Buddha Standard Time by Lama Surya Das

Buddha Standard Time

 

Summary
  1. Surya Das walks us through how to live completely in the now, in “Buddha Standard Time.” We have the power to manipulate time by altering how aware and mindful we are of the present moment. The practices outlined within are increasingly important in today’s hectic day and age.
Key Takeaways
  1. Buddha Standard Time – timeless time, wholly now
  2. Issue trying to solve – how to wean yourself from the addictions that sap time and energy, to clear out all the debris and distraction. You have much more time than you think. In fact, you have all the time in the world
  3. The more concentration and awareness you can achieve, the more time disappears. It’s not time that we lack in our rushed lives, but focus
  4. Do not chase the small, ephemeral things that result only in loss and suffering if you become dependent on them (social media, fame, money, etc.)
  5. Become mindful of what you pay attention to and become more intentional, objective and observant to the minutiae of your life, the transient experiences. Increases self-control and mental discipline, transforms our attitudes and shifts more towards being more responsive, thoughtful, intentional and aware
  6. Nobody can make us angry if we don’t have seeds of anger in our own heart
  7. It is not what happens to us, but how we respond that determines our character and our destiny
  8. Smiling often is a great practice – it is free and spreads love and kindness
  9. People are terrible multitaskers
  10. Master the lost art of waiting and you’ll make friends with time and grow less bored, irritated or annoyed. Read, enjoy and appreciate the people and sites around you
  11. Take time to slow down – slow cooking, slow showers, slow walking, etc. All help you get back into the moment and appreciate the world around you
  12. The Sacred Pause – practice of creating a moment to respond consciously by breathing, waiting and considering things objectively before responding
  13. True realized masters are not beyond suffering and dissatisfaction but one with it
  14. Cultivate a beginner’s or “don’t know” mind – eliminates ego and wasteful thinking
What I got out of it
  1. Really got a lot out of this book and its tips, techniques and recommendations on how to slow down, be present and mindful. It’s not time that we lack, but focus.

Intro

  • People have been grappling with time forever and are “busier” today than ever
  • Lack of time leads to stress and stress leads to unhappy and unhealthy lives
  • After a long-time abroad in monasteries, was surprised to find the aversion to mundane tasks of daily life
  • Problem is figuring out how to disconnect from our tech world for peace and quiet
  • “The thinner we spread ourselves, the more we skitter over the surface of our lives, never going deep.”
  • Issue trying to solve – how to wean yourself from the addictions that sap time and energy, to clear out all the debris and distraction. You have much more time than you think. In fact, you have all the time in the world
  • Buddhism a profound study in time and time management – the better you manage your mind and spirit, the less hold time has on you
  • Every moment can be lived fully , free and unconditioned, and every moment holds infinite possibilities and opportunities for a fresh start
  • Every moment of heightened consciousness is precious beyond price, for awareness is the primary currency of the human condition
  • Buddha Standard Time – timeless time, wholly now
  • Issue we face is living linearly – more business and doing not mean more happiness or accomplishment
  • Must cultivate clarity, detachment and equanimity
  • Must incorporate the spacious outlook of our spirituality into every minute of our life by reimagining and reframing the expanse of time we have
  • Enlightenment – we are much more than our time and space-bound, material selves living in a material world
  • Shicha – the eternal now, the awakened dimension that is available every instant
  • Let go of past and future, being only in the present moment, only what is, instead of regret, fear or anticipation. No longer will you sense negativities as you simply are
  • Can look to past or future without obsessing about it. If you’re remembering, just remember
  • Can always choose how to respond, what to do, how to live
  • Does not draw you away from the “real” world, makes you navigate it more easily and with less stress
  • Offers a ‘Mindful Moment’ and ‘Time Out’ in each chapter that you can implement into your daily life

