One instant is eternity

by Wu Men Hui-k'ai

English version by Stephen Mitchell
Original Language Chinese

One instant is eternity;
eternity is the now.
When you see through this one instant,
you see through the one who sees.

-- from The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry, by Stephen Mitchell

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

I was a typical Aries kid growing up, always leaning into the future minute. The present made me itch. It took a desperate moment of spiritual exhaustion in my early 30s for me to finally drop the reflex to rush forward and just, finally, sit and settle into "this one instant." My inflated fantasies about myself collapsed and I came to a full halt. I figured that maybe this little moment was all I had. I fell silent.

Slipping into that tiniest space of "now," an amazing thing happens -- it opens itself up into a timeless vastness.

Finally we see. Well "we" don't see... The person you thought you were isn't even there to look; instead, there is some great, clear, steady sight that sees through us. And in that still, living moment, we participate in that seeing.

Eternity isn't somewhere far off in the future. It is, and always is, right here and right now. Nowhere else.

See if you can squeeze into the tight space of this very moment. See for yourself.

Recommended Books: Wu Men Hui-k'ai

The Enlightened Heart: An Anthology of Sacred Poetry Haiku Enlightenment: New Expanded Edition The Gateless Gate: The Wu-men Kuan The Gateless Barrier: Zen Comments on the Mumonkan The World: A Gateway: Commentaries on the Mumonkan

One instant is