道為今 Tao Being in the Now #33
© Tao Fish - bone structure of Daodejing #36 (English commas added).
Copyright ©2022 January 12, 2022
The idea of 'being in the now' is spoken of within Taoism, Zen, Buddhism, Christianity, western psychology, and others. Of the many different ways that people interpret 'now', the focus for this page is to give attention to one of the benefits of 'living in the now'.
Alan Watts' Quote of Now
Alan Watts was a popular author of numerous books on Zen, Buddhism, and Tao. Popular on the Internet is a quote of Alan Watts', of which here has been included two leading sentences that help to describe what Alan Watts was speaking of:
"...a great Hindu musician... He can sit for hours and hours working on only one note at a time. ...This is the real secret of life—to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play." (The Essence of Alan Watts, copyright© 1977, page 146)
Within the book's context, the quote relates to the mind being so preoccupied with one's current focus, that the individual does not give attention to other events occurring. The context was speaking of a Hindu musician who would focus on playing one note, and the quote was not speaking of being in the now.
Tournament chess and electronics diagnostics are similar: the focus is on discerning what is right and what is wrong, while ignoring the world around oneself. If an individual does not experience a preoccupied mental state of focus, then the individual cannot become skilled with his goal.
Also, the act of preoccupied focus relies upon the ingredients of bringing to mind past events as well as imagined future events, all of which are then mentally compared, reasoned, and judged relative to one's existing goal. Therefore, the outward 'now' act of mental preoccupation is inwardly working with pasts and futures, and is not inwardly in the 'now'.
Though the Alan Watts quote is accurate for its intended meaning, still the quote does not relate to being in the now as many websites claim.
Being in the Now
Now is now; now does not include the past, nor the future. Being in the now is to observe an individual walking, while oneself does not think of the individual's past location, nor future location, nor think of why the individual is walking. Observing in the now, is merely observing, without judgment, without analyses, and without drawing memories to mind.
Sitting in a chair while being in the now, is as being aware of what the senses sense, but not permitting the senses to create strengths of emotions, nor of analyses. As a detached observer, the mind merely observes and is aware of what oneself senses: the mind does not get emotionally nor intellectually involved in what is outside of oneself.
Of immediate benefit, is that being in the now enables an individual to distance oneself from negative memories and negative anticipations of the future. When one's life is in the turmoil of lingering bad memories, and of a continuous stream of 'what ifs', the negative emotions harm the body, mind, and spirit. Sometimes it is useful to simply step back, permit one's thoughts to no longer raise memories, and to make-still one's imaginations of the future. Within the absence of memories of pasts, and imaginations of futures, a stillness is permitted, a stillness that no longer suffers from negative emotions.
'Happy angry, grieve laugh, it have-not expressed, call it center'. (word-per-word draft translation of 中庸 Zhong Yong)
Being in the now is being centered, but being centered does not always infer being in the now. Being centered is as the mental control over one's thoughts and emotions, of exerting an inner tone of caring while thinking and analyzing before conclusions and emotions arise. 'Being in the now', however, quietens all analyses and emotions, leaving the individual to have a very quiet inner tone. In many ways, 'being in the now' is callous towards the outside world, of no warmths of heart of caring what the outside world is doing. However, with practice, an individual can teach themselves how to 'be in the now' of being disconnected from the world, while also permitting specific good thoughts and emotions to arise. An example might be of an individual 'being in the now' of observing, but while outwardly expressing an inner tone of warm love.
The idea here, is to first enable an individual to silence one's own self-inflicted suffering, and once that has been achieved, to then carefully permit the chosen inner tones that are positive, of which enable positive health, mind, and spirit.
Good chess players accomplish a preoccupied focus naturally. Some mentally incapacitated and callous people accomplish 'being in the now' naturally. But only when the now and preoccupation are combined, and given an additional ingredient of inner warmth, will the individual then be able to begin to find oneself self-creating.
'Topmost virtue not virtue, correct because have virtue underneath virtue. Not lose virtue, correct because nothing virtue.' (word-per-word draft translation of 道德經 Daodejing #38).
It is the combining of correct ingredients, the correct sequences, and the correct cycles that enables the creation of a thing. The end-product of one's self-creation, is composed of the ingredients that were self-chosen. Everyone creates themselves in their own image.
'Hope person-ist not now, straddle person-ist not walk.' (word-per-word draft variation translation of 道德經 Daodejing #24).
The above translation is not ideal, but it does convey a useful concept: hope is of a future, as attempting to follow two paths learned in the past prevents one's own walk in the now.
For some individuals, it is as easy to 'be in the now' as it is easy to turn off being ticklish, but for other individuals it is very difficult. It has been said that some schools — such as Zen — focus strongly on 'being in the now', which is fine for individuals who wish nothing more, but for some other individuals it is observed that an empty 'being in the now' is selfish, uncaring, and uncreative with no self-betterment. Nature creates through reciprocative harmony... he who does not reciprocate with harmony, is not creative, and that which does not create, is destructive. Nature rules man, man does not rule Nature, nor is man able to leave Nature, even for a moment, even if necessary.
Therefore, the favored goal is to step back from the world, to turn-off harmful memories and imaginations, and to then choose one's own heart-tone that is able to harmonize and to reciprocate creatively.