Chapter 1 – Awakening to Natural Time

  • Since modernity, time has been becoming a commodity
  • But what if time did not control us? What if we felt that our time and our lives were our own?
  • Refining one’s mind precedes happiness – for yourself and others
  • While in Tibet, “…learned to observe the inhalations and exhalations of my breath, and focus only there – in the immediacy and freshness of the now – while letting everything else come and go. Breathing in and out, and becoming simply aware of it. Watching the breath…becoming the breath…being the breath. No time, no space or location. Nothing needing to be done. No one trying to get anywhere. What peace, what harmony, what bliss.”
  • Just observing breath and surroundings allows one to get back into Natural Time
  • The more concentration and awareness you can achieve, the more time disappeared. It’s not time that we lack in our rushed lives, but focus
  • “Time is mainly in the mind. When we stop our minds, even for a moment, we stop the universe: no time, no space, no conditioning and compulsions.”
  • Nature is the oldest form of religion and it connects us with the forever. Be outside and with nature as often as possible as it literally heals us. The natural elemental energy of water and fire can transport us outside of ourselves. Be aware of those moments where you are pulled out of yourself and reconnect with what lies beyond. This is Natural Time
  • Reconnect with Natural Time by spending as much time in nature. Getting lost in it and connecting with something bigger than you
  • Time out – go out into nature and just stare at the sky and get lost in it. no talking, no cellphones, no time, just be
  • Mindful Moment – focus on the breath – breathe, smile and relax. Do not compartmentalize – work this into your everyday life
  • When in a state of tension, being consciously aware of it and deciding how you’d rather be is how you change your brain’s reaction to these situations
  • Incorporate a day of silence into your week

Chapter 2 – Taking Time for Your Higher Self

  • We all have the divine within us – it transcends all roles, identities and personas
  • Find small ways to renew yourself throughout the day, month, year, etc
  • Like Gandhi, be completely absorbed in whatever you are doing, whether world-changing or menial
  • Make a life, not just a living
  • Can use a mantra to “remember to remember.”
  • WOW practice – wishing others well
  • Anatta – no self, no owner. Become less individualistic and imagine yourself a part of something much bigger that is inextricably connected
  • Dzogchen – Great Perfection – the completeness of things just as they are, in unity in diversity and continuity amid change. Allow yourself and others to settle and just be. Accept your unaltered state and all barriers will be removed. Doing one act, especially if menial, with all your attention, fosters this
  • It’s not time that we lack, but focus
  • Do not chase the small, ephemeral things that result only in loss and suffering if you become dependent on them (social media, fame, money, etc.)
  • Enlightenment does not “arrive,” it is everywhere, ever present
  • Determine a reminder for yourself to breathe and slow down – whenever you stand up, go to the bathroom, hear something, etc.
  • Mindful Moment – Determine what MUST really be done on your to-do list, take just one step no matter how small in the right direction,
  • Walking has many health benefits and is a natural meditation
  • Try to rid yourself of addictions (coffee, alcohol, TV, electronics, etc.) and replace with something that will get you in touch with your higher self (walk, paint, exercise, meditate, etc.)
  • “…should not allow yourself to feel that you are more special than anyone or anything else. And thinking you’re worse than others is simply another form of narcissism. For rest assured, none of us, neither saint nor sinner, is closer to God or Buddha than any other; we all possess Buddha-nature.”
  • Time Out – Let go of yourself. Ask – “Who and what am I, really, beneath it all? Who or what might continue on when my body turns to dust? Who or what am I right now? What time is it really?” Follow the silence that comes with these questions.
    • Impermanence of small self helps to connect you to your higher self, to what is truly you

