"Living in the past" - This is not our practice....

"The art of living...is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive." - Alan Watts

In a time of days so many years ago, when I was a self proclaimed Christian, it was a common practice to participate in a form of story telling referred to as "telling your testimony". It was your own self narrated biography of how the Lord Jesus Christ found you in your lost state and worked to bring you into God's fold. The more that you told your self narrative, the more polished it became. It was your story. His-tory. 
This form of a self narrating story of who we are and where we came from, the ongoing self reporting of our highs and lows in life, which have led us to this our focal point in time,  is often the yardstick by way we take to measure ourselves, Christian or not. We do it our resumes, while making friends and meeting new people; we have a firm notion of "who we are" as we live our lives, reacting to situations whiling define ourselves constantly based on our ongoing self narrative. 
I used to be this...I did this...I am guilty of this...I regret having done this...I am this... We become identified by our past and react to the present based on our self-narrating identity of what we call self. This is where the Buddhist notion of no-self comes in. When we live, consciously aware of our present moment, it is an altogether different experience than when we live relying on our self concept of where we've been, what we've done, and who we are. 
 One of man's greatest mistakes, one which must be remembered, is his illusion in regard to his I. His I changes as quickly as his thoughts, feelings and moods, and he makes a profound mistake in considering himself always one and the same person; in reality he is always a different person, not the one he was a moment ago. 
     Man has no permanent and unchangeable I. Every thought, every mood, every desire, every sensation, says ‘I.’ And in each case it seems to be taken for granted that this I belongs to the Whole, to the whole man, and that a thought, a desire, or an aversion is expressed by this Whole. In actual fact there is no foundation whatsoever for this assumption. Man’s every thought and desire appears and lives quite separately and independently of the Whole. And the Whole never expresses itself, for the simple reason that it exists, as such, only physically as a thing, and in the abstract as a concept. Man has no individual I. But there are, instead, hundreds and thousands of separate small I’s, very often entirely unknown to one another, never coming into contact, or, on the contrary, hostile to each other, mutually exclusive and incompatible. Each minute, each moment, man is saying or thinking, ‘I.’ And each time his I is different. Just now it was a thought, now it is a desire, now a sensation, now another thought, and so on, endlessly. Man is a plurality. Man’s name is legion."
The emphasis on awakening, on enlightenment, on making friends with the present moment, is the pointing away from the practice of identifying ourselves with our self narratives and points toward the practice of conscious awareness.
This is our practice.
It is the practice to "being" as opposed to "doing".
There is a place for story telling. There is nothing wrong (or right) in having a sense of history or in the telling of it. However, in a life of unconscious thought, in an unawakened and unaware state, our stories which we tell ourselves and tell others is not the true "us". That can only be discovered when we cease long enough to hear what lies beyond our self narrative. 

Out beyond ideas of right doing and wrong doing there is a field. 
I'll meet you there.
When the world lies down in that grass, the world is too full
to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.
Rumi




Comments

Ethan Markoff said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shubhajit said…
Every thought is a distinct entity but we can't separate it. Thoughts when accumulated create an impression and that impression lingers until a more stronger thought superimpose that thought. We shape our character by our thoughts, this aggregate of impressions actually create our identity, nay character.

Now the topic 'living in the present moment' is quite interesting in this point of reference because we are already governed by our previous impressions. Living in the present is bliss and profound knowledge, though literally its not possible because we can't attain forget-fullness. However, I believe here saints and holy men who tell about the art of living is more specifically talk about the detachment from our thoughts. And this can be possible. If we turn our mind towards something higher, more profound subject, which always leave us to explore and force us to seek the simplicity behind the whole intricacies. A tremendous intellectuality and a heart full of forgiveness. The union gives a steel and they call it philosophy...
Tao1776 said…
Ethan, there is a place of being, being pointed at, hinted at, which we are being being directed to, which is beyond thought and conception and self narrative. It is a place where nothing is done yet all is accomplished. It is a place of no moral law and no sin but it is a place of virtue.
It is not philosophy; it is Tao
Shubhajit said…
It's wisdom.
The Crow said…
Fine post.
Too many words.
But that is always the way.

Tao.
It is older than God...

What???
Ah.
I see now.
Of course.

Millions of words and nothing to say. Ever.
But unable to BE, words are all one has.
Able to BE, no words are needed.
Breathe slowly in...
Tao1776 said…
Word!