View Full Version : Empty fantasies

13 Jul 18, 20:51
This is a quote from the late Zen teacher Charlotte Joko Beck:

“Most of our difficulties, our hopes, and our worries are empty fantasies. Nothing has ever existed except this moment. That's all there is. That's all we are. Yet most human beings spend 50 to 90 percent or more of their time in their imagination, living in fantasy.

We think about what has happened to us, what might have happened, how we feel about it, how we should be different, how others should be different, how it's all a shame, and on and on; it's all fantasy, all imagination. Memory is imagination. Every memory that we stick to devastates our life.”

― (Charlotte Joko Beck, Nothing Special.)

Any comments?

14 Jul 18, 01:41
She’s right, all there is, this moment, is all we have. Everything else is suffering and illusion.

14 Jul 18, 09:31
I think the tone is a bit harsh, although it is mostly what happens. As human beings our conscious selves construct our versions of reality to help inform the decisions of the non-conscious brain, to predict possible futures based on past events. The present then kind of takes care of itself, which is why we are so surprised (afterwards) when we actually slip into the present moment during meditation.

steve marino
14 Sep 18, 08:05
She's right of course, but we need to think of the past so we don't make the same mistakes again, and it's often wise to project into the future to know where we are headed. That's fine in my mind. The troubles come when we are not aware that we are caught in our mind's story line. When we are, then the life that is there in front of us gets ignored. If we can notice that we have pulled up the past, for whatever reason, and let go of it, that seems OK to me too. However, we all know that seldom happens.

What's worse is that we often mistake these imaginary realms as actual reality. Getting caught seems to be the big problem of our life. Caught, and not knowing we are caught, which sounds like the perfect definition of samsara. This all comes from our ego, our self, and when we return to our breath, or chant, or anything like that, we keep the ego in check, and these fantasies either stop on their own, or we become aware of how we are just running around on a treadmill in our mind. The ego is always at work, it never rests. I once asked a lama how to get rid of our ego and they said that we never do, but we do learn to work with it through meditation. Recognizing that our ego has grasped the reins and is now leading us where it will is the first step in working with it.

03 Jun 19, 12:48
My reflection is that I sometimes get caught up in the egoic dreams and dillusional thinking. I had an experience this weekend where I was experiencing this but at least I noticed that I was experiencing dillusional thinking.

Interesting thread.


04 Jun 19, 20:38
Living in the present is itself a fantasy, because of the electro-chemical processing times of photon transmission and reception as well as neurological conduction, consideration, decision making, and musculo-skeletal activation. In reality, we are always processing aspects of our lives in the past largely blind to any real goings on in the present.

Sounds impessive as a philosophical aspiration, but no more than that.

05 Jun 19, 23:19
Regarding the present, in Sutta SN 1.10 there was the following conversation between a Deva and the Buddha:


...Standing there the devata said:

"Those living in the forest,
Peaceful and calm, of pure life,
Eating but one meal a day:
How is it they appear so radiant?"

The Lord replied:

"They sorrow not for what is past,
They have no longing for the future,
The present is sufficient for them:
Hence it is they appear so radiant.
By having longing for the future,
By sorrowing over what is past
By this fools are withered up
As a cut down tender reed."



"How to Live in the Present Moment" a talk by Ajahn Brahm:


and from Ajahn Sumedho's book "Don't take your life personally":

Mindfulness or awareness is knowing, isn’t it? It is a direct knowing, immanent here and now. It is being fully present, attentive, to this present moment as is.

But defining mindfulness tends to make it into something — and then it is no longer mindfulness, is it? Mindfulness is not a thing; it is a recognition, an intuitive awareness. It is awareness without grasping. With this recognition, we have perspective on the conditions that we experience in the present — our thoughts, identities, and the conditioning we have. Concentration, on the other hand, is usually on a form. We choose an object and then put our full attention onto it in contrast to mindfulness which is formless and immeasurable, and does not seek a form. That is why describing mindfulness or awareness leads to the wrong attitude. Terms like ‘wake up’, ‘awakening’ or ‘pay attention’ are not definitions; they are suggestions to trust in this moment, to be present, to be here and now.