Chapter 3 – Getting in Sync

  • Mentions and recommends Taylor’s My Stroke of Insight – a neuroscientist’s personal experience of recovering from a stroke and how she experienced life through the creative and open right hemisphere as opposed to the linear and rational left. A major different between the two lies in experiencing and managing time
  • Father time represents linear time, doing whereas Mother Nature represents cyclical time and the wisdom and insight born of experiences, repetition, practice, being
    • If there is no beginning or end, can we say time exists?
  • Alternate between hemispheres – if study, reading or working a lot, take a break and listen to some music, exercise or call a friend
  • Exercises – don’t think of what you need to do today right when you wake up, give yourself a chance to become awake and aware; listen to your inner voice; every time the phone rings, let it go for an extra ring or two in order to center yourself before talking to whoever it is
  • Time Out – Breathe of Fire. Take a deep breath and fill lower belly and release with a huge whoosh of relief. Repeat 7-21x
  • Meditate on concentration – focus on one thing and as your ability grows your capacity to pay attention overall becomes more refined, attention span lengthens and can ignore distractions. Close your eyes and focus solely on your breath
  • Become mindful of what you pay attention to and become more intentional, objective and observant to the minutiae of your life, the transient experiences. Increases self-control and mental discipline, transforms our attitudes and shifts more towards being more responsive, thoughtful, intentional and aware
  • Insightfulness – accessing the truth of who we really are and how we fit in by refining our field of awareness. Reflect on the mind that is meditating, self-knowledge
  • Mindfulness meditation helps synchronize the hemispheres and lead to self-realization
  • Circadian rhythms generally synchronize with Natural Time. Following shows when the major energetic pathways are most activated:
    • 3-5AM – lungs
    • 5-7AM – large intestine
    • 7-9AM – stomach
    • 9-11AM – spleen
    • 11AM-1PM – heart
    • 1-3PM – small intestine
    • 3-5PM – bladder
    • 5-7PM – kidneys
    • 7-9PM – pericardium/heart governor
    • 9-11PM – triple burner (middle three chakras or energy centers)
    • 11PM – 1AM – gallbladder
    • 1-3AM – liver
      • Knowing these cycles can help us tune in to our own internal rhythms
      • Prime meditation between 3-5AM
      • Meetings done between 11 and 1PM
      • Rest from 1-3PM
      • Greatest achievements from 3-7PM
      • Nutrients in breast milk change throughout the day in order to wake up the baby or make him/her sleepy
      • Exposure to light at the wrong time can have a lot of detrimental health effects
      • Chronotherapy
      • Ultradian rhythm – take a break for about 20 minutes every 90 minutes you work. Frequent breaks helps with creative pursuits
  • To get yourself back in sync with natural rhythms you can:
    • Position bed so that morning light wakes you up (can even sleep in different rooms at different times of the year)
    • Try to train yourself to say, I want to wake up at 7:15 and soon you will have your own internal alarm clock
    • Even better, wake up a little before sunrise and watch the sunrise
  • If find yourself falling asleep too early, spend time outdoors in the evening. Blackout curtains can help too
  • If have trouble getting up in the morning, sleep with your curtains open. Especially helpful for late risers to get up early on weekends too as this helps the body get into a consistent cycle
  • 7 chakras help control our inner cycle and rhythms
  • Chi governs all our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual activities and is affected by our environment, food we eat, thoughts, intentions and emotions
  • Alternate breathing has a lot of beneficial effects – breathing from one nostril and then the other
  • Mindful Moment – breathe in fully through both nostrils, with left finger close left nostril and breathe out fully through your right nostril. repeat process but now closing  right side. Then inhale deeply and breathe out fully through both nostrils and complete 3-7x
  • Greatest miracle in the world is unconditional love
    • Must first be willing to love ourselves and cultivate a completely accepting attitude. Only then can you spread the love to others
    • Our struggles and bad karma are challenges but if can overcome those, can love ourselves and others even more. Better relate to others too
    • Nobody can make us angry if we don’t have seeds of anger in our own heart
    • Buddhist Paramitas (virtues or ideal qualities)
    • Patient Forbearance (Courageous Acceptance)
    • Unstinting generosity
    • Moral Self-Discipline
    • Concentrated Mindfulness
    • Discriminating Wisdom
    • Joyous Enthusiasm
  • It is not what happens to us, but how we respond that determines our character and our destiny
  • This chapter helps get in touch with internal rhythms and reconnect with the finely tuned biological and spiritual clocks within yourself and in nature. The more in-tune you can become, the more present you can be

Chapter 4 – Understanding our Powers of Perception

  • The more mindful we become, the greater our focus and powers of observation and deduction
  • The greatest gift we can offer ourselves and others is presence
  • Loving-kindness is a social lubricant and the less resistance we encounter, the sooner and smoother we reach our goals/destination
  • Compassion is something that can be trained and helps strengthen our understanding and patience
    • Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle – Plato
  • Smiling often is a great practice – it is free and spreads love and kindness
  • The more you raise your consciousness the more aware you become of your energy, the energy of your environment and the energy of others
  • People are terrible multitaskers – we are actually alternating consciousness at hyperspeed because brain can literally only focus on one thing at a time. Fragmentation of focus is unproductive
  • Women better at reaching enlightenment as they have up to 4x as many connections between the two sides of the brain
  • Mindful Moment – let go of your self-image, visualize self as pure light energy, visualize beauty/gentleness/compassion, breathe and meditate with these images, gradually return to ordinary consciousness, bring your embodiment of timeless wisdom and compassion into daily activities
  • Don’t pray for what you think you want, pray and give thanks for what you already have
  • You will be able to control the speed of your consciousness, slowing it down or up as you see fit
  • Ongoing meditation has numerous health benefits, can improve energy/vitality and can actually change the structure of your brain
  • Feelings become more instructive and motivational than obstructive – removing much of the stress of everyday life
  • Time Out – lay down and/or on your side, breathe/smile/relax, let all go and know that you’re safe, you’re being held and at this moment nothing matters

