On Being Present
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. The Buddha
Always say ‘yes’ to the present moment…. Surrender to what is. Say ‘yes’ to life- and see how life starts suddenly working for you rather than against you. Eckhart Tolle
God is always coming to you in the Sacrament of the Present Moment. Meet and receive Him there with gratitude in that sacrament. Evelyn Underhill
Over the past thirty years of spiritual training I have experimented with many forms, schools, orientations and approaches. Though all of this involvement I have come to believe that the basic purpose of spiritual practice is to teach us to become totally, irrevocably engaged with life as it occurs from moment to moment. Presence is the fire that ignites the uniqueness and potential of each and every second.
Spiritual practice is not an end in itself. It is the means to discovering the ability to be present to the flow of experience as it arises and then fades. It does not matter what we are doing, when we are fully there in the task the division between sacred and secular is dissolved. The activity is not the crucial element. All activity becomes sacred when we are fully attending to it and only it. In those moments there are no questions, ruminations, regrets or judgements. You can be in deep meditation receiving energy of the cosmos or you can be washing the dishes. It only matters that you are fully in the emergence of the experience. Being present is meditation out of the chair or off the mat or cushion.
I want to stress two factors related to being present:
1. There is immense pain in turning away from life as it arises. The real pain we as humans encounter in life is in turning away from experience. Many events are painful. That is difficult enough. But the pain is exponentially magnified when we are in the habit of turning away. Pain directly met and faced is abbreviated. It is not the event that holds the deepest pain but the flight from the experience. Sometimes we must stay with the bad news or difficult agonizing memories.
The present is the only place in which we meet our lives. When doing this we discover a deep enhancement of quality and beauty in every moment.
2. But there is more. Being present is not just about this moment. There is another level. Presence is how transcendence is manifested in life. To experience transcendence you don’t have to go anywhere or do anything other than be present. Presence is the gateway to Spirit. No presence no experience of spirit, no enlightenment, no direct contact with the Divine. This is the place where the deepest spiritual self arises. It is the place where so called ordinary life, consciousness and awareness moves to the heights. When we are present the Soul merges with the moment and the Divine erupts like a volcano spewing the molten lava of Spirit all around us. In those moments the divine is woven throughout all activity. Our deepest, truest Divine Nature is met as this happens. Presence is the way in which nondual existence ascends. We join with experience as it arises and passes without grasping, judgement, guilt or regret. When we stop fleeing we leave space to meet not only life in the moment which is a wonderful thing but to meet the divine heights which are always pulsating and waiting to unfold.
When we are totally, wholeheartedly present our life changes. The Soul enfolds teeming with energy of the Divine. In those times everything is integrated and nothing is excluded.