Living in the Moment

Living in the Moment…
What does it really mean?
Does it mean to live it up, festivity and party every night?
Does it mean to live like there is no future and seek pleasure day after day as an hedonist?
Does it mean to spend all your livelihood for a trip to the Bahama resort at a whim?
Aren’t we living and breathing every moment? Aren’t we already living?
What exactly does it mean to live in the moment? It sounds so…cliché.

You may have your own thoughts on what it is. Below is what I understand about living in the moment.

Living in the moment means having awareness in the here and now. If you are unclear about what I mean by awareness, why don’t you read my previous post on awareness and zen first. Like I said before, awareness is inside of all us and therefore, we can all learn to live in the moment. Living in the moment can also be described as simply being, simply doing what we do in each moment, with awareness. Not letting our egotistic thoughts and emotions dominate us. Stop regretting about the past. Stop worrying about the future. This helps us to appreciate each moment, along with all the small things within each moment.

Sounds simple enough? Not so fast… Not so easy…

What happened is that we learn NOT to live in the moment as we are growing up. When we are kids, we can’t wait to become teenagers. When we are in high school, we can’t wait to get into college. When we are in college, we can’t wait to be working and making money. When we are finally in the corporate world, some of us want to go back to school and some of us get bored and can’t wait for retirement. When we are single, we want to find a girlfriend or boyfriend. When we are finally hooked up with someone, we want our single life back. By this point, we are all safe to say WTF. Additionally, from day 1 after birth, we are bombarded by advertising that conditions and always tells us this one more thing that we need to be happy and to keep up with the trend and the Jones.

If only I buy this LV bag, I’d be happy…
If only I afford this Lamborghini, I’d be happy…
If only I own a house, I’d be happy…

As it goes, we are constantly thinking about and longing for the next place we want to be, the next thing we want. We constantly chase these ideals that are thoughts in our heads instead of doing what matters.

On the other hand, we need to be cautious about our memory, as our past can become another form of ideal or baggage where we hold on to the happy times or stuck dwelling on the bad ones. Your past has contributed to what you are today, accept it and do what you can with what you have now.

Living in the moment is simply sitting if you are sitting. It is simply doing whatever you are doing. It does not involve thinking about the past. It does not involve thinking about the future. It only involves awareness and whatever that you are doing. As described above, our behaviors have been trained to do just the opposite, myself included, we need to practice in order to get better at it, just like everything else in life – practice makes perfect.

Meditation is a pronounced method to practice living in the moment and also awareness. Living in the moment and awareness go hand-in-hand. Moreover, I’d say awareness is a pre-requisite because it lets you see your thoughts as you start thinking about past and future. Now, it is not that you cannot learn to live in the moment if you don’t meditate. Meditation is a method that allows a faster pace of learning because you are only sitting during meditation instead of being in motion (i.e. It is quite hard to concentrate if your boss is talking to you). The stillness of just sitting makes it easier to practice awareness and notice your thoughts. As you sit, you maintain awareness and pay attention to your body, its tension, and the emotions and thoughts that appear in your mind. As you let the body relax and the thoughts come and go, you learn to simply sit and you come to understand better what it means to live in the moment.

Meditation is merely practicing awareness so that it becomes natural to you, so you are present in the moment everywhere you go, whatever you do.

Of course, there are other things we can do to practice living in the moment. In fact, things such as listening to music, playing the piano, dancing, drawing, riding motorcycle, playing a sport, etc., we are inherently able to do them as if we are living in the moment. As I listen to music, it’s easy for me to simply listen. As I used to fence in college, I simply fence. In those moments, the only things that exist are my opponent, myself, and our blades. There is no room for external thoughts. It is easy to be in the moment in the favorite activities. Now we must do so in the non-so-favorable ones.

