There is a visceral joy in the present moment during walking meditation. The colors, the contrast, the humidity on my skin, the blood flowing in my body.
The human mind classifies, categorizes, and names what it observes. So something is perceived, and perception occurs, possibly at first instance without categorization. But information is stored as you’re perceiving. The mind looks for patterns in the information. Eventually a light bulb goes on. The mind figures out what you’re looking at, or what that information that you are perceiving means.
And that invokes a categorization program that you have. And so you are walking and looking around. You see this ultimate natural beauty, say of a park, and you see the colors and the light. And you take it in for one tenth of a second. Half a second, or however long it is. And then boom there is tree, boom, there is a bird.
And that pattern matching is matched with your memory. And along with each of those labels, comes the definition of bird, what you know about birds. And then whatever your story is about birds. When I was a boy or whatever, I went hunting, or I had a parakeet pet bird in my room. And with that story comes feeling.
Whether you felt good about that parakeet or whether you felt bad about that bird you shot when you went hunting for the first time and you wanted your uncle’s approval. And yet your heart hurt possibly when you watched that bird die.
So ultimately, possibly, what humans have different from other animals, is this ability to gather information and not just pattern matched with memory, but recall the feelings of that memory.
Information that gives it a title, and even if it doesn’t have a title for it yet, the mind will say, “Oh, this is like something else I know.”
A good example of that is chicken, everyone always says that any new meat they taste, tastes like chicken. I’m a vegetarian myself but you hear this all the time, over and over again, so it sticks in my mind.
And so. You match that information with the thing closest to it and then you can continue to observe it over time and then you might sub-classify it or pull it in a new classification if you realize it’s a completely different category.
And so your life is this observation, categorization, recategorization, attaching information to titles and categories, and feeling feelings that you experienced when associated with those titles and categories. Oh, I went walking one night and I was robbed. I went dancing one night and I met this beautiful girl. Dancing good. Walking at night, bad. Burned my hand on the stove, stove bad.
And so this information is associated with feelings, is what nature, I suspect, intended to keep you alive.
And the perception, and I don’t completely have this figured out but I’m just noticing, the perception seems to be an earlier, less of evolved, part of the brain, where you’re just scanning the horizon, and you’re not accessing the database deeply.
When you are just being. You have some kind of impression, oh, a Lion, that is a bad, run away from lion. Without a lot of feeling, you know it’s bad and and it’s in shorter term memory. You’re a bird you know the two or three things coming to kill you. It might even be in some kind of genetic memory, that is faster than the human kind of mind memory, where you attach feeling so there’s more data you’re trying to pull. And so possibly perception seems to be what being in the present moment is. It’s being alive. Perceptively. And allowing the mind, and giving some space, not having to become that information.
So maybe just noticing that the mind is accessing titles and feeling. Rather than being that title and feeling you’re further away from the information. You are maybe detached. It’s a little bit of a detachment. And there’s an underlying feeling that I have when I’m in perception, merely. Not having to recall titles and information, with the attached feelings to that recalled information, and then using all of that to solve problems for the future. There is a feeling I have.
Which is different when I’m not running a program. When I’m not going to my memory and gathering that information in order to solve the problem but I’m maintaining awareness. I know the possibilities is there to go deep in a thought, but it sails by. Oh, I could pull up a program about birds. But I don’t. I just let it sail by.
And there is a feeling in being in that, which I call the present moment. I’m in a feeling right now as I speak. And it’s. It feels like a continued perception. Like I’m continuing to perceive. I’m not latching on to an idea and going deep. It is more like I am just skimming along the surface, taking in the information all around.
Perceiving the trees and hearing the birds. And feeling the blood. Moving my body. I know when I’m breathing in and out. I’m present to the physical world to both myself and the energy in the beings around me.
And I have an overall … feeling … of well being. And so when I’m in this, what I call the present moment, I have an overall feeling of warmth and of a fuzziness.
But if I pick a program and go deep. on a subject, based on what my pattern recognition pulled up. Bird. Tree. And I go, “Oh, I fell out of a tree when I was a kid.” When I go into that memory of tree. In tree, fall out a tree, cut my chest. Needed stitches. Fell to the ground, in a lot of pain.
