Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A New Moment

From Katherine Rand, Buddhist blogger extraordinaire, this powerful video from Charlotte Selver, in my Facebook mailbox this morning:

Charlotte Selver was 101 at the time of the video. She was Ruth Denison's teacher, and the pioneer of Sensory Awareness. Charlotte's talk reminded me of something I wrote a year ago:
I just started this new practice. I call it the 'first time' love practice.
Imagine relating to your loved one as if you were meeting him or her for the 'first time'. Mind untainted by memories, good and bad from past encounters. And free of expectations regarding how things should and should not go between you two. Leaving all your baggage behind. Being totally present for each shared moment as it unfolds second after second.
New time, new experience. I look at him with virgin eyes, and I listen to him with open ears. As if meeting him for the 'first time'. Present moment as only reality. He's leaving his things behind, also. Fleeting thoughts come and cloud my view for a short while, and I brush them away, remembering they do not belong to now. Same with familiar feelings that threaten to weigh me down, if I am not careful. The desire to meet him is stronger. And I say to myself, the first time mantra, over and over, until I see him clearly, and I hear him well, again.
I have tried the other way before, and it hasn't worked. All that baggage was wearing me, us down.
Of course, sticky mind does not give up that easily . . . Since the time of my post, I have encountered many moments that felt like old moments.

I needed this timely reminder from Charlotte Selver.

Today, when I call my mother at her nursing home, and she repeats for the nth time, "So when are you coming?" I shall experience her question each time with fresh ears, and respond to her as if for the first time.

Will you join me in this practice?


  1. Brilliant Marguerite - thanks for sharing!! Such wisdom, compassion...and more importantly, such light-heartedness and humor! I think that is so, so important in doing this practice. Have some humor...have some fun. This video made me smile and I thank you for that! Peace, Nate

  2. Yes, I loved the twinkle in Charlotte's eyes. Such an inspiration . . .

  3. We have a tendency to look at life and people as something that will be here tomorrow...but we don't know that. Things can change at the blink on an eye, so I appreciate the awareness, "a new moment" that Selver spoke of. Instead treating everyone and everything like "an old shoe," where we lose the beauty of life.

  4. Yes, and you out of all people know about the impermanence of life . . .

    Thank you for this urgent reminder.

    And deep bow to you.

  5. Marguerite, you give me too much credit here! I'm glad there was serendipity in my sending the video your way and more glad that you shared it here. She totally breathes love and compassion.

    The idea you speak of in your own post, re coming into relationship freshly each time is also very reminiscent of J. Krishnamurti. Toni Packer, incidentally another maverick and German immigrant, who was deeply influenced by him, says this about our habitual ways of being in relationship:

    "We think we are responding to each other consciously, spontaneously, out of the present situation, but we're not. Instead, stored-up images and programs, with their connected feelings and emotions, are constantly being triggered and projected." And she says, "can we wake up to this as it is taking place?" Not to find fault or blame; she continues: "Attention brings images to light. It clarifies without judging. With attention there can be a lightening, an opening up to each other, free of the past. Then it is no longer images that are relating to each other, but real people who have an astonishing capacity for kindness."

  6. Thanks Katherine, for bringing yet another wonderful woman here. Memory can be such a curse! This is one of the wonderful gifts of Alzheimer's, this de facto capacity to not bring the past into the now. We need to learn to lose our mind more!

  7. Great video... And I agree about the gifts of dealing with Alzheimer's. My grandmother, who I am mainly responsible for, has it, and she has become so much mellower and more present than she ever was before. There is no choice but to be totally present with her, to let everything else go....

  8. Yes.

    So much wisdom to be gained from our elders, whether 'without mind' or with mind . . .