Living in the Now: What Does it Mean?

There’s a funny thing about the present moment — a simple fact most of us are confounded into misunderstanding: it is what it is. It can’t be changed. It’s all there is.

Living in the now simply means accepting that — and by that, I mean the inescapable reality that no amount of wishful thinking will do anything to change the state of life as it is in this very moment.

The world is perfect as it is.

When I say that, I don’t mean that everything conforms to my highest ideals of perfection, that there isn’t any suffering or anything wrong with the world.

No, absolutely not!

I just mean that right now, everything in the world is as good as it could possibly be.

I could just as well say: the world is as horrible as could possibly be. That would also be right — because the world is in the only state it could ever be (short of inventing a time machine).

Whatever statement of judgment, preference, or denial anyone could ever make about the present state of the here & now is entirely true from some perspective. 

Someone who hates the world is entirely right for doing so.

Someone who loves the world is also entirely right.

But the thing is: it’s not about being right. It’s never about being right. Being right isn’t going to make you happy — not in the long run, anyway.

Loving or hating life

isn’t a rational decision for humans by default. It’s simply a side-effect of conditioning and education.

We’re not raised to be conscious enough to be able to choose whether we look at the world from a positive or a negative perspective. We get pushed around unwittingly by experience, and then fortune or misfortune will determine how we look at life.

True free will means the ability to choose what perspective we take on life. It’s the ability to decide rather than being told what life is and what we want to do with it.

This, however, requires consciousness — and we’re unfortunately not given the tools and understanding to either have, exercise, or raise that consciousness by default in most societies.

Because we lack so much consciousness by default, love or hate just happen as side-effects or the circumstances we encounter. It has a lot more to do with what we’re told by parents, teachers, and happenings, than what we choose for ourselves.

The whole point of meditation and mindfulness

is to step out of all that incidental programming and come to decide for ourselves, consciously, whether we continue to live in this world either loving or hating it.

By default, we’re taught that life is an obligationthat it’s inherently suffering — and that we simply have a duty to go on (until we can’t). Life is duty, love is duty, everything’s a duty — and duty is merely a resignation to the absence of conscious free will.

You see, there is no *right* answer...

The world is shit — from some perspective. It’s also totally wonderful from some other perspective. It’s really all just a question of perspective, and I don’t have the right to go and tell someone who’s had a horrible life that their life isn’t shit.

Some of us are luckier than others, are born with more safety and security — richer, more educated, more fortunate. But this doesn’t help at all if we’re so deeply unconscious that we’re unable to appreciate the little things around us.

The poorest person can easily be happier than the richest, if they’re not so distracted by all the senseless pursuits — that imaginary happiness at the end of the tunnel, with all the possibilities of delaying fulfillment to an arbitrary point in the future.

When we associate happiness with money and material things, what we’re doing is equating happiness with safety. But that’s a fool’s errand, because...

There is no safety in life.

Whatever we do, we’re all going to end up dead.

The ultimate goal of meditation is the realizing of that… that there’s no point to pursuing more and more if we can’t even appreciate what we have now.

If now isn’t enough, then the future won’t be either. We’ll never be happy, and we’ll die of exhaustion from a lifetime of pursuing the impossible.

And so... Living in the now

doesn’t mean we stop desiring, planning for the future, or remembering the past. It just means we come to consciously decide that what we have now is enough now. And, by extension, that what we’ll have tomorrow will be enough tomorrow — or that what we had yesterday was just right for yesterday.

It means we don’t make our happiness and fulfillment entirely dependent on external or random circumstances… because that’s what money and material gains are — random and largely out of our personal control. They’re circumstantial, with a lot of luck involved — and on any day it could all go away.

When we make ourselves dependent on circumstantial factors for fulfillment, we turn ourselves into victims of circumstances.

Meditation is in its essence a remedy against victimhood.

The most important thing is...

Make your own mind.

That’s what free will is all about! Don’t look for someone else to give you the answers, because all the real answers will come from inside you.

You already have them. You just need to get rid of the non-sense that’s hiding them from you. You just need to allow your own consciousness to grow until everything starts making a lot more sense.

And it will… make more sense, from up there, that higher perspective.