Or I can go to another memory about a tree, a forest I walked in another time. So … but I’m not present. I am slightly. Like I know there’s a world around me. But I’m in the program about the tree, when I was a boy. And I am living whatever that memory was, that is what my emotions are. I don’t have that general fuzzy feeling. I have whatever feeling that that memory pulled up.
Aren’t those birds lovely?.
So. And even if I pull up a positive memory. This is interesting for me, and I don’t know if I have really voiced this, or written this, or thought this before. But even if I look back on a positive memory.
I used to ski quite often. And I skied the moguls. And once in awhile I would have a mogul run. Those are like snow mountains, little tiny snow mounds, you’re skiing through a field of snow mounds, and you’re bouncing up and down off the top of these moguls, and I was a very good mogul skier and still pretty decent. Probably only take me a few trips to get back to where I was.
I am probably kidding myself. Probably take me longer. I was in my teens at that time.
If I think about, maybe one of my best mogul runs, that I ever had. Those positive memories are good. It’s good, it’s positive, But it’s kind of dim. It’s sort of like it has a veil. There’s a veil. Over the joy. It’s a remembered joy. Fades. Maybe the moment it happens, it is quite high. And then over time it fades.
But I went there. I don’t know if you can sense it. I was going there, to try to talk about that, in a meaningful way.
But I’m back. I’m here now. I’m in this park. I’m walking.
And. The colors are brighter than that memory. Which is more vivid, there’s more contrast in the colors the sounds more clear. And that fuzziness is coming back to my abdomen.
And so if I’m really present with a tree or a plant like in the park normally at this amazing … I don’t know if it’s a tree, it’s gorgeous, or a bush. Who knows, who cares. It’s just really an exquisitely example, of what time has created on this amazing planet. And there’s flowers around me and it’s.
It’s a very. Visceral. Experience. To be present without playing a memory. Without playing a categorization without playing a title, without naming that flower and just being with it. The colors, the contrast. The humidity … that’s on my skin. The blood flowing from my body. The red padded track under my feet.
There’s a visceral, aliveness, to it. And seems to be what the warmth comes from.
And when I go into my mind, when I gather data for a while, and then I have a pattern recognition. Like maybe there’s a problem in my life. I can now feel the warmth going away and I am being very analytical right now.
I gather data, and then I pull up memories of situations. Maybe it was a situation or a transaction I was in. And now I’m about to enter a new transaction. Whether it’s a conversation or a work relationship or whatever.
And I’m in a conversation with someone and we’re talking about something that they want, and whether it’s good for the company, or its something I want, whether their goals align. And when I go back and I gather information from the past, when I’ve made these kinds of decisions and seen how they turned out.
And I don’t consciously pick a specific person or conversation from the past. It’s more of a muddled mass of intelligence that I’m just sort of taking in, and getting a gut feeling about what to do.
That occupies my, that occupies my mind in a way, that would withdraws my attention, from the present moment. And, it’s dimmer. It’s not as bright.
Now, I also have the experience of being able to be in conversations, and be able to watch, how I am thinking about a person or event. And that’s different. It’s more of an evolved way of being. That’s sort of remaining partially in the present moment.
Which is kind of what I’m doing in my talk right now I can analytically thinking going back and forth from my mind to this beautiful park around me. And I might never completely immersed in my mind. I am keeping a toe in, if you will, in the present moment. So if my mind decides to do something stupid. Get angry at someone or insult someone that has no constructive purpose. To be a immature in some way. Be selfish. I can be present to that as an observer.
And so I’m not saying there is a switch you turn on and off, the present moment or mind. But there is a continuum, if you will, ranging from all mind to all present.
And I am able to do both, although frankly it’s very hard, just to be just mind now, it’s so painful. It usually doesn’t last for more than a few hours at the most, and it’s really been, probably a year or two since then and that was a short period of time, where I was going through some difficult transactions that were going bad, and everyone was angry at everyone and. It’s quite unusual for me. I go years without going full mind it’s just not a productive place to be.
So the point is, if you can come out of your mind, and get into your experience long enough, to really be with a flower, to be with a tree–walk in a park. And you can do that often enough. Every day you should be on a nice walk in a park. I like to run. I like to be in the present moment when I’m running.
