Thoughts on Being Here Now.

As meditation practitioners, we often hear about the importance of present moment awareness. I want to offer a brief perspective that elaborates on one particular reason why present moment awareness is crucial to the process of awakening.

For anyone who is doing meditation for the purpose of gaining insight into the nature of reality, there tends to be a natural progression through certain stages. In the Vissudhimagga, and also in the Mahasi Sayadaw tradition of Theravada Buddhism, these stages are referred to as ñanas (or Knowledges). As each ñana is experienced, the meditator is accessing levels of mind that have not yet been penetrated (i.e. fully understood in light of the Three Characteristics of impermanence, emptiness, and unsatisfactoriness).

This means that at any given moment, a vipassana practitioner is experiencing precisely what needs to be worked with in order to make progress. Once the current experience is penetrated (or, “seen through”), new subtlties of experience are brought into awareness, and another ñana/stage is revealed.

My advice to any one who is reading this is to not ignore a single moment of phenomenal experience while meditating. Whatever is arising is likely to be a direct result of the one’s level of insight. Insight will continue to mature as the vipassana method is applied directly to the bare experience of the present moment.

“Be Here Now” does not have to refer to some peaceful, zoned out, super relaxed state of mind. True present moment awareness means becoming intimately aware of the characteristics of one’s experience to the point of gaining real insight. The result is freedom.

[This is a slightly edited version of a post that originally appeared on my Tricycle Community blog, March 4, 2009.]

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3 Comments

Filed under Buddhism, Meditation, Mindfulness, Personal Development, Religion & Philosophy, Theravada

3 responses to “Thoughts on Being Here Now.

  1. Nigel

    As always, your views are extremely helpful. Thank you. This is actually exactly what I need right now. I appreciate it very much.

    Nigel

    • Jackson

      I’m glad you found the post helpful, Nigel. It’s always nice to know that I’m not just putting words out there to no one.

  2. Nigel

    Yes. One reason that this post is so useful to me is that I need to approach practice in a way that is process-oriented rather than outcome-oriented. Various outcomes are important to me, and it’s a sign of the quality of my practice, but just due to personal temperament, outcome is never much of a motivating factor for me. Rather, I’m motivated by considering the ongoing value of the practice.

    The way you describe the practice is process-oriented and helps to nudge my understanding a few inches more in that direction. The result is that I can more easily sustain practice.

    So, thanks again.

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