What's So Great About Now?

Cynthia Thatcher tells us why the present moment isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Cynthia Thatcher

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Present Moment

"BE MINDFUL." "Stay in the present." "Bare attention." We've all heard one of these phrases. And if you're more experienced in insight practice, these may be the watchwords that chime in the back of consciousness from morning till night, reminding you that everything genuine in the spiritual path is to be found in the now.

But then one day you're sitting in meditation, trying to observe the rise and fall of the abdomen, or a thought, or pain, and it all seems terribly dreary. Suddenly a question floats like a bubble to the surface of your mind: "What's so great about the present moment, anyway?"

Casting about for an answer, you think vaguely of seeing the beauty you've been missing (although nothing seems beautiful right now), or enlightenment (which is what, exactly?) or simply gaining more peace and happiness. You're not sure how those good things occur as a result of staying in the now—here you squirm a bit—and yet, imagining some golden light in the distance, you feel that if only your mind could stay in the present, things would get better. Better how? Well, just . . . better. Happier.

Alas. Although we may be thoroughly versed in the method of mindfulness practice, our clarity sometimes fails when it comes to stating why the now is worthwhile. Yet we needn't sweep the issue under the rug or be satisfied with a vague answer. It warrants serious thought because, unless we're clear about what the present is, it will be easy to abandon the practice of mindfulness when experience doesn't match expectation.

Fourteen years ago, during my first meditation retreat with Achan Sobin Namto, this question came up full force. I was a new student, in the first week of a three-and-a-half-month retreat. Achan Sobin, a Thai Buddhist teacher, had more than thirty years' experience teaching meditation.

"How do you feel?" he asked me. He'd just finished the evening chanting; the burning incense sticks made three glowing points in the otherwise dim room. Despite his kindness, desolation hung on me like a cape. "I'm having doubts," I said. He grasped the nature of the doubt instantly. It wasn't my ability that I questioned, or the teachings, or the practice method itself. It was the bleakness I experienced when staying in the now. Fundamentally, was the present even worth staying in? Somehow, Achan knew my thoughts. "There's nothing good in the present moment, right?" he asked, hooting with laughter until his eyes teared up. Apparently this cosmic joke struck him as hilarious, though I didn't find it particularly funny. He was glad I was on the right track. I was beginning to find out what all meditators were supposed to see: the First Noble Truth that every moment of samsara, every blip of mind (nama) and matter (rupa), was unsatisfactory (dukkha).

Yet Achan's response startled me. Hadn't I read that when you placed your full attention in the moment, you'd finally notice all the beauty you'd been missing? Wouldn't the plum taste sweeter? Wouldn't the bare winter branches (now that you weren't too distracted to actually see them) thrum with radiance against the no-longer-bleak gray sky? But he'd confirmed that the now wasn't all it was cracked up to be. I sighed. So the plum wasn't going to get sweeter. The present moment, it turned out, wasn't wonderful at all.

The current myth among some meditation circles is that the more mindful we are, the more beauty we'll perceive in mundane objects. To the mind with bare attention, even the suds in the dishpan—as their bubbles glint and wink in the light—are windows on a divine radiance. That's the myth. But the truth is almost the opposite: in fact, the more mindfulness we have, the less compelling sense-objects seem, until at last we lose all desire for them.

It's true that strong concentration can seem to intensify colors, sounds, and so forth. But concentration alone doesn't lead to insight or awakening. To say that mindfulness makes the winter sky more sublime, or the act of doing the dishes an exercise in wonder, chafes against the First Noble Truth.

This myth points to a misunderstanding of the role of mindfulness. Mindfulness, accompanied by clear comprehension, differs from ordinary awareness. Rather than seeing the conventional features of objects more clearly, mindfulness goes beyond them to perceive something quite specific—the ultimate characteristics common to all formations, good or bad. There are only three of these: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and non-selfness. (Note that beauty isn't among them.) Mindfully noting mental and physical phenomena, we learn that they arise only to pass away. In the deepest sense, we cannot manipulate or actually own them. These traits are unwelcome—unsatisfactory. So the more mindfulness one has, the clearer dukkha becomes.

