Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on September 23, 2014

I have always been intrigued by Tibetan Buddhist comments on what they call the "Three Times," the past, present, and future. Two of these which I have often presented in blogs are:

Don't Prolong the Past
Don't Invite the Future

I get that, but it is the third one I have been considering for a while, which is.

Don't Alter the Present

I remember spending time with Ram Das (Richard Alpert) years ago and his imperative was "Be Here Now," but this is not what the Tibetans are pointing out. What they say is to not alter the present, but to allow it to be just as it is.

It reminds me of the old tune by the likes of Leadbelly and Big Bill Broonzy:

Take your hands off it,
And don't you dare touch it.
You know it don't belong to you.

"You" here would have to our self and its ability to mess with things, especially when it comes to the mind. There are uncountable references in the Buddhists texts to this idea of not altering the present with our thoughts, will, and efforts, but to instead cease and desist with all manner of trying and fiddling-with.

The Buddhists even go so far as to say things like "Don't Meditate," which sounds antithetical to mediation, but what they mean by this is don't "try" to mediate. Don't make a point of meditating. Just relax and allow meditation to occur.

The more experience I have with meditation, the more the word "rest" emerges as the key to all of this. It took me years to grasp that by "rest," the Buddhists meant not some spiritual idea of resting, but exactly what you and I mean by rest, you know, plopping down on a big easy chair and letting go for a moment after a hard day's work -- something like that.

And the Buddhists don't say "Rest the mind," but they do say "Allow the mind to rest," which again points out that we don't mess with the mind or alter it. We simply allow it to be just as it naturally is. After we learn the basic meditation technique, we then give all efforts a rest.

"Resting" is something that we can learn to do and, when we leave off with effort, the nature of the mind, like the legendary rising of Atlantis, naturally and gradually emerges as awareness. After all, the mind is the great treasure trove we each have access to as a birthright, if we will learn to look into it.

Of course, to the Tibetan Buddhists the mind is a precious gem, a cornucopia from which everything we need emerges, given the opportunity and a little training. For most of us, all that is required is to curb our habit of always looking outside with the mind, and learn to look inward at the mind itself.

And, although beginning meditation does require learning some initial technique and the practice time it takes to learn the technique, once that technique is learned, much of what remains is learning to just let go and rest. We can't make an effort to rest; we have to allow the mind to rest as it is.

Any effort to relax the mind only becomes a further obscuration. I like to say "You can't sneak up on a mirror," which simply means that any strategy, effort, will, etc. on our part will only further cloud the mind. It is like the Heisenberg Principle, where the mere efforts of the observer obscure any clarity we might otherwise attain. We have to let go.

As the great siddha Chögyam Trungpa once said:

"The bad news is that you are falling through the air with no parachute; the good news is there is no ground."

Sooner or later we all have to let go.

[Photo of a sure sign of autumn, the Sumac are turning red.]