The list of forgetting

August 25th, 2015

To study the Buddha way is to study the self.
To study the self is to forget the self.
To forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things.
To be enlightened by the ten thousand things is to free one’s body and mind and those of others.  –

Mindfulness means to remember that you are here, and to forget the story of where you are not.

So forget the story you tell yourself about your parents, the story you tell yourself about your childhood, the story you tell of your first love, the story of your first marriage, the story of pain and partings. Forget the birth story, the death story, the whole story, the story you keep repeating, the story you’ll never forget. Forget that story, and do not replace it with another.

Forget what might have been and what could still be. The past is gone and the future will arrive on schedule.

Forget the time you ran away, the time you cheated, the time you got caught, the time you found out, the time you broke down, the time you picked yourself up, the time you were left high and dry, the time the milk spilled and the glass broke, the time you’ll never forget. Forget time.

Forget what happened this morning. There is no this morning. There is no last night, today or tomorrow.

Forget your second thoughts, your second guesses, your second glances and second chances. Forget the count. No one knows the count and there is no way to count it.

Forget your worst fears and highest hopes. Forget all fears and hopes. Forget all worst and highest. Forget altogether the habit of make believe when reality is magic already.

Forget your leaps of logic and foregone conclusions. Nothing is ever foregone or concluded. Cover the ground where you stand. It’s enough.

Forget what you thought.

Forget what you felt. Do not resurrect a ghost.

Forget what she said, what he said, and especially what she said. Do not mistake the word for the thing.

Now, open your eyes and do what needs to be done. Having forgotten all obstacles and limitations, all distractions and negations, there is nothing you do not know how to do. Surprise yourself.

You are a buddha.

Any questions? Remember to ask me in person.



  1. I forget if I had any questions.

    And this is brilliant.

    Comment by Jena Strong — May 13, 2008 @ 4:02 pm

  2. This could be my whole practice! Thank you.

    Comment by woman.anonymous7 — May 13, 2008 @ 11:34 pm

  3. No questions…….just a big thank you.

    Comment by Ashlea — May 14, 2008 @ 12:31 am

  4. Okay – got it. Now to do it – that is the tougher of the two.

    Comment by Shalet — May 14, 2008 @ 3:54 am

  5. Don’t forget the forgiving, though….

    It’s the ones who forgive us that are ever precious…

    Comment by donna — May 14, 2008 @ 4:05 am

  6. So what you’re saying is that I don’t have to heal it, I don’t have to make peace with it, I don’t have to spend a gazillion hours and dollars in therapy processing through it? I love it!

    Comment by Leah — May 14, 2008 @ 5:06 am

  7. No questions. This is brilliant.


    Comment by Anonymous — May 14, 2008 @ 7:24 am

  8. Wow.

    Comment by Ruby — May 14, 2008 @ 1:25 pm

  9. This is my first time to your blog. I am captivated.

    Comment by Sherri — May 14, 2008 @ 2:33 pm

  10. Yes, I have a question. How do you manage to capture it all so well, so succinctly, and so gently?

    Comment by GailNHB — May 14, 2008 @ 2:47 pm

  11. I want re-read and re-read this so I can take it all in. So much said in so few lines. You have a gift.

    Comment by She She — May 14, 2008 @ 3:11 pm

  12. I understand what you’re saying and it all sound very calming and comforting. But, I think that it’s a dis-service to those who helped me to become the person I am today if I forget all that they taught me, did for me, didn’t do for me. I think it’s important to also remember and think back on those times when things were difficult and when I thought I couldn’t go another step. I did get through and I use those memories to help me through.

    Comment by Anonymous — May 14, 2008 @ 7:02 pm

  13. Yes. What is “porn dye?” (see list).

    Karen, I am grateful for you.

    Comment by Mama Zen — May 14, 2008 @ 8:24 pm

  14. Did you write this? Love it. love it…

    Comment by Stella — May 16, 2008 @ 3:10 pm

  15. Stella,
    I think I might have written it; but on second thought, I forget.

    (a little Zen humor)

    Comment by Karen — May 16, 2008 @ 3:13 pm

  16. Thank you.

    I turned to blogs today to find some inspiration and a release from this free form anxiety, and I found this.

    It turns out, I was forgetting to forget.

    Comment by Rowena — May 17, 2008 @ 5:24 pm

  17. I cannot POSSIBLY forget this piece of writing. But I will forgot everything you aid in it and how it made me feel.

    Such service.


