This blog is titled Enlightenment At Gunpoint: A Blog about Living in the Moment. This phrase, living in the moment, is commonly used interchangeably with phrases like living in the present, or being present, or mindfulness, or intentional living. What I want to focus on for this post is the present, which I think is so valuable I will rename this blog to Enlightenment At Gunpoint: A Blog about Living In the Present.
Our culture has a love/hate relationship with living in the present. In someways it embraces it, studies it, and encourages more of it. In other ways, it is actively undermining it nearly everywhere we look. My last entry talked about LEGOs and jigsaw puzzles and how those activities force you to live in the present. We do have an aspect of our culture that spreads being present propaganda: Go outside. Take a walk. Stop and smell the roses. Even with crowds of other people, our society loves moments of living in the present. I think it’s why, as Americans, we love sports so much. When that football player is twisting his body to make that incredible catch he is living in the present and nowhere else. It’s why we love movies. Two hours to stop thinking about anything except entertainment? Sure! But this infatuation with the present stops at greeting-card level introspection. We all have the wonder-destroyer (a phrase lifted from spiritual writer Rob Bell) always in our pockets– vibrating, giving us notifications, and demanding we scroll some more, even in the midst of an good meal with family or close friends. Now it seems every restaurant has multiple TVs mounted up, one found in every ceiling corner. Unless the restaurant is a sports bar, it should not have TVs in it. It takes us out of the present. It takes us away from our families we are dining with and the food we should be enjoying.
I did not understand how powerful living in the present could be until I read about a prospective on it in a book my therapist recommended to me, You Are The Placebo by Dr. Joe Dispenza. There’s a lot going on in that book and I’d like to devote more time to discussing it on this blog later but I do feel compelled to share his prospective on the uniqueness of the present. The mind-blowing thing about truly reaching a state of living in the present is that the past and future cease to exist. For a great deal of our lives, our past determines our future. What we did last weekend will probably repeat itself in some way/shape/or form this coming weekend. Of course, we have the occasional divergence but even those tend to follow a pattern set by our past (trips home for the holidays, beach vacations, college friend gatherings, etc.). When we truly find ourselves living the present, our past does not matter, and does not dictate our future. As a form of consciousness, we can elect that future. In a way, this relates to my earlier post about Deep Time.
I think this is why Christ turned away potential disciples who were still stuck in their past. A man who wanted to say goodbye to his friends and family before becoming a follower. A man who wanted to get affairs in order after his father’s passing. A man who wanted to care about the Spirit and his wealth. A lawyer trying to catch Jesus in a technicality (“Who is my neighbor?”).
I think this is why Buddhist monks take vows of poverty. All that matters isn’t what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow. Your 401k, retirement savings, and the stock market fluctuations do not matter. All that matters is what is happening right now and that speck of dust floating in the sunlight. If you can hold the present, and drink it in, then whatever the future holds will be beautiful.