(Although this note uses words, what this note is trying to point to is beyond words, and so, as you read the words, don’t think too much about them, but ‘see’ where they are pointing to.)
Everything, absolutely everything happens in this moment, right now.
There is nothing that takes place outside of this moment.
Of course, this does not seem to be the case.
For example, we can think of breakfast we had this morning, something that happened earlier, what we call the past. But, what happened before, whatever that is, it only appears as a thought in this moment right now. Where else can we find the past other than in a thought, a memory, an image, appearing in our minds right now? Look for it, try to find it! Where is this morning breakfast other than in the mind? Whatever we discover about the past will appear in a thought/image/feeling/sensation in our minds right now. Similarly, if we think of something that may happen in the future, that also is in a thought appearing now. And that something, for example reaching the end of this note, when it will actually happen? It will happen only now.
We cannot escape the moment.
In my classes and in my writings, I very often encourage people to come back to the moment, by slowing down the movements of the mind and by returning to the experience of what appears in that moment (I truly think that this is a very useful and necessary exercise to do very often in our everyday lives). But, even when we are completely lost in our thoughts, even when the mind is totally absent in its own movements, we are still in the present moment (thoughts, like anything else, only happen in the present moment) but we don’t know it.
When I talk about returning to the moment, what I am referring to is the recognition: I am here, I am, I exist, this moment is, etc, etc. This can take different forms, but it is that sense of presence – the recognition* – what is important. It is this ‘realization of presence’ what we are looking for.
This realization comes with the understanding that yes, of course there is a past, but that past is nothing but a thought in the mind; it also comes with the understanding that there is a future, no doubt about it, a future that needs attention and dedication in planning for it, but even that future is also nothing but a thought in the mind.
Returning to the moment is the recognition that all there is to this great, immense, impressive universe (all appearances to the contrary) is this moment right now. `
It is like watching a movie. When we are watching a movie, we are in the moment, there is no possibility to be anywhere else – every single nanosecond of the movie appears only in the moment – but if the movie is well done, we become so absorbed in the story, that we forget we are in a movie theater, that we are watching images on a screen, even that we exist!…let alone recognize the now. Of course, this is good when we watch the movie, that is the way to enjoy it, but it is not so with our lives. If we miss presence, if we miss the recognition of now, we miss the very essence of that life, the very heart of our existence.
There is a very famous book called The Power of Now. This moment, the only moment there is, has an immense power. However, to access this power, its realization – in the form of ‘I am’, ‘I exist’, ‘this moment is’, etc. * – is what is necessary. In this now, in the present moment, there is peace, there is fulfillment, there is meaning, there is power. But for this to become a reality for us, the moment has to be seen and recognized.
In this note, and in all my notes and talks, I speak about the moment, but whatever I say is nothing compared to our own comprehension of it. The power is in our own discovery of it, and not in the words. The words can be useful as a pointer, but they are really not important at all in themselves. If I use my finger to point you in a direction I want you to see, the finger may have its use, but it is not what is important. When the recognition of the moment takes place, there is something very beautiful that happens; I see this over and over, in myself and in other people. When I talk about presence, I see that generally people are trying to pay attention to what I am saying – this is like paying attention to the finger. But then, sometimes, I see that somebody actually moves away from ‘the finger’ and sees and recognizes what it is that I am actually pointing to, and in that moment there is something very beautiful that happens in that person, like a glow, like a moment of true stillness, of silence, of spaciousness that shines like a bright light.
When we are lost in the mind even if we are in the moment, we lack the recognition of it, and in that ‘darkened’ state there is always the sense that something is missing, that more and more and always more is necessary; there is the stress, the fears, the anxieties, the doubts, the confusions…it is like if we are wearing clothes that don’t fit very well and we feel restless and uncomfortable. But when we recognize the moment, it is like suddenly something fits. It is not that all our problems or difficulties disappear, but in the recognition of the moment we find peace, we find freedom, even if nothing else changes.
And nothing needs to change. We need to remember the past, we need to plan for the future, we need to take care of our problems and our difficulties, we need to do whatever it is that needs to be done but also, we need to return to the cognition of this moment right now. We need to 1) recognize the moment and 2) stay there. It is like discovering a new landscape, a new country, a new planet…a new dimension. We discover this place, and then we make time to stay there, to see what it is, to spend some time in it…and allow what happens.
And what may happen, in time, is that we discover what always is, what never changes, what never comes nor goes. Yes, of course everything seems to be moving and changing and coming and going all the time, but when we discover the now, is like for a character in a movie to discover the screen. What happens in the movie is always changing, the character itself is always changing, but the screen, the space in which the movie is projected, is immutable, permanent, unchanging. It is the same with the space of now. And just like a character, independent of all the changes and movements that may have to pass through, can never be separated from the screen, we can never step out of the now, even for a fraction of a second.
In this space of now the past, present and future blend into one. The brain creates the illusion of time; it is a very useful illusion, one that allows the mind to navigate comfortably in the world, but an illusion, nevertheless. What appears as time is actually an infinite, dimensionless ‘point’ that we call now. The illusion is so powerful, that it is very difficult to break, as Albert Einstein said: “The past, present and future are only illusions, even if stubborn ones.”
At this point the mind is so blown away that in order to make some sense may say something like: And so what? What can I do with this? What is the use in knowing all this?
And the truth is that there is not much that can be done with it; it is just what it is, it is the truth, it is the recognition of what is. But this recognition has power, an enormous amount of power.
It is not practical, but this knowledge is not about practicality.
There is nothing we can DO with it, but we can knowingly BE this ‘point’ of presence, this now and, like the cliche says (which is in fact not a cliche) we become one with the universe or, better said, we realize we have always been one with the universe.
In this ‘point’ of now we are, truly, one with the whole.
* The recognition of the moment is not a thought, but it is also not a perception or a feeling. Because it is beyond the mind and senses, there are no words to express it and we only use words as pointers. Sometimes in spiritual literature it is indicated as ‘presence recognizing itself’.