Friday, June 22, 2012

Trail Temporarily Closed: Atheism, Delusion, Death and Mindfulness

Yesterday I watched a you-tube video forwarded from my friend Kevin Bonham.  It was a clip of Sam Harris addressing a conference of atheists in Australia.  (If you're interested in spending an hour with Mr. Harris, a very articulate, bright and clear speaker, the video is called "Death and The Present Moment.")  Harris' main point seemed to be that the only logical choice for living in the face of death, freed from the crutches of deluded religious belief, is to practice mindfulness.  Kevin pointed out that if I had addressed that group, with the exact same message, I would have been booed off the stage.   (I assume that a Zen priest and teacher would not be welcomed warmly by a crowd of Australian atheists.)  "Context is everything, " wrote Kevin.  
Temple Lohan on Pilgrimage on Cape Cod
The good news of Zen is that what we are seeking is right here. But we persist in looking south to find the north star.  Any kind of speculating is just the discursive mind doing its habitual thing -- creating scenarios in the mind that block us from discovering what is right in front of us.  This moment is not some narrow, tiny point but is actually everything.  Right now includes memories of the past, fantasies about the future, judgements about the present, emotions and sensations of all kinds.  As soon as we say, "I'm living in the present,"  we've made a significant cognitive error, and created another barrier for ourselves.  

Meditation practice, at least the kind we practice in Zen and mindfulness, brings us into the direct intimate experience of this moment.  There's no room for speculating.  We feel fully alive.  There's no place to go, and yet, we are continually moving through space and time.  The path is never blocked if we can realize that we are always on it, going in the only direction we can go.  We're always heading for here, here, here, here.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know that you'd be booed off the stage, I just don't think people would have been as receptive to the message.