“When you are here and now, sitting totally, not jumping ahead, the miracle has happened. To be in the moment is the miracle.” Osho
To be happy and content is the perhaps the most common desire of the average human-being – to feel like everything is in its right place. But from an early age it is easy to feel out of place in this world, as if we don’t quite really belong.
As we enter school, teachers suggest now isn’t good enough by asking us what we want to ‘be’ when we grow up. As we leave school, friends and relatives suggest now isn’t good enough by asking what we are ‘doing next’. When we get a job, our bosses suggest that now still isn’t good enough by telling us salvation lies in targets and promotions. Elsewhere advertisements suggest we are incomplete by telling us the latest ‘must-have’; governments urge us to plan and save our money for our retirement; religions even tell us we are ‘sinners’ and must seek repentance for simply being born.
When we are all constantly inundated with such disempowering rhetoric, it is easy to feel out of place in a world which incessantly relies on a relationship to the external – an addiction that so often deprives us of the sheer internal joy of being alive within the present moment of our immediate surrounding universe.
Perhaps to use the word ‘world’ is erroneous. This word represents the floating mass that is planet earth – the organic spaceship that is floating around a spherical fire in a solar system that’s a part of a galaxy moving 2.1 million kilometres per hour as it catapults itself through an infinite universe. To be out of place in this world is to be alien – which we are not. If biology and evolution tell us anything, it tells that us that humans grew out of the world as fruit grows outward from a tree. This planet is our tree of life; our bodies are maintained by its air, food, water, materials and temperature. These were the things that forged us. These are the things which make this rock home for each and every one of us. We are exactly where we need to be.
But despite this intrinsic and inseparable connection we have to our universe and planet, we often feel ‘out of place’ – as if we are strangers here and don’t quite belong in our own home; as if the ‘here and now’ is not good enough. And as this phenomenon continues to pervade, I – like many others – have come to realise the falseness of this feeling that many cultures seek to condition their citizens with.
“Wherever you go, there you are” Jon Kabat- Zinn
As mentioned, such a feeling begins from an early age when we are dangled a carrot in front of us and told to chase, chase, chase. As soon as we able to understand words and orders, we are made to feel marginal and peripheral by the hegemonic cultural discourse. We are taught that life lies somewhere ‘out there’ – an oasis of contentment and happiness in the future that only cultural and social institutions can lead us to if we follow their rules.
So, what do we do? Naturally, being susceptible and impressionable to our elders’ philosophy, we accept we are incomplete human-beings and pursue their game. We go through institutional education jumping through hoop after hoop until we graduate; we then join the world of business where the hoops of exams and grades are replaced with promotions and pay rises; a little later we get sucked into chasing material goods and saving for retirement. While you could argue such processes are seemingly unavoidable in our current systemic and industrial society, it is ridiculous that we are never educated to feel like we have or are enough in the present moment – something that we can all agree is an essential part to human happiness and inner contentment.
And so inevitably – as nurture triumphs over nature – we suffer, stress and strain.
Getting lost deeper and deeper into the ideological wonderland of culture, we try desperately to ‘keep up’ with everybody else also engaged in this game. We run in packs chasing down hoop after hoop, consequently having our pockets perpetually picked of the preciousness of the present moment – the only place we can or will ever be. “The grass is always greener on the other side” thus becomes a mantra of many of our lives as media, social media, advertising, business and the general cultural discourse suggest there is always something better than where you are now. Bought the iPhone 7? Well now you need to work harder to buy the new iPhone 8. Just met that quota at work? Well now you need to chase the next one to get that promotion.
“No valid plans for the future can be made by those who have no capacity for living now.” Alan Watts
Of course, it is obvious that we need to make plans for the future if we are to survive, but the current set-up is so bewitching, so intoxicating and so all consuming, that many of us become completely lost within this shady forest of deception. This brings about the wolves of overthinking, social anxiety, depression and insecurity that continue to hound many minds throughout the modern world as people hunt to obtain that which cannot be caught. Many of us get lost in this addiction to the external so much that we spend our one life doing things we don’t want to do under the illusion we will eventually arrive where we belong: the oasis of happiness in the mythical future.
But as the saying goes: ‘tomorrow never comes’ and this is why I – and so many others out there – are currently waking up from this trance and remembering that which we forgot since we are children. That we are not out of place in this world. That each and every one of us is a product and realisation of the entire universe – a manifestation of consciousness standing here proudly atop this beautiful green and blue rock that we call home. This is where we belong, and the present moment is all that is and that will ever be.
Yes, it really is. When you mourn the past, that is done in the present; when you worry about the future, that is done in the present. The external is a falsity: something which only exists in the clumsy chambers of the human mind.
And so, as society and technology continue to sweep us away from the here and now, I urge us all to reclaim our own consciousness from this deception and come back to our senses. It is time for us to relax and realise life is not as serious as culture makes it out to be. It is time for us to realise that we are an intrinsic part of the universe – and we can never be out of place even if we tried. It is time to come home; to where we are and always have been.
Only then will we all collectively learn that the ‘game’ of society is exactly that – a game that can be played, but is ultimately not something to be taken too seriously. Only then we will become aware that things beyond our control are pointless to worry about – that the greatest power one can hold is to be completely absorbed in the present moment of their immediate environment. As our consciousness expands, we will be able to see through the deceit of many marketing campaigns, arbitrary cultural values, unnecessary overtime, trivial and frivolous worries, and anything that is generally insulting to the soul of the individual human-being.
So, let us wake up and discover the power of the present. The power of saying “I have enough”. The power of appreciating that which is priceless – the burning sunset, the crisp winter air, the breeze dancing through the spring grass, the smile on the face of a friend, the quietness as you fall asleep next to a loved one, the firework display of the stars shimmering in the night sky.
Discover the power of contentment; the power of knowing you are where you are.
The power of here and now.