But sitting there with Achan Sobin, staring at the glow from the incense sticks, I felt vaguely cheated by something I couldn't put my finger on. Had some perverse trick been played on the world? Ironically, having begun meditation in an effort to be free of suffering, I was now seeing more unsatisfactoriness—and rightly so, according to my teacher. Then why cultivate mindfulness? Why stay in the present at all? But rejecting mindfulness out-of-hand wasn't the answer. Since Achan was the lightest, most carefree person I'd ever known, I wanted to be like him, to follow the technique that had apparently brought him such ease.

THE GORDIAN KNOT needed untangling. And why not approach it in a rigorous manner, strand by strand? A scientist might first analyze the material in question, which in this case was the present moment itself.

So we might begin by asking: Of what is the present moment actually composed? There is a system of Buddhist metaphysics called Abhidhamma, in which we learn that our day-to-day experience can be broken down into units called "mind-moments." These moments are the smallest bits of consciousness—the quarks of the mental world.

Each moment is composed of two parts: consciousness and one object—not a watering can or a thimble, but an object of the mind. Consciousness is always aware of something. When a patch of azure bursts into our field of awareness, a blip of eye-consciousness sees the color. When a smell wafts toward us, another blip of consciousness knows the scent. Only mind and object; that's all there is to it. Our entire lives are nothing but a chain of moments in which we perceive one sight, taste, smell, touch, sound, feeling, or thought after another. Outside of this process, nothing else happens.

Now, what about the objects themselves? There are six types in all: sounds, colors, smells, tastes, touches, and mental objects. Consciousness perceives them via different sensory "doors." A sight, for instance, is cognized at the eye-door. Mental objects are perceived through the mind-door directly. They include, among others, thoughts, concepts, feelings, and emotions.

These six main objects are all that we can know. No matter how wildly adventurous our lives are, we still can't experience anything other than these half-dozen forms. Since mind and object are the only building blocks from which a moment of life can be fashioned, there is nothing else that could possibly take place in the now.

Once we know what the present moment comprises, the next question is: Are these components delightful and lovely? We often think that images, smells, and so on can be wonderful. And in the mundane sense, they can. We take delight in the scent of jasmine or the glimpse of a red sun over the mountains—but this pleasure is entangled with delusion. We think sense-impressions desirable only because we can't see beyond the conventions to their real characteristics.

Take the sunset: What happens when we see it? Ultimately, we don't. When the eye contacts a visual form, we merely see color, not a three-dimensional thing. In fact, the tint, along with the consciousness seeing it, dies out in a split-second, but we fail to catch the dissolve. Why? Because delusion blurs the separate moments of perception together, making experience look seamless. After the color sparks out, subsequent moments of consciousness replay the image from memory, dubbing it "sunset." This process takes only a fraction of a second. Nevertheless, by the time we name it, the original image is already gone. "Sunset" is a concept perceived through the mind-door, not the eye. We mistake this product of mental construction for something irreducibly real. Without the tool of mindfulness the trick is too fast to see, like trying to catch the separate frames of a running film.

The deception ends in disappointment—as if we believed a necklace to be priceless, then learned that the gems were paste. The Buddha said, Sabbe sankhara anicca: All formations are impermanent and therefore unsatisfactory, even the ones that seem heavenly. He didn't add the footnote: "Psst! Some formations are wonderful."

NOW, IF ALL FORMATIONS are unsatisfactory in the ultimate sense, then so must be the ones that make up the present moment. But again we ask, if the now is so far from wonderful, why stay in it? Note the difference between saying "The present moment is wonderful" and "It's wonderful to stay in the present." This is more than a semantic quibble. The first statement implies that the bare sensory data occurring in the present are themselves little bits of divinity. The second allows that, by staying in the now, one can be free from the distress that comes from clinging to those sensations.

In fact, the Buddha clearly stated the reason for practicing mindfulness: to uncover and eliminate the cause of suffering. That cause is desire. When its cause is absent, suffering cannot arise. At that point, the sutras tell us, one knows a happiness with no hint of anxiety to mar it. But that isn't because sights and sounds magically become permanent, lovely, and the property of Self. Rather, these impressions temporarily cease and consciousness touches a supramundane object called "nibbana," the unconditioned element. Although a mental object, nibbana, the "highest bliss," is not a formation at all; it is unformed and permanent. So the present moment is worthwhile because only in it can we experience nibbana—complete freedom from suffering.

Nowhere did the Buddha advocate mindfulness for the sake of appreciating the warmth of soapy water, the brightness of copper kettles, and so on. On the contrary, he called it a "perversion of view" (vipallasa) to regard what is ultimately undesirable as worthwhile or beautiful.

