Living in the Present Moment  

Posted by Joe Rawls

The longer I stick with this whole contemplative spirituality thing, the more I realize that it boils down to living fully in the present moment. Which is, of course, easier said than done. A good perspective on this issue is provided by Archimandrite Meletios Webber in Bread & Water, Wine & Oil (Conciliar Press). A double tip of the eastern monastic veil to In Communion and to JN1034.

We can only meet God in the present moment. This is an area where God chooses to place limits on His own power. We choose whether or not to live in the present moment. Because we can encounter God only in the present moment, whenever we live in the past or in the future, we place ourselves beyond His reach.

We can only make decisions in the present moment. We can only enjoy sights and sounds in the present moment. We can only love and hate in the present moment. The present moment is the interface between ourselves and the rest of the universe, and, more importantly, it is the only point of contact between the individual and God. Of all the possible points of time, only the present moment is available for repentance. The past cannot be taken back and remade. The future remains forever out of our reach.

The present moment may appear to be tiny in duration--so much so that the human mind thinks it hardly exists at all--but in depth it is infinite. Actually, it has no shape or form. There is nothing to measure here, and that really infuriates the mind, since measurement is what the mind is good at. It is remarkable that this quality, so essential to our existence, has no shape. It just is. And it just is in a way which the past and future cannot be. The past is a done deal, the future is all guesswork. The formless present moment may be experienced as large or small. In some senses it is almost of no duration. In other ways, it is eternal life. Whichever we choose, it is, nevertheless, the only space within which we can operate. Indeed, this is the unique means through which we can confront the reality God gives us second by second.

It is odd that we do not consciously spend more time in the present moment than we do. Unfortunately, the mind blocks the availability of the present moment whenever it has the chance to do so. The mind cannot trust the present moment, since it cannot control it, and is thus almost always at enmity with it. I think this may be part of what Jesus means when He contrasts "this world" with the Kingdom.

The mind cannot control the present moment, the time during which things can arise, so it pretends that it does not exist. This causes a person to behave in a completely unconscious way, forcing the individual to wait for the mind to absorb an event (which by then has become an event in the past) before she or he is allowed to experience it.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 6, 2009 at Monday, July 06, 2009 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

5 comments

Right on the money, Joe. Been practicing this for a few years after reading Eckhart Tolle, and it works. So happy and at peace. Praise God.
-Danny

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