Moving from Experiences to Experiencing

From Charlotte Joko Beck's Now Zen (edited by Steve Smith), in the talk "Experiences and Experiencing", thoughts on paying attention, in the present, moment by moment:

At each second, we are at a crossroad: between unawareness and awareness, between being absent and being present—or between experiences and experiencing. Practice is about moving from experiences to experiencing. What is meant by this?

We tend to overwork the word experience, and when we say "Be with your experience," we are speaking carelessly. It may not be helpful to follow this advice. Ordinarily we see our lives as a series of experiences. ...


Is there anything wrong with this? Humans do have memories, fantasies, hopes; that's natural. When we clothe our experience with these associations, however, experience becomes an object; a noun rather than a verb. So our lives become encounters with one object after another: persons, my lunch, my office. Memories and hopes are similar: life becomes a series of "this" and "that." We ordinarily see our lives as encounters with things "out there." Life becomes dualistic: subject and object, me and that.


If having experiences is our ordinary world, what is the other world, the other fork in the road? What is the difference between experiences and experiencing? What is genuine hearing, touching, tasting, seeing, and so on?

When experiencing occurs, in that very moment, experiencing is not in space or time. It can't be; for when it's in space or time, we've made an object of it. As we touch and look and hear, we're creating the world of space and time, but the actual life we lead is not in space or time; it's just experiencing. The world of space and time arises when when experiencing becomes reduced to a series of experiences. In the precise moment of hearing, for example, there is just hearing, hearing, hearing, hearing, which creates the sound of the airplane or whatever. Thup, thup, thup, thup . . . : there's space between each; and each one is absolute hearing, hearing, hearing. That's our life, as we create our world. We're creating with all our senses so quickly that we can't possibly keep track of it. The world of our experiences is being created out of nothing, second by second by second.

(this talk also appears in Beck's book Nothing Special; cf. Functional Thinking versus Ego Thinking (2014-11-01), ...) - ^z - 2015-08-06