Episode · 1 year ago

Lecture 2 HERE AND NOW


This lecture talks about the present, as being our only point of access to reality, and about the need to be mindful of it. It also calls our attention to the many ways in which we become distracted from the present and lose ourselves.

Meditation Time Lecture Too. Here and now, while the present is a window of experience that affords us an intimate view of our nature and that of the world around us, it is constantly jeopardized by the inner chatter of our memory and imagination, which can prove immensely distracting. The past as we remember it and the future as we plan, wish or fear it, are therefore in direct competition with the present as we live it, and the risk of distraction doesn't stop there. Our attention to the present can be indiscriminately divided between a host of things, ranging from the most important to the most insignificant. The worst among us our scatter brains, prone to mishaps because of their lack of...

...mental discipline. They do too many things at once in a disconnected, careless fashion. Human consciousness, however, is a limited resource that can be overwhelmed with an excessive input from different sources. It demands a clear sense of priority and focus, lest it should lapse into a jumbled heap of information that we are unable to effectively process, leaving US dazed and confused. This is as tall in order as it is pressing. Discipline, indeed, doesn't come to US spontaneously. It proceeds from an informed and mature decision to resist humoring the child within us, whose unruly playfulness has its time and place, but must also be tamed if we care to grow beyond the stage of mindless infantilism. Likewise, though we share with monkeys the same origin, we are designed to...

...overtake them on the evolutionary road and ideally become exemplars of wisdom, rectitude, kindness and proficiency. Again, we must be wary of the pitfalls along the way that can hold us back. They are all the more treacherous as we naturally gravitate toward them like deer attracted by the headlights of cars that barrel at night along country roads. If only they knew better than to follow their instincts when their instincts, aimed in principle at their preservation, ironically lead to their tragic demise. We, on the other hand, should have enough sense to prevent our minds from wandering without restraint. Such foolishness may be our natural inclination, a path of least resistance that appeals to the Lazy Demon lurking inside us, but the so called easy way out is always chock full of unforeseen difficulties.

Our humanity cannot thrive in a hectic existence of scattered actions that move jointly with a whirling mass of blurry feelings and fuzzy thoughts. And what could be more painful than seeing in the mirror and old reflection of ourselves, with only wrinkles and aches to testify for the passage of time, as we stand void of any worthy achievement? What could be harder to deal within this root awakening, when we no longer have the luxury of youth to redeem ourselves and death awaits US contemptuously? Before closing, allow me to expand on one insidious pitfall that takes the form of a strength but acts like a weakness. It does so to the extent that it compounds the risk of distraction, which is also a risk of destruction as regards our prospect of fulfillment in all spheres of human activity. As we know, there can be no fulfillment with without mindfulness.

We are reputedly creatures of habit and that, increasingly, as we age, we learn to prefer caution to toe merity and replace the Itch for adventure with a taste for comfort. At home, at work and elsewhere, we readily settle into familiar ways of getting things done, namely routines, and the greater the familiarity, the more we are likely to let our minds drift while we go on autopilot, in the thoughtless manner of an Automaton. As a result, our sense of purpose and accomplishment is severely dulled and our robotic life seems more and more like a pointless exercise. Depression sets in. Yet, instead of resorting to further escapism to bury our low spirits, we would be well advised to shake things up by changing for the better certain mediocre habits that we have tolerated until now, much to our shame, but also, and mostly,... snap out of our Zombie ways. Only then can we see a silver lining beyond our cloudy past, as we thoughtfully reinvest our every action with meaning and value and finally rediscover the joy of living.

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