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Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment. - Dhamma Wheel

Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

A discussion on all aspects of Theravāda Buddhism
PeterB
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Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby PeterB » Tue Jan 25, 2011 12:18 pm

It is a common experience for anyone attempting to meditate that the mind ( manas) avoids the present moment,.
The mind will happily remember past events. It will gladly fantasise about the future...either with anticipation or in fear.
It will wallow in guilt or resentment about things that are gone. It will try to experience again pleasurable experiences from the past.
It will plan. It will speculate...
But it will avoid the present. The present is not attractive to the mind.
Why should this be ?
I think that in part it is because it has no control over the present.
The mind can control the past by recalling it..even by recalling it in a way that has no bearing of the reality of what occured.
By planning or anticipating the future the mind can convince itself that it can control what will happen,
But the present does what it will do. Here it is now. Raw and present. The mind skids off it and retreats to the past or future.
Now this is a problem, because it is only in the present that Insight can arise. It can never arise in the past or future. Only now...
So much meditation practice consists of letting the mind experience the present through the use of various means..the breath or" Buddho" for example. And it, the mind will wriggle and mutter and attempt to be anywhere else than the present...
We are told frequently that clinging or attachment is the enemy of mindfulness, and so it is. But the mind has its reasons for clinging.It always clings to the past or to an idea of the future... in order to avoid the present moment..that which it cannot control. The "thing" that is clung to is simply the means to avoid the present.

meindzai
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Re: Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby meindzai » Tue Jan 25, 2011 4:45 pm


PeterB
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Re: Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby PeterB » Tue Jan 25, 2011 5:14 pm

Nothing wrong with planning...there was a time a few decades ago when people who were interested in Buddhism would get hold of the wrong end of the stick and frown on planning...planning was seen as unDhammic.
It isnt of course. The fact is we can only plan in the present anyway..there is no actual choice. The result was lots of chaotic events and wasted time.
As you will have realised what I was addressing is the propensity we have not to be able to be in the present even when we choose to be...
Our minds are wonderful servants and bad masters as genkaku says. The job of our mind is to process stuff, whether from the past or to plan the future. And as it cant process the present, our mind is redundant at that moment...so it goes veering off to yesterday or tomorow.
even on retreat we can find ourselves thinking of the previous retreat or next one.....when it comes to Vipassana we need to develop a way to let the mind rest in the moment....we can plan later.

alan
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Re: Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby alan » Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:11 pm

Brings to mind another good Thanissaro essay.

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cooran
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Re: Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby cooran » Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:34 pm

Hello all,

Most of the rubbish going on in our thoughts is not planning for the future or reflecting wisely on the past.

It is fantasising (mostly unwholesome) and craving about the most important person in the world …. Me.

A comparison would be to see the mind as a radio, which has dozens and dozens of stations running continuously 24 hours a day,
and they are all about the world’s most fascinating subject … Me.

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Ngawang Drolma.
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Re: Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby Ngawang Drolma. » Tue Jan 25, 2011 6:39 pm

Very insightful, Peter :anjali:


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Goofaholix
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Re: Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby Goofaholix » Tue Jan 25, 2011 7:39 pm

I think it's simply craving and aversion, no matter how good the present moment is before long we want it to be better.

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BubbaBuddhist
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Re: Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Tue Jan 25, 2011 9:11 pm

Occurs to me if it's true, as Jiddhu Krishnamurti says, that all fear is time-projected, that is we fear something that happened in the past will happen to us again, or we're afraid of something that might happen in the future, then this ties in with the presence of dhukkha. A low-level of anxiety is always in the mind, even when we think we're at peace, and as long as anxiety is present we can never be truly in the present. Dukkha itself prevents us from achieving this; those niggling thoughts arise with dukkha as the object.

So pursuing this train of thought, what if one were to use the arising thought as the object of meditation? Would you gain insight into the nature of the cause of that particular moment of anxiety? Confront Mara face-to-face.

J
Author of Redneck Buddhism: or Will You Reincarnate as Your Own Cousin?

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retrofuturist
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Re: Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby retrofuturist » Tue Jan 25, 2011 10:59 pm

Greetings,

Please note that off-topic meta-discussion has been removed from this topic.

:focus:

Metta,
Retro. :)
"Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education." - Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh

"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead" - Thomas Paine

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zavk
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Re: Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby zavk » Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:49 am

With metta,
zavk

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octathlon
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Re: Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby octathlon » Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:51 am

I think the mind is OK with being in the present, but that the ego is what wants to avoid it because it doesn't exist there. A constant stream of thoughts is required to maintain the ego. If its existence stops being generated by the stream of thoughts, it dissolves and the mind is able to experience the present. Just one ego's opinion.

Euclid
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Re: Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby Euclid » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:15 am

I like what you're saying Peter. It's true, only in the present can insight arise, because it's only in the present that we are able to note the arising and falling of phenomena. That's my experience, anyway.

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adosa
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Re: Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby adosa » Wed Jan 26, 2011 2:33 am

"To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas" - Dhammapada 183

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ground
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Re: Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby ground » Wed Jan 26, 2011 3:10 am

As soon as there is thought there is "past and future". Why? Because the arising of thought is necessarily nutured by "the past" and its ceasing (or completion) is necessarily scheduled for "the future".

Kind regards

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Spiny O'Norman
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Re: Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby Spiny O'Norman » Fri Jan 28, 2011 12:01 pm


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Aloka
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Re: Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby Aloka » Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:25 pm

Yes, because mental proliferation can often bring discontent , then we get feelings of stress and tension as a result ,so I think that if one is capable of being relaxed and able to let go, then the mind can remain aware and at ease in the present .

rowyourboat
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Re: Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Jan 28, 2011 3:52 pm

Dukkha can only be seen in the present.

It will project sukha into the past or the future- but finds it difficult to do so for the present (not that it doesn't try..).

Clearly the Buddha saw that this was the 'window' through which we could see dukkha. Hence mindfulness..in the present moment.

with metta

Matheesha
With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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kirk5a
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Re: Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby kirk5a » Fri Jan 28, 2011 4:33 pm

"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

rowyourboat
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Re: Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Jan 28, 2011 4:50 pm

With Metta

Karuna
Mudita
& Upekkha

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kirk5a
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Re: Why The Mind Avoids The Present Moment.

Postby kirk5a » Fri Jan 28, 2011 5:00 pm

"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230


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