Well, i may actually irritate people with this post, but those of you reading, please keep an open mind. An open mind is a mind which hears and considers different points of view without judging them as wrong ONLY because they may be different.
Before i begin, I ask that you forget all that you know from reading and studying about what it means to be "present in the moment." Just forget about it. I am going to say some things you may already know but humor me and act surprised. Then hear the things you may have not read, or heard about and lets see what happens for you. As for me, I am just writing this as it comes, so i am just as curios as you are about what comes next.
Here's something that seems logical and true to a degree: The past is history, the future hasn't arrived, so all you've got is the present moment (whether you like this present moment, or not).
Now consider - the past is your karmic record, you experiences, learning, growing, pleasant, unpleasant, important, or unimportant....that past has shaped this body, mind, beliefs and quests as you have it at this moment.
Now consider - all your hopes, dreams, anticipations, preparations and planning for the future has shaped your choices for action and direction...which are now actions of the past, although some are still in the future, but also bound to become the past some day.
Finally, you can say that NOW you are where you are as you are as a manifestation of your past and your future together at this moment. The past and the future collapse into This Now.
Eckhart Tolle said (paraphrasing here) that when you think of the past the memory arises in the Now. When you think of the future, the idea of it arises in the Now. By the time you get to executing the idea you will be doing so in the Now. I am only adding that Now you are what you are as a result of your past experiences many of which are influenced by your future desires, goals and inspirations based on which you were taking actions, therefore gaining experiences which are now part of your past. Or you can turn it around and say that your past experiences have shaped the kind of future you want to envision which then has shaped the kind of actions you want to take or not take, still resulting in more experiences which are now the past, leaving you who you are at this moment. Therefore, the nature of who you are and how you are, who you are going to be and how you are going to be is always manifest in the Now.
Now consider what does it mean to be present in the moment.....well, i guess you just can't resist saying to your self the things you've read, heard and tried to practice over time - "being present in the moment is knowing what is arising within and on the outside of you and paying attention to it without judgment." Great. Lets break it down a bit more - "paying attention to physical sensations, the breath, the heartbeat." I must have said this a million times in the yoga classes i teach. Definitely, more than once per class. Some of you are probably hearing my voice in your head "are you paying attention to your breath?" I know it because you've told me.
What else..."watching the thoughts, emotions and your reactions to them.....being in honesty with what is actually occurring....witnessing without judgment....and if you come from the Zen tradition - just seeing, just feeling, just listening...."
Keep going... don't you feel the uneasiness of a contradiction pushing through...as in, if i am suppose to be in the present moment, who's suppose to plan for the kids schooling, my mother funeral, for graduation, for my next meal, for my vacation, for my wedding, for ..... If i don't do any planning, am I being irresponsible for my own life? Won't i end up like the crazy neighbor on the block taking care of 20 cats scattered, making no sense to anyone babbling about energy, vibrations, constellations, using too much patchouli oil and maybe with a foreclosure sign in front of the house?
To let go of the past seems not only wise and convenient but also much more easy than to surrender to...what...? Hmmm.
If this contradiction has never "baked your noodle", as the Oracle would say in the Matrix, you are really not paying attention. And if it has, than what did you do with this line of questioning? Ignored it? Pushed it back to where it came from - your suspicious mind....or perhaps your intuitive mind...or perhaps your tired mind...your not "true self" mind...egoic mind...or your "true self" mind...
I can just hear the non-dualist out there chiming in "Who's asking?" .... well, i guess the one that needs to pay the bills and get up for work....unless you think you can replay to your boss who tells you "Mr. Anderson, if you want to work here, you will have to show up on time. Can you make this commitment?" - with "Who's asking?" complimenting the question with an enlightened look on your face. If it works - then try it on your IRS 1040 too. After you put your name, SS# and address, where you income goes, you can write "Who's asking?" but do state all of your expenses. A tax deduction is a tax deduction and a good thing!
Anyhow....an apparent contradiction. In the right corner with red sorts we have "Mr. Present." In the left corner, with blue shorts we have "Mr. Responsible." ....what happened to peace, love and happiness.
While the two battle it out, i am off to get something to drink, enjoy the sun and give my chickens a squeeze. Stay tuned for the rest of this pondering tomorrow.... For now just sit back, relax and let it cook for a while.