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sitting still? no way!!!

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Various contemplative traditions, Buddhism specifically, call us to live each moment fully, to be present, to awaken, to “be here now” (as Ram Dass put it in 1971). What’s wrong with day-dreaming, fabricating, fantazising, living a make-belief existence? There’s so much on everyone’s plate: planning for tomorrow, the day after, the rest of our life; much to remember, like it or not, about where we came from, how we grew up, what happened in previous relationships … not to mention saving the environment, finding a (better) job, the war in Afghanistan, and that stupid dog next door that barks all night.

And you want me to sit on a chair or cushion, sit still for hours on end, and do what? Let my body slow down, feel my breath, and see what arises moment by moment; and to welcome everything, and not hold on, and to realize that I’m buddha? Are you crazy? (unspoken: the very idea scares me).

Alexis Zorba (“the Greek”) put it well: “Damn it boss, I like you too much not to say it. You’ve got everything except one thing: madness! A man needs a little madness, or else….” Or else? “… he never dares cut the rope and be free.”

And so did Henry David Thoreau, who spent two years living alone in a cabin by a lake: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

sources: Kazantzakis, N. (1996). Zorba the greek (3rd edition). New York: Touchstone; Thoreau, H.D. (1854). Walden or Life in the woods. Boston: Ticknor and Fields (original publisher, with many reprints and imprints since). image: cypher-sec.org

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4 responses »

  1. “when I came to die, discover that I had not lived”

    that realization whenever it is arrived at is always a startling one.

    We all want to do things that are worthwhile with our lives. But I came with a comment on life and leave, only questions:

    Where do we come from?
    Why are we here?
    and Where are we going?

    Reply
  2. ah, isn’t it a mystery?

    Reply

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