Yet can't sense-impressions be pleasurable? Yes, but pleasure isn't the unending source of happiness we take it to be. In daily life we perceive beautiful sensations as solid and relatively lasting, when in fact they're only unstable vibrations that fall away the instant they form. Like cotton candy that dissolves before you can sink your teeth into it, pleasure doesn't endure long enough to sustain happiness.

But since ignorance conceals impermanence, we react by grasping and pushing away, which agitates the mind. The very act of clinging causes mental distress—have you ever noticed that longing hurts? Moreover, the exertions are futile since grasping cannot extend the life of pleasure, not even by a nanosecond. As for unpleasant sensations—in truth, they disappear in a moment, too. But when you feel averse to them, the pain doubles. It's like trying to remove a thorn in your foot by piercing the skin with a second thorn. If we could let go, the mind wouldn't suffer.

The Buddha discovered that the happiest mind is the nonattached one. This happiness is of a radically different order than what we're used to. When asked how there could be bliss in nibbana, since it offers no lovely sights or sounds, Sariputta, the Buddha's chief disciple, said: "That there is no sensation is itself happiness." Compared with this joy, he implied, pleasure falls woefully short. We read in the sutras that "everything the world holds good, sages see otherwise. What other men call ‘sukha' (pleasure) that the saints call ‘dukkha' (suffering) . . ." (SN 3.12). This isn't just an alternative viewpoint—it's ultimate reality.

As paradoxical as it sounds, we can only find this genuine happiness by first understanding that the present moment of mind and body is unsatisfactory. By progressing through the stages of insight—experiencing fear, then weariness, then dispassion when noting phenomena—we can give up attachment, the real cause of distress. The more clearly we see the lack of worth in mental and physical sensations, the less desire we'll have for them until, thoroughly disenchanted, craving will be snuffed out automatically. As soon as that occurs, pure happiness will arise by itself.

But if we keep searching for more beauty in the sights and sounds themselves, how can we see them clearly? How can we become dis-illusioned and quell the fires that keep us agitated?

are trapped in a burning house. Chunks of flaming wood keep dropping from the ceiling. Would it be better to acknowledge the danger and help the others escape, or to stay and search for beauty: "Look, it's not really so bad. The mauve cast to those flames is quite lovely. . . "?

Likewise, we should mindfully observe dukkha in the present moment because that's the only staircase out of the burning house, the house of the khandhas (the five aggregates: matter, feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness), in which we're trapped. That's not a well-received view. But is it better to ignore the message, to plop down on the stairs with a shrug? Not acknowledging the danger, we're in far worse straits. Seeing it, we can negotiate an escape.

Not that we'll develop long faces. Buddhists recognize suffering in order to be free of it, not to wallow in it. Ask yourself this: Is it "wallowing" to tell those in danger that the house is on fire? The great news is that anyone who follows the Eightfold Path to the end is guaranteed to attain nibbana. Who wouldn't be glad to know that unalloyed happiness is possible? Indeed, most of us aim much lower than that.

Mindfulness practice does lead to happiness, but not because the stuff of the mundane now—its sights, sounds, and the consciousness that knows them—turns out to be better than we'd thought. Despite the myth, bare attention doesn't expose some hidden core of radiance in the empty vibrations; no such core exists.

When the components of mundane existence are themselves unsatisfactory, can we reasonably hope to fashion happiness from them? That's like trying to weave a white rug from black wool. So, rather than frantically looking for loopholes in the teachings, isn't it wiser to accept that mindfulness won't make the plum any sweeter or the kettle any brighter? But here's the hopeful part—the more we practice mindfulness, the less we'll care about sweetness or brightness. Once we have a superior substitute, the traits that are compelling now will interest us less and less. This is not numb indifference but true liberation. We'll have learned the great secret that nonattachment is a lightness and freedom complete in itself, separate from the impressions pouring in through the sense-doors. Imagine it. We'd no longer need certain sights or touches to feel at ease.

Nor would we feel depressed due to others. Although we may not understand it yet, once we've tasted this freedom we'll treasure it more than the most delightful sensation we can think of - the fragrance of linden trees, the notes of a Chopin prelude, or the pleasure of making love. We may continue to experience these and other pleasant sensations. But we won't grasp at each sight or touch when it ends, and therefore won't suffer from the loss.

