“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” ~ Buddha
I can remember when I first saw the book “The Power of Now”. After I got several tools to fulfill my dreams, for instance in goal-achievement and personal effectiveness, I expected the message to be “Don’t procrastinate, do it now!” This is the Now-habit and it is a powerful habit to develop.
But this is not what The Now or in other words the present moment is ultimately about. Although on the surface this is a part of it, it has a far deeper meaning than this. Depending on how much experience one has with spiritual teachings, the present moment has a different meaning.
The present moment and time: The illusion of time
The present moment is the only thing where there is no time. It is the point between past and future. It is always there and it is the only point we can access in time. Everything that happens, happens in the present moment. Everything that ever happened and will ever happen can only happen in the present moment. It is impossible for anything to exist outside of it.
Therefore it is obvious, that past and future don’t have a reality on their own. They are just mental concepts in our heads. Past is the thinking of memories while future is the projection ahead. But anything can really happen only in the present moment. Nothing else regarding time really exists in reality.
This realization shows that there is no time other than the concept of it. I personally see the perception of time as the perception of change of form. If we think about a mechanical watch, the watch changes it’s form through a well laid mechanic and is therefore showing “the time”. Even digital clocks are doing nothing else than an ongoing changing in form and by this working as an instrument to measure this progress. Seeing it like this you could say that there is only one moment in which forms are in constant motion. Even memories stored in our brains are changing forms. In that way you could say that it is not time changing along the world, it is the world of form changing along the one present moment.
Going into the present moment means to become present oneself. All kinds of meditations and spiritual practices are aiming to become present. To center ourselves in the present moment we have to get the past out of our head and stop projecting to the future. What remains is the here and now. Then all of our attention flows into the present moment.
Maybe you want to try it out right now. Then remove all past and future and center yourself in the “vertical dimension of time”:
The vertical dimension of time is the present moment, the one point out of the concept of time. What happens if we center ourselves in the present moment is that the mind stops to make noise. We become present and are not distracted by our mind. If this happens we are able to connect with our deeper self and we become more alive and awake.
Besides these explanations, regardless of how much we put into them, it is as Tolle states: “Understanding present is being present”. And the key to becoming present is the move out of the concept of time.
The present moment as the entry point to spiritual awakening
Thoughts stop. The mind becomes silent. What shines through then is the energy of our being. We can dive much deeper into this vertical dimension of time and discover more about our true nature. To dive into the present moment is also the goal of meditation. The present moment is the entry point, or as Eckhart Tolle calls it the main portal into spiritual awakening.
The power of the present moment
One could think that being in the present moment means that we lose control over the future. Gandhi said “The future depends on what we do in the present.” And that entails all the wisdom that is needed here. If we set goals or develop a vision of the future this is very powerful. But then we execute towards this goal in the present moment and the quality of the work we produce towards the goal depends on what we do in the present moment. The more we are present, the better the quality of our doing will be.