Reader comment on Jacob Needleman's passage ...

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    On Nov 13, 2009 Somik Raha wrote:

    This was a very deep passage. When reading the second paragraph, I was in a hurry and remember looking for the word after being. Being what? Reading it again, I realized my mind was so conditioned to reading about being something or the other, that just "be-ing" was surprising (pleasantly so).

    Be-ing something else is not be-ing myself, and hence is untrue. It sounds so simple - all I have to do is stop stop being something else, and yet is extremely hard to do, because it is about not doing. I find myself engaged in being something or the other, in other words, engaging in self-deception.

    I loved the fact that this passage was about "The Problem of Time," because a misconception of time is probably one of the leading causes of self-deception. "I don't have time to be here" is one of the biggest lies I tell. With the evolution of polite social language, an euphemism for lying, our minds are trapped into believing our own lies leading to stress and unhappiness.

    My inspiration on keeping my thoughts clear about time is my Professor. Whenever I meet him, I find that he is in a state of "be-ing," which manifests in tremendous attention to whatever I have to say. Every meeting with him has a magical touch to him, and I come away inspired, believing in myself. Once, he revealed his secret behind the ability to be. After attending a Zen workshop, he had convinced himself that, unlike the common perception that we form our beliefs from our experiences, he had discovered that his experiences were coming from his beliefs. Therefore, he reformatted his operating system and installed new beliefs. The first one was, "I have time." 

    Before and after this installation, he has used To-do lists and technology to manage his time. However, after installing this belief, he now finds that he has time. When you stop him in the hallway, he has time to smile at you and greet you with great presence and intention. When something unexpected comes up in his schedule, he has time to receive it with his full awareness. 

    I always wondered how he would respond when he had many demands on his time and really needed to be doing something else. It is rare for him to say no to someone's request for time, but the way in which he did it earlier this week thrilled me. I would normally utter a lie, "I don't have time" out of habit. But when I popped my head and asked him, "Professor, do you have some time?," he looked at me with a smile and replied, "I always have time. The question is, how am I going to spend it?" We agreed to meet a little later, but upon reflection, I realized that I'd been handed a gift. This answer was so beautiful because it had two great truths in it. The first - he had time. The second, it was his decision on how he would spend it, just like the rest of us are free to choose. We have physical constraints and cannot be somewhere else because we chose to be here right now. We have to continue to use our intellect wisely and harmonize with our hearts to make the most of our time here.

    There is another common confusion about time that he once clarified in class. When a loved one says, "Oh, you don't love me because you're not spending enough time with me," his response is (my paraphrasing of it), "What does love have to do with time? When you love someone, you are never in deficit - it'd be silly to say that I have no more love to give because I gave it to such-and-such person. But with time, you cannot be doing two things at once, and so you need to be wise about how you use your time."

    For those who are curious, the second belief he installed was "I have all the help I need." And he finds that wherever he goes, people are always ready to help him, so he never has to worry about anything. 

    I loved the thoughts that people shared. Chris' comments on how often we look at the clock when someone is speaking was striking. Bhoutik's story of the 3-hour meeting with Nipun where he didn't once look at his cellphone for the time. And I loved the polar views on Facebook and other social networking sites. While many found that was the space in which they could give high quality attention, others felt such tools took away attention from the environment they were in. Guri's closing thoughts were remarkable, for she shared them with great joy and laughter. I hope she will post the mail she received about the internet (which really cracked her up) in an iJourney comment.

    I liked Nipun's final story, where as a child, he was serving food in a temple, and wanting to connect with each receiver, he kept saying "Om." Although nothing was said in response, the resulting connection and presence, brief and perhaps never to be repeated again with the same set of individuals, was something he has not forgotten. 

    In summary, after hearing everyone's comments, I felt that the author's insight holds true - it is not Facebook, Twitter and Orkut that are a problem. It is about us. The medium has changed from physical presence to an online presence. We should not be surprised to find that the presence however remains the same. I am present right now as I write this online comment and I feel great love and goodwill. My mind is focused on being true to my intention. I do not know if anyone will read this comment  and connect with my intention. But, I have already been rewarded in a way I cannot explain, for the act itself. I have a smile to carry with me for the rest of the day. And I know that..

    I have time. The question is, how am I going to spend it? :)


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