Freedom Resides in the Present
Right before you clicked on this story, you were doing something and thinking something. As you reflect on that moment, you have drifted into the past – the realm of memories and historical interpretations, weaving all the pieces of your day, your week, your month, and all the years leading up to this moment. As you gaze into the future, you have a similar experience – projecting what will happen, forecasting what others will say and do, guessing and attaching to outcomes.
The practice of staying present and detaching from results is a core principle in many Eastern wisdom traditions. In chapter 2, verses 47-48, of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna advises Arjuna on the eve of an epic battle between two warring families, “You have the right to work, but never to the fruit of work. You should never engage in action for the sake of reward, nor should you long for inaction. Perform work in this world, Arjuna, as a man establishes within himself – without selfish attachments, and alike in success and defeat.” A few lines later, Krishna reminds Arjuna, “Yogastha kuru karmani. Established in presence, perform action.”
The message is clear: When we move forward in life from the present moment, there are infinite possibilities. When we come from the past, we are mired in all the interpretations, translations, and stories we’ve told ourselves and others. This makes the next step a product of the past. It is limited. It is constrained. It carries all the baggage from the past.
When we are living with our minds in the future, we are attempting to clairvoyantly define outcomes, and at a certain point we may even believe those made-up outcomes. When they don’t unfold the way we predicted, we often respond with disappointment, frustration, irritation, or sadness – even though they were all the products of our guesswork to begin with.
Breathe and Let Go . . .
When we are truly living in the present, each thought, word, and action has infinite possibilities. Our decisions and the steps we take are fresh, new, rich, exciting – as they are products of the universe’s boundless unfolding. When we live in the present, our eye is on this step, not the next one, creating a greater likelihood that the step we take will unfold more expansively.
Daily meditation allows us to surrender to the present moment for uninterrupted periods, and that present moment awareness is infused into the rest of our day. Focusing on our breath and witnessing can create the same experience while we are in the midst of activity.
If what we look for in life is unconditional, then we cannot limit ourselves with constricted conditioned thinking or actions. If we want unconditional love, it must come from a space where we surrender all of our past grievances. If we desire abundance, we must let go of any lack consciousness that resides in our past.
This Moment Is Perfect, Pure, and Whole
If we truly are seeking moksha (emotional freedom), we must let go of the shackles of the past and the fears of the future. By liberating ourselves from wandering into the past or future to think our next thought, speak our next word, or take our next action, we come from a place of sweet possibilities, pregnant with potential and abundant with opportunity. The present moment is where all the richness of life resides because this moment is perfect, pure, and whole. This moment is exactly as it’s supposed to be.
By simply breathing into this moment, you will connect to the universe and all it has to offer. Surrender to the present moment and you will ride the current of life and all the magnificence it has to offer. Yogastha kuru karmani.