2021-12-12 Praciticing with Time
7:13PM Dec 12, 2021
So warm greetings, everyone. Happy to have you all here. Before the pandemic, we used to broadcast these Sunday morning talks on YouTube. I never thought about the people on YouTube. But now I do. So now, clearly. They're right there are the cameras. So thank you for those of you logging in today. So the topic that I want to talk about today is time, it's been on my mind lately. And I want to tell you a story. From my time at the monastery Tassajara. I was the, the kitchen manager I guess. And so I was like the person most responsible for the production of the food and the meals. And there was a crew of anywhere from maybe four to sometimes 10, depending on the time of the year that I supervised. And but during the retreat time, we had three months of merit retreats. And at that time, in Zen things are highly choreographed, the schedule is really clear and set. And it's kind of like time is one of the teachers in a Zen monastery, because you have to kind of do things on time. And also, you have to stop on time, one of the great challenges was, we'd have this 15 minute cleaning period, the raking the grounds or sweeping or doing something. And when the bell rang to end it, you couldn't just keep doing it to finish the job. When the when the time to end happen, you were supposed to stop there, it took a training people to learn, it's okay to stop. The next day, you could do it some more. So anyways, everything's choreographed on time. And so one of the things that was, was that was meals. And meals basically had to be served up in the meditation hall, by them at the minute that it was supposed to be there because there was all this ritual beforehand. And so the ritual people are chanting and bowing and doing all this stuff. And then sitting there and sitting in meditation hall, you know, just for the meal to come. And so in order for it all to go smoothly, you know, the meal had to be there right on time. So I don't know, I don't remember exactly when lunch was, but maybe we the food had to be ready at the door of the meditation hall at something like 1215 or 1220. And then we had us and it was kind of, you know, hectic to get everything thing ready. But then one of the rules of the what are the practices of the monastery, when you worked in the kitchen, at noon, exactly 12 o'clock, everyone had this all the cooks at the stop what they were doing, go in front of the kitchen altar, and chant The Heart Sutra, chant this text. And I've waited regularly since I was supervising as you know, can be a Ghast. No, we're never going to get done. We have all this stuff to do and just 15 minutes before supposed to be served up No. And, but you had to do it. So we reached out The Heart Sutra. And always when we finished chatting, there was more time to get it done. Without fail, and we, you know, we always the meal was always ready. But somehow the the sense of time, for me was very much tied up in how busy my mind was, how much my mind was concerned with all the things and the desires and the complications and my mind was crowded. And somehow that crowded impulse of the mind that pressure of the mind. You know, I had a very different feeling of time. Then after chanting the mind got calm and settled. And by the way, more space, in my mind, more calm in my mind. And they just seem like oh yeah, we have time and somehow I don't know if we worked naturally faster or just it was all an illusion to my mind.
But we always had time. So in the years since then, there have been times when I feel like I'm running had a time to hectic too much to do, what am I going to do and don't know which foot to stand on, because there's so much to do. And I learned that if that happens, I just do one more thing. And that seems impossible, right, which is to sit down to meditate. And I'll meditate for 10 minutes. And then when I come up, suddenly, oh, there's time, I'll do this now. And I'm still here, I've survived. And so it always works out. That's remarkable to do this, but I had no one waiting for me. So it wasn't like, you know, you know, I took the 10 minutes when people were already up in the car ready for me to come. Here that didn't, that wouldn't make sense. But so time, the sense of time or relationship time, as is a fascinating topic and important topic, because a lot of suffering that people have, is directly or indirectly connected to the topic of time. And if we consider a little bit, the nature of time, and how we will, how we live in time, and then often in subconscious ways, unconscious ways, will start seeing our life in a different way. Some people are time poor, impoverished in time, because time is constantly slipping away, they're running out of time, they didn't have enough time. So they ran out of time for whatever they had to do their time as deadlines and things, you know, until they have to finish before a certain time. And then people are struggling with these notions about time. And part of it is the nature of industrial society, when things became started getting regimented and organized, that people started to have to show up at these factories at a particular time. And had to have teams of people had to kind of be organized shifts and all kinds of things. And then with the industrial form kind of idea of scheduled time, there arose the idea of school time. And my understanding is that school time was kind of modeled on the