As we did with conducting the recent ordination—thinking through things a bit, planning a little—we’re developing a sense of circumspection as we attend to whatever circumstances we’re in. We do this by asking ourselves, How can I fit into this situation? How can I be skillful, effective, and composed? Sometimes people can misunderstand how to apply the Buddha’s teachings on being present in the moment, and they may think, All I need to do is be present in this moment, and everything will be okay. But that’s only part of the picture.
The Buddha always encouraged his followers to recognize and pay attention to the causal nature of actions. What we’ve done in the past affects the present, and what we’re doing in the present affects the future. Having seen and understood how those principles play out over time, we shape our behavior accordingly.
Sometimes there’s an emphasis on having a nice, warm and fuzzy, be-here-now kind of feeling. But in reality, when people are guided by that sort of feeling, they’re usually not very well connected with themselves or the circumstances around them. The Buddha didn’t advocate that. Instead, he encouraged us to learn how to connect with the world skillfully. So we practice being attentive and effective with our tasks, duties, and interactions with other people.
When we learn to do that, we can build a firm foundation of clarity and clear comprehension—sampajañña. The Buddha spoke of sampajañña as clearly comprehending the circumstances we’re in, the people we’re with, and the effects we’re having on the world around us. With this quality we can anchor our actions in our own non-delusion, non-confusion. And when we apply sampajañña to our present-moment circumstances, it allows us to see a much bigger picture.
This reflection by Ajahn Pasanno is fromBeginning Our Day, Volume One.