Along the path, I learned a few things. 6 years ago I learned that you could take refuge in the present moment. I remember the very instant the insight came to me. I was rounding the corner from the path to the sitting hall. Returning from a break after a very difficult sit. My body hurt. I was about to think about my body hurting–as I’m rounding the corner to go back in there. Right there, it occurred to me. I was simultaneously worried about the past and the future, when the whole point is to “Trust the present moment”. So right there, I relaxed into the present. I was walking, slowly, turning the corner with my left leg in motion. Putting it down. Up with the right; and down. Walking. Trusting. And walking. I’d discovered the present moment.
Another time I’d run smack into it, in a way that was brilliant and simple and had me thanking Buddhas from the beginning of time. It was again in the desert. Again, my concentration was established. I’d been struggling, though, with an issue that seemed critical. I was going to ask a teacher about what it meant for me and for the path I was on that I like to smoke pot. I was really consumed by what the buddhists call Papañca — the proliferation of thought. If I started thinking about the fact that smoking is not only against the precepts, it’s against the law. And here I had written this in a note to a Dharma Teacher. Oh, man, my mind spinning the tale has nothing but silence to get in it’s way… so it just keeps making up more material (papañca, remember) and I end up imagining I’ll be greeted at the interview and scooped up by the police. Start the mind in the other direction, and just like that (and just as imaginarily) I end up walking into the room, being told that if I liked pot so much, I should spend a day meditating high to really deeply experience it. If you like to smoke, then smoke!! And a glass bong is fired up right in the interview!!
So, that’s what didn’t happen. What happened was this: My teacher kinda blew it off with a quaint tale of her own, wondering what I’d really come in to talk about. That was it. Maybe we chatted for a moment about sitting and posture, but then I was out of there. My mind had been concentrated and consumed. Now it was relieved and free and the question arose: what am I? No, just kidding. The question that came up had to do with the retreat schedule and the thought was: What am I supposed to be Doing? I’m walking out of the interview, and I see that everyone’s walking *ding* it’s time for walking. Walking meditation is right now, and I’m already walking.. And just like that — my mind is out of the way and I’m walking. There is a collapse of inner and outer. I’m right here, right now, only I’m totally out of my own way! Right here, right now. I am. The desert is. In the present moment, awareness merges with it’s object. Being awareness — identifying with only awareness means there’s no separation between any “you” and some other “object”. Awareness is that. Drink the desert in. It’s already in your Mind – there is simply no separation. That is what happened.
Again, it was a taste of the Present. The magnificent joy of being your very own Buddha Nature for a while. What happens to it? Why is it fleeting? How could you loose it if it’s just your stream of experience in the first place? What is so slippery about the Present Moment that catching a glimpse of it, let alone bathing in it for a moment is so precious? The unwitnessed arising of the mind with it’s habits and views, it’s unquestioned sense of self importance, it’s fantasies and fears, it’s plans, delusions, struggles and patterns — that’s what.