In And Out Of Now
Now is always present,
whether we notice it or not
Tulku Urgyen’s phrase describes the moment now as “spontaneous presence”. but what is spontaneous presence in actuality? We can say words such as Dzogchen, Mahamudra, Rigpa, Shunyata, Dharmakaya, Zen, Advaita, Dao, Supreme being, but it all comes down to the words you use (in your own language) for pure consciousness or pure awareness or pure perception. Ultimately, in spontaneous presence, there are no words; it is natural being before language.
We have to know when we are in the moment now, and when we are not. It’s easier said than done. Being aware or conscious is only part of nowness. It’s easy to think “I am aware. I’m in the moment” but that in itself suggests that a period of time has elapsed in order to even say that, and so we are dwelling in the past.
Our senses are non-conceptual: they just perceive without naming, evaluating or modifying whatever is perceived. In the moment of seeing something, thoughts are not involved. Comments about seeing – or what is seen – come later. In the first instant, there is just perception – pure perception. This is none other than consciousness – pure consciousness. That is the moment now.
We switch on and off, so there are glimpses of nowness but these are too fleeting to notice. It is in meditation, where we do nothing but rest in nowness, that we strengthen this familiarity with nowness. Then we can recognise it in daily life.
We are looking at a screen and translating the words to our own experience. Now stop. Just be aware of seeing and don’t focus; just be aware. We are still taking everything in, while not fixating on anything. Everything is just out of focus, and we are in an expanded view. We can hear, smell, taste, feel, see and be aware, and we notice that awareness is brightening up because we are undistracted.
In all activities, there are natural pauses or gaps. That is now. It’s taking a break. It’s meditation. Gradually, the gaps join up and we can play with perceptions without holding on. This is like a conveyor belt of experiences, coming and going: if we grab at anything ,we reify it, and the present moment, although still present, ‘goes dark’. It’s easily done – and it’s just as easy to remember because we can now recognise the dark cloud.
We should be wary of allowing perception to get its hooks into us and play with our minds, fuelling our misunderstanding of reality.
We are natural knowingness,
lost in what we think we are supposed to know.
The way out of this is not to doubt knowingness itself
– which is the moment now.