kind of what happened in factories, and then school time became very rich and regimented. I guess people didn't go a lot of people didn't go school before that their education happened in different way there was not so time centric, you know, then I remember when they in high school, the bell rang and leave the classroom and it was just like this sea of humanity in the hallway, you know, jostling for their way to the next classroom and but if you left the classrooms to go somewhere during class, it was really peaceful in the hallways, but you know, this, this rhythm, tempo rhythm that they were living in, then that was and, and I don't know, you know, nowadays, Zen monasteries in Japan and America that are very time centric. I don't know if that was always the case, I don't know when that started. In the ancient times in Zen, they knew when to end the morning meditation, when the person who could see the bell could look at their palm and see the lines in their palm. So that's a kind of a different, different kind of time, then waiting for the clock to, you know, all cans to be in a certain position. So we know it. So we've kind of lived in time and the other day I was reading about, you know, parts of our society now. Our, our running on nanoseconds, you know, the partial nanoseconds or so the GPS devices we many of us use, right? Because many of us kind of depend on GPS devices, GPS devices, with these satellites, there are 12,000 miles above the Earth. There, there's every day there's a time correction. Because he's nanosecond difference between those satellites to the satellites of the home and the satellites and the time that we live in, is all needs to be in order for their measurements. All work has to be exactly the same time. And so he's, you know, a nanoseconds partially, you know, point 10 nanoseconds or something at the depth of time difference has to be corrected for
100 nanoseconds. That has come down it's come down to that. Yeah, I don't think at the time of the Buddha they, he thought much about nanoseconds. There he had to worry about it. So it's kind of funny. remarkable, but it's also remarkable that I think that it's in my lifetime, how much time has become more and more of a pressing thing and an issue and, and an event and that we live by. And so it's easy to imagine that we become time poor, we don't have enough Fine Time. And we wish we had more time. And some of it is that there's so much available to us, and there's a hunger for it, and expectation, we should be able to get to everything that's made available to us. I still remember fondly. All kinds of, you know, times in my life when I was young, of looking back at it now. There was no Internet, there was no cell phones, what did I do? You know, you know, I would, you know, I'd go the whole day without checking for a message on my phone. Is that legal? Or possible, you know, so but, you know, remember, have happy memories. Now, I didn't think about it then. But now, he's many years later, I actually have a visceral memory, of walking around San Francisco, with lots of time, and the streets being compared to their traffic now being much more spacious things of you know, the whole feeling of the city has changed. And and that was one of the great values of the monastery, that'd be the to all the different monasteries and retreat centers I was at I've been at is held. Their relationship to touch I'm time changes so radically, so that there's no time pressure, or very little time pressure. Even though there's click cooks out to be had things on time and devices, there was also lots of space lots of time. And there was so much to do, you know, you weren't supposed to you know, you'd have to check the internet and news and my kids watch TV programs on their, on their, or their computer. And I'm just amazed how many there seems to be. I mean, it's like you could spend your life watching new TV programs in, I'd get to the mall. That would be a sad life, wouldn't it that he didn't get to get to them all. So the point being that there's so much to do, that can do and we're available to us in a way that hasn't been available for people for until recent times. It's a phenomenal thing to live in this world. So it takes some care, to learn and to navigate the world of time didn't learn to navigate the world of all these possibilities that exist for us. And today's topic is time, how to be time rich, if you want to be rich, be rich and time, spacious time, live in spacious time, not tight time, contracted time, live in a kind of boundless time, as opposed to a bounded time that's bounded by all the concerns and needs and duties and responsibilities. And so one of the things I learned in the monastery was to live in time, like this schedule of things that had to be done at a certain time. But do it within spacious time. So the two don't have to be separate from each other. There's a way to be relaxed, calm and fully engaged. You know, I was working in their monitor, sometimes it was univariant get very active, engaged work. And there was a spacious time for it. Sometimes time would kind of disappear because of the full engagement in what we're doing. So meditation. Meditation is a wonderful reference point for discovering our relationship to time. And in many ways, meditation is a time to do something very different than we usually do in our lives. And then in that difference, have the difference highlighted.