Now comes the tough question: Do we honestly seek liberation from the dreary rounds of dukkha? Then let us be mindful, not to imbue the pan of suds with a fabricated beauty, but for the reason the Buddha intended: to see the distress of clinging until we behold the real plum—nibbana. The enlightened ones have sung it in many ways: When the mind's object is nibbana, the present couldn't be more wonderful.

Cynthia Thatcher teaches meditation in the Dhamma Friend Program. She is currently writing a book on traditional Vipassana techniques.

SIDEBAR: How long is a Buddhist moment? Cynthia Thatcher explains.

Image: Cement Dock, Jimmy and Dena Katz, 2005

From Salt Dreams, © 2005 Powerhouse Cultural Entertainment, Inc.

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jackelope65's picture

I wonder if the subconscious mind is attached, in any way, to the millions of sensations occurring each moment, never to reach the conscious mind, yet indirectly affecting it?

Dominic Gomez's picture

Buddhism illustrates this as millions of unseen currents and eddies in the depths of the ocean indirectly affecting its surface appearance.

fmart's picture

On the 8th of August Cynthia Thatcher, author of Just Seeing, a popular book on meditation published by the BPS, passed away in the USA at the age of 47. Cynthia, who suffered from a painful nervous system disease for several years, peacefully passed away while her mother was reading to her from a Dhamma book. She was a keen practitioner of insight (vipassana) meditation. Before she got ill, she went to Thailand several times to do meditation retreats with her teacher Ajahn Sobhin Namto. A few months before she passed away she wrote to a friend that she got interested in Buddhist meditation as a college student, when she opened a book on Buddhism that she found in the college library:

"At the word 'nonself' I felt as if I'd been struck by lightning. The feeling came that nonself was something I had always known to be true, in some vague way in the back of my mind, but had never been able to articulate or bring into focus. The idea seemed very familiar, like remembering something I'd forgotten long ago or coming home after many years in a foreign place. From that moment onward I felt that this was it for me. There was no question or hesitation. I took the book home and began practicing meditation from the instructions the next day. I remember sitting on the roof of our communal house at night, trying to meditate, not knowing what I was doing. But I didn't care. I never "worried that I might be doing it wrong. I regarded it as a grand experiment. Here was something practical I could do instead of endless thinking and reasoning. I just wanted to investigate, to find out what was real. Even though I had no idea what 'reality' was, I had strong faith that somehow meditation would lead me to it. ... from the night I found that book in the library so many years ago, there's never been a moment in which I doubted that this is the correct path for me and that these are true teachings." Due to her understanding of the Dhamma, Cynthia was not afraid of death: "If I could have less pain I would not mind living longer. But if things had to remain as they are now, I would absolutely prefer to die. I am looking forward to dying, because I do believe in kamma and I believe that the result of the little bit of merit I may have made in this lifetime will lead to a better rebirth."

May she attain Nibbana!
Buddhist Publication Society, Newsletter, No. 70 (Summer, 2014)

James Mullaney's picture

I'm at the point where I've let go of so much attachment to the 'reality' of the world, and the self which has perceived itself as real, that when I close my eyes, a new universe opens up. It's like empty space, just as the dharmakaya is said to be. And that turns out to be synonymous with the Tao, and Empty Stillness, and The Great Mother, and the Mother of All Buddhas, Prajnaparamita - from which everything in the phenomenal world proceeds as from a Mother's Womb.

So yes, everything exists in the Mind - in latent form and subsequently in manifest form.

But what's surprising is that all the emotional memories from my life going all way back to early childhood are still inside there too, overlaid like a film on that dharmakaya or empty space - they're preserved in the form of vivid and immediate emotional sensations in my 'subtle body' or 'internal organs' or DNA. So this validates, for me, what Reginald Ray is always saying. These have got to be the 'karmic seeds' of reincarnation, because they haven't been resolved into quietude and stillness. They still require some kind of resolution - and I may not have enough time left in this lifetime. Unless I purify it in my remaining lifespan, I'll be reborn somewhere - maybe earth; maybe a Pure Buddha Land.

