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Buddhadharma : Spring 2015
spring 2 0 1 5 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly 57 Even the Present Moment Is an Illusion dzigar kongtrul rinpoche reminds us that the true benefit of being in the moment is seeing that the present is an illusion too. T o accomplish what we want on the spiri- tual path in these modern times, we must overcome the challenges of distraction and pressure. From a very early age, people are under pressure to do well in school, not only in aca- demics but also in music, sports, and other areas. Everyone around us wants us to do well and there is lots of competition, so we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. Then when we graduate from college, there’s pressure to get work—good work—that takes care of our needs and maybe allows us to save for the future. If we have a family, our needs are multiplied. Even when the father and mother both work hard to provide, many families have difficulty making ends meet. We have structured our lives in such a way that we have many expenses we can’t live without, such as our modern technology and the comfort it provides, and lots of other things we’ve come to depend on. We have to have it all, so we become consumed with working to pay for it. If one job doesn’t work, we look for another, and in between we do jobs we don’t like. We become a slave to work. There’s some satisfaction in being able to do something for ourselves and our fami- lies, but that satisfaction wears out as we become exhausted from the pressure to keep going, keep providing. If all goes well, we may have a good, decent life, but if one building block is removed, the whole structure can collapse. Such pressure creates stress and heightened emotions such as aggression, attachment, and jealousy. Our mind becomes caught up in the world. Still, we can’t simply renounce all this and run away to a mountain and become a yogi. If we are to find a spiritual path and make progress, we have to find it in the situation we’re in. Any divorce from this is a fantasy. It may work for some rare, fortu- nate people, but not for the vast majority. Without a spiritual path, any happiness we find in our accom- plishments and lifestyle is like a patch that tempo- rarily relieves the pain of lacking something. Even if we get what we want, this patch-like happiness only stays on while we actually experience what we previ- ously lacked. However, the mind continues to crave more and more; it never really registers what we’ve already gathered. It remains in the dissatisfaction of not having what it wants. From this unhappiness again comes the drive to get what we want. External needs are of course unavoidable, but they don’t provide us with the continual happi- ness and satisfaction we seek. Such satisfaction has to come from our spiritual path. People also had to make a living in the past, but they were more involved in their religions and the practices of their inner path. In modern times, faith is weak because everything is based on knowing things firsthand. Without faith, one can’t pray. People are also quick to dismiss meditation and discipline, saying they take too much time. But without these practices, inner satisfaction and deep contentment are difficult to achieve. photography from the film Choros by michael langan & terah maher ©Chorosmichaellangan&teramaher