Dharma Topic: Being Fully Present

Dharma Topic: Being Fully Present

Discussion date: Thu, Jul 28, 2005 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

This Thursday evening, July 28, Marie Sheppard willfacilitate our Dharma discussion on the topic of being fully present. When wetalked about the topic, Marie contrasted her sense of being "bathed in thelight" when she was relaxed and present, to being a spotlight looking forsomething, when she was tense and identified with her thinking mind.

Below are several quotes from The Power of Now: A Guideto Spiritual Enlightenment which Marie has selected to inform thediscussion.

Marie and her family will be leaving soon to begin amulti-year assignment in Zambia. We hope you will be able to join us This Thursday to be with Marie one more time before she departs.

The best times to join the Thursdays gatherings are justbefore the first sitting at 7 pm; at 7:25, at the beginning of walkingmeditation; or, at 7:35, at the beginning of the second sitting. (To allowothers to maintain concentration and continuity, we ask that practitioners notenter during the walking meditation.)

Peace and joy to you,

Mitchell Ratner 
Senior Teacher

Notes on being fully present, from The Power of Now: AGuide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle

"Identification with your mind, which causes thought tobecome compulsive…. This incessant mental noise prevents you from finding thatrealm of inner stillness that is inseparable from Being It also creates a falsemind-made self that casts a shadow of fear and suffering. . . ..

Descartes believed he had found the most fundamental truthwhen he made his famous statement: "I think, therefore I am." He had,in fact, given expression to the most basic error: to equate thinking with Beingand identity with thinking. The compulsive thinker, which means almost everyone,lives in a state of apparent separateness, in an insanely complex world ofcontinuous problems and conflict, a world that reflects the ever increasingfragmentation of the mind. Enlightenment is a state of wholeness, of being"at one" and therefore at peace…. Enlightenment is not only the endof suffering and of continuous conflict within and without, but also the end ofthe dreadful enslavement to incessant thinking. What an incredible liberationthis is!

Identification with your mind creates an opaque screen ofconcepts, labels, images words, judgments and definitions that blocks all truerelationship. It comes between you and yourself, between you and fellow man andwoman, between you and nature… It is this screen of thought that creates theillusion of separateness, the illusion that there is you and a totallyseparate "other." You then forget the essential fact that, underneaththe level of physical appearances and separate forms, you are one with all that is.By "forget", I mean that you can no longer feel this oneness asself evident reality. "

". . . the mind is using you. You are unconsciouslyidentified with it, so you don’t even know that you are its slave. It’s almostas if you were possessed without knowing it, and so you take the possessingentity to be yourself. The beginning of freedom is the realization that you arenot the possessing entity – the thinker. Knowing this enables you to observe theentity. The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level ofconsciousness becomes activated. You then beginning to realize that there is avast realm of intelligence beyond thought, that thought is only a tiny aspect ofthat intelligence. You also realize that all the things that truly matter –beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace — arise from beyond the mind. Youbegin to awaken."

"So when you listen to a thought, you are aware notonly of that thought but also of yourself as the witness of the thought. A newdimension of consciousness as come in. As you listen to the thought, you feel aconscious presence — your deeper self — behind or underneath the thought, asit were. The thought then loses its power over you and quickly subsides, becauseyou are no longer energizing the mind through identification with it. This isthe beginning of the end of involuntary and compulsive thinking."

" So once you recognize the root of unconsciousness asidentification with the mind, which of course includes the emotions, you stepout of it. You become present. When you are present, you can allow themind to be as it is without getting entangled in it. The mind in itself is notdysfunctional. It is a wonderful tool. Dysfunction sets in when you seek yourself in it and mistake it for who you are. It then becomes the egoic mind andtakes over your whole life."

Discussion Date: Thu, Jul 28, 2005


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Columbia Sunday Evening Practice

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Takoma Park Morning Meditation

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