I'm probably a non-returner. (I've never taken the bodhisattva vow, lol.) Anyway, it's all good. ; )

markhazell45's picture

Early in a talk to his students in the spring of 1978, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche said "I would like to say, ladies and gentlemen, that you shouldn't be afraid of what you are. That's the first key idea. You shouldn't be afraid of who you are. It is very important for you to realize that." Ms. Thatcher presents a traditional argument for the unsatisfactoriness of samsara, and one certainly can't argue with that -- samsara is a drag! It's not the whole story, though. Human beings come with everything needed to wake up -- as the Vidyadhara said, they have enlightened genes. The clinging and bias that lie at the root of samsara are not permanent or solid, even if they seem to be more so than other mental constructions. Our habits may be firmly rooted, but if we feel we are condemned by them, that we are fundamentally flawed, we are buying into the root klesha for this era: self hatred.

On another occasion, one of Trungpa Rinpoche's students asked him what enlightenment was like and he replied, "For you, excruciating!" As we relax our clinging and open to the present moment, allowing ourselves to be touched by whatever we encounter, everything becomes more vivid. We feel the beauty and wonder and pain and sadness of existence more acutely; there's no picking and choosing, we have to open to the whole thing.

mahakala's picture

Shit-covered goggles are no different than rose-colored glasses. Neither of them change the sunlight itself... only its appearance to the human eye. The spectrum of 'pain opposed to pleasure' creates your experience of its context. If there is no such thing as beauty, or pleasure - then surely there is no such thing as dreary distress either. Without suffering, there is no happiness.. and without happiness there is no suffering. Contrast only exists in the middle-ground between opposing sides. This is why puerile discussion of such things as "one-taste" is worthless at best. "But the sutras say this," and "The Buddha says that,".. yes, well - good luck substituting those dead words for your living reality.

kcwd50's picture

Hmmm. I found this article helpful and well-written. I have been discovering more and more that the point of my practice is not to feel better, be happier, etc., but to somehow get beyond all that to just experiencing what is--impermanence, emptiness, and the unsatisfactoriness of conditioned phenomena. But I also resonate with what star says about the wonder and mystery of it all, and I find that wonder and mystery a source of ?pleasure? ?happiness? (or whatever). Not sure these are compatible, but what the heck. Perhaps they can be reconciled by not clinging to wonder/mystery/whatever.
Thanks for the article (and the comments).

glenzorn's picture

As Tilopa said, experiences are not the problem, clinging is the problem.

Anita Schnee's picture

A very helpful article, in tough times. Read here . . . http://catself.wordpress.com/2014/03/16/self-not-self/

boiester's picture

no beauty in enlightenment, very hard for me to want it then. Beauty is my inspiration and keeps me sane.

jrchristensen's picture

I tend to agree. This makes enlightenment sound like a very bleak existence.

Russosharon's picture

Very enlightening article! I too have encountered what the author describes! But maybe I still don't really get it. I am quite frustrated with my practice. I have been meditating daily for well over a year now, and I have yet to find anything beneficial about the practice. Am I doing it wrong or what? I tried guided meditations for awhile and now I just set a timer, which I actually enjoy more than the constant talking. I just don't know what to do next! Can anyone help? Namaste.

variegatedfoliage's picture

Please don't get discouraged. Meditation is a skill that takes as much time to develop as any other and at the same time, you need to be learning why you're doing it in the first place. You'll find if you stick with it that you will make progress. The teachings are designed for ordinary people, no special talent required, just persistence.

You might want to work with a variety of practices; samadhi, vippasana, metta. Eventually they all fit together. Guided meditations can be distracting because they don't allow you to find your own way and pace.

It's important to understand basic concepts to work with meditation and to transfer that understanding into your daily life. I find it helpful to listen to as many dharma talks as I can absorb, from teachers with slightly different angles that end up complementing and illuminating each other. Here are some good sites where you can listen or download:

http://www.dhammatalks.org/mp3_collections_index.html#basics Thanissaro Bikkhu's talks on the basics of breath meditation are extremely detailed and helpful.

http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma9/dharmatalks.html Here I particularly recommend the Basic Buddhism and other classes, which cover basic concepts like the Eightfold Path.

http://www.dharmaseed.org/teachers/ Countless talks by something like a couple hundred teachers, many of them well known.

http://www.youtube.com/user/AjahnBrahmRetreats/featured Talks from Ajahn Brahm's retreats

http://imsb.org/teachings/audio.php Talks by Shaila Catherine

I hope this helps!

Dominic Gomez's picture

Try the chanting of Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Like an arrow aimed at the earth it cannot miss the target.

Russosharon's picture

Thank you so much, Dominic!

