Why Return to the Present Moment?
Our Precious Human Birth
Kathleen (Katy) Brown
May 1, 2018
“Joyful to have birth, such a human birth, difficult to find, free and well-favored. But death is real, comes without warning. This body will be a corpse. Unalterable are the laws of karma; cause and effect cannot be escaped. Samsara is an ocean of suffering, unendurable, unbearably intense” (Trungpa, 1974). These are the four reminders in Buddhist theology: precious human birth, truth of impermanence, law of karma and futility of continuing to wander in samsara. These four reminders are basic to the question of why return to the present moment?
Life is very precious to me. I came into this world with purpose and dignity. It appears I may have entered the human realm of the samsara wheel as I emulate in consciousness with the concept of nirvana or enlightenment. I remember fragments of my developing human body in utero, warm and symbiotic, intelligently mushy with anticipation for human world. My actual birth has been quite shrouded in mystery as it appears I may have been born to a young teenage mother who gave me up for adoption three days later to a woman named Theresa. I remember being cherished by her for one year before she returned me to my father. I strongly remember first feeling of touch with my birth father: absolute fear. My journey was about to begin: my precious human birth purpose.
I began to meditate at age 19 seeking emotional peace from the cold and hot hells of my childhood with father and his wife. The anger and sense of isolation projected onto me by the bewilderment of parental impulse motivated me to seek a discipline of perpetual engagement with the mind and its consciousness. I prepared an altar with sacred shrines and prayers of the Christian faith, as I also explored meditation techniques to assist in healing my pain and confusion. I innately knew life as a precious gift full of wisdom rich variety and opportunity to serve others with warmth and kindness, yet my youth simulated projection of lower samsara realms. The instinctual impulse of anger and grasping for meaning in my parents forced me to realize how burdened they were with grief, despair and loneliness. Mediation helped me to slowly unwind the projections imposed upon me as a child. Tenacity resulted in achieving small moments of grace always in first breath of present moment. The human suffering of my family taught me compassion through forgiveness. I woke up from the pain feeling gratitude as I began to explore various states of consciousness in mind, matter and spirit. The will in me to live was far greater than dying through repressed life force.
Returning to present moment echoed through my healing process in meditation. It hurt to be alive in my body as I listened, contemplated and meditated with my breath. The chanting of holy names reconnected me to the spiritual self of my basic goodness. I found resolute in one kind childhood memory with father: dancing on his toes. The joy and exuberance we shared symbiotically reminded me how precious was my human birth. The practice of meditation awakened the beauty of lovingkindness in thought, word, action and deed. Reconnecting symbiotically with birth mother through dancing on father’s toes launched me into the powerful awareness of the “I-Thou” principle, Martin Buber’s classic writing on human suffering.
My resurrection of self in open heart of first breath cultivates present moment bodhisattva prajna: love, compassion, joy and equanimity. Returning to present moment awakes the bodhisattva in precious human birth: the cosmic mirror of our purpose and dignity.
Buber, M. (1970). I and thou. New York, NY: Touchstone.
Chodron, P. (1991). The wisdom of no escape and the path of loving kindness. Boston, MA:
Trungpa, C. (1976). The myth of freedom. Berkeley, CA: Shambhala Publications.
Trungpa, C. (1974). Four Reminders. Nalanda Translation. www.nalandatranslation.org