Is There Any Goddamn Person Out There Who Lives In The PRESENT MOMENT ?
Converse with any “spiritual” friend of yours, listen to any holistic guru on the internet, all the greatest philosophers, and all the wannabe hipsters who share statuses on social media with their degree in Life 101, and the following words must be ringing in your ears too.
You see, joe, the only way to attain unlimited happiness and tap into that eternal kingdom of bliss…..is to stay in the present/be mindful/detachment/yaddi yaddi yadda.
But I am starting to believe that as human beings, living in the present is not only a terrible advice, but also a evolutionary paradox.
There is no shortcut, no hack and no easy way out of life. Allow your contrarian friend to elaborate…..
If life was so easy in the first place, Buddha wouldn’t have said that “Life Is A Suffering, and the only way to rid this suffering is by giving up desires”.
And is the desire to give up all desires isn’t that a DESIRE by itself ???
Now, if you want to follow the Buddhist advice in your life and see true result, you need to go all the way. Remember, he also emphasized on the fact of giving up all worldly desires, all sensory stimulation, wealth, sex, so and so forth.
But how many of us actually follow this advice ?
Living in the present means accepting whatever thoughts and feelings arising in your mind, even negative ones.
But none of us really want to be confronted with uncomfortable thoughts, do we ?
No, that’s why we were looking to live in the present in the first place, right ?
See, The Theory is a paradox in itself.
A lot of folks would call me an unenlightened, misinformed hipster who just happened to stay a lot of time on the internet. So let me try something else.
The fundamental aspect of human life is CHANGE. Remember the old saying,”The only thing that doesn’t change is change itself ?”
Well, then it is not reasonable for us to expect our minds to divert from the ever-present chaos of changes, just to form A Desire ( yeah, that’s exactly what it is ), A desire to rid ourselves of all negativity that comes our way and receive only the negative.
Now, let me add at this point that in no way, am I against the practice of mindfulness and meditation or any other practices that allow us to stay in the present moment and attain a certain level of mental peace and calm.
But, my point expands more than a mere disapproval of mindfulness, to a certain realization that I, myself have experienced along with many others.
When we focus too much on just staying in the present, we are burdening our minds with something that is plain unrealistic.
The human mind is built to cope up with the changes in one’s surroundings. It works ALL THE TIME. From day to night, every day of the year, for all our lives. It never stops. Our thoughts shift constantly, at the speed of light, sometimes to our awareness and sometimes not.
And asking it to focus only on the present is a futile attempt. And extremely unreasonable too.
Sure, it does give rise to a certain level of awareness and mental peace, but the desire to prolong or only exist at this stage is always going to let you down.
Just consider this for example. Just like our thoughts keep changing over time, the external environment too is constantly evolving. Just take a look at your life and everything around you. The streets you walked down a year ago looks unrecognizable now. Political leaders change after their fixed tenure. Your own body looks unrecognizable after 1 decade.
Now, lets look at these changes on a micro level. Everyday, as you wake up, there are plenty of changes that you are confronted with. Changes in your relationship, your work, your family, your own hopes and dreams. I can go on and on.
Is it really possible to keep track of all these changes with a mind that is only concerned in living in the present moment ?
Nope. You’d have to plan for the future, learn from the past mistakes and continuously keep up to date with all the ways you can improve yourself.
Bottom line : Thoughts are going to change, Moods are going to change, People are going to change, You are going to change, Periods of mindfulness would be followed by periods of chaos. Happiness is followed by periods of sadness.
But that’s just life.