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One less time

personperson Where is my mind?'Merica! Veteran

I heard of an everyday sort of practice that I thought I'd try to incorporate into my own life.

It's a sort of reflection on death and impermanence. Whenever you finish with something from simple things like a meal or a gathering with friends to more memorable things like a vacation or holiday celebration you reflect to yourself that it is one less time that you will experience that event in your life.

I don't know if it will be too morose or not but the positive effect hopefully will be to not take life for granted and learn to appreciate what you have more.

JeffreyShoshin

Comments

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran
    edited June 29

    One less insightful for you. Just teasing. But seems a good idea to understand more deeply the transiency of our life.

    person
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I do that often but find it makes me cry, :lol: But it's usually in relation to time with my kids, their growing up and so on. It is a good way to practice gratitude though, and is one thing I do when our house is crazy chaotic, to remember it's one less moment all my kids will be together, and one day I'll do anything to get that moment back.

    federicaHozanperson
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    May I suggest an emphasis on gratitude. Makes it less likely to be morose ... :)

    Hozanpommesetorangesperson
  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran

    I don't think 'appreciating what you have more' was exactly what the dharma is getting at with a suggested meditation on impermanence. If you do that, aren't you just feeding the flames of clinging?

    I find that thinking about death and impermanence encourages me to not-attach, to not cling. I don't reflect on "one less time I will experience that event", I look at all the times I've been to this kind of moment before and that it was enough, and that in the end you can't take it with you.

    By doing that you approach equanimity.

    Shoshinperson
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    One less time

    ...In this cyclic existence....Woohoooo "I"m on a roll to nowhere :winky:

    lobster
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    Or perhaps another way to look at it, is to see each experience for what it is...Something new...

    One less time can also be seen as One more time .... more or less.... :)

  • 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

    I do think back on some situations, experiences, circumstances and think to myself "Is that the last time I will ever have done that?" Like eating a particular dish, or keeping particular company.
    Sometimes the memory is tinged with a hint of nostalgic regret.
    At other times, there is an overwhelming sense of "Well thank goodness for that!"

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    It will be interesting how it works out for @person
    In some shamanic visualisations, being eaten alive by spirits, consumed by gods etc is a prelude for a new psychological birth.

    Letting the past go with appreciation seems much more balanced than Buddhist corpse visualisations, which are still done by some monks. Tantrikas would sometimes use a skull perhaps from a lost loved partner as a drinking/eating bowl. It might be more appropriate to use a water bottle ... outside of ritual theatrics ... :)
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kapala

    ... and now back to the present ...

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited June 29

    @lobster said:
    In some shamanic visualisations, being eaten alive by spirits, consumed by gods etc is a prelude for a new psychological birth.

    And perhaps not only shamanistic visualisations! In Alexandra David-Neel's excellent Magic and Mystery in Tibet she described a practice known as the "red meal" where a tantric student would visualise being eaten by spirits while deep in meditation. Such a student would actually live the experience, to the extent of actually feeling the bites... so it seems such a practice was not strange to Buddhist anchorites, at least back in the 1930's and 1940's when the author's journeys through Tibet took place.

    Although it has to be said there was a slightly blurred line between which personages in her book were actually Buddhist and which were merely shamans influenced by Buddhist thought. It's a good book though, well worth reading.

  • DavidDavid some guy The Hammer in Ontario, Canada, eh Veteran
    edited June 29

    @Kerome said:
    I don't think 'appreciating what you have more' was exactly what the dharma is getting at with a suggested meditation on impermanence. If you do that, aren't you just feeding the flames of clinging?

    I don't think so because in this instance the impermanence is what makes the event precious. It's not really about appreciating what we have as much as training ourselves not to take the current moment for granted.

    I find that thinking about death and impermanence encourages me to not-attach, to not cling. I don't reflect on "one less time I will experience that event", I look at all the times I've been to this kind of moment before and that it was enough, and that in the end you can't take it with you.

    By doing that you approach equanimity.

    Equanimity maybe isn't about a "meh" approach to everything. It could be universal and unconditional love.

  • KeromeKerome Did I fall in the forest? Europe Veteran
    edited June 29

    @David said:
    Equanimity maybe isn't about a "meh" approach to everything. It could be universal and unconditional love.