You can practice living in the moment by applying this “simply doing” concept on other things. For example, when you are talking to someone, you listen and focus solely on the conversation partner, instead of thinking what to eat for lunch or which candidate you’d vote for president. Even if your thought starts to drift, your awareness will let you see that you are thinking about something else and then you can shift your focus back to your conversation partner. As for me right now, I am writing this post and its my only focus, which should allow me to write it to the best of my ability. In other words, an analogy can be drawn between “living in the moment” and “doing the best in what you are doing in the moment”.

Don’t mistaken “living in the moment” as in giving up thoughts, past memory, and plans for future. Living in the moment can provide a new sense of appreciation and enjoyment in everything we do everyday. If you learn to live in the moment, you learn also to find peace and joy in every moment, and thinking and worrying less about past and future.

And why else do we want to find peace and joy like said? Because then we can have a good time without chasing material goods and learn not to be dependent on external means to be happy. Kinda like knowing how to have a great time without being drunk.

As any topic in Zen is quite difficult to write about and my principles and philosophy center heavily about Zen, my writings may lack certain clarity. Please feel free to contact me if you have any question.

Originally posted 2008-02-05 00:38:36. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Terrible June for Stock Market

arrow-down.jpgLet’s be thankful that it’s the 4th of July and the market can take a break from tumbling. The terrible June has left everyone staring at some bloody red balance sheets. Hopefully the market fares better in the 2nd half of the year.

I do not look forward to calculating my networth for June. Oh well.

Now is even more critical to be reminded once again of the important idea of investing long term, instead of dumping the all the stocks and funds at huge loss. As long as you maintain the idea of finding solid investment that provide modest gain and not some get-rich-quick-thingie, whether you went with index fund or not, you should be alright in the long term and hence, best to stay put.

Keyword being “should” because let us not forget that buying into the market does not guarantee return. Even if you buy index funds. Even if you diversify. There is always systemic risk. Perhaps a major catastrophe causes the downfall of the sector of your funds, or the Wall Street somehow disappears, or the global market gets destroyed all together ,or our money system simply disintegrates! Give me your best guess. These are not likely scenario but who knows. Pessimistic? Perhaps. But I am just reminding you that no form of investment guarantees return. It is not a privilege.

Actually, the results of the above-stated disasters may not be that bad. First of all, people are screwed all together in those cases, and as result, we may live in better harmony supporting each other. Yeah, I can be a dreamer sometimes. On another thought, the idea of money may disappear and could return people to the true state of living. Or we may return to an age of the survival of the fittest, which will force people to be physically healthy and capable. Alright, I digress. I am done exercising my imagination.

The current market is a mangled pile of mess that is the result of people desiring unsustainable amount of growth in a short period of time and many of these so-called growth are a result of manual fabrication through layers and layers of abstraction (ie. CDOs). A dozen drunken monkeys in a room probably cause less chaos that that. My opinion is that it will take awhile for it all to untangle. It may even take the next 2-3 years during which we see little to no growth, if no losses, in our investment. But like I said again, we should be looking long-term.

Speaking of long-term, people always quote that the market returns somehwere between 10-12%. I don’t really like that. Past pattern does not predict future, especially the future of a speculative market that is a projection of the ficklest human minds. And when you really think about it, a few decades of data is not even that big of a sample either. People just love pulling statistics out of their donkeys to justify arguments.

Here is the thing, I took a look at the Vanguard Wellington fund that has been around since 1929 and Vanguard’s website said the average return is 8.3%. That gives me some idea and helps set my expectation. I do my diligence in investing — studying, carefully selecting, diversify a good chunk through funs — and I shall be happy if I get a 5-8% return in the long run.

I am in no rush to become rich. The journey is the fun part.

Originally posted 2008-07-03 23:19:44. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Temet Nosce — We cannot change anything unless we accept it — from Carl Jung lecture

Why “know thyself”? How do we handle ourselves and others and relationships in between properly? Why acceptance, of both good and evil? How to be compassionate? Why words are so futile? Why pretense never works? Why gives a shit? Even the question, how do we “save the world”?

