We’ve all heard about the benefits of “being here now”, but why does it seem so difficult for attention to simply remain present? We can pledge allegiance to the concept all day, but the actual experience is fleeting at best. If we turn attention around, we notice that we are typically somewhere in the past or future. To truly appreciate the immediate presence of our own truth requires that we relinquish the self-fascination, along with its ongoing narrative. There is no self in the now. The self idea comes later, when we have distanced ourselves from the present in order to conceptualize about it, and one of the concepts we employ is the sense of “me”. “Me” is a kind of useful creation that helps in the navigation of this 3-D realm, but not at all who or what we are.
Consider for instance the character we assume in a virtual reality video game. We are clearly not that fictional creation, but we play the role for the game’s duration. Some also compare that sense to a dream, in which the mind plays various roles while we sleep, but which all vanish when we awaken. However, there are no daydreams in the now. The self-obsession is a kind of daydream, in that it has no substantial foundation in reality. Rather, it’s a compounded jumble of thoughts, emotions, memory associations, beliefs and reflected images, interpretations on perceptions conditioned by innumerable factors leading back to the Big Bang and even further back.
There is no beginning actually, but the human mind makes a habit of identifying with the self-contraction from an early age, and that generally remains the case throughout one’s life, even if one reads a lot of wise sutras and holy texts. Unless we are somehow sobered up by a direct recognition of our actual condition, which is pretty rare, we typically remain in a stagnant trance of identification with those contracted self-images. Even more rare is to thoroughly disentangle from the long-running persona program to the point of mature stabilization in selfless love.
This is why the skillful teachings on “short moments, many times”, are expedient. Even when we awaken to the nature of consciousness to some extent, it takes effort to allow it to inform our very cells. However, this is not about some mental regimen, practice, or strategy. It is a matter of letting go at the heart, because it is the heart’s deepest desire, and we can no longer resist its call. Nobody plans to fall that much in love that they lose themselves in such a love. It may sound romantic even, but it is death. That is why we want to keep the story going, because we are afraid of death. What we discover, however, is that we don’t lose the story, it just expands beyond our comprehension. The story is not our concern. It only comes true when we unequivocally embody this immediate presence, unfettered awareness, selfless love.