    I certainly wouldn't suggest that it was just 'meh'. In not-clinging and equanimity you might also find a great immediacy to everything, filled with the four immeasurables and gratitude for everything that made your human life possible. That certainly is what the teachings suggest, and if you try to reach equanimity by avoiding or discarding the lessons that life tries to impart then you are likely to stray from the path.

    It's a good catch @david which must have been somewhere in the language I used because I do have a tendency to sometimes avoid things, and sometimes I'm more energetic and grasp the bull by the horns with efficacy. It's something I struggle with from time to time.

    But the distinction between not-clinging and actively discarding is a fine one, mentally you can think you're doing one and actually do the other, it is an education. Not-clinging is passive, it is a not-doing or at most a gentle letting go while you wait for some impression to cease naturally, while discarding is an active termination of an internal process of mind, which can leave some things unfinished or half-formed and so perhaps may lead to deeper impulses not being addressed or dealt with.

    I do think the specific language that @person used, "appreciate what you have more", does signal an underlying stream of thought about desire and possession. That's what I was - however clumsily - trying to point out. Meditation on death and impermanence brings you around to the immediacy of the now, traditionally with a side note about the preciousness of this human life and the need to practice the dharma.

    David
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    @Kerome said:

    But the distinction between not-clinging and actively discarding is a fine one, mentally you can think you're doing one and actually do the other, it is an education. Not-clinging is passive, it is a not-doing or at most a gentle letting go while you wait for some impression to cease naturally, while discarding is an active termination of an internal process of mind, which can leave some things unfinished or half-formed and so perhaps may lead to deeper impulses not being addressed or dealt with.

    A few years ago, a senior student in our Sangha berated another member who was asking for Buddhist counseling resources. She had recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer and was in need of some help in dealing with that. He told her "well, I have chosen to let go of the need for psychological treatment. You need to do the same. If you can't then you aren't so advanced a student as I thought." We had a big discussion about the difference of "letting go" versus discarding/throwing away. He got very angry and left the Sangha. Indeed, it's an interesting line there. During the discussion before he left, he basically suggested he had a list of man-made constructs that he was actively crossing off of a list to disassociate from, including education, psychotherapy, medical interventions and so on. It was kind of strange. That he would insist a friend was not a real student for being in need of assistance for dealing with such a diagnosis was just crazy. He determined the entire field of counseling of any type (along with medication) was entirely invalid. :dizzy:

    For me, it just depends. There are days that kind of thought "This could be the last time..." is definitely attachment. The other day I realized that I haven't picked up my youngest in quite a while, and most likely never will again. It's kind of an odd sensation with regards to raising kids. I don't get the same feelings when I think about myself. Even though I'm not scared to fly, since our entire family flew together, I had random thoughts of "if our plane crashes, our entire family will be gone, this could be the last time we talk" but it was more of an interesting, curiosity-driven exploration than a sense of missing out.

  • KannonKannon NAMU AMIDA BUTSU Ach-To Veteran

    @Kerome But the distinction between not-clinging and actively discarding is a fine one, mentally you can think you're doing one and actually do the other <

    i really believed i was practicing non-attachment but a conversation i had last night rattled my belief. i like to do things at my own pace - aka im a procrastinator - but i have always striven forward. i am slow but i eventually become better than before, and learn. my thinking has become very passive and detached. my emotions come and go. i remember things, but they are done, and i am onto the now.

    i feel like actively discarding something would entail negative emotions and i do feel an inner sense of doubt. am i just letting things pass by?

    well, i am going to die one day. i don't want to worry too much. so ive learned to step back. i am here in this moment, but i am not here.

    i feel like everyone is always adrift someplace else. whether that is a good place or a bad place. at the end of the day we are totally alone with our consciousness and thoughts. perhaps we can coexist on either plane, participating in life while concurrently knowing the futility.

    nothing happens for a reason, so the fact that we have anything at all is wondrous, and that these random things align to create beautiful creatures and matter and moments

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

    No one can grasp the past. No one can grasp the future. No one can grasp the present...

    Might as well smile, don't you think?

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    Ay caramba! :o

    'Today is a good day to die' - Klingon Dharma?
    Aware of the past? Yes. Hope for the future? Sure. Not presently dead? "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfu$&er' said in my best Bruce Willis voice to soon to be dead people ... eh ... that is everyone ... ;)

    =)

    Jeffreydhammachick
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