So if we're always running around, being busy, and it's become second nature to do that, and then what's the problem? That's what everyone else is doing too. And then you sit down to meditate and you feel the cost of that running around you feel the impact that has of a distracted mind, tense body and and And then in meditation because of the contrast, then we can see the busyness in a way we couldn't do it when we're living in it, to see it in a different way. So, meditation is a reference point to understand ourselves. And that's a different purpose than thinking meditation is about becoming calm, that it's fine for it to be, help you become calmer. But if that's what it's all about, you're not going to become wise about how you operate when you're not calm. And if you use meditation, little may start seeing the contrast the difference to use it as a, as a look at a standard kind of, to see really get to know yourself better, what's going on. So when we first did meditate, maybe not first, sooner or later, most people will notice that their mind is distracted. And then they bring the mind back to the breath, then they get distracted again, come back to the breath, distracted. So to be to be distracted, chances are you're living in time, you're caught up in time, in some way. So to ask yourself the question, when you're distracted from the present moment, are you are you living? Are you thinking about the past? Kind of living in the past thinking in the past? Are you thinking about the future? Or are you somehow actively distracting? Lee is thinking about the present? Maybe the present that's not here, but someplace else? And or are you thinking in kind of a mythic fictional time? You know, fantasies can be no don't exist in time? Exactly. They can just be a fantasy. Or you might be solving some wonderful problem that or task or something writing the great, great American novel in your head. And so that doesn't, you know, it's kind of like outside of time, but so it's kind of I call it mythic time or fictional time. And which, which is your tendency, what it which which is your default, where do you attend to go in time, when you get distracted? Do you tend when you get distracted? Is it more often in the past? Is it more often in the future? Is it more often about things happening in the present, but not here? Now? Is it more often? Do you get distracted by what's actually happening here? I know. And, like you can sit here and meditate with a roomful of people and just have your eyes closed and let you know. There were a lot of different kinds of masks that people were wearing right now I can't remember because my eyes are closed, let me see if I remember their color and their shape. I wonder if someone had the ideal mask. And I'll try to remember which what that person had that kind of shape. That's distracted thinking. Right? But it's about the present moment. So where does your mind go? What does it do? And if there's a pattern for you, what does it tell you? What does it say about you? If you're mostly thinking about the past? What are the values? What are the priorities? What are the desires? What are the concerns you have that keep bringing you back into the past? is mostly about the future? What are their concerns? What are the values? What are the what is the? Where's the it's the energy? What is it about the future that keeps pulling you into the future? And so forth, so forth for the other ones. So to try to understand oneself deeper, what's going on here? For the purpose of meditation, knowing what it is that not just knowing that you're thinking about that past, future, and so forth. But to know, you know, that, Oh, my, this is my pattern. And this is kind of what's driving the pattern.
It helps you then to bring your mindfulness to something deeper than the distracted thought. If you're thinking about the past, because you still feel hurt about what happened years ago, and you're trying to navigate and didn't negotiate and figure out the hurt, and who did what and who's to blame, who was responsible, what you could have done, and just reviewing it to reliving what happened a long time ago. Maybe that hurts, still festers. And that hurt might need our attention. The Hurt is always in the present moment. That if we want to heal the hurt, it's probably not going to be healed by making a better past, thinking about but rather to really meet the pain and learn how to sit with that and present moment. If we're thinking about the future Some people, they think about the future because they're planning and they're, you know, anxious about the future. That the anxiety is what needs our attention. Or maybe it's delightful anticipation. I know people who just seem to have a joy in anticipating things. And my son, one of my sons was that way, he would just like lay in bed, and he'd be anticipating planning. And it seemed like that was like it, and what you know, and sometimes he loved, like he was a kid he loved like building a stage for a play. But at the play would never happen. That was, besides the point, it was just the building that dissipating and there was the there was so much fun, and then you'd build and then you go on to do something else. And so there's, you know, sometimes just joy that brings us into past and future and being distracted. So that's nice. But if you, if you bring your present moment, attention into the joy and follow that back to the source, follow that back inside to what's going on. That's a very different movement to arrive in the present moment, than continually kind of batting away distracted thoughts and letting go and coming back letting go and coming back. Because you're getting to the underlying source from which these distracted thoughts are bubbling up from probably something that's close, more intimate and more important than closer to something value or that you know, you really important about yourself. So that's one way meditation can be a reference point and seeing understanding what's going on with earth distracted thinking. Another thing about distracted thinking is that there's, there's probably desires involved in them that are time sensitive time concerns, like, and so what is that? What how does time operate in the concern itself. And so, for example, being anxious and planning in the future, it's because something is, again, time bounded, and I have to get it done in a certain time. And so let me think about ahead of time, so I can do it fast enough for efficient enough. So, so time comes into play. But as we settle down more in meditation, then we're no longer so distracted, but here in present, time can still be an operating concern. It could be that, yeah, I'm present, but they better ring the bell. You know, when is this meditation going to be over? Yes, I've, I've been present, but I've been present long enough. You know, and so, you know, so there's, there's maybe restlessness coming up. And that's, you know, intimate, wanting something to come to an end. And, or it could be that we're trying to get concentrated or calm or something. And so there's an attainment focus about attaining something in the future. Hopefully, in the next minute, or something, it was still, it's like leaning into the future, and operating on the assumption that you have time in the future time. And that you can kind of navigate and try to attain something in the future. And, and so time is operating again. So we're kind of being Nabek. We're begging kind of being. I don't know, if it's too strong language you said, but we're being led around by time or caught up in time. What happens if we don't have a future in meditation? What happens if it's just about the present moment. So we would have, we would then no longer be attaining anything, because attaining is always in the future. And so it's a little bit of a fantasy.
