Short rant on the present moment | by Nick

Nick

@nickcammarata

25 days ago

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Short rant on the present moment

Every meditation teacher talks about the present moment as a special important thing but rightfully people often don’t get why it matters. Or what it means. Even my depressive thoughts about the past or anxious ruminations of the future are in the present moment

One important insight related to the present moment is just to realize that same sentence experientially. Your fantasies aren’t in another place, they’re just spatially located in your head and tend to trap your attention such that you forget you’re in the world

(oh lol some people thought I was going to rant about sbf, not the abstract idea of the present moment)

The middle of your head forms a kind of attentional wormhole that’s weird if you look at it clearly. It actually spatially twists in a weird way to give the false impression than more space than the actual width of your head. That’s why mind’s eye fantasies can seem so large

You can only notice this if you can expand your awareness first. Try listen for an actual plane flying 5000ft above you, don’t imagine it just listen for it, check if there’s a plane, now while your awareness is expanded try imagining a cute dog, but without collapsing attention

If you do it without collapsing awareness you’ll feel the mental image of a dog arise in your head region within a bigger space that includes the world around you. It’s all one place, one rendered world-model, one 3d spatial set of sensate particles, the present moment

But why does this matter? It doesn’t directly. Who cares that you can do a neat party trick of attention to inside and outside at the same time It matters because the real devil is a subtle mental mechanic called tanha that causes approximately all the problems

Tanha is a grabby sensation so fast that you don’t notice it without lots of practice. Among many other things it turns sensate particles into something that feel like “your problem”, I think (conjecture, could be wrong) “being triggered” is when you have a large amount of tanha

When things feel more like you, or more permanent, or like they’re the one perfect thing that will finally give you infinite happiness (eg crushes) they get more tanha. When you have big awareness and you watch something arise and pass into it mindfully, less tanha, less grab

Putting these together, there’s nothing wrong about thinking about the future or the past, as long as you experientially recognize you’re not *actually* in the future or the past, you’re sitting at a cafe or whatever. This matters bc you realize it’s a fabrication, a thought

When you realize it’s just an idea you can handle it more playfully. You don’t get “lost” in thoughts and you aren’t grabbing it with your attention instinctively and frenetically. You’re just a spacious presence around the thoughts playing with the future

A lot of beginning meditators think meditation is about having no thoughts or no inner monologue or ever imagining the future or past. It’s not! Meditation does tend to reduce those things, your mind just gets more interested in what is here now, but it’s bad to push them away

The whole of the meditative path is about letting go, which leads to peace and flow through the attenuation of tanha. In some specific practices you might want to attend to the body more than say inner monologue. But in the general case let things arise and pass, let them go

tldr qualia is a non-linear vector space of sensate particles, it’s non-linear (warped) partially to trick you into believing the inside of your head is a special place outside the present moment. Avoid trap by noticing it, which increases flow and valence and life goodness

also self/ego is just an idea and ball of tension arising in this warped space, like any idea it’s just another sensate particle with no special ontological status. The reason it feels so important is partially bc the warped space makes it feel bigger than it is (~an inch)

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