Chapter 5 – Minding Time Wisely

  • Not enough to see, must notice what you see (Sherlock Holmes)
  • Recently there have been ‘slow movements‘ – slow foodslow bodybuildingslow sexslow art/film/litslow dancingslow parentingslow travelslow money. All focus on concentrative awareness
  • Being focused more about being open and sensitive to change – in self, others, environment, etc.
  • Presencing – meditation in action, being completely and fully immersed in anything  that you’re doing, no matter how mundane it might first appear
  • Mindful Moment – sit still and imagine yourself in front of a peaceful lake, notice any thoughts/desires/needs/anxieties. suppress nothing, indulging in nothing
  • Recommends candle-staring shamatha
  • Time Out – candle light meditation – stare at a candle flame, breathe in and out with a soft but fixed gaze, notice when mind wanders but without judgment or reaction and bring back your focus to the flame
  • Foundations of mindfulness – be aware of our bodies (posture and physical sensations), feelings and emotions, thoughts, and events/deeper patterns
  • Noble 8 Fold Path – right view (seeing things as they are), right intentions (understanding cause/effect), right speech (speaking truth), right action (no lying, stealing, etc.), right livelihood (honest, productive labor), right effort (balanced energy and enthusiasm), right mindfulness (alert presence of mind to inner and outer events), right concentration (being focused on task at hand)
  • Saichi Asahara – Japanese Buddhist who built mindfulness into every single movement – washing dishes, laying bricks, etc. The most mundane can become a beautiful experience
  • Mindful walking – no electronics and pay attention to everything around you and within you. One in breath, one step, etc…
  • Mindful resting – before falling asleep, become keenly aware of thoughts, sensations, feelings
  • Mindful listening – can be incorporated everyday. Stop and listen to your surroundings, your heartbeat, your breath,
  • Mindful fitness – whatever exercise you choose to do, do it with all your focus
  • Mindful communion with animals – animals naturally live in Buddha Standard Time so spend as much time with them as you can
  • Many of us perform best when under some pressure or deadline and this helps us get in flow. Our Buddha self lives in a constant state of flow
  • Samurai code treats every moment as if it were life and death. With this perspective, everything becomes divine, unique and extraordinary and we are more grateful and appreciative for them
  • Set aside time for formal meditation every day and then informally – focus 100% on task at hand and not taking on more than you can handle or want. Key is that once you finish – completely let go. Do not ruminate

Chapter 6 – Creating Space in the Pace

  • If want to make peace with time so that our days don’t feel overwhelmingly rushed or slow, we need to change the space of the pace – do something different that shifts us to another way of being
  • Mindful Moment – Avoid excessive people pleasing. Not doing anyone any favors if accepting too many demands on your time, energy or pocketbook. Maintain healthy boundaries. Avoid energy draining people and tasks that aren’t worth it
  • 5 basic poisons – greed, hatred, delusion, pride and jealousy
  • Create time for yourself to think and meditate and get away and be protective of it. “Schedule” time for you
  • Master the lost art of waiting and you’ll make friends with time and grow less bored, irritated or annoyed. Read, enjoy and appreciate the people and sites around you
    • Pick the longest line at the checkout counter
    • Discover the space around you
    • Hold hand in shuni mudra – middle and thumb touching
  • People are natural harmonizers – we innately mirror other people’s moods, posture, body language, etc.
  • Time Out – “I am I, I am not I; I have feelings, I am not my feelings; I have thoughts, I am not my thoughts. I have body sensations, I am not my body sensations. I am I
  • The 5 Perfections – time (every moment is the perfect moment), place (wherever you are is the perfect place), teaching (the truth shining on you at this moment is the perfect teaching), teacher (the Absolute Buddha in various forms and guises), student (you. no matter how hard it might be to believe, you are the perfect student)

