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Being In The Present—And Beyond

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?

As it says in Answers From Silence, “I don’t have to fit in anywhere. Everything fits into me.”

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.”


The Answer Is Being

If you ever studied how to play a musical instrument, perhaps you had the experience of being distracted by having to think about a technique. To make the sounds come out a certain way, you had to position your fingers, or count beats, or think about breathing.

Meanwhile, if you hadn’t mastered the technique, the music became unmusical. It lost its natural flow. Anybody listening would have heard the technique, not the music.

A technique for doing something is never the same as doing that thing. It is a separate action that, when mastered, produces the desired result as a byproduct. A technique can be invented for doing just about anything.

But there is one thing for which there can be no technique at all. It is the thing that is there when you completely stop trying, the thing that is there without any thought or intention at all.

As it says in Answers From Silence, “There is no technique for Being.”

You can choose from a myriad of techniques—from meditation and Tai Chi to stress reduction programs—to arrive at the simple sense of Being. But when they get you there, there is nothing left to do.

Being is abstract. An abstraction is something that is true for more than one thing. And there is an abstraction that is true about everything that exists: it exists. It has Being.

While your consciousness is grounded in Being, you have the concrete experience of this abstraction. Being is your whole experience.

And then Being becomes the answer to all of your questions:

Being is who you are.
Being is what you are.
Being is when you are.
Being is where you are.
Being is how you are.
Being is why you are.


You’ve Got Enlightenment All Backwards

In a magazine article, I found a question like this one: “How can we maintain inner stillness while our lives are filled with stress?”

That seems like a great question. But if you ask this question, then you’ve got it all backwards.

It’s not that you maintain stillness. Stillness maintains you.

Answers From Silence says, “This permanent dimension does not depend on you. But you depend on it.”

You know this is true when you know that you are inner stillness. Therefore, you don’t need to do anything to maintain inner stillness. You just live it.

And if you don’t know that you are inner stillness, you will identify with phenomena instead. That is all backwards. Answers From Silence says, “Be angry. Be happy. Be not the anger. Be not the happiness.”

You also have it all backwards if you think that inner stillness disappears when stress appears. Life has its ups and downs. Inner stillness doesn’t have its ups and downs. It isn’t going anywhere, not up or down. It’s always here. It is present even during times of stress.

In a book about meditation, I found instructions like these: “During the day, work at allowing things to happen without forcing. Remind yourself to be in the present. Center yourself.”

Monitoring yourself like that is all backwards. In order do it, you mentally project another “yourself” that you are monitoring. That’s like looking in a mirror and believing that you are the reflection. And the you that is reminding “yourself” is already in the present without any reminder.

Maybe you think that you’ll get closer to enlightenment if you keep reminding yourself to work at allowing things to happen without forcing, and to be in the present, and to be centered.

But you’ve got it all backwards when you copy the effects of enlightenment in order to be enlightened. Those things are just the map. They are not the territory. Occupy the territory, and those things will happen spontaneously, without you having to work at it.

There is still another way that you’ve got it all backwards. That is when you desire enlightenment.

Answers From Silence says, “You might think that you desire enlightenment. Actually, enlightenment desires you. When you are pushing toward it, you are misperceiving. It is actually pulling you.” And, “The ocean comes to the drop, not the other way around.”

The desire, the passion, the devotion that you put into your spiritual quest are not the property of your identity. They are the properties of Consciousness as it pulls your consciousness into It. They just show that the force of gravity is getting stronger as you approach the shores of infinity. Rejoice in that fact.


Your Mistaken Identity

Yes, I am on Facebook. But I had what you might call a bit of an identity crisis when I went to create my profile there.

The crisis was that my identity isn’t defined by activities, interests, music, movies, books, television, political views, religious views, and what I’m looking for.

Therefore, I didn’t fill in any of those blanks. It seemed like such a diminishment. It seemed like such a misplaced idea of what identity is. And besides, I am not looking for anything.

A list of likes and dislikes really has nothing to do with who I am, or with who you are either. Mostly, it would just be a test to see whether my conditioning matches your conditioning. Then we’ll know if we share an agenda.

Like, whose side are you on, anyway—milk chocolate or dark chocolate?

Or another way of putting it: A friend of mine, whom I’ll call Joe Smith, has an expensive hobby. Some concerned people tell him that he spends too much money on his hobby.

When they ask why he doesn’t change his ways, he repeats a phrase that I am sure you have heard before, and perhaps have used yourself: “It’s just who I am.”

“No,” I would say to him, “that’s who Joe Smith is. It’s not who you are.”

What I am saying is that you are not your desires, habits, or personality. You are not even your name. And you might ask, if not those things, then who is a person?

There is a section of Answers From Silence that has the title, “Your Mistaken Identity”. To quote: “Your true identity is Being.”

And: “When you flip your identity to the ‘to be’ verb instead of identifying with the nouns that you are now ensnared in, you cross the line into Eternity.”

Let’s look into each other’s eyes and see the divine light that is shining there. It is not affected by time, place, or circumstance. And especially not by preferences for one thing over another.