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THE ILLUSIVE PRESENT MOMENT: DOES IT ESCAPE YOUR GRASP?. Prof. Thomas Maher March 2, 2013 English Tao Class Kuang Ming Saint Tao Temple. Synopsis

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the illusive present moment does it escape your grasp

THE ILLUSIVE PRESENT MOMENT: DOES IT ESCAPE YOUR GRASP?

Prof. Thomas Maher

March 2, 2013

English Tao Class

Kuang Ming Saint Tao Temple

slide2

Synopsis

    • Much is said and written these days about the "Present Moment." There seems to be a consensus that it is the key to the ultimate truth, to personal bliss, and to “enlightenment” itself. It also seems that people have difficulty in connecting with it. Why? Is it because the “Present Moment” doesn’t’’ really exist? This presentation takes the position that it does not and seeks to demonstrate why.
    • We turn first to the Diamond Sutra wherein it is said that perfect enlightenment is not perfect enlightenment and that is why it is called perfect enlightenment. This is because “perfect enlightenment” is merely a concept, not the real thing. We could paraphrase this conundrum by saying that the REAL perfect enlightenment is not the CONCEPTUAL perfect enlightenment but we call it perfect enlightenment because the REAL perfect enlightenment is INEXPRESSIBLE. With equal validity, could we not say that the present moment is not the present moment and that is why it is called the present moment?
    • Pursuing this line of thought, we will maintain that the “present moment” is a product of the LEFT brain and its proclivity to CONCEPTUALIZE without ever reaching the ultimate truth. We will then maintain that the REAL present moment is a product of the INTUITIVE capability of the RIGHT brain and that ultimate truth can only be reached intuitively.
slide3

Synopsis (cont.)

    • We will point out that the “Present Moment” necessarily implies that there is also a past moment and a future moment. Obviously, neither one exists. The past moment is gone, and the future moment has not yet arrived. But is the present moment also not just a concept without any accessible substance? Is that not why it is so difficult to connect with? Instead, are we really not striving to connect with a continuum of pure awareness that has neither beginning nor end, that is not past, not future and not present?
    • There will be a brief discussion of the brain and its relationship to the mind as they bear upon our question. Time permitting and the audience willing, there will also be a brief “mindfulness” exercise in an attempt to illustrate the thesis of this presentation.
slide4

Setting the Stage with three quotes:

    • Alan Watts in his dedication of his book, “Nature, Man and Woman”
      • To the beloved company of the stars, the moon and the sun, etc.
    • The Diamond Sutra:
      • “Until we see things in their incredible suchness,” in their indescribable beauty, in their ever changing nature, how should we view the world? “Like a dewdrop, like a star at dawn, etc.”
    • The Number One Song in Japan the past few years
      • I Am a Thousand Winds
slide6

Trisecting the Present Moment: is it just a concept?

    • The Three-Segmented Conceptual-Structure of Past, Present and Future, that we impose on the underlying reality, The Eternal Now
    • The Diamond Sutra
      • All dharma (phenomena) are illusory. Perfect enlightenment is not perfect enlightenment, and that is why it is called perfect enlightenment. Can we then say that the present moment is not the present moment and that is why it is called the present moment?
    • If we have a problem grasping the Present Moment, is it because it doesn’t exist?
slide7

Awareness without conceptualization

    • Is this what we are actually trying to realize?
    • The “experts” tell us that this is a state of bliss
    • Is it also the ultimate freedom? Freedom from the tyranny of our thoughts?
  • Loving kindness for all creatures and “awareness” (enlightenment)
    • The Diamond Sutra tells us they are the same
slide8

The true story of the neurologist who suffered a stroke disabling her left brain and forcing her to use her right brain almost exclusively for two years: “My God, this is Nirvana!”

    • Left Brain (conceptualization) vs. Right Brain (intuition)
    • Ultimate truth cannot be reached conceptually, only intuitively
    • Is awareness time related? Is it the eternal now? Is it the “true self?”
    • The mind vs. the brain
    • The Zen Master says, “Show me your mind.” Can you?
slide9

The Way of Pervasive Unity (the I-Kuan Tao): the essence of loving kindness for all creatures as symbolized by our ALTAR

    • The study of the individual as an individual
      • Buddhism
    • The study of the individual in relation to the universe
      • the Tao
    • The study of the individual in relation to society
      • Confucianism
    • Your own mindset and how it fits in, whether it be Christianity, Atheism, etc.
slide10

Mindfulness Practice, the way to loving kindness and “enlightenment”. Four major types

    • Watching the Breath
    • Watching the feet while walking
    • The Mantra
    • Visualization (using the imagination to dispel duality)
slide11

Thich Nhat Hanh

    • Breathe in all the misery of the world. Breathe out loving kindness for all creatures
  • The Diamond Sutra
    • Loving kindness for all creatures is the only true path to enlightenment
  • Saint Thomas Moore
    • I shall pass through this world but once. If there is any good that I can do or any kindness I can show to any fellow creature, let me do it now. Let me neither defer it nor neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again