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What have I left behind?

For some reason this time of year makes me philosophical. Occasionally I sit down and meditate to a new question, and plumb the depths of the meaning. Lately, I've asked myself how I'm doing so far in my life, measured by the only yardstick that matters: "What have I left behind?" If you'd like, you might meditate to this one also as a change in your routine.

By "What I left behind" I mean what difference did my life make in the world so far? Everyone's life does make a difference, no matter how seemingly inconsequential. It's mostly in ways you won't know about or notice. You arrived on this world like a rock being thrown into a pond, but your life is the ripple spreading out on the water, not the rock. Every day your actions affect others. Those actions can relieve suffering a bit or cause massive amounts of suffering, but one way or another the ripples keep going.

For myself, I guess I go for quantity, lots of tiny ripples instead of one big splash. Putting a million smiles on someone's face or helping them in tiny ways might not change the world or put me in the history books, but maybe it made it a little better place to live for a few people. The ripples spread out, but the twig on the water bobs up and down and doesn't notice.

So what did you leave behind so far?

lobsterkarastisilverEarthninjaDavidVastmind

Comments

  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    @cinorjer -- Sorry I haven't got something more consequential to add, but your words did make me think of an old saw: "Just because you are indispensable to the universe does not mean the universe needs your help."

    CinorjerlobsterEarthninjaInvincible_summer
  • @how said:
    Cinorjer
    So what did you leave behind so far?

    My first thought about your post was "Doesn't formal meditation already naturally perform this task?".
    followed by...
    If I can think of something in the past, has it really been left behind?
    followed by...
    If enlightened action leaves no wake?
    followed by...
    Dam that Cinorjer!

    Or, as my old meditation teacher used to say, "Down the rabbit hole!"

  • MetaphasicMetaphasic NC, USA Explorer

    The past is over. While it is good to be mindful of the past, it is more important that you be mindful of what you are doing now.

    silverBunksCinorjer
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited November 2015


    We haz plan! Leave dust behind ...
    You won't be able to take your knockers with you ...

    “I did not attend his funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” ( Mark Twain)

    Cinorjerkarasti
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    @Metaphasic said:
    The past is over. While it is good to be mindful of the past, it is more important that you be mindful of what you are doing now.

    I only need to be reminded of that every half hour or so.

    WalkerCinorjer
  • @Cinorjer said: By "What I left behind" I mean what difference did my life make in the world so far? Everyone's life does make a difference, no matter how seemingly inconsequential. It's mostly in ways you won't know about or notice. You arrived on this world like a rock being thrown into a pond, but your life is the ripple spreading out on the water, not the rock. Every day your actions affect others. Those actions can relieve suffering a bit or cause massive amounts of suffering, but one way or another the ripples keep going.

    What's the point? I mean what's the purpose of doing this?

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited November 2015

    @SpinyNorman said:

    It's a meditative exercise that allows us to stop thinking of ourselves as an individual "thing" rolling through the landscape of time, and instead think of what you are as one ripple in a giant pond full of ripples. Where can you point to in the past and say, "I did that!" when everything that happens is a result of an infinite chain of events. You were part of everything, of course.

    Cause and effect is a flawed dualistic way of looking at your actions, even though it's all we have. It's "secondary thinking". We treat our actions as linear things, something that can be isolated from everything and everyone else, and believe we can track the result or effect of the action and label it good or bad. An action is not a linear thing and the effects do not end when we move on. An action is a pebble dropped in the pond, and the ripple spreads beyond our ability to predict or observe. Every cause arose from an effect, and every effect is another cause.

    Some Buddhist philosophies call this "conditional arising". I dislike labels that fool us into thinking we can give concise definitions of this organized chaos we call reality.

    In other words, "Down the Rabbit Hole!" as so many Zen questions are designed to send us.

    lobster
  • I'm trying to get out of the bleedin' rabbit hole, not back down it. ;)

    CinorjerDavid
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran

    So what did you leave behind so far?

    Don't know!

    CinorjerlobsterBarah
  • A lot of rubbish, a few misplaced gems and some unopened mail.

    Cinorjerlobsterkarasti
  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    "Everything you've ever acquired will rot and fall apart,
    All that will be left, was what was in
    Your heart." -Jim Carey

    I'm not leaving anything behind, same as what impact did the dog leave behind?
    What mark on life did that pigeon in the tree leave?
    We are not separate from nature, we didn't leave anything behind.
    We never did anything in the first place.

    CinorjerWalkerlobsterpegembara
  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited November 2015

    So what did you leave behind so far?

    I feel this is one of the best posts and questions for a long time. Wish I had left it. B)

    Some great answers guys. <3

    In this 'vale of tears' I hope to have torn a few veils from their valley of tears ...

    More than that I hope to have planted seeds, smiled at ripples, bobbed at apples, bowed to masters, suffered madly, been a well.

    Perhaps I hope to hav escorted rabbits, ensured trees have been listened to, the sky widened and the ground secured.

    Iz hopeless plan!

