Each moment — when rightly received, fully occupied — is an incredibly potent thing. When you’re fully attuned to what-is, spiritual fertility abounds. Savoring is able to blossom in the now, maybe the exploration of something going on inside (stillness, judgment, delight, discomfort). Strain in the body, a revelation of some sort. A feeling you don’t want to feel, only now you’ve sensed the resistance and . . . at last you’re able to relax into the feeling. There’s the dawning of a fresh awareness, a release, an insight that’s been awaiting a moment of stillness, of noticing.
You may notice, in the fleeting stillness, that you feel incredibly alive (even if the moment holds pain).
All that’s asked, to bring about this potent receptivity to what wants to be seen, is to be nowhere but now. No urging forward to the next moment, no mental processing of the current one. No agenda, no vigilance, no avoidance. You’re simply and fully attuned to the outer reality and to the interior one. In this mode of utter receptivity, there’s not the slightest effort exerted. No searching, no expectation or wishing: simply a resting in whatever is here, now.
It’s all fleeting: the now is brief. There’s not long to notice, to be with this now. Life is in flux, always. Flux never takes a rest. That sounds exhausting — never takes a rest — only, it doesn’t feel that way, when it’s allowed. Flux just is, like the air. In the moment-to-moment, change isn’t taxing. You’ve learned not to expect otherwise, or to wish for it. This persisting brevity, when it isn’t resisted, brings a person to really paying attention, as the flow of life goes on. Sometimes it brings about a deep cherishing.
The now is a felt thing — a seen, tasted, embodied thing. The mind is not equipped with this precious capacity to be in the now.
What eventually dawns — something of a shock, perhaps — is that you are not distinct from the now. In fact (this is the shocking part), you don’t actually exist at all, except as you are in this moment. Brevity indeed! Unending flux. There is no continuity of person-ness except for what the mind keeps insisting is real.
Your mind’s story of yourself, elaborate and convincing though it may be, is not you. (Nor is your mind’s enduring impression of another person what he or she is.) The mind, alas, is at a remove from life itself. The mind cannot experience the now.
We cannot bear to confront the truth of this. It’s unimaginable. But only if you consult the ego.
Momentary reality is experience-able. The whole point is to come to see the difference between experience and idea. Between living awareness and thought. Felt life, lived life, is experience. Experience happens in the now. It has never been otherwise, nor could be.
The ego (and its loyal servant, the processing mind) cannot tolerate any of this. Not only is this dynamic duo constitutionally incapable of fathoming the truth of this; it finds it entirely loathsome. You’re telling me I’m not real, in an ongoing way? Bah! What could possibly be more threatening?
Can you see that the now is a felt thing — a seen, tasted, embodied thing? But the mind is not equipped with this precious capacity to be in the now. The limit of its capability, relative to the present moment, is to process it. Only present-moment awareness can taste life itself — precious life.
It’s not thinking that leads to the truth of what’s real. It’s looking and feeling, and it’s in present-moment awareness that these wonderfully human capacities flower. In the fertile environment of felt being-ness, release can occur, and insight. Above all, you sense yourself being alive. Can’t that be enough? But can life really be that stripped down, that separated from story, from desire and fear? (This is the ego protesting.)
No wonder radical freedom so rarely occurs. And . . . no wonder that when it does, it can be experienced as a kind of insanity. I feel as if I’ve lost my mind, a person may say. Quite so. It’s a bit of a shock to the system when the mind’s habitual chattiness falls quiet. But it’s not that the mind is broken; very likely its innate functioning is quite intact. It’s just that it’s stopped being devoted to ego-maintenance (which has been its primary occupation for decades). All that’s happened is that the mind’s familiar content is disappearing through a rupture punctured in the container of the self. The rupture has been caused, very likely, by a shift in the sense of what is actually real.
The container has held, until now, the story and identities and emotional mess of what seemed to be you. Only, something has made it deeply dawn on you that everything in that container depends on the mind for its apparent reality, whereas this moment has actual substance. Your attachment to your story has softened, so the prior sense of self no longer feels substantial.
It can feel disorienting at first. Only, the peace and utter stillness are so profound that you cannot imagine wanting it to be any other way, ever. It’s like you’re finally truly alive.