of Decay” as an opener for this post because after a few years from reading her wonderful book “The Two Kinds Of Decay” I’m beginning to fully appreciate its depth. All that happened today would still probably happen anyway, but the fact is, my mind would definitely process it differently. And, I believe there’s equally likely possibility that none of this would happen and I am glad that I have paid a lot of attention to what was happening as it was magical.

(I appreciate that you might not see this the way I saw it, but please, when you will get a little, almost unnoticeable feeling that something important is happening, please pay attention. It truly is to love everything.)
So, what exactly happened?
My friend wanted to buy a book for another friend that she’s visiting soon and planned to try to find it in second hand book-shops in the afternoon.

I have changed my original decision not to go to carboot market today and shortly before 8am I a grabbed my daughter and we went. So I offered my friend that I’ll try to search for that book as there always are a few people selling books.
When we arrived to the carboot location it only had 30% of usual attendance. And it was beginning to rain. I didn’t feel great as I slept bad and I started to regret leaving the house. After we passed a few stalls where people were selling all sorts of junk we arrived to a table where two women we’re selling a fair amount of books. I asked, whether by any chance she has any books by Dan Brown. She said “Yeah, there’s one in that pile on the ground, fourth from the top, but I forgot the name.”

At that point I kinda knew it’s the one I’m trying to find.

And…

… it was.

Was I surprised? No.

I didn’t think it’s a miracle, or anything big, but I was paying attention. I let that moment of joy to fill my heart like it was a cup, because I knew my friend will be happy. It was as if I was I decided to live the best version of reality and enjoy everything that will come my way. Because I felt that it will be fun. Because all that is happening, is happening for the first and the last time. Always only once. So we truly must be paying attention because we can easily miss the most important part. 

~

“Nothing happens in a moment. Nothing happens quickly. If you think something’s happened quickly, you’re looking at only a part of it.

Firing a rifle shot seems to happen quickly, but what about the movement of the trigger finger? What about the decision to fire the rifle? What about all your careful target practice? What about everything in your life that happened before you decide to fire that rifle?
How can you separate the incidental from what was necessary to your decision to pull the trigger?

Nothing happens in an instant. Nothing starts happening and nothing finishes happening.
~ Sarah Manguso, The Two Kinds Of Decay

~

#03, Fabricating

I came to Starbucks where my friend was enjoying her morning with coffee and I joined her. It was raining heavily.

Once I given the book to my friend, I got to the counter and ordered myself the usual large Americano and I let Anneke to pick a chocolate.
As we were talking with my friend, she noticed a tiny white feather on Anneke’s jumper and pulled it out and shown her.

Anneke is a very curious and intelligent girl and my friend is a great storyteller. I sensed something magical is about to happen.

We started to talk about the angels and magic and after Anneke’s little naked doll got a new plait and a a dress from the golden foil off Anneke’s chocolate coin I decided to up the game and let Anneke to become a white witch. I was going to use the foil to create a magic stick for for her, but then I just peeled off the sticker off it and attached what we decided is the angel’s feather to the wooden stirring stick. As always, Anneke played her part really well. She immediately got into her role of magician and grabbed her stick as if it truly had the power to turn things and people into whatever she thinks they deserve to be.
She was showing off as always. It is her way of displaying trust. I could see she’s enjoying it, she always puts her whole heart into her plays. She wanted to turn my friend into some amazing animals, when I got to be turned into:

– a slug
– a frog
– a rat
– a snake
– a pigeon
you name it (anything she thought I wouldn’t like)
>>>

And in the end – a poo.
(Cheers darling.)

I heard that children are the best teachers and it is so true. I have to admit, that I am often guilty of not paying full attention to what Anneke says, or does and at this point, I realised how much I am missing. It is arguable whether we can pay 100% attention 100% of the time, but the point is, we just have to try our best. Tragedies have happened because of people not paying enough attention, relationships ended due to lack of attention, conversations turned bitter because of it.

Then I decided to turn Anneke into some ugly things too, but she and her new found ally were protecting the magic wand vehemently. So I decided to make my own wand. Black magic wand. The counter force to their white magic.

I took the black plastic fork and broke the middle two spikes to create a wand I called Devil’s horns.

As much as I tried, I couldn’t beat the white wand made of angel’s feather. And in the end, my black wand got destroyed. It was a great game and it was wonderful storytelling. 

~

#04, Only now exists

I cannot bring the whole story back. It all happened once and this poor description of it all just shows how important it is to be present in the moment when the life is happening. Moments move like a fluid one into another, but at any time, only one moment exists. We can look back and make a slow motion movie out of our moments, but that doesn’t bring their beauty in full. The beauty lies in the present moment.

With all of this being in the past, my heart fills with a little sadness. Of course there are many more new moments to live, but sometimes what we experienced was so magical that we somehow want it to last. 

But nothing lasts forever. Every moment is a hello and goodbye. Please pay attention to life around you. Smile. Look at things with respect, enjoy presence of your friends, family, strangers. I know I want to.

Love and light.