Wednesday, 21 May 2014

A Time Being

There are, according to a classic Zen Buddhist text, a little under six and a half billion moments in one 24-hour day, 65 of them in a finger-snap.

If you snap your fingers and do so 98,463,077 times over the next 24 hours, "you will experience the truly intimate awareness of knowing exactly how you spent every single moment of a single day of your life.

She sat back on her heels and nodded. The thought experiment she proposed was certainly odd, but her point was simple. Everything in the universe is constantly changing, and nothing stays the same, and we must understand how quickly time flows if we are to wake up and truly live our lives.

That's what it means to be a time being, old Jiko told me, and then she snapped her crooked fingers again. And just like that, you die."

That, it seems to me, is why spending at least part of each day in the present moment, not scripting, planning, looking back, anticipating, etc etc etc - is so supremely important. Being a time being is to be less frightened of time passing because time beings are truly living in and with time.

To understand how quickly time flows is to stop being anxious about it. To accept that everything is always changing, at its own speed, is to let go of what cannot, in any case, be held on to.

The Zen text is Shobogenzo, by Dogen. The novel Jiko and the rest of the above quotation is taken from is :

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