And you develop that over time, and you get to the point where you are you able to have that warm feeling in your stomach, like you are an observational being. Which might be an earlier version of a pre-mind version of humanity. Those are just words coming to me, I don’t need to believe them, or not. I don’t know whether you believe in evolution. If you’re listening to that you may.
And so maybe that’s what it is. It’s an earlier version of what it felt like to be a human when you were more present, and in a way, it makes sense, from an evolutionary standpoint I mean historically.
You had to remain present. You had to be fully immersed in your environment if you were a monkey maybe. And, assume you’ve been having … I suppose that’s controversial.
Because you had real predators. We don’t really have predators anymore. Humans only predators are other humans now. But the fact is, we can spend more time in our mind because in every given moment there’s less chance of being attacked by a tiger. And so. You can get into these long conversations in your mind, and unawareness of being, just mind gathering information and processing it, almost completely not even noticing your environment at all.
A good example that … you probably got in your car before and, suddenly you’re at work. And it’s a thirty minute drive, and you don’t remember anything other than walking to your car. And there you are at work. You wake up and you are at work and you’re getting out of your car you wake up for a few minutes, before you get to your desk and fall back asleep. Maybe when you’re in your car you are thinking about who knows what, the bills, where you want to go on vacation, and whether you have enough money to go on vacation, something your spouse said to you yesterday.
How are you going to fix your teenager, who seems to be out of their mind. Or how are you going to fix your parents–they’re controlling freaks. And so, we’ve all had that experience where we just go completely unconscious for a while and run a program or two.
And when stress is in our lives, we go from program to program in our mind, often without even noticing that we’re in a park with birds chirping. There’s a beautiful person sitting next to us that we were fully conscious to when we first met them.
And so that’s kind of the spectrum for me. For me now it’s mostly being in the present moment and then. An idea will flow by that I need to do something about make a phone call. There’s a problem I need to solve and, I will go solve that problem and it might require some thinking about the past, when is that payment do, when’s the next one, how much was it, where is that web page, what was my password? So you have these moments where you go through this number of thoughts or a process that requires you to leave your present moment perception and go into data recall.
And be in that dimness. But the difference is that once you’re aware. Once you’re aware of the dimness then you’re able to … anytime a pain arises from something, that immediately reminds you, “oh I’m in pain, I’m upset.” And you immediately can take responsibility go back into the present moment and you would sense that your mind is processing something and making you feel negative or angry or irritated or fearful or any of those more animalistic natures that the mind tries to impose upon you in order to get you to do something that thinks is necessary. Or solve some emergency. Once you realize that you can actually do those things that need to be done make that phone call, have that conversation and you can remain centered.
You can remain aware that you are this magnificent being that can experience joy in the middle of an argument. And not be an anger that promotes anger in that argument but be a comfortable and loving soul that observes the pain that other person is in and diffuses that argument.
And surprisingly there’s almost no situation, where you’re centeredness and awareness of who you really are, is not going to make a better result. The most extreme example of that is in the martial arts. If you ever had the opportunity to study the martial arts and under a wise master. You may see when they’re teaching, you may see a high concentration on their face, sometimes a smile. But there’s no reason to be angry in the middle of a fight. Anger debilitates you, if you’re the angry person. And that’s what trash talk is, it’s trying to get your opponent out of their game. I’m not recommending trash talk I’m just pointing out that, if you’re the one who is centered. And aware of all the information, and taking it all in, that’s a better place even in the most extreme situations, even the most extreme conditions.
You’re going to be better taking care of, not just yourself, but others around you, if you are centered. If you remain aware of your environment while you run that program that knows how to solve that problem. And remain aware and augment it with more information. The acceptance of everything going on around you and with no denial about the present moment.
And so the living becomes alive. Instead of these periods of times where you disappear and go into your mind and you’re in pain. Living becomes every moment of your life. Your life becomes as long as you live, instead of just whenever you let yourself live.
And there are people that are completely in their mind. They are not living at all, in that sense. They have a car, they have a house, they have a job, possibly. And some are quite successful. Some of the most unhinged people, who are completely self identified with their mind, some of those can be quite successful. Awareness and success are not necessarily related. In a Venn diagram they’re not necessarily an intersection.
There can be, and are, very enlightened people who are successful. But those two are not necessarily related. Success doesn’t require compassion or awareness. Which brings me to my point. Which is what got me going down this path, and that is. In order to be a part of an atrocity. Genocide. Any sort of atrocity. Political, humanitarian. It’s very difficult to do that if you’re present. Or if the perpetrator has present people around them.