And sometimes we do attain things we do get calmer. So sometimes we can practice in such a way that good things happen to us. So it's not like we, it's illegal to do it and impossible to do it. But it is operating at time. And as the mind gets quieter. Sooner or later, you'll notice that any concern with what the future is a bit of a drag for the mind. Any concern for the future means the mind is activated with with a certain activity of thinking and that think that's time involved. And what's fascinating about this is we start discovering how much we are, the time belongs to a conceptual world that we create. At least the time that we experience. The time that we live in, is is is born in our minds in how our minds operate. And it's not like a time is not like the time that we live in time that we're operating under is not doesn't is not cost free. It's not like, you know, the air that's just always here for us. And we can just breathe and not have to think about it. There's sometimes idea that time just exists. There's a big debate and philosophy does time exist does not exist, how does it exist? What is time, independent of those kinds of concerns, meditators can learn, as their mind gets quiet. That the very way we're very conceiving of things dependent on time, takes mental energy. tenesmus takes a kind of mental work. And if the mind is quiet enough, will see that work as being agitating. If you're super agitated to begin with, the level of agitation about the future is so subtle, that it's inconsequential doesn't mean anything, like you can't give me a break. But when the mind is really quiet, we start seeing that the activity of even consider being concerned about a future takes work. It's agitating its ripples, it's, you know, on the under surface of the minds Lake. Thinking about the past, same thing. So then what, if you want to settle more, we let go of past and future. And the way we do it in mindfulness practice, you can just let go of it, of course, but one way is again, always turning towards what's going on. And you know, where's that work? Where's that pressure? Yes, it feels like there's agitation or very subtle pressure, little space of stress having to do with this past and future. Where is it? Now? Can I hold it? Can I bring my attention to it? So not like go over the first chance you have, but keep coming back and feeling it and sensing it? And what are the advantages of doing that it's kind of like trying to bring you moving you back to the source to use a kind of Buddhist language. And you're kind of following the stream back to the source. And what is that source? Are you following a back back. And then as the bike gets quieter, it's fascinating that even concern for any kind of subtle, subtle concern is weird. Like, if you're following your breath, in breath, any idea that there's an end to the out breath is extra. Any idea that, you know, the beginning of the breath just happened is extra. There's what happens when you're just with experience of breathing. Without a past and a future. It's very, it can be very peaceful, it can be very settled. No past no future, just this moment of the breathing as if as if kind of like it's forever, but of course, it isn't forever, that becomes something else and become something else. But every every new thing is just itself. Just that moment, just the experience. And they some people will say that the moment of experience and time have become no different from each other, but just this time, just this and so you can see that for example, there are start seeing an eating a meal if you're eating quietly not talking or on your device.
