"Fearlessness is the first requirement of spirituality. Cowards can never be moral." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Ever Passing Present Moment

"When you recognize that the present moment is always already the case and therefore inevitable, you can bring an uncompromising inner "yes" to it and so not only create no further unhappiness, but with inner resistance gone, find yourself empowered by Life itself."

-- Eckhart Tolle --
("A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose") 

The empowering nature of the present moment - the "Power of Now" as Tolle calls it - is by no means a "New Age" revelation. Philosophers and spiritual teachers in all ages and traditions have recognized the unique and sacred nature of the present. The Roman Emperor and Stoic philospher, Marcus Aurelius. declared that the present moment is all that a man has "to live and lose." In the Christian tradition, Jesus always addressed the power of our divine nature in the present moment. For him, Heaven was not something far off; rather, he stressed that the "Kingdom of God is within you," (Luke 17:21).

Indeed, in his "Sermon on the Mount" (below) he directly questioned why we always seem to be living for and worrying about some future moment rather than living the fullness of the present moment.
"Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on," he urged. "Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?"   
"Which of you by taking thought," he asked, "can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."

"Wherefore," he continued to query, "if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
(Matthew 6:25-329
The present moment is, as Tolle observes, "already the case," and just to the extent that we spend it worrying about some future time do we miss it. Most of Jesus audience were probably oblivious to the flowers growing in the fields around him, or the birds circling overhead. Rather, intent on hearing his words they missed the message until it these marvels were pointed out to them.

With so many distractions, diversions and deadlines today, how many of us miss the present moment? Or worse, how many of us are so resistant to what is happening around us that we have a wholly fallacious notion of what is already transpiring in our lives? Indeed, as Aurelius noted, all we have to live and lose is this ever passing present moment. And it is always in danger of slipping by unnoticed, unheralded, and therefore, unreverenced. But sadly, we will only ever find true awe in this moment.

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