And one of the first things you’ll notice, that in any kind of propaganda leading up to war. The political machine will kick in and begin to tell you. They’re not humans. They’re conservatives or they’re liberals. Whatever they pick, they’re black, they’re white, they’re Chinese, they’re Russian. The political mechanism turns people into objects.
And then assigns feelings to those objects. And that is how the mind categorize information. And how it recalls it and feels it. So you can objectify other human beings. Attach information to them, they’re lazy, they’re communists. Give them all these labels, then at some point you’ll be able to to tell society we need to go kill them. We need to imprison them, we need to objectify them.
And so, really, present moment awareness, and the awareness of categorizing people, without really even knowing any of them, from that category, to know if they are like that. I can tell you that in my life, I’ve listened to propaganda about, really all the religious groups, all the national groups. Genetic predisposition groups, sexual preference. I mean, I’ve heard just about everything objectified and my years on the planet but I’ve I’ve never found the information to be accurate, when I actually knew people from each of those groups, and got to know them.
I’m not saying there isn’t someone from any given group that isn’t a problem. Every group has a few characters running around, or you know, undesirable in some way. But in the general sense, in my experience, there is nothing that will attach to the whole group. So that’s nonsense when you begin to hear these.
This sort of objectification, of other human beings. You know that someone is either creating the misinformation or they’re a parrot repeating it. They learned it from their parents or whatever. I’m not saying to judge those people, I don’t think that does well either. It is not good to objectify the objectifier.
Feel compassion for both and to get to know them. And try to put the two together. I think if they know people from that group, that will help reduce some of the nonsense.
But that brings me to my final point. Which is really I wanted to start with humans because it’s real clear and easy to see that and I want to talk about the planet more and animals and trees. If you are, if you can be one with trees and flowers and the planet and streams and animals, then it’s really hard to objectify them. And treat them poorly. And so that is what my point is. We are at a point now in, ihe world where our resources are taxed. People need to wake up and realize that everything, including the earth itself is alive. The trees, the animals. And they’re not objects. For our pleasure that have an unlimited supply or shelf life. We can’t treat them however we want.
So if you begin to become awake and think about not just humans but the entire planet itself, our eco-system and just be aware. Our species is a bit of a scourge right now to the rest of the beings on this planet. We’re objectifying them and treating them like they have no value, no inherent meaning. As if they are not formed of the same source of energy that we are. Like they haven’t evolved over the centuries like we have. They are made in God’s image. If you believe in God, they’re God’s plants, God’s animals and they deserve that respect, the air that we breathe in the water we drink.
And there’s a huge ravine forming between political groups in various countries. And the denial is silly. There is scientific proof that a lot of these threats are real. And there’s denial about it, in order to preserve man’s dominance in the universe which is the same kind of dominance that a war is about.
Anywhere you pick a group, you objectify them, you dominate them, kill them all if you have to, slave them, rape and pillage them. They’re not human beings they’re not God’s creatures. Do whatever you like to them. This thinking is kind of the same thinking we have about the planet and its resources and animals and trees.
Our politics around the world are run by two groups. Those that are being contributed to by financial interest in status quo, and are not really working for the people anymore, and those who are paying them.
So you need to not only be aware of your own use of resources, but be aware of whether or not you’re objectifying other beings on the planet. Look around you for who politically is being responsible for more than just whoever is contributing to them, and support those people.
So anyway that was my point. Once you become aware, within yourself, about more than just what your mind is crunching at the moment. Once you open your eyes, let in the environment, and let in the experience of being alive, in the present moment. That begins to open up this whole other side of yourself, which is an awareness of how to be a responsible Shepherd, of all of the lovely resources that are here in this lovely place at this time.
And to think about, how do we preserve that for future generations. How do we not just crawl over the entire planet and just build more and more of everything to the point where there’s no more forests, no more natural lands for animals and humans to walk in, or enjoy.
How do we responsibly not grow so fast unconsciously that eventually some disease just enforces the earth’s will upon us because we’ve become a huge source of meat, based on overpopulation and mismanaged resources.
So anyway that was my thought for today thanks for listening. Dan from Vagabond Buddha.