Tuesday, November 14, 2006

"Abandon any hope of fruition"

I got a good reminder about living in the present yesterday. This was yesterday's Daily Om:
Moving In Real Time
Fast-Forward Button

We all go through times when we wish we could press a fast-forward button and propel ourselves into the future and out of our current circumstances. Whether the situation we are facing is minor, or major such as the loss of a loved one, it is human nature to want to move away from pain and find comfort as soon as possible. Yet we all know deep down that we need to work through these experiences in a conscious fashion rather than bury our heads in the sand, because these are the times when we access important information about ourselves and life. The learning process may not be easy, but it is full of lessons that bring us wisdom we cannot find any other way.

The desire to press fast-forward can lead to escapism and denial, both of which only prolong our difficulties and in some cases make them worse. The more direct, clear, and courageous we are in the face of whatever we are dealing with, the more quickly we will move through the situation. Understanding this, we may begin to realize that trying to find the fast-forward button is really more akin to pressing pause. When we truly grasp that the only way out of any situation in which we find ourselves is to go through it, we stop looking for ways to escape and we start paying close attention to what is happening. We realize that we are exactly where we need to be. We remember that we are in this situation in order to learn something we need to know, and we can alleviate some of our pain with the awareness that there is a purpose to our suffering.

When you feel the urge to press the fast-forward button, remember that you are not alone; we all instinctively avoid pain. But in doing so, we often prolong our pain and delay important learning. As you choose to move forward in real time, know that in the long run, this is the least painful way to go.
This reminds me a lot of a quote by Pema Chodron that I posted way back in January:
Slogan: "Abandon any hope of fruition"

"Fruition" implies that at some future time you will feel good. One of the most powerful Buddhist teachings is that as long as you are wishing for things to change, they never will. As long as you're wanting yourself to get better, you won't. As long as you are oriented toward the future, you can never just relax into what you already have or already are.

One of the deepest habitual patterns that we have is the feeling that the present moment is not good enough. We frequently think back to the past, which maybe was better than now, or perhaps worse. We also think ahead quite a bit to the future, always holding out hope that it will be a little bit better than now. Even if things are going really well now, we usually don't give ourselves full credit for who we are in the present.
The point is to BE HERE NOW, which was the title of an influential Ram Das book back in the day. Since I originally posted this Chodron quote, I've gotten a lot better at living in the moment. Yesterday's Daily Om was simply a reminder that I can still get caught up in living for the future.

I once knew someone who lived much of her life in the future. We clashed about it from time to time. But even she began to see how that wasn't very productive for her happiness. When she stopped living for "maybe someday . . . " she was able to make important decisions about what she felt wasn't working in her life.

Buddhism teaches us to be present to ourselves at all times, as much as we are able. But it's also important that we be gentle with ourselves about this. It shouldn't become this thing that we MUST do, which then gets us caught up in two of the most common subpersonalities, the Pusher and the Perfectionist -- I know these two well.

I f we can gently remind ourselves to be present, to stop living for the future or dwelling in the past, we will lead much happier lives.


Anonymous said...

In reading this I am confronted with the fact that this is indeed how I am living my life. Unhappy that I cannot be in the future to which I have worked so hard for. when in fact most people would be thrilled not to have a job and at the same time having all the bills paid. It has been driving me slowly crazy. Perhaps the american need to always be useful. Maybe trying to enjoy the gifts given but then the guilt reflex kicks in. if I complain I am guilty of not enjoying the time that I have been given, if I enjoy it then I am guilty of wallowing.


Dharma Kelleher said...

So much good stuff from some of my favorite places. I love listening to Pema Chodron in my truck (so long as she lets me do the driving -grin-).

Thanks for sharing!


william harryman said...

Hi Dharma,

Glad you like.

Erica, my friend,

Hang in there. You've got a battle of subpersonalities going on in there. Maybe you can sit down with a journal and look at all the competing "selves" and what their needs and wants are. If you can sort them out, see which ones you identify as you and which ones are disowned but still exerting their influence, you might find a "Center" within the hurricane of selves, a still place where you are you without expectations and demands.

We can talk about this on Friday if you want. But think about it before then.

Peace to you both,

Anonymous said...

Thanks Bill.