'I'm always looking for the Hows and the Whys and the Whats,' said Muskrat, 'That is why I speak as I do. You've heard of Muskrat's Much-in-Little, of course?'
'No,' said the child. 'What is it?'
- The Mouse and his Child. Russell Hoban.

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Thursday, 2 April 2015

You are Here

onism - n. the awareness of how little of the world you’ll experience

Imagine standing in front of the departures screen at an airport, flickering over with strange place names like other people’s passwords, each representing one more thing you’ll never get to see before you die—and all because, as the arrow on the map helpfully points out, you are here.

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  1. Some say that an antidote for Onism is to read a lot of novels whereby the emotional engagement within the vicarious experience allows a person to experience not just the 'place' but also the people - an added bonus is that its also a form of time travel. Of course this is a compromise, there is nothing quite like the real thing.

    A Buddhist approach is to dissolve the 'attachment' all these unrequited visitations have upon us by seeking a greater absorption in this present moment through a thorough application of 'mindfulness'.

    1. Agreed. With both approaches. But I am wondering now if a purist would say they are mutually exclusive. I mean, surely reading a book is the ultimate in non-mindfulness? Hmmm. Do Buddhists read books? *Should* Buddhists read books?

  2. Perhaps those who are desperate regarding not being able to see everything before they die, don't actually REALLY SEE anything.

    I don't agree that they would be mutually exclusive. Somewhere in the Christian New Testament it talks of "Being in the world but not of it". I think this is the same as the Buddhist spiritual statement about mindfulness and attachment. Being mindful is being aware and fully in the moment, totally absorbed in the moment - but without attachment or clinging to the experience, without judging the experience in any way which may inhibit that experiences 'fullness' being communicated to the human mind. Mindfulness is not about being 'spaced out' or any other esoteric experience, its more about seeing things as they really are. 'Mindfulness' can be applied to anything that we do, reading a book, washing the dishes, painting a picture, taking the rubbish bins out etc - Mindfulness is a way of approaching an activity and having ones mind 'In that moment' .

    Perhaps the implication of my suggestion is that if we experienced each moment in its fullness, we wouldn't need to experience 'all moments and places, everywhere' - True mindfulness would communicate the universality of all moments and experiences - curing one of 'Onism'

    It has been said that when we are truly absorbed in an activity that we truly love - Painting pictures, sailing, cooking food, playing a particular sport etc etc etc we find that time stands still, we can do these things without being distracted, totally focused on what we are doing, no mind clatter about anything else - this is akin to mindfulness. The Buddhist approach is that through the transformational approach of meditation, this approach can be applied to all that we do - God, this is starting to sound like a sermon LOL

    1. Well, there's a lot there to think about here Alden.
      I guess I was thinking about books in certain ways. I have just begun eating my daily food without reading at the same time. I find I taste and enjoy it far more. Because I immerse myself so much in a good book, I totally lose my surroundings and even a sense of body.
      However I when painting the blue bedroom recently, I have decided that since I have done so many hours of painting with so much (very enjoyable) mindfulness in the past, I have probably sucked 98% of the higher understanding that can be got from the Art of Re-Decorating By Painting, that I have now earned the indulgence of a little Hypnosis By Audio Book while up a ladder.

    2. … and am developing a rather un-Buddhist attachment to Ric Jerome who reads audio books.

  3. It is significant that you find you taste and enjoy your daily food more when you aren't reading at the same time.
    I have read that the Lamas say "Wash the dishes by washing the dishes, eat your food by eating your food, take a walk by taking a walk". On the surface this all sounds like stating the obvious, but of course we not only read when we eat food, our minds are full of all sorts of chatter so that not only are we reading while we eat we are also planning our weekend and thinking about a movie we might go to ------ Eating our food by eating our food means exactly that, no more, no less - absorbed in the act of being in the moment of eating food, with all that that moments context and richness involves.

  4. Easier said than done of course .... and I am by no means an expert - A large amount of self discipline is required to do any of this stuff on any consistent basis.


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