We’re reading Buddha Standard Time by Lama Surya Das at the Tricycle Book Club. Get the book, join the discussion, and ask the lama a question about time.
Here’s a recent exchange between a community member and Lama Surya Das:
Mushim: My original Zen teacher, Ven. Samu Sunim, said that meditation is “entering timeless time.” When I was a mother of a young and very active child, I often grew impatient, feeling that other people wanted me to “be more productive with my time.” I should get a job and put my kid in daycare; I should make more money; I should get a jogging stroller (which I couldn’t afford) and jog; and so on. I was 35 when I had Josh, so mostly I was just exhausted with full time child rearing, so I surrendered to it. If it took me 6 months to do something from intention to manifestation, so be it. I breastfed him for 3 years. My house was generally a mess. An eternity of changing diapers, or wrestling him in and out of the car seat, stretched out before me. I worked hard at raising a human being who does seem to have zero percent doubt that he is worthy of love, and capable of loving and who is a self-declared Buddhist, now 22. At one point, when I felt especially impatient at how busy life seemed to be, with not enough time to get things done, I realized that this was all complete delusion. If the phone should ring when my son was away from home, and a voice should tell me that he had been in an accident and had died, which of course can happen, I know for a fact that I would know I had been completely insane not to have understood and lived in the timeless moment of joy that connects to the next timeless moment of happiness that connects to the fulfillment of the life of parenting in the here and now. The Metta Sutta describes that happiness. And it really is real!
Lama Surya Das: This is like a sutra to my ears. Let’s call it “The Timeless Mama Sutra” and spread it to mom’s and pop’s everywhere. The 101 years young Zen master Sasaki Roshi once said that hugging is a moment of timelessness, and the American meditation; I love that.
Mushim: Thanks for the sutra title. Yeah! Very bizarre that you should quote Zen Master Sasaki Roshi, since I named my son (who is my only child) after him, taking Roshi’s Dharma name, Joshu, and adding an “a” to make it “Joshua.” I did a Rohatsu sesshin when I was 5-1/2 months pregnant with my son and Roshi gave me the koan, “How do you manifest true nature as baby?” I did my best, and every age was just as good, although “How do you manifest true nature as Terrible Twos and Horrible Fours” really gave me a run for the money. We are now at “How do you manifest true nature as 22 year old computer guy” and the koan is JUST AS GOOD AS IT EVER WAS. I mean, this is a Grade A plus koan… because it points so directly, for me, to timeless time.
Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, we depend on readers like you to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.