Guide This is the Life

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The thing thus produced therefore follows from these conditions by necessity. All I know about him is that he was a western philosopher who was influenced by Buddhism. Any reading recommendations?

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Thank you. Also makes me think of the time about a decade ago when I saw a comet race through the atmosphere in a hot greenish whitish flash, just out of the corner of my eye through the windshield while driving. I felt to lucky to be in the right place at the right time to have caught that. Thanks, David. It seems to me that all of life is experience. The odds of our existence are infinitesimal.

Great post. Great way to talk like we used to. Thanks Francis. I agree — life is nothing but experience, and there are a lot of implications to that: there are no things, only experiences; there is no self; nothing is permanent… it seems like much of Buddhism stems directly from that insight. The same complex chain of causality can lead to a special moment like spying a rainbow, or to stepping in a fresh pile of dog crap.

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Nobody saw it, nobody cares, meaningless. Or so we say.

To Control Your Life, Control What You Pay Attention To

Take the most prized hand in poker, the vaulted Royal Flush. Rare, beautiful, and powerful. The odds of being dealt any exact combination of five cards is the same. For sure.. How we attribute meaning to what happens is definitely a big part of how things happen. You can see something, and then a moment later, notice the thought that was summoned by the sight. I just love essays about existencialism like that. The infinite possibilities of the universe are such wonderful food for thought!

On history — the interesting thing to me is that any sense of history is just more present moment mental activity. So in my mind the key is really training the mind to recognize all of life as present moment experience, including the mental mapping we do that we call the past.

Free will is another can of worms.

Clearly our choices bear fruit of one kind or another for ourselves and many other people, whether or not we are ultimately authoring our intentions or if they are somehow caused upstream of consciousness. So I think we can act as though we do have free will and that will lead to better choices. That richness of possibility you talk about is the point of all this for me. We have some capacity to anticipate the future, but we have much more confidence in it than it deserves.

The older I get the more I realize this about the relationships with the people in my life. Some are deeper, some more fleeting, and at the beginning of them you have no way of knowing how they will affect the remainder of your life. I think about this phenomena often. I am very pleased you decided to talk like we used to… I smile every time I see Raptitude in my inbox, and that is before I have read it! Thanks for writing. On a side note, I particularly like the title of this essay ;.

This is the kind of stuff that goes through my head all the time and I somehow became afraid to share it, because I know not everyone can relate. Thinking about the people in our lives really awakens this insight for me. There is not a single person in your life whom you could have pictured in any meaningful way before they entered your life.

And the future holds, among many other things, new people like that. I love that thought, and it short-circuits any sense that we can see the future in any way except in the broadest strokes. Similar things can happen, but never the same things. Whoa that is crazy… My primary meditation influence, Shinzen Young, talks about what happens in advanced stages of meditation practice — he believes that the threshold of conscious experience lowers, until you start to become aware of a certain level of neural pre-processing that is normally under the waterline.

So you get the sensation of actually seeing the moment of emergence of sense experiences, and therefore you can begin to see the emptiness, or non-experience that precedes it. A tumbleweed rolling across the highway takes me by surprise. It seems so random, so unpredictable. Yet it is operating by predictable forces in our universe such that if I knew everything there was to know about that plant form, root depth, age etc. Add to that my being there at that exact same moment, seeing it, thinking about it years later, writing about it today, and perhaps affecting some aspect of the future by doing so.

Cause and effect indeed; a thread that connects everything from at least the big bang to the future, all here in this only time we have, the present moment. Thank you David for providing such great food for thought.

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Tumbleweed is such a colorful example… so many things influence it and it influences so many things. How much water it was exposed to at different times must change the length of its tendrils, changing its path across the plains of wyoming, changing who sees it from the highway. And so it goes. All conditioned things are arising and passing away. Equanimity is such a powerful quality, and I love that way of getting at it.

Pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral experiences all arise the same way and can be seen without greed, aversion, and delusion, and if they are, equanimity arises.

The possibility of cultivating equanimity like this is such a little-known aspect of human experience relatively speaking and I want to see it become more widely known and more accessible to our species. This brought a genuine smile to my face. When I looked across the pool to find out where these monster waves were coming from, I noticed a young girl gently swinging her leg with no awareness that the gentle sway was the cause for such havoc for the tiny thing. Suddenly, I thought about the moment.

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If she had come earlier or later in the day, would the snail have been there? If he had climbed out sooner would he be safe?

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What brought her to the pool at that hour? Her parents? And her parents existed because of their parents, and then the Earth, the solar system, the universe. Anyway, it became so obvious that absolutely no thing is as it is in a vacuum. Did the girl exist without my observation?

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Did the snail? And what about this story? All of the stuff that happens in our world — careers, tv shows, wars, snails climbing out of pools — apparently is detail unfolding in the midst of a great explosion, 14 billion years after it started. Your friend saw a rainbow and probably went into present moment at that moment.

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