We’ve all heard about the benefits of “being here now”, but why does it seem so difficult for attention to simply remain present? We can pledge allegiance to the concept all day, but the actual experience is fleeting at best. If we turn attention around, we notice that we are typically somewhere in the past or future. To truly appreciate the immediate presence of our own truth requires that we relinquish the self-fascination, along with its ongoing narrative. There is no self in the now. The self idea comes later, when we have distanced ourselves from the present in order to conceptualize about it, and one of the concepts we employ is the sense of “me”. “Me” is a kind of useful creation that helps in the navigation of this 3-D realm, but not at all who or what we are.

Consider for instance the character we assume in a virtual reality video game. We are clearly not that fictional creation, but we play the role for the game’s duration. Some also compare that sense to a dream, in which the mind plays various roles while we sleep, but which all vanish when we awaken. However, there are no daydreams in the now. The self-obsession is a kind of daydream, in that it has no substantial foundation in reality. Rather, it’s a compounded jumble of thoughts, emotions, memory associations, beliefs and reflected images, interpretations on perceptions conditioned by innumerable factors leading back to the Big Bang and even further back.

There is no beginning actually, but the human mind makes a habit of identifying with the self-contraction from an early age, and that generally remains the case throughout one’s life, even if one reads a lot of wise sutras and holy texts. Unless we are somehow sobered up by a direct recognition of our actual condition, which is pretty rare, we typically remain in a stagnant trance of identification with those contracted self-images. Even more rare is to thoroughly disentangle from the long-running persona program to the point of mature stabilization in selfless love.

This is why the skillful teachings on “short moments, many times”, are expedient. Even when we awaken to the nature of consciousness to some extent, it takes effort to allow it to inform our very cells. However, this is not about some mental regimen, practice, or strategy. It is a matter of letting go at the heart, because it is the heart’s deepest desire, and we can no longer resist its call. Nobody plans to fall that much in love that they lose themselves in such a love. It may sound romantic even, but it is death. That is why we want to keep the story going, because we are afraid of death. What we discover, however, is that we don’t lose the story, it just expands beyond our comprehension. The story is not our concern. It only comes true when we unequivocally embody this immediate presence, unfettered awareness, selfless love.

About Bob OHearn

My name is Bob O'Hearn, and I live with my Beloved Mate, Mazie, in the foothills of the Northern California Sierra Nevada Mountains. I have a number of blog sites you may enjoy: Photo Gallery: Essays on the Conscious Process: Compiled Poetry and Prosetry: Verses and ramblings on life as it is: Verses and Variations on the Investigation of Mind Nature: Verses on the Play of Consciousness: Poetic Fiction, Fable, Fantabulation: Poems of the Mountain Hermit: Love Poems from The Book of Yes: Autobiographical Fragments, Memories, Stories, and Tall Tales: Ancient and modern spiritual texts, creatively refreshed: Writings from selected Western Mystics, Classic and Modern: Wisdom of a Spirit Guide: Thank You!
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4 Responses to Virtual

  1. Pingback: Index of Essays | The Conscious Process

  2. Judy Demsky says:

    Yes, “short moments, many times”, sounds like a plan. Thank you, Bob!

  3. Bob OHearn says:

    Short Moments, Repeated Many Times

    “Uncontrived naturalness is not something that one does, even though it sounds like you do remain in naturalness, and you avoid fabricating. Actually, it is the opposite of doing. One does not do anything. By repeatedly letting be in the state of uncontrived naturalness, it becomes automatic. Don’t think that there is a long moment between two thoughts that you need to somehow nail down and own. That would not be automatic; it would be fabricated. Rather than improving upon the recognition of your own nature, simply remain completely at ease. It is a matter of self-existing wakefulness getting used to itself.

    Do not try to keep the state of naturalness. The state will be self-kept as the natural outcome of your growing familiarity with it. Do not fall into distraction. Short moments, repeated many times… Because of our very strong habit to always do something, the moment of non-doing doesn’t usually last long. In other words, there is no real stability. We quickly create doubts through conceptual thoughts, wondering, ‘Is this it?’ or ‘Maybe not?’ Our recognition almost immediately slips away. That is just how it is, and there is not much that we can do about that initially. That is why we practice recognizing for short moments, repeated many times.

    If we do not repeat the recognition of mind essence, we never grow used to it. “Short moments” ensures that it is the real, authentic naturalness. For a beginner, recognition of the authentic state does not last longer than a short moment. ‘Many times’ means that we need to grow more and more familiar with this state… To be relaxed and let go in the moment of recognizing — that is the most important thing. Then, when the recognition slips away, we can simply repeat it again.

    In the beginning, approach the natural state by settling the mind; otherwise our strong negative habits of involvement in thinking this and that keeps the attention very busy, and a multitude of thoughts arise. The starting point is therefore letting go, relaxing, and settling completely. Among the thoughts that arise, remain, and disappear, one tries to keep the quality of relaxing and remaining. That requires effort, and thus is not the effortless natural state. Still it is helpful because when the mind becomes more quiet and settled, it’s easier to recognize what it is that feels quiet, what it is that keeps still. When your mind, your attention, is not so busy, it becomes easier to see that it is not an entity.”

    ~Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

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