The Paradox of Mindfulness: Nowhere is Now Here

The Paradox of Mindfulness: Nowhere is Now Here

  • September 2, 2013

Over 2,500 years ago, Buddha looked at the nature of the mind and its relationship to suffering. He showed the path to freedom from suffering through the tool of meditation which informs the actions of skillful living. Buddha never presented himself as a celestial being or courier of divine power. When asked: “Are you a god Buddha?” He replied: “No I am awake!” Buddha was not a Buddhist, he was the awakened one. The practice of mindfulness is to become awake.

Through the tool of meditation, you see how the mind habitually wants to wander, even when your intention is to be attentive. Meditation “trains the brain” from straying into “rehashing the past” and “rehearsing the future.” By bringing non-judgmental awareness or neutral observation into meditation or any encounter with life, the habitual tendency to categorize into good versus bad or like versus dislike gives way to open exploration, understanding, and wisdom. You relinquish the need to control for the awareness of being. As you ride the raft of meditation, you learn how to not be swept away by the undertow of distraction and ride on the current of awareness.

Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and major influence in bringing mindfulness into today’s Western culture, says: “We need to practice mindfulness because we practice mindlessness all day.” Rather than being awake, we’re on autopilot.” The implication, he says, is: “We may never be where we actually are. It’s not we’ll get there, cause there is no there!” As said in the words of Longchenpa: “Since everything is but an apparition, having nothing to do with good or bad, acceptance or rejection, one may well burst out in laughter.”

Through mindfulness, you become awake to the present moment, as it is only in the present that you can truly come to know yourself. You let go of the delusion that you should be somewhere other than where you’re at. Contrary to our commonplace belief: “There is nowhere to go, nothing to do, nothing to attain, but to be here in the present moment” (Kabat-Zinn).

There is nowhere to go,
nothing to attain,
but to be here in the present moment
nothing to do,
–Jon Kabat-Zinn

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