Photo from Pixabay - by Geralt
Where is the present moment and how does one remain there long enough to figure out how we might return there unaided?
There are countless books out there promoting the need and importance of bringing oneself, willingly or unwillingly, into the present moment. Discussing the virtues of living our lives in the Now and endeavoring to return there as often as we can. Not unlike the ideal vacation spot, where peace and tranquility reside side by side with a close and direct connection to the real world.
And with each book, seminar or YouTube video by someone we know, there are conflicting points of view on how one arrives in the present moment and more importantly, how one remains there. But what if the present moment is not a place at all - that differs from the one we're in right now? In essence, nothing more than the exact location we’ve been existing in forever, with one important exception.
This being, that the constant noise and droning persistence of the mind, in its endless atempts at faithfully analyzing every darn thing in the known universe, is for that one brief period of time, wholly and completely absent. Thus, allowing Now to be fully viewed and appreciated.
MIND, THE MIND
The human mind is designed to think; to process information and spit out results. We trust this “machine” implicitly and rarely doubt the decisions that come out of it, owning to the fact that it is ours and knows us better than anything or anyone else.
But minds are like computers. They will continue to process until they no longer can. They will soldier on until exhaustion, virus or bad data, renders the results useless and places us firmly in the path of obsolescence, or worse yet, to a point of being redundant.
What keeps us out of the moment isn’t the moment itself, but the noise and distraction the mind creates that ties up our attention and forces us to spend time with thoughts that are really nothing more than old ideas and pointless bits that we’ve pondered already in the past, before getting rid of them.
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” — Buddha
FINDING THE RIGHT – MOMENT
Wherever we are and whatever it is we’re doing – we’re thinking about it. Flying in a plane, eyeing our lovely date over a steaming plate of Moo Shu Pork, or engaging in consensual lunacy as we tandem sky-dive out of a plane, there are always two things happening. What we are doing and the fact that we can’t seem to stop thinking about it.
It’s this ongoing conversation with ourselves that has become the subject of many self-help books over the years and the subject of hundreds of well-intentioned seminars and TED Talks. And yet perhaps the reason we keep doing it – the reason this endless stream of information and analysis is taking place – is because it is supposed to be there.
The mind is an intricate filing system that logs in everything ever said, seen, heard or emoted since the time we were born – and according to some doctrines, even further back than that. It’s there to sort out and place us in a good position to not fall on our faces and yet, we seem to do this anyway. So, perhaps the mind is more fallible than we thought. Or, we’re just not listening well enough to the good advice coming our way, from within.
Regardless, this constant dialogue between us and ourselves, this endless attempt to do the right thing as we see it, always seems to get in the way of a peaceful moment of nothingness. When words, sounds and colors, park themselves outside and all there is – is you and me – looking out at the world.
Is this what we call – In the Moment. Otherwise known as – Now?
A man wrapped up in himself makes a very small bundle. Benjamin Franklin
SELFISH OR SELF-INTEREST
If we spend so much time listening to ourselves, there must be a reason. If we are having trouble, setting aside the constant chatter of our own minds engaged in endless discussions about us, then perhaps there’s something else in there that’s “messing” with the works. Somehting as simple as having a propensity to be selfish.
Define it however you want: An obsession with self-interest. A me only perspective in life. It doesn’t matter. Mankind seems addicted to its own needs, to the point where it will spend an inordinate amount of time thinking and rethinking about the same things.
Listening and relistening to the same chatter, echoing forever, while trying to appear as something different.
And who’s to say this isn’t exactly how things were intended? Who’s to say this isn’t what has kept mankind, one full man-sized step ahead of everyone else?
We maybe be selfish and through constant use, only able to play this thinking thing one way. Or, we are just going along with a design (whether flawed or not) that was put there to keep us alive.
However, we view it, however much we have fallen in love with the sound of our own thoughts ricocheting around the confines of our minds, there’s no doubt that there is a problem.
We now think too much. To the point where Now, this engaging place where the present moment resides, is all too often skipped over in preference of a future Now, that is far more to our liking.
Thus, allowing us to deal with all the stress being created today, by a life deferred.
“Children have neither a past nor a future. Thus, they enjoy the present, which seldom happens to us.” — Jean de La Bruyère
Now is gone before the concept or the word that defines it, can be articulated. Replaced in short order by another one and then another. Giving us endless chances to catch one and enjoy it.
Capturing Now is impossible – it’s not a thing that can be caught or caged or held for any reason. Now, is the absence of. Time slowed down. Thinking reduced to a biological level and the world brought closer to us, by the removal of everything that was previously in its way.
Now, is now. A moment, brought about through disciplined thinking (think, less of it) and the desire to just observe what is there. Not what we think it is, not what we hope it is. Not what others say we should be seeing. Just what is there. A simple part of our existence.
The Present Moment reveals itself through the removal of extraneous nonsense and noise. Thinking the thoughts, we’ve already thought about occludes it. Now is always there, ready to be of service to us.
Keep in mind one defining factor about our minds.
They work for us. Not the other way around.
“We are living in a culture entirely hypnotized by the illusion of time, in which the so-called present moment is felt as nothing but an infinitesimal hairline between an all-powerfully causative past and an absorbingly important future. We have no present. Our consciousness is almost completely preoccupied with memory and expectation. We do not realize that there never was, is, nor will be any other experience than present experience. We are therefore out of touch with reality. We confuse the world as talked about, described, and measured with the world which actually is. We are sick with a fascination for the useful tools of names and numbers, of symbols, signs, conceptions and ideas.”
― Alan Watts