“Birth is an expression complete this moment. Death is an expression complete this moment. They are like winter and spring. You can not say that winter becomes spring, or that spring becomes summer.” – Dogen

Call me crazy, but at some point it occurred to me that the moments of my life were happening independent of one another. One happens. Then another happens. If I pay attention to myself right now as I write this, I have very little connection with the person who woke up this morning.

In a sense, I think most people string an imaginary thread to connect independent moments. Our minds act like a long exposure photograph where car lights streak together in one continuous line. Of course, the lights were only at one point at a time. It was the illusion of photography that made them seem continuous.

Making these connections can be helpful for practical purposes. But it can also cause problems.


Because each moment has whatever it needs to thrive. Right now, there is a perfection in this moment. But if I draw a line from this moment to a “bad” experience at breakfast, or string out into a potentially unpleasant moment in the future, the perfection turns into something much different: dread, fear, anxiety.

Notice that none of those negative feelings are contained on this individual link, the pain is only found in the [made up] connections between moments. It is interesting that this real, concrete moment is complete – the illusion of the chain is what brings unhappiness.

It can be fun to experiment with this. Try breaking the chain apart from the links to past/future and see what right now has to offer. You might be surprised at how complete you are in this moment.

In case you missed it, the chain is great symbolism: a heavy and restricting prison. Each link, on its own, is beautiful and harmless. But when we tie them together and wrap them around our lives, we become suffocated. Some people have tangled so many chains of strung-together moments around themselves that they can barely move. Breaking the chain (taking this moment by itself) brings immediate freedom.

Image Credit: Southern Rhapsody

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