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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Be fully Alive. Buddhism and Multi-Tasking.

How can you be alive when only your body is there and your mind still wanders in the past or in the future? You are not really alive. You are not available to you. You are not available to your beloved ones. So come home to yourself in the here and the now; be fully alive and your true presence profits yourself and profits your beloved ones.

~Venerable Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

James: My A.D.D. makes me good at multi-tasking, however, multi-tasking means my attention and awareness is split. That means that I'm not really present for either task. As a consequence I often find it takes me longer to do both projects than if I just do one thing at a time. I have found that the antidote to this false reality is meditation where we practice and learn to let go of all distractions to the present moment. It trains us to realize that there are no short cuts along the way. It may seem slow but putting one foot in front of the other will never lead us astray because then we are fully present and keenly aware of the path.

Whereas in trying to do several things at once we will likely be distracted as we pass important signs, which then increase our chances of getting lost along the way. In doing so we end up making our journey longer, harder and full of suffering. Once we realize that the supposed short-cut was in reality a false moment, it reveals itself for the dead-end it inevitably is and we then have to backtrack to find the longer but well traveled main path once again. The same applies with the past and the future as Thich Nhat Hanh speaks of in this quote.

In ruminating over the past we are no longer putting one foot in front of the other. Instead by doing this we are basically sitting down in the middle of the trail. We are frozen in time, which keeps us from doing anything at all because the present moment is abandoned and the present moment is where life happens. It's like we go into hibernation mode in which, we slip deeper and deeper into a dream where we constantly replay the past hoping somehow it will change. It's like sleep walking through life. In fantasizing about the future we can easily get lost in our vision of a better life. Therefore we get lost in this fantasy world and inevitably when we realize that our fantasies can never become reality we suffer in coming to the awareness that life and precious time has passed us by.

I know that it's a bit early to make goals for the new year. That said, I am going to work on reducing my multi-tasking to the bare essentials like reading road signs as I'm driving so that life no longer passes by me. I'd rather live a so-called "boring life" than live in a fantasy world.

~Peace to all beings~

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Mountain Humanist said...

Some thoughts on Buddhism...

This is not on topic, James, but I have found your blog to be a helpful source for discussion of Buddhist related topics.

I have tried to describe myself as a Buddhist but I find such labeling to be inaccurate.

For one thing, it seems like my beliefs are my beliefs (and metaphysically I use the word "my" as a provisional, conditional marker).

I find that many of the principles attributed to the historical Buddha (if there was a historical Buddha) to be beneficial.

I find certain Buddhist principles that do not seem to line up with reality (anything supernatural) to be unhelpful.

And I find myself wondering if the Buddha really ever wanted there to be a religion or belief system called Buddhism. Just like I wonder if the person behind the Jesus legend (assuming there was a person) ever expected his (or her?) words to form a religion.

It seems that what we call Buddhism is simply a rediscovery about the nature of reality. We redefine some of the basic principles of reality (Noble Truths/Eightfold Path)and apply such process to our context and our culture.

So, I wonder if there is such a thing as a Buddhist. Each of us who practice or hold Buddhist principles vary such belief and practice to different degrees and levels so it seems to lack any benefit to hold a Buddhist (or any ism) label.

I realize I am rambling and not really saying what my mind makes manifest.

In short, I am hereby turning in my Buddhist "membership card."

I'm just a plain, ole human.

That doesn't mean I won't apply my version of the Four Nobel Truths and the Eightfold Path to my life.

That doesn't mean I won't continue to meditate.

That doesn't mean I won't continue to check out this blog since it offers such a unique, dogma-free perspective.

Looking forward, I think we, as a culture, are on the brink of a "open-source" era in religion and philosophy in which the great and popular religions of the past will be examined and re-integrated as they are needed into our lives.

Maybe it doesn't matter if the Buddha or Jesus or Muhammad ever lived. If certain principles they supposedly espouse conform with reality and reason, we use them. If certain supernatural stories can be seen as myth rather than history and applied as teaching fables, let's apply them.

With the explosion of communication tech, we can't continue to nurse ancient dogmas as real facts. It's time to drop the labels and embrace each other in our real-life journey forward.

Shinzen Nelson said...

Good post James. Mindfulness on your task at hand is important...just ask any wide receiver on a football team who turns his head downfield before the ball reaches his touchdown. Gotta keep your eye on the ball...then run.

doctor Rob said...

To me buddhism is a science of mind. A system of time worn, time tested means, methods, and pathways worn and sworn to be valid by those who do in fact earnestly practice them. Myself included.

So no its not a religion in the west in the same way christianity is a religion in say Texas or Ohio.

Enjoyed the post - am simply peering out and around in the blog world seeing what or who and who or what might return the favor and turn the mirror on me.

Carla said...

Good post, James!

keva said...

Being a member of a so-called Christian religion, I can also say I follow the practices of Buddhism. And the mindfulness teachings of TNH. I think all three help me to be a better person, and in a sense complement each other. Frequently, while listening to a story in the Bible or similar, I find my Buddhist teachings give me a different angle, that others don't often recognize.

So I agree, I don't classify Buddhism as a "religion"...

Marco said...

For me, Buddhism is something that is not out of the blue. It is something that there is for the essence of one's self, finding self-sufficiency.

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