Did the Buddha talk about "being present"?

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Did the Buddha talk about "being present"?

Postby Theravadidiliana » Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:07 pm

I have noticed a specific meditation teacher teaching that all one must do is just "be present" in the very moment with whatever is arising. He says if one is present, one doesn't have to pay attention to the three characteristics. According to he teacher, they will present themselves naturally due to just "being present". Does the Buddha in the Pali canon talk about just "being present" without the intention to see the three characteristics? Or does he say to keep the notion of the three characteristics in mind until they show themselves in one's experience. Doesn't the buddha talk about being present but with discernment? And if so, which suttas does he talk about this in?

This teacher also said "When you are truly present, there is no dukkha."

Do you agree with this statement?

Sincerely relying on the wealth of knowledge here,

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Re: Did the Buddha talk about "being present"?

Postby PeterB » Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:46 pm

The statement is true . However......
being in the present cannot be achieved by a simple act of will.

For most people It requires much effort. And it requires a framework of Sila.

Certainly the three signs of being are not best realised by attempting to see them, but rather Insight into them arises
with right effort undertaking with correct instruction. They are uncovered rather than discovered.

Being present is a by- product not a willed objective.

Being fully present is not different to Jnanic states and is the portal to those states.
Paradoxically, being fully present is to be absorbed.
Last edited by PeterB on Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:58 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Did the Buddha talk about "being present"?

Postby meindzai » Mon Feb 21, 2011 4:56 pm

The Buddha was many things, but he was not pithy. If anything he was rather verbose, very specific and he chose his words with utmost care and precision.

The short answer then, is No, he never said simply "be present."

He said a lot of other things, like

" "Furthermore, when walking, the monk discerns, 'I am walking.' When standing, he discerns, 'I am standing.' When sitting, he discerns, 'I am sitting.' When lying down, he discerns, 'I am lying down.' Or however his body is disposed, that is how he discerns it."
and "
"Furthermore, when going forward & returning, he makes himself fully alert; when looking toward & looking away... when bending & extending his limbs... when carrying his outer cloak, his upper robe & his bowl... when eating, drinking, chewing, & savoring... when urinating & defecating... when walking, standing, sitting, falling asleep, waking up, talking, & remaining silent, he makes himself fully alert."
and
"And how does a monk remain focused on the mind in & of itself? There is the case where a monk, when the mind has passion, discerns that the mind has passion. When the mind is without passion, he discerns that the mind is without passion. When the mind has aversion, he discerns that the mind has aversion. When the mind is without aversion, he discerns that the mind is without aversion. When the mind has delusion, he discerns that the mind has delusion. When the mind is without delusion, he discerns that the mind is without delusion."


And so on.

All of which are very good, very precise instructions on "being present."

This teacher also said "When you are truly present, there is no dukkha."


Again as you become more familiar with Theravada you lose your taste for the more vague and new-agey kind of sentiments that you hear from some dharma teachers. It's not that it's 100% wrong.

You could say that an awakened person has completely established the four foundations of mindfulness, but it's not necessarily so the other way around. Look again at the last quote:

There is the case where a monk, when the mind has passion, discerns that the mind has passion. When the mind is without passion, he discerns that the mind is without passion. When the mind has aversion, he discerns that the mind has aversion. When the mind is without aversion, he discerns that the mind is without aversion. When the mind has delusion, he discerns that the mind has delusion. When the mind is without delusion, he discerns that the mind is without delusion."


This suggests that you can be completely mindful, yet still have passion, aversion, and delusion. You can be mindful of these things but they are still there. So being 100% mindful might mean being mindful of all the dukkha that is going on. It doesn't make it go away, or that it won't come back.

It's still good general advice for practice, I think.

-M
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Re: Did the Buddha talk about "being present"?

Postby Theravadidiliana » Mon Feb 21, 2011 5:16 pm

Thanks guys,

Meindzei,

Could you give me a link to the specific suttas that you quoted from?

:)

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Re: Did the Buddha talk about "being present"?

Postby meindzai » Mon Feb 21, 2011 6:43 pm

Theravadidiliana wrote:Thanks guys,

Meindzei,

Could you give me a link to the specific suttas that you quoted from?

:)

Theravadidiliana


Sorry about that. Got lazy about hyperlinking. :tongue:

All the quotes are from the Satipatthana Sutta: The Four Foundations of Mindfulness.

-M
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Re: Did the Buddha talk about "being present"?

Postby bodom » Mon Feb 21, 2011 7:23 pm

Let one not trace back the past
Or yearn for the future-yet-to-come.
That which is past is left behind
Unattained is the "yet-to-come."
But that which is present he discerns —
With insight as and when it comes.
The Immovable — the-non-irritable.
In that state should the wise one grow
Today itself should one bestir
Tomorrow death may come — who knows?
For no bargain can we strike
With Death who has his mighty hosts.
But one who dwells thus ardently
By day, by night, untiringly
Him the Tranquil Sage has called
The Ideal Lover of Solitude. - MN 131



Thus have I heard. At one time the Lord was staying near Savatthi, at the Jeta Grove in Anathapindika's monastery. Now when night was passing a certain devataa, lighting up the whole Jeta Grove with her surpassing beauty, approached the Lord. Having drawn near and prostrated herself she stood to one side.[1]

Standing there the devata said:

Those living in the forest, Peaceful and calm, of pure life, Eating but one meal a day: How is it they appear so radiant?

The Lord replied:

They sorrow not for what is past, They have no longing for the future, The present is sufficient for them: Hence it is they appear so radiant. By having longing for the future, By sorrowing over what is past, By this fools are withered up As a cut down tender reed. - SN 1.10


:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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