James Mullaney's picture

After a few years, when you look back, you discover that one of the benefits of the meditation practice was the discipline you acquired by practicing regularly and faithfully, even if you weren't in the mood or you thought of something more exciting to do. Setting a timer is a great technique. Like working out with weights regularly - or the proverbial novelist who sits down to write every morning whether she feels like it or not. There's always something better to do, but after 5 years she discovers she's completed a novel. After 5 years of regular meditation practice, you discover that you have great spiritual strength.

Give it time. It's a joyous discovery when one day you find that most things cause you no suffering anymore. You may not find it in the micro-level of the meditative moment, but you will on the macro-level of the spiritual 'chops' or 'muscles' you build up with years of practice.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are miracles and magic too - but they only occur when you're not striving to have them. And if you persevere for 20 years, you perceive that life on earth is just a dream in the mind, and that there is a much greater reality than this one. That's like the proverbial novelist, again, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature at the capstone of her career.

Russosharon's picture

Thank you, James!

Jakela's picture

This is a very important piece of writing.
It might be reduced to the ability of practice to be in The Moment, as compared to the moment.
by that I mean the context of nibbana--not the content of what is happening right now.

star's picture

What this article seems to be saying counters my experience--that Creation sizzles and pulses with unfathomable beauty. Beauty is not necessarily "beautiful." It is more like the quality of something being completely itself--which of course is true about everything, every second. Why be alive in human form if not to become intimate with a soap bubble or one's own longing? What a beautiful undertaking, without even the aim (another kind of desire?) of attaining Nirvana. Why not attach more deeply--to the incredible Life and World we find ourselves in the middle of for a very brief time? Then our life's work would be on risking deep attachment in the face of inevitable loss. Why not aim for the willingness to suffer, rather than give one’s life to the task of eliminating it?

I think Wonder underlies all of it. We can look on everything, even suffering, with wonder. How is it that a sunset exists at all? How is it that my own suffering exists at all? Many years ago I was out in a boat on a whale watch. I was having a bad day emotionally. Immense amazing animals were surfacing right next to our boat, and my pained, negative thoughts were frothing up, distracting me from fully experiencing the whales. That only added to my misery and self-dislike. But then, I had a weird thought: my thoughts and feelings, my troubles, were actually as amazing as the whales. The fact that emotions, thoughts, life circumstances, self-inflicted misery, undeserved suffering, boats, days, bodies, selves, oceans, and whales existed—all together, and at the same time as countless other ephemeral phenomena—was…. phenomenal!!!

And very satisfying, the mystery itself.

melcher's picture

"Beauty is not necessarily 'beautiful'..." "...Why not attach more deeply..." "...Why not aim for the willingness to suffer..." "...our life's work would be on risking deep attachment in the face of inevitable loss."

Does one's sense of wonder and enjoyment require some sort of indiscriminate veering between attachment and suffering? Or can wonder co-exist with equanimity, that is the simultaneous awareness and letting go of all thoughts, experiences and circumstances?

palasche's picture

Thank you, Star, for sharing your thoughts and feelings. I have the same sense of it all. The totality of the cosmos is boundless beauty and when I focus on any one small thing, I am very often struck by the beauty it reflects. I don't feel attached to that thing I am focused on... I can and do let it go, because I know that the beauty continues everywhere and all one has to do is focus.

star's picture

You're welcome. Thank you for your thoughts, as well.

ljame54's picture

It would seem that all formations are conditioned, whereas nibbana is not a construction of experiencing but inherent reality. This is a well-structured dharma teaching. Thank you for the pointing to mindfulness as a tool to note this conditionality.

Sukha's picture

Ah! Thank you for this. I have noticed myself becoming more and more unhappy as I've become more mindful and was beginning to wonder what the heck the point of all this was. I thought I must be doing something wrong! Good to know perhaps I'm on the right track after all. I'm curious, though, if everything is impermanent, how does nibbana escape this mandate?

celticpassage's picture

The present is just where we live...we have no choice...if that isn't miserable what is? Laughs.

Dominic Gomez's picture

The present moment is significant only because it becomes the next one, ad infinitem.

Yuriy-Wisdom's picture

This is one of the best practical and comprehensive articles I've read. Great writing style too!

Thanks and happy New Years!
My personal meditation blog: www.meditationcorner.com

bluesharper's picture

the present moment is wonderful because that is where life is, only now, in flow, non conceprtual to the thinking mind. waking up is about realizing we only exist now.