This Sunday, Jeffrey J presented a talk by Thanissaro Bhikkhu on “The Present Moment is not the goal”.
Karma shapes the present moment, provides the raw material for choices of how to be in the present moment, what to do. What you do in Present Moment influences your experience of it, and future action, says Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Present actions make the difference between if past bad actions lead to a lot of suffering right now, or a little. We have freedom in the present to act. We act in the present moment, it is not a static goal, but an active one.
Meditation is to learn to observe the mind in the present moment. So as to let go of unskillful elements like panic, and to develop skillful ones, liking assessing what is available and thinking clearly.
Jeffrey revised and extended the Buddha’s Parable of the Raft to illustrate Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s interpretation.
A person is passing thru dangerous territory, there are bandits about. She gets to a river t she cannot swim across and there are no boats. She first panics, then calms herself. She looks around and decides there are enough logs, branches, grass, whatever, for her to build a raft. It is leaky and weak, but it works. She paddles across, and leaves the raft, walks away from the river. Shortly, she finds another river. Stronger. From what she learned the first time, she can build a stronger raft. Off she goes. Same process. River after river. But she gets better and better at building rafts and getting across. The rivers may slow the bandits behind her, but they are still coming. The land is the Present Moment, it holds the raw materials from past actions, from which she fabricates, constructs a new raft to get across to the next Present Moment. It never ends. The Present Moment is just a construction site to build the next more skillful actions. The bandits are her motivation, that is, her continuous contemplation of death. That is what Buddha said is necessary to continue to recognize and reduce suffering.
We discussed what the river stood for and there were many ideas: Ignorance, the Hindrances, doubt, and more.
The dharma talk: The Karma of Now
The Karma of Now: Why the present moment isn’t the goal by Thanissaro Bhikkhu
More on Karma: The Buddha’s Baggage: Everything you wanted to know about karma but were afraid to ask– Thanissaro Bhikkhu