But just eating lifting a fork up to your mouth. You know, it's it's kind of goal oriented, right? You try to get it up into the mouth in a timely way. But what if there's no you know, you're living just without in a past and a future. There's like infinite time for bringing that fork up to your mouth. It's qualitatively a different way of experiencing eating than if part of the mind is her so you know, a very subtle part of the mind is concerned about the results of the action of getting it up there to the bell. So you know, you can you know, put in the mouth and put another mouthful of food on the fork quickly. Just to start, start, speak sensitive audit, walking down the steps. Each step each stepping is not without a past in the future. That becomes as that becomes available that sense of that. You can never do it. I don't know if you can ever do 200% perfectly. But that's not the point is to do it for Quickly, the point is to see use that as a reference point, you get a sense, oh, just too close to the present just this. And then we see all there's still a little bit of greed or desire operating for something to be different in the next moment, or a little bit pressure to get to the bottom of the steps, as opposed to just walking down the steps just walking, when eating, just eating. But I have so many things to do. I can't, you know, I can't just to walk down the steps, you know, I have all this stuff that has to be done and not to get there quickly. And, and no, if I don't, the sky will fall down and just walking. Just this. But I have to be ready and just walking. And it's possible, you'll discover that if you walking someplace. And you just walk without future in the past, just this this activity is that thing of the moment. When you come to the next activity, you're actually in a better space to meet it, take care of it be present for it, than if you're hurried and came out of breath. And you have all these things to do. And okay, now I got Tom here. And I have to do this quickly. And so I can move on to the next thing. I there's been times when I've started one thing. And as soon as I start that thing, which I've been thinking about for a while to get to, I'm already thinking about the next thing I have to do. Or the next two things, or three things I have to do. And it's this momentum, this of the mind is habit, formation of the mind, to live in Time To Live concerned about doing and getting and getting to know what's in the future, what's in the future is, you know, it's rather unfortunate how strong I can operate in some people's minds. So as we meditate, we get to see all this, that's hopefully one of the one of the opportunities in meditation is to really see your mind clearly. And how it's living and time its relationship to time and how much you can put down time and quiet the consider conceptualization that conceiving of time that we do. And one of the fascinating feelings you can get from all this is the feeling that time always begins in the present. That's where time begins. The past begins in the present. Because we conceive of the past, and a few minutes will leave here. And this talk will only exist for you in how you conceive of it, how you remember it, how your mind constructed reconstructs it to being here what it's like. And so when you leave out the door, got the door, the talk only exists in some kind of way in your memory. That, that when this gives his talk becomes the past, that past was born. Here. The past is born in the present. That's a very different idea, that the linear movement from the future, from now, into the future like cell line, the past is behind us and the future is ahead of us. Some cultures have the future coming towards us. And
we leave so the but anyway, so the but what happens if we understand that time the future time past begins in the present? If that's the case, the present is the source for all time, past and future and a certain kind of way. And and if that's the case, how are we going to be responsible? How are we going to be intimate? How are we going to care for ourselves at that important juncture? this present moment where time begins? Are we are we creating time as a gift, are we creating time as something that's useful and healthy for us and for others? We are the creators of time at least it for our own minds. We are the creators of the past the creators of the future in a certain kind of way. So it gives us a phenomenal vantage point phenomenal potential To live in the world a very different way around time. And so if you feel harried by time, if you feel in a hurry in the world of time you've constructed that time that's been born in your mind is that how is that what you want to have produced in your mind for the world? Is that your gift to the world? A hurried mind a harried mind? What happens if you construct a different time? Is there a timeless time? Is there spacious time? Is there a way of holding the events of your life past future and present in a wide open time. And that I think one of the gifts of meditation is that because it's the degree to which we can get calm and meditation, it slows down the incessant kind of rush of thoughts, ideas, constructions, conceiving that the mind does and one of those conceived things is the conceiving stuff around time. And so you get a sense you get a feeling that time has now opened up is more spacious and that is about valuable place to take care to value a place to value to see it as important to see it as a teacher see it as reflecting on what is important and what and and your role in staying close to it and your role and losing it and if you find yourself in a hurry you become attached to something there is no hurrying without attachment but there can be doing things fast without hurrying there can be doing things fast without attachment, but it can't hurry without there being attachment. So as we slow down in this becomes the more spacious time we have then the opportunity to discover what these attachments are. And why do we live with these attachments? Why do we give them so much authority? Why do we think that they're required it's so necessary and so important? Follow that back that idea back to the source where does that come from? Where does that arise from in you? What are the beliefs what are the deeper feelings and emotions that give rise to the attachment that causes hurry so there is time poverty which I think has been growing for our modern society more and more empowered people impoverished in time and then there's being rich in time the abundance of time that is only a moment away for you know,
we have to be faster these days. It's only a nanosecond away abundance of time that's always here
so, I hope that this gives you something to Little different than usual to be curious about and consider and talk to your friends about and and study your mind with Muay Thai may become your friend by you becoming friends time. Thank you