Friday, February 19, 2016

One Step at a Time

Wise people are advised never to get ahead of themselves -- which means they are thinking too far ahead of their actions and reactions -- and thus have little connection to what is actually going on, from moment to moment.  Thus, obviously, they are never "in the moment," but invariably, "out of it."  That is obvious to everyone else but themselves -- whose actions are inappropriate, because they have little to do with the exigencies of the moment.

So it matters very little where they eventually hope to end up, if they have no idea how to take the first step -- leading to the one thereafter, and in that manner, actually getting to the place they only imagined at the start.  But that "envisioning," is not nearly as important as the awareness of where they are, and what they are doing momentarily -- and can respond to every contingency appropriately -- which is the kind of conditioning that has high survival value, and one can be confident, that no matter what situation arises, they will do the appropriate (right) thing -- rather than just the socially (politcally) "correct" thing -- often with disastrous results.

It does not so much matter, if one always does the right thing, but always gets the wrong results -- no matter how certain they are.  That manner of doing, tends to undermine one's confidence in doing everything, so in the end, they are certain that nothing they do matters, because they never get the result they hope to achieve.  That sense of helplessness and randomness of experience, lead many to feel that bad things happen despite their good actions -- rather than seeing the truth of the matter that it is obviously the wrong action.

Thus the Buddhists were among the first to point out the importance of "Right action," as being the cornerstone of "enlightenment" in this world.  It is not enough, to know one thing, and do something else, and think there could be the productive results of integrated action and activities -- as though nothing is related to anything else.  The essential connection, is the truth of that moment -- and not the promised truth six months from now.  Things that work, work instantly and immediately -- or they don't work at all, which only becomes more apparent in time -- but time may not be what one has to waste.

The truth is not what is learned and remembered, but is rediscovered and reproven from moment to moment -- in everything one does.  It is not just what a few "experts" do, and then tell everybody else the truth of the matter -- but what each discovers for themselves in living every moment.  That is the truth and reality of everybody's life -- and no longer the world of a few specialists and experts who "know," and those who must believe everything they are "taught," by those claiming that authority.

That is what the primitive (prescientific) society was -- the world of a few, who told the others what to do, and what to think -- and that was the way people thought ought to be --  was the only way to be.  Hopefully, we know better now, unless we find ourselves in cultures that still revere those authoritarian hierarchies as the highest ideal -- and long for the restoration of that social order.  That is also familarly, the world of one's childhood -- of which an unfortunate few regard as the best of times, who hope never to grow up -- and always have authorities around to tell them what to do.

They will never become the mature adults who assume responsibility for all that they do -- and are proud of that fact.  Those are the people who come to feel that the world they live in is that of their own making -- and not a destiny beyond their control, and only other people, can do something about -- to make more favorable for them.  The problem with that, is that those others in control, are usually acting in their own best interests, and not necessarily everybody else's -- just because they have the power, and think that is what makes right in every case.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

The Smallest Changes Make the Biggest Difference

The people who accomplish the least, are those who take on the most ambitious projects -- while those who accomplish the most, are those who pay attention to the smallest details.  That's how things are accomplished -- one small detail (step) at a time until the outcome is inevitable -- while those who think only of hitting homeruns, seldom make contact with the ball -- and it is putting the ball in play, that makes everything possible.

It is far easier to write a sentence than it is to write a book -- but to those who do neither, think it is the same.  But if one begins with a simple sentence -- constructed thoughtfully, it becomes the foundation for the next, and shortly becomes that book.  That manner of doing, determines whether we will be successful at anything we do.

That is particularly important when we lose our way -- and wonder how we can get back on track, whether that is recovering our health or building financial security.  You have to first save a dollar.  Failing that, it doesn't matter how good the investment -- if one never has the resources to underwrite it. Health is that same way; the least of our movements, is the road to recovery -- while not doing anything but hoping for improvement, will end in the predictable result.  Nothing else would be possible -- in a cause and effect world.

It is not necessary to plan on running a marathon or lifting a record weight in order to make the simplest movement possible -- which is then repeated a hundred or a thousand times -- but it is invariably the one simple movement, mastered to its greatest efficiency -- rather than the million things going on all at once.  Which step is more important than any other?  So rather than any single repetition meaning more than any other, one is really working against the corrupting influence of "fatigue" -- so that there is no corruption of form, but perfecting that movement with each repetition.  Thus the last, is even better than the first -- because that is the practice of getting better -- by actually getting better.

Unfortunately, this attention to detail and improving performance, is not foremost in most programs for improvement, let alone being the objective.  Instead, it is erroneously believed that simply doing anything -- no matter how badly, is better than doing nothing at all, and of course not wasting any time and attention learning the difference -- which makes all the difference.  Thus some people in their activities and practice, show remarkable improvement and prodigious results, while inattentive people wonder why they don't get those same results -- while fancying that they are doing exactly "the same thing."  Obviously and tangibly, they aren't -- but think that is close enough -- whether running, jumping, singing, writing, speaking, etc.

They ostensibly do the same thing, but always get a different result -- and then they don't even realize, it is a different result -- because of their unshaken belief, that doing anything, is better than doing nothing but paying attention is a necessary requirement for doing anything well -- and knowing the difference.  It is learning that attention to detail -- and what makes the difference between a poor performance and result, from a vastly superior outcome, is always the greatest lesson one can learn doing anything.

This becomes increasingly more important, the less able one has become -- while hoping to recover or achieve for the first time, the capabilities one thinks they want to have.  But it doesn't just come -- because they want it badly enough.  It has to be their primary practice -- in doing anything, and everything -- and particularly in living the life that works extraordinarily well for them -- especially at those times most crucial to any outcome -- the matter of life and death itself.

That's what one hopes to be preparing for -- and not that one is too old and beyond hope for that to happen anymore, which becomes more obvious and apparent with time and age -- in not doing so.  So while one may think they are doing everything "right," everything else in life is telling them it is "wrong," but they reject that logical conclusion in preference for what they wish to believe -- until reality catches up and clobbers them.  Then their response is always, "too little, too late," rather than the right amount, just in time.

At that rate, one is doing as well as one can hope to ever be doing -- for as long as they can.  When they are perpetually "too little, too late," they eventually run out of time and life, and chances to do the right thing.  Not that they have ever known the difference.  And that is why learning the difference -- the quality of paying attention, is what meditation is all about -- the state of mind capable of seeing and observing everything, and not just confirming what one already knows -- as though there is nothing to see and learn beyond that.

But obviously, that is where the answer to any question, problem and difficulty lies -- or there wouldn't be any problem and difficulty.  Otherwise, the problems of the past, merely repeat themselves timelessly -- because nothing else is possible -- unless one asks the impossible question, "What is one missing?"  Those who are too ready with the answers, have merely learned the "right" answers -- that may or may not have anything to do with reality, but know what has been taught as the only thing that can be known, and accepted by most -- even if it doesn't work, and makes no sense to believe in -- invariably that any other way is not possible.

Making the smallest changes, always results in the biggest differences -- over time.  If it's not working now, it probably never did.  One is always finding out.