Are We There Yet?

Do you want to know

what’s in my heart?

From the beginning of time

Just this! Just this!

– Ryokan.

The practice of Mindfulness is a wonderful paradox. We train to live in the present moment and yet we never really leave the present moment. We can’t, because there is only the present moment, there is only ‘here and now’.

You can check this during the day by asking yourself “Is it still here and now?”

What is the answer?

This simple practice alone will change your life.

Even the apparent enemies of Mindfulness, distraction and mind-wandering, only happen here and now in the present. Again you can check this the next time your feel ‘out’ of the present moment by asking yourself “Am I distracted here and now?”

Again, what is the answer?

You can only be focussed here and now and you can only be distracted here and now. There is only the here and now, however that appears.

As you read these words it is here and now, this evening in in bed it will be here and now, and in years to come as we lie on our deathbeds, it will be here and now.

Isn’t that incredible? Isn’t that mysterious?
Everything happens now.

Or, to put it another way: Now happens, as everything.

So, can we ever leave the present moment? No, the feeling of leaving the present moment is just another present moment experience.

This is why the word “practice” can be misleading.

We do not practice Mindfulness to move towards an external goal on the horizon. In fact Mindfulness is not an outward journey but an inward release, a deep and conscious surrender to this very moment – just as it is.

And this is perhaps why even in spiritual circles, the act of surrendering into the present is usually avoided. The ego does not want to stop and relax, it wants to survive, thrive, control and continue. It’s ironic that although it may claim to want freedom or enlightenment, it refuses to actually stop and rest in the present, which is where true freedom lives.

The ego doesn’t want freedom, it wants control. It doesn’t want to do less, it wants to do more and fuels itself with esoteric spiritual practices, beliefs and trinkets to keep it going, accumulating more and more. It doesn’t want to stop, it wants to be ‘Super-Spiritual.’

I always find it fascinating that the spiritual world is full of people trying to get somewhere. It’s a world filled with a quiet air of desperation and discontent. They believe that doing can get to being, but being is always here, it is the silent space in which doing occurs.

If we miss that, then we miss everything.

To really surrender into the present is the end of the ego. It is the end of past, future, projection, stories, narration, seeking, goals and results.

It is the end of time.

The ego is time, it is made from time.

By realising that you are always and without exception the present, the ego withers and dies.

Our stories tell us who we are, but who are we without them?

Without referring to the mind, who are you now?

What is the answer?

Zen Master Dogen said, “If you are unable to find the truth right where you are, then where else do you expect to find it?”

And where are you? Here.

And when are you? Now.

There is no place called the past or future. They are virtual realities which only appear here and now. They have no ground and as such we cannot build anything there.

Seeking can only take place when we fuel an imaginary past, moving into an imaginary future to heal or enlighten an imaginary self.

Relax your imagination and rest as here and now.

Rest as freedom.

For as Rumi points out, “We’ve been knocking from the inside.”

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