    CinorjerWalkerkarasti
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited November 2015

    Remember, though, all we're doing so far is chewing on the question. In meditation you might be surprised at the subtle flavor.

    lobstersilver
  • You arrived on this world like a rock being thrown into a pond, but your life is the ripple spreading out on the water, not the rock. Every day your actions affect others. Those actions can relieve suffering a bit or cause massive amounts of suffering, but one way or another the ripples keep going.

    All ripples(conditioned phenomena) are anicca, dukkha and anatta. When one sees this with Insight-wisdom(panna), one comes out of dukkha/suffering.

    What is left when the ripples come to an end?

    CinorjerlobsterEarthninja
  • @Cinoger. Well certainly its been great to meet up with Enlightened Dog. Food for thought as well as a good chuckle. Humor is the happiest medicine.

    Cinorjer
  • I thought God was supposed to be keeping track of this stuff.

  • @pegembara said: What is left when the ripples come to an end?

    What, indeed?

  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran

    Nothing is left. But everything

    Cinorjerpegembara
  • I guess from what some have responded with, being true, it is the past. However, letting go is an art form of sorts so something looking back at where you came from gives us a great meter to see how far we've come in our practice. Practice morality, concentration and wisdom, and the rest falls into place.

    Cinorjersilver
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Some days, I feel like a tsunami and leaving a trail of damage behind as I raise my kids. I'm only partially kidding even, lol. I hope that I have made a difference in treating people with kindness and respect, in accepting them for who they are. I hope that I have taught my kids how to bring peace to themselves and the world around them.

    I've been thinking about the question on and off since I read it. It's common for humans to want to think about what their "legacy" will be, how we will make a mark and be remembered when we leave. But I think that can be taken a lot deeper. You don't have to have a fancy headstone or a book or a full-page obituary to make a mark in the world, and it doesn't have to be about recognition or looking back to the past.

    Sometimes, when I meditate, I try to envision the entire planet and all the workings going on in that moment, beings of all sorts being born and dying and being ill or injured, people working, people sleeping, people loving and fighting (animals, too). Humanity is just like one giant engine, with billions (or trillions) of working parts . Sometimes parts gum up the works. Sometimes they make things move more smoothly. And you might not even know who or what did which. But we can make an effort to be a monkey wrench or a lubricant. You can imagine someone doing a good deed and seeing how it carries forward into their life and the lives of others.

    Perhaps you see a struggling mom at the store. You can ignore her, you can give her a dirty look because her kid is crying, you can smile, you can offer to help if there is an opportunity. But what if you could follow her home after seeing what each of those choices were carried with her back to her home? What if you could see that your eye rolling and dirty looks made her cry because her kid just isn't feeling well and she had no choice but to bring him? What if you could see that she went home and had a fight with her husband in front of the kids because she was feeling like crap, and that one of the kids feel asleep crying and woke up sad for school which made someone else tease her on the bus? Small actions can carry so far. What if you smiled and talked to the crying kid? What if you offered to help carry stuff? Perhaps there is no fight with the husband, no crying kids, no teasing on the bus. It all carries forward.

    All those ripples, big and small. Sometimes the big ripples are horrific (9/11...wasn't there some kind of study done about how huge of an impact 9/11 had that it actually impact the planet as a whole because of the emotional states of so many people?). Sometimes they are celebrations, like putting a man on the moon. The ripples are what I prefer. Quiet and unassuming, but spreading and bringing change all the same.

    WalkerCinorjersilverVastmind
  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran

    Behind where?

    silverCinorjerVastmind
  • LionduckLionduck Veteran
    edited November 2015

    @SpinyNorman said:
    I thought God was supposed to be keeping track of this stuff.

    Thought you got the memo. He rented out his flat in Soho and is spending his time trying to impress the gals around Monaco. B)

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    so THAT'S why the Catholic Church is so wealthy - they're funding his lifestyle in Monaco and Soho....!

  • For many of us Abrahamic religious types, leaving behind COD, YHWH, The flying speghetti monster (hallowed be his noodles) is a great relief from dogma. It is one of the reasons we can be sceptical of dogmatic claims eg:

    • NT1 - First Noble Truth
    • Hinayana, sutra, mantra, zen practice, lama uber alles
    • Ahimsa gone rampant
    • Reincarnation as fact
    • Faith over rationality

    and so on ...

    'I ain't afraid of No Holy Ghosts'

    Lionduck
  • @Lionduck said: Thought you got the memo. He rented out his flat in Soho and is spending his time trying to impress the gals around Monaco. B)

    I think Satan / Santa has taken over. I wondered about requesting a print-out of my good and bad actions, but it's coming up to a busy time of year. ;)

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited November 2015

    One of the stages of Sufism is Hazrat/Hadrat, its literal meaning is 'presence'. As with so many things for Bodhi Dervishes, this has many meanings as well as a left behind 'experience'.
    The Buddhist equivalent might be the 'lineage blessing' surrounding an empowered Rinpoche.

  • @lobster said: The Buddhist equivalent might be the 'lineage blessing' of an empowered Rinpoche.

    I've had a couple of those, so watch out! ;)

    lobster
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