The Perfection of the Present Moment
As we begin our meditation on any given day, the chances are pretty high that we will be carrying a degree of disturbance in our psyche. This disturbance might come in the form of a problem that is currently pressing in on us—perhaps a financial worry or a relationship roadblock, or maybe a health issue. We might even be experiencing pain in some part of our body. There is literally no limit to the challenges facing us these days. And what often happens when we enter meditation and get quiet is that whatever issue has been weighing upon us unconsciously makes itself consciously known and felt. It is almost as if becoming quiet and conscious shines a floodlight in on the problem and turns up the volume of our fears to full throttle. Not until we persist and fully enter the meditative state are we able to gain some distance from the problem and relax. This conscious crossover from disturbance to peace through entering the meditative state is a wonderful dynamic that we have all tasted of and come to highly value and appreciate. But how exactly does it work?
The power inherent in meditation is unleashed as we enter the consciousness of the present moment. It is really the power of perspective. In other words, what causes us to relax and become still is the perspective that our problem or problems cannot touch us in the present moment. It is not that they are not real and it is not that meditation makes them disappear. Rather it is that we find relief from them in the consciousness of the present moment, where they cannot come. In fact, not only are they left at the door; they actually cease to exist for a while. They existed right up until the instant that we entered the consciousness of the present moment and they will probably still be there after we exit that consciousness. But whenever we make contact with the present moment, they are nowhere to be found. Curiously, they seem to exist only in the past and future time tenses and not in the timeless present moment.
Now, most of us do not live in the timeless present moment fulltime. We live in the temporal world of our problems as our dominant reality and we visit the meditative state for a while in order to get some temporary relief. This means that we live primarily in the past and future tenses. It also follows that the more time we are able to spend in the present moment, the fewer problems we will have.
Another way to say this is that the present moment is perfect, and we, living primarily in the past and future time tenses, are largely out of touch with that perfection. Instead our dominant mindset tends to be time-bound, anxious, and fearful, and this makes us virtual magnets for problems. We are, in fact, so out of touch with the present moment that it is difficult for us to embrace the concept of its perfection. Thus we downplay the significance of the present moment and instead hold to the belief that it is some other aspect of the practice of meditation that is helping us gain distance from our problems.
One reason for this misperception is that we have been conditioned to think in terms of a linear time continuum—that is, past, present, and future. So most of us simply assume that the present moment is an aspect of time nestled in between the past and the future. If this were the case, however, the present moment would be just as imperfect as the past and future are and would offer us no respite from our problems. Fortunately, that is not what the present moment is. Contrary to what we have been taught, the present moment is not a time tense at all; it is a timeless state of being. And that is where its power comes from. It does not belong to this temporal world. It is what Jesus called eternal life.
This may be difficult for us to comprehend at first, and we may not fully grasp the significance of it. We can grok the present moment as a time tense but not as an eternal state of being. But it is for this reason that our problems persist. As long as we are viewing the present moment as part of a time continuum, its power will be greatly watered down. Meditation may bring us into contact with the present moment, but if we are unaware of how this dynamic works we are, in essence, just groping in the dark.
There is no transformational power in the practice of meditation itself. The power comes from learning the truth pertaining to the eternal quality of the present moment and taking that truth into our consciousness. In this way we transcend time, and only by transcending time can the power of perspective be consistently and purposefully released.
The first step in knowing the true nature of the present moment is knowing what it is not. It is not just another temporal tense. It is something much more than that. It is an aspect of our spiritual consciousness that, once accessed, not only gives us renewed perspective but also the power to heal and transform. It is not something outside of us that influences us environmentally. That is where our problems come from. They come from time because time happens to us and is out of our control. But the present moment is within us. It does not happen to us; nor does it exert any influence on us. Rather it is here inside of us in all of its perfection for us to touch at will and benefit by. It is a place where there is no disease, discord, or death. That is why when we touch it, even for an instant, we feel greatly relieved and renewed.
Why then is this healing touch associated with the present moment? It is because before we touch it, our problems were in the past. And when our problems return to assail us again, it will be the future. But when we touch this eternal place in our consciousness, it is always the present. It cannot be otherwise.
This is also the key we have been given to access this state of being at will. When we are in need of a touch from the eternal realm and the healing perspective it brings we know where to find it. All we have to do is be willing to let go of the past and put off the future for a little while. In other words, we must be willing to take a break from time. That is, after all, what we are really seeking when we meditate. We are seeking a timeout from our normal time-bound consciousness, in which our problems drive us to distraction.
What this teaches us is that we all have the power to live a virtually problem-free life, and this power resides within our own consciousness. Once we realize this, the task before us then becomes one of increasing our ability to touch the eternal realm at will.
How do we do this? The most obvious course of action would be to spend more time in meditation. But in our fast-paced world this is not a very practical solution. For many of us, it is simply not doable. Fortunately, it is not necessary.
Since this place of perfection is housed within our own consciousness, making contact with it is not dependent on meditation at all. That is just the way we have managed to access it up until now, and so we have come to believe that it was somehow bound up with our meditation practice. But in actuality, it is more a matter of self-awareness or self-realization. This is how the masters accessed it. They came to know their own faculty of consciousness so thoroughly and intimately that touching that perfect place within them was no longer dependent on any spiritual practice. Rather it was an act of their own consciousness that they could set in motion with but a thought. How did they come into this advanced state of self-realization? By learning the truth that all spiritual dynamics and attributes of consciousness are governed by created universal laws—laws that are perfect and immutable. This is, in truth, what set them apart. They had become masters at knowing and relying on universal law. In essence, they had become scientists of the highest order. And it was in this same way that they gained mastery over not only their minds and bodies, but their circumstances as well. Thus they showed us that living a problem-free life was not just a lofty theoretical spiritual goal; it could be done in earnest.
The masters were masters not at any particular spiritual practice or discipline, but rather at self-realization and universal law. For them, touching the perfection of the present moment was not an arbitrary accidental occurrence. They did it often and at will. And it was from this storehouse of divine perfection within them that they healed and brought enlightenment to others. Based on their knowledge of universal law, they understood this dynamic’s timeless consistent quality. They also taught that all of us are capable of doing what they had done.
The main difficulty for us comes from our time-bound conditioned state of consciousness. This can be very difficult for us to change. Just the singular notion that the present moment is part of a temporal continuum can undermine our progress and keep us from a life demonstration like that of the masters.
Jesus not only taught that the present moment is a timeless state of being; he gave
it a new name, calling it the kingdom of God. He brought to light the fact that not only is this kingdom timeless; it is also infinite. In contrast, we not only cling to the idea that this place within us is part of a temporal continuum; we tend to view it as small and restricted. But Jesus taught that it is a vast, wide-open place—one that cannot be measured or rightly perceived by the human mind. It is, in truth, a microcosmic universe—a realm of inner space, much like the realm above us that we call outer space.
Both time and spatial limitation are inventions of man. And it is this limited, restricted consciousness that makes us a magnet for problems. Do we need time and space? Yes, we need them right now as a society, in order to give secure boundaries to our world. But this need for security is strictly a product of our present collective consciousness, and once an individual transcends that consciousness his or her only connection to time and space will be the practical necessity of relating to others and functioning in the world.
Right now, in the same way that it is difficult for us to conceive of the eternal perfection of the present moment it is also difficult for us to imagine a world without spatial boundaries. But this clearly was the consciousness that the masters were moving in. This state of consciousness is God within us. It is the perfection of being—a realm where our problems cannot come.