    Comment by — May 19, 2008 @ 4:00 am

  18. I really like how you back link your post’s to connect to the here and the now…

    Comment by Cat — April 30, 2009 @ 9:16 pm

  19. Wow. Thank you for a wonderful reminder to forget…

    Comment by PerfectPear — May 1, 2009 @ 6:28 am

  20. This is lovely. Thank you.

    Comment by Tracy — May 1, 2009 @ 12:26 pm

  21. I think this is wonderful. Sometimes I kid that I can’t remember a thing but the truth is I can’t let go of all I remember. This is something I will read over and over again. Thank you so much.

    Comment by kelly g. — May 1, 2009 @ 3:50 pm

  22. in gassho for more than you know.

    Comment by DQ's Windmill — May 1, 2009 @ 6:11 pm

  23. You just let the air out of my balloon. Thank you. I needed that!

    Comment by Mary Castillo — May 1, 2009 @ 7:07 pm

  24. thank you…

    Comment by Julie — August 28, 2012 @ 6:41 pm

  25. “open your eyes and do what needs to be done”

    how simple life would be if I could just do this….

    Comment by mj — August 28, 2012 @ 9:09 pm

  26. Immediately I felt lighter after reading this. Thank you!

    Comment by Kelly — August 28, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

  27. Thank you, thank you, thank you. This is so wonderful Karen!

    Comment by aarathi — August 28, 2012 @ 9:45 pm

  28. ThankyouThankyouThankyou! There are tears [not clouds] in my coffee. Why are we all saying thank you? Because we all wring our hangs for, over, and in the past.

    Comment by Laura — August 29, 2012 @ 2:38 am

  29. Thank you for this. This is what I needed now.

    Comment by Craig — August 29, 2012 @ 6:13 am

  30. Ah…the word is not the thing…wash your bowl.

    Comment by Peggy — August 29, 2012 @ 8:21 am

  31. Thanks for the deep breath. You are so refreshing. XOXO

    Comment by Nichole — August 29, 2012 @ 11:18 am

  32. I love this.

    Comment by Lorilin — August 30, 2012 @ 7:47 am

  33. I especially note commenters 10 and 11 above. I don’t know if you are familiar with John Brockman and his books or with Susan J. Morris and her columns Writers Don’t Cry. Brockman publishes valuable and well-written essays that appear in his highly acclaimed site in book form, too. I urge Susan J. Morris to the same.

    Commenters 10 and 11 add up, it seems, to a need for K.M.Miller to put her stuff out in book and Kindle format even though it has appeared here. It’s too valuable not to be handy in one place.

    Comment by Bill — August 31, 2012 @ 5:42 am

  34. With much gratitude I have passed this timeless advice to a few friends. But, mainly, to once again, acknowledge them for my self.

    Thank you for so beautifully honouring those ” ……. ” few incredibly poignant, wise and well chosen words.

    much peace,

    Comment by Miro — September 2, 2012 @ 8:39 pm

  35. Thank you for this dear Karen. I needed to read this today, more than you know 🙂

    Comment by Leah — September 10, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

  36. […] Please read Karen Maezen Miller‘s The list of forgetting. […]

    Pingback by Cover The Ground Where You Stand « Bighorn Mountain Mama — October 21, 2012 @ 3:26 am

  37. […] Please read Karen Maezen Miller‘s The list of forgetting. […]

    Pingback by Cover The Ground Where You Stand | Bighorn Mountain Mama — February 11, 2013 @ 2:53 am

  38. I will probably never approach buddha-hood myself, but I know how to appreciate profound and beautiful words.

    Comment by Neil — August 26, 2015 @ 6:12 am

  39. Mmmmm …. thank you. XOXOClare

    Comment by Clare — August 26, 2015 @ 7:31 am

  40. Forget what you thought…no problem there :smiles.

    And I will remember to ask you when I see you, but I probably won’t remember to ask because I’ll just be so happy to finally see you!

    Comment by Mary — August 26, 2015 @ 6:03 pm

  41. Simply Beautiful. So much letting go and forgetting and then a bit of waking up to now…

    Comment by Buffy — August 27, 2015 @ 3:17 am

  42. This speaks to me. I “hear” it. Nice work.

    Comment by Amy — February 11, 2016 @ 2:41 pm

  43. […] also, as Karen Maezen Miller has said, "Forget altogether the habit of make believe when reality is magic […]

    Pingback by Make-believe – Okachiko – Sit There — November 17, 2021 @ 12:01 am

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