In this world that is yet dictated by 19th centry Newtonian mechanics and Freudian psychological concept of libido (and thus the suppression of it), this powerful and refreshing Carl Jung excerpt provides hints that originated from a lecture a group of clergy .

Note: not answers.

Something to think about before launching a war (with drugs and psycho-analysis) against your own “libido” or some “wild unconsciousness”.
Something to think about before calling a fight against something “evil” out there from some “moral high ground”.
Something to think about before trying to save the world.


“People forget that even doctors have moral scruples and that certain patients’ confessions are hard even for a doctor to swallow. Yet the patient does not feel himself accepted unless the very worst in him is accepted too. No one can bring this about by mere words, it comes only through reflexion and through the doctors attitude towards himself and his own dark side.

If the doctor wants to guide another or even accompany him a step of the way, he must feel with that person’s psyche. He never feels it when he passes judgment. wether he puts his judgment into words or keeps them to himself makes not the slightest difference. To take the opposite position and to agree with the patient off-hand is also of no use, but estranges him as much as condemnation. This feeling comes only through unprejudiced objectivity.

This sounds almost like a scientific precept and it could be confused with a purely intellectual abstract attitude of mind, but what I mean is something quite different.

It is a human quality, a kind of deep respect for the facts, for the man who suffers from them, and for the riddle of such a man’s life. The truly religious person has this attitude: he knows that god has brought all sorts of strange and inconceivable things to pass and seeks in the most curious of ways to enter a mans heart. He therefore senses in everything the unseen presence of the divine will. This is what I mean by unprejudiced objectivity, it is a moral achievement on the part of the doctor, who ought not to be repelled by sickness and corruption.

We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses and I am the oppressor of the person I condemn, not his friend and fellow sufferer. I do not in the least mean to say that we must never pass judgment when we desire to help and improve, but if the doctor wishes to help a human being he must be able to accept him as he is, and he can do this in reality only when he has already seen and accepted himself as he is.

Perhaps this sounds very simple, but simple things are always the most difficult.

In actual life it requires the greatest art to be simple, and so acceptance of one’s self is the essence of the moral problem and the acid test of one’s whole outlook on life. That I feed the beggar, that I forgive an insult, that I love my enemy in the name of Christ; all these are undoubtedly great virtues. What I do unto the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ.

But what if I should discover that the least amongst them all, the poorest of all beggars, the most imputed of all offenders, yay that the very fiend himself, that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of my own kindness, that I myself am the enemy who must be loved, what then?

Then, as a rule, the whole truth of Christianity is reversed. there is then no more talk of love and long-suffering. We say to the brother within us: “raka!” and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide him from the world, we deny ever having met this least of the lowly in ourselves, and had it been God himself who drew near to us in this despicable form, we should have denied him a thousand times before a single cock had crowed.”

Originally posted 2010-03-24 22:38:51. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Business Agenda — Make Consumers Spend!

Sometimes we get too caught up by media and TV about all these things we should purchase and own and to upgrade our life-style to be happier. What they want to do is to brainwash us so we inherently make purchases without hesitation and any deep second thoughts.

How do we defend ourselves? To defend ourselves, we must first understand what we’re facing, so let’s understand these people’s agenda…

The people sellling these “things” are business people. They have their agenda. What is the agenda? It’s none other than – making as much money as possible, under the postulation of a capitalistic society, and guess from whom they want to make the money? Us! We the consumers. We have to understand that they are driven by profit, by business. They need to make their numbers, their quotas because it’s their jobs and we are living in this wonderful society of capitalism. That’s why we must think for ourselves if those things really make me happy.

Now I’m not saying it’s their fault since they are just doing their jobs, but we need to defend ourselves here.
Since the best defense is the best offense…
Let’s take offense in that they are trying to take our money from us!
Let’s be stubborn, stay frugal, and fight against these people who are trying to take money away from us!

Each time you want to buy something, think about if it’s really useful and add values to your life, and make sure you are not buying because they told you so.

Peace~~

Originally posted 2007-09-16 11:54:47. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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