There is no spiritual concept that has given me more trouble than the idea of living in the now…in the moment. The first time that I consciously remember hearing it, was when I was 30 years old and entered AA. The way that it was stated there was, “One Day at a time” and I had no idea what it meant, so I relegated it to the file in my brain labeled, “Meaningless, Stupid Concepts”. After all, if I couldn’t understand it then it must not be valuable.
This moment, always seemed so mundane, so unspectacular, as compared to what some future moment could be. Life to me was a struggle and a race to get something, and to get somewhere, better; some place in the future that was bright and fulfilled. When I tried to stay present, meditate, slow my thoughts down or drop them for just a little while, my mind would begin to mock me with thoughts like, “You think that this is Ok? You are missing the boat. You should be doing something more. Success doesn’t just happen. You need to make it happen and you are not doing enough. What is the purpose of your life?”
The conscious mind is like a critical parent. It says things like, “What do you have to show for all the time that you spent just sitting?! You must produce something tangible, something that you can see, something that the world will applaud. Otherwise you are wasting your time and you are a waste”. If you said to it, “I watched a bird sitting on a telephone wire this morning.” It would say, “And?! Please tell me that you did more than that!” and if you said, “I did. I noticed that when a car rode by, it lifted both of its wings, as if to catch the wind, and it made me laugh”, the mind would shake its head and tell you that you were a hopeless failure, doomed to live a boring life of mediocrity.
But I have discovered that this is not true. I don’t understand the Now, but I have experienced moments, and sometimes hours of being present, and what I know is that it is vast, deep and so beyond the little minds capacity to understand, that while there, while in this state, all ideas about it being nothing, seem funny. It is heaven, and it cannot be understood with the mind, it must be felt, and as soon as we acknowledge it, it opens up a realm to us, that we had previously not experienced.
And it is right where I am, right where you are, right now.
Did you ever catch a glimpse of a flower and feel the beauty of it in your whole body? Or look at the face of someone you love and feel flooded with Love?…that is it. What we tend to do, what takes us out of this precious state, is rushing past these moments with thoughts like, “I wonder what kind of flower that is? or I forgot to water the flowers! or some other thought that seems more important…and then the mind is off and running.
We don’t think it’s enough to just be, and so we rush past the Now. We rush past heaven on our way to what we hope will be a heavenly future.
It is Friday, June 14th, 7:41 a.m. as I finish writing this. This moment is the culmination of a lifetime of hopes, dreams and love. What are you doing right now? Did you know that this is the moment you’ve been waiting for?
“Without stirring abroad, one can know the whole world. Without looking out of the window, one can see the way of heaven.” Lao Tzu