The present moment is a topic among many in the philosophical and spiritual community. One could argue it is the foundation for all further endeavors. If we can settle psychologically in the present, all things that come to us can be more skillfully handled. The first thing we have to do is come to a recognition of what we think the present moment is and analyze it. Often envisioned as the ticking hand of a watch, constantly fleeting to be missed as quickly as it is noticed. It always seems the boat has just left the shore without us on it. “I saw it! It was there, and now its gone forever.” We should reconsider if this is really how the present moment is, and ensure with confidence we are on that boat.
In some forms of Christianity, it is first and foremost important to seek the kingdom of heaven. Seen as ‘the most important thing’ and to worry about the rest after this thing has been done, which I imagine there’d be a lot less worry after the fact but I digress. Now I’m not going to equivocate the present moment to anything like the kingdom of heaven, as i’m not very experienced in Christian theology other than what I’ve heard from local churches. I just think the sense of priority and urgency in this biblical verse and the importance of ‘the now’ in relationship to time is synonymous. I mean, if you don’t at first know where you’re starting, how the heck do you know where to go?
‘Where to go?’ is almost humorous in this context. I mean from what has been said thus far it seems we are trying to get to the present moment. The problem is, we can’t get there. Not that its closed off with a ‘No Trespassing’ sign only for the highly experienced practitioners to access, even better. That place the experienced tell you that you need to get to, you’re already at. There is no road to here, as anywhere you go from here is somewhere other than the present moment. If there even is such a thing. It’s more like a “Hotel California” type of place, where you can check out but you can never leave. Conceptually this is easily understandable, of course this is the present moment, but why this feeling of needing to be present even more-so?
I would suggest this feeling has less to do with the actual present moment and more to do with how we conceptualize it and our contentedness with that concept. Many of us see time like a film scrolling through different present moments at the speed of light. The issue lies with mistaking the present moment with the image in it. When looked at this way, we can remember these moments and really feel it is somehow another moment than the current one. This would be like watching television and saying it’s a new screen when someone changes the channel. What if rather, like the television, it is the same moment? Imagine the present moment is more like space than anything else, quality-less other than what is in it.
Much like a mirror takes on the color of whatever is reflected in it, the present moment looks like, well, whatever is happening. Even while remembering a moment which is taken to be another moment, in one way, the now has never changed. When the scope of the present moment is increased to contain everything that happens, you can see clearly how this is the case. If you’ve ever had the sneaking suspicion that although everything changes, something just feels the same now as it did when you were playing with friends as a child, I’d say follow your gut with that feeling and look directly at what it is.
One thing that’s important with this outlook is to take note of the tendency to want a better present moment. There’s commonly a feeling of “That’s it? Where are the fireworks?” Just remember that fireworks are temporary content, and anything you want to add to this moment is equally temporary content. It’s fine, I encourage you to have the best experience possible as long as it’s not at the expense of others. Just don’t fall prey to the idea that there is a better now, or that you somehow live in the now and others are trying to get there. See it more like a gift, freely given and equal to everyone and everything. You didn’t give it to me, I can’t give it to you. Yet somehow here we are and Santa Claus didn’t think to leave an address to give our thanks. If you believe in Santa of course, surely he’s here somewhere. Test it out. Try to get out of here and now and see if you can do it. Oh, last call, it looks like the boat just arrived.