There’s a lot of talk in the spiritual community about being in the present. It is regarded as a measure of the evolution of consciousness: if you can be in the present, then you have achieved a certain level of serenity.
It is true that being in the present has practical merits. If you are thinking about the past or the future as you perform action, then you are not fully focused on where you are or what you are doing. You miss out on totally appreciating the experience. And your action is less effective than it could be.
Being in the present is a welcome antidote to our multi-tasking contemporary culture. I don’t deny the validity of that. But the techniques that are offered for bringing you into the present have a few unstated premises that seem flawed to me.
One is that being in the present is an end goal. It isn’t. It is a way station.
As it says in Answers From Silence, “The present, like the past and the future, is an aspect of time. The present always changes. There is something beyond the present, something that never changes.”
Changeless, timeless eternity is beyond the present, the past, and the future. The end goal is to arrive there.
Another flawed premise is that you need to bring yourself into the present.
The problem with this was touched upon in the blog article at this website entitled, You’ve Got Enlightenment All Backwards. In order to bring yourself into the present, you have to mentally project another “yourself” that you are bringing. And the you that is bringing “yourself” is already in the present without being brought there.
What this says is that you should just stop before you do anything at all, and you are already in the present.
Another flawed premise about being in the present has to do with the use of the word “in”. If you are “in” the present, then it contains you, it confines you. Why settle for that, instead of being unbounded and timeless?
If you say, “I am in the present,” then you’ve got it all backwards. Where you want to get to is, “The present is in me.”
And, ultimately, “Eternity is in me.”