Chapter 7 – Living in Sacred Time and Space

  • The Sacred Pause – practice of creating a moment to respond consciously by breathing, waiting and considering things objectively before responding
  • The Sacred Space – aligning our smaller, even cellular, self with nature’s larger outer macrocosm and become one with everything
  • Generosity is good for the soul
  • Stop waiting for the perfect time to do something – every moment is potentially sacred so stop procrastinating on major decisions or on living life fully
  • Finding days, weeks, months, or even years to step back and recuperate is vital. The important part is making it consistent throughout your life
  • Sound and music are a royal gateway to the sacred and timeless- music can alter brain waves and shift our consciousness. It can speed up or slow down time and change our perception of space
  • Time Out – Shicha – timeless dimension of being that intersects past, present and future. Find something that resonates with you (unique for every single person) and as a beginner usually better with no vocals. Experience each note as it resonates in you and simply rest in the music
  • Create your own sacred place – can be as big or as small as you like but it should bring you happiness and calm
  • Going on a pilgrimage is a great way to cultivate sacred time and space – recharges our inner life and often find that we already have everything we want and need. Often forces you to reflect on what is really important to you and necessary to you to live a happy life. Do not necessarily have to travel – can make sacred space wherever you are each and every moment
  • Fasting, renunciation, self denial have long been ways for people to break out of the comfort zone of their daily existence and help bring in fresh aspects into their lives
  • Mindful Moment – do not speak for a morning or whole day, skip a meal, do an all day fast, do a tech break, news fast, don’t read for a day/week, do not speak about anyone not present, wake up early and meditate, do an all-night vigil outdoors next to a bonfire/mountaintop/body of water, don’t use energy for a day
  • A quick nap can have amazing regenerating and relaxing effects

Chapter 8 – The Spinning Wheel of Time

  • The elders in our society should be revered as they have many great lessons and skills to share. They no longer need to rush and can be serene
  • Shadows are nothing but various shades of the light
  • When grief threatens to veer your life off track – face the grief openly and completely (awareness is curative), go through the healthy stages of grieving (shock, pain, negotiating, sadness and gradual letting go), recognize its impermanence, learn the lesson it is offering, practice patient forbearance, be fully mindful of the grief and breathe through it, do not be afraid to be vulnerable and recognize everyone has felt this way
  • Death provides an impetus for awakening
  • True realized masters are not beyond suffering and dissatisfaction but one with it
  • Mindful Moment – Breathe fully and hold for 2 seconds and then exhale fully and hold for 2 seconds. Repeat a couple times until you feel calm and in sync
  • Cultivate a beginner’s or “don’t know” mind – eliminates ego and wasteful thinking
  • “If you want to know what your past lives were like, look at how you are now. If you want to know about your future lives, look at what you’re doing and being right now”
  • Time Out – breathe in while raising your arms and breathe out while lowering them. Do this 5-10x until you feel grounded in the here and now

Conclusion – The Infinite Possibilities of Now

  • Attaining Buddha Standard Time is a lifelong practice and the little, everyday changes make huge differences over time. Can enter into it at any moment as every moment is sacred
  • 10 Tips and Pointers for Befriending Time
    1. Rest in the breath while letting go of all thoughts, concerns, plans, worries and preoccupations
    2. Be mindful of the physical sensations you feel right now
    3. Feel the good earth beneath your feet or the seat that cradles you
    4. Chant a mantra or sacred phrase again and again, with pure, undivided concentration and focus
    5. Make eye contact with another being, and feel compassion and loving-kindness for whomever you are with
    6. Smile at someone, hug someone, or help someone
    7. Go outside and make contact with nature through the sky, clouds, trees, a flower, a body of water, the earth between your fingers or any other manifestation of the magnificent natural world
    8. Read sacred words from the world’s wisdom traditions and scriptures
    9. Take a break, a sacred pause, an “honorable rest” – whether for Sabbath or just for an hour or two – at least once a week, if not every day
    10. Listen to music, sing, dance, create, pray and play

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