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Living in the Present is True Living

Mindfulness

by Jayaram V

True living is living in the present. This is affirmed in Hinduism by the use of the same Sanskrit word, "vartamana," to signify both living and the present moment. In Sanskrit, vartamanah means living. Vartamanah also means the present, in contrast to the past (bhuta) and future (bhavisyat). Living is synonymous with present because you always live in the present.

Presence signifies living and you live only when you are present in your body and your mind, not in relation to others but in relation to yourself. If you have not understood this clearly, let me restate this. You do not live in the past or in your future. Why? Because, you have lived your past already and your future is yet to be lived. Therefore, living is always in the context of the present and should rightly be so because only the present moment is real.

Unfortunately, while we may physically live in the present, mentally we do not always do so. This is a state of delusion. Mentally, we are habitual time travellers. We frequently travel back and forth in time on the backs of our frivolous memories, feelings and emotions. We are constantly driven by various thoughts associated with our past or our future. We are driven by memories, desires and habits. In the process we suffer from various emotions and feelings. Practically, it is also not possible to remain always in the present because even if you want to, your knowledge, relationships and circumstances do not allow you to remain in the present. Our knowledge is essentially an accumulation of memories, perceptions, learned intelligence and imagination arising from them.

Most of your actions are repetitions or reenactments of your past actions. In seeing things you superimposed upon our current perceptions what you have seen before. A larger part of your life, you live mechanically and routinely because rightly so it would be an enormous waste of time if you want to live your life anew each moment as if you never existed before and as if you never learned from your experiences before. Therefore even in present moment awareness, past plays a significant role. In many ways, we are prisoners of our past.

However, if you can manage to focus on living, on your actions and on your perceptions, feelings and emotions through mindful and insightful observation, you can resolve this problem to a great extent. If you succeed in this effort, then even if your mind is drawn to the past or to future, you become a mindful observer of that in your present moment, rather than becoming involved with the movements of your minds and lost in them.

Living is always a present moment activity. If you want to make the most out of your living, stay in the present to the extent possible and enjoy life as it happens. We are like the walking pens on the canvass of infinity in which we unite the past with the future through the present moment. The past and the future are non-existent. The present alone is the existent. The three come together in the beingness of each individual. These divisions of time exist but in our minds in wakeful consciousness. In the dream state their boundaries blur and in deep sleep they disappear altogether.

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